Editor's Note: Norman Chad begins a reader-requested, month-long vacation today. In his stead, Shirley -- his long-suffering assistant -- provides this week's Couch Slouch guest column.

Couch Slouch, my butt. Couch Grouch is more like it. What doesn't he grumble about? I don't think he's happy unless he's sleeping, and even then, he has to be dead to the world for at least four or five hours before his mind is at rest.

He's the type of guy who would go to Marie Callender's funeral and complain about her pies.

If anyone invites him to a dinner party, I assume he doesn't get invited back.

Don't get him started on Dick Vitale or Tim McCarver or Chris Berman or, God forbid, soccer. I think he voted for Nixon in '72 because he heard that George McGovern liked watching NASL games on TV.

Anyway, people often ask me about Couch Slouch and his quirks, so I figured I'd fill in some of the blanks here, plus I'll handle the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway this week.

People assume he must have a bank of TV screens hanging from the living-room wall, but all he has is a 20-inch Sony and a 19-inch Toshiba TV/VCR combo in his bedroom. For a while, I thought he had a radio in the bathroom but, as it turns out, it's just him singing the "Best of Toto" while he showers.

He doesn't know from a DVD player.

Inventory-wise, I'm never allowed to let the fridge fall under two six-packs of Rolling Rock. He's also considering installing a vending machine next to his sofa that only dispenses Shasta, Dr. Brown's Black Cherry, Fresca and Diet Mountain Dew Code Red.

He's surprisingly accessible to the public. He reads all of his own e-mail, though his doctor -- who, by happenstance, is also his bookie -- prescribes a mild sedative for him when he deals with cycling or WNBA correspondence.

He also answers his own phone most of the time and has set up special ring tones to identify incoming calls -- one ring tone for his first ex-wife, another ring tone for his second ex-wife, a third ring tone for whatever poor soul is dating him at any given moment* and a fourth for everyone else.

(*I'll say this for him -- when he's in a good mood and the dim, flickering light off the "Nick At Nite" cable signal hits him in a certain way, I can see why a couple of those women fell for him.)

(Speaking of which, for the record I am currently single but unavailable, due to the demands of my job.)

It's best to catch him after a "Mary Tyler Moore" or "Larry Sanders" rerun. It's worst to catch him if, by accident, he gazes upon Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews, Geraldo Rivera, Nancy Grace, Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, Suze Orman, Aaron Brown, Hannity and Colmes or "that dweeb in the bowtie."

Also, as a rule, I keep smelling salts on the coffee table in case he stumbles on "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" or "Around the Horn."

As for me, I favor figure skating or "The Amazing Race," but he won't let me turn on either one within the complex. "You want to watch that crap," he once barked out, "go to a sports bar or county lockup." Plus, he once told me he'd rather I smoke a pack of cigarettes than watch "The Tony Danza Show." Actually, in his own odd, peculiar way, he was looking out for me.

In fact, he does have a soft side. For instance, he usually gives me the afternoon off on Labor Day.

I do believe, however, we are fast approaching a labor-management divide. I won't tell you how badly compensated I am, but all you need to know is that he pays me bimonthly in cash -- sometimes in Canadian dollars -- in a brown paper bag.

The last time I asked him for a raise, he told me he was sure Sizzler was still hiring.

That's a real funny one.

Well, here's a funny one for Mr. Big Shot Sports Columnist: It's time for him to cough up all that change falling into the cushions of his precious couch. Because if The Man doesn't pay Shirley pretty soon, Shirley won't be paying the man much longer.

Ask The Slouch

Q. If stock car racing requires the ability to maneuver a big American car in a circle in bumper-to-bumper traffic, why aren't there more NASCAR drivers from New Jersey? (Andrew Hoenig; Rockville)

A. You pay the man, Slouch.

Q. Do you think your ex-wives really understood that when exchanging wedding vows with you and they said, "I do," they were really saying, "All in" with no chance of winning? (Bob Sigworth; Cleveland)

A. Another reader's got you pegged, Slouch.

Q. Have you ever, in your career of writing this column, been so down on your luck -- a week away from a paycheck, double alimony payments due, half a bottle of Rolling Rock left, etc. -- that you answered a question with a question and pocketed the buck and a quarter for yourself? (Ronald J. Banc; Willoughby, Ohio)

A. What do you think?

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. E-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!