Having Thanksgiving For Christmas

Dawn writes over at Tales From The Motherland.  She decided to list 50 things she’s thankful for in ten minutes or less.  I wouldn’t have known about it, but Darla at She’s A Maineiac and Susie at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride both decided to do it too.  I foolishly got sucked into the feel-good blog party of the holiday season.  If you have any idea as to the writing prowess and massive followings that Susie and Darla have, you’ll understand why I’m second guessing myself.

I wrote the list in ten minutes, but then took the liberty of going back to clarify what the hell I was talking about.  If you’re in a rush, you can skip the why’s and wherefores and just read the underlined, numbered answers.

1. Family – they’ve tolerated me this long….they’re stuck with me now.  Many of them have figured out that you can’t run away from DNA.
2. Friends – I have a few old ones and a few new ones.  I try to keep the good ones and dump the fair weather variety, but sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s who until you get some crappy weather.

No fair weather friends in this shot, all legit.
No fair weather friends in this shot, all legit.

3.Potential – things can always change.  Any life situation has potential to morph into a better or worse version, so I’ll hope and work for the better and try to avoid the worse.  Feel free to post that on your Facebook page with a picture of a sunset.
4. Health – I’m not exactly the spry stud I used to be, but I’m still on the right side of the dirt.
5. Humor – I like to believe that I have a good sense of humor and the ability to laugh at myself.  I know for a fact that I have the ability to laugh at others.
6. The chance to make a difference – I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not Mother Teresa, but I like to believe that I’m able to make a little difference in peoples’ lives, and that means an awful lot.
7. Perspective – Hey, it’s in the name of my blog, I’m not passing up free advertising.  Perspective gives me the ability to see things for what they are, and given enough time and clarity, to move beyond the fertilizer and appreciate the flowers.

Lucy insisted I use this shot, as the newer ones show too much of her white muzzle. She's very sensitive about looking so elderly.
Lucy insisted I use this shot, as the newer ones show too much of her white muzzle. She’s very sensitive about looking so elderly.

8. Lucy the dog – She keeps me company when I’m raking leaves and shoveling snow.  She protects my house from skunks and squirrels.  Lucy has left me in the dust in the going gray competition, but I still reign supreme in the baldness category.
9. Time to fix things – Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I feel like I still have the time to fix things.  I can still talk, and listen, and with enough humility, figure out where I’ve gone wrong and do something about it.
10. A chance to savor things – I’m learning to see the value in things.  To take the time to accept the impermanence of perfection.
11. Food, glorious food – My love affair with delicious, wonderful food continues barreling forward despite my growing waistline and skyrocketing cholesterol levels.  Be that as it may, food is best washed down with….
12. Beer – Frosties, tall cold ones, pints, growlers, kegs, brews, suds, ales, lagers, porters, stouts, imperial India Pale Ales, sessions, the list goes on and on.  I’ve finally entered the world of brewing my own.  My abilities as a brewer still lag miles behind my oh-so-refined palate, but I’m working on it.

I'm not thankful fir Kim Kardashian, but she's got her fanny perched on the rim of a glass of an incredible beer, and I'm too much of a gentleman to ask her to move.
I’m not thankful for Kim Kardashian, but she’s got her fanny perched on the rim of a glass of an incredible beer, and I’m too much of a gentleman to ask her to move.

13. Vodka – Yes, I drink vodka too.  I’ll let you know if I start working on distilling.
14. Tequila – Give me a short, neat glass of reposado and let me enjoy the peppery aromas, the sweetness of the first sip, the smooth warmth across my chest as I swallow.  I’m not sure if I need an intervention or a cold shower.

Some might see this bottle as half full, while others would see it as half empty. I choose to see it as all mine.
Some might see this bottle as half full, while others would see it as half empty. I choose to see it as all mine.

15. Blogging – The readers, the writers, the commenters, the strange, dynamic community of people I’ve never met in real life, but care for just the same.  Actually, I did meet one of you, and that’s part of the reason she gets to be called “Darling”.
16. Donald Trump – He keeps me on my toes.  He reminds me of everything that’s wrong with the country.  He helps me to understand how “The Love Boat” was ever the top rated show ion TV.  He also keeps me guessing about that orange fiberglass comb-over.
17. Internet access – Like many things I’m thankful for, I don’t truly value it until it’s gone.  Luckily for me, my home internet service is sporadically provided for a fee by the good folks at Comcast, so I get to appreciate it several times a week.
18. The off switches on my TV, computer and cell phone – These switches are wonderful, yet often over-looked in their functionality.
19. The hope that someday I learn how to use them – Just because I know the whereabouts of those may power switches, doesn’t man I know how to use them – but I’m hopeful I’ll learn someday.
20. The chance that there’s an off switch on my brain – I’ve been dabbling with meditation and trying to sleep at night without the use of prescription meds or excessive amounts of beer, vodka or tequila.  If I can shut my brain off, I think I could really gain clarity (or at least stop dreaming about people in donkey masks).
21. Scrapple– I just realized that if I think about certain processed pork products, my brain actually does shut off for a minute.  Mmmm…scrapple.

I snagged her when I was young and charming. She didn't stand a chance.
I snagged her when I was young and charming. She didn’t stand a chance.

22. My Lovely, Long-Suffering Wife –  I know I already covered friends and family, but my wife is in a category all her own.  If she actually reads this post, she’ll likely appreciate getting the props she deserves, (but she’ll also likely have a problem with coming after scrapple).  It’s not a ranking, Sweetie!23. My memory – I forgot why I wrote this one.  I had something really funny or beautiful or deep to write about my memory, but I’ll be damned if I can think of what it was.
24. Podcasts – I love me some podcasts.  I’m sick and tired of the massive library of music available to me in my car, but the podcasts rarely disappoint.  I started with Serial, and I’ve become a loyal follower of Joe Rogan and a few others.
25. Sarcasm – It’s in my veins, and without it, I’d be even more shriveled up and sad looking.
26. Beauty – I don’t really possess much of it, but I’m surrounded by it.  You should see my wife – Yowza!

There she is, relaxing in a tub.
There she is, relaxing in a tub.

27. People with bad taste – Bad taste is critical for those of us with impeccable taste.  Without bad taste, we’d all be the same, and that would make it tough for me to feel superior to others.

Smooth as a baby's ass, but nowhere nearly as fragrant.
Smooth as a baby’s ass, but nowhere near as fragrant.

28. Male pattern baldness – Without male pattern baldness, I’d have to struggle for hours teasing, combing and applying any number of expensive, potentially carcinogenic products to my luxurious mane before leaving the house every morning.  My lack of hair also exposes my glorious, smooth scalp to the world.  It’s okay to stare.
29. Disc Golf – My son, who I’m already thankful for in both the family and friend categories, has turned me on to the game.  Unlike traditional golf, the courses are largely free, the equipment is inexpensive and there is no use of little electric carts.  Even if you suck, and I do, it’s still a nice walk in the woods.
30. John Lee Hooker – I’m not always as thankful for John Lee as I should be, but I had some blues on while I typed that, and it seemed like a tip of the hat was in order.
31. Seat warmers – My car has seat warmers.  I once thought it was the silliest, most frivolous option one could get in a car, but as winter looms, my tender cheeks look forward to that warm embrace.

32. Grandkids – These things are great!  Mine are fun and come in handy, like when I need a smile or someone to bring me another beer.

Listen to me, child! Drop that stinky sandal and fetch Pappy another IPA. Chop Chop!
Listen to me, child! Drop that stinky sandal and fetch Pappy another IPA. Chop Chop!

33. Coworkers who see what I see – Sometimes work can provide you with such surreal things that you cannot believe your eyes.  Were it not for my colleagues, I might just chalk some of this stuff up to hallucinations.
34. Coworkers who don’t see what I see – This crew is important to me too.  I need to realize how clueless some folks can be while still leading productive, normal lives.
35. Cell phone cameras – Without cell phone cameras, we’d all be at the Fotomat booth down in the Shop N Save parking lot waiting for our prints so we could go to the post office and mail them to Instagram.
36. Ice makers – This one might be a little bit of a reach.  To be honest, I’m pretty good at pouring water into ice trays then popping the cubes out just 12 hours later.
37. Comingled recycling – When I was a kid, we just threw everything away.  Then we started recycling and trash got complicated.  The were bundles of newspaper in one spot, cans over there and bottles in yet another location.  Thanks to advances in sorting technology, we can just about throw all our crap in one place again!
38. “Fargo” – I’m so very thankful for this “place”.  The movie and TV shows have showcased actors who transcended everything else I’ve ever seen them in.  It’s the best show on TV and I cannot get enough of it.  I’m supremely bummed that it just ended, but I’m confident that there’s more coming.
39. The magic of self-editing special memories – This may or may not be the memory thought I had back on number 23.  I’m truly thankful that my memory is able to save precious points in my life while smoothly leaving out icky little details which could take away from the poignancy of the moment.
40. This is harder than it looks – That’s not really something I’m thankful for, but it’s the truth.

Soft Serve 365 days a year.
Soft Serve 365 days a year.

41. The Garden State – I’m thankful for Jersey.  You got a problem with that?

42. New family – I’m getting new family all the time.  A kid gets married – Boom!  Instant crew of aunts and uncles and one or two funny looking nephews.  Unlike old family members, I get a grace period in which to learn names.

Technically, this pic includes family friends and even a couple of grandkids.
Technically, this pic includes new family, old family, friends and even a couple of grandkids.

43. Cat-like reflexes – Were it not for my cat-like reflexes, I might not be here today.  Just the other day I fell over a log while disc golfing and nearly brained myself.  Sadly, the reflexes did me little good, since I was unable to rotate my body one way and my tail in the other, since, you know, I have no tail.

Don't be a hater.
Don’t be a hater.

44. Incredible good looks – I realize that I noted earlier that I possess no beauty, but many people will testify that I am ruggedly handsome.  While my good looks are not of much value in and of themselves, they do occasionally provide me with a few extra seconds to come up with an answer, while the person asking the question is mesmerized by my chiseled cheek bones and dreamy eyes.
45. Delusional thoughts – See number 44 above.
46. 10 fingers, 10 toes – Not only was I born with a full complement of digits, I still have all of them left, ever after more than a century of slamming car doors, operating power tools and flipping people off.
47. Boxer briefs – A man of my years can truly appreciate the winning combination of support, fashionable appearance and upper thigh coverage
48. The clearance section – Not only does the clearance section give me the best value for my shopping dollar, it also provides me with the best place to look for my wife when I’m lost in the store.
50. Shitty counting skills – …and we’re done.

One Man’s Cave is Another Man’s Rumpus Room

I know it's not Tartan Plaid.  Stop splitting hairs - it's not a very manly thing to do! (Image from shopcurated dot com)
I know it’s not Tartan Plaid. Stop splitting hairs – it’s not a very manly thing to do! (Image from shopcurated dot com)

Three things have struck me during my recent viewing of entirely too many real-estate themed reality shows.  First, why hasn’t anyone coined the phrase “realty reality TV” or “reality realty TV”?  Seems like a natural.  Second, why does everyone on these shows say “price point” when they really just mean “price”?  Finally, why is it so important for many of these guys to have a “man cave” in their home?

If these shows are any indication, a man’s home is not his castle after all.  The most guys can hope for is a finished space just off the laundry room where they can burp, scratch themselves and generally be men without fear of being judged – they call this space a man cave.  Historians of the male experience will point out that in bygone eras, the place where a man could act this way was called “anywhere he damn-well pleased“.

Those historians may be a little bitter.  They might also be tempted to dismiss the man cave as nothing more than the modern equivalent of the mid-century phenomenon known as the rumpus room.

Since we’re talking guy stuff, it’s inevitable that things will end up getting competitive.  Bragging rights are at stake, so I’m daring to ask the question; Which one’s better, your neighbor’s man cave, or my Uncle Walt’s rumpus room?  We’ll look at several key components to any architectural space and put the rumpus room head to head with the man cave and see which wins.

Decor

 

Rumpus – Tartan plaid polyester-blend upholstery

vs.

Cave – Neutral microfiber with tasteful accent pillows

Winner – Cave: That plaid upholstery wasn’t comfortable when it was new, and the passage of time has done little to change that.

Rumpus – Console stereo complete with record changer and Scandinavian wood cabinetry

vs.

Cave – MP3 Dock with wireless speakers and sub-woofer

Winner – Cave: The retro appeal of a stereo which is larger than a casket on legs is all well and good, but my Iron Butterfly and Strawberry Alarm Clock albums are hopelessly scratched.

Rumpus – Shag carpeting

vs.

Cave – Pastel tile left over from the kitchen remodel

Winner – Rumpus: That tile might pass muster in your wife’s fancy kitchen, but it doesn’t work for a cave.  Any leftover scraps of shag can be used to give that minivan a make-over

Rumpus -Set of three Vargas girls carefully cut out of old Playboy magazines and framed

vs.

Cave – Digital picture frame from Radio Shack uploaded with several images of Kate Upton

Winner – Cave: Vargas girls are impossibly leggy and really classy, but cutting them out of a magazine is not exactly high brow.

(Image from foodtruckfestivalsofne dot com)
(Image from foodtruckfestivalsofne dot com)

 

Accessories/Entertainment

 

Rumpus – Pocket billiard table

vs.

Cave – video game system

Winner – Rumpus: Your kids will tire of billiards within a few weeks, but they’ll own the video game system.  They’ll beat your ass in any game you choose and claim the room as theirs.  If you don’t have kids, your man cave is located in the master bedroom.  Go breed, Tarzan – we can revisit the rumpus room topic once you’ve got some crumb-snatchers to escape from.

Rumpus – Antique Barber Shop Pole

vs.

Cave – Stripper Pole

Winner – Rumpus: Stop pouting, there’s a logical reason for this.  A barber shop pole is kind of decorative.  A stripper pole is only a chrome pipe, unless there’s a stripper on it.  Whose absence would be more noticeable, Luigi from The Clip Joint, or Kandii Krush from the Playtime Lounge out by the airport?

Maybe if you had a long enough barber's pole, Kandii could use that.  (Image from Etsy dot com)
Maybe if you had a long enough barber’s pole, Kandii could come spin on it. (Image from Etsy dot com)

Rumpus – Dart board

vs.

Cave – Beer pong table

Winner – Rumpus: I realize you may have spent years perfecting the art of throwing ping pong balls into cups of flat beer, but essentially, this is a drinking game popular with young guys who shave once a week whether they need it or not.  Darts is a time honored game for grown-assed men, involving sharp flying objects and a bit of math.  If you’re old enough to have a rumpus room or man cave, you’re old enough to risk losing an eye.

Rumpus – Statue of drunk against lamp post which plays “How Dry I Am”

vs.

Cave –   “Parking Reserved For (Insert Local NFL Team Here) Fans” street sign

Winner – Rumpus: The statue of the drunk is a collectible piece of kitsch.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some Fancy Dan on “The Antiques Roadshow” got himself in a lather over one of them and told the owner it was worth $300 or something.

Few things speak to the essence of maleness more than drunk statuary with music boxes inside.  (Image from ebay dot com)
Few things speak to the essence of maleness more than drunk statuary with music boxes inside. (Image from ebay dot com)

Refreshments

 

Rumpus – Wet bar with tufted leatherette front, butcher block top with assorted beer labels and a few coins sealed beneath 10 coats of polyurethane

vs.

Cave – Wet bar with brushed stainless front and granite top purchased at discount during the kitchen remodeling project

Winner – Rumpus: Tufted leatherette just screams “Manly steakhouse!”  Also, watching guys try to pick up the coins never gets old.

Rumpus – 1958 Kelvinator refrigerator in Bel Aire Blue finish retrofitted into early keg-a-rator complete with partial keg of Rheingold Extra Dry

vs.

Cave – Frigidaire refrigerator in Almond finish, left over from kitchen remodel, stocked with several varieties of micro brews, each with edgy names and artsy labels, plus bottles of mineral water, peach wine coolers and Coors Light

Winner – Cave: That Kelvinator has always had a smell to it and the sheet metal work to convert it into a draft beer dispenser is not exactly shop grade.  Even though that Rheingold is likely flat by now, this one was still close, largely due to the presence of water, wine coolers and beer flavored water in the Frigidaire

Rumpus – Six bottles, including blended scotch, bourbon, Canadian whiskey, gin, vodka, and white creme de menthe

vs.

Cave – Multiple varieties of single malt scotches, boutique bourbons, and triple-filtered ice-distilled vodkas in frosted glass bottles

Winner – Cave: Standard issue booze might’ve been okay for those lushes on Mad Men, but this is 2014.  Spending three times more for spirits aged in French oak and distilled by virgins is worth every penny.  Besides, using the leftover tiles from the kitchen and the old fridge freed up some serious cash

Gimme a Sidecar, two Gibsons, straight up, and a Rusty Nail for the lady.  (Image from fiveoclockcocktails dot com)
Gimme a Sidecar, a Gibson, a Dirty Mohican with extra capers, and a Rusty Nail for the lady in red. (Image from fiveoclockcocktails dot com)

For those of you keeping score (probably the dart players), Rumpus Room has squeezed out a one point victory.  Please stay tuned for more of this exciting hair-splitting in upcoming posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life On the Trail – True Tales from the Easter Bunny

Hippity Hoppity my fluffy white ass.  The trail is a bitch.

I’m down at the Pinewood, sipping on a short, dirty glass of cheap Canadian.  My beer back-up is looking a little flat.  This place is a long way from the Ritz, but you’d still think they’d wash the glasses a little more often.

The Round Man is sitting next to me.  Got himself swiveled on the stool while he’s chatting up some bimbo.  He’s jolly alright, but for all the hype about his taste in behaviors, he definitely leans more toward the naughty girls than the nice ones.  Next to him are three of the wee ones – two of Round Man’s best workers plus Irish.  That little dude is a mean SOB when he’s gettin’ his drink on.  I’m glad he’s four seats away from me.  You never know when some drunk college kid will come in and call him Chuckie or Lucky Charms or something and next thing you know, the cops are comin’ in and somebody’s gonna need stitches.  Still, I gotta admit, the three of ’em look cute sitting up there on barstools with their little feet so far off the floor.

The trail can wear a bunny down, make him cold, drive him into questionable locales. (Illustration by the author - That's right, I'm a freakin' Renaissance Man!)

We don’t always hang out like this, but sometimes I like to chill out with a few of my buddies who understand life on the trail.  There used to be better attendance at these get-togethers, but some of the usual crew’s drifted apart.  The T-Fairy prefers a different kind of bar, and that’s fine by me – to each his own right?  Jackie Frost, may he rest in peace, is gone but not forgotten.  Freakin’ global warming pretty much did him in.

Let’s not get it twisted, I aint no retiree in a Bunny suit down at the mall gettin’ my pic snapped with your brat for five bucks a throw.  I’m talking the real deal here – these ears aint clip-ons.

Like I said at the start, life on the trail’s a bitch.  I smell like freakin’ Hershey, Pee-Ay 6 months out of the year from all the crap I’m delivering.  Don’t think it isn’t a little weird to be spending a large part of my life carrying around giant, hollow chocolate replicas of myself.  Then droppin’ em off only to have the parents of these kids eat the ears off a day or two later.  It’s a heavy load knowing I’m guiding the youth of the world down the path toward obesity and diabetes.

I had to get therapy for that crap.  I finally gave up on talking to the shrink.  He blamed my issues on my father.  That was the last straw for me.  My father!?  How much of a presence in your life can your father be when you have 237 brothers and sisters?  Besides, the mental health waiver on my insurance sucked.  I’d rather spend that co-pay money on shots and beers and get my counseling from the Round Man and maybe one of his naughty girls if she has a friend.  You know what I mean?

Don’t get me wrong, the trail isn’t all sore paws and nightmares about waking up with my ears bit off.  I’ve had some good times too.  Some wild crap goes on out there.  This one time, outside of Dubuque, Iowa, this chick walks in on me when I’m hiding eggs and filling baskets.  She’s half in the bag and reeks of Malibu rum.  Anyway, she must be on her way to the head when she sees me standin’ there with a handful of Marshmallow Peeps, and she just goes nuts.  You know the whole “I can’t believe you’re really really real!”  song and dance.  She goes on to tell me how she always hoped I was real, but findin’ out -well that’s somethin’ special.  Then a little light goes on in her drunken head and she realizes that she aint wearing much more than her hubby’s Drake University T-shirt and a pair of fuzzy socks.  Well…one thing leads to another and let’s just say I didn’t do nothin’ to hurt the stereotypes about the bunny nation, if you follow my drift.

Stories like that, they happen, but it aint the usual.  The usual is more like people with hi-tech security systems and Rottweilers.  Bratty kids whose parents have convinced them that Easter aint nothin’ but Christmas in the Spring.  Chocolate and malted milk candy eggs can weigh a rabbit down, but they don’t compare to Nintendo Wii’s and bikes.  I got a couple dentists I play golf with in the off season and they aint too happy with that trend – believe you me.  My chiropractor – he’s happy as crap.

So in a few days we’ll close up shop and I can try to relax and enjoy the off-season.  Me and the Round Man are gonna hit the links and maybe do some fishing.  The trail aint no easy time, but fishin’ for wahoo and throwing back a few frosties can help me forget my tender paws and aching back for a while.

Uh oh.  Looks like a couple of frat boys are startin to bust on Irish a little.  It might be time to hit the bathroom until the smoke clears.  I’ll see you kids next year, okay?

Hangovers Dissected

It couldn't have been the beer and shots. My only hope is that they find a cure for MBF before it's too late. It's getting darker...I'm....getting weak...please..... no more suppositories...Skippy?!?....Is that you boy?! (Image from headachecures.com)

I know what you’re thinking; bad title.  No one with a hangover or even the memory of a hangover would relish the thought of dissecting anything.  Hangovers and dissection will often result in tossing your cookies in the general proximity of the gross anatomy lab.  Trust me on that fact and we’ll leave it at that.

The worst part of the hangover for me isn’t the headache.  Though it’s there, with bells on.  No amount of pillows or darkness or ibuprofen will erase it.  The nausea or general feeling of yuk isn’t the worst of it either.

The worst part of the hangover is my freaking imagination.  That tiny grain of a thought that maybe this isn’t a hangover at all.  That maybe the fact that I drank beers and shots and more beers last night is just a coincidence.   There’s a blossoming idea in my head and it’s thumbing through the Rolodex of horrible central nervous system killers.  Brain tumors and degenerative disorders with a side order of antibiotic-resistant infections.  It’s building steam and branching out to other horrible illnesses.

Massive headache – isn’t that a sign of an sub-arachnoid hemorrhage and Dengue fever?

Sensitivity to light – that’s consistent with  tumors on the optic nerve and Huntington’s Chorea, isn’t it?

Nausea – What illness doesn’t have nausea connected to it?

Soon I’ve convinced myself that I have some rare, horrific disorder.   I’m then faced with yet another brutally upsetting idea.  What if right now, lying in my bed trying to find a cool spot on the pillow to put over my face while suppressing increasingly moist, bourbon-scented belches is as good as it gets?  What if every one of my days from here on out is even worse than this?!  After all, this is the typical progression for Mongolian Brain Fever.  You wake up one day with hangover-like symptoms, then within a month you’re lying in an iron lung with anti-nausea suppositories every 2 hours.  Each day is worse than the one before it.  I’ll look back in my morphine induced haze to this first day of hideous symptoms and wish I could feel this good again.

Having lost the ability to communicate, I can only pray that my loving family will remember to remove the suppository from the foil wrapper before administering it.

That’s it.  Surely I’ve got Mongolian Brain Fever.  Disregard the fact that I haven’t traveled to the Gobi Desert or ingested under-cooked Asian ground squirrel in the past several months.  All logic is abandoned and I must accept that somehow it’s happened.  I narrow it down to one of two questionable dietary choices in the previous couple of weeks.  In a moment of extremely poor judgement, I had eaten one of those hot dogs on the heated roller thing down at the 7-11.  I knew it was a bad idea, but I was weak with hunger and cash poor.  The other possibility was that chicken salad from the week before last.  I thought that it had might have been in the fridge a little too long, but when I smelled it, the fishy odor was very faint.  Maybe I was too congested to notice, but it’s too late now.  Before any of you smart asses start listing the differences between undercooked ground squirrel and chicken salad, allow me to point out that there are dozens of unscrupulous chicken farmers out there who will feed their hens any number of sketchy ingredients to fatten them up.  We needn’t begin to speculate the actual ingredients of hot dogs.  I know it’s all a little far fetched, but these kinds of delusions are typical with MBF.

Convinced that this horrid day will be the best one I have left as I close in on the great beyond, I struggle out of bed.  I kiss my wife, despite her obvious annoyance with me, and my eyes well-up with tears.  I’ll miss this place.  I need to fight the throbbing in my head and get on with the business of the day.  I had originally planned to spend the day cleaning out the garage and picking up dog dookie in the yard, but my plans must change.  As this is likely the first day of my steep spiral down life’s drain, I’ll need to savor the hours I have left.  I decide to spend my day on the couch, surrounded by my family as they work on the garage and clean up after the dog.  I don’t want to burden them with the tragic news of my self-diagnosis.  I want to enjoy them in their state of innocent bliss.

They’ll undoubtedly resent my lack of help today, but within a few weeks, they’ll regret their selfish, petty feelings as they witness my rapid wasting away.  I’ll forgive them of course, they foolishly thought it was only a hangover.

Shmuck of the Irish

It’s March, people!  We all know what that means:

Corned beef and cabbage, dying things green which should never be green, and most importantly, conspicuous over-drinking by hordes of amateur alcoholics.

Don’t start swinging your shillelagh, I’m not slamming the Irish.  Nor am I mocking their holiday, even though it has morphed into some kind of national day of auditions for the next season of A&E’s “Intervention”.

Nothing says St. Patty's Day quite like sugary shots with whipped topping! (Extra credit if you can name the bar the coaster came from)

As a former bartender, I’ve earned the right to speak regarding this holiday.  People who aren’t in the hospitality industry often believe that snagging a shift on St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve or Cinco de Mayo would be some kind of coup for a bartender.  In truth, working any of these three days should be avoided at any cost.  St. Patrick’s Day will typically go something like this:

Your bread-and-butter regulars will stay home, not wishing to share their comfy watering hole with a bunch of yahoos who will all be gone by March 18th.  Instead, hordes of novice boozers pour into your establishment.  Essentially, these people have no business being in bars at all.  Not only are they inept at the actual consumption of alcohol, but they also don’t know how to order, tip, or generally behave in a drinking establishment.  They cram in there and start waving twenties or corporate credit cards while bellowing out orders.  Once you’ve supplied them with their giant order, which invariably includes some sort of lace-panty shots involving whipped cream and six kinds of sweet liqueurs, they add on another couple of drinks for their friends who didn’t order the first time.

The noise is insane.  The bar manager, with visions of dollar bills dancing in his empty head, has taken the normal music off and is cranking up some sort of hideous fiddle jigs in hopes of inspiring these chowderheads to drink even more.  If Michael Flatley came river-dancing in, one could only hope he’d slip in a puddle of green beer  You wish someone had reminded the manager that U2 and Van Morrison are both as Irish as Patty’s pig.  Sinead O’Connor would sound like a choir of  angels compared to what you’re hearing now.

You lean way across the bar to tell a customer with a bad toupee that the batch of drinks you just made for him is $27.50.  By leaning across the bar, you don’t have to scream at this dolt – it’s going to be a long night, and you don’t want to lose your voice too early.  He gestures for you to lean back over the bar to him, as he has some pressing news of his own.  You do so.  He brings his mouth within an inch of your ear, then screams out his request for a few more drinks, filling your ear with both the annoying sound of his voice and a fair amount of spit.  You recoil from him, wiping out the Wet Willy he gave you as you make the additional drinks.  His toupee resembles a flattened ground hog you saw on your drive to the bar, and there’s a snail-trail line where his skin meets the pelt – he’s not that good with the glue.  His total is now $35.  You deliver the second batch and he gives you two 20’s.  There’s no way in hell you would give this guy a 5 dollar bill back.  That’s a risk even when it’s not amateur night, so you put five ones down in front of him.

You turn to wait on the next person, but before you can, he wants your attention yet again.

“HEY!!” he screams.

You turn back to him hoping he’s not going to give you a third drink order.  He’s holding one of those singles in his hand and making earnest eye contact like he’s about to give you life advice.  Obviously he wants to make sure that you know that he’s the one leaving you this wildly generous single dollar.

“That’s yours, man!” he yells.  Luckily you’re far enough away this time to avoid the spit.

As a seasoned professional, you know better than to take it personally when someone gives you a lame tip.  You nod to Toupee Boy then turn and toss the buck into the tip can, which is entirely too empty for a bar as crowded as this.

You move onto the next money-waving stooge and hope for a more favorable outcome, but really, you know better.  This one is a woman who is out with three of “her girls” from the office.  Everyone knows they’re here, because despite the horrifically loud penny whistle and bagpipe soundtrack on the speakers, you can hear this lady and her cohorts screaming out “WHOOO!!  ST. PADDY’S!! WHOOO-OO!”  Her blouse is opened two more buttons than it was at the office just a few hours ago.  Apparently, displaying her chubby taters more brazenly, along with a crooked shamrock tiara, is the dress code to let the world know that she and the other girls from accounts receivable are out to par-tay.

She orders, badly.  Her spit mingles with the spit from the last guy and you can’t help but wonder whether real petri dishes would be jealous of the science project which is undoubtedly growing in your ear by now.  The slim hope for avoiding infection is the high alcohol content in their saliva.  The only silver lining is that the gobs of spittle help to drown out the infernal fiddle music.  You together her drinks, making a mental check list for the bar-back to bring more whipped cream and energy drinks.  She doesn’t tip at all.  Apparently, she feels that blessing you with her presence and ass-like cleavage is payment enough.  Hopefully, her presence will eventually pay some dividends – not likely in terms of financial gain, but because she may eventually be a player in some sort of idiotic shenanigans.

Speaking of Shenanigans, you can thank your lucky stars you don’t work at that dump.  Since it has an Irish name – officially Shenanigans House of Ale and Fun-tastic Tavern (or SHAFT to its employees) – legions of rookie  drinkers consider it a mandatory stop during their night of revelry. They don’t serve a single Irish beer.  Rumor has it that management briefly considered Guinness Stout, but scratched that idea when they realized it looked ickier than usual with green food coloring in it.

You turn away from Cleavage Girl before she can add on more drinks for you to fetch.  Let that pervert Jimmy the Weasel or one of your other cohorts behind the bar deal with her.  There’s none of the teamwork that pooling tips usually brings – everyone is just trying to survive the night.  The best chance of income is some rube forgetting his money on the bar.  You see Toupee Boy out of the corner of your eye.  He’s snagged Jimmy to fetch his next round of drinks.  Jimmy rolls his eyes as he slides past you toward the back-up cans of whipped cream and the mini-marshmallows.  He has a clover-covered bar nap in his hand which he’s using to swab out his ear.

A chronically short man has joined Cleavage Girl and her entourage.  You christen him “Stumpy”.  Stumpy has odd splash stains down the back of his suit jacket from bumping into his fellow drinkers at hip height.  He’s drinking a glass of white wine, which couldn’t look worse for a guy in a bar scene, unless he’s wearing an ascot or is sitting with his mother.  The wine glasses here are over-the-top big, and look even bigger in his stubby little hands.  If the glass didn’t have a stem on it, he would likely have to use both hands to hold it.  Despite his obvious shortcomings, Stumpy has thus far proven to be a decent tipper, bless his heart.

Cleavage Girl has to keep bending over to hear what Stumpy has to say, increasing the already obvious boob show with each bow.  An adjacent table of foreigner men has abandoned their lively conversation – presumably about goat herding.  They’ve swiveled their seats to enjoy the spectacle.  These guys look to be from some distant land where alcohol is forbidden and women cover most of their faces in addition to all of their cleavage, hair and ankles.  It’s a sad reflection on what passes for entertainment these days, but you enjoy watching them jump back and glare at her every time she let’s out one of those “WHOO!! ST. PADDY’S !!” war cries.  The looks on their faces make you think that if she carried on like that back in the old country, they’d stone her to death, cleavage or not.

Stumpy has approached the bar to order Cleavage Girl and her cohorts a round of “Screaming Yellow Monkey Farts”.  This is another convoluted, stupid drink consisting of enough sugary liqueurs and Red Bull to keep you awake and put you into a diabetic coma at the same time.  Much like half of the micro-brews on the market, the best feature of this drink is its name.  It tastes more like some kind of licorice-tinged lemonade than alcohol.  As with most of the shots favored by teenagers and St. Pat’s patrons, the recipe is a major pain in the neck to make.   Sadly, the flavor is not easily duplicated just by pouring vodka and Galliano into curdled sour mix, so you have to actually mix them to order.  Stumpy looks like he has to resist the urge to rest his head on the bar, which is only an inch or two beneath his chin.  He’s ordered five shots, so one is for him.  Mixing your intake of different cocktails is a classic mistake of the amateur drinker.  While a beer and a shot of whiskey is perfectly acceptable among legitimate drinkers, it’s not the same as combining copious amounts of pinot grigio with Screaming Yellow Monkey Farts.  This cannot possibly end well.

Stumpy has got to play this just right.  There are only a few days a year when looking like an elf or a leprechaun has any perks.  If he grew a beard and wore shoes with big buckles on them, drunks in the parking lot would be shaking him down for his pot o’ gold. Actually, even without the leprechaun costume he might be in for a little trouble – that massive wine glass is like a beacon for the wrong kind of attention.  He and the girls all whoop and laugh as they throw back the shots.  Ironically, the concoction lives up to its moniker, as each person drinking them makes a face afterwards which looks like they’ve just caught a whiff of the drink’s namesake.

The night drags on.  The screeching fiddle and bagpipe music does not grow on you, and it’s disturbing to note that as the loop plays over and over, you’re actually able to recognize a few of these hideous ditties.  Toupee Boy eventually gets into trouble when, after being rejected by one of Cleavage Girl’s posse, he becomes despondent.  He chooses to show just how pissed he is at the world by doing just that in an artificial palm tree in the lobby.  The management and most of America take a dim view of public urination.  It’s no great loss in management’s opinion, as he was already cut off from drinking and therefore was done parting with much more of his money.

The foreign contingent has departed without anyone noticing.  It’s difficult to believe that their view of American culture (or of Irish culture for that matter) has improved much over the course of the evening.

Stumpy appears to be diligently wearing Cleavage Girl down.  Her girlfriends have drifted away from her.  You have to admit that you’re pulling for the little guy.   The last shots he bought aren’t being tossed back just yet.  Cleavage Girl has her shot of S.Y.M.F. in her hand on Stumpy’s shoulder.  She leans down, teetering in her work heels to listen to whatever the hell he’s yelling over the screeching bagpipe solo.  Unfortunately, the shot is not a high priority for her by this point in the evening and much of it is snaking its way down the back of Stumpy’s now irreparable suit jacket on its way to the floor, leaving little clumps of whipped cream along its trail.

Stumpy looks to be positioning himself to close the deal.  His face looms closer and closer to her cleavage.  It appears that Stumpy is a little less than discrete in his ogling of the goods – though at his height, it’s hard for him to miss the view.  Then suddenly in what can best be described as Sam Pekinpah slow motion, the time bomb of white wine, shots of sugary booze and dairy topping reaches its unfortunate, inevitable conclusion.  Stumpy spectacularly looses his lunch and a sizable financial investment in alcohol, right between the aforementioned boobies.  The screech which issues from Cleavage Girl makes her earlier whoops seem tame by comparison.

She recoils violently, as you’d expect.  This awkward movement, combined with her inebriated state and the puddle of spilled Monkey Farts is more than she can maintain.  Her arms pinwheel and she executes a magnificently awkward fall.  Stumpy has not quite finished and is letting go with a final spew onto the floor, which she lands directly in the path of.

Jimmy the Weasel has scrambled to your side behind the bar and it looks like he might have a moment of bladder incontinence as you both watch the show.  Cleavage Girl’s last remaining colleague has come to her aid, baby-stepping to keep her balance, like the trainer at an ice hockey game trying to get to a fallen player.  By the time they repair to the women’s room, her shirt is just about off, but unless you’re as depraved as The Weasel, there’s not much of a visual thrill when a shirtless woman is covered in this brand of glaze.

Stumpy takes advantage of the break in the action to leave as discretely as he can, stumbling into a cab out front.  Cleavage Girl, looking pale and dressed in her friend’s coat, skulks out soon after.  Amazingly, her green tiara is still on her head, albeit a little more crooked than before. It’s a safe bet that cabbies aren’t big fans of St. Patty’s day either.

Tomorrow, the regulars will be here, the music back to normal, and civilized drinking by seasoned professionals will commence once again.

As for tonight, you just enjoyed payment in full for a night spent tolerating the amateurs. We’ll see you guys and gals on Cinco de Mayo!  You hope to hell you can get that night off…

FREE LOBSTER….NICKEL BEERS….TOPLESS SUNBATHING PERMITTED!

I’m new to this – I admit it.  Like any green horn, I’ve already made my fair share of bonehead mistakes.

A couple of posts ago, I made a classic.

I wrote a piece describing the exciting details of a marital squabble between my wife and me as to whether or not I should shave my head.  The topic was not the mistake (though one could argue that, I suppose).  The mistake was choosing the title “I Blame Vincent Price..”  What the hell was I thinking?!

Yes, Vincent Price’s name and one of his old TV roles is discussed, but the article didn’t have that much to do with him, really.  I posted it and then sat there watching as no one read it for the longest time.  I was actually confused for a few minutes until I realized that I wouldn’t read a story with that title either!

I may not think things through as well as I’d like, but in the future I’m going to have some rules of thumb to follow.  In the spirit of collegiality and because I’m sure my loyal readers will want to once again peak inside my troubled mind, I’ll share these rules with you now.  If you’re a fellow blog writer, feel free to apply these gems to your own writing

  • 1)  Always lead with a sexy, tantalizing title, even if it’s not even marginally related to the mediocre topic
  • 2 )  Throw a few photos in there, again no need to be overly relevant to the actual subject.  We’ll worry about copyright issues once I have more followers than David Koresh.
  • 3)   Give the reader some kind of sexy or scandalous tease to keep their attention (Scroll Down – Warning! Not safe for work!)
  • 4)  Don’t try to be cute, doing things like making David Koresh references; half the readers haven’t heard of him, and the other half wish they hadn’t
  • 5)  Keep it short! (I’m working on this one already, but my love of parentheses doesn’t help)
  • 6)  As long as you’re keeping it short, feel free to leave out the 6 dollar words – nobody likes feeling stupid!
  • 7)  Don’t go nuts on the lists – top ten at the most! Nobody gives a crap about the 11th best idea, and you’re probably reaching by then anyway
  • 8)  Don’t alienate the younger readers.  If need be, go out and do some research – find out who this Taylor Swift gal is and why the kids today wear their trousers so darn low.
  • 9) Don’t be too clingy – women hate guys who are too emotionally needy.  Oops, wrong list!
  • 10) If you don’t think it’s funny, you’re probably right, if you do think it’s funny, you’re probably wrong – don’t quit your day job.