Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Concealed Lobbyist

The Great Republic faced a great conundrum since some lunatic fired gunshots in the Capitol a few months ago. Officials had to grapple with how best to make the Capitol more secure and yet not impede on the rights of gun owners. So they added x-ray scanners to the entrances plus an express lane for owners of Concealed Handgun Permits to avoid the lines and scanners and tote their weapons into the Capitol.

Many people would argue that’s ludicrous, but they fail to note that owners of concealed handgun permits are thoroughly investigated and complete safety training. A lunatic could never get a concealed handgun permit. So the Capitol is safer because people with concealed handguns are our first line of defense.

More importantly, opportunity knocks. A few blogs ago, I noted that I wanted to add 40,000 people to the address on my census form so I could get my own congressional district. Forget that! I want to be a lobbyist! (With a concealed handgun, that is.)

So as soon as I get my permit, I'm putting out my shingle as a lobbyist. It's a much more honest living than having my own congressional district. Anyone needing to do a little business in the Great Republic is urged to contact me so I can persuade lawmakers to see things your way. I'll be cheaper than other lobbyists because there's no need to ahem, bribe.

Highlighted scenarios from my brochures:

"Congressman, you may choose to have the contents of either my left pocket or right pocket. One contains a check with five zeroes; the other contains hollow tipped bullets. What's it gonna be?"


Sitting up in the public gallery, I can watch my congressmen and women cast their votes on important matters. As they get ready to vote, you may notice several of them sweating and looking up at me. That's when I stretch out and let my shoulder holster become visible.


I can get access to the governor. As he walks by, we will both nod at each other as we caress the firearms in our pants.
"Governor, good job on shooting that coyote. You sure showed him who was boss or governor."
"I got me one too last week."
"You don't say," replies the governor.
"Yeah or a dog. I don't know. Just saw some rustling in the bushes. You know I like to brag to my out-of-state clients that my governor can shoot your governor."
A beaming governor nods, ready to become my friend for life.
"What's in your pocket?" I ask with a smile.
"Well as they say, if I showed you, then I'd have to kill you."
"Bwaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha," we both burst into laughter and throw our arms around each other like old friends.


Walking into the congressman's office, I grab the family picture from his/her desk.
"Nice family. I hear they'd really like you to vote for HR438976," I say.
"You don't scare me."
I toss the picture into the air and blow it to pieces with my concealed handgun.


I corner a frightened senator in his/her office. "I know what you're thinking," I say. "Did he use five or six shots? In all the commotion of the gunbattle on the senate floor during the textbook negotiations, I must admit that I lost count myself. So you have to ask yourself, 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do you....senator?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Voyeur in All of Us

It's not unusual to see a neighbor in a bathrobe fetching a newspaper from the front yard (except for the fact that very few people subscribe these days). But what if it's an evening newspaper?

St. Pauli Girl and I have lived next to some interesting neighbors in our time, but perhaps the neighbors from our previous house are the most exotic. Seeing him in a big fluffy white bathrobe get the mail or newspaper every day at about 4:00 p.m. may have been different, but I'm open minded. Or maybe close minded because I simply minded my own business.

St. Pauli Girl who is more social than I am went over to meet them one day. Actually, I think she just wanted to see if their cable tv link was down like ours was. And probably at my urging so I could watch my nightly dose of cartoons. After all, she is more social than I am.

Not to my surprise, he wore his white bathrobe when he answered the door. During some small talk, St. Pauli Girl asked what he did for a living.

He answered, "There isn't really a word for it in English. The closest thing to it is guru. I help people with problems. A lot of it is common sense. Someone might ask how to get more money, and I might suggest getting a job."

"Guru? Oh, so he's an investment banker," I said after hearing of the conversation. (Our neighbor on the west side referred to him as a witch doctor.)

A few months later, we had some plumbers doing some work on the house. The guru (in his bathrobe) came over and asked if they would come and give him an estimate on some work. Later I talked to the lead plumber.

"How well do you know your neighbor?" he asked.

"About as well as you do."

"Interesting fellow. He's got an entire bedroom full of guns. I mean big ones. Not sure I wanna do any work over there."

"This is Texas," I said only slightly disturbed by visions of the guru in a bathrobe wandering down the street shooting at anything that moved.

Then summer came when the guru brought his scooter out from storage and left it parked on the front porch. Every now and then, he would come out in his bathrobe and take one of his many chihuahua dogs out for a ride on the scooter. "I see nothing," I told myself.

Later that summer, our old worn down fence finally caved in at one spot where our dog managed to find a way to get into the guru's backyard to chase his many chihuahuas. Unfortunately, our dog cornered a chihuahua in a storage shed behind the guru's house. St. Pauli Girl and I debated what to do. Normally we would have just gone back there and retrieved our dog, but then I remembered the plumber and realized that there was probably a pillbox back there with a .50 caliber machine gun aimed at trespassers. St. Pauli Girl broke down and called the guru.

We met him (in bathrobe) by the broken fence. Irritated, he pointed out that he had expensive things in that shed. "You know you could fix your fence," he said as he handed over our dog.

"That's why you're a guru," I thought. Then I said, "I know, sorry. We're having some guys come out and fix it on Monday."

"No, let's just fix it right now," he answered. "I'll go get a hammer."

I politely declined; I could not envision working on a fence with a man in a bathrobe. Too Brokeback Mountainish for me.

Then came the fall when I had to make my annual trek to the roof to clean gutters and rake leaves off the roof. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and I enjoyed being able to gaze into other backyards that were cordoned off by the standard Texas wood fence. I glanced into the guru's backyard. I saw him walking around talking on a cell phone. Only this time, he wasn't wearing a bathrobe. He just wore a t-shirt. Nothing else. I had to do a double take; surely I was mistaken. Nope, that was definitely a bare ass. Then he turned around. I looked away, then nearly tumbled off the roof in my haste to get to the ladder.

St. Pauli Girl asked how I finished so fast. "I'll finish tomorrow," I said. "The guru is walking around bottomless in his backyard."

"What? Are you sure?"

"Oh yeah, it's all right there. I think he even pointed at me. You know. Pointed?"

During the summer, we sat on the east side of our backyard for happy hour where there was more shade. Our property was separated by said fence, but--well, there's just enough space in the cracks to give you a glance at the neighbors’ back yard. I heard the chihuahuas scampering out, followed by Mrs. Guru chasing after them. I glanced.

All I saw was flesh. Lots of it.

"She's naked," I said to St. Pauli Girl.

"No way. Are you sure?"

"Yep. She's a 44D."

Finally the picture was coming together. Our neighbors were nudists. I'm all in favor of doing what you want in your own house but please, just let me know when I shouldn't go on the roof.

We sat outside plenty of times and many times the gurus were about in the backyard. This usually resulted in this conversation:

"She's out there naked again, isn't she?" St. Pauli Girl would ask.

"How'd you know?"

"Because you're looking at the fence instead of me."

"I can't help it. I don't know why. Naked people demand to be ogled."

Eventually, we would tell friends and relatives who would then all want to sit in our backyard to try and catch a glimpse of them. I could have sold tickets. Sex didn't matter; male or female they all wanted to see the nekkid neighbors, even though neither one was centerfold material. Not even close. Apparently there is a voyeur deep within us all that can't resist looking at the naked flesh when presented to us.

So the next time you want to use that well-worn phrase: "It's like a car accident; you can't help but look" try using "It's like when a naked person walks by--you can't help but look.”

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thinning the Herd

One night during our routine happy hour with the Delilah radio show on in the background, a female listener called in and said, "I'd like to request a song for my fiancee and thank God for bringing him into my life. This will be my second marriage."

I couldn't help but wonder what happened to the first marriage:

(Cindy Lou enters the Almighty Dating Agency where she is greeted by an angel from behind a desk)

Cindy: I'd like to have my name and video withdrawn from the dating agency.

Angel: May I ask why?

Cindy: I found the man of my dreams. I'm getting married! (she flashes the engagement ring to the angel)

Angel: Excellent! Congratulations! (starts tapping on a computer keyboard) This will just take a minute.

Cindy: Billy Jack is the one for me.

Angel: Billy Jack? Oh dear. I'm afraid I can't pull you out of the system.

Cindy: But I'm getting married.

Angel: Yes, well, Billy Jack isn't quite who we had picked out for you. Your profile will have to remain active.

Cindy: So guys will still be calling me when I'm married?

Angel: (laughs) You youngsters are so cute. Look, just take a little time and fully investigate your love. Maybe even do a background check. (Winks at Cindy Lou)

Cindy: I know everything I need to know. Let me talk to your manager.

(The angel dials the phone and after a brief conversation leads Cindy Lou to God's office.)

God: I hear you got a dating problem. What's the matter with him? I don't take complaints very well.

Cindy: There's nothing wrong with him. Billy Jack is perfect in every way.

God: (taps on computer keyboard). Billy Jack, hmmmm, and that's not a nickname for Earnest Willoughby?

Cindy: Who?

God: Earnest Willoughby is your perfect mate.

Cindy: I never heard of him.

God: You're not supposed to meet him for two more years.

Cindy: But I'll be married to Billy Jack then.

God: No you won't.

Cindy: The wedding is in July.

God: And the divorce will be in April.

Cindy: But...but...

God: There are clues you know. Remember the time he swerved across the road to run over that squirrel? Or the time he busted a mirror in your parents' living room because the Yankees lost the World Series? Or the time he "borrowed" your debit card for the weekend?

Cindy: Debit card?

God: Oh that's right, you don't balance your checkbook.

Cindy: Momma always said you wouldn't give me anything I can't handle.

God: I'm not giving you Billy Jack! You chose him!

Cindy: I can change him.

God: Okay, look at the big computerized board on the wall behind me. Do you see all the names running across it, some pointing to others while other names get deleted? Those are the lives you are affecting by marrying Billy Jack and not waiting for Earnest.

Cindy: Hmmph, well if that's the way you want it, why don't you send this Earnest fellow my way.

God: Can't. He's in prison.

Cindy: What? And you're ripping on Billy Jack who's never done an illegal thing in his life?

God: (raises his eyebrows)

Cindy: Billy Jack is a good man and I can't wait two years for some stranger. I've got a promise ring and have been sex free since my high school sex abstinence class. It's time for me to get on with my life if you know what I mean.

God: (pushes a handful of small packages toward Cindy) Sure, have a ball.

Cindy: Condoms? You want me to have sex outside of marriage?

God: New strategic initiative. We're moving away from the abstinence thing. Turns out too many young people are getting married just to have sex. I'm working on the big picture, thinning out the herd.

Cindy: I don't understand.

God: Eventually Billy Jack will meet his ultimate mate as well.

Cindy: He has. Me!

God: (rolling his eyes) Anyway, he meets her at a strip club, they move to a mobile home in Oklahoma and get killed in a tornado.

Cindy: That's awful!

God: But they had a good time and luckily never reproduced. Thinning out the herd.

Cindy: So if I marry Billy Jack, I'll die in a tornado?

God: Good heavens, no. You'll get divorced, meet Earnest, have three kids and live to be a great grandmother.

Cindy: (after a long sigh) I can't think two years from now. I'm still going to marry Billy Jack and work hard to keep him.

God: I know you will.

(Cindy Lou gets up to leave. God stops her and hands her the stack of condoms.)

Cindy: I don't need these.

God: They're not for you. They're to keep Billy Jack from reproducing. Thinning out the herd, remember?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Van and Willie

“The quality of a rock and roll song is inversely proportional to the number of instruments on it (unless you’re Van Morrison)”
-- Jimmy Guterman & Owen O’Donnell

That quote reverberated through my head as St. Pauli Girl and I enjoyed Van Morrison and his crack band play it with feeling last night. The show started slow with Van complaining that he couldn’t hear the guitar, and the band breezed through quick renditions of “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Moondance.” It was as if the audience was packed into a 737 and the band was the flight attendants running through the safety talk, then Captain Van came on the intercom to announce, “Please be seated while I taxi this thing to the runway. We’ll be departing shortly.” During those moments, you look forward to the end of the flight to get away from the Sumo wrestler jammed in the middle seat next to you.

But then we took off. The band hit its stride, Van caught the groove and took the concert hall to another level. Throughout the show, all of the musicians were featured in several solo spots. Each time Van would nod towards the musician as if to say, “Show me what you got.” And he’d better bring it or Van would cut him off and nod towards another musician. He constantly checked the sound and hissed the band toward perfection (I’m pretty sure he beats them after the show).

At one point, he chastised a band member coming in late to a song, “Let’s go!” Unfortunately, the audience would later interpret that to mean he had a plane to catch since most people thought the show ended too early and certainly too abruptly. This wouldn’t have been a problem with a “Thank you and goodnight.” Instead, Van just walked off the stage as the band played a few minutes longer, then left just as abruptly. While the crowd waited uneasily for an encore, the stagehands packed up the gear.

The previous concert St. Pauli Girl and I attended was Willie Nelson about 3 or 4 years ago. I don’t say that to bring up a comparison, only to point out that we don’t get out much. But they were vastly different experiences not only for their differences in stage presence but also because of the crowd and recording restrictions. Willie can still bring it at his age and his band is every bit as good as Morrison’s.

I mostly remember the Willie Nelson show for the staggering number of falling-down-drunk middle-aged fans acting like teenagers at their first keg party. We were lucky enough to be seated next to a Fred Flintstone look-alike except he was fatter, had curly hair and didn’t wear a tie. He was totally hammered and speaking incoherently to everyone around him. (I expected him to morph into BamBam and just shout, “Bam! Bam! Bambam!”). I spent the whole show wondering if there were lawyers that specialized in clients who had been vomited on.

Willie doesn’t care if you take pictures during his show. The fans don’t care if they have to climb over, under, or through you to get close enough to snap those pictures. A woman sitting behind us made sure to call all of her friends during the show, shout into the phone where she was, then hold the phone up so her friends could hear the show.

Conversely, Van Morrison (like most artists) does not allow recording devices, cameras, or cell phones. A jackbooted ticket taker, pointing to the sign as we entered the concert hall, warned us we would be “ejected” if we were caught using any of those things. I asked if I needed to sign anything and would blood be okay? My hand instinctively covered the cell phone in my pocket as another ticket taker eyed me suspiciously. Should I hand my phone over, I worried? I don’t use the camera on my phone, I don’t even want a camera on my phone, and I didn’t intend to take pictures of Van Morrison with it, so I played it cool and said, “Nope, just got my hand in my pocket.” (When I got home later I discovered I had taken 20 pictures of the inside of my pocket.)

So the Van Morrison show had a well-behaved audience, no cameras flashing, nobody screaming into their phone, and best of all, no Fred Flintstones running up and down the aisle while the band played “On the Road Again.” In the end, I highly recommend both Willie Nelson and Van Morrison to any music lover. You’ll end up leaving both shows early: Van because, well, he just disappeared, and Willie because you’ll want to avoid the drunk drivers in the parking lot.