Wednesday, April 29, 2009
To Dalhausser or not to Dalhausser?
I'm off to the beach with the Darryls this weekend. I'm ready for some relaxation. New Orleans seems so long ago (not to mention a tad fuzzy in my memory). We'll be leaving tomorrow afternoon, which means I have just over twenty-four hours to make one of the biggest decisions of my life.

This is something I've been grappling with off and on for awhile now. It's a tough decision for a man to make. But this seems like the perfect time, as I'm going to be spending four days at the beach where no one knows me--save for my two longtime confidants. If I'm going to do it, it's now or never.

I've run the idea past my sister and a few close friends, and have gotten a wide range of responses. Then my sister inadvertently brought it up over dinner at Mom's one night, prompting a vehement "Noooooo!" from she who bore me. Later, Mom told me in no uncertain terms that I would be "out of the family" if I went through with it.

She wasn't laughing.

I suppose some background information is in order. Several months ago, I was watching a provocative program on television. It was called The Summer Olympics. Perhaps some of you saw it, as well. One athlete, in particular, stood out to me. And that athlete was Phil Dalhausser.

What was it about Dalhausser that entranced me so? Was it his forceful, sand-blasting kills? Was it his lithe, slender six-foot-nine-inch body? No. It was his cleanly shaven head. Think James Carville with a tan.

I had thought about making the hairy to smooth transition before, but Dalhausser's immaculate scalp brought the issue front and center again. I figure if I do it now, I can get a bit of a tan while at the beach so it's won't be pasty white. That all sounds swell, right? So what's the problem?

The problem is, this is a drastic step--a major life decision right up there with... um... well, surely I've made a major decision at some point in the past 36 years. And while I may talk a good game, I'm afraid that the sound of the clippers and the thought of my hair being sheared away like freshly cut grass will cause me to run home screaming and apologizing profusely to my precious follicles for ever allowing the thought to creep into my head.

As I said, I've received a wide range of opinions on the matter. My sister is all for it, because she "thinks it'll be funny." Thanks, sis. She also asked if I was going to get it "slick" like Mister Clean, or just cut it really short. Well, I don't know. What do most people do? Another friend asked, "What if you have dents in your head?" Well, that's a disturbing thought.

Meanwhile, I've been doing some research of my own. Turning to my beloved Wikipedia, I found these the following two statements:

"Incidents of cutting one's scalp with a razor blade are common, but generally are avoidable..." (Ouch. I'd never considered that. I'd hate to have to walk around with a tiny scrap of tissue stuck to my head.)

"Practical reasons include work safety or comfort, lice prevention, grooming simplicity and preparation for surgery." (Lice prevention. That can never be a bad thing.)

Finally, I've tried composing a mental pro and con list. On the pro side: I would save on shampoo and haircuts. Also, less drag if I ever were to join an over-35 swim team.

On the con side: What if it doesn't grow back? What if there are dents? And of course, I'd be out of the family. Though that sounds kinda cool. Sorta like being out of the "business," which makes me think of Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan.

And so, blog friends, it has all come down to this: To Dalhausser or not to Dalhausser? That is the question.

If you have opinions, advice, personal testimonials, or would like to adopt a blogger into your family, you know where to find me.

You have twenty-four hours.

"Cut off the mail, and I left on a light, and I locked up the house, and I hopped on a flight..."

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Saturday, April 25, 2009
Great moments in Bone sports history
I believe it was William Shakespeare who wrote: "Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." (Actually, I thought it was Kennedy. But evidently not, according to Google.) But I am here to tell you that deep down, most men measure their own greatness by athletic achievement.

Why else would aging athletes keep hanging on or coming out of retirement for one more year? What else could drive men to bowl in a league every Wednesday morning until they're 80? And why else would Huey Lewis & The News have released an album entitled Sports, when none of the songs on the album have anything to do with sports? (Seriously, I really would like to know this. Wikipedia doesn't say.)

With all that in mind, today I will attempt to countdown the top four moments of Bone's athletic career. I was gonna do a top five or ten, but I didn't want the post to be too long. Plus, I could only really think of four. So come along on a magical journey through some of the greatest sports moments you've never heard of. I have a feeling this post will help explain so much.

4. Scoring 26 points in a basketball game - It was my senior year of high school. And what a way to go out. A career-high 26 points. I was en fuego! OK, so it was a church league basketball game. Actually, a preseason church league game. But still, everyone was trying their best! Also I should get bonus points since I did it in those frighteningly short Larry Bird shorts, which were still somewhat prominent in 1991.

3. The race - As some of you know, I am a bit of a runner. How one determines what classifies "a bit" of a runner, I do not know. But nevertheless. How successful has my running career been? Suffice it to say that I've gotten my name in the paper a few times.... along with everybody else who finished the race.

But it all started in middle school. It was the Presidential Fitness Run. The distance was one mile, which was four laps around the orange cones that Mister Stanley, the PE teacher, had set up on the playground. I was running a solid third the entire race--not showing off, not lagging behind--and was pretty much resigned to finishing there. But as I approached the start/finish line to complete my third lap, I saw the two guys ahead of me inexplicably slow to a walk and then a complete stop.

As I zoomed by, I glanced back at them, wondering if they were tired or if maybe I had miscounted the laps. I could see Mister Stanley say something to them, then they started to run after me. I hadn't miscounted, they had! Buoyed by my unbelievable luck, I could not be caught. I won! And from that day on, a myth began to grow about my speed. OK, not really, but it's a great line.

2. The big mud volleyball tournament - In olden times, my friend Ben would attend church from roughly March through July so that he would be eligible to play on the church softball team. Well, one of those months in one of those years, some people from his church decided to get up a team and enter a local mud volleyball tournament. Needing one more player, he gave me a call and as fate would have it, not only was I home, but I didn't have any plans.

The other teams were about equally made up of guys and girls. But our team was composed of five guys--none of whom had ever played organized volleyball--and one girl, who happened to be the volleyball coach at the local high school. It was kinda like a bad volleyball reality show, but with the attractive scantily clad female aspect of Dog Eat Dog.

We came. We played. We got mud on our face and on our clothes. In our hair and in between our toes. And our team finished second. That was out of four. But finishing second alone would not have made this one of the four greatest moments in Bone sports history. Oh who am I kidding, sure it would have. But what elevates it all the way to number two status is what happened next.

A girl on the team we lost to in the finals was standing there talking smack about their victory. So I crossed under the net and proceeded to tackle her gently in the mud. Then some of the girls led us into the woods to a creek where we all hopped in. I had never played mud volleyball before, and never did again, but to this day that still might be the most fun I have ever had.

1. Bone on ice It was my very first time ice skating. I was in high school. What, I was a late bloomer, OK? Anyway, I wasn't doing so well. The first trip around the rink, I must have fallen at least twenty times. Every time I'd let go of the rail, down I went. About a quarter of the way through my second lap, I had just fallen again. Before I could get up, I heard this angelic voice ask, "Need some help?"

I looked up and saw two girls standing there smiling at me. Or giggling at me, whichever. They helped me up and with one girl taking each arm, proceeded to skate me around for the rest of the night.

Can there be any doubt that was the greatest moment of my athletic career?

I would like to be able to tell you that I got their numbers. But it was not to be, for I did not ask. (This was pre-What Would Brian Boitano Do, so I was lost.) That's what makes this such an inspirational, yet tragic tale. It's kinda like in The Natural when Robert Redford hits the homerun, then dies at home plate. Or am I remembering that wrong?

This concludes our countdown of the greatest moments in Bone sports history. I hope these memories have helped to entertain and inspire each of you. Until next time, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

Unless you're like in a planetarium. That would just look stupid.

"Glory days, well they'll pass you by. Glory days, in the wink of a young girl's eye..."

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Friday, April 17, 2009
Two birds, one stone
Welcome to the Friday Fifteen. Think of it like a Thursday Thirteen, except bigger and far less popular. Far, far less popular. This post will attempt to kill two birds with one stone, serving to update you on my life while also clearing out my mental cache. And also giving me something to post. Well, that's three birds, but that would be impossible. Believe it or not, I have a lot of random thoughts that come into my head throughout the day, as you will see. Sometimes I wonder, where do they come from? And why me?

1. I wonder how the two-birds-with-one-stone cliche started. Did it have a literal beginning? Did someone somewhere along the timeline of history actually kill two birds with one stone? And if so, was it intentional? Were they a bird stoning trick shot artist? Or was it an accident? Like did the stone hit a huge branch, breaking it and causing it to fall on two birds, sending them to a sudden and tragic demise? And if it never really happened, then who came up with this cliche? Do you have any idea how hard it is to even hit one bird with one stone? Well, me neither, but it's bound to be pretty difficult.

2. Two Byrds With One Stone would be a great title if Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, and Mick Jagger ever recorded an album together. (I tried to find a pic of the three of them together to post, but surprisingly there were none to be found. At least not on page one of my google image results.)

3. At the car wash today, there was a lady standing at the thing where you pay. She asked, "Strawberry or Pina Colada?" At first, I thought they were giving away refreshing beverages, but turns out it was just a free car air freshener for customer appreciation day.

4. I wonder if a car air freshener would work in the house.

5. Cinco de mayo will mark my six year bloggiversary. Do I have to post something for that?

6. Spurred on by my recent string of plumbing successes--or, just that one thing--I decided to try and fix the toilet at work yesterday. Mission accomplished. We can now flush the men's room toilet without having to hold the lever down for seven seconds. Who knows, I could have a whole new career on my hands. Or, a career.

7. Why is McDonald's so fast in the morning and so much slower at all other times of the day?

8. My favorite line from The Office last night: "Hear me, Dwight, when I say I brought you into this world, and I can take you out... Bill Cosby."

9. My second favorite line: "I. Understand. Nothing."

10. Which came first, the can or the can opener? If it was the can, how did they open them? And if it was the can opener, just... why?

11. Sunday night, it was incredibly windy here. No rain, no thunder, just wind. For about three hours. It was eerie. The next day, the news called it a gravity wave. When I went to go running Monday afternoon, the entrances to the park were roped off and there looked to be about twenty or thirty trees down, apparently from this gravity wave. I had to drive twenty minutes to another park to run.

12. That's the only time I've been running this week. Apparently, I'm not too lazy to run, just too lazy to drive very far to do it.

13. My fantasy baseball league draft is tonight. And you thought all I did on weekends was hang out with 10-year-olds. Well, not tonight. Tonight I'll be sitting online for two or three hours pretending to draft real players onto my fake baseball team. I finished in 4th place last year (out of ten teams). This season, I'm shooting for the stars. Or, third place.

14. Tomorrow, fave sister and I will be attending Bama's A-Day game. Also known as the final scrimmage of spring practice. ESPN is televising it. Let me say that again. ESPN is televising our spring practice.

15. We leave for the beach in thirteen days. Unfortunately, it's been an unseasonably cool April. I like for it to at least be in the 80's when I'm at the beach. I'll still go if it's in the 70's, but I can't promise that I won't get chilly at night. Oh well. Surely if Kennedy diffused the Cuban Missile Crisis in thirteen days, surely the weather can warm up by then.

"Bring me two pina coladas. I want one for each hand. Let's set sail with Captain Morgan. Oh, and never leave dry land..."

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Monday, April 13, 2009
The floaty ball's connected to the...
I've been having an issue in the bathroom for several weeks now. And as you may have figured out from Male Restroom Etiquette and some of my other writings, I do not always adhere to the old adage, "What happens in the john stays in the john." So prepare yourselves.

Some time ago, I went to flush and--how shall I put this--it didn't go down. The whole swirling/draining mechanism came to a complete stop. Through trial and error, I found that if I held the handle down for approximately 4 to 7 seconds, the flush cycle would complete. And so, this is how I've been living for several months now--holding down the handle to ensure a full and proper flush. This went on for so long that whenever I used a toilet that flushed properly, it caught me off guard.

Then Friday, more trouble erupted. The water wouldn't stop running after a flush--a not uncommon problem in toilet circles. So I did what any normal person would do. I jiggled the handle. And waited.

It kept running.

So what do I do when something goes wrong around the house? Eventually, I call the property manager. But not before I have a look at the situation myself.

Do I consider myself a handyman? Let me put it this way: I do not. Not in the class of a Bob Vila, Al Borland, or Handyman Negri anyway.

But I am a man. Therefore I possess an unshakable, innate belief that I am equipped with the ability and know-how to fix any device, grill any meat, and find any place on Earth without asking for directions. And so, I took the lid off the back of the toilet and looked inside. Also known as, pretending to know what I'm doing.

You may think a toilet is nothing more than a base, a seat, a lid, a hole, a tank, and sparkling blue liquid that magically fills the bowl when you flush. But the inner workings of this magnificent invention are as intricate and complex as any simple lever or pulley machine.

As I opened the lid, I saw the familiar floaty ball, the chain, the bendy tube, and the stopper thingy. (These are all highly technical terms. No need to concern yourself with them at this point.) My keen eye noticed that one arm of the stopper thingy was broken. Aha!

Now what to do? I knew the property manager wouldn't come out for something like this until Monday. So it was either run up a $200 water bill, cut the water off and go to a public restroom anytime I had to go, or plunge my hands into the bacteria-infested waters and try to fix it myself. *shudder* Talk about a germophobic nightmare. I'd rather lick a shoe.

It wasn't an easy decision. But the Taco Bell bathroom really wasn't all that bad.

I'm kidding. I went to Wal-Mart and found a stopper thingy, which they call a flapper--layman's terms, I'm sure. Then I came home, got out one of the four or five tool sets Dad has given me for Christmases past, and entered the bathroom, which had just become my personal workshop.

Not surprisingly, or very surprisingly, I was able to affix the flapper to the crapper with fleeting aplomb and only nominal water spillage. I didn't even have to use any of my tools. Just some scissors.

And who knows, maybe in thirty or forty years, my hands will feel clean again.

"I washed my hands in muddy water. Washed my hands, but they didn't come clean..."

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Party like it's 1983
Friday night, I attended a birthday party for a 10-year-old girl. (It's this or nothing, alright?) The party was for Kywana Jr. She is the godson's stepsister, which basically makes her my step-god-niece. Or something. So pretty much, I had to go. Also, I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.

Upon arrival, I found myself standing near a circle of five moms, with no other males in sight. After about five minutes of mom talk, I was starting to think this wasn't such a good idea. Wanting to add something to the conversation, I quipped, "Oh, was I supposed to bring a kid?" Then two of the moms started talking about how they couldn't find jeans to fit their daughters' butts. At which point, I made like a defecting Soviet gymnast and snuck away.

Once inside the house I finally spotted some people I knew. The male half of Kywana came out from wherever he had been hiding and Setup Girl showed up with the kid who was almost mine. Then cupcakes and cheese puffs were served and things were starting to look up.

While eating, I eavesdropped on conversations about Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. Again trying to add something to the conversation, I told everyone that the male portion of Kywana was my brother from another mother. That's when Kywana Jr. grabbed one of her little friends and said, "This is my sister from another mister." I started to think about the biological implications, then I just stopped my brain. When Kywana asked who all was spending the night, I raised my hand, but it was not to be.

The next order of business was to pick a movie. I suggested Rocky II, but unfortunately that wasn't one of our choices. We could pick between Bolt (which I'd never heard of), Bedtime Stories, and Marley & Me.

One little girl informed us that she was not allowed to watch Marley & Me. Personally, I thought that was taking the whole Team Aniston/Team Jolie thing way too far. But then she went on to say that she couldn't watch movies where something bad happens to an animal, and she heard something bad happens to Marley. At which point, Setup Girl said, "Well, we could always watch Old Yeller."

Anyway, we wound up watching Bedtime Stories. They had a big projection screen set up in the driveway, and we all sat in the garage and watched. And by all, I mean me, the projection screen guy, one Dad, and the sisters from different misters.

The movie started a bit slow. I thought of slipping out early, but decided to stick it out since there was free popcorn. It was definitely geared towards kids, which makes it all the more strange that a couple of times during the movie I found that I was the only one laughing.

Finally, it was time to go. In addition to the girls, there were two little boys that attended the party who I took to be brothers (from the same mother). One looked to be about Kywana Jr.'s age, and the other a few years younger. When they got ready to leave, Kywana Jr. surprised the older kid with a kiss on the cheek. Instantly, his little brother took off running full speed for the door.

I laughed. I don't remember much about 1983--when I was ten--but it must have been a lot like this. Without the projection screen. Also, fewer girls.

"A little girl came through the front gate holdin' a fishing pole. His dad looked down and smiled, said we can't leave her behind. Son, I know you don't want her to go, but someday you'll change your mind..."

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Growing up cousins
Now that I think about it, it only makes sense that fave aunt would beget fave cousin. Though I had other cousins closer in age, he was the one I spent the most time around growing up.

It probably didn't hurt that fave aunt always lived in the coolest houses. There was a ranch house with a huge backyard that sloped away like it was specifically designed for a Slip 'n Slide. There was a two-story house with a glassed-in kitchen that overlooked a bluff.

But my favorite of all was another two-story house with a staircase on each end, so that you could run in a complete circle--up the stairs on one end, down the hall and through two rooms on the second floor, then down the stairs on the other end--without stopping. Although I'm sure that's not why it was designed like that.

Upstairs was fave cousin's room, where we spent countless hours playing RBI Baseball, Commando, Rush'n Attack, and other Nintendo games until our thumbs blistered, and then we played some more. There was also the exercise room, which contained the pinball machine.

There was an open field adjacent to the house where we'd take turns riding his 50cc motorcycle. There was a trampoline in the front yard and a pool out back. I remember so many summer mornings fave aunt cooking eggs, bacon, gravy, and fried bologna for breakfast. And putting Karo Syrup on my biscuits, as we ate in the dining room looking out the windows at the pool, sparkling and ever so enticing. That's where I learned to swim.

Fave cousin and I always seemed to be into most of the same things. Nintendo, baseball cards, WWF (back when it was real), and wiffle ball, to name a few. He was five years my junior, and I guess he looked up to me, though I didn't know it at the time. I remember years later, he told me that when we'd play basketball, he thought I was as good as Michael Jordan. In his defense, I did imitate His Airness by sticking my tongue out when I played. Also, I had some game.

As it invariably does, time began to change things it has no business messing with. I vividly remember sometime after I turned sixteen, fave cousin wanting to come over and spend the night one weekend when I had a date. He came over anyway and stayed with Mom and Dad until I got home. I don't think he understood. Or maybe it was me who didn't understand. But that was the beginning of the end of something.

A tornado came through and ripped part of the roof off that two-story house and destroyed the trampoline. A fire a few years later took care of the rest. I don't get out that way much, but when I do, I always glance over where that house once stood and miss that part of my life.

Fave cousin and I grew older and both kinda did our own thing. We still managed to hang out occasionally. We've golfed together a few times and even gone to a Bama game or two over the years. And though I'm sure I've fallen a few notches from the Jordan-esque image he once had of me, I've always been proud of him. Even if I've never told him.

This past Sunday, we had a going away gathering for fave cousin. He's decided to join the Army. He leaves next Monday.

As I have been remembering these things--things that still seem so vivid and so close--I am simply blown away by the passing of time.

Sometimes it felt as if life was a ride in the back of a pickup truck going sixty miles an hour down the highway. And time was the wind, whizzing by, taking your breath away. And once in awhile, you'd stick out your hand to try and catch it.

But you can never catch it.

"It almost seems like yesterday. Where do the good times go? Life was so much easier twenty years ago..."

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