Thursday, June 30, 2011

Carlton A Singer Jr: Popcorn, Soda, and a Hepatitis B Shot

There comes a time in every parent’s existence where you want to start testing the waters with your children. You slowly begin to nudge them into activities for which they would have previously be considered “too young.” These activities include concerts (which I cannot wait for...), museums (which I also cannot wait for...), and, as sort of a set of training wheels for future outings, the movie theater. We did this over the weekend.

Now, being frugally minded, I quickly realized that I could very easily walk into a theater, spend $60 on tickets, popcorn, candy, and the like. Only to experience an unexpected meltdown of epic proportions within minutes of our arrival, thus putting an immediate end to our outing, and sending me toward the exit with a screaming child under one arm and dragging another crying child with the other. This would result in me apologizing to every person giving me an awkward stare as I passed them walking up the aisle saying, “Sorry. So sorry. They never, ever act like this...I promise. Sorry. Do you have a PayPal account? I’d like to refund the price of your admission. No? Okay. Enjoy your movie.”

At this point I had paid $60 for something I could have easily gotten for free at home. Oddly enough, I have used this same analogy before in regards to hookers (Weird, right?). After considering this scenario and its possible financial repercussions, I opted for the dollar theater. Fiscal responsibility is a must for a father of three, a fiance, and someone who works a few side jobs to provide for his family .

The kids were golden through the entire showing of Rio. The movie was good, but my focus remained on the behavior of my children. Luckily, there were just enough inside jokes for grown-ups to keep me laughing. That being said, this story isn’t about my experience in the theater. It is about my experience in the theater’s bathroom.

Just as I was getting as comfortable as one could be in the dollar theater seats, my youngest son said, “Daddy, I gotta go pee.”

Now, knowing full well that this was a dollar theater, and that a dollar doesn’t go very far these days, I should have at least had an idea of what kind of sanitation level to expect on the other side of the poorly painted particle board door that swung laboriously below the seventies-era Men's room sign. Yet still, I marched past it, determined and unaware with two children in tow.

Once we passed the threshold, we were greeted with such unsightly horror that I shouted, “Oh my Christ, DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!”

My immediate assumption was that, due to certain budgetary constraints resulting from running a dollar theater, certain aspects of restroom maintenance were considered a luxury service, and had been struck from the work instructions. These services include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) Pubic hair removal. (“Dada, what are those?” “Those are pubic hairs.” “What’s a pooby hair?” “Never mind, PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS!“)
2) Shit-covered toilet seat cleaning. (Trust me: in a place like this, the gross factor of what they keep out in the open, pales in comparison to what they hide behind closed doors.)
3) Overflowing urinal repair. (“Look Daddy! A waterfall!” “Oh my dear God. PUT YOUR HANDS BACK IN YOUR POCKETS!”)
4) The cleaning of hacked-up phlegm from the hand sinks. (The multitude of colors displayed in these basins makes me concerned that this theater’s demographic may be experiencing some never-before-seen health conditions. Perhaps I should write the CDC.)

After making these observations, I focused on safely allowing my kids to relieve themselves. This was comically accomplished through some clever thinking on my part, and as I stood there, holding Ben around his chest over a yellow-stained urinal, his pants around his ankles and me helping him aim, I thought some things to myself:

“Am I being completely over-protective here? Am I overreacting? People come here every day...what would they think if they walked in and saw this? Is this what I’ve been reduced to? When I was younger, I would have no problem just thoroughly wiping the seat and doing my business. Have I lost my edge? Was that ever considered an edge? Am I truly just another paranoid suburban father, living in fear of germs and grime, never allowing my kids’ immune systems to fully develop and do their jobs? WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?”

And as I stood there, now with Jack in the same position, Ben with both hands in my pockets, me fully aware of my growing “wussitude” towards public sanitation, a large, gangsta-looking chap entered the restroom with his two kids. Crap. We'd been found out.

He looked at us. We looked at him. He scanned the restroom and said to his kids, “Holy shit. Listen, kids...DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!”

We exited immediately thereafter, since I wanted to allow G-Dad some amount of privacy to attend to his kids in whatever way he saw fit. As I knelt in the lobby, giving the boys each a sanitary-wipe bath, I felt secure in my paranoia and had a feeling rush over me that, awkward as it had been, I had done exactly the right thing. Of course, we’re never leaving home again, but hey...that’s the price of being a Dad.

Now...if you’ll excuse me, I’m pretty sure Ben just picked up a dog turd. Doodie calls.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Situational Irony: The One I Understand

I have spent many hours pondering the meaning of irony, attempting to identify all things ironic, and Googling articles where someone attempts to explain it and only further confuses me. However, situational irony is easier to understand. The definition I prefer most is this: “a situation where the outcome is incongruous with what was expected, but it is also more generally understood as a situation that includes contradictions or sharp contrasts. . . . An example would be a man who takes a step aside in order to avoid getting sprinkled by a wet dog, and falls into a swimming pool." (Lars Elleström, Divine Madness. Bucknell Univ. Press, 2002)

Okay, so now we are all on the same page with what the meaning of the term is. Well, all of us except Alanis Morrisette, who mistook unfortunate coincidences for irony. But she's Canadian, so that is to be expected. She did have the last laugh though, as her album Jagged Little Pill has sold over 33 million copies to date. I digress.

I like the term and the usage of situational irony, but I have never seen a great real world example of it. That is, until I was watching an episode of Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads. In this show, they have given up the frozen tundra of northern Canada for the cliff-hanging “roads” in the Himalayas. During one of their runs from one station to another, they stopped at a road-side vendor to peruse their wares. It was not specifically mentioned on the show, but I know what I saw, and it sent me into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. The proprietor of the road-side stand used a fly swatter that was adorned with a picture of Buddha to end the life of an unsuspecting fly that settled unknowingly next to the personification of situational irony. Yes, the likeness of the very deity of the religion whose first precept essentially states “do not kill” was painted expertly on a device that's sole purpose was to do just that. At that very moment, I no longer cared about a man who stepped aside to avoid a few sprinkles from a wet dog, only to find himself soaking in a swimming pool moments later. No, I had seen the Mount Everest of situational irony, and I will never be the same.

I wondered if the man who just performed such a deed with an instrument that embodied all that is ironic knew just what he was doing. He obviously had lost his way down the Eightfold Path long ago, and he is as likely to attain Nirvana now as Kurt Cobain was to see his 28th birthday (too soon?). I also wondered how many other wonderful situational ironies there are floating around in the world. Not the simple ones where wars are waged by people who preach non-violence. That is so 11th, 12th, and 13th century, and I don't like picking low-lying fruit.

I wondered how many Egyptians died of heat stroke while building the pyramids for the Pharaohs. Were they aware of the situational irony of the Sun, one of their main sources of worship, being the catalyst for their demise? Did they pray to Ra with their last few breaths, or did they look up at the burning fire in the sky and think, “well this is ironic?” The answer to that is obvious. No, they didn't. Socrates would not come around for another 1,500 years and explain what irony was. But I'm sure they felt the irony, they just didn't have a word for it yet.

Beyond your religious situational ironies, there are linguistic ones as well. My father has always loved a certain word that is dripping with irony like a man emerging from a swimming pool into which he so ironically fell. The word is sesquipedalian. My father's definition is similar to those of the OED and Webster, but his adds just a little bit more that really drives the irony home. His definition is as follows; a sesquipedalian is a person who uses big words when smaller ones will do. It is generally a derogatory term when it is thrown at someone, but in order to hurl the insult one must use the term. Therefore turning the hurl-ee into an immediate target for for the next hurl-er. I guess it really doesn't fit the bill for irony, but it is still quite a linguistic Catch-22 (and my father's name is Bill, so ipso facto, it does indeed fit the Bill).

While I am on the subject of family stories, I will throw out another family favorite. My sister Erica was on a day trip to the “Happiest Place on Earth” to celebrate her graduation from high school. For those of you not aware, the “Happiest Place” I am speaking of is Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. They have an annual celebration that welcomes students from around the state (and perhaps the country) to let loose and revel after four long years of pubescent torture that is also known as high school. The irony is coming, I promise.

Inside the 30,000+ acre property there are many different parks and recreation areas. One of the most popular areas of the park is called The Magic Kingdom. Inside The Magic Kingdom are several sub-lands. They are Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and the subject of this anecdote... Tomorrowland. My sister was celebrating a major milestone in her life (graduating from high school), and in the minds of her and all her friends were thoughts of what the future had in store for them. They frolicked with excitement through Adventureland, they trudged through the antiquities of Frontierland, and they let their imaginations run wild in Fantasyland. However, when they attempted to cross over into Tomorrowland, they were greeted by a sign that would have made Socrates soil his toga. The sign read matter of factly, “We're sorry, the road to Tomorrowland is closed.” That was the message they received from the fine people at Walt Disney World that night. They could have taken it as a cosmic sign to give up their hopes and dreams. Hopefully, they took it as a chance to go home and Google irony. Unfortunately, Google wouldn't be founded for another five years and could not be used as a verb for another ten years after that. Luckily for my sister and her friends, our father was and still is a sesquipedalian, and he could explain to them the situational irony they just encountered.

I hope this commentary was educational, entertaining, and most of all I hope my definitions and understanding of irony were accurate. If they weren't, I blame the following entities: Google, The Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Yahoo Answers, Wikipedia, Lars Elleström, Alanis Morrissette, Ice Road Truckers, Canada, Kurt Cobain, Buddha, Ra, Joseph Heller, Walt Disney, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and my father.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jesse Kozel: Moral Hygiene

I'm not a very religious person, but I'm also not someone who would dare say he doesn't believe in the existence of a higher power. I do, however, have a problem with overly religious people who believe they are the ones bringing the "word of God" directly to me. I'm here to tell you, I have God in my life, and I do not need a disciple who shops at Wal-Mart to tell me what's right and wrong.

I have been in the great state of Texas for the last few months producing a feature film. I do not get out of the house very much because of the work I'm doing. On the rare occasion that I do, I end up running into some of the most God-fearing people I've ever seen (and also some of the ugliest). I have to say, if Jesus is taking all these people into his house, then he must have a huge heart, he must be blind, and he must not have a no shirt-no shoes-no salvation policy.

I had an experience with one of those people at the local Wal-Mart here in Texas. As some of you can imagine, a Texas Wal-Mart is not unlike your hometown Wal-Mart. The only difference is there are more cowboy boots inside the store, and a lot more horse trailers outside in the parking lot. On a day when I saw the thermometer reaching well over 100 degrees, I encountered a woman in a very unflattering outfit.  She had the nerve to scold me while I was in the middle of perusing the vast toothbrush selection that Wal-Mart has to offer.

I have no idea what this woman was thinking, or what I was doing that could have set her off. But all of a sudden (as I reached for a Oral-B Pro-Heath Vitalizer toothbrush), I heard her mumble, "Jesus don't like sinners."

I paused for a moment, looked to my left, and saw her sweaty brow in my eye-line. I looked down a little further to connect with her beady blue eyes, (which were highlighted by far too much mascara and blue eye shadow). She pierced my soul with the stare she was giving me. I said to her, "Excuse me?"

She replied, "You hear'd me."

My retort was simple and to the point, "Obviously ma'am I did not hear you, or I would not have asked you to repeat yourself." Of course I heard her, but I just wanted to have her say it directly to my face. She continued to stare at me for a moment until I said to her "Ma'am, thank you for your statement, but I don't believe brushing your teeth is a sin."

The stare continued and then she huffed a heavy puff of breath in my direction (which smelled like Cheetos) then said, "You ain't a sinner cuz of your toothbrush. You a sinner cuz you wear no socks."

Really? Was she was staring at my feet so intently to notice that I wasn't wearing socks inside my sneakers?

On a side note, I am not a fan of going out without wearing socks inside my sneakers. Actually, it kind of freaks me out. Today was an exception.  I wasn't going very far, I only needed to be gone for about 30 minutes and most of that time was spent driving. To me, I saw no reason to dirty a pair of socks for this particular trip. Regardless, how is not wearing socks a sin? I was puzzled.  But I really couldn't be bothered to wait for her to pull out her pocket Bible and find the page where it says "Thou who wearest no socks, will burnith in hell for eternity." I looked at her coldly, turned on my heels, and walked away.

This angry woman of God suddenly yelled back at me, "Boy, you'll burn for this!"

I shook my head in disgust as people looked at this crazy lady who was pulling her cart backwards down the isle in an attempt to follow me. I turned toward the portly woman whose flapjack breasts were tucked haphazardly in the short shirt that accentuated her C-section scar and boob-sweat stains. I said, "I believe it's more of a sin to not wear a bra when shopping in Wal-Mart. Good Luck on your journey ma'am, I hope Jesus gives you a free pass for your stupidity."

Normally I would not reply to such a crazy person, but I just could not let her Cheeto-filled breath and floppy breasts get the better of me. I realized then why I do not go out often here in Texas. Again, it's nothing against the entire state, just some of the small town people who live here.

Money is saved in a Wal-Mart, not souls. So if you happen to be a God fearing Christian, and you think that someone not wearing socks is a sinner, please keep your comments to yourself. Just Pray for them before you go to bed with your adulterous husband. And don't forget to brush your teeth.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vehicular Pigeonholing

I was driving to work on my normal route when something abnormal occurred. I was in the left lane heading west at about 45 mph in a 35 mph zone (I'm such a rebel). A man in a red Chevy Silverado truck appeared on one of the side streets, and was waiting patiently at the stop sign for traffic to subside so he could join us in our morning commute. As I passed him, he honked his car horn at me. I immediately checked my mirrors to make sure I wasn't in any serious danger, or unaware of something else going on around me. After glances to my left, right and my rear-view mirror, I determined that neither I nor anyone around me was in any type of peril. My relief was matched only by my confusion.

When I glanced back a few seconds later, the horn-honker was emerging into the west bound lane and was quickly picking up speed. He wasn't driving recklessly, but he was definitely moving forward with haste. He caught up to the pack of vehicles of which I was a member, and again I heard him honk his horn. He was about two cars behind me, and I could see his silhouette in the early morning light. He wasn't moving erratically, nor was he gesturing at any of the drivers around him. I was indeed perplexed.

A few minutes later, I stopped at a red light, and the red truck pulled up directly behind me. After a few seconds went by, I heard it again. “Honk!” I was already looking at my rear-view mirror to see if he was making any gestures at me or was in any way acting like a person who would be continuously honking his horn on a busy street during an early morning commute. Not only was he not waving his hands or giving someone the finger, he wasn't even moving at all. He was sitting there perfectly still with his hands at 10:00 & 2:00, staring straight ahead with a blank expression pasted across his face. I still could not understand what was happening.

The light turned green, and I slowly began pressing the accelerator. The man in the red truck put on his turn signal and began to pass me in the left lane. As he drove by, I expected him to roll his window down and say something to me. He didn't. He just kept his eyes affixed on the road and tried not to make eye contact with any other drivers. I glanced toward his truck as he made his way past me, and in the window, was a torn cardboard sign that read, “NOT ANGRY, HORN BROKEN.” At that moment, it all made sense. I laughed to myself, and went on my merry way.

I started to think. What other signs could someone put in the window of their car to give themselves an excuse for doing something so socially unacceptable? Or what else could you advertise in such a way that could fully explain your automotive situation?

I imagined a Hummer driver with a sign in the rear window that read, “Not a douche, I just like spending too much money on gas.” Or a Ferrari with a sign that said, “Regular sized penis, enlarged bank account.” Or my personal favorite, the man in a Volkswagen Jetta with “Not gay, just a fan of German engineering” posted proudly for all to see.

All these thoughts put a smile on my face, and laughter in my belly. Then I wondered what sign I would put in the window of my Mazda 3 Hatchback that could provide ample explanation of my automotive preference and personality, in only a few words. Would it read, “No kids. Decent job. This car made sense.” or something more clever like “No bodies in the trunk, see for yourself.” I'm not sure which one I would go with, but I do think I would have to give it a lot of thought.

Each car I encountered on the road that morning was fodder for my judgment. There were many others that became subject to my vehicular pigeonholing. There was the man in his mid-thirties driving a Jeep Wrangler. His sign would say, “Holding on to my youth, hoping it doesn't rain.” The attractive blonde in the late model Ford Fiesta. Her car should be adorned with the words, “Too cute for this car, need sugar-daddy NOW!” And last, but certainly not least, was a man and his three raucous kids in a Dodge Caravan. The driver seemed to be too young to be driving such a domesticated procreator's vehicle. His sign would most definitely read, “Abortion, judge not lest you drive this car first.”

I thought back to the operator of the red Chevy Silverado. Was he embarrassed about the horn malfunction, and that is why he was so apt to keep his eyes to the front while he drove a vehicle that called attention to itself? Did he even realize how hilarious his predicament really was? I hoped deep down that he did. I even wanted him to get rid of that sign, and just embrace the vehicular defect he has been so blessed to receive. He should just ride around town, and each time his horn blares at an unsuspecting passerby or random car on the road, he should just stick his head out of his window and shout some sort of nonsensical allegation at them. I wanted to hear him say to a startled driver on the road, “Hey asshole, what are you doing driving on the right side of the road? What do you think this is, America?” or “Yeah my horn works, I bet you can't say the same for your dick!” Just imagine the story that guy would have to tell when he got home that evening. I could only hope that man would be me. I'm sure I could turn that into a decent chronicle of confusion and mirth. I know his cardboard sign allowed me to conjure up this anecdote, I can only assume something like that would make for a great narrative as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The New Official Drink of Diary of a 3rd Person

Two parts vodka, three parts sugar free Amp energy drink, and all parts awesome.  I give you the official drink of Diary of a 3rd Person.  It shall henceforth be known only as D3P Soup!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Real Women Create Friction

One of my favorite hobbies is playing in a co-ed adult kickball league on Friday nights. It is a fun time where adults get to run around playing a kids game for an hour or so every week. Some people forget they are participating in a game that most people give up once grade school is over. Competitive instincts are a hard thing to break. I have heard a lot of trash talk during the seven seasons I've played in this league, and most of it can be filed under the heading of inconsequential. However, one particular comment has stuck with me since the wondrous day it was first uttered.
We were playing against a team of young and attractive people that were sponsored by a local bar (yes, some kickball teams have sponsors). The women on the team were both long-legged and skinny. There was one specific girl on the field that night who was trying her best to be the center of attention. She succeeded. She had on bright pink short-shorts, pink knee-high socks, and her t-shirt was rolled up so her midriff was exposed. Most of the men on the field had a hard time keeping their minds in the game, because most of the time, their minds were in the gutter. However, there was a guy on our team named Ray that was not attracted to this girl whatsoever.

Ray was a man in his early thirties who was married to another girl on our team. His intolerance for this girl was not just a facade he was putting on to score points with his wife. I have seen that act put on by many husbands. They will point out a flaw in a woman simply to create a connection with their significant other in hopes of cashing that chip in later that night for a sexual favor. In this case, Ray was genuinely disinterested in this girl, and he had his reasons. None of the men on the field that night were fantasizing about her intellectually. Their interest was simply carnal. Ray was beyond disinterested in her. He was skeptical of her general character. I know this because he pulled me aside in the dugout, and said to me, “You see Pinky over there? She can't be trusted. Look, her thighs don't even touch when she runs.” His logic was baffling at first, but seemed to have some form of reasonable base. I asked him what he meant by that. He replied simply, “You just cant trust a woman whose thighs don't touch.”

I couldn't argue the confidence with which he spoke. I also couldn't figure out why I didn't debate him or ask for further clarification. I just accepted it as gospel and after the last out of that inning, I took my spot in right-centerfield.
It wasn't until later that night when I started to think about Pinky and Ray again. At that point, all the questions began to arise in my mind. Was he just a fan of bigger girls? Ray wasn't exactly a slender fellow himself, but his wife wasn't a large girl by any means. I think he just liked “real” women. I have always gone by the code of wanting a woman who can get her money's worth at an all-you-can-eat buffet, but I stop at the point where she might be asked politely to leave by a restaurant manager looking out for his or her bottom line.

As a 150 pound man, I am in no way, shape or form an overweight person. The days that followed that encounter with Ray, I found myself monitoring my own gate whilst walking, running or during general movement. I wanted to see if I was a trustworthy individual. I wondered if the same generality of trustworthiness applied to the male gender. I searched for the masculine equivalent to the friction inducing thighs of a woman. Was it something similar? Did a man have to have a certain physique to be considered trustworthy? I decided that neither muscle tone nor body type would apply equally to men. It had to be something that was a choice, but also a a gift. It finally hit me. I had always been skeptical of people who attempted to grow beards, but their follicle fortitude left something to be desired. You know, a man with a full face of beard and mustache, but still had a small gap that left the two disconnected. A beard, by definition is the hair that grows on a man's face, often excluding the mustache (thank you On the other hand (or face), a mustache is the hair growing on the upper lip. To grow one or the other is not a feat in and of itself. However, to grow the duo and have them meet up to form one solid structure of facial adornment takes a real man, a trustworthy man. Those who can grow one or the other, without that fateful connection, are suspect in my book. I think Ray would agree with me there. At least I hoped he would.

I accepted his take on the female anatomy as something to be fully considered and respected. His comments about Pinky that night on the field of kickball battle have stuck with me for two years now. Each time I see a woman in a form-fitting outfit that allows me to judge her trustworthiness, I take his words into consideration. Also, each time I encounter a man with a detached beard-mustache combo, I keep a close eye on him. He could be working on a devious plan to steal my wallet, sell me faulty products or hit on my wife.

My wife fits the bill of a trustworthy woman, so I don't worry too much about her. I just sit back, stroke the hair on my fully covered face and keep a watchful eye on those of whom I have deemed less credible.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Hate to Admit It, but...

I uttered a comment yesterday that I'm not proud to admit, but I am a man of principle and therefore must share. It was in regards to an athlete I have spent the last 5 years damning his name. His name is Tim Tebow. I won't say the totality of my ire toward him has been completely vanquished, but a connection and appreciation for his plight has hit me in the heart like a poorly thrown jump-pass.
Tim is a young man who had the audacity to write an autobiography at the age of twenty-three. He all but admitted to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show that if he didn't write the book now, he could quite possibly miss his opportunity to cash in on his fame. I understand that. His skill set as a quarterback in the NFL does not automatically put him up on the same pedestal on which he was placed while he attended The University of Florida. His fame as a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at the collegiate level has yet to fully flourish in the professional ranks. There is more than a good chance that he could wash out in the NFL and end up in the same sentence as a Ryan Leaf (the epitome of an overrated athlete) or a Sam Bowie (known best as the guy selected before Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft). However, his college fame and possible professional downfall aside, he is known also as being a devout Christian and son of missionary parents. That is what the bulk of his new book describes in detail. His interview on The Daily Show was unlike many others I have seen. Jon Stewart did not sit across the desk with doe eyes and ask him easy questions. In fact, he tried to catch Tim off guard a few times. Each time, Tim was quick-witted himself and retorted confidently but without arrogance or stutter. Tim held his own across from an interviewer who has made numerous politicians and self-proclaimed historians look foolish. I found myself laughing out loud (but not LOL-ing) at some of the comments made in the interview, and more than once it was in reaction to something that Tim himself said. Keep in mind, I am a fan of Tim's Alma Mater's #1 rival Florida State University. My admitting that I enjoyed this interview is akin to a Boston Red Sox fan saying, “That Alex Rodriguez fella is a class act” or to take it to the Nth degree, a Palestinian National saying, “Well, I guess the 1967 borders would be a good compromise.” Either way, I have to admit it, Tim Tebow seemed like a nice enough guy in that interview. He stayed with Jon Stewart in both pace and wit, and he never came off as the Bible-thumping prick I called him so many times before (including my comments on The Daily Show's Facebook wall when the interview was announced).

I hate to admit it, but I gained a little respect for Tim yesterday. Don't worry, I still have plenty of room for that respect next to the undying hatred for most other things that hail from Gainesville. Oh yes, I also have the ever sustaining entertainment of a gaff-riddled Sarah Palin to keep me warm at night.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pic-a-nic Bastard

My 1st evening in Dunedin for Memorial Day weekend was filled with many characters; all of which I observed from afar. First, there was the Frisbee phenom I saw on the beach of Honeymoon Island. He was trying so hard to gain attention from the gaggle of young ladies on the beach with his assortment of Frisbee juggling skills. Later that day, I witnessed a Hula-Hoop master at the tiki bar. I was impressed with what I saw, but I wanted more. I kept thinking to myself, “Yeah yeah, that's okay but it would be better if the hoop was set on fire.” I guess, I'm tough to please.

Another man who was tough to please was a certain gentleman at the Mexican restaurant I went to that evening. He was having dinner with his father, and they were having a very intense heart-to-heart discussion about love, life and the influences of the current downturn in the US economy on his personal finances. The guy doing most (if not all) of the talking was the son. He was a mid to late thirties “dude” whose every comment or insight was lessened by the fact that he was wearing a tuxedo t-shirt. His father could not get a word in, and when he did, it was muffled and inaudible to my ears. Tuxedo Tim went on and on about his own issues, and occasionally tried to tie them back to his father's relationship with a younger woman. According to Tim, this woman was none too bright, was unable to comprehend his father's jokes and also did not contribute financially to their collective existence.

Tim shifted back and forth from his inability to find a job in the tough economy to his father's relationship with this woman. He seemed as if he was slightly tipsy, but I think his incoherence was based more on his lack of social skills. The conversation he was hogging was one that should have been conducted at a whisper or at least in a more private locale, but he felt comfortable belting it out in public and at a consistent exhalation. He said things like, “Mom always says she sees a little of you in me, and she loves me, so I think that means she still loves you.” His argument was full of conjecture and void of tact. He was obviously attempting to sabotage his father's relationship with the young bartender harlot, so his parents could reconcile and live happily ever after. From what I witnessed, his father was not in the mood.

There were many long diatribes in which Tim tried to explain to his father that both he and his less direct sister thought their father's current relationship was that of co-dependence rather than unequated love. Each time, his father would mumble something that would attempt to subside his son's angst. Each time, he would fail miserably. After one final utterance from the father, Tim sat back in his chair and exclaimed, “I guess that's why I don't have any friends.”

His father spoke occasionally, at which time Tim would take the opportunity to breathe and concoct his next retort. This time, his father has said something so profound that Tim was forced to look inward and search his soul for the real reason his father had to seek the company of a younger woman. I assumed it was because his family was a bunch of whiny blabbermouths (I was probably right).

I wondered to myself, what had his father said to him. Was it something scholarly that caused introspection? Did he reply so curtly that Tim was caught off guard? I was not sure what would have garnered the “I guess that's why I don't have any friends” response.

I had only been in Tuxedo Tim's immediate surroundings for 40 minutes at that time, and I was quite sure there was no way I would have been his friend (ever). I'm pretty sure this beer-gutted imbecile couldn't do any Hula Hoop trick or even juggle a Frisbee, so his list of amiable traits was getting slimmer by the minute.

I couldn't stand to listen to him speak, and I could only imagine the hurt one must feel to have contributed 50% of their DNA to his existence. I would be a mumbling bumbling bartender sugardaddy too if it meant spending less time in his acquaintance.

I imagined Tuxedo Tim Sr. as a man of influence and importance in the Dunedin community. He was sure to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce or at least the Elks' Lodge. His marriage to Mrs. Tuxedo Tim was a memory he was ready to file under “Mistakes of the Clinton Era”, but no, Tuxedo Tim Jr. had to bring it up whilst they munched on chips and salsa. His first marriage produced two children, hundreds of headaches and at least one ulcer.

Why would he go back to that when he had his young hussy at home waiting to show him what she learned in Yoga class earlier that day? It would be an easy decision for him. Why wold he swallow his pride and reconcile with Mrs. Tuxedo, just so he could spend the remainder of his existence with the woman who contributed the egg that spawned such an annoying human being? No, he should smile and nod at his son for 40 minutes while they ate Americanized Mexican food, and hurry home to his new girlfriend that was eagerly awaiting to show him the upside to the downward facing dog.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Karl Gardner: God Bless Bars and Overheard Conversations, Everywhere

Overheard conversation between forty-odd year old guy and gal:
Guy - "I've learned, like, five new words this week!"
Gal - "Oh? Like what?"
Guy - "Uhhhhh, there was, ummmm, 'conundrum'!"
Gal - "Can you spell it?"
Guy - "Let's see, 'q...u...'"
Me  (I just can't take it anymore) - "Conundrum's with a 'c'.  I think you're thinking of 'quandary'.

Situation number Two  (thirty seconds after the first event.  I'm just trying to pay my bill):

This guy is blitzed.  Has a bit of lean going on.  At first you could mistake it for a casual stance.  It's not. He's not quite certain where his feet are in relation to the floor.  Still drinking a beer, he asks, "Can I cash out?"
The bartender hands him the check.  The guy signs it, passes back the receipt and pen, and continues to sip his beer. The bartender then hands me the pen.  Maybe five seconds have passed since the first guy paid.  This same guy looks back at the bartender, and AGAIN asks, "Can I cash out?"
Bartender looks at him for a second, raises the check. "You just did."
"Oh. Really?"  Looks down at his glass, then back up. "What about this one?"
"Awesome!"  And then he stumbles off into the great unknown.

Thank you, St. Pete bars.

Karl Gardner is a guest contributor on D3P and will be coming out with his own blog soon.  Stay Tuned!