Friday, June 24, 2011

What I Meant To Say Was...

I maintain a file which contains much of my interaction via text, email and instant messages.

Sometimes I look back on them for story ideas, but mainly I figure that keeping such files will make it easier on legal officials when they come for me. It seemed to work smashingly for President Nixon.

Another Blown Deadline:

From: Mike
I know you’ve been off for a week, but your 1st draft of the next piece was due Tuesday

From: Jim
Could you specify which Tuesday?

From: Mike
You know which Tuesday. This past Tuesday.

From: Jim
Your incorrect present-past subjunctive use of the words “This” and “Past” have confused me. Please clarify.

From: Mike
Tuesday, the 5th

From: Jim
Of which month??

From: Mike

From: Jim
Very well. Sorry about that. I’ll have something for you on or about this previous, past Tuesday-week...oh, in the month of October. Sorry for the confusion.

In the meantime, I just ordered a very nice (leather-bound) day-planner for your Christmas present/past/future!!

Admittedly, I have an aversion to doctor visits, which is precisely why I was kidnapped and forced (at gunpoint) to “go for a ride.” I had been avoiding it for a while. Here’s the way it unfolded one afternoon last fall, via text msg:

Um, we’re goin to the doc tmrrw

Can we go for a late breakfast and then visit the huge thrift store on Jeff Davis Pky also? The savings NEVER stop at the thrift store, don’t you agree?

Yes, and anything else you can think of to put off going to the doc

I’m actually feeling better. I have a friend who can get me a prescription from Canada.

You’re going to the doc TMRRW!

Why do you hate Canada?


I need to run a few errands first. Can we make a couple of stops?

I suppose so…where?

Baton Rouge, Memphis, Pensacola and Houston

Breakfast, doc’s office and, if you behave, the thrift store

I think I have to help a friend of mine tomorrow actually

With what??

He’s moving his entire house. The crane is scheduled to arrive @9am.  I suggested he just light the place on fire but he's scared of his insurance adjuster.  Primarily, he's scared of going to prison for insurance fraud.  Actually he's afraid of prison sex.  Not long as it's with the right person.

See you at 9am!

Do you think Cialis is right for me?

Do you have erectile dysfunction?

Only when the old lady across the street undresses in front of her window. BTW, if my erection DID last for 7-hours, I would definitely call my doctor...she's smokin' HOT!!!

I’ll see you at 9am.

I’m really feeling much better. Honest.

I absolutely hate being invited to Halloween parties, mainly because I don't want to dress up.  I usually show up in regular clothes and, inevitably, someone asks "What are YOU dressed up as??" 

I usually inform them that I'm dressed as someone who wants to be left alone. 

Are you dressing up for Halloween??

Yes and No


Did your computer key stick on the question mark?????

Very funny…I meant what does it mean that, yes and no, you’re dressing up for Halloween

I knew what you meant…I just wanted to make you type it…and so, I just won a bet that you would do so.  It's pretty boring here this afternoon.

Glad I could help. How much did you win?

17-thousand dollars.

Nice! So how are you dressing up and NOT dressing up?

I’m going nude this year. So I AM and, technically, am NOT dressing up for Halloween.


Of course not…I’ll wear shoes. Do you think Doc Martins make my feet look too big?

Funny! What’s the theme of your costume…what are you supposed to be?

Social misfit…with shoes.

You gonna wear socks?

Judging by the expected weather forecast, as it relates to the evening temperature, yes…most likely on my private parts.

You gotta take pics!!

I’m confident that the authorities will have that task covered. Can you bail me out of jail later Sunday evening?



I like the latest writing proof. Very funny stuff.

Thank you...and now I shall walk away from it and continue tomorrow morning, provided that I don’t find myself brutally murdered before then.

Is there a non-brutal way to be killed?

Depends on who you ask. For instance, if you're reading politically skewed numbers from government crime statistics, brutal crimes are down.  Try telling that to the guy who just got beaten to death with a window washing squeegee in an altercation at the local gas station.

How do you know someone just got beaten to death with a squeegee @the gas station?

Because I asked him to pull forward 2 times at the pump so I could get gas.  I don't ask three times...I take action.

I don't know why I even bother asking for your logic.  Are u watching the World Series at Finn's this afternoon?

Not sure yet. I MAY go downtown in a while…Its nice outside

When you texted a minute ago, i was sitting in the gazebo with a book and a butterfly was wistfully flitting around me.

Did you kill it??? I hope so

nah, it was panicking, looking for a way out of the gazebo's netting. i just watched it frantically searching for an exit

Sounds like my life

yes, the metaphor was not lost on me either

The Savings NEVER End!!
I’m lucky to have thoughtful friends, especially when they text to ask if I need anything from one of those super-crazy DEEP discount stores.

From: Leigh
Hey, I’m at Sam’s Club…didn’t you say you needed something the other day?

From: Jim
Indeed…I said I needed to have sex.

From: Leigh
I was thinking more along the line of retail needs

From: Jim
I’ll pay for it.

From: Leigh
LOL. If you think of retail store items, I’ll be here for a little while, just text me.

From: Jim
Yes, I need some Creole mustard…how much is it?

From: Leigh
$2.00 for a small jar.

From: Jim
AMAZING!!! At a price like that, I’ll take 50 of them! HOW DO they do it?? So many low prices and not enough room in my pantry!!

From: Leigh
I’ll get ONE. Hey, they have some pretty cool candles for cheap…you want one??

From: Jim
No, I still have several candles left over from the ritualistic sacrifice. Hey, do you know what works best to remove blood stains from fabric, flooring and counter-tops?

From: Leigh
I’ll check the cleaning aisle. I‘ll stop by on the way home to drop the stuff off.

From: Jim
Excellent. Grab some pop tarts too if the Sam’s Club is running one of their “We’ve gone insane with our prices in order to destroy small business” sales.

Tell Me A Little Bit About Yourself...Ugh!!
 I’m very uneasy about contributing to an autobiographical piece. I never know what to say about myself…at least anything that’s appropriate for print.

I’m working up your bio for the publisher guy and have some questions. Do you think you can behave long enough to answer them?

Absolutely. I’m just chillin’ eating some Doritos and bean dip. How DO they make these things SO damn tasty? BTW, Judge Judy is being kind of a bitch today.

I need a subject line for the proposal follow up email

Subject line: FREE ORAL SEX!!!

please tell me you're kidding and give some real guidance on the subject line…I’m running late

While I think that my previous suggestion would make for a good and effective subject line...let me think of something which would be more acceptable. I’ll do so by keeping my mother in mind as a filter template

i need to wrap this email up…hurry

Subject Line: My son has only 5 days to live…PLEASE HELP!!!!


I like to involve an urgent call to action in a subject line…too strong??

Just a little

Do something serious, something that will compel him to read it.

Subject Line: There’s a bomb located on the first floor…read further for instructions

Yeah, just what we need…do something that doesn’t threaten the guy’s life please?

Subject Line: There is a bomb located in your wife’s car…read further for instructions

How about this... Subject Line: Follow Up Email

Brilliant!!! That is a true, compelling work of art!! It is, indeed, both an email AND a follow up message…how did it come to you to place the two together in a subject line?  You're like a Reese's peanut butter cup of the literary world.  Bravo!!!


Glad I could help. How about this…

Subject Line: Please read this as it took 10-minutes to come up with a subject line

I don’t think so. I gotta go to the restroom…brb

Number one or number two?

Love is in the air...and online:
I made a new Internet friend. She emailed me in response to a bogus Craig’s List personal ad that I posted.

You’re cute…So, what is a typical date like with you?

I like to dress in a pirate costume that I wore for Halloween when I was 13. Sure, it doesn’t fit…but, it doesn’t fit in the right places if ya’ know what I mean.

I also own a submarine so I like to take my date to the bottom of the lake where we dine on Mrs. Paul's fish sticks and seaweed salad.

After dinner I put in my all time favorite movie, Finding Nemo. Then we retire to the bunk beds (I like to be on top BTW.) Then, ideally, we sing the entire soundtrack to the little Mermaid.

Uh, ok…that sounds interesting. What exactly do you DO for a living. Just curious.

I’m a roller coaster operator at Disney World.

Oh, you live in Orlando?

No. I would never live in Florida, I’m scared of sand…and retired people.

I’ve been using my spare time working on a master plan to overthrow the Neighborhood Association because I'm much too lazy to overthrow a government. Besides, in overthrowing a government, genocide is just too messy for me.

BTW, since I’m on several law enforcement watch-lists, you would be perfectly safe with me at all times. Plus, my therapist thinks a date would do me some good.

Would you like to have dinner soon??

The strands of instant messages, texts and emails go on and on and on…But, I figured I’d close with a few birthday sentiments.

Anyone who knows me well is aware of my deep desire to write greeting cards for one of the major card companies. Therefore, I practice on my friends so that I might be able to hit the ground running when I get that BIG call from Hallmark:


Greetings!!  Since I happen to know that you’re a voracious reader, and I’m suffering from writer’s block, I was tempted to bang out the traditional “quick hit” (Happy B’Day) sentiments.

After careful consideration, I decided to share a little birthday story about a friend of mine.

We’ll call him Terrence. Primarily, because that’s his real name.

Terrence happens to share the same birthday as you, April 4th! Since I’m reeeally bad with remembering dates, this makes it easy to remember YOUR special day.

Yes indeed, April 4th…The same day in which the world was introduced to the delightfully splendid force which embodies the fortunate existence of Ms. Rikki Gee.

For Terrence, it wasn’t such a happy day at all.

You see, Terrence struggled for money over a better part of his life until, one day, it all turned around when he hit the Deuces Wild poker machine for $1,500 at a Mid City bar.

He employed the financial logic to which many New Orleanians subscribe; he threw caution to the wind by forgoing basic physical and discretionary necessities in life…

Children’s school tuition
Dancing With The Stars

He inserted his entire paycheck into a poker machine.

Upon collecting his unexpected reward, Terrence tipped the bartender and did what anyone who comes into a large sum of money would do…he purchased a hooker at the corner of Tulane and South Cortez Street.

Shanda** and Terrence hit it off quite famously!

**Not her real name-- In the interest of protecting her customers; including an unnamed United States Senator from Louisiana. (Which rhymes with “Twitter’)

Due to some wise investments on Terrence’s part and Shanda’s booming business (She’s really good at what she does…Um, I’ve been told) the happy, entrepreneurial couple lived a comfortable lifestyle.

They decided to reward themselves by taking a long overdue vacation to Venice, Italy for Terrence‘s birthday.

At this point, It’s important to note TWO characteristics about Terrence:

He’s 6-foot 4-inches in height and weighs about 128-pounds.**

**Picture a pool cue with a head, ears and big feet. Oh, and a really dumb looking moustache and eyeglasses.

He also has a wandering eye…especially for ladies in low-cut blouses.

As Terrance and Shanda enjoyed a birthday gondola ride through the serene and romantic waterways of Venice, a lovely young woman caught his eye from the top of a levee.

Sadly, in the absence of his forward attention, Terrence was instantly decapitated by a waterway bridge on this magical day…the date of birth which you both share.

Shanda was horrified as she held Terrence’s severed head in her bloody lap.

She quickly scrambled to the back of the gondola, trying to escape in Jacqueline Kennedy fashion as the row-master frantically tried to pull her back into the boat.

In the tussle, Terrence’s head accidentally dropped to the boat deck and bounced over the edge into the magnificently, mystical Venetian canal where it was immediately eaten by a school of hunger ravaged intra-coastal sea bass.

Since I am a well known animal lover, Terrence had always made it perfectly clear that his beloved weenie dog (Beanie) be remanded to my custody. He also left me his pornographic DVD collection.

In other birthday news, sadly, Beanie passed away this morning at 7am.

He was struck by a Zapp’s Potato Chip delivery truck** as he was doing his business on the corner of South Broad and Canal Street.

**I just LOVE the kettle cooked Cajun BBQ chips! 

Anyway, I’ll let you get back to your celebrations. By the way, I have a real bizarre story to share with you when I see you later this evening.

In the meantime, I bid you sincere wishes for a happy birthday.

Glancing at the calendar on my phone today, I noticed that it’s your special day!!!

Noticing today’s date also triggered thoughts of deep importance that I feel strongly about sharing with you, since you’re a very dear friend…

I need to pay my cable bill.

I must admit, I have a terrible memory when it comes to dates…especially on or about the 1st of each month; a fact which my landlord will readily confirm.

Happily, my new, fancy phone has helped me to remember things a great deal more these days.

My mother and father tried to break me from my calendar mental block, employing such tactics as rubbing my nose in dog poo. This method didn’t help me to remember dates at all, and it is the primary reason that I do not like dogs to this day.

Somehow my next door neighbor, Elizabeth, thought it would be a good idea for me to look after her pet cat, Pookie, while she went on vacation last month.

It’s important to note two things:

1. Elizabeth is aware of my forgetting important dates
2. Elizabeth has incredible breasts

Oh, and Elizabeth’s cat had a medical condition which required a strict schedule of life-saving medication as she recovered from some disease which I cannot pronounce.

Sadly, Pookie has used up her allotment of 9 lives.

I don’t want to spoil your special day so I’ll make a long story short. Plus, there’s a slight legal action pending and I’ve been advised to say as little as possible about the topic.

Anyway, I’m glad that I remembered your birthday and I hope that it is a wonderful day filled with all that you desire; surrounded by friends, family and, hopefully, disease free felines.

By the way, if you try to call me, I’ve lost my phone somewhere this afternoon.

Happy Birthday!

And more bit of fun with Mike, the editor.  By the way ladies, he's single!  His hobbies include being obtuse, collecting ceramic Asian figurines and line-dancing. 

When he's not busy picking apart those around him, he loves spending long afternoons in the park flying box-kites and generally giving female joggers the creeps.

His favorite foods are Kraft Lunchables and the souls of aspiring writers...and he's an above average domino player.  Hollah!

Against my better judgment, I’m sending you an email; I should just post this directly to your Facebook page or blog…since I know it’ll end up there anyway. Can you call me this afternoon please?

That’s rather presumptive of you. I have no plans to publicly post your emails to the Internet. As far as the phone call, I cant call this afternoon.

Why Not??

I just watched a report on CNN which provided rock solid proof that cell phones are directly tied to brain cancer. I’m scared to use my phone now.

Just ONCE, do you think it would be possible to submit a writing draft on time???

Speaking of cell phones, I want to do a story about AT&T. They’re not raising the bar…they’re lowering the bar as far as I’m concerned. It’s like a virtual limbo contest trying to get a signal anywhere in this town!

Stop changing the subject…your drafts are always LATE.

They’re fashionably late. It’s an endearing quality…according to the cornerstone of numerous “chick flicks.”

It’s NOT endearing in the least.

Tell that to film directors Rob Reiner and Penny Marshall.

Yeah? Paris Hilton subscribes to “fashionably late” philosophy, and you can’t stand HER.

Yes, but she’s a ho. I give ho’s a free pass. Speaking of ho’s, who was that woman I spotted you with in the French Quarter on Friday night???

Uh, that was my sister a**hole! She’s visiting from California.

Can you give her my cell phone number? I would consider ignoring the CNN cell phone/cancer report for her. Not for Paris Hilton though. Please inform your sister that this is a major compliment to her.

Can you pleeeeeease submit a draft this week??

You misspelled please.

The next piece is for MONEY. What part of getting paid doesn’t appeal to you??

I’m independently wealthy. Btw, you tend to overuse the question mark a lot. Are you sure that you’re a legitimate editor??????????????????????

Independently wealthy, huh? You borrowed $50 bucks from me on Tuesday!!!

Which reminds me…can I borrow $30-dollars???????????????????

I give up. I’m calling you right now.

Give me 5-minutes…I need to send your sister a friend request…and I need to post your emails to my Facebook page.  

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spring Has Sprung...A Leak

I was a late bloomer…in many areas.

For instance, before I finally experienced the pre-teen growth spurt, I was one of the smallest kids in grade school.

Being a smaller kid, my classmates treated me accordingly... they selected me last in gym class, they routinely made derogatory sexual remarks about my mother, they creamed me in the head with objects such as dodge balls, baseballs, cafeteria trays, textbooks, lunch-boxes, etc.

They also stole my milk money, shot me with pellet guns, threw blazing hot marshmallows at me during summer camp, pushed me INTO the campfire and shot me again with pellet guns as I tucked and rolled in order to extinguish my burning clothes…typical kid stuff.

Those remain some of my fondest memories to this day and, I believe, made me the normal adult that I am today.

I held little interest in academics until much later than many of my classmates. That is, until my mother and father employed effective guidance and incentive methods which nurtured and encouraged me to excel so that I might make the most of my academic experience.

They shipped me away to Miss Doris' Child Education Enrichment Home for the summer.  Miss Doris was a good teacher and often beat me repeatedly with sticks if I missed any questions on my multiplication tables.

Of course, she wrapped the sticks in heavy cloth so as not to leave noticeable marks-- thus avoiding suspicion from the neighbors, Child Protective Services and school officials.

I must admit, this program worked better than Hooked On Phonics. ®

I’m kidding, of course; she didn’t cover the sticks with cloth at all.

Another area in my fallow little coming of age garden of weeds was in the dating department. As was the case with a few of my friends, I never really dated much until just after graduating from high school.

I had sex far earlier than my friend Kenny Melvin.  Kenny was an honor student and a serious Dungeons & Dragons player, which largely explains why he often got his head dunked in the boy's room toilet.  Of course, he also owns about a billion shares in Microsoft.  

I'd say he got the last laugh.

I often longingly think back to my first sexual experience. It was the evening of Mike McClain’s 18th birthday party. For the record, my experience was NOT with Mike; it was with a woman named Angel Hendricks.

I remember it being a tender, deep and loving moment in time under the romantic canvas of a partially cloudy evening in the silvery glow of a breezy springtime moon; an intense moment which is shared between a boy and a girl who’ve just met for the first time.

As many romantic evenings from my adolescence began, Angel and I consumed large quantities of grape Kool-Aid which was infused with pure grain alcohol.  We scooped cup after cup from a giant 30-gallon Rubbermaid trash barrel until Angel violently puked her guts up.  

I lovingly held her hair away from the projectile vomit which twinkled in the light of the luminous midnight sky, as barely recognizable fragments of the Taco Bell Burrito Supreme trickled down the side of the neighbor‘s Dodge Caravan.   

It was at that moment when I knew that Angel and I were meant to be together.

Yes indeed! Tonight would be the night when a boy became a man! It was like the Lion King…only less commercialized and not appropriate for Burger King Kid's Meal action figures.

My first sexual experience was nothing short of…well it WAS, in fact, short now that I think about it. As I recall, I lasted just past the second verse of Chicago‘s “When You Love Somebody.“**

**Note: “Short” is in reference to chronology…NOT my equipment.

As a background note, Angel was Mike McClain’s 40-year old step mother-- but that’s a story best suited for another writing.

I came of age when it was deemed taboo to receive “the talk” from an adult figure. The very thought of human sexuality chit-chat between adult and child was an uncomfortable venture for parental figures, except for my friend, Darrin.

Darrin’s Uncle Larry and Aunt Helen never missed an opportunity to explain the “birds and the bees” to he and the other neighborhood children.

They did so in great detail as I recall and, on numerous occasions, they even invited several other kids and adults for sleepovers at their house.

This exercise came complete with live demonstrations and they even allowed us to view late night Cinemax movies!

Darrin’s Aunt Helen and Uncle Lawrence eventually drew interest from local authorities as to their sex-ed techniques before suddenly disappearing into the back of a police van one day.  The cops even took their video equipment!

Someone recently informed me that Darrin was in therapy until age 30 for some reason.

You can imagine my surprise when my friend, Michelle, asked if I would sit down and have “the talk” with her 12-year old son, Jack. My own parents never had that chat with me! Where is Angel, Ron Jeremy, Aunt Helen and Uncle Lawrence when I need them???

One would think that, after my last interaction with Jack in assisting with his homework assignments, Michelle would have learned her lesson.

I learned about sex as many other guys did; via the time honored system of “trial and error.” As a young man, the women in my life were quite helpful in guiding me through this exercise by means of helpful and guiding instructions. Such as:

Nope…it’s not there

Can we shoot for 3-minutes this time?

Uh, it’s not there either

2-minutes and 45 seconds is progress sweetie…you’ll do better next time

Why do you have a Chicago cassette tape???

WAIT! Not there!! NO not there!!! Higher!! (gasp) DEAR GOD! That hurts!!!

I tactfully explained to Michelle that I was in the middle of an important project which strictly prohibited me from talking with children.

She didn’t seem to buy-in to that story.

Michelle is a nurse and possesses numerous medical and human physiology reference books so I figured that this might provide guidance which would help to better explain “things” to young Jack, in clinical fashion.

As I thumbed through one of the reference books, I did what any guy would do…I immediately turned to the section containing explicit photos of female genitalia and boobies...uh, I mean, breasts.

Unfortunately, as these things go, explicit pictures of human genitalia in medical reference guides are usually those of a severe medical nature. (i.e genitalia which have been run over by a dump truck or accidentally shredded in a freak food processor accident)

Finally, I owned the duty and responsibility as a man should; I decided that I must find a stand-in to do the job for me.

My friend Ed!!! He’s savvy with kids. He’s a father and he’s a pretty hip guy. Ed would be the PERFECT candidate.

I joined Edward for a beer and informed him of my dilemma.

Ed’s first sexual experience was nothing short of brilliant. His was the sort of encounter of which romance novels are made.

As Ed was (prematurely) finishing his business, he and his young lady friend were busted by the police in his truck behind the Burlington Coat Factory-- both were naked and in possession of a partially consumed 12-pack of beer and two McDonald‘s Extra Value Meals.

If I were Ed, I would have married this woman. Nonetheless, I suspected that Ed might not be the right person to educate young Jack…at least by Michelle’s stringent standards.

After hours of racking my brain, it finally hit me! The perfect candidate to assist in explanation of human sexuality to Jack was hiding in plain sight. My friend Todd!

Todd is a professional writer of epic historical and political thrillers…plus he’s had short stories published in the Penthouse Forum, which makes him my hero.

Todd has also had sex with approximately 5-thousand women, which makes him an expert on the topic.

Aside from the fact that he currently engages in sexual activity with his wife, Melissa (who hates me) I felt comfortable in enlisting Todd’s expertise in educating Jack.

I met up with Todd to explain the situation and we decided to employ the tag-team buddy system in sitting down with Jack:

Todd: Hey Jackson…how ya’ doin' buddy?

Jack: (intently focused on his Halo video game) I’m good.

Me: You mean that you’re WELL.

Todd: Don’t be a word-snob douche bag

Jack: What's a douche bag??

Me: A nickname for my editor...Listen, Jack, this is my buddy Todd and he has something to chat with you about. I’ve gotta leave for a day or so but I'll see you soon.

Todd: (Forcefully grabs my shirt, dragging me back into the room, causing me to spill my cocktail.)

Jack: Are you guys drunk?

Me: What’s that got to do with anything???

Todd: Um, Jack…what Jim is saying is that your mother thought that it might be a good idea for he and I to sit down to answer any questions that you might have about girls, romance, gentlemanly manners, dating, vaginas, G-spots, English League soccer and other manly stuff like that.

Me: You forgot backdoor sex

Todd: (Shooting me an evil glare)

Jack: What’s a G-spot?

Me: It’s like hitting all deuces on the video poker machine; it's elusive but it pays off BIG when you find it...sort of like the premise for all of the Indiana Jones movies.

Jack: Cool...are there snakes???

Me: So to speak.

At this point Todd punched me in the arm, causing me to spill the remainder of my cocktail.

It's important to know that Todd is the father of two young of which is a beautiful little girl.  He's convinced that any man who enters her life will be nothing short of Charles least in his mind.   

Todd: Um, what Jim is trying to say is...well, sometimes boys and girls develop feelings for one another and the emotions that they feel might cause them to take things to more of a physical nature.

Jack: Like riding bikes together or tubing on the river??

Me: Helmets and rubber objects are, indeed, part of it.

Todd: (Throwing a couch cushion at me) Uh, yeah, spending time together doing fun stuff is a part of it.  But, sometimes it gets a little more physically closer.

Jack: You mean sex!

I would give everything I own to have a picture of the expression on Todd's face.  I almost peed my pants at this point.

Todd: No!  NO!  That's not what I mean at all!  As a matter of fact, boys and girls shouldn't have sex until they're in a long-term relationship.  

Jack: How does a guy know when it's a long-term relationship??

Me: When the man finally realizes that he has no more game and reluctantly gives up-- accepting defeat.  

He then settles down with a woman who seems lovely during the period of blinding romantic bliss, only she devolves into someone who incessantly picks apart his every shortcoming, guilting him into purchasing lots of expensive clothes for her from chic boutiques. 

He does so in order to gain some peace and quiet so that he might sit on the couch and watch a football game for once without being on the receiving end of an onslaught of stupid questions which come out of her mouth with the heart-stopping equivalent of fingernails scraping across a blackboard.  

He'll regularly be forced to forego attendance at sporting events with his buddies in order to tag along to a wine and cheese tasting social at an art gallery as a harsh reality sets in that he's slowly sinking up to his eyeball sockets in debt from a mortgage which is far above his means. 

He eventually begins to spend many hours at the end of a dark, lonely pub, wondering where and when it all went wrong for him in life, tossing around the pros and cons of divorce. 

The primary problem being that his lady paid for a large portion of his student loans until she became pregnant, so he realizes that this will not look favorable to a man-hating jurist in family court.  Actually, Todd, perhaps you can offer better hands-on expertise here.

Todd: (Shooting me another evil glare)  

Jack: I see men and women having sex right away on TV.  Why do I have to wait??

Todd: Because God sends young men to Hell if they have sex with a vulnerable, innocent, beautiful young girl.  You don't want to spend an eternity in a tortuous burning lake of fire do you?

Me: (Grabbing Todd's arm) Uh, Jack, will you excuse Todd and I for a second?

I quickly ushered Todd to the kitchen.

Me: Have you lost your mind?

Todd: Did you see that kid's wheels turning??  He's a sex monster!!  I don't want my daughter anywhere around this kid!

Me: Your daughter is SIX!

Todd: Even worse! 

Me: Um, I think I'll take it from here. 

We returned to the living room to resume the education of young Jack.

Me: Listen, Jack, when a boy and girl have feelings for one another it can be a beautiful experience like none other.  But, you have to be responsible about it. 

Jack: How?

Me: Well, no matter how strong the urge may be, never, EVER have sex with your girlfriend's best matter how many times she assures you that she'll never say a word to your girlfriend.  Oh, and ALWAYS be suspicious of men named Carlos.

Jack: Why?

Me: Because guys named Carlos, especially if they work in the same office with your lady friend,  will innocently offer to give her a ride to and from work.  They'll cheerfully and dismissively insist: 

"Hey...It's on the way, so it's not a problem to swing by; why not save a cab fare?" 

They also work out a lot and wear excessive amounts of hair gel. 

Next thing you know, Carlos is talking on the phone with your lady friend at odd hours and then you find receipts hidden in the dresser drawer from an out of the way little trendy coffee house, an outlet store near the beach, the art museum, some cozy little pizza shop on the opposite side of town and so on. 

You'll then begin to notice a distant air about her until, one day, you walk in early from work and there they are...writhing around in a twisted, disgusting, sweaty, naked...

Todd: Uh, Jim, could I see you in the kitchen for a second please??

After about 5-minutes or so, Todd and I returned to the living room, where Jack had a little surprise of his own.  

Jack: Actually, Miss Hansen, my health and wellness teacher, says that talkin' about sex and having babies and stuff isn't really a one-time talk.  She says it's an ongoing process and if I have questions I should ask.

I know where babies come from, but I'm not really interested in hangin' out with girls or dating or anything right now.  Besides, all the girls I know don't like to play video games and they pretty much suck at basketball.  If it's cool with you guys, I can ask you guys sometime if I find a girl who's pretty cool to hang out with...if that'd be okay?

Todd: Uh, yeah...of course.  That's cool Jack.

Me: Absolutely!  I'm glad we chatted about this.  Listen, I don't think there's any need to share our chat this afternoon with your mom.  Let's just keep it between us guys.

Jack: No worries...that's cool.  Thanks guys.

Todd and I breathed a sigh of relief as we returned to the kitchen, where we found Michelle and Todd's wife, Melissa, standing there staring at us with a pinpoint-laser, judgmental glare. 

Later that evening, after we dumped Todd's overnight bag at my house, Todd and I found ourselves sitting at the end of a dark, lonely pub, wondering where and when it all went wrong.

copyright Pontchartrain Press 2011