"Crap! I wish I hadn't seen Ricky on the sidewalk."

"You will be fine for 31 minutes. You will be dead in 32 minutes."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Butts to Nuts

Work was really busy from mid-December to mid-January.  I didn't get enough sleep, I didn't get enough writing done, I didn't do a lot of things I meant to do.  

A week before Christmas, I was walking to lunch with Doug and noticed this enormous pile of cigarettes.  Do people still smoke?  Who the hell smokes?  And who dumps their ashtray in the middle of the sidewalk?

Here's a closeup:

I made a lot of business calls in January.  My daughter bought me a bag of pistachios for my Christmas stocking.

This is what happened:

I picked up my blotter and tossed all the shells directly into the trash.  

I never once considered tossing the shells on the sidewalk, not even to make a point.  

If It Pleases the Court

I bought a tennis racquet on Saturday because I have someone to play tennis with.  We went to Goodwill.  I bought a racquet.

And not just any racquet.  A Wilson Graphite Aggressor 95, from the High Beam series.  I don't know what any of that means.  I paid $4 for it.  

I haven't played tennis for at least a decade and haven't done anything even vaguely athletic since my knee surgery.  Wait, I killed at darts last weekend.  Killed.  

I guess playing darts isn't really that athletic.  It's standing and squinting and throwing and drinking.  

I think tennis is gonna be fun.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Subject Lines

I wrote an email today, it had a good subject line.  Subject lines are kinda my thing, people know this about me.  

Liz described an incident at work, something that involved her tibia.

The subject line for my response was "From the Tibia Nose To the Topia Forehead" and I really couldn't care less if you don't think it's funny.  Roll your eyes all you want, I don't care.

It was fucking hilarious.  You will never convince me otherwise, so don't bother trying.


My son turned 18 today.

We have lunch almost every week, and last Sunday he took me to lunch.  It was just the two of us, our first lunch together since his sister moved to Colorado to sell insurance for Liberty Mutual.

I asked him where he wanted to go and he chose Raising Cane's, the place with the chicken fingers.  And he told me he wanted to pay.  

We each got The Caniac (6 chicken fingers, fries, coleslaw, Cane's sauce, Texas toast, and a drink), and Sammy asked them to swap his coleslaw for extra bread.  I didn't make any substitutions myself, because the cashier was already annoyed with me.  When we walked in, she told us to ask her if we had any questions.  I studied the menu for a moment and then I scratched my head and said, "what is chicken?"

She was not amused, but then Sammy splurged and bought us both some extra sauce which seemed to please her.  The whole thing set him back about $20.  

I was very proud of him.  

We sat and we ate and we talked like we always do.  One of his friends, a kid he's known since they were both little, got his girlfriend pregnant.  Sammy said the kid's been acting like a douche, spending money frivolously instead of saving for the baby.  First he bought a fish tank, and then he tried to talk another kid into splitting $100 on some weed.  Sammy pulled this kid aside, this former friend, and reminded him he had a kid coming.  Told him to grow up.  

I'm paraphrasing, of course. 

So not only does Sammy get credit for not getting his own girlfriend pregnant, he's just a cool cat in general.  And then he told me a story about how one friend has a fire pit in the backyard and somebody suggested they drive over to 7-11 or Circle K and just steal some firewood from out front.  But Sammy said no, that wasn't right.  

And goddamn it if these stories didn't fill me with pride.  Here is my son, always a good kid but never an angel, and he's suddenly so mature.  

I'm proud of this kid. And it wasn't me, it wasn't his mom, it wasn't our parenting.  He got a restaurant job about a year ago and I think these months of being a busboy really taught him something about earning your place in life. 

We had lunch again a couple of days ago.  He was eating steak shawarma (no tomatoes) and I was eating chicken shawarma (everything) and he mentioned that my mother had sent him a card for his birthday with a $25 check.  She can't afford to send him $25 and I know it and he knows it.  Rather than send the check back or refuse to cash it, he offered to hand over the money to me and asked if I would use it to buy my mother groceries or dinner and she would never suspect it was her own money coming back to her.

Sonofabitch!  This kid has choked me up two weeks in a row with his wisdom and many kindnesses.  I could barely finish my chicken shawarma.  

My kids have never had the fanciest things or the very latest things or the most expensive things.  They had to endure a wise-cracking father who hugged them a lot and made them talk about their feelings.  

They never made me walk a few feet behind them when we went out in public, never ditched me at the mall when their friends appeared.  I am grateful for these things, grateful for my children.

I hugged my son a lot when I saw him last Sunday.  I told him I loved him, how proud I was of him.  

I texted him early this morning and finally spoke to him in the evening, after his birthday dinner.  We have plans of our own this Sunday, plans that involve mass quantities of barbecue.

Sammy is the kind of kid who wanted to beat me up when I was in high school.  I would not have been friends with this jock who refuses to read books.  He would not have been friends with the nerdy kiss-ass I was.  

But I've tried to be a good dad and he's tried to be a good son and I'm very proud of the relationship we have.


Goodwill Towards Me

Work  has been crazy lately.  

Long hours, six day work weeks.  It's dark when I drive to work and dark when I drive home.  These intensely busy periods happen a couple of times a year, but knowing it was coming hasn't made it any less miserable.  

Life goes on hold when you work too much.  Laundry piles up.  Dishes go unwashed,  television goes unwatched.  Netflix sent me the first disc of Homeland back in December.  

I'm disgusted with myself.

I worked three consecutive Saturdays and after working the last one, I stopped by Goodwill on the way home.  The books and records are less plentiful and less interesting of late, but I did manage to find something.

This edition of Best American Short Stories caught my eye because it's from 1967, the year I was born.  It's popular among collectors because it contains the first appearance of Raymond Carver, whose story “Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?” is reprinted here.  An earlier Carver story,  "The Furious Seasons," was among the honorable mentions in The Best American Short Stories 1964.

The book was in good shape and probably worth $50.  I paid two bucks.

I flipped through the records, but didn't buy anything.  There was a striking copy of Frank Sinatra's Sinatra Swings.  The sleeve was bright and beautiful, but the vinyl had a huge chunk missing from it, like someone had taken a bite out of it.  

I don't mind buying records with a scratch or two, but the record has to be intact.  I'm cheap, but I have standards.  

I'm going out again, just as soon as I catch up on my sleep.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Billie's Holiday, or Vinyl Destination

The Lady Sings (DL 8215)

I share a birthday with Billie Holiday (April 7th) even though she'd been dead nearly eight years by the time I showed up during the Summer of Love.

And to be perfectly honest, I've always been more of a Nina Simone fan.

But just for tonight, and for tonight only, let's bow our heads and remember this particular singer and these specific songs.

The album will be over before you know it.

The last song on side two is Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" and w
hen the needle finishes its journey across the grooves I know exactly what I'm going to do.

I'll put this record back inside the sleeve, refile it alphabetically, and never think of it again.