My friend Judy tagged me with this meme. It took me a while to get around to doing it, but, what the hell, better late than never, right? Don't answer that.
I'm supposed to tag seven other bloggers, which is impossible since I don't even know seven other bloggers. So, as a compromise, I've listed 11 random/weird things about myself and tagged 3 other bloggers. The mathematically astute will note that 11 and 3 add up to 14...same as 7 random things and 7 people tagged.
So, here goes:
1. I'm a voracious reader. I normally read at least one book a week, and sometimes several per week.
2. I've been trying to write a novel for the past 4 friggin' years. I am actually coming down the homestretch and WILL have the first draft finished by year end.
3. I do most of the cooking in my home. It is one of the things that relaxes me, and people tell me I'm pretty good at it. I cook mostly Italian/Mediterranean.
4. I am addicted to ballroom dancing. Until about a year ago I was dance-o-phobic, but then started taking lessons with my wife and became hooked. See my post here.
5. One of the first posts I ever made on this blog is the most popular page visited. I get about 40 Google hits a day for my N'Italian Lessons. In case anyone has missed it you can find it here, and if you're interested in what these words and expressions actually sound like there's a link to some sound bites here.
6. I have a black belt in tae kwan do. Actually, I've completed all my requirements up to third degree black belt, but just never bothered to get officially tested.
7. I love telling stories and jokes. At family gatherings my nieces pre-introduce me to their boyfriends as the guy who'll be telling all the jokes.
8. In high school I was the runner-up for class lover. Okay, okay, you can pick yourself up off the floor and stop laughing. The guy who won actually put on a campaign, but campaigns reminded me too much of politics…which I hated even back then.
9. Speaking of which...I abhor politics and politicians. Just writing that last sentence probably made my blood pressure kick up about 30 points. I pay enough income taxes each year to pay a good portion of your typical politician's salary….shit, just thinking about that is making my head pound so I've got to stop.
10. I've spent the last 40 years trying to get over the guilt trip my parents laid on me about taking vacations being sinful. My father never took a vacation and we were raised to believe that vacations were only taken by "lazy good-for-nothings" that were pissing away their money instead of saving it for important things. That was a direct quote from my mother. I just turned 60 and I am almost over it.
11. I'm a sex addict.
Ha!! Got ya' with that last one, didn't I? Actually, I wish it were true it's not true.
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog. 2. Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself. 3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs. 4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
A little more than a year ago the Badabings discovered ballroom dancing. What started out as a present of six dancing lessons to Mrs. Badabing led to an immediate addiction and a monthly dancing lesson bill that is more than many mortgage payments.
Several times per year our dance studio sponsors a program in which participants perform a choreographed routine. Last month, the missus and I did a tango-rhumba medley...we start with a tango, shift into a few rhumba steps, and then finish with another tango. Here's a clip of us doing our routine in front of an audience of about 400 people:
Just call me twinkle-toes...nah, on second thought that sounds too you-know-what.
I'm still playing around, doing meaningless things, so I resubmitted the blog to that rating site and got an R rating...which I think is much more moi (that means 'me' in case you're not a francophile).
This time because I used the word crack six times.
I wonder what would happen if I used jugs, hooters, headlights, cheeks, boobs, breasts, cha cha's, and rack?
Yeah, yeah...I know already...I am a dirty old man...so if you're under 17 you can't visit my blog unless you're accompanied by your crack whore mama who's got a nice set of headlights and is showing her ass crack.
That's right...parental guidance is recommended...I guess because my posts are so risque. Yeah, right!!
Anyway, I was bored yesterday, so instead of working on my novel or doing something meaningful, I went over to this rating site, submitted my site, and it came back with a PG rating. The reason? Because I used the word crack one time, somewhere.
I guess it's a good thing that smoke crack, butt crack, ass crack, or crack whore wasn't found.
So now I'm going to be sporting this cute little rating notice somewhere over on the right side of the page...as soon as I have the time to size the graphic properly.
I don't know why I've been percolating up memories of old 50's shows lately, but after writing the Ozzie & Harriet post a few days ago I was thinking about the "You Bet Your Life Show" with Groucho Marx. There was supposedly an infamous episode, that I didn't see, that went something like the following:
Groucho: "Well hello there sir, and what is your name?" Guest: "Haylo Meester Groucho. My name ees Gonsalez Gonsalez." Groucho: "And where are you from Mr. Gonsalez?" Guest: "I am from Guadalooopay Mayheeco, Meester Groucho." Groucho: "Mayheeco, huh? Is that anywhere near Mexico?" Guest: "Oh, si, Meester Groucho." Groucho: "Are you married, have any kids?" Guest: "Oh, si, Meester Groucho. I am hapeely married and have 15 woonderful cheeldrens." Groucho (eyebrows raised): "Fifteen children? How do you explain so many children Mr. Gonsalez?" Guest: "Well, Meester Groucho, I luff my wife Rosalita very mooch." Groucho (taking cigar from his mouth): "Well, I love my cigar too…but I take it out once in a while."
I have heard from many sources that this actually got him kicked off the air…but, that's probably myth since tv was so heavily edited back then. In any case, those of you of my vintage might be able to imagining him doing a little skit like that, raising his eyebrows, making those facial expressions, etc.
Even though I was only a kid I loved his sense of humor. Some famous Groucho quotes:
A man's only as old as the woman he feels.
Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.
From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.
I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.
I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.
I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.
I remember the first time I had sex - I kept the receipt.
Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?
One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I don't know.
Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men -- the other 999 follow women.
"I'm a traveling man…made a lot of stops…all over the world…but in every port I've owned the heart of at least one lovely girl…"
I don't know why, but the words to that old Ricky Nelson song just popped into my mind this morning…I guess because I've been traveling every friggin' week for the last two months...and haven't had any time to tend to the blog or to visit my usual ones. As I write this post some more Ozzie & Harriet memories are bubbling up from my subconscious:
"Hi dad." "Hi dad." "Hi Dave. Hi Rick." "Hi Mr. Nelson." "Oh, hi Wally." "Hi boys." "Hi mom." "Hi Dave. Hi Rick. Gee, you boys are home early." "Hi Mrs. Nelson." "Hi Wally." "Gee mom, I sure am hungry." "Well, why don't you boys have a seat while I go get some milk and cookies." "Gee, thanks Mrs. Nelson, that would be swell." "Oh, you're welcome Wally."
"Uh, gee Rick, you look like you've got something on your mind." "Oh, it's nothing dad...I guess" "Go ahead Rick, just tell Dad." "Uh, uh…what is it Rick?" "Well, gee, dad…it's Ginger." "Ginger? Gee I hope she's okay, Rick. She's a swell girl." "You can say that again, Mr. Nelson." "Be quiet Wally." "Yeah, be quiet Wally." "Sorry Dave. Sorry Rick." "Gee dad…uh, you see…uh, Ginger is pregnant." "Well, uh that's all … Harriet, Harriet … can you come in here for a sec…"
Okay, okay…so I made some of that up...but it might bring back some memories to those who are of my generation.
Bill Clinton is placed against the wall, and just before the order to shoot him is given, he yells "Earthquake!" The firing squad falls into a panic and Bill jumps over the wall and escapes in the confusion.
John Kerry is the second one placed against the wall. The squad is reassembled and John ponders what his old pal Bill has done. Before the order to shoot is given, John yells, "Tornado!" Again the squad falls apart and Kerry slips over the wall thus making his escape.
The last person, George W. Bush, is placed against the wall. He is thinking, "I see the pattern here, just scream out a disaster and hop over the wall." As the firing squad is reassembled and the rifles raised in his direction, he smirks his famous smirk and yells, "Fire!"
I started to write this post as I sat in a sidewalk cafe on the Via Laietana, sipping caffe con leche and watching the women. I was going to post it while in Spain, but decided against it because it was my friggin' vacation...the first vacation in more than ten years that lasted more than a few days. Anyway, this is me at the cafe having my coffee...just so you don't think I'm making this stuff up :-)
We had a great time exploring the beautiful city of Barcelona, soaking up the culture, atmosphere, wine, eating delicious food, practicing our Spanish, and taking lots of photographs. Did I mention soaking up the wine? We did...lot's of it. The guy in the picture can verify that. He's our friend Omar, the bartender at our favorite tapas bar. You can't really see it too well in the picture, but he's sticking his tongue out.
As often happens on my business trips, I found myself in some interesting situations...including some encounters with gypsies...so I will have some interesting stories to share over the next few weeks...or whenever the hell I get around to it. But for now, here's some of the observations I jotted down while basking in the Spanish sun:
The city of Barcelona is quite beautiful and very cosmopolitan. The architecture is an amazing blend of classical European and ultra-modern. Many claim the city was reborn as a result of the Olympic games in the 90's.
The temperature was damn near perfect (60's to mid-70's) the whole time we were there. The sun and a proliferation of palm trees and wild parakeets gave the place an almost tropical feel.
The people were quite friendly and appreciated our efforts to speak in Spanish. One thing that took us a bit to get used to was that their Spanish didn't sound or look exactly like the Spanish we were familiar with. Turns out that the official language of Barcelona is actually Catalan, though everyone speaks both Spanish and Catalan and many street signs are written in both languages. Catalan, when you see it written, looks closer to French than it does Spanish. That was actually helpful for me because I know a lot more French than I do Spanish, and I was able to use the combination of languages to figure out what things meant. The tricky part was that people sometimes used a combination of the two in a single sentence.
The Americans are easy to spot. There are six things that give us away: first, we don't make much of an attempt at speaking Spanish; second, we weigh about 40 pounds more than everyone else; third, the way we dress gives us away...overweight men wearing white knee-high socks with shorts and brown shoes is not very European...kind of sticks out in a crowd; fourth, we order Budweiser (without using a word of Spanish) and bitch when told it is not available; fifth, we frequent the many Starbucks located all over the city, where everyone, of course, speaks English; and sixth, we are looking for places to eat lunch at noon and dinner at six...lunch in Spain never starts before two and dinner never starts before nine or ten.
Thankfully, I don't fit the weight stereotype. I did, however, try to look like less of a gringo by rolling my white knee-high socks down to my ankles (like some elderly women do with their stockings) and by substituting the local wine for the Bud. And my wife wouldn't let me set foot in a Starbucks. Oh yeah, I even spoke Spanish. Unfortunately, it didn't work...they still had me pegged as a gringo. Maybe it had something to do with the Yankees baseball cap and Redskins jersey.
After the Americans, the Brits, Dutch, and Germans are the next easiest to pick out of a crowd. They are as big as the Americans but tend to dress a little more inconspicuously. They also travel in larger groups.
The Italians and Scandinavians are on the slim side, as are the Spanish, and, Scandinavians excepted, it is more difficult to tell them apart.
The French are also on the slim side, but you can pick them out easily because their noses are constantly held upward at a forty-five degree angle and they refuse to speak Spanish.
A lot of people smoke. Many of the twenty-somethings actually roll their own cigarettes...something I haven't seen since the 70's. Actually, in the 70's it wasn't tobacco people were rolling.
Piercings and tattoos seem to be the de riguer body adornements for the under-35 crowd. Pierced lips, tongues, and metal protrusions on each side of the mouth and randomly placed about the face are as commonplace as backpacks. I know tattoos and piercings are common among that age group here in the US...but over there it was pretty extreme. After a few drinks one night I offered to treat my wife to a tattoo and lip piercing...I took the kick in my ass as a definite 'no'
There are more motor scooters and motor bikes in Barcelona than in any city in Europe. People park them handlebar-to-handlebar on the streets and sidewalks.
I have seen more happy-looking dogs here than anywhere else in the world. They trotted happily alongside their owners, and I swear they were all smiling. I have made this observation both pre-wine and apres-wine. My wife has confirmed this as well.
That's all for now. I'm in Atlanta this week, it's almost 8:30, and I've yet to have my wine dinner.
Yes, that's right...I am in Barcelona...that would be the Barcelona in Spain. The wife and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary here. So far, the weather is perfect and the food is great. I will be posting over the next few days and hope to have some interesting stories to share.
And just in case you're wondering "has he been hanging out at the bars?" ... abso-friggin-lutely.
For someone who teaches graduate level computer science courses I am sometimes a friggin' stunad when it comes to my own computers. For those who don't know what a stunad is...let me refer you to my N'Italian Lessons 101 link.
Anyway, last week I felt like I was walking around with a big "Kick Me...I'm a Stunad" sign on my back. Let me start from the beginning.
There I was, sitting in O'Hare Airport, working on my laptop while waiting to board my flight. They called my flight, I powered down...yada yada yada. The next morning I did my usual routine...went to Starbucks, leered lasciviously at the women admired the pretty women,had an espresso, powered up the laptop, powered up the laptop, powered up the laptop...oh shit. Nothing happened.
I didn't bring the power adapter with me so I wolfed down the coffee and raced home.
I plugged in the adapter and powered up.
Guess what? Nada...nothing...zero...zip...zed...null...zilch...no lights, no beeps, no friggin' anything. Shit!! No...actually something a bit stronger.
I could really relate to this song...
I could hear my heart thumping and feel the old blood pressure spike up a good forty points. I know what you're thinking...Did he backup his data?
Of course not.
Well, I actually did, but it was from several weeks prior.
I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. I figured my hard drive was fried...this has happened before, so I knew that the good news was there'd be a chance I could recover some data.
So, what was I in jeopardy of losing? Email (the important ones were replaceable), client notes (not that big a deal since I finished the project), and eight chapters of my novel (irreplaceable).
After kicking myself in the ass for fifteen minutes, and vowing to religously do a weekly backup (was it by chance that my eye caught that external disk drive on sale at Circuit City the weekend before?), I called Computer Geeks and scheduled a house call, then went on to my dentist appointment.
I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to re-write the lost novel chapters and make them as good as the originals. Shit, shit, and triple shit. So I whined and bitched and moaned, beat up on myself a little more, threatened to shitcan the whole novel project (even though I've only got a dozen chapters to go), and watched my face turn red in the rear view mirror.
I got to the dentist's office, sat in the chair, and he asked if there had been any changes to my health, medications...yada yada yada...since he last saw me two weeks prior. He said he's only asking because I look a little stressed and my face was red.
I shared the events of the morning with him, he nodded compassionately, and started working on me. He proceeded to tell me that he'd had a similar experience with his office computer. He was able to restore his data, but had to match up 5,000 mouth pictures to patient records manually. Suddenly, I didn't feel so bad.
As I was scheduling another appointment with the receptionist, he came out and asked if my computer was a laptop. He then told me to try taking the battery out and putting it back in...already did that. He then suggested I try removing the battery and attempt to power up using just the power adapter...that had worked for a friend of his, but he didn't know why.
Bingo...all of a sudden five years of engineering school bubbled up to my conscious memory...the design of the computer was such that the battery would be recharged when the power adapter was plugged in. In order for the battery to charge, current had to flow through it. So...a bad battery might short the circuit...yada, yada, yada.
I rushed home, took the battery out, plugged in the adapter, pushed the power button, and....the little sucker booted up just fine. Whew!!!
I should've thought of that current thing right off the bat...so the joy of not losing my data was quickly replaced with my feeling like a stunad...for about five seconds anyway :-)
So...there's a little trick you can try if your laptop happens to crap out on you.
And, yes, I now have my novel backed up onto three separate computers and a CD-ROM.
Our world has become so technical and complex that we often forget to give proper focus on simple everyday things that touch us, and we are sometimes unaware of how so-called advances are robbing us of our most basic freedoms.
Take, for example, the common bowel movement. Don't say "yuck"…or "disgusting"…or anything like that. This post is both factual and educational, so just keep quiet and read, and…to borrow a phrase from comedian Dom DeLouise…"hold it till the end." I shall do my best to keep the tone of this posting dignified, informative, and most of all…business-like, and to share with you the lesson that there is money in the mundane...sometimes at the expense of our most basic freedoms.
Now, back to the bowel movement, a common excretory event that most people experience on a generally daily basis…except for those poor souls who are, let me use a politically correct expression here, constipatedly challenged (okay, okay, so I made that up.) Those of us not afflicted with said malady enjoyendure experience this event in the privacy of our homes, in the workplace, in public restrooms, and even while traveling at 30,000 feet. For those who engage in said event in the workplace or in public restrooms...be forewarned...your bowel movement experience is about to be changed...forever.
You see, big brotherKimberly-Clark has invented an automatic toilet paper dispenser that will limit the issue of tissues. Put in non-technical jargon, this new device will dispense exactly five...count 'em...that's five...squares of toilet paper...exactly twenty inches of paper. You wave your hand and out they come.
The company conducted years of research and concluded that five standard squares of toilet tissue is optimal. I wonder what it was like to work in their test department...betcha they got their hands on all the data they could. Now, whenever I see the word optimal, I get suspicious. How did they define optimal? I'll bet they'll never tell...but, they can't fool ole Badabing with their corporate mumbo jumbo...so I'm giving you the straight poop spilling the beans here and now.
It all boils down to money, averages, and psychology...so pay attention.
Let's start with the money aspect. The bean counters at Kimberly-Clark hope that this new device will help them capture more of the $1 billion away-from-home toilet paper market. That's a lot of beans. How will it help them increase sales? That's a no brainer. They sell them to businesses, and the businesses can cut down on their toilet paper costs. As an example, let's assume a company spends $150 on toilet paper for its employee rest rooms each year. Actually, that figure is a drop in the bucket but it will illustrate the point. The new machines will dispense 20% less paper than the average arm pull, so the company's paper cost will be reduced by $30 per year. Since a basic machine costs $30 (the souped-up chrome-plated model sells for $55 and would probably be used in executive washrooms only), the company breaks even the first year and the future savings are even greater since replacing the batteries is the only maintenance required. Couple that with the ability to adjust the machine to dispense a mere four squares of tissue...a mere 16 inches...and you can see how the savings add up. Of course, the possible downside to this from the employees standpoint are grumblings about the "Toilet Police," but who the hell cares about employees anyway.
Oh yeah, and I'll be the people who sell the new gizmo throw in some motivational gimmicks as well. You know, like little placards that could be attached above the dispenser with motivating phrases like:
"Strive for Five," "Dump Poop...Not Paper," "Save More With Four," "Help Wipe Out High Costs," "Dump Once...Wave Once."
Ooh, and here's a neat little branding idea...right above the little window where you wave your hand they can put a label that says "Gimme Five." Hell, might introduce a whole new slang expression into corporate America just like Xerox did with the copier. You know, "I'm going to make a xerox of this." So maybe people will start to say, "Excuse me while I get five," instead of "Excuse me while I take a dump." Hey...it could happen.
Okay, let's move on to the averages. Their research has shown that the average American uses an arm's length pull of toilet paper for his or her average excretory experience. Now, my own calculations estimate that, at least for the average adult American male, an arm's length pull results in several feet of said tissue...on average. That's a lot of toilet paper...twice as much, in fact, as the average European uses (just thought I'd throw in that little factoid...and no, this doesn't mean that American arms are twice the length of European arms.) The marketing folks will try to sell these new devices based upon averages...and that normally works well from a marketing standpoint. But, you see, there's a problem designing to averages.
There's a little design secret I learned in engineering school...designs shouldn't be based soley around averages but around the variations that exist around averages...otherwise, things won't work when you have an unexpected (un-average) deviation from the average. For example, you don't design spacecraft using averages. Sound a bit theoretical? Okay, let me give you a "hands-on" toilet paper example. I don't know about you, but sometimes one pull just ain't enough for me...it really depends on...well, you get the point. In my own case, I'm probably a two-pull guy every time, and sometimes even go for a third and (heaven forbid I had some spicy chili) occasionally a fourth yank. This makes their device problematic for me, because my average pull would be four feet (not factoring in the variances), which is a huge deviation from a mere 20 inches...and my arms aren't even that long. Okay, okay, I'll stop with the math already...before I get into Beta distributions, bell-shaped curves, confidence intervals, and standard deviations around the norm. Suffice it to say that I have a "length" issue with their device. (Hmmm...ya' think there might be a pill for that?)
So much for averages, now let's talk about psychology, because this is the key to making the contraption feasible. You may be thinking "what's the big deal...someone could just wave their hand as many times as they want...and get as much paper as they want." See, I knew you were thinking that...and if you weren't you were either still reeling from the mathematics discussion or you haven't had your coffee yet this morning. Well guess what? Kimberly-Clark did research on that too. Rather than telling you, in my own words, what they found, let me share with you a quote from the guy who was in charge of the project.
Richard Thorne, who directs the company's washroom business explained "Most people will take the amount given." Then he went on to add "People generally in life will take what you give them."
How does that make you feel?
Well, I for one won't stand for it...I'm gonna' wave my friggin' hand until I get five feet of paper each time...that includes my normal average plus the average variation around the average. Ha! Take that you mercenary-minded corporate maggots. No sir, I want my toilet paper...they can't take that away from me.
I wonder what kind of bonus that executive guy is going to get?
Never satisfied to rest on his laurels, he admits the company won't truly achieve a "touchless" bathroom until it develops a toilet that does the dirty work for you.
"And that," he says, "is going to be interesting."
Yeah, I bet it'll make great dinner table conversation.
See...I told you this post was going to be informative. In case you'd like to read more about how there is money in the mundane, you might want to check out these ideas...which have been patented:
US Patent #6401264: A toilet seat comfort device for preventing the heat transfer from a person sitting on a toilet seat to the toilet seat
US Patent #5884345:A sanitary device for washing private parts of a person sitting on a toilet bowl
Just remember...the job's not over until the paperwork is done!!
Well, my travels over the last few weeks have been rather uneventful...this little tidbit is about the most exciting thing that happened.
Two weeks ago I was in a suburb of Chicago. When I'm in this particular area I like to go to a restaurant called Tuscany where they serve one of my very favorite dishes...grilled octopus.
Now...stop before you start...no noises or making faces allowed...fuggedaboud' it...just pay attention.
As usual I sat at the bar. It was fairly empty, only about five people were there in total. I ordered a glass of wine, and when the bartender served it I ordered my dish...in Italian. In case you're wondering, polpo is the Italian word for octopus. It's pronounced pretty much the way it looks, but the 'pol' part sounds more like 'pole.'
The two women sitting to my right looked at me a little strangely. One of them asked me, in a very raspy voice, "What's that? It sounds really weird."
I was tempted to tell her "poo poo" but, with great discipline, managed to resist. Instead, I just said "polpo" in my best Italian accent.
"What's that?" the other one asked.
"It's very delicious. Very hard to find in many restaurants," was my answer.
"But, what is it?" the first one rasped again.
"I'm going to make you guess...after you see it," I replied with a smile.
Now, at this restaurant they give you the option of having the octopus served whole or cut up. I usually have them cut it up for me...so...as the bartender approached, dish in hand, I made a cutting motion with my air knife. He nodded, looked for a knife, and began cutting my octopus into bitesized pieces.
That particular octopus was particularly tough, because it looked like the bartender was sawing wood. This caught the attention of the two women who again asked what the dish was. I repeated that they would have to guess, then, watching the bartender still working away, added "If he breaks into a sweat or takes out a chain saw, I'm going to send it back and have them cook another one."
This restaurant serves the octopus as a salad, drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil, some field greens and a fresh lemon on the side. When it's cut up into little pieces it's hard to tell what's really in the dish...unless you know in advance.
The bartender ultimately served me and the two women peered over at my dish. With dramatic flair I took a forkful and made a satisfying "Hmmmm...good" sound as I looked towards the women.
"What is it?" one of them inquired once again.
"Can you guess?"
"No idea," the raspy one said.
"I know it's not chicken," the other one astutely observed.
"Okay, I'll let you off the hook. It's octopus," I replied.
They went from curious to horrified in a heartbeat.
"Would you like a taste?" I offered.
"Ewwwwwww," they said in unison, looking like they were about to upchuck their last meal.
For a brief moment I considered betting them a round of drinks if I could guess their next question, which I thought would be "What does it taste like?"
However, as I took a second mouthful and made more yum yum sounds, the expressions on their faces were saying "How on earth can you eat that stuff?" so I decided against the wager.
Instead, I just replied "And, no...it doesn't taste like chicken."
"Ewwwwwww, that's gross," they echoed in unison.
Oh yeah...they left shortly after I took my third bite?
Now, just in case you're wondering what octopus looks like when it's cooked, here ya' go...
The Sheriff in a small town walks out in the street and sees a blonde cowboy coming down the walk with nothing on but his cowboy hat, gun and his boots, so he arrests him for indecent exposure. As he is locking him up, he asks "Why in the world are you dressed like this?"
The cowboy says "Well it's like this Sheriff... I was in the bar down the road and this pretty little red head asks me to go out to her motor home with her... so I did."
"Then what?" asked the sheriff.
"Well, we go inside and she pulls off her top and asks me to pull off my shirt... so I did."
"Then what?" the sheriff asks again.
"Then she pulls off her skirt and asks me to pull off my pants... so I did."
"And then what?" the sheriff asks a third time.
"Then she pulls off her panties and asks me to pull off my shorts... so I did."
"And?" the sheriff urges him to continue.
"And then she gets on the bed and looks at me kind of sexy and says, 'Now go to town cowboy'... And here I am."
It's Friday afternoon and I'm burned out from working so hard this week. I thought a little humor might be in order...
Four brothers left home for college. They became successful doctors and lawyers and prospered. Some years later, they chatted after having dinner together. They discussed the holiday gifts that they were able to give to their elderly mother who lived far away in another city.
The first said, "I had a big house built for Mama."
The second said, "I had a hundred thousand dollar theater built in the house."
The third said, "I had my Mercedes dealer deliver her an SL600."
The fourth said, "Listen to this. You know how Mama loved reading the Bible and you know she can't read it anymore because she can't see very well. I met this priest who told me about a parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took twenty priests 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for twenty years to the church, but it was worth it. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it."
The other brothers were impressed.
After the holidays Mom sent out her Thank You notes.
She wrote: "Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway."
"Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home, I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks."
"Michael, you give me an expensive theater with Dolby sound, it could hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead, I've lost my hearing and I'm nearly blind. I'll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same."
"Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you."
One day, Pinocchio and his girlfriend were in bed doing what girls and wooden boys love to do. As they were cuddling later, Pinocchio could tell that something was bothering his girlfriend.
So, he asked her "What's the matter, baby?"
She gave a big sigh and replied, "You're probably the best guy I've ever met, but every time we make love you give me splinters."
This bothered Pinocchio a great deal, so the next day he went to seek some advice from his creator, Gepetto. Pinocchio thoroughly explained the perplexing matter, and Gepetto suggested that sandpaper might be able to "smooth out" Pinocchio's relationship.
Pinocchio thanked Gepetto for the advice and went on his way.
Gepetto had not heard from Pinocchio for a while and therefore assumed that the sandpaper had solved all of Pinocchio erotic problems.
Some weeks later, Gepetto was in town to have some of his wood-working blades sharpened at the hardware store when he ran into Pinocchio.
Pinocchio was buying up all of the sandpaper that would fit into his shopping cart.
Gepetto remarked: "Wow! It looks like things must be going pretty damn well with the girls."
I can't help it...I saw this over at Miss Cellania and I just had to lift it. She's got an interesting post on breasts, including the results of an MIT study about why men's eyes gravitate to women's breasts.
Of course, I am only interested in this topic because of the science...not the pictures.
Hmmm, and speaking of science, I wonder if those MIT researchers got their hands on all the data available before arriving at their conclusion.
Since Tuesday a week ago I've completed six chapters. This week I'm out of town on business until tomorrow night, so I'll be lucky to get another chapter done.
There's no way I'm going to meet my original goal of having a first draft done by the end of the month, but I think it was a good catalyst to get me crankin'. The new goal is July 15, which I think is doable.
Well, I'm all alone in San Antonio...at least for the next hour or so while my wife treats herself to a facial at a local spa. Figured it would be a good time to sit in Starbucks, have my morning espresso, and do this post.
I am sorry to report that I have no interesting bar stories to share...yet. Simply because I haven't been in a bar...yet. But, the weekend is just beginning.
I do, however, have a little story about my flight here a few days ago.
The wife flew in before me so she could catch up with some friends and family. I flew in alone on Wednesday. Long trip. Full trip. Tight trip. Hot trip..but not in a good way.
I can see why Southwest Airlines is one of the few making money. There wasn't a single empty seat on either leg of my flight...and that's where the story begins.
I'm lucky enough to snag an aisle seat near the front of the aircraft, which is my first choice. So far, so good. On the first leg of the trip, the people who sat next to me were average in size, so the trip was pretty comfortable. So far, so good.
On the second leg the crew announced that all seats would be occuppied. A bit of gray portending clouds on the horizon, both literally and figuratively. The woman who was sitting in the middle seat next to me on the first leg slipped over to the window seat. I jokingly remarked "Let's pray for a skinny one." She looked at me like I had a big green booger hanging out of my nose...so I guessed she either wasn't religious or she was a travel newbie.
People started boarding, and I kept a discreet but watchful eye for the point in time when passengers kind of pause to look for seats closer to the front of the plane rather than just going for the rear. My goal was to attract the attention of a no-more-than-average-sized person and offer the middle seat. So, each time such a person came near I would try to make eye contact, stretch and yawn to visibly attract their attention, etc., etc.
This failed to work, but there appeared to be a bright side. Everyone had moved past my row, and no new passengers were entering, so I thought maybe I lucked out and the middle seat would be empty. So far so good.
"That seat available?"
A woman, who had approached from the rear of the plane was standing in the aisle next to me. Apparently she had gone to the rear, found no seats, and worked her way back to the front.
I stood up and stepped into the aisle to let her get to the seat. Did I mention she was large? Yup, to say she'd weigh in at 250 would be extremely complementary. And she was only about five foot six. Think about it. Five-six, two fifty plus. Are you getting an image of short and wide? Very wide? Like in brick shithouse...very wide brick shithouse? Okay then, I'll continue.
I slip back into my seat, fasten my seat belt, continue reading my book. But I notice she's trying to get the attention of the flight attendants...probably to get one of those seat belt extensions. Then I also notice that her head is higher on her seat back than mine is, which is strange because I'm several inches taller than she is. She kept leaning forward, her head touching the back of the seat in front of her, then she'd lean back and try (unsuccessfully) to sit straight up, and then repeat the leaning, etc. I pondered this for a good three or four minutes.
Then the sound came. A little "thwoosh" sound. And a little, barely audible, sigh of relief from her. And all of a sudden her head was almost level with mine.
Now in case you're having trouble visualizing what happened, let me spell it out. She tried to squeeze into the middle seat, but she was so wide her body couldn't fit between the armrests. So, she just kind of sat there, suspended between the armrests, contorting her body until her flesh gave way to gravity and she was wedged into her seat. Wedged in so tightly that she couldn't sit up straight, so she spent the entire flight leaning forward.
Oh yeah. And her flesh also expanded sideways, up and over the armrest...and into my seat space. So I had to lean into the aisle...for two and a half hours. Oyyy, my aching back.
And then the heat came. Body heat. Sweaty body heat. Sweaty body heat you could feel all the way into the aisle. And she kept dabbing herself with a handkerchief. Her face. Her neck. And, errr, yes...her armpits.
I guess it could have been worse...she could have dropped the handkerchief on me. And, at least she helped prepare me for the heat and humidity here in Texas. :-)
Come to think of it, I probably should have joined my wife at the spa this morning to get a massage and work the kinks out of my back.
Someone sent a version of this to me over the weekend and I thought I'd share it here.
This is post is dedicated to all the kids who survived the following:
First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets...not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.
As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle...and NO ONE actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because...WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING !
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day...and we were O.K.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned how to solve the problem.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms...WE HAD FRIENDS...and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and chipped teeth...and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt...and the worms did not live in us forever.
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls or whatever else we could find laying around...and...although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or stood at the back door and just yelled "Hey, Billeee"
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of...they actually sided with the law!
If we didn't make the school team...or if we did, but didn't get to play much...our parents never went to the coach or the administration and whined!
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned...HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!
If you survived any of these you were probably born between 1930 and 1970...CONGRATULATIONS!!
These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as KIDS, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.
And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know I probably spend too much time in bars, but if I didn't where would I get all these stories to share?
Actually, I wasn't going to post about this until the weekend, since I should be working on my book, but after reading my friend Duke of Earle's post today about his trip to Austin, I figured he could use a story.
I'm in Chicago (actually a suburb of) this week. Last night I tried this place for dinner and, as usual, decided to sit at the bar and eat (see...I don't just go to these places to drink). It was packed and I figured there was a good chance of getting into one of my usual discussions with people. As it turned out, I was more of an observer this time.
So I'm sitting at one end of the rectangular-shaped bar. Right about in the middle of the bar are three twenty-something Hispanic girls sitting with a guy...two to his left, one to his right. The one to his right was extremely overweight...we're talking 200-pounder...and she was taking turns giving me the eye and talking with the guy, which I have to admit was flattering considering our age difference. After half an hour she got up and went home to take care of her babitas. One of her girlfriends then turned her attention to the guy.
Did I mention that they were pretty drunk? And, they spoke perfect English, no trace of an accent until they got really shit-faced.
Anyway, I couldn't hear all the words in the conversation because the place was pretty loud (ahem...not that I'd ever eavesdrop), but I (and everyone else at the bar) did catch a few of the phrases she shouted over the roar of the crowd:
"Fuckin' Sox rule!" (the Sox game was playing on the tv) "I probly shouldn've beat my fuckin' daughter so much..." "I used to beat her fuckin' ass so much man..." "I grew up in New York City, man. You don' know shit. You grew up in a fuckin' white bread box, man..." "Are you Norte Americano, or are you just gay?" (to the Hispanic guy stocking the bar with fresh glasses)
Meanwhile, her other girlfriend, who was even drunker, was talking to the air. I couldn't hear what she was saying, but the bartender had to tell her to be quiet several times. She started looking left and right, a mean look on her face, like she was looking for someone to start a fight with. The blondie girls to her left turned their backs to her, I guess so they wouldn't make eye contact. Finally, she called someone on her cell phone and started cursing at them.
The guy talking with the child beater got his check and left. The child beater went running after him. Just as he pushed through the revolving door I heard him yell "No way," to which she replied "Why the fuck not?"
Right about that time the Jimmy Buffet song "Why Don't We Get Drunk And Screw" popped into my mind. I was tempted to start singing it, but feared it might make me her next victim, so I decided to hold my wise-ass tongue.
She then returned to her seat and proceeded to argue with her girlfriend. By this time, the bartender was ready to cut them off, and asked if they needed a ride home. They didn't like that at all, and insisted that they were okay to drive. The bartender pushed to let her call them a cab.
"Fuck you. I'll get my own fuckin' ride, fuck face."
A guy shows up, and one of the girls starts slobbering all over him. Turns out he was going to drive them home. They had a few more drinks and left. As they were leaving they passed by two elderly guys and decided to hit on them.
"Hey man, you like whad you see?" "Hey man, you wan' some a this?"
The guys just turned away from them and continued their conversation, to which one of the girls replied:
"You don' know whad you missing, man. Whad', you no like some chica poosie?"
The last thing I heard their male friend say was "You better not puke in my car."
As soon as the chicas left, the blondies who had been sitting next to them started gossiping like a bunch of barbie bitches.
Oh, and I stopped for a drink at another place on the way back to my hotel...and there's another very different story there. But, that's another post.
Now I need to get back to the novel...before I head out again tonight.
This is not my usual type of post but, what the hell, maybe it'll help.
I've been working on this novel for the last several years. Too many years! It's just a personal little project to help myself explore whether I've got even a smidgen of creativity mixed in with all the technical skills I've accumulated over the decades. I only half care if it ever gets published.
In the past, I've sometimes let working on the book go by the wayside for up to six months before I get back to it. I really want to finish it. I'm about halfway, maybe a little more, finished at this point. So, I've set myself a goal to finish the first draft by the end of this month. Ambitious? Yes. Make that a friggin' yes! Reaching the goal will require me to complete 20-30 chapters, meaning I'll need to write an average of 1+ per day (aren't you awed by my mathematical prowess), roughly. My chapters average 3-5 pages, so they're more like scenes, and I've got about a dozen of them kind of identified already. I think 150 pages may be doable (is 'doable' even a word?)...if I can stay focused. Believe me, staying focused is the big problem.
Anyway, I got the idea that if I posted about this maybe some of you will brow beat me inquire about my progress and it might help me to stick to it. Figured it might be worth a shot.
Now, it's off the blogging and back to making stuff up...
I got the inspiration for this post as I was making a comment over at Viki's blog. It's amazing how the mind bubbles up some interesting memories...things you've totally forgotten about. This one was from about ten years ago.
At the time, my son was a very heavy duty tennis player. I won't go into details...suffice it to say he was highly ranked in the USTA junior program. Anyway, some friends in New York gave him a standing invitation to play at their country club anytime he was up visiting. So, one Sunday when we were up there he went over to play.
After about half an hour a pretty sizable crowd started to gather and watch since no one had seen him before and since, with his ability, he definitely stood out.
Then along comes my sister...proud aunt that she was. She hadn't watched more than a minute when she began jumping out of her chair to cheer him on. A few of her more memorable words of encouragement:
"Kill the bum!" "Ram it down his throat!" "Knock him on his ass!" "No mercy!" "Take no prisoners!"
There were a few more but I think I'll stop right there...though I still can't figure out how you knock someone on their ass in tennis. ;-)
Do I even need to say that she stood out as well...but in a different way?
So, being the ever dutiful father, brother, friend, and to spare everyone any further embarassment, I gently informed her that tennis spectator etiquette is a little different than in other sports. For example, clapping is permitted, but only if you clap for both opponents (she didn't like this one), and the occasional "ooh" or "ahh" is tolerated (this was a real test of her self-discipline)...and that's about it.
Fortunately...for everyone...she was a fast learner and complied.
Now, what I thought was kind of funny about this incident is that just a few years before it happened, when I went to my son's first tournament, I have to admit that I was almost a clone of my sister. Luckily, a friend sitting in front of me gently...and quickly...taught me the proper etiquette.
So, I got my hetero ass out of Starbucks, did my morning errands, and headed on home. On the way home I spotted Pinky at the bus stop, listening to his iPod and wagging his ass to the music. He kept looking up and down the street…like a hooker looking for a John.
Later in the day I had to go back to the shopping center (where Starbucks is located) and drop some things off at the dry cleaners. It was hot, and I was thirsty, so I thought I'd drop by Starbucks and get one of those blended fruit and tea drinks.
I ordered my drink, sat in the same chair I used that morning, and started browsing through one of the new books I'd just purchased (Einstein: His Life and Universe...in case anyone's interested).
I was enjoying the first couple of chapters (and enjoying even more the scanti-clad thirty-something mom's who were stopping by on their way home from the pool)…when…guess what…yep, here comes Pinky, slinking up to the cash register. Thank God there wasn't a line or he might have wiggled his butt in front of me again.
Having said that, I'm very liberal when it comes to one's sexual preferences, and I'm certainly not a homophobic guy. But, I hope to hell he isn't going to be a new fixture in the neighborhood. Hopefully, his trolling for c__k su__ers will fail and he'll move on.
I did notice that most of the young moms were holding their kids a little closer to themselves and giving Pinky a wide berth. Quite a few of the kids were bug-eyed and couldn't stop staring and pointing at Pinky. I wonder how mommy replied to their questions.
This is coming to you live…well almost live...from my local Starbucks. I say 'almost' because it's taking me more time to write about the scene than it took for the scene to happen in the first place.
I'm sitting in Starbucks as I write this...having my usual double espresso, reading my favorite blogs, and leering discreetly glancing at the pretty women...when...out of the corner of my eye...I glimpse an ass dressed in a pink mini-mini skirt wiggling about two feet away from me. Yes, wiggling. Wiggling like in "Hey sailor, lookin' for a good time?" kind of wiggling. Wiggling like when hookers wiggle their ass on the street corner…that kind of wiggling.
What can I say, I have to stop and look, right? I mean I have no choice anyway since it's a reflex reaction, right?
Okay, so I look.
Oh my gawwwd!
It's a pink mini-mini skirt all right, and it barely covers the butt cheeks. My eyes float upward…a white sports bra top, about two sizes too small. My eyes drift downward…pink flip flops decorated with fluffy pink flowers. The toes were painted…you guessed it…pink. The oversized purse was slung over a shoulder and was, of course, also pink. And did I mention the pink headband.
And the wiggling ass…well, it was still wiggling, and now only about a foot from where I'm sitting.
Now that I've got you all hot and bothered you're probably wondering about the rest of the body, right?
Okay, let's start with the legs and work our way up. The legs are long and slender with just a hint of muscular definition.
And hairy. Yes, I said hairy. Hairy as in more hair than I had on my legs when I was twenty. Hairy as in manly hairy.
The tummy. It's not flat. It's a beer belly. A hairy beer belly. A hairy beer belly with an 'outie' belly button. A very outie 'outie'…a 3/4-inch outie.
Have you guessed it yet?
Let me get you off the hook.
It's a friggin' man wearing that outfit. I kid you not. A man. Well, I'm 99.99% it's a man, but I'm sure as hell not going to check under the skirt to see if he's got a quarter pounder.
Oh yeah. I forgot. He's wearing these little crushed velvet bracelets too. You already know the color.
I guess one could say he's really 'out' there. (get it?)
So, let me repeat…Oh my gawwwwd!
This is true...every pinkin' word of it. Now I'm gettin' the hell out of here before he thinks I'm interested.
A few weeks ago I wrote a note to myself questioning whether I use too much dialog in my writing. Now I'm not referring to what I write in my blog. I'm referring to a novel that I have been stutter-starting on for the last few years and that I have promised myself I would finish by the end of June. Well…at least the first draft.
I like dialog and find it easy to write…I really like to write dialog. The majority of many of my scenes are heavy with dialog. Personally, I find the dialog easy to read…but, I may be prejudiced because I'm the one who wrote them. Ya' think? Anyway, I never realized I used so much dialog, and wondered if that is bad style.
I just finished reading James Patterson's newest novel, The 6th Target, and I noticed he uses a combination of styles. Some of his chapters have no dialog, some have one to three sentences of dialog, and some are virtually all dialog. He really mixes it up, and since most of his chapters are three pages or less his stories just zip right along.
On the other hand, I just started reading Elmore Leonard's new book, Up In Honey's Room, and he has a completely different style. After reading the first few chapters, I noticed that they were almost pure dialog. I spot checked random chapters later in the book and those chapters appear to be almost 100% dialog too. Chapter after chapter after chapter...
I'll have to double check, but I think I read somewhere in one of those "how to" books that Leonard is supposed to be a master of dialog. Personally, I found his dialog hard to read. It could have just been me…it was late at night and I was tired…or maybe not. I guess I should re-read and see if I have the same reaction…
Okay, I did just that. I re-read some chapters and made a decision…I'm shit-canning his book. That's a technical term meaning I'm not going to read it…which is something I very rarely choose to do.
I did the same thing for my novel. I went back and re-read a dozen scenes, and I think there is a good mix of narration and dialog. Yes, several scenes are almost pure dialog but they seem to work, IMHO.
So I guess I'll keep plugging along…June is just around the corner.
Last week kenju made a post about her favorite job when she was growing up. It brought back memories of my summer jobs and I got to thinking about which one was my favorite.
And the winner is…garbage man.
I kid you not. When I was in college I worked as a garbage man one summer. That job was head and shoulders the best job ever…for a summer job anyway.
So, how come it was such a great job, you ask? Well, first, there was the money. I can't remember exactly how much it paid, but it was about $80 per week…that was good money for a college kid in the 60's.
There were also some interesting perks. If you were lucky enough to get on a route that included business establishments...restaurants, bakeries, bars, for example... you got freebies every time you picked up. I ate a lot of free breakfasts and lunches, brought home dozens of pastries, and, yes, drank a considerable amount of beer.
You couldn't beat the hours. We started at 7:30am, but you were done after making two trips to the dumps. On a slow day, if we got partnered up with an old fart, we were done no later than 3:00. Many of the drivers lobbied to get two college kids assigned to their trucks. We'd run between houses instead of walk, and would toss cans back and forth between us instead of carrying them to the truck. It was quite a beautiful thing to see (you have to let your imagination go here)...full garbage cans launched into a perfect parabolic arc from the kid at curbside to his waiting partner, who, in one fluid motion, would dump its contents into the truck and send the empty can flying back. Without spilling anything on the street. There were dual benefits to this: First, it was great exercise. Second, and most important, we'd usually finish our second trip to the dumps by noon, and then hit the beach for the rest of the day.
To be fair, there were also a few downsides as well.
The job was absolutely mindless. After a few weeks of working the trucks your mind went to mush, and even reading the newspaper (and I'm talking the Daily News here, not the New York Times) became a challenge.
And then there was the vocabulary. The regulars who worked on the trucks had a vocabulary that was pretty much limited to four letter words…and we absorbed them through the process of verbal osmosis (okay, okay, I'm back to making words up again.) One of the kids was the son of a devout minister. He came in one day telling us that at dinner the night before he said "Mom, can you pass the fuckin' potatoes, please?" He didn't even realize what he had said until his parents recovered from the shock and filled him in.
Oh yeah, and the nicknames some of the regulars had...Sitting Bull, Nobby, Eight Ball….
Last week I went to Milwaukee. It's one of the few cities I'd never been to before.
I stayed at a really nice hotel, the Hotel Intercontinental. The place had several nice bars and restaurants so I was looking forward to an interesting evening.
I moseyed down to the main bar during happy hour. It was fairly crowded, so I thought I'd probably get into one of my typical conversations. Normally I manage to strike up conversations with people while on my travels, but nothing was happening. Nada. Zilch. I had just brushed my teeth, so I knew it wasn't my breath. I discreetly whiffed each armpit and ruled out GAPO (Gorilla Armpit Odor for the uninitiated.) I didn't pick my nose...I'm pretty sure I didn't. Maybe after the prior week's trip to Cleveland my expectations were running a bit high. Maybe I was just giving off bad vibes. Oh, and here's a thought…maybe it was just the crowd. So, I went and had dinner then returned to another one of the bars in the hotel where a DJ was spinning tunes. The sound was a little loud for my taste but the music was good and the surroundings were attractive. I felt like I was sitting in a club.
The place was almost empty. I was the only cotton head there. An attractive blonde woman, mid-30's, was a few seats to my left, talking on her cell phone. Off to my right, at the other end of the bar, a young couple were billing and cooing and drinking martinis. Strains of "I'm just a lonely boy, lonely and blue..." played inside my head. About the best I could do for entertainment was to try my hand at teasing the pretty young bartender…I asked her to recite the wine list in reverse. She was a good sport and actually tried, but couldn't do it. Geez, it was almost 9:30 and that was the highlight of my evening so far. I seriously considered going back to my room and watching American Idol…well, almost seriously. I'd have to be incredibly dire straits to do something like that...I'm not a tv-watcher, unless it's something like the Sopranos.
I had another drink and listened to the music. I had a clever thought, something I might be able to work into a story someday, so I opened my journal to write it down.
"So, you're a lefty, huh?" It was the pretty blonde.
"I don't know many lefties," she continued.
I told her she was about to add one more to her list and introduced myself. She said something about lefties supposedly being very intelligent.
"Do I look intelligent?"
Of course she said "yes" (smart girl) so I figured I'd just go with whatever came to mind. I told her I was semi-ambidextrous...I play golf right-handed and bat right-handed in baseball. This is actually the truth, though I must admit I haven't played baseball in 20 years. I figured I'd lay it on thicker.
"I'm also ambimoustrous."
It only took her half a beat to catch on, so I knew this was someone I was going to enjoy talking with.
Okay, okay. You know I like to make up words sometimes. Yes, I made up 'ambimoustrous.' It means I can use a mouse equally well with either hand. A computer mouse. Now, I didn't make that word up on the spot. I've actually been using it for years. Of course ambimoustrous is a form of ambidexterity, but there is a distinction...it only applies to working with a computer mouse. Applied to the rodent variety of mouse the proper descriptive term would be ambidextrous...as in having the ability to hold a dead (rodent) mouse by the tail and to be able to throw it into the woods behind my house (or at someone) equally well with either my right hand or my left hand. Yeah, in case you're wondering, I just made that up. But, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense, right? What the hell, it's almost happy hour and my creative juices are starting to flow.
Anyway, our conversation ultimately drifted into what we did for a living. When it came to sharing my profession I was very tempted to respond with "pornographer," "astronaut," or "brain surgeon." Since I couldn't decide between the three I just told the truth.
It turns out she was an artsy type and proved it by doing a pen-and-ink drawing of me in my journal. Actually, it was a drawing of my face, not me in my entirety. No one had ever done a drawing of my face before. It was a sort of caricature, and when I looked at it I saw my son's face instead of mine. It kind of blew me away, because if you put photos of my son and myself side by side those similarities would never be apparent. (Actually, my kids are lucky to have inherited their mother's looks instead of my looks...she is quite beautiful.)
We talked for almost an hour. Then her boyfriend came in. We had more good conversation. We bought each other drinks. They were really nice people and we all hit it off extremely well. I must admit to being a bit envious of him. He was a year younger than me...with a thirty-something goomah. See my N'Italian lessons here if you need the definition of goomah.
They invited me to go to one of their local hangouts. It was great. There was a piano player doing Frank Sinatra songs, several people got up and sang. We had more drinks and more good conversation. I stayed up way later than I should have, but all that good energy easily carried me through the next day.
To me, encounters like this put a lot of fun into life.
This is a true story. It really happened. It happened exactly as I describe it. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Oh yeah...I should warn you in advance that this is a long post.
My trip two weeks ago was to a suburb of Cleveland. A buddy and I arranged to have dinner at a trendy restaurant that neither of us had been to before. I arrived before he did. There was a waiting line, so I put my name on the list and went to the bar to wait. I knew he'd know where to find me.
The bar was packed with 20, 30, and 40-somethings pressed shoulder-to-shoulder. I was the only 'cotton head' in the place. I wedged my way to the bar, ordered a glass of wine, and retreated to the periphery to watch and wait.
A woman standing at a chest-high partition at the back of the bar started waving and smiling at me. She was tanned, pretty face, late-30's to early-40's. I looked over both shoulders to check if she was waving at someone else...then smiled back. Now, I'm a happily married guy and wasn't looking for a woman, but I figured it might be interesting to at least strike up a conversation. A few minutes later, a spot opened up next to her and I instinctively made a bee-line for it. My reflex reaction to the empty space was clearly the result of many decades of training.
As I approached, she smiled again. "Hi. Nice to see you. You're Norman, right?"
Not. There's no way in hell that I look like a Norman.
I chuckled to myself, because that line was almost identical to one of my old pick up lines back in my bachelor days…with 'Susan' or some other spur-of-the-moment female name substituted for 'Norman.' In any case, I was flattered by the thought of an attractive woman dishing me a pick up line.
Then again, it could just have been wishful thinking. Hmmm. Nah. Okay...maybe.
We made small talk and she told me I looked just like her friend Norman. She introduced herself (we'll just call her Fran) and offered to buy me a drink. It was a nice gesture, but I declined and just stuck with the small talk. She was waiting for a girlfriend. I was waiting for a buddy. She offered to let us share a table with them since their name would come up first. I didn't think my friend would be comfortable with that, so I didn't want to commit. I don't remember exactly what my response was, but it would definitely have earned me a senior position in the diplomatic corps.
And besides, I didn't know what her girlfriend looked like ;-)
I eventually bought her a drink. My buddy arrived and I bought him a drink. Her girlfriend arrived (we'll call her Carla), and I bought her a drink. Then we took turns buying each other drinks.
Did I mention that Carla was hot? Well, she was. Pretty, blonde, tanned, possibly liposucted, and nicely cleavaged. Okay, okay, I know 'liposucted' and 'cleavaged' aren't officially words. So what? I made 'em up…but I'll bet you got the picture, right? So, just think of them as my contribution to the blogtionary. Yeah…I just made up that word too…creative old fart that I am.
Anyway, we continued buying rounds for quite some time. I can't remember how many iterations this went on for, but I was way past what I usually drink and my friends were liking my jokes, so everything was right with the world. I could tell the booze was working its magic since the girls were laughing even before I got to the punchlines of my jokes. I chose to ignore this little factoid in favor of believing it was my superb delivery.
Suddenly, in mid-slur, Carla and Fran saw two open stools at the bar and swooped them up before I could even swallow a sip of my wine. I was a bit envious that they reacted faster than me. They must have had the same hands-on, hardcore bar training as me. We won't mention the roughly 20-year age advantage they had on me. They waved at us to join them at the bar, but my buddy and I decided to stay put and figure out what, if anything, we were going to do about dinner. I suggested we have another round, on me, and think about our options.
When I returned from the bar with our drinks I found my friend talking with an attractive black woman. We had a nice conversation…and she liked my jokes too, so we were off and running. My friend spent the next hour talking with her, and I shared my time between them and Carla and Fran who were still sitting at the bar. Every time I checked-in with the girls at the bar, Fran would say "Oh, isn't he the sweetest guy, my new friend?" to which Carla would (by this time semi-inebriatedly) agree. Then, Fran would say, "Poor Carla. She says she feels so old. Don't you think she's beautiful?" Of course, I would reply with "Absolutely. I think she's very beautiful," or with "Absolutely. I think she's the hottest 35 year-old in this place." Both lines got an "Oh, get outta' here" from Carla and a "See, what did I tell ya'. He's just the sweetest guy" from Fran.
Did I mention that each time Fran said how sweet I was she would punctuate it with a kiss on the cheek? Yes, that would be my cheek. She was a good kisser. I thought about telling her that, but logic got the best of me and I held my tongue.
After about ten iterations (hell, it could have been only six but who's counting) Carla started to say "thank you" whenever I paid her one of those compliments. I wonder if it took her that long because by that point maybe I started looking at her baby blue's instead of her cleavage…or maybe she was too far gone to know or care. Probably the latter, since I long ago mastered the art of inconspicuous cleavage peeking. (I'm so tempted to make up another new word here…somehow 'cleaking' doesn't quite have the right ring to it...but I shall resist.)
Oh yeah. Fran continued with the kisses, but upped the ante to two on each cheek.
Did I mention that my two new friends were getting shit-faced? Now, I like women when they're a little giddy, but when they get too drunk it can be a very un-pretty sight. That is, of course, unless I'm also shit-faced...in which case I wouldn't notice. Of course, the fact that I did notice is proof positive that I wasn't shit-faced. Wow, my logic is so perfect it scares me sometimes. (quod erat demonstrandum)
I started spending more time with my buddy and his new friend. She was getting a little tipsy and the conversation got very interesting. Turns out she was married, but she had a thing for older white guys with gray hair. And, as we say in New York, she was looking for a little "strange"…a little something "on the side"...so to speak. Upon hearing this I really perked up (get your mind out of the gutter…there isn't room for all of us there) and did a quick scan of the room. Well, there were only two older 'cotton heads' in the bar…and I was one of them.
Shit…she had to go and spoil my fantasy by saying she was interested in the other guy. I kidded that I was insulted. She said she was originally attracted to me…that's why she struck up a conversation with my buddy…but that after talking with me she thought I was too nice of a guy for her. The ensuing conversation went like this:
"So, you like more of the bad boy type, huh?"
"Yes. You're better looking than him, but he looks like the bad boy type to me."
"Well, I can be a bad boy too, ya' know."
"Really? But you seem like such a nice guy. It's hard to believe. I don't think so."
"Okay then, girl. Maybe I should just bend you over that bar stool and spank your ass real good. How'd you like that?"
"Oh yeah baby," she squealed with delight and grabbed my arm, "that's the kind of thing I'm lookin' for."
By the way, I kid you not. This actually happened. Verbatim.
The woman ultimately left to persue the remaining cotton head, and I got tired of standing, so my buddy and I found a couple of lounge chairs and we shot the shit for who knows how long. In case you don't know, 'shot the shit' is a technical term meaning we talked.
Suddenly, there was a bit of a ruckus at the bar, but all we could see was a crowd of people stepping away from it as we heard the sound of glasses shattering on the floor, and cries of "Oh my god" and "Are you okay?"
It took a few seconds more for the unmistakable scent of vomit to waft our way.
First the bad news. My new friend Fran had just up-chucked at the bar. The good news is that the empty bar stool to her left was the only victim. Carla would normally have been sitting there, but, fortunately for her, she was on a potty break.
After the air cleared, literally and figuratively, I went over to see if Fran was okay. She started into a glassy-eyed "Oh, here's my sweet friend. Isn't he…" but I stopped her in midstream because I sure as hell didn't want that peck on the cheek. Instead, I took her hand.
Everything got cleaned up pretty good. Everything but Fran's hand.
Yes. That's right. I was holding a gooey vomit hand. A very gooey vomit hand. It was wet. It was clammy. It was sticky. It had little solid vomit bits mixed in. Arggh.
That was my first time…my first time holding a gooey vomit hand.