Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve, 1985

Christmas has come too fast again. Not that I'm not ready for it to get here. I'm just not ready for it to be gone. I still remember when it didn't come very fast at all...

In 1985, I was twelve and time was slow. Thirty seemed light years away and forty had never crossed my mind. It was impossible to imagine myself as an adult. Though some might tell you it still is.

In 1985, both of my grandmothers were still alive. But oh, how I took that for granted back then. Dad would go and get his mother and bring her to the house on Christmas Eve day. She would have gifts for us -- and they would be really bad gifts like tube socks with big red stripes around them. But it shouldn't have mattered because she had picked them out for us when Dad took her shopping solely for that purpose. I hope I thanked her for whatever bad gifts she got me that year, and I hope I acted like I liked them, because that was the last Christmas we ever got to spend with her.

In 1985, Mom and Dad were still young, and still together. And if I could have picked one of those to never change, I'm not sure which I'd choose.

In 1985, my sister was five. She hadn't yet become the major annoyance she soon would be. Little did I know we would someday become actual friends. And the thought of her being a mother, well that was as far from my mind as a thing could be.

In 1985, fave cousin was seven. War was a game we played with toy guns or plastic soldiers. And Afghanistan was a place I had never even heard of, much less ever thought he would someday go.

In 1985, I was pretty sure no matter how good or bad I may have been that I was getting toys. But there was that tiny one-percent part of me that was still afraid I might wake up to a bag of switches beneath the tree.

In 1985, however fast or slow the rest of the year passed, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like a year unto itself.

In 1985, tonight -- Christmas Eve -- would be the longest night of the year. I would toss and turn and do my best to keep my ears open for any sound of Santa and his reindeer. But of course, it's the first great catch-22 of life -- you want to stay awake until he comes but he won't come until he knows you're sleeping. And he always knew.

In 1985, I must have closed my eyes, and though I could swear it was only for an instant, twenty-five years came and went.

"If heaven was a town it would be my town, on a summer day in nineteen-eighty-five. And everything I wanted was out there waiting. And everyone I loved was still alive..."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

While visions of lap desks danced in his head...

Every year while Christmas shopping, I usually wind up buying a gift or two for myself. After all, isn't that what the holidays are all about? No? Well, forget I said that. Anyway, I'd done really well this year, not buying myself a single thing. Until last week.

That's when I discovered what is quite possibly the greatest invention since the automatic paper towel dispenser: the lap desk.

Have you heard of these things? Sounds a little like lap dance, but it's much more satisfying. It's like silk underwear for your laptop! Not that I wear or endorse silk underwear, but I imagine it would be a luxurious and quite delightful experience. There's even a place for a beverage! If I could somehow attach a mini-fridge, I'd have it all.

Remarkably, I did manage to leave the laptop for a little while this past weekend, though I'm not quite sure how. I think I must have reached the end of the internet or something. The weekend consisted of caroling, driving around looking at Christmas lights, and that most treasured of holiday tradition -- bowling.

Caroling was a bit of a different adventure this year than last. The main difference being we didn't get the van with the seats in it this year. Instead we took my cousin's company van. He owns a dry cleaning business, and the only thing in the back of the van were two rods for hanging clothes.

So there were seven of us piled on the floor in the back of a van. At least it was carpeted. It had a very nativity-esque feel to it, I thought. If the wise men were traveling today, I feel confident in saying this is how they'd roll.

Saturday night, I managed to get the Darryls together to go bowling. I nearly split my yule log when I saw the rates: $5.25 a game, plus $4 for shoe rentals! Evidently bowling has gone the way of Red Lobster and is now only for the upper class.

Everyone agreed this was an outrage, especially Wolfgang who was there with his new wife and newly acquired children in tow. So I called the ghetto bowling alley to check rates. It was a good bit cheaper and, not surprisingly, they had plenty of lanes available, so off we went. This place was a tad scary, but with my street cred at an all-time high I figured we'd be OK, and we were.

Finally, for any who might be wondering, I will be hosting my annual Festivus celebration Thursday night. Every year, I keep thinking this is the year I won't do it. After all, how long can one man celebrate a fake holiday from a TV show that went off the air 12 years ago? Well apparently, at least six years in a row.

Maybe this is my ticket into the Guinness Book -- most consecutive years hosting a Festivus party. Then perhaps "Silver Pole" will find its way into Wikipedia, thus ending both of the great quests of my life. Of course, then I'd have to come up with new life goals for myself, and that could take a while.

Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus to one and all. Here's hoping you don't have to fight your father in the feats of strength this year.

"There'll be meatloaf, maybe pizza, at the Festivus meal. After grievances aired, hearts are heavy. Then it's time for Feats of Strength, it's Frank Costanza's big scene. Festivus won't be o'er 'til someone's pinned..."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow, patrol

I'm not sure wherefore to beginneth today. Dost I tellest thou about my latest run-in with the law (yes, I'm serious), or my real-life Christmas movie moment?

I'm guessing you want the deets on my most recent legal troubles first. So here goes. It was Friday night and we were putting up my Christmas tree. Or as they say on the streets, laying down evergreen on a vertical tip. I had TSO blasting at a moderate level of 7 on my Phillips 10-inch SFS's (street slang for Standard Factory Speakers).

Next thing I know, fuzz be ringin' my doorbell again. And by "again," I mean, "for the first time in ages". Apparently, the neighbors complained that the music was too loud and they were trying to sleep. On Friday night. At 10 PM. "I'll take care of this," I said to the popo. Then I promptly went straight over to the stereo and cut the volume down to an only-dogs-can-hear-it volume of 3.

If you're keeping score, or just entering data into my personal criminal record, that's two confrontations with police in the last three weeks -- one "following too closely" and one "disturbing the peace."

Basically, I'm the bad boy of the blogosphere. I just hope they have Wi-Fi in the hoosegow, because that's obviously where I'm headed.


Sunday afternoon, I attended the TSO concert in Nashville. It was another phenomenal show. TSO is one of those groups that, when you see them live, makes you want to become a musician. And they must have brought the weather with them from Siberia because Nashville wound up getting two to three inches of snow.

Two to three inches of snow in the South is like a foot or more anywhere else. Restaurants close early. Schools close at even the possibility of snow. And if it's snowing, then the stores have already long since run out of milk and bread. Not to mention the traffic. Cars are sliding everywhere. People are out pushing. We must have passed ten cars that had run off the road.

And all I can say is it was, in a word, gorgeous.

It's not often, if ever, that I've gotten to enjoy a white Christmas. But walking down the streets of Nashville -- with the snow-covered roof of the old Ryman towering over the bars of Lower Broadway, the stores all in their holiday trim and with Christmas music playing, and the snow falling fast and almost sideways -- for a moment it was like a scene out of virtually every Christmas movie I've ever seen. An image from any of a thousand Christmas cards.

No, it wasn't quite yet Christmas Day. But it was most definitely Christmas.

"And maybe down in Memphis, Graceland's all in lights. And in Atlanta, Georgia, there's peace on earth tonight. Christmas in Dixie. It's snowin' in the pines..."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The day I met Larry David

I have an announcement to make. No, nobody's pregnant. Why does nobody ever guess that?

I have gathered you here today to announce that for the first time in my life, I have... wait for it... a laptop.

It's a hand-me-down, which was pretty much dead. So I guess that makes it more of a throwaway. Remember when you were young and you would cruise the city streets looking for an old couch someone had set out on the curb that you could pick up after dark and carry back to your place so that you would have an actual piece of furniture? Well, this laptop is my present-day couch on the curb.

I should start off by saying I'm no computer expert. Well, to some people I am: my family, most girlfriends, LJ, everyone at work. My knowledge of computers is similar to my knowledge of cars, in that I know enough to think I can fix what's wrong, and can usually at least attempt to fix it without making things even worse.

As I stated, this one was pretty much dead. The lights would come on, but the operating system would never load and the screen was blank.

A few weeks ago, skating right through that gray area of the - quote - "law," I was able to procure a Windows CD. After several hours over a couple of days, I managed to get something on the screen which resembled Windows, but seemed to only have about 10% of the familiar Windows components installed. For example, the Recycle Bin was the only icon on the entire screen, there was no wireless adapter showing in the control panel, and there was no sound. You know, minor things like that.

Well, what is the point of having a computer with no internet? So I set it aside and decided a new laptop was probably going to be my only option. Day after day I would see it just sitting there in the living room floor, calling to me. (Obviously not literally, as the sound still didn't work.)

Normally, I give up rather easily on anything I can't figure out within a couple of hours. Well, other than golf and girls. But once in a great long while, when the moon and Uranus are both aligned in the third quadrant of the red sun, my propensity for giving up easily is matched, yea, superseded by my stubbornness and unwillingness to admit defeat.

This normally only happens when I'm doing something I think a man should be able to do -- such as installing a car stereo or finding an intended destination without stopping to ask for directions. It happened again this past Monday night. I turned on the laptop to try it one more time.

And wonder of wonders, it worked! A more complete looking Windows came up, though there was still no sound or wireless adapter. So yesterday I consulted a friend who's a bit higher on the computer food chain than I. And through some website that seemed legal, if not entirely in English, I was able to download the necessary drivers.

After umpteen hours of mental sweat and only intermittently wavering dedication -- which is probably the most I've ever worked on any one thing in my life -- I had a working laptop, with Windows, and access to the internets!

Amazing laptop, how sweet the sound! It once was dead, but now is alive. Had no sound, but now can speak. Not that I'm some kind of computer messiah. Not even an apostle. Just one of the multitudes. Sittin' near the back, munching on some loaves and fishes, and spittin' 70 wpm on his slightly used Toshiba.

To say it has been a long and arduous process would be an understatement. Actually now that I look up the definition of "arduous" I guess it's not really that much of an understatement after all. Maybe even an overstatement. Let's call it a labor of love.

Now I can get online anywhere and everywhere! The bed, the couch... OK, so just the bed and the couch, but still! I can surf the 'net AND watch ESPN at the same time! I haven't been this excited about technology since I first played Oregon Trail. I mean, I'm blogging from bed, people!

Did I ever tell you about the day I met Larry David? Well, I always thought the day I finally meet Larry David would be the happiest day of my life. But I was wrong. It's this.

The only possible issue I can foresee is motivating myself to ever move from this position.

"Cause even on a slow day, I can have a three way, chat with two women at one time. I'm so much cooler online..."

Friday, December 03, 2010

The pilot

You guys really have me thinking about this reality show idea. I've been trying to figure out who I would get to narrate it. While Bill Curtis might seem like the obvious choice initially, I'm afraid he might be a bit too dramatic. You know, for a reali-com. (I just invented that term.)

I'm thinking maybe Mark-Paul Gosselaar. After all, he is the man who gave me the best nine minutes of my life. Also, just once I'd like for him to call me "Preppy." Of course, I'll need a backup plan in case he's unavailable. And if finding a narrator for my own reality show is anything like finding a date for senior prom, I'll need three or four backup plans.

While I continue to ponder this, as well as possible title ideas, I've decided to do a test run to see what an episode of the Bone reality show might include. Today I will be doing a written storyboard, if there is such a thing, of Bone's Thanksgiving Week. Consider this sort of a faux-pilot, purely for my benefit. As well as any TV execs who might be reading.

Today's episode of A Show With No Name begins with Bone on his way to pick up Nephew Bone for a trip to Chuck E. Cheese on Tuesday evening. The action quickly turns exciting as Bone sees blue lights in his rear-view!

As "Theme Song From The Dukes Of Hazzard" begins to play in the background, a low-speed chase ensues, lasting approximately fifteen seconds, until Bone is able to safely pull into the parking lot of a nearby bank. The officer approaches the car. What will the charge be? Another speeding ticket? Hit-and run? Texting while driving? (This is where we'd cut to commercial for added suspense.)

Turns out Bone was guilty, allegedly, of that most heinous of traffic offenses: following too closely. Are you kidding me? That doesn't even make a good story. It's embarrassing to even tell. In fact, just forget I said anything. We're gonna have to seriously edit this part to make it exciting.

Less than an hour after his latest run-in with the popo, Bone is spotted across town laughing it up at the aforementioned nightspot playing the football toss game. So adept is he at tossing mini-footballs through the little holes that he eventually runs the game out of tickets. At the prize counter, Nephew Bone chooses a lizard and some (temporary) gangsta tats, while Bone opts for some Pop Rocks.

Bone's athletic exploits continue to be on display in our next scene, as we see him at home -- alone -- playing Wii. After a couple of hours, he sets a new personal best by Wii bowling a 279! Then he remarks aloud, "If only Walter Way Williams could see me now!" Um, is Bone aware no one else is in the house? In other news, Bone's right shoulder is quite sore for about four days.

Next it's time for Thanksgiving with the Bones, a great opportunity for viewers to meet the Bone family. If you're wondering why everyone is shouting, it's because Daddy Bone doesn't have his hearing aid today. After breakfast at Daddy Bone's and before supper at Momma Bone's, Bone enjoys a Thanksgiving lunch of chips and salsa in his modern, yet practical bachelor pad. He dozes off and much like the rest of America, misses the second half of the Patriots/Lions game.

This week's episode ends on the highest of highs. It's Saturday night and Bone is home alone again, which is peculiar for sure. We see him at his computer, looking to spend the rest of the $25 iTunes gift card he received last Christmas. In the show's emotional climax, he discovers that iTunes has added "Hands To Heaven" by Breathe! At long last!

Bone is seen swaying back-and-forth in his office chair while singing along as the camera fades.

Executive Producer: Charles Rosin

"So raise your hands to heaven and pray, that we'll be back together someday. Tonight I need your sweet caress, hold me in the darkness. Tonight you calm my restlessness. You relieve my sadness..."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm all thumbs

As much as I have considered granting unrequested permission to TruTV to feature my life on the first-ever blogger reality show (to be aired right after Forensic Files, of course), even I must admit there are issues to consider.

First off, is there enough interesting material in my life to even fill an hour a week? Secondly, I'd most likely have to wear pants around the house. Then of course, there would be the inevitable invite to be on Dancing With The Stars, where I would probably go out early like Kenny Mayne and the man from Apple because my mom can't see Russia from her house and I was never married to Jon Gosselin. Lastly -- and this is where today's post comes in -- every embarrassing moment of my life would be chronicled for all the world to see.

A little background, if you will:

During football season, if I'm not at the Bama game, I'm watching on TV. And I have a circle of friends with whom I am constantly texting throughout the game, sometimes after every play. I like to think of them as my mobile entourage. There's Axl, my sister, Wolfgang, and the female component of Kywana.

That brings us to earlier this week. I got a call from a number that's not programmed into my phone. Now, I don't usually answer calls from numbers I don't recognize, but I guess I was feeling uncommonly sociable on this particular day.

What follows is a never-before-published recap of that conversation, with my thoughts in italics, included for your enjoyment.


A male voice greets me. "Mister Bone?"


"Hi, this is (name withheld) from AT&T. We noticed you had gone over your allotted number of text messages last month."

*cringe* "I am aware."

"Looking at your account, you actually would save money if you upgraded your data plan."

Looking at my account? Shouldn't that be illegal? Stupid Patriot Act.

"You currently get 1500 texts per month. You used over 1800 last month, which came out to about 12 dollars in overage charges."

You oughta be thanking me for using that many texts. Ever hear of frequent flier miles? I should be rewarded! There should be an 1800 Club for people like me. Or... at least a Texters Anonymous.

"If you were to go to the next highest plan, it would be 10 dollars more, but you would get unlimited texts."

(Pause for response. There is none.)

"So if you think you're going to be texting a lot every month, then that's something you might want to consider."

Apparently, I'm a teenage girl.

"Don't try to dig what we all say. I'm not trying to cause a big sensation. Just talkin' 'bout my generation..."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

'Bout a ghost from a wishing well

It happened one night near summer's end. We were driving across some state somewhere. I don't remember where we had been or where we were going, which by the way is a pretty good rule of thumb for my entire life. I had been making good, some might say excessive, use of the seek button, and had settled for a moment on a station that was playing some older, classic-type country music.

A song came on that I didn't recognize, but couldn't turn away from. It was one of those songs you always seem to hear at night while driving and you wish it wouldn't end. I listened intently to the haunting lyrics and rich baritone, thinking I would eventually recognize the voice, but never did. So I made a mental note of a couple of lines intending to Google the lyrics later, but never did.

Fast forward to about a month ago. I was lying on the couch watching TV late one night, fighting sleep as I often do on weekends because sleep means Monday is one day closer. Around 1 or 2 in the morning I stopped on this infomercial for some songs of the seventies collection, hosted by two guys from that group that sang "A Horse With No Name."

To be honest, I'd always considered the seventies one of the weaker decades musically. But they were advertising some pretty good stuff -- Jim Croce, James Taylor, Paul Simon. I was proud of myself. I didn't call nor go online to order the entire collection. I like to think that shows maturity.

Then Sweet-Sister-Golden-Hair-Surprise they played it! The song I'd heard while traversing the countryside one night all those weeks ago. It was called, "If You Could Read My Mind."

And that's the story of how I discovered Gordon Lightfoot at 71.

He turns 72 today. Happy birthday, G-Light.

"Turnin' back the pages to the times I love best. I wonder if she'll ever do the same. Now the thing that I call livin' is just bein' satisfied with knowin' I got no one left to blame..."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

'Wave, goodbye

My microwave, the one I've had since the day I left home, is gone. Well that's not entirely true. It's still sitting on the counter, but like a girlfriend you've insulted one too many times, it's no longer putting out.

It happened Monday before last. I was six minutes into an eight-to-ten minute baked potato when I stopped it for a routine check. When I tried to start it back up, there was nothing. I unplugged it and plugged it back in, you know because sometimes that works with the computer and computers and microwaves are so similar... still nothing. It was over.

What can one say about a countertop appliance? I knew her ding, the layout of her face, and what made her go around. Well, not mechanically speaking, but I knew which buttons to push.

With a capacity of 0.8 cubic feet, rounding up, she was 700 watts of relatively-safe radiation heating power. You can't get kind of power anymore! Seriously, do they still make them with that low of wattage?

And let me say this, if there were a Guinness Book Of World Records record for such a thing -- and if I had kept an accurate count -- I have no doubt we would have set a record for most frozen burritos made in a single non-commercial microwave oven that would never have been broken.

Perhaps most tragically, she had just recently undergone her 10-year cleaning. Granted, a few years late.

There is much I will miss about her. No more quick baked potatoes. No more easy Rotel dip. No more microwave popcorn for supper. No longer any such thing as warm leftovers. But you know what I have found I miss the most? The clock.

I don't have a DVR (and you can't see the stove, you know, for the wall) so the microwave was the only easily-viewable clock from my living room. Not a day has passed that I haven't looked in her direction to check the time, each glance a harsh reminder of what once was.

So for the past ten days, I have been struggling to survive my newfound, unintentionally Amish existence. I warmed up some queso dip in a saucepan last night. A saucepan, people. What is this, 1940?

And by the way, microwave popcorn on a stove? That doesn't work. It just burns the bag.

"But if I finish all of my chores and you finish thine, then tonight we're gonna party tonight like it's 1699..."

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..."

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Most days the days all run together. I preoccupy myself with the unimportant things in life. Things are mostly fine, except when they're not. Work is work, and the weather's always the weather. Tuesday's not much different from Friday. And January feels a lot like July.

But one day every once in a while, I'll gaze out over the water, to the other side of the river, and wonder about you. I know you're over there in a sea of people, alternately surrounding yourself with, then withdrawing from them into your precious solitude. Like I'm one to talk.

I want to know you're OK, but that some nights you still miss me so bad you whisper my name when you're in the dark. And other times, you cry my name out loud because you're angry still. Or maybe that's just me.

I could call, but I haven't any business trying to cross that bridge again. The last time that I tried, I almost drowned. You were on the other side with a can of gasoline and a freshly struck match.

But that was us, wasn't it? Always ready with a match, we both set fire to that bridge at least half a dozen times. Sometimes it seemed just for the sake of seeing how much damage we could do. Yet somehow it still stands. Or maybe it's no longer there. It's possible it's only in my mind.

I can't help that sometimes when I close my eyes, I still see yours, so deep and rich and dark -- caring, passionate and so completely vulnerable all at the same time. I'd get lost so easily in there and never want to find my way out. I remember how I'd know they were about to cry before a tear would fall. And most of the time, the tears were caused by me.

You were there for solace when I needed you, and you were trying hard. Then when I was ready to try, you were impossible to reach, at least for me. And so we went, back and forth. Maybe it was just a game we played -- one where even if you win, you lose. Or maybe I only threw away my matches when I knew you'd never cross that bridge again.

I remember mostly the good times now. That's just how I am, and it's a curse.

And so I remain on this side, where most days the days all run together. And I don't think about forevers.

But one day every once in a while, yesterday comes around. I think about how close we were, how far you are. I whisper your name. And I wonder if you ever think about us, the way we were when things were good.

You know, before we learned to play with matches.

"When you reach the part where the heartaches come, the hero would be me. But heroes often fail. And you won't read that book again, because the ending's just too hard to take..."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Boys night out

I have a possible replacement for the Darryls.

I know, it's quick. But it's someone I've known for a couple of years. We hung out this weekend and I need to see what you guys think about him. (And by "you guys," I pretty much mean, "you girls plus Sage and Ed.")

OK, I can't keep up the suspense any longer. It's Nephew Bone.

We hung out Friday night for a couple of hours. It was BYOG. (Bring Your Own Goldfish.) Kicked it at my place for about thirty minutes. We banged around on some pots and pans and shot some Nerf basketball. Well I shot some, then held him up and he put the ball in. Over and over and over. After that, we hit the tizzown, got our eat on at Chic-Fil-A, then headed to Kywana's for a play date with the godson. I think we were both pretty wiped by the time I dropped him off at grandma's at 9.

Anyway, what I have prepared for you today is a rudimentary pro/con list of how hanging out with Nephew Bone compares to hanging out with the Darryls. First, we'll look at some pros for Nephew Bone:

Nephew Bone brings his own snacks. (See aforementioned BYOG.) The Darryls sometimes did -- Wolfgang moreso than LJ -- but not always.

Girls think Nephew Bone is cuter. And I must agree. And really, do I need any other reason than this? (I promise I never thought I would turn into one of those uncle bloggers.)

Nephew Bone always blows me kisses when I leave. The Darryls would never do this! At least, not sober. I was lucky if I got a "see ya later."

I'm entertained by every single thing Nephew Bone says or does. The Darryls? They were pretty entertaining, too. We'll call this one a wash.

OK, now for the cons:

Nephew Bone has a curfew. The Darryls never had a curfew. Well, not until Wolfgang got a girlfriend. Of course, a curfew could be a good thing if I'm really tired. At my age, I'm starting to adhere to the adage that "Nothing good can happen after sunset."

Nephew Bone doesn't play golf or have a pool table. However, he does have Legos.

Nephew Bone won't buy me a swimsuit calendar for Christmas. At least probably not for ten or fifteen years. (What? It's for a good cause! To help poor, needy, hard-working... Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.)

Well, there you have it. Nephew Bone versus the Darryls. The data is in your hands. What you choose to do with it is up to you. But I gotta tell you, if this doesn't work, my only remaining option may be a long-term legally-recognized union, with a woman.

Or trying to meet new people. Perish the thought.

"Every day a new discovery. I'm a child again looking through your eyes. With every step you're teaching me how to fall and cry, get up and smile..."

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..."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tipped a canoe and rafting, too

Why, hello there. I don't know where to start. This is almost awkward. Feels like we went on a date three weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to calling.

So what's my excuse? I dunno, post-Blogust fatigue syndrome, maybe? Also, if work gets any more "fun" I'm pretty sure it will be in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. If it makes you feel any better, I've completely let my fantasy baseball team go, too.

But enough of that. If you're still here then I am going to assume there is hope for us. And so, I want to try and catch up on a couple of things I have taken part in over the past few weeks. Today I will recap my whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee over Labor Day weekend.

This was my first time. And boy, it was quite a whirlwind. Took us about five hours, which was about an hour longer than it was supposed to take. And I remember at least seven or eight times I was pretty sure we were going in the wrong direction. I seriously began to wonder if we were going to make it.

And that was just the drive up.

Rafting itself was fun, if a bit of hard work. Our guide was quite demanding. I should have known something wasn't exactly right when we were getting in our raft and I saw the words "Hell's Dinghy" painted on the side.

Throughout the trip I kept noticing passengers in the other rafts (which, by the way, were passing us as our guide kept getting us stuck on rocks) didn't seem to be paddling half as much as we were. Others noticed it, too. I think I can best describe it as the Grizzly River Rampage meets hard labor camp. So you know, you get wet but you work for it.

Also as fate would have it, I wound up in the front of the raft, which according to our "guide" (so take this with a grain of salt) meant I was integral to helping steer the craft. All the paddlers on my side of the raft were supposed to pace themselves off of me.

Umm, is now the time to mention I tipped a canoe earlier this summer?

(That's me in the helmet. That's me in the front-right, losing my religion...)

Our guide kept making fun of himself and at first I thought it was an attempt at self-deprecating humor. But in the end, I think he was just being honest. He wasn't very good. Then again, he got us to the end, no one fell out, and we all survived, which with me up front was probably no small accomplishment.

I was surprised at just how many rafts and rafting companies were running the river. In my mind, I had pictured it a bit more isolated, where maybe you pass another raft every four or five minutes. But it's nothing like that. There was a line of rafts waiting to enter the river, one right after another, and you were never out of sight of at least three other rafts. It was more like an amusement park, which I think could lure people into a false sense of safety.

In closing, any recapitulation of this trip would be unjust and incomplete without me mentioning the "changing room incident." We got back to the outpost (fancy word for rafting company headquarters) and one of the guides said there were rooms in the back where we could change.

So I went back to the car, got some dry clothes and went into the so-called changing room. I guess I was expecting it to be like Old Navy. You know, several tiny rooms, each with a door, a mirror, and a little bench. Unfortunately, it was not like that at all. There was just this big open room with three shower stalls. No other walls. No partitions. Nothing. I mean, I would have been better off changing behind a tree.

Well, I turned my back to the rest of the guys. There were only three or four of us in there at the time and I figured facing the wall was the best place to start. You know, it wouldn't have been so bad if I had been wearing underwear. I'm completely comfortable walking around in my underwear. But I was only wearing swim trunks, which have the sort of built-in underwear.

Anyway, for some unbeknownst reason, I decided to take a quick glance around. I dunno, I think maybe I was gonna check to see if the showers had curtains and I could change in there. Well that was quite possibly the biggest mistake of my life.

This is why I could never be in prison. Or a porn star. I just can't do communal showers.

Anyway, other than the awkward changing room incident and the possible long-term effects thereof, the Ocoee trip was miles of fun. Literally. It was five miles of rafting. I'm thankful I got to experience whitewater rafting at its most commercial. And also thankful I didn't read this list of rafting accidents and fatalities in the state of Tennessee before the trip. Else I may never have gone.

"Oh life is bigger. It's bigger than you, and you are not me. The lengths that I will go to. The distance in your eyes..."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Angel Soft is NOT

I was all set to begin a new feature here on IYROOBTY, Public Restroom Reviews. (I'm sure you're looking forward to that.) But that will have to be put on hold for the time being due to a more pressing issue.

Recently, I was in the grocery store and among my items to pick up was toilet paper. My normal choice is Scott Extra Soft or Cottonelle. But lately my local store only sells Cottonelle in the 12-roll Jumbo size, or what I like to call the bad-Chinese-food pack. I refuse to buy anything bigger than the 4-roll size, or what I like to call the bachelor pack. On this particular day they were out of Scott Extra Soft, so my choices were Angel Soft, Quilted Northern or Charmin Ultra Soft.

I'm not sure what happened, but you know the little guy inside your head that keeps you from saying and doing stupid things? Well mine must've taken a few seconds off -- maybe he was gawking at the cute cashier or something, I don't know -- because in that instant, I violated one of the cardinal rules of life: Never go cheap when it comes to toilet paper, tattoos, and hookers. (Not that I have any experience at all with the latter two.)

In my inexplicable moment of poor judgment, I decided upon the least expensive of the three options, which was Angel Soft. What can I say, they lured me in with that picture of a soft baby and fluffy clouds. I mean, how bad could it be?

Well, I don't think I am capable of answering that question without cursing, so we'll just move along.

I got one-and-a-half rolls into that four-pack and had to go back and buy another brand -- the toilet paper equivalent of walking out of a movie early. So if I appear a bit bow-legged, please understand.

After investigating a bit further, I found out Angel Soft is manufactured by Georgia-Pacific. Isn't that a railroad? No wonder! Might as well buy toilet paper made by Stihl. And I don't see the soft-baby-fluffy-white-cloud connection at all! Maybe you'll cry like a baby when you use it?

For now, I'm on the Charmin Ultra Soft train. That's the package with the momma bear and baby bear, if you're curious. And as their slogan says, "Using less never felt so good."

In the end I'm left with a valuable, if painful, lesson relearned; two full rolls of the Angel Soft; and even more proof of what a sensitive guy I truly am.

"Please don't squeeze my Sharmon. Don't hold her so tight. You'd best heed my warnin', it's the last one tonight..."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In a parallel world...

I'm afeared Blogust has lost its steam. Or maybe in some parallel universe somewhere Blogust still has its steam and I'm writing like a man possessed... with writing.

I've decided to reassess and adjust my goals. Not that I don't still plan to someday set the world record for most consecutive games of Freecell won and run a half marathon -- although not in the same day, probably -- but I think it is time to put those dreams on hold for a bit.

In another universe, Parallel Me has probably already run a half marathon, backwards, while wearing leg weights and thinking up new higher dreams that I don't even know we have yet.

But here in the yellow sun universe, I need to set some realistic goals that I can reach, preferably without a lot of effort. Things like updating my resume, which is probably about seven years old. And I'm pretty sure was saved on a 5-and-a-quarter-inch floppy disk.

Or how about hanging up the remaining three 2010 calendars, of the six I received last Christmas. That seems doable. Maybe. When I have some extra time and nothing good is on ESPN. Parallel Me probably doesn't even need a calendar. He probably has one on his computer. Or a day planner.

Another goal could be, not having a conniption each day at work. This one may seem a bit far-fetched. Also I'm not exactly sure how much control a person has over having a conniption or not. But, so far so good.

I wasn't sure if conniption was the right word there, so I looked it up: "A sudden, violent emotional outburst generally characterized by a tirade of strong language and signs of frustration and/or rage." Yep! That's definitely the right word.

So I've reassessed and plotted a new course, at least for the short-term. And things are already looking up. For example, earlier tonight I achieved a goal I didn't even realize I had set for myself, when I threw away some turkey bacon (dated June 17th) which had literally turned green.

In a parallel universe, I wonder if that turkey was still good. Parallel Me is probably enjoying a delicious BLT right now while he writes his 25th blog entry of the month.

Sometimes I really hate that guy.

"If I was someone else, would this all fall apart? Strange, where were you when we started this gig? I wish the real world would just stop hassling me..."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Turning two

Saturday kicked off my busy fall social season, also known as the toddler birthday party circuit. Nephew Bone and I attended the first fall informal of the year, a birthday gala for the godson at Kywana's house. It was boys night out. Or, boys morning out, as he tends to get sleepy around 2 in the afternoon. And to be quite honest, so does his uncle.

The godson officially turned two yesterday, and Nephew Bone hits the big dos maƱana. The cool thing about turning two is it's the only time in your life that your age doubles in a day. I've tried explaining this to Nephew Bone, but instead of blowing his mind he seems instead to take it all in stride. I'm like, "OK, but don't act all confused next year when your age only increases by fifty percent."

The other cool thing about being two-years-old is that you have no idea who your friends are, so your parents just invite whoever and tell you, "These are your friends." The red-headed kid down the street? That's your friend. The son of your mother's college roommate? Another friend. That frees you up to concentrate on more important things, like eating cake icing and... pointing at things.

Overall, it was a decent party with delicious cake and a pinata, which I didn't get to hit. And like any happening party, there were girls there, including Setup Girl and her daughter, formerly known as "the kid who was almost mine." Setup Girl is expecting another child, which we'll call "the kid who is definitely not mine," and also engaged. So Nephew Bone and I steered clear and headed for open waters.

At one point, I started playing with this super cool bubble blower and began to lure some of the younger kids away from the pinata. In my plaid shorts, I was beginning to feel a bit like the Pied Piper. But I thought it best not to march out of town. You never know how parents these days are going to react to something like that.

The party started to fizzle out around the break of 12:15, and I decided to take Nephew Bone to see his grandma. On the way over, "Lovefool" came on and of course I turned it up a bit and was singing along. In the middle of the song, I glanced in the back seat to see Nephew Bone "dancing" to the music. "You like this song, buddy?" I asked. He smiled and nodded.

While we were at grandma's, I caught myself still singing the chorus because, well once that song is in your head, it's there for awhile, and let's face it, I'm always singing something. Right after I sang, "Love me, love me," Nephew Bone hummed, in tune, "Ha huh, ha huh."

Sigh. I must have done something right.

And how about one more Nephew Bone story for the road? Alright, you talked me into it. My sister was telling me that while cleaning recently, she had moved Nephew Bone's piggy bank from one end of his dresser to the other. So a couple days ago, he was standing by his dresser and pointing up. When she picked him up, he grabbed the piggy bank and moved it to the other end of the dresser, where it usually sits.

"I think my kid might be a little OCD," she said. "And I'm the complete opposite of OCD, so I don't know where he gets it from."

"Hmm, I have no idea," I replied, reaching to straighten the ever-so-slightly-crooked mouse pad on my desk.

"Love me, love me, say that you love me. Fool me, fool me, go on and fool me..."

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..."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lakeside revelations

I've discovered that I now divide the nation/world into regions by bloggers that I know. For instance, my dad is in North Carolina this week. North Carolina is (a) Sage's old stomping grounds and (b) near Pia. I refer to this as Geoblography. And that is the end of the Geoblography part of this post.

In other keeping-tabs-on-my-parents-until-God-help-us-all-they-start-tweeting-someday news, we got Mom moved into a house a couple of weekends ago. It's funny, had I typed "home" there in place of "house" that would have had a whole other connotation, even though it is her home. Anyway, we had five men of the Bone extended family on hand for the proceedings.

There was my cousin's husband and me; my sister's husband, who'd just received a cortisone shot in his back the previous day; my uncle R, who had back surgery earlier this year; and my fave aunt's 72-year-old husband, which I know makes him my uncle, but as it's her second husband I guess I'm slow to acclimate, even though they've been married for fifteen years. With a crew like that, who needs Two Men & A Truck?

After all that heavy lifting, plus the added pressure of Blogust and the general stress of just being me, I decided to take a three-day weekend this past week. And I spent much of it near, on, or in the lake. Which makes me think of a joke I heard on the radio recently:

What's the difference between a pond and a lake?

If cattle relieve themselves in it, then it's a pond.

So this was definitely a lake. I hope.

One highlight of the weekend was getting to drive/ride around on this little two-seater motorized mini-catamaran-like watercraft. I had never seen anything like it, and apparently a lot of other people hadn't either, as it seemed to be the talk of the lake. We got a "That's pretty cool!" and a "What is that thing?" or two.

At one point Saturday, this pontoon boat slowed down and waved us by, then one of the guys yelled, "Where do you buy something like that?" At first, I thought they were talking about my trusty gray Gilligan hat, but no. Later, when we docked to have lunch at a lakeside restaurant, one guy quipped, "That's all motor, no boat." There's no comeback for that. I spent a good ten to fifteen minutes trying to decide if "all motor, no boat" could possibly be a euphemism, but was unable to come up with anything.

Recounting other less exciting events, I managed to not roll the jet ski, and I may or may not have fallen asleep on the boat, but most likely did. You put me in the sun and stop talking for about twelve seconds, I'm gone.

There were a couple of points where the lake houses and noisy jet skis gave way to quiet, narrow channels. These no-wake zones were lined with trees, wildflowers and more lily pads than I have ever seen. We also were fortunate enough to see a couple of blue herons perched along the banks. I thought of the oil spill.

All in all, it was a super relaxing weekend, letting nature fill my senses and having no other place in the world to be. I'm pretty sure my blood pressure dropped about fifty points, if blood pressure is even measured in points.

I'm also pretty sure I realized that a sparrow and a robin are the only two birds I can identify for 100% certain. (I thought the blue heron was a crane.) Maybe a cardinal, unless that's different from a redbird.

The lake isn't quite the beach. (It also isn't a pond, but that's neither here nor there.) But it's still water, and there's still a breeze. Sitting on the pier in the evening, watching the sun reflecting across the water until the very last sliver dips below the horizon, there's nothing quite like that.

After all, we only get so many sunsets.

"Stars are dancin' on the water here tonight. It's good for the soul and there's not a soul in sight. This boat has caught its wind and brought me back to life. Now I'm alive, and well..."

Monday, August 09, 2010

For my friend

If I took you for granted
I could not apologize enough
And if I kept you at a distance
Well, that's just how I've always been

And if we could have been something more than we are now
I cannot help but take my share of the blame
And my share is a lot

If I took you for granted
I could not apologize enough
And if I ever pushed you away
Well, that's just how I've always been

And if we could be something more than we are now
I cannot help but want to take that chance
If there is a chance to be taken

If I took you for granted
It was never my intention
And if I ever pushed you away
I don't want to anymore

And if it's too late
Well, that's just how I've always been

"Friends get scattered by the wind, tossed upon the waves, lost for years on end. Friends slowly drift apart, they give away their hearts, maybe call you now and then..."

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The time Google saved me 300 bucks

Blogust rolls on. We're on our 4th consecutive day of over 100 degrees here. Don't tell anyone, but I secretly love the heat...

One night last week on my way to go for a run, the keyless remote wouldn't unlock the car door. Shifting seamlessly into MacGyver mode, I used the key-shaped object attached to the remote and was somehow able to manually unlock the door. I figured maybe the battery in the remote had died.

When I got to the park, I noticed something else askew. The interior lights wouldn't go off. I opened the door and closed it again, took out the keys, got out of the car, closed the door and waited for thirty seconds. I did everything but march seven times around the car blowing a trumpet. The lights were still on.

Finally, I discovered if I turned the dimmer switch all the way down until it clicked, the lights would go off. However, this meant that they wouldn't come on when I opened the door. And also that I would scarcely be able to see the speedometer, gas gauge, and most importantly, the radio, when driving at night.

Befuddled, I googled a couple of things and found a site with several suggestions of things to try. Such as, disconnect the battery for ten minutes, check to see if a button in the driver's side door might be stuck, take out all the bulbs, sell the car for scrap, etc.

The situation grew even stranger the next day when I discovered that nothing on the driver side door panel worked: mirrors, windows, door locks, my Dixie horn (kidding!), nothing. So I decided to call Dad and see what he thought. He said he'd drive over Friday afternoon to look at it.

In the meantime, I googled again with my new details. This time I found a site where a couple of people had suggested that there was a short in a ground wire in the driver's side door.

Well, long story slightly shorter, that ended up being exactly what it was. After removing the rubber boot from the door revealing a cluster of wires, we found a large black one that had been completely snapped in two.

All that was left was a trip to Radio Shack to give them my phone number and pick up some crimps and extra wire. Total cost, about ten bucks. So thank you, And thank you, Google. You are amazing. I predict that pretty soon, people will be performing medical procedures on themselves.

I can see it now: "I'm sorry, Mister Bone, but it appears that you used AskJeeves to perform your self-tonsillectomy. Unfortunately, that is not one of the preferred-search engines covered by your insurance."

As we got into Dad's van to go to Radio Shack, he put on these huge sunglasses. Before I could say anything -- and believe me I was going to -- he spoke.

"Are these women's glasses?"

"Uh, yeah, I think so."

"Oh me."

"Let me see 'em." I tried them on and looked at myself in the mirror. "Yep, they're women's."

"It's hard to tell the difference."

"Yeah, it is sometimes."

"Well," he continued, slipping the glasses back on, "I went back and bought a different pair, but I still wear these in the car."

So in closing, if you should see a 60ish man driving around in a white van with Paris Hilton glasses on, I don't know him.

"Fixin' up my car, workin' for a livin'. Drive down to the seashore, lookin' at the pretty women. I'm an American boy..."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

On the third day of Blogust...

What? Two posts from Bone in four days? That can only mean one of two things: Either you've been joyriding in the DeLorean again and traveled back in time to 2005, or more likely, it's Blogust!!!

That's right, blogging friends. It's the month you've all been waiting for. Time to celebrate and procreate. Or, just create. So string up the lights and light up the tree, I'll be writing like mad for all the world to see.

Blogust -- not to be confused with Blog Lust, whatever that is -- is very similar to Blogtober which I invented last year. In fact, it's exactly the same, except I couldn't wait until October this year because, well, my blog was dying. The basic premise is that I'll make myself write for at least 30 minutes a day for the entire month, which will ideally result in a few more blog entries. Also, I'm hoping the increase in writing will carry on beyond the end of the month this time.

I should warn you. I'm already feeling rejuvenated, like I've discovered the blogging fountain of youth! Or it could be I've just had too much caffeine today. Either way, feel free to join in or just read along.

I'm also proclaiming this the 3rd annual National Blog Something That's In Draft Week. Or NaBloSoThaDraWe, as it is as commonly known. (Sometimes written as National Blog Something From Draft Week -- or NaBloSoFroDraWe -- especially in parts of Minnesota and Iowa, among certain nomadic peoples of the American southwest, and last year on this blog.

Boy, for someone who doesn't blog that much, I sure invent a lot of fake blog holidays. And if someday, perchance, I am credited as the person who saved blogging, well so be it.

Anyway, NaBloSoThaDraWe is a week I created back in two-double-ought-eight for the blogging lull which occurs for many of us during these dog days of summer. You are all invited to join in. I have no doubt that amongst the weeds and tall grass of your meadow of drafts, there is a radiant flower just starving for some blog-light. Also, for you history buffs, you can read more about the origins of NaBloSoThaDraWe here.

So Blogust and NaBloSoThaDraWe occurring at the same time! That's like having a full moon and a total eclipse on the same day!

(OK, so upon further research, it turns out that a lunar eclipse can only occur when there is a full moon. Who knew?)

Now without further adieu, let's get it started. On the third day of Blogust, your true Bone gives to you, his entry for NaBloSoThaDraWe. It's a piece I like to call "Facebook Stranger." I have a tune in my head that goes with it, but it's hard to convey a tune with a keyboard when one doesn't know how to write music.

Facebook Stranger
by Bone
from the unreleased album Take Heed 'Cause I'm A Lyrical Poet: Words Without Music
(For NaBloSoThaDraWe 2010)

I've never met you or I haven't seen you in twenty years
I guess we can catch up on the past that we don't share
Not sure why you friended me, I'm thinking of clicking deny
But then if I do, it makes me question what kind of person am I

Facebook stranger, you're no friend
All these pseudo-social decisions, will they never end
You've got mafia wars to fight
And what you loved about Glee last night
I don't really care to read again
Facebook stranger, you're no friend

I doubt you'd even stop to speak if we passed on the street
Yet you send me these friend requests at least every other week
Not sure why you friended me, what's the point of it all
Do you really want to poke me or am I just a number on your wall?

Facebook stranger, you're no friend
All these pseudo-social decisions, will they never end
You've got mafia wars to fight
And what you loved about Glee last night
I don't really care to read again
Facebook stranger, you're no friend

"You better put on the Hammer, and you will be rewarded. My beat is ever boomin' and you know I get it started..."

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reminiscing at the speed of life

Over the years, my earthly father has passed along to me morsels of wisdom and knowledge that only come with life experiences. Things such as the best place to be in a tornado warning is driving around in a car, never take a shower if it's thundering outside, and of course, if you're fishing from the bank and a snake swims by, the fishing trip is over five minutes ago. You can't put a price on that.

A few weeks ago, he who reared me passed along something a bit more tangible but just as priceless. He had come across some old home videos of yours truly and decided to have them put onto DVD.

Now when I say home videos, I'm not talking videocassette. Oh no, it was a bit more primitive than that. As in, when we watched them back, we watched them on this film-projector-like thing. It had a bulb. I clearly remember there was a bulb involved somewhere in the process. Also, I don't think there was any volume. It was kinda like starring in my own Zapruder video.

We hadn't watched these back since I was little. I guess the bulb went out twenty-five or thirty years ago and we just never replaced it, or more likely, they stopped manufacturing it. So I was anxious to see what was on there.

The opening scene has a young Bone, circa six months, in a swing eating some unrecognizable food. Later, there is footage of me rolling over and then what I assume to be some of my first steps, both of which I still consider to be among my top ten accomplishments. I mean, really, what else?

Then a few scenes in, there is my mom. So slender and so strikingly young. And at once, my whole demeanor changed. Inundated by waves of thoughts and emotions coming so fast I can't begin to sort through them. Her hair, long and straight, she's holding me up to pick mulberry leaves. I teared up and I'm not even sure why. Just... she was so young. And where did all those years go?

A couple of scenes later, my dad makes his only appearance. With his seventies hair and butterfly collar shirt, he's lying in the floor beside me mouthing "look at the camera." His mannerisms too much like mine.

The videos basically document my first four years -- birthday parties, a couple of Christmases. There are at least four guitars, both real and toy, placed in front of me on different occasions. Dad has apparently been trying to get me to play the guitar from day one on, until and including the present, as evidenced by the guitar permanently on loan from him mostly collecting dust in my bedroom. The most I ever do is pluck a few times at one, then or now.

Naturally, I had to show the DVD to Mom. She watched with near disbelief as she let two-year-old me hold and lick icing off a big butcher knife, my hand grasping the blade of the knife instead of the handle. And again as I was learning to walk along a sidewalk, mere feet from a street with cars passing by. Later, there's footage of me at probably 3 or 4 playing in the snow, a coat on but no gloves. All that, and I turned out OK!

It is an odd thing to be watching oneself, and you know it is you, but it seems like you're watching somebody else. But that is how it felt.

Still, the DVD is priceless, because if I had ever thought of those home videos, I would have been quite certain that I would never have seen them again.

No further footage exists to prove that I ever walked this Earth. After the Zapruder camera, I'm fairly certain no one in my immediate family owned a video camera until my sister bought one when Nephew Bone came along. So no first swimming lesson, when I cried and never went back. And absolutely no proof I was ever terrified of grasshoppers, as my family alleges.

Along with the feeling that I was watching somebody else, there was a constant and overwhelming sense of the incredible speed at which time and life pass. There was today and thirty-six years ago separated by just a few feet. And yet, such an untraversable distance.

Where did all those years go? And not just the years, but the months and the weeks, the mornings and the evenings, the doctor's appointments and little league games, the school days and the workdays, the summers and the autumns. Is there nothing left to keep, to hold on to, to show to someone that "This was me. This was my life. This was what I did?"

I suppose there are but scattered pictures. And memories, like invisible pages pressed tightly together in some book that looks surely too small to hold all of our days, all that we were and all that we've done. And maybe if we are lucky some day some wind blows open the book to a memory we thought we had long since forgotten.

Though I was supposed to be the centerpiece of these home videos, as I watched them back I found myself focusing more on my parents. They both turn sixty this year -- Mom in October and Dad just last week. I tried to imagine how they must have been back then, not having a whole lot. I thought about how they must have struggled sometimes to get by, and how in the world they knew how to start raising a child when they were fourteen years younger than I am now.

I wonder if they ever look at me today and think back to a little boy with blonde hair and a cheesy grin playing in the snow with no gloves on and ask themselves the same question: Where did all those years go?

"Though it's clear as day in my mind, the picture of a simpler time. Wish change would just leave well enough alone. Those days are gone now, when daddy was a strong man, and momma was a blonde..."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A tough trimester, killer bees, and the bachelorhood loses one of its own

It's been a banner week in the life of Bone. A banner ten days, actually.

The second trimester, if you will, of July had a quite inauspicious beginning when I discovered I had left a virtually full pack of gum in the pocket of my shorts. That would have been fine, except that at the time of this discovery, said shorts had already gone through the washing machine and had been in the dryer for about forty minutes.

So there I was at 11:30 on a Friday night, on my knees using an SOS pad to try and scrub copious amounts of melted gum from the inside wall of my dryer. Fortunately, I was able to get most of it off, but my fingers smelled like Stride Spearmint for two days, which turned out to be sort of a pleasant surprise whenever I'd accidentally catch a whiff of them. It's quite the bachelor's paradise I have created here, don't you think? A veritable Eden of singledom.

Then on Monday of last week, I was taking out the trash when at once I found myself in the midst of a swarm of ginormous killer bees. The largest bees I have ever seen. There must have been twenty or thirty of them. I never even made it to the dumpster, instead turning tail and running the other way, trash bag still in hand. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my mostly sheltered life.

As I sprinted, all I could see was Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News doing the lead story: "Killer bees have returned to the United States." Run, Bone, run! I don't want to be a statistic! I narrowly -- and I thought somewhat miraculously -- escaped without a single sting.

As luck would have it, there was a lady nearby who kindly informed me that I had just been "attacked" by a swarm of June bugs.

Oh... um... do they sting, too?

The week progressed, as weeks are wont to do. On Friday, tidings arrived by way of the text message that Wolfgang had gotten engaged. Yes, you heard it here first (unless you happen to be one of his Facebook friends): Wolfgang is getting married!

The engagement consummates a whirlwind five-month courtship, which is like light-speed to me. I prefer to plod along at a snail's pace, slow and steady. No one's in any hurry. Nobody's going anywhere. Let's not make any sudden movements. I'm like the tortoise in The Tortoise & The Hare, and I think we all know how that turns out.

More importantly, this is the end of the three amigos as we know them, and I feel... a bit odd. It's going to be strange with only one Darryl around. Do Remaining Darryl and I try and find a replacement Darryl, or move on just us two, Bosom Buddies-style? Neither of the Darryls ever got married on Newhart, so it's really hard to know for sure what to do. There is no guidebook.

I guess this is what comes from basing too much of my life on a TV show. I feel disillusioned.

And I always thought the second trimester was supposed to be the easiest.

"I got ketchup on my blue jeans, I just burned my hand. Lord, it's hard to be a bachelor man..."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Into a cup, in the middle of the day

It's the continuing saga of the struggle of one blog to survive. I think I'm ready to proclaim next month Blogust. I just hope we make it that long. In other news completely unrelated to my lack of blogging, my current FreeCell record is 353-28, while my most consecutive games won is 44.

In attempting to recreate the 4th of July this year, I severely misunderestimated the difficulty in finding fifty-six people to wear powdered wigs. Actually, you could have ended that last sentence after "people" and it would have been just as true. So instead, we decided to try and recreate last year's 4th of July celebration: canoe ride, small-town fireworks display, etc.

Well, that went about as well as a Kanye West awards show improvisation. I think I may have been a bit overconfident in my canoe skills after last year's five-hour virtuoso performance, because we hadn't been on the water fifteen minutes this year when we tipped over.

Fortunately, we were able to salvage two left flip-flops, two now-completely-soaked-and-therefore-useless towels, my Gilligan hat (it refuses to die!), both paddles, and most importantly, the cooler. Because honestly, the main thing getting me out on that river was the promise of a sandwich, a snack and a Sun Drop.

Turning the canoe back over was a bit of a challenge and took me four or five tries. But I refused to give up, because all I kept thinking is how embarrassing it would have been to have to call the canoe guy to come and get us. That would be quite emasculating. And if there's one thing I am, it's masculating.

Anyway, I can officially cross "tipping a canoe" off my bucket list, although it wasn't actually on my bucket list. I guess I can go back and add it... posthumously. I don't think that's the right word.

It had started to rain the last hour or so of the canoe trip and it continued to rain until sometime the next day, forcing them to postpone the fireworks show. So we went home and watched the fireworks on PBS with Reba McEntire and some actor I didn't know who looked a little bit like a taller, more serious Rob Schneider.

I entertained myself by reading the hometown gazette. The sheriff's report (blotter?) was particularly interesting. It included, among other things:

"There were twelve deer/vehicle incidents reported in the past week."

"Mrs. Carolyn New called to report that a turkey flew into her windshield on Highway 80 Tuesday evening. She wasn't injured but her windshield will have to be replaced."

"Someone reported several cows out off of Highway 11 Thursday evening."

The next day when we came up on a horse which had apparently become detached from an Amish buggy, I said that we should call the sheriff to report it. But I was outvoted, 1 to 1.

There was one final highlight to my Independence Day weekend. A personal milestone, if you will. For the first time in nearly four years, I peed into a bottle, in the car. Apparently I feel compelled to document each time this happens, as I wrote about it the last time, too.

I'm going to pretend that twice in the past four years makes me a bit of an expert on the topic of in-vehicle evacuation, at least among this focus group. So I would like to close today with a few tips I think you will find quite helpful:

First, you want to make sure you have plenty of hand sanitizer. And a good-sized container, large enough to handle the, um, output. I don't have to tell you that it is both nearly impossible and excruciatingly painful to try and cut off the faucet midstream.

You might also want to move to the backseat, or make the other person or persons in the vehicle promise not to look, lest you suffer stage fright and be unable to perform. Been there, was unable to do that.

Next, you want to make sure that the outlet is entirely above the receptacle, and that the receptacle is as close to straight up as possible. This might require some awkward body positioning, but will ensure that you are able to use the full capacity of the receptacle, and it should also make aiming easier. Trust me.

And finally, what if you're not a male? Well, I imagine that could be a tad more difficult.

"And when that summer sun starts to beatin' down and you don't know what to do, grab your swimming trunks, ice up that old Igloo, and drive until the map turns blue..."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The unwinnable game?

Greeted Friday morning by the realization that it had been a year since the passing of Michael Jackson, I was taken aback. A whole year? It felt like four months, maybe. Rarely had time ever felt so fast. And lately it always feels fast. But this was light speed.

I realized I am basically in exactly the same place in life that I was a year ago. A year older, yes. Generally happier now that Bama has won the national championship. But other than that, nothing has changed.

I began to ponder my life -- perhaps life is too strong a word there -- existence. What was I doing? Where was I going? What were my goals? Would I leave my mark upon this world? Or was my life like a Windows screen saver -- briefly entertaining, but at the slightest movement of the mouse of death, gone without a trace?

As I went to take out the trash that evening, I passed a lone fisherman, casting and reeling in his line in the middle of the parking lot. Now there's a guy who knows what he's doing with his life, I thought. Clearly, this individual had chosen the Bill Dance path to fame and fortune.

I began to think of my heroes -- Jason Morgan, Michael Scott, Sam from Cheers. And... that really didn't help a whole lot. So I thought of the most successful person I know, Orville Redenbacher. Still nothing.

It was at that moment that I recalled a little something from my youth known as Guinness. As in, the book of world records. Of course! The easiest way for a man (woman, or other) to leave their mark upon the Earth is to set a record! Thank goodness I thought of it, as my other best idea was to father twenty children to get my own reality show.

The only question now was which record to set. I delved further into my screen saver analogy... screen saver, Windows, Microsoft, Bill Gates. At the same time, the mortal words of Jim Halpert appeared in my head: "Those mines aren't gonna sweep themselves." Ah, yes! Windows games.

But which one? Well, that was easy: FreeCell. It's more fun than Solitaire, less confusing than Hearts, and I was never that great at Minesweeper anyway.

Of course, one doesn't undertake such an undertaking without first doing the proper research. While searching for what the actual record for consecutive games of FreeCell won was, I came upon an online FreeCell community, which I promptly joined. There, I will be able to play online from any computer and as my consecutive games streak grows (ideally), I'll be able to see where it ranks amongst the greatest streaks of all-time. Best of all, this will allow my public -- that's you -- to follow along with my progress if you wish.

The site also keeps up with your total hours playing FreeCell. Now that, I don't care for. That'd be like my TV flashing, "Bone, you have now spent 31,000 hours of your life watching ESPN. That is the equivalent of 3.5 years." There are some things I choose not to know.

Here's another interesting tidbit that I discovered: Did you know there is one deal of FreeCell that is impossible to win? Yes. Game #11982 in the Windows version is the unwinnable game. You'll learn as you become more familiar with the FreeCell cult, er, community, that those numbers are sacred and we all have proper reverence for game #11982.

So then, it is entirely possible that after weeks and months and hundreds of hours, I could be on the cusp of breaking the consecutive games record and be dealt the unwinnable game.

Still, I refuse to let that thought deter me. Lack of patience, time, skill, perseverance, those might all deter me. But the possibility of facing the unwinnable game shall not. For I am not doing this just for myself, but for the children I've yet to bear. I want one day for them to be able to log onto and say to their friends, "That Bone in the number one position, who spent several thousand hours on this website, and now has severe carpal tunnel syndrome, that's our dad."

Besides, great accomplishments are rarely easy. Do you think the Wright Brothers never had any setbacks, doubts, or arguments? Sure they did. Orville would say, "Why do I always have to be the one risking life and limb and doing the test flights?" And Wilbur would respond, "Because somebody's gotta be on the ground working the stopwatch." (Source: Bone's Revisionist History Of Aviation, Vol. 2. Also, Propellers To Popcorn: Bone's Book Of Famous Orville's.)

And so, for my next trick, I will now attempt to set the world record for the most consecutive games of FreeCell won.

If you're interested, the current record is 19,793. My high so far is 10.

What? I only started yesterday.

"Countin' flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all. Playin' solitaire 'til dawn with a deck of fifty-one..."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In a summer swelter

I think I finally understand what that song means. Well, that line anyway. Well, that part of that line. If ever was a summer swelter, we are in it. All except for the minor detail that it's not quite yet officially summer. I golfed yesterday, was already glistening with sweat on the first hole, and by the end of the round my shirt was like you had dipped it in water.

We're in another one of those stretches of twenty days of temps in the nineties and heat indexes normally reserved for the surface of Mercury. I have a standard line that I use in times like these: "Cold enough for ya?" It gets a laugh like a tenth of the time, but it's a decent conversation starter. OK, maybe decent is too strong a word there.

Of course, leave it to me to get a cold in the midst of all this. How does that even happen? I caught it on a Wednesday night and kicked it by the following Tuesday.

Being sick did give me additional time to realize there is nothing to watch on TV. Not any sports I'm very interested in. Not a Newhart rerun. Nothing. Just the World Cup. When is that over? I want my ESPN back. I can get into pretty much any sport you throw out there -- curling, Australian Rules Football, I've even watched the National Scrabble Championships. But soccer? I'm sorry, it's just not happening. Oh well, just 77 more days 'til football season. And I'll be asleep for like 15 of those.

I wish I could blame my being sick for my lack of blogtivity. But let's face it, I've been mentally lamenting -- if that's possible -- the excruciatingly slow death of my blog for awhile now. I want to write, but either I have no inspiration or I get sidetracked playing Family Feud on Facebook while singing along to Rob Thomas on iTunes. (I can't believe I just admitted that. The Family Feud part, I mean.)

I need discipline. Someone to say, "Bone, you can't go out to play until you've done your homework." By "go out to play" I mean "retreat further from social interaction by playing games online." And by "done your homework" I mean "written for thirty minutes."

I thought about re-instituting my Blogtober rules for June, but decided I'd wait until at least August, as Blogust sounds better than... well, whatever Blog-plus-June would be. On the other hand, Blogust also sounds a little like one of the ten plagues.

We shall see. Meanwhile, if you Boggle online, hit me up. I'm "Bone" or "Roll Tide" on the 4x4 board.

Finally, I'd like to close today with a Father's Day anecdote. I had contacted Dad's wife earlier this week for some possible ideas for Father's Day gifts, hoping maybe to surprise him. That went something like this:

"Have you heard him say anything he might want or need for Father's Day?"

"Yeah, there are a couple of things he's mentioned."

Alright! I'm thinking. She continues.

"The band on his underwear tore the other night and he was going to buy some new ones but I told him Father's Day is coming up and the kids might get you some."

Short pause to wait for response. There is none.

"He wears the white briefs."

"OK. Anything else?"

"He also needs some of the Mach 3 razor blades."

Sigh. OK, first of all, I'm not buying tightie-whities for anybody, especially not anybody related to me. Second of all, this is exactly the same thing Dad asked for last Father's Day, except I think he also wanted batteries last year.

As the week wound down, my sister and I were still void of ideas, so I decided to just call Dad and ask him directly if there was anything he wanted.

"Ya'll don't have to get me anything. Just keep being my kids." His usual response.

"Dad, it's Father's Day. You know we are going to get you something, just as we have every Father's Day, lo, these many years."

"Well, I guess I could use some new underwear. Mine's got holes in them."

Audible sigh.

"I wear the white briefs."

Yes, Dad, I am aware. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of you walking around the house at night in ONLY those white briefs. Everyone's father does that, right? Actually, you know what, don't answer that.

"Alright. Is there anything else you can think of?"

"Oh, you know what, there is something else I need."

Finally! At long last!

"Ya'll can get me some of those Mach 3 razor blades."

"Man, it's a hot one. Like seven inches from the midday sun..."

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Some people claim there's a woman to blame

I blew out my flip-flop.

No, really, I did. Last night, walking from the apartment to the car. One instant I was walking normally, my feet happily nestled in their open-air home. And the next, it was over.

I always knew this was gonna happen. This is precisely why I keep a spare pair of flip-flops in my vehicle, and have for years. Sure, people made fun of me. But I stood strong. Because with open-toed shoes, you never know. No one can predict the life of a flip-flop. Sometimes they die young, and we're left only to wonder why.

Have you ever thought about what you're gonna do when the inevitable inevitably happens and you are unprepared? What if you're away from home? Where does that leave you? I'll tell you where: up a creek, my friend. Serves you right for living your freewheeling, one-pair lifestyle.

To illustrate my point, this very thing happened to a friend of mine some years ago. He was at the beach. Stepped on a pop-top, of all things. Completely blew out his flip-flop. Cut his heel and... OK, I lied, it wasn't a friend, it was Jimmy Buffett.

Still, he cut his heel! Had to cruise on back home, most likely barefooted. Either that, or he bought a new pair at one of those shops that sell beach wear, they're all over the place down there. Then he wrote a song about it and made enough money that he never had to work again. Boy, this was a really bad example. Anyway, moving on.

What is so wrong with being prepared? I mean, we carry jumper cables in our cars in case the battery goes dead. Spare tires in case we have a flat. A thing of contact solution in case our contacts get dry and wrinkle up. Alright, maybe that last one is just me.

So I keep a spare pair of flip-flops in the car. And an extra pair of sunglasses. And maybe a sweatshirt in case I get chilly. I ask you, does that make me any less cool? Any less "gangsta?" (I totally just did air quotes there.)

Perhaps. But then again, at the same time I'm blasting Christopher Cross and Phil Collins on my iPod. So I think it all evens out.

Personally, I consider this entire episode a victory for (my version of) normalcy and good sense.

For five years, people have asked why I have an extra pair of flip-flops in my car. And for five years, they have laughed at me when I told them the reason.

Well, who's laughing now?

"Don't know the reason, I stayed here all season, with nothing to show but this brand new tattoo..."

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Destin 2010

"I get ten vacation days a year, and I try to hold off from taking them as long as possible. This year I got to the third week in January." ~ Pam Beasley, The Office.

It's time now for a special Wednesday edition of Thursdays with Bone. Don't think of it as six days late. Think of it as a day early. Work was a malicious, spiteful, complaining woman last week. So even though I've only been back from the beach for ten days, I'm already in need of another vacation.

Day one at the beach included quite a scare for our hero. I was in the ocean when I heard some people yelling. I turned to see they were all looking my way and appeared to be very interested in something swimming in the water. Well, I swear it sounded like they were saying "Shark!" So naturally, I started splashing towards the shore like a frightened little girl.

Then I heard someone yelling "No!" When I looked, they appeared to be motioning for me to stay still. I'm sorry, but if there's a shark in the water, I'm getting out of the water. I might not be able to outrun it but it sure won't be for lack of trying. Finally, I glanced over in the direction they'd been looking and saw a school of stingrays passing just a few yards from where I was standing. Fine, so it wasn't a shark. I'm still getting out of the water.

I did, however, manage to redeem myself -- at least in my own mind -- a bit later when I rescued a girl's sunglasses from the surf. Despite her repeated assurances of "don't worry about it, they were only like ten dollars" I donned my goggles and dove into the water time and again, fearlessly. (The stingrays were long gone by this time.)

I should probably mention here that I have to hold my nose when I'm underwater. That really detracts from the whole Aquaman superhero image. Nevertheless, at long last I emerged, hoisting the glasses -- once thought lost forever -- into the air and returning them to their rightful owner. Another damsel in (slight) distress left... un...distressed.

In addition to visiting all my favorite places -- as listed in the post below -- we tried a new restaurant for dinner one night, an Italian joint called Graffiti. Your classic hole-in-the-wall, it didn't look like much from the outside. I may have even been a little afraid. (Despite what you might think, I don't have that much street cred. I'm more of a internet-message-board cred kind of guy.)

But it turned out to be a really neat place. The walls were covered with all this funky art, and every piece was for sale. The food turned out to be phenomenal. Having had my fill of seafood the previous two nights, I ordered the Greek pizza. And I tell you this, I nearly wept it was so good. It was like a full-body massage for the palate.

Finally, no recap of this Destin trip would be complete without mentioning the odd individual we came across while playing putt-putt one evening. Let's call him Master Putter.

He was a couple of groups ahead of us. Things kept getting backed up and we were having to wait a couple of minutes to start every hole. That's when I began to notice Master Putter.

He'd brought his own putter to the course, as well as his own golf ball. And he had a golf glove hanging out of his pocket. As if that wasn't enough, he was taking exactly four practice strokes before every. single. shot. Also, he was kneeling down attempting to read the green before every putt.

So even though it's taking forever to play, I'm thinking this guy must be really good, right?

Oh no.

We get to a place where the course sort of doubles back and I can see him putting. He hits an excellent first putt, leaving himself about 18 inches for a 2. He blows that about four feet by, misses the come-backer and ends up taking a 4.

Then I overhear him saying to one of his buddies (he was in a threesome... with two other guys, just in case I needed to clarify that), "Man, par would be a really good score on this course."

Par was 54. I shot a 45. I'll let you draw your own conclusions about the course's difficulty or lack thereof. Apparently, super putting was not one of Master P's super powers. Maybe he is invulnerable to women?

He was both hilarious and incredibly annoying at the same time. Then again, the same has probably been said about me a time or two.

On a much more serious note, the Destin beaches were in their usual pristine condition. Although with British Petroleum's continuing devastation of the ecosystem, who knows how long that will be the case. I realize the beaches are just one small part of the damage that is being done. Anytime they show oil-covered animals being pulled from the water, I can't even bear to watch.

But I love the beach. To think that it might not be there next year saddens me more than I am able to say.

"Are we losing the human race? Do we ever really learn from our mistakes? Who's ahead? Who's behind? Will there be a finish line?"