Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Like Elvis, at Libertyland

I have decided that I have the ideal life for a writer. Oh sure, there are no Hemingway-esque safaris to Africa. No lavish Black & White Balls, a la Capote. But my life is so routine that it provides a monumental daily challenge for me to try and make it sound interesting. It's excellent practice really.

I was, however, unusually social this past weekend. Included was dinner at a theme restaurant, a mini Seinfeld marathon at Axl's, and watching the Bama/Tennessee game at Kywana's. It is this latter event which I want to focus on today.

Here is something you should know about me in case we ever hang out. I don't really like watching Bama games with anyone.

First of all, watching the game on TV is like a four hour exercise in anxiety for me. I get extremely nervous just before kickoff and remain that way until the outcome is decided. I pace the floor, put my hands over my face, walk into the kitchen and open the freezer multiple times for no apparent reason. My neck and shoulders become one gargantuan monkey's fist. And we haven't even gotten to the yelling. It's like 95% anxiety, 5% elation and relief. And that's if Bama wins.

As long as I'm at the game, I can stand up and jump and cheer, providing an outlet for my nervous energy. But at home, there isn't as much of an outlet. Especially not with other people around, who I would rather continue to think me sane and allow me around their children.

Over the years, I've conditioned myself to be able to watch a game on TV with one or two other people who know how I am. Anymore than that, or anyone I don't really know, and I'm very uncomfortable. There are certain times one needs to be alone or with one or two members of one's inner circle. It's kinda like when Elvis would rent out Libertyland for the entire night and ride the Zippin Pippin over and over. Or it's nothing at all like that.

Anyway, all season long, various friends have invited me over to watch the away games on TV. And I had turned them all down, or just not answered my phone. Until Saturday night.

Feeling generous, or guilty or something, I accepted Kywana's offer to watch the game at their place. Needless to say, I would never agree to such a meeting without preconditions. I was under the impression it would only be me and Kywana watching the game. The main reason I was under that impression is because they said it would only be me and them watching the game.

Well, I was misled. There wound up being seven adults and five children present--if you consider me an adult--prompting me at one point to remark, "It's like Romper Room up in here." (NOTE: "Up in here" is a hip, cool phrase meaning "in here" or "in dis hizzy.")

I was none too happy at first. But once the game started, I zoned everything else out. Fortunately, I managed to keep my outbursts to a minimum. I think I only yelled a couple of times. Athough it could have been more. I'm not sure I even realize I do it sometimes. It turned out to be not the worst experience in the entire world. Of course, it helped that Bama won.

So I'm thinking maybe being a bit more social isn't so bad after all. I might even start answering the door when someone rings the bell. Or making eye contact with people.

"Thought I knew her, this lady. Opportunist, misled. Always searching for adventure. Like Pandora's box, misled..."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Through the eyes of a child

My blog friend Cami is doing a walk Saturday to help raise money for breast cancer. I hope you'll click over and help her out if you can. Not only is it for a most important cause, but she's also a Bama fan.

I think you like the outdoors. Whenever we walk outside, you get completely quiet. It's as if you are overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds and are just taking it all in. I try and look at the world through your eyes. I see the greens of the trees and the blues of the sky and wonder what it must be like seeing them for the first time.

I shield your eyes from the sun, and I think how someone must have done the same for me. You cling to my sleeve with your tiny hand and I cannot imagine a more precious sight.

Turning your head, you find me. And I smile until my face literally hurts, because lately my only goal in life seems to be bringing a smile to yours. There is a hint of one. It is gone as quickly as it came. But it makes me think you are happy. And so I am happy.

Through your eyes, I see the world anew. Vivid colors and the sweet sounds of life replace the grays and noise of my previously jaded view. I see a world that still has a lot of good in it. I see a future with endless possibilities for you, stretched out as far and wide as the East is from the West.

I think about my life. About unfulfilled potential and dreams not chased. Somehow, looking thru your eyes, I realize many of those same possibilities still exist for me, even now. I want to be a better person for you, an uncle you can look up to. And I want you to have so much more than I ever did.

You have reminded me that life is a wondrous and magical thing. That there are few things more important than eating and sleeping. And that people are generally most content and carefree when they are completely naked.

A sudden stiff breeze causes your head to jump, your eyes to close, and for the briefest instant it steals your breath. And I wonder when I lost that ability.

As we start back inside, you turn your head for one more look at the great wide world. Still completely quiet. Still clinging to my sleeve. But it is I who is wrapped securely around your finger.

"I hear babies cry. I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than I'll never know. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world..."

Friday, October 17, 2008

The race is on

Girl: I knew there had to be another side to you.
Jerry: No, no, there's no side!
Girl: There is a side, an ugly side.
Jerry: No, no, no ugly side.

I'm not sure how each of you view me. My inclination would be as some sort of odd Jerry Seinfeld/Jason Morgan conglomeration. But I do have vices. And here is one: I don't like to be passed.

I'm not talking about driving, like those psychotics who hold up traffic and then speed up when you try to pass them. No, I'm talking about when I'm running. There are two ways to be passed while running. One is when you're going the same direction as someone else. The other, and maybe less obvious way, occurs when you're running opposite directions.

Two people, running opposite directions at the same rate on the same track, will meet in the same spot, exactly two times per lap. Let's call this spot Checkpoint Charlie. Thus, it stands to reason that if one person is running faster than the other, they will meet in a different spot each lap, and it will be obvious who is more fit and manly and who is the slowpoke.

So anytime I'm running and someone else is running the opposite direction, I speed up a little so that I can pass Checkpoint Charlie before they do. Some people might not notice such a thing. But that's what makes me different.

I say all that to say this. Last night while I was running, there was an incident. I was nearing the end of my second lap when I encountered this high school kid on his first lap. I made a mental note of where we passed so I could be sure I was ahead of him the next time around.

Only, I wasn't. I had lost about fifty yards to this punk kid in one lap.

Alright, we're taking it up a notch.

I increased my speed a bit, but still lost ground on lap four!

Good grief, what are they feeding this kid? And how tall is he? I'm 6'1" but this kid's like a gazelle, whatever that is. He covers like ten yards a step.

It was at this point I decided that no matter how far this kid ran, I'd keep running until after he was done. I would run all night if that's what it took to prove my superior stamina and conditioning.

It's a marathon, Junior. Not a sprint. You may be faster. But I'm stronger. I'm like Dwight Schrute on 'roids. Bring it!

Lap five was more of the same.

This kid's like a machine. It's like I'm running against Ivan Drago here. Hey kid, Manute Bol called. He wants his legs back.

Then it happened. On my sixth lap, Manute Drago had slowed to a walk.

Aww, could the little baby only run four laps? That's exactly how far I had originally planned to run not bad... for a beginner.

I kept running until he finished walking, careful each time we passed to make it seem as if I was barely putting forth any effort at all.

I was running when you got here, and I'll still be running when you're gone. Bone rulz!

I wound up running seven laps in all. To recap, that's:

Bone - 5.25 miles (<-----WINNER)
High school kid - 3 miles (<-----LOSER)

But who's counting?

"And I ran. I ran so far away. I just ran. I ran all night and day. I couldn't get away..."

Monday, October 13, 2008


I hope and trust you are all having a grand Columbus Day. If you're like me, it's not much different from any other day. No day off work. No parades. No TVLand marathon. No delicious sugar cookies shaped like the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.

Columbus Day is sort of the Tito of holidays. Not all that remarkable. Nobody's favorite. But as far as we know, it is still technically a holiday. Oh well, I guess that's what happens when you discover a continent by accident.

I considered recapping my week for you today. For instance, last Wednesday I got spit up on for the first time ever. Then Thursday, I sank a 45 foot putt, the longest of my career. But I figure you've had enough baby and golf stories, at least until tomorrow.

Instead, I want to share with you some tips for saving money in these uncertain economic times. Things I've practiced that have helped me to scrape by for umpteen years on my own now. Not obvious things, like selling your plasma. But more subtle ideas that you can use, say for instance, if you've already reached your 12 times per year plasma donation maximum.

Tip #1 - Ignore expiration dates

We are taught in this country, likely by the biased media, to throw food away if it has expired. Well that's fine if there's a money tree growing in your front yard, or if you go to the grocery store more than once a month. But what about the rest of us?

Expiration dates are nothing more than a way for food companies to get you to buy more often, and probably to avoid litigation as well. An expiration date is like a little ultimatum saying, "Eat me by this date or it is so over!" You wouldn't stand for that from your significant other, so why stand for it from your dairy?

This weekend alone I had a hot dog on buns that were six days past expiration and cereal with milk that was two days past expiration. My rule is, the nose knows.

We all have five to seven senses. Use them! When we're injured we feel pain and curse. When we need to communicate, we open our mouths and speak or grunt. When we hear Celine Dion, we feel pain and curse. And when food has gone bad, we can smell it.

Tip #2 - Do a supper scavenger hunt

How often do you find yourself in this situation? It's 8 or 9 o'clock at night. You don't feel like putting clothes on to go get something to eat, but you haven't been to the grocery store in a long, long time so you figure there's probably nothing to cook.

Well, you just might be surprised. By scrounging around in the cabinets, I'll bet you can come up with a decent meal from things you already have. It's kinda your own personal episode of Survivor. Or maybe not. I've never actually watched the show.

For example, in my cabinet right now (I just went and looked), I have some penne, a thing of syrup, a few sunflower seeds, some unopened Valentine's candy, some peanut butter that "expired" February 23rd, and some corn.

Now, from this... let's see... I could easily make... hmm... Well anyway, you get the idea, I'm sure. Let's move on.

Tip #3 - Never turn down anything from your parents or a free meal from anyone

In my early bachelor days, some of my favorite memories are when I'd be looking thru mostly barren cabinets containing only peanut butter and corn, and Mom or Dad would call asking if I wanted to come over and eat supper.

I learned early on to never turn down a free meal, and here's why. By eating one free meal, you have immediately contributed to a fiscal surplus. Even if it's not the best meal, or not particularly your favorite food. You can eat better food another day, but you can never get back the money you just saved.

As a general rule, parents want to help us. No, they need to help us. Giving makes them feel good. And we should not be so selfish as to deny them that good feeling by not accepting their gifts, or monthly allowance.

So never turn down anything from your parents. And never turn down a free meal from anyone. Ever. Unless, of course, the person preparing it has some sort of massive germophobic violations going on. No amount of money is worth that.

Tip #4 - With laundry, less is more

I do laundry as infrequently as possible. Basically, as long as I have clean underwear, I don't see a reason to do a wash. I'm all about wearing jeans two or three times. And while this has more to do with laziness than frugality, surely there are financial benefits as well.

Do you have any idea how much electricity it takes to run a dryer for one sixty minute cycle? Well, me neither, but it's probably a lot. My suggestion would be to buy up as many pairs of underwear as your drawers will hold, and let everything else go.

Of course, you might occasionally run into minor problems down the road, say if a shirt you want to wear doesn't happen to be clean. That's why I also suggest leaving laundry you think you might wear again lying around on the floor. That way, it doesn't get that musty, stinky hamper smell in it. Because once it's buried in the hamper, all the Febreze and Drakkar in the world won't get that out. Trust me.

Less laundry means less electricity, less costly detergent to purchase, and also less folding and ironing. And that means more fun for everyone.

Also, in the future when you see the bachelor, don't be so quick to judge his fashion sense. Most likely, he's wearing the only thing he could find that was clean, or had only been worn once.

"I ain't goin' down on the border with you tonight, drinking tequila and taking chances on our lives. All the women are crazy. They like to party 'til daylight. On second thought, if I can find a clean shirt, I might..."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Golf in the time of cooing

Life is--how shall I put this... ah yes, that's it--a highway. An unpredictable series of ups, downs, and embarrassing gaffes. 'Tis a colorful array of accomplishments, milestones, moments, and naps. I recently experienced two such events on the same day.

Two weeks ago this past Tuesday marked my 13,000th day on the face of the Earth. I'm not one to be shy about my age, as I've been told I have the body of a man several thousand days younger. OK, I really haven't been told that, but consider it a suggested compliment.

I embrace the next... hmm, what do you call a thousand days anyway? A long time to be married? Oh, please, shut up. Seriously, stop applauding. Don't start throwing lingerie. Especially not you, sir. Thank you, thank you. I'll be here the rest of my life.

One thousand days. It's not a millenium. We'll call it a minilenium. The dawn of a new minilenium is a time to take stock of one's life, to reflect on just how little one has accomplished and matured in the past thousand days, and to wonder aloud (perhaps while sobbing openly), "What the heck happened to my life?" It's a most joyous occasion.

My 13,000th day passed without any fanfare. It did, however, involve a round of golf. In that way, it was not unlike days number 12994, 13003, et al.

I was on the par four 8th hole at the beautiful Valley Landing Golf Course. I'd hit my tee shot off to the right, over the cart path, and into a little ditch beside the road. A not uncommon predicament to find myself in.

I took out my three wood and hacked away at my second shot. It was as if a huge breeze from heaven lifted my ball. It went sailing up into the sky, held there for a moment, then dropped right onto the edge of the green, about ten feet from the hole.

Arriving at the green, I took out my not so trusty putter and studied the slope, reading a bit of right to left break. The putt appeared to be on line at first, then began to drift ever so slighlty left. It slowed nearly to a stop just as it reached the left edge of the cup. I thought I had missed it.

Then, as if a little invisible golf gnome wearing a red and white striped hat was helping it, the ball fell in. I dropped my putter to the ground and raised my hands to heaven in near disbelief. It was the first birdie of my life.

I don't know if it was divine intervention or the kinship of all living things, but at that moment, I was a golfer. I briefly contemplated retirement. The thought passed quickly. I mean, what else would I do in the afternoons?

My first birdie and turning 13,000 on the same day. The new minilenium is off to a rousing start.

In other milestone news, guess who turned forty last week.

Don't worry buddy. Forty is the new six weeks. Can't you see the resemblance? Although I'm not sure I could rock that shirt. Actually, as a guy, I'm not even sure I should be using the phrase "rock that shirt."

Nephew Bone has been racking up quite a few accomplishments of his own. Sometimes he smiles if I talk to him about trick-or-treating, or maybe just because I'm funny lookin'. And he coo's now. Everybody seems a lot more impressed by that than by my birdie, including me. Next thing you know, he'll be rolling over. And in another few thousand days, I might break 80.

"Life's like a road that you travel on, when there's one day here and the next day gone. Sometimes you bend and sometimes you stand. Sometimes you turn your back to the wind..."