For those of you unfamiliar with this theme, Fallen Arches is a curmudgeon’s way of looking at romance, one broken heart at a time.

So here is yet another episode of:

Fallen Arches title copy


Darryl had only three desires in life – hunting, fishing and getting into girls’ panties.

Coming to Grandma’s cabin in the mountains let him do the hunting and fishing; girls’ panties would have to wait a bit longer.  He always liked coming to Grandma’s cabin.  Grandma was a little bit weird but she was pleasant and she always fed him good stuff like shrimp and grits and biscuits with gravy.  Besides, the hunting on her property today was fan-tastic!  He had already bagged himself two rabbits just a short ways from the cabin and was on his way back to show off his trophies.

His hope was that Grandma would be back and she would not have Uncle Fester and Aunt Lou Ellen in tow.  They were really weird! In fact, all three kept talkin’ shit about some trans-somethin’.  Aunt Lou Ellen was always gabbing about how the rocks and the stars mixed with your soul and brought out your inner being, blah, blah, blah.  It was all bullshit as far as Darryl could see.  He couldn’t figure it out and didn’t want to.  As long as they fed him and let him hunt, he was happy.

He also liked the thought of seeing cousin Daisy.  He always wanted to get into her knickers since he was a pup.  She must be all of fourteen now and ripe as could be, yeseree.  Darryl figured that one day he’d see Daisy, sneak up on her and let nature do the rest.  At least, that was how Darryl saw it.

As he approached the cabin, he saw that Grandma had returned.  The other pickup in the drive told him that Uncle Fester and Aunt Lou Ellen were there as well.  His downcast spirits were lifted a bit by the thought of seeing cousin Daisy, even if she came with that snot-nosed little brother of hers.  Just as long as Uncle Fester didn’t stare at him with those god-awful eyes.  Darryl was a big, strong young man and not afraid of much but something about Uncle Fester frightened him and made his skin crawl.

He bounded up the steps and prepared himself for the ritual greetings as he heard Grandma say to him “Oh, Darryl.  You just missed it.  It was the most wonderful transformation that your uncle has ever done.”

Darryl wondered what crap he had thankfully missed when his aunt chimed in.  “It was amazing.  Both children just hopped and bounded with joy.  You should have seen them leaping out the door and into the fields.”

“Both children?” said Darryl querulously.  “You mean Daisy and her little brother?”

“That’s right.” chirped Aunt Lou Ellen.  “Your uncle made them free animal spirits.  They get to enjoy the entire day as joyful creatures of the open air and fresh fields before they change back.  You may have passed them hopping about as you came in.”

“H-h-hopping” stammered Darryl.  “You mean l-l-like rabbits?”

“Yes,” said Aunt Lou Ellen “that’s exactly right.  Your uncle transformed them into two darling rabbits to sense freedom and experience their other being.”

“So what did you do while we were gone?” asked Grandma.  “Was your hunting successful?”

“Oh, yes” said Darryl, without thinking.  “I managed to bag two – ah – two – ah r-r-rab-rabbits.”

“Two rabbits” said Uncle Fester in a low, even but menacing voice.  “Two rabbits out in the front field, by any chance?”

“Y-e-s” said Darryl slowly as a dreadful thought started to enter his skull.

“The front field!” shrieked Aunt Lou Ellen, “Isn’t that where the children went when you changed them?”

Uncle Fester’s eyes – always scary as two coal-black centers – now began to change to an intense, fiery red glow as he stared with increasing animosity at Darryl.

Darryl realized with growing alarm that he was going to find out about being transformed.  And he wasn’t going to like it one bit!

Oratory Society

Growing up, I was a shy curmudgeon.  To overcome my shyness, I joined the oratory society and the debate club.  Thanks to the efforts of a spinsterish teacher named Miss Green – an unsmiling but kindly woman who pounded into me the basics of pronunciation, concise speech and complete sentences – I learned the fundamentals of public speaking and the power of debate.

These results did not mean that I was ready to compete with Tony Robbins and give inspirational speeches to large audiences.  I encountered a few obstacles along the way which I can only describe as unintended consequences.

Moderator:  Welcome to the next round of the Mudville Middle School oratory contest.  We will select two contestants to move on to the finals.  Each contestant will be given a topic, selected at random, for which they will deliver a two minute response.  Mr. Maas, you are our first contestant and your topic is “Should lawmakers lower the drinking age to 18 instead of 21?”  You have two minutes.

Mr. Maas clears his throat and begins his thoughtful response.  He explains the benefits of lowering the drinking age and inconsistencies involved in keeping the age set at 21.  He contrasts these benefits with the potential dangers that might result from allowing younger adults to drink.

Moderator:  Thank you, Mr. Maas.  Well done.  Now, Ms. Lunga, you are our second contestant.  Your topic is “Should schools have the right to perform drug searches or drug tests among the students?   Two minutes, Ms. Lunga.

Ms. Lunga, with bravado and exuberance, gives her response.  She first focuses on the matters of safety in conducting drug searches and tests and then contrasts these measures with arguments based around civil liberties.  She even notes the differences that should exist between public and private schools.

Moderator:  Very well done indeed, Ms. Lunga.  And now we come to our third and final contestant, Mr. Curmudgeonal.

Me:  It’s Curmudgeon-at-Large.

Moderator:  Excuse me?

Me:  It’s Curmudgeon-at-Large.  My name is Curmudgeon-at-Large, not Curmudgeonal.

Moderator:  Don’t get smart with me, kid.  Just answer your question.  Your question is “What are the effects of vaginal atrophy on the macro-economics of Burkina-Faso?”

Me:  [Stunned silence]

Moderator:  Young man, we need your response.

Me:  Would you please use it in a sentence?

Moderator:  What?

Me:  Would you..  Would you please use vaginal atrophy in a sentence?

Moderator:  Look, son, this isn’t a spelling bee.  Just give us your response in two minutes.  The clock has already started.

I did not make it to the next round.

The New Circles of Hell

Dante’s Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy.   It is an allegory telling of the journey of Dante through what is largely the medieval concept of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth.

Each circle represents a sin (lust, gluttony, avarice, etc.) and a corresponding punishment.  Since it was written in the 14th century, it needs some updating.   Your humble writer offers a few updated circles.  I will only offer new circles of suffering; I leave the punishments (with one exception) up to you.

Double dippers:

  • These are the people who dip their chips into the salsa after they have already taken a first bite.  They are joined by those guilty of eating with their mouths open and spewing their food over a dining buffet.

Traffic offenders: 

  • Among the habitués of this circle are: the woman who has a car with a “baby on board” hanging sign and is driving at 90 miles per hour with a cell phone in one hand and cosmetic eye-liner in the other.
  • The guy who drives slowly until the traffic light turns amber and then speeds up through the intersection so that you are left stranded at a red light.
  • The guys who drive in the fast lane at one mile over the speed limit and will not yield to a slower lane.
  • The people who, like pilot fish, spend their driving time in your blind spot.

Germ sharers:

  • Here we find the people who feel the need to share their germs by sneezing and coughing all over you.  These people always feel the need to come to work during the contagious stage of an illness.  The same people wipe their nose before shaking your hand and leave the lavatory without washing their hands.

Space crowders:

  • The people who block an entire aisle and then act upset when you ask them to move.
  • People who, in an otherwise empty theatre, parking lot or waiting room, place themselves right next to you.  (The ones in the waiting room often do double duty as germ sharers.)
  • I also include the people who, at a party, stand too close to you and proceed to spit all over you as they tell their stories (which are not interesting).


  • This circle is self explanatory.  I make an exception to meting out punishments.  For eternity, every telemarketer will not be allowed to finish dinner, watch television, read a book or complete any activity because they will be interrupted by a constant stream of phone calls pitching the very products they were trying to foist on us during their lifetimes.  A special punishment is reserved for the guys from New York City who are trying to sell you stocks, won’t let you off the phone and refer to you by your first name as though you were best friends.  They get interrupted for eternity by Donald Trump.  Unless they happen to like Donald Trump, in which case they get interrupted by exercise enthusiast Richard Simmons.

I’m sure that you have others to add.  Let me know.  Hell has room for them.