Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Comes in threes

Dad called Monday morning to let me know that an old boss of mine had passed away. A couple of months ago I heard that he had the cancer pretty bad, so it wasn't unexpected. I hadn't seen him in two or three years, but figured I'd go to the visitation. I worked there for eight and a half years, my longest tenure at any job.

As I was looking online for the funeral arrangements, I came across the obituary of someone else I knew--a lady I used to go to church with. Even though I hadn't seen her in probably fifteen or twenty years, she still mailed me a birthday card each year. A couple of years ago, she wrote that it would probably be the last time she'd be able to send a card as her health was failing. She sent at least one more after that.

After that, I was left wondering who the third would be? I would find out Tuesday, when Mom told me a guy I went to school with and played youth league basketball with had died a couple of weeks ago. Turns out the third had already occurred, I guess. He was 36. Brain cancer.

The news left me feeling solemn. Reflective and quiet. I felt guilty because I wasn't particularly close to any of the three. Even though there was a time where I saw each of them weekly, if not more often, years and years had passed since then.

I know each of the deceased were a mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, and friend to so many. And obviously, my heart and prayers go out to them. But for me, it was a strange feeling. It felt like death from a distance. And I feel guilty or selfish or something for even thinking that.

Death hadn't come into my home. But it passed nearby. I heard it swirling outside. I felt it wafting thru the windows, reminding me of it's ever-presence. And leaving me with a chill.

Driving home from the visitation last night, I rolled the windows down and opened the sunroof. I wanted to see the stars, feel the night air, and be reminded that I was alive. Most of all, I just wanted to keep driving.

"And we'll climb up on the mountain, ya'll, we'll let our voices ring. Those who've never tried it, they'll be the first to sing..."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A bachelor looks at thread count

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?" ~ Ernest Hemingway

I think I may have made a big mistake.

I purchased some new sheets this past weekend. They were of the higher thread count, extra soft variety. And now all I want to do is lie in bed. Granted, that's mostly all I wanted to do before, but now it's even worse.

Have I ever shared with you my deep affection for sleep? I love sleep. Literally love it. I think I could marry sleep. Really. I'd have no problems with the vows. In sickness and in health? Till death do us part? Please. I sleep when I'm sick. I sleep when I'm well. I'll sleep till I'm dead. I'll sleep dressed in red, said Fred.

Sleep and I have had a long relationship. At times we've been almost inseparable. When I was little--and by little I mean between the ages of seven and eighteen--it was so difficult to wake me that my mother resorted to dripping icy cold water on my face. In thirty-five years, n'er a day has passed that sleep and I haven't spent time together. I thought I knew love, er, sleep. But I didn't know anything until I met these extra soft high thread count sheets.

To me, sheets were always kinda like underwear. Just something to help keep you from getting itchy. Often, my parents would get me some for Christmas. And when I did buy my own, I went for the lowest price. After all they were just sheets, right? Oh, how naive I was.

Now, it's like sleeping on a happy, fluffy, velvety cloud in a Bob Ross painting. No, make that a velvety fog. Yes, that's it. It's like sleeping on Mel Torme's voice. Sometimes I just lie in bed and run my hands all over her, I mean, them. Throw in a new foam mattress pad and it's a horizontal Xanadu!

I may never get out of bed again, save to golf and work and go to Bama games. And work would totally be negotiable except that's the only way I can afford to do the other two. And by can, I mean, can't really but do anyway. The only thing that bothers me is that I'm just now discovering this. I've basically deprived myself of thirty-five years of velvet fog sleep that I can never get back.

Well, here's to making up for lost time. As if it wasn't hard enough for me to get out of bed in the morning already.

"I've been a-waiting for you most of my life. Now that we're together and we're where we belong, I can't help but wonder why, why did it take so long?"

Monday, September 08, 2008

The twin I'd almost forgotten

I had almost forgotten about it. It had been so long. It was part of my past, much like tapered leg jeans, crying at the end of Mister Holland's Opus, or being a productive employee. It was who I was, not who I am. Or so I thought. Until Saturday, when I was reminded all over again.

I was at the first Bama home game of the season, waiting near the will call window a couple of hours before kickoff for my tickets. Normally, the tickets arrive a couple of weeks before the season starts, but due to some snafu this year they didn't. We get our tickets from Ben, who orders eight in all. My sister and I buy one pair, and this year he sold the other three pair on the internet.

So while Ben was in line at will call, I was talking to one of the other guys who bought tickets from him. We'll call him Earl. Earl and I had been chatting for five minutes or so when he paused and gave me a look. I wasn't sure what was going on and was wondering if maybe I had a rabid nose hair or something. Then, he said it.

"I hope you don't take this the wrong way. I mean, I don't want to offend you or anything but... has anybody ever told you you look exactly like Steve-O? You know from that show Jackass?"

Only everyone.

And by the way, how necessary is it to clarify which Steve-O you're talking about. What, am I gonna get him confused with the famed 18th Century composer Steve-O or Supreme Court Justice Steve-O?

Anyway, we talked about that for a few minutes. Once I had assured him that it didn't bother me to be compared to Steve-O, he brought his wife over so that she could see me. Maybe I should start charging. Just when I was starting to feel like the guy who met Andy Griffith, Ben walked over with the tickets and we dispersed.

Once inside the stadium, I stopped off to grab a hot dog and coke. Gulp! Cokes had gone up to $6 and hot dogs were $4. Last year, both were $3.25. It's a good thing I didn't break that ten the other day at Sonic.

Our seats are in the same spot as usual this year, with some familiar faces around as well as some new ones. I thought I would introduce you to a few in case I decide to write about them later in the season.

Let's begin with our returning characters from last season. First, we have Audrina and Lo. Now, I like Audrina, but I'm not crazy about Justin for her. That being said, he's still so much cooler than Heidi's boyfriend, Spencer. I mean, is it just me? Does anybody like Spencer? Talk to me, people.

Oh, sorry. I guess I got sidetracked. I'm good now.

Sitting about three places to my right is DUI. You might recall him from past seasons. DUI is the guy who mixes his Jack and Coke in the stands, makes a minimum of six restroom trips per game, and basically smells like he's wearing 80 proof cologne. Except Saturday, DUI brought a girl with him for the first time. He only got up twice to go to the restroom and never did I catch the scent of alcohol. If this keeps up, I might even have to change his nickname.

Back for another long season in their joyless existence are the two ornery old couples two rows in front of us. They never stand. They never cheer. The men complain the whole game. And if these early leavers haven't already left by the end of the 3rd quarter, it's probably a good idea to hit them in the head with a program to see if they're still alive.

Behind me and to the right is a guy I refer to as Ultimatum. He'll say things such as, "If we don't score on this drive, I'm leaving." Then after we don't score, he'll say, "OK, if we don't score on the next drive, I'm really leaving." Still, I like Ultimatum. He's emotionally invested and takes the losses really hard, like me. He never brings a woman with him, which leads me to wonder if maybe he used one too many ultimatums in his life.

New for 2008, we have a guy who I have dubbed Carlin. This pottymouth sits directly behind me, and appeared to be doing a perpetual tribute to George Carlin's seven dirty words the entire game, with heavy emphasis on the F word. He displayed a firm grasp of the F word and the ability to use it as at least six different parts of speech. However, his grasp of the remainder of the English language is questionable at best.

In front of me and to the left, and also new this year, is a girl I have affectionately tabbed OMG. She appears to have little to no interest in football. Instead, OMG is constantly texting and checking her phone throughout the game for new messages, mobile Hills updates, and who knows what else. JK, OMG. XOXO

In front of me and to the right is a guy I call Vandy. This Eddie Enthusiasm is a hardcore-fan-wanna-be. Many of you probably know the type. A pseudo-expert who wears the team colors, cheers, groans, and tries to make insightful comments during the game, but fails miserably. He always seems to be a few weeks/months behind on his team news, and certain information seems to have alluded him. Little obscure facts like: Last year's starting wide receiver was a senior. Therefore, he's no longer playing. So quit yelling his name.

Saturday night, he was looking at the scoreboard as they flashed scores of other games and saying things like, "Ooo, Michigan barely won" and "Arkansas is losing to Monroe" and then excitedly, "Vandy beat South Carolina!" Um yeah. We know. That game was Thursday night. And that's how Vandy got his name.

Most everyone was already in their seats getting ready for pregame festivities when Earl made his way down the aisle. Upon seeing me, he flashed an abnormally big smile, stuck out his hand to shake mine, and yelled, "Steve-O!!!!"

Then later, during a break in the action, Earl leaned up and said, "Hey man, I gotta get a picture of you after the game. Nobody will believe this!" Fortunately, he'll be sitting next to us all season.

Maybe it's true what they say, that everyone has a twin. I know I do. One thong-clad semi-celebrity to which I will forever be linked. Though only one of us is banned from ever performing again in Terrebonne Parrish, Louisiana.

"Well, there's a football in the air across a leaf blown field. Yeah, and there's your first car on the road, and the girl you'd steal..."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Letting out my inner Costanza

After reading J-Mo's post about one of the great sociological questions of our time, I decided to go to Sonic for lunch today.

So I'm sitting there and of course I have no idea how much to tip or even if I should tip at all. Because the place is like a gigantic roundabout anyway. Who knows what to do. You pretty much just hope to get out of there without running into anything.

Anyway, my order comes to $5.39. I briefly consider giving her $6 and telling her to keep the change, but that never seems like enough to me. I feel like the carhop is standing there thinking, "Gee thanks. This will pay for my little brother's operation to fix his lazy eye."

Next, I consider giving her a $10 bill. Then as she's giving me the change I can make it a point to return one of the dollars to her. This seems like a pretty good idea, except who wants to break a ten. Those big bills just disappear once you break them.

So then I dig around in the coin repository that is the console of my car and find thirty-nine cents. I don't have a five, so I decide that I'll give her six one dollar bills and thirty-nine cents in change. That way, she'll be getting a full dollar tip. That should help her brother out.

Well, she comes, I pay, she leaves. Story of my life. But she doesn't count my ones. She just takes the money and walks away. So then I'm thinking that she's thinking I gave her exact change and has no idea I even tipped her. I mean, she said thank you. But it was just a regular thank you, not an oh-thank-you-so-much-kind-sir-for-my-tip-is-there-anything-else-I-can-do-for-you-today thank you. So basically, I got NO CREDIT for my tip.

Oh sure, when she gets back inside and starts going thru her money, she'll find a nice little Washingtonian surprise. But what good does that do me? Isn't the whole point of tipping at Sonic so I don't get dirty looks or feel guilty?

Oh, it's not?

Oh... Well, nevermind then. Forget I said anything.

"If you wanna go and take a ride with me, we three wheelin' in the fo' with the gold D's. Oh why do I live this way? Hey! Must be the money..."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lunch Lady Land

Blogging away while wondering if I ever really knew how to play hopscotch, because surely it can't be as simple as what I think it is...

Well, I promised more uninhibited bachelor tales, so here you go. Parents, safeguard your children.

Last Wednesday, I had lunch at the local elementary school. When I told a fellow blogger about this, her reply was, "For work? Or to be among your real peers?" See what hilarious friends I have. Although honestly, I do think I fit in pretty well with the fourth grade crowd, other than the two foot differential in our heights.

Actually, I met Kywana and the godson and we had lunch with Kywana Jr. That's the real reason for my return to Lunch Lady Land. I must admit I was a bit nervous, with many of the same anxieties any kid would have their first day at a new school. What is the proper lunchroom line procedure? What if no one talks to me? What if I can't find a seat? Will I be able to pilfer two desserts?

The food was set up sort of buffet style, with two lines of kids, one down each side of the buffet. My first misstep occurred fairly quickly. Shortly after I had gotten into line, I heard Kywana Jr. calling to me from up ahead. "Bone! You're in the girls line."

Looking around, I had failed to notice that all the girls were going down the left side, while all the boys were going down the right side. Oops! Hoping not too many kids had seen my gaffe, I made my way over to the boys line as inconspicuously as a six-foot-tall fourth grader can.

Allow me to interject here. When did they start segregating the boys and the girls? It wasn't only in the lunch line. In the hall as we were waiting to go in, classes would walk by single-file with all the girls in the front then the boys. Shouldn't we be teaching harmony among all sexes? I have fond memories of "accidentally" running into Keisha Cantrell at the water fountain after school, hoping she'd smile at me or talk to me. That was the only thing getting me out of bed in the mornings for the majority of my fourth thru seventh grade years. I'm for desegregated, coed campuses. And dorms!

Getting back to Wednesday, first up on the lunch line were beverages. Juice, milk, or chocolate milk. What, no soft drinks? What an outrage. I chose chololate milk. It was like a half pint. Next up was a cooler of all kinds of ice cream--popsicles, push ups, ice cream cups, etc.

Figuring a little conversation would divert attention away from my girls' line faux pas, I exclaimed, "We get to have ice cream!?" The kid in front of me answered, "Yeah. You can get a slushy, too." He also told me to make sure I got an ice cream spoon, which turned out to be a flat, thin piece of wood. Yes! My first day and I'd already made a friend. Although I forgot to ask his name, and later on when we were eating I was looking around the lunchroom but didn't recognize him.

The buffet choices for the day were quesadillas or taco salad. I chose taco salad. With the ice cream and milk, I was quickly running out of room on my tiny plastic tray. I glanced around at some of the other kids to see where they were putting the food on their trays.

Then it was time to pay. Kywana had told me lunch was $2.75. So I was a little surprised when the lunch lady called out "$3.25." Apparently, the ice cream was an extra fifty cents. Glad I didn't get two.

The rest of my fears were eased when I found that Kywana Jr. had saved us all seats. The kids weren't allowed to talk that day because apparently they'd misbehaved or something. Although as guests, we were allowed to talk.

I found out later that they don't get to talk for the first ten minutes of lunch anyway. That seemed a bit excessive. Although I remember when I was in fourth grade, we had this big traffic light in the lunchroom. Kinda like in Mister Rogers' house, but not as fun. The light was supposedly a noice detector. If it was on green, we were being quiet. Yellow meant we were getting loud. And if it went to red, this really large teacher would stand up and yell "It's red!!!" and we couldn't talk for the rest of the day.

The whole traffic light thing was a bit confusing later in life, as you might imagine. I remember when I started driving and I ran thru a red light, Dad yelled, "Bone! What are you doing?" And I told him, "Shhh! It's red." None of this paragraph is true.

Anyway, back to my story. When I was done eating, I showed the kids how to make a little trash can out of an empty milk carton. Then lunchtime was over. We lined up, deposited our trays in the trash can, and exited the lunchroom single-file.

After that experience, as you might imagine, the rest of my weekend paled in comparison. But to quickly recap, Thursday night, I hung out with the Darryls. The highlight of the evening occurred as I noticed Wolfgang taking an abnormal interest in the outcome of the Oregon State/Stanford game.

Wolfgang: "If Oregon State covers, I win $155."
Me: "Wow. That's pretty good."
Wolfgang: "Yeah. Then I'll only owe the bookie thirty bucks."

Yeah, he has a bit of a problem. Unfortunately for him, Oregon State lost.

I took off work Friday--the Friday before the first Bama game. No it isn't a state holiday, yet. Then Saturday, my beloved Crimson Tide defeated Clemson 34-10! Some of the Bama faithful were understandably exhausted from lots of cheering. This picture was taken shortly after Bama's first touchdown:

OK, so 95% uninhibited bachelor tales. 5% cute nephew blog.

"We learned wondrous things from our teacher so nice. Sat on marshmallow desks with teddy bear smiles. The world seemed to all make sense. But that sense seems to slowly fade, after the third grade..."