Posted tagged ‘stupid’

The lull before the…other lull

October 22, 2013

Imagine if Adam Sandler made a martial arts movie. That’s the train wreck my life has seemed like since last I slapped a keyboard with these ham-hands. Yes, I know there are people with bowel-eating bugs and bullets for neighbors in other countries. This isn’t their story, it’s mine.

We went to Italy. I could post pictures and tell a goofy-yet-alluring tale of our time there, but I’m pissed. Up until the rental car turn-in, it was a magical ride through a beautiful country, peppered with stony silences when I pissed Achebeyo off from time to time. Now comes the rant.

While I usually don’t out companies, good or bad, I have to say that Sicily By Car is a criminal organization that hides innocuous and unnecessary parts of their rental cars, tells you that you lost them when you return the car, then charges you FOUR TIMES the amount it actually costs to replace the part you never knew was supposed to be in the car in the first place. Beware of this company if you ever travel to Rome and want to rent a car. MAKE them go to the car with you before you sign anything and MAKE them explain every last little piece that should or should not be there. Then take pictures of the car and the criminal in training to use as evidence later. This company can suck the dirt out of a dead donkey’s stinkhole, as far as I’m concerned.

Upon returning home, we were faced with a cat who decided that her goal in life was to completely cover our carpet in regurgitated food and hair. You’d think she had eaten at several wig-and-food buffets each day while we were gone for the amount of puke there was all over the house. It was the final impetus for us to purchase a carpet cleaner for our home, and the final piece of the cat-food puzzle we needed to determine that our cat is allergic to…well, everything. Everything except venison, apparently. I’d hate to see how she would fare out in the wild on her own. Just looking at her, you can tell she doesn’t have the chops to take down a doe on her own, let alone a buck with horns. After horking up a squishy hair-turd a few days ago, I think she’s finally back on track to keeping what she crams in her facehole mostly rear-exit-only.

My job has provided me with unending inspiration for frustration. Between multiple furloughs because our government is more concerned with their own financial futures than any genuine concern for “We the people”, an office neighbor who believes that speaker phones not only need to be set to ear-liquifying volume, but also need to be shouted into with a bullhorn, and another office neighbor who feels the need to read every email sent to everyone OUT LOUD to make sure you understood it, things have been tough. It’s enough to make you want to join one of those vow-of-silence monasteries. At least it would be quiet…if a little too non-co-ed.

Every time I’ve sat down to write, something else catches my attention. Me and The Lazy have become pretty symbiotic lately, and I stopped fighting him openly. I took this moment while he’s busy plotting my unproductive evening to slip in a quick refresher on tossing letters together on screen. Maybe if I win my current battle with Italy’s Satan’s Bullying Car service, I’ll write more about that trip later. I’ll just have to find something long-range for The Lazy to start planning to keep him occupied.


Gooftacular Tales

July 23, 2013

***Having Brett guest post really got my gray matter oozing awesome, and now I must share. Thanks for the brain-boost, buddy!***

Remembering how one of my best friends from high school and I met  and became partners in The Silly triggered all of these other memories of how awesome we thought we were. Granted, few others agreed with our self-assessment, but that did not deter us from forging geektastic paths in those days.

Brett, being the humble guest blogger that he is, failed to mention that he was (is) a genius when it came to making costume replicas of some of our favorite characters from movies. Since we had the dangly-down human parts, we were enamored with the thought of being Mad Max, Han Solo or his 1940’s other-galaxy alter-ego Indiana Jones. Interestingly enough, neither of us was interested in being Luke Crywalker. Maybe we sensed his parentage before Lucas did, or maybe we just weren’t into kissing our sisters. Either way, Brett paved the way for me to explore all of the avenues I had to keep girls at a safe distance…for them.

I’ve never been much use when it comes to building things that aren’t comprised of squiggly lines on paper or computer. I’ll spare you the tired cliches about having a birdhouse condemned by government agencies, but I will say that my most brilliant accomplishment of the hand-made variety at that time was the lizard leash that Brett mentioned in the previous post. More on that some other time. Suffice it to say that if you wanted to look like an Imperial speeder bike scout on that teddy bear planet, he was the one to make it happen. And did.

Since he lived at one end of the national park and me at the other, it was usually a 15-20 minute bike ride for me to get to his place. Or, if I was lucky and feeling brain-dead, a 5 minute ride on the cargo trains that frequently passed by my house on their way past his. After nearly shredding myself on unforgiving crushed rock as I leaped to safety on one such ride, bikes became the more viable option to reach Brett’s house. Not to mention, it meant I had a way home that didn’t mean a 30-40 minute walk.

On one particular visit to Brett’s house, he showed me the aforementioned speeder bike scout helmet he made. It was so authentic that I immediately pledged my undying love and devotion to the plastic and cardboard construction and begged Brett to let me wear it on my bike ride home to show the world what a super-stud I was. I think Brett knew the actual outcome of such a solo-parade, and was likely curious to view the results. He capitulated gracefully and I plonked the helmet down over my ear-to-ear grinning face. I rode home like the winds of goofy change and just knew I was the envy of everyone who saw me.

Eventually I had to return the helmet, but not before infuriating my mother by wearing it constantly around the house. While I was busy dorking it up with the inanimate love of my life, Brett was busy re-creating other heroes of ours. Our next adventure would be a little closer to our home planet. Okay, ON our home planet. A little adventure I like to call “Indiana Beckett and the Snakening”.

Brett made himself an authentic Indiana Jones costume, and even was allowed to purchase an authentic whip to make it complete. I think his parents thought he would likely not be able to master the skills necessary to do more than flop that leather rope around like a soggy noodle. They were mistaken.

We would venture out into the national park, Indiana Beckett and his Baltimore Aquarium shirted side-kick, where he would rapidly acquire the skills to pop that whip like he was tearing open peep holes in the universe. He got good enough that he could snap leaves off of trees and even move small rocks. The best I could do was leave myself stinging welts all over my legs, neck and head, as is proper for the goofy side-kick. Knowing our respective roles, we ventured out into the searing heat of southern California summers in the national park and vowed to take on all of Nature’s “villains”. We were certain we could stop a coyote, bobcat or angry jackrabbit. Snakes would run in fear of Brett’s prowess. Or not.

As we ambled along the railroad tracks, Brett practicing his fear inducing whip snaps, me begging for the chance to scar myself further, we suddenly encountered our venerable hero’s biggest nemesis: a snake. Finally! A chance to showcase Brett’s prowess with the whip, and a chance for me to showcase my egging-on skills. Enter situational excitement and panic.

As I extorted Brett to show that snake who the boss of the railroad tracks was, it started rattling, turning Brett’s whip action into a tossing action mid-whip. Yep. He gave that snake the animal kingdom’s equivalent of a blow up doll, and it showed its appreciation by winding itself around the whip, daring us to try to regain our lost treasure. The snake standoff would last only until Brett realized that the whip’s handle was far enough away from the geometric tryst going on between snake and his paramour to allow him to grab it and make the jump to light speed.

Most of the rest of that afternoon is lost in the haze of screaming flight while shaking the snot (snake) out of that whip and hoping snakes can’t give accurate descriptions to the serpent authorities. We ran. Like the wind.

Once we had ensured our safety and distance, and checked to make certain we wouldn’t require changes of undergarments, we would embellish the tale of our encounter to anyone who would listen. To hear us retell the ordeal, we faced down a prehistoric demon-snake the size of a pick-up truck and lived to tell the tale.

We were heroes of our own imaginations.

We were also having the time of our lives.

What? The Funk

July 13, 2013

I wish I could say that this title means that I’ve reconnected with my P-Funk loving self. While I’m one of a limited number of bald white guys who can get down with Bootsy and George, this is another boring tirade on why I haven’t written. Hang on to your adult diapers everyone, it’s going to be a Matlock kind of ride today.

The word “surly” is fairly prevalent in my daily life lately. Between a government that wants ME to take a pay cut to save the country money, but won’t lead by example, and increasing pressure from my brain to be a lazy sack of protoplasm, I haven’t had much to say that wouldn’t spark immediate, ridiculous, conflict. And that’s not what this place is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about self aggrandizement and fun.

For those of you paying attention all these…months, I have a mentor, someone who keeps track of my writing and lets me know when I’m being a slack-ass.

Her: Hey, did you give up, giver-upper?

Me: No, I’m on an extended procrastination break, my master.

It’s tough being an apprentice to a blogging Sith.

She’s got a point, though: why am I not writing? My well thought out answer? Because.

I’ve been wrapped up in any number of inane activities that mean I have no time for writing. At least, that’s what The Lazy whispers in my ears when I feel guilty. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been focused on more than a few other endeavors lately. Since you’re reading this now, I’ll assume you want to know what has kept me enraptured like a 12-yr-old girl listening to talentless teens.

Neil Gaiman has written many books that I’ve devoured like fried goods at a southern buffet, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is by far my favorite. I’ve read American Gods, Neverwhere, and Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, but Ocean left me feeling like all of the childhood fantasies I created in my own back yard were true. It’s the kind of tale that leads you as an adult to the mystical door you created as a child, but denied once you started paying rent…or mortgage. I never wanted it to end, but at least it gives you hope.

The next piece of distraction I’ve buried myself in is from one of my favorite authors, Max Barry. My first introduction to his work was a loaned copy of Syrup, which I thought would be a sappy love story for girlie-girls. Turns out, it transcended bullshit gender roles and took me for a nut-slapping ride through Marketing 101 and Douchebaggery 201. I liked it so much, I not only bought that one, but proceeded to purchase Jennifer Government, which is a lovely tale of a dystopian future where corporations own everything…including you, if you have a job. Not too far from the mark now, huh?

His next offering, Lexicon, took me by the DNA and essentially imprinted itself on my soul. This is one of the few books I can honestly say I was sad to see end. Most books, the story is told, the battles are won and the characters you identify most with (if you’re not a sociopath) get the girl/guy/gold. With Lexicon, Max weaves so much of modern society and current events into it, that you don’t even have to look for parallels in today’s concerns: they’re slathered like butter on southern biscuits. This is the kind of book that will make you feel vindicated when you say, “I KNEW the media was lying to us.” While it is technically science fiction, the premise is more sciencey than fictiony. And it’s spooky. All I’m saying is, if you don’t read this book, you’re more lazy and frightened of success than I am.

Aside from those two offerings, my time has been filled with work, games and guilt.

Work is what it is: crap on a furloughed cracker served by a corrupt government to further their own greed.

As far as games go, all my free time has been spent in one of the popular MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) out there. Since I won’t advertise for free, let’s just say that it isn’t the one based on elves, dragons and trolls. It’s the one based on laser swords, bad guys with matching uniforms and giant slugs with slaves. I think it’s safe to say I’m addicted. If some Imperial sniper ganks you on a desert planet where those aren’t the droids you’re looking for, blow me a kiss.

Don’t come in, unless you want God to cry

May 24, 2013

My friend Katie over at is always telling me I could do myself a lot of blogging favors by adding some pictures to my posts. But when you’re talking about office nudity, I’m not sure pictures would put me any closer to the Pulitzer. Plus, it’s hard to read something fun and entertaining when the pictures are like watching a wasp lay its eggs in a live tarantula: mesmerizing but horrifying.

Way back in the creepy-crawly ages, or for the more religious types, back when bipeds sprang instantly from the bearded magic man’s will, two things were obvious and no big deal:

1) men have outies & a satchel, and women have innies & boobies

2) clothing??

Somewhere along the developmental road, it was decided that innies & outies were like Medusa and NASCAR: bad things will happen if you pay too close attention to them. There was some grand convention of The Ancient Prudes where it was agreed that to cut down on potential irrational obsession with the male-female puzzle pieces, they should be hidden away. Kind of like how you keep your kids from wanting cookies by placing them on the top shelf where they know the location, but have to struggle to get at them.

In the course of hiding away what every male and female human typically have (pre-surgery), it must have also been decided that any accidental (or even accidentally intentional) observation or display of what your magic man gave you was grounds for guilt, slapping and possible incarceration (where, incidentally, the viewing of your naughty bits is the least of your worries). The human body became a redacted classified document, obscuring the interesting bits.

We struggle to find the right balance between the guilt of naughty bit exposure and the expression of self, and our media is happy to shove us in as many directions as they can. Wear this cleavage-popping, hiney-hugging outfit, but make sure you only take it off in private. The confusion that is intrinsic to each human with regard to the natural body we’re given and how we’ve been led to fear it means there is no clear path to naughty-bits freedom.

Some people joke that there need to be more stringent laws to prevent us from having to see what amounts to a full ham crammed into an olive skin, but why and how did the mere existence of the human body become grounds for tribal persecution? Are we saying these bodies are wrong somehow? Because I didn’t choose or make mine. It was kind of like going to the car dealership and having them issue me a Gremlin when I wanted the Lamborghini.

Are we saying the magic man, who many believe did this to us, made something he was later ashamed of? What have I DONE? I gave them naughty sinful bits! Why not just scrap the prototypes and make us like hydras or starfish?

Hey, I just hacked your arm off!

Yeah, and I’m nowhere NEAR ready to  be a parent, you jerk!

The point is, we’re here, we all have some variation on the theme of phallus or yoni, and we all know it. It’s only a secret because we all agree it’s supposed to be. And that makes me sad sometimes…except when I’m at a fast-food restaurant. See? See how the fear works?

All of this came to me as I was standing stark naked in my office having changed out of my lunchtime-debacle clothes, also known as gym clothes. I thought, what would I do if someone picked the lock to my office, or kicked it down while I’m standing here for 10-15 minutes naked for no reason? The answer was to make them pay in tears and nightmares and just stand there. But it never happens, no matter how long I wait.

Happy Bonus Entry Friday, everyone!

Top 10 things you’ll know about me after reading this

April 19, 2013

***I find posting information about me that you could certainly live without very pretentious…so here we go.***

I’ll spare you the woe is me for not having any writing inspiration, and just force-feed your eyeballs something I cooked up last minute for this week. It came to me while I was asleep in the shower this morning.

10. I once had an art exhibit of my photography at a local business during one of those come eat free food from several offices while you pretend to like local art deals. A friend of mine had watched me taking photographs before rehearsals (“12 Angry Men” with a local theater group) and asked if he could see some of my previous work. I hesitantly shouted Hell YES and promptly produced a book that Achebeyo published at for me of her favorite photos I’ve taken. My friend was sold and set the whole show up. People came, listened to the live musician and acted like they weren’t just there to eat the free food. I even sold about 15 photos. All in all, it was the kind of event that means I can brag about it for a few more decades. Here are a few samples:

A picture, in lieu of raking.

This one gives my brother nightmares.

9. I’m a part-time wanna-be actor. What have you seen me in, you ask? Well, if you recorded a GE commercial from a few years ago where people were line-dancing through an aircraft engine plant (and then across the globe), you could pause it and hope the resolution was good enough to see the bald guy in the black polo shirt just outside the plant bay doors for the millisecond he was on camera. Additionally, if you’re addicted to re-enactment shows, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being in both Wicked Attraction and Unusual Suspects on Investigation Discovery Channel. Both jobs were a lot of fun and gave me the chance to work with my current friends in the industry here, as well as making new ones. I’ve had the distinct honor and pleasure of helping local filmmakers pursue their goals and dreams of creating in their chosen art form, and I always come away wishing it would never end. However, my limited ventures into the world of entertainment don’t pay as continuously as my day job, so I continue to dabble until someone decides they need a bald, sarcastic smart-ass as a sidekick on an on-going basis. I’d point you to my IMDB profile, but I’m at that stage where a stalker wouldn’t seem like the dangerous threat it probably is.

8. I am a skydiver. Most of my skydiving friends would say that I was a skydiver, and that you have to make more than 2 jumps a year to claim that title. I would counter with you’re still a skydiver until you sell your gear. I have over 600 jumps from various aircraft (including a helicopter and a hot air balloon), and I even used to “fly camera” for a few skydiving teams. I don’t jump as much now because…well, because of The Lazy mostly. I make excuses like, everyone I used to jump with regularly has moved or moved on and waaaa for me, but it really boils down to time and motivation. Plus, it’s a tough call on weekends during jumpable weather between diving with sharks in the ocean or diving with monkeys in the air.

My brother-in-law posing for me.

He used this one on a business card.

My buddy Tony rockin’ a dust broom.

7. I love to travel. You may be saying to yourself, and the screen, Duh! Why do you think I infrequently visit this place of yours and fail to comment? What you may not know as you secretly snipe at me from behind the Internet is that my love of travel is more than simply a desire to generate stories for you to enjoy. The longer I spend in the teeth-grinding work-a-day world, the more these trips turn into retirement scouting. At some point, I’ll have reached that place in the employment process where sane people flip their boss the middle finger and wander off into the land of NOW what do I do? while not-so-sane folks contend with the voices in their head until Gollum convinces them to get rid of those filthy Hobbitses. With that in mind, if you own a tourist-friendly country and have properties in the 12-19k range that won’t make me look like I expatriated to become homeless, let’s talk.

Places with views like this are preferred.

6. I had my junk sniffed by a lion. Up close. While this is arguably a story for a much larger offering here, I’ll condense it for today’s effort. I volunteered for a time at an endangered species rescue park in the United States. I worked with leopards, tigers, lions and other exotic cats. One day, while in the safety area of this lion’s habitat, he decided I wasn’t entertaining enough through the fence and knocked the other volunteer out of the way as he left his habitat to join me in the not-so-safe-now-that-you’re-here area. While urine production may or may not have benefited me in that moment, I dried up like an Arizona mud puddle and calmly talked to the 300lbs predator sniffing my sack, imploring him that everything was okay as long as we respected each other and our individual bodily integrity. He finished giving me my exam and proceeded to knock over a few things in the safety area before meandering back into his habitat.  After that, me and my new bro-cat-seph were tight. And by tight, I mean through a fence.

5. Achebeyo and I visited a Korean prison…in Middle Earth. When we visited New Zealand a while back (another tale for later), we decided to hike up a hill in Queenstown where they had all sorts of animals roaming around freely, and where parts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. Remember that scene where Aragorn and company get attacked by Warg riders and he goes over the “cliff”? I fell off that same “cliff”…onto grass a few feet below. There were many markers on that hill stating which scenes were filmed there so you could feel like a time-displaced part of the show. The largest attraction, however, was a sizeable structure surrounded by barbed wire fences at the top of the hill. It kind of felt like the onset of insanity, with a picture of some Asian dictator painted on the front, until we saw the sign:

Remember when Disney was all about prison movies? Me neither.

The great Kiwi oppressor, Mao…or something.

4. I went through my online photographs to determine what most of these numbered items would be about.

3. If you felt cheated by #4, I don’t blame you.

2. However this type of thing happens, I don’t have a sense of smell. I was born without it. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother making the most wonderful meals and baked goods. She would spend days over the holidays making pies, cookies, candy, bread and other delicious treats. Everyone would drool over the smells wafting from her kitchen. I would play along, but all my nose picked up was a change in temperature, which my brain would translate into delicious. While it may seem that I miss out on quite a bit without a sense of smell, remember that I’m a male. Most of my time before, and between, relationships was (and is) spent with other males. When we gather, we generally don’t tend to fret over brief bouts of eye-watering stench. It can infrequently be a badge of honor if you can make one or more of your friends cry. If it becomes an on-going, pervasive thing, we might exclude you until you sort that problem out. Not being forced to endure the invisible stink-baths men are occasionally prone to emit is a bonus in my book. Plus, I will forever NOT be the one who dealt it, by the dude-laws of the United States. Look it up.

1. I love animals. Not in a lock him up so the farm can sleep easy kind of way, but in a goofy baby-talk kind of way. Achebeyo is constantly warning me away from touching furry unknowns everywhere we go. You’d think after getting bitten in the face and being the recipient of a battery of tetanus shots I’d be wary. Nope. You might imagine I’d be careful after nearly getting gored by the New Zealand version of a wooly mammoth. No way. And don’t get me started on the sharks. I love me some sharks. My goal for this year or next is to at least dive with the tiger sharks at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas or, optimally, great whites in South Africa. The sharks I usually dive with are big, but relatively harmless if you respect their personal space and don’t yank on their tails as they pass you. I’m looking to help show that sharks are not the mindless, demonic killing machines that Hollywood and the media portray them to be in order to earn ratings and money.

Those horns are made of foam, right? Right??

Here, I got you this baby dinosaur.

Before I got my good camera, I jammed my old one in this girl’s face. We dated for a while after that.

Thanks for playing Who the heck are you and why should I care with me this week.

Pitching tents

March 25, 2013

***I promised my good friend Brian that I would write something about him for his birthday, but I never told him I would make it comfortable.***

Growing up with a mother who couldn’t decide which man she wanted to nag for the rest of his life meant that we moved. A lot. My earliest memories are of being at a beach somewhere as a very young baby (and not just because I saw the pictures). Flash-forward a few years to fun-and-cockroach-filled times in Biloxi, MS, where you learned early on to always shake out your shoes before jamming your feet into them. Nothing like a greasy, itchy smear on your sock to start the day off right. I have more concrete memories of the time we lived in Colorado, but once we returned to California, I was finally able to start making (and keeping for more than a few months) friends.

Upon our less than triumphant return to California, my grandparents were pressed into service, taking on full-time parenting duties of my brother-from-the-same-mother and I, while their daughter flitted about her butterfly-like existence in pursuit of something. I moved between grade schools for a bit until we settled in one location long enough for me to feel like the world wasn’t going to get up-ended before I could blink. I started to come out of that we never stay anywhere long enough for me to not be the new kid shell and make friends at school. This was about the same time that Micronauts were the kill me if I don’t have this toy for lads. It has relevance, believe me.


They had all sorts of quirky-fun parts that were interchangeable and made these goofy hair-helmet-nauts into some of the coolest futuristic cats in the toy box. And Brian had some.

I spent days cajoling him into letting me just play with one, then came the campaign to let me keep one. It’s how we became friends. Not that he let me keep one, because he didn’t. As any good parent-fearing child will tell you, the doom for giving away even toys you didn’t like isn’t worth the eternal friendship of a thousand gold-coin-spilling leprechauns. You spend eternity packing bags for that guilt trip. But that process began an on-going association that would lead to what I refer to as The Big Deal.

In an attempt to make me pay for my ceaseless (seriously) efforts at scoring one of his Micronauts, Brian took great pains to ensure he sat next to me at lunch and hassle me endlessly about the kind of chips I might be willing to share that day. As all kids know, food trades are fair game, as long as you aren’t giving away valuable plastic ware. Parents are only concerned about the food you are (or are not) eating if it inconveniences them in some way…like a trip to the emergency room to make a withdrawal from the gastrointestinal piggy bank, or where on earth is my Tupperware sandwich keeper?? As long as you don’t mind missing portions of meals they don’t have to watch you eat, neither do they. When all else fails, there’s always the lying.

With the Micronauts becoming more and more of a lost cause, I focused in on another item Brian was frequently showing off: his ant-burning magnifying glass. To my youthful diminutive stature, this thing was HUGE. It filled my palm to overflowing and was beautifully convex on both sides. I didn’t know I wanted it until I was pushed to ask for it during a particularly annoying snack-badgering session at lunch.

The expression MMM, BAAAARBECUUUUEEE is forever etched into my deepest storage banks. Even more than the most annoying song you could ever imagine (HEEEEY Achebeyo!). Seriously, if there are any interrogator types reading this, “MMM, BAAAARBECUUUUEEE” repeated over and over is quite possibly as effective as water-boarding. It was that moment when I learned that I could focus my inner snapping last nerve into a beam of negotiating genius. Luckily, before I dashed myself to the ground under the lunch bench to scream and (you saw this coming) pound sand, my frantic gaze fell on the magnifying glass.

Okay, I’ll give you these delicious barbecue chips (which I secretly hated) in exchange for the preeeeeciousssss.

Suddenly, the badgering stopped and I could see his internal calculations begin. Would it be worth the potential parental pummeling to satisfy that burning need for salty, barbecue(ish)-flavored possibly-potato slices? A few minutes of him being deluged with his own medicine (pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease) and the decision was made: an amalgam of unhealthy chemicals and maybe-food for the magnifying glass. As happens during times of extreme duress, we became fast friends.

At some point, we hung around together so much that people thought we were brothers. We were very much alike back then: wide-eyed, innocent goofball boys who chased lizards and ran from girls. You know, the Great Cootie Epidemic of the ’70s. We even had regular “camping” sleep overs, where my grandparents would put up a tent for us on the grass next to their bedroom window in the side yard and let us stay up all night being goofy.

We’d compose grand melodies about the girls we liked (“They’re just my two little cutie-pies…”) and fart until neither one of us could breathe. One time, we made the fatal mistake of zipping Rocky the poodle in there with us, and woke to the consequences of conducting chemical weapons testing (methane) on small animals. It looked like someone had mashed up Fruit Loops, oatmeal and carrots and left them in not-so-neat little piles all over our sleeping bags. We never made that mistake again, and Rocky was deemed canis non grata at all future camping excursions, side-yard or other.

As the years rolled on, Brian became more popular and well-adjusted, and I became more awkward and shy, so our paths began to diverge somewhat. We’d see each other at school and were friendly, but we weren’t as chummy as before. I know it sounds all teen-genre-movie, but it really wasn’t. We were just people who knew each other and traveled in different social circles. I could embellish it into something big-screen worthy, but you’ve seen it before.

It wasn’t until our senior year of high school that we would get to hang out again for more of what made us friends in the first place: shenanigans. We took a group trip with more of our original grade school friends to Ensenada, Mexico and stayed (with adult overseers, of course) at a beach campground. We had more VD-free fun than kids should be allowed to have, including bartering our meager belongings for hand-crafted carvings and shiny things for girls back home, as well as which sub-street level doors not to enter if you didn’t want to vomit uncontrollably (seriously, lady, inter-species nightmares for years). We also found two items which wound up making this trip one that none of us would ever forget: cheap, plentiful fuegos artificiale and an abandoned hotel under perpetual construction. We were in singed-eyebrow heaven.

Brian getting his shenanigans face on.

It’s a wonder we didn’t spark an international incident, as we were not terribly scrupulous about where we aimed or launched our massive bundle of fireworks. There were bottle rocket ambushes down half-constructed chimneys; there were M-80 I hope we didn’t really hurt anyone retaliations; there were string-of-Black-Cat diversions and more near misses than should have been possible, considering our lack of regard for our own, or our compatriots’, safety. We exited the battlefield not knowing who won and not caring one bit. It was to be our last bit of crazy fun before we all ventured off to the futures that awaited us.

Brian would go on to become a missionary in Chile, and then become (of all things) a fireman back in the U.S. I would go on to join the Air Force and come home for the infrequent visit. We never did get another chance to hang out and get silly, but I never forgot my friend, or the bonds we forged as goofy, fearless kids befouling a tent with the by-product of musical fruit.

Happy birthday, Brian.

Year of the face-bite

December 19, 2012

Anyone who knows me well knows that I cannot resist petting every single dog that crosses my path. This penchant of mine is typically accompanied by stern lectures from Achebeyo as she tries to keep her adolescent adult companion out of most avoidable mischief. Sometimes she succeeds, and sometimes the mutual failure is etched into my body somewhere.

I rang in 2012 with a trip to the emergency room on New Year’s day, complete with multiple injections in various locations around my body. One of the two nurses who attended to me explained that I could brag to my friends that I was stripped and handled by two nurses at the same time. In this instance, it would be like bragging about playing naked with two needle-wielding linebackers. Not really a badge of honor, ma’am.

We had decided to spend the early morning of New Year’s day walking loops around our 1-mile subdivision to start the year off with non-couch-bound activities. As we passed a small woman who was having her arm dislocated by three leashed dogs, I called out asking if it would be okay to come across the street to pet them. I mistook her uncomprehending reply of “okay” to mean “come pet these barely manageable maniacs”, instead of “I no understand, okay”. Once the dogs got within lunging range, one of them made a grab at my face, and one snapped at my hand. The lady dashed off one way and we made our way back home to assess the damage…without getting any information at all from the Face-Bite Fun Family. This would prove to be a fairly stupid way to start the new year.

We got to the emergency room, a place I avoid like the…well, the plague. No offense, but hospital patients wig me out. All that potential goo and grunge in such close proximity to me makes me want to demand the Silkwood treatment. And don’t skimp on the wire-brush scrubbing. I managed to keep my panic internalized, and made it into the interrogation room, where I tried to minimize my own stupidity in not getting contact info from my assailant’s walker. “Sir, you mean to tell me you were bitten by a dog on a leash in a closed subdivision and didn’t bother to ask for any information at all?” “Well, if you’re looking to make me feel more stupid than I am or look…”

The doctor took down what information I had and sent me off to the stab-team nurses. The ones in my hip were a bit pinchy, but not terribly bad. At least all of the horror stories I endured as a child about 7200 shots in the stomach were finally put to rest. I had to go back for about 6-8 weeks for one single shot each time before I was deemed not rabid. Not a terribly bad excuse to get out of work for a few hours each week, but one I’d probably avoid in the future. In fact, if I could start off this coming new year with less biting of my face (or anywhere I’ve got cells), I’ll consider it a vast improvement on this year.

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