Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Three-thirty-one
On the way down to Destin this year, I found myself inspired by a road. By some of the things I saw and thought and didn't see. This post has kinda been in the back of my mind ever since.

US Route 331.

I don't know if it is possible to develop an emotional attachment to a span of pavement, but if it is, then I have. I love that road, and have driven every inch of it several times.

Coming out of Montgomery, as I-65 turns southwestward for Mobile, 331 heads almost due South towards the Emerald Coast of the Florida panhandle and her white sand beaches.

For 150 miles--nearly all of it two lanes--331 leads you through quiet countryside and quaint towns. None of which have populations of more than six or seven thousand. Towns such as Luverne, Opp, Florala, and Brantley. The latter has a sign proudly proclaiming it as the hometown of former NBA star Chuck Person.

They are hushed little towns where time may not have stopped, but it surely has slowed down. There's a simpleness there that I long for. There are town squares with time-worn buildings and empty storefronts, where I imagine that not too awful long ago you could go into the local drug store and find a real soda fountain. And just maybe, in one of them, you still can.

In between towns, there is more countryside. Houses, farms, and fields, interrupted only by the occasional gas station or roadside cafe. There are homemade signs for antique shops and a flea market, and a billboard inviting you to stop in at the It Don't Matter Family Restaurant. I always think about stopping, but haven't yet.

You will inevitably come upon a train of four or five or seven cars with out-of-state tags on their way to or from the beach. Having its southern terminus at Highway 98, a few miles east of Destin, 331 has been a popular route for beach-goers. But traffic has declined in recent years. For every open store there seems to be at least one other that's closed down. And at times, I'm overtaken by the sense of what I don't see and the feeling of what no longer is.

Several years back, there was talk of four-laning 331. But as other beach routes--supposedly quicker and passing through fewer towns--gained in popularity, that never came to fruition. And I for one, am kinda glad. I already get my fill of four-lanes and interstates. So I'll keep taking the road less traveled, literally.

Besides, little towns where people live and work and go to church, mow their grass and grow their gardens, raise their kids and put tacky lawn decorations in the yard--as the song says, ain't that America? Maybe not an America we hear much about anymore, but one that definitely still exists. You just have to slow down sometimes to see it.

"There's a place where mornings are an endless blue, and you feel Mother Nature walk along with you. Where simple people livin' side by side still wave to their neighbor when they're drivin' by..."

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009
That time my nipple was on fire
Welcome to the Spring of Bone. The season of my shaven head, if you will. The past few days have been a whirlwind. Thursday was the Kenny Chesney concert. Saturday morning I ran a 10K. And Saturday evening, I had another engagement. Three events in three days! That's a lot, compared to my usual number of zero. Not to mention the season finales of The Office and 24. Plus, Michael coming out of a year-long coma on General Hospital. Whew! I think I need a weekend off to decompress.

Let us begin with the concert: the Kenny Chesney Sun City Carnival Tour. It was held at the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre in Birmingham, a perfect venue for an outdoor concert on a gorgeous Alabama night. It wound up just being the Darryls and me. Jamie was supposed to go, but she got two tickets from a radio station and ditched us. Can't really blame her, considering our tickets were on row V in the very last section. Not bad for 95 bucks. I'm pretty sure it was the worst seat I've ever had at a concert, except for that one year at June Jam when the actual curvature of the Earth itself prevented us from seeing most of the stage.

The opening acts were Lady Antebellum--who we missed because we were stuck in traffic--and Miranda Lambert--who we unfortunately did not miss. She was not very good. There was one highlight, however, when she brought Blake Shelton on stage and he sang a song. I texted my sister, "Blake Shelton just came out!" Well, I noticed she didn't reply for awhile. She told me later she forgot I was at the concert and so when she got my text all she could think was, "Nuh uh! I thought he was dating Miranda Lambert!"

Kenny's part of the show was excellent. He sang about twenty songs. (I have the set list if you'd like. I texted it to myself.) I don't think I realized how many hits he's had until we were on our way home and started naming off at least as many songs that he hadn't sang.

At one point during the show, LJ pulled out a disposable camera, aimed it in the general direction of the figure we thought was most likely Kenny Chesney, and started clicking. He asked me if I thought he'd be able to see anything in the pictures. Um no, not unless the word Hubble appears somewhere on the camera.

Saturday morning was my 10K race. That's 6.2 miles, which coincidentally, is just slightly farther than we were from Kenny Chesney. I got off to a terrible start, due largely to starting at the back and having to navigate the mass of bodies the first half mile. My one mile split was like eight and a half minutes. I picked it up from there and finished in 48:29, good for fifth in my age group. My time was fourteen seconds slower than last year, but that was kind of expected since I haven't been training as much. To have run a faster time would have been to cheat the very ideals of hard work, training and dedication. And also likely would have caused me to pass out and/or begin wretching.

Saturday night, I went to a dance recital, 'cause that's how I roll. I went to see Kywana Jr. in... umm... I keep forgetting the name of the program. Twelve Angry Men? No, there weren't that many men in it. The Princess Bride? Nope, no Andre The Giant. Dances With Wolves? No, but it was four hours long. Wait, I got it. Twelve Dancing Princesses! Yes, that's it. And it's even less exciting than the title would indicate, if that's possible.

Oh, I almost forgot! A bizarre thing did happen on the way to my race Saturday morning. My right nipple started burning. I mean, it was on fire! Have any of you ever had this problem? I examined it, but really couldn't tell much. I mean, what does it usually look like? I don't know. Anyway, that led to an odd, if not disturbing scene Saturday around lunchtime, as I stood shirtless in front of my bathroom mirror rubbing Neosporin on my nipples. I mean, if there is one microcosm I could give you to sum up my life, that's it right there.

You are currently experiencing the Spring of Bone...

"And I go back to watchin' summer fade into fall. Growin' up too fast and I do recall wishin' time would stop right in its tracks..."

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Thursday, May 14, 2009
Destin '09
(I apologize for not being around more the past few weeks. Tonight is the Kenny Chesney concert, then Saturday is my 10K run. After that, I think things should start settling down a bit. I'm just now getting around to recapping my recent beach trip, which took place between the 30th of April and the 3rd of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand and nine.)

From the start, there was something different about this beach trip. And not just because Wolfgang and I both had freshly shaven heads. (Yes, when he saw mine he immediately decided to get his shaved. Let's not even analyze that.) No, it was something else.

Perhaps it was because LJ is dating someone for the first time this decade. He recently acquired a girlfriend after going to a speed dating event. They spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone. And although we--Wolfgang and I--still haven't met her, we agree that LJ will be married within a year. The whole trip, Wolfgang kept saying this was the last fling for the three amigos. I didn't even know he knew any Spanish.

Unfortunately, I was unable to use my camera this trip because, apparently, rechargeable batteries are only rechargeable up to a certain point. The cut off seems to be around four or five years. So I have no pictures for you today. Instead, close your eyes and allow my words to paint the images of Destin '09 upon the canvas of your mind. On second thought, you should probably keep your eyes open.

The highlights--or lowlights, I'll let you decide--began our first night there. I saw a girl who appeared to be pulling up her pants in the Wal-Mart parking lot. A bit odd, I thought, but figured she was probably just changing clothes or turning tricks. After she had zipped up, she saw me looking and said, "Yes, I just peed." As if you needed another reason to never go to Wal-Mart barefooted.

Things took a turn for the better on Friday, as I was lying on the beach tanning. (That is, exposing my body to ultraviolet radiation resulting in increased production of melanin; not making leather.) A girl, who I would presume to be between the age of 16 and 35--because who the heck can tell--approached me and said, "Excuse me. Would you mind helping us? We've got a pregnant girl down here and we can't get our umbrella to stay up." (See how much more attractive that is than "I just peed.")

Well, that sounds like a job for me. I sprang from my prone position and what did my wondering eyes behold but an oasis of girls about thirty yards down the beach. There must have been fifteen of them, and yes you guessed it, all between the ages of 16 and 35. Turns out it was a bachelorette party from New Orleans. I successfully planted their umbrella deep within the sand, received many words of undying gratitude, bowed graciously, then returned to my camp and said to Wolfgang, "Now let's get out of here before it falls."

Saturday brought another disturbing example of incorrect, inexplicable and inconsiderate human behavior. I was sitting on the second floor balcony overlooking the pool when a guy came walking down the sidewalk with a dog on a leash. He opened the gate, walked to the edge of the pool, picked the dog up, and PUT THE DOG IN THE POOL! The pool that people swim in! Thus answering that age-old question, what's worse than someone peeing in the Wal-Mart parking lot?

I couldn't believe what was happening. It was clearly posted, "No pets allowed in the pool." Do we really have to have a sign to tell people that? Well, apparently so. Needless to say, none of us got in the pool the rest of the weekend. And if I were a more confrontational person, there could have been a rumble.

As usual, enjoying some seafood was one of the highlights of the trip for me. We hit up The Back Porch, Fudpucker's, some place called AJ's, and of course, my beloved Donut Hole. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Wolfgang and LJ's ultra-conservative eating habits. Wolfgang ordered a burger at every single place we ate, except for the Donut Hole which doesn't even count because that was breakfast. LJ did the same, except he did branch out and order a barbecue sandwich at Fudpucker's.

In other culinary news, the All American Diner had closed down, tragically. That was a highlight for me. However, the Donut Hole was out of key lime donuts, which was a definite lowlight.

And so we close the book on Destin '09. A book with no pictures. Actually, there were a couple of pictures. Before we left Sunday morning, Wolfgang wanted me to take a picture of him, which I did because I needed him to take a picture of me and my hair, or lack thereof. Then he suggested we ask someone to take a group picture of the three of us together. Um, no. Maybe in Whoville. But not here in Heteroville.

Overall, it was a fun trip. The weather was beautiful and my head did not get burned. I returned home feeling refreshed and recharged. Once again left with that old familiar feeling of why have I still not moved close to the beach.

Will this be the last ride for the three amigos? Only time will tell. For my sake--and my blog's sake--I certainly hope not. That means I'd have to fast track going from friends-in-law to friends with Wolfgang.

"I took off for a weekend last month just to try and recall the whole year. All of the faces and all of the places. Wonderin' where they all disappeared..."

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009
That time I almost went all the way
Yesterday was my six-year blogging anniversary, frequently referred to as a bloggiversary. I've never understood why my bloggiversary is so popular in certain regions of Mexico, but it is. No doubt they were partying last night in Puebla like it was 1862.

I got home from the beach Sunday evening, but it feels like my brain is still on vacation. Until it returns, I figured I would regale you with the tale of what went down (that means what happened) with the great head-shaving experiment of 2009.

I was chatting online with the female portion of Kywana on "the day." By the way, do you realize that instant messaging, text messaging, and email now compose approximately 70% of all my communication? The rest of the breakdown is: phone (25%), face-to-face (4%), all other communications, including telepathy (1%).

Anyway, after discussing the topic for awhile, she posed this question: "So are you going to shave it yourself?"

That prompted the following response from me: "Well, that's the other thing. Would you wanna shave me?"

It's safe to say that is the first time in my life I have ever uttered those words to a girl. (Or anyone, for that matter.) But as luck would have it, she agreed. Turns out that while 'Wana is not a professional cosmetologist, she does have previous head-shaving experience. Also, her sister attended cosmetology school, so that has to count for something, right?

Wheels were in motion. I was about to put my head in her hands. The only thing that could stop it at that point was me totally freaking out, which let's be honest, was still a decent possibility.

I showed up armed with every set of clippers I owned--which amounted to three--my trusty Mach 3 razor, and shaving cream. On the drive over, I had a lot of time to think about things. Things like hair, life, Andre Agassi, and what the heck was I doing. I had decided I'd get her to shave it with the #1 guard, which is the shortest, see how I liked that, and then decide if I wanted to go all the way.

After giving me one last chance to back out, she began. There was a brief moment of panic at one point as the clippers died when she was only about halfway done. Apparently, when the instructions say to charge them for at least ten hours before the initial use, you can't just arbitrarily substitute 45 minutes for ten hours.

The shaving process itself wasn't too bad. There was no mirror nearby so the only clue I had about how things were progressing was the looks on the faces of Kywana Jr. and the male portion of Kywana. I would describe them as looks of sympathetic bewilderment. I remember the words "don't look down" being uttered at some point, no doubt as to keep me from freaking out at the sight of my manly locks showering the floor.

As suddenly as it began, it was over.

Then came the hardest part for me--going into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror. I covered my eyes, separating my fingers slowly to reveal what the clippers hath wrought. And you know what?

It was HORRIBLE!!!!! Noooooooooooooo!! Why?!?!?! Why did I do this?!?!?!

I'm kidding. It wasn't that bad at all. The only question now was whether to stop there or go all the way. I took a pic and sent it to my inner circle. Reaction was swift and decisive. My sister replied, "Oh, you really do look like Steve-O. Yeah, I think you should stop there." My Mom proclaimed, "Well, you'll never get married now. I still had a little hope before." Clearly, everyone was in agreement: it was a complete success.

So now, for the first time in the history of the internet, I am able to present for your enjoyment a freshly shorn (and somewhat tanned) Bone:



OK, so it's not the full Dalhausser. I didn't go all the way. In the head-shaving arena, this is known as third base. And I'm thinking I might stay here awhile.

"Way down south of the border. Way down Mexico way. They're having a big celebration. It's on the fifth of May..."

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