Friday, December 31, 2010

Stick To The Plan, Man.

Here’s my New Year’s Eve plan.... Eat a light dinner, which means a MEDIUM pizza not a LARGE, and head out for a night of karaoke hilarity.  Scoffing?  Laughing at my plan for karaoke domination?  Let me explain to you people of simple minds.

Small, dark, dive bar with low low prices.  So low in fact, they are a cash only bar.  Easy on the wallet. My kinda joint.  I know like 4 people that go there.  Therefore, I will not be bothered by the once a year let’s go out and get all shitfaced and slobber on each other as we bump and grind our scantily clad cottage cheese asses on the dance floor while knocking people over with our outstretched arms holding our chocolate-tinis away from us so we don’t spill them on our new shiny deep v mini dresses that we bought two sizes too small.  

I can sit in relative comfort, unrepentant as I enjoy a macro brew, and flex the golden pipes now and then.  I accept the standing ovations from the adoring crowd, and kiss my own image in the dirty bathroom mirror at midnight, as I’m the only person worth kissing in that dump.  My champagne will be in a thimble sized dixie cup. It will taste surprisingly like kerosene or lighter fluid, and I will ask for seconds, as the drunken frat boy next to me will high five his housemate during Don’t Stop Believin’ and spill my first.  

As I step out front curbside to light my smoke, my shirt ignites from the leftover kero-pagne, and I  will be forced to go shirtless, and zip up my leather jacket while I flawlessly perform Low Places from Garth Brooks, while the next up singer vomits on the power cables for the lyrics television off to my right.  I do the whole song shirtless, and smelling vomit and electrical fire smell, and this causes my own gag reflex to engage.  My last refrain of the chorus ends with “I’ve got friends in Lowwwaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhhhhhh” as I projectile vomit on the back of the nice girlfriend bent over holding the hair for the next up singer as she recovers on the sticky floor after expelling her own dinner.  I see pepperoni and banana peppers on her tramp stamp.  I bet she wasn’t planning on that being what landed on her back tonight.

I stumble to my car, and find that I’ve got a second wind, as I’ve eliminated all foul substances from my system!  WONDERFUL!  Let’s go scout another party!!!  I pass out in my own urine with the gas pump hose still in my tank two blocks from the karaoke dive bar.

On second thought, perhaps I will just stay in and watch House reruns.  I can’t make up my mind.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From The Way Back Machine

Back in the old days, I worked at a place where real bands played.  A place where if you were brave enough, you could go see a show some 200 days out of the year.  A place where your feet might stick to the floor, but you didn’t care, because you were seeing a band on their way up, or one that was gracefully returning back to the bottom. Sometimes only a ten spot to see some of the best bands of the day.  New bands, old bands, classic rock, punk rock, metal, reggae, rap, alternative, you name it, we did it. The great part about being part of that scene during those heady days of my youth was getting to interact with the bands, the fans, and people of all walks of life.  On one night, I got more than I bargained for.....

Ugly humid summer afternoon. And there’s no air conditioning in here.  We’ve all got used to sweating out the booze from the night before, and we’re doing what we always do.  Waiting on the band and crew to show up.  The bus pulls up, and the door swings open with that Star Trek kind of noise that the bus doors make.  Out stumbles the crew, weary, and red eyed, and they head towards the load in door.  A moment later, a tall lanky figure appears.  Black mop of hair, leather jacket (in this heat!), skinny black jeans, and Chucks.  He says “Hello” as he passes.  I smile, and am without a response, as my chin is on the alley pavement.  It’s Joey Ramone.  Joey EFFIN Ramone!

There are few artists that I hold in high regard for their contribution to American music.  The Ramones top that list.  I’ve always been a fan, and yes, I was a punk rocker of sorts.  Not a boot stomping moshpit punker.  Just a big fan of the thrashing, raw energy of its’ best bands.  Tonight, I will see The Ramones up close and personal.  Stageside.

Each song begins with a ONETWOTHREEFOUR!!  Two minutes in a cloud of dust, ripping apart the old venue from the inside out.  Red, white and blue light show to go with their big presidential logo.  They MEAN IT.  These guys are coming at us like a runaway freight train on meth.  Hell, who knows, they might be....  It’s blistering hot in here, and these guys don’t seem to care.  Leather jackets and their sneakers up on the monitors’ edge as they punch us in the face with each song.

After the blazing 90 minute set, I’m on the side of the stage by a stage door, waiting for the band’s crew to start tear down.  I’ve just wiped the sweat off my face with my shirt sleeve.  The stage door swings wide, and in walks two SWAT team members.  Yeah.  SWAT.  Not your local LEOs, these bad asses usually tote machine guns besides their sidearm 9 mils.  Clothed in black from head to toe, vests with SWAT in big gigantic white letters front and back.  We have cops come in all the time, sometimes it’s to tell us to stay out of the streets, or to just poke in and find out who’s playing, or to tell us to move a tour bus.  SWAT guys NEVER show up. Ever.

I’ve gone straight into panic mode.  We have SWAT in the building?  After a big punk rock show?  Something really bad has happened..... I wonder if it's safe to walk to my car two blocks away.

“You- Come here, son.” 
 “Yes, sir, Mr. Badass SWAT team member sir.” 
 “Is the show over?” 
 “Yes sir, the show has ended.  About 15 minutes ago.  More accurately 17 minutes ago.”

He looks at his partner.... Then back at me, completely stonefaced.

“Do you think they’re still selling tshirts?”
I guess the black concert tshirt works well with their wardrobe.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ghosts Of Christmases Past....

It’s snowing here. The big beautiful fluffy snowflakes that drape our gray landscape in blankets of white.  Fireplace is roaring, I’ve just added two more logs.  Snapping, crackling, red and yellow flames reaching upward.  Christmas candles lit, Baileys and coffee, and my best friend; my laptop.  there's just the whir of the laptop fan, the snapping of the fire, and silence from outside the window.  Just a white blanket of snow on this eve before Christmas Eve.

This will be a peaceful and quiet holiday for me this year.  I’m not the least bit disappointed by that, I’m very satisfied with that choice.  No hustle and bustle, no road trips all over town, no extra presents to buy and wrap and deliver.  No sitting uncomfortably as a guest on a foreign couch after a feast on honey ham and bread pudding.

I finished my shopping later than expected.  I reflect on Christmases past, as my eyelids droop, lying here on the couch in front of my fireplace.  One in particular comes to mind as I drift off......

A much younger me appears.  I’m thinner, with a full head of hair, and a new fall sweater.  I’m standing in the doorway, waiting for her to answer.  The door opens, fresh garland wreath swinging, and she’s there, in her long black angora sweater and  leggings.  Auburn hair gently curling down past her shoulders.  We hug and kiss on the cheek, and I remove my snow dusted coat.  The multicolored tree lights illuminate the room.  The big bulbed kind, the ones you screw into the sockets.  A small Santa candle is the only other light in the living room.  We sit on opposite ends of the couch.   

We hand each other presents.  I had to go back to my coat, because I had left the box in my coat pocket.  “Girls love little boxed gifts”, my Father told me.  She squeals with delight as she opens the paper; neatly, as if the paper was an important part of the present.  The box opens to reveal a silvery shiny gift.  A necklace she had admired once as we passed the jewelry counter.  “NO, you remembered!!”  Her smile is brighter than that huge tree in the corner.  She hugs me hard, and kisses me soft.  She pulls the necklace out, and I help her put it on, as she holds her auburn locks off to one side. I lean in close.  She smells amazing.  Like sugar cookies and passion.

She jumps up and runs to the mirror to see herself with her shiny new gift.  “It’s perfect, just purrrrfect”.  Back to the couch, and now she’s sitting on my lap, one arm around my neck, and she’s whispering, “This is the best Christmas, ever..... You are sooo sweet....”  We kiss.  Much longer this time, and we mean it.  We couldn’t be happier, and satisfied, and in love.  We don’t need to say it, we both know what’s happening.  We sit and look at each other, smiling, ear to ear, and just soak in the moment.  Everything seems to fade away and it’s just us amid the twinkling Christmas tree light.

I awaken to embers in the fireplace.  A few blueish red coals in a heap.  I scramble the embers with a poker, and grab my laptop and head for bed.  When I put down my laptop, and begin to log off,  I’ve got mail.....  An e-card from my distant past.....  She says she still has that necklace.  It is a very good Christmas, indeed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm Listening....

Oh yes, the holiday season brings out the cheery-ness in everyone.  Including the person in your office that is ALREADY always cheery.  You know, I’m all for a positive outlook.  I’ve learned how to turn a positive into a negative on many things, but this lady bugs the snot outta me.  Everything is funny.  Everything. All the time. Funny.

She walks up to me this morning as I’m pouring my first cup of coffee.  I’m kind of a jerk until that first coffee is in my belly, so keep your distance.  Nope, not her, she’s bouncing up to me, goofy crooked smile, oh, and she’s definitely gonna get all up in my personal before I’m completely awake.  Back the EFF UP, lady.

She begins speaking, or should I say laughspeaking, as she is giggling uncontrollably while she’s telling me her story.  I haven’t even acknowledged her presence yet, as I’m focusing on adding powdered creamer to my cup.  Can I reach for the silverware drawer without her noticing?  I think there’s a steak knife in there.  The serrated edge makes a rough wound that you can’t seal with direct pressure.

It’s hilarious to her, whatever it is that she’s going on about.  I’ve completed my coffee, tossed out my stir stix and picked up my satchel.  She’ still going!  Hee hee hee hee blah blah blah hee hee hee...  I’m walking towards the lounge door now.  “Oh, did I tell you about Joe’s baby? chuckle chuckle  You know, Joe hee hee hee down in promotions?” “I’m afraid that I’m late for a meeting.”  “Oh, hee hee this will only chuckle take a minute. hee hee hee It’s hysterical!”  Apparently this story about Joe’s baby crawling out of the crib, which happened two months ago, that JOE TOLD ME HIMSELF, really wasn’t that funny.  Sweet, adorable, but not funny.  Babies doing silly things are cute.  Babies crawling around their rooms at 3AM is more scary than funny.   What if they swallow a LEGO?  Who will save them?  Maybe I can distract her with something shiny.... Do I have any pocket change I can throw in her direction?

She’s laughing at her own story telling prowess, apparently... I pull my cell out of my pocket, and say, “I’ve got to take this”, as I fake a phone call.  (always keep your phone on vibrate) Thank you high school theater class!  I remember how to do the fake phone call, thanks to learning it back in theater class.  I’m off down the hall, headed for my cube, and as I turn the corner, I bump into one of my other coworkers.  She’s headed for coffee, too.  I shoulder my phone on the same shoulder as the coffee hand.  I make a hand puppet sign with my hand, like a mouth moving, to alert my fellow coworker of the danger that lurked ahead in the lounge.  She said, “Babbler?”  I nodded yes, as I was worried I was still in eyesight.  I realize I’m still faking a phone call, and quietly say, “Wait 5 minutes, if you can”.  Then it’s off to my gray cube where I beat my forehead off my desk for an hour to make the pain go away.   Only 7 hours 40 minutes left to go.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chipotle Diaper

I know what’s going to happen next......

I don’t exactly know how to explain this.  Yes, I know this will sound completely crazy, but I gotta get this out in the open.

I can tell what’s going to happen next.  It’s a sense, or a feeling, or a gut reaction many times.  Maybe I read The Celestine Prophecies one too many times..... But those insights are there, nonetheless.  When you meet new people, and you spend a few minutes with them, you know right away whether you’re going to be friends, more than friends, or you’ll be dividing their body parts into separate plastic bags by the end of the night.  It’s uncanny really, I don’t know exactly how I do it.

Case in point.  Couple of weeks back, I met a person who was quite fond of themselves.  You know the type, the kind of person who’s comments always seem to wind the conversation back around to them?  You know the type of story, that you begin, to explain to a newcomer how you got to where you are.... In less than two minutes, you’re talking about their life story, and how important they have been to everyone in their lives, and now YOU’RE going to be professing your undying gratitude to them, as they’ve gracefully waltzed into your pathetic life at just the right moment.  They’ve drawn me in by saying Hello, and now I’m cornered in the corner of the bar.

As I stare deep into my pint glass, half listening to the machine gun fire of syllables that sound in my head like clickclickbuzzbuzzblahblahblahblahblahclickbuzzclick, I try to figure out if I can silently break this glass and fashion it into a shiv by wrapping the shards up in a bevnap, then inserting it into their aorta, or swiftly reach over and twist this person’s head round rapidly, breaking their neck, and would anyone notice their lifeless body in a heap on the floor next to my barstool and would they blame me or would it be considered self defense?  I balk at both scenarios and choose to selfishly order another pint.  Maybe the lager will deaden the noise blaring out of their pie hole and into my right ear.  For now my plan is delayed.... For now.

Usually at some point in time EVERYONE has to go to the bathroom.  Apparently this person is wearing Depends, and can just pee themselves and keep yammering on.  I contemplate this concept for a moment, as there’s been a couple times in my life where I think the adult diaper would have come in handy.  I shudder at my ridiculous thought, and my mind goes way off the deep end....  Maybe if I poop my pants the self righteous boob to my right won’t be able to stand the stench.  I did have Chipotle for dinner.....

blahblahblahblahblah shivneckdiapershivneckdiaperchipotleshiv my mind is racing with possibilities and scenarios, and I’m getting impatient and nervous. Nervous that I might really consider one of these.  I finally get up, pay the weary bartender, and walk towards the door.  I can still hear them over the rocking cover band onstage. If only I had remembered my invisible cloak, I would have been able to enjoy the band.  As I left, I realized that I had foreseen all of this.  Someone was going to ruin my nice evening of enjoying a live band in peace.  I saw the whole thing coming.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In A World....

(clears throat, final drag on a cigarette before conjuring up Movie Trailer Guy Voice)  
In A World...... Where celebutants don’t matter..... Where grocery store tabloids don’t exist... Where paparazzi are respectful and polite....  Where Adam Sandler has talent....

(cut to quiet table in the back of a coffee shop, author puts down National Enquirer mag and begins to enter text on his laptop)Come on, admit it, you love all of it.  You love the craptastic reality shows that are shoved down your throat nightly.  You can’t wait until the next celebrity scandal headlines the entertainment news.  Shoot, you don’t even watch the regular network news; it’s just so boring. You stare at the trash rags while you’re waiting for Grandma to count her coupons and write her check in line at the grocery. If she could just remember where she put that prune juice coupon...

You peruse the OMG page on Yahoo all day long at work.  You could care less about what the no talent Kardashian sluts are up to, but gawd, they are sooooo  hawt.  You have to find out what the JoBros are up to, because you just can’t survive without knowing what they’re wearing to the next Nickelodeon awards show.

If I never hear about Brangelina again as long as I live, I’m sure I’ll be fine.  If American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and Survivor dropped off the face of the earth, I wouldn’t even notice.  Who watches MTV anymore?  Do they even play videos?  Ones that don’t involve someone coming out of the closet or making out in one?

Here’s a few shows I’d like to see....

It’s about an overbearing, neurotic, superficial bride to be, as she screams and tantrums her way towards her upcoming nuptials, with clearly the most patient(or medicated) guy on the planet.  It’s not called Bridezilla, it’s called Lunatic Bitch (With People I Have to Pay to Be My Friends Because I Will Be Divorced and Homeless in 6 Months.)  It’s a working title....

This one is about a group of twenty something trustfunders that take time off from their hectic clubbing schedule to move into a house with each other.  My show picks up where this show leaves off... It’s not Real World, it’s called, Welcome to the Real World of Unemployment After Wasting Your Time on a Fake Reality Show, Now Go Bus That Table, Loser.  Again, I’m still tweaking...

I’ve always loved models.  Rightfully so, I might add, they clearly bring so much to the table. Next Top Model, move over.... Here’s the story of a couple of bulemic tweens that run away to The Big Apple to follow their dreams of being the next big teen superstar spokesmodel.  Comedy ensues on ICarly.  (Coffee Waitress points out, "Um, sir, that’s already a show..." Yes, I realize that, but the joke works for me, so I’m going with it.)  I just deleted my explanation.  If you still need one, sorry.  Embrace the funny.

Oh now I’m not all about the teenybopper shows, no siree.  In fact, I’m currently in negotiations with Nancy Grace’s people for a new series.  She’s looking over the treatment right now.... It’s called I’m a Bubbleheaded Hypocrite.  It’s filmed without audio..... It will just be a tight shot of her accusing, glaring, fish-like eyes for 22 minutes.  Her bugged out lazer beam stares, scaring the truth out of America.  Hope she bites, I think it’s a winner.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming......

(author walks pushes open coffee shop exit, tightens his coat collar.....fade out)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

XMas Ninja

I shop on Xmas Eve.  You heard me, I said I shop on Xmas Eve. Every year.  With the retail buffoons extending the holiday to some time before Independence Day, I just don’t find that I’m truly ever in the holiday season until the actual HOLIDAY begins.  For me, that’s Xmas Eve.  Sure, I like candy canes and my roaring fire DVD.  I like the rotund Burl Ives sliding around through the animated snow, egg nog martinis, Boris Karloff’s haunting voice, and I get all choked up every time I see It’s a Wonderful Life.  I guess you could say I like some elements of Xmas.

I found years ago that the mega low marts and the malls are much less crowded on Xmas Eve.  Exhausted, underpaid temporary cashiers are more likely to have a smile on their face, as they see the light at the end of the tunnel.  6 more hours and I’m FREE! Some are even humming a gleeful holiday tune.  It’s exciting, it’s like the Friday before a 3 day holiday.  I’ve also found that most people are completely tired of battling their way through the crowds, so they weakly let you pass, as they cannot bear another frustrated glare from another selfish shopper.

Now let me clarify.... I do a couple of recon missions, and utilize the web heavily in my search for the correct wonderful gifts for the family unit.  Donned all in black, bandana around my forehead, biker jacket, big rocker boots, and I’m off the mall.  PermaScowl firmly in place. Helps if you don’t shave for a couple days, too.  At 6’3”, people see me coming and get out of my way.  Swift and silent, my eyes hidden behind my shades, I scan the shelves and aisles for the gifts I want.  If there is a popular item that may not be back on Xmas Eve, I’ll be sure to snatch that one thing up before my final mission. Jot down my findings to effectively plan my Xmas Eve attack.  “I’ll be back," I tell the clerk.  She dials security.

The other thing is, you’ve got all kinds of time to shop.  With the web and longer store hours, don’t wait til Saturday at 2pm to head to your local mall.  You’re asking to have a nervous breakdown if you START your shopping like that.  Pick a Tuesday night, or a Monday afternoon.  Set no goals.  You do NOT have to do it all in one day.  Why kill yourself for a bunch of people who probably won’t appreciate your gift anyways?  You could go the gift card route.

Xmas cards.... Really?  I don’t hear a peep from you all year, and you send me this card with golden angels and a cartoon Santa?  Where was the get well card when I had my liver removed in May, huh?  Save a tree and call me for chrissake.

While I’m at it, here’s a thought..... When you’re at the overcrowded mall, and you’re feeling like a pinball caught between to bumpers, think about all the people who would love to be in your shoes.  Many families this year won’t be celebrating like years past. (thank you Recession!) Be thankful for your good fortune, and be nice to your fellow man.  Maybe pick up an extra gift for the toy drive this year.  I’m sure it will do wonders for a little heart in a neighborhood very close to yours.... Peace on Earth, good will towards Men, and all that happy hoo-ha.  Unless of course, if you’re trying to snatch the last zebra striped Snuggie.  I’ve got dibs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm Your Xmas Elf!

Best. gifts. ever.

I am pleased to announce that these links below gave me hours of entertainment on a slow work day!  It’s sooo convenient, it’s all on one site!  Rejoice, oh weary Xmas shoppers, your worries are over!  Wonderful gifts for girls and boys of all ages!

click here“Hello, customer service?  Yes,  the CIA and a Post Office officials are here, and want to know why I was trying to ship this to my cousin in Northern Ireland.  They said it looked suspicious in their mail x-ray machines.... Any thoughts?”

click here This is for the man who has given up all hope of being under the mistletoe this holiday season.  I ordered a spare.

click here Please buy this for your half retarded, certainly inbred neighbor’s son.  Natural selection is HIGHLY underrated. It will help lower the pesky squirrel and Canadian Goose population as well.

click here Yeah, ya know what’s cool?  When you make these perfectly shaped ICE BALLS and then shoot them at cars from the overpass.  No, seriously, I did it yesterday, it’s awesome.  So are the fire trucks when they are weaving through the wreckage!  Good times.

click here  “Honey, why is Billy pooping in the back yard again?”  This and a hidden webcam, and you’re a YouTube Genius!  I recommend opening THIS present BEFORE Xmas! Make sure you're all set for Grandma's visit!

click here I’m on the fence about this one.... On one hand, it’s the non-violent version of a REAL crossbow, suitable for you Dungeon and Dragons fans out there.  On the other hand, what if you add marbles instead of marshmallows?   I’m the lone gunman in the tower.

click here Just dig the Zhu Zhu Pet box out of your neighbor’s trash, and VOILA!  You can disappoint your child for about 10 dollars more!  “What’s it do?” “Runs in a ball.”  “Oh.”  Yeah, that’s all it does, kid.  Life’s full of disappointment, kid.  It’s all downhill after Weebles. Make sure to read the description of the toy!

There are so many GREAT presents to get your loved ones this year, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out on some of the best ones available.  Have a holly jolly Xmas.  Keep the knife away from your wrists, and stay off the egg nog.  It makes you do crazy things.  Like read this blog.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The One With The Most Toys....


Toys, I absolutely LOVE toys!  I must have toys of some sort in my life.  My fully loaded smartphone, my PSP, my laptop, my silver Ipod Nano, my vintage motorcycle.  My tools are even toys, in a way.  My matching kitchen utensils are toys that I play with when cooking.  Drum fill to Phil Collins on the counter with a ladle and a straining spoon.  Nailed it!  The best thing about toys are that they come in my favorite color: Shiny.  

Toys.....  Geez, I’ve had some cool toys over the years.

My older next door neighbor had a REAL Batman costume.  I had a yellow towel.  We were banished to the back yard for about 3 weeks one summer for running around doing the Batman theme song. Non-stop. For 3 weeks.  I’m lucky to be alive to tell the tale.

Tonka trucks made of REAL METAL.  Who doesn’t like to dig up the garden with the bulldozer and dump truck?  Do you remember hitting your younger sister in the head with the dump truck when she tried to take it from you?  That’s why they don’t make them out of metal anymore.

Did you have a Big Wheel?  They came out after I was already too big for them.  It did not prevent me from snatching the little kid who lived down the street off of his for a spin down the street, however.  Green Machine was kick ass, too.

Army Men.  Countless hours of digging foxholes, throwing rocks, (then later firecrackers) yelling commands to those little green men that were in constant epic conflict the back yard.  Burying them alive was a common practice.  I bet there are still a few back there, left to be excavated by the next little kid who lives there. The bazooka guy was the coolest one.

GI JOE.  Sadly, I had an Action Jackson.  The redheaded stepbrother of JOE.  I think mine really did have red hair.  Like a Ginger Jackson.  Still fun; cool astronaut outfit, too.  I had a paratrooper outfit, and the parachute actually worked out of my bedroom window and into the neighbor’s birdbath.  It worked about a hundred times before Mom told me to stop running in and out of the house. I think it had some ripoff version of Kung Fu grip. I lost him somewhere along the way.....  Action figures were possibly the oddest toy ever. Girls play with dolls, and boys have action figures.  And YES, it’s funny making GI Joe hump Barbie, and you know it.  Thank you Robot Chicken!

Cox P-40 Warhawk.  Hands down, one of the most dangerous toys, ever.  A gas powered engine attached to strings and a handle with divebombing capabilities.  No child in the neighborhood was safe.  AND it can catch on fire.  You put your finger on the blade to start it.  Make sure you get it out of the way when it starts running!  I lived on a cul de sac, and we had dog fights with multiple planes.  A moment of silence for my buddy Pete’s Stuka.  It was run over by the mean old man that lived next door, while mowing his front yard.  He didn’t ‘see it’.  Well, he did have a glass eye, so maybe it’s true.  German insignias all over the grass.  It wasn’t pretty.

SSP.  Super Sonic Power!  YES!  Put the red plastic pullcord into the gear that’s attached to the big rubber tire, and yank it out, and watch this thing go all the way up the street.  This would not be so fun for the doughy kids of today, who prefer to sit in front of the TV and push the controller to make the cool looking car go.  Built upper arm strength, pulling that cord about 150 times an afternoon.

Bikes.  Multitudes of bikes.  I even painted and built one myself.  By building, I mean new seat, bars, tires, rip off the fenders and chain guard, and put on new waffle grips. Streamers?  Seriously, no self respecting kid would rock streamers, including the cool girls.  Growing up in suburban America, we could ride all over our neighborhoods.  I don’t think kids these days are allowed to have that much freedom, nor is it safe enough for them to do that.  We could ride anywhere within our school district!  Miles and miles, dirt tracks in the woods, jumping wood and cinder block ramps like we were Evil Knievel.  Helmets?  We don’t need no stinking helmets!  

Electric Football.  (I can’t believe I just added this while proofing.) Seriously, the craziest concept for a toy, and it was a huge hit.  40 million sold.  Loud, annoying buzzing vibrating noise, but you couldn’t stop playing. You can still buy custom figures in your favorite college team!

Tennis ball cannon.  Not exactly a toy, as much as a potential life threatening Weapon of Mass Destruction.  I don’t know who decided to build one, but me and my buddies shot tennis balls over my house (flaming tennis balls, mind you) laughing hysterically at how far they went.  Tennis ball cannon, aimed over the front of the house into the backyard.  It was fun until one of us singed our eyebrows off because of overloading the ignition chamber with charcoal lighter fluid, and then looking down the barrel to see why it hadn’t fired yet. Yeah, nothing too dangerous about that thing.  (Mom) “What happened to you?!?”  (Me) “Nuthin.”  Thank GOD YouTube didn’t exist!

I’ve still got my Sizzler track that I bought a few years back in the closet somewhere.  Off to the store to buy C batteries for my gas pump charger.  Yeah, let’s get this thing set up in the living room!

Would someone please send me the Sears Wish Book?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Treasure Hunt

An early Sunday morning drive takes us out to my aunt and uncle’s house. A fall chill in the air, leaves turning.  I can see my breath in the outside air, and make puffs like I’m a dragon.  My sister and I are once again antagonizing each other in the back seat of the Ford LTD station wagon.  Thankfully for Mom and Dad, it’s only a short ride across town, and up the winding drive.  As we open the door we are greeted with hugs and kisses, the smell of turkey with inside the bird stuffing, and the sweet smell of fresh pumpkin pie.  Two of them.  I think I could eat a whole one!

“There’s something for you somewhere in the garage....”, my Uncle says to me.  He let me go on my own because he says I'm a big boy now, out to the detached two car garage behind the house.  I run across the back yard, nearly squealing with anticipation.  Gloves fall to the ground, I'll pick them up later. 

A leaf rake tips over as I fling open the door, like a rusty accidental booby trap.  It startles me, and I lean it back against the shelves where it was before I bumped into it.  I look behind the fan of the rake, to see if my treasure was hidden there.  I’m looking for a small, palm sized box. Dank and musty, sawdust, old paint, the lawn tractor that was far too big for their yard. The smell of earth and chemicals.  Every tool ever manufactured.  Table saw, radial arm saw, band saw.  All the tools of the serious weekend craftsman.  Clutter everywhere from past and current projects.  Nothing for me around the table saw.  I contemplate turning it on, just to hear the high speed motor wind up to hum.  I’m not supposed to play with the tools, though. Nothing under the paint rags.  Is it behind the rusty cans of wood stain?  No.... I know, it’s under the seat of the lawn tractor!  No, not there, either.....  The sun cuts lines across the work bench through the square windows in the garage door.  I have to squint to see in this gray afternoon light.

Look at all these cool tools!  Three different sized ratchet handles, big tin snips, a dozen paint brushes of different sizes and shapes.  What does this thing do?  I’ll have to ask my uncle to show me. What is that?  Is that it?  Buried behind some baby food jars full of nuts and bolts, all sorted by size.  Yes, that’s it!  A crisp cardboard box, with bright yellow and navy blue paint, and a picture of a car on it!  I found it! I found it!  Which one is it? I carefully pull open the box end flap and remove the little diecast car.  It’s an orange dump truck, I LOVE IT.  I can’t wait to take it in the house and show it to Mom and Dad!

My orange dump truck will join the rest of my Matchbox cars, in my carrying case with the Ford GT40 on the front. It won't leave my hands even when it's time for pie, though.  I will cherish my treasure hunt cars forever.
All these years later, and I'm fortunate enough to be an uncle now. I plan on sharing my love for pocket sized toys with my sweet little knucklehead nephews.  I’ll hide them around my place, and hopefully, they will enjoy the hunt as much as I did.  I still have those little metal cars......  I am also a proud collector of all tools, both power and manual.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Move Aside, I'm On A Mission

It’s really too early for this. If Mary Jo says I look like I have a bad case of the Mondays again, I may have to knock a couple teeth out.  Looks like someone beat me to it, though. Dentist much?  Get out of my way moron, I need to be on the elevator.  Just nod and look interested while Barry tells you about his weekend at home making sweet, sweet love to his wife that he calls The Human Vacuum Cleaner.  Yeah, funny story Barry.  I’m sure your wife would appreciate it, too.  Oh thank God the doors are open.  Sprint towards the bathroom and lock the door, so Barry doesn’t follow you in to crack jokes about how cold and deep the water is while I pee.

Crack the door open.  The coast is clear now.  All quiet, except for the cackling hen house laughter coming from H.R.  I seriously wish I was a ninja, and I could swiftly and silently move towards the break room right now.  Time for blood. Nectar of the Gods.  Mainlining caffeine would be the only other choice, but I’ll take a big cup of fresh coffee.  Boy, I need to wake the heck up. Oh sweet!  Leering Crazy Girl from the 5th floor is not here.  She gives me the willies.  No, literally; she gave me a wet willy while I was eating lunch and reading a book one afternoon. I cried silently at my desk after that.

I grab the flammable powdered creamer. (didja know it was flammable?  Try it out sometime.) My Hazelnut creamer was in the fridge last week, but somebody ganked it.  I turn to find an empty pot.  Well, it’s not completely empty, it’s got like an ounce of coffee left.  Who does that?  You couldn’t fit in the last ounce?  You couldn’t take a sip out of your cup and add the rest?  Why didn’t you make a fresh pot?!?  I look around, and there’s no sign of anyone.  Normally I can’t get away from these nimrods, but now? When it REALLY matters?  I can’t find a soul, let alone the jackass that couldn’t take the minute and a half it takes to make a fresh pot of coffee.  I’m a simple man, I can live without a lot.  But I’ll put an ice pick through your forehead if I find out that YOU were the one who screwed me over.  I mean, come on, people, it’s not like you actually have work to do or something.  I walk by your cubes, you’re playing farmland and sudoku all freaking day.  Put down your donut to free up your hand and MAKE A FRESH POT.