The Great Asian Peace Offensive

by Kent Ballard


About a year ago North Korea announced it was suspending all non-aggression pacts with South Korea. They shut down the North-South hotline and closed the only shared opening in their border. They also moved two regiments of self-propelled artillery to the border and shelled an island belonging to the South.

They then announced their “right” to conduct nuclear first-strikes against the United States.

Technically, we were in a state of war with North Korea. Big deal.

We’ve been in a technical state of war with the goofy SOBs for sixty years now. They’ve been in a technical state of war with the entire United Nations for that time. They never signed a peace treaty, only a cease-fire. But they’ve become even more alarmingly insane recently, now that Russia, China, and the United States have all signed a United Nations decree forcing them to allow their ships to be inspected at sea by any naval force. They’ve had their assets frozen in many different countries, travel sanctions imposed on different NK government individuals and corporations, and suffer even tighter trade sanctions. This includes food, something the country consistently lacks.

China is their major trading partner. Pakistan runs a distant second. And that’s it. Those are the only trading partners they have besides very minor paper agreements. Also, China controls all of the oil going into North Korea, as well as much of its food. Beijing called in the North Korean ambassador just before NKs latest nuclear test and told him the Chinese were gravely concerned about a nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula, further distancing of North Korea by governments all around the world, the potential for Japan to develop nuclear weapons in response, and last but not least, pissing off the United States.

North Korea ignored China’s warning. They detonated another nuke and then fired a cheap satellite off into an erratic and unstable orbit.

China then voted with us, the Russians, and the rest of the world to tighten the noose around North Korea’s neck even more after that.

A White House spokesman said the United States was perfectly capable of defending itself, which is true. But even in a fully conventional attack, we’d lose almost all ten thousand American soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, plus our air bases and naval facilities in South Korea in the opening salvos of hundreds or thousands of conventional rockets. Seoul would fall within hours and be leveled in the process.

And that would piss off America. And Japan. The Russians would shit their pants. China would no longer be able to deter any response we countered with. The general consensus around the world is we’d go nuclear as soon as friendly voices quit answering the telephone in South Korea.

The family monarchy of dwarfs and hunchbacks who’ve been the North Korean dictators for the past sixty-some years are lousy poker players. They’ve bluffed, cheated, and been caught looking at everyone’s cards too often. They and Pakistan, our dependable allies in the Mideast, have been caught sharing nuclear weapons and missile technology illegally. If you don’t think the North Korean government is dangerously insane, keep in mind they’re the only nation with a scientific community who claims to have found unicorn breeding grounds. And they’re dead serious.

I was never a great fan of Bill Clinton. But I think he said it best when, on a tour to the DMZ in South Korea a reporter asked him, “What would happen, Mr. President? What would we do if the whole North Korean Army and Air Force came roaring over that border in the middle of the night?”

Clinton blinked at the reporter as if he was a very slow child, then replied, “Well, North Korea would cease to exist in about 30 minutes.” I think that was not only one of the most honest answers he ever gave, but possibly one of the most humorous if you like your comedy black.

At any given time, the U.S. Navy has at least one and often two missile submarines parked just off the North Korean coast. Missile flight times across the whole country would be in the neighborhood of five minutes or less. In a comic reversal of the threat in The Hunt For Red October we have kids sitting out there, listening to rock n’ roll, and conducting nuclear missile drills on them weekly while feasting on cheeseburgers and pizza.

China naturally wants a vassal state between it and the gaudy capitalists in South Korea. It wouldn’t do to have their citizens look across the Yalu river and see brightly-lit skyscrapers and a powerful capitalistic economic engine running 24 hours a day. But now even China is getting fed up with the screeching rhetoric coming out of that vassal state, and as crazy as the world is getting anymore they might just ask America to plant its nukes where the wind would not carry fallout over their country. The Chinese have now become gaudy capitalists too, in everything but name.

Shhh! It’s a secret. Don’t tell anybody.

Every government knows that the United States remains the only nation on earth to use nuclear weapons in anger. Most of them think it’s best to keep it that way. That would keep all the criticism off their backs, allow them to take the moral high road (which never existed in international politics anyway), and give them a good look at what we can and cannot do with all those expensive toys we’ve been buying over the years.

There is another possibility. China could act alone. There’s literally a giant pipeline running under the Yalu river between China and North Korea. There is a valve to that pipeline on the Chinese side. If it were to be shut off, one hell of a lot of North Koreans would begin freezing very quickly, and it’s damned hard to run a war on empty gas tanks. Sure, the NKs have military fuel stockpiles—but not enough to fight a full scale war for more than just a few days. China has seen to that already. They still want that buffer-nation between them and the South, but there is a limit even to their patience. After North Korea rebuked their warnings last year, Beijing hinted darkly at a possible “regime change” in that country. That’s diplomat-speak for Chinese Special Forces armed with sniper rifles.

From what I’ve read, there was an extremely unusual outbreak of common sense at the UN between America, Russia, China, the UK, France, and other nations. We all know that any serious squeezing we do to North Korea will simply starve more of their innocent people and the leadership will remain unaffected. The latest UN resolutions were tailored to put the heat on the leadership, not the peasants, although they will undoubtedly suffer even more now. Still, the United Nations is aiming at the head, not the feet of North Korea.

But I have a better idea.

A preemptive strike on North Korea using our stealth strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems.

A military mission even Gandhi would love.

If the B-2 bomber is as good as they say it is, we could overfly North Korean airspace without being detected. And we could pull off one of the craziest—and greatest—humanitarian stunts in history.

Load the bomb bays of a dozen B-2s with canisters, hundreds of them, containing cell phones, solar chargers, and miniaturized satellite antennas. Put a few laptop computers in each canister, along with every scrap of rice, flour, and powdered milk we can cram into them. Basic medicines, candies, and infant formula. Mix up everything in the canisters, a little of this and some of that. Send written instructions in Korean. No propaganda, not a single word of it. No American markings on the canisters or cargo or parachutes. Nothing that would clearly mark where these things came from—although everyone would know anyway.

Then on a moonless night at 3:00 AM local time, fly over North Korea and bomb the daylights out of the countryside with the means to communicate, to see and understand what’s going on in the real world. Bomb the population with medicines and rice. Keep everything small—even the food packets—and quick and easy to hide. Scatter those canisters everywhere in the country. When sent on conventional missions, those B-2 Spirits can haul eighty 500 pound bombs apiece. A dozen of them would have a payload of nearly half a million pounds. (You can be as critical as you want, but you can never say we bought second-rate bombers.)

Of course, the North Korean army would shoot anyone caught with anything that came from one of those canisters and confiscate whatever they could lay their hands on. The captured material would go up through the ranks—and probably a great deal of it would disappear before it got to headquarters. Would you trust a nineteen year old North Korean corporal—who only knew poverty and hunger his whole life—to turn in everything he found? Everything? What if his family, his little brother and sister, are hungry too? They almost certainly will be.

Regardless, some of it—maybe most of it—would remain in the hands of the peasants. Those who could read would explain to the others what all the instructions said. Enclosed pictographic instructions would do the rest. Communication links would begin to open with the world. The food would be eaten instantly, and the medicines would begin saving lives. The satellite antennas could be based on the kinds our troops carry with them in the field—pop open, snap shut. Yes, very many would make it to the people themselves, and they must certainly know how to hide things by now.

Think about that for a minute.

Sure, it’d cost a lot of money. But only a tiny fraction of what one battle in one war would cost. If we could get in and out without losing any bombers we could whistle and look innocent and tell everyone we had no idea what the North Korean government was babbling about this time. Everyone would know we were lying, but no one, allies or enemies, could prove a thing. We could even put out public international feelers, asking the Egyptians if they did it, or maybe Iceland. Maybe it was Bulgaria. Or Peru.

Crazy? Hell yes, it’s crazy! So crazy that many people simply wouldn’t believe it. And those who did and managed to put two and two together would think about it for a moment and then see the sheer brilliance of such a mission—using stealthy nuclear weapons delivery systems to drop food, communications, medicines, knowledge, and hope. And someday, after such a bombing mission, if the North Korean people changed their leadership by themselves they would almost certainly install a new government much more friendly to the United States than anything put in place by China.

What would China do? Rattle their nuclear sabers at us for doing such an imperialist thing like dropping food and medicine? Would Russia put its missiles on alert for dropping smart phones and hand-cranked radio receivers?

It would confuse the hell out of everybody. And when the confusion ended, I think half the world would burst out laughing and America’s stock would go up everywhere. Dropping bombs is an act of war. Dropping powdered milk…I don’t think the world has a response for that.


by Zachary Klein

It’s been about twenty-nine years and change since I last cradled a newborn. Much has happened since—both to me personally and to the world in which I live. I’ve struggled to stay somewhat open-minded and positive in the face of personal losses and still willing to grapple with a globe that seems bent on making all the wrong choices.

But while holding each of my new grandchildren and seeing the light gleaming in Matthew and Alyssa’s eyes, my weary energy slipped away. All was right with the world.

Of course we know that last sentence is blatantly untrue. Unadulterated joy is fleeting, an experience to be savored even as it dissipates into what we know as “reality.” Still, it got me thinking about my own evolution since I had my first child (now new dad Matt) at the ripe old age of twenty-one.

Much has changed—not the least of which, me. Back then I was engaged in social service, but my ideas and attitudes were way different than they are now. I really did believe in “any means necessary” to foster change, wrote people off if their beliefs strayed too far from my own, and actually thought violence was a legitimate tool for revolution. I believed that I’d be a failure as a person and father if I weren’t willing to throw my body in front of a bullet, or use one to create a better society and life for my son.

Fast forward fifteen years when my second son Jake was born. I had my own private counseling practice and while I think the work I did helped some individuals, couples, and groups, I continued to see my ongoing hope for a different, a better world, continue to whither away. In some fashion it was worse than when Matt was born. Then, at least, I didn’t feel as alone. There were larger numbers of people who, in their own inchoate ways, shared my longings. Tough to imagine now, but when Jake was conceived I had serious reservations about bringing another child into our world.

But then, as with Matthew, those doubts dissolved in the presence of little arms, hands, legs and an uncontrollable cowlick. Without quite realizing it, the state of the sphere took a backseat to the renewed joy of fatherhood.

And by the time the “real” world returned, I had changed. Still fiercely committed to social justice, violence was no longer part of the equation. Something important had taken over my heart and I no longer imagined bloodshed as an answer to anything. Whatever “good” born out of violence was bound to encourage its lifespan. Whatever positive change might happen because of guns and bullets would eventually disintegrate through the use of those same tools.

Some might say this evolution is the result of age as mortality creeps closer. Actually, I believe that the “something” which had turned me around has been my cumulative years as a parent. Perhaps it was fear for my own and other people that I loved. Whatever it really had been was cemented when one of Jake’s closest friends who regularly spent nights at our house was murdered after I had sent him to work. Murdered trying to save his boss from a thief. A life I loved for tubes of toothpaste. Never again have I been able to see violence as a path to anything other than more violence.

And maybe just as important was a growing willingness to see people as a whole rather than any of their particular beliefs. I find I no longer tease out and judge a person solely by their political or religious ideas. I want more. I want to connect with a person’s humanity which, I’ve learned, has little or nothing to do with left, right, center or particular opinions.

I’ve written somewhat optimistically about life in previous columns but, for the most part, the posts have focused upon the positives within our culture and society. In retrospect, however, Mari and Vivian have already pointed out the big miss. Which for me means relationships. Despite all my talk about how my books are relationship driven and the manner in which those relationships impact each character, I never connected the dots. Those categorizations have to do with me and my life. Something which I had known but in some strange way forgot.

I don’t know whether the world is better or will be better for Mari and Vivian. I don’t know whether humans have the capacity to ever lay down their arms, stop their oppression of each other, lose their racism, or find a way to care for all. I surely hope so. But I do know that my wives past and present, my children and grand-kids, my relatives and friends, old and new, have enriched my soul. And that enrichment has been what’s made my life worth living.

I also have no doubt if two newborn infants can help me realize what’s been in front of my blind eyes, I’ll learn plenty more from them as they grow. So, thank you Mari and Vivian. You’ve already given me a great gift.

And to Alyssa and Matt, a Lou Reed song title says it best. You’re at…



No Slice In Time

by Kent Ballard

It’s maddening when you get an idea that won’t quite jell in your mind. What’s worse are the ideas that jell very nicely but are so abstract you cannot find words to express them.

I was thinking something that has probably occurred to other people before, but a thing that was new to me. I don’t know where this thought came from. I don’t know where the term “metrosexual” came from either. It doesn’t matter. It seems to fit a certain part of the population and we will just accept it and move on.

I’d been thinking about all those JFK assassination conspiracy theories. Not the theories themselves actually, but the sheer amount of information researchers have uncovered over all these years for those three seconds in Dallas. It’s as if that time and place were locked into another reality, a museum somewhere, where the curious could go forevermore and look at it not only from all angles but multiple slices of times and fractions of those seconds. It’s been frozen in perfect three dimensional and temporal space. Things might be a little foggy before Zapruder filmed Kennedy’s reaction to the first shot and they might get alarmingly foggy after the last one, but those three seconds are more real to us today than they were to the people present at the time. From that place and time came thousands of books, television reports, eyewitness interviews, articles, movies, news stories, and memorials and they’re still being written today. I won’t bring up all the arguments. You’ve heard many yourself and you will hear more in the future. Nor will I delve into the two full-blown federal investigations that drew opposing conclusions. They’ve generated their own tonnage of written, visual, and audio commentary.

No, I wasn’t pondering the Kennedy assassination and it really wasn’t about the theories. My idea concerned the freezing in time of an event. My idea was that you could take any event, freeze it in time, go over it repeatedly with a fine-tooth comb, and find many strange and contradictory things about it. You could eventually find anything you wanted to about it. You could make the case that the event never even happened. You could wade into the seemingly endless amount of information gleaned by additional points of view and time lines and the introduction of unlikely characters magnified out of proportion and come to any conclusion you wanted. At some point you would believe this was an event of unprecedented magnitude simply because of all that had been learned about it.

I think if you were to freeze any point in time and look at it from every possible angle, you’d have so much information you could make a strong case for anything. People would come to believe it true. A few more years of research and debate, sprinkled with new findings and new technology to re-comb all the old evidence, and you’d have a public uproar. The people would clamor for Congress to do something! People would have fistfights about the last time you touched your mailbox.

Because I’m going to freeze that moment in time. Freeze the last time you touched your mailbox. We will keep that forever now.

Allow me to dance through time a bit here. It lends itself to my point.

Let’s say the kid at the end of the block briefly caught you in the corner of his cell phone camera while he was filming his friend ride a bike over a little homemade ski jump in his yard. Okay. We have a clear video recording of the event now. You can briefly be seen at the last moment you touched your mailbox. That will become known in the legend I’m about to construct as the “McQueen Film,” which countless writers will explain as a wobbly reference to Steve McQueen’s famous motorcycle jump in “The Great Escape.” It will be considered the gold standard of that frozen moment in time. All other evidence will be measured against those two seconds you appeared on that screen. Relentless investigation will eventually turn up three photographs, two known and one highly disputed, of the same instant too. There will be another much-argued film.

One photo was taken through a second story window across the street by a mother who snapped her sleeping newborn baby. In the lower left quarter of the photo, through that room’s window, down, and across the street you can see part of another house and a person standing at the mailbox. That is you. That’s been verified now, but it took the better part of a decade, much arguing, and fifteen years of technological advances to prove it.

It’ll take two and a quarter million dollars and six years of the best photographic analysis available, but another one of those still pictures shows both you (they proved it was you after the enhancements, color reversals, and shadow comparisons) and a man much farther away in a heavy red plaid winter jacket. But the day was warm. And they’ve proved it through weather records of your city. He’s now known as “the Red Jacket Man” or simply “Red Jacket.” There will a book and two movies about him, none of which agree.

People who were there that day testified a traffic helicopter was going overhead at the time. Some eyewitnesses passed lie detector tests, some didn’t. They made one hell of an effort digging for that film, I’m here to tell you. But they found a fragment on an old DVD. While the copter was banking around to cover a car wreck three quarters of a mile away, someone was taping a rerun of “Laverne and Shirley.” A much-investigated and never-resolved mistake was made at the TV station at that instant. Some argue it was only that. Some argue it was done purposely. But a switch was thrown for six seconds that did not direct the broadcast to a taped commercial, but to a live feed from the chopper on that fateful afternoon. They will look for over a decade for the engineer who threw that switch. They will never find him. But all agree whoever he was, he had his hand on that switch while you had yours on your mailbox. The timing is just too uncanny to be otherwise. Because the Red Jacket Man can be seen from above in it as well, and forensic anthropologists have said he was seen taking the same step as was captured in the now-famous photo including you.

(They also investigated the car wreck being filmed and the chopper pilot flying that day. Most of those theories have been dismissed but die-hard believers in conspiracies were able to draw a great deal of attention to the idea the car had been rocketed by a military attack helicopter flying in the colors of your local TV station. This was linked to conspiracy theories involving PRISM, domestic terrorism, UFOs, and renegade nuclear secrets. Two books were written about the found DVD alone.“Why Did Time Stop?” and “The Fool’s Show-The Morrison DVD” were at total odds with each other.)

The “ghost cat” remains a mystery to everyone. He can clearly be seen in one photo, but nowhere to be found in the second, and is unverifiable in the third and still-disputed picture. All agree the cat could never have been seen from the helicopter, which is the only thing certain about him.

Thirty years from your time PBS and the BBC will co-underwrite a two hour television special about all this. Every photo and film will be taken apart pixel by pixel. There will be a re-airing of scores of old eyewitness testimonies and many new ones will be included. They will film computer reenactments, perform a carefully executed flyby with the same type of helicopter over the exact same neighborhood, have both professional and amateur photographers debate differing types of visual images over the years, and do everything within man’s technological power to recreate that exact moment in time. But…

Do you see what I mean?

Do you see the potential for such a thing getting out of hand? You can’t save history. You can save an accounting of it but you will never save that instant, because if you try you will destroy that thing you’re trying to save. You cannot save a slice in time. It will spoil and go moldy and when it turns black it will never resemble the thing it once was. You cannot save time, nor can you save any point in it.

We will never truly know the past. All we can hope for is a good accounting, someone’s story of what really happened. We hope they told it correctly. We create slices of history with every breath, with every move, and it doesn’t matter if there are witnesses or not. We are justifiably proud of our greater moments and we skulk around the weaker ones, all of us, but in the end there is only one truth and it will never be told.

I had a terrible time getting my head around this idea and how to go about telling it. When I figure it all out I’ll let you know. But if there are kids playing down the block and a helicopter anywhere within earshot the next time you reach for your mail, you might think about this. And if you do you will change the course of history forever.

It’s then not only a question of what histories we don’t know, but what histories never came to be. No language lends itself to this. There cannot be words for thoughts that never were. No wonder I could not describe what I was thinking, because it never came to be.

Tread lightly for your mail next time.

America Runs On



I’ve worked in medical publishing of one kind or another for nearly 30 years. I sit in offices, respond to email, talk on the phone, and attend meetings where people say things like, “We need to T up resources,” “What’s the opportunity cost?” and “Are they a stakeholder group?“ Everything I need to do my job is contained in a 14” laptop weighing 4 pounds.

But most of what I know about the business world I learned years ago from pouring coffee and bagging donuts at Dunkin Donuts. I worked at franchises in New Jersey and Boston, throughout high school and college. Here’s what I took away from those years:

  1. Understand where your paycheck comes from. I was 16 and thrilled when I got my first real job at Dunkin Donuts. Surrounded by racks of glistening French crullers and jelly donuts bursting at their sugary seams, I breathed in the scents of fried dough and chocolate frosting the way other kids breathed in pot smoke. For a girl teetering on the edge of chubbiness, it was a dangerous environment to work in.

I never drank coffee, so hadn’t given much thought to selling it. But I quickly learned that “America—does indeed—run on Dunkin.” Though we sold a lot of donuts, it was the coffee that lured customers in. Starting at 6:00 each morning, they’d queue up in lines that ran out the door and along the front of the building, sometimes enduring rain and snow just to get a cup of coffee. As a non-coffee drinker, it amazed me. Why didn’t they just make it at home?

Identify your company’s priorities so you know where to direct your efforts. At Dunkin Donuts, that meant we were grinding beans and brewing a fresh pot or two of coffee at all times. That’s what kept the registers ringing, and that’s what allowed the owners to pay us the grand sum of $2.50 an hour.

  1. Anticipate your customers’ needs. At first, the “regulars” annoyed me simply because they were always there: Taking up seats on the long Formica counter, lingering for hours at a time nursing a mug of coffee and a cigarette (back when Dunkin had counter service and allowed smoking. I’m really dating myself here). But I quickly realized that regulars tipped well and made my job easier. As soon as I saw them getting out of their cars, I’d pour their coffee, grab their donut, and have it waiting on the counter when they walked in. If they did take out, I’d have their coffee bagged and ready to go. In the midst of the morning rush hour, it was a relief to have regulars stream through because I didn’t have to stop to take their order.

Everyone likes to be known. To be understood. Give people what they need before they even ask for it, and you’ll (possibly) have a customer for life.

  1. Show up. According to Woody Allen, “80% of success is showing up.” In the world of fast food, where staff are often young and always underpaid, and the work is physically draining, it’s a constant problem: Somebody assigned to a shift doesn’t come in. Doesn’t call. Up and quits without telling anyone. The rest of the staff are left scrambling to wait on long lines of angry customers. I still remember the names of co-workers who called in on Saturday nights claiming to be sick. I’d stay on after my own shift to work midnight to 6:00 am (we were open 24 hours), serving customers, filling/frosting donuts, and trying to keep my donut-tree smock clean. So please: Show up, punch the clock, do your job. Your colleagues are counting on you.
  1. Plan your vacations far in advance. While we’re talking about time off, let’s talk about the planned kind. One night while working in the kitchen, I noticed that the baker’s hand was bandaged. He’d asked for a few days off, but the manager wouldn’t let him take it. So he stuck his hand in the fryer. They had to give him a week off to recover.

There are less painful ways to get a vacation, of course. Submit your request far in advance. Get somebody to cover your work while you’re away (if needed and possible). And work your butt off before and after your vacation.

  1. Accept that some trade secrets are better left unknown. I was in love with Boston crème donuts long before I worked at Dunkin Donuts: The plump shell of custard. The thick layer of chocolate frosting. Sometimes I wonder if I chose to go to college in Boston because it was my beloved donut’s namesake.

When I wasn’t waiting on customers, I was in the kitchen finishing donuts for the “showcase,” as we called it. Giving me the job was akin to appointing an alcoholic as bartender: A Munchkin here, a cruller there….I’d eat my way through my shift.

Finishing donuts was a messy, time-consuming, and potentially unclean process, depending on who was doing the finishing. Custard and jelly were stored in big plastic buckets and scooped—with a spoon, a spatula, or even bare hands—into tubs with spigots on the end. The tubs attached to a machine that made the custard or jelly shoot out of the spigots into the warm, yeasty interior of the donuts, two at a time. The donuts were held by bare hands.

Sometimes the plastic buckets of jelly and custard were left uncovered and you’d find flies or cockroaches in them. Similarly, the glaze we dipped donuts in sat exposed for hours, subject to the same insect invasions. I had other issues with the cleanliness of the kitchen, and I’m sure those issues are shared by all commercial bakeries.

Over time, it became more and more difficult to enjoy the gush of custard in a Boston crème donut without imagining the bucket from which that custard came. Or the hands that might have held the donut as it was being filled—I worked with a lot of strange people (see below). I stuck with donuts like chocolate honey dipped that weren’t handled very much after frying. It seemed safer.

There are similar trade secrets at all companies that may dampen your enthusiasm for the product or service you sell. Try to accept those things if you can’t change them. I did. Despite all I knew, I never got tired of eating donuts while working at Dunkin, and to this day, I still enjoy a Boston crème from time to time. Go figure.

  1. Learn to get along with different types of people. People are weird, and I’m not just talking about customers like Moon Man, who brought me stories he’d written for a fictional publication called “Moon Magazine.” My co-workers could be challenging as well: The lazy ones who never mopped up counters or washed coffee pots; the competitive ones, who tried to pour coffee and box donuts more quickly than anyone else (yes: seriously); and the ambitious ones who aspired to be key holders and flirted with the manager (again: seriously). Go with the flow and don’t try to make people act less weird than they are (it won’t work). Ultimately, you’ll be happier and more successful.
  1. Don’t shit where you eat. My friends and I called him “Kinky Kevin” because there was something a little seedy about him. He’d come in every day or so dragging his club foot and settle onto a stool at the counter. Staring up at me through glasses so thick they made his eyes look fuzzy, he’d order coffee and a plain donut. Even when he wasn’t sitting, the top of his balding head only came up to my shoulders. He wasn’t an attractive man by the usual standards, of course. But I had a crush on him. I was young and naïve.

The night we were supposed to go to the drive-in, he got lost trying to find my house. Suddenly overwhelmed with just how seedy he might be, I sat in my bedroom listening to the phone ring on and on, frightened at the prospect of being alone with him in a car.  There was no such thing as a GPS back then, so he never found the house. Much to my relief.

Needless to say, it was awkward every time he came into Dunkin after that.

Don’t get involved with somebody you work with—or around. We all know this, of course, but it’s difficult to follow. Sometimes such relationships work out—I dated a baker for 5 years. But usually, you’ll end up like Kinky Kevin and me: Embarrassed, resentful, and unable to look each other in the (fuzzy) eye. But hey, the way I figure it: He could have gotten his coffee elsewhere.


(Sue, Jake, and I have been sitting near telephones since last week when we thought our daughter-in-law was ready to give birth to the twins. Sherri kindly offered to pinch hit since it sure looked like a road trip to New York was about to occur. Well, Alyssa hasn’t had the babies and we’re still by the phones. Thank you Sherri for covering. Zach)