So here I am in the midst of an unscheduled “vacation” from my part-time job at the Publix grocery store where I work as a Front Service Clerk, which is corporate Publixese for a “bagger”, a true case of a $27 title for a three-dollar job, brought about by an unpleasant run-in I had last week with one of our customers who, despite the fact that she wasn’t wearing a mask or even remotely attempting to observe the rules of “social distancing”, felt it was her unalienable right and duty to stand RIGHTNEXT to where I was working, face within inches of mine, to closely supervise the bagging/loading of her groceries into her cart. (Bagging groceries, although there is an art to it, is nevertheless by no means rocket science…the close scrutiny was unnecessary.)

At any rate, apparently she took exception to my tone of voice the SECOND time I asked her to please step back behind the green line on the floor (full disclosure: I was having a bad morning and I handled it poorly, walking right up to Mr. Rude without quite shaking his hand…I was wrong), causing her to complain to management before she left the store that, although I was the best-looking bagger she had ever run across, I was also very rude, had a poor attitude, was most likely a liberal Democrat and that I should be chastised mightily and then taken out behind the store and beaten with a blunt instrument. Management, with a real and somewhat surprising empathy for the stress all the associates have been under during the pandemic, decided that I should take the rest of the day off, told me to go home and regroup, get my head out of my butt and come back for my next shift with my attitude re-adjusted. Upon arriving at Chez Cap’n I decided that I was going instead to take a couple weeks off and determine my future with Publix while I decompressed.

That decision is TBD.

Anyway, having some time on my hands and nothing particularly better to do this past week, I’ve been catching up with old friends with whom I haven’t spoken for a while, to see how they’re dealing with life these days.

I have a buddy named Bob (not his real name…the names in this story have been changed to confuse the uninitiated) who I hadn’t heard from in a while, so I sent him an email to inquire to his health and well-being; he also lives here in Florida, south of me near Port Charlotte (elevation: 7 feet), where he works as a bartender and part-time condom tester. (For Trojan in a lab, for pete’s sake…you people are disgusting.)

So Bob called me the next day and we chatted on the phone for a bit, swapping lies and laughs, when I asked him what was new in the bartending world.

Well, he says, you know I haven’t worked since back in April when the lockdown started, but I had an unusual incident take place back just before shit got crazy and everything started going to hell in a grocery cart. Oh yeah, I rejoined, what was that?

He then proceeded to tell me the following story…

This guy he had never seen before walked in one afternoon, carrying a cardboard box under his arm. He sat down at the bar, put the box on the stool next to him, reached down and pulled out, first, a miniature grand piano, about the size of a serving platter and complete with a small stool, set them on the bar, reached down into the box again and brought out a tiny little man, dressed in white tie and tails, who according to my friend, then sat down at the piano and proceeded to give a beautiful rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, to the great surprise of both my friend and the other patrons in the bar. When he finished he stood, took a small bow as acknowledgement for the applause from everyone there, sat back down and launched into Chopin’s Nocturne in Eb, opus 9, again playing beautifully.

When the tiny performer was done once again, the man picked him up and put him back in the box; if I don’t stop him occasionally, the guy told Bob, he just keeps playing…gimme’ a double shot of Jack, would you?

Where the hell did you get this little guy, my friend asked.

Well, the man says, I have a place down on Manasota Key; I was out walking on the beach one morning a few months ago, you know, enjoying the breeze off the Gulf and watching the sand crabs run sideways all over the place, just minding my own business, when I saw something sticking up out the sand about 20 yards up ahead of me, like something someone left behind after a picnic, except that hardly anyone ever uses this stretch of beach ‘cause it’s kinda hard to get to. Anyway, I walked over to it, and boy, what a surprise I got, he says…it was this ornate, jewel-encrusted bottle, just the neck sticking out of the sand, the rest buried. I leaned down and pulled it out and whoa, it was like something out of the Arabian Nights, I mean, it was beautiful. So I starting wiping the sand off of it, and when I did it started to vibrate like in my hand, and suddenly the top falls out and this mist starts coming out of the bottle and, Holy I Dream of Jeanie, Batman, out pops this, I don’t know, apparition, ghost, shit I had no idea what it was but it was like a man and it scared the crap outta’ me. I dropped the bottle and the mist starts getting solid and, whoa, there stands this guy, all dressed in a turban and these flowing robes, who says not to be afraid because he’s a Djinn, you know, a genie. He says he was imprisoned in the bottle by an evil vizier for dallying with the guy’s daughter, has been in there for thousands of years, thanks me profusely for freeing him and says, as a reward, that he will grant me one wish, whatever I want.

Beach guy says he was so surprised that he just blurted out, anything I want?

I’m sorry, the genie replied, I didn’t understand you.

Anything I want, the guy repeated.

I’m sorry, says the Djinn, looking puzzled, I didn’t quite get that, putting a hand behind his ear.

So the beach guy, deciding to take a different approach, asks the genie, where are you from? No, says the genie, I don’t play the drums; no, no, says BG, what land are you from? And the genie gets this quizzical look on his face and replies, ham and rum, what the hell is that? and I realized right then, the beach guy said, that the genie must have had sand or salt water in his ears because he didn’t understand a thing I was saying.

So BG says to the genie, raising his voice, I get one wish? and the genie says, a crumb dish, what the fuck are you talking about, and the guy says he then screamed at the genie, ONE WISH? And he said, oh yeah, sorry, yeah, I can grant you one wish, anything you want.

So the beach guy tells me he thought about it for a moment and says to the Djinn, okay, I want a 12-inch penis. Really? says the genie. Well, okay.

Next thing I knew, says BG, all this mist starts coming out of the bottle, the air around me got all murky and weird and suddenly there was this big flash of light, knocked me spang on my butt and when the mist started to clear, there was this box sitting on the sand next to me, and when I looked inside, there was this guy, pointing to the box sitting on the stool next to him.

He reached out, took the double Jack off the bar, downed it and said, that’s when I started drinking.

He took the little guy out of the box again, placed him on the bar, and we watched as the foot tall pianist walked over to the piano, flipped his tails out behind him and then sat down and proceeded to start playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto #20.

I bought him the next round, said my friend.

Love and sheet music,

Cap’n John

Post Script…yes, I know you can’t play a concerto without an accompanying orchestra…call it artistic license.


There’s a scene in the movie Amadeus (rating=**********1/2 out of 5 stars) where Wolfgang Mozart, though arguably the greatest composer of classical music of all time, as portrayed in the eponymous movie is a certifiable wack-job, is in a milliner’s shop trying on wigs, and not able to make up his mind which he likes best. At one point in the scene he bursts out with, “Oh, they’re all so beautiful, I wish I had three heads!” and gives out this crazy high-pitched giggle, to the delight of the shop-owner and his helpers.

If the “wearing of many hats”, i.e., having multiple jobs/responsibilities is any criteria, I could use a couple more heads as well, preferably quite a bit better looking than the one I currently have.

As most of know by now, besides being the Captain and Master of the R U Kidding, as well as a newly-announced major candidate for President in the 2020 election (Vote Hearty Party!), I am also employed by Publix Supermarkets here in Florida as a part-time Front Service Clerk, a title so grandiose, as compared to the duties attendant thereto, that it is laughable. What I really do is bag groceries, help people to their cars with said groceries, chase carts and tease the cashiers, most of whom think I’m a cutie. (Little do they know.) “Bagger” is a much more accurate and down to earth title, but that’s way too mundane for Pubics and their sense of jargon.

FYI, although I love to bust their chops re their self-inflation, Publix was named once again in the Market Force Collection’s survey as the Top Grocery Chain in the country, tying with Wegmans, a chain that operates mostly in the mid-Atlantic region, with a 77% customer approval rating. (To give you a frame of reference, Whole Foods came in at 61%, Kroger at 57% and Walmart at -45%.)

Publix has also been named one of the top places in America to work, according to the annual survey done by Forbes magazine, for 20 years running (1998-2017).

So I guess I should stop picking on them…nah.

The other hat that I keep having to don is that of advisor to the lovelorn; since I started the Welcome Aboard The R U Kidding blog, I have received letters, texts, emails, postcards, messages by carrier pigeon, smoke signals and notes in bottles (hey, I live less than 2 miles from the Gulf of Mexico), from folks asking for advice on their love-lives or lack thereof.

As I have done several times previously, I would like to share some of these pathetic, excuse me, heart-rending missives with you…don’t laugh, this could be you writing in someday.

“Dear Cap’n John:

                I’m a guitar player and singer, and have played in a bunch of great bands over the years I’ve been a musician, along with a number of other great players; sadly, I’ve fallen in love with the wife of another guitarist who is one of my best friends. His lady is beyond beautiful, with long, silky blond hair, big blue eyes, a sweet personality and three breasts. I’m obsessed with her and have even written songs about her…I don’t want to bust up their marriage, but I can’t get her off my mind. So here’s my question: I’ve always played Strats before, because I love that piercing high, trebly tone, but lately I’m starting to incline to the Les Paul, to get that fat sustain when it’s run through a Marshall stack and cranked to 14. What do you suggest?

                Pickin’ and Not Grinnin’ in Tulsa”

                Dear Pickin’:

Stay with the Strat…that fat Gibson neck plays like a washboard.

“Dear CJK:

                I’m the President of a major country, and a gazillionaire to boot, as well as being a stable genius, able to recognize pictures of giraffes. I had an affair with a porn star/stripper a few years ago, while I was married to my third, I think it was my third, yeah, my third wife, paid her off (the stripper) to keep her mouth shut and tried to forget her; trouble is, now that the media has found out and brought her back onto my radar screen, I can’t get her off my mind. She’s a beautiful blond woman with big blue eyes and three breasts. What should I do? Should I invade North Dakota, or wherever that crazy Rocket Man guy is located, or nuke the Washington Post?

                King Donald the First”

Dear King:

                You are such a dweeb.

“Honorable Cap’n John:

                I recently met a young girl at a party at her parent’s home, and I am in love! Problem is, her parents and mine hate each other, and will never let us be together. I spent one night with her and it was ecstasy, but now because I killed her cousin, the Prince is pissed and has exiled me to Cleveland. I so hate to leave her, for parting is such sweet sorrow, but I must. Do you think the stripper with the three breasts who had the affair with that dweeb in Washington is available?

                RM in Verona”

Dear RM:

                Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs…whatever that means.

“Cap’n John Krissongs:

                Since you have ignored all our efforts to collect this debt…”

                Okay, never mind this one.

“Dear Cap’n John:

                I’m a single woman in my late 20s and live in a large apartment complex with several pools that I like to hang out at…I’m into fitness and tanning. There’s this cute guy that I keep seeing around the recreation area, and I think he has noticed me as well…problem is, although I know he’s aware of me, he hasn’t made a move. I’m wondering if it’s because I have three breasts. What can I do to attract his attention, besides wear a regular bikini and let one hang out with a name tag on it?

                Poolside Patty the Third”

                Dear Patty:

                What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.

Well, boys and girls, that’s about as much frivolity as my ancient heart can stand…under love’s heavy burden do I sink. Would that I had three heads.

Love and William S.,

Cap’n John