Friday, July 19, 2013

With Friends Like These...

Best Friends don't let you do stupid things . . . alone!



I was recently "un-friended" on a social network site and It really bummed me out, primarily because I refuse to accept that "un-friend" is a real matter what Urban Dictionary says.

This unfortunate event stirred a bit of conversation between me and my writer friend,Todd, in that we were trying to form a viable answer to the following questions:

What constitutes the designation for "Best Friend?"
Can you have multiple best friends and have them vie for BESTEST status?
What time does Theo's Pizza close on weeknights?

Todd is fun to hang out with, but we usually inadvertently get into trouble together for reasons which are not readily known to us.  Especially with his wife, Melissa.

As an example, see:

We arrived at one mutual agreement that if someone referred to either of us as their "BFF" we would punch them in the neck and light them on fire, then we ordered a pizza.  By the way, Urban Dictionary online defines "BFF" as either:

Best Friends Forever or
Big Fat F*ck

16-year old kids who use the term "BFF" get a free pass.  Adults...punch in the head and a trip to the Houston Burn Clinic.

I consider Todd to be one of my better friends; I would consider BEST friend status should he decide to divorce his wife who hates me.   At any rate, either he or I must put on a few pounds to earn the second designation from the Urban Dictionary.

As I contemplated writing this article, a close friend of mine chimed in, asking how I knew who my real friends were. By "close friend"  I mean that we shared a couple of evenings of late night  "relations" several years ago and still manage to look one another in the eyes. 

I answered her question by immediately distributing a text message to three people with the following note: (This is something that I call a topic grenade.  Pronounced: Prompt them do some free work for me.  Heheh.)

"Writing a new piece ...How does one know who their BEST friend is?"

Twenty consecutive texts in five minutes seemed to be an excellent illustration for her.

Lets look at a couple of the things that I found in online research and personal text messages.

Lynn: My best friend is Lydia

Jim: How long have you known her?

Lynn: 7 or 8 months.  She told me after the first couple of months that I'm the best friend she's ever had.  That's sweet huh?

Jim: Have you, by chance, ever watched the movie "Cable Guy?"

Honestly, I cant even muster loyalty to a new grocery store product until a year has passed...much less for a human being. I have cereal in my pantry that's been there for a year and I still don't hold positive feelings for it.

A best friend, in my mind, is measured in the following way:

Me: I have a problem

Marie: Shoot!

Me: I already did. Now there seems to be a dead body in my living room. We may need to chop her up in order to not draw too much attention in carting her away.

Marie: OK...Be there in 10. Game Of Thrones is almost over.

Me: Excellent. Don't tell me how it ends...I haven't watched it yet.  BTW, can you bring some old quilts, rubber gloves and some cleaning supplies?

When I floated this storyline, I received a lovely email from Caroline. She advised that:

"Jesus Christ is MY best friend;  Isn't he YOURS?"

I appreciate JC and all that he did; I'm sure that his final days were a painful experience.  It also triggered a holiday full of festive hats, candy, a mythical rabbit and wide social acceptance for one to wear white in public.  However, I tend to assign the "BEST friend" title to one who can give me a ride to the airport and/or loan me 20-bucks here and there.

My friend Kristi tells me that her best friend picks her up when she's feeling down. And...she even bought her a burial plot.

So long as she's not the beneficiary of a major insurance policy, I suppose I'd be somewhat OK with that arrangement.  But, it's still a little creepy for my taste.

My editor, Mike, informs me that his mother is HIS best friend. What a shock.

I could have never been best friends with my mom. Primarily because best friends are those with whom you can share your deepest and darkest secrets. For instance, my story of having sexual relations in the trunk of a car on a country back road with the state governor's niece many years ago would go largely unappreciated by dear mom. Bob, on the other hand, feels strongly that I am a super hero.

From our chief Pontchartrain Press research machine, Eric:

A REAL friend will go out and get two b**wjobs then come back and give you one.

An oldie, but still funny Eric. 

I can also count on research requests from Eric to never end with just one text:

Why won't you move to Philly dude?

I usually inform him that I love Philly and the Reading Market Place, but I will move to Philly in the event that they move the city approximately 900 miles south.  Blunt honesty is a virtuous quality amongst friends as far as I'm concerned.

A long time ago a studio producer friend at the radio station, who I considered to be a close friend and confidant, borrowed his friend's car with strict instructions to NOT smoke in the vehicle as his friend is a non-smoker.

My producer dropped his cigarette onto the seat of the car and it caused a major burn mark on the upholstery.  Needless to say, he experienced a state of utter panic, wondering HOW he was going to explain the damage.

As a true friend, his lifelong childhood friend came to the rescue by putting the car into neutral and letting it roll downhill into a tree.  The airbag deployed, covering the upholstery with a white powder.  Then he gave my friend a 16-ounce Budweiser.  Problem solved I suppose.

According to a Glamour Magazine tidbit, one best friend scenario goes something like this:

Gun Man: I’m going to kill your best friend miss
Stu: No take me instead!

This has a Tim McGraw song title written ALL over it.

According to Oprah online:  "Men are happy to silently watch sports over a beer. Psychologists call these side-to-side relationships, versus female's face-to-face ones. Women like to engage in conversation; men like to bond over an activity.  Anyone who's seen men sit and watch the game while the women gab in the kitchen knows it to be true."

Thank you "O" for assuming that women don't watch sports...and, seem to belong in the kitchen.  Heheh.

At the end of the day, it's my experience and observation that a true friend will:

  • Take one for the team (yes, you know what I mean)
  • Bring you chicken noodle soup and a gallon of vodka when you're feeling blah.
  • Comfort you when your heart is a wee bit empty
  • When you go to the restroom, they'll give a fake excuse to someone regarding a potentially fatal social disease to a person who's hitting on you
  • Give you a lift to work, the airport, the grocery store or to Barstow, California
  • Help you move and (most importantly) move forward
  • Urinate on your ex-boss' Infinity door handle
  • Tell those who bring hurt to your world to "piss off."
  • Correct YOU when you bring hurt to another person's world
  • They will feed your dog and, generally, NOT sleep with your significant other when you go out of town

I have no clever way to end this piece before turning in for the evening other than to say, I go to bed one social network friend lighter and many real life friends heavier.  A much more fortunate place to be if you ask me. 

Perhaps one of my good friends, Tony, puts it best...

"Best friends don't give up on you.  And, you don't give up on them."

Now, if anyone feels so inclined to send me $20-dollars, email me for my address.  If you'd like to drop it off in person, I DO still have leftover pizza.

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for”

                                                                                                        -Bob Marley

Yes, this friendship has been called into question.  Heheh.  BFF!

copyright Pontchartrain Press, 2013 


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Confessions From A Hotel Concierge

A friend of mine recently took he and his family on vacation to Denver, Colorado.  I helpfully reminded him that there was no snow there in July.

He had such a good time in the Mile High city that he's seriously considering a move. 

He also informed me that his hotel concierge staff were nothing short of spectacular in securing useful information about relocation to their fine city.

There are many helpful traits which a good hotel concierge possesses. In addition to being snappy dressers, day in and day out, they cheerfully greet transients while exhibiting unswerving abilities in order to ensure that one's vacation, business trip or spousal cheating excursion is nothing short of spectacular.

"Of course we can arrange for a bottle of champagne AND we'll have that Mexican brass band promptly delivered to your room Mr. Smith. Will MRS. "Smith" be joining you later?  And, if so, should we post security outside your room?  We don't want problems from the large gentleman who showed up looking for Mrs. Smith outside your door the last time you enjoyed a stay here. 

By the way, the Loco Latino Explosion Brass Masters might be a tad late; Enrique' is having trouble with his VISA paperwork again and Carlos is changing his cousin's car battery. Will you require a roll of garbage bags, cleaning supplies and a shovel again this evening?"

I strongly suspect that there are many things that a hotel concierge has to deal with.  Equally, I'm certain that there are, decidedly, many things that a good concierge chooses NOT to inform their globe-trotting guests.

For instance, in Omaha, Nebraska, they might remind one that they are in the middle of a state which is known for nothing in particular other than it's a long state where it is unwise to purchase a mobile home.  It's also the birthplace to Johnny Carson and home to a giant insurance company which used to sponsor "Wild Kingdom."   Oh, and it's a haven for several radical religious terror groups who got tired of living in Montana. 

BUT, it IS bursting with some of the finest steakhouses on the planet. One of which is suspiciously located on the second floor of the hotel and will cost approximately 3-thousand dollars per person.

In West Los Angeles, you might be pleased to learn that the drive out of Santa Monica up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu is stunning, dotted with cliff side mansions all the way. 

What you probably do not care to learn is that it's rumored that one of the Backstreet Boys engaged in a slightly homosexual 3-way in room 743.  And, the gentleman who just valet parked your car is wanted on three gang-related infractions, is ducking child-support from five different women and is, likely, having sexual relations INSIDE your car with a housekeeping attendant.

Let's take a look at New Orleans, Louisiana. Home to some of the best Cajun and Creole cuisine on the planet. A virtual mecca of world famous plantations, corruption, potholes, jazz & blues artists and architecture that is absolutely timeless...when drunken tourists from Knoxville, Tennessee aren't urinating on the front door step.

What Frederick, the helpful concierge at the Ritz, might forget to tell you is that New Orleans is also home to a city council that regularly walks out of it's OWN sessions. Where city leaders come to work to find that their entire staff has walked out on the job.

Then there's a tiny inconvenience where, should you choose to call the Big Easy home, one might arrive home at the end of a long day to find that his/her room mate across the hall has employed the services of a 20-dollar Meth-infested hooker while the kitchen is on fire. Simultaneously, the next door neighbor is being mugged in front of no fewer than four trans-gender prostitutes down the block.

At least such a scene makes it easier on city first responders since all emergencies are confined to a small area; I'm a big fan of multi-tasking when it saves tax dollars for our children.

Not that I'm intimately familiar with the aforementioned scenario...I simply have a vivid, um, "imagination."

I've spent a considerable amount of time over the past two-months trying to better understand things about myself, others, the city in which I live and why professional soccer seems to NEVER take a seasonal break.

I remember, from years ago, when I first contemplated a move to New Orleans. I witnessed the following exchange between the hotel bellhop and a guest:

Guest: So, I'm thinking about accepting a relocation opportunity with my company and might move my wife and the kids down here. Any neighborhood suggestions?

Bellhop: (Laughing hysterically before walking away)

A concierge would have handled the previous situation much more professionally and less jaded in demeanor. He or she would have simply stared blankly at the guest, pretending that they didn't hear the question while blocking the guest's view to the side lobby, where it seems that a young man is urinating into the giant lobby flower pot. The concierge then cheerfully recommends a swamp tour.

Fact of the matter is: I like this city; I like MANY cities. I'm sure that there are days when others feel jaded toward their respective homes. To put it another way, I certainly grow weary of New Orleans on some days, the same way that (while I LOVE pizza, fried chicken and Taco Bell) I do NOT care for it every single day of my life.

Of course, the argument could be made that a cheesy crust pizza with extra meat is not capable of robbing you at gun point outside the front door to your house.  That's a job for the 19-year old kid who is staking out the block.

I like living in an urban setting which happens to be filled with cabs, culture and unique characters. By the way, there's something very "New Yorkish" about a city where one might incorporate the services of a taxi in taking their walk of shame upon exiting the front door of...whatever his/her name was...the following morning.

I don't know the first place to begin in advising someone of the pros and cons of living in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Baltimore or Seattle.  I've been to those places and had a fine time...from what I can remember. 

I also cant tell you WHY people fall in or, sadly, out of love.  Or: 

Why the sky is blue
HOW the Red Sox are maintaining their top position in the standings (Keep it up!) 
Why a fried chicken establishment in this city feels that a 3-piece chicken dinner is worth $12-dollars (mashed potatoes are $4.25!) 

What???  Is there another potato famine that I'm unaware of?

But, I digress.  Since it's been pointed out that I tend to stray off point from time to time...I'd like to bring our story back on track by wondering how funny it would be if, when the great Keanu Reeves flubs a line in a movie shoot, a director released a pack of hunger ravaged coyotes onto the movie set, where they gnaw at his twisting body while he screams in agony.  Or, the director could just release an acting coach onto the set...whichever would be most beneficial to the motion picture community.

Summertime is indeed a great traveling season; It's also known as a "growing season."   Perhaps a time for one to explore a big world that we all share.  It's a time for fun or, indeed, a time to scout prospective relocation avenues.

Either way, as I ultimately advised my buddy: 

Do your  homework. 

Life is quite different beyond the sliding glass lobby doors of the Holiday Inn Express.

copyright Pontchartrain Press, 2013


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vacations: And Other Reasons Why I Cant Have Fun

Mike Klein: Gonna go ahead and take liberties to post this strand myself, since I know that YOU'LL do it anyway.

James Patrick: Why would you assume that?

Mike Klein: Because, I know you.

James Patrick: I'm somewhat bruised that you'd think such a thing. Assumption leads to a dark and winding path of wrong turns you know? Typically, assumption is punctuated with deflated hopes, dreams and bad decisions; Sort of like the new Fox program concept, "Sleepy Hollow".

Mike Klein: What other sorts of "bad decisions?"

James Patrick: Assuming that it might be a sound decision to hire a hooker. Or, on a random Thursday, deciding that you've had enough shit from your boss so you stroll into work with a smile on your face (with slightly crazy eyes) and punch him directly in the nut-sack before emptying your desk and telling the annoying person who sat next to you for 10 miserable years to f*ck off, followed by 8 shots at the nearest pub while one contemplates how to fake his/her death in order to disappear. And/or scrapping the afforementioned plans and just do the Thursday crossword. (Late week puzzles are quite difficult).

Mike Klein: That's quite a vivid and outlandish asumption.

James Patrick: Precisely; Sort of like my assumption that the book I wrote seems to be taking you and your staff 473-thousand years to edit and pitch. Did your assistants work for NASA at some point?

Mike Klein: Very funny. Editing is a form of art. It takes time.

James Patrick: Art? I didn't know that you painted. Can you do a nude portrait of me on top of a vintage Corvette? I'm wading through a mid-life crisis. Seeing how, since my book is not edited, I don't have enough money to actually purchase a douche-bag, at least I can assume that I have one by looking at a beautiful portrait that you and your group of "artists" might concoct.

Mike Klein: Welcome back.

James Patrick: Thank you.