Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fashion King

(Note: If you haven’t read “No Jacket, No Tie, No Service” first, click here).

I was in a restaurant last week when I noticed a middle-aged man and woman coming in the front door. Obviously they wanted separate tables since they were dressed in totally different socio-economic styles. The woman wore a nice black and white dress, hosiery, and moderate heels. The gentleman trailing behind her sported his best Houston Texans sweatshirt, long, baggy, gray, gym shorts and tennis shoes. Much to my surprise and horror, they sat at the same table.

What’s going on? Perhaps a blind date? Maybe a first meeting after cyber dates from some online dating site? I watched them each playing with their cell phones; I imagined the text messages they must be sending:

HER (texting): When we made plans for dinner, he apparently thought we were going to a hot dog stand.

HIM (texting): Whoa buddy, jackpot! She said the restaurant was casual, but she’s dressed for some action! I bet she’s not wearing underwear.

HER (texting): Call me in ten minutes with some kind of emergency to get me out of here.

HIM (texting): I’ll call you later after my home run trot. We’ll get some beers.

The date could not have possibly been going well if they were both in his/her own world playing with his/her cell phones. But then again, I’m old; I have a cell phone but rarely carry it with me. As my brother pointed out after I missed several of his text messages, “You don’t really grasp the idea of a cell phone, do you?” Apparently, texting while dating is par for the course for the youngsters these days.

As they perused the menu, I realized the couple were fairly at ease with each other and it couldn’t be a blind date. Perhaps they were brother and sister which would lead to their texting:

HER: Mom, Burt is doing fine although it seems he misses you dressing him every day.

HIM: Yo, Sis buying me dinner. I’ll catch ya later and we’ll get some beers.

The brother/sister thought vanished from my mind as I saw her clasp his hand on the table. Okay, maybe they are old childhood friends reunited by the magic of Facebook which resulted in these texts:

HER: Burt looks just like he did in first grade; same clothes and everything.

HIM: Remember that chick with the braces we used to make fun of? She’s turned out fine with a capital F! I’m gonna score some of that! Call ya later. We’ll get some beers.

After the entrees came, I noticed them sharing food from each other’s plate. That was definitely too intimate for childhood friends. But my mind could not be deceived by this fashion charade. Maybe they were longtime pen pals from some online yahoo food or restaurant critique group; so they had to try everything.

HER: He’s not as well-spoken as his emails and letters. The picture he sent must be really old too. The potatoes are cold.

HIM: That online foodie chick you were afraid of meeting? She is fine with a capital F! I’m gonna score some of that! Thanks!

But I was mistaken. They shared and fed each other the molten chocolate dessert then topped it off with a long kiss. They were indeed in a long-term relationship, and maybe even married. This was just another sad case of “Men Under-dressing Their Women” a serious social disease which seems to be quite contagious. For the love of God, men please dress up to the level of your date!

In retrospect, their texting most likely consisted of:

HER: Such a nice restaurant, but there’s some weird guy in the corner staring at us.

HIM: I’ll call you later after I score. We’ll go get some beers.

Or if they were married:

HIM: I’ll call you later after I take the wife home. We’ll go get some beers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Most Likely to Burn to Death

I vividly remember the grade school fire drills. Every class walked quietly in single file order from the buildings to our designated gathering area while Sister Mary Rambo stood with a stopwatch waiting for the last straggler to emerge from the pseudo burning building. The teachers would take roll in the parking lot and amazingly we never lost a single student in these disasters.

Then Sister Mary Rambo would lecture that it took 2 minutes to clear all of the buildings, and we need to improve it to 30 seconds. This would lead to an afternoon of fire drills until we mostly ran screaming from the buildings in no particular order, teachers stopped taking roll, and Sister Mary Rambo labled the drill a success, even though several first and second graders lay trampled somewhere inside the buildings.

At some point, either Sister Mary Rambo or a local fire chief lectured us on the dangers of burning buildings. We were encouraged to rely on our training when the alarm went off. It didn't matter if we didn't see a fire or smell smoke; the all-knowing alarm was not to be trifled with. Run, I mean, walk in single file order and ask questions later.

And so the drills went on, all the way through high school where we looked forward to the ten minutes of free time. In college, the dorm may well have had fire drills; I don't know. (I was probably in class!) Regardless, some dorm residents did an excellent job of keeping us drilled by setting off the alarm every Friday and Saturday night at about 3:00 a.m. So we would trudge down ten stories to the parking lot until we heard the all-clear signal. I think the only reason we even bothered was to see which guys/girls came out of rooms of the opposite sex.

Many times I longed to stay in bed, but I remember the lesson from that fire chief from years ago: just because you can't see or smell it... Finally, one day I was walking down the hall, and a friend said, "Man, can you believe those idiots last night?"

"What idiots?"

"The guys that set the fire. You know, the fire alarm."


Apparently, I had managed to sleep through a fire alarm which was tripped by some idiot who set someone's door on fire. Yes, a real fire. I was shaken, yet immensely proud that I could sleep through a fire alarm. And so could my roommate! With him being unreliable, I resolved that I may burn to death in the dorm at some point. But that's better than burning to death in a sixth grade classroom. You know, college activities and all.

Fast forward to my professional life where answering the fire alarm depended on how bored you were. Management would eventually appoint floor fire marshals to ensure you left the building. But if you held your ground and told the fire marshal, "I'm way too busy for a fire! I'm working on the Underwood contract!" then management generally had your back if you'd rather work and burn to death.

Last week, I was in a hotel nodding off while watching my nightly dose of cartoons. The hotel had a nice atrium where you could spit from in front of your room to the lobby six floors below. Suddenly, a fire alarm goes off. I sigh and curse my bad luck at some kid yanking on the alarm. Except it doesn’t stop. After ten minutes, I decide I better investigate. I walk out into the hall and look at all the other guests standing in the hall looking around. This confirms my suspicion: a kid on a dare. When the alarm finally stops, I go back to bed.

Ten minutes later, the alarm goes off again. Well, the hotel system must be broken, I figure, and this should entitle me to a free night's lodging. And a room upgrade. But then I hear sirens. I wander back into the hall. Gazing into the lobby I see six firemen decked out in gear, carrying axes and oxygen tanks, storming the lobby. Okay, is this real? Now, I know I shouldn't take the elevator, but I'm four flights up! Is it worth going down the stairs? Sister Mary Rambo appears on my shoulder and screams at me: Yesssss! Then she slaps me with a ruler.

But the firemen slow down suddenly and don't appear to be in a hurry. A group of them go into the elevator. If they're using the elevator, that's a good sign. I decide to stand firm. I then see the firemen walking down the sixth floor hall and in a few minutes they suddenly appear on my floor. I’m not sure how to act. When I realize they see me, I move quickly toward the stairs like I’m evacuating. I wave at other guests and make comments like, "Let’s go! We gotta go!"

I salute a fireman as I brush by, stopping to ask, "Do we need to leave?"

"The alarm's going off."

"Yeah, I know," I say. "But no one else is leaving, and I don't see or smell anything."

"Neither do I. That's why I'm up here." He moves away from me.

"But shouldn't I assume the worst? I mean this place could just explode."

"Yeah, it could."

I run after him and tug on his coat. "Look, just say the word and I'm outta here. Single-file, quiet, ready for roll call in the parking lot."

"Hey, I'm fightin' a fire here," he says.

"So there is a fire?"

"I don 't know. Leave me alone and I'll find out."

"I love you guys," I say, trying to befriend him and show some appreciation for his heroism.

He raises his ax menacingly and glares at me before walking down the hall.

I found out later there was no fire, just some smoldering wiring in the elevator shaft (I used the stairs the rest of my stay there). Is there a lesson here? Yes. My third-grade self would have said, “Go! Move! Get out! Stay safe! You may not see or smell it, but it will kill you!”

But as for the cynical, adult me—well, I'll most likely burn to death.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Carpetbagging Reporting

The Washington Post recently reported that corporal punishment (“paddlin',” “butt whoopin,'” or “lickin,'” as we like to say down here) is making a comeback in at least one Texas school district. The reporter very pointedly states, "Residents of the city's comfortable homes, most of which sport neighborly, worn chairs out front, praise the change."

Further along, the reporter feels the need to describe a local resident as someone who “sports a goatee and cowboy boots."

What in tarnation? I hope the goatee-sporting resident allowed the reporter to use the outhouse then kicked it over with his boots while the reporter was inside.

So let me get this straight, assuming someone from the backwoods Republic like me can follow the high falutin’ logic of a fancy latte-sippin’ Washington cesspool reporter: men wearing goatees and/or cowboy boots have a tendency toward child-beating?

Okay, let’s follow the facts:

 Corporal punishment means “beating children”
 Guys with goatees resemble the devil
 The devil supports the beating of children
 The interviewee had a goatee
 The interviewee supports beating children

Which leads us to extrapolate that:

 The devil invented the goatee
 Beat poets and Maynard G. Krebs brought the goatee back into fashion
 Beat poets tended to congregate in New York City
 Child beating was invented by beat poets in New York City

You might want to say that’s nonsense because I’m forgetting the fact that the interviewee was also wearing cowboy boots. Okay, let’s follow that thread:

 Cowboy boots are great for kicking kids in the behind
 If you wear cowboy boots, you like to kick and/or beat children
 If you wear cowboy boots, you are a dumb backwoods hick who doesn’t realize that it’s the local high school principal who’s actually beating the kids. The chances of your failing to realize this doubles if you have a goatee.
 Our former President of the United States wears cowboy boots. As well as Governor Perry.

You smart-ass, cream-cheese-and-bagel-loving carpetbaggers are probably nodding your heads. Let’s go back and analyze that first quote: "Residents of the city's comfortable homes, most of which sport neighborly, worn chairs out front” establishes that:

 This city has some nice comfortable homes
 Therefore, there is no need for furniture on the front porch because furniture belongs inside
 If you have furniture on your front porch, you like to beat children

Living in your high-rent, miniscule, big city efficiency apartments, you probably don’t understand the concept of patio furniture. “Patio furniture” is loosely defined as items you sit on, dine at, or just use to generally enjoy the outdoors, while “outdoors” is usually a patio, deck, or front porch. Or to put it simply, outdoor furniture. The central Great Republic has great weather which means we spend a lot of time outside. It stands to reason that we should have outdoor furniture. (Have you folks ever heard of “barbecuing’?)

I could spend $1000 for a set of wrought iron furniture that isn’t very comfortable and sticks to my thighs or I can haul an old worn chair to the porch in the spring where I can relax comfortably. And I’m the stupid redneck?

So the next time you big city loafer-wearin’, facial hair-hatin’, anti-gun reporters comes around these here parts, remember the following tips:

 We mostly have indoor plumbing
 You can rent a car as opposed to a horse
 Gunfights are rare
 We have more Chili’s restaurants than saloons
 Boots can be worn at black tie events
 We have very comfortable outdoor furniture

And then stick to the facts. Corporal punishment, especially since it appears to be successful, is an excellent topic for debate. But when you blow your liberal, elitist cover by disparaging us folks, well then you deserve a butt-whoopin’.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Count Me In

There’s been a lot of complaining about filling out the 2010 census form. Complaints range from anti-government rhetoric to concerns about checking an ethnicity box to people who think it should be online to people that think it’s just too hard. The only people that have a legitimate complaint are those with outstanding warrants for their arrest. But then again they’re assuming the government is remarkably efficient.

Regardless, they are missing the big picture. I couldn’t wait to fill out my form to reap the benefits of the census, specifically, my own congressional district. Luckily, the census form allows you to specify an unlimited number of people living at your address. I bought a few reams of paper to add as attachments to my form. I started out adding names of my, uh, sons, daughters, cousins and miscellaneous relatives like Joe, Ann, Steve, Ricky, Amber but that grew tiresome. It’s much easier to generate sequential names. Meet my family:

AAAA cousin
AAAB cousin’s cousin
AAAC son
AAAD son’s invisible friend

All the way to:
ZZZZ great, great, great, great, great, great aunt

Which means that over 439,000 people live at my address: 1313 Mockingbird Lane. It’s crowded but we manage. Call my crazy? Why no, you can call me the esteemed gentleman from Texas after I’m granted my own congressional district and I elect myself to congress. Plus I should also get my own Great Republic State Legislative District which means I can simultaneously defend state’s rights while being a part of the cesspool that is Washington D.C. I can imagine the great debates with myself:

Me: I’m proud to have provided a heated swimming pool for my district under the National Defense Spending Bill with my special earmark for “The Study of Heated Hydro Therapy for Mockingbird Lane Residents and bikini clad guests.”

Me: There you go again raising the debt ceiling so you carpetbaggers can ram legislation down our throats and violating state’s rights. I should be the one that decides who gets to build a pool.

Me: Interstate commerce, son. That’s what this pool is about, and that’s why us Feds have the right to do that.

Me: What interstate commerce, you people hatin’, tax lovin’, pork belly swine?

Me: I expect we’ll be flying a lot of hookers in to accommodate fat cat campaign contributions.

Me: Well, you can’t trample on me and state’s rights. I propose to build a pool at 1313 Mockingbird Lane as well.

Me: Now that’s a fine idea.

But that’s not all. It also means another electoral vote for the Great Republic in the Electoral College. And I always wanted to go back to college. I miss the keggers, football/basketball games, and well, let’s just say I’m not necessarily committed to any candidate my Republic may elect. I’m just saying. You know where to find me. In the pool at 1313 Mockingbird Lane of course!

The only possible wrench to this plan is what if St. Pauli Girl votes for herself? That would mean a possible run-off which may never end. I would have to get AAAA registered to vote and have her vote for me. But that’s just wrong; I couldn’t do it. Instead I’ll just buy St. Pauli Girl’s vote with the promise of a new heated swimming pool.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Levels of Creepiness

Last night while enjoying another rousing edition of American Idol, one of the young contestants mentioned something along the lines of whoever texts her the most votes gets to go to the prom with her. While she was probably imagining debonair, chivalrous young men working their phones, I imagined 40-year-old bald, fat guys in underwear, covered in cheetoh crumbs in an empty apartment thinking about how they'll get to go to the prom they never got to go to in high school.

This made me realize it's high time we publish the "Levels of Creepiness Guidelines."

What is creepy? If you bring a dozen roses to a woman's house and say, "I wish to spend a romantic evening with you" and she or any other bystander responds, "Oh gross!" That in essence is creepiness defined. It is usually defined as someone playing out of his league or a gross discrepancy in age range.

(NOTE: Just because you can attract a harem of 18 to 25 year-olds based on your fame, money or exceptional looks, you can still be considered creepy if you act upon it. Especially if you're really old and/or gross looking.)

Creepiness can start at a young age. If you are a high school senior and you can't wait to check out the incoming ninth grade girls fresh out of middle school, you are creepy. On the bright side, that's not the worst thing that will be said about you in your future life. So a rule of thumb here is: if you have a driver's license and your date is at least one year away from obtaining hers, you are borderline creepy.

If you are over the age of 20, and you are watching a high school cheerleading contest on ESPN II in which none of your relatives are involved, you are creepy.

In the post high school years, everyone flips out about the age of consent. Not the state's legal age for consensual sex or marriage but rather the international age of consent (18) for appearing nude in movies, magazines or on the internet. Guys believe that makes it okay to ogle, drool or fantasize about anyone above the age of 18 by saying, "but she's legal." Yes, there are a lot of ethical problems that are in fact legal. But remember, creepiness is not a crime; it's a social disease. Another good rule of thumb: If you are 21 or over but you can't share a bottle of wine with your date because she's at least one year away from being legal (21), you are borderline creepy.

It has become very dangerous for men to watch professional women's sports like golf or tennis because so many of the superstar female athletes are teenagers. If forced to watch these sports with others, try to avoid saying anything or use these handy lines:
On tennis:
1. "She really gets that racket up there on the serve." or better yet
2. "I really like the height of the net."

On golf:
1. "I like the way she maintains her balance through her follow-through." or better yet
2. "I really like Bermuda greens."

Which brings us to some of the worst examples of creepiness: men flirting with the beverage cart girl on the golf course. If your conversation involves anything more than:

"We need another 12-pack."
"How much is that?"
"Here's a little something for you."
then you are being creepy.

If you are over the age of 21 and enjoy television shows about high school kids, you are in danger of being creepy. On the one hand, most of the actresses are actually in their late 20's so it's okay for a certain amount of attraction. However, if you find yourself thinking, "I wish her locker was next to mine in high school" or "I hope she tries out for the cheerleading team", you are approaching creepsville.

Finally, if you are over the age of 18, and hope to take an American Idol contestant to her prom, you are very creepy.