Sunday, July 21, 2013
Debbie does delusion
I have a friend.  I know, shocking.  We'll call her Debbie.  (She once wore a bonnet and bore a striking likeness to the snack cake empress, so we started calling her "Little Debbie.")

Some years ago, Debbie, her boyfriend, a couple other friends and I went to the Mardi Gras.  It was 1990-something.  We were young.  We had no idea what was in store....  OK, so I suppose we had some idea.

We would stay in Mobile, whose Mardi Gras celebrations, I learned, actually pre-date those in New Orleans by several years.  We'd check out the parades in Mobile one day, and drive over to check out the scene in New Orleans another day.

But this is not a Mardi Gras story, per se.  It's more of a Little Debbie story -- the friend, not the snack cake.  (Though I could discuss Nutty Bars, Oatmeal Creme Pies, and Banana Twins at length.)  It's  a story I had forgotten about until I was talking about imaginary friends with someone last week.  No, not my therapist.  Well, not paid therapist anyway.

Debbie is a sweet, sweet person, passive and a bit soft-spoken, which I suppose left her open to our, at times, incessant kidding.  She was always talking about these girls -- friends of hers -- that we never saw.  So at some point it became sort of a running joke amongst our little group of friends that these girls didn't actually exist and Debbie was just making them up.

Yes, long before Manti Te'o, there was Debbie. 

It was in Mobile that the whole imaginary friends thing sort of came to a head. 

One of Debbie's "friends" from college lived in Mobile.  We'll call her "Alison."  Debbie was to call Alison when we got in town and we'd meet up at some point.  "Sure we will, Debbie.  Whatever you say."

On the drive down, that's all we heard.  Then once we arrived, we weren't allowed to make any other plans until we found out when Alison wanted to hang out.  At long last, we were going to meet one of Debbie's friends.

She called Alison one afternoon to supposedly set up the rendezvous.  I want to say one of us grabbed the phone to see if there was actually a real, live person on the other end, but my memory fails me at this point so I can't be sure.

When Debbie got off the phone, we asked when and where we were supposed to meet her "friend."

"She says she'll just meet us downtown tonight."

In case you've forgotten, it's Mardi Gras.  There are several THOUSAND people downtown.  Tens of thousands.  And we're just supposed to bump into this girl "downtown???"

Needless to say, we never ran into her.  And as you might imagine, the teasing grew evermore incessant.

That was back in the days when we were all broke and limber enough to fit 6 or 7 people in one hotel room/two beds.  (Well, I'm still broke, but no longer quite so limber.)  To Debbie's credit, she did not require us to leave a space in bed for her imaginary friend.

Or make me give her any of my beads for flashing her imaginary boobs.

"When you're alone / And life is making you lonely / You can always go / Downtown..."

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Saturday, January 05, 2013
For Bill
My senior year of high school, I got a job working part-time at a radio station.  I came in during the week for two hours each morning to intern with the news department.  I got school credit for it and got to miss first period every morning.  So, win-win.

During college, I continued working there, eventually moving up to a full-time on-air shift.  We carried local high school basketball and football games, and "Bill" was one of the guys who did play-by-play for our sports broadcasts.

Bill was 60ish.  Gregarious.  He had a zest for life, and people, and conversation.  And I never knew why, but he seemed to take a liking to me.  Just one of those people who's always genuinely happy to see you.  That's a great quality, I think.

Anytime I'm talking to someone who doesn't know Bill, my quick, go-to description of him is "the man who always used to find me tickets to Alabama games."  And anyone who knows me at all will know that that alone would put him right at the top of my list.

It was during my time at the radio station that this occurred.

A friend and I decided we'd try and start going to some Bama games.  This was the early 90's, so way before eBay and StubHub.  There were pretty much three ways to get tickets:  Buy some outside the stadium, check the classifieds, or word of mouth.

One Friday evening at work, I guess Bill overheard me talking about wanting to go to a game.  By that night, I had tickets to the next day's game.

From that point on, he'd always ask if I needed tickets.  For about three or four years there, anytime I was wanting to go to a game, I'd call him.  And I don't think there was a single time when he didn't manage to find someone who had tickets for sale.

Sometimes I wouldn't even have to ask.  He'd call me, just to check.  I still remember those brief but oh-so-important conversations: "Bone.  Bill.  You need tickets?"

It was like he had taken it as his personal mission to always make sure I had tickets.  I mean, who does that?  It was an act of kindness for which I never got to repay him.  But I will never forget it.

Eventually I started getting season tickets.  And after I quit that job, I didn't see Bill much.  Just occasionally at a basketball game or somewhere around town.  I specifically remember one instance -- some sort of community festival.  He had clearly lost a lot of weight.  I found out later he'd gotten the cancer.  But he greeted me just like he always had.  Smiling.  Genuinely happy to see me.

Looking back, I guess by this time he must have been in his early 70's.  But not to me.  To me, he was still the same age he'd been when I first met him.  I do that sometimes, especially with people I don't see very often.  I get a picture of them in my mind, and how old I think they are, and then they're always that age.

Until they're not anymore.

A few years ago, Bill started working in the clubhouse at one of the golf courses where I play.  I was surprised to see him.  It was a good surprise.  Gregarious as ever, he looked a lot better and I silently hoped he had beaten the cancer.  We would always share a bit of banter when I played there.  He still seemed happy to see me.  And by then, I was just as happy to see him.

When he wasn't there for awhile, I asked about him, and they said he was having some health problems.  I feared the worst.  But he came back to work and I thought maybe he was gonna be alright.

Then I started missing him again.  He wasn't there two, three, four times in a row.  I asked when he was coming back.  The guy got a solemn look -- one of those looks that completely and immediately changes your mood and you don't ever want to see from anyone.  He shook his head slowly and said, "I don't think Bill's coming back."

He was right.  Bill passed away on Christmas morning.  He was 82. 

Somehow I was still surprised when I heard the news.  And stupidly, I'd never gone to visit him.

I know he would've been happy to see me.

"My old friend, this song's for you / 'Cause a few simple verses was the least that I could do / To tell the world that you were here..."

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Monday, August 20, 2012
The single shutting and reopening of one's eye
Sometimes it meant camping out.  I know some of the names changed from time to time, but for some reason thinking back on it now, I can only remember the four of us -- Me, Allan, Hollywood, and Mouse.  That was the core group.

Gazing up at the stars, talking about girls you'd dated and ones you almost had, singing any song that came to mind until eventually one of the other guys told you to shut up or threw something at you -- usually the latter, knowing you didn't have to go home until morning.  It felt like freedom.

And there was always a fire -- a big one.  As we gathered every stick and pine needle within a fifty yard radius, it was usually more bonfire than campfire.  I would say I was surprised no one ever called the fire department on us, but for that one time someone did.

Even so, once the fire died down, it seems like we always wound up chilled to the bone or soaking wet.  Sometimes both.  It probably didn't rain as much as I seem to remember it did, but those are the nights that stand out.  I can still vividly see Mouse, who weighed all of 120 pounds soaking wet, sitting there shivering, telling us how he was never doing this again.  But he always did.

I remember one night Hollywood and I rode Allan's tandem bike into town about 1 AM to go to the Walmart, for no reason whatsoever other than it was something to do.  It was about four miles one way, and long before we had a 24-hour Walmart, so we pooled our change and bought a couple of Mountain Dews from the vending machine out front, then rode back.

It feels like there should be more to this story, like we got pulled over by the police or ran into a mailbox or were shot at on our way back or something, but there isn't.  Just me, riding a bicycle-built-for-two, with another guy, at 1 o'clock in the morning.  That is all.

Sometimes it meant tapping on my future (now ex-) roommate's bedroom window late at night -- the universal signal that a game of spades was about to commence.  He'd let us in through the carport door and we'd play for an hour or two.  One night we were a person short, so he went and got his sister to play.  His sister was one of the great crushes of my adolescence.  I spent a good solid four years, I'd say, finding any excuse I could to hang out with her.  So from then on, I always tried to make sure we were a person short.

Sometimes it meant sneaking into the basement door of the Baptist church and playing ping-pong, or cards.  Axl and his parents attended there so he knew where they hid the key.  He said no one would mind, and who were we to argue.  We ended up holding our fantasy baseball draft that year in the classroom for the 5 & 6-year-olds, amidst some Noah's ark memorabilia which I may or may not have played with a little.

Sometimes it meant picking a road we'd never been down and seeing where it led.  Pick A Road, we called it.  The name has a certain understated stupidity to it, don't you think?

Flying through the countryside with the top off my old Jeep sated a bit of wanderlust, I suppose.  As we lamented the lack of anything better to do, all the while pondering life and wishing we had one.

And the radio.  There was always the radio, or some worn out cassette.  Turned up wide.  Letting the songs affect me too much.

I still remember a couple of those roads, and any time I pass by I can feel a smile start to begin.

Such were my late teens and early twenties: One long continuous quest for something to do, some place to be, never wanting the night to end.  There seemed to be time to burn.  So burn it we did.

When I think back on those times now, they're not some faded, distant memory.  Rather, they're clear.  Vivid.  Almost close enough to touch.  Like if I could somehow turn back one single page, there they would be, as real as the day I lived them.  But when I reach out to grasp them I unclench my fists to find my hands still empty.  And it blows my mind to think, and it just does not seem possible, that twenty years have passed.... just... like... that.

I suppose that's how the brain's files work.  Twenty years ago can seem as close as twenty minutes ago.

And just as far away.

"And the sound the king of spades made / In the spokes of my old Schwinn / I was racing Richie Culver / For a Grape Nehi / Yeah, lately I've been thinking / 'Bout Route 5, Box 109..."

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Not as fun as it sounds
My spring golf and social season has gotten underway. I know what you're thinking -- the toddler birthday party circuit, right?. No, that's the FALL social season. Try and keep up.

I've got a wedding to go to Saturday. This past weekend was the couple's coed shower. Not as fun as it sounds. But as this was my second coed shower, I knew what to expect, thus avoiding the initial disappointment of my first.

My question is, when did this happen? Showers used to be for girls only. Not having to attend them was one of the three main advantages to being a man. Along with cheaper haircuts and standing when we pee.

When did it change? How did guys let this happen? What, did they change it while we were watching sports on TV or napping? Hmm, yeah, that's entirely possible. Likely, even. In fact, now that I think about it, that's probably when all important decisions are made.

There seemed to be a highly disproportionate number of pregnant women at this shower. And as I apparently have a sixth sense about these things, I found myself wedged between a couple of them as I tried to enjoy my plate of snacky shower food. As they discussed due dates and such, I tried to join in the conversation, saying things like "That's the date of my fantasy baseball draft" and "Eww, that's gross." But no one took the bait.

And so I retreated to my carrot sticks and corn chips. As I sat there taking in the scene, it hit me: This is what people do. They get married, they have babies, then they host events to discuss the two. Of course! I don't know why it hadn't hit me before. That's it, I understand life. It was a true epiphanic moment.

Shortly thereafter I heard some talk about shower games, something to do with baby food in a diaper, and decided it was time for us to go.

All non-kidding aside, it wasn't horrible. I've gotta get the recipe for that veggie pizza. And it was kinda nice to take part in a social event and interact with the other humans.

For a little while.

"Doing the garden, digging the weeds. Who could ask for more? Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?"

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Friday, November 05, 2010
How 'bout getting off of these antibiotics
The week started out well enough. It was Bone's first-ever attempt at an Halloween party. Though there was some pause given on whether to have the fiesta on Saturday or Sunday night, as Halloween fell on Sunday and I don't know how it is where you're from but in Alabama Sunday night is church night. As is Wednesday night. So towns, cities and churches debated on whether to declare Saturday the official night for tricks and treats. With no clear consensus reached, confusion reigned.

Fortunately, I thrive on confusion. OK, maybe not, but it sounded like a good thing to say there.

So the party was set for Saturday night and up until Saturday Noon looked like it would be about as well attended as a Dick Cheney hunting seminar. Then I guess no one could find anything else better to do -- which in itself is just beyond pathetic -- and we wound up with several late commits and a party of twelve.

There was pumpkin carving, pumpkin cupcakes -- which I did not sample, blech -- and the newest Halloween tradition of them all, a few games of Spoons. I don't know how familiar you are with the rules of Spoons, but my goal is to be in the final two, NOT get the four-of-a-kind, yet still manage to grab the spoon first. I mean, that would by far be the ultimate amongst all my relatively useless competitive accomplishments. I will retire from Spoons when that happens. And possibly do the late-night talk show circuit.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the costume contest. There was an adult costume contest, which wasn't as fun as it initially sounds, and a children's contest. Dressing up for Halloween for the first time in over twenty years, I managed to win the adult contest, barely outdistancing Lil Bootay 3 votes to 2, which was even odder ("even odder?") considering she wasn't wearing a costume.

So the party was a qualified (and inexplicable) success. Then things began to go downhill.

I got a sore throat Monday night. Normally I'm over anything in a day, two max. But things kept getting worse. I went to the doctor Thursday, but instead of antibiotics, he gave me some sore throat mouthwash, which didn't really help my sore throat but did function somewhat well as a weight loss pill as it soon brought my vomitless streak to an end.

I started running a fever Thursday night, which for some reason always makes me think of the time on Little House On The Prairie that Albert had a fever and they put him in a tub of ice. Or was it Almanzo? And why do I always think of that? It's not like I could ever actually do it. I can't even stand a cold shower.

Also -- and I don't think I've ever noticed this before -- but it's possible I'm a bit of a whiner when I'm sick. This occurred to me sometime amidst the three days of lying around randomly making groaning noises and occasionally moaning things like "I'm dying" and "Why me, Lord?"

Hard to believe any week that began like this could actually go downhill:

But alas, things are finally looking up. I went to the walk-in clinic today (you just cannot make that sound classy) and took two shots in the buttocks (that either). On a positive note, they were administered by a female.

So I've got some antibiotics. I have something else in common with Forrest Gump (besides hailing from Alabama). And best of all, McRib is back! Who wouldn't wanna be me?

"It'd be easy to add up all the pain, and all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames. Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain. But not me. I'm alive..."

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Sunday, October 03, 2010
A wedding and a funeral
The Darryls have passed away.

Time of death was around 2:15, Saturday, September 25th. That's when the onset of wedded bliss stole the last gasps of air from Independent Wolfgang. Though honestly, Independent Wolfgang had been on life support for quite awhile. I mean he hadn't played golf since the spring, for crying out loud.

And without two Darryls, you really have no Darryls. It'd be like Bert with no Ernie, pancakes with no syrup, B.J. with no The Bear. Maybe that's why LJ didn't show up for the wedding. He claimed he had to work. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was all just too much to handle.

So RIP Darryls. It's the end of an era, and thus closes an entertaining, if occasionally disturbing, chapter of my life. But this is not my misty-water-colored-memories ode to the Darryls post. Oh no, that will come later, after a period of mourning. Besides, like I (would have) said in my wedding toast (had they asked me to make one), "This too shall pass."

In the end, I wasn't asked to be a groomsman -- there were no groomsmen. But I did attend, largely because the chapel was about three minutes from my place. And since I know many of you were deeply concerned about me possibly having to miss the Bama/Arkansas game, I have prepared a rudimentary timeline for you of the day's events:

1:45 PM - Arrive at chapel, see Wolfgang outside, pose for picture. What? No, I'm not family. Apparently I wasn't supposed to be in that picture.

1:47 PM - Enter wrong door. There were girls in dresses in there. What were they doing? I don't know. I heard giggling. Were they laughing at me? Hard to say. Close door.

1:48 PM - Find correct door. Enter and take seat near the back and at the end of the pew in case a quick exit becomes necessary.

1:50 PM - Have's gamecast pulled up on my Blackberry ready to go. I thought headphones would be too obvious. Seriously rethinking that right about now.

1:59 PM - I began to grow fidgety. When is this thing going to start? Why do weddings always start late?

2:00 PM - Music starts. Ah, that's what I'm talking about. Let's get this show on the road and get this poor bastard married off.

2:09 PM - Why is the unity candle song always so long? Everything is done, then the couple are standing there awkwardly for two-and-a-half minutes waiting for the song to end. All you're really doing is giving both of them time to rethink their decision. I mean, how long does it take to light three candles? Fifteen seconds. They should play Taps. That would be about the right length.

2:14 PM - I think about the parking lot. If someone has me blocked in there will be a crime committed today. Probably more than one.

2:20 PM - I do! And the congregation shouted "Hallelujah!" Or just I shouted, with my inside voice.

2:22 PM - What's this? The preacher is making some kind of announcement. The bride and groom will be back in a few minutes? In the meantime, entertain yourselves? OK, that's it, I'm outta here!

2:23 PM - Crap, here they come.

2:28 PM - Thinking I still have time to get some wedding cake, I work my way towards the reception area, and manage to nonchalantly break into the cake line, in front of the flower girls.

2:33 PM - Shake hands with Wolfgang. Wave goodbye to the bride. Simultaneously.

2:38 PM - Get home, turn on the TV, which I had purposely left on CBS in order to save precious seconds.

2:39 PM - They haven't kicked off yet! Vern Lundquist's face never looked so beautiful.

2:40 PM - 6:00 PM - A constant state of anxiety, interspersed with outbursts of cursing, table-banging, and brief moments of relief. (You'd think I was the one getting married.)

So to recap: Wolfgang got married. I was there -- for a little while. My coffee table is still in tact. And the Darryls are dead.

At least I have Nick Saban to console me on a weekly basis.

"Another chapter of my life its over. No, I'm never gonna feel like that again. Time's rushin' by me like the wind. Never be as young as I was then..."

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Monday, August 16, 2010
On cases of interfaith marriage
I have a crisis.

You remember my friend Wolfgang, right? The Darryl who just got engaged? Well, as soon as he started dating this girl -- we'll call her Joy -- I began dropping subtle hints. Things like, "Just don't get married on the day of an Alabama game." OK, so maybe not so subtle. Whatever.

So when he texted me "she said yes" I texted him back, presenting him with three different Saturdays that Alabama was off this season and told him to pick one. I thought it was a helpful gesture.

Naturally, he (or more likely she) goes completely off course and picks a Saturday when they have a game. And a pretty big one at that, against Arkansas.


I don't understand. Bama only plays twelve (regular season) games a year. And this year, one's on a Thursday and another is on a Friday. So that's only like ten Saturdays you need to avoid. Is that too much to ask? Am I being unreasonable?

I even went out of my way to make a special exception and said that if they had to get married on the day of a game, then I would allow them to get married on the day of the Duke game. Even though that went against my entire being and everything I have been raised to believe. And that still wasn't enough. So you tell me who's being unreasonable.

What do they think, "don't get married on the day of an Alabama game" is just something folksy that people say in passing but don't really mean, like "good to see you" or "you better save for retirement?" That these stories about parents who didn't attend their child's wedding because it was on the day of the Alabama-Tennessee game are fables?

No. They're real.

They're passed down from generation to generation for a reason. And that reason is, so that you don't put innocent fans like myself into situations where we're forced to reveal where your friendship falls on our list of priorities. And it's not even so much your friendship, just your wedding.

LJ and I were discussing the situation during a sultry round of golf a couple of weeks ago when he informed me, "I think the last time Wolfgang got married, it was on the day of an Alabama game." Hello! You'd think that'd be a bad omen, wouldn't you? (Also, side note: Another bad omen? The Omen III.)

There is a sliver of hope, however, as they still haven't decided if they're having a wedding or just going to the courthouse. But I did get a text: "Hey, if we have a wedding will you be a groomsman?"

How did I respond? Well I, um, haven't exactly gotten around to replying yet. What? I don't deal well with hypotheticals.

What do I do? Can I really not go? What's the worst that can happen -- I'll be ostracized from the community? I gotta be honest with you, I'm not sure how much a part of the community I am in the first place.

I don't want to become known as the world's first groomsman-zilla here. But if these people are going to openly flout the rules, they are going to have to live with the consequences.

And this is precisely why it's never a good idea to marry outside the religion.

"Your best friend Harry has a brother Larry. In five days from now he's gonna marry. He's hopin' you can make it there if you can, 'cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man..."

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Asking out a guy
As a guy, one of the toughest things to deal with is rejection. I know times they are a-changin', but for most of my dating life, I have been the one expected to ask out the girl. Sometimes I did and she accepted. Sometimes I asked and was rebuffed with great prejudice. And sometimes I never asked and spent the rest of my life up to and including this very day wondering what if...

Where was I? Oh yes. There is one thing tougher than being rejected by a girl, however. And that is being rejected by a guy.

If a girl rejects you, in a lot of cases you probably never have to see her again, or at the least can avoid her most of the time. But if a guy rejects you, it's likely one of your guy friends, and it can be awkward. Not as awkward as having your hands accidentally touch as you're riding down the road -- that's the single most awkward situation known to modern heterosexual man and must never be spoken of by either party as long as they both shall live -- but awkward, nonetheless.

I dealt with this very situation recently. The being rejected by a guy, not the incidental hand-touching. I called Wolfgang -- OK, texted, everyone knows we don't talk on the phone -- to see if he wanted to hang out one Friday night. For months, we'd (the Darryls and I) had a standing date every weekend. But things were different now. We hadn't been out in weeks since he acquired a significant other (another significant other, other than LJ). As I thought about all the good times we had, I waited nervously for his reply. Then piercing the stillness of the room with my sonar-like text alert, there it was:

"I already have plans for tonight."

OK, so it wasn't outright rejection. But it was still a declination. And still awkward.

Now, once the initial awkwardness subsides after the man-date rejection, you then have to decide when and if to ask this guy out again. And it's a difficult decision, because the only thing worse than being rejected by a guy is to be rejected a second time by that same guy. Am I right ladies?

If you ask a girl out two, three, ten times, you might be considered persistent. But if you ask a guy out more than two times without him accepting, just... don't... ever share that with anyone else.

Being rejected by a girl is also much easier in part, I think, because as guys we almost expect it sometimes. I know I do. I mean, the average guy is probably turned down, what, tens of times in his life, if not more?

Lastly, if you're turned down by a girl, well there are three billion others out there. But if you're turned down by a guy, well you only probably have a handful of guy friends, and at this point in my life anyway, I'm not really out there trying to meet any new guys. Should I be?

That is why I think guys generally just accept any man-date we are asked out on. We understand how difficult it is to ask someone else out, whether it be a girl or another guy. If we really don't want to do something with another guy, then we just won't answer the phone when he calls, thus avoiding having to say "no" and all of the awkwardness that would thereby ensue.

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to man-dates. Maybe someday we'll look at some other topics of interest, including who pays, how long should you wait for your man-date to show up before leaving, and last but not least, man-shakes and fist bumps -- how soon is too soon?

"Tell me, why'd you have to go and make things so complicated?"

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Who goes bowling at one o'clock on a Saturday?
Friday marked the passing of another year in the life of Bone. As I commemorated the occasion, my Dad commiserated, "You're not a year older, you're only a day older than you were yesterday." Which sounded pretty good until I realized that I was on day number thirteen thousand, five hundred fourteen.

Phew. That's a lot of times hitting the snooze button.

It also reminded me of one of my favorite all-time George Costanza quotes: "If you take everything I've accomplished in my entire life and condense it down into one day, it looks decent!"

In other birthday weekend news of note, Wolfgang had started texting early in the week asking if I wanted to come bowling Saturday at 1 PM to meet his new girlfriend. My first (and second, and third) reaction was, "Who goes bowling at one o'clock on Saturday afternoon?" Not to mention that Wolfgang had pretty much dumped LJ and I since acquiring said girlfriend and I hadn't seen him in three weeks. But mainly, I just kept thinking, "Who goes bowling at one o'clock on Saturday afternoon?" So I resisited. Still, he was oddly persistent and would not relent until, at last, I acquiesced.

Or to shorten that paragraph, I went bowling Saturday.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the bowling alley, I saw my sister's vehicle. What is my sister doing--- Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Before I could even finish my thought, I knew. It was a surprise party for Bone. They fooled me! Augh! I was lied to by people I trusted!

It turned out to be quite the event. Worlds collided somewhat as the Darryls met the parents, which was... awkward at best. There was also the second meeting of Nephew Bone and the godson. They mostly stared as they appeared to be sizing each other up. It was kinda like when Godzilla first meets King Kong.

Some people were hesitant to bowl at first, but Nephew Bone finally got the ball rolling. Literally. He used a bowling ramp. And someone had to put the ball on top of it. And most of the time he didn't wait around to see how many pins he knocked down. But he did push the ball down the ramp.

Even my Dad bowled! He said he hadn't been since he was 17 or 18, which I think is true. Or he could have just been making up excuses for his score, I'm not sure. It was hard to tell which one of them had more fun. I'm gonna go with Nephew Bone, but it was close.

I had a good day on the lanes. There was just the right amount of oil on the ball and pizza grease on my fingers. Wanting to set a good example for Nephew Bone, and with images of all my bowling heroes -- Norm Duke, Kelly Kulick, and of course, Walter Ray Williams, Jr. -- running through my head, I threw a 186-179-161 series. They gave me a real bowling pin and three balloons! Turns out that was for my birthday and not for my bowling performance, but still.

Also, AMF Bowling Centers apparently has their own syndicated radio station. They were giving shout-outs throughout the day to people having birthday bowling parties all across the country. Of course, most of them were under 16. But let's not nitpick. Besides, it helps to answer the question, "Who goes bowling at one o'clock on a Saturday afternoon?" Apparently, 14-year-old Megan from Grand Rapids and all her friends.

Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I also got a Wii this weekend. I figure that's right in keeping with my tendency to be on the trailing edge of technology. I could foresee 2011 being the year I finally get a DVR. OK, maybe 2012.

By the way, does it seem odd to anybody but me that all the other people in the Wii bowling center have no legs?

Anyway, that was my weekend: a Wii and a birthday party at the bowling alley. A day older? Yes. A day more mature? Maybe next year.

"Too old to be wild and free still. Too young to be over the hill. Should try to grow up but who knows where to start..."

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Friday, January 29, 2010
Death, and life
Death interrupted life again last week. A friend I went to high school with passed away after 37 brief years. He was the second person I knew to die this month. Both from cancer. Both in their thirties.

Unfair is a word that I've said and heard several times in the past couple of weeks. And it does seem so. Then you ask why. But some questions don't have answers.

I like to think I'll live a healthy and long life of seventy or eighty years or more. I suppose all of us do. It's easier and more appealing to put thoughts of the brevity and uncertainty of life out of my mind and continue going through the motions. But eventually and inevitably, those realities are brought to the forefront once again.

Every death serves as a reminder, that life is temporary, that people should be cherished, and that time, sweet time is so very precious. But these... these hit harder. Maybe because they were so young, or maybe because I'm getting older. This time the reminder was in big bold letters, and all caps. And it's not fading nearly so fast.

Too often, I act like I have all the time in the world. Like there will always be another day to visit a friend, spend time with Dad, mend hurt feelings or do any of a hundred things that always seem easier to put off until some other someday.

Some years ago, I came to know a girl who was a cancer survivor. She never spoke about it very much, just little bits and pieces here and there. It always struck me how she often seemed to cram as much as she could into her days. She would do more in a weekend than I'd do in two weeks. It was as if she wanted to drink up every last ounce of life and not let a single precious moment go to waste.

I never asked but always wondered if she was like that because of what she had gone through, if by looking death squarely in the eye she had come to realize the immeasurable value of time, and to cherish it as it should always be.

And I wondered why I hadn't, and didn't.

"I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying. He said, some day I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying..."

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010
On The Road Again
I have interacted with the other humans five of the past six nights. This included a four-consecutive-night socialization extravaganza from Thursday through Sunday, the likes of which I have not seen since the Clinton administration. First term.

There was dinner with Lil' Bootay, dinner with Kywana, re-watching the national championship game with Axl, and shooting pool with the Darryls. That's everyone I know!

But the capper had to be last night, when I went to see Country Music Hall-of-Famer and living legend Willie Nelson in concert. That's right, the Red-Headed Stranger.

By the way, I'm going to make a conscious effort to not make a single weed joke in this post. Because really, it's a cheap laugh. And what a man does in the privacy of his home, tour bus, automobile, or public restroom is really nobody else's business.

That being said, if you had told me when I began this blog all those years ago that some day I'd be writing a post about seeing Willie Nelson in concert, I'd have said you must be smok-... um, never mind. This could be tougher than I thought.

Still, there I was on row N -- in front of the O's, hobnobbing with the L's and M's -- for Willie Nelson and Family.

The show was excellent. Willie can still sing and walk a guitar. At 76, the man is a marvel. The band was flawless. And, I didn't get high from secondhand weed. (This is not a weed joke. This is something I was honestly curious about before the show.)

One of the highlights for me was when someone tossed a Houndstooth hat on stage and Willie's son (and lead guitarist), Lukas, put it on and wore it the rest of the show. Ah, you know you're in 'Bama when...

As the wise grizzled sage recited some of the more memorable hits from his extensive catalog, I was reminded of his songwriting genius. And also inspired by it. Then I got to thinking how I've been blogging less lately. Feeling neglectful, I sat down and penned a few lines, just for you. I'd like to share those with you now.

Maybe I didn't post here
Quite as often as I could have
And maybe I didn't comment
Quite as good as I should have
Little things I could've blogged about
I just never took the time
But you were always on my mind...

Actually, now that I think about it, I'm a little confused as to whether I wrote that to my blog or my blog readers. Hmph. Oh well, who can tell in matters such as these? All I know is it sure is good to be on the blog again.

"How'm I doin'? Oh, I guess that I'm doin' fine. It's been so long now, but it seems like it was only yesterday. Gee, ain't it funny how time slips away..."

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Hermit, the blog
Saturday was the 5th Annual Festivus For The Rest Of Us at Bone's. This year's total of 15 Festivites surpassed by one the all-time high of 14, achieved in 2006 and previously considered untouchable. Not only that, we had almost as many females as males this year -- which we'd never even come close to before, it's like the three-minute mile -- with a 7:8 ratio. Let's face it, around here that's as good as it gets.

There seemed to be two main grievances against me this year. One was that I'm non-committal. ("Whenever I ask Bone if he wants to do something, he says 'I don't know, that's still three days away.'" Blah blah blah.) Well, duh. I believe I've already delved into that here, like three years ago. So try and keep up.

The other major grievance was that I can sometimes be anti-social. Actually, I believe "hermit" was the term that was used. Answer me this: What's wrong with hermit? Why is everyone so down on hermit? I mean, Herman's Hermits was one of the biggest-selling bands of the British Invasion. And what about the hermit crab? It is one of the most lovable, easy-to-care-for of all the pets. It just doesn't like to go out a lot.

There was one added feature to this year's Festivus. After we ate, aired grievances and watched the Festivus episode of Seinfeld, we played a game of Scene It Seinfeld. I think we all know whose team won.

A couple other thoughts on Festivus: I'm more impressed by "Silver Pole" with each passing year. When I composed it, I never dreamt it would someday be a centerpiece of the Festivus celebration. Now it's become like the hot girl you somehow scored a few dates with in eleventh grade. You have no idea how it happened and you know you could never attain such heights again, but it still feels good to say, "Yeah, I did that."

Also, when one endeavors to do a thing like host one's own annual Festivus party, one never knows if that thing will be a flop like The Chevy Chase Show or if it will be something that endures for many years and changes people's lives, like Farm Aid. Thus, I am continually surprised at its inexplicable success and thankful to all those who never let me get too high by constantly reminding me of all the ways I disappoint them year after year.

And while I think it may violate some Festivus by-law to mention Festivus and Christmas in the same post, I'm doing it anyway. Some Christmas gifts of interest this year included a houndstooth toboggan, the New Kids On The Block Christmas CD (I only had the cassette!), and tickets to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert in Birmingham this weekend. We're gonna party like we're back in the USSR!

I really only received one true head-scratcher this year:

Ah yes, it's a silver elephant ashtray... thingy. At least, it looked like a tiny ashtray. I was later told it was a spoon-holder that goes on the stove. (Oddly enough, I needed one of those.) I just can't imagine the thought process that occurs for someone to see this item and think, "Ooo, that'd be perfect for Bone!"

What's even better is that I have no idea where it came from because, you know, I've never seen anything like it in my entire life, so I can't take it back.

That's all from Hermit Central. I wish you a new year filled with good health and all the things that make you happy.

I, of course, have yet to make New Year's plans.

"Woke up this mornin' feelin' fine. There's somethin' special on my mind. Last night I met a new girl in the neighborhood. Whoa, yeah, somethin' tells me I'm into somethin' good..."

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Four cardboard boxes
This weekend I embarked on a project I had been putting off for... let's see, I've lived here nearly four years, so... nearly four years: Cleaning out the office.

Wait, it gets even more exciting.

The office--AKA my spare bedroom--houses my workstation, two bookshelves containing among other things my Cheers trivia game, my old computer desk which has been turned into more shelf space, my old computer, some mostly unpacked luggage, an ironing board which is half covered with articles of clothing which I would estimate number around twenty mostly consisting of long-sleeved shirts still unironed from last winter, and last and most obstructively, four boxes that had been sitting along the north wall of the room since I moved in.

Trust me, it was messier than it sounds.

The centerpiece of this undertaking were the four boxes. Like a cardboard Stonehenge, they served as a constant reminder to all who entered--which was mostly just me--of my procrastination. This was not a task that I fancied (as evidenced by said procrastination).

And so with a modicum of determination, I opened the first box. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a regular-sized sled and five well-kempt New Kids--on the cover of my New Kids On The Block Christmas cassette!

(Counter-clockwise from bottom: Joey, Danny, Donnie, Jordan, and Jon--he's a Sagittarius.)

I had been looking for this for years! And now the search for a working cassette player begins.

Well, things were really looking up. So after opening the case, browsing through some of the lyrics and singing a few bars of "This One's For The Children," I proceeded.

The first box contained the usual things you would expect to find in storage: books, TV Guides, an unopened envelope which when opened revealed a thank you card for a graduation gift I had given... in 1993.

Also included were several of my folders and notebooks from college. Inside those were literally hundreds of lyrics that I had scribbled down, notes that I had passed back and forth with a girl in Music Theory freshman year, and lists. Lots and lots of lists.

There was a list of the 42 most fun days in high school, a list of 29 apartment rules that I'm pretty sure I made well before I ever had an apartment, and a list of a thousand songs that I had made out when Little Joe bet me that I couldn't name a thousand songs. Won myself ten bucks. Not bad for nineteen pages, handwritten, front and back.

There was also a list of 75 qualities to look for in a girl. It began with the line, "The perfect girl to marry would be a girl who..." These ideal qualities included:

#3. likes the Naked Gun movies.
#8. has a good, nice plump but not too big butt.
#14. likes Married...With Children. (Clearly, a few of these are still applicable.)
#16. has heard of Tom T. Hall. (That always knocked a lot of girls out as I recall.)
#19. doesn't eat a lot.
#35. would rather watch an Alabama football game than have sex. (Well, that goes without saying.)
#44. doesn't call your car a grocery carrier. (A definite deal breaker.)
#46. always cuts the grass. (It's possible that I was watching too much Married... With Children at the time.)
#72. knows how to play rock, paper, scissors. (The foundation of any solid relationship.)
And #'s 10, 17, 25, 32, 42, 51, and 57: looks like Brandy. (I may have had a crush.)

You know, compared to this, I actually seem mature now. Me! I know, scary.

And then there was the top secret Top Fifty list, typed out and dated, 3/17/94. This was a list of the fifty hottest girls we knew, compiled by LJ, Ben, me and my ex-roommate late one night at a Motel 6. The rules were that at least two of the four of us had to have seen the girl, and at least one of us had to be able to talk to her. We stayed up until at least 2 or 3 AM finishing the list. I still remember us tossing a Nerf basketball and hitting Ben as he kept trying to fall asleep before the list was done. Afterward we swore each other to secrecy. So, I'm not even really supposed to be telling you any of this.

Wow, I feel like I just betrayed the divine secret of the ya-ya brotherhood, whatever that is.

There weren't too many noteworthy items in the rest of the boxes: three bicycle inner tubes for the bike I no longer have, at least five shirts and two pairs of pants I had received as gifts that still had the tags on them, and a Tupperware container of chocolate candy. Let me reiterate here. Four. Years.

Still, I pressed on, sifting through the pieces of my past, cringing at some items, laughing at others. And then it happened, I found the proverbial crown jewel of my excursion. Behold, the jam shorts I sewed in 8th grade in Home Ec:

I still remember going with Mom to pick out the fabric, which to this day is the only time I've ever been inside a fabric store. I remember realizing too late that I had sewn in the elastic waistband all twisted--which is probably a good thing because as a guy, you don't wanna be too good at Home Ec. And from the looks of the nearly worn-through seat area, I must have worn them a lot. Which could help explain my girlfriend drought which extended into 9th grade.

My office is much cleaner now, the four cardboard boxes having been condensed down to a single plastic tub. I threw a lot of stuff away this weekend, and will be taking some more to Goodwill. But on the bottom shelf of one of the bookshelves is a shoebox with a couple of folders in it.

"Remember when we said, girl, please don't go, and how I'd be loving you forever? Taught you 'bout hangin' tough, as long as you got the right stuff..."

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Monday, June 22, 2009
Unfriending is (not that) hard to do
Dear Facebook Friend #70,

This just isn't working. I'm sorry. It's not me, it's you.

To be honest, I've been somewhat hesitant about our relationship from the start. Yes, we went to the same high school, but you were three years younger than me. The only class I ever recall having together was when I was a teacher's aide for your 8th grade civics class. (And honestly, my memories of that class are pretty much limited to sneaking out in the hall to make out with LG, who was an office aide that period, and grading the 6'5" basketball player's tests on which he barely made above his per game scoring average, yet never missed a single game.)

So I wasn't sure why you friend requested me. But due to my non-confrontational nature and my inherent need for everyone to like me, I accepted.

Lately, your incessant posting has just become too much. You fill up my homepage daily so that I have to scroll way down or click "older posts" to see updates from my actual friends. Your 8 posts in a 17-minute-span last night was the final straw.

Look, I understand that you must be very busy, what with running your own zoo, not to mention a very successful farm. All the while you've apparently become caught up with the mob, and also seem to be in the middle of a gang war. And I'm sure you're very proud that your zoo just successfully bred 6 Fiji Banded Iguanas.

But frankly, my dear. I. Don't. Care.

And so the time has come to unfriend you. Unfriend--it's quite possibly the ugliest word in a Facebooker's vernacular. I'm not even sure it was a word until Facebook came along. But that's neither here nor there.

I hope that this will not be too hard on you. Surely, you can busy yourself in your Lil' Green Patch and find consolation amongst your other 379 friends. You probably won't even notice I'm gone. After all, you've never once written on my wall and I've not written on yours. We never hurled farm animals in each other's direction. Never even poked one another, thankfully.

I would say that I hope we can remain friends. But as I am unfriending you, that would seem impossible, not to mention counterproductive. So I'll just say that I hope we can remain people-who-once-met-each-other-but-have-no-business-being-Facebook-friends-as-we-were-never-really-friends-to-begin-with.

Thanks for the memories blog entry.

PS: Also, please accept this as my declination of your invitation to join the mafia.

"So don't invite me, throw a sheep or bite me. I hate applications. There are far too many, and I don't use any..."

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Monday, March 23, 2009
The reason for Febrezin'
A funny thing happened on the way to playing golf with the boys this weekend. We met at LJ's and as we were getting ready to leave LJ discovered he had locked his keys in the house.

Fortunately, he has a spare key hidden. Unfortunately, the spare key was hidden in the garage. Even more unfortunately, the garage was locked. Fortunately, it's not the best area--LJ's actually had a few things stolen there before--so none of the neighbors thought anything of seeing three guys prying open a garage door in broad daylight.

Golf was good. We went to Valley Landing. I shot a 101 and got a little bit sunburned. In March! I actually sort of like the first sunburn of the year. It's invigorating. Just another little reminder that summer is on the way and the seasons will be following their usual pattern just as they have since the last ice age. It's comforting. Well, besides the pain and burning when I shower.

After golf, we decided to hang out at LJ's and watch some of the NCAA tournament. I don't think I'd even sat down yet when I noticed it.

"Did you vacuum?"


Well that can only mean one thing, my friends: He's having a girl over.

We bachelors sometimes have a tendency to let things go a little around the house. Laundry piles up. The kitchen table becomes a collection area for junk mail and last year's Christmas presents. With our busy golf-a-day lives, menial tasks like dusting, vacuuming, and putting a trash bag in the trash can sometimes get put on the backburner.

But as soon as there is the impending presence of a female on the premises, we all turn into tub scrubbing carpet cleaners.

To my knowledge, LJ hasn't dated much recently. We're not talking in terms of months or years here. We're talking Presidential administrations. So I could not say with 100% certainty that he had ever cleaned his house since he moved in a few years ago. I guess that's why the clean carpet stood out to me almost immediately.

The Darryls went to a speed dating thing a few weeks ago, which is where LJ met this girl. (Girl, woman, which is it? At what point does a girl become a woman? Nevermind, don't answer that.)

So, it appears the latex glove is on the other foot, er, hand now. On the plus side, I'm looking forward to a much cleaner, more fastidious environment for our future GH roundtable discussions.

Kidding around, sort of, I told LJ we were going to have to live vicariously through him now that he has a girlfriend. He remarked what a change that was as they were usually the ones living vicariously through me. At which point I remarked about how very sad that was and spent awhile contemplating my life and wondering where it all went wrong.

While we were shooting pool, LJ's woman called. (See? Now I'm calling her woman. I don't get it.) After trying a couple of shots with the phone wedged between his ear and shoulder, he put the phone down on the table without saying a word and shot while she yammered on. Wolfgang and I were literally in the floor laughing.

Then I suddenly remembered having done that very same thing before. At the very same table.

Of course, that occurred during a previous administration.

"Now I'm holding umbrellas and openin' up doors. I'm taking out the trash and I'm sweepin' my floors..."

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Thursday, March 19, 2009
Why it was never just Larry and Darryl
In recent years, Wolfgang, LJ and I have hung out fairly often. To the point that I refer to them as Darryl and Darryl to my Larry. We've been to the beach, gone to ballgames and concerts. We've bowled, golfed, shot pool, and had many in-depth discussions about General Hospital.

Yet those activities have always had one key element in common: LJ.

Wolfgang and I have never, ever hung out just the two of us. Ever. This despite the fact I have known him roughly eighteen years.

We are, as I like to refer to it, friends-in-law.

I relate to him through LJ. If the three of us are together and LJ leaves the room--even just to go to the bathroom--there is instantly an air of awkwardness. You would think we had just accidentally touched hands and now neither one of us knows what to say.

If LJ is gone longer than a minute, we began to yell things like, "What are you doing in there? What's taking so long?" OK, we don't really, but we're thinking it. Or I'm thinking it.

If LJ has to work that night, we just don't go out. I remember one time we were planning to go bowling--LJ, Wolfgang, Jamie and I. LJ got sick and had to cancel at the last minute. When Wolfgang found out, he cancelled, too. Why? Well, I think it's obvious. That would have been like LJ going to the bathroom for two hours. Wolfgang wasn't ready for that, and frankly, neither was I.

If we ever do find ourselves alone, our conversation almost immediately turns to LJ. We start to make fun of him, dicussing his undiagnosed narcolepsy, his ex-girlfriends, how he has a top five list for every category imaginable, etc.

I cannot take credit for the term friends-in-law. I first heard it on "The Dog" episode of Seinfeld. Elaine used it to describe her relationship with George in explaining to Jerry why she and George couldn't go to the movies without him.

However, friends-in-law never quite caught fire and took what I feel is its proper place in popular culture like so many other classic Seinfeldian phrases: yada yada, no soup for you, low talker, close talker, high talker, regifter, germophobe, manhands, double dip, he took it out, not that there's anything wrong with that. I could go on.

Friends-in-law is as relevant as any of those. OK, maybe not as relevant as germophobe. Or double dip. Those are sanitary issues necessary for a healthy, happy existence. But I digress.

The friend-in-law concept is fairly simple. It's basically the friend of a friend. Someone you know through a mutual friend, and generally only see when said mutual friend is present. And for whatever reason, when said mutual friend is removed from this situation, things become weird.

I will now take a couple of reader questions.

Bone, what happens if LJ and Wolfgang get a friend divorce?

Ah, excellent question. This scenario has crossed my mind a time or two. Like when Wolfgang and LJ are arguing over who's better looking--Carly or Sam--and things get heated. If a friend divorce were to occur, it stands to reason that the friend-in-law relationship would be legally absolved as well. Of course, these are not hard and fast rules.

Here's our next question: Can you go from friends-in-law to just friends?

I probably get this as much as any question not involving catheters or my bread-eating habits. I would say that while it is possible, it probably doesn't happen often.

Coincidentally, Wolfgang actually IM'd me for the first time ever the other night. It was a little awkward at first, but it's bound to be when it's your first time. I'm planning to take things slow, but I could foresee us maybe having a phone conversation within six months or so. And who knows, we could be hanging out one on one by 2010.

OK, 2011. You can't rush these things.

"Friends, slowly drift apart. They give away their hearts. Maybe call you now and then. But you wanna be, just friends..."

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Monday, February 16, 2009
Who will dance, on the floor, in the bowling alley
For any of you who don't check my Blogger profile daily for changes, I recently reached an historic milestone. As of last week, Thursday-ish, I am no longer a member of the all-important 18-35 age demographic. Needless to say, between that and General Hospital burning up in the Six-Day (and still ongoing) Fire, it was a tough week. Thanks to Pia for the wonderful birthday dedication post. What more could a guy ask for? Except perhaps my very own Wikipedia entry. Oh well, maybe next year.

Saturday night was Bone's First Annual Bowling For VD. Following the unconfirmed success of last year's Valentine Date Skate, I decided to go in a different direction this year, hoping to find an atmosphere with a few more people--um, how shall I put this--over the age of twelve.

The turnout was overwhelming! There must have been around 200 people there. Of course, my excitement was tempered somewhat when I realized that only eleven of the two hundred were there for my thing.

Things started off well enough. I had a 105 through six frames of the first game. But when I rolled my first ball of the seventh frame, my foot did not slide. It just stuck. Evidently, I had stepped in some spilled Mountain Dew. How come things like this never happen to Walter Ray Williams?

Well that was all she wrote for game one. Mister Sticky Shoes wound up bowling a 138. Then I spent about five minutes between games wiping my shoes on the carpet. That seemed to help and I rebounded for a decent 165 in game two. Also, for future reference, if you ever drop something on the bowling alley carpet, I would say just let it go.

Around 9:00, they pulled down this big movie projection screen in the center of the bowling alley. "Alright, it's movie time!" I exclaimed, only to be informed by Kywana Jr. that it was actually music video time. They proceeded to play what I presumed to be many of the popular videos of the day.

Unfortunately, I didn't know any of the songs they were playing. Fortunately, I've been able to master a couple of dance moves that I can use to blend in and appear hip for just such times. One is where I extend my right arm fully and appear to be bouncing an invisible basketball up and down about head-high. In the other, I... well, you'd just have to see it.

Over the next hour, they actually only played two songs that I recognized. And one of those songs was "Billie Jean."

I should probably mention here that as a kid, I would imitate Michael Jackson at holidays and family gatherings. Mom always made sure to bring the Thriller cassette along wherever we went. I would leave the room, wait for the music to start, and emerge with a dizzying array of movements and yelps.

I knew every "Oww!" and hiccup in every song. Sometimes I'd even wear the zippered jacket. If Michael Jackson impersonators had ever become as popular as Elvis impersonators, I would've had a whole new career on my hands. Or, a career.

So it should come as no surprise that I instinctively started moonwalking when "Billie Jean" came on Saturday night. Sometimes 1983 returns unexpectedly. The kids loved it. Why? Probably because the moonwalk is only the single greatest dance move of all time. "Teach me to do that," they pleaded.

But you can't, you know. It's like saying to Bob Ross, "Teach me to paint friendly clouds like you."

"Billie Jean is not my lover. She's just a girl who claims that I am the one. But the kid is not my son..."

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Monday, February 09, 2009
Changing my relationship status
Roughly fourteen months ago, I was the victim of some sort of a failed setup. Failed in the sense that we never went out and five months later the girl had been impregnated by someone who most likely doesn't kiss in multiples of five.

This past Friday, the female portion of Kywana IM'd me to let me know that the baby had arrived. So Saturday night, I rode to the hospital with Kywana to visit. After all, that was almost my kid! Almost, that is, except for the complete lack of any physical contact with the mother. So... really not very close at all.

Shortly after we arrived, some other friends showed up and before long the conversation--as it is wont to do in 2009--turned to Facebook. Normally, this is the time when I look for the first opportunity to change the subject before I gouge my own eyes out. However, I was distracted by setup girl's mother and the uncanny resemblance she bore to small screen legend Judith Light.

So the conversation continued, and at some point turned to our respective familiarity with Facebook or lack thereof. That is when I confessed, "I don't even know how to change my relationship status on Facebook... or in real life."

I said it to get a laugh, which it did. But at the same time, the words stuck with me. It was one of those things you never realize until you say it out loud and actually hear the words coming out of your mouth for the first time.

Earlier in the evening at dinner, I brought up the fact that this May will mark the ten year anniversary of the infamous Atlanta trip. I've been thinking about that a lot since. There were nine people on the trip. All single. All in our twenties. Today, eight of the nine are married. And now there's just me.

By all indicators, I've been going through a bit of a relationship recession the past few months. No doubt due in part to my failed policies over the previous eight years. This is where a back-up plan would really come in handy. I think I had a couple of back-ups at one point. But for the life of me I can't remember who they were with, nor the terms of those agreements.

So where to now? Well, I have made it my goal to get a kiss this coming New Year's Eve. But that's long-term. What about a short-term fix--something to help those who are struggling now?

Here's what I'm thinking: Maybe if I first figure out how to change my relationship status on Facebook, then my real life relationship status will follow. Sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

With logic like that, how can I not fail to succeed?

"I'm getting bored of Facebook. So don't invite me, throw a sheep or bite me. I hate applications. There are far too many and I don't use any..."

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Friday, August 22, 2008
Babies R Us
Guess what.

If you guessed that I shaved my facial hair, you are correct. I actually did it a few months ago. It was a pretty big decision, but I figured it was time.

Did you notice anything else different in the picture? Look closely and see if you notice... A WHOLE OTHER PERSON!!!

That's right, my friends. After all these years, I've finally done it. I'm an uncle! Say hello to Nephew Bone. (He's the one on the left.) This picture was taken just as I was telling him all about blogging.

My sister was admitted to the hospital early Tuesday morning to be induced. Nephew Bone finally arrived Wednesday evening at 8 pounds, 3 ounces. I figure thirty-six hours isn't that long to wait for a whole 'nother person, right sis? And no, they didn't name him Seven or Jacob Martin, despite my constant urging friendly suggestion.

From what I can tell, here is a breakdown of how Nephew Bone spends his day:

Sleeping - 70%
Eating - 15%
Causing people to swoon by opening his eyes - 10%
Whining at bothersome, albeit sometimes attractive, nurses - 5%

Total time spent looking cute = 100%

I want to be the best uncle ever. And by best uncle, I mean, fave uncle. However, I've been unable to find any books on uncle-ing, so I've had to come up with other means of research. I have devised what I think you will find is a simple, yet comprehensive two-pronged approach.

First, I have been trying to recall things my uncles taught me. Things like if you hit a golf ball just so, it will run along the cart path and greatly increase shot distance. Although I guess I would have eventually figured that out myself.

Secondly, I have been trying to catch reruns of Full House, Dukes Of Hazzard, and My Three Sons whenever I can. I figure the knowledge I can glean from Uncle Joey, the Uncles Jesse, Uncle Charley and other famous uncles will be invaluable. And what about that old guy on Lost In Space? Was he an uncle, or just some odd character they picked up somewhere in the galaxy?

It is an incredible thing hold a baby while thinking he wasn't even born a few hours before. To experience the miracle of life is... indescribable. I can only imagine how it will be someday when I finally impregnate some unsuspecting girl.

What? I didn't want you to think this was going to turn into one of those boring uncle blogs. I promise a return to golf, General Hospital, and other uninhibited bachelor tales very soon.

I also want to say congratulations to Kywana on the birth of their son this past Monday. He is beautiful! And thanks for letting me be part of that. Well, a small part. It's not like I was there for the delivery or anything. I am also honored they have chosen me to be Kywana Jr's godfather. Starting immediately, you may refer to me as Godfather B.

It's been a busy week around here. Lots of time spent in hospitals. I am most thankful that everything went smoothly (easy for me to say) and that everyone is healthy.

There are two less pregnant women in the world. Two new beautiful Bama fans. And one proud new uncle and godfather.

"His fingerprints are everywhere. I just slowed down to stop and stare. Opened my eyes and man I swear, I saw God today..."

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Expectant mothers, Nintendo, & the bachelor
Well, I haven't been blogging much lately. That could be attributed to a number of things, such as being exhausted from NaBloSoThaDraWe, which with at least two participants including me was a rousing success. (Thanks, Eileen.) But I think mostly it comes down to the fact that I haven't been typing things in this box and hitting publish much lately. I've done that like zero times in the past ten days.

It was quite an eventful weekend for me, though. Friday night, I hung out with the Darryls. We did your typical guy stuff. Shot pool, discussed the latest happenings on General Hospital, and even sang a bit of karaoke without music. (I know what you're saying. Is it still considered karaoke without the music, Bone? And all I have to say to that is, probably not.) It was all very manly though, not that I needed to clarify that or anything.

Saturday night, I went to a friend's 40th birthday celebration. At some point in the evening, I found myself in a not uncommon position for a bachelor, wedged between two pregnant women. Not physically. Well, sort of. Anyway, that was even more fun than it sounds.

Unfortunately, I didn't plan ahead, and had no signal to get me out of a conversation, such as head patting or chicken wing. So there I sat, as they discussed contractions, itchy stomachs, minivans, and dilations. Who knew pregnancy affected the eyes!

I found myself unable to contribute much to the conversation, since my gynecology knowledge is pretty much limited to Nuvaring commercials. But I wanted to learn what I could, figuring it could always come in handy later. So during a break in the conversation, I chimed in with, "So what exactly does a contraction feel like?" Not long after that, I went over and started petting the dog.

After the party, I went back to Kywana's for a bit. It's what the kids call the "after party." They had downloaded Super Mario Brothers for the Wii, so we were all taking turns playing. Then when it got to Kywana Junior's turn to play, she asked her mother, "What do I do?"

Oh my gosh. She's never played. It was like I had stepped on a rake and the handle smacked me in the face. Except that I didn't cry. I was sad for her at first, because she had never played Super Mario Brothers. Then I was sad for me, because I was old.

All turned out well though. It wound up being sort of like a little video game history lesson. Early Mario World Civilization 101: The Origins Of Mario Kart.

Tune in next time when I offer Bone's Helpful Lamaze Tips. And also provide an editorial commentary on why Luigi got the shaft. Or maybe I'll just blog about the Olympics.

"Her boyfriend, he don't know, anything about her. He's too stoned, Nintendo. I wish that I could make her see, she's just the flavor of the weak..."

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