Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pseudo live blogging from Wal-Mart

9:03 PM: I have arrived at Wal-Mart. Also known as THE Wal-Mart, Wally World, Wal-Marts, and Purgatory.

9:04 PM: That greeter didn't greet me. What are they paying her for? I mean, really. You have like one task... greeter! I remember when that title used to mean something. I should've said something. Larry David would have said something.

9:05 PM: Off to the DVD's to look for workout videos.

9:15 PM: After searching thru electronics for ten minutes and almost buying the Barry Manilow Christmas album, I am told the workout DVD's are in sporting goods.

9:15:05 PM: What? Hey, "Mandy" is a darn good song! Lay off me.

9:15:15 PM: No, my parents don't know I celebrate Festivus. And yes, I fear their reaction should they ever find out.

9:15:30 PM: Leaving electronics, I see Garth Brooks' Ultimate Hits is only $13. Hmm, do I know anyone who would want that? I can't think of anyone. Maybe I should get it anyway. You know, one of those gifts you buy and decide who to give it to later. Those always mean the most. 34 songs for $13. You can't pass that up. It's like a two dollar t-shirt.

9:17 PM: In sporting goods now. They have exactly three workout videos. Not three different kinds. Three total boxes. One Taebo and two others.

9:19 PM: Browsing the golf stuff. I'll be back with you in a bit.

9:34 PM: You know, if that guy grew a moustache and lost like a hundred pounds, he'd look exactly like Tom Selleck. Well, Magnum P.I. anyway.

9:35 PM: On my way to the tools.

9:36:30 PM: Risk! (Sorry, I got sidetracked in toys.) "The game of world domination, played by two guys who can barely run their own lives." I always quote that Seinfeld line everytime I see a Risk game. I never had Risk, but always wanted it. I always wanted Jenga, too.

9:37 PM: Remember that Brady Bunch episode where they built a house of cards? "Watch your bracelet, Marcia!"

9:38 PM: My Little Pony is back?

9:38:05 PM: My Little Pony is forty bucks! Thank goodness for Santa Claus.

9:40 PM: You know, I would still play with Legos if it were socially acceptable. Or, if the top of this box wasn't strapped down.

9:42 PM: In tools now. They're right next to the toys. The logic behind that eludes me.

9:45 PM: Calling Dad to see if he needs any tools. You know, just as a general conversation starter. Not that I'm going to buy whatever he mentions and give it to him for Christmas or anything.

9:45:30 PM: Dad can't think of any tools he needs.

9:46 PM: Augh! That PA system is L-O-U-D! You can't even talk on your cell phone in here with that thing blaring. Automotive, code white? What kind of encoded propaganda is that? I'm tuning it out.

9:47 PM: Singing "Carol of the Bells" to myself. "Hark, hear the bells, sweet silver bells, dum duh duh dum, ding dong mmm k. Ding-dong! Ding-dong!"

9:50 PM: I've found myself on an aisle with no apparent theme. There are seemingly misplaced toys on one side and little gift sets of cheap cologne on the other.

9:50:10 PM: Strike "cheap" from that last statement. The jury will disregard. Since when is Brut $9.24?! It used to be like three bucks. Did Brut get some sort of minor celebrity endorsement that I wasn't aware of? Maybe like Tom Green or Alyssa Milano or someone?

9:50:30 PM: Thinking of Brut slogans in my head. "Hi, I'm Tom Green. If there's one thing I know better than bad movies, it's bad cologne."

9:51 PM: Actually, I kinda like Brut.

9:51:05 PM: I kinda like Alyssa Milano, too.

9:52 PM: On my way to housewares. Is that even a department? I'm just making these names up as I go.

9:52:30 PM: That guy just blocked me in! Look out, I'm taking the back aisle all the way down. Clear!

9:53 PM: The back, or outer, aisle is almost always the smoothest way around a crowded store. Sure, it's longer distance-wise, but there's much less traffic, or danger, if you will. Think of it like this. You're a CTU agent and Jack Bauer has just told you to set up a perimeter. The outer aisle is this perimeter. Well, that's how I think of it anyway.

9:54 PM: Some woman working in the floral section just smiled and said hi. Am I supposed to know her, or is she just an overly friendly Wal-Mart associate?

9:58 PM: I somehow wound up on the greeting card aisle. This lady is putting out cards in the section I need to get to.

9:58:15 PM: I begin to sing the "Dead, Dead, Dead" song from the South Park Christmas CD, hoping to frighten her away. "Dead, dead, dead. Someday we'll be dead. Dead, dead, dead. Someday we'll all be dead."

9:59 PM: It doesn't seem to be working.

10:22 PM: Most of the rest of the trip is uneventful. I make a beeline for the checkout. Leaving Wal-Mart kinda feels like escaping from prison to me. And if I don't hurry, the guards will hit me with falling prices from the watchtower and I'll be sentenced to another hour and lose even more money.

10:23 PM: The checkout lines aren't bad at all. I'm second in line.

10:27 PM: This appears to be the first time the cashier has ever seen the electronic price scanner. She scans at least six of my items twice, double charging me. She keeps having to go back and void the extras. Meanwhile, I'm having to watch the screen like a hawk.

10:31 PM: As I'm leaving, the worker standing by the door--I refuse to call her a greeter any longer--is peering into my buggy and remarks, "That's a big thermos you got there." I'm momentarily confused. As she draws nearer, she says, "Oh that's not a thermos. That's some sort of... well, I don't know what that is."

It's my pink yoga mat. Just greet, lady.

"Eight table dancers, seven packs of Redman, six cans of Spam, five flannel shirts..."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Momma Bone update

I think it was Lass who coined the above name. Hopefully she doesn't have a copyright on it. Else, I guess I'll be paying each time I use it...

Momma Bone continues to improve a little each day, in my professional son opinion. She went back to work Thursday for half a day. When I went to check on her during my lunch break, she had makeup on and her hair was done. I knew something was up.

Yes, I think it is a bit too soon for her to be going back to work. But at the same time, I'm happy and thankful she was able. And as someone who used five sick hours this year, I guess I don't have a lot of room to talk.

I want to thank all of you for the thoughtful and kind comments, the offers of someone to talk to, the IM's and emails, and especially your thoughts and prayers during this trying time. I read over each one of the comments again this morning. I surely hope I would do the same for each of you.

I also received an email this week from someone I had never emailed nor chatted with. She had written a simply beautiful poem for me. I won't post it without her permission, but thank you Marcia. You truly have a caring soul.

Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of care and support. It has reminded me what a wonderful place the blogosphere can be, and how we do get to know each other quite well through these blogs.

I got a lot of shopping done last night and only have a few more gifts to purchase. I apologize for being largely absent the past week or so. I know you understand, but as someone I consider a dear friend likes to say, I think I was born with the guilt gene.

I'm thinking I may finally get around to reading some blogs tonight and this weekend, and hopefully getting back to a regular posting routine. I'm even thinking of live blogging a trip to Wal-Mart :)

This has turned out to be my busiest and most hectic Christmas ever. But if it has brought family closer together, if it has reminded me of what's important in life, if it has helped me to appreciate the warmth and support of friends, and if it has caused Momma Bone to realize she needs to slow down some, then maybe it has also turned out to be one of the best.

"A long December, and there's reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last..."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

3WW has moved!

Click here, and be sure to update your links.

I apologize for not getting around to reading everyone's entries last week. I wasn't around the computer much at all. The post below explains why.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A lesson in perspective

Friday afternoon, I was gearing up for a busy weekend. I had been having some minor health issues and had gotten behind on Christmas shopping and other holiday stuff. I finally went to the doctor Friday morning and was looking forward to feeling better and catching up on some things.

Around 6:30, Mom called and asked if I could come over and help her. She said her hand and lips were numb and she couldn't think straight. Her speech was a little slurred. She thought she was having a migraine. I grabbed some Excedrin Migraine and went over there.

After nearly an hour, we finally convinced her to go to the ER. They did a CAT scan which showed some abnormalities. The ER doctor said it appeared she'd had a minor stroke. Those are words that completely stop you in your tracks.

I don't know much about strokes, but I know they can be debilitating and cause permanent damage. How much damage had been done? Was she more likely to have another one? They transferred her to another hospital where a neurosurgeon could look at her. The next thirty-six hours were tense and anxious, worrying and wondering.

I think Mom probably got to her room around 11:00 Friday night. It filled my heart to see three of her sisters, one brother, two sisters-in-law, and one niece show up at the hospital at that hour. One aunt even spent the night at the hospital Friday night.

She spent Friday night and Saturday night in the hospital, undergoing a battery of tests. They released her this morning. The neurosurgeon said he thought her numbness and other symptoms were caused by scar tissue from a previous stroke. And she has to make an appointment with him to see if he can determine why these episodes are occurring and how to prevent them.

My thoughts are many and scattered. I'm not sure I'm making much sense. It was strange to be there without Dad. I mean, he visited for a few minutes on Saturday. But it was weird to realize for the first time the responsibilities that had been transferred to my sister and me.

On trips back and forth to the hospital this weekend,I kept passing places that reminded me of my childhood. I passed the preschool I attended. It closed a few months ago, but the building and sign are still there, along with some playground equipment. I remembered crying when Mom would drop me off. And thirty years seemed to have disappeared like a wisp of smoke.

For a time when I was very young, Mom and Dad cleaned the social security offices at night and cleaned up the parking lot of a shopping center on the weekend to make extra money. They would bring me along. I passed the shopping center on the way to the hospital this weekend. I thought about Mom and Dad when they were younger, trying to make ends meet. Oh, to be five again.

It just seemed things like that kept popping up and stirring memories of long ago. And I didn't mind at all. I was thankful to be reminded of things I hadn't thought about in years.

Friday afternoon, I was stressing about shopping and errands and Christmas and such. But sometimes life has its own plans. Tonight, I'm spending the night at Mom's, having been reminded of the things that are really important. All that other stuff... is just stuff.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

3 Word Wednesday LXIV



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Closing
Headlights
Virtual


I would have been first in line for tickets to the last show ever at the Twilight Drive-In Theater, had there been a line. Ten minutes before the movie was scheduled to begin, and the lot looked more like the movie had been over for ten minutes.

Though I suppose it didn't have any direct effect on me one way or the other, I found myself disappointed that more people hadn't come. Did people not care that the Twilight was closing? Didn't anyone realize what this place had meant to me and thousands of others?

Then I felt guilty. I hadn't been to a movie here in fifteen years. I was as much to blame for its closing as anyone. The Twilight never managed to get any current movies, or lately even many decent ones. But there was a time when that didn't matter. Coming to the drive-in was more about the atmosphere, being free from the folks, socializing and soaking up the evening air. The movie itself was almost superfluous.

In its heyday, the Twilight Drive-In was the place to be on weekends. It was a familiar and expected sight back then to see cars lined up in a long train of headlights, stretching from the ticket booth back well out onto the road. The Twilight was also known for having the best burgers in all of Cook County. The whole concession stand was great. It was like eating at the fair, except year round.

During my late teens, it was a virtual certainty you would find me there every Saturday night. At the drive-in, that is. There were first dates, hoping the movie would last just a little longer, affording me a few more minutes to work up a bit more courage to kiss her. There were not first dates, not noticing the movie was over, being the last car to leave, affording me just a few more minutes to kiss her.

I wasn't sure what I missed most about those days, I just knew I missed them. Those days when sneaking thru the gate in the trunk of a car was about the worst thing I or any of my friends ever did. The Twilight represented my life then. And soon it would be torn down. I felt like I was losing a friend, and I was sad that so few people had shown up for the funeral.

I was halfway thru my first Twilight burger when the screen came on, and I realized I had no idea what movie was showing. Not that it mattered.

"Making our love with the moon above at the drive-in picture show. It was burgers and fries and cherry pies in a world we used to know..."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bone's 3rd Annual Festivus For The Rest Of Us

I've written quite a bit about Festivus on this blog. Well over twenty posts make mention of the F word, with several of those dedicated solely to that greatest of all non-religious, non-commercialized holidays. So when you do a google search for "festivus traditions" guess what comes up #2, right behind Wikipedia?

That's right, friends. Me. Number two! Behind my beloved Wikipedia! Do you realize what this means? Well, neither do I. But rest assured if I figure out what it means that I will take whatever it means very seriously. I can only hope I have made Frank Costanza very proud.

With that being said, the day is fast approaching. I sent out my Evites today. Bone's 3rd Annual Festivus For The Rest Of Us Shindig, Banquet, and General Gathering Of Discomfited Individuals will be held Saturday, December 22nd, at 6 PM. And you're all invited!

Sequels often leave something to be desired. But hopefully, this one will be kinda like Friday the 13th, Part 3, except without all the violence. Or the brief nudity. Or the hockey mask.

Don't worry about bringing anything, either. Though I will need one of you to be in charge of coats. (No "man furs" please.) And I'll need someone else to stand by Gabe Kaplan's tank and make sure no one taps on it.

I might also recommend that you have some sort of signal in case you get into a bad conversation with someone. Head patting is good. Although personally, I prefer the slightly more subtle chicken wing.

So many great memories have already been made during the first two Festivus celebrations, most occurring during the Airing of Grievances. Like last year, when Lil Bootay said she didn't like Three Word Wednesday.

My response? "Oh yeah? Well, the jerkstore called. They're running outta YOU!" OK, so I didn't really say that. I didn't think of it until after everyone had left. But that line would've really smoked her! Don't you think?

Again this year, I'm planning to serve pizza for the Festivus Dinner. We'll watch "The Strike" episode of Seinfeld. And of course, we'll have the Festivus Pole and the Feats of Strength. All the usual Festivus Traditions you've come to know and love.

Although due to an obscure city ordinance, there'll be no cockfighting this year. So we'll have to think of something else for the Feats Of Strength.

And now I leave you with one of the memories burned into our brains from last Festivus. And don't worry, the party wasn't this wild the whole night. People were just hopped up on Twix and black and white cookies at the time.



The lyrics for "Silver Pole" written by Bone. Music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Proceeds from Festivus will benefit Kramerica Industries: A solitary man with a messy apartment which may or may not contain a live chicken. And the Human Fund: Money for people.

"All these worksheets, grievance worksheets, lined with blanks yet to fill. In the air there's a feeling of terseness..."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

3WW LXIII



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Absent
Notebook
Persuade


jealousies persuade
temptation persists
privacy ignored
notebook opened

secrets read
heart laments
guilt engulfs
notebook closed

betrayal confessed
trust fractured
love unravels
eyes absent

notebook opened

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Confessions of a rabid namist

Excerpt from a conversation I had Sunday night:

Me: "Have you ever dated a guy who drove a motorcycle?"
D: "Yeah, for about fifteen minutes. Stefan."
Me: "Stefan? Please tell me that was not his real name."
D: (laughing) "You're just a name snob."
Me: "Me? Tell me you've known one normal Stefan. Go ahead, tell me. I'm waiting."


My name is Bone, and I am a namist. In relationships, it has always been vital that I like the name of any girl I date (not to mention her voice). I mean, what's more important than those two things? And in general, I hold certain preconceived notions of what a person will be like as soon as I hear their name.

For example, I've never known a normal Eric. I figure all Jodys, Lynns, and Shannons likely have some complex and try to overcompensate because they have girl names. And is there any doubt whatsoever Todd is going to be in a fraternity and drive a German car paid for by his parents?

Meanwhile, Steve is a laid-back good-time party guy. Not really dumb, he just doesn't care. He coasts thru life. Or maybe that's just me basing my entire opinion of Steves on the 90210 character so spledidly portrayed by the incomparable Ian Ziering.

Oh, but about Stefan. I've only known one. He was a friend of a friend. Honest. (And by the way, it was STEH-fun, not stuh-FAHN.) In high school, our weekend entertainment was to walk around the mall until it closed at 9:00. Stefan would always be there. Every. Single. Time.

You could walk into most any store in the mall and ask, "Has Stefan been in tonight?" And they would know who you were talking about. It was like he lived in the mall. Think the movie Terminal, except in a mall rather than an airport.

Stefan had this permed hair, a little Kirk Cameron-ish except it was more wavy than curly. And I can't believe I just typed an entire sentence describing some guy's hair. He looked about thirty years old, though I always assumed he was close to our age.

He was a loner type. Think The Fonz, except not cool. And in keeping with that analogy, I guess the mall was his toilet. Occasionally, he might be seen with a couple of stray girls he had picked up in the mall--mall groupies, we called them--but he usually walked alone.

Stefan would always be talking about all these potential plans for later. "Well I might be going here" or "So and so is having a party, I might stop by there." But I never once saw him anywhere outside the mall.

Sometimes I wonder if he's still there. If I could walk into KB Toys today, mention his name, and the workers would know who I was talking about. But alas, I think I'd rather not know. I'd like to believe he is still there, if only in my mind.

"Now I don't blame him cos he run and hid. But the meanest thing that he ever did was before he left, he went and named me Sue..."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Take those old movies off the shelf

By no means am I a movie buff. I go to the theatre maybe once a year. I've probably heard the phrase "I can't believe you haven't seen that" more than any human being on the face of the Earth. (As opposed to humans currently inhabiting other planets?)

But times, they are a-changin'. My new found love is classic movies. These days, I can frequently be found scanning the television in search of an old black and white film. My new favorite channel is Turner Classic Movies.

Tonight I watched The Shop Around The Corner, with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. It's the movie that You've Got Mail was based on. It was a delight, funny and captivating throughout. Several times I found myself laughing out loud.

There is an alluring simplicity to classic movies. Without all the distractions and special effects of films today, the focus is entirely on the story, the writing, and the acting. And what wonderful acting.

The dialogue is quick and clever and delivered flawlessly. Even supporting actors seem to be perfectly placed and add so much to the film. The humor is subtle. Understated, but hilarious, without ever being crass. When did that type of comedy go out of style?

Classic movies often offer a look at America during a simpler time. A time when, as in the movie I watched tonight, a man could support a family working at a retail shop. There wasn't all the excess that there is today. Even though times were hard, there is something comforting about that to me. Appealing, even.

A lot of the stories also seem to be set in New York--romantic old New York. Those are the ones that make me wish I could climb thru the TV screen and take my place as a bystander just to experience what it was like to be there. It's a time and place I obviously never had a chance to see. Now at least I can go there for brief glimpses.

Bear in mind, I've only seen a very few classic films, but my favorite actor so far is Jimmy Stewart. Young Jimmy Stewart, before he got into all those Westerns. I'm ashamed to admit that up until a few months ago, I only knew him from It's A Wonderful Life.

My favorite movie has been Wait Until Dark, with Audrey Hepburn. I don't have the vocabulary to adequately describe Hepburn's performance, perfectly conveying both innocent vulnerability and immense courage. Almost the entire movie is set in a single basement apartment, yet a complete, captivating story is told. How brilliant is that.

I apologize if I sound overly excited. After all, it's not as if I've discovered some hidden secret no one else knows about. But for me, it is something new. I know I'm very late to this party, but I'm looking forward to catching up. I'm open to any and all recommendations.

"It's Saturday night at the movies, and those black and white reruns are bringing back old time memories when Hollywood was young..."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

3WW LXII



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Afford
Cigarette
Dim


There has perhaps been no more tragic figure in the United States in the past thirty years than the cigarette.

Once a rite of passage, a sign of maturity, and nervousness, there was a time when the cigarette was the ultimate in cool. Think James Dean with a pack of smokes rolled up in his sleeve. Or Cary Grant offering Audrey Hepburn a light.

But today, it's future is dim. Yes, there are still a few who voluntarily ingest this once proud carcinogen, but they are now forced to do so in dark alleyways and other secret out of the way places, mostly hidden from the rest of the world.

By and large, the nicotine filled, buzz inducing, cylindrical apparatus has become a symbol of the addicted and those banished by society. And what is it all for? Oh sure, we may gain in life expectancy, but what have we lost?

I'll tell you what I've lost: a cheap and easy way to hit on girls. A light costs next to nothing. A drink, that's like six bucks. Converted to bacheloronomics, that's eighteen frozen burritos. And who among us can afford that?

But they never consider the poor bachelor when making these decisions. Next thing you know, they'll take away the whole astrological chart. Then I'll really be out of lines.

I just remembered, I once kissed a girl who had been smoking...

Yeah, I think they made the right call.

"I believe the world is burning to the ground. Oh well, I guess we're gonna find out. Let's see how far we've come..."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is there a dishwalla in the house?

One day while going thru the mail, right between a Limited Too catalog and a letter from the Scooter Store, I found an advertisement for a satellite television service. Basically, they offered twice as many channels for the same price I was paying for cable. It all seemed simple enough.

I was tired of being bamboozled by the cable company and watching my favorite channels--SoapNet, Game Show Network, etc.--slowly be taken away one by one. So I called. An appointment was made for someone to come out Friday morning between 8 AM and 12 Noon.

Ah yes, the four hour window. That always slightly irks me. How did we get to this point in society where we place the satellite, and cable guy on such a pedestal that we'll wait hours for them? Even a doctor can usually get you in within two hours of your appointment. But because these people hold the keys to Stephen Colbert, Dancing With The Stars, and Steve Wilkos, we'll wait all day.

Anyway, the lady at the satellite place said I would need a letter from my landlord giving them permission to install a dish. Well, that didn't sound like such a big deal, until I got the letter. Among other things, it stated that the dish couldn't be mounted on the building or the fence. But... that's all there is.

I actually considered mounting it to my car. I thought, if I just park in the exact same spot every day... I mean, I was gonna put tape down where my tires were supposed to go.

The letter went on to state that the dish must be mounted either on a tripod or on a pole in a five gallon bucket. Uh, does that seem odd to anyone but me?

However, after doing a bit of online research, I found other people had actually done these pole-and-bucket installations. Well, giddy up then! Welcome to Redneck Satellite Installation 101. I was fairly certain there was going to be some duct tape involved in this at some point.

So off to Lowe's I went. Allow me to say here that I love going to Lowe's. There's something about walking thru aisles of laminate flooring, two-by-tens, and high performance toilets. It's akin to opening the hood of a car. I feel like I'm really accomplishing something, even when I have no clue what I'm doing.

I procured a couple of bags of Quikrete and a six foot iron pole and was on my way. The pole was a joy to fit into my mid-sized American sedan. I'm sure some of you are wondering, what about the bucket Bone? Nice to see you're paying attention. Actually, I found someone who said they would give me a bucket. When you start asking people if they have a five gallon bucket, you might be surprised at how many actually do.

I poured the concrete and put up the pole on Thanksgiving. I'm sure the neighbors probably thought it was just another one of my strange holiday observances, as they already know I celebrate Festivus. Then I took the day off work Friday, woke up at 7:45 AM, and waited. And waited. And... waited.

That's right, the four hour window wasn't quite enough for Satellite Joe. He finally came rolling in around 1:45 PM. Nice. I handed him the letter. After looking it over for between sixty and ninety seconds, he said, and I quote, "We can't do this."

Apparently, the company is not allowed to mount a dish to a pole in a bucket. Have you ever heard such nonsense! So basically, my landlord has placed so many restrictions on how and where a dish can be installed that it's next to impossible to do within the rules. It's kinda like giving a kid a car and saying you can't use keys to start it, you can't put gas in it, and the tires can't touch the ground.

After a few minutes of discussing and explaining, Satellite Joe departed, despite my protests of "I saw them do it on the internet!" Now I have a bucket and a pole on my patio for no apparent reason. And no way to watch the Dallas/Green Bay game Thursday night.

So if anyone out there has NFL Network, I'm not above inviting myself over. I'll be there between 2 PM and 6 PM.

"He's got thirteen channels of wrestling comin' in strong from a satellite send. A two hundred function remote control. Big screen TV with stereo..."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I wasn't always this way

Dear C,
You had me head over heels. I'll never forget those summer nights on your parents' front porch. We learned so much. Sometimes I can almost taste your lips. I miss that innocence. I know we were young. Maybe if we had been a little older. You broke my heart. I'm sorry I held on for so long. I didn't know what else to do. I'll always smile whenever I think of you.

Dear C2,
I think your Mom liked me more than you did. That's usually not a great sign. Thanks for introducing me to Skyline, the local lookout point. It was all very Wally Cleaver-ish, until the police showed up. Once you went off to college, I just never quite fit into your world, with the sorority thing and all.

Dear J,
You were messed up. I thought I could fix you. I liked the idea that I could rescue you. I tried. I couldn't. There were a lot of lessons learned the hard way. Lessons I didn't plan to learn again. But any regrets I have are on me, because of things I let happen.

Dear L,
What more can I say? I've poured out my heart and written pages and pages about you. Part of me still refuses to admit you weren't my one. I know it's pathetic and I'm not proud of it. I became an arrogant jerk towards the end, not realizing it was you who had given me my confidence. My heart will always ache for losing you, but more than that, for hurting you. You will always have a friend here. Thank you for the best days of my life.

Dear M,
We had chemistry, huh? It was good to be in love again. You were never anything but wonderful. Thank you for sharing two years of your life with me. Whatever happened between us was only my fault. It was the start of a disturbing trend where I would get to a certain point and couldn't go any further. I'm sorry for that. The distance wasn't easy. You proved you would do anything for love, and I'm so glad you found it. I don't know what was wrong with me.

Dear J2,
There was always something comfortable about us, about being at your place. Baseball will always remind me of you. The fact is, I could never let myself completely go and I'm sorry. Anything else I could say wouldn't really matter. By the time you came along, I had taught myself to turn my heart off like a switch. But sometimes I think you could, too. You breaking a date by text message was just my excuse, my way out.

"Could you sympathize with my needs? I know you think I need a lot. Started out clean, but I'm jaded. Just phonin' it in..."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Great American Coke-Out

I was listening to another provocative edition of the John Tesh radio show recently. Yes, I know I said Wikipedia had surpassed Tesh as my #1 source of information, but it's not easy to Wiki while driving. You get lots of honks and odd gestures. Which reminds me, my Mom used to have a "Honk If You Love Willie Nelson" bumper sticker on her car. And sometimes people honked! But I digress.

One particular statement from the disseminator of useful information caught my ear. Tesh said drinking just one sweetened soda per day increases your chance of developing diabetes by 75 percent.

Gulp.

My first thought was, I drink like five a day. And that's the conservative estimate.

Like a Mexican TV dinner, Tesh's words stuck with me for a couple of days. When I mentioned my five-a-day habit to a co-worker, she looked at me as if she were surprised my head hadn't yet exploded from the massive consumption of delicious high fructose corn syrup. In other words, blog friends, I'm basically a walking miracle.

I did some checking and found that the 12 ounce Sun Drop, my usual drink of choice, has 49 grams of sugar in it. Which means I was getting 245 grams per day. That's over half a pound of sugar from soft drinks alone! I might as well just spoon feed it to myself straight out of the bag.

I had a problem and I decided something must be done. Therefore, I proclaimed last Wednesday the start of Bone's Great American Coke-Out. That's coke, lower-case, which as we all know refers to any variety of soft drink. Kinda like q-tip, band aid, or K-Y.

The first day went well. I was coke free. Kinda like Lindsay Lohan. Well, kinda like Lindsay Lohan once in awhile anyway. Then Thursday morning, I woke up with a splitting headache. After conferring with some members of my inner circle--which pretty much consists of family, co-workers, and the cute checkout girl at Kroger--it was determined that I was going thru caffeine withdrawals.

I rushed home, drank a Sun Drop, took two Advil, and my headache was gone within twenty minutes. After only 36 hours of the Great American Coke-Out, I was already off the wagon. (Will the Lohan similarities never end?)

Figuring it would be better to wean myself off the caffeine, I decided to have just one coke per day. Surprisingly, it hasn't been that difficult. The headaches haven't returned. And I've stocked up on water, skim milk, fruit juice, and Crystal Light on the go packets.

I'm not sure what's next. Perhaps it's time to analyze my intimate relationship with Little Debbie. Zebra Cakes, Fudge Brownies, Swiss Rolls. And those are just the varieties that are in my kitchen right now.

Geez, I hope Tesh never decides frozen burritos are bad for me.

"I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet, yeah..."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

3WW LXI

Hey guys. 3WW will be taking off November 21st for Thanksgiving, and will return November 28th. If you'd like, feel free to go back and grab three words from a previous week. Remember if you didn't participate that week, then they're new to you :)

I might encourage you also to take this opportunity to visit some of the 3WW participants and read some of their other blog entries. That's what I plan on doing.

Thank you all for participating and helping to make 3WW a pretty cool thing. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Icy
Pause
Train


"Will Dean be home soon?"

The frail voice startled Donna. She had been on the verge of dozing off to the sound of mindless television droning on in the background.

"Yes, Momma," she said softly.

"I'm worried. The roads are getting icy."

It hadn't snowed there in ten years. Donna didn't know if her mother even comprehended a single word she was saying. But just in case, she thought it better to try and ease her mind.

"Don't worry, Momma. He'll be fine. He'll be here real soon."

Day after day her mother just laid there, staring blankly at the ceiling, or sleeping. But once in awhile, she would say something out of the blue. Mostly they were things that didn't make sense, but sometimes she would speak of something or someone far in her past.

It always broke Donna's heart, but it was especially hard when her mother spoke of Dean, Donna's older brother. He had gone to Vietnam and never came home. Even now as Donna thought of him, she could still see his goofy smile as he boarded a train and waved goodbye that crisp April morning.

"The snow is beautiful, isn't it Dee Dee?" It made Donna glad and broke her heart a little more that her mother still called her Dee Dee. It seemed almost cruel that she still had certain memories, but not much else.

"Yes, Momma. It's perfect."

The mention of snow gave Donna pause. She thought of a particular Christmas when she was seven and Dean was still at home. It had snowed then. Dean had pushed her on a trash can lid "sled" down the hillside. It used to snow a lot. Now the winters were warmer, but somehow left her feeling much colder inside.

Donna pulled a blanket tighter around her, barely noticing that tears had started to trickle down her face. She remembered another snow. The memory was fuzzy, but it seemed like Dean was gone. He had been out. No, on a trip. And the roads had been bad, and her mother had been so worried. That must be-

"Dean! You're home!"

Her mother's voice once again startled Donna back to the present. A haunting chill instantly covered her entire body. She turned quickly to see her mother lying completely still, eyes closed.

"Momma?"

Donna jumped to her feet and ran to the bed.

"Momma!"

Her mother was lying completely still, eyes closed. She was no longer breathing. Just smiling.

"Where've you been? I've looked for you forever and a day. Where've you been? I'm just not myself when you're away..."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

That 70's Fish

I welcomed a new member to the household Saturday. At the wedding reception, there were Bettas on some of the tables, and I brought one home.

I didn't know if I'd ever get another fish after Pablo, and I sure wasn't in any hurry to get one. But when I came home from work Monday afternoon and he was swimming around his bowl, I realized I had kinda missed that.

So without further adieu, I now present to you, for his first time ever on the internet, GabeKaplan:


(Photo courtesy of my Crackberry Curve.)

I know, I know, the first question many of you will have is going to be, "Fish at a reception?" And the answer is... apparently.

And I'm sure some of you are also wondering, "Why Gabe Kaplan?" First of all, Welcome Back Kotter is one of my all-time favorite shows. What other show dealt so candidly and humorously with issues facing inner city youth and had a sign in its credits that said, "Welcome to Brooklyn: The 4th Largest City In America?" I'll tell you what other show. None!

Gabe Kaplan, the man not the fish, is an accomplished actor and comedian, as well as a world-renowned poker player and investment strategist. Not to mention he won the 2006 TVLand Award for Best Teacher. Now hopefully, little GabeKaplan can help bring to light some of big Gabe Kaplan's accomplishments.

Also, I kind of like the thought of hanging out with GabeKaplan, watching the game with GabeKaplan, napping with GabeKaplan, and yes, eventually, dancing for GabeKaplan.

And sure, if Gabe Kaplan, the man, finds out I named my fish after him and is so honored that he decides he wants to meet me, send me every episode of Kotter on DVD, or stake me in the 2008 World Series Of Poker, well then, who am I to object.

Who knows, me and GabeKaplan might even wind up being BFF's.

Wonder if he knows whatever happened to Epstein.

"Who'd have thought they'd lead ya, back here where we need ya? Yeah, we tease him a lot cos we've got him on the spot. Welcome back..."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tragedy, technology, & tying knots

The dull edge became a little sharper last Thursday as I received my Blackberry Curve. It immediately becomes the most cutting edge piece of technology I own, followed by my iPod, and then next would be my... um... Remington PG-250 electric shaver, I guess.

Those in the know tell me that I should refer to it as a Crackberry. I can't wait to find out what that's all about. And the girls at the cell phone place had a nice laugh over my old phone, the discontinued Samsung P107 with the 0.1 megapixel camera, which left all my camera phone pictures looking like abstract impressionist paintings.

My excitement was short-lived, however, as tragedy struck my world Friday afternoon. Shortly before 3 PM, someone I have known for roughly twenty-five years suffered a massive heart attack.

That someone is Luke Spencer.

He was found on the floor of Windermere by Scott Baldwin's long lost son, Logan Hayes. As of today, Luke is still alive, but it is unlikely they'll be able to get him to a hospital because of the storm, so please keep him in your thoughts. More importantly, please keep me in your thoughts, because if Luke goes, I... well, I'd rather not think about it.

Remarkably, I was able to press on despite that weighing heavily on my heart. As a few of you may know, I was in a wedding Saturday. My longtime friend Kyle said goodbye to the ranks of singledom and hello to a brave new world. (I was going to say "My BFF Kyle" but guys don't really have BFF's. We just have buddies, or homeboys, or longtime confidants. Wonder why that is?)

During rehearsal, the wedding director repeatedly called me and the girl I escorted "professionals." I'm not sure I want to be known as a professional groomsman. Then again, why the heck not? Maybe I could make some extra cash on weekends, legally for a change.

It was great to see several friends that I had not seen in quite awhile. And hopefully, no footage of me "dancing" will turn up on YouTube. No, trust me, you think you want it, but you don't.

As the weekend was quite busy, I haven't had a lot of time to play with my Crackberry yet. Though I did finally figure out last night how to change the ring tone. That only took four days.

Technology rulz!

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get thru this thing called life. Electric word life. It means forever and that's a mighty long time. But I'm here to tell you, there's something else..."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

3WW #60



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Compensate
Modern
Radio


(I have no idea where this came from. Maybe it's my audition for The Colbert Report. Yeah, let's go with that...)

Ever find it odd that more people vote for the American Idol than the American President?

Ever feel like your votes over the years for candidates such as Dennis Kucinich, Pat Buchanan, and Walter Mondale don't really matter?

Well those days are over!

America's premiere television network is proud to present the first ever reality show that will elect the next President of the United States: Are You Smarter Than George Bush?

Follow the candidates of both major parties as they live together Big Brother style. As in, the reality show Big Brother. Not "the government is monitoring innocent Americans' telephone conversations" big brother.

The show is the brainchild of Bone, a rogue blogger who describes himself as Simon Cowell with looser fitting clothing. He created the show to help compensate for what he perceived to be injustices in modern campaign financing. Are You Smarter Than George Bush will provide almost equal exposure for all candidates in an aggressive campaign of print, television, radio, and internet ads.

Republicans will inhabit a red house and Democrats a blue house, all vying for the chance to wind up in the White House. Watch as candidates interact with one another from day to day and also compete in a rigorous series of quizzes and physical challenges.

Will Fred be able to handle Rudy and Ron gossiping behind his back? How will Barack react if Bill wins the first Head of House? What will Mitt do when he is given the chore of vacuuming? What are Dennis and Joe discussing in the jacuzzi? And why is Chris so angry?

Tune in and watch the fun ensue. Each week, America will vote off one candidate from each party, until only the final two remain.

The three-hour season finale will be held on Election Day 2008, featuring the Republican and Democratic winners, plus a surprise third-party candidate to be chosen by a poll conducted on the Internets.

The next President of the United States will be introduced the following morning by Ryan Seacrest.

Are You Smarter Than George Bush, premiering Summer 2008 with live performances by Aerosmith and Enya, and special guest appearances by Martin Sheen, Erik Estrada, and Dog The Bounty Hunter.

"Oh beautiful for spacious skies, but now those skies are threatening. They're beating plowshares into swords, for this tired old man that we elected king..."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Won't you be my neighbor?

I'm thinking about doing the Second Annual 80's Week here on IYROOBTY. I was looking back to last year, and 80's Week was the second week of November. We had an 80's themed 3WW, The Time I Almost Met John Stamos, and Where Are They Now: New Kids On The Block. Please let me know if there are any 80's topics you would like to see covered.

Hemingway had a Three Day Blow. I have a six day hiatus. I think this may officially be the longest period of time I have ever gone without blogging. Perhaps one of you who have my blog committed to memory can either confirm or deny that.

It just seems like the same old, same old here. Football and golf, football and golf. Sometimes I feel like my life is a Kibbles 'N Bits commercial, without the cute puppies.

I took a day off work Friday and played golf. (See? There's just no shock value there.) Little Joe and I teed off--that's golf lingo for "began a round"--shortly after Noon. My goal for the day was to play with no mulligans, which I accomplished. I also only lost one ball. But perhaps the outing can best be summed up by the following quote:

"I think I left my pitching wedge beside the sixth green."

Friday night was the bachelor party of the century, which I somehow managed to miss. It was held at Red Lobster.

Yes, that Red Lobster.

Because what better way to say adios to your single days than with a plateful of endless shrimp and a couple of cheesy biscuits. From their slogan, "Share The Love," to the tankful of naked lobsters located inside the restaurant, this place just screams party.

Unfortunately, by the time I got back in town, the screams had died down and the party had broken up. You know, because it was already 10:00 PM.

Saturday was a neighborly day in this beauty wood. I awakened to the sweet sounds of footsteps on stairs and objects banging into walls. Ah, yes. The new neighbors were moving in... at 6:30 in the morning!

The banging finally subsided a little after 8:00, but I never managed to get back to sleep. At some point during the weekend, the guy stopped by to introduce himself. His name is Rocky. I'm not joking.

On the bright side--and keep in mind this is all relative--they did put out a little decorative porch ornament thingy: a white plastic dog with a small lantern hanging from its mouth.

It really adds a touch of something to the entire complex. It's sort of that whole plastic flamingo vibe that has been missing here for so long. I just hope I don't accidentally step on it, or set it ablaze.

Finally, as I was leaving Saturday to go to the Bama game, I noticed an Auburn tag on the back of Rocky's car.

Sigh. There goes the neighborhood.

"I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you..."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

3WW LIX



HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Hopefully, this week's words will be a treat.

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Phone
Stumbled
Windy


You never realize how ear-splitting the ringing of a phone can be until it rings in the middle of the night, piercing the formerly silent darkness and causing the mind to race and the heart to pound.

Kari fumbled around on the nightstand until she felt the phone. She didn't recognize the number. She looked at the clock. It was 2:18. She sat the phone back down.

Out wasted again, she thought to herself. Needing a ride. Or needing money for bail.

He called again. And then a third time. She fought the urge to answer, then waited for a fourth call. But it never came.

She lied awake wondering if he would get a ride, if he would have a place to sleep. A tree brushed against the house, reminding her the night was chilly and windy. The urge to give in one more time was continuous. But he had gone too far. He had pulled a knife on her. He was out of control.

Still there was no satisfaction in knowing she had made the right decision. She wasn't even sure she had. The only thing she felt at that moment was pain. Immense, unbearable, sleep-depriving pain.

Miles away, he stumbled out of a phone booth and sat down on the pavement. Out of change, tired, weary, but completely sober for nine days and twenty-two hours.

"I haven't had a drink in nineteen days. My eyes are clear and bright without that haze..."

Monday, October 29, 2007

The ratio of people to cake is too big!

And now for your enjoyment, Bone channels Milton Waddams from Office Space:

Well I was, I was under the impression that I would, I would be getting Sundays off, and that, that I would only have to work occasionally on Saturdays. And now I'm working almost every Saturday and I told, I told Bill that if this continues, then I'm quitting. And I told Jan, too, because, because they've changed my hours. I used to get off in time to see General Hospital, but now I get off later, and I don't have a TiVo. And I still, I still have five vacation days to take this year. But I haven't, I haven't been able to take my days because they keep increasing my daily tasks, but they haven't increased my pay any. But those are my days, and they better, they better not try to tell me when I can take them, because that's not OK. And if they try to, then I'll set the building on fire.

Thank you.

Just know that I was doing my own Milton impersonation out loud as I typed that, and be thankful this is not an audio post.

Yes, I had to work both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. I used to work seven nights a week all the time when I was at the factory. But having at least one day a week off is like urinating with no burning sensation. After awhile you kinda get used to it.

To me, the forty hour work week was instituted as the absolute maximum number of hours that a human being should ever be required to work. I really have no historical documentation to back this up, but I've always believed that is what the framers of the law had in mind. I think they figured most of us would only be working twenty or thirty hours, three or four days a week. Because (I'm sure) studies (somewhere) have shown that a happy, well-rested employee is a productive employee. Or at least a happy employee.

Of course, things could always be worse. I could not have internet at work. Or my parents could cut off my weekly supplement. Or there could be no term limits for the President.

Despite the heavily oppressed weekend, I did make it over to Axl's after work Saturday to watch some football. Highlights included going over to his on-again, off-again girlfriend's house and letting her dog out for a few minutes. Why he wanted me to come along, I'm not sure.

So there we were, just before sunset in the middle of the neighborhood. Axl was bent over baby-talking the dog trying to get him to "go" in this little ravine. Meanwhile, I was standing about fifty feet away, trying to appear as nonchalant as possible.

About that time, I noticed a lone female jogger coming down the sidewalk. As she passed, I smiled, while behind me in a high-pitched voice, Axl was encouraging the dog to "Go poo poo. Go poo poo."

There's really just no way to make that look cool.

"Work, work, work, day after day. Fifty hour week, forty hour pay. No time to get over all this overtime. Yeah, I'm always runnin', but I'm always runnin' behind.."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

California

One of my blogging friends, Gay, was forced to evacuate her home due to the wildfires in California. She has been posting updates from her cell phone. I would ask that you keep her and others affected by this disaster in your thoughts and prayers.

Someone I hold in very high regard has frequently referred to "blogging communities." And it's true. As we read about each other's lives, we become like neighbors. We laugh when they laugh. When they're happy, we're happy for them. And when they're sad or struggling, we're concerned.

By the same token, I've always thought of America as one big community. When times are toughest, that's when it seems we are at our best. Whether it's thirteen miners in a coal mine or thousands devastated by a hurricane, we hurt, we cry, we pray, we look for ways to help.

We are them. They are us.

It's both frightening and sad seeing the devastation caused by these wildfires and that eerie red glow in the sky. And that's just from watching on TV. I can't imagine what it's like to be there.

The following is something I wrote about California, a place I've visited exactly once. I wrote it over a year ago and it's been stuck in draft ever since. Today felt like a good time to post it.

California is just another place. Until you've been there.

It's just a name. An idea. A shape on a map. The setting for a million stories. It's Hollywood and LA and movie stars and the ocean. Late nights and late mornings.

It can be a lifelong curiosity, or a dream. But one thing is for certain. Once you've been, it's none of those things, and at the same time, it's all of them and more. It's a feeling of free you had forgotten you could feel, or maybe never knew at all.

California stays with you. Maybe not always in the front of your mind. But it's always there, somewhere. It gnaws at you, some days more than others. And you long to return, again and again.


"And it's one more day up in the canyons, and it's one more night in Hollywood. If you think you might come to California, think you should..."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

3 Word Wednesday LVIII



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Care
Unexpected
Weekend


Jason stood on the familiar plastic green doormat with the white and yellow flower. He wasn't sure how long doormats typically lasted, but this one had to be up there in the all-time doormat longevity rankings. Finally, the door opened and there stood Keith, with a sheepish look Jason had seen at least twenty times before.

"Uh oh. What is it?" Jason squinted, expecting the worst.

"I... uh... I can't go," Keith stammered.

"What? Why not? We've had this planned for weeks."

"I kinda promised Lauren I'd... take care of her cat," Keith replied almost ashamedly.

"What? When? She dumped you!"

"Well, something unexpected came up and she had to go out of town for the weekend."

"What came up?"

"Ski trip," Keith looked at his feet and mumbled so quietly that Jason didn't understand him.

"What?"

"She went on a ski trip."

"Oh my gaaaaaaa!" Jason slapped his hand to his forehead, covering his eyes and shaking his head in disbelief. He let his hand fall away before continuing. "You need help."

"What?" Keith asked innocently. "She needed someone. Besides you and Troy can still go."

"I can't go with Troy."

"Why not?"

"He's your friend. We don't have anything to talk about."

"So?"

"You don't understand. It's... hard to explain. We need like a third-party mediator to hang out."

"Oh yeah, and I'm the one who needs help," Keith said sarcastically.

"You do."

"Well, you're welcome to hang out here with me and Princess."

Jason looked down to see a long-haired white cat had come to nuzzle itself against Keith's leg.

"No thanks. I think I'll go home and advertise for some new friends."

Stepping on the plastic green doormat again as he left, the symbolism wasn't lost on him.

"I wrote her off for the tenth time today, and practiced all the things I would say. But she came over. I lost my nerve. I took her back and made her dessert..."

Monday, October 22, 2007

iTunes aNonymous

Last Wednesday evening, a blogger you know ventured into the iTunes store, for the first time ever.

It started off innocently enough, a single, heterosexual, 34-year-old male in search of the song "I'm Your Man" by Wham. I mean, what's more normal than that? A user name and password were selected. An account was created. A search was conducted. The song was located and downloaded.

And then...

Oh my darling, Clementine! Everywhere I looked, songs I loved were calling out to me. Down every corridor were private eyes, naked eyes, or an eye in the sky. It was like Behind The Music and Surreal Life had opened up a Sam Goody!

Yes, I realize I am late coming to this party, but I've only had my iPod since last Christmas. Besides, I never claimed to be on the cutting edge, just the opposite, actually.

By the end of that first night, I had downloaded fifteen songs, including but not limited to Erasure, P.M. Dawn, Steve Winwood, Tabitha's Secret, and yes, even Hanson. (At this point, I will completely understand if you never read my blog again.)

Still, I felt pretty good. I'd told myself I would not surpass twenty songs, and I had stayed within that limit. Then came Thursday. By the time head hit pillow Thursday night, I had downloaded thirty-four songs and may or may not have promised my firstborn to Steve Jobs.

Sure that sounds drastic at first, until you learn there are twenty-six available downloads for Wham on iTunes. Suddenly, I'm like a song-starved Esau in search of musical pottage.

I need help. I'm addicted. How can I not be? Apple just makes it so easy. I don't have to get dressed or leave home. Plus, 99 cents seems like such a nominal fee for cheesy musical goodness. Who amongst us can resist? I'm only flesh and blood, for crying out loud.

People I've talked to say it will get better. That eventually, I'll exceed my credit card limit, be unable to pay my bills, and my internet will be disconnected. Problem solved.

I hope so. Because right now, iTunes, you are an obsession. I can't fight this feeling much longer, and I'm quickly forgetting what I started fighting for.

In closing, I would like to wish a happy 44th birthday to my favorite male figure skater, Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano. Ooo, I wonder if they have that song on iTunes!

"What would Brian Boitano do if he was here right now? He'd make a plan and he'd follow thru. That's what Brian Boitano'd do..."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

3WW #57



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Field
Hide
Second


To most, it's a place that time forgot, with abandoned storefronts and old two story buildings.
To him, it's a bustling town square where a man could take care of any and all business he might have to do in a single day.

To most, it's an overgrown field on the corner, badly in need of mowing.
To him, it's a neatly kept baseball diamond, alive with the sound of kids, including a scrawny but quick shortstop wearing an oversized jersey and a hand-me-down glove that belonged to his grandpa.

To most, it's long overdue for demolition, an eyesore they wish they could hide.
To him, it's the nickel matinee, with all the big stars on the marquee--Gable, Bogart, Hepburn, and Bacall--where he spent every Sunday afternoon for three years.

To most, he's slow and sometimes gets in the way, and he'll talk your head off for an hour if you ever let him get started.
To him, there's no reason to be in a hurry, and the best part of life is the people.

To most, it seems like there will always be plenty of days and years and more time.
But he knows. One second you're ten years old playing shortstop, then you turn around...

"So he walked downtown with his cane pole, looking through the window of what used to be the drugstore. Next to the cafe where he laughed away his life..."

Taste of rain

I was halfway thru my first lap on the three-quarter mile track when the first drops of rain hit my skin, one on my right arm and one on my face, right in the middle of "Brass Monkey," jarring me from my iPod induced trance.

Within seconds, it was pouring. My first inclination was to throw myself into the fetal position, using every bit of clothing and body mass I had to protect Nan until the rain stopped. But she was in her iPod cover, and tucked underneath my shirt, so I thought she would be OK.

My next inclination was to throw up my hands and scream, "Why! Why does it wait to rain until the minute I start running?" But I refrained.

And then something happened.

I found myself enjoying the rain. I didn't speed up. Instead I continued to run at my usual pace, listening to the quiet noise the rain made falling thru the trees, feeling its coolness hit my skin.

By the time I got back around to the parking lot, I was drenched. My clothes felt heavy. I wanted to laugh. Part of me wanted to keep running.

Slowing to a walk, I looked heavenward and opened my mouth, letting the raindrops hit my tongue. It reminded me of being a kid. It reminded me I was alive.

I don't know when or where my sometimes frustration with rain began. But today I remembered something I knew all along. There are much worse things in life than getting caught in the rain.

Sometimes there's nothing better.

"I hear it talking through the trees and on the window pane. When I hear it I just can't believe I never liked the rain..."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Holy candy, Batman!

It's that time of the year again! Time for Halloween. And while your newspapers, TV stations, and schools may be flooded with things like Halloween safety tips and other nonsense, Bone is bringing you information you can use. Today I present Bone's Halloween Candy Tips For Kids.

After all, Halloween is not about ghosts, or pumpkins, or the Devil. It's about candy, and Jamie Lee Curtis. The word halloween comes from hallowed, which means holy, and weenie, which when you're a kid tastes just as good as candy. So basically, Halloween means "holy candy."

So here we go, kids. And by kids, I don't mean fifteen year old girls who put on a flannel shirt and call themselves hobos. First of all, flannel is coming back someday, and I'll be ready when it does. Second of all, if you're old enough to bear children and legally drive a motorcycle, you're old enough to buy your own candy.

Tip #1: Quality Over Quantity
While your goal starting out the evening is to fill up your bag(s) with candy, remember this: Every piece of crap candy in your bag means less room for the good stuff.

Make a mental note of houses that give out good candy, and conversely, those that give out things like toothbrushes and pencils with a little ribbon around them. Um, it's frickin' November, lady. I've had my school supplies since August, but thanks anyway. Oh and by the way, don't look for me next year. This house has officially been blacklisted.

Know your 'hoods and maximize your time. You only have a few hours one night a year to amass as much candy as possible. If there are only two good houses in a neighborhood of twenty homes, don't waste your time. Skip it, and double up on the good houses.

Chances are, they won't remember you've already been there earlier in the night. Plus, people like giving away candy. It makes them feel good. So by going to the same house three times in one night, you're making them feel three times as good.

Tip #2: All Fruit Is Bad
Few things are more disappointing in the life of a child than having a bulbous apple or orange dropped into his or her Halloween bag. Actually, I can't think of anything worse.

Back in my trick-or-treating days, my initial thought upon receiving fruit was always the same, Gee thanks. Could I have a can of spinach, as well? And while I'm here, maybe I could recite my multiplication tables for you.

Fruit is bad, no matter what the doctor and your parents say. (Remember these are the same people who give you shots and make you go to school.) Besides its non-sugary taste, fruit is quite heavy and weighs down your bag. Get rid of it as soon as possible, perhaps by slipping it inside your sister's bag when she isn't looking.

And if your parents try to object to you throwing fruit away, just tell them a scary lady with nine cats gave it to you and told you it was a very special kind of apple that she made just for you. That should do the trick.

Tip #3: Choose A Practical Costume
While the thirty dollar Harry Potter costume with the plastic mask might look great, chances are you'll wind up spending half your night tripping over the legs, retying strings, and stepping in holes because you can't see very well out of those tiny eye slits.

I recommend no mask at all. Some face paint or whiskers drawn on will work just fine. If people ask what you're supposed to be, just act really sad/confused/shy and say, "I don't know. Mom said we couldn't afford a real costume." And if necessary, start crying. Remember you're out there to get candy, not win a beauty pageant.

Tip #4: Travel alone
I have no hard evidence to back this up, but I believe that you receive more candy on average if you trick-or-treat by yourself than if you go with other people. I base my theory on two principles.

First, the candy allocators might feel sorry for a kid who is having to trick-or-treat alone.

Second, look at it like this. If a homeless person came to my door asking for money, I might give them $20. But if five homeless people came to my door at the same time, would I give them all $20? Of course not. I would instead not answer the door and pretend I wasn't home.

Summary:
In closing, let me say that every town is a little different. You have to figure out and implement the best strategy for your area. The bottom line is this: Once you realize trick-or-treating is a logical, methodical process of collecting candy and not just haphazardly going around to random houses, you'll be eating Reese's Cups and Mini 3 Musketeers well into early December.

"Candy on the beach, there's nothing better. But I like candy when it's wrapped in a sweater..."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

3 Word Wednesday LVI



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Initial
Knock
Weather


at last, autumn
it's initial attempts
repressed by stubborn summer
announces it's arrival

not with thunderous fanfare
or even a loud knock
but instead a familiar breeze

harvest moon, new weather
majestic colored leaves surrender
lazy hammock invites slumber

ere i drift away in dreams
my newly contented heart
whispers with much relief
at last, autumn

"Can't explain, there's something strange about the early fall. Its comfort leaving me without a care..."

Monday, October 08, 2007

A ten dollar lesson on the things that really matter

I received ten dollars in a birthday card last week. Except it wasn't my birthday. One of my aunts had put the money in Mom's birthday card along with a note instructing her to give it to me.

I found it quite a remarkable gesture. Especially considering this is an aunt I rarely see, Mom's eldest sister, who is widowed and has ten kids and umpteen grandkids of her own, not to mention twenty or so nieces and nephews. Yet here she is sending a note and ten bucks to her thirtysomething nephew she sees on Decoration Day, sometimes Christmas, and maybe another time or two during the year at most.

It really affected me.

It made me think about the alarming rate of the passing of time, and how I need to make more of an effort to see family and loved ones more often.

I thought about my grandmother, how almost eerily similar she and my aunt are, and how so many of her good qualities were obviously passed on.

I thought about how excited I would have been years ago, when I was in high school, or college even, to get ten bucks in a card.

Then I thought about how today, ten dollars won't buy much of anything. But if my six other aunts would get their act together and all made the same gesture... I'm kidding.

I felt guilty that she had sent me any money at all.

I thought about how maybe this is one of those things you don't directly repay, but instead just pass on to someone else. And I made a vow to myself that I would do the same someday for my nieces, nephews, and other loved ones.

I thought about how a hundred dollar bill would not have meant nearly as much. There was something simple and pure and sweet about those two fives.

I thought about how thankful I am for family. Even family I don't see that often. Especially family I don't see that often.

I'm thankful there are still some things in this world you can't put a price on. Things that are worth so much more than money and always will be. Things like a few words scribbled in love on a little piece of scrap paper...

Give this to Bone. And tell him I love him.

"No, I ain't forgot how I was raised, but I'm living way too fast. It's a roller coaster ride up and down..."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Archie, blow your horn

What do you do when your friend, one of your best friends, tells you a secret so deep and disturbing that even his parents don't know?

It happened when I was in 10th grade. I had gone to the high school football game one Friday night, with plans to go home and spend the night with my friend Archie afterward.

At halftime, I watched Archie march in the band. In his flamboyant bright red uniform and hat complete with festive plume, he seemed to almost be smiling at me. Maybe that should have been my first clue.

After the game, we were on our way over to the band room so that Archie could change. That's when it happened. Archie pulled me aside in the rahter dimly lit parking lot and said he had to tell me something. And he made me vow that I would never tell anyone, emphasizing it with the fact that even his parents didn't know.

My mind began to race. What could it be? How well did I know this guy? We'd really only been friends for a year or two. Not to mention, this was the same guy who had been involved in the John Stamos autograph incident.

I wasn't sure I felt comfortable with any soul-baring confessions at this stage of my life. But what could I do? He was standing there, his band hat under one arm and his heart on his sleeve.

So I promised not to tell, knowing whatever he was about to reveal could very well change our entire relationship forever.

And it did.

To this day, everytime I think of Archie, my mind immediately goes to what he told me that fateful October night:

He wasn't really playing his trombone.

The band director let him march because he had learned the steps so well, but made him promise he'd only pretend to play. Because as it turns out, after two years in band, Archie couldn't play a lick.

I wish I could say Archie's story had a happy ending. But it doesn't. He quit band the next year. I always wondered if the burden of carrying around his secret eventually became too much. Or perhaps someone outed him and he was ostracized by the brass and woodwind sections.

"That's not the beginning of the end. That's the return to yourself. The return to innocence..."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

3 Word Wednesday #55



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Feather
Misplaced
Useless


The slamming of doors echoing thru the downstairs signaled his arrival home at least three days out of every week. A bad day at work for him meant a bad night at home for her.

Grace had grown used to his misplaced anger. No, you never got used to it, but she had come to expect it. She avoided him whenver possible, staying upstairs, sometimes pretending to be asleep. But some days it was useless. Some days he was bent on finding an outlet for his anger, and far too often it was her.

She sat upstairs cross-legged on the bed. Everytime another door slammed, her heart would pound a little faster. She picked up one of the feather pillows she had cried into countless times before and buried her head in it. Then silently prayed she wouldn't hear his footsteps on the stairs or him calling her name.

She didn't. Not on this day.

Grace heard the familiar noises of cabinets opening, bottles clanging, and the TV being put on, and she began to relax. Still clutching the pillow, she drifted off to sleep.

Sleep was sound and restful, her dreams happy. And when she woke up, she wished she was still asleep. The room was rather dark. Terrified she had missed supper, she hurried downstairs. First, she went into the kitchen, then to the other rooms. There was no sign of him, and she figured he must have gone out to drink.

Lastly, she ventured into the living room. It was there she saw the empty pill bottle on the coffee table and the body lying limp on the couch.

Grace ran.

As she knelt down beside the couch, she was curiously calm. Gently shaking the listless body, she pleaded quietly, "Wake up, Mommy. Please wake up."

"If you hear something late at night, some kind of trouble, some kind of fight, just don't ask me what it was..."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Who's bad?

Today is the day!

Occasionally I wonder if people get tired of reading the same old things here on ye olde blog. Especially when every weekend lately is the same old thing: football, girls, and golf. I mean, seriously, anymore golf and I'd have to change the name of my blog to Greenside Chats With Bone.

Besides, there's more to life than that, right? There's video games and Seinfeld and... well anyway. In an attempt to change things up and show another side of this bachelor you know as Bone (but mostly because I was craving something sweet), I added another element to my weekend.

Friday, I attempted to make some cookies. Unfortunately, I was on the phone while making them. Bad idea. Let's see, how shall I describe the end result? Have you ever bitten into a stick? Well, they were dryer than that.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, did you know peanut butter can go bad? Sure, it might take a few years, but trust me, it can happen. Who knew!

I also went to the driving range Friday, then spent the rest of my evening watching the South Florida/West Virginia game and image googling Hope Solo. Hey, I gotta fit girls in there somewhere.

One might think that would have been the highlight of my weekend. Think again. Little Joe and I went to play golf Sunday afternoon. I was standing behind my car when he pulled up and opened his door. His radio was blaring "Bad" by Michael Jackson.

My first instinct was to say, "Turn that down before someone hears!" You know, because that's what I do anytime I'm jamming to George Michael or Bobby Brown and I think someone might be able to hear. But I kept my mouth shut. I mean, you take away a man's music, you take away his spirit, his will to live.

As we were walking towards the clubhouse, LJ informed me that he had come across an old Casey Kasem countdown on the radio and that's what he was listening to. Friends, at that moment, I wanted to suggest that we skip golf entirely and just sit in the car together listening to AT40 with Casey. But I felt that would be socially unacceptable, so we golfed.

Sunday night, not to be defeated by my earlier misadventure, I tried making cookies again. Except I didn't have enough of the required ingredients remaining, so I decided to halve the recipe.

Well, I'm not sure if I got confused with the fractions or if some recipes just aren't meant to be halved. I mean, do you halve the cooking time, too? Suffice it to say I was 0-for-2 on baking this weekend. I guess lessons learned during my one semester in 8th grade home ec have been forgotten.

I feel much more at home on the patio. So last night, I grilled, trading in my wooden spoon for tongs and an oven mitt. Apparently, the King of Pop isn't the only one who performs better with one glove.

"And the whole world has to answer right now just to tell you once again, who's bad.."

Friday, September 28, 2007

How I Roll: Ride, Sally, Ride

Excerpt from a recent conversation:

"I never knew you had a Mustang. When was this?"
"Early nineties."
"Why haven't you done a blog entry about it?"
"Well, that was when my cars stopped being so crappy, so it's harder to make them entertaining... although the roof did leak."
"Was it a convertible?"
"No."


And thus we have the return of the How I Roll series.

I don't remember if we sold the gold Cavalier or not. Some cars are like old underwear. They just sort of eventually disappear. But I do remember the day my parents asked, "Would you want a Mustang?"

The only other time I remember anything close to this happening in my life was when I was nine years old. I had been outside playing in the neighborhood. When I came home, my parents were standing beside the carport talking. They asked me, "Would you want an Atari?"

Of course I wanted an Atari! There wasn't even a question. That was like asking would you want to quit school, or would you want to visit the set of the Neighborhood Of Make Believe.

Likewise, there was no question I would want a Mustang. Especially considering my previous three cars had been a 1980 Monte Carlo, a baby blue Escort with louvers, and a gold four-door Cavalier.

Mind you, my parents asking would I want a Mustang did not equate to them buying me a Mustang. I made the payments. They just found it.

And so it came to pass that my fourth vehicle was a maroonish 1989 Ford Mustang. It was not a convertible. And it was not a 5.0. I was reminded of this when I got into a race with a Toyota Corolla one Friday night and only outran it by half a car-length. ("Oh yeah! Eat some of that 2.3 liter dust!")

However, the Mustang was my first car equipped with power windows. At last, I didn't have to feign power windows by inconspicuously cranking down the window without ever moving my shoulder.

More importantly, it was my first car with both fast forward and rewind buttons for the cassette player. Did it get any better in 1992? Not for me, it didn't.

Then there was the day when Dana Scarborough turned to me in Fundamentals Of Public Speaking and said, "I thought you might like to see these." Her perfect lips, dark sensuous eyes, long spiral-permed brown hair. It took me a few seconds to see the Mustang-related magazines in her hand. It was the first time I had ever been noticed for my car, in a positive light anyway.

I drove it for about two and a half years. Rumor had it that at the three-year mark, you were required to get a mullet, and I didn't want any part of that. Besides, by that time, I had started craving a Jeep Wrangler.

I don't remember a whole lot else about the Mustang. I remember the AC went out at some point. The handle on the glove compartment broke. Oh, and I ran over something coming home from work one night which dented up the plastic underneath the bumper pretty good. And of course, the roof leaked.

But only on the passenger side.

And only when it rained.

"I got a fuel injected engine sittin' under my hood. Shut it off, shut it off, buddy, now I shut you down..."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

3WW #54



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Caught
Eager
Perfume


Perfume hint caught
Memory sparked
That year I was in love

Eager heart leapt
Lesson relearned
Forever is but a word

Freely falling fast
Feeling remembered
And missed

Past replaces present
Eyes now tightly closed
Smile grazes lips

Midnight phone calls
Sultry afternoons
Slinky black dress

Past recedes to past
I'll always believe
I loved you best

"Most of what I remember makes me sure, I should've stopped you from walking out the door..."

Friday, September 21, 2007

I wiki, therefore I am

I love wikipedia. To those who know me well, this comes as no surprise. Sometime during the past year, Wikipedia surpassed SportsCenter, Seinfeld, and John Tesh to become my number one source for information.

Terms spawned by Wikipedia have already become part of our daily vernacular. To wiki means to research or look up a topic on Wikipedia. Past tense, wiki'd. Present participle, wikiing. Plural form, wikies or wiki's.

Then, of course, there are other less known terms still waiting to make their way into common dialect. Terms like wikilicious, which is used to describe a fascinating, surprising, or otherwise extraordinary fact unearthed within the pages of Wikipedia.

Example:
"Did you know that Tom Wopat appeared in the Broadway revival of David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross?"
"Wow! That's wikilicious!."

I wiki most everything. Some days I spend indiscriminate amounts of time wikiing just for fun. Like last week, I wiki'd Jordache, you know, hoping for some sign that they may be coming back in style.

Here is what I learned about Jordache: "The brand is known for its designer jeans that were popular in the late 1970s."

Late seventies? I was wearing Jordache jeans in 1986 like they were going out of style! Which apparently, they were.

I'm not sure from whence my Wikipedia fascination comes. Perhaps it stems from the fact that we never had a complete and current set of encyclopedias when I was growing up. Dad's World Books were the 1959 edition.

Then I remember sometime in the 80's, Winn Dixie began selling encyclopedias. Ah yes, could there be a better plan? There's no place like your local supermarket to get your reference materials from.

You could buy a different volume every week or two. So Mom would buy them when she went grocery shopping. Then one week, she forgot, so we missed a volume. Then another. Long story short, in the end I could do a report on any topic as long as it didn't begin with a D, G, J-K, M, S, or W,X,Y,Z.

On top of that, they weren't World Books. Or even Encyclopedia Brittanicas. They were Funk & Wagnalls. Sounds more like a bad 70's band than an encyclopedia.

Or perhaps my fascination with Wikipedia and seemingly useless information is inherited. After all, I remember Dad spending countless hours every day in the bathroom reading his World Books. So in a way, when I'm wikiing, I'm only carrying on a family tradition.

Here's to Dad, the sanctity of a man's bathroom, and those who spend twenty hours a day editing Wikipedia. Oh, and also to John Tesh. You had a good run, but it's over, man.

Happy wikiing!

"My ergonomic keyboard never leaves me bored. Shopping online for deals on some writable media. I edit Wikipedia..."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

3 Word Wednesday LIII



Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:
Ambiguous
Nine
Slept


I've always felt awkward and out of place shopping alone, like there was a big flashing sign over my head that said, "Clueless!" Like I stuck out worse than a clothed person in a nudist colony.

I was always afraid I was going to be looking at something completely out of style, or worse, that I would be looking at clothes or shoes for women, without realizing it of course.

Some stores do not have different departments labeled clearly, some not at all. This particular establishment was one such place. There were several racks and tables of clothes not clearly labeled men's or women's. I figured maybe they were good for either sex, sort of like that CK1 scent back in the day.

I had just picked up a pair of pants when a salesgirl approached and asked if she could help.

"Well I'm... kind of looking for some workout pants." Figured I'd run it up the flagpole and see if it would fly.

"For yourself or..." she paused, awaiting my response.

At this point, I was no longer sure. If I said for myself and these were women's pants, I would look... well, odd. But if I said for my girlfriend and they were men's pants, I would just look stupid.

"Um, no, for someone else." I was quite pleased with my quick and carefully crafted ambiguous reply.

"Well, what size is she?" Aha! I had my answer. These were women's clothes. But now what? I knew my girlfriend was a nine, but I really did like these pants.

"Umm, actually, she's about my size." Suddenly, it felt like I was committing a crime.

"Oh," she seemed momentarily surprised, but quickly recovered. "Well, she's probably going to need an extra large then."

I wound up buying two pairs of women's workout pants that day. My paranoia eventually prevented me from ever wearing them out anywhere, but they were comfortable so I slept in them.

"I waited for an hour last Friday night, she never came around. She took almost everything from me. I'm going through my closets, trying on her clothes, almost everyday..."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eight seconds

Author's note: The title of this post does not refer to the 1994 movie about rodeo legend Lane Frost. Although in my opinion that was Luke Perry's best, and come to think of it, only decent acting performance.

Well, my weekend involved golf and football. Hmm, I think I'm beginning to notice a trend here. Not that I'm complaining. It's much better than that Gilmore Girls phase I went thru.

Saturday I was in my happy place, as Renee refers to it, Tuscaloosa. That really is my happy place. I look forward to football season from January to August. And even during the season, I'm looking forward to watching the next game either in person or on TV.

This weekend, my beloved Crimson Tide took on their first ranked opponent of the young season, the highly touted Hogs of Arkansas. The game got off to a rousing start for those clad in Crimson, as Bama jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the 1st quarter.

But as the sun set on Tuscaloosa and the first touches of autumn coolness spread across the night, the tide turned. Thanks in part to three turnovers, a 31-10 lead quickly evaporated and then became a 38-31 deficit.

The once jubliant crowd was stunned and growing more concerned by the second as the clock ticked under 5 minutes to play. Then, the Tide turned.

A field goal cut the lead to 38-34. That was followed by a defensive stand which gave Bama the ball back with only 2:13 to play, 73 yards from the end zone, and with no timeouts remaining.

The final drive was tense, exciting, and a thing of beauty. When the final touchdown catch was secured, only eight seconds remained on the clock. And I guess the old stadium was as loud as I've ever heard her.

I assume the band played the fight song like they do after every score. But I couldn't say for sure.

Final score: Alabama 41, Arkansas 38.

We stopped off at a convenience store after the game to load up on junk food for the two hour drive home. The cashier was helping an older man in front of us. As she completed the transaction she told him to have a good night.

In a friendly Southern drawl, he replied dryly and sincerely, "I've already had one."

I could tell he'd been in his happy place, too.

"From Carolina down to Georgia, smell the jasmine and magnolia. Sleepy sweet home Alabama, Roll Tide Roll..."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

To caulk or ford?

Remember how it felt? Holding the reins. In control. Cruising cross country in the ol' Conestoga. Fording rivers. Repairing wagon tongues. Living off the land. Knowing everyone was depending on you.

I can only be referring to the Oregon Trail. No, not the major migration route used by pioneers traveling westward across North America over 150 years ago. Rather, I'm talking about the computer game based on that route.

I believe I was in middle school the first time I was introduced to the game. Who knew so much fun could be contained on a simple five-and-a-quarter inch floppy disk.

To me, the best part about Oregon Trail was the primitive navigation system on the Conestoga. It gave the date, weather, total distance traveled, distance remaining, distance to the next landmark, as well as how much food you had remaining. It even had that little map you could click on to see exactly where you were. The Conestoga was the Tahoe of the 19th Century.

Oregon Trail was educational as well as entertaining. It forced me to make choices, real life decisions. At least, they would have been real life decisions had I lived in 1840.

I learned that all farmers are poor, four oxen can pull a wagon faster than two, and squirrels are harder to shoot than buffalo, though buffalo provide more pure poundage of food.

On my way to the Willamette Valley, I also learned about death. Few things up to that point in my life were as heartbreaking as reading "Jimmy has died of dysentery" across the screen.

Best I could tell, dysentery and cholera were likely the two leading causes of death for Americans in the 1840's, with drowning a close third. Heck, I wouldn't even know what dysentery was if it weren't for the Oregon Trail. And I'm confident that knowledge played an integral role in my upbringing and development.

As with most things I ponder, certain questions eventually arise. And Oregon Trail is no different. For instance, what was the deal with this message: "You shot 1958 pounds of food, but were only able to carry 200 pounds back to the wagon."

If I'm in need of food, I'm bringing Annie, Mary, Little Susie, and Jimmy all off the wagon to help carry it. Well not Jimmy, bless his heart, may he rest in peace.

Either that, or I'll pull the wagon right up to the carcass. And if it won't hold all the food, we'll just camp there a few days and eat. We've got to rest anyway. Mary has a broken leg, and one of the oxen got lost.

"We lost a lot of steers that day, and four or five good mounts. But when all the boys rode into camp, we knew that's what counts..."