Thursday, December 25, 2008

And To Prove That I'm Not A Total Scrooge...

...A heartwarming story about a Samoan Savage and his Christmas Myracle. Happy Holidays all!

(From the Wrestling Observer/Figure 4 Weekly website)

Monday, December 22, 2008

33 Years Of Opportunism

Ballots were handed out at my job a few weeks ago voting for 2nd shift's various characters, such as Most Likely to Transition to a better job in J.P. Morgan Chase, Most Helpful, Most Outspoken, etc. The last category was for Most Quiet, and almost immediately after the ballots were distributed, several people approached me asking for my last name so they could rock the vote for me. I didn't have to guess which category they were putting me down for, but after that day I forgot about the ballots until the awards show happened this past Friday. I have to admit, I expected to be in the running for Most Quiet, but I didn't necessarily expect to win. There are close to 100 people working 2nd shift, so I didn't think I'd be able to beat everyone out. But the nominations came up on the TV screen, which displayed the nominees for each award with their name in lights and music in the background, and for Most Quiet I was the 2nd nominee displayed. It was so funny because my name popping up was immediately followed by several people in the room saying, "Who??" I was so quiet that a lot of folks legitimately didn't know who the hell I was even though I've been working 2nd shift now for a year and a half. I guess if I'm that unknown, I deserve to be named Most Quiet, and indeed I won. Now, I didn't vote for anybody in any category, and I dismissed the whole thing as silly the day that ballots were handed out, so you'd think I would be embarrassed or nonchalant about winning. But, once again proving myself to be a hypocrite and proving that when it comes to the spotlight I have no shame, I basked in the "glory" of my win, stretching my arms out when my name was called, strutting down the red-carpet aisle, and accepting my award with a big smile as if I accomplished something. I grabbed the microphone for an acceptance speech, and, no lie, I heard several people gasp at the prospect of me speaking, and one woman said, "This should be something. I haven't heard him say a thing in two years." I then gave my one-word speech: "Shhhh..." Then I took a bow and headed back to my seat in the back of the room as everyone laughed and applauded.

Hey, if I thanked the Academy and took forever in my acceptance, then I wouldn't be deserving of Most Quiet, now would I?

But here's the thing: Those close to me who work with me every day don't think of me as very quiet. When someone does something stupid at work, or my boss gets on my ass about my numbers, or something happens that pisses me off, I'm not quiet at all. I'm quite loud and outspoken about dumb shit. I don't say much when things are going smoothly, but there are days where everything seems to be going off the rails and I appear to be the only one capable of steering the train back on track. A good example would be last month, when an account in my workgroup that has a lot of difficult instructions became a problem because I wasn't there to work on it for a few days and people in a different workgroup tried to do it. They screwed it up, but it wasn't their fault. There are a lot of instructions that were accidentally cut off of the online instruction page for that account, but because I've been working that account for a couple of years, I know what instructions are missing, and I work the account the right way. I have mentioned to previous supervisors and team leads that the instructions need to be fixed, but no one listened, and now people were running up to me saying "I'm so glad you're here!" because I returned from having a few days off early in November and I was known as the only guy who really knew how to work that account. Really, when you're running up to me saying "I'm glad you're here!," you have major issues. Because I had mentioned the problems with this account's instructions page many times before, I decided that I was going on a full-on crusade to have this taken care of once and for all, and I talked to team leads and supervisors from 1st shift, who seem to take these things more seriously than 2nd shift, and I grabbed Maria Perez, one of my old supervisors who got promoted upstairs, as she was walking by. And I explained to everyone, one by one, in a calm voice that--how did I put it--this account's instructions are extremely fucked up and someone needs to get off their ass and fix it. After four or five days of different people consulting with me about what needed to be added and subtracted from the page, the job was done. If I wasn't so quiet, this could have been done months ago, I admit, but the point is, when I take charge of getting something done, I'm not quiet at all. I'm rude, crude, brusque and straightforward, and I'm relentless, never pulling up until I accomplish what I need to accomplish.

On this, my 33rd birthday, I am reflecting on that bulldog attitude that I have at certain times that make it such a laugh that I won an award for Most Quiet. I am who I am, and I wouldn't want to change that. And who I am is a quiet person by nature who gets loud and aggressive when he senses the achievement of an accessible goal or the stench of incompetence. I'm like a chameleon in that respect. Last Friday I made a section of a room gasp in shock when I opened my mouth to speak, while another section of the same room winked at me as I accepted my award, knowing that I can get vociferous with the best of them. I like to think of that as being opportunistic. Like one of my favorite wrestlers growing up, Arn Anderson, I will take shot after shot waiting for the right time when I can hit my one good blow that does as much damage as many shots by other people. In other words, when I strike, I make it count. Looking back at my birthday entry from last year, it seems that I decided to keep my cloak of invisibility a little while longer, until I choose my moment to stand up and make myself heard. That's not so much being anonymous, that's just being opportunistic, and I don't think I want to live any other way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On Being A Real Man

Finishing up my last class in order to earn my A.A. this week dovetailed nicely with a couple of incidents in the National Football League that reminded me of why some parts of our culture are royally fucked up. Just as I finish a part of my life that was needed to help me grow as a man, here comes a reminder that some don't know what being a man is all about. Left Eye from TLC rapped on their remake of The Time's "Get It Up": "Are you ready to make me feel the definition of a man?" To which one NFL player would respond with a gat in his sweatpants and another with a middle finger.

Let's start with Giants WR Plaxico Burress, who famously shot himself in the leg two weeks ago while trying to take the bullets out of the gun that he had in his sweatpants at a nightclub. He's in legal trouble because he had an unregistered gun in New York, which is a felony. His teammate who was with him that evening, Antonio Pierce, attempted to get rid of the weapon in order to save his friend's ass, but the cops were all over it, and Pierce has since flipped and agreed to cooperate with the investigation. I have heard several football players, current and retired, all black, talk about why it's necessary for some guys to have guns. I heard Marcellus Wiley say that it just made him feel safer, and I heard Joey Porter say that until you're robbed at gunpoint, you don't know what it feels like. Yep, that's the mature reaction. Some athletes have been robbed over the last few years, sure, but the answer isn't to strap on a weapon and walk around like you're the Terminator. The answer is to quit hanging out in places where you might get robbed. But these guys don't want to do that because they don't think that's what a man should do. They look at nightclubs and strip clubs and other various places that are clearly unsafe as joints where they have to go to enjoy themselves. It's all about the "stayin' real" bullshit mentality. They think that just because they grew up in the ghetto, they have to keep hanging out in the ghetto, even after they've made enough money where they no longer have to set foot in the damn ghetto. But they feel that they would be leaving their homies behind if they didn't hang out in dangerous places surrounded by dangerous fools who have no problem ending your life over the cash you're flashing or the jewelry you're wearing. That's what men do, right? They go where they want, when they want, and no one can stop them or intimidate them? No, dumbasses, that's not what men do. Real men avoid dangerous situations. Real men don't step into venues and areas where their lives may be in danger and their families' source of pride and income may be gunned down for no good reason. That's not being a man, that's being a retard. I've never held a gun in my life, and I never will, because I'm a grown-ass man and I don't need one. Of course, I stay out of places where I might feel like I need one. And it's always the black guys doing this shit too. You never hear about a white boy who came out of a dangerous neighborhood to become a star and make money, yet always came back to that hood at night and hung out in the seediest clubs surrounded by shady people. I have no problem with anyone, black or white, going back to their communities and helping to improve the area so that it's not so dangerous, but morons like Plax and Joey Porter would never wish for that. That "thug life" is so ingrained into their minds that they would hate for anything to happen that would take it away from them. They really think that guns and hoes and flashing your money is the definition of a real man. It's not. It's nothing more than putting yourself, the breadwinner of your family, in imminent danger for the sake of entertaining yourself and impressing your thugged-out friends, and that's the definition of stupid.

Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola addressed the dangers of fools with guns as well, although in a different context. Raiola this past Sunday was being booed out of the building along with the rest of his pathetic team, who haven't won a game this season, when he showed them they were #1 with his middle digit. When the press asked him about it, he didn't give the typical B.S. apology, instead saying he wasn't sorry and wished that he could give his home address to the hecklers but couldn't because "nobody wants to play with fists. Everybody wants to play with metal." In other words, he'd fight the fans who pay his salary if only he could be sure they wouldn't pull a Plaxico and tuck a .357 Magnum or sawed-off into their jogging pants. I understand the frustration of being hated on all the time, really I do. But you can't accept the paycheck every week that you know is coming thanks to the ticket prices and concessions paid for by those same people you would like to fight. That's hypocritical. If I were playing in the NFL, I could care less what the people were yelling at me because I'd be going home after 3 hours of work to my huge pile of money and my supermodel skank collection. But again, here's someone who wants to prove that he's a real man, this time by getting into a fistfight over some words some drunken idiots are shouting at him. Get real. That's almost as stupid as walking into clubs late at night where the best thing that could happen to you is you get drunk, high and laid, which you can do in the privacy of your own home, and the worst is that you die. Today's culture gives so much cash and fame and power to athletes that it sure seems like they believe they are unstoppable. They really need to get a new dictionary and figure out what being a man is really all about.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Strangest Thing I've Ever Seen In A Wrestling Ring

All I'll say is, it's from Japan, so maybe that explains its weirdness. But I ain't never seen anything like this before.

And while I'm at it, here's perhaps my favorite all-time Wrestlemania match. That pop for the first wrestler that comes out has got to be the loudest I've ever heard. If I were there live, I would have lost my hearing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tying The Knot, Part 2: Shopping For The Rock

My girlfriend was in town this past weekend, having her own experience with Megabus (she agreed with me that it wasn't half-bad). We planned to spend a day out at stores having her try on different rings so that she could get a feel for how they looked on her hand. I would then have a clue as to what she prefers when I decide to buy the engagement ring. The experience was insightful because it gave me a hint as to what I'm in store for during marriage: The more you think you know what your wife wants, the more she mixes things up.

This is to say, she looked at a ton of rings that seemed to be the exact size, design, and metal that she wanted, and over and over, she shook her head no. I could just stand by helplessly and wonder just what precisely she could be searching for. She had been saying all along that she prefers a solitaire diamond, no little diamonds on the side or anything like that, preferably white gold, princess cut, at least a half-carat, with a small band. Simple enough. But we searched at least five jewelry stores at North Riverside Park Mall, and they all had many rings fitting the above description, and my honey kept her head shaking back and forth as if a switch on her side was stuck and she couldn't stop. On one, the small band she thought she desired was too small; on the next, the design of the setting wasn't something she liked; on the next, the diamond didn't "bling" enough; on the next, the diamond was too small. She kept looking at me during the process and asking what I thought, but honestly, I didn't have much to add to the proceedings because it's not my ring. She had to be happy with her choice, not me. I was just the money man. I appreciated her trying to keep me involved, but since I was mostly ignored by the jewelers anyway, this is something she honestly could have done without me. One of the jewelers turned to me at one point and said, "You're gonna have your work cut out for you." Don't I know it. I can just see her dissecting my attempts at buying her a dress or decorating a room. The one thought I kept telling myself was, hey, she's obviously a choosy person, so I suppose that makes me special because she's choosing me to be her husband.

She finally wrote down the model number of a ring that "blinged" enough for her and gave it to me for safekeeping. I have since lost it. So when I do finally get the funds to buy the ring, I will have to go off my recollections of what she said she liked about this particular ring (that looked exactly like all the others) that made it stand out from the crowd. And so goes another valuable lesson--pay fucking attention at all times to what the lady wants, even if it seems like it makes no difference.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nominate The Whole State For Darwin Awards

This article calls the large amount of drinking in Wisconsin a problem that results in possible deaths...I call it "thinning the herd."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Time To Eat Some Crow

I proclaimed in this post over a year ago that Barack Obama would not be elected president because the country still looked at blacks as an evil entity up to no good and not worthy of the highest office in the land. I'm stunned and, yes, proud to admit that I was very wrong. Like almost every other African-American, Tuesday night was a night that I had a hard time imagining I would ever see. But it indeed happened. I wouldn't dare try to attend that Election Night celebration in Grant Park (thank God I didn't have to work that night), but I did watch the telecast over the phone with my girlfriend, so at least I can tell my grandkids. I take zero credit for Obama's win, because I didn't do my part. I'm not registered to vote, and that was a point of contention between me and co-workers and family. A couple of weeks ago my uncle, who I didn't even know had my e-mail address because he's never sent me an e-mail before, sent me a video from personalizing my name in a 90-second "news clip" blaming me for causing Obama to lose by one vote. I guess if you go to that site, you can personalize that video for anybody. It was actually quite funny, and also timely because I just recently had an argument with my aunt about the fact that everything I do is tsk-tsked by my family. Even as a kid, it seemed everything I did was treated as not good enough or not living up to my potential, and a few days after my aunt tried to deny that, here comes that e-mail from her brother. Perfect timing. I haven't even spoken to him since July 4th, but he took the time to let me know how much I'm letting him and everyone down yet again. But I don't believe in a system that smiles and lies to your face telling you that you can elect anyone you want while completely stomping the flame of anyone who doesn't buy into one of the top two political parties. And I don't apologize for not buying into the two-party bullshit.

I have to admit that since I wasn't voting and therefore wasn't paying attention, I don't know anything about exactly what will happen when and if Obama is able to execute this "change that we can believe in," except I do know that he plans to heavily tax the highest wage-earners. So maybe he really was voted in on the issues. But I wonder how much of it was the novelty of putting someone in office that wasn't a white male, which is what the previous 43 were. I wonder how much of it was a rejection of all things Republican and all things Bush, and I wonder if almost anyone could have ran under the Democratic banner and won, although if this country was really that sick of Bush they would've voted him out after that first disastrous term. I wonder how much of it was the American Idolization of American society, voting for someone based on a two-minute TV clip or ten-second soundbite, or the Hot or Notization, voting for someone because they're cute. I wonder how much of it was the stigma of interracial relations melting away in this internet era, when people of all colors in all corners of the globe hooked up with each other and black men by my distant observation became the hottest property since the slave trade. I suppose I should just be grateful for the social progress necessary to make this happen, and I do know that there had to be a tremendous amount of social progress. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't wonder exactly why this progress occurred at this point in time.

One of the many co-workers angered by my inaction asked a really good question--what could Obama do in this term that would change my mind about the process and make me want to register to vote next time around? The first thing that popped into my mind was the discrepancy between the percentage of black men in jail and the percentage of white men, and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me, although it may not make sense to anyone else. But if Obama, being an African-American male, can't affect the change necessary to stop the ridiculous amount of black men being incarcerated for shit that white men get off, then I would think that I have no reason to vote for anyone else to get it done either. Research any study and you will find that the average punishment for a black man charged with selling drugs is incredibly stricter than a white man doing the same thing. I would assume that it's the same thing with other crimes, but I haven't seen those numbers. So that's my stance. Barack Obama is a black male. Surely he's noticed that black males in the American judicial system are sentenced to do harder time than white males. Surely he's noticed that one in four black men have been jailed at some point in their lives, and I think we're enlightened enough to know that it's not because black men are just more criminal than white men. If he's the most powerful person in the land, he will change that in the next four years, and if he doesn't, then maybe he ain't so powerful. That's what I'll be watching for. Everyone else can watch for whatever they want to see.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tying The Knot, Part 1: Initial Reactions

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend casually informed me during a conversation that if I was waiting on her to give me the OK to propose to her, she was giving me the OK. After I got off the floor, I started to consider how big of a deal getting married would be. I actually freaked a little the first couple of weeks after this chat. Not that I'm running around trying to get laid like I used to, but I have gotten used to having no restrictions on me, going where I want when I want without answering to anybody, and maybe in the back of my mind, thinking that I would be free to get into something with a chick at the drop of a hat, like a bad Penthouse Forum story. ("So there I was standing at the bus stop when the hottest freckled redhead I've ever seen asked me for the time...") Getting married means that I would announce that I had no plans to get busy with any females in the entire free world except one, and no matter what, folks, that's a HYUUUGE statement to make. I have since sobered up, so to speak, and realized that I don't want to get busy with anyone else if it's going to possibly cost me my girlfriend. I don't want to lose her for any reason. Marriage is the next logical progression when you feel about someone like I feel about her.

The first few reactions were calm yet amusing. The first person that I told I was going to start shopping for a ring was a co-worker, and without hesitation, she asked the big question: "Are you ready to get married?" The enormity kinda caught me by surprise, and my answer was a nervous "I don't know!" And she said, "You're not ready to get a ring unless you can answer that question." That was the day after the conversation between me and my girlfriend, so I don't think I realized just how major this was. If asked that question by my co-worker today, I would nervously chuckle because I still can't believe that I'm considering doing it, but then I would answer, "Definitely." Another co-worker was thrilled for me. I can tell she's going to be one of those who wants every detail of every bit of planning, as if she's watching a reality show. My aunt reacted much calmer than I thought she would at first. I thought she would be a little crazy about it because no one I've ever dated has been good enough in her eyes, and she had a problem with my girlfriend last year over a harmless joke. But she seemed okay. I then informed her that my girlfriend would really like to get married down in her hometown of Memphis, TN, and she didn't take kindly to that. "We ain't all goin' down there! You got way more family up here than she got down there!" Never mind that my aunt has no idea how much family my girlfriend has down there. So that may become an issue, but I don't have to have my family at the wedding. Hell, with the economy and gas prices (driving or flying, you pay either way), I'd be hard-pressed to commit to a trip next year as well. We can always have a Chicago reception after the honeymoon for my friends and family. "Jacob," in typical guy fashion, responded to the news with, "Insert whip-cracking sounds here." And "Drew" was surprised, saying that he didn't think I was the "marrying type." I reminded him that the reason I went bonkers after finding the infamous "Karen" topless on a swingers website is because I planned to move to Milwaukee with her and maybe get hitched to her later. Wouldn't have been a smart move considering I had fuck buddies and wasn't exactly honest myself, but the fact is, I thought she was going to be The One. My sense of what made someone The One, of course, was incredibly warped. Now I know.

The next step is strolling around a jewelry store or two with my girlfriend when she visits next month so that I can get a grasp of what style rock she wants. After that, I gotta rob a bank or something to afford it, then figure a good time and place to pop the question, since that's the only elements of surprise that I still possess. Looks like big, big changes on Planet Dre brewing for 2009.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Whose Season Do I Ruin This Time?

Since my sports predictions seem to always be way off, I freely admit that whoever I pick to win the Super Bowl this football season should quiver with fear because I will be putting the Planet Dre Whammy on them! Hey, I should have that trademarked. Anyway, here's my call for the Super Bowl in five months:

New England over Tampa Bay (in a rout, obviously)

I really do not like the "elite" teams in the NFC. Dallas has proven that they have no idea how to win big games, specifically that QB Tony Romo. The World champion New York Giants haven't proven that they know how to win big games at home. I don't think they can rely on having every playoff game on the road again. I bet if they had even one playoff game at home, QB Eli Manning would have thrown up before the game and they would have never made it to the Super Bowl. The only other NFC team I like even a little is Minnesota. No one runs the ball and stops the run on defense like those guys. But I'm not picking a team led by Tarvaris Jackson at QB to make the Super Bowl. Someone in the playoffs will find a way to slow down the Vikings run game, and when they do, it will be up to Tarvaris Jackson to win the game with his arm, and that ain't happening. So I'll pick old man Jeff Garcia and his creaky band of veteran brothers in Tampa to find a way into the Super Bowl, racking up boring 17-13 wins along the way, putting the television audience to sleep all at once. The running game is solid with the underrated Earnest Graham, the passing game is just barely good enough with 91-year-old WR Joey Galloway and whoever else they can dig up, and Garcia at QB is wily enough to not make mistakes with the football and let his defense make the impact plays. In the AFC, it's gonna be wild. Just sit back and enjoy the war. San Diego, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New England--all teams that can claim that they are better than anyone in the NFC, and they won't get too much of an argument. I predict that after a long, grueling regular season in which New England gets beat so many times that they are in jeopardy of not making the playoffs, the Patriots wake up the morning of the playoffs, cry in their pillows at the bad memories that flood back from their last playoff game last season--where they somehow lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl--and get up with a burning passion to destroy anyone who dares challenge them this time around. I've seen it happen too many times where a team suffers a devastating loss in the playoffs and uses that experience to band together and win it all the next season. I say the Patriots do just that this time. They won't have any silly perfect season pressure on them, nor will they be running up the scores and setting all-time records. They're just going to storm the field and win every playoff game by an average of three touchdowns. And as for the Super Bowl, they will beat the Buccaneers by at least 24 points.

Monday, September 01, 2008

It's Been 5 Years...

...since I responded to "Karen's" personal ad and started my own personal hell. I felt blue all day Friday and couldn't figure out why, and then I realized, it's Labor Day weekend, and that's when I was bored enough to respond to Karen's online ad in 2003. But there's a silver lining, and it's my girlfriend. See, I was going to write a long sad post about how I wish I could be free of all thoughts concerning Karen considering it's been five fucking years. I was going to wonder why I still think about why she did what she did, why I still get a muscle twitch in my gut when I see in print any variation of her name or the town of Mukwonago, WI or any writings about the topic of interracial dating and marriage, why do I still want to pour bleach down her cunt, and when if ever I was going to get over the whole damn thing. But after work last night and all day today, my girlfriend has been playing text tag and e-mail tag with me, writing suggestive notes telling me how much she thinks about pleasuring me, getting me all hot and bothered. And she managed to take my mind off Karen completely. I don't know if she meant to do that, but I suspect she did. Friday night, I explained to her how frustrated I was at my inability to put Karen completely out of my head, so she knew how tortured I was all weekend. I bet she started flirting with me through text trying to make me think of something else. And boy, did it work. I had a very fun day sending dirty messages back and forth with her. There's a lesson in there somewhere about appreciating what you have in your life instead of ruminating about the garbage you've been through previously. And there's also a lesson about letting the people closest to you know how special they are to you. I surely would have been in another deep depression today if not for my girlfriend. But she loved me enough to make sure she occupied my thoughts and not some demon from my past, and she doesn't know how much that means to me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Megabus Review

Ten hours one way, 26 hours with my honey, and ten hours back the other way--without a doubt, I knew when I decided to visit my girlfriend in Memphis by bus, it would be a tough trip on me physically. I didn't expect my left knee to still be swollen almost a week later, but hey, I was scrunched up in my seat both ways the whole time, so I shouldn't be too surprised. Here's the Megabus blow-by-blow:

The trip was booked back in late July, which is less than a month in advance, but I was still able to snag my seat for $30 each way, which is a bargain no matter what considering gas prices. If you book a trip early enough, the gimmick goes, you can grab a seat for only $1, but we didn't plan the trip ahead of time. I kinda decided to come down sometime in August before I started back to school. (My girlfriend says she will do the Megabus on her next visit, so if she plans early enough, maybe she can get the super cheap seat.) There are no assigned seats on the bus, so the recipient of the $1 fare was never revealed, nor was he/she forced to sit next to the restroom or something. I happened to time my arrival to the bus stop last Tuesday morning so that it was pulling up to the curb, ready to start boarding, and because I didn't have to wait to put my bag in the luggage carrier on the side of the bus, I jumped the line and boarded second. I flashed my registration number, printed from the confirmation e-mail, and the driver checked me off, then I picked a seat and sat upon it. I put my book bag in the seat next to me, signalling to everyone else boarding that yes, I'm a jackass, and I'm not sharing this seat unless forced to. Fortunately, not enough people boarded to make me give up the extra seat, and soon we were on our way. Eating was not a problem--I had a breakfast sandwich and orange juice, as well as potato pancakes that I brought from home, and there were no restrictions on my gluttony. There was one stop the bus made in order to pick up and drop off people--Champaign, IL, about two and a half hours after our 11A takeoff from downtown Chicago. Champaign is the home of the U. of Illinois, so it makes sense that there's a stop there. About twelve people got off at that stop, and about seven people got on. There were no problems at all with the ride (save for the lack of legroom, but I'm 6'2", so I would complain), until we left Champaign, because someone decided that the ride was too quiet and busted out the bootleg DVDs, and soon the TV screens on the bus were filled with a shaky-camera version of Hancock, complete with laughter from the audience during the funny parts. I was so turned off by this that I put on my headphones and read my book for most of the film, occasionally glancing up during some of the action scenes. The movie was near the end when we arrived at a rest stop in Effingham, so I assumed that the nightmare would be over when I came back from the restroom, but instead, the movie was being played again from the beginning. I can't say exactly why this annoyed me, but by far it was the worst part of the trip. I guess it just made me feel like I was riding on the Soul Plane or something. I mean, white folks don't fucking break out bootleg DVDs as an entertainment option, do they? They changed to a different movie after the second screening of Hancock--The Incredible Hulk, in English, but with Japanese subtitles and a man's cranium partially in the way the whole time. Sad. The second rest stop was somewhere in Missouri, and I could tell that we were pretty far south because I immediately started to sweat profusely upon exiting the bus. I made an impulse buy at this stop--a new iPod holder, aluminum with a neck cord. I was psyched. Okay, I was mildly pleased. I had my midday meal, a slice of pizza from home and a sparkling water, and I went back to my book and headphones as we made our way to Memphis. The older bus driver provided a quick drive, but at one point the wheels made that startling sound when you run off the road onto the ridged shoulder, and I snapped my head up, hoping that the guy wasn't dozing or something. He righted the ship, and we continued on. Another DVD was popped in, but it was an actual DVD, not a bootleg. However, I didn't recognize it, so I wasn't interested. All I know is that it starred Reese Witherspoon, and apparently she had a husband trapped in another country, possibly Middle Eastern, and she was trying in vain to find him. Daytime turned to night, and in the span of about five minutes, all of a sudden we went across the bridge over the Mississippi River, we arrived at the downtown Memphis MATA bus station, the movie ended, and my girlfriend texted me asking when we were going to be let off the bus, since we were just sitting there for a while after we arrived. The driver was waiting for a bus ahead of him to move so he could pull up to the corner. Finally, at 8:20P we unloaded, I hugged and kissed my sweetie, and I almost kissed her A/C in her car because the air on the bus had stopped working by the time we made it.

After a fun day with my girlfriend frolicking around her house, she treated me to a jerk chicken pasta dinner at a Jamaican restaurant, then I boarded the Megabus back home. Takeoff was at 11P Wednesday night, and I got on at about 10:40P. I had to take a seat on the upper level of the double-decker because all of the seats on the lower level were taken, but it still wasn't a whole lot of people on the bus. The upper deck had maybe 12 folks, and that's counting the four Bebe's Kids in the very front row, prepared to be the first ones ejected out of the bus along with the two women accompanying them if there were to be an accident. Yes, they were loud and annoying, to no one's surprise. I don't know why we had a double-decker going back; we had a regular bus going to Memphis. Nobody else boarded the bus after me until about 11:03, when a car pulled up next to the bus and two women hurriedly grabbed their respective bags out of the car and rushed onto the bus. Strangely, they didn't sit together. One, a Latina, came to the upper deck and sat across from me. I don't know what happened to the other, a black woman. Maybe she didn't get on the Megabus but rather wound up running into the MATA bus station trying to catch a different bus altogether. In any event, we left about 3 minutes after that. I knew that it would be hard trying to get a night of sleep on a bus, but I underestimated just how hard. Again, the legroom or lack thereof made it difficult to get comfortable. I let the seat back as far as I could, but that's not very far. I kept alternating between lying back and sitting straight up hugging the seat in front of me. I didn't have a pillow, but that turned out to be the least of my worries. The A/C was working on this bus. I was a little warm when I boarded, so I had the overhead air blowing directly on me. Then, once I started feeling cool, I turned off the overhead. Then I turned off the overhead on the seat in front of me. Then I pulled up my shirt so that my shaved head was covered. Then I took out my spare shirt from my book bag and wrapped it around my bare arms. The A/C was absolutely freezing. I can't imagine how high it was, but I was unbearably cold. One of the kids was actually crying at about 2A, sobbing, "I'm cold!" I would have complained, but I know that I'm not the only person on the bus, and I didn't want to ask the driver to make it warmer when the others may have been just fine. I'm the idiot that didn't have a blanket or jacket, so I decided to just suffer. But yeah, I didn't get a lot of sleep. We only took one rest break in Effingham at about 4A, and it was eventful. I happened to be awake and saw the driver attempt to pull into a gas station whose overhead ceiling may have been too low for the bus to clear. After two or three reverses and attempts to pull in, the driver gave up and pulled out, driving two blocks to a different gas station, a bigger one with a very high overhead and a McDonald's and a convenience store and restrooms. He then announced over the speaker that everyone had to leave the bus while he filled up. I didn't know why we had to leave the bus while he put gas in it, but I was too groggy to question anything, so I got up and left. When I came out of the restroom (and contemplated buying a pillow and throw blankie but couldn't make myself take out the cash), the bus had vanished. There were gas pumps right there in front of the convenience store, but the bus wasn't there. I hoped and prayed that the driver decided to go back to the original gas station, although I don't know why he would. I was able to spot a couple of people on the Megabus also standing outside, including the Latina and the Bebe Kid complaining about the cold, which made sense because he was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. So I knew that at least the bus had not left to keep going to Chicago without me. However, we stood out there for about 20 minutes, and about the time that I started taking inventory of all the things I owned that were on that bus and how would I replace them all and I'm never taking Megabus again, the bus reappeared and took us all back in. The A/C continued to be an issue even though someone asked the driver to turn it down, and eventually I gave up trying to sleep and turned on my reading light so that I could finish my book. 6A brought daylight and brought us to Champaign, where we let a handful of people off and let a large amount of college kids on, so many that I almost had to give up the seat next to me. It was straight to Chicago from there, but to show how slowly this driver went as compared to the driver who took us from Chicago to Memphis, we made that trip in nine hours and 20 minutes with two rest stops, and we went from Memphis to Chicago in ten hours and 5 minutes with one rest stop. I almost ran off the bus when we finally made it to Chicago. My knees were a little sore from two days of banging off the seat in front of me, but the left knee didn't swell up until Friday, and it hasn't calmed down yet.

So my recommendation for Megabus is, it's certainly a quality ride for the value, it's not a dirty bus, and the people aren't disgusting vermin as one might expect on a discount bus. I believe the key is, with Megabus not having a bus station of its own, they don't have a place set up for anyone to buy $1 tickets or $30 tickets or whatever price tickets on the street. As far as I know, only someone with internet access and a credit or debit card can get these seats, so that eliminates a somewhat sizable portion of the general public. I'm not sure how they make enough money to keep the fares so low, especially with current gas prices, but they don't seem to skimp on anything. The bus to Memphis had some seats equipped with trash bags, which I thought was a nice touch. I'd love to rail on about the lack of legroom, but honestly, it's a bus. You really shouldn't expect much legroom. As long as you pack a blanket and a pillow and some snacks, a trip on Megabus appears to be as good a bus ride as you can get for the money.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My (Very Quick) Summer Adventure

I'm off this morning to Memphis to visit my girlfriend, but due to my lack of vacation time, I'm coming right back tomorrow night. My off days from work are still Tuesday and Wednesday, so this morning I board a Megabus and take a 10-hour ride to see my honey. I'll spend the night, fool around with her tomorrow as she has tomorrow off from her job, then board the Megabus tomorrow night, ride all night, come back to Chicago Thursday morning, and go to work Thursday afternoon. I'm very worried that I'll be worn out from all the riding, but if the seats are comfortable and no idiots disturb my sleep attempts, I think I'll be fine. Megabus has deeply discounted prices from Greyhound service, not to mention what it costs to get on a plane these days, so that's why I'm hopping a bus for a 10-hour excursion instead of my usual 1.5-hour flight. But I'm excited to see my girlfriend, if only for a day. I'll take some food with me, along with a book and, of course, my headphones, which are with me everywhere I go. It'll be my one-man road trip. I think my girlfriend knows how much I love her, if she ever had any doubts. How many other guys are climbing a bus for 10 hours there and back, for a 1-day visit, knowing there won't be any sex?

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Star-Mangled Banner

I joked the other night with my girlfriend about solving her recent troubles getting to sleep by singing her a lullaby over the phone. I was totally kidding. I can't sing a lick. I can't imagine a scenario in which I would volunteer to sing anything in public, although I do have "Perform 'Hotel California' At A Karaoke Bar" on my lists of things to do before I die. But there were some occasions where I decided to open my yap and try to belt out a tune or two as a kid.

A couple of them involved tryouts for musicals. In 8th grade at Ogden Elementary in downtown Chicago, there was an audition for "Annie Get Your Gun," a play about Annie Oakley. Now, a couple of factors affected my, ahem, performance during this tryout. First, the rules for the tryouts were that a trio of people would perform a part out of the play to assess our acting skills, then one by one each member of the trio would sing a short piece of their own choosing. So I'm nervously watching trio after trio go through their auditions in the auditorium, letting the tension build, fretting about my acting more than my singing because I didn't care about the singing part. I knew I was a bad singer, so I thought I would just sing whatever song came into my head and get it over with. The acting, that part I really wanted to get right because I like acting. Now, while this was going on, my eye was never far from my junior high crush, whose real name I will use because she may read this and want to contact me, and I would love to see how she turned out as an adult. Her name is Tamara Todd; her friends called her Tammi. She had me lovestruck from the moment I saw her, and for those two years at Ogden I couldn't take my eyes off her whenever we were in the same room. She was tall, black, light-skinned, straight light brown hair, juicy lips, huge brown eyes that seemed to light up when she smiled, and a soft honey voice. I was told that she had a speech impediment, but the only thing that sounded strange when she spoke was that her enunciation was a little forced, making her sound British. Hell, that made her even sexier to me. (I'll have to recap those two years at a later date, because they were crazy.) Anyway, she was very shy, even more than me, so when it was her time to audition, I watched raptly. Her acting was nonexistent; she was way too quiet to make an impact there. But then she opened her mouth and sang a soft version of "The Greatest Love Of All" by Whitney Houston that left my hands shaking. She wasn't a powerhouse singer, don't get me wrong, but rather a delicate, dainty little crooner whose voice just made you want to run up to her and cover her with a blanket and carry her offstage to shelter. Okay, made me want to do that. What this did was ramp up the anticipation for my audition, because everyone knew how I felt about Tammi, and when she was done, my friends all looked at me as if to say, "Okay big boy, top that!" So my group finally gets around to hitting the stage, and my acting was okay, and then I decided to be the last of my trio to sing because I was legitimately scared. I didn't know what I was going to sing, I didn't know how I was going to sound, and I couldn't help but spot Tammi still sitting in the auditorium even though we waited until we were one of the last groups. And Mrs. Oberhardt, the hot blonde French teacher running the auditions, signals me to go, and I open my mouth and try to crank out The Star-Spangled Banner, but I started that first note way too high, and the subsequent higher notes in those first two stanzas were hit by me not with force and confidence, but with a quivering, wobbly voice that went up and down in the middle of a note. I could hear the giggling and see the smirks, but I was no longer in my own body, and I just kept going. Oberhardt saw the train wreck coming as I approached "And the rocket's red glare," and she said "Thank you Andre!" very loudly and clapped. The whole auditorium erupted in shouting and applause, and I knew without a doubt that it was because I had just embarrassed myself in front of the whole 7th and 8th-grade classes, and they were giving me the standing "O" for providing hilarious entertainment. Even shy little Tammi was laughing. Folks, it was so bad, if you YouTube Carl Lewis's rendition, that was Marvin Gaye compared to my version. (Not learning my lesson, I attempted to tackle The Star-Spangled Banner again during my tryout for "Les Miserables" in high school. About the same lack of success, but a lot less people in the audience, and Tammi was nowhere to be found.)

My duet at a summer camp called Project '91 should have been much more successful. I took a music class as one of my activities at this camp, and the class was infamous for putting on a concert of sorts at the end of the camp. Of course, with the large amount of students in this class, I didn't have any designs on being out in front during this concert--I joined to be in the background because it looked like fun. Well, I struck up a friendship with a sweet girl named Amanda during this class, and she was the opposite of me, white, slim, attractive, so the teacher got the idea for us to perform Paula Abdul's smash hit "Opposites Attract" as part of the show. The reason this should have been successful is because the role of the male singer in this song (a cartoon cat, if I remember the video correctly) is not difficult at all, not that ANY song featuring Paula Abdul is going to have difficult vocals. It was more of a rap than singing. I learned the lyrics easily and practiced with Amanda every day, and it seemed like we were going to be a hit. (The teacher even changed a lyric to make it kid-friendly; in the song Paula says "I don't like cigarettes," and the cat says, "I like to smoke," and the teacher brilliantly changed it to Amanda singing, "I like my Pepsi," and me responding, "For me, Classic Coke!") Well, a couple of things screwed up that night for me. First, the performance had me make one tiny error, where I started to sing one of Amanda's lines by mistake, and it didn't fuck up the song or anything, it's just that I hate making errors of any kind. I mean, what's the point of practicing if I'm just going to flub it anyway? Then the big screw-up was when I decided not to tell my folks that I need black shorts for the performance because the "uniform" was going to be black shorts and white t-shirt. I don't know why I waited forever to mention this; must have just slipped my mind. So the night before, we bought some black shorts, and they were WAY too small for me, but it's all we could find. It was bad enough for me, being grossly overweight, to wear shorts and a t-shirt for any reason, but during this performance, at one point we all were supposed to do this twirl move during someone else's song and drop to the floor on our knees with our backs to the stage and hold it for a while. I had to be in the front row of the backup singers because I had a feature song myself, and those who were singing solos or duets were placed in the front row. Small shorts and t-shirt + front row on stage + dropping to the floor with our backs turned in a bent position = you guessed it, the whole place got to see the crack of my fat ass. I could tell not just because my poor, embarrassed family told me so later, but because I could instantly hear the giggles the moment I dropped down, and I'm not dumb; I could feel the breeze where my Fruit-Of-The-Looms should have been. A bunch of white families have this lovely event videotaped for prosperity because they were capturing their kids' shining moment. Those families also wound up with my shining hiney on their tapes as well, and thankfully, I've never seen any of the tapes, nor will I ever.

Of course, my lack of singing skills is all someone else's fault. The teacher in charge of the winter assembly at Skinner Classical School had given me the spot to sing "Silver & Gold" in 1st grade, but one day I was running around chasing my friends right before practice, and when it came time for me to sing, my voice was all shaky and nervous-sounding. The teacher on the spot decided to give my part to someone else! I tried to explain that I was out of breath from running and that's why my voice sounded like that, but she was having none of it. If she would have kept me in my rightful place, perhaps I would have had the confidence to get better and better at singing, and it could have been me sweating on stage in front of 40 million TV viewers instead of Ruben Studdard. I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Would You Put $500 On A Coin Flip?

Well then, you may have a gambling problem, as I do. I've always acknowledged a very unhealthy obsession with winning, and gambling became a part of that obsession when I was around 21 and started betting sports over the internet and playing the ponies with "Ronnie." Since then I have racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt due to my bad bets. But I've always had a plan--I'd get better at sports betting, thanks to websites that allow me to predict games for free and therefore keep up with when I'm having a hot streak or when I'm doing very well predicting a particular team's fortunes. I would then jump on a gambling site when I felt the time was right and knock out a few big wins in a row until my streak stopped, then I'd wait for my next hot streak before I played for money again. I even started a blog called The Road To Redemption, and I planned to keep track of my winnings as I slowly brought my credit card balances back to zero. Predictably, the first game I bet after starting this blog last year was the Pistons to beat the Bulls, and they didn't; I promptly deleted the blog and went back to the drawing board.

But make no mistake, my thought process has always been that one day I will make back the money I lost in my 20s, and I will make it back the way I lost it--internet gambling. After all, how else am I going to pay down my credit cards? Not with cash, not with my shitty salary. Well, I was trying to explain all this to my girlfriend on the phone last night, and she wasn't hearing it. She's never been a fan of my gambling, mostly because of the large sums of money I bet, but also because I usually don't win. As she put it, it would be different if I came to her with the occasional tale of victory, but every time I have told her that I bet a game and watch for the results and wish me luck, I have come up a loser. I can't tell you how frustrating that is because I call myself being careful and waiting for just the right game that I feel "can't lose." I mean, I used to play four and five-team parlays (where each team has to win for me to win any money) every night just because I felt like I could hit one of those and make a boatload of cash in one night, and every now and then I did hit it, but usually I failed miserably. Now I bet on average three or four times a year, and only single games. Anyhow, I was trying to explain to my girlfriend how much better this strategy is, because instead of four games having to win, I just need one game, and since one of two teams is going to win every game, I'm just looking for a coin flip, a 50% shot, and I'm convinced that this strategy will work for me once I get on that hot streak. It then dawned on me right in the middle of the argument that I've been plopping down hundreds of dollars on a coin flip for over ten years. I almost had to lay down from my head spinning.

It's come to the point now where my girlfriend is telling me that before she moves her life to Chicago and becomes my wife, she needs to know that I'm not going to take our hard-earned money and put fistfuls of cash on the line in what essentially amounts to a series of coin flips that last three hours, three gut-wrenching back-and-forth hours, in some misguided attempt to "redeem" myself. She says that I have to stop tying my self-esteem to how good of a gambler I am because it's a game that I can't win, and that I have to mentally and emotionally let go of the notion that I will one day gamble my way back to the break-even point because of how much I might lose trying to get there. And it makes me think of something that I figured out a while back when I was rebuilding my self-respect after all the drama that I went through a few years ago. I realized that as much as I like to jump on all of my ex-girlfriends for whatever vices they had, from "Karen's" drinking to "Torrie's" smoking to "Sarah's" need to be dominated, we ALL have some vice. Because mine isn't one of those things, I held myself in higher position than them. But mine are food and gambling, and those aren't any better than drinking or smoking. Karen even expressed concern about my gambling one day, and she never showed any emotion. To deal with the everyday pressures of just living, everyone has something that they fall back on, that makes them feel good, that takes their minds off their troubles. Just because I don't gamble every day doesn't mean that my vice isn't still gambling. Every single day I wake up wondering if I should bet that White Sox game today, or the football game, or the basketball game, whatever season it happens to be. And it was always with an eye toward making back the thousands of dollars I've gambled away so far. It's obvious that I need to do away with my vice, for myself and for my future marriage. I always figured that I'd one day have to choose between my girlfriend and gambling, and I was very scared because I really didn't want to give up gambling. But coming to the realization that I'm putting $500 on a coin flip is going to be what makes me give it up. Because the more I think about it, the more I realize that putting $500 on a coin flip is very, very, very retarded.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Party On, Garth! Party On, Wayne!

It's such a rare occurrence that I spend some time socializing that I am writing a blog post about it, even though nothing exciting or scandalous happened.

Last Friday, "Drew," his ex, his ex's new guy, and a bunch of other people spent an evening at a dirty play and a heavy metal bar, and I was able to join them. My job asked everyone who would have worked last Friday night's 2nd shift to switch their days off because Friday night was going to be spent updating the system. So I worked last Wednesday, freeing up my Friday night to hang out. I caught the bus and train to the north side and we all caught the latest rendition of the Chicago hit play "Co-Ed Prison Sluts." Drew, a female friend of his, and I saw this play about ten years ago, and it was a hoot. I honestly didn't remember the details or the plot because it was so long ago, but I knew that it was funny. Then, once the show started, I found myself singing along to some of the songs as the memories came rushing back. I won't spoil the show by going into detail, but trust me, it's raunchy, hilarious, and just a good ol' time. We then headed to Kuma's Corner, a very loud bar. The metal music was turned up, and it was relentless. But the food was great. The burgers were served on pretzel rolls, and I can't remember having one of those ever before, but it added a sweetness to the burger that worked very well. There's a long list of selections as far as toppings for the burger, from the tame (mushrooms and onions, which I had) to the savage (one burger has siracha sauce and chili paste, and I'm told that's a vicious combo of heat). But I would get stung a little anyway. I took a couple of dips into the ketchup with my fries before I noticed a kick, and our waitress would tell us later that there's giardiniera in the ketchup. They were so good that I finished the fries and ketchup despite the kick. I would recommend the play and the restaurant, separately or together, unless you don't like dirty jokes or ear-splitting metal music, in which case I'm sure there's some prissy little art exhibit somewhere downtown that you might enjoy.

Much, much thanx once again to Drew for the lift home afterwards, because navigating the city on public transportation at 1A can be lethal.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

My History (8th In A Series)

I have no news to report at the moment. My life is very stable and calm, thank goodness, so as promised, I'll step back into my crazy past and post the story of how I wound up in a hotel room with my best friend, the daughter of the woman I was dating, and her best friend.

Displayed in the post "My History (2nd In A Series)" are the details of the torrid relationship between me and "Sarah," the woman I screwed on the side while dating "Karen." I mention some of the drama I went through with Sarah's 22-year-old daughter, "Elaine." If Sarah and I would have never become a serious couple, which we did only after I came begging to her for a shoulder to cry on after Karen fucked me over, I'm 100% positive that Elaine and I would have eventually hooked up. Not only did we have a lot of sexual energy between us, but the first time I ever saw her was when she came to her mom's house while Sarah was talking to me on her webcam, and very soon after, there they both were flashing me and pulling their pants down and bending over for me. (My best friend at the time, "Ronnie," happened to be at my place when this happened, and he was even more crazy for white pussy than I was, so as you will read later, seeing this display had an effect on him too.) For a long time I really thought that Elaine and I would fuck, and I wouldn't have been surprised, as kinky as Sarah was, if we one day had a threesome. It didn't hurt that Elaine was very fat and egg-shaped and, despite being engaged, didn't seem to have a high opinion of her desirability, which has always been a common mindset of the women who had relations with me. Elaine and her hot friend, "Talia," came up from Springfield, IL, with a male friend one weekend in 2004 just to hang out in the big city, and we did a lot of flirting in between everyone trying to convince me that Sarah would hurt me someday and she wasn't a great human being, which I didn't want to believe but would turn out to be true. Elaine and Talia even flashed me and their friend while we hung out on the beach. She pecked me goodbye on the lips as she dropped me back off at my apartment, and I got the feeling that if she were not with two other people hoping to go back home, she may have stayed with me a little longer that evening.

A little about Talia: I believe at the time she was 25, she was married, and she had four children, and I've since heard that she had a 5th child. I don't know how she got to the mental state that she did, but she basically did whatever floated into her pretty little head, whether that was fucking other guys, fucking other girls, or whatever. She and Elaine were lovers. And she was just about the nicest woman I ever met, too. She just seemed very dissatisfied with her life. She claimed that her marriage was an "open relationship," but I've always believed that no one really goes into marriage intending to ignore the vows right off the bat. If it turns out, however, that neither you or your partner can't survive without lovers on the side, then it becomes convenient to say that, well, "It's just an open relationship and we don't have boundaries." What the hell do you call marriage? That's a large boundary I believe, but as it's well documented, half of the couples that try it discover that they're not cut out for it with each other. Anyway, Talia was of mixed racial heritage, so she had exotic facial features, long wavy black hair, and large round tits with damn near the biggest areolas I've ever seen, so big that Sarah and Elaine showed me a picture of her topless the first time I visited Springfield just to marvel at them. She wasn't obese, but she had Cesarean sections for all of her child deliveries, so she had no abdominal muscle definition at all, just a spare tire of flab. She was still gorgeous as far as I was concerned, but I never thought I'd get a shot at her because her social calendar was so full, and because she seemed way out of my league.

Until that wild, insane summer night.

It's Saturday, July 24, 2004. Sarah's not coming up to Chicago that weekend. Two weeks prior, I fucked The Co-Worker Who Shall Remain Nameless for the first time, proving that I have no morals, I wasn't above cheating on Sarah, and that I was up for anything. But The Co-Worker and I weren't social buddies, so we weren't going to hang out that weekend. I had no plans. In between my loads of laundry, Elaine called that morning and informed me that she and Talia were going to drive up to Chicago that day and wanted to hang out like we did a couple of months prior when they came up with their male friend. But this time, she said, the male friend wouldn't be there. My mind raced with unscrupulous thoughts of what kind of stuff we three could get into. I said that I was looking forward to seeing them and hung up. Not very long after, Ronnie called and asked if I would have any interest in attending the bachelor party of a guy who was in a fantasy football league that Ronnie and I participated in. He said that the guy was hiring women from the same agency that sent us two girls for the football draft in 2003, and for $10 those girls allowed anyone to spray whipped cream on their tits or pussy and lick it off. I ate a LOT of whipped cream that night. So there was no doubt that I would be up for this event, but I asked Ronnie a question: Did he think the guy would mind if I brought two women to the party who both loved slutty women as much as the men did? When I told Ronnie that Elaine and her friend were coming to Chicago that night and they would probably love attending a party where whipped cream were being licked off of women's body parts, he had the same thoughts that I did--holy shit, what a hot, sexy night it would be if we popped in to an anything-goes bachelor party with two bisexual chicks. I called Elaine back and asked if they would be interested, and she was even hotter for the idea than me and Ronnie. It was fucking awn.

My camera was hanging from my neck when Elaine and Talia arrived at my apartment that evening. They were actually filling up the tank at the gas station a block away when they called, and I was so pumped for this night that I came to the station on foot before they could come pick me up. Ronnie had given me generic directions to the golf course where he was working until sundown, and we were to meet him there and then go to the party. But I wound up having to call Ronnie a couple of times to figure out where the hell we were going. On the way, while sitting in Elaine's back seat, I expressed in interest in seeing the tits that the ladies had flashed me the last time they were in Chicago, and somehow, my hands wound up inside both women's bras rubbing a nipple each as Elaine tried to drive somewhere she wasn't familiar. Hey, I actually asked (like a nerd) if they had a problem with me groping them, and they both said they liked it. When we finally made it, we had to walk through a gangway to get to the clubhouse area where he was, and then we spotted him. He had on his usual geekwear, tan shorts and an ugly shirt, but that didn't stop Elaine from being very friendly with him, and of course he was thrilled to meet a girl whose naughty bits he had seen on webcam already. Not wanting to show up to this shindig too early, we hung out on the patio of the clubhouse for about an hour shooting the shit as the sky turned black, then decided to have dinner. Ronnie convinced the girls to leave their car at the course and get in his back seat, and after dinner we'd come back to get their car and head to the bachelor party. It was such a sexually charged atmosphere that during the drive to the restaurant, the girls mentioned taking off their tops, Ronnie and I dared them, and in the blink of an eye, I turned from my passenger's seat to see both of them sitting there with their shirts and bras completely off, with these blank looks as if they didn't think there was anything strange at all about it. Ronnie could barely drive. I was just shocked. They sat like that for a good two or three minutes until Ronnie saw flashing lights and begged them to cover up or risk getting in trouble with the cops. (The lights were cops, but they were after someone else.)

After dinner, Elaine and I got into Ronnie's back seat while Talia sat up front. We didn't make out, but I did say "Now, where was I?" as I put my hand down her shirt again and she rubbed my boner through my jeans. We got back to Elaine's car, and I rode with the girls, giving them tit massages again as Elaine followed behind Ronnie to the bachelor party. It was past 10P when we arrived, and the strippers were not there yet. The guys inside were a little restless to say the least, and definitely a little mean: When Elaine offered herself and Talia as a warm-up act, the guy in charge of the party looked them up and down, sniffed and actually said out loud, "I don't think so." Elaine and Talia stepped outside right after that. Ronnie and I didn't know what to do, so we sat there for a little while muttering under our breath at the asshole who said such a cruel thing, then I stepped out to check on the girls. Elaine was smoking and cussing the guy out under her breath too, which was a normal reaction. But Talia was actually in tears. It turned out that she was very sensitive about her looks since the babies and the weight gain. I tried to console Talia, but she wasn't in a mood to be consoled. Elaine suggested that we get out of here since she really didn't want to be in the same building as that guy anymore, and that sounded like a great idea. But where to go at midnight on a Saturday? I went back in to talk to Ronnie about what our next move should be, and it dawned on me that with two vulnerable, horny, wild women, it shouldn't be too hard to convince them to get a room just to "hang out," and whatever happened from there happened. I was literally right in the midst of trying to tell Ronnie that they probably would be up for it when Elaine came back in the building and said they were going home unless we had other ideas. And then it got weird. When Ronnie brought up getting a room, Elaine said that sounded like a plan, and the woman I had flirted with and smooched and groped for several months playfully grabbed my best friend's junk as she walked out the door to tell Talia what the deal was. He looked at me stunned with his eyes bugged out as his manhood got hard right in front of me, and I'm thinking, GOOD GRAVY that was not something I ever needed to see. "Told you they'd be down for it!" I said, trying my damnedest to purge that image from my mind.

I didn't know how to feel at this point. Yes, Ronnie and I were in his car driving to the south suburbs to find a hotel with vacancy, and yes, two women seemingly willing to fuck one or both of us were following behind. I should have been thrilled, but I had conflicting feelings. I wasn't entirely comfortable with Elaine indicating that she would be willing to screw Ronnie mere hours after meeting him. I kinda felt like I had dibs on her with all the flirting we had done. I don't know if I wanted him to have Talia and I would take Elaine, or if I just wanted Elaine first and he could have my sloppy seconds, or if I thought I should be the one to fuck them both since I was the one they came to Chicago to have fun with originally. And yes, cheating on Sarah was in my mind as well. I felt guilty about that, but I was so spiritually empty at that time in my life that I wanted to fill my life with as much flesh as possible, thinking that was the way to feeling better about myself. Ronnie was so immature that what he had on his mind was calling his mother to tell her he'd be having a late night, and then it got weirder--he informed me that he had to go back to the city go get his mom the Sunday Sun-Times newspaper that is sold on Saturday nights, then he had to take it home to her before we found a room. I sat in Elaine's car outside Ronnie's house laughing at this turn of events, but there was no mutual tit-rubbing this time because Talia was still upset over the happenings at the bachelor party. I continued to try to console her and tell her that she was still hot, but she really didn't seem like she would be much fun the rest of the night. I think Elaine asked her at one point if she wanted to go home, but she said no. She probably didn't want to seem like a buzzkill. Eventually Ronnie came out of his house, I got back into his ride, we drove about twenty minutes south to a bunching of hotels, and after striking out on the first four or five attempts, we hit pay dirt. I got out and checked the availabilities of the rooms while Ronnie and the girls parked, and I made a decision that made the events that unfolded a little easier to digest than they may have been: I got two rooms instead of one. I also grabbed my camera. Dammit, I came out that night to get some wild action caught on film, and that's just what I was gonna do.

We all made our way up to one of the rooms with no plans as to what was going to happen. It was around 1:30A. Elaine, Talia, and I sat on the king-sized bed. Ronnie sat in a chair nearby. We nervously chatted for a few minutes. I pulled the nerdiest move of all time by turning on the TV because I didn't know what else to do. I think Ronnie and I actually started checking baseball scores. Finally, FINALLY, Elaine said out loud, "Well, you guys didn't pay for these rooms to sit here and talk," and with that, she shoved Talia on her back, took off her top and bra, and sucked her breasts, then she jumped off the bed, pulled her jeans and panties off, and started eating her out. Talia responded the last way I would have predicted--she grabbed a pillow and covered her head as if she were experiencing something awful. I responded by taking three pictures, two of Talia's awesome tits (although her covering her head with a pillow takes away from the beauty of those pics) and one of Elaine on her knees eating Talia's pussy. In the background of that last pic one can see Ronnie starting to put his hands on Elaine, since she happened to be kneeling next to the chair he was sitting in. Things moved fast from there--Elaine responded to Ronnie putting his hands on her by taking him to the upper part of the bed, pulling off his pants, and giving him the sloppiest-sounding blow job I've heard this side of Gianna Michaels. I took off the camera and quickly got over any feelings of envy having to hear Elaine sucking off my friend by taking over where she left off eating out Talia. It dawned on me that, hey, Talia didn't completely freak out when I tasted her, and after a few minutes, I took the pillow off her face, said, "Do you wanna go to the other room?," and pulled her up by the hand. She took forever gathering her clothes to make the walk across the hall to the other room, but eventually she got dressed. Then, while I was getting more and more geeked at the thought of having sex with Talia, who really is a very attractive, sweet woman, she stopped Elaine in mid-suck to ask her to join us, to which Elaine responded, "I'll be there in a few minutes." So I'm thinking, wow, I'm about to nail Talia, and then Elaine is coming later to show me those oral skills she's currently displaying on Ronnie? What a night!

We had not been in that other hotel room for more than five seconds before Talia turned to me with this sorrowful look on her face and said to me, "I'm sorry Dre, I'm not in the mood." I had never been more in the mood than at that moment, so I spent the next 45 minutes or so trying to cajole Talia out of the clothes that she just put back on. Somewhere along the way I got her top off, and I remember kissing her and sucking her tits, and my shirt was off as well, but I wasn't going to take my pants off until I got her legs back open again. But that never happened. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I begged, Talia was not interested in fucking me. She called Elaine a couple of times, but Elaine was a little preoccupied and assured her that she would be over once she was done. Then at one point she got this sorrowful look on her face again and said, "You're going to fuck me, aren't you?" This indicated to me that she expected me to take what I wanted instead of begging all night, and if I intended to rape her she wanted it to be over with. I instantly lost my boner and stopped trying to fuck Talia. I felt like such a turd. From there, we actually talked for about three hours. She told me about her emotional problems, that she was on anti-depressant medication, and that she didn't have high self-esteem, and I wound up spending most of that conversation trying to tell her how attractive she was and how she seemed to be a good person (despite her "open marriage"). I gave her so many compliments that at one point she smiled, touched my cheek, and said, "Wow, you're really good for my ego!" I choose to hold on to that as the highlight of my night. I don't know if I had any lasting effect on Talia, but I got the feeling that not a lot of people had spent all night making her feel good emotionally. Physically, sure, but not emotionally.

Elaine never came over to my hotel room. She would explain in an e-mail that she felt guilty about potentially fucking her mother's boyfriend, making her by far the most mature and adult person in that entire situation. Talia called her at about 5A and expressed the need to leave right now in order to be back home ASAP. I think she started to become worried about her husband, who didn't know she was pulling an all-nighter. When I walked into Ronnie and Elaine's room after the girls had left to go to the car, Ronnie was still there, and all he could say was, "Man. The room still smells like sex." And he was right. There was a sickening mix of cum scent in the air that I know wouldn't have affected me at all if I had been able to screw Talia and create my own funky-smelling suite. But I'm willing to bet that not a lot of you know what it feels like to stand in a room where people have been having wild monkey sex and it smells like it, and you thought you would get some of that wild monkey sex all night long, and you got bupkus. It don't feel good. Ronnie kept asking me what was wrong because he could sense that I was not in a good mood, but I couldn't tell him at that point. I just gave him the $80 for my room, which I owed him because he put the rooms on his credit card, and I slinked into the passenger's seat of his car. I then had to watch him and Elaine kiss goodbye outside, and I mean a long kiss goodbye, complete with blow-off wave at me before she got into her car and drove away. I never saw either Elaine or Talia again. Ronnie was good enough to drive me home, which was an hour north. As the sun came up, I did tell him during the drive that Talia and I didn't have sex, and he basically said nothing the rest of the trip. I think he was completely speechless, and so was I.

I'm reminded of this story occasionally when I spend time with "Jacob" and a friend of his. This friend was there at Jacob's house years ago during a New Year's Eve when Jacob and I were playing football on his PlayStation. One game came to an end when I got a touchdown with no time on the clock to pull within one point. An extra point would have forced overtime, but this friend and others implored me to go for a two-point conversion and the win, so I did, and Jacob made a spectacular play to stop me at the one-inch line. The friend immediately screamed, "Why did you do that, you idiot?" I said, "You told me to!," and he said, "I'm drunk! What are you listening to me for??" It's a funny story, and the friend branded me with the nickname Go-For-2 afterwards. Well, I told the long story of this wild night with Ronnie and Elaine and Talia to this friend a couple of years ago, and after I finally got to the conclusion, he deadpans, "So I guess now we can call you 0-for-2." That's one of the greatest one-liners I've ever heard. It was accurate, and it was delivered so straight that I never saw it coming. It helped me get a chuckle out of the sad fact that I had my hands on not one but two horny women who were probably willing to have sex with me at some point during that evening, and I wasn't good enough to pull either one. In all my adventures, there are no occasions more pathetic than this one.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ready For The Next Step?

There was one very funny moment during the past week here with my girlfriend. Not more than a few hours after she gave me oral sex and made a valiant attempt at swallowing, she requested some Gatorade, and I presented her with the jug that I had sipped out of earlier. She actually refused to drink behind me! I had to get her her own glass because she was skeezed out by the backwash possibilities. This after she had my penis squirting semen into her mouth. I can say that I've never seen anything like that in all my past experiences. That was very humorous.

We had a lot of fun the rest of the week, mostly chilling at home during the day and going out to dinner at night. One night she proclaimed this Mexican take-out place called Taco Burrito King "the messiest thing I've ever eaten," then went back yesterday before she flew home. We saw the movie The Happening (I didn't like it) last Friday, and we participated in the Sick-A-Cell Walk-A-Thon last Saturday. I was proud to walk part of the course with her by my side. Maybe we can go a little farther next year. And she rented a car and let me drive it around town for practice, although I think I strained a knee ligament trying to work the gas and brake in that little thing. I said that there wouldn't be any excuses to go for the next level if things went well between us this week, and I haven't changed my thinking. We had a couple of spirited discussions, a couple of small disagreements, but mostly we enjoyed each other's company. It felt so good. I was so crushed when she left. The house feels very empty, and so does the bed. I really do love her, and I really do want her here permanently. I'm going to have to figure out how to make it work financially and logistically, but I'm sure we can do it. A man finds a way to get things done when he wants to make a special woman his wife.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Week Of Marriage Previews

Starting today, my girlfriend is staying with me for a whole week. She leaves next Wednesday. This will be the longest we've spent together, so it's going to be a very interesting look into how promising our future together looks. There's a lot one can put up with from the other during a weekend here and there, but an entire week will be a true test of our compatibility as a long-term couple. "Jacob" will be staying with his sister in Wisconsin during this time. I'm kinda nervous about this week. It sets up as a series of little episodes here and there that serve as a preview of marriage, in my mind. From deciding where to go for dinner to what movie to watch to when to step out of the house and explore the city, we're going to find out just how flexible the other person is, and whether any differences of opinion can be smoothed over neatly or potentially grow to be a problem, especially when we're in the house with each other for the next seven days no matter what. I'm probably fretting over nothing as usual, though. I don't think she's going to let this week away from her crappy job be anything less than fun and exciting, and I don't think she wants to waste time arguing or holding a grudge over something small when she knows that we're not going to see each other for a long time after this. I bet this turns out to be a great week. It'll probably be over before we know it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Gold Standard Of Bad Hygiene

Oh, the endless stories "Jacob" and I remember while shooting the shit every day. From grade school to high school to adulthood, we've come across some strange characters and had some crazy misadventures. Nothing too wild or weird. Not like ending up in a hotel room with "Ronnie," "Sarah's" daughter, her friend, and my 35-mm camera. (I'll tell that story another time.) A very short one that still made my tummy hurt from laughing was remembering this guy in high school named William Bell. Poor fella must have been living in poverty because he didn't just wear the same clothes to school every day, they were his Whitney Young gym clothes, which he had to buy freshman year because they were mandatory. Then he decided for reasons known only to him to write in black marker on the back of his shirt, "William 'Cool Papa' Bell...Can't Touch This Don't." Yes, he tried to use the M.C. Hammer line "U Can't Touch This" from 1990, but that Chicago Public School education tripped him up. He stank so bad that for Christmas one year, teachers and counselors pooled their funds and gave him a gift basket full of soaps and deodorants. Using the smell test, I gathered that he didn't use the products. Then there was the very popular rumor that during sophomore year he was caught jacking off under the lab table in chemistry class. With all of that, no wonder he wasn't very social. Wherever he is today, I hope and pray that he discovered the joys of clothing stores and Zest.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Weather's Finally Getting Nice

And what better way to get out and enjoy that weather than with a relaxing day along the lake? Yes, it's time for the Sick-A-Cell Walk, Jog, and Bike-A-Thon, next Saturday, June 14. A good time will be had by all, except anyone following me on the walk trail and slipping on my sweat puddles. If you're near Chicago, come on out and have a good time (and bring a cold towel). And follow the link below if you would like to contribute to the cause or participate in the event. All efforts, physical or fiscal, I'm sure are appreciated by the fine folks at the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Smelling The Fresh Air...Of My Apartment

The school semester has been over for a couple of weeks now, and I have been enjoying my free time. "Jacob" and I will play video games on a typical morning until it's time for me to go to work, then when I come home we might go get something very unhealthy to eat and settle in with some late baseball thanks to the DirecTV MLB Extra Innings package. When I'm not working, like today (I still have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, which I hate), I'll make myself useful by cleaning up or doing the dishes or laundry, and in the evening I'll cook the only thing I know how to cook, pre-prepared chicken breasts, and veggies and pasta or Rice-A-Roni. I'm not worried at all about my grades because I definitely got at least a B in physical science, and maybe even an A, and I'm fairly sure I got an A in psychology and media. The psychology class came to a very curious end. From the beginning, we knew we would have a ten-page paper due at the end of the semester, and the syllabus says, verbatim: "The topic is to write a paper describing exactly how you will apply learnings from this class to your own life objectives." There's nothing in there about it being specifically a research paper, but during the last class before the paper was due, I decided to ask the teacher if I was on the right track doing a paper on major depressive episode (basically a recounting of what "Karen" did to me). She expressed to me an expectation that the paper would be more of a research paper, with medical explanations of what depression was, citings from the book of diagnoses, etc. So I had to turn around and put together a ten-page research paper in two days. However, I didn't do much research. I only used two sources, and all those were good for were listing symptoms of depression and major depressive episode. The rest of the paper was a little of my childhood as background, then what happened with Karen. I hope it was good enough to keep the A that I had earned through the tests. The psych teacher pulled a typical psych job for the final exam, too. After telling us that the test would be 100 questions, no essay, she told us the morning of the final that something went wrong with making the copies of the test, so she made up an "impromptu" final consisting of seven essay questions that she scribbled on the board. I was not ready for an essay test that day, especially since I had been up until 1 the previous night rewriting her damn research essay. I think I did okay, though. Besides my girlfriend coming up for the Sick-A-Cell Walk-A-Thon weekend in June, the other interesting event coming for me is some sort of catered dinner with the new boss at my job. Everyone who works there will eventually be invited, from what I understand, but we have to do it in clusters because otherwise it would be impossible. My cluster goes on June 12. I'm debating what I should bring up with him. Do I complain about the methods by which I am determined to be working at less than 100% productivity, even though I am consistently near the top of actual documents processed per month? Would that sound like I'm whining? What else do I talk about? I'm not very good at brownnosing. It's not my personality. I'm either reserved and introverted or confrontational and irritated, but I'm no good at submissive and eager-to-please. Unless I'm trying to get laid. I have a couple of weeks to figure out a strategy to get in the boss's ear, and if that doesn't work, I may not have long after that to find a new gig.

(GRADES UPDATE, 5/22/08, 10:50A--It's an A for media and physical science, and only a B for psychology. Guess Mme. Daramus didn't like my paper.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Finals Week! Run Screaming!!

Ah, the excitement and pandemonium of Finals Week. The syllabus for my psychology class wasn't very clear about the 10-page paper due at the end of the semester, so I thought that my final project would be a detailed analysis of my bouts of depression over the years. The teacher informed me that, no no, she expects this to be a research paper, with sources and shit. So I have to spin that gold out of yarn today, as well as prepare for the 100-question final exam. Then Thursday is the finals for media class and physical science class. Because I got an A on my last physical science test and I've done all the homework, there's a chance I can sneak an A out of that class if I perform on the final. The other two classes are virtual guaranteed As. Wow, it's all coming together. With only one more class left until I get my A.A., I can actually see a finish line. But in typical self-deprecating fashion, my gut reaction is to dismiss it all and claim that I haven't done anything yet, lest I start to feel satisfied. I still insist that I'm not walking across the stage for my A.A. I feel that's like taking public bows for finishing my sophomore year of high school. I won't do it. But I am proud of what I've done thus far. Psych class didn't quite teach me why I feel the need to shit all over things that I do, but hey, that's part of my "charm." Well, off to work. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

That's It, I'm Moving To Brazil

What if I were to tell you that all three of the remaining presidential candidates would speak on a pro wrestling show? And not to denounce pro wrestling, but to actually speak to wrestling fans, as if they've suddenly become an important constituency? If you don't believe that they would do something like that, then click on this Youtube posting of all three speeches this past Monday on WWE Raw. Then, join me in dry-heaving and mourning the death of decency in this country. I mean, seriously. Remember the uproar when Slick Willie Clinton blew his, um, own horn on Arsenio? Isn't this a billion times worse? There are so many things wrong with courting the wrestling industry, as if they're the bastion of goodness, and then all three go and do it, not just one. An abbreviated list of things that each candidate should question about WWE is here in this excellent blog post by former WWE writer Seth Mates. And believe me, that's just the beginning. But that's where America has collapsed to, where the candidates will fish for votes anywhere they can find them. There has never been a candidate before that spoke to wrestling fans, and there's a reason for that. I really find it in its own way disgusting and filthy. It reminds me of a saying that describes what I felt like after discovering that "Karen" was a dirty whore and I was screwing her: Don't roll in the mud with pigs, you both get dirty, and the pig likes it. Vince McMahon and the WWE are the pigs, and they were creaming their pants at the sight of the next President of the United States rolling in the mud with them. What's next, the Adult Video Awards convention?

Man, am I glad I'm not registered to vote.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Some Random Thoughts On Music

I noticed that music was coming up in a lot of things I was doing lately, so I decided to make this post all about a few of my thoughts on the thing that all of us have in our lives in some form but tend to take for granted, music.

As those who know me well are already aware of, I don't go anywhere without my headphones and either old-school cassette-playing personal radio or my iPod, or sometimes both. And if I feel like really zoning out on a given day, then those sitting on the same train or bus as me will have to be serenaded by whatever I'm in the mood to listen to. I'm a very considerate person in most other situations, but for some reason I'm not willing to listen to anyone who tries to tell me to turn down my headphones. My deal is, honestly, what could the decibel level possibly be for those sitting near me as I listen to headphones? It's not that much of a disturbance. Do I get annoyed when I have my headphones off and someone else is listening to a song so loudly that I can hear it? Only if I don't like the song. And I would never ask someone to turn their personal headphones down just because I don't like the song. I think that's unbelievably rude. And if I like the song, I'd never think of asking the person to turn it down. So I think it's all about my choice of music and the people who don't like my choice of music. In my life, I can remember 3 definite (and maybe a few more) times where I've been asked to turn down my headphones. The music was always hip-hop. The people were always older white people. And the next time, I have a good mind to respond to that request with a middle finger.

A running theme between me and my roommate "Jacob" is how many horrible songs he can guess is on my iPod, because it's basically filled with songs that hardly anyone else liked or heard of when they were out. I'm up to 217 songs on my iPod now, and I swear all except maybe 30 are from before 1990. I didn't mean to yell out one of the songs for him, but I was feeling good Saturday night walking home from the train, and before I got to my front door I let out a yell while rocking out to "Welcome To The Jungle" that would have made Axl Rose proud...I mean barf. Would've made Axl Rose barf. Anywho, Jacob was sitting in the living room as he usually is, and my yell came right outside the window, so when I got in he let me know that he could hear me. Honestly, I didn't know I was quite that loud. So now he knows that I have Guns & Roses on my iPod. That's not nearly as embarrassing as some of the other shit on there, but it's still pretty bad.

Talking about Guns & Roses reminds me of a story from grade school. (REAL NAME ALERT #1) In 7th grade, at Ogden Elementary in downtown Chicago, where a lot of rich, white kids went to school, I was having a lot of trouble fitting in, as usual. There was a fat white chick named Kathy Vajda who was assigned to sit next to me, and she and her friends were so into Guns & Roses that it was almost scary, but we found a way over several days to have conversations about other things and kinda entertain each other. Then I made the fatal mistake of thinking that we may actually be friends, and I casually asked her one day, "So, what are you doing for lunch?" The look on her face was absolutely priceless. She turned completely pale, her eyes bugged out, and she turned away from me without answering the question. It's funny now how freaked out she was over the concept of going to lunch with me, but at the time it really hurt, not because I wanted her or anything, but because I thought we were friendly enough that she wouldn't be ashamed to step out in public with me and grab a burger. Boy, was I dead wrong. I never spoke to her again.

Hey, I like dropping real names. Maybe Kathy will Google herself and my blog will come up, and she can read about what a cunt she used to be. So I'll do it again. (REAL NAME ALERT #2) So another song on my iPod is "Let The Music Play" by Shannon, a radio and club hit from the early 80s, and I have an early and intimate history with that song. In 2nd grade at Skinner Classical School, the strongest crush I had in my life up to that point was on a black, fair-skinned, Jheri-curled 6th-grader named Margaret Stallworth, but of course, I'm just a short, annoying 2nd-grader, so she wanted nothing to do with me. It's not like I was really trying any moves at that age, but I just wanted to be near her. Somehow, I was able to find out that she really loved the song "Let The Music Play," so I went home and camped out on the radio station most likely to play the song, then I used my portable $20 mini-boombox to tape the song (or at least part of it) for her. I had to Scotch-tape the back of my cassette player closed in order to hold the batteries in, because I had lost the piece that holds down the batteries, and I had to be careful not to tilt it forward because I had lost the front piece that holds the cassette in. But I managed to get the poor tattered thing on the school bus and play the song for Margaret, and she was so touched by the effort that she kissed me on the cheek. Proudest. Day. Of. My. Life. At least at that point in my life. And still to this day, every time I hear that song, I think of Margaret and how sweet I was on her and whether she turned out as hot as I imagine she did. So, if you've read this blog from its infancy and you know about all the silly shit I've done trying to please women who don't deserve me, there's the moment that the desire to make a woman happy was instilled inside me.

It really is amazing how a song can take you back to something that you normally wouldn't think of. I haven't been to the strip club with "Drew" and his brother and friends in years, but I recently downloaded a couple of songs that reminded me of those trips: "The Thong Song" by Sisqo and "It Feels So Good" by Sonique. Both were prominently featured during certain sets at the Admiral Theatre back in the day, and both songs conjure up the dimly lit club with its personality-deprived, soulless dancers charging $10 for air dances where you can't make contact with them. And yet, those were fun times. Just hanging out with the guys all night was fun, and just sitting in a place with dozens of naked women walking around was, of course, a blast. Some of those dancers found a way to distinguish themselves and work hard to give the paying customer a great experience, so it's not fair for me to call them all soulless and personality-deprived. I'm sure those few dancers and those songs are the only reasons that I miss the strip club, because I don't miss spending money that I didn't have and still not having any pussy at the end of the night.

My media class has been having spirited debates about music, specifically hip-hop and the messages sent by the music. One guy, who never shuts up and can't be older than 19 or 20, had the nerve to blame his bad behavior on hip-hop, saying that when he calls a woman out of her name it's because that's the only way he knows how to relate to them. I've heard some ignorant statements before, but that one's near the top. I had to gently argue with my teacher one day when he insisted that the old white men who run all the companies that distribute media (TV, movies, music, etc.) would not publish music that disrupts the status quo, such as if hip-hop decided to put out messages empowering black people to get out of the ghetto and educate themselves instead of the usual "pimps up, hoes down, shoot everybody" mentality. I don't think those old white people give a damn what message is put out there, so long as it moves units out of the warehouses. All two people that read this blog, you can debate this if my memory is serving me wrong, but this is the point I made: In 1990, the #1 rap albums were by M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice, and there's absolutely nothing hardcore and gangsta about that. The gangsta rap theme as a pop culture phenomenon, in my opinion, began in 1991, when, without ANY advertising or commercial endorsement (because of the language and violent imagery), the #1 album of that summer was N.W.A.'s "Efil4zaggin." They had to print "Niggaz4life" in reverse so as to try to avoid getting banned from all the record stores, and yet still it was flying off the shelves. "Nuttin' But A G Thang" came from Snoop and Dre about a year later, and the rest is history. But it's not that white people wanted to publish gangsta rap in order to dumb down the black race. It's that gangsta rap started selling like hotcakes (and, famously, not just to black folks, but white suburbia as well), and all the record companies had to follow the trend or else risk being left with their dicks in the dust, so to speak. Then we had to debate whether to ban rap lyrics or not in class, and that was easy--you can't take certain words and pronounce them evil and ban them. Words don't mean shit unless you want to make them mean something. And words don't make people shoot other people, bad parenting and/or mental illness make people shoot other people.

Finally, I was excited to read that Mariah Carey has another #1 hit on her hands, with a song called "Touch My Body." Anyone who knows me is aware how I feel about Mariah Carey. Not only is she smoking hot, especially with that 40 pounds she's put on since her debut in 1990, but I love her voice, even with all the verbal acrobatics that don't necessarily add to her songs. The thing is, I've never heard her new song. I don't listen to music on the radio anymore. That's how bad it's gotten. It started with my general avoidance of the radio after the "Karen" episode four years ago, because of all the songs out back then that reminded me of her, and my desire to listen to today's music continued to erode from there. The breaking point was when I had the chance to listen to American Top 40 on a lazy Sunday morning two summers ago and was hit with the fact that one of the top 10 songs in this country was being "sung" by Hulk Hogan's daughter, and another by Paris Hilton. In that moment, mentally I turned around and walked out of the pop music room, shaking my head and wondering if I would ever come back. So far, the answer is a resounding no.