Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is really hard

I never thought I'd love that way again.

The year was 1993.  I wasn't long out of high school.  There were tears in my eyes when the burly bartender I'd been seeing for several years came to the door and said, "Cheers is closed." 

A part of me died that day.  A part of me that was young and innocent, idealistic and hopeful.  But somehow I managed to pick up the pieces and move on from my first real love.  I found a new guy.  Single, thin, neat, early thirties.  Well actually it was more of a group thing.  Him and his friends, and me.  A little different, but I wasn't complaining.

In fact, things were great for a few years.  Until he and his friends got into some legal trouble up in Massachusetts.  After they were all thrown in prison, I was back on my own.  Like a Whitesnake song.  But this time I was certain, that I'd never love again.

And then I met him.

When I first encountered him, he was a 40-year-old virgin.  I found him only tolerably amusing, and a bit over-the-top.  By the time we began our weekly Thursday night trysts, he was way over-the-top.  Never did I ever think I would soon come to love this man.

I'm speaking of course of Steve Carell, aka Michael Scott. 

The new season of The Office begins tonight.  And it will do so without its fearless leader, now former leader.  They say the show must go on.  But I, for one, don't see how it can.  Michael Scott was to The Office what Gene Frenkle was to Blue Oyster Cult, what Trapper John was to Trapper John M.D., and Bob Barker was to The Price Is Right.  That show hasn't been funny at all since Barker left.

If you watched The Office you already know what I'm talking about.  If you didn't watch The Office, if you've never seen Michael Scott in all his glory, I have to wonder, have you ever really loved at all? Did I say loved?  I meant laughed.

While I cannot enumerate all the ways Michael Scott was great -- for that would take far too much time and typing -- I would be remiss if I failed to mention his signature joke and crowning achievement: "That's what she said."

Michael Scott single-handedly brought "That's What She Said" and it's internet shorthand counterpart, TWSS, into the daily vernacular.  You'd be hard-pressed today to find a message board frequented by juvenile men (and women) that doesn't have a TWSS reference.  It's a timeless, if slightly immature, joke.  Brilliant both in its simplicity and versatility.  I try to fit it in wherever I can..........

So before we move on -- and some of us never will -- let us look back and remember, Michael Gary Scott.  A man I will miss.  A man who has ruined all other men for me.

Here are a few selected Michael Scott quotes for your enjoyment:

- "It’s how I like to do business, everybody joking around.  It’s like Friends.  I am Chandler, and Joey.  Pam is Rachel. And Dwight is Kramer."

- "I like Donna. Is it wrong to keep seeing her?  Depends on who you ask.  I mean, if you ask her husband, or you took a random poll, yeah, it's wrong."

- "You know what eats a large amount of the day are naps.  You go to sleep it's light out, you wake up it's dark.  That's the whole day.  Where did that day go?  I have no idea."

- "I am actually great with old women.  In fact, for the longest time my best friend was my grandmother.  And then she met Harriet.  And now she thinks she better than everybody."

- "A boss’s salary isn’t just about money.  It’s about perks.  For example, every year I get a $100 gas card.  Can’t put a price on that."

- "My philosophy is basically this.  And this is something that I live by, and I always have.  And I always will.  Don't ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what, no matter where, or who or who you are with, or or where you are going, or where you've been.  Ever.  For any reason.  Whatsoever."

- "Jim is like Big Bird.  He is tall and yellow and very nice.  But would I put him in charge?  No.  I don't think so.  Big Bird doesn't make the tough decisions.  If I was gonna put someone in charge, I would put Bert in charge.  Or I would put one of the real grown-ups in charge, like Maria or Gordon, maybe."

- "How do you tell somebody that you care about deeply, 'I told you so.'  Gently with a rose?  In a funny way, like it's a hilarious joke?  Or do you just let it go, because saying it would just make things worse? ... Probably the funny way."

- "I don't need to be friends with Pam.  I have plenty of female friends.  My mom.  Pam's mom.  My aunt... although she just blocked me on IM.  What's her face, from Quiznos?  I see her like four times a week."

- "A boss is like a teacher.  And I am like the cool teacher, like Mister Handell.  Mister Handell would hang out with us and he would tell us awesome jokes and he... actually hooked up with one of the students.  And then like twelve other kids came forward.  It was in all the papers.  Really ruined eighth grade for us."

Best of luck, Michael, in your new life with Holly in Colorado.  Oh who am I kidding?  This is going to suck!  It's going to be like when Bo and Luke left Dukes Of Hazzard and were replaced by Coy and Vance, times a hundred!

I'll miss your mispronunciations and your song parodies, your women's pants and your man-crush on Ryan (and possibly Jim), your Dundie Awards and Scott's Tots, Prison Mike and Date Mike, Lazy Scranton and the Golden Ticket idea, your fake suicide attempt and real George Foreman grill foot injury, the Michael Scott Paper Company and Threat Level Midnight, and perhaps most of all, your uncanny ability to always say the wrong thing and make even the most seemingly benign situation painfully uncomfortable.

I'll miss you, Michael.  In the immortal words of one James Halpert, "You always left me satisfied and smiling."

(sniff) That's what she said.

"I wish you the best.  And I wish you nothing less than everything you've ever dreamed of.  And I hope that you find love along the way.  But most of all, I wish you'd stay..."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Superfan & The Rooftop Caper

For some reason, the 8-month-long wait for college football seemed to drag on even longer than usual for me this year. Maybe it was the constant negative off-season news about college football -- which is kinda like having your friends bring up your ex-girlfriend every single time you're around them. It makes you think of her and miss her, all the while knowing you can't have her. Or maybe it was the complete dearth of anything interesting on TV this summer. I mean, how much keeping up with the Kardashians can one guy do? (I think I'm going for the record.)

But alas, now that the happy season is finally upon us, and my September love has returned, I was able to make it over to Wolfgang's to watch the Bama/Penn State game this past Saturday. Events transpired that day to necessitate a blog entry. This is that entry.

Firstly, at halftime we meandered outside to toss the football around. Because this is what guys do. Deep down, most guys really believe that we're not that far away from athletic glory. A minor tweak here, a coupla better decisions there, a few less donuts and potato chips, and that could be us on TV. This is why we do things like throw football in the yard. We're not out there to have fun. We're working on our form, perfecting our spiral, so that if that call should come some day (I dunno, that they've started an over-40 flag-football league?), we'll be ready.

So anyway, after a few minutes, I decided to try punting one. I kicked it pretty good, but kinda forgot I was wearing flip-flops. Well, my right flip-flop went even higher than the ball. It landed on the roof of their house, and never came down.

My shoe is on top of the house!  This could ONLY happen to me.

Perhaps most disturbing of all was that I had inexplicably taken my trusty spare pair of flip-flops out of my car. So there I stood, helplessly one-shoed in the front yard, as everyone laughed.

Well naturally, Wolfgang didn't have a ladder. So LJ broke a rather large branch off a tree. Then I, standing on the rail of their front porch, used the branch to "sweep" my flip-flop off the roof.

Can we say redneck?

Important side note: Completely overlooked amid all the madness, that was probably the best punt I've ever done.

The other thing that struck me from the weekend is a bit more personal and difficult to talk about. Are you sitting down? Because I'm not sure you're ready for this. But I think I've become a bit of a sideshow for my friends while watching Bama games. I've sort of suspected this from the Darryls for awhile now. But Saturday when Mrs. Wolfgang said she could "sell tickets to watch Bone" pretty much confirmed it.

You might recall my constant-state-of-anxiety-with-small-moments-of-relief habitude of watching Bama games? So I yell. And sometimes call the players/referees/announcers names. The muscles in my neck and back become one gargantuan monkey's fist. And I may or may not have been hoarse by halftime.

I'm sorry, but it's true. Fourteen times a year, seemingly mild-mannered blogger Bone Kent suddenly turns into Superfan.  Poor play and lack of execution are my kryptonite.

I did come across an interesting poll (on a Bama website) that asked which emotion was stronger: the elation of victory, or the agony of defeat? Over 70% said the agony of defeat. Yes! And for me, it's not even close. So that made me feel some better. It gives me hope, that maybe there are more out there like me.

Back to Saturday, by the 3rd quarter -- once the game was pretty much decided -- I had settled down somewhat. This was when the girls thought it would be hilarious to make fun of me. So they started yelling after every play. Look, I don't mind people having a little fun at my expense. I can and do laugh at myself. Often I'm the only person laughing at myself -- usually right after I tell a joke. But I felt their attempt was lacking.

I tried to explain to them the reason their yelling wasn't rising to my level was that they weren't really feeling it. That they'd never cried over a game.  Deep down, it has to mean something to you. It has to hurt your soul when Bama makes a bad play. You have to suffer every single play for the Crimson Tide.  In the end, it's all worth it for those few brief seconds of relief, er, victory.

I'm just so happy it's back!

Is happy the right word?

"I may be disturbed, but won't you concede, even heroes have the right to dream.  And it's not easy to be me..."

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Somewhere between summer and fall

Fall came suddenly to Alabama this year. Not with its usual tap-on-the-shoulder, whisper-in-your-ear hint of a chill in the air. But rather much more pronounced. Thanks to Tropical Storm Lee, temps went from 97 to 60 in what seemed like a day.

I spent the Labor Day weekend as I believe it was intended: avoiding labor at all costs. Monday night, I put on a sweatshirt and watched the sun set over the lake. The sky was perfect. The wind coming off the water brought a bit of a chill. I lingered for awhile, not wanting the summer to be over.

Of course, it'll be back. Probably this weekend. But now only in shorter bursts and smaller and smaller pieces until it's gone for good.

And so I spend the week trying to both embrace the coming autumn and cling to the fading summer.

I watch all the football I can -- even those ESPN high school games-- unable to get my fill. But I'd love to get to the beach for one final summer fling.

I turn off the AC and roll down the windows to go out in the crisp evening air. I think of putting on a long-sleeved shirt for the drive, but opt for a plain white t-shirt and one more day of flip-flops instead.

And somehow it all seems to suit me.

There's an easiness to the days now. Memories abound in even the slightest autumn breeze. But that's OK. I like remembering. And though the days are noticeably shorter, and I know the winter won't be far, it doesn't worry my mind. For now, for today, it seems OK to just be.

I leave you today with this most disturbing poll.

Rolling Stone's Ten Worst Songs Of The '90s:

10. 4 Non Blondes - "What's Up?"
9. Right Said Fred - "I'm Too Sexy"
8. Baha Men - "Who Let The Dogs Out?"
7. Celine Dion - "My Heart Will Go On"
6. Hanson - "MMMBop"
5. Chumbawamba - "Tubthumping"
4. Vanilla Ice - "Ice Ice Baby"
3. Billy Ray Cyrus - "Achy Breaky Heart"
2. Los Del Rio - "Macarena"
1. Aqua - "Barbie Girl"

Umm, apparently we have very different definitions of the word "worst." As I have at least half those on my iTunes. And I'm pretty sure I had a couple of those cassette singles.

Also, I'd completely forgotten about 4 Non Blondes! Just went and downloaded it. Thanks, Rolling Stone.

"Lately I've learned how to listen, for a sound like the sun goin' down. In the magic the morning is bringin', there's a song for the life I have found..."