Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kids Will Be Kids

I went to the grocery store last week and saw a lady with her kid on one of those telephone cord leashes. For those who don‘t remember, the telephone cord connected the base of the “home” telephone to, what was referred to as, a handset. You will find these corded telephone units in various museums throughout the country, also as a decorative piece in hotel rooms and the homes of extremely elderly people who, apparently, don‘t believe in air conditioning.

I simply do not recognize the necessity of a child leash- unless I‘m being tied to a bedpost with it- but that‘s an entirely different story. Not only does it appear as though you’ve adopted some sort of hyperactive pet monkey who likes to touch EVERYTHING on the store shelf, these cords cause serious pedestrian hazards. Before anyone leaps to negative conclusions and assumes a noble mission to “fix” me, it’s noteworthy information that my therapist is now in intensive therapy herself, so give up now.

Anything which facilitates taking the “path of least resistance” where work is concerned makes me an instant fan, so I appreciate hands-free babysitting so that one might be able to more efficiently ignore their child. But the grocery store aisles and malls look like an endless network of rainbow colored slinky’s. 50-thousand feet of child leash creates an obstacle course for those of us who are much too selfish to have children. Plus I have a hard enough time negotiating the aisles of a grocery store as it is, much more so when I find that I’ve stumbled across some sort of midget limbo contest.

By the way, I looked over my grocery list and feel strongly that it’s time to reassess my life. The list read as follows:

Lucky Charms
Milk (which always spoils before I use it)
Bananas (which makes me feel healthy when I eat them with the Lucky Charms)
Pack of cigs

I’m not sure how to explain that list but the checkout clerk wished me a safe evening as she flashed a nervous smile.

On the subject of safety, I saw a kid riding his bicycle past my house today. For the record, he was not attached to a telephone cord. He was, however, all but encased in a hermetically sealed bio-container. This kid donned knee pads, shin pads, elbow pads, eyelid pads, a nose and mouth guard, protective welder grade goggles and a NASA space shuttle helmet. His bicycle was equipped with a 15-thousand volt headlight, capable of illuminating a concert stage for Paul McCartney and reflective sneakers. The only thing missing was a suit of armor, John Walsh, a team of EMT‘s carrying the kid’s exact blood type and anti-venom in the event that he were suddenly bitten by a Black Mamba.

My favorite is the mom who bundles up her kid in full safety gear, terrified that they might get a hangnail, yet they drive up in a family sedan in front of a crowded schoolyard, with hair rollers and a housecoat, to pick them up. They don’t make protective gear to shield a child from the damage which that incident inflicts.

They also don’t make safety gear to shield a child from walking in to see creepy uncle Earl wearing his wife’s panties while watching a “film”. Not that it happened…it’s hypothetical.

My mom wasn’t overprotective, except when it came to snow or cold weather. I’m not sure why my mom was terrified at the thought of me being in the cold air. Perhaps, in her younger days, she was left for dead in an avalanche…I never bothered to ask. There’s a ridiculous picture of me in our family album from when I was about 6. My mom, being quite proud, would only share this special little photo gem with a new woman in my life who I’d brought to visit for the first time. I’m wearing this overstuffed blue snow suit with a red trimmed hoodie. From the looks of it, I estimate that this snowsuit would protect me from minus 20-degree wind and keep me alive should I be locked in the neighborhood pedophile’s (Uncle Earl‘s) deep freezer. I looked like a hideous throw pillow- the kind you’d find at your grandmother’s house- nestled in the corner of the Victorian couch which was still covered in protective Mafia hit-man plastic.

When did we become such an overprotective society? I remember riding a bicycle as a kid and guess what? I got hurt plenty of times but- to the chagrin of my 6th grade teacher- I survived so that I might continue to make her regret the career path she‘d chosen.

By the way, the only debate I ever won with my parents stemmed from my 6th grade teacher’s comment section of the report card. It read, PRECISELY, as follows:

“Jims citizenship has gone way down.”

My parents asked me to explain my teacher’s summation. I advised that, aside from her incomplete sentence structure, a glaring punctuation error and egregious grammar usage, they might gain a better grasp of the situation should they pay her a quick visit. Upon their return I was acquitted of all charges. Eat it O.J.!!

One of my aunts took overprotective to new heights where my cousins were concerned. They were, how shall I say, “delicate.“ They always wore bright white, just out of the box, sneakers and dark blue perfectly pressed jeans. They appeared as if they doubled as department store mannequins. To this day I’m also certain that they were anatomically incomplete as well.

She wouldn’t let them climb trees or play sports with the rest of us kids, fearing that they might fall and get hurt or tear their clothes.

As an interesting sidebar, it’s relevant to point out that one of her boys incurred 6 stitches as a result of running into a chest of drawers and the other one broke his arm rolling out of bed in his sleep. I rest my case.

Here’s an informative little tid-bit…it’s called “Where are they now?” One of the boys is a 40-year old cross dresser who works for a mini-golf course in Kentucky and the other is a professional mime...seriously. Again, the defense rests.

Is it me or are there some people which we encounter in our daily lives who seem undeservedly invincible? For instance, I saw a young guy who was totally stoned out of his head on a street corner while I waited for my cab. I’m a huuuuge fan of stoners. They unswervingly represent the modern day court Jester. He told me about his idea for a fragrance oil to be smeared under the nose to make one feel better about themselves. I countered with what I considered to be the obvious- that unless EVERYONE used the oil- perhaps a shower might have the same effect and would be most appreciated by all within sniffing distsance. He seemed impressed by my cunning thought process.

Now this guy was harmless and I wish no harm nor do I intend any disrespect, because we NEED people such as this young man to make great advances in creating a bigger, more efficient bong…but, I suspect that he will live to be 1-thousand years old, sleeping on his parent’s couch, while the scientist who is a millisecond away from curing cancer will be struck dead by a freak meteor shower.

I know a guy who takes painstaking precautions with the welfare of his child where school sports are concerned. I rode with them one time as he dropped the kid off at soccer practice; his boy was wearing the equivalent of a bank vault. I’m not sure if my friend expects that soccer matches include gunplay these days or not but, in the event that they do, junior will be well protected. The satire of this is that the entire time we were in transit my pal voraciously read and sent text messages. At least the kid would have fared well had we careened off a cliff.

Talk about throwing caution to the wind…texting while driving. I once was pulled over, I swear, for driving 15-miles under the speed limit because I was texting. The officer was polite and asked if I was okay, to which I exercised complete honesty. I told him that I was trying to slow the effects of global warming. This didn’t seem to work. I can’t fully express how embarrassing it is to get a ticket for driving UNDER the speed limit. My grandpa would’ve been proud though.

As a kid, we held BB-gun wars and came out unscathed. With the exception of my friend Phillip. He received a pretty nasty graze to his right cheek which left a scar, but it gave him character and we’re all convinced that it’s why he had sex before any of us other boys…with his rugged, Easyrider look. I would have shot myself in the face had I’d known that’s all it took to get girls to have sex with me in high school. Bastard!

From those who are much smarter that I, the medical journals are quick to point out that experiencing danger and the consequences therein as part of being a child makes for a well-rounded adult. As my grandmother said, “Kids are kids…they get hurt.”

It’s been proven that overprotected kids have extreme difficulty in overcoming fears as an adult. Not me…I got hurt plenty of times as a kid and it prepared me for dangers in my adult life, such as, dating women from the West Bank, eating at corner hotdog vending carts, one-night stands, doing tequila shots on an empty stomach and betting the full pot while standing on a “soft 16” in blackjack. I’m kidding, I would never date women from the West Bank…again.

I don't have kids, but I AM a kid and I'm proud of it. If I did have children, I understand that, as much as I would want to hold them and protect them from physical pain and heartache 24/7, they will fall and get more ways than one. Lest anyone forget, getting hurt doesn't end at adulthood. So, whether it's my child or my grown "child", it's my job to be there to bandage them and assure them that everything will be okay. And, I look forward to it.

By the way, you can all rest a little easier since Uncle Earl is living in his new digs...for 20 to 25 years.

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Road Trip-Trip- Trippin'

I have many fond memories from road trips that I’ve shared with friends and family over the years.

Most trips entailed my father trying to break some mystical world record without stopping for gas, the restroom, a medical emergency, pedestrians, police officers or traffic signals. My mom shared the driving duties by sleeping and telling dad to slow down.

There’s nothing quite like newly discovered adventures and sights held within towns large and small along our nation's roadways.

I’m fairly certain that no road trip will ever be able to top that on which I embarked last week. I wouldn’t call it a road trip as much as an out of body experience.

A friend of mine is a professional audio producer, which means that she has a real job. Sometimes she utilizes her talents for pure evil by hosting and producing Karaoke nights around the region.

Some might view spreading Karaoke across large regional swaths as domestic terrorism, but it‘s not listed on any federal “watch list”, for now.

She was scheduled for a gig about four and a half hours outside the city and asked me and another mutual friend if we might be interested in riding along. I, often having nothing whatsoever to do, jumped at this opportunity.

I began the road trip the way I begin all road trips- I showed up at her house smelling like beer with a to-go cocktail and a pint of whiskey. This is a clever tactic which will always relieve one from shared driving duties.

As a solid backup plan, if this doesn’t work, tell your fellow passengers that you will drive so long as everyone in the car understands that you have been feeling suicidal for some time now and often find yourself romanticizing exiting the world in wholesale James Dean fashion.

Our third occupant arrived a few minutes later, only it wasn’t our friend. It was his alter-ego...who seems to be from another dimension (the 11th if I remember correctly.)

He was dressed super futuristic hip with flowing black flared slacks, makeup, a new wave David Bowie-esque black wig and a bright purple vinyl tie.  I instantly felt positive about our chances of witnessing pure, unscripted comedy at its finest by parading him through a small town convenience store.

Our friend fully appreciates the entertainment value of pulling out his alter-ego, who is, incidentally, campaigning to be elected Emperor of Earth. Trust me when I say that explaining this to residents of rural Louisiana is the most free fun one could ever hope for.

I normally eat extremely healthy but it seems that the open road triggers the need for me to clear the shelves in a convenience store.

Dinner consisted of a 6-inch sub sandwich, a bag of Gummie Bears, Chewy Sweet Tarts, a bag of chips, beef jerky, M & M’s and a package of cinnamon hots. Putting my health first, I also purchased a pack of ultra light cigarettes and bottle of vitamin water.**

**Vitamin water mixes nicely with vodka

We piled into a car at 5:30pm for a whirlwind trip that wouldn‘t end until we returned at 6:30 the following morning.**

**When agreeing to being a passenger on a road trip, it's important to pick friends who own vehicles which one cannot pick up with their bare hands.  You live and learn.

 About an hour or so into the countryside it became obvious to me that we were wading into untamed territory, as evidenced by several interstate overpass signs peppered with shotgun buckshot.

I remember the feeling of relief which washed over my mind knowing that if rednecks ran us off the road I could pick up the car and throw it at them. And, because I’m a true friend, I was prepared to offer the “Emperor to be” as a sacrificial token of good will.

Road trips among friends are usually punctuated by laughter, lighthearted anecdotes and singing along to the Ipod. As a side note, it seems that the band Train is played about 30 times per hour on commercial radio- which is fine- but when did Train abandon their career and begin singing Dr. Seuss books?

My two compadres seemed unaware of open highway protocol- their conversation included the supernatural, metaphysical philosophy, gauging one another’s shortcomings, death/mortality, destruction, American Idol and cremation…typical fun topics.

They asked if I ever assessed my shortcomings, to which I assured that the road trip wasn’t nearly long enough to voice a comprehensive assessment.

It finally occurred to me that I was sitting in on a scene from the Breakfast Club…at 70mph.

While the “Emperor to be” and my other friend talked, I silently stared out the window replaying several action movie sequences;  trying to recall the proper way to tuck and roll upon jumping out of a moving vehicle.

Realizing that jumping was not a viable option, I interrupted the morbid chit-chat and, in a bubbly tone, suggested that we form a murder/suicide pact. A suggestion that clearly relayed my assessment of their conversation.

And so, for the next several miles, we enjoyed the beautiful landscape. A slice of Americana with a brilliantly breathtaking sunset serving as a heavenly backdrop. The countryside appeared unspoiled; dotted with majestic trees, miles of lush grass, cattle, an establishment named “Shooter’s Good Times Biker Barn” and a colossal adult bookstore/peepshow.

Why are these stores always located in the middle of nowhere?? Who’s their target clientele? Perhaps it’s for the safety of the cattle.

My producer friend broke the silence with a cheery proclamation as to how she wants her ashes to be distributed upon being cremated. Judging by her driving skills I thoughtfully pointed out that they might be distributed across this stretch of interstate after we crash head on into the oncoming semi truck.

After swerving back to her lane, she instructed that her ashes be divided amongst several necklace vials so that her friends may wear them, thus she can go anywhere that her friends go.

I’ve never heard of posthumous stalking, but she’s innovative that way.

As she continued, I noticed a tiny airport beacon in the distance which indicated to me that a rescue pilot might be nearby. I wasn’t prepared to take that chance, so I plotted stealing the car at our next restroom stop.

We finally arrived at the club where the door man affixed a red wristband on my right hand. After being cooped up in a car for so long, for amusement purposes, I acted overly jumpy, prompting him to ask if I was okay.  I informed him that I haven’t worn a wristband since I was released from the “program” last month.

Following the uncomfortable silence I shot him a nervous smile with wide, crazy, eyes and asked if strobe lights would be used in tonight’s show.

The show began and, after surveying the room, the “Emperor to be” and I came to the conclusion that we had absolutely no business being outside of the city- and that it seemed that we had stumbled upon a John Waters movie in the process of being filmed.

There were rednecks, girls who seemed quite pleased to meet the new guys from the city, average Joe’s and a large gay man (also pleased to meet the city boys). He sang a hard-driving Garth Brooks country song in such a way that I fully expected him to punctuate each verse by ad-libbing “Hollah girl!” as he snapped his fingers in the air.

The club was nice but not elaborate, with the exception of a $400-thousand dollar light and sound system. I inquired if they were expecting Elton John to show up tonight.

My producer friend, who has a terrific voice, sang a few songs, as did the “Emperor to be“, who also sounded great. I, on the other hand, sang a song which showcased the fact that I’m an enthusiastic underachiever.**

**(Note: this seemed to please one of the barfly girls...and the large gay gentleman).

The crowd seemed oddly detached, blankly staring at the stage as though they were at a 401k enrollment meeting. That is, until an abundantly talented young man got up and sang a beautiful love song by the great Eminem.

EVERYONE in the audience sang along as if they were auditioning to be Snoop Dog’s wing-man…including some random 70-year old guy.

Not a jealous man, but females lie,
But I guess that's just what sluts do,
How could it ever be just us two?

Never loved you enough to trust you,
We just met and I just f**ed you,

But I do know one thing though,
Bitches they come they go,

Saturday through Sunday monday,
Monday through Sunday yo,
Maybe I'll love you one day,

Maybe we'll someday grow,
'Till then just sit your drunk ass on that f**kin’ runway ho...

Valentine’s Day must be an extremely special time in this town.

The show came to a conclusion and I assisted in packing the equipment; hoping that we wouldn’t be involved in a drive-by shooting in the parking lot.

Just as I thought that nothing could top the past 10-hours that had unfolded, it was announced to me that, as a favor to a colleague, we would be adding a fourth passenger who needed a lift to the city.

Nothing out of the ordinary, except that it was a young drag queen who weighed all of 90-pounds. She obviously subscribes to Newton’s opposite/equal law- In order to balance the weight deficit in the vehicle-she came equipped with 500 pounds of luggage & props.

At this point I was certain that I was on an MTV prank show.

I excused myself for a quick stroll, wondering where things went wrong for me in life. Upon my return, I noticed four assorted wigs lined across the rear window storage area. As I stood behind the car staring at the wigs, I couldn’t help but to think that it appeared as though we had abducted the Golden Girls somewhere in rural Louisiana, and then severed their heads.

I did what anyone would do and carefully planned my story for the police in the event that we were pulled over, settling on the safest, most logical story:

That these three were on a cross-country murder spree and that I’d been kidnapped from a rest-area.

The ride home was tranquil as we inched our way through the countryside under a blanket of darkness to which none of us “city-folk” were accustomed.

Upon our arrival to the city (in the blindingly bright New Orleans morning sun) I helped with unpacking the car- carrying the wigs as though I were handling a biological weapon- and made my way home with another chapter of fond road memories.

You learn a lot about people after spending time with them on the open road in the confines of a car. I learned that my friends do not engage in particularly fun road conversation but they are interesting and real.

I also learned that they obviously NEVER have to stop for a restroom break…

My dad would have loved them.

The (future) Emporer Of Earth

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who's Your Daddy??

The other night I met a friend to watch the Red Sox game, we‘ll call her Marie. Judging by the score, the Sox apparently didn’t realize that they were actually playing in this game.

I figured that good conversation would be a safer alternative to ripping the plasma TV off the wall and tossing it in the trash. As I listened to a story that my friend casually shared, three things crossed my mind:

a) I’m craving Mexican food
b) Is this story for real?
c) Uh, oh…This story involves rednecks, I must grab my notebook…immediately.

Marie regaled me with the story of, what I will call, a fairy tale wedding. The sort of unspoiled romance that little girls dream about all of their life…in Arkansas.

She’s from Texarkana. For those of you who don’t know the fascinating story of Texarkana, it straddles the Texas/Arkansas border- thus the clever name. It’s the home of something that escapes my mind, but I know that it’s part of the United States- as is Arkansas.

Marie was supposed to be married in a wedding chapel on the Texas side of the city. The only problem being, other than the fact that she should have joined the witness relocation program rather than marry this man, was that Texas wouldn’t legally recognize their nuptials because he was not officially divorced from his previous wife.

Here comes the Arkansas government to the rescue! Arkansas’ state nickname is “The flagrant disregard for the sanctity of marriage” state. You can, as per the Texarkana court clerk:

Get born (pronounced: Borned)
Get dead (pronounced with two syllables)
Get married
Get buried (pronounced: going someplace better than Arkansas)

And all of the paperwork can be issued in that very office. Even better, the clerk informed Marie that in Arkansas, should all four events converge, they will issue all of said certificates at once (Onest). For a state where you can’t purchase beer and liquor in the same store, I call this cutting edge efficiency from which we can all take a cue! So the lovebirds procured an Arkansas marriage license. The only problem? Texas, being a stickler for executing people in possession of overdue library books, would NOT recognize the license so long as the groom-to-be wasn’t officially divorced. I’m wondering how in the world David Koresh slipped through the cracks.

These crazy kids decided that it would be clever to get married in a van where they exchanged vows in Texas and sealed the deal with “I now pronounce you slacker and woman who is far too good for you” just across the Arkansas border. (Insert Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” here).

By the way, and I swear I am NOT making this up, the preacher’s daughter drove the van! At this point in my friend’s story I ordered a shot of whiskey. I believe that the newly bequeathed “Mr. & Mrs.” received guests at the Sonic drive-in. As they say, something old, something new, something borrowed and something super-sized.
Marie and her guy are from a small town…which means that she has stories that defies logic (and Darwin’s theory).

She told me of a family get together where her Uncle Doyle and a family friend were engaged in deep conversation. Even though, at this point in our conversation, I was clinically drunk, I couldn’t walk away! We’ll call the family friend Billy Joe Bobby Calhoun. It’s important to note that Uncle Doyle is trapped in a miserable marriage. Their dialogue unfolded as follows:

Billy Joe: I love the hell outta my wife Doyle (thick Texas accent)

Doyle: That’s nice. You reckon’ them steaks are done yet?

Billy Joe: Don‘t know, but I’m as happy as a pig in shit…Don’t you just LOVE these ladies in our life Doyle?

Doyle: (looking as though he wanted to toss Billy Joe on the grill) I’d love her a lot more if she’d bring me a glass of sweet tea right about now

If I had a time machine I would transport myself to that living room immediately just to see if Marie was making this up! For what its worth, Marie has since divorced. I’m not certain what went wrong but I can only assume that it had something to do with her being abundantly intelligent.

I sometimes reminisce about growing up around my mother and father. My dad was known as the cool old man amongst my neighborhood friends. They always told me how great my dad was. My response was always: “Yeah? You don’t have to live with him.”

Don’t get me wrong, my dad was indeed a cool dude…with waaay too much idle time on his hands- he was quite brilliant also. He retired early which largely contributed to many tense moments in the house between he and my mother. He spoke about 493-thousand languages and could build ANYTHING. Two of the most important things that I learned from him were:

1. I possess a gene which prevents me from learning any foreign language
2. I, apparently, cannot hold a flashlight precisely on the spot in which my dad asked

My mother never fully appreciated the lessons that my dad tried to instill in a growing young boy. When I was 8-years old she came home to find him teaching me martial arts- specifically, how to permanently paralyze someone with my thumb. This almost caused a divorce.

Another time when mom came home she found me in the garage pouring a volatile fuel concoction into mason jars. Since I was 9 she, naturally, inquired as to what I was doing. Upon informing her, she became anxiously curious as to my father‘s whereabouts:

Mom: Where’s your father??

Me: He told me not to tell you. I was supposed to tell him when you pulled up the driveway as a matter of fact..

Mom: WHERE’S your father?

Me: He’s in the shop out back.

Mom: What’s he doing?

Me: (Silently staring at the ground)

Mom: (Staring a hole through my soul)

Me: He’s building a small rocket. I’m mixing the fuel for him. The sooner I get this done the sooner I can go show my friends the cool spider dad caught for me.

Diverting her attention from the explosives that I had been handling, mom’s eyes locked on a mason jar on the shelf in front of me, which had become the new home for a Black Widow spider.

Mom: (Calmly) Go get your father, right now please. And then go inside.

Me: (To my dad) Mom’s home…she wants to see you.

Dad: How did she seem?

Me: She told me to come get you and then go inside.

Dad: Shit.

There was some yelling a few moments later as I recall.

Another entertaining trick that made my dad famous among the neighborhood kids was when he spit FIRE! He’d put lighter fluid in his mouth and spit it onto a matchstick…thus, looking like a human dragon! One time his fire spitting trick went askew and he accidentally set the side of the house on fire. My mother was not as impressed as me and the other kids. They slept in separate rooms for two or three days and it was REAL quiet at the dinner table during this period.

As a very young boy I was terrified of water- So my dad taught me how to swim. He took me to the middle of the lake on a small raft where he then, with nurturing tutelage that only a father can provide, tossed me through the air as far as possible as though he were competing in a midget toss. I splashed down into 60-feet of water as he rowed as fast and far away from me as possible, laughing hysterically while he popped open a beer.

My dad passed away at an early age- he was 53. For as much as he seemed to be a pain in my mother’s ass I learned otherwise. Standing with mom over his coffin, I watched as she silently stared at his lifeless body. A single tear slowly trickled down her cheek and onto his handsome dark suit.

She sweetly whispered “I love you with all of my heart.” With those words, my mother gently stroked my father’s hair as I watched, speechless, studying her face. And so, a chapter in both of our lives was sealed with the closing of that casket. But the memories live vividly in my heart and mind forever.

My mother survived my dad by 20-years, never once finding interest in another man. He was the love of her life- theirs was a love that most could only hope to find. Call me biased, but I honestly can’t think of another man who could possibly compare to dad in my mother’s eyes. He was the “cool cat” who wheeled up on his Harley, looking like a cross between Elvis and James Dean. He’d whisk her away for long weekends on the open road, edging beautiful beaches or a lush mountain pass.

He once built a motorcycle for me- another tense moment at the dinner table between the two of them, but I somehow managed not to injure myself too badly growing up.

Mom often told me of how she and my father came to be married. It was 1957- he made a bet with her at the bowling alley that if she beat him at bowling then they would go get married that week. My mom often bragged about how she soundly trounced him in that bowling match. It was the only accomplishment of which you would ever catch her exercising bragging rights.

I never felt it necessary to let her know that he threw that game on purpose- since he had also found the love of his life.

I learned many valuable lessons from my dad- I know how to paralyze someone with my thumb, I know how to lay a motorcycle down in such a way as to avoid killing myself, I can swim and I can make home-made rocket fuel- should the need arise.

I still can’t hold a flashlight straight or fluently speak a foreign language, but I recognize a true love story when I see it. I had a front-row seat.

Happy Father’s Day!

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meet The Team

I have a friend who, along with her business partner, runs a creative marketing company. They’re very good at their job but she seemed to be having a touch of writer’s block this week. She didn’t buy into my suggestion that a few shots of tequila would unclog the thought process so I moved to plan B and I did a shot and told her to give it a few days.

One of her largest clients tasked her with updating the bios for their upper gets better- they wanted something humorous. Oh God.

I could already feel that this was going to do abundant harm to my brain. She asked if I might assist in writing a few bio pieces. It’s important to note that her client is a creative advertising and marketing development firm.

They are also quite fond of Jesus.

My first thought was, by coming to me, she must be desperate. My second thought was WHY would a company which specializes in creative marketing plans outsource the creative development of their biographies?? And, to a heathen on top of that!

After looking over the existing bios I informed my friend that I really bring nothing to the table, this task being a prime example. And, that I planed on going back to bed- to which she helpfully noted that it was 2:00pm. I like to ease myself into the day.

I say a thoughtful little prayer each and every day before leaving the house. I feel that it plants a positive first foot forward and sets a happy tone for the day to come. It goes like this:

“Dear God, please don’t let anything stupid happen around me today, and I beg of thee to please smite anyone who tries to ruin my day. Amen.”

I've since amended my prayer to include cell phone calls.

Being a resolute individual, I firmly stood my ground with my friend. By that, I mean that I finally agreed to assist- mainly to make her stop talking.

After re-reading the existing bios I came to the conclusion that I’d just stumbled upon the largest, most boring group of people on the planet. Their number-one recreational activity centered around their kids and going to church.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking anyone who goes to church. I enjoy discovering my shortcomings and how they might pave the way to a land of eternal damnation just as much as the next person- I’d enjoy church service more if they had an I-Jukebox and a Taco Bell drive thru.

Becoming quite frustrated, I waited for a while longer before revisiting the bios, hoping that a fresh glance would help me to come up with SOMETHING. Then I began to cry.

We’ll call this company ACME Advertising as an homage to Mel Blanc’s Looney Tunes.

Just ONCE why couldn’t Wile E. Coyote catch that bird and eat it?? I understand that murder doesn’t necessarily make for appropriate children’s programming, but I also accept that this represents one of many reasons why I'm not a role model for children.

After having anvils fall on his head, dynamite blow up in his face, falling off cliffs and being run over by trucks (oddly, all of which occurs in the middle of a thousand square-mile desert) this coyote deserves a meal! The smart kids are with me on this one.

The bio assignment began with each person’s name and job title and (I swear) instructions to:

“pick a fun and descriptive” job title.

I began with Cynthia‘s bio. She’s the Director of Customer Service. There is positively NO fun, descriptive, title for this position. Listening to a bunch of whining, apathetic people all day who suffer from “buyer’s remorse” sounds about as fun as having an anal hematoma.

Some of Cynthia’s cute and fun noted attributes/interests include:

A people pleaser
Making everyone happy
A dedicated leader over a group of versatile reps
Constantly dreams up ways to bring ACME’s service to the next level
She loves her family of wiener dogs (I wish were making this up)
Sings in the church choir

Because I really care for my friend, plus she’s the only person I know with a swimming pool AND a stocked liquor cabinet, here goes nothing:

Cynthia- Director of B.S.
(Bestest Service :-)

At a very early age Cynthia found her inspiration for providing customer satisfaction in life. No one in school wanted to sit anywhere near her; she looked awkward, kind of like an ostrich. She also wore glasses and had braces.

She was often picked last in gym class for kickball and the other kids frequently creamed her with the ball, their shoes, rocks, sticks, cafeteria trays and book bags- DURING the game.

As Cynthia began to physically blossom so did her vertical marketing thought process. She discovered an effective way to please people- specifically, by flashing young boys behind the football stands for cash.

Since she developed “C“ cups earlier that the rest of the girls, her business thrived. Earning enough money to purchase contact lenses, Cynthia soon became emotionally drunk with the idea of satiating the desires of everyone around her, while making money doing something that she loves.

She tirelessly employs that winning attitude with each and every one of ACME’s clientele. Lengthy, behind closed doors, late night meetings with our business partners (room 147 at the Econo Lodge) showcases her passion for supplying (discreet) “service” that is second to none. (See our ad on Craig's List Casual Encounters)

Her team of customer service reps love their job too, thanks to Cynthia’s “outside of the box” management style. Topless Tuesday has become an institution on the customer service floor- this is but one dynamic example of Cynthia‘s leadership. (Take a peek at our photo gallery for all of the excitement. -Must be 21 or older-)

When Cynthia isn’t providing superior “customer service“, she spends most of her time cleaning up after her five wiener dogs and her husband- he‘s currently between jobs but is an exceptional drummer.

She has two beautiful teenage kids who are anarchists and heavily pierced, so Cynthia spends a great deal of her time in church, searching for answers and self-actualization.

Always accentuating the positive, Cynthia has channeled being suffocated in a small town, helplessly strapped with a dysfunctional family, into a treasured bonus for ACME and its clients.

Indeed, Cynthia has blossomed from an awkward little ostrich to a graceful swan. You‘re number 1 in our book Cyn!!

After emailing this draft to my friend she seemed less than amused. And so, another well meaning plan to goof off has resulted in my being banned from the pool for a month- and she just started “naked girl” swim night!

I don’t understand company bios. When I decide to do business with someone, say a car manufacturer, I couldn’t care less if Josh in Research & Development volunteers to visit far away lands in order to show starving villagers who were born without elbows how to grow soybeans.

While it’s an admirable testament to his not doing anything particularly fun with his vacation time, I simply want to know if Josh can design an automobile that transports me from point A to B without the brakes failing at a busy intersection so that I might avoid running over as few children and elderly people as possible. And I’d be most pleased if it comes in “Midnight Blue“ with a kickin’ stereo.

I took another serious stab at researching the writing project. As I flirted with a couple of cute ladies sitting next to me, I glanced over a few online company bios, hoping to stir some sort of writing angle. I also purchased a new baseball cap, paid my cell bill and read my Facebook page. As a matter of full disclosure, I confirmed that the ladies were much more interesting bio subjects

After reading several bios from a variety of companies, I came to the glaring conclusion that bios are a bunch of tripe:

“Frank spends his spare time, what little spare time that a busy man like Frank has, skiing and snorkeling. He’s climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro FIVE times and, while never implicated in their deaths, Frank only lost two of his fellow climbers due to improper tie-offs. You’ll find Frank tirelessly working on building the best electric blender that money can buy.

Frank + our products + YOU = A perfect blend!”

I liken these fluffy lines to those of a job interview. I’ve always hated job interviews and the silly, stale psychoanalytic questions.

“So, tell me about your strengths.”

Just once I wish someone would flash a porn star smile to the interviewer and answer “Well, that’s a question best answered by my previous boss’ wife, and three of the ladies in Quality Control.“

Honesty is the best policy though. A better answer:

“Uh, I can do this job well and I’ll never miss a deadline. This will free up my time so that I might showcase other strengths, which include drinking abundantly, throwing darts, watching baseball and working tirelessly with several employee rights activist groups to keep employers like yourself on their toes.”

It’s also effective if you tell the interviewer that you voted for Ralph Nader.

I‘m not making this up…I’ve only been on four interviews in my life- and now you know why. The cover letter usually closes the gap on me.

My interview with a long term employer, seriously, went like this:

“Why should we hire you?” I advised that he shouldn’t, not today. I made him aware that I was actually interviewing HIM to see if his company was right for me. I then made a deal that I would work for free for the first week and if he liked what he saw and I liked what I saw then we could discuss me being on the payroll…and he could buy me a six-pack so that we might celebrate a new partnership. 15-years later…

I earned my keep I suppose.

I worked for a wonderful gentleman who secured his 6-figure contract with a prospective employer on…a cocktail napkin! I’ll bet you that he’s a riot at his AA meetings.

If you want to know a sure fire way to have some fun, the next time a prospective employer asks you to name your weaknesses tell them that you oversleep- habitually- and that an extremely lengthy, unbiased account of your weaknesses would be better outlined by your previous boss. Then sit back and enjoy the uncomfortable tension that saturates the room.

If you can do so at will, this is also an excellent opportunity to compliment the moment with a fart. You won’t get the job but it will facilitate hours of fun as you replay the incident in your mind and regale your envious friends with a great story over drinks.

I don’t have a bio but if I did, it would read as follows: “Page currently under construction, please check back soon!!”

Since my swimming pool rights have been revoked, and I'm unable to write these stupid bio's...I’m heading back to bed. I'll be dreaming of "naked girl" pool night for sure!

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Slippery Slope...Uh, Coast

Over the past couple of weeks a few of my friends asked: “Why haven’t you written anything about the oil spill?” A couple of them seemed rather shocked- I’m rather shocked that the few friends didn’t ask to borrow my car and return it with zero gas.

Just like everyone else, I’ve caught the wall to wall television, print and online coverage. I’ve interviewed a United States Senator, a couple of Congressmen and I even did a broadcast story from the NOAA boat, “Thomas Jefferson”, which continues to provide scientific data to aid in dealing with the worst oil disaster in our nation’s history.

The answer is, I don’t want to write about it- there are plenty of other people doing so. Several are doing it well while others are cashing in.

A few days ago I privately slipped away and saw the oil for myself…first hand. So, I’m aware of the fact that the Gulf of Mexico is slowly turning into an enormous drip pan as 37-million plus gallons of oil has already leaked- that number is rising with each passing second.

My blabberings are typically lighthearted and I really can’t find much lightheartedness when I see pictures of the coastline, the delicate wetlands- which serve as a buffer for violent storms and is a critical habitat for wildlife. And then there’s the heartbreaking AP photos of birds looking as though they came out of a Willie Wonka assembly line.

Note to the Louisiana Brown Pelican: I’m sure that the people responsible for this spill fully realize that you came back from the brink of extinction and have recently been removed from the endangered species list. They’re probably doing all that they can, now that those pictures are out there. However, my feathered friends, those who know, understand and love you- especially the fishermen who have long appreciated your assistance in spotting fish- are taking charge and pitching in just to make sure these people do the right thing.

Before I continue to NOT write about this topic, I see where President Obama is ready to “kick someone’s ass.” I vote that he start with Vice President Biden, mainly because I think it would be hilarious. Even though he's out of office, I'm fairly confident that no one would object to Mayor Nagin getting his ass whipped either- just for general principle.

The President made the "Ass kick" statement to Matt Lauer during a recent NBC interview. Personally, I also wish Mr. Obama would kick Matt Lauer’s ass…but that’s just for selfish reasons. Now that I think about it, I probably could use a good ass kicking.

I’m sure that Dick Cheney’s ass needs kicking also, since he seems to be blamed for everything that has gone afoul since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

If the President is looking to add names to his deserved “kick” list I suspect that you might find individuals within our own government and some U.S. contractors high atop that executive order.

If you aren’t aware, at present, the federal government has issued a 6-month moratorium on offshore drilling. (Note to the families and communities who are feeling the devastating effects from the oil spill, hang on for round two...all 40-thousand of you).

Let‘s review: Because of a political and business climate (Spanning BOTH sides of the political aisle, for DECADES) which nurtured backroom, good ol’ boy deals, an admittedly failed Federal oversight and scads of officials looking the other way, a second blow will be delivered to those who work to supply about 30% of the nation’s oil.

Not to mention that they do their jobs in order to do silly things with their paychecks like shopping, eating, living, paying taxes, stimulating and reinforcing economic and strategic national growth & security and all of that other nonsense.

It occurs to me that the only “asses” being kicked are those of the hard working men and women in the gulf coast oil and fishing industry, our wetlands and the wildlife therein. And Matt Lauer STILL isn’t on the “ass-kick” list…anywhere. Where’s Katie Couric?

I saw where BP CEO Tony Hayward’s family needs 24-hour protection. That’s sad to me as well. His wife and two children had nothing to do with this.

As for Tony? Only time will tell as the investigation continues. I think that, when all is said and done, we’ll find that he helmed a company with a truckload of managers and vendors who reek of complicity in this disaster. But, he’s the captain of the boat, so it rests at his feet.

So far he appears to be guilty of allowing those tasked with his company’s initial response to remain employed. His lieutenants downplayed the initial impact data and he, personally, has made several public relations gaffes. In my opinion, he clearly is in over his head.

While the Feds initially ceded jurisdiction to BP, the state of Louisiana was repeatedly stalled by BP as the Governor begged for them to step aside and let the gulf states do what they know how to do. Louisiana pleaded with the federal government to let the state jump in and get to work, unfettered, sooner.

Meanwhile BP assured that this incident would not rise to catastrophe level. It was almost as if the Feds and BP employed the “maybe it will go away” stance- a tactic which NEVER works. I tried it in college with my rent payment, guess what? My strategy didn’t work out so well.

It wasn’t until a week or so after the spill until a group of researchers told the nation that the initial numbers were off…considerably. The numbers skew is a maneuver that was frequently unearthed by my ex where our bank account was concerned.

I’d purchase some sort of latest and greatest gadget or appliance and, when asked about the cost, I did what any fiscally responsible man would do…I rounded it down by about a hundred or so dollars. But the numbers eventually catch up to you- usually when your check card is declined in front of a bunch of co-workers.

Speaking of numbers, BP has allocated more than 50-million dollars for an epic “We’re sorry and we’re making it right” campaign. Don’t fault them…it’s prudent strategy which is built into most corporate budgets & planning outlines.

Yes, if Hayward showed up in front of news cameras he could easily get the same message out, but then the company doesn’t control the message. It becomes an open media circus, leaving room for error in keeping the pitch-man “on message." This is why I always HATED conducting PR for politicians. They can do a 30-second commercial (after about 80-thousand out-takes) but put them in front of reporters and it’s a whole new ballgame- especially when they‘re under duress.

It’s normal that elevated tensions prompt immediate thoughts of violence toward BP, et al. It won’t solve a thing, I assure you. However, while Obama seems eager to display his physical prowess, it would be entertaining to see he and Tony Hayward in a meeting on the royal blue carpet at the Oval Office:

Tony, what the hell’s goin’ on at BP? Who’s to blame??

Hayward: We’re trying to locate Dick Cheney, that bastard!! In the meantime, you have my deepest regrets; we’re working hard on it. I want my life back.

Obama: How bout’ I kick your ass?

Hayward: Mr. President, I assure you that we are doing all- AAARGH…

Obama: (Lunges over the desk and wrestles Hayward to the ground in a sleeper hold, wrapping the telephone cord around Tony‘s neck)

Mr. President, I can’t…I…I can’t breathe!!!!

Obama: Yeah, neither can those dead Pelicans sissy-boy! (The President then tosses Hayward through the French doors onto the portico- like in one of those old Burt Reynolds movies)

I’m not a violent person, mainly because almost anyone can beat me up. I’m a big fan of old fashioned punishment. In this case…EXILE. The stuff from which novels are created. It’s an effective incentive in the animal and insect kingdom- some remote tribes still use this practice. Of course they also eat one another from time to time.

I’m not talking about anything elaborate…just a simple, low key banishment. We could put all who were complicit in this disaster on a rocket and shoot them into outer space. Now THAT’S exile, 21st century style!

There’s always risk in doing your job- some professions carry larger risks and pitfalls than others. Mine is an irritating, ingratiating boss…and carpal tunnel (as if I needed another example to make me feel like a giant sissy) By the way, I‘m adding my over-editing boss to Obama‘s “Ass-kick“ list.

Finally, eleven people lost their lives at the outset of this disaster. I can only hope that their families somehow, soon, find peace in the aftermath of their terrible loss.

There IS good news. The spirit, determination, ingenuity and sense of “being” runs strong in Louisiana, throughout the gulf coast…and throughout these United States of America. Keep your eyes open and you’ll notice that much of the world stands strongly with us during tragedy as well.

This is how our country was built and it’s expressly why you’ll see ordinary citizens wield hammer and nail, helping a neighbor to rebuild after an earthquake, a flood, a hurricane a fire or a tornado. I’d call these people anything but ordinary. I call them dutiful and compassionate.

Nah…enough people are writing and documenting this chapter of American history, and so, this is why I won’t be writing at all about the oil spill.

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Take Two Aspirins And GO Away

Several weeks ago I woke up with a dull ache behind my right rib cage. As the day progressed the pain became somewhat sharper in nature to the point that it became inconvenient to perform certain minor functions, such as: 

laying down
and eating

I came to the conclusion which I think most rational minded people would have…Rib cage cancer. After consulting with a few of my friends they narrowed it down to my being clinically insane.

Perhaps, but how does that affect my ribs??

I decided to go online- visiting a widely popular medical site- so that I might efficiently diagnose the problem. These sites actually make me feel worse!

While I couldn’t substantiate my theory of rib cage cancer, after perusing the site, I believe that I may have sciatica, gastro-intestinal anomalies, Chrohn’s Disease, a heart murmur, COPD, the beginning stages of Dengue fever and dementia. I also might be pregnant.

This was most unsettling news to say the least. So, I did what anyone would do...I waited to see what song would play next on my car radio so as not to waste a good song while gabbing on the cell.

I called to make an appointment with my doctor. Of course, I didn’t get to speak with the actual doctor as doctors are quite busy doing important things such as dodging phone calls and dealing with pharmaceutical representatives.  

Figuring that I might outline my symptoms on the phone, I did all that I could in the hope of skipping an office visit.  Doctors will always insist upon an office visit because they are sworn to a Hippocratic Oath and take personal and humane responsibility to run up the tab to your HMO.

Knowing that this was probably the end of the line for me, I partied most of the night away like a rock star.

I showed up for my appointment at 11am, precisely on time. A small pocket of the Eastern Standard Time zone apparently runs through the block in New Orleans where my doctor‘s office is located- I was called back to the examination area at about 12:15pm.

No one appears to be happy in the waiting area of a doctor’s office. The room is filled with people wearing empty stares as though they’re awaiting a last minute pardon from the governor before heading to the electric chair.

It’s typically not fertile chit chat ground, except for the obnoxiously loud, healthy, guy who has clearly given his sick buddy a ride to the doctor‘s office. His ailing friend looked as though he’d like to have his buddy euthanized while they were there.

I’m well aware that people are at the doctor’s office because something is wrong, thus, I’m not looking to brush against deep topics like, say, the global impact that China’s latest economic indicator data holds...specifically as it relates to their GDP and the Asian markets. I‘m talking about simple stuff. It seemed to be my lucky day- since no one in the waiting area wanted anything to do with the obnoxious guy, he started talking to ME.

I’m usually good at evading conversation when I’m under the weather, so I erected the chit-chat barricade by announcing that I suspect that I have Swine Flu. That didn’t work. He then asked who I thought was a better singer, Kris Allen or Adam Lambert. My lucky streak continues…He’s an American Idol fan. Terrific.

Fortunately I was rescued when the nurse called my name. Upon my arrival to the mysterious land beyond the pale wooden door, the lovely, and quite attractive, nurse began to take vital statistics. Our first stop…the scales.

I stepped onto the scale as she fiddled with the little balance thingy and announced that I’ve lost 3 pounds since my last visit. I, of course, asked the logical question:

“Does that indicate a terminal illness?”

She blankly stared, never answering my question. I knew it!! Something MUST be wrong.

We arrived to the examination room where the nurse asked me to hop up on the table. I asked if I needed to take off my clothes, to which she politely informed me that I should remain clothed. I cooperatively told her to give me the word when and if the time comes to disrobe.  So that I would be fully prepared for the “execute” order, I went ahead and unbuckled my belt to be safe.

The nurse performed her routine, beginning with the blood pressure test. After the uncomfortable silence had passed she jotted something down on the chart and announced that my BP was 119 over 70, as though I should somehow know what those figures meant.

Sounds like an upset in an NBA match to me. At the risk of sounding stupid, I played it safe and asked if those numbers indicated heart disease. She politely informed me that the doctor would be in shortly. I now fully suspected that this woman was keeping something from me.

The doc arrived about 15-minutes later with a breezy hello and handshake and asked what was bothering me today. I explained that the guy in the waiting room had irritated me a bit and that I felt deep concern about all of the secrecy with regard to my vital signs. Because she is an extremely smart doctor, she clarified, asking in a more pointed fashion. I told her of the rib cage pain and questioned her track record with treating rib cage cancer.

A few of my guy friends give me crap about having a female doctor. I give them crap for letting a guy stick his hand in their ass during THEIR check-ups. That usually shuts them up rather quickly.

My doctor is a pretty cool woman and doesn’t harp, judge or lecture- she does, however, take every opportunity to ask about my smoking habits.

Doc: You still smoking?

Me: Yeah…but only socially

Doc: That’s still not good, because I know your social schedule. You need to quit. How many cigarettes do you smoke per day?

Me: Um, maybe a half pack

Doc: (using her piercing superman stare)

Me: Hey, is your nurse single??

Doc: She’s married

Me: Happily??

The doc began her physical exam of my rib cage, which is to say that I felt as though I were a play-toy in an episode of “Prison Bitch.” She poked, pressed and prodded until I began to cry.

Inquiring about my pain level, she asked that I rate it on a scale of 1 to 10- (10 being extreme). I’m not good at communicating with the number system- I like to humanize facts with relatable analogies. I told her that my pain level was somewhere between a Karaoke bar and Glen Beck- the Karaoke bar being on the low to moderate end.

Making small talk, I inquired as to whether the doc thought Cialis was right for me. She didn't seem to think Cialis was, in fact right for me, which I took as a compliment. 

After the exam the doc brought two important issues to my attention:

1. I smelled like stale beer from the previous evening
2. It appears that the rib cage cancer test came up negative

Apparently I strained a piece of cartilage behind my rib cage. I asked if she thought it would be helpful if the nurse came back and gave me a massage. She felt that a massage would be unnecessary today.

I dated a nurse once. I felt that I sealed the deal with her after our first date when, in lieu of flowers, I presented her with a stalk of broccoli. I believe we went out for pizza and a keg of beer that night- so much for good health.

Believe me when I tell you, there’s an added sense of comfort in dating a nurse, in that if I were to accidentally be attacked by a bear while we’re on a romantic Sunday nature stroll, she’s qualified to administer emergency field treatment.

The bad thing about dating a nurse is that they are astutely aware of EVERYTHING that you don’t want to know. They’ll share helpful facts such as:

“Your resting heart rate last night was 165.”

My first thought being, I wonder what it was while we were having sex?? I’d better make out my will.

After scaring the hell out of me she tried to back peddle, calmly assuring that it was most likely due to a dream. Medical professional or not, she’s still a woman…as evidenced by her next question.

“So- what were you dreaming about??”

Any question followed by the word “So” makes me want to gouge my eyes with a cocktail fork. I wonder what my heart rate measured at this point?

I’m certain that dealing with my insurance company elevates my heart rate. By the way, hypochondria isn’t a medically covered condition. I believe the HR manager referred to it as a character flaw.

WHY is it necessary to send a bill that says “This is NOT a bill”? I feel strongly that if the insurance companies would donate the money to research centers that they spend on sending out “quasi-bills” we would have a disease-free society. I suppose that wouldn’t be good for their business though.

My insurance company gives discounts for voluntary healthy lifestyle activities such as gym memberships, etc. I’m active, I’m at my ideal weight and live a fairly healthy lifestyle- with the exception of drinking, smoking, walking to my car through bad neighborhoods at 2am, eating fried chicken, running with scissors, constantly driving 20-miles over the speed limit and insulting a 200lb drunk obnoxious guy a few weeks ago. I had a spinach salad for lunch today however which, I feel, offsets any unhealthy choices.

I walk a lot. I attribute that to the extremely health conscience environment that New Orleans fosters…no one wants to lose their parking space.

Walking always seems like a good idea, until reality sets in that you have to actually walk BACK. My rigid walking regimen usually concludes about halfway with a cab fare.

As my ribs heal I now have an excuse to take a cab but I thought it would also be a good time to adopt a few extra healthy choices in my life. When I eat fried chicken from now on I’m going to eat it in the parking lot at the gym.

I’m also going to do what seems to be working for many of my friends and bum cigarettes rather than purchase them. I’ll be eating more spinach salads too.

And, I’ll steer clear of medical websites- right after I get online to figure out what‘s wrong with my left knee cap.

copyright Pontchartrain Pres 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On The Outside Looking In

When the mean man that I work for isn’t making me work, I absolutely love to people watch; I believe that there’s an art form to it. 

One doesn't want to appear as the weird guy who might follow you to the car; sneaking from behind with a chloroform rag, rendering you unconscious and then tossing you in the trunk, transporting you to the middle of nowhere (middle of Montana), leaving you for dead.  

On that note, have you ever notice someone staring from across the room and then, when you go to the bathroom, they come in behind you a minute later? Or they're waiting outside the in one of those creepy teen slasher movies? 

I feel strongly that establishments be required to install Tasers. So what if a harmless guy, who simply looks creepy, gets tased? It’ll teach him not to stare and, perhaps, to update the wardrobe which includes something other than sweatpants and gold chains.

I only glance- usually peripherally. The same method which I employ when trying to hide the fact that I’m looking at someone’s boobs.

Recently I saw a couple who were, clearly, on a first date. I HATE first dates, I always have. This is why I encourage people to have sex within the first five minutes after meeting…to loosen the tension.

I’m kidding!!! You should at least know someone for an hour or two, depending on your schedule...and how many tequila shots you've consumed.

The guy seemed to be having a decent time, but the young woman looked as though she would rather be sitting in stirrups at her gynecologist’s office.

Let's pause for a visual.  Who else needs a cigarette??

Some time ago I was out with a large group and, after one of the ladies went to the restroom, a female friend smacked me in the arm.

She helpfully informed me that I must be the stupidest person on the planet if I didn’t realize that her friend was “into me.” I informed her that she must be stupid if she didn’t catch me looking at every single woman's boobs at the table all evening.

Nonetheless, I demanded that my friend provide proof-- to which she replied--

“because every time she mentioned a guy in one of her stories, she immediately looked at you to clarify that he was ONLY a friend.”

WHAT?? This twisted logic, only employed by women, is singularly why I lose all arguments with women.

Women not only read the lines, they look through the lines, read between them, read them backwards, sideways, upside down, imagine them in screenplay format, mathematical theorem and Mandarin Chinese…all in a matter of 4 seconds.

I insisted that she was wrong and demanded hard, substantial proof.  I also insisted that she buy me another drink.

She informed me that the girl told most of the others at the table that she liked me when I went to the bathroom 45 minutes ago. And so, my losing streak with debating a woman  remains soundly in tact.

An even freakier debacle is the double secret crush within a group. 

Jonathan goes to the bar for a beer and Lisa goes to the bathroom. Marcie nudges me and informs:

“You know Jim, Lisa has a crush on you.”

Jen then loudly screeches:

“Oh my God?? Jonathan has a crush on you too Jim!!! That’s too funny!!”

The table bursts into wild laughter as I do a shot and pay my tab;  praying that the taxi cab will actually crash through the building and pick me up.

First dates are soooo awkward...and sometimes stressful.  In New Orleans, for instance, getting ready for a night out presents unique challenges.

Upon showering and getting dressed, you will look and feel fresh and appealing for about 90-seconds upon exiting your house.

If the torrential downpour, which magically appears from nowhere, doesn’t drench you, the 9-thousand degree heat and humidity will.

An umbrella is no match for Louisiana rain. It’s special rain which literally misses the umbrella and then, making a 360-degree turn, it sprays upward-- UNDER the umbrella-- as though it’s raining from the ground.

I once dated a girl who enjoyed partaking in a little “smoke”, which is fine with me until denial comes into play.

She constantly assured that pot had no affect whatsoever on her memory or track of time. I, on the other hand, constantly assisted in finding her sunglasses-- which were almost always on top of her head.

Her: Sorry I’m a little late

Me: That’s okay, I was late also

Her: Whew! (giggling, with glassy eyes) How long you been waiting?

Me: Only 45 minutes or so

Her: (Giggling) Let’s go eat…I’m hungry!! Where are my glasses??

I dated a co-worker once. The operative word being…ONCE.

I fully understand and appreciate that these situations work out quite nicely and result in long and happy relationships for many- with the exception of my old boss, Thomas.

He got caught by his wife while he was “dating” another girl in the office…the date was taking place on top of his desk.

What a visual- they were totally naked…with the exception of him wearing his dark socks and starched white shirt with no pants- a visual which still makes me laugh until I fart.

Typically, the adage “What goes up, must come down” applies to office flings. It most likely held an anatomical meaning for Thomas when his wife entered his office that day.

Office breakups have the potential to be hell on earth for both well as the rest of the staff, future employees, employees who have yet to be born and, quite possibly, people in the offices next door, across the street, five blocks away and in other countries.

In the syrupy bliss of an office relationship in full bloom, the typical workplace interaction between lovebirds might sound like this:
Girl: Can you print out the files for the Peterson project for me?

Guy: I sure can sweetie…what’s in it for me?

Girl: Well, I think you’ll find it well worth your while…don’t plan on getting much sleep tonight (girl gazes seductively while discreetly running her fingernails along her guy’s lower back)
After the breakup the conversation devolves into this:

Girl: (standing over the desk, never making eye contact) I needed the Peterson report like an hour ago; if you’re in over your head just say so.

Guy: Yeah, well I’ve been busy!!!  The earth doesn’t revolve around you...even though, if you keep eating the way you do, you’ll be as big as a planet soon enough.

Girl: Yeah?? Well at least I’m not latently homosexual.

Guy: You said you adored the fact that I was sensitive and wrote poems for you!

Girl: Yeah? I lied!

Guy: (Wanting to kill his friend who convinced him that leaving love notes and preparing French pastries was a nice touch) Oh yeah? Well you’re LOUSY in bed!!!

Girl: No I’m not…and Carlos, in accounting on the third floor, will tell you otherwise. (girl smugly strolls away as though she's just successfully made her case on the Springer Show)

Guy: (now yelling across the office) Oh YEAH????  At least I’m not a little BITCH!!

Girl: Yes you are.

I’m reasonably certain that office breakups surely violates some sort of OSHA safety guideline.

Why must someone in the breakup turn into a psycho?
Men and women are equally guilty of this.

I knew a guy who had his hands full with a recent breakup.  He broke up with his lady who had a different take on the situation.  Denial breeds uncomfortable actions in the breakup department.

One night she showed up at his house, making her case that they should give it a second chance; Nothing far from the ordinary.  

It’s perfectly normal for one, or sometimes both, to recognize the err of their ways and give a relationship another whirl.

And so, she paid my buddy a visit to work on things- at the grocery store, his prayer service (even though she wasn’t Jewish), from the seat behind him at the movie theater (while he was on a date with someone else) and in the parking lot at work.

His house was the final straw.

He informed her that she was acting psychotic.  She received this news with absolute astonishment- insisting that she was not psychotic and that she felt bruised by the implication- wondering how he could say such a thing.

It’s important to note that this conversation took place as she peered from the outside of his bathroom window.

My friend is not a psychologist, but I believe the fact that his bathroom is located on the second story of the house validates his assertion. Coupled with the fact that, at this point after the breakup, she now lived 495 miles away.

You've never heard Sinatra turning that love story into a fairy tale super hip romantic little ballroom number.

Love, Oooooh, love is craaaaaaazy, shoobie doobie, doo, da dee da!

Text message protocol can present challenges after the first date.

a) When or if to send a post date text
b) When and how to respond to the text if YOU’RE the recipient.

I remember one time when I crafted a short little text to save in my draft folder to send after a comfortable amount of time had passed after the date.  But, I accidentally hit “send”…about 1 minute after I dropped her off.

Making matters worse…I have the “predictive text” function and didn’t catch the typo:

“I had fun with you”

Turned into:

“I hate fun with you."

If an evening with me hadn’t stirred uneasy feelings, I’m pretty sure that the timing and content of that text screamed volumes as to why she made a colossal mistake in going out with me. 

If ever there were a perfect time for me and my phone to have been trampled by a rampaging moose, that was the precise moment.

From stories which people have shared, and from what I’ve witnessed, it occurs to me that the dating scene can be a weird little stage...but it makes for lots of fun. 

Er, that is, if you’re in the audience.

Just try not to stare.

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2010