Monday, November 15, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
One highlight occurred amidst a knee-deep strata of beer cans and plastic Jaeger Bomb husks on the lawn, when the Fruit of the Loom Grapes guy fell off the porch and popped most of his purple balloons. In consolation, he was awarded Best Costume. The guy dressed as a Discarded and Rotting Turkey Sandwich ate a whole bottle of prenatal vitamins just to see what would happen. And then the Dish ran away with the Spoon.
The height of buffoonery occurred when, for reasons that remain unexplained, we fired a 19th century elephant gun into the alleyway and blasted out the windows of our landlord’s garage. The chaotic orchestration of these misdeeds incidentally summoned two demons, but both were banished back to their fiery abyss by being defeated in games of sudden-death pencil break.
When the cops arrived, even Officer Pettigrew came in for some of Liz's fabulous spiked cider and chili (little did he know it was vegetarian chili, and little did Liz know that Chris replaced the ground soy tidbits with chunks of Germantown hobos who he'd chopped up on All Hallows Eve, delivering them of their destitution and misery).
A memorable bash was had by all. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next year.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
It is my understanding that the man with the scythe is about to mow you under; syphilis left unchecked can leave a hefty mark. I also understand that you have two children whom you’ve never loved and do not want. You should have pulled out, just like your father. Under normal circumstances I would regard yours a tragic situation. But having witnessed the vile means by which you scratch to make a living, let me speak for the world at large and say at once that your departure is everybody’s good fortune.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Following are two replies I receieved from these sharks, and my rebuttal.
The first is from "Martin" whose email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Nothing fishy about that.
I really appreciate your response to my email. I want you to consider it sold, pls do withdraw the advert from craigslist to avoid disturbance. I want you to know that i will be paying via bank certified check. I will like you to provide me with the following information to facilitate the mailing of the check to you.
1.....Full name to write on the check
2.....Full Physical address to post the check
3.....City, State and Zip Code
4.....Home & Cell Phone to contact you
Note that the payment will be shipped to your address via UPS NEXTDAY SERVICE and I will like you to know that you will not be responsible for shipping. i will have my mover come over as soon as you have cashed the check.
Thanks God Bless.
God bless my ass. Not only was this effrontery ridiculous, it was also heinous to read. As an editor, I could hardly stomach the typography. I had to fix some of it just to make it legible and post this.
I replied asking Martin/Alex if he knew what I was selling.
Of course, he said, it's the autographed basketball, signed by Rick Pitino and Denny Crum. When can I pick it up? Please provide your inforamaton so I cn make the certified chek.
Let me make this clear: FUCK OFF.
You dumbass scammer cunt. What kind of a fool do you think I am? I don't even wish you good luck, because I know you prey on idtiots, and you haven't found one in me, jackass. You do nothing but insult the human race. Just swallow a turd-filled condom and choke on it. You're fucking absurd. Also, I'm now going to envision myself tea-bagging you, and your mother. I'll drag my huge ballsack from your mouth to hers, and if either of you bite down, you'll both lose your feet, because I'll have wrapped them in slice-wire that constricts at the push of a button. Fuck you for even having your auto-response reply to my ad. I hope you find some other--legitimate--way to make a living. You sack of maggoty shit. You loser. Piss off.
A friend reminded me that this guy could take out a restraining order on me, or if anything violent happened to him, I could become a suspect. I felt bad about it. So I wrote him an apology and blamed it on stress.
...On the other hand, fuck him.
The next bastard to send such a missive came thus:
From: Jeff Waltman [email@example.com]
I really appreciate your response to my email and i am sorry for my late response. I want you to consider it sold, Pls do withdrawthe advert from CL to avoid disturbances, anyway i should have comedown to come and look at it but I don't have time to come over to takea look due to my Business transactions that makes me busy but you don't need bto bother yourself with that and also the shipment I'lltake care of that by engaging the services of a mover, so I'll besending a certified bank check and it will be delivered to you viaUnited Parcel Service (UPS), so I'll need you to provide me with me with more pictures and the following information to facilitate themailing of the check.
...Full name on theFull Physical address to post the check City, State and Zip Code Home & Cell Phone to contact you. Note that the payment will be shipped to your address via UPS NEXT DAYAIR SERVICE and I will like you to know that you will not beresponsible for shipping i will have my mover to come over as soon asyou have cashed the check.
N.B: UPS does not deliver to a P.O box addresses. Thanks and hope to hear from you as soon as possible.
Same formula? Same person? Who knows. But this time I took it a bit easier on the asshole. I wrote back to Jeff.
Nota Bene: The autographed basketball is not for sale.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The first morning of my two 500-mile legs from Louisville to Austin began with force-feeding Kandahar and Steeve each a vet-prescribed pill: acepromazine. Steeve ate his pill whole with breakfast. I had to break Kandahar’s in half, and the full dosage of that pill hit his bloodstream within minutes. Woooooouw, he said, and fell over.
Kandahar was fast asleep in his box on the rear floorboard, and Steeve was being vociferous as usual, even in spite of the tranquilizer. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Reaaouuu…
I wasn’t even outside of the city limits, tooling along with all four windows down when I heard an alarming pop, and looked over my shoulder to find Steeve’s head emerging from the box. How? These boxes are constructed by some fantastic engineer of cardboard origami to lock from upward pressure; in addition, I’d laced a bungee cord through the top handles, hooked to the bottom airholes. Still, there was Steeve’s head, then his paws… and me pulling up all four window buttons so the bastard wouldn’t jump out of one of them at 75 MPH.
Steeve, a little glassy-eyed but otherwise unfazed by the drug, decided it was his duty to explore the entire vehicle and berate me with feline invectives on how unacceptable it was that 1) I’d put him in a box, and 2) that the wallpaper of this compact vehicle was continually changing in a blurred marquee of green and blue. Reaaaoouuuu!
Fuck! I exited 65 South and, in spite of Steeve’s fierce protestations, I managed to get him back in the box. Bungee cord re-secured.
Not ten minutes later he was out of the box again. People on the interstate passed me, pointing at and ogling the huge, cream-colored cat rubbernecking through the rear windshield. I drove with my southpaw, and used my right to continually push his fat head back into the rear when he tried to infiltrate the center console. He explored the backseat like Magellan, planting himself on the rear dash, cursing me in the rearview mirror. Meowww--ef you, he said.
Eventually he calmed the hell down; he sat down to doze on top of the pillow in the back seat. This is the pillow I’d intended to sleep on in my empty apartment in Austin before the furniture arrived. This would be perfect, if only I’d overcome my ENT’s 4+ diagnosis of allergy to cat hair…
Before I departed Louisville, some preservative instinct told me to put packing tape in the glove box, which I did. My aim was to make it past Nashville and take a leak somewhere along the way, and then figure out what to do about this loose cat who could, at any moment, jump into my lap and cause serious problems. Get him back in that damned box is what I’d do.
I pulled over near Upton, Kentucky, and put Steeve back in the box, this time taping it up with half a roll of clear sticky packing tape. For preventative measures, I taped up Kandahar’s box too. The boxes looked like something from a fantasy movie with a gigantic spider who spun cellophane webs around its quarry.
…Fifteen minutes later Steeve was out of the box. At this point, I wasn’t even surprised, and hardly dismayed. What a badass, I thought. How could he get out of there? …So, windows up. This was just something I’d have to live with, I realized. A cat wandering around the rear cabin as I hurtled south, and me occasionally pushing his big face into the backseat with my right hand.
Again he settled down on the pillow. For a long time Steeve was listless, not a problem. I told myself I would find a Wal-Mart and buy some actual carriers. And take a leak. What I didn’t know is that there is about a 90-mile gap between Dickson and Jackson, Tennessee, in which there isn’t one goddamn functioning gas station…
I have always regarded myself as someone with an above-average threshold for the initial “breaking of the seal,” as they say. My PTR is finely tuned by years of Kegel exercise on long trips, but this urge was indomitable. No choice now. I grabbed the empty 16-ounce bottle of Ice Mountain spring water, and did what I had to.
And now, somewhere around Wildersville, Kandahar awakens like the Kraken and bursts through the one-inch window slot I’d cut for the boys to look at each other on the ride. His head comes out first like Hey Kool-Aid bursting through a wall. Then, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, he drags the rest of his body through that decimated fissure.
Goddamnit! I can’t have two cats roving around this area while I drive. What the fuck is cardboard made of these days? And I just want to finish taking a successful piss, so badly.
Kandahar is insistent on coming into the front seats. At this moment, I am peeing into a bottle and noticing it fill far too rapidly, and while I stave off Kandahar from the center console access, Steeve roars with excitement from the backseat, throttling the window with two paws like a boxer on a speed-bag. Kandahar now decides to climb under my seat and is suddenly beneath my legs, looking up at me, whilst I empty my bladder into this container which has no hopes of competing with my delivery.
Son of a bitch. Having already begun the urination process—and now barreling at 85 MPH—I look down at my gorgeous cat of many former lives staring back at me betwixt my legs. The bottle is full and, against all personal conviction regarding the environment, I cut off the drainage, lower my window, and hurl out the decanter. I see it dash against the shoulder in my rearview. I grab the empty 15-ounce bottle of Green Machine Superfood to finish the deed, and almost overflood that one. But it was that or hose down poor Kandahar, giving him a face-full.
At this moment, Steeve decides to climb in the front seat and I have to elbow him away through the console. I realize that I would actually be safer flying a small aircraft right now. The situation has eclipsed absurdity. I might as well eat a handful of acepromazine tablets and see what happens...
But lo, there is an exit for Jackson. I take it and find a Wal-Mart. This was actually my second detour; the first was a failure because I went to a Sam’s Club many miles to the north… and they don’t sell the same shit there as they do at Wal-Mart.
For the second time today, I park illegally in the shade of the only tree in the car lot, far from the store’s entrance. I turn on my hazard lights and run in. Thirty-six dollars later I’m constructing these animal carriers that aren’t made of cardboard. They are sturdy, made of metal and plastic. I’ve turned the car on for the AC whilst Kandahar and Steeve have buried themselves beneath the seats. I throw the piece-of-shit cardboard carriers into the parking lot. Tennessee sweat drips in a stream off my nose while I attempt to build these things in front of my much-belabored Civic.
I extract Steeve from beneath the passenger seat; I have to pull him out like a fluke from some poor Amazonian's anus. He looks dazed, finally. I put him in a carrier. Then the same with Kandahar.
Now only four-hundred more miles to go. The cats shut the hell up for the entire remainder until Little Rock, in their new little huts…
Lesson Two: Hotel beds are not what they seem.
Four-hundred miles later, we make it to the Super 8. I release the groggy bastards and watch them army-crawl around this strange space. I have long held the belief that hotel beds are constructed with baseboards that prevent people from, say, hiding under them. They are made so that occupants can’t lose their wallets, cell phones, handbags, handguns, cats, etc. But after I return from dinner at a nearby TGIF, Kandahar is nowhere to be seen. Steeve has become a lump under the comforter, but in this confined area there is no Kandahar, and no place for him to hide. The only possible explanation is that someone came in and stole him. Yes, someone came in and stole the Pretty One in karmic retribution of my weird departure from Louisville.
Well, I figure, I’m one cat less. What can I do?
…At midnight I am pacing the room, now and then peeping outside for Kandahar, asking Steeve why he isn’t destroyed by the mysterious disappearance of his brother. It’s because he knows Kandahar is in the vicinity—the fuckhole—and suddenly Kandahar manifests.
“Hey! You son of a fucking bastard!” I say to him, scooping him up. I’m still not clear where he was hiding. I feed them both and give them a place to take a shit.
…In the morning, I need to clear out of the Super 8 as soon as possible, but again there is a missing Kandahar. I have to look deeper, and under the bed I will go. I lift the king-sized mattress—both the box springs and the top cushion—off its baseboard and see nothing. There is, however, a huge bulge drooping from beneath the mattress and, as I lift it up, I hear a shredding sound and Kandahar comes spilling out of the black undercloth, like the mattress is giving birth to a small panther. Was it his weight, or his claws that did the shredding? No one can say…
“There you are, you son of a bitch,” I say and grapple him, the weight of the mattress bearing down on my head and shoulders. At this moment, Steeve climbs into the undercarriage of the bed, like that’s where he belongs. Goddamnit! I drop the mattress and shove Kandahar into one of the carriers, fur flying like straw in an Oklahoman tornado. I lift the mattress again. Steeve has positioned himself in the corner of the undercarriage, lying leisurely on his back, looking at me languorously. His eyes say, "What the hell do you want, asshole?"
The only way I can extract him is to deconstruct the bed entirely. Sweating like a bastard, I manhandle each part of the get-up. My adrenaline anguish allows me to set these bed parts on their ends against the wall. Jeeeezus. I grab Steeve and cram him into the other carrier.
Man that sucked, I tell myself. …Only 500 miles left to go…
 Acepromazine, when taken in high doses by humans, may induce tardive dyskinesia (TD). TD is a well-known side effect of the phenothiazine class of major tranquilizers. Worst case scenarios find the drug eating a permanent hole in the brainstem of people. This results in shuffling of the feet while walking, drooling, and flailing of the arms, as well as other symptoms resembling Parkinson's disease.
 (PTR) Piss-to-Toilet-Ratio (sometimes known as Poop-to-Toilet-Ratio), which, by the laws of psychophysiology, decreases exponentially for a person as they become geographically closer to a toilet.
 Which includes broccoli, spinach, wheatgrass, and blue-green algae.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
These cats will find their way into your home because your sister found two orphaned kittens next to a woodpile by her condominium. You will be given no choice but to own them.
The schizophrenic one will be named Kandahar. He will be the kind of creature that snuggles on top of you in bed and licks your hands and arms and chin affectionately. He will appear to be a completely normal cat.
You’ll notice the schizophrenic behavior, however, when you come home after living with him for nine months, and, upon opening the door and approaching him, he flees in terror and hides under the bed. If you wear a hat, or a green sweater, he will run away because for the moment he will have no idea who you are.
The schizophrenic cat will kick around any twist-tie he gets a hold of, slipping and dancing maniacally on your hardwood floor.
The twist-tie will inevitably end up in the water dish.
And so will other objects: Again, and again, and again...
It's kind of mean to say that your schizophrenic cat's brother—named Steeve*—will be a fatass, but it's true. When he sits in the posture of a Sphinx, as most cats do, it will look like Lilliputians are in a horse costume, with one person wearing the head part, and two others wearing the rest of his portliness. Steeve will have the appearance of a cat who is very self-satisfied.
His head will be quite round compared to his brother's head. It will remind you of Cartman, and so will his 'tude.
If he has his way, he'll scratch you to pieces whenever you touch his globular paunch that will swing left and right when he saunters over to the foods dish. The notion to declaw him will naturally cross your mind, especially the day after he sticks one of his talons into your sclera whilst you're reading peacefully in your bed at night... but this notion will pass. From there on, out your furniture and skin will be at high risk. You'll learn to live with it.
Also, when you pick up The Steeve, he will take on an awkwardly lopsided and disproportionate shape, much like The Shmoo, except more amorphous. Take caution if you drop him because, as you know, the neighbors downstairs will complain from the enormous thud.
Oh, and to raise these cats, you give them foods three times a day--making sure the Fat One can't steal The Crazy One's foods.
You will give them both plenty of affection and try not to yell at them or push them off the desk because they keep walking in front of the screen while you're typing this knol.
* Steeve's real name will be Sahid el Mufasha Sadat-Alaii al Sadoon.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Well, this website is nothing like that. Thumbtack.com is a really cool way to get your name out for whatever micro-business you want to advertise--or big business even. For now, it’s free for you to post your skills, your experience, and build a network. Check out my Editing service on Thumbtack. Good luck on selling your wares; I’m sure Thumbtack can help.
Monday, June 28, 2010
July 12, 2008
Six hours of sleep after two martinis and three Coronas isn’t ideal preparation for a 7am alarm to go run a 5K, I found out. But I got a personal best, primarily because I had no real baseline for comparison. I picked up Jude at 7:30am and we were at the starting point by 8am. People talking, tying shoes, stretching, all part of this modest throng (170 of us total).
One guy looked like he’d already run five miles to get there—his shirtless abdomen was covered with sweat and he was jumping furiously in place, aiming to knee himself in the head, it appeared, with both knees. I wouldn’t suspect runners of being habitual morning coke snorters, but this guy looked like he was about to rocket off to some other galactic plane. If he were personifying a Mexican jumping bean on the corner of Preston and Witherspoon on a Saturday night, the LMPD would have carted him off to Sixth and Jefferson.
Before I knew it, the whistle blew and people bolted. I didn’t, because I told myself I wasn’t here to race. But the crowd, including Jude, rapidly disappeared around the curve of Adams Street and I wasn’t six minutes into the run when I turned to run backward to see if there was anyone behind me. There was. God I was thirsty already. Parched before I was even sweaty. Not used to this morning running stuff. My objective all along was simply not to quit my stride and end up walking for any part of this affair but the temptation was nearly overwhelming, because I felt like ass.
Before reaching the halfway water point we ran through some atrocious aromas that surely caused some to nearly chuck their beets. It can only be described as carrion—this foul scent on the wind. We ran past a junkyard, I believe, and it made you want to hold your breath despite the slight uphill grade and swelling humidity. ...Drinking water and running was also a brand new experience; prior to this I’d never been parched on a run. Doesn’t work out so well--I maybe swallowed a whole ounce before chucking the bottle to the curb like everyone else.
We made the turn and I’d lost pace with the middle-aged lady who was by my side most of the way. I really don’t know whether she fell back or went ahead. And I watched at least two attractive women in their 20s slide breezily past me. Ah, the disparity among age groups.
Back on Main Street we encountered another fetid awfulness. This time the air just smelled like pure garbage. My note to self at that point was: Don’t ever run this route again, ever. That, and: Although that shapely girl with a long pony tail 20 yards ahead of you has stopped to walk and is holding her lower back, and you want to do the same very badly, you keep running. I did.
In the end I came in 69th. Yes! I may aim for that number every time until I consider myself an actual runner. My time was 26:00 almost exactly. When I channeled myself into the little taped corridor and a young guy told me to tear off the perforated bottom of my bib, I nearly asked him to do it for me. It was good to just stand for a moment. Then I walked it off...
That time, as far as I know, beat my usual time by about four minutes, and I can’t make out how that happened. During the run I felt awful. I figured 10-minute miles was my average, but the Fleet Feet data says I made 8:22 miles. My placement put me in the 36th percentile, which I was happy with. Beating 50 percent of the people there was my one aim.
Jude’s objective was more ambitious. He wanted to land in the top 10 of our age group and he was sixth in that--and 44th overall. 23:30 was a new best for him as well, despite a cramp after the first mile and nearly ralphing at the finish line. He reasoned that eating a banana that morning didn’t do him any justice. But he did great, and we were both re-energized and happy with things within five minutes of cool down...
I took a day off and ran the following evening, and the circumstances were much more favorable for me. The atmospheric pressure must have been very low. Pristine sky with a gorgeous slant to the lowering sunrays. Through the heterogeneous landscape of Highlands houses toward Taylorsville Road and then down Park Boundary and through the park next to Beargrass Creek with sweet smells of green, green flora—in stark opposition to the 5K’s olfactory record.
Twenty minutes into the run last night seemed like ten, and I experienced that pseudo-runner’s high at about the point when certain music started pulsing through my headphones. It reminded me of being ten years younger and running on a treadmill at my parents’ house; it was always music that invoked that endorphin rush. I’ll take it, whatever causes it. So I covered a lot more ground than usual, and whilst on the homestretch back alleyway of my own street I met a black dog coming my way, panting heavily. The kind of panting you see a dog doing who is panicked and lost. I said hello and passed him by, determined to keep on. But I saw he had tags and figured I had to check. I backtracked and he let me approach him and he was a she. “Grace,” who lived one street over. Good tags with a phone number and address. Grace refused to follow me but the beauty with running is that, unless you’re determined to stick to a route for the sake of time assessment, you can run to whatever place suddenly presents an emergency. I jogged a few more minutes at a heartier pace, and found the owner. She thanked me effusively and apparently knew what to do to get Grace out of the alleyway. “Oh, she must have jumped the fence again,” she said.
...A couple of fine days for running. I jog, actually... I am not a runner.
Fleet Feet Fiesta 3-Mile Fun Run
August 23, 2008
An hour before this race I experienced crippling nausea. Could it be the couple of beers I had that afternoon, followed by 4 or 5 grams of kratom? The beers were incidental, but taking the kratom was done with the intention of feeling really good by race time. A way to stave off the agues and aches I regularly deal with. Could it be nerves? That’d never happened before, not even when I wrestled competitively in high school. What the hell did I have to be nervous about, after all? This kind of sporting event can hardly be called competition—it’s more like a circle jerk. You’re racing against time, and only against yourself, essentially.
I felt fine for most of the day, but as night began to fall I really felt like I was going to puke. So much so that I went in the bathroom and stuck my middle finger down my throat. No dice. I’ve never been a puker. That is, I’ve never been someone who can induce vomiting with a finger. Maybe my fingers aren’t long enough.
Lingering about my apartment, I was extremely torn because I’d wanted to run in this night race for over a month whence I’d signed up for it, but if I were a robot then all functional monitors would have warned “System failure: No-go.” This race though... Not only was it a night race, which intrigued the hell out of me, it was through Cherokee Park, right down the street from my home. This brilliantly-plotted chunk of green space was intimidatingly hilly and its “Scenic Loop” alone, part of this race’s route, was about 2.5 miles. I expected it would be a beautiful run because nestled there in the middle of the city’s most condensed population zone was this refuge from industry and commerce. More than anything in anticipation of this race, I knew it would be a challenge because of two long, gradual hills that I’d never run before but had biked for the hell of it. And on at least one occasion I’d hopped off my bike to walk it up either or both of these hills because pedaling in low gear didn’t yield an acceptable time-to-forward-progress ratio. Pedaling in low gear was just way too hard. You know it’s steep when walking your bike is faster…
So I ran this very circuit the night before the Fun Run. As usual with me, this was probably not the wisest of decisions. But I wanted to be sure I could do it… or at least to know what to expect. I couldn’t do it. Rather, I didn’t force myself to run all of it. On the second hill that hugs the west side of “Dog Hill,” I walked about 60 yards of it that Friday evening. Nothing was pushing me to run the whole thing, so I pussed out and walked some of that hill...
On the other hand I did get a vasectomy two weeks before this night, and this was only my second or third voluntary exercise jog since feeling like I’d recovered enough for my bits and pieces to handle the sickening, kicked-in-the-nuts sensation that persists for days after a vasectomy. I mean I felt good enough to tackle the race in regard to subjecting my scrotum to the inherent jarring that comes with running. So by then I’d had a few weeks off from running—convalescing, so to speak. Running was one thing, and I respected it. But the things that weren’t new to me, like lifting weights and shagging Liz, were already part of my daily routine a week or so after surgery. When I called the urology doctor to ask when I could resume exercise, he told me six weeks. Pfpff.
...As night fell on the night of the Nighttime Fun Run, I became increasingly frustrated at this unforeseen malady but more resolved to give it a try. Shit, worst case scenario: I’d run off into the woods of the park and bend over and spew whatever was causing this problem. Surely I’d feel better then. Liz went with me to the starting line, and the registrants consisted of the usual rabble—all shapes, sizes, ages. Except this time, under the street lamp on the corner of Willow and Eastern Parkway, they were decked out in a whole spectrum of glow bracelets and battery-powered lights. I still felt like puking, but the deal was: I was going to run, dammit.
The whistle shrilled and up the slight grade of Eastern we went. Before I’d gone one block I felt better. Exercise makes you feel better: O yes, this proved it once again. The most indelible part—and the part where I felt that first surge of a make-believe runner’s high—occurred as the leaders of this pack penetrated the darkness of the Scenic Loop, abandoning nearly all civilization’s traffic noise and city light pollution, and all reason for thinking I was going to puke. I felt marvelous. I wished I could telegraph this vision I saw to Liz foremost, and to a thousand people after that. The bugs droned as we made our quiet foot-patter and headed up the first hill that leads to Hogan’s Fountain. The ray from my solid red LED light I’d clipped to my belt bobbed against the backside of a woman in front of me. I had no designs to pass her, but I did going up the hill. (I also passed a woman pushing a tram with a baby in it, and it didn’t make me feel much better knowing this woman scorched me off the starting line.) Once we reached the top and planed out, I felt the true sensation of a runner’s high. Supergrass crooned in my ears—It’s Not Me was the song, and as Gaz Coombes hit the refrain, enhanced by the floral aromas of high summer, the view of a couple hundred people jogging harmoniously in an utter lack of formation, and my own physiology repairing itself with every step--it was as if I was infused with some higher power. The kind of ephemeral buzz that approaches a charge of channeled divinity… but just as quickly, it dissipates. A smile grew on my face and I wished that in the dark I could see if my comrades close by were smiling too.
Then the best part happened: we started going downhill. This part of the route curved left at the base so it offered the view of a determined-looking embodiment of humanity running ahead into an even darker area, a titanic snake of bouncing people adorned with bobbing blue, green, yellow, purple, and audacious-red bike accessory lights flashing with the same chaotic rhythm as poorly understood particles on some indeterminate course through the galaxy. Flatly gorgeous and unforgettable.
The rest from there? When you get to the bottom of that first hill in Cherokee Park, you run on flat ground for a third of the route, so there’s not much to say other than I was passing people. I was passing older people, heavier older men, women, heavier older women, 12-year olds. No bragging here. The point was to get to the top of the next hill without walking. Or vomiting. The trail of foot soldiers had thinned out, and when I passed the mark where I’d started walking up the hill the previous night, I knew I was good to finish the race at this pace. It wouldn’t be easy, because my bones ached from the inside out, but it was [mostly] downhill from there, as they say.
Another quarter mile went by and we were on the final stretch where I’d kept pace with a girl about 10 to 13 years younger than me. My MP3 player had died, so I collared my headphones and listened to the pitter-patter.
“You’re not even breathing heavy,” I observed.
“Oh yes I am,” she replied, staring straight ahead. “I may not be breathing loudly, but I’m breathing heavy!”
It occurred to me that my breathing seemed louder than most because my goddamn sinus passages were useless. Had been since childhood. That one was of my great little personal secrets--in cardio exercise I was a habitual mouth-breather. Had to be. I wasn’t actually winded from weak lungs. It was just that my goddamn nasal lining was perpetually swollen, nearly fully occluded like arteries in an ischemic heart. Ahh the Ohio Fucking Valley allergen hub. Or maybe it was this way ever since they cut out my tonsils. Give me those back, I should have demanded, slamming my Burt and Ernie dolls to the ground. ...And probably the deviated septum didn’t help.
As we surmounted the slight arch that is Eastern Parkway toward the Finish, the girl took off. I watched her shake her aqua shorts right on toward the endpoint. Shit! What was I doing? I reminded myself about the vasectomy, and the fact that this was not a competition with America’s youth.
Once the end channel was in sight I made a dash, a rather pathetic 20-yard dash toward that big red digital clock and bolted into the turnstile. People stood along the side of the road clapping and cheering, by my estimation, for anyone who finished the race within an hour. My time was 28:10, 83rd among 181. That’s acceptable. Good enough for a nauseated non-runner with terminal rhinitis and a swollen nutsack. Especially good since I no longer felt like I was going to hurl. But I’d learned a couple things in the first and last two minutes of this race: 1) running at night with a bunch of phosphorus-bedecked like-minded people is a nearly sublime experience; and 2) if you have any significant form of energy remaining at the end of a race, you sprint. ...I could have done better. I would on the next go around.
Iron Man Competition – Held Annually in Louisville, KY
August 31, 2008
To pretend I competed in this race would be a travesty of journalistic integrity, self-awareness, and truthiness. It was only by accident that I immersed myself with the flow of over-achieving men and women who were blazing the trail for the Iron Man Triathlon held in Louisville, Kentucky.
What happened was: I needed to use the phone. The night before, I had destroyed my own cell phone for reasons that remain unexplained. So I made my way toward my office in Old Louisville in my car, and I parked about five blocks from my building in a Kroger parking lot. Noting the blocked off streets for the Event, the only recourse to get to my desk phone was to beat feet toward the corner of Fourth and Ormsby. So I jogged toward Third and witnessed the thin trickle—a few guys hundreds of yards apart—of Ironmen… their expressions blank and demolished by now… The competitors at this stage had already swam 2.4 miles and biked 112. The time of day at this point was 4pm-ish, and these people had started their day at 6:50am with a plunge into the algaeic Ohio River. Warnings they received just before making the plunge included:
“Welcome Iron Man Contestants. We are obligated to inform you that the E. Coli bacterium in the water today are at levels considered to be mildly threatening to those prone to gastrointestinal and urinary infection. So maybe… try to swallow as little of the shit as you can to avoid fecal-oral transmission.”
On top of all this they were here, at the 6-mile mark of their final phase, which demanded only another 20 to go. But I figured this was the best thing to do: just run their route till you have to cut west.
As I jogged into the street I ran past a few of them, but at least one guy was keeping his targeted pace and strode right by. I felt super-douche-alistic because I, indeed, was in no hurry yet I had no excuse for being that much slower than this guy who had already expended 30,000 calories today. I ran my five blocks and got to work, sweaty. No one was there on this Sunday before Labor Day, which was perfect, so I made my phone call and then decided I wanted to run more and see what the Iron Man was all about.
For the first mile the competition was sparse—the same slow trickle of men mostly in their mid 40s. After a couple blocks in this late August Ohio Valley sweatbath, the demographics started to even out. I passed a few women; but I wasn’t just passing women. I was passing men too, because I was fresh and spry—but what did they know about me? Nothing. I was just some conspicuously inkless interloper in no shirt and short shorts with a headband, carrying his keys in his hand.
Eight blocks down Third Street I encountered one of what I will call the “Salvation Stations.” In pairs the volunteers handed out cups of water, which I refused, but beyond that there were tables sporting bins of cookies, orange slices, and what looked like delicious mini-pimento sandwiches. So that I might deflect some of the strange looks I was getting from the run coordinators, I accepted one cup of water and took a sharp left at this point toward the admin building on UofL’s campus where I formerly worked. I knew that these people had a solid four more miles to run before they were permitted to turn around, and run the last grueling leg. So I dashed off. I rationalized that I was still running, after all, but I didn’t care to run all the way to the turnaround checkpoint. …I soared back through the campus loop to Third Street and nestled again into the oblivious rabble chugging along at an admirable clip.
It was really as if I were a spectator of this event on TV, yet floating along with it—because I felt so unreasonably good compared to most of these poor bastards. I smiled at the UofL cheerleaders, for instance, at the end of Fraternity Row while I ran by—and the girl with the megaphone shouted.
“You people are smiling even now! Wooo! How do you do it?”
Indeed. How did we do it? But surely I was running alongside people who felt like they were about to bleed from every orifice. Not me! What’s the matter, man? Can’t handle all this distance? Is the heat too much? I was now officially a poser—because I was such in my own mind. But I needed to get back to my car, which was in the Kroghetto parking lot a mile away. Felt terrific at this point. I detected the scent of gin coming out of my pores from the night before hanging with Dave and drinking Tom Collinses, minus all that sugary crap. Basically straight gin. The only real problem was that I lacked my headphones on this impromptu jaunt, and for some reason Rudolph The Red-Fucking-Nosed Reindeer got lodged in my head and I couldn’t shake it out for a solid mile. Jeeeeeezus! I detested Christmas enough as it was, but Christmas… what do you call them… Christmas fucking carols?! My sweet friend, Carol, I’m so sorry your name hath been sullied by the likes of Charles Dickens, and whoever else popularized the word. They should be dug up, and forced to complete and entire Iron Man triathlon listening to this god-forsaken song.
Nearing my destination, I boogied up behind a fairly rare sight in this race: a svelte, light-skinned black girl with a fine, fine booty and long, straight brown hair—not even up in a pony-tail. Just lilting in the breeze of her gait. I had to get a look at this woman’s face. Now next to her, I jangled my keys and she turned, slightly startled.
“Why do you have keys?” she asked, except that this wasn’t possibly a she. Her voice, and the rest of her visage, was as androgynous as Prince’s circa his 1991 Under The Cherry Moon era. What tipped me off was her mustache. Or, his mustache. Light and thin, but black and evidently not tampered with in any cosmetic way. And he had no boobs to speak of. Yet what a commendable ass and beautiful hair! I’m still genuinely confused. Perhaps this creature was simply in a metamorphic phase. I told Mighty Hermaphrodite that I had keys in my hand because I’d just mugged a janitor.
He/she chuckled politely, breathing hard, and I moved on...
Stampede for VIPS 5k Run/Walk
September 6, 2008
This run was organized to raise ducats for visually impaired people, so no wonder it was at night. Among the participants were folks tethered to dogs, or tethered to other people, and it was a perfect night to run side-by-side with someone across the Second Street Bridge and back. But not for me. By now I had a taste for whipping someone’s ass--neverminding the 64 people who whipped my ass ahead of me. And this must mean that I was reaching some sort of pinnacle phase where I was no longer concerned about simply finishing under 30 minutes, but that I felt categorically competitive.
I wasn’t displeased with being 65th out of 260. Certainly the largest race I’d done. Time of 26:35. Good but no PR, even though while running it I felt more in control, and more determined, to beat 26 minutes...
Accurately, I was mostly driven to beat people in front of me after the half-way turnaround. It would be mostly downhill at that point. Running across the bridge was sweet... all these purple neon lights weaved throughout the iron girding. Plus a panoptic view of Louisville’s skyline on a pristine summer night… Yet all in all it didn’t approach that sublime feeling running in Cherokee two weeks before. What I became fixated on was a few select adversaries. One was a guy in his early 20s with a haircut like Rosie O’Donell who would charge ahead of me and eventually fall back. I kicked in the Chi Running, a style where you lean forward but make like a steel rod is up your ass, all the way to your brainstem... and I outdid him by the lower end of the bridge coming back to Main Street. Then I’d set my eyes on a girl 100 yards ahead, and eventually made her a small figure behind me. Finally, on the absolute last stretch, I was 5 yards behind a 21 year-old chick named Brianna Fleming (and I only know this because of viewing Fleet Feet’s results) and she poured on the speed as we saw the big red clock one soccer field away.
She pulled away from me but not too far. I waited until the last 40 yard dash and, like a Supreme Dickhead, starting sprinting. My intention wasn’t to ruin this girl’s ambition of coming in 64th, but it had to happen. I ran so fast that she probably had to dodge some of my kicked-up dust, and I came into the finish line gate with such alacrity that standers-by looked at me as if I was doing it wrong—which surely I was.
Who cares? I walked around until the sweats stopped, changed clothes standing next to my car, and headed to Bearno’s By The Bridge to start writing all this down. Not my best time, but perhaps my best race yet...
 For Iron Man runs, a pin-on number flag is impractical. Instead, they stencil your race number on your arm with a Magic Marker.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
I told you I was going to visit a shooting range and I did. I murdered a two-dimensional man made of paper today.
The Bluegrass Indoor Range is situated in what might be the starkest industrial node of Louisville, in a cul-de-sac next to a warehouse equipment hauling company, next to several auto parts wholesalers, on the wrong side of the tracks, in the center of 9,000 acres of treeless concrete. I feel for the people who work in the one-level strip-mall office building across the street. Every day, five o’clock Joes exit those office doors, get an eyeful of… absolutely nothing of interest… get in their cars, and probably want to shoot something.
The inside of the shooting range is as cheerless as a GM factory in Flint, Michigan, circa 2006. But the graying dude behind the counter was warm and helpful. He handed across a .22 revolver and a Ziploc bag of bullets. He showed me the usual safety procedures, explained some things, had me sign two documents. He did not ask me if I had been drinking today, or what kind of substances I’d consumed in the past eight hours. He did ask me what brought me here. I told him I’m 34, and this is decades overdue.
When the Saudi pilots who commandeered Flights 11 and 175 came to an instructor to learn how to fly a commercial jetliner without knowing how to land, similar inquiries were not put forth. Or so it is presumed. Jet planes and loaded weapons all the same, I am no Middle Easterner, nor even just a black man dressed in the wrong way. …I was at no risk of being profiled today, because I was a white guy wearing a blue fleece jacket, with dark whiskers turning silver.
The guy presented options for a target. There was the typical AK-47-toting Afghan-variety terrorist wearing a gingham burka. Beside him, an expressionless Rasputin-evoking image of Bin Laden with penetrating eyes that creep you out and make you want to put a bullet hole between them. I would say “Charles Manson-evoking image” except that Charles didn’t scare three-hundred million people shitless at one time. Plus, Manson’s face is not stoic and expressionless in his freakish iconography. He looks crazier than an escapee scrambling for a fix. Bin Laden merely reminds me of Rasputin. Bin Laden appears to be at peace with himself—just not at peace with you. His detachment is only amplified in this target depiction by holding a reputably sketchy Russian semi-automatic assault rifle. So, Grigori Rasputin, your name and your face no longer invokes the willies. Most of the world—the world that matters anyway—doesn’t even know your name anymore. Bin Laden serves just fine as the face of Evildoing the world round.
To balance things out, though, the target shooting manufacturers supplied an image of a burly, bearded backwoods creep in common redneck flannel, with oversized belt buckle, cheap sunglasses, and a pistol in your face. The hunter becomes the hunted… What I wanted was a cardboard cutout of Glenn Beck.
In the absence of that, I chose the most stereotypical of all villains, a ski-masked bad guy, up to no good, slinking through shrubberies to steal your bike and kick your dog. This bad guy is not a rapist. The typical rapist profile doesn’t include ski masks. That was no matter, though, because his targeting area is cut off at the waist, so I couldn’t blast him in the nuts if I wanted to. His ski mask indeed made him the prototypical perp, except that in addition to his balaclava and 1988 Polo windbreaker, he was wearing a scarf, suggesting he was confused and misunderstood when the photo was snapped. Maybe he was a tourist at Whistler who found a Walther P-99 in his room and was carting it to the lodge to turn it in.
The first thing that strikes you on entering a shooting range, after shutting the two firewall doors behind you, is the percussion of your malleus striking your incus. Look it up. This happens in spite of the heavy-duty ear guards you put on before entering. You feel your innards quake at each blast. Before I settled into my spot, I made the mistake of adjusting my ear covers when someone else unloaded a cartridge in the next lane. For only a fragment of a second did I expose my ear canal to the air and the reverberations were so exaggerated, they sounded synthetic, they stung with the crazy drawn-out echo of a nitrous oxide huff. Like my eardrum had grabbed a tuning fork and banged it on pavement. My brain was forced to process what the hell that sound was a full second after it happened, and there was nothing synthetic about it. It was pure physics dancing around the room it was given.
Around my firing lane were the artifacts of piss-poor shooting, or weapon malfunction, or both. At an alarming five feet from where I stood, just overhead, holes and streaks riddled the wood from misfires. Far too close for stray-bullet comfort. There was even a bullet scar in the cinderblock two feet to my right. Down the lane, many feet above the target line, the pressboard flashing was splintered like thatch hanging off a roof. I was reminded of the holes in the drywall surrounding a dartboard, except these holes were the diameter of pencil erasers and marbles. Even the target carriage itself was nicked and marred. What is the physical behavior of ricochet? How often does it happen here?
Other things that run through your mind when you load a gun for the first time:
1) I signed that disclaimer. Will 2/11/10 be the last date on which I sign a document? ...Ridiculous.
2) With one cruel twist, the little grey cap on the end of this brass casing could take a bad bounce and puncture just the wrong spot, some arterial conduit in your thigh, and there you are bleeding to death on a high-polish concrete floor.
3) Stop being a pussy, man, and fire the goddamn piece.
You take aim, but another thing goes through your mind: I’m in a room full of people holding lethal weapons. It is also true that anytime someone is having a steak at Ruth’s Chris, or buzzsawing up firewood, they’re wielding lethal weapons. So it’s not so much the lethality of the instrument as it is the ineptitude of the wielder. Owed to user error, that fucking thing could kill me from across the room. And although the vast infinitude of people you’ll encounter in your life are not sociopaths, not criminally insane, and not snarled in a PCP-fueled psychotic episode, the only thing that may prevent such a creature from opening fire on you is the fact that you yourself are armed. …I gained sudden appreciation and new respect for any man walking the streets of a place like Tombstone, Arizona just 120 years ago.
I ran the target out to 21 feet, the legal minimum at which you must prove proficiency in order to carry a concealed weapon in Kentucky. I was aiming to peel his cap, put a nice Victor Maitland-style bloody tilak on his forehead. It was easy. I aimed at nothing but his bean, just above the eyes. I reeled in the target. It proved… not-so-easy. I’d missed his whole head by a foot five out of nine times, and buried two in his neck, right in the scarf. One hit him in the left nipple and the other must have missed the whole target entirely. This display of prodigal marksmanship was from just 7 yards.
I moved the target out to the next few markers—50 feet and eventually 75 feet—and I drew some conclusions: 1) I am not a good shot; 2) this gun sucks. It’s like a toy. The recoil of a .22 is enough to make your hands jump, but I wanted more. I did not feel the exhilaration I’d hoped for. No cause for coming back tomorrow. There will be a next time in coming days, except it will include a Glock 17, then a .45, then maybe a bazooka.
While I paid the guy $24 at the counter after turning in my killing machine, I studied the gunpowder on my fingers—the grey metallic cast with the metallic smoke scent and didn’t question the fascination. It occurred to me, though, that this was no different than going bowling—perhaps a bit more like playing Jarts—but nothing so far has changed my philosophy regarding handguns or guns of any kind. This is a controlled environment where people can lay down a buck a minute and cause harm to no other living thing. And, yes, we should be permitted to take it outdoors. The Great Outdoors has space, it allows for lined-up beer cans or tossed-in-the-air soda bottles, or bulls-eyes on hay bales, or rocketing clay pigeons. The problem is, for human beings, things without heartbeats are not enough.
This won’t change for me. But my yen for launching bullets might. We’ll see next time.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — A western Kentucky man has been sentenced to 2½ years in prison for supplying hallucinogenic mushrooms that led to the death of a Paducah teenager as he tried to enter the wrong house.
McCracken Circuit Judge Craig Clymer sentenced 20-year-old Taylor Thompson on Wednesday, saying the prison time was necessary to send a message that drinking and using drugs have serious consequences.
Thompson pleaded guilty in December to trafficking in a controlled substance, marijuana possession and having drug paraphernalia.
Taylor told police he brought mushrooms to a party in July 2009, ate some himself and gave some to other people.
One of those was 18-year-old Caleb Barnett, who later broke into a neighbor's home, thinking it was his own. The homeowner fatally shot him. Barnett died in surgery at Baptist West Hospital on July 30.
You read about that fateful night and get the sense this is the case of another Puritanical backwoods judge sticking it to kids who play with consciousness-expanding, non-addictive, non-synthetic substances. Judge Clymer wanted to “send a message” by shoving a 20-year-old kid into the correctional meat grinder, costing god-knows-what in tax dollars to process and house the guy in a state jail system that is already woefully overpopulated and underfunded (Foster et al., 2005; 2007).
Judge Clymer raises his gavel like a scolding mother—some termagant bitch who hasn’t been laid since her son was conceived, and who has always trembled with repressed wonder at the thought of doing something devilish, like smoking a doobie, but never let herself give it a try. “Now you go to your room young man, and you think about what you’ve done!” Down comes the hammer. Two-and-a-half years? The report says Taylor Thompson gave Caleb Barnett the shrooms. Someone had taught him to share his treats, Your Honor. And Jesus, isn’t it enough that Thompson’s friend was murdered at the hands of a stranger?
The judge’s sentence alone is enough to get my dander up. But it’s that penultimate sentence in the little article that evokes that familiar cinematic scratch of a record stylus across vinyl in my mind. “The homeowner fatally shot him.”
At this, I can’t help but think that Judge Clymer’s punishment is fully representative of a festering social sickness. This is not just ignorance and—pun intended—poor judgment on the part of an elected official. It’s inexcusable myopia and idiocy. Does it occur to anyone else that the gifting and the consumption of psilocybin mushrooms did not cause the death of an 18-year old partygoer that night? A goddamn bullet did. Maybe two or more bullets.
I am a person who has every intention of becoming a big fan of shooting firearms at things. I’m going to go spray some lead at a paper target as soon as they’ll allow me, in fact. (Which will be as soon as I walk into a firing range and slap $9 on the counter.) But the situation described above, and all its busted implications, is no less than fucking stupid.
I’d love to poll 100 people in Paducah, Kentucky who knew about this case and this trial, and run the results up against my hypothesis that less than 3% of them would even consider that the greater issue here is gun control, gun ownership, and the turned cheek to accepted, unprovoked violence based on some frontier mentality that we have failed to outgrow in what we call our great, progressive America.
I’m tired and there’s little more to say about this. Other than this news snippet practically closes with a punch line to a joke that is in no way funny. The joke is sitting on a judicial bench in McCracken County, and in the sensibilities of innumerable hearts and minds in the heartland. …Shit.
Foster, J. P., Garrett, B., Higgins, G. E., Jepsen, C., Rickettes, M., Troske, K., White, K., & Young, L. (2007). Kentucky jail management strategies: Final report. Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation: Louisville, KY.
Foster, J. P., Young, L., Kennedy, S., Goodman, C., & Stutzenberger, A. (December 2005). Jail evaluation study. Kentucky Department of Corrections: Frankfort, KY.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Romano is a black man whiter than me; the kind of black man who plays squash. And this Sunday night, wrapping up a weekend of ceaseless bourbons on the rocks, he was playing Scrabble with me at Carly Rae’s when a fellow slid in looking markedly out of place, even among we of the Unshaven and Drunk.
The interloper wore a Pacers jersey that draped well below his crotch, above overly-long jean shorts, and he approached Romano and me at the table without hesitation.
“Man, you gotta cell phone?” he asked me. His bottom lip was twice the size of his top one, but I couldn’t tell whether he’d been busted in the chops or he’d gone around his whole life looking that way.
“Yeah, I’ve got one,” I told him. There was a time not many years before when I would have continued to hand it over to him under the friendly assumption he needed to use it in a bad way, but this time I continued with a battery of questions instead. “Why do you ask?”
“Can I make a call to this number?” he sputtered, pulling out a crinkled Post-It note with a series of characters scrawled on it in pencil. The paper was so emaciated it reminded me of many times in elementary school when I’d have a woefully runny nose and instead of skeeching every last of the teacher’s Kleenex from her desk, I’d crumple lined paper repeatedly into a makeshift tissue, worn thin enough to fold over my nose and blow—but resilient enough to actually catch snot and not embarrass myself. That process took some patience and a measure of rhinocranial discipline in light of that crazy nasal drip that can stream forever when you’re a snot-nosed punk with bad allergies. I recalled all this looking at this vagabond’s Post-It note in his chalky hand. …The writing on it looked more like a bank account number than seven digits and a prefix, and it looked like it had resided in his pocket for months.
“You need to use my phone to call that number?”
“Who are you calling? I’ll need to know first.”
“Cool! Where do you work?”
“I cut hair. Professionally,” he claimed.
“But where is it located, the place where you cut hair professionally?”
“At the—I need to call my boss so he can take me to his car—my boss’s car is right over on Brook.”
I kept grinning at him. “I’m unclear… You need to get your boss to pick you up in his car, to take you to get his own car?”
“He got a truck, also.”
“But Brook Street is a block away. Can’t you just walk there? It’s a beautiful night out.” I paused and, noting the glint of sweat on his forehead—or was that just grease?—I added, “Okay a bit warm maybe, but still nice for September.”
He pressed on, gripping the note now with both hands in front of him, his thumbs on top. “I just need to call my boss so I can cut his hair tonight.”
“I see,” I said shaking my head. “I understand the urgent need for haircuts at 10pm on a Sunday.” I really did. …I looked at Romano and then back at the guy. Romano threw in, “Can’t you use the restaurant’s phone? They probably have a phone here you can use.”
He repeated, “Man, I just need to call my boss so I can get his car and cut his hair.”
“What’s wrong with your boss’s car? The one on Brook?”
“It’s out of gas.”
“Dude,” I said excitedly. “I’ve got just what you need! I’ve got two gallons of gas in my car. In a plastic gas can—I keep it for just such occasions in my trunk, and you can have it!”
His face sagged.
“Seriously!” I nudged him on the arm. “My car’s just outside. I’ll take you to go get it right now. Come on!”
This was all true, because I did have two gallons of gas for such occasions, and by all appearances what he really needed was some gasoline to pour into his boss’s fuel hatch. In fact, this was the second can of gas I kept stored in my trunk in a year. Just months before this night, I’d given a ride to an entreating black woman and her venerable, cane-toting, sweet-old harmless and clueless grandfather several blocks to their supposed rendezvous point with [Someone?], and when she asked for a couple of dollars to get gas for her [Someone’s?] car parked across the street, I told her, then just as excitedly as now, that I could do her one better. I dug in my trunk and extracted a new plastic gas can with two gallons of unleaded in it, handed it to her, and drove off wishing them well. In my rearview, I could see the woman turn to her hapless grandpa and ask, “What the hell I gonna do with this thang?” Petrol is, after all, what she’d asked for.
…Our flailing con-artist this time persisted: “Yeah, but I need to call my boss first!”
His story by now was so overtly fishy that I expected a seal to sidle up, bark, and clap his rudders. The usual human part of me felt a little bad for giving this guy a hard time, but what really came to the fore of my mind was genuine curiosity.
I continued my grilling. “You’re going to collect his car and then go to his business to cut his hair?”
I smiled. “What business does he own? I mean where is it?”
“Aw,” he slid back his red baseball cap (on backward) and scratched the top of his cornrows. “Uh, the Rudyard Kipling. Over on Oak.”
“Sweet! A barber who owns a bar, too? He owns the Rud?”
The Rud was an historic bulwark for local performing artists, a tavern that served unique dishes and an eccentric scene for bands, poets and authors, filmmakers. I’d had many good nights there, and our interloper sensed it. With a kind of affected pride, he boasted, “I dug the foundation for that place, man.”
Romano and I traded glances. Romano pushed up his glasses, folded his hands, and said, “That must have been like 70 or 80 years ago.”
“Wait,” I said, cocking one brow toward the poor bastard. “You’re older than you actually look, right?”
He smiled timidly, “Awm, how old do you think I am?” His bottom lip glistened like a bloated pink slug.
I gauged he looked about 35 plus 8 years or so of fairly rough street living, so he discernibly looked about 43… in Street Years. But I told him, “You look about 35,” and quickly asked, “So you’re going to the Rudyard Kipling: What’s your boss’s name?”
“Uh, Rudy. Rudy Kipling.”
So now the jig was up, and after Romano and I laughed very hard for a full minute and explained that Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book in the late nineteenth century, the guy excused himself in a polite tone. “Just forget about it,” he said, and floated toward the door. He didn’t have it in him to be nasty, and perhaps he would have been a far better con-thief/cell phone snatcher-pawner if he were. I hoped any sting of embarrassment or failure he felt dissipated as soon as he hit the sidewalk. Shit, if the guy had simply asked for money, I would have slapped cash in his paw and wished him luck. Every panhandler and rustler should know this about me by now; I should wear a sign. But some—homeless or not—feel they need to play games.
“That was fun,” Romano said.
And then I scorched him in Scrabble, all the while begging him to make up words, for his sake, to give him some extra scoring leverage. If they sounded good, they’d be permissible. For instance, WQERTBY would not slide, but GOPEN—why not? It doesn’t violate accepted rules of English morphology. We could call it Crabble™, and he would get bonus points if he could furnish a definition.
go-pen intransitive verb (2008) : imperative compound of go + open : <Gopen the fridge and fetch me a beer, beeotch!>
…Romano refused, insisting to play by the rules and lose with dignity. He bought us another bourbon with a splash of water.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
When Janine Sumner was surprised by the surprise appearance of her long-lost childhood friend Brenda, she stood up in elation with open arms, crying, “Oh my gosh! You look fantastic!” Without saying as much, Janine was commenting on the weight loss that Brenda had achieved, reducing herself from a porcine 240lbs to a reasonable buck-and-a-half. I inferred this from Janine’s tone of voice, and it didn’t matter to me how fat Brenda was, or how unfat she became. What bothered me most was the ambivalence of that godless salutation with which she greeted her summer camp buddy from days gone by.
Being a devout Rational Humanist, I had to investigate.
“Oh my gosh?” OMG. WTF? What prohibits sane, hardworking Americans from saying, “Oh my God!” ?
When they’re having sex, do they scream, “Oh, gosh, oh gosh yeah! I’m coming, oh my gosh!” Dr. Steven Fobbs of the University of Sacramento says no.
“People don’t want to use the lord’s name in vain,” he said. “Sometimes though, in heated moments, they bust out a ‘goddamn’ here or a ‘god-fucking-dammit’ there. In modern colloquial use, it’s a privilege of the English language. When some Christians are really angry, for instance, they are prone to forget their spiritual precepts.”
Indeed. Fobbs is an ordained Catholic minister and professor of theology. Curious about this phenomenon, and steeped in his own conviction about addressing his savior Christ our lord almighty, he hired a statistician to conduct a quantitative longitudinal study on who uses the G Word and who doesn’t.
“Not surprisingly,” said Fobbs, “people who attend church regularly are inclined to say ‘Oh my gosh’ rather than ‘Oh my God’.” In fact, data shows that in a comparison of churchgoers to non-churchgoers and other heathens, church people say ‘Gosh’ nine times more often than non-churchgoers, who actually go ahead and call God by His name.
“But,” Fobbs added, “secular people, too, avoid using the G Word. I met a closet-Buddhist who respectfully would say 'gosh' instead of 'God' …even though Buddhists don’t believe in divinity.”
Since the late 1980s, God-fearing souls—church or no church—have been using the term ‘G.D.’ instead of ‘goddamn.’ Shortly before my high school graduation, I crossed the line according to a friend of mine who warned me to “Never say G.D.” This was in spite of the fact that she was a prostitute and occasional attendant of satanic rituals in the Long Beach area, just south of Los Angeles.
Some G-Word fearers have taken it a step further by condensing the word “gosh” to the capital letter ‘G.’
When another friend, for instance, witnessed formerly fat-ass Brenda’s new body debut, she echoed Janine’s hackneyed salutation, but with the milder, “Oh… My… G.”
The question of why a person does or doesn’t use the G Word remains speculative—a matter for a different psychological study altogether.
I looked into it by contacting Dr. James Brisko of Worcester State College in Massachusetts. With two government-funded clinical trials under his belt on why people say stupid shit, Brisko’s findings presented interesting results.
“Part of it has to do with superstition, " he said. "There is a fear that a Higher Power will rain fire upon the heads of babes in retribution if they fuck with His name.”
In spite of morality being a nebulous, seemingly immeasurable phenomenon, Brisko’s qualitative studies concluded that “people who refuse to say the word ‘God’ are more morally equipped to face the world every day—in spite of their transgressions and flaws—than those who use the Lord’s name in vain.”
When asked for criteria used to define “morally equipped,” Brisko provided examples.
“The measures we used,” he said, “began with examining offensive language. We posed subjects with things like, you know, if your team was in the Super Bowl and lost by a Hail Mary touchdown pass in the third sudden-death overtime, after you’ve witnessed your friends eat $90 worth of finger-foods and spill five quarts of beer on your new carpet, what would be the first thing to come out of your mouth?”
Other scenarios ranged from profanities evoked from hammering one’s own thumb while missing the head of a nail to losing $500 on a single, impulsive bet in roulette.
Further, Brisko found that the personal histories of his two study groups’ subjects revealed significant differences in patterns of behavior. The ‘Gosh’ sample self-reported random acts of kindness, charitable contributions, church attendance, abstinence from substance use, refraining from cheating on their lovers, and insistence to give the last parachute to the retard instead of the CEO in a flaming plane that was going down.
“Such behaviors occur with far less frequency among those who don’t hesitate to say ‘Oh my God, or goddamnit, or ‘God, you suck!’,” said Brisko.
While many dimensions of Brisko’s research proved inconclusive, I asked for a unifying characteristic of both religious people and irreligious people who refuse to say the simple and innocuous word ‘God’.”
“Well,” he said after a thoughtful pause, “they’re a bunch of fucking pussies.”
Note: Brenda’s figure is pretty hot now; unfortunately, she remains a Butterface.
Friday, January 1, 2010
I love irony, and sometimes I invite delusion. So since all my ideas are good ones, and I need a refinery for the crude pulp racing through my corpus collosum, I feel this blog name is fitting.
Stop me if you think I've gone way too far, because surely I will.
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