Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jaymz MacGrygor: If You Can't Beat 'Em...Razz 'Em!

So I keep getting invited to kickball games by these hipster kids I know. I'd totally love to play, but unfortunately my kneecap is being held together by model airplane glue and bailing wire. At least that's what it feels like. And that, of course keeps me from doing things like running or kicking or having doggystyle sex. But that's a different story.

Last Friday, I indulged my team spirit and went out to GT Bray to cheer on the McCabe's Irish Pub Team from the stands. I really didn't want to go by myself, cuz I have this weird anxiety thing about being in strange places alone, so I dragged my friends Matt & Rainy out. They're hermits and I wanted to show them that the outside world won't hurt them.

Turns out we weren't the only ones there...but we sure were the loudest. You see, hanging out with Matt brings out the inner asshole I've been steadily trying to hide these last few years. We spent the entire game razzing the other team (who were wearing shit-brown uniform shirts. The jokes wrote themselves) apparently to the point that they wanted to fight us.

Hey, it's sports people. It's not MY fault that half your team looks like they regularly use Geritol and your heavy hitter looks like he wants to be Fred Durst. I mean really, who wears their hat backwards anymore? Huh? Sure, I mighta been a little out of line when I was just straight-up hitting on the cute girl in the blue booty shorts, but what can I say? I'd been drinking.

It was kinda funny that at first it was just Matt and I harassing the other players. The rest of the fans seemed a little stand-offish that we would so blatantly insult people like that. But soon enough we weren't the only ones hurling insults and psyche-outs. There were quite a few "Steeeeve Perry!!"s being shouted in their direction.

Needless to say, I had a blast. I've never been good at sports, but I've always been a pretty good shit talker. And the fact that I can bandy insults about without having to embarrass myself on the field with my pathetic excuse for athletic ability, well that's just icing on the cake!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If I had a nickel...

“If I had a nickel for every time someone thought I was gay, I'd have change for a $3 bill!” 

I start off this story with that glorious sentiment, because it is both witty and hapless at the same time. I just have to hope that the proprietor of this powerfully poignant proclamation knowingly conjured it up, and did not just stumble into one-liner greatness.

The orator of the statement was a handsome yet simple looking guy in his early thirties. He had a wannabe hipster vibe written all over him. He was wearing a V-neck sweater, pre-faded jeans, with the strap of a man-purse crossing his chest, a generous growth of hair adorning his face, and his drink of choice was a Pabst Blue Ribbon (or PBR for those of you “in the know”). He was sitting along the wall on a raised pew in my favorite bar. He was surrounded by a group of other thirty-somethings; all of which had been drinking for an ample amount of time. They didn't seem to be close friends, but rather, they were old acquaintances that were catching up after spending a long time apart. I could tell, because most of their stories started with “Do you remember when...?”

It was obvious that at least one (if not three) of the men around him were members of the homosexual community. The loudest (and most inebriated) one of them all could only be described as a short medium-sized ginger with very big hair. If the group were having a “gay-off”, he would have left the others in his dust. There were two women in the group as well. One referred to herself as “Gay Mecca”, and the other was happy just listening to the stories and smiling.

The orator quickly took over as the main attraction in the conversation. He told stories of going to prom with two different men in two successive years. Those tales were quickly interrupted by a qualifier. He said that each time, he went with his girlfriend, and the double date was completed by a male friend and what turned out to be their final heterosexual relationship.

He spoke of nicknames he had received over the years. One of his gay friends called him a “Fruit Fly.” Another referred to him as a “Fag Stag.” But the one that he seemed to adore most was “The Enigma.”
After announcing to the group that he had been given the name, he immediately explained why it was bestowed upon him. Apparently, it was a common occurrence for him to be among his circle of gay friends and repeatedly asked by those who he had just met if he too were “one of them.” His closer friends would explain to their rainbow congregation why he was called “The Enigma.” Basically, he was just a well dressed 100% heterosexual male who felt comfortable around anyone.

It was only when The Enigma was asked bluntly how often he was mistaken for a gay man, that he brought forth his gold-plated one-liner, “If I had a nickel for every time someone thought I was gay, I'd have change for a $3 bill!”

He followed up the statement with stories of Drag Queens and their love of bingo, the difference between bears and otters, and just exactly how easy it is to win at Gay Chicken (hint: everyone wins). He was like a hipster version of Abe Lincoln, and the crowd to his left and right were his own drunken version of the Springfield townspeople.

After being asked questions about how or why the moniker was given (or earned), The Enigma would shrug his shoulders and glance over at Gay Mecca for backup. As it turned out, Gay Mecca and The Enigma were married. She would always give a similar smile and shrug, but hers had a little less sheepishness to it. She too was someone who always just found herself feeling at ease around others who were comfortable in their own skin. That is a standard trait of the non-straight, and something that she and The Enigma had in common. It was probably the way those two had met, and I for one, applaud them for finding each other amid a flamboyant ocean of gay.

I thought The Enigma was a prime candidate for what I like to refer to as “heterosexual hubris.” You know, the kind of guy who is so sure of his heterosexuality that he was doomed to be gay (okay, maybe doomed isn't the right word to use there). One minute he would be telling a story of his experience at a gay bar in Syracuse, then on a dime (or two nickels) he would turn to his wife and plant a heartfelt kiss on his beautiful Mecca.

I guess it is possible in this day and age for someone to be so comfortable with their heterosexuality that they could embrace such a nickname. I can name a few guys that I always knew were gay, but turned out to just have a lisp and enjoy a White Wine Spritzer every now and again. However, I've also known a few guys who I never would have thought were gay. One was a 6'4” volleyball player, another joined the Marines right out of high school, and the third was more obsessed with female breasts than I will ever be. I've been fooled before, and I'll be fooled again. I might even go as far as to say, “If I had a nickel for every time I thought a friend of mine was straight, and turned out to be gay, well... I guess I would have three nickels.”  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jessica Schubick: If I had a nickel...

Father issues?” Yeah, if I had a nickel… Manny said “father issues” like it was the secret he had inadvertently discovered hiding under my napkin while I was in the bathroom: “Ugh, I’m not a Hemingway fan.” Father issues? That was the first time. Or like the annoying habit he couldn’t break me of: “I love that movie!” Father issues… That was the regular. Or like a moral indictment he was obligated to render: “I won’t go.” Father issues. That was the end. And I’d say, “Ooh, just wait… You have no idea…. One day I’ll tell you and then you’ll feel like a real asshole. Asshole.” We laughed; we always laughed.

It was funny because he was right. And because he knew he was right and I knew he was right. But I never told him the story. “Father issues” was his joke; the secret of it was mine. Manny smoked; I bummed. Manny liked to debate; I liked to mediate. Manny enjoyed the joke; I enjoyed the joking. Neither of us wanted to discuss it any further. Why ruin a good thing?

The laughing did eventually stop, but not because I told him. It turns out there are other ways to ruin a good joke.

Bad news comes in threes. The week my dog was diagnosed with lymphoma, I found out He had cancer. The week my dog died, I found out He was dying too. The week of my birthday, I found out He was dead. He was in North Carolina. I didn’t know that. He had been in Illinois, Arizona, Minnesota (or was it Michigan? no… Minnesota), and who-knows-where else? Not me. I guess the federal prison system can send inmates anywhere. And they sent Him everywhere – but He didn’t see those places. Just the walls.

They were supposed to be sending Him home: “compassionate release.” He was being sent home to die. But I didn’t know when. There was paperwork to be done. Bureaucracy. I was going to purchase a plane ticket and visit Him when He got there. I looked up flights. I told my boss I’d be taking some time - family emergency. I would leave in a few days, maybe a week. But that paperwork stopped. New paperwork began. He didn’t make it. I told my boss, “nevermind.”

He was sick; He died.

He was sick. He was in prison. He was going home. I was going home. He died.

He was sick. He was gone. He died.

I felt sick.

A compass, a wallet, a t-shirt, a rock: this is what He left me. Brown eyes, full lips, seasonal allergies, a void: this is what He gave me. A parent, a happy memory, a goodbye, a grave: this is what He failed to provide.

His ashes wouldn’t arrive for a while – 6 months, maybe. Bureaucracy. Sooner there would be a family gathering; a farewell party. Would I go? No, I wouldn’t. I would wait for the ashes. I hadn’t seen him in 15 years; I could wait a few months for some ashes. But my sisters were there. And the aunts, uncles, and cousins whom I hadn’t seen in much longer than 15 years. They could handle the symbolic gathering. I’d wait for the man, Himself.

There was discussion of splitting the ashes - whenever they finally arrived - between my sisters and myself. We’d each get a handful, I guess. That was a strange thought. He would finally be ours - the four of us could each do with him as we pleased. Put him on a shelf. Stick him in the closet. Dump him in the river. Toss him to the wind.

I had fantasies of all the places I’d take him. Our long-awaited father-daughter road trip. I may have been alone in this, but I kind of loved the idea. Our time; My father. Then, another surprise. They had received the package much earlier than expected. They took care of it. His brothers had hopped the fence to the cemetery the night He arrived. They sneaked through the dark to my grandfather’s grave, dug a small hole, and buried Him in the ground. Illegal, unidentified, unmourned. Gone.

The great inheritance. I’ve considered turning the compass into a necklace. It’s small and cheap - tin, less than an inch across. Maybe a child’s toy that He found in a parking lot? A small prize? It might be sweet. It also might turn my skin green.

I could save the wallet for my non-existent son. “This is a relic of your absent grandfather. Enjoy.” Black nylon, Velcro closure, gold Iowa Hawkeye football logo on the front, never used. It’s not exactly a weathered journal documenting a life of adventure, but it will have to do.

I thought about sewing the t-shirt into a quilt. It could work: white cotton worn-thin with a portrait of a dopey-faced bald guy with crossed-eyes on a fluorescent pink diamond. “Curly’s Pizza – Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!” it says. Was he a Stooges fan? Or just pizza? I should probably sell it on ebay; hipsters.

The rock I could dispose of in place of the ashes that I never received: toss it into the ocean, lob it off a bridge into the Mississippi River, or fling it into the Grand Canyon. That would have some sort of poetic significance…like I’m showing him one of the places he never really got to visit.

But I won’t do any of those things. No, I’ll just chuck the rock out the car window. I won’t even look to see where it lands.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Assisted Living for the Perfectly Able

I heard yet another story from someone who had an amazing experience at a Sandals all-inclusive resort. There were some twists and turns in the tale, as well as a few funny one-liners, but I couldn't tear myself away from the overwhelming hilarity that laid beneath the narrative. I have always wondered what it was like to spend a few days at one of these resorts, and I have taken every opportunity to gather that information from those who have spent a vacation in the pampered existence that comes along with the overpriced luxury. Each time, I am greeted with tales of laziness, gluttony and inebriation. Rarely are there details that fall outside of any of those three main categories.

I was not interested in chronicling these stories for research on which island or city I want to visit or what time of year in which to do so. No, I treated this story as if I were gathering reconnaissance for a future investment venture. I did not picture a honeymoon in Jamaica or a nice relaxing weekend in Hawaii. I was thinking about what it would be like to create an assisted living facility for the perfectly able.

Think about it. A full time suburban assisted living facility of my very own, but it would be unlike any other in all the land. Generally, these installations are geared toward a geriatric population that needs constant supervision and care. My vision is far more contemporary and original. I would like to open the world's first assisted living facility for the able bodied individual who just wants to pay the premium for being a lethargic bump on the proverbial log. I would call it ALPA (pause for realization of the acronym's ingredients).

My facility would be equipped with wall to wall seats and couches, and at no point in their occasional saunter from one room to another would they ever be out of eye's reach of a 40+ inch high definition flat screen TV. They would have implanted earphones that could switch from one TV signal to another with the click of a button. The implant would occasionally ring in their ear with an incoming personal phone call or announcement of whichever meal was being prepared in the kitchen. With another click of a button; their food order could be delivered directly to their agape faces within minutes. The all-purpose remote could call upon a nursemaid, pillow fluffer, concierge, or any other person on our staff that would wait on them hand and atrophied foot.

The standard fees would be fair, but any additional services they request will come at an appropriate cost. We would provide a virtual mini-bar stocked with everything one could ever dream of. The clientele will be trust fund babies who have money to burn, overworked professionals in need of a respite, or any other segment of the population that would be ready and willing to pay the price for 100% laziness. The business model is solid, and it is a well known fact that the client base most certainly exists in America. I don't see how this wouldn't be a success. I have worked with an assortment of in-home care nurse and assisted living facilities through my current job, and I know the pay scales of the employees who clean up after the elderly and perform tasks I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My staff wouldn't have the need for any medical certification or degrees in hospitality. They would only need to learn our system of billing, basic laziness care, and have the go-getter attitude that the clients severely lack. That has to be much cheaper labor than our geriatric service competitors.

Our offerings would be basic at the beginning, but would only improve as profits expanded. I know people who are in the wireless headphone business already, and that will be our initial market advantage. A never ending wireless existence with every option within earshot or the push of a button. Our services would be centralized at one or two locations, so we could control the environment and learn the full potential of the business and overhead costs. I imagine it could eventually expand into a mobile enterprise, but that would only occur after extensive research and development. We wouldn't want to dilute the brand by making any rash decisions on expansion.

I imagine down the road, we would install more gaming systems and integrate those into our vast lineup of services. If we could get the gaming community interested in the endeavor and into our circle of slothful clientele, we could be stumbling into an absolute goldmine! We could continue expand into newer markets and untouched client bases. The service would sell itself through word of mouth over internet bulletin boards and online gaming discussions. The staff would be trained in the art of gaming, so they would always have someone for a two player Halo campaign or Wii Bowling match if the client requested an in-person companion. They would also be educated on the lingo of our client base, so they could chat for hours about Philosoraptor or World of Warcraft. We would have a minimum stay of one week, and there would never be a maximum. If you wanted to live there permanently, we most certainly could arrange that (for a price).

Can you think of any of your family and/or friends that would jump at the opportunity to never again have to make a sandwich, order pizza, make their bed, change a lightbulb, do the dishes, take out the garbage, get the mail, shop for groceries, change the batteries in the remote, wash their clothes, or do any other menial task ever again?

I know what you are thinking; isn't this what a maid or butler does for the rich? How is this any different, and how can any normal person afford these services? Well, I will employ the age old practice invented by Henry Ford, and apply it to these day-to-day tasks. I will construct an assembly line of sorts, and each of my employees will have three to four specialized tasks that they will complete at an alarming rate of productivity. The price for our services will be low enough to entice the masses, and the quantity of our clients will provide the margin we need to further our brand and our penetration of a market that I believe has never been tapped before.

I will be taking questions from potential investors and curious parties. Also, I am taking applications from those who are looking for work. This could be the next Google or GM, so invest now while the cost of co-ownership is affordable. You don't want to be like that guy who didn't listen to his friend who told him about this little start-up software company called Microsoft in 1986. That would be a disastrous set of events, and you would never forgive yourself. So invest in ALPA today, you'll be happy you did. That is, unless this is an epic failure and just a terrible idea that was conjured up while drinking beer in a hotel lobby bar.

No, it will be a resounding success. I promise!