Monday, December 31, 2007

The Most, Uh, Unique Christmas Gift Ever

My dad had been calling me and leaving messages almost every day back in September when I started going back to school, and I didn't have time to call him back, so he took it personally and began to do weird things trying to make me jealous like calling my aunt daily and sending money to her oldest son, who attends the U. of Illinois. He was used to me eventually calling him back so he could resume browbeating me about not keeping up with him more, but this time, I wasn't in the mood. So I had not talked to him since this past summer when Christmas rolled around. But he told my aunt that he would make a special trip out to my uncle's, where the family gathers for Christmas, and he would have a Christmas gift for me whether I wanted to see him or not. And oh, did he have a memorable gift for me, or make that clear plastic bag of gifts:

  1. A bottle of British Sterling, quite possibly the rankest dollar-store cologne I have ever smelled
  2. A disposable camera
  3. A 4-pack of AA batteries
  4. A Southwest Airlines napkin
  5. A picture of his mother, and not a glossy picture, a Xerox copy
  6. A Xerox copy pic of his brother
  7. A couple of handmade fliers for his band and/or his various other hustles
  8. $40 cash (complete with totally useless deposit slip, like I'm a fucking bank)
  9. And finally, an empty manila folder

I couldn't do anything while taking each gift out and displaying it for everyone except say, "Tonight, all of you thank your God that your dad is not my dad."

My girlfriend is here for the next couple of days to ring in the new year with me. There's no better way to get the taste of that Christmas out of my mouth. (Although out of curiosity, she sprayed that cologne in the air, and now that taste and scent may linger well into the new year after all.)

Happy 2008 to everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

32 Years Of Anonymity

That's two years in a row now that someone wondered why I didn't make a big deal of my upcoming birthday upon finding out about it. This time, it was my team lead at work, Tasha, who doesn't know a thing about me and never expressed a desire to. "You gotta tell us about things like that," she cooed. "We're like a big family!" Yeah, right. All In The Family, maybe. When I told the people I used to work with on 1st shift that it was my birthday, the reactions ranged from surprise, of course, to pity that I was spending my birthday working. But it's all good. I wouldn't have done anything today but clean the house anyway. What am I gonna do, go out clubbing?

The fact that no one knew my birthday was coming is but a small piece of my daily routine. I'm Mr. Anonymity. I'm the modern-day Mr. Cellophane, for you fans of the musical Chicago. Every day I trudge to work or school or both, and I trudge home, and I barely say a word or have a word said to me. Really, I might be known by some as That Weird Guy With The Headphones, because for almost 20 years now I've hardly been out in public without my headphones on, usually big ear-covering ones too, "kickerboxes on your head," as a former co-worker once called them. The bigger the headphones, the less I have to hear, plus they double as great earmuffs for those Chicago winters that my girlfriend will get to experience when she moves here in the next few years. I could be some cult figure like the loudmouth preacher downtown with the portable loudspeaker or those guys that dress in silver and gold bodypaint and do mime performances on the corner. There might be some punk band in Wicker Park whose members dress in baseball caps and huge headphones and nothing else, as some odd homage to that eccentric fat guy who always looks like he could kick the world's ass. But I would never know. And that's how I've always wanted it. Speaking up and making my presence known is not something I like doing most of the time. After I got to know my co-workers at my jobs, I wound up loosening up and being the class clown, so to speak. But my demeanor is the same for most of the day--head down, no smile, walking with a purpose, going where I gotta go, doing what I gotta do. Sealing off the whole world in a way for various reasons, be it shyness or lack of social skills or lack of confidence or, in those really special moments, hatred of the entire human race. (If you've ever wondered why I refer to myself as Planet Dre...)

My latest problem at work may not be directly tied to my attempts to be anonymous, but it's loosely connected. See, my job is rather simple when you break it down: Type in P.O. box number, scan a header ticket to start a batch, open all the mail sent to that box, enter the check amounts, run the check through a check reader, scan a separator ticket between each check, end batch, move on. Boring, I know. But apparently, the way I do my job is not satisfying this items-per-hour ratio that's been established by people above me who don't do this job and therefore don't know how impossible it would be to keep up that ratio for all 7 or 8 or however many hours you're working. The ratio is 133 items per hour. That means that in addition to checks, you can staple the material inside an envelope that has no check inside (we've been getting a lot of Christmas cards lately, for instance) and add that to your batch at the end when you close it, and you can also add the unprocessable items for those checks that may have something wrong with it, like a missing signature or it was sent to the wrong P.O. box, so it's not just 133 checks per hour, it's 133 items. But seriously, if you sit down and start working on a bundle of mail, like I do, you run into missorted envelopes in the wrong bundle, you run into a large amount of material that has to be taped together because the automatic mail opener sliced the pages up, you may have to photocopy an envelope because if it's cardboard (FedEx, DHL, etc.) it's too big to fit into the image run into a lot of shit that takes up too much of your time to process 133 items per hour. It's impossible. The way that co-workers are getting around this number is that they're pre-staging their work, meaning they're opening the envelopes and taping letters and making copies and all that good stuff before they ever start to type in boxes and check amounts. That saves time from their items per hour, but it doesn't get as much work done because they're spending hours pre-staging and not working, whereas I just sit down and work because that's how I prefer to do it. My supervisor Lucy, this ogre of a woman who obviously got off the first boat from Russia years ago hoping to wrestle bears in America for money or something, has been on my ass virtually every day for the past two months because my items per hour was below 90. But when she thrust the November numbers in my face showing me how many other people in my workgroup have better IPH rates than me, I noticed something in the total items column: Only one person in my workgroup nailed more than 10,000 items total last month, and that was yours truly. Then I remembered that I was on vacation for a week in November because I spent several days in Memphis after Thanksgiving! You'd think Lucy would be thrilled to see that bit of information when I pointed it out to her. Her response: "It doesn't matter how much work you do." I never thought there existed a job where someone could be told that it didn't matter that they produced more work than anyone else. Did I mention that I haven't made an error in my mail extraction job duties all year? I tie this to anonymity because when you're just a number in a humongoid company like J.P. Morgan Chase, no one has time to listen to individual issues. Something like this should be handled on a case-by-case basis, and someone should have the common sense to back off the most productive worker in the workgroup instead of smothering him daily just because his items-per-hour number is low. Since I produce more than workers who work more hours than me, it seems that the items per hour isn't that damn important. Oh, and Lucy showed me the numbers for December 1-15 just to bitch at me more about how my IPH hasn't improved since she started yapping at me. Guess who's done more items than anyone the first 2 weeks of December as well? But of course, how much work you do doesn't matter. How retarded.

So in this, my 32nd year on Planet Dre, I vow to work even harder in college and continue my push towards (hopefully) Columbia College and a degree in radio. Anonymity has worked well for me for the most part, but I'm starting to get a little tired of it. I can see a time where I shed my cloak and reach for the spotlight and let the world see and hear what my warped mind is creating. The right time, the right place, it all has to come together in a perfect mix of my guts, someone's need to smell-la-la-la-la what I'm cookin', and a whole hell of a lot of luck. But every day that I am told that my hard work doesn't matter because it doesn't fit the mold, I get closer and closer to being ready to leave behind my carefully constructed wall of anonymity and go for what I want.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And If You Thought That Last Post Was Full Of It...

...I'll be taking psych class as part of my load next semester at the esteemed Harold Washington College, where I sit four mere classes away from my associates degree. So get ready for more armchair mental games from moi. Hey, maybe I'll finally find out why "Karen" did what she did to me, since she never got the guts to tell me herself, or as she put it in a letter once, "I don't have to explain myself to anybody." This semester that just ended last week was difficult for one reason--biology class. Not only was this a topic that I had no interest in, but the teacher insisted on making her students tie bits and pieces of information together with cognitive thinking, and after dealing with the jackasses at my job for forty hours a week, I wasn't always up for that. Okay, I was never up for that. I had to walk out of a couple of her classes because I just didn't have the desire to sit through another hour of her voice pushing me closer and closer to sleep. I had a B at midterm for that class, but I did so bad on the cumulative final that I bet I got a C as a final grade. Oh well. One science requirement is dead, and the second and final science requirement will be on the schedule for next semester--Public Issues in Physical Science. Hey, it's not a lab at least. The computer class was a breeze, and the speech teacher was open-minded enough to disagree with nearly everything I talked about, yet still gave me nearly perfect scores on all three of my speeches. She was fun. I wanted to take a TV/radio class she's giving next semester that would seem perfect for what I want to do after I get out of Harold Washington, but she's only offering one time frame, Monday nights, and I have to work Monday nights. So instead I'm taking a mass media class someone else is teaching that she says is very similar, in addition to the psych and the physical science. That will leave me one elective that I'll gobble up in the summer, then I'm done with the associates classes. I already visited the Columbia College website and asked for information to be sent to my house, so I'm sure I'll have plenty of contact with them as I try to arrange my records to facilitate a smooth transition there. As for the next few weeks before the spring semester, I have to clean house and get ready for my girlfriend, who will visit for New Year's. It would be nice if I got Christmas presents before next week. And there's laundry and grocery shopping as well. But I'm actually glad that I'm keeping busy like this--less time to sit around and let my brain ruminate about dark things or, worse, get bored and gamble. Or think about my 32nd birthday, coming up Saturday. Where does the time go. I'll be spending it working, which is actually fitting because that's what I've been doing seemingly nonstop the past two years. And the world keeps turning...

"He Took It In The Butt"

That was the headline in the Trentonian newspaper last week when Roger Clemens had his pristine name dragged into the steroids circus surrounding Major League Baseball. I just thought that was funny. I had one small thing to add to this, then I'll crawl back in my hole. I just watched Mike & Mike In The Morning, a sports talk show that also airs on TV, and they had callers commenting on whether they believe Clemens, who vehemently denies using steroids or HGH, or think he's lying like so many other ballplayers have when confronted with evidence. The very first guy who called said he was giving Clemens the benefit of the doubt, and so did the last guy who called, and I think the segment that I watched only had three callers. Mike and Mike wondered why they didn't hear this kind of benefit when Barry Bonds denied his intentional steroid use under oath before a grand jury a few years ago ("I thought it was flaxseed oil"). I have an answer--he did receive the benefit of the doubt, from a large number of black people. I remember all the polls that came out back then charting the racial divide among people who believe that Bonds was innocent. It was like 50 or 60% of all blacks polled, as opposed to something in the teens for whites. But hardly any of those blacks were taken seriously. Those polls were trotted out by sports talk people as some sign of the apocalypse, or worse, a sign of the bad role models those poor black people were choosing. But they didn't actually speak to those black people to find out why they felt that way. And here's Mike & Mike wondering why Clemens is being trusted and believed while Bonds wasn't. Um, I don't recall them taking calls from Bonds supporters, and neither did any other sports talk show I listened to. They didn't want to. He was a dirty black guy breaking the all-time home run record, and he didn't deserve supporters. But here's a bunch of white darlings loved by the media, like Clemens and Andy Pettitte and some little scrappy guys who would have never put up the numbers they did if not for juicing, and the media in general seem to be falling over themselves trying to cushion the blow and accept their word as bond. Makes me shake my head. And for the record, yeah, I believe they're all guilty, Bonds and Clemens and all the other idiots writing personal checks to clubhouse guys and putting "STEROIDS" in the memo line. I don't think they're conjuring up evidence to get back at any of them. I just think that some athletes are so addicted to winning at all costs and so used to getting anything they want any time they want that they believe that if they keep saying they're innocent, the whole thing will eventually go away. And for that, I think they're all floating turds, black, white, Latino, or green alien.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cursing And Blow Jobs--The Planet Dre Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving went very well for me. It was my first outside of my own family, with people I had never met, so as past posts will tell you, I was very nervous. But they knew how to treat a man well, because no more than two minutes after I entered the house of my girlfriend's uncle, he handed me the television remote. Now THAT is how you welcome someone to your home! Yes, football was on from that moment until I left. Now, my girlfriend had explained that she didn't recall football being part of the family's past Thanksgivings, but as it turned out, the men of the house were just like most other men--get the ball rolling on a sport and they fall right in line. The first NFL game was already playing, but they didn't know it, so when I found the channel, all of a sudden here goes the football talk. Who's my favorite team, what about that Terrell Owens, etc. Turns out there's even a daughter in the family who's a Cowboys cheerleader, and they spotted her during the Kelly Clarkson halftime show. See, how did these folks get along before me???

The meal itself was outstanding as far as the quality of the food. There were some cheese products missing that I had become accustomed to at my uncle's house, like macaroni and his wife's spaghetti bake. That helps to break up all the seasoning that you get in the turkey and dressing, which starts to taste the same after a while. And speaking of the turkey, they bought a special kind this year just to piss me off--it was Cajun-flavored, which meant that it was infused with jalapenos before they even stuffed it and put it in the stove. Gross. I needed a lot of dressing to make it palatable. But it was very well-cooked, and everything else was just fine. My girlfriend created a sweet potato casserole with mini-marshmallows on top, and that was better than I thought it would be. Me and yams usually don't get along.

My girlfriend's mother was a very sweet lady, even more quiet and introverted than my girlfriend. I didn't know what to expect, but she couldn't have been kinder. She was going to meet us for dinner Saturday night after Thanksgiving, just the three of us, but unfortunately she fell ill. So I'm still waiting to be grilled. But she doesn't seem like the judgmental type, so as long as she never reads this blog, I believe she's not going to drill me with questions about who I am and what my intentions are with her little girl. So that bullet was dodged. Really, that was my biggest worry--I didn't want to underwhelm her mother because I know that no matter what she says, my girlfriend would take her mother's intuition about me very seriously, and I wanted to make a great first impression. (My girlfriend would later go on to tell me that her mother informed her of her impression of me over the phone--"Very, very, very bright!" Can't get much better than that.)

After going to the next-door house of a family member and taking a tour as a way of walking off the meal, we settled in for a game of Taboo. There were four team members on each side, and my girlfriend was on the opposite team, but her mother was on my team. I was told that these games got so loud and outrageous that sometimes they would videotape them and watch them afterwards, and I thought that this was a good sign because I have lots of experience with loud and outrageous board games thanks to my family. However, I forgot that my girlfriend's family, while loud and outrageous, was also religious. So when I accidentally said some of the Taboo words and exclaimed "Dammit!" or "Aw hell!", I didn't think one second of it. After we lost, one of my team members went around the table pointing out various funny things each player said or did during the game, and when he got to me, he said, "And homey here, with all the cursing!" I turned to my girlfriend and asked, "Did I curse?" She said that I may have said dammit or something like that. I was shocked that they saw that as cursing. It's not like I was at the bowling alley or something. If they want to see me curse, they should come there. They'll hear me make up new words, tell God to fornicate with his son, and many other colorful phrases. But when I thought about the game afterwards, it dawned on me that no matter how loud and crazy it got, indeed, no one was cursing. That's amazing and noble and very frightening all at the same time.

My girlfriend and I made out on her couch that night after driving back home, and she initiated giving me oral sex for the first time. It came out of nowhere, and I didn't expect it because, despite getting the results from the free clinic, she indicated that she didn't know when she would be ready to take that next step with me. I surely didn't want to shove it in her face and say, "I'm clean, bitch, now suck it!" I've been very patient with her thus far, knowing that she had never been with a man before me, and I was willing to wait as long as it took for her to get comfortable. Well, she got comfortable quickly, and I haven't stopped smiling since. Really, oral sex to me is the 2nd most intimate thing a couple can do next to only intercourse. And to do it with someone I love and respect and don't have to worry about how many other dudes she's done this to is such an awesome feeling. Now, the last time I got either oral or vaginal sex was two years ago with "Grace," the one night stand, so this was also a big deal because now when I fantasized or daydreamed about receiving head, I didn't have to try to force my girlfriend into the picture. I had my own mental picture now of her looking into my eyes while swallowing me. That's a very big deal to me. I hate having memories of meaningless physical encounters as my only concrete thoughts about the sex I've had. I'm so ready to write new thoughts into my memory, with the woman I love. That's as descriptive as I can get when I explain why it meant to much to have her give me head. I want her face and her body to be what I think of when I think of physical intimacy, and that's why this was so big. Now, I couldn't return the favor because Aunt Flo was in town, but I'm determined to become good at giving my woman oral sex since I was so bad at it all the times before. Plain and simple, I didn't have the patience to keep at it and learn how to do it right. I just took out my cock after a few minutes and fucked whoever I was trying to eat. But since that's not an option with my virgin girlfriend, I will have to stay down there and figure out how to get 'er done, so to speak. Maybe when she visits me for New Year's, she'll leave her aunt at home...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Full Plate

My plate has been full lately, and it will continue to be for at least a few weeks. On the horizon right now is a flight to Memphis to spend Thanksgiving with my girlfriend and her family. I depart this afternoon after speech class. I think I'm masking my nervousness about meeting her mother for the very first time by being very horny and thinking about my girlfriend constantly the last few days. But I do miss her and I will be glad to see her and spend some quality time with her. The proverbial full plate should be literal on Thanksgiving, if they eat like a Southern family should. Just hope they're ready for some football. When I come back to Chicago next week, I'll walk right into some kind of competition at work to find the person who best knows the standard operating procedures. They gave me a cheat sheet to study last night, as if I don't have enough homework with three classes this semester. I'm probably leaving that at home and not taking it to Memphis. As for the classes, there's a presentation we're supposed to be giving in biology next week, but I don't have the contact information for my partners in this group project, the class didn't meet yesterday because the teacher wasn't there, and I won't be there for the Wednesday class because I won't be in the state. Don't know how we're gonna work that out. I'll have my final speech to do next week, a nine-minute rant about alcohol (yes I chose that subject on purpose). And there will be final exams in two weeks for biology and computer class, the biology one being cumulative. Somewhere in there I will have to wash my clothes and shop for groceries, and in the two weeks that I have free between classes ending and Christmas I have to shop for gifts before my girlfriend comes here for New Year's. Whew. But here's one good thing about keeping very busy: Two different people came up to me at work last week and asked if I was losing weight. I'm certainly not trying to, but it's hard to sit and overeat with three college classes and a full-time job. I just don't have the time. I know my cookies and chips miss me, but I'll have to get reacquainted after I finish accomplishing the things in my life that I want to accomplish.

Happy Thanksgiving to anyone reading this. Whether we know it or not, we all have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Planet Dre's Trip To The Free Clinic! (Pt. 2)

I walked in to the clinic and was surprised to see five other people in there. The place was like a vacated saloon last time I was there. I had to wait for a guy to figure out what he wanted from the receptionist before I was able to approach her and tell her that I was there for my test results. After taking my ID and the blue card the doctor told me to bring back with me, the receptionist told me, "You're 76. We'll call your number." She then proceeded to call number 77 thirty seconds later, and some Hispanic guy who had been there when I arrived went through the heavy door to the back. Wha?? The guy came back out almost as soon as he went in and relayed the news to someone on his cell phone, ignoring the fliers that say cell phone use is prohibited. The security guard, however, tried for a full minute to wave at the guy and get his attention in order to tell him not to use the phone. Guess he felt that walking over to him and stopping him for some reason wasn't an option. A few minutes later, my number was called by an attractive black woman in a business suit, and I followed her to the back and into an office with the word "Counselor" on the door. Here we go, I thought to myself.

She smiled the whole time as she quickly told me that everything came up negative--the chlamydia test, the gonorrhea test, the syphilis test. She placed the HIV test results in front of me and pointed to the part that said "FINAL RESULT NEGATIVE--No antibodies to HIV-1 detected." She happily informed me that I was totally clean and explained that these results do not necessarily indicate that I don't have HIV since it takes three to six months for HIV to show up on a test. "So if you've had recent contact with a possible source of HIV, you should come back for another test in April next year." She asked why I had testing done, and I explained that it wasn't a recent exposure but rather the desire to give my girlfriend peace of mind by letting her know I was clean. "And to let yourself know, right?" the counselor said. "Oh, I already knew I was clean," I replied as memories of bareback sex with "Karen," "Giselle," "Sarah," "Grace," and The Co-Worker Who Shall Remain Nameless flashed through my mind.

I asked for a copy of the STD results before I left, and after five minutes, I was on my way home. I texted my girlfriend after I left and told her "YOUR BABY IS TOTALLY CLEAN!!!" Her response was simply "YES!" Nothing more needed to be said.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Planet Dre's Trip To The Free Clinic! (Pt. 1)

Since it was located in the heart of the hood, I expected the clinic to be dingy, infested-looking, and crowded with people who look and sound like they are on death's door. But it was not like that at all. Perhaps it was the time that I chose to go, that being midday on Halloween Wednesday. But this joint was totally empty, save for the security guard watching daytime TV, and the waiting area at least was much cleaner than I imagined it would be. The actual exam area didn't look very antiseptic. The receptionist couldn't have cared less about anything, taking a clipboard with the form and a piece of paper with the number 25 and giving it to me with the enthusiasm of a sloth. But I wasn't there for the bright sunshine and cheery faces. I was there because my girlfriend, having intimate knowledge of the carefree unprotected sex I insisted on having with every partner I've ever laid, has informed me relentlessly of her desire to learn how to please me orally since we're not going to have intercourse until marriage as well as her insistence that this oral pleasing ain't going on until I get tested. Honestly, I never had any intention of getting tested because I didn't have any symptoms of anything and because I can't mentally connect the sexual lifestyle I had to something dangerous like syphilis or HIV. It's not like I was paying $20 for a crack whore in the alley up the ass or fucking drug users or doing boys on the down low. I was just a shy guy meeting women online and hooking up. How could I catch something from that? Of course, intelligence says that it's certainly possible that one of those women did some things with others who weren't so clean and caught something even they didn't know they had and passed it on. So, since it's free and since there's a clear peace of mind that comes with the results, I had not excuse not to go get checked out. Plus, there's blow jobs as a reward in the near future. Blow jobs! Yay! I miss those.

I filled out the form and got the attention of the receptionist away from yapping with some other women long enough to take back the clipboard. "We'll call your number," she monotoned even though there was ABSOLUTELY NO ONE ELSE IN THE BUILDING. I had to chuckle at that. The ensuing fifteen minutes gave me a chance to look around at the feng shui. There was a television, about 19", sitting on a metal cart, and as noted, it was tuned to some Springer-like daytime show. Below it was a VCR with a couple of tapes whose covers looked like something straight out of an '80s ABC Afteschool Special VHS series. The titles had something to do with AIDS and STDs, but I don't remember them exactly. I wondered who would actually pop those tapes in while waiting to get tested. Sitting on the receptionist's "window" (just a wide hole cut out of the wall) were free condoms and lube, which I left for someone sexually active to take, and surrounding the window were various posters and fliers. One specifically told women to use the bathroom before the actual examination, and another specifically told men to wait to use the bathroom until after the examination. I found that very curious, but I didn't ask anyone why this policy existed. The posters were typical urges to get tested and protect yourself. Some were slightly offensive (why does the cartoon drawing of a black couple discussing getting tested feature the woman with huge hoop earrings and the guy in a hoodie holding a fucking basketball and looking away as if he's not paying attention at all?). One made absolutely no sense to me. It showed two Hindenburg-like air balloons hovering over a grassy field filled with cows. One dirigible was slightly larger than the one below it, but it looked like a photo trick where they just took a picture of the same balloon and made one pic smaller. Below the balloons but above the field of cows was the caption: "IT LOOKS BIGGER WITH A CONDOM ON." Then below the field of cows in much smaller print was: "It also protects against unwanted pregnancy, STD's, etc." I will go to my grave not understanding that poster. First of all, um, no it doesn't look bigger with a rubber on. If rubbers were that thick, there'd be even less sensation than there already is, and there's hardly any sensation now. Second, how dumb do you have to be to be fooled into thinking that a cock is bigger than it is once a rubber is applied to it? That goes for the guy and the chick he's with. "Looks like my thing grew to double the size, don't it baby?" "It sure does, my big hunk of man!" And I have no idea where the field of cows comes in. But before I could whip out my camera phone to capture this image and show it to my girlfriend, I noticed a flier that said: "NO CELL PHONES ALLOWED." Not wanting to find out if the security guard was in a good or bad mood that day, I decided to leave my phone in my pocket.

Sure enough, fifteen minues later the receptionist called me by number and motioned me through the heavy door. After a minute of standing there looking goofy, a nurse showed up and led me into a room, where she proceeded to mumble instructions to me that I nearly didn't understand. "Mubmmumfph," she said while flexing her fist. Oh, I thought, she must want me to flex my fist to get my vein to come up so she can draw blood. But after tapping my meaty arm at the inside of the elbow joint for a while, she gave up and said, "Mmfrtnneuish," while turning my hand to the backside and tapping it. Before I could totally understand what she wanted, she found the vein and in one quick motion swabbed my hand, produced a needle out of nowhere and jabbed it in. I almost didn't close my eyes before she inserted it. She took a cotton ball and held it, then told me "Holm mmem," which I took to mean "Hold this," and while I did, she applied a Band-Aid and sent me back into the waiting area. "Will there be any more shots I have to get, or is this it?" I asked. "Heh heh. Monnmkobehj," she said.

About ten minutes later, my number was called again, and my swollen hand and I wandered behind the heavy door again. An older Asian woman, 50s or 60s, in a torn white doctor's smock waved me to the back. Once I got back there, I looked at the four or five offices that sat empty and stood there for a full two minutes assuming the doctor would show up and lead me to the exam room. When she didn't, I walked back to the front and interrupted her munching on a candy bar and chatting with the receptionist to ask exactly where the fuck she wanted me to go. "Oh, I'm sorry, Room 6," she said laughing.

Not long after I entered Room 6, the doctor entered, sans candy bar. The following is made even funnier to you the reader (but not me the victim) by knowing that I had absolutely no idea what an STD exam consisted of since I'd never had one. I honestly thought the blood that had been drawn was the extent of it and that the doctor was just going to chat with me and get information on my sexual history and stuff. She sat down at her desk and spent five minutes asking me questions about my sexual history and stuff, all but one or two of which were answered by me, "Nope." No drug use, no sex with men, no previous STDs, nothing that would add risk factors to my situation. She stopped at one point, looked up at me, and in all seriousness asked, "Why are you here?" I said, "To get tested for STDs and HIV. I have had unprotected sex before." "When was the last time?" she asked. "About two years ago," I answered. She laughed and went to the end of the list of options for that question, the last option stating, "> 2 mos." "I guess that's more than two months, huh?" she snickered. I nervously smiled.

At the end of the interrogation, she asked me to sit on the examining table. I had to ask her a couple of times what she said because my brain wasn't ready for that. But I only sat there for maybe 30 seconds while she washed her hands and put on clear gloves. Then she told me to stand up and pull down my pants and underwear. I obliged. She briefly explained that she was going to feel for abnormalities like lumps and whatnot before she gently grabbed my sac, pushed up my overlapping belly and looked at my pubic hairs, and not-so-gently pulled back my foreskin and felt my limp penis. Once that was over, I started to bend down and pull my pants back up but was stopped dead in my tracks by the doctor producing a long metal needle-looking device. I couldn't get a word of protest out of my mouth before she said, "Relax, take deep breaths, don't anticipate pain." Then, even swifter than the nurse drew blood, she stuck this object inside my dickhole, took a sample of whatever lives inside my dickhole, and took it out. "Good job," she said as I attempted to breathe. I'm so glad that didn't last very long, because that pain was one of the most intense sensations I've ever felt, and I couldn't have taken more than that split second without fainting and dropping to the floor. It wasn't helped by the fact that, again, I had absolutely no clue what was about to happen. If I could have been a little prepared, it might not have been so traumatic, but then again, maybe this is how the clinic chooses to take the sample because too many guys were getting the yips and not holding still during this procedure in anticipation of it.

In any event, I sat in the waiting area numb, wide-eyed and disbelieving of what just happened. The doc told me to wait for my number to be called again, or else I would have torn out of there like a bat out of hell. I didn't know what I was waiting for. Keeping you in the dark seemed to be the standard operating procedure here. I did snap out of my trance long enough to notice someone actually come into the clinic to get her results, which strangely enough, relieved me because if what just happened to me wasn't supposed to happen, then nobody would be returning. Or something like that. Ten minutes later, number 25 was called yet again, and I returned to the scene of the crime, Office 6. The doc in rapid fire explained that all of my preliminary tests came up totally clean, that I was to return in two weeks with ID and a blue card she gave me to get my full results, and to "go home. Go trick-or-treating." I smiled because when you're told that you seem to have a clean bill of health, you're supposed to smile. But I actually was somewhat irritated by having to go through all of that to be told I'm clean. I already knew I was clean when I walked in there.

I had to wade through a bunch of kids at the front door when I left who started trick-or-treating early. The clinic has its blinds down and no signs anywhere, so I wondered if those kids even knew whose door they were knocking on or if they just wanted candy from somewhere, anywhere. The first thing I did when I left was text my girlfriend and tell her, "I just got straight-up violated on this STD test. (The doctor) gave better hand than 'Karen,' and I was going to move out of state with her!" But that was just a dig at Karen. In reality, it didn't feel good at all, it wasn't fun, and I now have even more incentive to never stick my cock in anything other than my virgin girlfriend ever again.

Pt. 2 to come this Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

3 Things

The blogger Grizzbabe, apparently the only person who still reads my blog, inquired last post about my girlfriend, asking that I provide more details. I decided to do that in a +3/-3 format, where I reveal 3 things I love and don't like about her. I decided to provide an actual event for each characteristic, as a way of providing some insight on her. Right off, I want to say that the list of things I love--her intelligence, natural beauty, ambition, sobriety, and the fact that she supports me and loves me, for example--runs far deeper than things I dislike, but I wanted to pick 3 things I loved that were unique to her and showed who she really is.

3 Things I Love About My Girlfriend:

  1. She is legitimately innocent. She couldn't harm a fly. The combination of her being left-handed, which gives her a level of goofy that's inherent in all left-handers, and innocent results in some real rollercoaster conversations covering all kinds of subject matter. The foremost examples to me of her innocence concern her discoveries of sexual terms that she had never heard before and her subsequent surprise at what the terms mean. Her most recent example was me offhandedly mentioning salad-tossing and her stopping me in mid-sentence to softly say, "I don't know what that means, but I'm guessing it doesn't have anything to do with salad." I don't know why I find that so fucking cute, but I do.
  2. She is very levelheaded. She doesn't do a damn thing without thinking it out and planning it beforehand. I can imagine some areas where some spontaneity would come to good use, such as in the bedroom, but I haven't experienced any problems with her yet. Short of actual penetration, which she is waiting for marriage to experience, anything I've wanted to do with her physically she's accommodated. The levelheadedness comes in when I feel the urge to open her legs wide and drive my penis into her. This is the action that has led to feelings of paranoia and mistrust on my part in all of my past relationships. If she had let me do that like all the others, then there's a good chance that mentally I would have seen her like all the other sluts no matter how civilized she acted afterwards. But she has made the decision that no matter how much she loves me, she will not let anyone break her vow to herself to wait until marriage to make love. I respect the hell out of that resolve. It feels great to be involved with someone who's going to stay the course through the hard times and be my rock and rein me in when I get too wild. Another example is the fact that she has a plan to save a certain amount of money before she sells her property and moves here and marries me. Not before she reaches that goal, though. She admits that she's not the best at saving money, but she knows what she wants to accomplish before she starts her new life here, and she's driving towards that goal.
  3. She is the embodiment of that "Lady in the street/freak in the bed" mentality that so many try to emulate but fall miserably short. (Speaking of "Karen," I recently saw a picture of her, and whoa, is she not aging well.) My girlfriend has a voice like honey and a demeanor so professional that she has the respect of all of her contemporaries. She is quick to smile and help anyone in need. My family loves her. Even my aunt, who has never liked any of my girlfriends because they were dating me and blew a joke my girlfriend made to me that I repeated to her way out of proportion, couldn't stay mad at her and constantly asks when we're taking the next step. I didn't even know that she had very large breasts after the first few times we met because she doesn't wear revealing clothing. She doesn't have to throw her body parts out in public to be a woman. Yet in private she is (after a period of time to loosen up) loving, giving, communicating her needs, and not just willing to do what it takes to keep her man happy, but is eager to learn the different ways to do it well. She recently wrote a letter expressing how much she is looking forward to learning how to please me orally in every way possible as long as I want it. My hands were shaking after reading it.

3 Things I Don't Like About My Girlfriend:

  1. She's insecure. This is truly the pot calling the kettle black, but I see how maddening it can be to love someone who is so hard on themselves. When she says that she looks in the mirror and sees something different than the woman I saw on our first date, it perplexes me. She says she felt beautiful and confident that day, but she can't replicate that feeling. She looks the same to me. She just today sent me a critique of her writing that her online teacher gave her, and she warned me that it was kinda harsh. It really wasn't. She just tends to take criticism a little personally, and again, I realize that I'm the king of taking things too personally. But I see how it affects the person on the other side, because I don't know what to tell her when she's feeling down on herself. And since we're long distance, I haven't found out yet whether my arm around her shoulder or tongue on her neck will make any difference.
  2. She's a workaholic. This drives me crazy. Yes, she owns her own house and car and has to work hard to maintain these and her other pleasures, like movies and books and cooking. But she had not taken a full week off her primary job in so long before last month that her company had to go out and hire a temp just to do all the things she does in her absence. They don't do that for anyone else in her office because the other workers have backups. No one backs up my girlfriend because she hasn't needed one all these years. She has two other part-time jobs in addition to this full-time one. Her downtime currently consists of a few nights a week, Saturday evening, and Sunday. She has caught a 6:45A plane back home on Monday morning after spending a weekend here with me because she intended to work that day. I don't imagine I would ever go to work the same day I fly home from a leisure trip. The number of vacation days she had earned when her bosses counted them all up was staggering, but she only used a handful. That dedication to her job is admirable, but I worry about her having enough energy to enjoy our downtime once we are together and sharing a large amount of downtime.
  3. Since I can't think of anything else I dislike, she loves spicy food, and I hate it. I see a lot of meals in our future where my sinuses get cleared from all the peppers. Damn Jamaican/Southern heritage. There was some dish she cooked me where she asked how was it and I said, "Would have been great if not for the spices." I get the feeling I'll be repeating that sentence many times.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No Gnus Is Good Gnus

This post dedicated to Jrbour Jump. (Why is his profile missing from Wikipedia's Great Space Coaster page? Or did I imagine him being on that show when I was a kid?)

I'm putting out a general post on my life even though there's no actual news to report. But as busy as I am at work and school, I know I could easily go without making a blog post until the semester ends in December, and the 3 people out there who read my blog may get worried if I wait that long.

  • At home, the animals living above me continue to be on a rampage. A few Saturdays ago I turned on my bathroom light, and I heard a sizzling noise for about 5 seconds followed by a burning smell. It took a while for me to figure out that some water had made its way into the globe that covers my light bulb and the sizzling was the electricity burning off the water from the bulb. If that globe had not been there, the water would have been all over my floor. Apparently they haven't been trained to bathe in the actual bathtub, but rather anywhere in the bathroom will do. Later that night a boy who looked to be about 15 banged on my window and asked me to buzz him in because he had accidentally locked himself out upstairs. Thinking that this wasn't unusual considering who my neighbors are, I buzzed him in. A second later, feeling uneasy about my decision, I called my aunt, who owns this building, to basically ask her if I should have done this. Her son said that she and her husband just left. The reason they just left is because my other first-floor neighbor, a fat white guy who may be even nerdier and more introverted than me (complete with cat), had called my aunt complaining about some menacing-looking young black guy banging on his window. Oh, and he called the cops. My aunt explained to me that no, I shouldn't have buzzed him in because technically no one needs to be in that apartment that late except the two people on the lease, an old woman and her old man. Their kids are the problems, and they're not supposed to be there. But call it a hunch, I don't think they will leave anytime soon. My aunt told me at the beginning of the summer that they were about to move. They're still there. And I bet everyone will know when they actually leave because of the property damage they will cause to the house as a parting gift. Speaking of the house, I will get a little help in keeping cold out as well as (hopefully) hundreds of flies on a random evening invading my kitchen. My place as well as every other apartment in the house will be getting brand new windows. This was supposed to happen last Saturday, but instead it will happen this Saturday. But I won't be home to oversee it because...

  • At work, The Powers That Be decided to move my off days from Friday and Saturday back to Tuesday and Wednesday. The explanation I was given was that they need more people working from Thursday through Monday because that's when most of the mail we process arrives, and since I have hardly any seniority, I had to go. I'm not happy about this at all because Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays just feel like off days more than the other days of the week, and it seemed to have a negative effect on my attitude to have to come to work on weekends. The streets are desolate, the other people I commute with seem to have dead souls like me, and the people I work with aren't happy either. No one, not even a homebound grump like me, wants to work weekends. I had already conceded missing most of the football season working Sundays. But now by working Saturdays, I can't watch college football either, nor can I watch the handful of Saturday night NFL games at the end of the season. Plus, my girlfriend was using her free weekend minutes to talk to me on Saturday mornings, when we're both alert and awake, as an alternative to talking when I get home from work at 11:15 every night. But now we will have to cut off our Saturday conversations because I have to get up around noon and get ready to go to work. Sigh. Life ain't fair. The only positives I can take is the fact that now Tuesday and Wednesday after class, instead of hustling to work, I can come home, chill, study (if I feel like it) and talk to my girlfriend that evening at a much earlier time than usual. The folks at work are also on my ass about my productivity numbers, but I feel that since I'm error free and don't waste time yapping with other co-workers, they should take it easy on me. It's not like I'm trying to be slow, but I am trying to be meticulous. I will not screw up trying to go faster thanks to their pressure. If they hate how slow I work, they need to stop giving me bonus money for being error-free. Also at work, they had to send several people down to the Dallas office a couple of weeks ago because for some reason they were backed up. It was a 2-week stint, all expenses paid, hotel, 3 square meals, and I believe a $70 per diem. I would have loved to go just for the adventure aspect. Alas, I am in the middle of classes. And speaking of classes...

  • At school, I'm performing better than I hoped I would. The biology class is where I thought I would really get creamed, but the 2 major tests we've had, I've pulled a B out of both of them. If the teacher hadn't posted an online study guide for those tests, I would have gotten Cs at best. The lecture with this teacher is just dreadfully boring, and the teacher is kinda hot, so it must really be bad for me to be nodding off every single class. She's really thin and likes to wear shirts that are short-sleeved to show off her guns and are too small for her so that they raise up a little at the slightest movement, showing off a peek at her abs. And she just had a kid, so she's really anxious to show off her abs. Even when it's been chilly, she just happens to have a shirt on a size too small. And I'm still one step away from snoring during this class. The computer class is a breeze for now because we haven't gotten to the real hard stuff yet, like Excel and lite Web design. That teacher doesn't care about anything, man. He starts his lesson on time, he ends it on time, and if you missed something, tough shit. But that's cool for me, because I can go in there and study biology and surf the net and do whatever I want. The speech class has been fun, not because I like standing in front of a room full of people I don't know and speaking, but because the teacher in that class is a world-class goofball and she keeps things light. It's scary sometimes how much she reminds me of "Sarah" because she's also from Kentucky (Sarah spent a lot of time in Kentucky as a child) and has that same accent and off-the-wall sense of humor. On top of that, she drifted off one day talking about a good-looking black guy she saw on a TV program, so just like Sarah, I bet nothing gets her off like a big black cock up her ass. But since I'm pulling an A in that class, I won't have to resort to that to get a good grade. Oh yeah, and I'm taken. Speaking of my girlfriend...

  • She has wondered why I haven't made any posts about us lately, and I was proud to tell her that it was because since she's not psychotic and I'm not nearly was whacko as I was, there's just nothing to make a post about. It's not like we have a big issue to resolve and I need to post and figure out which way to go. (I mean, besides the possibility that we'll decide to get married next year. But that's a little issue, not a big deal at all.) Everything's going well with us, as well as a long-distance relationship can go where we sometimes don't find time to talk to each other until midnight or 1 in the morning. The next big deal on our horizon is Thanksgiving, when I travel down south and meet...her family!!! (Cue screams of horror.) And speaking of horror...

  • My football picks against the spread so far this year: 38-43. That's under .500, and that's pathetic. If I were still gambling, I'd be crying in my cream soda. And speaking of sports, I don't know whether to be impressed by the Colorado Rockies making the World Series by winning 21 of their last 22 games (or something like that) or sickened that they happened to get hot at the right time and win a very weak and winnable National League. One thing I do have to chuckle at: that's somewhere around 50 years now that the Cubs haven't won a National League pennant, and now the Rockies join the Padres, Diamondbacks, and Marlins as expansion teams since then that have won a NL pennant, and I might even be missing a team or 2. And next year will be 100 years without a World title for the fuzzy Cubbies. Lovable losers? Well, that's half right.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blacks In The News, Or Why Obama Won't Be President

These are the 3 most prominent news stories involving blacks in America right now, and in my mind it's proof that the way the media portrays us (not that we don't bring it on by acting like this), a black man will never be elected to the highest office:

1. O.J.'s Legal Woes: The Omen II. The media coverage of this has been laughable, along the lines of "Now O.J. will finally get justice dealt to him!" and "How arrogant of him to think he can cheat the legal system yet again!" This story was so hyped from the moment it broke, and I believe it was because most folks assumed O.J. was in hiding all this time, ashamed to be in public since his acquittal on charges of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend over a decade ago and subsequent loss of a liability suit filed by the boyfriend's family. I really think people were shocked that he was still a part of society and that this issue, comparatively small, would be the Big One they were waiting for that would lock this animal up for what he did to those two innocent people. Look, I have bad news for all of you who think this is justice: The white girl ain't coming back. She's still dead. That's not going to change, so quit making yourself feel good by staying on top of this non-story. One black guy got away with two killings. Get over it. Considering the lynchings of innocent black folks back in the good ol' days, by my count that makes the score several thousand to 2. You're still leading.

2. Speaking of race wars, Free the Jena 6. My girlfriend tried to convince me that this is nothing but a justice issue, but here's what I see when I look at it: Blacks rallying around black teens who beat a white boy unconscious. Great. Nice thing to throw support behind. Of all the black folks in America who could use support from our "leaders," let's go rally not for scientists trying to cure diseases, or philanthropists donating needed money to serious issues, but let's go to some backwater town in Louisiana to hold hands and sing for some kids who answered racial tensions and violence with more racial tension and violence. Yeah, they got charged with a higher crime than the white kids who beat a black kid previously. But they beat someone unconscious. The white guy attended a party that night, apparently, so the theory I've seen in some places is that it couldn't have been that bad. I don't care if he starred in a porno that night, he was beaten unconscious. I used to be guilty of getting caught doing something I shouldn't when I was in school, pointing to someone else and saying, "So-and-so did something bad too!" That was nothing more than trying to take the spotlight off what I did wrong. I didn't want to be responsible for my actions. By making the rallying cry "Free the Jena 6," the people in charge of things down there make it seem like they want these kids absolved of responsibility. That would be a miscarriage of justice, too. And by the way, I haven't seen much of Jesse Jackson in recent years, but he made his way out to a high school in suburban Chicago a few years ago to support some teenagers who were expelled after a gang brawl at a basketball game. And there he was along with Al Sharpton in Jena last week. Really, Jesse, you have nothing better to do? And I've seen this situation referred to as the jump-off for a "new civil rights movement." Wow. Branche, Abernathy, King, and so many others marching for equality during the '50s and '60s, and some kids committing battery and assault is on the same footing? Did I miss something??

3. The role model that is Isiah Thomas. All those years kissing Magic Johnson and cultivating an image as a sensitive young man with a quick, heartwarming smile, and because he and the New York Knicks refused to settle a harassment lawsuit with a woman, Anucha Browne Sanders, who had a laundry list of complaints against Zeke, all the sordid details are spilling out under oath in court. What a jackass. The funniest story told during the trial to me is the tale of a female intern getting drunk while hanging out with Isiah and the guys, then watching Stephon Marbury pull up and wait for her to get in his car and fuck him, as if this is the only way he can get some tail even though he makes millions of dollars and isn't totally ugly. The only way this would be slightly cool is if Starbury had the song "Bitch Get In My Car" by 50 Cent playing during this episode. At least then it could be ironic and witty. But without that, it's just sad. The only other thing I have to add to this is that I think about Isiah's backcourt teammate all those years with the Pistons, Joe Dumars. He was a class act, even when the Bad Boys were slamming my beloved Bulls into basket supports and on the floor in the name of competition, and even when Isiah and the other Pistons were tucking their tails between their legs and running off the court once the Bulls finally were able to knock them out of the playoffs in 1991. Dumars is now the Pistons' general manager, and we never seem to hear anything about him. I wish that he would get some of the press coverage Isiah is getting right now, not for doing bad things, but for doing the right things all these years. What a breath of fresh air it would be to see some media coverage about a black man that had nothing to do with a courtroom or a rally for violent teenagers or sales of a rap album. But that would mean that those in charge of media coverage would have to acknowledge blacks as deserving of such coverage, which means it won't be happening soon.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Shortest Football Preview Ever

I wanted to type this before the first game of the NFL season last night, but I didn't have time between my classes and my job. It's going to look like front-running on the heels of last night's game, but I honestly was going to make this pick anyway: My Super Bowl pick this season, because absolutely no one else is picking the Colts to repeat, is the Colts to repeat and beat the Cowboys. I'm picking the Cowboys because someone has to go to the Super Bowl from the NFC despite none of the teams deserving to go. I'm picking the Colts to win it for one simple reason: Peyton Manning appears from a distance to be an anal, repetitive, ultra-competitive asswipe, and I think he's going to take the chatter around him that the Colts can't possibly repeat and use it as motivation to become even more anal and repetitive. No one masters his offense at QB like him. Not even close. And yes, the Colts defense looked great last night against the Saints, but even if they didn't, I would pick Manning to lead the offense over the entire AFC whether the defense wanted to come with him or not. His kryptonite all these years had been the smashmouth defense of the Patriots, and not only did he overcome them in last year's AFC title game, but they're another year older and missing some key parts due to injuries and suspensions. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing stopping Peyton Manning from winning as many Super Bowls as he wants except himself and his offensive teammates, all of whom seem to be as focused and driven as he is. And that, my friends, is nightmare fuel for the rest of the NFL.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

How To Make Things Chilly When It's 100 Degrees Outside

My latest trip to Memphis to visit my girlfriend started horribly. I decided to catch a 6:45A flight on a Friday morning in order to spend as much time with her as possible during an extended weekend. But now that I get home from work at about 11:15 every night, I decided that in order to make sure I caught the 4:14A bus to get to O'Hare Airport, I should just stay awake that Thursday night after I got home. So on no sleep, wired by my excitement only, I made my way to the bus stop and got there maybe a minute or two before the 4:14 scheduled time. Twenty minutes later, still no bus. I wasn't sweating because that bus runs on average about every twenty minutes, and even if I missed the 4:14, there should be a bus coming along about 4:35 or so. Sure enough, at about 4:35 I look up and see a bus leaving from the bus depot a block in front of where I was standing to wait for the 4:14 bus. It sounds confusing, but this bus line has buses going downtown from two different places, and the 4:14 was definitely going to go past the stop I was waiting at, not at the bus depot. And I was still standing at that previous stop because I wasn't sure if the 4:14 was just running late and I didn't want to risk walking to the depot and having the bus fly right past me, which is exactly what happened the last time I tried to fly to Memphis.

In any event, now it's 4:50 and even if I catch the next bus at 4:54 it dawns on me that it might be cutting it close getting to an airport as busy as O'Hare at 6A (I'm an hour away on the bus and train but a half-hour away in a car)with 45 minutes before my flight and the long check-in line ahead of me. I had promised my girlfriend that I wouldn't miss this flight because I had miscues the first two times I came to see her and I had to think she was wondering how eager I really am to see her if I keep missing buses and flights. This promise is ringing in my head as I break out my cell phone and call 411 trying to get the number for Yellow Cab. It didn't matter that I was spending $30 for cabfare to the airport, I just wanted to make my flight. Well, my dumb ass kept giving the cab company the intersection I was standing at, which happened to straddle the line between Chicago and the suburb of Oak Park, and they couldn't get the intersection to register on their little computers. I could have just given them my home address, squarely in the city of Chicago, but I didn't want to walk back home. After numerous calls and statements from them that they would try to be at that corner but they weren't sure, it's 6:30, the sun is out, and I've already told my girlfriend that I am breaking my promise and will have to catch a standby flight and get there later. You could have fried an egg on my forehead, I was so frustrated, and not necessarily at the bus company or the cab company, but at myself for finding a way to disappoint my girlfriend and screw up something as simple as getting to the fucking airport on time.

With the weariness from being up all night, the frustration at my traveling ordeal, the disappointment at letting my girlfriend down yet again, and the rigors of flying all piled on top of my body and spirit, I wound up spending the first three days of my four-day trip curled up on her couch watching TV or eating or sleeping in her bed. It already takes a world of confidence in myself to make a move on someone, and this experience sapped my confidence from me, so by the time we had some pillow talk Sunday night about what we should have done more during our time together, I was painfully aware that we had not been very active intimately with each other. We're waiting until marriage to have sex, too, so it can get frustrating for me to get the motor running so to speak knowing the end result will not be the feeling that only making love provides. I told her that I wished we had rolled in the hay more, and she agreed. Then she said something that hurt and made me afraid that I wasn't being the man that I should be: She said she didn't feel "desired" that weekend. What's worse, when I later tried to move my hand under her shirt, she said, "I don't want you to feel like you have to make me feel better." Ouch. You know you've wounded a woman when she believes you're only getting closer to her because you're taking pity.

In subsequent conversations, she has expressed that she doesn't feel like that weekend was a threat to the relationship because she understands why I wasn't as physically expressive as I usually am. But I was afraid because what person wants to go through a long-distance relationship just to finally see the partner for the first time in months and then spend four days feeling undesired? That's a problem. I actually floated the idea several times that weekend in my head to just turn around and kiss her and show you are happy to be there, but I was just feeling so despondent that I didn't want to do that. After lying to her and promising that I'd be there only to drop in late again, it was just nearly impossible for me to gather the self-confidence to start jumping her bones and acting like I'm something special. And, like I said, despite her talent at giving hand jobs, when it's predetermined that you're not getting anything beyond that, it makes it more difficult to initiate intimacy. Since then, I've explained that in those times when I'm not feeling very forward, it might work out better if we got intimate and cozy without an orgasm looming over our heads, just roll around with each other and enjoy each other's company, and she agreed. She said there are times where she doesn't have to get naked and start playing with me to feel intimate, too, so that's something to look forward to. I bet as soon as we have a time where we say at the beginning that we're just going to kiss and cuddle and don't have to get naked, the spontanaeity will come back and we'll wind up naked anyway.

There's nothing easy about relationships, but when they're long-distance, you have to work that much harder to communicate with each other. I was mad at myself for not communicating how down I was feeling to my girlfriend that weekend BEFORE it got to the point where she was feeling undesired. But with time and talking, things are much better now. She's been so supportive during the last year and a half, and she's never made me feel undesired. I'm very anxious to put in the work to demonstrate to her that I still desire her as much as I did in the beginning. The reason I love her is because I'm pretty sure she already knows that.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What You Need Is An Adult Education

Me quoting bad Hall & Oates songs must mean one thing--I'm gearing up to return to school. I'm sitting in the computer lab at Harold Washington College waiting to speak to an advisor and figure out what three classes I want to take this fall. I'm only taking three because four was killing me back when I had temp jobs or no jobs at all, and now that I'm working full-time, I don't want to wear myself out. Also, I would be angry at receiving a free bus pass for the duration of the semester, which everyone taking twelve credit hours is eligible for, knowing that I can't take the bus home from work at night because the bus route a block from my house stops running by the time I get off work. A train system called Metra has a stop three blocks from my house, so I'm able to come home at a decent hour every night, but the Metra system does not acknowledge that free student pass. C'est la vie. (More bad 80s music references--blame that damn iPod of mine. And if you even remember the song "C'est La Vie," then you're as disturbed as I am.)

I was planning to return to school after I got used to my new work schedule and settled into my house, but I'm inspired also by my aunt's oldest son, my cousin Thomas, preparing to attend the University of Illinois this fall. His family threw him a congratulatory bash a few weeks ago. I kept glancing at him throughout the party, amazed that the same little boy who used to play "bat and ball" with me (what he called baseball) and kept bursting into my bedroom when my first girlfriend and I would be getting it on was now three inches taller than me, sprouting facial hair, and going to college. And man, is he smart as a whip. I tried to tell him at the end of the party in a private moment that if he needed advice on anything that he could always give me a call, and I added that my first piece of advice would be: "All women are evil." Without missing a fucking beat, he turns to me and softly says, "Except (my girlfriend), right?" "Of course," I responded. I'm very excited about what becomes of him after he spends a few years out from under his mother's thumb. He's got the potential to destroy the world in whatever area he wants. Unfortunately, despite his size (he's close to 300 lbs. and about 6'4"), it won't be football. He never played in high school. He's much more interested in using his brain. He could have made a tremendous left tackle, in my opinion, but whatever he winds up doing, I have a feeling he'll be great at it.

I will have more free time to blog now that I'm back in school because I can use a computer that actually works well, unlike the one I have at home. Plus, I do all of my fantasy sports stuff when I'm on the computer at home, and by the time I finish that, it's time to jump in the shower and go to work. So I'll return with another post soon, certainly sooner than the one a month I seem to have been doing this year. I visited my girlfriend in Memphis a couple of weekends ago, so I'll talk about that. She and I don't have a lot of issues, and boy am I happy about that, but we had something during my visit that could be a sign of a major problem down the road. You'll have to wait to find out what's going on, but if you're insane enough to still be checking in on my blog, then you're certainly used to waiting by now.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Signs O' The Times

A possible conversation taking place somewhere in Great Britain...

Chap 1: "I say old chap, of all the reasons David Beckham could have chosen to go to America, what do you think could have been going through his old bean?"

Chap 2: "I'm as befuddled as you are, my good man. Of course, he could become a bigger star perhaps if he were playing overseas. They need a star footballer over there."

1: "Oh, hogwash. The sport will never be big over there because they're too low-class to appreciate it. Their three most popular sports are all way bigger than football, or soccer, which is what they call it. And it's disgusting the filth that permeates their sports culture."

2: "Well, sure, there's all the hippity-hop and bling-blung and whatever, but maybe it's not so bad for footballers. Besides, it's not like all the sports stars in America are thugs and bad blokes, just a bloody few."

1: "Oh yeah? Tell me, what do you think is the big story in the major sports over there? What's the first thing you think of when you think of baseball news?"

2: "I don't know."

1: "I'll tell you, it's that gargoyle Barry Bonds about to break the all-time home run record. I mean, never mind the fact that the most home runs hit were by Sadaharu Oh in the Japanese leagues. I understand they only want to acknowledge the major league record. That's their style, you see, ignore the rest of the world and only point out your own achievements. But fine, let's say Hank Aaron is the home run leader. This Bonds guy is obviously unnatural, you can just look at him and tell he uses some sort of supplement that no one else uses because no one else looks like him! His hat size grew about 3 full sizes in 8 years! He's a walking pharmacy, I tell you, but their commissioner just throws his hands in the air and says nothing. And Bonds even testified to a grand jury that he used a steroid, but he says he didn't know what it was. Come on, you think anyone, much less a world-class athlete, puts something in his body and doesn't bloody well know what it is?"

2: "That doesn't sound very bright, no."

1: "And what's the first thing in your mind when I mention basketball?"

2: "Why, Michael Jordan, of course. Is he still playing?"

1: "No, he finally retired years ago for the 7th time. You haven't heard what happened with the basketball officials?"

2: "No I haven't."

1: "They're on the bloody take! They found a guy who was an NBA official for I believe 13 years, and they say he was involved in the Mafia and had gambling debts, and agreed to lower his debts by calling a boatload of fouls and making his games tilt over the over-under number. Can you imagine? Their commissioner had all these silly rules for the players like a dress code and such, trying to control them like he was headmaster, and meanwhile his officials are fixing the games! You wonder how many other things they will find when they investigate. I mean, what's stopping other officials from getting in on the action, or even players? Hell, the commissioner wouldn't know. He's busy keeping an eye on whether Shaquille O'Neal is wearing a bloody sportcoat!"

2: "That is indeed scandalous."

1: "And what about American football? What do you think is the biggest story there?"

2: "Oh, I know this one. It's that one guy who was 'making it rain' throwing money in the gentleman's club, and then one of his buddies shot a man and paralyzed him. Pity."

1: "That's old news, pal. One of their star quarterbacks was just indicted because there was a house he owned but never lived in, and they found it was a house where he and his friends raised dogs to fight for money. And when there were dogs that wouldn't make good fighters, they would just kill them as if they didn't deserve to live. I'm talking electrocuting them, shooting them, firing them down to the ground until they stopped moving--vile, disgusting things."

2: "Fancy that. I've never heard of such a thing. They would make the dogs fight for money, you say? There were prizes for this?"

1: "No, no, folks would bet on which dog would win. It wasn't like a league where there was a champion--this was all underground stuff."

2: "That's sickening."

1: "Now what do you think about Beckham going to the United States?"

2: "That he's entering the gates of Hades?"

1: "Exactly."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lord Of The Houseflies

I recently moved to second shift on my job because I wanted to free up my mornings to eventually return to school, so coming home last Sunday night should not have been an unusual event. Oh, but it was. It was a humid day, so I didn't really freak out when I got home at 11:15P and saw a fly on my cabinet above my sink in the kitchen. I slowly took my shoe off and (I think) killed it. That would be that, I figured, until I spotted two more black dots in the darkness above my window. This was a little disturbing because I haven't had an insect problem in this house, at least since I moved out of the spider-infested basement, plus I had never opened my kitchen window at all, so I was wondering how they even got in. I hit the kitchen lights expecting to get a better view of those two flies, and there it was, much to my horror and surprise--a brood of flies hanging out on my window's blinds, and a group in the little window above my backdoor attracted to the hall light. It looked to be 30 to 50 of them at least. I did what any tough guy would do--scurried to my bedroom and shut the door. Two more flies came out of my bedroom window and startled me, and at that point I shut my window, eventually killed both of those flies, and wondered what the fuck was going on. Now, I'm not the cleanest person on the planet, but I did not have garbage lingering around in the house, nor did I have food left out anywhere. Hell, I had just washed my dishes the night before. There was no smell coming from my home, and I didn't sense any dead animals or horse shit outside the house. I called my girlfriend and expressed my anguish at the situation, then I decided to go to bed and hope that this was some kind of fluke that only science could understand and that my place would be back to normal the next day.

It wasn't.

The damn things seemed to multiply, numbering close to 100. I took out some garbage and left my backdoor open for a couple of hours because even though there's a second screened door that I can't keep open, the screen is broken, so if the flies wanted to leave, they easily could. Maybe I was hallucinating at this point, but I saw yet more flies on my blinds when I came back in the kitchen. I called my play aunt and asked for some bug spray, and her daughter came through the back hall and rang the bell. I was so skeezed out by my kitchen that I shouted for her to go around the front because I didn't want to even go in there. She had the biggest bug eyes when she got to the front because she could see the infestation in my window from the outside. Then I went in my bathroom for the first time that day. My bright, sunny bathroom where the window doesn't have blinds or shades. Fifteen or 20 flies were buzzing around, soaking up the sun. I used the bug spray to kill off as many as I could, but this stuff wasn't of the highest quality. Some flies got irritated and started flying back at me. My dining room, where I have big heavy wooden blinds that keep a lot of the sun out, seemed fine until I noticed one fly on the blinds, and when I took the little can of bug spray that my play aunt gave me and tried to get that one, 10 or 15 more flew up out of nowhere as if I had no right to disturb their play time.

That was my breaking point. It was time for the heavy duty stuff. I put on some clothes and walked to Walgreens and didn't hesitate to pay $7 for something called Cutter Bug Free Backyard Outdoor Fogger. I didn't know how effective the product would be, just that it would produce a cloud of poison that hopefully would create a mass genocide of all the flies in my kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. My bathroom was already a dead zone because of all the cheap bug spray I used earlier, so I tried it on my dining room blinds, and there weren't any more flies flying around after 20 seconds of spraying the fogger. So far, so good. I had to get my guts together and work up the gumption to go in the kitchen where the sheer number was to that point overwhelming, but I finally put on my Terminator persona, put on my headphones with some rap music pumping, shouted out "Die motherfuckers die!!!" and killed them all. Actually, the minute-long fogging stirred the fuckers around for a second, then they started to just collapse to the floor one by one. I left the kitchen to let them enjoy their last gasps, then the poison started overwhelming me, so I left the apartment for a half-hour and chilled in my play aunt's crib. When I came back, there were no more flies on my kitchen blinds. They were all on the floor, save for maybe ten on my windowsill. I actually had to battle in my mind whether I wanted to sweep them all up before I went to work, as if they would disappear if I left them there, but I took on the sickening task, then hopped in the shower and left.

Dammit if there weren't more flies on my kitchen blinds when I came home from work Monday evening. This time, I fogged in there, but didn't bother to sweep up. I did notice a bunch of flies on my screen when I went to work, and I said to myself if I see them again when I get home I'll fog the outside of my window. I saved that task for Tuesday. Once again, I slept in my humid bedroom with the ceiling fan whirring and the window closed, since I had no idea if the flies came through that window or any other window. I kept the bathroom door closed too, so Tuesday morning there was another congregation in the kitchen but not in the bathroom. I went outside to spray down the outside of my kitchen window, and I got a little batshit at that point because I started fogging my whole back hall and part of the backyard, as if my can of fogger would destroy every fly in the city or something. Sometime that morning I finally talked to my aunt, who owns the house, about the problem, and she informed me that she and her husband were at my house Sunday and saw a massive amount of flies in the back hall on the second floor, and her husband took out a window up there in order for them to get out. Sure enough, I went upstairs to check out the second floor, and I saw nothing. Apparently they all moved into my fucking house. My play aunt went to the basement that morning as well and saw a large number of flies down there, but there still was no obvious source that would answer what the hell would draw that many flies in the first place. There was even a theory that some flies were in the walls of the house making babies, but that's something that can't be proven unless a professional pest killer comes out and discovers it.

Unfortunately, that costs money, so my aunt hasn't done that. Her husband came over Tuesday and sprayed some stuff he bought in the basement. Combine that with all the killing I had been doing, a hard rain Tuesday and Wednesday, and a 20-degree temperature drop between Sunday and Wednesday, and predictably, I had a dramatic drop in insects--a few flies Wednesday morning and basically none since. But there's still no answer why there were so many and how the fuck they got into my house. And the weather is supposed to get hot and humid again next week. My aunt and her husband are sure there will not be a repeat of this week of horror, but they're not giving me an answer why they're so sure, they just are. I've been pissed because I honestly believe that if I were a regular tenant with no family ties, they would have called a professional and gotten to the bottom of this, or if this were their kitchen, spraying the basement and saying the flies shouldn't come back would not be acceptable. I hate the thought that I'm not a priority to them due to being a family member, and I was depressed for a day or two because I feel that if I had made something of myself, I could afford my own damn house, and this wouldn't be happening to me. There's really nothing I can do at this point except wait for next week's heat wave to come through and hope that it doesn't result in another pack of flies invading my kitchen. I sprayed so much crap in there that I can actually still smell spray when I walk in three days later. Thanks to nothing being done to find out why this happened, I may need to buy even more cans of fogger to protect the area where my food and cooking utensils are. Yeech.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Benoit Tragedy--When Words Can't Do Justice

I haven't been struggling trying to figure out what I was going to say on my blog about the Chris Benoit situation because I don't have much to say. The information provided hasn't answered the question of why, and beyond that, what else is there to talk about? Yes, it's horrific, yes, it's another black eye for pro wrestling, and yes, it's a damn shame that a wife and innocent child were victims. From what I've read on the internet all week, any other commentary outside of that has been speculative, inflammatory, inaccurate, and probably should never have been said.

The Chris Benoit situation, for those who may not know, is this: From what I've read, to the best of my knowledge, 17-year veteran pro wrestler Chris Benoit did not make it to a wrestling pay-per-view show last Sunday night due to what WWE was claiming was a "family emergency," then Benoit, his wife (a former wrestling valet who divorced her wrestler husband while he was feuding with Benoit and went on to marry Benoit) and their son were found dead in their suburban Atlanta home. WWE aired a three-hour retrospective about Benoit Monday night; the next day details were released by the Atlanta police that indicated Benoit for reasons nobody knows strangled his wife with a cord, choked out his son, and then hung himself in his weight room. No suicide notes or any other indicators why Chris did this were left behind, just a Bible next to his wife and one left next to his son. WWE has taken on flak since then for airing a glowing tribute Monday to a guy who killed his family. I can't even comment on that because there's no way I can tell who knew what about Benoit's death when, and even if WWE and its Chairman Vince McMahon knew, it would be hard for me to come down on them for acknowledging one of its greatest in-ring performers because, again, no one knows for sure why he did this, and I can't decide if ignoring him and never mentioning his name on a wrestling broadcast again would be the right thing to do. Maybe, maybe not.

What I do want to talk about is the talking heads that have yapped about this thing all week. McMahon is still running scared from the feds taking him to trial for steroid possession and distribution in the 1990s (he beat the rap), so his main talking point on shows has been that Benoit was just a "monster" and that steroids and roid rage couldn't have had anything to do with this because the WWE has a wellness policy and Benoit passed his most recent test. Yeah, I'm sure the WWE steroid test is really difficult to beat. The fact is, McMahon has absolutely no idea if this was a roid rage incident and he was just trying to clear his name and the WWE before the info about roids being found in Benoit's home came out. I find that disgusting. Instead of saying that we have to wait for the whole truth to be uncovered, McMahon is busy covering his ass. The general commentary hasn't been much more intelligible. Some people are informed, but a lot, like the Fox News jokers, aren't, and almost everything they say comes out sounding like they still think pro wrestling is in its own bubble insulated from the outside world and that's why this horrific scene could occur, never mind that there's no evidence this has anything to do with wrestling. In fact, that was one of my first thoughts when I heard the news--how hard will the mainstream work to make a homicide-suicide by a pro wrestler look like it's wrestling's fault? They already hate wrestling, looking down on it as if only low-class individuals watch it, ignoring the high ratings every single week which indicate it's a widely popular program in any and all demographics. I was afraid they would try to paint this as something only a wrestler or a maniac could do, and that's been the case in some instances.

Or maybe I'm just hoping some excuse can come out to explain the unexplainable. Maybe I'm such a big Benoit fan that I can't believe he could do this without some sort of outside force causing him to snap and not realize what he was doing. I don't own a lot of wrestling DVDs because most of them out there are WWE products and I really hate putting money in the pockets of that pud McMahon. But the first one I ever bought a couple of years ago was "Hard Knocks," the Chris Benoit life story. He was that great to me. Every match he wrestled was hard-fought, stiff, and looked like it hurt him and the man he was working with. He put his body through hell every time out, and watching him talk about his career, you could tell it was what he loved to do and what he thought he was put here to do. The reason that resonated with me was because it reminded me of sports stars and the intensity and hard work they put themselves through to be at their peak physical best, and I respected the hell out of that. And so did the fans. Whether he was playing a good guy or a bad guy, Benoit had a section of every arena standing and applauding every time he hit the ring because they appreciated the fact that someone was going to get their ass kicked tonight. Believe it or not, there's not a great deal of wrestlers who inspire that feeling when they walk to the ring because so many of them are so light-hitting because they're afraid of hurting themselves or their opponents. Benoit wasn't concerned with that. He was concerned with having a match that looked and felt real, and it didn't go unnoticed by those of us who want to see guys display top-notch physical talent.

With that, here's one more theory of what could have made Chris do this other than just an animalistic drive to destroy himself, his family, and his legacy in one weekend. Like every other wrestler who wanted to put on a hardcore, realistic match every time out, Benoit over the years took many shots to and drops on his head. Since WWE--or, in fairness, any other wrestling federation--is loathe to give guys breaks or thorough physical exams, there's no telling how many concussions Benoit may have suffered over the years. He may never have reported any of them, either, since he wanted to be a tough guy and didn't want to be seen as weak for asking to be taken off a show due to headaches. Well, there was an ex-NFL player named Andre Waters who a few months ago killed himself due to feeling helpless from the neurological damage suffered from his numerous concussions. He was 43, but his brain had aged as if it was 73 from all the damage. The work to discover telltale signs of this damage to his brain was put in motion in part from the efforts of Chris Nowinski, a Harvard graduate and a man not yet 30 years old who was a WWE Superstar for a couple of years before quitting due to concussions. He is now pushing for former NFL players to get their heads examined, so to speak, so that they can see if they have issues with their brains and get treatment before it's too late. Nowinski wants to have the brain of Chris Benoit on his table to examine if there are the same symptoms of damage that were there in Andre Waters' brain, the same symptoms that led Waters to commit suicide. Last I read, Nowinski had thus far been rebuffed in his efforts to acquire Benoit's noodle. But if he gets that brain and finds that same kind of damage, at least there may be a small sense of closure and an answer to the question of why. And maybe McMahon will quit running around the country calling Benoit a monster, and maybe some sort of institutionalized health care will be instated by the WWE before McMahon can create more monsters.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Not Your Usual Father Figure, Part Deux--The Interpretive Dancer

My dad picked me up from work this past Sunday in a different ratty van than the one he usually had. I almost didn't recognize it until I got close enough to see the garbage on the dashboard that signifies that it's owned by him. This one was black, and the one he's had the last few years was tan. "This is the van you're gonna inherit when I'm gone," he told me, ignoring the fact that every time he's told me I was going to have his ride when he died, I told him I wasn't interested. He came out of nowhere at one point with, "Well I guess (some woman) ain't gonna be my girlfriend no more. She moved up north, and she thinks I'm gonna drive around everywhere to see her. Shit, she moves all the time like some gypsy." He then tried to remember if the woman was a grandmother or a great-grandmother. Oh, boy. We headed to the near West Side, where he told me we would go for Father's Day to hear some guys he knew play music and to eat their barbecue. He told me all week leading up that we wouldn't be there long and that if I wanted to leave after a while, he would take me home.

So the first thing he does when we arrive at a vacant lot tricked out with an overhead tent ten feet wide for the band to sit under in case of rain or hardcore sun is to roll out his drum set. He never mentioned he was playing. I can go home early, my black ass. He saw the bass player walking around as he drove up and mumbled to me, "Stone cold drunk. He can play, but man, he's a total drunk." I also saw a white guy wearing a "Marithe and Francois Girbaud" shirt, which I hadn't seen since high school. Turned out, he was the lead guitar. And with that, another unique Father's Day was underway.

The set-up was so interesting to me that I calmed down from wanting to be upset long enough to take camera phone pictures and call my girlfriend to tell her I'd be out late. It was a typical empty vacant lot where a regular house could be built. In the middle of the lot was an RV parked sideways so that people could walk up the crudely built wooden patio to a window and take whatever they wanted from the people inside the RV, in this case barbecue, fries, and all the trimmings. The meat was being grilled on the patio outside the RV, but when it was finished, the griller passed it into the RV, and the women inside then prepared plates for whomever wanted some. Ten feet in front of this was one lonely patio table with four chairs that clearly had seen better days, and to the right of the table was a plain wooden bleacher bench. And five feet in front of the table was the "stage," or rather, the aforementioned overhead tarp covering a patch of grass, with another bleacher bench balancing on the uneven turf. Microphones, a speaker, and other electrical equipment also stayed under this tarp, protected from rain (unless it blew sideways). To the right of all this was more vacant land, maybe 100 feet, where people parked and in some cases hung out and drank. It was a simple, unrefined set-up, and at the same time, actually smart and cozy. I also took a picture of the fire hydrant that the local kids had opened up, because the sight of water shooting straight up in the air and little black children splashing around reminded me of days gone by.

I didn't take a bite of food because the guy running things saw me and my dad coming and remarked, "I only got enough food for so many folks, guys!," and that made me feel self-conscious. Also, I had a sub sandwich for lunch and wasn't hungry. Also, the guy at the grill was old, dark, and scuzzy, and I didn't want anything he was cooking. I did have two cans of pop and two cans of iced tea. I sat on the bench off to the right the whole time, acknowledging people who wanted to laugh and converse with a chuckle, but otherwise feeling like I was plopped into some family picnic for a family I didn't know. During a break, the bass player sat down next to my dad with a beer in one hand and a plastic cup with a clear liquid in the other. Double-fisting, I thought. Man, he is a drunk. Someone tried to pour some water into the guy's clear cup, and he pulled away and said, "Why?" "To cut it," the man with water said, whatever "it" was. The bass player relented and let him put as much water in the cup as there was the other fluid. He and a couple of other guys asked me if I played, and I solemnly shook my head. When my dad explains that I tried drums in high school but didn't take to it, I can feel the disappointment every time. And I do fantasize about taking the stage one day on a lark and screaming my lungs out to "Hotel California" or something by Incubus or Audioslave while banging away on the skins (this embarrassing scene shall play out at the celebration when/if I ever win the lottery). But I really think my dad assumed when I got labeled early as "genius" that I'd either be a doctor or lawyer, or idolize him and play music. Chalk it up as another way I failed my loved ones.

Several times during the quasi-concert, a few groups of younger women arrived, some with toddlers. One woman came without a kid and with a very small piece of cloth on for a dress, and my dad stalked over to her and struck up a conversation during another break. I didn't know what he was telling her, but because I know him too well, I felt the need to bust his game by walking over at one point and saying, "Whatever my dad is saying, I apologize in advance." The small crowd giggled. When the band started playing again, the lady took one of the patio seats in front of the band, conversing with another woman seated in the area. This allowed my dad to throw some flirtatious remarks in her direction during his set. Then, off-mike, he called me up to him, and I thought he was going to ask me to get something for him out of the van, but instead he asked me what I said to her while they were talking earlier. When I told him, without hesitation and with a devilish twinkle, he said, "But doesn't she look like your mother?" And for the first time, I looked at her and saw what my dad saw. Slim, tall, pretty in the face, an elegant way of doing her thing--yep, she certainly resembled my mom. "Okay, dad," was all I could say before shuffling back to my seat. I guess that's really his type, or maybe he's still looking for my mom, just like I feel like I'm still looking for her.

Another slim woman appeared on the scene as the sky started to turn dark, but she didn't resemble my mom. She was shorter, for one thing, but also, she seemed high. She rubbed her hand over my back and said "Happy Father's Day!" when she got there, but because I never saw her coming and didn't notice her until maybe five seconds after she touched me, I didn't respond, and she walked off. A few minutes later, I saw her in front of the band near the patio table, and the only reason I knew it was the same woman was the sound of her voice as she sang the lyrics of the blues songs while spinning with her hands floating around in the air as if she was doing an interpretive dance, such as one could interpret "Down Home Blues" and "Stormy Monday." My dad liked this too, because it gave him more excuses to be the hype man on the mike. "We got a dancer out there, go on girl!" he growled. The girl in the straw church hat and thin gray dress and no bra went on, twirling and strutting in her own little world, paying attention to no one and nothing while still occasionally shouting out to no one in particular, "Happy Father's Day!" I just smirked and shook my head.

When the band started playing, there was a guy singing lead who called himself Hurricane, and the Carl Weathers look-alike was fine, blowing his harmonica more than he actually sang. Then he would sit, and they would set the mike up for my dad, who did the few songs his gravelly voice is best for, "The Thrill Is Gone," "Baby Can I Change My Mind," and a couple others. Then an older gentleman with a black shirt with big white polka dots, purple pants, and--wait for it--matching purple socks would take the mike, and I had to stop myself from laughing out loud, not at his attire, but at the fact that he would name his song, the band would play it, and he would completely run off track and lose the rhythm of the song, singing lyrics out of place when the mood struck him. He would interject a little dance at times that looked more like an epileptic seizure than anything else, kicking up dirt with every gyration. "He's 70 years old, so you gotta let him do what he wants," my dad explained later. The band members had to break the songs down and end them on their own eventually because the older man would go on howling and dancing forever if they didn't, and at one point later I saw the man wave his hand dismissively at my dad, so he didn't appreciate this. But at least he didn't take the mic with no clue of the lyrics at all, as one guy did twice. He had a shaved head and needle tracks up and down his arms, and not only did he request a couple of songs that had already been done by the band, but he then kept saying the opening line of the songs over and over until the band ended the act.

As I figured he'd do, my dad drove me to a bus stop when I asked to leave so that he could get back to his gig faster. On the way, he told me why he didn't have a problem with the Interpretive Dancer, even if she may have been high. "You gotta have a woman at home like that, to bring you up when you're feeling down, son," he said. I thought about how I've always hated women who were all happy and loopy and bugging me because I was always low-key and introverted. Then I thought about my girlfriend, who is very even-keeled like me, but I would still describe as happy and loving life. I've got a woman at home (or I should say in Memphis but within the next few years will be here at home with me) who's on a natural high, she just knows when to take it down several levels. Maybe when you don't have the blues, you don't need to look for someone whose head is in the clouds. And maybe if he wasn't always looking in the clouds, my dad could find someone to be happy with and settle down.