Thursday, July 29, 2004

Working Out - A Novice's Primer

When I was in my 20's and playing ball, I used to look at all the old fuckers on my team (read anyone older than 30) and think, "why the hell do those guys need to work out so much?" I used to play ball 5 nights a week, most weekends, go out after, close down a bar, and get up at 6 to go to work the next day. Day in, day out. Never ever affected me one single bit.

Now that I'm an old fucker myself, I finally understand. I started working out when I was 32. I would have started sooner, but I was still able to move around pretty well at short and I wasn't resigned to the fact that I was becoming an old fucker myself.

Like most people that go to the gym for the first time, I had no clue what I was doing. I'd go do some cardio and then do the same lifting routine day after day. I never felt the need to educate myself on the proper way to work out. I wasn't looking to become a muscle bound, cock diesel motherfucker, just looking to gain back some of the strength and flexibility I seemed to be lacking. So, I began my quest for the fountain of youth.

Fast forward to today, three years down the road. I have educated myself on various training techniques. The workout that has given me the best result for what I do is the Core Workout ( Gives me flexibility, core strength and a good nutrition plan. That's all in the book.

What they don't tell you in the book is what people act like in the gym. I have broken them down into categories.

Category 1: The Socializers. These people go to the gym to meet with friends and talk with everyone (could be translated to mean guys trying to pick up chicks). You hardly ever see them touch a machine and when they do, it's usually a treadmill, which they keep to a slow walk. They hog machines that they're not really planning on using - one trick I've learned is to pass some gas (for lack of a better phrase) in their general area, that'll clear em out in a hurry. Stay away from these people. They will make your hour long workout take three hours. This is evidenced by the fact that it takes them two hours to watch 60 minutes.

Category 2: The Executives. These are the rich fuckers you see pulling up to the club in their Lexuses and Mercedes SUVs, even though they've never seen dirt in their lives. They're usually over 45 years old and play tennis and have all the cute, stylish workout outfits that we just want to throw a jar of spaghetti sauce on. They come complete with all of Andre Agassi's latest line of Nike tennis clothes. They also dress better than they play. Their childrens' names are usually Dylan, Dakota, Skylar or Porsha. These people only talk to their own kind and they're very territorial. Do not intrude on their space because they will look down their nose at you while they're drinking their designer fitness water. These people also congregate at an upscale bar afterwards for a bottle of Merlot or two.

Category 3: The Aerobics Instructor Wannabes. You spot these people, usually women, by their clothing also. The women wear spandex capri pants and sports bras only. The men tend to wear baggy t-shirts over spandex shorts. They bounce around from machine to machine and wear a permagrin on their face. Never, and I repeat, NEVER get on a cardio machine next to these people unless you want to spend the whole time talking about protein drinks, pilates and yoga classes instead of watching the latest episode of Nick and Jessica on the big screen TV.

Category 4: The Muscleheads. You can always spot these guys a mile away. They are wearing a Gold's Gym tank top, circa 1980, spandex shorts and wrestling shoes and they walk like penguins. Their IQ is inversely proportional to that of their bicep size. You can hear them put 45 pound plates on their bars and their loud grunts as they do their "Strongest Man" competition imitation. They use roughly ten of those plates per side for each exercise. After they get off a machine, they walk around the apparatus they're using like their nuts and underarms are chafed. Never engage these people in a conversation when they're working out, unless you can spot them when they bench press something that's roughly the weight of your car.

Category 5: The Youngins. This tribe breaks down into two sub-categories: The Well-To-Dos and The Jocks. The Well-To-Dos usually show up with The Executive. Like their mom or dad, Hunter will be wearing the latest line of LeBron clothes, even though he can't dunk a basketball and doesn't come from an impoverished background. He spends a lot of time at the juice bar, running up a bill on his parents' tab. You will never see this tribe work out. You can usually find them talking trash and throwing up bricks on the basketball court, however. Conversely, you have The Jocks. These Youngins travel in packs of 3 or 4. They have a workout sheet from their school, and they follow it to the letter. They try to outdo each other on each machine. They can bench press the combined weight of your entire family. Never ever work out by these kids, unless you can handle the fact that they can lift five times as much as you ever will and they never pull a muscle.

Category 6: The Turkey Necks. These are usually the older guys of the gym. They do their cardio and toning workouts, but that's not why they're there. They go to the gym just to walk around the locker room naked. They flop this way and that. Nothing's ever in the place it should be. They usually look like a bloodhound wearing a towel. They will come up to you while you're getting changed, put one leg up on the bench next to where you're sitting and try to tell you how good Metamucil works. The one thing this group is good for is finding out where all the good bargains on different food items can be found around the city, as they will drive ten miles to save five cents on a gallon of ice cream.

Category 7: The Aging Jock. This is definitely where I fit in. These guys are the ex-high school superjocks that try to recapture their youth by working out. They usually think (i.e., hope) they can cheat Father Time. They try to eat right, take vitamins and drink protein shakes before, during and after workouts. They are usually not quite fit, but not quite fat either. That's usually because they refuse to give up drinking beer, which is really detrimental to their desire to someday have a washboard stomach. Do not try to reason with this group by telling them that they will never play as good as they once did as they've convinced themselves that they're the rare breed of athlete that can play at a high level until they die at age 120. They try every workout they can get their hands on, stick with it for a month and when they either get bored or don't see results, they switch up the routine. This group would mainline creatine if they could.

Category 8: The Defeated Jock. This group was the Aging Jock group of five years ago. They have figured out that they cannot recapture their youth. They keep going to the gym because by now it's habit and their wives threatened to kill them if they didn't quit bugging them every night about how they look. They usually wander the gym floor with a dejected look, manage to do a moderate hour long workout, then go down to the bar and drink the calories they just burnt up. The people in this group will eventually be absorbed into The Socializer, Executive or Turkey Neck groups, perhaps all three.

I hope this helps anyone that joins a health club navigate what can be the angry and somewhat confusing seas of groups there.


Monday, July 26, 2004

Coach's Wife

The phone call I got on my lunch hour was shocking. Totally floored me. My chiropractor, Suzanne, who played fastpitch softball for the University of Arizona, was on the phone, audibly disturbed. Her coach while at UofA was Mike Candrea, who is now the head coach for Team USA.

When Team USA traveled through town, Suzanne, her partner, me, my boys and my wife all went to the exhibition game. Now Suzanne has bragged for years and years about Coach Candrea and how great a guy he was. Being a former fastpitch player, and having followed "Coach" through the years, I had been chomping at the bit to meet him. I came close three years ago when Suzanne invited me to go to Tucson with her for an alumni game, but I declined, not wanting to intrude on her weekend. While Team USA was in town, I finally got to meet this great man. Every single word Suzanne had spoken about this man was not only true, but she understated the facts. He is gracious, kind, patient and you can tell he is a man of the highest integrity. After Team USA beat a college "all-star" team 8-0, Coach Candrea took 15 minutes out of his night to speak with me. We talked about fastpitch, aspirations, goals and, of all things, family. He told me, "JP, I have done a lot of things in my life, but none of them wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t have my wife, Sue, by my side. She is the glue that holds me together." After Coach and I had our 15 minutes, he thanked me for MY time (if you can believe that), extended an invitation to come to Tucson this year for the alumni game to "talk fastpitch and hang out" and then went to sign autographs for thousands of fans, even though he hadn’t yet eaten dinner and it was fast approaching 10:00 p.m.

When I turned around, I noticed that Suzanne was talking with a woman. When she saw that I was done talking with Coach, Suzanne motioned for me to come over to her. She said, "JP, this is Sue, Mike’s wife." We exchanged the customary hellos and she asked me what her husband had to say to me. I told her that I was so excited to meet him and that he invited me to come to Tucson in January for the annual alumni game. She said, "Well, if you come with Suzanne, then you must stay at our house." I couldn’t even comprehend how someone like that who just met me 30 seconds before could even think to invite me to their house, let alone the wife of the head coach for Team USA. I said, "Thank you for the invite, but I don’t want to impose. You guys probably have enough going on." Sue said to me, "Sweetie, if you don’t stay at our house, Mike and I will be offended and you don’t want to offend the coach of Team USA, do you?" Good point, Sue, good point. Sue and I spent 30 minutes "getting to know" each other and when I left the field, she offered me a hug and I felt like I had known her my whole life.

The phone call I got today was that Sue was dead at the age of 49. Died last week as she was getting on a plane in Wisconsin. She had an aneurism and after surgery, passed away.

I find myself sitting here, weeping over a woman that I have known for a grand total of 30 minutes of my life. I think that speaks louder than anything anyone can say about someone else. RIP Sue, even though I barely knew you, I miss you already. Coach, you’re in my prayers.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Downstairs Neighbors

Our townhouse is set up so that there's a one bedroom flat underneath it. So, when you go in our front door, you have to go up 16 steps to get to the 1st floor. Living in that flat is a couple that fights constantly.

At first glance, they seem nice enough. A little white trashy, but nice nonetheless. They've always been cordial to the kids and don't complain when the Reesey Monster decides to use the couch as a turnbuckle to try out his WWE moves on G-Dogg. They look very, very young and if you were to ask me at gunpoint, I'd say that they're both not much older than 20.

They have all of the classic symptoms of "the couple that fights." One, they're extremely young. Two, whenever they're out in public (be it at the pool, clubhouse or just hanging out on their porch), they're all over each other - especially her. Three, she's very vocal and he barely utters a word. Actually, until the other day, I don't think I ever heard him put a complete sentence together. And, four, he's rather slight (I'd say 5'6" 130 lbs. soaking wet) and she's a little bigger - not exactly overweight, but not slim by any stretch. I'd say that she has him by a good 30 pounds. We'll call him Clueless and we'll call her Willow (I don't know why, but she looks like a Willow to me).

The first sign of trouble was last Tuesday morning around 9. I was making the boys some eggs, bacon and pancakes when we heard Willow yell, "WHY THE HELL IS HER PHONE NUMBER STILL IN YOUR PHONE? YOU PROMISED YOU WEREN'T GOING TO CALL HER ANYMORE!" Nothing like waking up to the smell of yummy food and a potential brawl. Clueless said something back that we couldn't hear and then slammed the door on the way off to...well...somewhere. Curiously, I've never seen either of them leave for a job. How do people live without having an income stream? Anyhow, he was gone the rest of the day and didn't come home that night. I bet I can guess where he crashed that night.

Fast forward to Wednesday early evening - around 6 p.m. Again, I'm making food (dinner this time - beef stir fry) - maybe they're just enraged by the smell of good home cooking? Unbeknownst to us, he had come home, probably reeking of "HER" perfume and Willow (justifiably so) lost it. "GET OUT!! GET OUT!! GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!!" was our first clue that something was amiss in paradise. G-Dogg and Reesey immediately bolted to the porch to see what was up.  It was as if they could smell the asskickin' coming.  That was followed by someone pounding on the walls and a huge crash (kinda like a plate getting thrown against the wall). Then it came, "SOMEONE HELP ME! HE'S BREAKING EVERYTHING IN THE PLACE! GET HIM THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!" Now, if you've been reading for awhile, you know we live in "Party Alley." There's always at least 15 people hanging outside drinking beer on their patios every night. Well, ten of the guys (eight of them were of the larger variety) come scampering across the street to their house. I wasn't about to leave the boys in our place alone or have them come with me to help out. The first thing we hear is Clueless yell "You motherfuckers stop right there! If you come in, I'm pressing charges for trespassing!" One of the guys told him, rather calmly I might add, "You need to leave. If you're this worked up, walk away and come back another time." Clueless pressed on, "Leave my house. I'll go when I'm good and ready!" I lost sight of one of the bigger guys then realized that he had entered their flat and was pushing Clueless out the front door. "You're not going to do any further damage here tonight," he said. Clueless, now mind you he's about a buck thirty and the dude that's pushing him out the front door looks like he could be a linebacker in the NFL, tells him, "You better get your fuckin' hands off of me before you draw back stumps." At that point, I laughed right out loud. I wanted to see that happen. I wanted to see Clueless take his best swipe at Linebacker. However, I didn't want my boys to see someone maimed, so I was glad that Linebacker kept a cool head. After Clueless realized that not only was he outweighed by at least 100 pounds, but outnumbered 8-1, he left in a huff, muttering something about revenge. I think Linebacker double dog dared him to try something to his stuff, but I'm not 100% sure on that. Anyhow, Clueless left and didn't come back until the following morning, when Willow wasn't there.

That's when we ran into him, on our way to the pool. Now G-Dogg is honest. He rarely lies. He's very up front, which is a good thing most of the time, but he just doesn't realize, as most little kids don't, when NOT to say anything. I guess it was my fault for not making sure he knew not to say anything about what we heard going on downstairs, but the instant he sees Clueless he says, "Why do you guys fight so much down here? And why do you use the 'f' word so much?"

I stopped dead in my tracks and was probably white as a sheet. I knew what was coming. I felt it. Clueless looked at G-Dogg, with whom he's never been anything but nice to (I mean this guy has played countless hours of football in the pool with G-Dogg) and said, "You need to mind your own damn business and not ask so many stupid questions." Ok, you may be able to talk to your girlfriend(s) (there really must be a shortage of men on the planet, for that guy to have not one but TWO chicks!) like that, and maybe some random Linebacker dude that doesn't feel like waxing your ass all over the street, but don't talk to my kids like that. I looked at him and simply said, "No, what needs to happen is that you need to check the way you talk to people. I don't care if my kid asks you the stupidest question in the history of questions, you don't talk to him like that. As a matter of fact, from now on, don't even address my boys. If you have something to say, you say it to me. That dude last night may have not wanted to wipe your ass all over our street, but I have no problem doing it. And another thing, you may want to act your size. Dude, you weigh about fiddy pounds. You might not want to pick on people who are quite a bit larger than you. Grow the fuck up and figure out that if you are cheating on your girlfriend and she busts you, she's not going to be too happy. Also, figure out that if you two start screaming and breaking stuff around here, people are going to come running and you're the one that's going to get your ass pummeled if it comes to that. Nobody's going to back you over your girlfriend when you're the one that's out of control."

All that was met with a, "Fuck off and mind your own business."

I looked at my boys and said, "C'mon, let's go to the pool before he gets some of his stupid on us."

Clueless was still muttering something to me as we walked away. Later on, after the boys had a chance to process the confrontation, Reesey said to me, "Dad, were you gonna beat that guy up?"

G-Dogg said "Yeah, dad would have waxed his ass all over the street."

Suppressing a laugh, I looked at them and said, "No, I wasn't going to beat that guy up. I was just letting him know that how he acts has consequences and those consequences affect more than just him."

G-Dogg said, "I guess I shouldn't have asked him that question."

I looked at him and said, "Buddy, you didn't do anything wrong, he did. You just have to know what questions to ask and what not to ask. That will come with time. I'll try to let you know next time not to ask questions like that to people."

He looked at me and said, "I'm glad you're here, you make us feel safe."

Now how do you respond to that? If you figure it out, please let me know.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Things I've Learned Over The Past Week

1.  My kids were dying to see Spiderman2.

2.  Spiderman2 was too scary for kids 8 and under.

3.  My king-sized bed is too small for all 3 of us to sleep in.

4.  G-Dogg’s bed is too small for me to sleep in.

5.  Reesey Monster’s bed is smaller than G-Dogg’s.

6.  I need a new couch.

7.  The people that live in the flat below us fight constantly.

8.  When a woman screams "HELP ME, HE’S BREAKING EVERYTHING!" in our community, about 10 guys come running.

9.  My boys will innocently ask people why they fight so much when they run into them on the way to the pool.

10. The "man" of the family will tell them to mind their own business.

11. The same "man" will almost get popped in the face when I tell him not to speak to my kids rudely.

12. If you complain enough to the office, couples who fight will be asked to move out of our community.

13. I’m missed around here when I’m gone.

14. That’s a great feeling.

15. You motherfuckers are impatient. :o)

Thanks for your concern. 


Friday, July 16, 2004


This has been way more work than I thought....Sorry.  I'll be back with a vengeance on Wednesday.  I've been working on a post since last Wednesday.  T'will be posted Wednesday.  Have a great weekend all!! 


Monday, July 12, 2004


Here's a public service announcement - I will not be posting regularly this week. I am taking the next couple days off to hang with the boys and take them to do the stuff I've been meaning to do for the past couple months (i.e. go see Spidey2, go to the batting cages, zoo, etc.). You know, fun shit that I feel like a bad father for neglecting. I'll be checking regularly, but I don't know if I'll post anything or not until Friday.

Keep checking back. Thanks.


Clean Up After Your Dog, Dog

Ok, is it just me or does the vast majority of dog owners think that it is not their responsibility to clean up after their dog takes a crap in public? If you are a dog owner, as G-Dogg says, for the love of all that's macaroni, CLEAN UP AFTER IT!! Not only is it your responsibility, moral and decent, it's also the fucking law. I really have no desire to step in your dog's fecal matter and have it strewn from stem to stern. Also, I don't want it on my car floor mats/clothes/etc. I equally have no desire to find out just how many tiny little crevices are on the bottom of my Nikes. Whenever I see someone tethered to the end of a dog that's dropping a deuce, it invariably leads to this exchange:

Me: Nice dog! You are gonna clean that up, right?
Clueless Dog Owner: Thanks!! What?
Me: You realize the dog isn't gonna clean that up, I mean his lacking opposable thumbs and all.
CDO: Well, uuuuhhhhh, I forgot the baggies at my house.
Me: No problem, use some of mine.
CDO (sheepishly): Thanks.

Sometimes the exchanges get a little more ugly. Case in point, I saw someone walking their dog close to my office when they just walked away from a fresh steamer.

Me: You're not gonna leave that crap right there, are you?
Dickhead: It's fertilizer.
Me: The sidewalk doesn't need fertilization.
DH: ~starts to walk away~
Me: Seriously, you need to clean that up.
DH: Uh, no, actually I don't.
Me: Do you leave shit floating in your toilet at home?
DH: No.
Me: Then why the hell would you leave shit outdoors? We all know what shit looks like. We also don't want to step in it.
DH: Then watch where you step.
Me: The next time I step in dog shit, I'm smearing it on your front door.
DH: Is that so?
Me: Yep, I believe in giving back to those idiots in society that have given the rest of us so much.
DH: ~walks away in disgust~

I know that it's impossible to clean up all of your dog's poop off the ground. I'm just asking for some effort here. If we all follow that one basic rule, homes NW Portland won't have doors with doggy crap smeared from top to bottom. It's really not that much to ask, is it?


Friday, July 09, 2004

Nanny & Poppy (2002) Posted by Hello



No rantings today. No funny posts. No silliness. I apologize in advance to you guys who came here to be entertained today.

Until last year, there were two women in my life that I truly cared what they thought of me, my mother and her mother, whom I always called Nanny. Now that number is down to one.

My mom met my father when they were both 16. My mother was charmed by this seemingly mature 16 year old who already had his own boat and was allowed to go knocking around the Long Island Sound by himself. Nanny, however, didn’t share my mother’s feelings about my father and forbade them to see each other.

That brings us to how I got here. My mother was deeply in love with my father by the time Nanny said they couldn’t see each other, so she made it so they’d have to see each other - she got pregnant with me. Nanny (and Poppy, my grandfather) were from the old school of responsibility, so they allowed them to marry at 16. I was born 13 days after my mother’s 17th birthday (28 days after my father’s 17th).

My mom and dad were married for the better part of 10 years. I don’t really remember what home life was like when they were married, because my dad always had a job either in New York City or Syosett, NY, both of which were hours from our home on Long Island. After almost 10 years of broken promises and shattered dreams, they agreed to divorce. By this time, my dad was living full time in Cape Cod, MA; my mom, my brother Jamie and I were living with Nanny and Poppy. This is how it stayed for most of my childhood.

In 1978, mom, Nan and Pop packed us all up and moved to Central Florida. My dad was still flaking out on the Cape with his 2nd wife (whom I still adore). We all moved into an apartment and life returned to normal. Nan always made sure that we had food on the table, clothes on our back and a roof over our head. Poppy had retired from Grumman Aerospace with a full pension, so his days were free, but Nanny and my mother found work at the local hospital. They’d work hard all day and come home, cook dinner and hang out with my brother and I at night.

We didn’t have all that much money, but I never knew it. Jamie and I always had new clothes, shoes, were well fed and earned an allowance. Nan provided all this for us because my father was unwilling and my mother was unable to provide much with the acronym GED on her resume.

Many years later, I found out that this had come at a price - their retirement. Nan worked and worked to provide for us and never put money away for their retirement. When she turned 65, she officially retired. They were still renting (a house) and had to go on Social Security as Pop’s pension had long since run out. Never once after retiring did I hear Nan complain about it. Every time I visited her (while I was living in Florida and while I was elsewhere), I was always treated to home cooked meals, dessert, loving conversations in which she took a genuine interest in whatever was going on in my life, no matter whether she agreed with it or not.

Before I moved away, I had no money. I had just come out of a bad marriage that claimed my house, credit rating (gotta love the woman that runs up five credit cards out of spite when she was the one at fault) and very nearly my sanity. Nan, once again, took me into her home, let me sleep on the couch and told me she loved me and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Seeing no opportunities in Florida, I headed first to Michigan and then west. My mother re-married when I was a senior in high school and moved to Oregon with my stepfather right after I graduated. I chose to stay behind.

Here in Oregon, I found plenty of opportunities and have done pretty well for myself in a short amount of time. After a year or so, I was able to send them a check each month to help them live a more comfortable lifestyle. Nan would always return the check to me with the same note - “Thank you, but Pop and I are fine. We don’t need your money.”

After my kids were born, I desperately wanted them to know the woman who practically raised me. They did get to see her. G-Doggy saw her four times (the last of which he remembers) and Reesey Monster saw her twice (the last of which he doesn’t remember). The first time she saw them, she fell in love with them and wanted to spoil them with gifts. I would have none of it. Her love for them was enough. I wish they could have seen each other more, but life gets in the way of the important stuff sometimes. She left an impression on G-Dogg, sometimes he cries that he wants to see Nanny and that he misses her. That speaks volumes to me.

In 1999, Nanny was diagnosed with lung cancer. She smoked for many, many years, quitting after it was too late. On March 26, 2003, the day after Reesey’s 4th birthday, I got a call at 2:30 a.m. from my mother saying that the woman who had a hand in my knowing what it takes to be a man had passed away. I cried buckets. Still do from time to time. I went back to Florida for the funeral and, after Pop passed away this year, I went again so that their ashes could be spread together in Pensacola Bay, which was their favorite spot of all in their 53 years of marriage.

Tomorrow, Nanny would have been 78. I’ll cry tomorrow. Ok, I’m crying now, but I’ll cry tomorrow too. I know I told you this every time I talked to you, but thank you for everything you did for our family. Thank you for caring more about us than you did about yourself. Thank you for your unconditional love. I love you. I miss you terribly.


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Fuck Chuck and Hold the Cheese

Reesey Monster had his first birthday party invite to Chuck E. Cheese about two months ago. Garrett's been invited several times but I had always been successful in finding a way out of it. I told Reesey that if it rained and I couldn't change the oil in the truck that we'd go. Mother Nature be damned.

Monsieur Charles' place is about 20 minutes away so it wasn't going to be a quick trip no matter what. The three of us got there at about 2:00 and found the parking lot completely packed. I knew I was in for trouble. The first bad omen greeted us as we entered the building. It seems they stamp you and your kids' hands with a matching number so that nobody except you can leave with your kid. Makes sense I guess, so the three of us were stamped with the number 6. That's right. 666. My first trip to the place and we've got the mark of the beast. Beautiful.

As we walked in I took a quick look around and couldn't believe how crowded it was. How in the hell am I going to order food, find a place to sit and let my kids play on some of the rides in under 8 hours? Why in the hell did their mother pick TODAY to go on a day trip with her friends? I decided it would be best if we stand in the longest food line in the history of the world first (killin' time, killin' time baby), then try to elbow some people out of the way on the kiddie rides later (that's personally my favorite part). I'd say we stood in line for 20 minutes before we finally got to the front of the line. One large pizza and some freaking tokens came to $20. Chuck E. Cheese is an overpaid tyrant. This I know. This they know - if your kid is screaming for something, you'll pay just about anything to shut em' up!

They give us 3 empty cups, which means we have to get our own drinks. Doesn't surprise me. They also give us a little card with a number on it so that when our pizza's ready, some loser kid with zits can take 30 minutes to search this hell hole to find us. And get this, our number was once again six. Freaky. (Note to self - stop and buy lotto ticket on the way home). Anyway, we push and prod our way around and finally find a booth in the corner by the stage. You might be thinking the same thing I was, "Why the heck is there a stage?" Well, apparently someone thought it would be a good idea to have alarmingly loud animated shows with animal figures that literally scare the shit out of little kids. Smart thinking, dorks. The little girl next to us was all nice and calm, eating her Cheerios, when suddenly the curtains open and these maniacal creatures from the pits of Hades start singing about picnics and baseball and all manner of crap, at a decibel level equal to that of a fucking jet airplane. She freaks, then the kid next to her freaks, which causes some kind of toddler-freaking (and I mean that literally AND figuratively) domino effect that ripples throughout the entire building. After that, the show culminates with Chuck E. himself and two of his flunkies actually greeting kids at their respective tables. I've seen this phenomenon before at Disney World. To a 2 year old, Chuck E. Cheese and/or Mickey Mouse aren't cute. To a 2 year old, Chuck E. Cheese and/or Mickey Mouse is a six foot fucking rat. More screaming, more parents having to change their kids out of poopy diapers. I'm now thanking my lucky stars that my boys are older than 95% of the other kids in here. Poor schleps, I don't think Pampers makes enough diapers for this place. Thank God the show only lasted a few minutes.

After most of the parents finally calm their kids down, our pizza arrives. Or should I say, our $20 piece of cardboard covered with cheese arrives. I take a quick peek to see if the little shit next to me has eaten all of her Cheerios and, if so, can I survive for the next six hours on what she's left. It doesn't look good. I try covering the pizza with the parmesean and spices they have at the table and take a bite. It's not working. More parmesean. Still not working. Throw a few Cherrios on top. G-Dogg gives me the "you're embarrassing me" look. Okay, I'm going to just have to bear down and eat this crap. I manage to keep 2 pieces down and then I waive the white flag. It looks like the Chuckmeister got me again.

I suddenly realize that we're there for a birthday party and I forgot the present in the car. So I tell G-Dogg to sit right there with the Reesey Monster and I'll be right back, not realizing that I'm about to go face to face with another dork kid with the common sense of a bag of hammers. I try to leave and we have this exchange:

Dork: I need to see your hand.
Me: What exactly for?
Dork: I need to see if you have a number on it.
Me: I think you're getting confused about this number thing.
Dork: No. I need to make sure your number matches.
Me: Umm…matches with what?
Dork: Your kid's number.
Me: Wow.
Dork: Sir?
Me: Do you see a kid with me?
Dork: Oh, I guess you're right. Thank you and come again.
Me (mumbling): I hate you. (Ok, that's not what I really said)

I go outside to get the present, only to find that it's some kind of unwritten rule that you don't leave your kids unattended at Charles In Charge's place (Who knew? That's what their mother gets for sending me, doesn't she read those cute little emails women send around about men being stupid?). I got the ugliest looks from parents I've ever gotten. I could have sworn they knew about the 666 thing. And it wasn't like I had the fact that my 7 and 5 year old were sitting in there alone tattooed to my forehead, but their powers of deduction were strong. After I get the present, I walk in and have round two with Dork.

Dork: Welcome to Chuck E Cheese. I need to stamp your hand so that everyone in your party.
Me: Stop it. Just stop it.
Dork: Sir?
Me: Don't you remember me? I just walked out after a very cheery discussion with you a few minutes ago.
Dork: Oh yeah.
Me (mumbling): I hate you more than I ever thought was humanly possible. (Again, I'm sure you can deduce what I REALLY said)

I walk in and see my kids sitting right where I left them. After I get back, they want to go play. I guess the cardboard they ate had a little protein in it. Okay, here we go dude. Be strong. I fight my way past a sea of white trash moms and kids and manage to get within a few feet of the play structure. They want to play some basketball game and they and ask me for a token. It's at that point I realize that I left them on the table...waaaaaay over on the other side of the building. I backtrack and try to make my way over there. It's funny what kind of thoughts go through your mind at times like these.

"Why did I have kids anyway?"
"I could probably hide in the bathroom until this is all over."
"What's that smell?"
"If I tell them somebody stole the tokens and I lost my wallet, I could probably get out of here."
"God, if you get me out of this I swear I'll never have unprotected sex again."
"What IS that smell?"

I make it to the table and find some snotty nose kid going through the cup of our tokens. She looks up at me with this shocked look, drops the cup, and runs off screaming. Hah! Finally something to smile about. I go back through the mass of humanity and hand them each a token. Apparently, while I was gone they decided to ride this car ride. So, they strap themselves into their respective cars and I'm expecting this thing to just take off and do all kinds of neat things. Insert tokens. Push "on" button and…..


That's it? That's all? You've GOT to be fucking kidding me.

They both look up at me all confused and I can tell they was expecting a little more too. It goes off after about 15 seconds, so I kick it.

Another Dork Kid: Don't do that!
Me: I think it's broke.
ADK: It's not broke. These are kiddie rides. They aren't going to do much.
Me: Yeah but...they need to do something. My boys would have more fun crapping in a diaper like the rest of the rugrats around here.
My Boys: Dad, give me another token.
Me: For what? How about I keep the tokens and I'll hold you guys over my head and shake you up?
My Boys: Dad, quit being silly.

The next hour or so is pretty much the same thing. Hand token to my boys. Push "on" button. Watch Chuckster get rich off of ignorant fools like me. I did see one thing that looked pretty cool that we ended up trying. This...ahh...thing takes a picture of your kid and makes a printed sketch of it. Looks easy enough. The boys sit down in the booth and I try to get them to sit still long enough to look a the camera.


A picture of G-Dogg's left ear and Reesey's hair. Great. They try again and this time, I try to place their heads in the direct view of the camera with my hands.


A picture that looks like I am strangling them. Even better. If Child Protective Services sees this I'll be taken away. I guess that wouldn't be so bad. At least I wouldn't be here.

I finally convince the boys that enough is enough and it's time to go. All we have to do now is get past Dork.

Dork: Thank you for visiting Chuck E Cheese. Have a good day.
Me: Don't you want to see our stamps?
Dork: No. I remember you from last time.
Me: Yeah, but I didn't have my kid with me.
Dork: But I remember you.
Me: You eat paste don't you?
Dork: Why do people always ask me that?

We finally get to the car and the boys pretty much pass out once they sit down. Why wouldn't they? I mean the whole trip was made in a shade under 4 hours. The moral to this story? I don't have one. Anybody want to buy some tokens?


Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The 4th of July is OVER, People!!! (With a Minor in Getting Older Sucks)

I live in a fairly large development of townhouses. The section I live in has been dubbed "Party Alley" due to the number of young, single people occupying the townhouses and flats on my street. Most of the time, this makes for a pretty festive, fun atmosphere. Last night, however, it was not fun at all. Ever notice the older you get, the less "fun" these things seem?

After a long, three day weekend that included two cookouts, five trips to the pool, a baseball game (in which the boys got to sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" from the top of the dugout to the rest of the crowd), fireworks galore and about a thousand beers, I was ready to do some serious sleeping. Alas, it was not to be. Again, when sleep takes priority over partying, you know you're pushin' geezerhood and man that's a nasty awakening. When you're a kid you want nothing to do with naps and as you get older, you begin to long for them in a way you used to long for the hot chick at school.

I fell in bed around 10:15 p.m., completely wrecked last night. I think I fell asleep around 10:16. It was a warm night, so I left the window open and a fan going to drown out any potential outside noises, or so I was hoping.

Around 11:20, some of the local kids (ok, two of them are 19 and the other one is 20, but when you're in your 30's they seem like kids) came roaring by my place (sidewalks, complete with metal grates for electrical housing covers) on skateboards. Now, let me preface this by saying that if you're on a skateboard when you are over the age of 14, your name is not Tony Hawk and this is your primary means of transportation, your life has taken a drastic turn for the worse. Similarly, if you are older than 14, skateboarding should be a crime. Mind you, I'm on the third floor of a townhouse, window open, fan going, dead assed asleep and I hear these nitwits barreling down the sidewalk. Scrooowllll.....grrrrrrt.....scrooowllll.....grrrrrrrt. Scrolllwlll....grrrrrrt.....scrooowlll...grrrrrt. The grrrrrrt being them hitting the metal grating. Now, times that by three baked bordahs (as they like to call themselves), who have no concept of how to control the volume of their voices or respect to do it even if they knew better, and you get the idea. They sounded like a wheeled bunch of laughing hyenas as they circled my block over and over and over and over again. I guess their buzz wore off after the fourth lap, either that or they decided to spread the cheer and keep other sections of the development awake for awhile, because the noise stopped around 11:35. Thank God for small favors - shit, was that my bones creaking?

Ok great I think, now I can get back to sleep, which I actually accomplish around 11:55. Fast asleep, entranced in a wonderful dream in which I was the man meat in an Angelina Jolie and Elisha Cuthbert sandwich, when all of a sudden, crrrraccccckkkkkkk....ppppooppppppp....snappppppp...craaaaaakkkkk.....BOOM!! WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?!?! Being awoken like that can't be good for a man my age! Apparently, these hopheads thought it would be funny to set off firecrackers and M80s in the parking lot behind our houses at 12:45 a.m. By the time I pulled my finger and toenails out of my bedroom ceiling (not to mention removing the claws from my two cats from my scalp) and made my way over to the window, nobody was there. Ok, I thought, they got that out of their system. Thank God the kids didn't wake up. No sooner did I get back to my bed when again crrrraccccckkkkkkk....ppppooppppppp....snappppppp...craaaaaakkkkk.....BOOM!! Followed quickly by crrrraccccckkkkkkk....ppppooppppppp....snappppppp...craaaaaakkkkk.....BOOM!! Followed by muffled laughter and the distinct sound of three voices, "Duuuuuuude, that was rad!" "No, dude, that was BITCHIN!" "You dudes so totally ROCK!! That was just crazy stupid!" I looked out my window to see these three idiots standing in the middle of the parking lot as lights started to come on everywhere in the development. I hear someone yell, "Cops have been called, wait right there and you'll be taken care of." Another voice, "Fuck that, you fuckos you got exactly five seconds to get the fuck out of here before I meet you out back with my baseball bat."

First of all, fireworks have been banned by my community. Second of all, the 4th of July ended Sunday, dillweeds. Third of all, why in the fuck would you even fathom to think this would be a good idea to try in the development in which you LIVE. At least go to the fucking development three streets over so that you're not marked for death for all of eternity at your own development. Ohhhh thatttttttts right they're teenagers, that explains everything!

Since my community brethren decided to deal with it last night, I let it go. I really hope the idiotic trio didn't mind me ringing their doorbell five times this morning as I left for work at 6:30 a.m. (on about 3 hours of sleep, no less). Likewise, I really hope they won't mind it the rest of the month either.


Friday, July 02, 2004


Coming back from the doctor’s office today, I saw a slammin’ brand new Corvette on I-205, or at least I thought it was. On the back of this beautiful machine, the owner had a vanity plate that said 4MYWIFE. WTF is that all about? 4MYWIFE??? Wassamatta, were DIK MSNG and PUZYWHPD taken already? Think about this for a second. First off, if you’re dropping $60,000 on a sports car to give to your wife, you probably have too much money in the first place. Second off, if you do nut up and buy her a ride like that, it should come with a stipulation that she blow you on command for as long as that car is running. Third off, if you’re gonna get a vanity plate for it, for the love of GOD, don't get one that says anything about it being your wife's ride. If you do, the rest of us will then know that you're the most pussywhipped human being on the face of the Earth. At least be man enough to have a dummy plate with something line “SNGL MD” that you can put on it when you’re driving that snatch catcher alone.

Vanity plates are stupid to begin with. I can’t tell you how many cars I see around here that have plates that say “MY CVALR” or “FRD BRNCO.” I can see what fucking make and model vehicle you have, I don’t need to read it twice on the back of your fucking POS car to understand it. Also, I assume that since it’s your fat ass in the front seat, it’s also your fucking car. Therefore, that takes care of the need to put “MY” in front of anything on your license plate.

Then there's the guys out there that put stuff like "THE BRAD" and/or "MIKE IZ COOL" on their hooptie. Little note, if you put "The" in front of your name, you're a certifiable idiot and shouldn't be allowed to drive in the first place. Likewise, adding "is cool" to the end of your name doesn't make you cool; I don't care what kind of sled you've got. Actually, it has the exact opposite effect. It also makes the rest of us want to run you off the road into a bridge abutment.

The dumbest vanity plates of all are the ones that are apparently an inside joke. There are a plethora of cars out there that have something like “FF DL ME” or “9ILM” on the back. Why not just put "NSDE JOKE" on it? Nobody gets it anyhow. After your fucking family and friends see it, the joke is over. Come to think of it, they probably make fun of you for it behind your back. Furthermore, I already have enough going on inside and outside my windshield without my kids asking a barrage of questions about what your plate means. To me, it just doesn’t seem worth the extra $50 a year. I have a better idea, take that $50 a year and buy a book or two to expand your brain, it’s obvious you can use it. I think the rule should be that if you do this, people can throw shit at your ride until you pull over and explain it to them.

The only exception to this rule I saw was in Kill Bill Vol. 1 (I haven't seen Vol. 2 yet). The Pussy Wagon plate was fucking awesome. But none of you can pull it off, even if your name is Buck and you're here to fuck.

Now, if you have a vanity plate and I offended you just now, too fucking bad. Just thought you should know how the rest of us NRML HUMNS FLT.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

Don't Worry, I'm Insured

I'm here to tell you that Satan is alive and well here on Earth. He's taken the form of insurance companies. These days you can buy insurance for just about everything: health, auto, life, pets, etc. Hell, you can buy insurance for your insurance.

The problem with insurance is that even though you pay through the ass hairs for it, they don't cover ANYTHING. In my profession, I've had many, many run-ins with insurance adjusters. They're philosophy is to deny every claim and only pay when forced to. That way, they can make more money than even Mike Tyson can spend and we get sick and die and won't call anymore begging for money. And when they DO pay, they cut the provider's bill to shreds, thereby pissing off the doctors, who in turn get tight in their care or stop practicing altogether. That's why the hospital charges you $25 for one Tylenol and $100 for an arm sling. Geez, why can't you just BYOT (Bring Your Own Tylenol)? I'd have stayed the fuck home if all they're going to give me is fucking Tylenol. Hey, hospital dude, since I'm buyin', how 'bout some Morphine?? It's also why your family practitioner, who had been in the same location since he earned his medical degree in 1942, has moved to an office building and join a "group" of doctors.

Now, I pay a lot of money to insurance companies every month. I'm talking almost $1,000 between health ($562/mo for me and the fam), auto ($325/mo for my 3 vehicles) and life ($65/mo for $1,000,000 of coverage on my life - yes, I realize I'm worth more dead than alive, I'm hoping my family doesn't). I just want to know, what these fucking bloodsuckers DO pay for? Honestly. I need an answer here.

Let's take my health insurance first. I have a very good friend that is a chiropractor. I have been going to see her on a semi-regular basis for the past five years. All of a sudden, I get a letter from my insurance company saying that they've "done away with 'alternative' care." WTF???? First off, my chiropractor isn't a doctor of chiropractic, she's an MD. A Medical fucking Doctor. Not some quack that opened a chiro superstore and specializes in bonecrunching 75 people a day. She sees approximately 10 people a day and makes sure she's attended to your needs (no, not those needs, although I'd be up for that). Now my insurance company is denying me coverage for something that's helped me stay in better shape (I have a very cranky back, which makes it hard to go to the gym 5 times a week like I usually do), eat healthier (she's forever giving me healthy alternatives to what I normally eat) and live with less stress (massages work wonders, although attending to my needs would certainly boost my mood). Does anyone find the irony here? If I'm in worse shape, eat worse and am stressed out the bunghole, aren't I likely to need doctor care more often? I got news for you, the next time I go to a doctor, I'm going to see what they'll call a "real" fucking doctor, not an "alternative" one. One that will charge these pricks $250 for an office visit, not $75 like my chiropractor does. So, my employer pays my share of the insurance bill, so let's say my total insurance bill is $725 a month. That's close to $9,000 a year from me alone. And they're bitching about $150 every two months for chiro bills, but would have no problem paying $250 a month for doctor care? Someone over at Providence needs to be hit on the head with a tack hammer. I mean they're saving pennies to spend dollars here.

That brings us to auto insurance. $3,900 a year to insure my three vehicles, the Suburban being the most expensive one of all. Auto insurance companies drive me absolutely fucking crazy. Everything is great as long as they're making the automatic withdrawal out of your bank account into theirs, but once the money has to flow the opposite direction, you're dead to them.

Case in point, about five years ago, I was driving on a 4 lane road and got stuck behind a city bus at a light. It was rush hour and traffic was slow. The bus was first in line and I was second, which meant the car directly next to me was fourth or fifth in line. Light turns green, the bus sits there, still picking up people. The five cars next to me were through the light. I turn around to see a van in the next lane just sitting there and I thought he waved me over. So I went to go around the bus. WHAM! Dude t-bones the side of my disposable POS car (commuter car, which I still have). We pull onto a side street (this is key during rush hour traffic; for fuck's sake, do not tie up traffic on a major road during rush hour traffic if you've only had a fender bender with no MAJOR injuries). So we're on the side street and long story short, dude tells me that he was on the phone and talking with his hands. He was not waving me over. Ok, that's fine. I talk on the phone when I'm driving too (I'm a little more careful with the placement of my hands than this dickhead, but I digress). I figure since he was on the phone, it'll be a comparable negligence deal. WRONG! This is the actual conversation I had with my insurance company (SAFECO):

Adjuster: Ok, tell me about how the accident occurred.
Me: ~Relay the whole story, behind bus at light, cars proceed thru light, thought dude waved me over, dude talking on phone with hands, t-bone, etc.~
Adjuster: Oh, so you were in the right hand lane and proceeded into the left hand lane?
Me: Yes.
Adjuster: Hmmmmmm, you were in the right hand lane and wanted to get into the left hand lane.
Me (getting impatient): Yes.
Adjuster: So, why were you getting in the left hand lane again?
Me (about ready to freak): To go around the bus that was sitting there picking up passengers.
Adjuster: And you were in the right hand lane?
Me: Look Serpico, I was in the right hand lane, wanting to get into the left hand lane. Can we move on please?
Adjuster: Sir, no need to get angry. I'm just trying to understand.
Me: Well, write it down for now, move on to another question, read and re-read your notes and then attempt to form a coherent thought.
Adjuster: Ok, so after he hit you, what did you think?
Me: I thought, "why did he hit me, he waved me over?"
Adjuster: But he didn't wave you over.
Me: Yes, I know that now. He was talking with his hands.
Adjuster: Why did you think he waved you over?
Me: Again, write it down and move on.
Adjuster: Soooooooooooooo, what do you think about the accident?
Me: I think it sucks. I also think that most anyone would have gotten into the same accident. Dude was on his cell and talking with his hands, not paying attention to what was going on.
Adjuster: Well, since you were changing lanes, technically it's your fault.
Me: Ok. Well, if that's the way it is, then that's the way it is.
Adjuster: So, what do you think?
Me: I think that I have insurance in case I have an accident. I think need to get my car fixed. I think the damage to both cars is less than $2000 combined. I think you need to tell me where to take my car.
Adjuster: Hmmmmm, well, this doesn't look too good here.

At this point, I'd had about five too many servings of corporatespeak bullshit. I totally lost it.

Me: It doesn't look too good here?
Adjuster: No, it looks like we're going to have to pay.
Me: What the hell are you talking about? It doesn't look too good here? You're going to have to pay a measly two grand when I've been paying you $1,000 a year for the past 7 years with no accidents or tickets?
Adjuster: Well, it's just that we're probably going to have to pay this claim. So it doesn't look too good for us.
(totally out of control): Well, it looks pretty fucking good when you're taking money out of my account each month, doesn't it? It looks pretty fucking good when you guys are out there building ballparks for the Seattle Mariners at a price tag of $500 million, doesn't it? It looks pretty fucking good when you guys are at said ballpark in your 40 fucking person suite with catering service all on the company's dime, doesn't it. Look, don't say another fucking word to me about this claim. The total damage is less than two fucking thousand dollars, or less than what I've given your bloodsucking company in the past 24 months. I've been with your company for approximately 84 months, so you're still ahead approximately five fucking thousand dollars on my business alone. And I know I'm just a small potatoes customer, but I'm sure you guys don't normally turn down a $5,000 profit. So the next words out of your mouth are going to be the name, address and phone number of a fucking body shop. Then, I'm going to take my car there, get it fixed, pay my fucking $250 deductible and return my life to normal. Got it?

Well, let's just say that from then on, I didn't have to deal with the adjuster anymore. He gave me the info I needed, I took my car into the body shop and got it fixed. My blood still boils when I recount that conversation. I hope I caused him to have to use his health insurance after we got off the phone. I also hope that if he did have to go to the doctor that his fucking claim was denied.

As for life insurance, thankfully I haven't had to use it yet, but I'm sure when my beneficiaries go to cash it in, they'll find out that I had to die on a Thursday of a heart attack at 1:53 p.m. while yanking my zippy to midget animal porn or something like that.

Is it too early to start drinking?


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