Halloween and Femininity
It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was a young boy, not completely sure of myself, but just ballsy enough to say, "Indeed, I do want to be a woman for Halloween." My mom--obviously not afraid her son (the same son who played kiss chase in kindergarten and asked his second grade teacher to marry him) might actually want to be a woman--was overjoyed. She had run out of baby-making ingredients and never popped out a girl. So, for once, she would get to do some hair, put on some make up, and pick out a dress. It was quite a moment for mother and son. The shade of lipstick was just my color.
How was I to know that I would make such a convincing lady? When I looked in the mirror, I saw an ugly girl looking back at me (how was I to know that I would see so many of those reflections during my first college years?). I looked like a woman and I made the decision there and then...there would be no trick-or-treating. I would cry like the woman I was and do without the reeces cups and box-o-dots (man, I loved the dots).
My father, though, is a man. Mix Bruce Willis and James Coburn and you've got Papa John. And so while I was stumbling about on my heels, trying to figure out how girls wear stockings without their testicles itching, and watching my finely-tuned make-up run down my little face...my father donned a dress, a wig, a finer make-up job...and he dragged my ass out the door. Two women on the town, asking for candy from complete strangers, and shaking their hind-ends like ladies of the evening.
I think this probably set the stage for later days.
There are far too many pictures of me (most from college) wearing wigs, lipstick, garter belts and the like. At one point I started wearing my hair long. Very long. It was a dark period in my life and I don't like to discuss it. But for the purposes of this story, its necessary.
I looked horrible. The pictures prove that. Plus, I was eating a lot of Taco Bell and drinking a lot of beer in those days and weighed about 20 pounds more than I do now. I looked like hell.
Few people ever discouraged me, though, so my hair kept growing. It reached my shoulders and probably would've reached my waist. And then it came time for a BBQ.
I was at the butcher looking for a good piece of meat. I must have been hypnotized by the bratwurst, because the butcher couldn't get my attention. Finally, he said in a much too loud voice, "Ma'am! Can I help you with anything?"
My hair came off shortly after that.
Depsite my clearly heterosexual status, I am half woman.
Ask anybody. I'm sensitive, have a love for sweet smells, and my nipples are poofy.
Maybe I can blame Dad for this.
Say burrito really fast
My wife is cracking me up.
Her drive to expand her horizons is admirable. I have a hard time expanding anything more than my waist line. She has taken it upon herself to become a fast Spanish speaker. She started taking classes a couple of months ago. Two days a week she gets up with the sun, stumbles into a classroom, and speaks Spanish for a couple of hours before work. Last night before bed, she looked at me with these cute little sleepy eyes and said, "Necessito agua."
I wasn't quite sure what she meant. I knew agua
is water. Necessito
sounded like she needed some. But I wasn't sure what to do from there. So I did what every husband in America would do. I rolled over and started dreaming. I'm a real prick sometimes.
Now, when I come home from work the TV is turned to Univision. As it turns out, my wife is watching Spanish soap operas on her lunch break. It is apparently an attempt to be able to understand her soccer companions when they talk about Maria's new baby and how she doesn't know who the father is on "The Bold and Burrito" or "The Young and the Relleno."
She really is quite a senorita.
No news is...
I've mentioned this before, but it feels more and more significant every day. September 11 is arguably the biggest news story of all time. That makes all other news seem puny. That means we in the news business (that's the local news business) don't have much to do that means anything. We're struggling to come up with anything that will make our viewers watch. I'm discouraged.
What's worse, since I came off my short vacation I have been...um...less than motivated. Work feels so much like work.
Today, the only thing that may give me my jilly-jollies (not sure where that word came from) is the potential that I could take a ride in the world's largest commercial blimp. Ordinarily I don't take blimp rides as a part of my daily duties. And I never really wished for a blimp ride. But, the possiblity exists today and it would be a welcome diversion.
Now that my four days in the mountain have passed, I don't have much to look forward to. I'm going to see a neat band on Friday, there's a costume party on Saturday. I'm just less than rowdy right now.
My adrenal glands are on their way to atrophy.
I need a blood transfusion
We struggled back down the Mountain yesterday afternoon and capped off our weekend with a giant calzone.
LEAF was quite a success. Lotsa good music and lotsa other stuff that I'll relate when I stop seeing double.
Anybody know the number for Betty Ford?
I'll have a Dead Body Photo with a sick twist
I'm starting to get a little loopy. The trip is just two days away. My mutiple personalities have stopped doggedly trying to defeat my rowdiness. I've decided, despite being upset about Mike's departure, I'm going to have a good time.
In light of such loopiness, I thought I'd share something off the AP wire.
(Cincinnati-AP) -- A jury in Cincinnati has convicted a former
deputy coroner and a photographer on charges of abuse of a corpse
-- for posing bodies in the morgue with various objects and then
taking pictures of them.
Jonathan Tobias, a former deputy coroner in training, was
convicted of two counts and faces a maximum two-year sentence.
But Thomas Condon, a commercial photographer, was found guilty
of eight counts and could be sentenced to up to eight years in
And you were embarassed about what you did in college.
A little help
I know there are a thousand ways to help out folks affected by the events on 9/11.
Here's one more
The band is Eddie from Ohio. The album is called "9eleven."
There's only a few tracks on it, but I think they'll be very good.
And it is only $10.
And if you don't already know Eddie from Ohio, you should.
Ask me. I'll rave.
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I'm still stewing about my buddy. But now it doesn't have to do with my disappointment over him missing our camping trip. Now it's some other things that are less definable and maybe less superficial.
I talked to him briefly on the phone tonight. I didn't want to talk too long because I learned he has about seven hours left to spend with his new wife before hopping on some troop carrier and heading off to places unknown. He leaves behind bills, a pug dog, a pretty wife, and a steady job. I couldn't quite define the tone in his voice. I wish I could. It might make me understand how he's feeling right now.
It makes you wonder. Most of us (at least the few souls who find time daily to stop by here) have not lived in a time when we were duty-bound to do anything. The greatest obligation most of us have is a mortgage and a slack-jawed pet to feed. Some of us have taken on a greater duty...that of the two-legged, drooling variety. The kind that eats crayons and then melts your heart by spitting out the saliva-mixed wax into what looks like "I love you, Mommy," on the new carpet. I assume that is a great duty...but not exactly what I had in mind.
We have had the luxury of growing up in a time when army gear was grunge-faux-fashion and grunge kings overdosing on buckshot was a great tragedy. In short, we're softies.
I should say before I piss off any Kurt Cobain fans or former army-jacket wearers (I'm not talking to you, Ben Dayo) that there isn't anything wrong with us being soft. Or perhaps I should say...we had little choice.
I was talking with my wife tonight (she and the dog are snoozing right now) about the biggest news stories of our generation...or at least the one's that got the most attention. I randomly started with the 80's. Reagan catching a bullet. Challenger blowing up. Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union. Gulf War. Waco/OK City (I don't know why I link those). And now this. This which is likely the biggest thing that will happen in any of our lives.
Now think about our grandparents and parents...WWI, Prohibition (that's life without a snoot-full to you and me), the Great Depression, WWII, Korea, Kennedy, Vietnam, Kennedy, King, the moon...and then us (acutally some of us came before the moon, but I won't count if you don't).
Now, compare the two. We spent the last ten years trying to convince our parents we were a tough generation. But I'm not sure we could've compared our lives to theirs until the last few months. Given, our generation changed the world for the better. People much smarter and more creative than me created a whole new world. But...can we credit ourselves for the great change if we did it in such a slutty time? I mean, if the 90's had been any easier, that girl I knew in high school wouldn't hold the title of...well, I'm digressing.
Actually this whole thing has been a digression. I just started typing and didn't read back over what I wrote until just now. I think I should erase most of it, but I'm not going to. I told myself that if I started editing what I wrote because I didn't want you to see it that I would scrap this entire thing.
I think the point I started off to make here goes something like this: Maybe we should be working for something greater than we are.
I'm not sure what it is and maybe we're doing it and I just don't realize it.
I just know that right now, I'd like to take my wife on a family and friend hugging tour. I want to go hug my mom and dad. I want hug my buddies from high school and college (that's a manly one-armed hug by the way. none of that Sissy stuff). And I want to climb up into the mountains, listen to good music, and drink beer with...wait I'm doing that in three days. Fantastic.
I should go sleep.
One more thing...if you get a moment...think about those people who are leaving their families right now and don't know when they're coming home. Then ask youself what you'd do if someone asked you to do the same.
I'd like to think we could all do it.
My desk is a mess.
I clean it up about once a week and it takes about a day to get really messy again. But, the mess is framed by the things I keep around to remind me of good work times and better free-time-times. So, for lack of something better to do...
The Shakes Cup--As you walk away from the Mizzou campus, you start to smell it. If you don't smell well, you can see a bearded guy named Fin with a sandwich board over his shoulders. He's promoting Shakespeare's Pizza
. They give away free cups with every beer and soda. Every poor college student who couldn't afford real glasses or preferred to save his money for more beer has a huge collection of these cups. I still have a few. One sits on the rail of my cubicle to remind me of all the pizza and beer I put down with my college buddies...and remind me of one of the first dinners I shared with the girl who would someday be my wife.
The Coconut Monkey--My wife and I spent some time in Hawaii. We brought back a few coconuts that had been fashioned into apes. My ape wears wire-rimmed glasses and smokes a pipe made out of coconut shell.
Woman Kissing Telescope--One of my finer works...a picture of my wife kissing one of those face-looking telescope viewers that overlooks the Atlantic Ocen on the coast of Tybee Island.
Your Mom--The mugshot of the bankrobber who mouthed off to me. He has a talk-bubble coming out of his mouth that says "Your Mom."
Woo Sheep--A while back some buddies and I were sitting at a little joint called Zorba's Lounge. It's the type of place where everything is made of red vinyl and the owners keep statues of naked tribal people on the shelves. We were trying to get a feel for how we felt. Did we feel like going out on the town or sitting back in some quiet place. At some point we started gauging our mood based on how many arms we wanted to pump in the air in drunken excitement. Two arms in the air classified a full WOO MOOD. As in "Woooooooooo, I'm crazy, I'm crazy!" A few weeks later, a buddy noticed that my Far Side cartoon of the day pictured a sheep with both arms extended in the air. "Sheep's got the woo," he said. As it turns out, that sounds a whole lot like "She's Got the Look." A few weeks later, my friends and I are at another buddy's house. And whatta ya know, we all start singing "baa-baa-baa-baa-baa, baa-baa-baa-baa-baa, baa-baa-baa-baa-baa-baa, SHEEP'S GOT THE WOO!" (This would make a lot more sense of you could heard me humming along).
There's a lot more on the desk, but I should be working.
The Chicken Salad Years and other random realities
I tried chicken salad for the first time sometime during my youth. Whoever made it put apples and raisins and nuts in it. It was like some poultry dessert. I hated it so I swore off chicken salad (with all suppologies to my fine, feathered friends).
But something happened recently. I can't quite say what it is. I spent years--decades--thinking chicken salad was sweet and full of fruit chunks.
Guess what? It's not.
I've been on a Greenville, SC chicken sald tour for the last month. I rarely eat anything but the creamy poultry lunch. I'm hooked and right now stuffed with chicken.
The Bachelor (Blank) Night turned out badly.
Instead of putting names in a hat, we drew cards after a monster game of Euchre. The nine of spades got to be the bachelor. After some argument and a re-draw, my friend Todd (a true-to-life bachelor) became the Bachelor for the Night.
The problem...for about an hour before the draw, I had been acting like the party was for me.
In short, I acted like a college freshman Saturday night and embarassed myself. The Bachelor ended up making sure I didn't get arrested or killed.
It's time I start acting like an adult.
Except for maybe LEAF
Capitalism, Egotism, and Alcoholis...I mean good times!
Well, we did it. After sitting up half the night drinking beer by myself and watching network dramas I had taped from earlier in the week, the wife and I rolled out of bed at 6:00...no, 6:30...actually closer to 7AM (darned snooze button).
I opened my garage door and a guy said, "Good mornin'! Take fifty cents for those?"
The First Annual Mt. Willis Garage Sale was underway. I had almost canceled it. A cold front was blowing through and the ground was wet. But, those eager people would have none of it. Within three hours, they took most of our junk and gave us $200 for it. We just gave the rest of the mess to the Salvation Army. That's $200 of food and drink for LEAF
...coming up in 13 days.
I was reminded of something in the last couple of days that I sometimes forget.
The first to broach this subject with me was a guy by the named of Joey Two-Hands. Late one night after much too much Yucca (ask for the recipe of you like lemon drinks) he said, "We've been friends for a long time and I never have figured out why you're so depressed all the time." He then broke into a long description of times he watched me brood and wanted to kick my ass for it. (note: Joey is a nice guy and not prone to violence. Yucca is just a powerful libation and I was being a bit of a ninny).
The thing is...I've led just about the most fortunate life of anybody I know. My parents are still married. My grandparents are still living. My family has been successful. And I've got a great wife, great dog, and great friends. You can't ask for much more than that.
Anyway, Joey was the first and recently I've had others remind me of the same. The reminder is always welcome.
Someday I will figure out why I brood. Unitl then, you'll have to alternate between silly anecdotes of my silly life and the silly broodings of a...well, whatever I am.
We're trying something new tonight.
My wife and a bunch of girls are taking a friend of ours out for her bacheorette party. The thing is, the bachelorette's bachelor is in LA. That means we ape-like creatures have nothing to do.
We tossed a few ideas back and forth but couldn't come up with much. Then a couple of guys came up with the best idea I've heard in weeks.
We're calling it "Bachelor (Blank) Weekend."
Tonight at 7pm, all the stranded apes are coming over to Mt. Willis. We're all going to put our names in a hat. Whichever name gets drawn out gets to be the bachelor for the night. I may or may not let you know how it comes out.
Okay...the cold front is really cussing up a storm now. The wind against the vinyl siding sounds like an angry train whistle and an ice cream truck is driving below my window. It's playing "Old McDonald" complete with quacks for the quack-quack-here and there parts.
I can't decide if it's too cold to go out and ask for a Slush Pop.
The first word Tim Harmon ever said to me had four letters in it and started with an F. That was all he said and he looked menacing when he said it. He marched by me and I spent a few months wondering whether I should fear him. He works in my building and looks a bit like the Unabomber.
After knowing him for about two and half years, I've realized he's actually quite a nice guy and prone to coming up with ideas and phrases I couldn't come up with on my own. I ran into him today on the back loading dock of our building. As he walked toward the building he asked me, "If you happen to see my motivation out here, would you bring it in with you?"
I wasn't quite sure what he meant and I asked him to repeat himself. Then I got it. He was going through the same thing I am right now. A complete lack of desire to work.
Then he said, "You know, nobody ever talks about Fall Fever. There's all this talk about the Spring, but this time of year, I've got the fever."
A side note here...if you love good music and you're looking for another way to help the folks out in New York, check out this site.
They're some of the best out there.
The Five-Song Juke Box
I've been called a lot of things in my day. When I was in sixth-grade, a girl at Fastnight Swimming Pool looked at my crotch and called me pencil-d*ck. I took it in stride. In fact, I used that callous statement to formulate a rule for all men. When dancing close with a woman, never carry any of the following things in your pocket: Miniature golf pencils, a package of Certs, a single Vienna Sausage, etc.
Recently, I've earned a new nickname...The Five-Song Juke Box.
I come from a long line of mediocre musicians. My Grandpa in his day could pick a mean guitar. I've got uncles who play mandolin, cousins who can sing so it will melt your heart, a Dad who can turn out a pretty good version of The Flying Burrito Brothers' "Sin City," and a long list of pseudo-uncles and cousins who can turn a guitar into something quite listenable.
So, when I was 12, I picked up my Dad's old Kay (the strings sat about two feet off the neck), some chicken-scratch directions my Dad wrote, and taught myself to play. Years passed before I could play any song from beginning to end. But I got better and better.
I helped form a garage band. The Flaming Puppies (working album title: "Pet us. It won't Burn"). We had fun, learned a lot, and the bass player married my 7th grade girlfriend. We don't talk much anymore.
I went to college and spent years on decks and back porches playing for my friends. I wrote dirty songs about oral sex and baseball players who all the girls wanted to sleep with. There was a time I knew about 100 songs word for word, note for note. I could sit on a porch and play for three or four hours without playing the same song twice. Most people were encouraging. But it was about that time that I realized, the back porch guitar player can get a little annoying.
After college, I contained my guitar-rambling to myself for a few years. My short career as an un-paid medorice public musician was on hiatus.
Then I moved here and fell in with some riff-raff (also known as my very good friends) who owned and sometimes played guitar, drums, piano, etc. I broke the old guit-fiddle back out and started playing again. I realized quickly that my 100-song repertoire had fallen on hard times. I still remembered a lot, but a lot was lost in the bottom of a Stag beer bottle.
I kept playing, even kicked out a new song about a friend who is too virile for his own good. But, those old lingering feelings about being Annoying Guitar Guy kept coming up. I started doing my best to limit my performances. But it came back and bit me in the ass.
Virile Friend dubbed me the Five Song Jukebox. The implication...or maybe it is an inferrence...is that I only know five songs and it gets pretty annoying listening to them over and over again.
I don't know what to do with this nickname. I mean, over the years, I've annoyed a lot of people. My parents who had to go through the years of learning. Willard High School basketball fans who couldn't undertsand why the rhythm section of the jazz band was mounting a mutiny and playing something much louder and crunchier than the Tiger of San Pedro. Neighbors who were trying to figure out why three guys were singing the lyric "Tude likes to show his penis" over and over again. Drunken party-goers who had heard one too many requests for some Indigo Girls. And now...this.
So now I have a decision to make...do I re-learn the 100 songs I once knew or unplug the juke box for a while?
This all made a little more sense when I was an underaged drunk who could pick up girls with a piece of wood and six metal strings.
Apart from the part...
[Editor's note: It looks like Strom will remain in the suspended animation state for a while longer. That gives me a couple of minutes.]
Here's the thing.
When I was in college, I was a bit of a long-hair for a few years. It grew and grew. I looked worse and worse. Before it was all said and done, a butcher called me "ma'am."
I cut my hair my junior year in college and have been wearing it basically the same way ever since. Short hair, parted on my left. Box cut in the back, trim it up nice over the ears, and cut those sideburns up about halfway.
I was feeling a little saucy Saturday night. I was taking my wife out for a date. While she was in the shower, I decided to part my hair on the other side. It was a an act of defiance unparalleled in recent memory. I thought I looked completely different, but she didn't notice at first.
We went out for California rolls and tapanyaki. I spent about 45 minutes attempting to eat every roll they had. California rolls, spring rolls, Vietnamese spring rolls. Even a roll of toilet paper. My face was buried in my plate for so long, I thought she would have a good chance to look at the top of my head. Nothing.
We went to a movie, went home, went to bed. Nothing.
So, for the last four days, I've been parting my hair on my right. Nobody has noticed. I've hung out with people I've known for years (including my wife) for hours at a time. Nothing.
I hate the way I look. I look silly with my hair parted on the right. But I refuse to switch it back until somebody mentions something.
And here's the parting shot...do people just avoid looking at my hair (are they looking somewhere else?) or am I just so average that moderate changes in my appearance don't register with people?
I have a lot of things I'd like to write about right now...
However, I live in South Carolina. I work in the news businesses.
And Strom Thurmond just collapsed on the U.S. Senate Floor.
Of bed sores and blubber
I slept a lot in college. Actually, to be fair, I slept as much or little as anyone else. I just scattered my sleeping time around and it happened to fall at the times when a lot of other people were awake. For this...I earned the none-too-flattering nickname...Bed Sore.
Since college I've taken a job with semi-regular hours and am forced to get up before lunch. My self-esteem has recovered and I can now look back and smile at the idea of being called Bed Sore. Except for days like today. Days I've wasted.
I did as close to nothing as a man can do today. It's now around a quarter 'til one in the morning. I've been out of bed for around 14 hours. In that time, I haven't showered. I haven't shaved. I did brush my teeth, but that was out of a renewed love for oral-health that I will describe at a later date. I watched a lot of bad football. I ate a lot of bad food. In short, I've done next to nothing.
And I think I'm starting to stink.
A man can only sink into couch cushions for so many hours before he starts stewing in his own juices. I'm wearing the same blue jeans I put on Friday night before I tipped back too many brown bottles. In fact, now that I look, I'm wearing the same shirt I was wearing Friday night. I found it hanging on my bed post this morning and I thought...hey, why dirty-up another shirt. This one already stinks.
And I think I'm putting on weight.
About two years ago I realized that I had ballooned to my largest weight ever. I stopped eating McDonald's (for reasons of principle about which you can read in Southern Comfort's Boycott section
). I stopped drinking soda that had sugar in it. I dropped about 20 pounds and was satisfied. But...after my day on the couch, I think my body is involuntarily wintering. It's like my body knows it's about to get cold and it wants to protect my innards.
Or it could be that I'm just getting fat and lazy.
So...now it's getting closer to 1AM. I should've been asleep an hour ago
I'm going to hit the sack and try not to dream about those days when my college buddies would poke my belly and scream for me to giggle like the Pilsbury Dough Boy.