Old Money

April 30, 2010 at 4:34 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
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  We went to Sue’s mom’s funeral.
  Following the map directions, I managed to get out of my own neighborhood okay.  How did we ever manage before MapQuest?  I get on the inner-belt–that’s 170 for you out-of-towners–and we are immediately in a traffic backup.
  It’s early enough on a Tuesday morning–just after the morning rush hour–and it’s raining or drizzling lightly.  We’re going a direction that shouldn’t be backed up right now.  Detroit has that look on her face because she thinks I should have listened to her and went straight down Lindbergh to the Southwest corner of Fuck-All, but I know I’m right here.
  There is an accident up ahead, and it actually affects both the north- and south-bound lanes.  When we got up to it, it looked like two cars from either side slid down the grassy median and into each other.  That was my impression, and I’m sure it’s wrong.
  But before we get to that point–that glorious point in the traffic where it opens back up and the stallions can once again run free–we are inching along on our two lanes, all of us together.
  Except for the occasional asshole that comes barreling down the shoulder to get around it, because they are special.  A couple of cars come down the shoulder, and they get by.  A third car comes down, and a big SUV about three cars in front of us pulls out onto the shoulder in front of him.
  And stops.  And stays there.
  The car can’t go around him because next to the shoulder is a rail because we’re on a long viaduct/overpass.  After that, there is a steep drop off.
  The car honks his horn.  The SUV just sits there, inching along with everyone else.
  We did notice an Obama bumper sticker on the car, and we laughed.  The guy is a typical liberal dipshit fucknut, and this is a perfect metaphor for the liberal elite philosophy:  The rules and the lanes are for the masses, they must be kept in line.  But I am a special case, so these rules don’t apply to me–
  –like the libs in Hollywood who drive around in their Hummers and private jets talking about how we the little people should all conserve energy and save the planet.
  –ditto Al Gore
  –Obama appointees and other libs in Congress who think we should all pay more taxes but haven’t filed themselves in a few years.
  –any other hypocrisy you can think of.
  So it was funny to see him get thwarted.  The guy in the SUV had nothing to fear, because this Obama supporter is not going to have a concealed-carry–he’s not packing heat.  If the SUV had had a Bush-Cheney bumper sticker, that would have been perfect, and awesome.  And even more hilarious.
  Eventually the grassy side leveled out, and the car got around.  In another hundred yards, we were through the accident and we could all get through, so Har-har on him.  I know others, like us, wanted to cheer the guy in the SUV.

  Later, we arrive at the church for the mass.  We’re about the first ones there, and Detroit said that some were at the funeral home this morning, bringing the party here for the mass next, and then on to the cemetery after that, and then everyone goes to someone’s house to eat and drink.  A funeral is like an overly somber pub crawl.
  When we arrived at the church there was an old couple in front of us.  The woman looked thin, but not frail–but on the verge of it–with a classic strength.  The man was smiling and friendly, and looked liked he had had a stroke.  He slurred his speech and favored one side.
  After they talked to the priest for a moment, we introduced ourselves.  They are the Donius’s.
  If you recall, the former CEO of the bank I work at is a Donius.  That is their son.  The old man–Walter–was CEO before that.  I told them that it’s just not the same without their son around.  The culture that Walter created and his son enhanced has made it one of the best places in St Louis to work.
  Mrs D–I never did catch her name, and perhaps it was best to be formal with her–thanked me.  Detroit had just said that we were friends of Sue’s.  Mrs D said she has known Sue since she was this high–and held her hand about two and a half feet above the floor.
  We gradually drifted away, having nothing more to talk about.  I’m sure they were nice enough people.  Walter certainly is.  I have trouble hearing, and it’s hard to focus on someone who slurs, especially if I didn’t take my medicine that morning.  So, I know–the problem was mine, not his.
  Detroit noticed (as women do) the size of the rock on Mrs D’s finger.  Well, yeah.  These people were money.  The bank has been in the family for nigh on 90 years or more, and these people have a tradition of money.  The aura of Mrs D said, with understated class, "Old Money."
  We took our seats, and the ritual thus began.  I’m not Catholic, so following a Catholic Mass is somewhat foreign to me.  I recognize some of the words, but that was it.  But for Detroit, who is a…
  Christ, I’m not sure what she is.  Some kinda pagan/heathen/Earth Mother worshipper or something.  I’m going to miss her when she goes to Hell.
  Anyway, it had to seem odd to her as well, I imagine.  But as stylized and ritualized and…odd as it was, there was some comfort in it.  Comfort for me in the fact that everyone is grasping at straws as if they think they know the Mind of God and all these odd things are what God wants.
  The rituals have a purpose:  they give you time to contemplate and a soothing atmosphere and comfort in repetition, and aid with the closure.  These things are not for God, and not for the deceased, but for the living.
  We tried, Detroit and I, to keep up with the mythos, but it seemed that everyone but us knew the hymns by heart (Where were they?  In the hymn book?  What numbers?  Don’t you even want us to try?–I guess not), and when to stand and when to sit, and when to get a cracker and take a sip of wine and backwash.
  She and I agreed that we shouldn’t take the communion, probably for different reasons.  She, because she’s not a Christian; and me, because I’m not a Catholic.  It’s not as subtle of a difference as you think.  For her it was escaping an inconvenience; for me it was avoiding sacrilege.
  During one of our up-and-downs, I happened to glance back a few rows, and caught a glimpse of Mrs D.  She had a far-away look behind her red eyes, and her face seemed over-whelmed by grief.
  I had time to contemplate all of this, and some realizations slowly crept over me.
  Mrs D said she had known Sue "since she was this big."  Sue is…let’s just say roughly my age.  Mrs D and Sue’s mom have been friends for over forty years, then, by a conservative estimate.  In the parlance of our times, they were BFF.
  And how is it, then, that she is sitting behind me, when she should have been in front row–with the family?
  I thought of my friend Bunny, whom I have known for 20 years.  I want her to be…right there in the front, with family.  She is family to me.  Yeah, Detroit can be there too.
  But all of that made me think of how important Bunny is too me, and I felt real empathy for Mrs D.
  We drove to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, and there is the final service.  We don’t go to the burial site there, but instead to a small stone pavilion; the deceased get buried later.  They probably don’t want anyone watching when they screw them into the ground vertically.  It’s a large place, but space is tight.
  After the brief service, we were all clearing out, and I caught up to Mr and Mrs D.  I felt compelled, I guess, to let her know.
  "Mrs D?  I just wanted to tell you–"
  "Well, it took me a while, but I put it all together.  Like when you said you’ve known Sue since she was this tall, right?  You’ve known Sue’s mom a long time–you’ve been friends forever, haven’t you?
  A single tear. "Yes."
  I choked up a bit too, but forged ahead.  "Seeing you reminded me of my good friend I’ve known for 20 years, and how important she is to me.  I just can’t imagine it.  I can’t imagine how hard it is.  So I wanted to say to you, I’m sorry for your loss."
  She smiled somberly through her red eyes and gave me a hug.  "Thank you.  So  much.  So many–"
  And then someone interrupted to talk to her, and she was whisked away.  But we had a brief moment.  The only evidence was the faint smell of perfume and Old Money lingering in the air.

Shamans and Holy Men

April 27, 2010 at 12:08 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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  Detroit and I are friends with Joe and Sue.  It’s funny how a chain of people know each other.  Bunny got me the job here at the bank.  Carrie works here, and is friends with Bunny.  Carrie has a friend named Sue, and her husband Joe needed a job, so through networking she helped him out.  Me and Joe work together, and became friends.
  At some bank function Detroit met Joe’s wife Sue.  We had just moved and Detroit was needing a job.  Sue got her one–and Alex, too–at school working in the kitchen.  They became friends as well.
  We don’t get to hang out much, like kids get to do–sometimes you have to set a play date.  Like the other week, when I had a birthday party–it was one big play date, with alcohol.
  The more recent play date we had with them was Friday night, after learning that Sue’s mother had passed away.  Although I had been planning on going to the studio that night, when Sue called Kim, Kim knew that the right thing to do was go over to see her.  Be with her, sit with her, comfort her.  Drink with her.  Bring some wine.
  We brought rum for Detroit and beer for me.  That way she could drink, and I could have a few beers but still drive.  I just can’t drink beer fast enough to get drunk.  We were there for about 3 or 4 hours, and I barely finished three beers.
  I felt like we were doing a good deed–Kim and Carrie kept Sue company, and I kept Joe occupied.  In the midst of her mother’s passing, they were also having some kind of fight.  About what?  Don’t know, don’t care–not my business.  I kept Joe busy, let him bitch, and got him drunk enough to pass out after falling over some shit and crawling across the floor.  He finally ran down, spilled his wine a bit, and eventually passed out sitting up on the couch.
  Then I went outside and joined the others.
  I’m basically sober, with three drunk women.  Yay, me.  They were all happy and sensitive and expressing their feelings…and talking about their wildest sex stories.  Yikes.
  But they did all agree that I am a wonderful person, more or less–aside from the standard drunkenly honest caveats that come out–so that was nice.
  Towards the end of the evening, we were trying to wrap it up.  I had gathered the stuff, hugged everyone a couple of times, and tried to extract Detroit to the van.  Then a most unexpected thing happened.
  Joe and Sue’s neighbor came over.
  Ravenwolf.  The Ravenwolf.  The one, the only.  I had heard much about him, and yet, he was nothing like I had expected.  I had heard he was a musician.  I had heard he was a hippie, and had
his own way of doing things.  I got the impression that Joe liked him
even though he didn’t quite *get* him.  I heard he did some odd things in his house, in garden.  Mystical, pagan things.
  From this and other things I had heard, I thought he would be a 60-year old grizzled-looking half-Indian and half-Scottish Nick Nolte-looking dude with moccasins and bongos and a hookah, and a pet monkey on his shoulder.  I pictured a loud and brazen blues-singer type, taking up everyone’s space, speaking in poetry and snapping his fingers.  Why a monkey?  Why, indeed.  Why not? 
  Instead, the real Ravenwolf was something quite different.  A young black man?  No, not young–but definitely not old.  Even more so than many blacks, he had the annoying ability to look much younger than he was.  He could have been as young as 28; most likely he was close to fifty, if not older. 
  He was definitely his own man, like Brother Todd.  He dressed the way he wanted, and it was unusual enough to be unique without being odd and off-putting.  In my mind’s eye I imagine dressed like a pimp in a purple suit but I know he wasn’t.  Regular dress pants of some kind, a shirt that may have been white, with a vest, and I think there were ruffles somewhere, although that may have just been his aura.  He had on a big leather overcoat, and he wore a hat. 
  Honestly–he was dressed plainly, but his essence sparkled, so it had the tricky thing of making him appear at once both more and less than he was.  It was as though…
  Okay, this will make more sense in the context into which I put it soon.  But it was as if his physical appearance was a disguise.  Not to deceive anyone, but because he wanted to live among us and this was how he did it.
  All of the above thoughts came to me after the fact.

  Sue and Carrie greeted Ravenwolf first, hugging him.  Sue introduced us.  Ravenwolf held onto Sue, supporting her, while saying that he had had a few to drink as well.  He gave her his condolences.  Detroit said to him, "I’ve heard alot about you," as he hugged her, and he brushed it off, remarking something about not being that special–
  He continued to turn the attention to other people, but in a nice way.  He was genuine, and he cared to hear and learn and know about others.  I had started to walk towards the van to put the stuff away, and then come back and begin the extraction process again.  From about 20 feet away, Ravenwolf said something to me loud enough for me to hear, loud enough for everyone to hear, and yet no one heard but me.
  "Are you a Holy Man?"
  Not much can stop me in my tracks.
  I had been walking away, but I had to go back, because I had some explaining to do.  Inwardly cringing from my own embarrassment, I answered, "Yeah, I am–although I don’t really talk about it or flaunt it because I’m not a good example."
  He smiled large at me.  "Who is, brother–who is?"
  "Well, I guess I am, then.  You know, that may be why people come to me for counsel all the time.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.  But I listen, and people need that."
  He didn’t ask, but stated, "You’re honest."  But more than the words he stated was the image or emotional projection behind it, something that reminded me that I’m honest but I use humor to hide it, or I write fiction and make things up but they hold a higher truth.  All of that came to me in energy from him as he said those two words.
  I laughed hesitantly, startled at the depth of our communication.  "I am that."
  All the while the three drunk women were around us, talking loudly to themselves, us, and each other, but their noise was gently blocked as Ravenwolf and I connected.  As we are preparing to go, we shook hands again, and this time–
  This time, he held on to my hand.  At first I tried to pull out of grip, and he held.  I saw his face.  I acquiesced, and held his hand for an uncomfortably long time…probably thirty seconds.  He was looking at me.
  I’ve said before my psychic ability is somewhat erratic, if I have it at all.  Despite my fiasco with the body work on the car, I really can read people.  In fact, subconsciously I believe that I knew he was going to rip me off and I let him do it anyway.
  And I while I got a read on Ravenwolf, it took me a few days to analyze it.  But at that moment of our connection, I could tell that’s what he was doing to me:  Reading me.  And going below the surface, and reading a little deeper.  Detroit later told me that we had only met for the space of a few minutes.  Perhaps.  But Shamans can bend time and space.  And while I can’t–or I can’t control it, in any event–I can certainly recognize it when it happens.  I had some doors of perception open for me briefly.  He let me see briefly the real him.  His veil was like a dark jacket thrown over him like a costume.  Under his veil, I saw his aura.  His aura was at once a dark and bright purple, with sparkles of energy coming from it.  And under his aura, I saw his Presence.  His presence was of an ancient tribal priest, dressed in loin cloth and body paint, wearing a headdress and holding a staff, performing an ancient dance to the gods of the land, and the wind, and the water, and the spirits.
  I don’t know what he got from me–truth?  The truth is over-rated, I suppose.  I am curious about what the real me looks like.
  Shamans and Holy Men–I believe he is both, because a Shaman is a special kind of Holy Man–we have to…we have a job to do.  We have to teach, and counsel, and nurture the people.  We have to guide and direct them, and give them new ways to think.  We point out new direction, and help remove blinders.
  And we all have different methods of doing it.  Mine is more direct; I grab the spotlight and say, "Come, follow me!"  Others, like Ravenwolf, do it indirectly, by example and suggestion and gentle persuasion.  But we are both–if anything else–spirit guides.

  And this is what Ravenwolf told me, what he communicated to me through our meeting and our clasped hands:  he was reminding me that I am a Holy Man, and I have a mission, and a function, and a purpose.  

Marvin The Paranoid Android

April 25, 2010 at 11:52 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  I went out this morning early, because…I don’t know, I like it.  On the weekends, this suburb–the largest one in St Louis County–is just packed with people and traffic.  Actually, it’s like that during the week, also–you have to pick your times carefully.
  Fer instance, I leave for work a little after six (if I’m lucky) and avoid the early morning traffic that starts about 645.  This lets me leave work early, so I miss the beginning of the evening rush at three.  And from three until seven, it’s a drag.  Lindbergh is a busy, busy boulevard of broken dreams and people hurrying home to experience them.
  I try to stay off of Lindbergh as much as I can now.  When I was younger and had more patience, I would sit in the traffic and enjoy the sense of community that I and my other fellow wayward travelers would share.  We all had that same thing in common:  We need to get somewhere, and we could, and faster, if it wasn’t for the asshole in front of us.
  And the guy behind me feels the same way.
  Saturday is different.  On a day with seemingly no set schedule, the roads go from deserted to completely packed at nine am, and stay that way until about seven at night–then it’s just a constant flow, like the middle of a period.
  But before nine am, the roads are fairly clear.  It’s just me and the few other people who know this is the best time to get out, run around a little, and get back before the deluge starts.
  Sunday doesn’t quite have the deluge Saturday does.  It’s nice–the dim collective memory of the ancient and long since defunct blue laws stick with people, and they are less likely to travel out on a Sunday, except to church.
  That is, until noon or so.  Then it picks up, and before it can get bad, it’s four pm, and people are back home.  Sundays are best.  Sundays are mine.

  So I went out early this morning and went to the store.  I had a hankerin for some pancakes.  I hit the grocery store for some pancake mix and syrup, and some sausage, and a couple of other things.  The grocery store is best early in the morning, too.  But it wasn’t too early–the self-checkout lane was open.
  Oh, Lord, the self check out.
  On one hand (and this has largely been resolved because they have been around for a while and they aren’t new anymore; self-checkout has become a part of our social meme as much as ATM machines have, but not quite with the overbearing blunt force trauma that cell phones have) a line of one person at a self check out is enough to make seek out a live (in relative terms) checkout because every once in a while you’re going to get behind someone who is either:
a) using it for the first time and thinks it is so unique that they want to stand there and chat with you about the inanities of electronic checkout because of how strange it is ("We have self check out in the grocery stores but we can’t land a man on the moon?"
  ("We have landed a man on a the moon."
  ("Oh.  You’re one of *those* freaks.")
b) trying to buy produce that has to be weighed and keyed in manually but they somehow think this doesn’t apply to them
or c) can’t figure out why they can’t stick their double Eagle green stamps in the machine to get the third dish in their 8-place setting that they saw in the catalog from 1973 when stores gave away dish sets and also when they TOOK FUCKING GREEN STAMPS!
  On the other hand, I really like it because often when I go to the store I really don’t want to talk to anyone.  I don’t want to know how their day is because I’m insensitive and uncaring, and I don’t want to tell them about my day because it’s none of their fucking business.
  On still another hand, I hate the self check out because the goddamn machine fucking talks to me more than a human checker would.  I swear to God, this is the conversation I had with the self check out machine this morning:

HAL 9000:  Please select language or begin scanning your items.
Me:  I speak English, you trash-talking FORTRAN machine.
C-3PO:  please place your items in the bag.
Me:  Fuck you.
Robbie:  When you have finished scanning your items, select your payment option.
Me:  You don’t take Green Stamps, shit-board.
Bender:  Please insert your coins into the coin selector before inserting your bills into the bill selector.
Me:  You’re not the boss of me.
Johnny 5:  Please take your change and your receipt.  The bills are located beneath the scanner.
Me:  What the hell kind of trick is that?  You sneaky, lying machine!
Data: Please remove your items from bagging area.
Me:  Really?  Should I?  Should I take the shit with me now that I paid for it with money and my own human blood?
Bishop: Have a nice day and thanks for shopping at Piggly-Wiggley.
Me:  Fuck you.

  The whole time, the human overseer of the robot checkers was cheering me on.  "That’s right!"  "I heard that!"  "You go, girl!"  I guess she fears being replaced by a machine as well.  There still has to be people for some purpose, though.  But–
  If the grocery store had sex-bots as checkers, they truly would be a full service store.

  Then I went to the gas station and got my coffee.  Of course, I poured it and mixed it myself with the help of machines–the Terminator T-850 mixomatic.  I went to the counter where the clerk was bored and hardly working, hahaha.  After making me wait while she finished a phone call, she finally took my money and miscounted my change, all the while barely saying a word to me.  Her name tag said "Turquoise" but she wasn’t green.  If she was a machine, she was a lazy and insolent one. 
  It’s called ergonomics when we create machines to mirror our image.

It’s My Party

April 21, 2010 at 7:12 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
And I’ll Cry If I Want To

  I took off from my job at the bank Thursday and Friday, and I took off from The Three Jakes Saturday.  As an after-thought, I arranged to switch with someone for Thursday night, so I had four days off in a row from both jobs.
  Four days off from two jobs is like having six days off from one job.
  And the purpose for this quasi-vacation was to clean up the house and so forth for my surprise fortieth birthday party.
  You see, even though I turned 45 (and fuck me, for crying out loud) earlier this year–in February–I wanted to have a new fortieth birthday party because my first one, well…let’s just say my first one really kind of sucked.
  First of all, for my 40th the first time around, I was still married to The Storm (my special private nick-name for my ex), which should tell you everything you need to know. 
  She didn’t invite any of my friends, because she doesn’t like them.  Instead it was just family.  But not *my* family, because she doesn’t like them, either.  So for MY 40th birthday party it was just HER family in attendance.  Seriously.  When I look back at it now…what the hell did *they* think?
  I bet they thought I was a pathetic loser with no friends.  Thanks for that, Linda.
  Oh, and it was a surprise party, too.
  Happy birthday!  Surprise!
  Where are my friends?
  They "couldn’t be here."  Surprise!
  Where’s–where’s MY family?
  Didn’t invite any of them.  Surprise!
  Oh.  Well, at least I got presents, right?  What I’ve been wishing and hinting about for a few years–a table saw?
  A garage door opener!  That you have to install!  Surprise!
  At this point, I wouldn’t have been "surprised" if my birthday cake had been carrot, or German Chocolate, or Banana nut.  In case you’re wondering, those are flavors I DON’T like.

  Fast-forward to now, and I’m having a new surprise party.  This time, I knew about it, and helped plan it.  This time, I invited my friends and my family.  This time, I had fun.
  So for my days off, I was going to get ready for the party.  Thursday morning, I picked up the crap from the yard, did a tune up on the lawn mower, cut the grass, trimmed the yard, and took the leaf blower to clean it up.  that was the morning.  In the afternoon, I tackled the garage.
  I only had about two months to get the garage cleaned up, which somehow managed to come down to the last two days before the party–Thursday and Friday.  Thursday I did most of the clean up, and Alex helped a little.  I had some more that I wanted to do, but never quite got to it.
  We got trash out that morning, and Saturday morning I took another pickup load of trash to a friend’s dumpster at work, and also a pickup load of cardboard to the recycling center.  The garage was looking pretty good. 
  Friday, I took Detroit’s mom for a ride so we could get her big pickup licensed.  It was easier than I thought.  She had the registration.  She had the title with the lien paid.  She had her proof of insurance.  We went to the county government office and got her personal property tax waiver. good for two years if you answer this question correctly:  "How long have you lived here?"
  Truthfully?  No.  We just told them, "Oh, about two months.  February, right?  Yeah, two months."  Because the reality is over a year, but that’s none of their beeswax.  Then we went to the license office and went through the same thing, and she got two-year plates on the truck.  And then I had to figure out how to get them on, because in the state of Missourah, you have to have plates on the front and back.  This truck has never had them on the front, ever–it was from Floridia.  There was not even a mounting bracket on the front.  I fixed that, and got the plates on.

Fortune Favors the Foolish

  The previous day I had found a place on Craigslist that had used appliances.  Today, I did a drive by and looked at them.
  Oh, but there really is more to it than that.  The day before–Thursday–was the last day of my ADD meds.  I needed to drop off my prescription, but I never got around to it.  Wait–I tried Friday morning at the 24-hour place, but they were out.  She said I would need to try another location…when they open.  The other places weren’t 24-hours, and weren’t open yet–I was out and about early, in the seven-am hour.  Okay, I’ll check out one of those–
  But I never did. 
  Around noon, after taking care of the truck, I took a drive to the appliance store.  I had checked Craigslist and there was a link to their website and I looked at that briefly, and then I called about their hours which were in fact listed on the website but I didn’t look closely enough or scroll down to actually see them.  I’m driving, I’m on my way.  I’m cruising down Lindbergh, planning on turning–
  Turning where?
  Well, I–shit. 
  I didn’t actually know where the place was.  I had looked at the map yesterday, I thought.  Woodson and Lackland *sounded* familiar.  I know where Woodson is, even though I haven’t been there in years.  I’ve heard of Lackland.
 This is the kind of ADD I have:  I left the house to go someplace without even bothering to make sure I knew how to get there.  Through luck or talent, I found the place.  There were some good ol’ boys running the place–city rednecks.  I found a fridge and made a deal, and I was going to come back later to pick it up.  The brother said, "We’re open til seven tonight, but try to be here by five, because we start drinking beer at three."
  I was, and they were. 
  They also agreed to take my old washer; if I was buying an appliance I could drop off an old one.  This is the one that the other place sold me used that only worked for a couple of months that would have cost as much as buying another washing machine to fix. 
  Now we had a fridge in the garage, one of my dreams.  I find it best to have small, attainable dreams.  I don’t dream of being a millionaire.  I dream of being financially solvent.  I don’t dream of a big house, I dream of this house, with more functional space.  I don’t dream of wild sex with all kinds of women (anymore); I just dream that someday Detroit will eventually give it up again.

Nothing’s Going to Change My World

  I had the Big L order some wings for me–a forty-pound case–and they were in the walk-in at the Imo’s I used to work at.  After the fridge was plugged in, I went to pick up the wings.
  I pulled around to the back like a driver; the front parking lot just seemed crowded and not for me.  I didn’t recognize any of the cars in the back.  Oh well.  Audacity is the brother of invention, so I just walked in.  I saw a couple of people I recognized, so that was good.  I explained the situation, and got my wings.
  I did have a brief conversation with one guy.  The new manager (whatever his name is) got rid of many people.  I guess I wasn’t the last victim of turnover.  It made me wonder about Brian, the heroin addict.  Was he still working here?  I would bet five bucks and a rock that the answer to that one is "no."

Seasons Come and Seasons Go

  It had rained Friday afternoon and evening, but now it was Saturday morning.  The sun is out, the sky is blue, and it’s beautiful, Prudence.  We still had to go to the grocery store for last minute items and pick up the alcohol.  Detroit worked on various things, and I worked on others  We were done, or as done as we were going to be, about 4ish, and sat down to watch TV and wait.
  Brother Todd showed up first, soon to be followed by Joe and Sue, and then others.  Dawn and Dave, and their kids.  Scott and Tia, with her daughter.  Mike and Steve with their wives,  The Big L finally showed up, and later his wife, Bunny, made an appearance.
  So who didn’t come?
  Well, the Dude said he would not be able to get off work.  Sounded a bit lame to me, but I get his point.  He doesn’t want to be around that many people.  I can totally get that.  Unless they are there to worship me, I don’t want alot of people around either.
  But Producer Lou didn’t make it, or my sister.  Or Suzan, who is supposed to be my radio partner.  This new chick that I’m friends with didn’t make it either.  And neither did Cousin Joey.
  I got purty damn drunk.  By the time Bunny showed up, I was standing in one place but rocking my hips pretty far to maintain "balance."  Everyone seemed to have a good time.  I had a really good time.  Mike passed around some shots that I did in between the other drinking that I did.
  I remember bragging to some of the guys about the tools–because why the hell not?–and being able to find any tool they could name.  Dawn asked if I had a hammer.  No.  I don’t have *a* hammer.  I have several.  Of course.  "Why do you need more than one hammer?"
  "Why do you need more than one pair of shoes?" I answered.  "There’s a claw hammer–or three–there’s a tack hammer, a mallet, a ball peen, and of course, a BFH."
  "Big fucking hammer."  In this case, a two-pound sledge hammer.
  I hung outside with Mike and Steve for quite a while, and then we all came in the garage.  It was the funniest sight:
  The one thing I have in the garage that Detroit hates–the spool–everyone had gathered around like a statue of a giant owl in the woods around which they performing secret rites.  I need to call Mike and remind him, because he’s the one who got me the spool.
  Eventually the place cleared out, until it was just me and Detroit, and the Big L and Bunny.  And Alex, of course.  We were trying to talk with them, but when Alex gets drunk he wants it to be all about him.  Finally he went to bed.  The Big L left, and Detroit started to clean up.  Me and Bunny had some time to sit at my computer and go over my music list, and just talk about music, for about an hour.  We went all the way through my collection of music on the media player.  We’d play a snippet of songs here and there, talk about it and others, and move on.  All the way down the list.  Finally, we were done, and Detroit had already gone to bed.
  Bunny gave me a hug as she left.  "Happy Birthday."
  Returning the hug, I said, "You know my birthday is in February, right?"

License to Ill

  I went to bed about 2 am. 
  About 4 am, I woke up.  Oh my God my body hurts.  I was in pain.  Ow.  Ouch.  Oh.  God.  Kill me now.  Ow.
  I wasn’t spinning.  I wasn’t going to throw up.  Maybe.  But man.  My knees, my ankles, my arms, elbows and shoulders all hurt.  Maybe my back, too.  I couldn’t form the thought into a sentence, but it was my impression that the moving around I did when I was drunk and my body was numb was coming back to haunt me now that enough alcohol had left my system that I could feel again.  Speaking of leaving my system–
  I took a helluva pee.
  I got a big glass of ice water.  I stood in the kitchen, bent over the table, and shook with that combination cold chills/hot sweats/impending doom sensation that drunks are familiar with.
  With her eyes still unopened, Detroit told me to take a Percoset.  I would, but I didn’t want to have to look for them, and thought that I still might have too much alcohol in my system for that to be a good idea.  I drank some water and it helped, and I went back to sleep.

The Day the Party Stood Still

  I got up fairly early–before nine, I think.  I didn’t do much till about ten or so, which is actually normal.  Sunday was a quiet day for me.  I started the grill and cooked the rest of the chicken wings, and some other meat.  I had a couple or three beers to take the edge off.  That was about it.  I didn’t have a hangover; I don’t think when I woke up earlier counts as a hangover, because it had only been two hours, so technically I had to still be drunk at the time.
  Early in the afternoon Cousin Joey came over and visited for a bit, so this counts as party attendance.  Later in the afternoon, I took a nap.

Oh, It Is So On

April 14, 2010 at 9:48 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
Tags: , ,
  So, yeah, as it turned out, I was ripped off bigger than shit.  Saturday morning I approached my car with the gleeful anticipation usually reserved for Christmas or blow job night.  As I rubbed the compound off of the car, it was beginning to resemble blow job night:  This really sucked.
  The major portion of the dent was gone, but now it looked like several minor ripples.  And the guy–let’s call him Guido–had indeed put some small screw holes in the door skin to pull out the dent…about five of them, I think.
  The scuff marks were still there–maybe some of them were gone–and the dent was still there, just different.  The only thing new was the screw holes and what was left of the compound residue that I couldn’t get off.
  The car looks like I have been the victim of a very ineffective drive-by shooting.

  I’m supposed to be getting my laptop back today.  Jim the laptop guy said he swears this is it, no delays, blah blah blah.  At least he had a reason–or reasons–for the delay and it all sounded legitimate.  I do believe him, I do.
  Of course, the last time I talked to him, he did say that this is just a temporary fix, and it will go out on me again.  Seriously, dude?  After all this, it’s not even going to last?  What the fuck?  But I know he did his best and he’s not trying to rip me off.  I think.

  I know that I am too trusting and a bit naive.  Maybe you guys don’t know it, but I know it.  I talk a good game, and I talk shit about how cynical and jaded I am, but the truth is, I *want* to believe in the goodness of all mankind…
  Despite all the evidence to the contrary.
  I have been a sucker before.  Man oh man, have I ever.  I can’t even…

  Well, I’ve been ripped off on drug deals, back when I did that, but that’s natural.  Oregano really *looks* like pot.
  Back with my old girlfriend (and she is old, too!) we got high-pressured into joining some whacked out sales thing.  You pay a high-dollar *membership* to shop at their exclusive *showroom* where you get tremendous *deals*.
  Car salesmen get the best of me, every time.  I’m too timid to negotiate…I’m too timid?  ReallY?  Man, it’s something about their delivery that makes everything seem final.  I need to get up and walk away from the deal next time.  Seriously.  Get up, and walk away.  I know I paid too much for this fucking Mercedes.
  If somebody comes around selling something door to door, watch out!–and hide my checkbook.
  If my credit wasn’t shitty, I would own a dozen timeshares right now…
  If I can read people so well, as I claim, why do I keep getting taken?  I think I know–and I know that it’s happening when it happens, and I let it.  My ex-wife used to get really mad at me about this.  "Stand up for yourself!" she would say.  Or scream.  Of course, when I stood up for myself against *her*, she would say, "That’s not what I meant."

  I really want to believe that the world is a wonderful, idyllic place.  Everyone is nice, and honest, and looks out for their neighbor.  Everyone is friendly and caring.  Everyone has a friendly wave for the passers-by in the street, as they walk from the breakfast diner on the corner to the dime store right there in the town square.  Children ride their bikes in the street without fear of molestation, and everyone works hard to earn their keep.  In the evening, people sit on the porch with a glass of lemonade and gossip.  At night, they all say goodnight to each other as the lights go out.  In the morning, an actual rooster crows at dawn, and the world awakens fresh and anew to the new day, with dew fresh on the lawns and a young boy on a bike tosses the paper in yards, filled with good news and hope for the future.
  I imagine the world to be much like the world of The Andy Griffith Show–except in color, and with wi-fi.

International Trade In The Parking Lot

April 9, 2010 at 10:14 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,
  My day at The Three Jakes started off rough as soon as I walked in the door.  Things weren’t going well here and I had other problems on my mind.  Like most people nowadays, I guess, I had the dark ominous cloud of job insecurity looming over me.  Were they still trying to get rid of me here at the sammich shop?  Was my job in danger at the bank?  When I was coming to work and got off the highway, at the light there were some homeless people that had staked out that area for begging.
  And behind them was the highway overpass under which they lived, I’m sure.  I looked at the squalid conditions and crumbling location with envy; I hope I can find a prime location like that when *I’m* homeless.
  However, after I took a couple of deliveries, things were looking better.  I had willed myself to look past the problems and get a better attitude.  Go me!  About that time I had pulled back into the store’s parking lot.  Another car pulled up next to me with a young couple in it.  It looked like the guy was talking to me, but we all know I can’t hear shit.  I got out and walked over.
  A cute but bored and jaded white trash chick was in the passenger seat, so I leaned in to get a better look at her cleavage.  The driver was a young Hispanic-looking dude of indeterminate origin.  The first couple of times he said whatever he said I did not underfuckingstand him.  I thought he was trying to sell me something.  Cologne, maybe?  How could he tell from *his* car that I smelled bad in *mine*?
  I listened, hoping for comprehension.  No habla…
  Finally I started to piece together what he was trying to communicate.  He spoke with an accent and he was a young thug, but nonetheless he had some salesman in him.  "Listen to me, Gentleman, I tell you what I can do for you.  That is a nice car you have.  I see you have some body damage.  That is a shame, you want take good care of luxury car, yes?  Gentleman, for 200 dollars I can fix that right here, ten or fifteen minutes.  No problem.  What do you say, Gentleman?"
  Si.  Now I get it.  He was trying to sell me something.  It sounded like a reasonable deal.  And the body damage was bothering me.  I never turned it into the insurance.  If you recall, der Kaiser was the victim of a hit and run over a year ago on the driver’s side, both doors.  Not major, but enough to be noticed.  Two hundred bucks?
  "Okay, I see.  Look, my brother-man, I don’t have any cash right now.  You got maybe a bidness card or something?  We could do this next week."
  He was willing to negotiate, but he did want money now and do the job now.  "Listen, Gentleman, I see we can make a deal.  I can fix your car no problem.  I can do it right here in the lot.  How much money can you get?"
  I needed to go low.  "I know I have a hundred bucks.  That’s all I have right now."
  He nodded.  "Gentleman, I tell you what I can do.  I fix your car right here.  You go get a hundred dollars, I fix it, Gentleman, professional.  You know a body shop charge maybe 5, 6 hundred dollar for this."
  Okay.  I can do this.  I’m at work and delivering, however.  I go in the store and there’s a run to Walgreens.  They have an ATM, and I come back with 100 bucks.  I had to pay 3 extra to get my money because it was a foreign ATM.  It didn’t seem like it to me–I mean, it spoke English.  I didn’t realize it was fucking currency exchange.  Those things just piss me off, how they openly rip me off.  I like it to be more discreet.
  I came back and told him I had the money, and he was already pulling the equipment out of the trunk of his car.  His bored white trash girl friend stayed in the car.  He was obviously doing this because he needed money right away–drug habit, or to pay off her pimp?  Who knows?  I’m a little more cynical now, but at the time it was going on I was thinking happy, optimistic thoughts, like he wanted to take her out to a nice dinner and propose, because she just found out she was pregnant.  He was a real go-getter, willing to work hard to make it.  Just two young kids, trying to make it in this crazy world…
  I went back in the store and started to finish some jobs.  In about ten minutes I would go check on him.  Sooner than that, he came to the drive up window.  "You all set, Gentleman.  Car is done.  See?"  Or maybe he said, "Si?"
  We walk out and have a look.  The car was dented on the driver door, below the trim line.  On the back door, it may have been dented, but it was scratched up.  He had it covered with some kind of compound.  A rubbing compound?  Whiskey Tango–
  "Let me show you something, Gentleman."  He took a rag while he talked and rubbed at the bottom edge of the back door at some marks.  "See?  this part, it will come right out when you rub.  Make sure you do that."
  Now came the hard sell.  "Let me tell you Gentleman, the work involved.  I took the dent out, you see.  The braces behind it were broken.  I had to fix those braces.  I couldn’t let that go and have you call me later and tell my I did not do my job.  I had to fix those, sir.  I tell you what, a body shop, they charge so much for that work.  But I have a deal here.  You go ahead and make it 210 for doing this, and we’re all set."
  "Brother-man, I don’t have that.  All I took out was the hundred."
  "Well, we need to make a deal, Gentleman.  This is quality work here.  It’s going to look good.  This is a luxury car, Gentleman.  I tell you it can work out.  How much can you get?  One-sixty?"
  Now I’m starting to wonder if I’m being taken for a ride or not.  All I wanted was cheap body work from an unknown guy driving by in a car.  How can that possibly go bad?  I said, "Listen, Brother-man.  I work two jobs to pay my bills, brother.  I don’t have so much.  I’m working now, but it’s slow so I don’t have too much.  You know?  I can do…120."
  He pressed a bit more.  I want to get my money’s worth, but I also don’t want to give up too much money.  And I don’t want to get ripped off, either?  What if this is still a big scam?  The body work is covered in the compound still, and I have seen no true "finished product" as of yet.
  I said, "I have no more than 130, brother.  This is money I haven’t made yet tonight.  This is all I have.  130."
  "Okay, Gentleman.  This is what we do.  We gonna do this for 130 then.  This is quality work we have here, and I want you to be happy sir.  We take the 130."
  I pulled the 100 bucks from the ATM from one pocket and counted it out.  Then I pulled the other pocket, my Three Jakes money.  I said, "This is not all my money, brother.  This is other people’s money."  I gave him thirty, and my happiness about the whole affair decreased about 30%.
  "Okay, Gentleman, we’re good.  This is what you do, sir, this is important, okay?  You don’t let no little kids touch this, it’s not good for skin.  Leave it on for 48 hours, then wash it off.  Okay, Gentleman?"  We shook hands, and he was gone.
  I stood there, looking at my car.  "Uhm…"
  I thought he was going to take that off.  So I have no idea what it looks like, underneath.  I did look up close at it, and the dent is gone.  But I know he screwed some holes in it to pop it out.  Those are filled?  That could be a problem.
  Also…the paint job is a delicate thing.  Is it going to damage my paint to leave it on there that long?  And what is the purpose of leaving it on there that long?  So he can have a two-day head start to get away?  In a way, it’s exciting–the anticipation.  I think I got ripped off, but I won’t know for sure until Saturday.

  On my way to work that day, I had called Jim, the laptop guy.  He’s had my laptop for nigh on about six weeks now, I think.  There was a delay ordering parts originally, and then another delay that he said was his fault–one of the things he said he could fix was causing it to overheat, and he needed to figure that out.  He had it for about three weeks when I called him again, and he said it’s done, and he has it…but he’s out of town.  He got a promotion that called for some training, and he was in Boston.  Okay.  But why would you take it with you?  Why couldn’t I just go get it from your fat girlfriend?
  The next week, he was still in Boston, but sick.  He had traveled with a cold, and it turned to pneumonia.  Bummer.  Plus, he’s going to be stuck because he can’t travel when sick.  The doctor and the airline but the ixnay on that.  He sounded horrible, and I said, "Well, don’t die on me, because I want to get my laptop back."
  He laughed.  "Ha.  No promises.  Not for a P3.  Maybe if it was a better computer."
  Finally, last Friday, I talked to him and he sounded better.  He said he should be good to travel and he would be home Tuesday or Wednesday.  I didn’t hear from him Tuesday or Wednesday, so this is where we are. I called him Thursday–last night.  No answer.  I left a message full of hope and not at all cynical.
  He has my laptop and the money I paid him up front.  Is he trying to rip me off?  The only reason I think that he’s on the up and up and this is just a series of unfortunate events is that…the alternative is that this is an overly elaborate ruse to go through to steal 120 bucks and an eight year old crappy P3 laptop. 
  Jim the laptop guy is obviously smart and definitely a computer guy–I could tell by the way he talked.  He knew his shit and he talked about shit that was just a touch over my head on occasion, and he talked really, really fast, and he spit a little…all signs of a true techno geek.
  So he’s not a criminal mastermind.  A criminal mastermind would have squeezed me for 120 bucks in the parking lot in a matter of minutes and made me feel good about it, and not leave me any way to find him.

  Oh, shit…


April 7, 2010 at 9:15 PM | Posted in Political | Leave a comment

  I worked the election as a judge the other day.  How was it?  Slow.  How slow?  Well, I had time to read two novels and write all this as well.
  My conspiracy friend isn’t registered to vote and doesn’t want to vote because he doesn’t trust the process, or the system, or the government, or anything.  Like all liberal nut jobs, he “feels” (not “thinks” and definitely not “knows”—just “feels”) that most people are like him:  liberals.  When you have a set of whacked-out beliefs, it’s more comforting to know that other psychotics share them.  This is commonly demonstrated with Muslim extremists who want the world to be converted to Islam.  If even one person doesn’t believe, it makes you question why.  That’s why it’s better to kill them all if they won’t convert.  Do you see how logical this is?
  Therefore, when a liberal or a Democrat gets elected–why, that is an obvious example of the process working.
  However…if a conservative or a Republican wins an election, it is obviously fixed.  There’s just no way that there are enough Republicans to outnumber Democrats, because there can’t be that many evil people in the world.  Can there?
  In 2000, in the hotly contested, mostly dubious and obviously illegal “election” that selected GW Bush, all the voting machines used in Florida were made by Halliburton, programmed by ENRON, and operated by Blackwater.  And now, with even more electronic voting where there is no paper trail and no proof, it is obvious that the fix is in.
  I am an election judge, and I get to see first hand the checks and balances, security, and safety measures that are in place.  Let me explain what I know:
  First of all, I live in St Louis County, and it is the third—number 3—most complex voting and election system in the world.  Not the country—the world.  Why is that?  Often an election can cover many issues and many levels of government.  On any given ballot, you might vote for a president, senator, congressman, state senator, state representative, a county official, a city alderman, and a school district board member.
  Other than the president and the US senator, all of these positions are specific to their district, and they all have different borders.  In St Louis County, there are over 400 polling places, and these don’t seem to follow any of the other borders although many are closely aligned with elementary school lines.
  In 2008 at the polling place I worked, we had four different ballot styles.  Meaning, depending on where you lived even within that district, you might get a different ballot.  Two people who live right across the street from each other might get different ballots.  Although they would have the same federal issues and likely the same for their state choices, they might have different city alderman.  It’s a complicated affair. 
  Now, about the process itself:  Several days in advance of the election, all the polling equipment is delivered to the polling place.  Everything is there, and it is locked and sealed.  “Sealed” means there are numbered and cataloged plastic seals in the locks that have to be broken and removed to open.  If it is broken before we get to it, that’s a problem, and that’s a call to the election board.  Whenever we open a seal, we have to sign off on it.
  All of the equipment—and imagine what an undertaking it is:  this is equipment for 400 plus polling places—is prepared, checked, rechecked, verified, and sealed by a bipartisan team:  An equal number of Democrats and Republicans.  And EVERYTHING is done that way.
  Now, you might wonder why it is just the two major parties and none of the other lesser parties, or the scrappy little unknown ones.  Is that fair?  Well, if you put the two biggest cheaters together and make them work with each other, they’re going to watch each other and keep each other honest.  Besides, the communist party doesn’t want an election, the anarchist party doesn’t believe in them, and the hemp party got high and forgot that the election was today.  I call myself a Republican for this sense because I more closely align with them, but you can bet your sweet bippy that I’m a Libertarian.
  As I said, the equipment is delivered and left untouched and covered.  On the morning of the election we show up, we election judges.  We band of merry—
  We open the case and remove all the contents:  various color coded canvas bags for specific purposes.  We open the seals, and record the seal numbers on the seal verification sheets, and they have to match.  We match serial numbers on the memory cards and FEB keys for the touch screen.  Serial numbers on packets of votes for the opti-scan.  Serial numbers on the keys.  And all of this is done in a serious, bipartisan manner, to make sure there has been no tampering.
  While we do all the checking, we also set up the equipment.  The janitorial staff at the school has already set up the tables and chairs and cleared the room for us.  Luckily we are in an elementary school library, so the chairs are the perfect size to cripple my knees, thigh, and hips after sitting in them for 13 hours straight.
  Now comes the actual voting.  People come in, grab a ballot, and vote.  Right?
  Oh, there’s much more to it than that.  People come in, and first they show some form of ID.  A numbered voter ticket is filled out that they sign and a member of each party initials.  The judge asks what type of ballot they prefer:  the evil touch screen computer thing with no proof of what choices you made except for the printout, or the good ol’ fashioned opti-scan, in use since Colonial times.  (This is how the Constitution was ratified:  opti-scan.  The Founding Fathers used a number two pencil and filled in the oval on the ballot, and then it was fed into the opti-scan reader.  It was invented by Ben Franklin.  True story.).  Most people picked the touch screen.  Then a judge looks up their name in the book of registered voters.  The voter signs on the line, and also initials next to his address, verifying that it is correct.  A rep from each party also initials in the book.  If there is more than one ballot style because of districting, the ballot style will be listed in the book next to their name, and this will be written on the voter ticket.
  Finally, the voter slides down to the end of the table, and the assistant supervisors take the voter ticket, select the appropriate ballot for the voter, and usher them to the appropriate voter-booth-thing and instruct them in the technical operation, if necessary.
  If there is a problem—the voter is not registered, or not showing up as registered, or wrong address, or some other issue—the voter goes to the supervisor table where there is a rep from each party there to help them out: an expert in the voting process.
  Lord help them, that would be me.
  I don’t do much under normal circumstances.  Occasionally we make a call to the election headquarters.  We have voter affidavits that we use for some circumstances, and a Palm pilot that has the up to date listing of all the voters in the county and where they are supposed to vote.  In the most common situation, we send them to another polling facility.
  At the end of the night, we count.  The opti-scan votes must equal the number of opti-scan voter tickets, and the touch screen number on the touch screen screens is verified and must equal the number of touch screen voter tickets, and the total of those two must equal the number of signatures in the book plus the number of affidavits.  All of this is counted twice, once each by—you guessed it—a rep from each party.
  The opti-scan votes are sealed, and the number is recorded and signed for.  The unused ballots are counted and verified. 
  The touch screens are closed with the electronic key (FEB), and the FEBs are sealed and the seal number is recorded.  The printout from the touch screens is sealed and recorded, as are the memory cards from them.
  Everything is put away according to the lists and all of this is done by people from both parties.  The green canvas bag, the orange canvas bag, and the orange canvas pouch are sealed, and these are delivered to a drop point by the two supervisors riding together in one car.  I imagine there are a dozen or so drop points around the St Louis County area.  The drops I’ve been to have had several vehicles with several people from both parties, with clipboards, and St Louis County Police are in attendance for security and traffic control.
  Every effort is made every step of the way to eliminate the opportunity for vote tampering.  So much so that I’m sure there are a few steps I left out.  Now what happens to the ballots after they leave my possession?  I’m not really sure, but based on the experience of the structure at my level, I’m confident that the security and precautions are just as rigorous, if not more so.
  I forgot to mention—because there weren’t any this time, but I saw them in 2008—that there are provisions in the election rules for “observers.”  The major parties can select people to be observers in the process at the polls; to be sure that everyone is treated fairly and given every opportunity to vote.
  Of course, the only observers I’ve ever seen are from the Democratic Party because…since they are lying, sleazy, deceitful sons of bitches that can’t be trusted, they don’t trust the fair and impartial election process to give them the advantage they deserve.  They were on a fishing expedition, I’m sure, looking—waiting—for the change to call someone out (and hopefully a Republican, for their sake) for treating a voter in a racially insensitive manner.
  Now this is not to say that all elections are fair and honest, moral and ethical.  Chavez winning 100% of the vote in his country comes to mind, for one.  It reminds me of that Wizard of Id cartoon:  the guy steps into the voting booth, and there are two levers.  One is marked “The King,” and the other one is marked, “The Other Guy.”  The man in the booth pulls the lever marked “The Other Guy,” and a trapdoor opens up underneath him, dropping him into the dungeon.  One hundred percent, right.
  And never mind the whole 2000 election thing.  Just—never mind.  Listen, libtards:  you don’t understand enough about the complex legal process involved so you just call it “illegal” and “fixed.”  I understand more of it than you do, but not enough to explain it to you patiently without slapping the silly shit out of you while I do it.
  (By the way—the whole “selected, not elected” thing that you cling to was pretty much rendered moot when GW beat Kerry in 2004.  And nothing was better than the crestfallen face of Dan Rather when he had to announce the winner.  It was like he was reporting on a puppy assassination.  Priceless.)
  Meanwhile, the media didn’t even bat an eye about the Senate race in Minnesota between Franken and Coleman.  How come EVERY TIME the votes were recounted, there were more and more votes for Franken, but no change—none added, none lost—for Coleman?  How is that possible?
  And let’s not forget all the completely outrageous stunts pulled by ACORN.  They were going to win in 2008 no matter what, and they proved it.  All the illegal voter registration and duplication, and people who admitted to voting more than once with no shame, like they were supposed to.  Unconscionable.  There are too many stories about illegal and unethical stories about ACORN to list them all.
  Again, everything they accused the Republican party of doing, they were going to do.  And more.  But that is all about politics, not the election.  This is about the election.
  In conclusion—and back to my original theme:  whacked-out, conspiracy-believing, tin-foil-hat-wearing, Alex Jones fan club members get a hold of a small amount of distorted misinformation and build a web of intricate and ultimately incorrect theories around it.
  If they never leave the basement or go outside, how can they know with any certainty anything about the real world?  A fish in an aquarium can theorize and guess and fantasize about the world on the other side of the glass…but they’re never going to know the truth until they experience it for themselves.  And until then, they’ll never believe and never be capable of understanding that world outside the glass:
  The one where you don’t breathe water.  The one where you don’t float in the air.  The world of breathing air is as alien to fish as the real world is to conspiracy nuts.

Duck Tales

April 2, 2010 at 10:49 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  A couple of quick stories. 
  I delivered to a bar recently.  As I driving up the street, I saw a cute but skinny and obviously pretentious chick going on her "walk."  Straight or gay, there are lots of hot chicks in this neighborhood, and they all like to get out and exercise.  I love Springtime.
  Anywho, I "park" in front of the bar.  Actually what I did was pull around some orange cones in the street that were warning of a deep pothole right at the stop sign, then backed up so I was at the corner where there is generally no parking.  A car top sign and hazard lights are like a passport to anywhere in the civilized world…and by that I mean America.
  As I was getting out of the car, a drunk biker-looking bearded rough-neck dude comes stumbling from the bar to the sidewalk towards the street.  He says to me, "Hey, how’s it going man?  What a great day–"
  I said, "Yup," briskly as I continued to the bar.  Not only did I not want to get caught up in a discussion about yard waste or metallurgy or whatever other random topic drunks seem to be able to work into any conversation, but I was in a hurry; The Three Jakes wants us to go fast, and there were hints abound that I was slow and would probably get shit-canned for it.
  As a I maneuvered through the crowd on the sidewalk, I sidestepped the skinny pretentious exercise chick.  There was less of a crowd in the bar.  When I came out, I saw the skinny pretentious chick reluctantly locked into a conversation with the drunk biker-looking bearded rough-neck dude.  From the few seconds of sound I caught along with the body language, Earl was hitting on Cynthia. 
  Cynthia had her body turned to walk away as she put her earbuds back in to listen to some empowering fem-rock.  Earl had just said, "I think we’d have a real good time…"
  Cynthia tried to be diplomatic.  "That sounds really sweet, and thank you–but I can’t.  I’m in a committed relationship with Gray’s Anatomy and my vibrator."
  Like I said, I didn’t hear the whole think.  But I did hear this:  as she walked away she said, "Okay, bye now!"
  And Earl, the drunk biker-looking bearded rough-neck dude, now heart-broken, cried out quietly, "I love you!"
  In the Spring time, magic is in the air.

  I thought I had another one.  Maybe not.  I tell you though, after all the bitching I’ve been doing about this job, it is so odd that I am finally…in acceptance.  Monday and Tuesdays I work with TJ who is a man but could be a lesbian, and Shannon who is a woman and is definitely a lesbian.  I stay busy, I get my work done.  I try not to engage anyone, and if I do, it is briefly.  If I’m lucky, I stay on the road most of the time.
  Tuesday afternoon I had a different song in my head.  They had been busy and now it looked like we were going to run out of bread.  Bread, you see, is the lifeblood of a sammich shop.  Without bread, you just get a pile of meat and mayo salad in your hands.  We need bread.  It takes about an hour, roughly, to get a finished product.  First we take some out of the re-re (Retarder, which is just a refrigerator, but it retards the proofing process) and put it in the poofter–or proofer–for half hour or so.  Then it bakes in about 20 minutes.  So you like to plan ahead, and have plenty on hand.  And you do, unless you forget.
  Then you need to find some bread.  And hopefully, you can get it a) before you run out; and b) before the other bread is ready, making it pointless to go get some.  Shannon made some calls to progressively more distant stores.  When she asked me if I would go, it never occurred to me that I could say no. 
  I did say, "Well, if it makes you happy…it can’t be that bad."  She looked at me and rolled her eyes, then looked away, forcing me to continue:  "If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?"
  The best way to go was the highway, but there was no best way to get to the highway.  Christ, I thought hockey season was over, at least for the Blues.  They generally make it to the first round of playoffs and then fold like a bad hand.  But this night, at least, there was a game.  The sidewalks of downtown St Louis were full of middle-sized affluent white people, and the streets were full of pickups and late model masculine cars. 
  It took me over half an hour to get to the store with the bread.  All the while, the fateful words of Brian the manager played back in my head:  "About ten minutes there and ten minutes back, right?"  With no traffic it took almost twenty minutes to get back.  This shit is not close.  Almost an hour.  Yeah, they could have had bread ready–they probably did.  Did I miss out on any deliveries?  Oddly, no.  There was one, that had just called, waiting for me when I got back.
  So weighing the pros and cons–staying in the store and cleaning something ridiculous, or using probably five bucks of my own gas money and not getting reimbursed for it–it’s a tough call.  I asked Adam about it, and he said there is no procedure for reimbursement…but also no rule that says I have to do it.  Saying no would just make *me* the asshole, But I’m comfortable in that role.  So I said, "Well, I can always say, ‘What’s in it for me?’"  Because I don’t mind, really.  I can run a few miles to the nearest store with no problem.  But gas is high.  Why should it cost me five bucks of *MY OWN MONEY* because the manager made a mistake?  After he explained it all, I said, "Okay–I’m taking that sammich home for free then," pointing to the one I had just made, with all the trimmings.
  All’s fair in love and sammiches.

  Perusing Craigslist recently, I was looking for a new part time job or a pre-op tranny.  I came across a place that was hiring.  A familiar place.  The Three Jakes.  The one I work at.  Last night when I talked to Kelly, she said, "You know they’re hiring a bunch of new people, right?"
  "They gonna fire me and replace me."
  Probably me, too.  I nodded.  "Fuck em."

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