Sunday, September 25, 2011

Respect the Fairy

Sometimes Facebook is a never ending vortex of wasted time. Other times it is a wealth of inspirational material for writers like me. One such instance of the latter has led me to this story of infinite wonderment and fantastical contemplation.

I was sitting on my front porch enjoying a tasty alcoholic libation after a long day at work. The drink was sufficiently refreshing, and the status I read on my friend Erin’s Facebook wall was equally as entertaining. It was in regards to an open house at the school where she is a guidance counselor. The interaction went like this:

Erin, “Hi, I’m Erin.”
Parent, “Erin? OH! You’re the Respect Fairy!”
Erin, “Yes. Yes, I am.”

My immediate response was to ask for details, but I quickly changed my mind. I closed the program and let my imagination create the details of what kind of open house this was, and what kind of school employs reverent pixies.

Erin was born and raised in the United States, but after completing school, she moved to the United Kingdom (she only goes places that claim to be united). She has spent some time roaming the countryside in England and Ireland. Ireland is known for a few things. Drinking, potato famines, drinking, boiled food, Caucasian terrorism, and fairies. I couldn’t help but wonder if she had been bitten by a radioactive fairy during one of her jaunts through the Irish meadows, and unbeknownst to her or anyone around her, she was slowly turned into one herself. Instead of gaining the ability to fly or shoot webs of dust from her wrists (like a whimsical Spiderman), she would gain the power to enlighten those around her to be more respectful.

Erin and her guild of fairy-teachers and counselors refer to their annual congregation in the fairy realm as an “Open House.” That is where the children (and their parents) are treated to fanciful stories and capricious lessons. Just like the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future; the fairies each have their specialty. The Respect Fairy opened the occasion by reciting a limerick of deference and understanding.

“Each day we must pay close attention.
To the things that challenge our abstention.
And practice self-control,
or risk suffering the toll,
of that which could be our detention.”

The parents and children shivered from the strong words of advice the Respect Fairy had bestowed upon them. And after a quick bout of self-reflection, they were ushered to another room where the next fairy was there waiting.

The diligence fairy was known to promote hard work and steadfast effort to achieve one's goals in life. She preached the virtue of conscientiousness rather than the sin of sloth. Her lesson would go as such:

“Persistence is the virtue to which I preach.
And ethics are the topics that I teach.
I've seen the lethargy of the masses,
That which keeps them on their asses,
Please pardon the crudeness of my speech.”

The kids would have a harder time digesting the message at first, because of the words such a beautiful fairy chose. The parents, who had much worse in their lifetimes would immediately feel the depth and breadth of the intended lesson. And just as before, the group was forced to expeditiously relocate to another room where yet another member of the realm was waiting.

As they entered the next room, they felt a warmth in their stomachs and a pain in their corneas. The voice of the Kindness Fairy provided the tummy warmth, and the white hot spotlight pointed at the entry way caused the eye pain. She was a bit melodramatic about her virtuosity, but you can't be mad at the Kindness Fairy. She had an assortment of large fluffy pillows on which her possibly tired guests could take a load off, and offered refreshments to everyone before she began her recital. Once they had gotten comfortable and were no longer parched, she started.

“May humanity be struck sober by my kindness.
And those full of envy be cured of their blindness.
As integrity holds onto compassion,
And cruelty recruits the weak to its faction,
So the strong shall be encouraged when they find this.”

As the people in the room wept and wiped their noses, they were pulled by their arms from a seated position toward the exit. It was their turn to be greeted and enlightened by the fourth of seven virtuous fairies. It was also due to the fast approaching group of parents and children that were in the doorway shielding their eyes and covering their ears. There was a flow that must be maintained and a schedule that must be kept.

The children felt full of themselves, and the parents were so proud that they had made the decision to attend this gregarious gathering. Just as they started to pat each other on the back for their accomplishments, they were quickly brought down to earth by the next presenter. She rushed them in and sat them down on the simple, yet strangely welcoming arrangements, and meekly commenced.

“Humility can bring one to a pause.
Pride and ego are some common flaws.
Bravery is worth a note,
And altruism gets my vote,
But modesty is the ultimate cause.”

This time they were given a moment to bask in the simplicity of the words, but not quite enough time to fully plan for the grandiose nature of being truly humble. They slowly stood up and each waddled toward the next corridor; taking their id with them as they left the room.

The Charity Fairy waited in the next room to bestow her message, and she did so with the patience of one her her fellow pixies. As the group entered her roomy realm, she greeted them soulfully. She offered refreshments and healthy snacks. They imbibed the spring water and munched on the sugary noshes. As they finished, she started to whisper.

“Be open handed to all that you meet.
And benevolent to all that you greet.
Keep away from those of a pitiless sort,
Who laugh and jeer as if it were sport,
And your contentment shall be complete.”

The audience had their bellies full of sweetness and simple liquids. They were also approaching a fullness of platitudes. Yet still, they yearned for more. Luckily, the Patience Fairy awaited. She stood quietly as the group made their way in. As they made themselves comfortable, she stared in anticipation, waiting for a nod or a sign that it was time to begin. And when she received it from the last entrant, she did.

“Your wrath and your ire stir up dissension.
Your haste and your hurry, bring forth desolation.
Let stillness and fortitude guide your hand,
For tolerance and serenity be your command,
And peace shall ever be your constellation.”

They had always thought of themselves as patient and understanding, but the words of the pixie in front of them caused them to question that assumption. It was an earth shattering realization with which they were dealing. How could they ever expect to move on and learn more? Well, the Chastity Fairy was about to show them how.

As they entered his realm, they couldn't help but pull in the musky scents of mahogany and leather. The drab surroundings kept them alert for stimulation, and the anticipation for what was to come left them with a wistful yearning for a happy ending. They knew this was the seventh fairy of the day, and they could only imagine the best would be saved for last. When they first caught eyes with the Chastity Fairy, they realized all their hopes were about to come true. He didn't meet their expectation of beauty, but with a wink and a glint, he introduced them to their lesson in purity.

“Our higher being tells us to be chaste.
But I don't think that applies to ass.
So pucker your sweet lip,
Then we'll play just the tip,
Now get the hell out of my class.”

They wondered if he was inebriated, or just one of those generally saucy types of people. You have to believe at least one in seven fairies has to be the black sheep of the realm. Thankfully, the group recycled back to the Respect Fairy before they left. Erin explained to the parents and their children to not mind the Chastity Fairy, “He is a silly chap, and shan’t be held to account for his actions. He's still coming to grips with his assigned virtue.” Luckily, the rest of the ladies are there to see him through it. He should be better by the time next year's “Open House” comes around.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hyper Extended Family

My new Uncle-in-law George lives in a four bedroom house in the Gibsonton-Riverview metropolitan area. His wife Svetlana lives with him.  Their choices in home décor are the only thing in the house that contrast more than the two people themselves. Svetlana is a Russian immigrant and George is a classic Florida Cracker. She looked to be in her late forties to early fifties. She had on a short black house dress and Zebra print headband that held her black curly out-of-control locks out of her face. George is in his late sixties, and has the face of a man who smokes about two packs of cigarettes a day and has spent a number of years washing down his feelings with whiskey and beer. Svetlana works as a “matchmaker” to supplement George’s pension from the United States' Postal Service. He is an all American, and she is living the American dream.

We sat on George's back porch drinking Miller High Life and eating potato chips. Svetlana sat at another table talking to her “clients” entirely in Russian. We couldn't understand what they were saying, and they couldn't care less about what we were discussing. George told us stories about the boarding house for wayward Russians they were running. He spoke of strippers with mob connected boyfriends, mail-order marriages, and an assortment of other goings on that were fascinating to an outsider yet were everyday life to him.

Our conversation was interrupted when Svetlana overheard George use the word “Jew” in a sentence. She immediately joined our conversation and asked what we were talking about. The actual discussion was in regards to Svetlana's daughter; who worked in Washington, DC for a human rights group that protects Jews around the world. Svetlana did not let George finish explaining before she looked us all in the eye and said, “That's fine, just don't say anything about Russian Jews. If you do... I'll kill you.” I did not add an exclamation point to that sentence, because her tone was a plain as if she just asked us if we would like another beer. Needless to say, Svetlana was an interesting Russian woman. Her background in “matchmaking” and her affinity for gaudy home décor aside, she was a plain speaking woman who lacked the ability to understand what was appropriate to say and what was not. I found her delightful!

George had precisely instructed her to prepare the “fixins” for the hamburgers and hot dogs. She was to break up the lettuce into small pieces, cut half an onion into slices, dice the other half, and slice up a tomato. We all understood the instructions clearly, and we though Svetlana did too. After she finished smoking her Capri cigarette, she gripped the red lipstick-stained filter, extinguished it in the ashtray, and was on her way into the kitchen to get started on the “fixins.”

Minutes later I walked into the kitchen to throw away my beer bottle and grab another one from the mini refrigerator that was strategically placed next to the TV. Before I could make it back to the beer fridge, Svetlana stopped me. She waved for me to come closer. I did, but I made sure the kitchen counter still separated us (I wasn't 100% sure I hadn't offended her before). She leaned in and covered one side of her face as if she were about to tell me a secret. My mind was racing with what she was going to utter next. Is there another taboo in this house that could result in untimely death? She finally began to speak, and she said, “I forgot what I was supposed to do.” She shrugged her shoulders while holding a head of lettuce in one hand and a red ripened tomato in the other. She could not remember the specific preparatory instructions George had laid out for her just five minutes prior. I was listening before and reiterated them for her in the kitchen. She thanked me and sent me on my way to the beer fridge and back out to the porch for some more of George's stories. I was happy to oblige. She seemed nice enough, but there was something about her that made me uneasy. I decided not to stick around to find out exactly why.

From there, the night was a bit of a blur. There were more stories of strippers, some of steak, cellulite cream in the bathroom, quail hunting, duck hunting, deer hunting, whiskey, family, and finally of sleep. We had an hour drive back to Bradenton and an important morning task to attend to the following morning. We had to be on our way. I was sad to leave, but ready to go. I would hate for my affinity to speak ill of Russian Jews to slip out, and we all knew what the penalty for that would have been.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The "Real" Fantasy Football

On a recent “guys night out”, I participated in an unorthodox draft session of “Fantasy Football.” Names like Adrian Peterson and Michael Vick were given a single utterence. This can not be said in any other leagues of which I am aware. However, this league is quite different than the ones you can find on ESPN, Yahoo Sports or CBS Sportsline. This league brings back the true definition of fantasy into the realm of fantasy football.

My friend Jake sat in the front seat and asked the question, “Okay, so if you could put together a starting lineup for the greatest fantasy football team ever, and you could pick anyone alive or dead, real or fictional, who would you pick?”

This led to an ongoing conversation of who we would choose for each of our teams. There has been quite a lot of arguing and questions as to what is legal on the field of play. As soon as superpowers were allowed (all except the power of flight), the names of many a fictional character were thrown out in quick succession. Keeping in mind that our league of extraordinary athletes could only fill the standard offensive and leadership positions, it was whittled down quite a bit. My selections consisted of the following:

Head Coach: Professor Charles Xavier- A coaches job is to know what strategy the other team will come up with before they do. This is his specialty. The games against Jean Grey and Magneto will just have to be settled on the field.

Running Back: The Flash- Originally thought of for the wide receive position, but I believe he might have questionable hands. I say, just hand him the ball and let him run with it.

Full Back: Juggernaut- He is the perfect guy to break open a hole in the line for The Flash. And depending on the defensive scheme, he could take on a linebacker to allow my speedy running back a direct line into the secondary for extra yards and possibly even a breakout touchdown.

Wide Receiver #1: Stretch Armstrong- His speed may be suspect, but you can't question his hands. That, and he is made of rubber so injuries would not be an issue. Always a plus.

Wide Receiver #2: Spiderman- Stretch can go across the middle or work the sidelines, so I would need a guy to go up and get one for my team in a 3rd and long situation. Who would be better than a guy who can shoot webs from his wrists?

Tight End: Superman- You need a guy big enough to pick up a blitz from the defensive end, but also someone who can move the chains with nice catch and run in mid yardage situations. A defensive tackle stunt could be his Kryptonite, but luckily I have Professor Xavier to guard against that.

Kicker/Punter: Inspector Gadget- This one took a while to come up with, but eventually I figured out that his ability to extend his legs and arms would be the key. When kicking field goals, he could just plant one of his feet from seven yards behind the line of scrimmage and push it over the crossbar with a flick of his foot. And he could punt the ball deep inside enemy territory with a “Go-go Gadget” and a little backspin. You'd be guaranteed at least three points for every offensive possession or at the very least, be able to put your opponent in terrible starting field position.

And finally...

Quarterback: Peyton Manning- Never underestimate your field general's IQ and understanding of the two minute drill. Mr. Neo Anderson can learn how to fly a helicopter in a matter of seconds, but the West Coast Offense takes years to perfect.

Update:  With Peyton possibly out for the season, I have chosen Bullseye as his replacement.  He comes highly recommended by Aaron Teare and some random guy at Mi Pueblo mexican restaurant.  You can't beat a guy who is known for hitting any target with deadeye accuracy.  Even though he doesn't have a "Laser-Rocket Arm" like Peyton's.

This is the team I chose. Now, post your ultimate “fantasy team” and subsequent explanations in the comment section below. I'm not sure there is a better team out there, but I challenge you to come up with one. Send this link to your nerdiest, comic book-loving friends and ask them to do the same. Maybe we'll set up a vote and see who truly is the “fantasy” football king. Your move hot shot!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Beads, Boobs and World Domination

My attendance at Bradenton's Heritage Day Parade was not mandatory, but I decided to go nevertheless. We had some people over at our house, so we made our way to the parade route that was only a couple of blocks away. I had been to this parade numerous time before, but I noticed something different on that occasion. It took the simple words of one slightly inebriated yet wholly sharp-minded individual to make that adjustment.

He was just a random guy amongst a gaggle of nondescript revelers, but his voice seemed to rise above the din. His ribbed tank top and cut off jean shorts did not represent the visionary that was enveloped by such blue collar attire. A can of domestic beer dripped with condensation in his hand, until he wiped it dry and finished it off with a few powerful gulps. He was quite impressed with himself as he turned to his friend and began a conversation.

He said in a thick southern drawl, “Hey man, look at all these chicks out here. They are running, jumping and climbing all over each other. And for what, some plastic beads?”

His friend replied (in a similar drawl), “Yeah, so.”

He continued, “C'mon man, think about it. You know how they act when they go up to Tampa for Gasparilla or to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. They lose their fucking minds!”

His friend still was not gathering the bread crumbs he was laying down for him to follow, “Yeah. And?”

He got to his point and shouted, “Listen man, girls will flock to wherever there are strings of beads. It's like lady catnip for them. 'Cept they don't bat at like a ball of yarn or ask politely for you to throw them in their direction. There is one international signal for 'throw me some beads.' And that signal is flashing their tits. We need to get some beads, man.”

His friend was finally on the same page, and agreed, “Yeah man, we need to get us some beads.”

Through a semi-toothy grin he concluded, “We need to get us a whole truckload of beads, man. And we can see all the tits we could ever want to see. We can rule the fucking world!”

On the surface, this was a funny situation. But when I thought about his conclusion that he could “rule the world”, I realized that maybe he had bigger plans than just getting a free peep show on the streets of Bradenton, Tampa or New Orleans. Did he actually have a plan for world domination, and the procurement of a truckload of multicolored plastic beads was just the beginning? I think I know what his full diabolical design really entailed.

I imagined our blue collar protagonist at the public library, hunched over at one of the internet stations, hard at work on researching how he could get his callus-covered hands on the mother load of beads. How many could he buy them on his working man's paycheck, and how many would it actually take to make his dream a reality?

After researching numerous financial transactions and world demographics on the internet station, he would take to writing his magnum opus. It would turn into more of a manifesto when he was done. It would read like this:

On this day, Sunday May 1st, 2011; I will begin my quest to deliver this world from the evil tyrants and the no good bourgeois aristocrats that have their manicured hands wrapped around the throats of the masses. My plans to take over will not include death, destruction or any other war-like means. I have but one weapon in my arsenal, and one dead-eye arrow in my quiver. That weapon is a strand of plastic beads. At $17.95 per case, and with 720 in each case, I will unleash my plan to gain their allegiance. My target demographic will be women aged 15-64 (this is a three year plan, so don't worry about the underage factor). I believe they will be the most susceptible to my ploy. Based on my research at the Bradenton Public Library and websites such as, that would include 4,422,699,018 people. My goal now is to raise the $54,544,020.62 that will be needed to buy one strand of shiny multicolored plastic parade beads for every woman in that target demographic (plus another $3-4 million for taxes).

On my salary, that could take several lifetimes to earn. However, I do believe in the collective effort of the few, and the few I would bring into my circle of dominance would be a trusted agglomeration. We are the real masons, the men who work with our hands every day to build the houses you take for granted. We are the hired group of laboring men who tirelessly slave over hot tar and asphalt to construct the roads on which you drive your over priced cars. We are the blue collared workforce, and we will be a force to be reckoned with indeed. We shall pool our savings, and invest our hard earned wages into something that will shake the very foundation upon which the world has so feebly been built. We will transform ourselves from the forgotten faces of the lower and middle classes into the newly formed Blue Collar Aristocracy. And we will bathe ourselves nightly in the irony of that accomplishment.

I know what you may be thinking. What about the other half of the world's population? Well, just as the plastic beads are the entryway into the psyche of a woman's mind and the opening of their respective blouses; the male psyche is equally as easy to unlock. With the promise of an ongoing orgy of flashing breasts on every thoroughfare, and the threat of ceasing the very same flood of flesh; we can control the minds and allegiances of every man. My plan is essentially to kill two birds with one string of beads.

Those who are not in my target age group, I say to you, fear not. I have something in store for you as well, and it does not digress from the same plan I have for the “chosen” groups. Boys aged 0-14, you will either be too young to appreciate the flesh-fest or equally as enamored as your older male counterparts. To that, I say, “you're welcome.” To the girls aged 0-14, I say, learn from your older sisters, mothers, aunts and ripe-aged grandmothers and prepare for the subsequent waves of future bead offerings. You too will be welcomed into the fray once you're old enough.

To the men aged 65 and older, you will obviously be welcome to enjoy the view, and your influence is equally as targeted. But unfortunately this plan will be years in the making, and your time on this earth is limited. To the women aged 65 and older, please keep your blouses closed and your mouths shut. Your day has passed, but your participation could be utilized in other ways. I'm sure we could use some feebly knitted sweaters or adorably worded pillow shams.

I have already combed my plan for any other flaws, and one that came up was the homosexual population of the world. Whether your existence is by birth or by choice, I care not. You are as welcome as any other living human on this earth. After much research on your tendencies and preferences, I have determined you will also be a righteous target for my ploy. Gay men, you are quite possibly as much of a fan of the female form in its natural state as any heterosexual man. You may even prove to be a worthy partner in the “greasing of the wheels.” I look forward to our cross-cultural partnership. To the lesbians of the world, your preference to view rather than to participate can only be a cost savings to the movement. For every woman who can be swayed without the need to purchase another string of beads, I will save 2.5 cents. And for that, I thank you.

In closing, my plan is as simple as it is ingenious. Fear not, I will not abuse my power. Utopia is but a string of plastic beads away. As the leader of the collaborative movement of the Blue Collar Aristocrats, I promise you three things:

  1. As of 2014, there will string of beads for every woman aged 18-67.
  2. Once we have obtained world domination; each man, woman and child will be free from the bourgeois prison that they have come to hate, and will be welcome to share in the wealth we will have amassed as a blue collar collaborative. There will no longer be rich and poor, privileged and underprivileged, or first world and third world. No, we will all be equal, and the world can be a place full of happiness, free from war and strife. United under the premise of equality and peace.
  3. And finally, by the time we have attained our role of the leaders of the world, we will have figured out how to do the 2nd thing. I promise.”