Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lessons learned

Last week, Momma Bone shared a little anecdote with me about dialing directory assistance. First of all, I'm pretty sure my mother keeps 411 in business. She dials it more than anyone I know. Come to think of it, she's the only person I know who ever uses it. Anyway, she had gotten some automated message that the system could not process her request.

"So I called back and went Mummummumm," she continued, putting her hand over her mouth as she mumbled the last few syllables.

"Mummummumm?" I asked.

"Yeah, if you do that, a real person will pick up."

I laughed, wondering to myself how Mom figured this out. How long it took her. And what other little tips and tricks she has devised and discovered that I don't know about yet.

I decided that from Mom, I learn the practical things in life, to get me through everyday situations. Things like where's the best public restroom in town; how to bypass the automated system on 411; and maybe most importantly, if a restaurant undercooks your steak, always eat your baked potato before sending it back because they'll bring you a whole new potato after they recook your steak. She'll kill me if she finds out I told that last one.

Meanwhile from Dad, I have learned things about how to survive and preserve myself during times of natural disasters and other dire situations. Things like don't shower during a thunderstorm; the best place to be in a tornado is driving around in the car, despite what every weather person and tornado safety manual ever printed says; and of course, eating more fish will help fight off radiation poisoning in case of a nuclear attack.

Will it? I have no idea, but I probably eat more fish than most land lovers. Also, it wasn't until the last couple of years that I would dare get into a bathtub if it was thundering outside. And I'm still not crazy about the idea.

As he is wont to do, Dad was imparting even more infallible wisdom when he took me out for birthday lunch recently. "Son, I still have the mind of a 16-year-old. It's just the body doesn't want to cooperate anymore."

The mind of a 16-year-old? Really, Dad? Well, at least I come by that honest.

Do you ever wonder how your parents even got this far in life? Sometimes I just shake my head in amazement. Mom still refuses to learn to set a digital watch or the clock in her car. She's never had a mozzarella stick in her life, ever. And she thought Warren Sapp was "The Refrigerator" the whole time he was on Dancing With The Stars, and still does.

Dad called me just tonight to tell me they'd ordered the Bible on mp3, then went on to ask, "How much would an mp3 player cost?" And the whole VCR fad completely came and went without either of them ever learning to program one, I think.

If I asked Dad how he got this far in life, his answer would in all likelihood begin with the phrase, "Well son, when you're this good-looking..."

Both my parents turn 59 this year. For so long, they appeared invincible and always just kinda seemed the same age. Then one day, something happens. Probably not even anything major. Just some little something occurs and it smacks you in the face that suddenly they're twenty years older.

I want them to always be 35. Mom riding her bicycle for miles every Saturday afternoon, taking my sister and me to pick up Mamaw and carry her to town on summer mornings. Dad doing his woodwork out in his shop, reading his encyclopedias and watching the Discovery Channel to learn about thunderstorms and fish and the like. Keeping every sort of harm and danger away from our door. And there never being a problem they couldn't take care of.

When I think about my childhood, that's what I miss the most.

Seeing my parents get older is one of the hardest things about life. Few things get to me like that does. It's one of those things that if it creeps into my mind, I try and push it out immediately. I don't want to think about it.

Some lessons you don't ever want to learn.

"Wish change would just leave well enough alone. Those days are gone now, when Daddy was a strong man and Momma was a blonde..."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ssss-aaaa-ffff-eeee-tttt-yyyy Blog

I went to Facebook to change my relationship status--you remember, my self-fulfilling prophecy thing.

Well... I couldn't do it.

Oh, it all started out well enough. I was sitting there trying to decide between their six available relationship options. You know the ones--single, in a relationship, she's complicated, etc. Then I got scared that all my Facebook friends would get a notification that I was now in a relationship. I seemed to remember seeing someone else's relationship status change pop up on my page one time.

From there, I started thinking of all the questions people would have about my new love. And then about how I would have to explain that I wasn't really in a relationship, that this was just a sociological experiment. Before long, I had over-analyzed myself out of the whole thing.

So apparently, I can't even commit to a fake Facebook relationship.

Never fear, however, for today turned out to be a harbinger of good news that perhaps this relationship recession is beginning to turn around. I am proud to announce that as of this morning--9:30ish--I officially have my very own safety.

Here's how it happened:

Bone: do you wanna be my backup or safety

Katie: uh
i thought you had a backup

Bone: maybe
but i can't remember

Katie: i already have one

Bone: ok you can be my safety
that's below backup
which means you'll likely never be needed

Katie: or so you hope

Bone: lol
do you accept

Katie: uh, sure

Bone: YES!

Katie: i reserve the right to redact this at a later date

I was so convincing! Reading it now, it doesn't even seem like it was me doing the typing. It feels like somebody else saying those things, or like I was channeling Dwight Schrute.

So now I have a safety. Next, I need to find a backup. And after that, well I haven't thought that far ahead yet.

"We can dance if we want to. We can leave your friends behind. 'Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance, well they're no friends of mine..."

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..."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

VD: A Male Perspective

Do you have any idea how much I'm looking forward to Valentine's Day? It's right up there with International Catheterize Yourself Day on my list of Top One Million Holidays and Other Obscure Observances.

It wasn't always this way for me. I used to love Valentine's Day. Back in the first grade for instance, decorating my little Valentine sack. Then watching with glee as the cute girls in class dropped cards in my bag. Never mind the fact that everyone in the class was required to give everyone else a card. I never fully grasped that minor detail. It's that innocent forced socialization that I really miss about Valentine's Day.

But inevitably and invariably, things change. There comes a point when giving your guy friends a Valentine card is no longer fun, just... odd. Then you turn twenty-one, and your mother stops buying Valentine presents for you to give to your girlfriends.

As the self-appointed spokesman for male bloggers who watch General Hospital, I think it's safe to say that for most guys Valentine's Day is like a wedding, or shaving. If it were left entirely up to us, we'd skip it. I've even heard of guys--present company excluded, of course--who have actually broken up with girls right before Valentine's Day just to avoid the hassle.

But we do it. Why? Because the most important thing in the world to us is the woman's happiness. Also, we generally don't enjoy getting yelled at.

Here's the thing: It's not that men aren't thoughtful. Actually let me amend that statement right off. It's not that men aren't thoughtful on holidays. It's that for some reason, the things that are considered romantic are found in the last places on Earth a guy would normally go. A florist, the jewelry kiosk at the mall, a department store. I don't even like walking through the lingerie section in Wal-Mart to get from the electronics to the food. I take the long way around through the shoes, candles and pillows.

Who decided that these would be the expected romantic gestures? Why not incorporate things guys like to do? Like car stuff. What says I love you more than a guy who changes the oil in your car? You could even have commercials. "This Valentine's Day, tell her you love her with five quarts of Castrol 20W50. Roses wither and die. But engine sludge is forever."

No? Well then maybe Auto Zone could put in a florist. Or how about a pre-Valentine Day promotion at sporting events? First thousand men though the gate get a free diamond heart pendant.

That is why the mix tape was so successful. It allowed the guy to use his love and knowledge of music and high tech devices--the dual cassette player--while also (theoretically) satisfying the romantic needs of the female. If someone made you a mix tape, you knew they loved you. And that it would last.

And so on this Valentine's Day, let us pay tribute to the romantic perfection that was the mix tape. Flowers are dead in a week. Jewelry is gone once you pawn it. But a mix tape was forever. Or at least until your Walkman chewed up the cassette. And by that point, the relationship was usually already over anyway.

"So play it all over. Turn it wide. Now there is nothing but a mix tape left behind. Now it won't rewind..."

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..."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

National Signing Day

Yesterday was National Signing Day. It's the day that high school seniors announce whether they'll be coming to play for Bama or not next year. It's a big day around here. Some people have even been known to take off work.

One local headline I saw yesterday read: "Make Signing Day A National Holiday." And while there's absolutely no truth to the rumors that I started that grass roots campaign, I could not agree more. It's hard to imagine that workplace productivity was very high yesterday. I had four or five browser tabs open most of the day. I was emailing, texting, and watching live press conferences online.

National Signing Day is the college football equivalent of Election Day. Rivals.com is my cnn.com/politics. ESPN2's Todd McShay and Tom Luginbill are my John King and Bill Schneider. Unfortunately, there is no football recruiting equivalent for Campbell Brown.

Around 2:30 PM, word came down the pike that the battle for 2009 National Recruiting Champion was down to a two-team race between LSU and my beloved Crimson Tide. It all hinged on one final announcement. The #2 rated running back in the country. He was scheduled to announce his intentions at 4 PM. Say it with me. Yes. We. Can.

What follows is a crude timeline of the events occurring between 3:54 PM and 4:12 PM yesterday afternoon:

3:54 PM - My sister calls. She has the link for the live press conference online, but it's blocked from her place of employment. "Watch it and let me know what he says."

3:55 PM - I log into the live feed. There is a counter that says there are currently more than 15,000 people watching online.

3:56 PM - The female portion of Kywana IMs me. She's watching, too.

4:02 PM - The press conference still hasn't begun. My sister calls again.

"Has he announced?"
"No. All I see is a table, five empty chairs, and a bunch of microphones."
"Oh. I read online that his mother's car stalled so that's why it's running late.
(At this point, I cannot express to you the pride I feel about my little sister.)

4:03 PM - I am a giant bundle of nerves. I call Axl just to have someone to chatter to.

4:08 PM - People start arriving at the table. The press conference is beginning. The counter says there are now more than 23,000 people logged on.

4:09 PM - My sister beeps in. I click over and stay on the phone with her. Blood is thicker than water. Here it comes...

4:10 PM - "YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!!" I begin to yell as he makes the announcement that he is "gonna roll with Alabama." Booyah!

4:12 PM - Axl calls. "What happened?" Whoops, forgot I was on the phone with him.

And so, for the second year in a row, Bama wins the recruiting national championship. Not quite the same as the real on-field national championship, but something to cheer about nonetheless.

OK, I'm off to google image Campbell Brown or something. We now return you to your regularly scheduled February sports programming of Winter X-Games and the NBA regular season.


"If we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate, just one day out of life, it would be, it would be so nice..."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Now entering sports purgatory

The Super Bowl is over. (How's that for a snazzy opening line to catch your attention, pique your interest, and leave you salivating for more?)

I just couldn't get excited about the game this year. No Brady. No Mannings--even though I root against them. No America's team. No perfect season on the line. No gratuitous luxury box shots of Kim Kardashian. (Even though I prefer Kourtney but she's not currently dating any NFL players that I know of.)

Don't get me wrong, it turned out to be a nice little game. But still, the Cardinals versus the Steelers? Maybe in years like this they should change the name from Super Bowl to the Best We Have To Offer Bowl. Or the As Good As It Gets Bowl. Jack Nicholson could have been a guest commentator. You can't handle the truth, Al Michaels!!

Anyway, returning to the line that titillated your senses to begin this post, the Super Bowl is over. We now enter February, or as I like to call it, sports purgatory. Football is over. Fantasy baseball doesn't start until April. Basketball isn't relevant until March Madness. And... did I mention football is over?

It has been said that in the South there are but two seasons: football and spring football. I understand and appreciate the sentiment. But calling spring football a season is kinda like calling the cute girl who smiled at me at a red light yesterday my girlfriend. It's wishful thinking and in the end leaves you with a hollow feeling. Not to mention some girls get all hostile about it.

I've been trying to fill the empty spaces. Last week, I watched some tennis--the Australian Open. I like tennis. It's probably among my top thirty sports to watch. But there's only so many times I can watch Serena Williams pound another hapless opponent into submission, or Andy Roddick fall short yet again. Plus, apparently Sharapova is injured. Would it kill them to scroll that across the screen continuously instead of letting me watch three hours of Macros Bagdhatis versus Novak Djokovic before mentioning it?

One thing that always amuses me about tennis is the little "sorry about that" gesture that every player gives anytime a ball clips the net cord. The entire match, they're rocketing 120 mph serves at each other, grunting, yelling, occasionally cursing the chair umpire. But let a ball clip the net cord, and suddenly they turn into gentle lambs with that little apologetic wave. Sorry about that. I didn't mean for the ball to trickle over the net. Actually, my original intention was to permanently embed the ball in your eye socket with my ferocious forehand.

Another undertaking that I have... undertaken to fill the current sports abyss is to try and lead the Chicago Bulls to the NBA Championship on Tecmo NBA Basketball. That's right, the ol' Nintendo. That seemed like a perfectly normal way for a 35-year-old male to kill some time.

The season got off to a rocky start with a loss as I had to refamiliarize myself with which button was jump/shoot and which button was pass/change defenders. Since then, I am on a 30-game winning streak, as evidenced in fig. 1.1 below.

(fig. 1.1: Bone rulz)

Our next game is against the Miami Heat. And I think we all know what that means. That's right. The Heat feature the formidable inside/outside combination of Glen Rice and Rony Seikaly. Oh, did I mention it's the 1991-92 NBA season?

I'm helping the Chicago Bulls relive their glory days! Craig Hodges has been raining three's like it's 1991. Oh, right, that's because it is. Just fifty-one games to go in the regular season. I figure I should be able to knock that out by Valentine's Day.

Two days into sports purgatory, and this is what I have been reduced to.

"Time slips away and leaves you with nothing, mister, but boring stories of glory days. Hey, they'll pass you by. Glory days, in the wink of a young girl's eye..."