Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sunday, Zombie Sunday

I had the pleasure of attending a Gun Show at the Manatee County Civic Center with my friend Michael. It was an interesting event that was well-attended and swarming with gun owners as well as soon to be gun owners. Each table had a different motif. Some were classic shops that had centuries' old weaponry on display, while others had tablescapes topped with modern handguns, ammunition, and some even had stun guns and pepper spray (for those fans of non-lethal self defense).

My favorite booth was the largest one at this particular venue. They took up almost two entire rows inside the large auditorium. The sales people flanked the customers on all sides. And the managers scooted back and forth across the extensive space on Segues. I did not expect to see a notoriously un-manly mode of transportation at such an event, but there they were, silently zooming through the middle of the two rows, stopping only to ask, “can I help you find something?” or “that is a fine piece you have there.” The latter of those two comments made me chuckle a little to myself.

However, the next thing I heard made stop, look, and listen carefully to what was to follow. A woman standing over my left shoulder, glancing intently at a Glock 9mm handgun called her husband over to give his opinion on the price and viability of a possible purchase on her part. She pointed to a pistol with a pink camouflaged handle, and made sure to mention that it came with a free holster. It was selling for $595.00. She wanted to have it, and the fact that it came with free accessories only enticed her more. When I turned to catch a glimpse of her and her husband, I was greeted with an unanticipated sight. This woman had her baby strapped to her chest with a camouflage-colored Baby Bjorn. I didn't know the Swedes made anything camouflaged (I later learned that this company was based out of Kennesaw, Ga; and it made more sense). Lady Bjorn then took to pointing at several other firearms, each time, exclaiming to Lord Bjorn that it should be the next addition to their home arsenal.

He responded comically by saying, “What are you doing, getting ready for the Zombie Apocalypse?”

She quickly retorted, “It is Easter tomorrow, otherwise known as Zombie Jesus Day. So, why not?”

They laughed heartily, and luckily so. Because had they not, they would have heard me snickering at their most recent comments. He told her that Florida law required a three day waiting period to purchase a handgun, and she would not have them in time for the Zombie Apocalypse; so they'd better go look for some knives instead (good thinking). They moved on to the next booth, but as they left I saw them continuing their conversation. I could only assume that they made further reference to the death and resurrection of Jesus; and its parallels to popular zombie lore.

I imagined he would agree with her comment and provide further valid reasoning that those who are killed, but rise from the dead to join the living are generally referred to as Zombies (or Keith Richards).  He would cite the transitive property of equality; telling Lady Bjorn that if A equals B, and B equals C, then A must also equal C. He would further explain that any person who rises from the dead to rejoin the living, are signified by the letter A for this exercise, Zombies would in turn be B, and Jesus being a living person at one point (Son of God or Virgin Birth aside) was C, so then, by that transitive property, Jesus was indeed a Zombie.

This led me into deep thought about the true meaning of Easter and those who follow the teachings of the Bible. I searched on the internet for additional clues as to the possible links between the Lord and Savior of the Christians and the popular myths or legends of Zombies. I read Acts 2:24 and was greeted with my first clue when it read, “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” In Earthly language, this is called “reanimation.” It is the process of bringing a person back to life after a brief stint of brain death. This is why all zombies are only able to process simple thoughts and brain patterns due to their lack of living brain cells. Anger and hunger are the primal urges of any human, and that provided me with a perfect explanation of why they feel the need to kill and consume the fully functioning brains of the living. We can only assume that in their undead minds, they believe this will help them to regain their former utilities.

Upon further research, I came across some other warning signs. Apparently, when Jesus became wise to his demise, he prepared his followers for what was to come. His dad (God), had obviously let him in on the approaching crucifixion and subsequent reanimation he was to endure, so during the last supper, he should brace the Apostles for it. God, being an all-knowing individual, assumed Jesus would encounter many others once he became a Holy Zombie. The most likely candidates for his initial encounters would be those twelve gentleman that had followed him so obediently over the years. According the John 6:53, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” He had them eating flesh and drinking blood as living, breathing mortals- hoping that once the Zombie Apocalypse began, they would be ready to do as they must in obedience with God's wishes. Would they not, they would soon find themselves only victims, rather than immortal carriers of the Christian Zombie virus.

I thought back to my many encounters with Christians, in and away from their natural habitats. The most devout Christians always seemed to me to have a certain something missing when I spoke to them. A deadening of the eyes or a blank facial expression usually preceded the words, “I want to talk to you about Jesus.” All this time I just figured they were less intelligent than most, breathing in air through mouths agape. With one-track minds, they only think about spreading the Gospel or converting someone to their line of thinking.

It finally dawned on me, these were not sentient beings at all, but rather, they were zombies. Poisoned by the flesh and blood of the undead. The Eucharist or Holy Communion was God and Jesus' way of infecting the living. The wafers and wine, or flesh and blood, were tiny doses of zombie paste and punch. Those who went to church every week had already eaten and drank enough to be full-fledged zombies themselves. While others who only attended on Christmas and Easter were slower to succumb to the infection. The words “I want to talk to you about Jesus” were their equivalent to Dracula's “I want to suck your blood” or a common zombie's “Uhhhh, brains!”

It was all making sense now. Those who once had dreams of contributing to society as free thinking individuals, but now found themselves roaming the Earth looking for victims, were intoxicated with tainted flesh and poisoned blood over numerous trips to their local church. Their slow-moving, leg-dragging counterparts that appear in so many George Romero movies were no longer the ones of whom we should be afraid. The Blessed Sacrament had replaced the need to break open the skulls of their prey and feast on their brains in order to transfer the infection. All those dead-eyed and blank-faced Christians I had met in my travels were not simpletons, but rather, they were the infected disciples of Zombie Jesus. And the Lord and Lady Bjorn were preparing themselves to fend them off with their purchases. Little Baby Bjorn would not fall victim to them. Not now, not ever and especially not on Easter Weekend!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pasta Prima Donna

A few years ago, my girlfriend and I were visiting my sister in Los Angeles. We decided to drive down to Venice Beach to walk along the boulevard and enjoy a nice quiet meal. To this day, I have yet to find a restaurant that can match the quality of the fish tacos I had that night. After we had enjoyed our meal, we walked back toward the lot where we had parked our car.

We approached a night club that had a red carpet covering the pavement in front and a pair of very intimidating door men stationed outside. A swarm of onlookers lined the velvet ropes that ran parallel along the red carpet. We overheard one couple ask another group if they knew when David and Victoria would be arriving. Even without hearing a last name; I knew they meant David and Victoria Beckham. As a soccer fan, I thought twice about walking past the scene and continuing on to our parking lot destination.

I convince my sister and girlfriend to wait a few minutes to see if “Becks” would make an appearance. As we stood there waiting, I heard the raised voices of two people in particular. They were standing amongst the crowd sharing nonsensical stories with one another. Each was your typical college-aged “Bro” from Venice Beach. They both had bleach blond hair, wore pre-ripped denim jeans and finished off their ensembles with a vintage t-shirt they most likely bought on Melrose Avenue for about $75.00 (the David Beckham uniform of 2007). They were attempting to one-up each other in the art of storytelling (a common LA occurrence). I knew by the time the Beckhams showed their beautiful faces, there would be at least one quality tale to take in. We stayed for a few minutes until my need to hear a good story or have a chance to see the Beckhams was overruled by my sister's need to get back to her apartment so she could do some school work.

As we were walking away, I did catch the opening line to what I could only assume was the winning story of their back-and-forth. One Bro said to the other, “There I was, by myself, covered in macaroni and cheese.” I turned to walk back toward them in order to soak up the details of the wonderful set of events that was sure to follow such a strong opening. I was cut off by an army of body guards and an assortment of door people. Why did they not want me to hear this story? Were the next few details going to unlock a Pandora's Box of heavily guarded secrets or verifiable conspiracies? Or was this the Beckham entourage making room for the royalty of soccer and Spice Girl infamy? Flashbulbs went off at the speed of light (what other speed could they be going?), the crowd swarmed the Beckhams, and I tried to locate the tale-tellers to ask them for the remaining details.

After a few minutes, the hustle and bustle died down, and the flashbulbs ceased their onslaught on my corneas. I combed the crowd for either of them, in hopes of getting those details my mind so desperately needed. I was unsuccessful in doing so. However, my imagination didn't bother waiting for those details before it began constructing a story of its own.

The two Bros seemed neither shy nor particularly bright; which led me to believe they could easily be duped into a indecent predicament without ever seeing it coming. Any pretty girl could mash her breasts together in such a way as to create a hypnotizing effect on a simple minded man. This girl would be especially pretty and her breasts would be especially mashed together. I pictured a redhead standing about 5'7” with long legs and a slender body. Bro #1 would be powerless to her every suggestion. He would find himself acting as her man-slave without ever being the wiser. Her every wish would be his command; from folding laundry and vacuuming the carpets to walking the dog and taking out the garbage.

Their relationship would be one-sided, and both parties were fine with that arrangement. She would get all the benefits, and he would get all the responsibilities. On occasion he would be provided with a full glimpse of her mammary mind control devices, but only as a reminder of why he was performing these tedious tasks. His mind was focused on the prospect of actually making physical contact with her naked skin. Her mind was constantly searching for the next chore that she would instruct him to complete.

After a while, she would grow tired of asking him to simply sweep the floors or dust the bookcases. She had to come up with more creative ways to keep him busy. At first, he would find himself ironing her bed sheets and mopping her driveway. All the while this Bro-machine was kept busy with thoughts of naked flesh dancing in his head.

She would find herself sitting on the porch, drinking a glass of freshly bro-squeezed lemonade, wondering what her next move would be. Maybe she should throw him a bone, and let him get a taste of the motivational tools he had been fantasizing about for the last three months. She too was feeling a little antsy for some physical contact. However, her idea of a night of passion differed greatly from his. She would begin her plans for such an occasion; just as soon as he finished shaving her dog (that is not a metaphor for sex, her Poodle “Mac” was truly in dire need of a trim).

She would send Bro #1 to the grocery store, so she would have the ingredients to cook her “dinner” that night. His mind was so focused on the prospects of the evening, he did not even question why he was picking up fifteen boxes of family-sized Kraft macaroni and cheese.

Upon his return, she would take the grocery bags, and ask him to wait on the porch while she prepared the food. She boiled gallon upon gallon of water to begin the process of creating the cornucopia of carbohydrates. The tiny noodles would dance among the heated bubbles as they went from a hard plastic material to the firm yet slippery al dente she desired for this occasion. They would be drained and rinsed one batch at a time, then set aside to wait their turn to be mixed with milk, butter and dehydrogenated cheese product. Bro #1 would sit patiently on the porch creating pictures of the night that was sure to change his life forever. But the change he was to get, was not the kind he was envisioning. Sweat beaded down her forehead as she whisked the cheese product and milk/butter mixture time after time, and batch after batch. Yet only she knew this would culminate with the ultimate in re-hydrogenation, degradation, and humiliation.

After hours of activity in the kitchen, Bro #1 would be summoned to the bedroom with a sultry utterance of, “Hey you, get in here!”

He would scurry toward the bedroom at breakneck speed. Upon entering, he would be blindfolded with a wool scarf (the same one from which he had recently finished picking the excess fuzz by using a pair her of fingernail clippers).

His anticipation grew, and so did Bro #3 (aka “Little Bro”). A warm sensation would overtake his body. He could not pick out what the substance was that was being slathered across his naked body, yet all the while he was fixated on the anticipation of what was to come next. He was instructed to remove his blindfold by a voice that seemed like it was coming from the other room. And when he did remove the optical obstruction, he was faced with only his reflection in her streak-free mirror. He turned to his right. No naked woman. He turned to his left, and then looked behind him. No woman, naked or otherwise. He called out her name. No response. He turned back to the mirror and thought to himself, “Here I am, by myself, covered in macaroni and cheese. Now what?”

Like a child with no other recourse but to flee, he would pull his pre-ripped jeans and drape his overpriced vintage t-shirt over his pasta-laden body. All the while, questioning the decisions that led him to this point. Not a word would be spoken of those fateful three months he spent as this manipulative woman's bro-slave. That is, until he found himself in a bout of one-upmanship with a fellow bro outside a night club in Venice Beach many months later. He couldn't be outdone or left without a story to solidify his place as Bro #1. Choking back the tears of humiliation, he would start by saying, “There I was, by myself, covered in macaroni and cheese.” Bro #2 would be frozen in anticipation for what was to come. That is, until the Beckhams arrived and ruined it for everyone (including me).

Well David, you got what was coming to you. The subsequent injuries to your ankle, knee and Achilles tendon were karma telling you something. Now you know what it was saying. Don't ever get in the way of a story that good ever again. Good luck next season though.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Erectile Cortex

My journey to the grocery store was supposed to be an uneventful one. It ended up being a mind-expanding experience. I had to pick up a few items for dinner, and my goal was to get in and get out. That was also the goal of the skinny teenage bag-boy from whom I overheard the following line: “Dude, I heard her say that, and my brain got an erection.” It was the first week of April, and although he probably was not aware it was National Poetry Month, he was an unknowing participant.

I placed my favorite grocery bag on the conveyor belt (the one that has “My Resusable Bag Makes Me Better Than You” written on it). Behind it, I placed a two-pack of finely marbled steaks, an assortment of fresh vegetables, and a large package of Peanut M&Ms . The slender apron-clad bagger was working diligently to get my purchases put away before he moved on to the next lane. Once he finished with my groceries, he walked away with purpose. That purpose was not to assist the next cashier, but rather to take his leave of the store for the evening. It was quitting time for him, and he was not shy in announcing it. Before he could make his final escape, he was approached by a fellow bagger. He was equally as scrawny, but his energy was superior. Collectively, they took to taunting a third bagger who was just beginning his shift. He was an elderly gentleman who had “semi-retired” written across his wrinkled forehead. They announced that the “A-Team” was leaving for the day, and vehemently wished the “B-Squad” a fond farewell. Apparently, there are different levels of baggers, and the lower tier was just coming in to replace the “wonder boys.”

As I walked out of the store, the “wonder boys” were standing there talking to one another. By this time they had traded their Polo shirts and aprons for T-shirts. Skinny Bagger #1 was wearing a shirt with the original publicity poster for Casablanca on it, and Skinny Bagger #2's shirt one of those glittery Affliction shirts. I'm still not sure if they were testing the loitering policy or simply waiting for their moms to pick them up. Either way, I stopped to look at one of the free local newspapers while they went on with their conversation. I tucked the paper under my arm and began my trek to the parking lot. As I walked by them, Skinny Bagger #1 stated plainly to Skinny Bagger #2, “Dude, I heard her say that, and my brain got an erection.” I laughed audibly, and they heard me. I couldn't hide it, so I turned back and smiled at them to show them my appreciation for such a gem of a sentence. They did not take my smirk as a gesture of approval, but were actually embarrassed that someone had overheard them. At that point it was too late, the statement had been uttered, and there was no taking it back.

My first reaction was sheer glee. I was quite proud of the younger generation at that moment. All teenage boys speak of erections and their association with the female gender. However, this time it was not affiliated with their breasts or buttocks. No, these young gentlemen were expressing a carnal reaction to the mental capacity of their female counterpart. Not just that, but they had verbalized it in a manner that was poetic in nature and visually descriptive as well.

“There is hope for the future yet!” I thought to myself.

Those thoughts aside, my mind was sharp with visual pictures that consisted not of the literal translation of the statement (or the possible Mad Magazine cover my imagination tended to create), but rather of the metaphorical version of what this young man had proposed. In my head, I saw Skinny Bagger #1 standing across the gym room floor from a girl he'd had his eyes on for some time (keep in mind that two weeks is equal to 18 months in adolescent time). She was surrounded by a gaggle of faceless girls. At least, to him, they were faceless. They were at the high school dance, and a bland Top 40 song was playing in the background. His buddies would give him a nudge. He would resist at first, but eventually that would be the push he needed to approach her. The song would switch from an upbeat tune to a slower number as soon as he had gotten within speaking distance of his feminine target. His voice cracking, he would timidly ask her to dance. She would confidently accept.

As is customary for people their age, they would stand on the dance floor and sway to-and-fro as if they were floating atop a wavy swimming pool. The small talk would begin; each asking the other about their school classes and Facebook goings on.

Growing tired of the small talk, the girl would whisper to him sweetly, “I saw you over there talking to your friends, I was waiting for you to come over and ask me to dance.”

He would reply nervously through a cracking voice, “I was planning on it, I just didn't know how to...”

At that point, a second slow song would begin to bellow softly through the gym's PA system. He couldn't escape now; that would be ungentlemanly of him. So he would stay. At least through the first few repetitions of Na na na na in “Hey Jude” (the DJ was a Beatles fan).

After an elongated silence and a series of sultry glances were exchanged, he would let his hands droop slightly lower down her torso. His hands would stay in the northern hemisphere of course, because although he may have been a hormonally enhanced young gentleman, he was a gentleman nonetheless. Their conversation would turn to the possibility of them watching a movie together that weekend. They would quickly discover they were a couple of film snobs. Their respective parents had instilled in them an appreciation for the arts, and it had become evident that this was the glue that would solidify their fledgling relationship. As Mr. McCartney finished his final “na na na”, they walked hand and hand from the dance floor, right out of the gym, and into the early evening air.

Once they reached the doorway, their hands released and dropped to their sides. Instead of moving to the known make out spot behind the classroom annexes, they would decide to take a walk down toward the front of the school. They would find a seat on the curb by the parental pick-up area where they could talk alone. At that point, they would decide which movie they would be watching that weekend. This became the subject of major contention. He, being wiser than his years, would propose they watch a “chick-flick.” Either the new Justin Bieber movie Never Say Never or anything from the Twilight saga. His suggestions would be aimed to please, but he would quickly realize he was not as good a marksmen as he once thought. She would scoff at his suggestions, stating plainly that those weren't “her kind of movies.” She liked the classics.

It would take every fiber of his being to keep his cool. He too liked the classics! Her suggestion came swiftly and without question. She would say, “No, I would rather watch The Godfather.” At this point, he would have flashes of the stories his parents told him about their first few dates. He remembered hearing stories of them nestled on his mother's couch watching that very same movie drinking wine and eating fancy cheese and crackers. He had yet to read Oedipus Rex, but he was aware of its applicability. That being said, the nerve endings in his brain were sparking like a grand finale of fireworks on the Fourth of July. He was feeling love for the first time in his life, and he didn't know how to put it into words.

That is, he didn't know how to put it into words until he was standing out in front of the grocery store one day after work talking to his coworker. The idea of this girl had lit his poetic fire, and in a moment of clarity he explained that feeling to his friend and fellow bagger as he said, “Dude, I heard her say that, and my brain got an erection.”

Sophocles could not have created a set up so tragic. Wordsworth, Blake and Browning couldn't hope to have poetry flow freely from their tongues at such a young age. No, these were the words of Skinny Bagger #1. A renaissance boy, a lover of cinema, and the one who coined the phrase which we all aspire to match in our lifetimes. May we all experience a “brain erection” by the time we die. We could be so lucky.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Racist Drum Circle Jerk

I was lucky enough to find the perfect table last weekend. There were four chairs available for me, my wife, my friend Karl and his brother-in-law Alex. We were sitting outside a bar named O'Bricks in downtown Bradenton. It is our favorite bar on slower nights because of the atmosphere and the quality of their bar staff. The “O” in O'Bricks is about the only thing Irish about this Irish Pub, and the “Bricks” is a literal translation of the exposed brickwork that covers the walls inside. They have a few beers on tap, but they are known more for their specialty martinis than for anything Irish. I was having a Jameson and Ginger Ale (one of the few whiskeys they offer), and I believe the rest of my table was sampling an array of ales and/or lagers from the Irish cities of Milwaukee, WI and Burlington, VT. There was a patron directly behind me that could only be described as a “quote a minute.” I glanced over my shoulder at one point to see her silhouette. She was about 5'4”, and her clothes were that of an early thirties mom who had been saving this outfit for her next opportunity to “hit the town.” My initial suspicions were correct when I heard her say she was turning 31 this year, and my further suspicions were confirmed by one of her later comments. She had obviously already enjoyed a few too many drinks that evening, which allowed her verbal inhibitions to take a much appreciated siesta. Needless to say, I was enjoying myself immensely.

I had first overheard her explaining to some random group of people that she was an English teacher at a local magnet school, and that she was a proud mother of a four year-old with Downs Syndrome. After that, she had taken a pause to sample the mixed drink she had recently received from her overweight, yet slightly attractive friend. That drink must have contained either Sodium Pentathol or at the very least, Rohypnol. I say that, because the raw truth had begun taking the express route from her subconscious, straight toward her lips and out into the ether. The Rohypnol guess was based simply on the further commentary when she took to raping the English language. She started abruptly with comments like “I'm a piece of shit now, but I used to be a big deal.” She went on to add “my son is retarded, I'm writing a book” and “I don't take good to dickness!” All those paled in comparison to one of the last of her statements we overheard that evening. After she slurred through a few more nonsensical rants (something about George Carlin for President in 2012 and Zombie make-out sessions), she started a story and ended it all within a matter of seconds. She said “So we went to the drum circle. I ended up fucking this guy in a Cabriolet next to his massage chair. He was a racist, and that was a deal breaker.”

How could someone skip the story telling process and get right to the “Cliff's Notes” version? Why were all the details left out? Whose Cabriolet was this, and why was there a massage chair in it? These were all questions to which I would get no answers. She was still seated two feet behind me, yet I would not dare turn and talk to her. I try not to get involved in conversations like those. They tend to turn into long diatribes of drunken banter that rarely supply better details or further entertainment. She continued to talk, but by that time she has ceased to utter any complete sentences. And I believe at one point she vomited in the metal garbage can over by the bar entrance.

I decided to dissect the short short story she had just told her friends. The first line was “so we went to the drum circle.” So that meant she was either a fan of offbeat Caucasian percussionists or someone who occasionally smelled of patchouli oil and wore Birkenstock sandals. I took her for a woman who sampled all of life's many offerings, and at some point in her earlier years she had toked her share of the magical herb known as marijuana. She was a self-declared English teacher (even though she wasn't flexing her grammatical muscles that particular evening), so she must have mixed it up with those hippie types at some point in her life. Was this what led her to the next chapter in her mini-story? She ended up “fucking this guy in a Cabriolet.” Was it his Cabriolet and he was not at all conscious of the undertones of such an automotive selection? Or was it a more sinister plan that was led by the reasoning of “girls drive Cabriolets, that means we will have something to talk about, and then I get into their panties.” No, I'm sure the car was hers. No self-respecting or even self-disrespecting male would ever make that choice. The next part was probably the second most perplexing of the sub-sections. How on Earth can you fit a massage chair in a Cabriolet? You can't even fit a regular metal fold-up chair in a car that size, much less a full size massage chair. This part of the story made me confused, and a little skeptical of the remaining details. I wanted to believe this was entirely factual, so I ignored those other thoughts and got right to the coup de grace. I'm not sure how much time had passed between her decision to enter into the coital phase of their relationship, and even less sure how long it took for her to the find out about the “deal breaker.” Apparently, this guy was a rare hippie/racist. His attendance at the drum circle and affinity for the art of massage therapy usually would point to a pretty liberal and open-minded individual. However, according to little miss Cabriolet, he was a racist. Did their pillow/headrest talk cross over from “what's your sign” to “I hate black people”? If so, how did such a crossover happen? Was she talking about how she loved to watch the setting sun on the horizon of the Gulf of Mexico, and his post-sexual brain could only produce “Don't get me started on the Mexicans.”

I don't know how such a wonderful story was cut so short and left without the lurid details. No matter how drunk you are, if you have a story like that to tell, make sure you tell it all the way through to the racist end. You only get a few of those experiences in your lifetime, and you better not waste an opportunity to give it the attention it deserves. You say you have a retarded son, and that is what you want to write a book about. Fine. However, this story needs to be told. I have tried my best to give it the publicity it deserves, but a firsthand account could only improve on its merit and cultural significance. Yes, you used to be a “big deal” and even though you think you're a piece of shit now, you'll always have the drum circle. Never forget that.