Friday, June 17, 2011

My Kind of Thuggish

I have a deep and abiding love for rap music. I've written about this before, but I'm still no closer to being able to explain this affinity. UGK, Do or Die, Maino, Outkast, Three Six Mafia, Eminem, NWA, Tupac, Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def Lil Wayne...the list goes on and on.

This seems to be pretty much par for the course for white guys my age and all I can say is that maybe we listen to and enjoy it in the same way and for the same reason that our parents listened to the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Namely, our/their parents hated it. I've never been arrested or destructively rebellious and I definitely pull the Office Space roll-up-the-window-and-turn-down-the-hardcore-rap maneuver when I pull up to an intersection in a predominantly black neighborhood. Essentially, I have no street cred.

The next video is a case study in my kind of thuggish.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

General Tso's Revenge

I always wanted to be good at a particular type of writing. When I was in college I had this fantasy of being the next young, edgy, insightful, sensitive, and humorous author who could break hearts with a few soul cleaving paragraphs and touch human truths with an artistically wry wit that seemed to playfully ambush my fantasized about troves of loyal readers (mostly swooning females).

Turns out I'm good at telling stories in which people shit their pants.

I know this because every time I post something that lays my soul bare my dad calls and says something like, "Hey, I read your blog the other day. I thought it was well written." When I post a poo story, I hear similar comments, but said comments need to be deciphered among periodic peals of laughter and child-like giggling. Typically, these stories also receive the most Facebook comments, often from people I've not heard from in years, and also get the most hits on the blog. I guess as a writer it's good to have a wheelhouse, I just never thought mine would involve human excrement.

Oh well. Know thyself, right?

In college my sister dated a miserable asshole we'll call Zack, mostly because Zack is his real name and I have absolutely no love loss for the guy. Zack was an odious hipster at a time when Austin was just becoming overwhelmed with odious hipsters. He had that heroin chic look, multiple awful tattoos, and and an artist's affect that was less genuinely artistic and more exhaustingly practiced. He was sort of like Bug from Uncle Buck but minus some weight and plus some disapproval from my family. The disapproval I speak of came not from Zack's appearance, my parents have always been very accepting, sometimes to a fault, of the people my sister and I have chosen to date, but from his complete disregard for my sister's needs and the sense of entitlement he felt he had to date her. Aside: I love my sister dearly and although I am anti death penalty, I know that were anyone to ever do anything terrible to her I would want to murder the bejesus out of him. Clear enough?

Anyhow, Zack and my sister were on the rocks and Zack, thinking he would show some vulnerability and the ability to communicate intimately, decided to share a particularly awful story involving his unfortunately exploding bowels in an effort to win her back. It didn't work, but he unknowingly created a magnificent parable for their relationship.

Being college students and particularly strained in the pocketbook (Sound familiar?), Zack and his buddy decided to do work at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet before attending a cookout at another friend's house. Apparently, the General Tso's Chicken was of particularly tasty quality that day and Zack consumed literally all he could eat. He and his friend were politely asked to leave by the restaurant's proprietors who afterwards undoubtedly rethought their business model so close to a university campus.

Stuffed to the gills on General Tso's delicious chicken, Zack and company made their way to the aforementioned cookout and immediately began to chase their affordable and delicious feast with multiple bottles of Shiner Bock. I was shocked later to learn that a rousing game of volleyball was also played at the party (who knew hipsters played volleyball?!), and about an hour or so in, General Tso, Shiner Bock, bumping, setting, and spiking collectively served as the impetus for some low grade intestinal cramping.

As I've said before, as with any good I Shit My Pants story, or Greek tragedy for that matter, impending doom could always have been avoided were it not for the hero's hubris. Zack could have left the party at the onset of his intestinal distress and violently evacuated his bowels in the privacy of his own home and Odysseus could have elected not to tell Polyphemus his real name and avoided being cursed by Poseidon, but arrogance is a powerful intoxicant and shit happens. Literally.

Zack instead elected to down another few beers thinking, foolishly so, that his discomfort would pass and a party marked by his early exit wasn't a party at all. Another hour or so passed and Zack finally felt the steel fisted squeezing of his lower abdomen that marks the beginning of an uncontrollable and immediate expulsion of the contents of one's bowels. It was go time.

Zack sprinted to the only bathroom in the house and found it occupied by another partygoer. Affecting his coolest I'm-just-waiting-calmly-for-my-turn-in-the-restroom-nothing-to-see-here stance, he tried to flex just the right muscles to avoid unleashing hell in the middle of the living room and managed to do just that long enough for the bathroom to become vacant.

Once inside, he hurriedly locked the door, sprang to the toilet, and began to struggle with his belt. At that time in Austin, proper hipster aesthetic necessitated the wearing of a scout belt with a completely unnecessary amount of slack in it. This required the wearer to cinch the belt tightly and prevented the smooth release of the sliding bar in the buckle. In normal situations involving waste elimination this is a minor inconvenience. In waste elimination situations involving General Tso, Shiner Bock, and volleyball, this is what we refer to as a "perfect storm".

Zack managed to get his pants (he was wearing no underwear, another hipster habit) to half mast or, for the more graphically inclined, half moon, before General Tso exacted his revenge. Without getting into too much detail, Zack's pants, legs, shoes, the toilet, and a generous percentage of the floor were covered in a fetid fecal eruption.

After a good few minutes collecting himself, surveying the damage, and trying, as calmly as possible, to convince the multiple partygoers impatiently waiting at the restroom door that he would be out momentarily, Zack hopped in the shower pantsless and washed himself from the waist down. He also had to wash his shoes. Seriously.

Aside: My Brother-in-law, the man lucky enough to eventually marry my sister and one of the best guys I've ever known (he's been a great buddy since 6th grade), is a naval fighter pilot. Pilots have a phrase for people who manage to stay cool and collected in awful situations that made perfect sense to me the first time I heard it because of this story. *Ahem* He's really got his shit in one sock. Zack had it in both shoes, his pants, and all over the floor.

After toweling off, he used the same towel to clean the toilet and the bathroom floor. He then disposed of the irretrievably soiled towel and his socks in the waste basket under the sink. At this point, those waiting for the bathroom had given up and returned to the party. Zack cracked the door and waited for his buddy to pass by and then, in a panicked voice, demanded that his buddy find him pants and quickly. Not knowing why Zack needed pants, his buddy leaned closer to the door and started to ask for clarification but was then assaulted by the caustic stench escaping from the cracked bathroom door. Without further question, he wheeled around and went searching the host's bedroom for some trousers.

Unfortunately for Zack, who stood well over six feet tall and weighed all of 140 pounds soaking wet, the party's host was a short, portly fellow. Any normal person would have cut his losses at this point, cinched the ridiculously fitting pants, and beat a path home. Zack decided to return to the party. Questions like Why did you change pants? Where have you been? Why are you barefoot? and Why are you carrying your shoes? were not enough for Zack to deprive the party of his company. What finally shamed him enough to leave was a question that was asked only after the central air kicked on in the house. I remember when I was a kid hanging out in my room and my mother was cooking chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. I would have no knowledge of her cookie baking until the air conditioning would turn on and the vents in my room would gently emit the aroma of freshly baked deliciousness. This was the opposite of that. The question in question? What the fuck is that God awful stench?

Zack grabbed his buddy and told him it was time to leave. Now.

Like I said, a perfect parable. Take advantage of a good thing. Create a stinking mess. White wash your fuck up. Pretend nothing happened. Leave. Zack never got his shit in one sock.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Airport Bars: A Case Study in Story Value

I was flying home the other day - Arms sure are tired! (forgive me, I had to) - and had a couple of hours to kill before my flight departed so I sidled up to a bar (the only bar) in the Lubbock airport and ordered a beer.

Frequent travelers who enjoy people watching as much as I do LOVE airport bars. The transience of the other personalities is so palatable and that I'm-never-going-to-see-you-again voice in the back of many of their heads is so strong that they will air the dirtiest of secrets, release the most reprehensible inner beliefs, and sometimes completely fabricate a life to an absolute stranger just because they can. And the great thing is that one (assuming one is more of the listening ilk than of the confessing ilk) has to do almost nothing to coax this out of them. They WANT to do it. Sitting at a bar, ordering a beer, and looking approachable is often enough to attract a talker. They're like moths to flames. Granted, you can never quite be sure what is going to be said and you run the risk of hearing something that upsets you and/or causes you to lose your faith in marriage, government, the arts, religion, schools, men, women, family, the military, big business, the entertainment industry, dogs, sports, Halloween, or the decency of all humankind, but regular readers of this blog will realize that this is a small price to pay for story value. Put in simple terms:

Personal Discomfort (what is said + what is done) - Disbelief < Story Value


PD (ws + wd) - D < SV

It's science.

Anyhow, I'm sitting in this bar in the airport in Lubbock watching these three soggy, middle-aged salesmen chug boxed wine and literally dry hump a young, svelte blonde thing who is headed to New Orleans for a bachelorette party and chuckling to myself when Rick sits down right next to me.

Rick looked normal enough. Rick turned out not to be normal. If Rick were a character in a screenplay, he would be introduced thusly:

[Rick enters from the left side of the bar. He briefly surveys the patrons, then walks confidently, but with a slight chip on his shoulder and seats himself next to the young(ish) man at the bar who is drinking alone. Rick wears cowboy cut jeans with work boots and a denim shirt tucked in to reveal a healthy paunch. Rick's collar is open to the third button and a gold chain dangles there ensnared by his graying chest hair. The sleeves of the shirt are rolled to 3/4 length to reveal a faded, indecipherable tattoo on the back of his right forearm. Rick's salt and pepper hair is styled in a tight crew cut. He wears aviator shaped yellow lensed glasses. Rick orders a double Jack and Coke in a pint glass. Rick taps his drink with his large, gold pinky ring before speaking.]

And speak, Rick did. In thirty minutes, I learned the following:

Rick's son's best buddy was slated to be the high school valedictorian but one day got stoned to the Bejesus Belt and decided to rob the small town 3pm...maskless. His son's buddy made it two blocks with the $63.00 haul before he was apprehended. Oh, and Rick's son was with him. Rick made his son spend the night in jail to teach him a lesson.

Said lesson didn't work. Rick's son, years later, is currently in the clink.

Rick's daughter is a softball player and can throw smoke in fast pitch soft ball. Rick cannot comprehend how anyone can throw a ball that fast underhanded.

Rick is a construction supervisor and his current project is "seven ways of fucked up." It's not his fault though.

Rick met his wife while living as a foster child in her parents' house.

Rick's parents and parents-in-law are the same people.

Rick's current neighborhood has a large number of Vietnamese families moving in.

Rick believes this is why the family cat has gone missing. "You know they eat cats," Rick questions me and the bar in general after double Jack and Coke #2.

Rick wishes "The Whites" would stop getting forced out of their neighborhoods by people like "The Cat Eaters."

Rick is trying to get his card for the Senior PGA Tour. Qualifying rules have thus far prevented him from qualifying, but he's got sponsors lined up to foot the bill now and will be on tour in no time.

Rick has to ride in a golf cart when he plays on account of his disability.

Rick has chronic back pain.

Rick's chronic back pain stems from the second time he was struck by lightning.

Rick's gonna have one more Jack and Coke and then go catch his plane.

Rick was "Damned glad to meet [me]!"

PD(ws + wd) - D < SV

Like I said, it's science.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Damn you, poison ivy! Damn Youuuuuuuuuuu!

I'm getting over my second epic struggle with poison ivy this week. Although I wish I could write that as "Poison Ivy" and therefore, through the blogosphere, confess to you all that I am actually Batman and have recently vanquished for the second time the sexy and salacious villain of same name, I cannot. Alas, my poison ivy is a virulent little bitch of a vine/shrub/weed that has been the bane of my existence since I first encountered it as a child tromping around in the undergrowth of the creek that ran by my home pretending I was GI Joe.

My first youthful encounters with this spawn of Satan were more inconveniences than actual death matches, but since moving to Indianapolis four years ago, I have, on two occasions, been exposed to the urushiol that spews from its every surface and thereafter been subjected to the seeping misery that accompanies it.

How, you ask, has this happened? Well, my dog has A.D.D. and is too curious for her own good. Any overgrown area that smells faintly of chipmunk, squirrel, rabbit, or other woodland creature is immediately a target for her reckless tromping, sniffing, and digging. The urushiol gets on her fur, her fur gets on me, and voila! Horrible seeping rash.

The first time this happened, the rash that eventually appeared on my leg was bothersome, but no worries. A seeping leg rash can be easily covered with a bandage, jeans, and a little modesty. Plus, the scar that eventually formed there blended nicely with the multitude of other scars on my shins and knees that have been the consequence of what my fellow soccer playing friends call a "sometimes overzealous style of play." When they don't use that euphemism they just say "dirty." I'll argue that until I'm blue in the face, but I digress.

The second time this happened, just last week, I had finished doing a little yard work and was playing with the aforementioned A.D.D. canine and wound up with a disgusting, oozing swath of broken skin that extended from my shoulder to the top of my right ear. There's no hiding this. I was literally under house arrest for three days save for my mandatory trips to work (although I did take one sick day). Shaving was not and still is not an option. This is bad for someone who has to appear respectable on a daily basis. To boot, I am challenged in the facial hair department. Were I able to grow a Paul Bunyanesque man mask, things might not have appeared so bad. Unfortunately, my beard is what can best be described as "weedy" and is starting to get a little too much salt mixed in with the pepper. I also may wind up with a neck/facial scar from the whole ordeal. Scarface is a seriously cool nickname, but you want to get that nickname as a result of a knife fight in a Cuban prison, not a canoodling session with your beloved dog.

Which leaves me where? Well, I have a pretty serious poison ivy infestation in the backyard. I need to get rid of this poison ivy. Poison ivy is notoriously difficult to eradicate and I'm allergic as hell to the stuff. If you've got any suggestions, please throw a guy a bone. How far am I willing to go? Well, here's a list of things I would rather do than EVER be exposed to poison ivy again:

Go on an 8 hour road trip with Sarah Palin.

Masturbate with Tiger Balm.

Let a tiger masturbate me with no balm.

Cheer for the Mexican Men's National Soccer Team over the US Men's Team.

Paper cut my ass hundreds of times and then sit in a lemon juice bath.

Have a blistering sunburn on my business.

Wax my head.

Roll in stinging nettles.

Be stung on the tongue by bees.

Give a two hour PowerPoint presentation naked.

Watch my parents have sex (maybe not).

Get tipped over in a full Port-O-Potty...door down.

Go to a Justin Bieber concert.

Let David Beckham kick me in the crotch. Maybe just left footed, but the crotch nonetheless.

Eat a light bulb.

Kiss a hot stove.

Drink water wrung from camel shit in the Sahara with Bear Grylls.

The list goes on and on. Please leave your poison ivy eradication suggestions in the comments and any other things you would rather do than be subjected to rashes from this particularly onerous and evil flora. Help!