Slugfests, Southpaws and a Summer Wind

The historian Bruce Catton once referred to baseball as the greatest conversation piece America ever invented. While it was a critique of the game’s leisurely pace, he unwittingly pointed out one of its best qualities. Because the game is meant to be talked over, in stops and starts for its better and worse.

I recently took in an Atlantic League baseball game with my pal Gus. It was the hometown Lancaster Barnstormers against the Sugar Land Skeeters. The league is independent, which means none of its teams is affiliated with a big league squad. As far as household names go, the ‘Stormers have Lastings Milledge, an outfielder who played parts of seven seasons with the Mets, Nationals, Pirates and White Sox before opting for free agency after the 2011 season. He hasn’t seen a big league clubhouse since that day, which makes him the baseball equivalent of Tom Hanks in Castaway; holding onto a slim and distant hope. And aside from owning one of my favorite baseball names, he owns a dream that won’t let him quit the diamond just yet.

The dreams these men carry aren’t big ones. Most of them would be ecstatic to score a thirty day contract with some minor league club. Because a thirty day contract somewhere else, is somewhere closer than the last exit outposts they’re toiling away in.

I told Gus that I had a good feeling about things, because our starting pitcher was a lefty. In my humble baseball opinion, left-handed pitchers are a magical thing. Never mind that I didn’t know his name and had no blessed clue whether he could pitch worth a damn. By the time the top of the first inning had concluded, I had received my answer to the tune of a 5-o lead by the visitors.

We made our way to the concession stands and dug into some barbecue while the home team began chipping away at the lead. The game settled for a bit and we watched as our lefty pitcher battled despite the fact his curve ball wasn’t curving and his fast ball was playing around with other men. And then the Skeeters were jumping him again and so me and Gus, we changed the subject for a while.

When it comes to the company you want to keep at a baseball game, you’re not going to get much better than Gus. His conversation chases the ebb whilst paying all due respect to the flow. Sitting in the stands on a summer evening is like listening to a thousand radio songs- filled with white knuckle debate and the laughter of reminisce.

Gus is from Lafayette, Louisiana- born and raised. His vowels are clipped and his drawl goes long when he’s slow dancing with a story. I asked him about Vietnam and he talked about his brother Roger who served in the Army, Special Forces. He made it back, but a part of him never returned; like a jigsaw puzzle with a few really important pieces missing. There was Anthony, his other big brother who served in the Marines before being sent home after stepping on a land mine. While the rehab on his mangled leg was tedious and painful, Anthony was one of the lucky ones.

My pal tells stories in thickly painted vignettes whose mystic is dressed in the scenes of a long ago time. In this instance, he had delivered up suede and bell-bottoms, long hair and peace signs with a fresh vinyl feeling to that Buffalo Springfield war song.

And so a baseball evening’s worth of conversation began in Vietnam as the home team tried digging out of a 5-0 deficit. The talk moved into family as they tied it at 7 and it nestled into thoughts on religion as the teams made the scoreboard operator earn his paycheck on this night.

It was at the end of the sixth inning when Gus took his leave. He had a lovely bride of forty eight years to get home to and so I walked with him to the outfield exit before I asked him for one more baseball night before the leaves turned.

I walked down to the benches behind the outfield wall and took a seat for one more inning. Baseball might lend itself to conversation, but there is plenty of come on to be had in the silence as well. The Skeeters were clinging to a 11-9 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Beau Amaral delivered up the kind of magic our starting pitcher wasn’t able to find. He smacked a 2-2 pitch into a gaping stretch of real estate in left field that Steve Bartman would’ve appreciated. He rounded second before the left fielder could turn to pivot and he was racing home as the throw hit the third baseman’s glove on the relay, and he was sliding across home plate with an inside the park home run as the ball went sailing over the catcher’s head.

Beau Amaral has a great baseball name, and he has something many of his teammates have run out of. Time. Twenty six and fresh off a stint with the Reds Triple A club, he’s tearing up the ball to the tune of a .359 batting average with the ‘Stormers. He’s killing it for another shot at the big time, in the hopes he can catch a scout’s eye and start that most time honored of baseball things.

A conversation.

Why rent out my mind when it’s a seller’s market?

It occurs to me that my brain gets more interesting every day. Too bad my long term memory has gone all short term on me. Or is that a good thing? Anyways, here are a few of my favorite thoughts since sitting down to dinner. As Keanu Reeves would say, Vaya Con Dee Ohs.

-Watched the Halloween as per of a Rob Zombie reboot this evening. Fucking A, the man has a genius to him that I crush on madly. His rendition is actually . . . oh  . . how did I refer to it today? Oh yeah. My ‘happy place’. Yep, I’m gonna be residing in the fiery pits on the other side of all this hilarity. Fun people? Hit me up!

-I got one of my best pals (And a huge Tebow hater) to say the following . . . verbatim. “Tim Tebow is God’s homie.” And it only cost me a couple of Heineken big ones to coax it out of him. Okay, maybe you had to be there to get the satisfaction.

-Wait a minute! Ice Cube created a 3 on 3 league? And it starts tonight? In Brooklyn? And . . I’m curently watching it as I write this post . . .

-Deep dish pizza is the best pizza. Yes, this Bronx born son just said that. But hey, I have made both of these pie plates by hand with genuine pizza dough (not the store bought crap), and well . . . deep dish is still winning. I went all Luca Brasi with my sweet Italian sausage version last night. Which is the mafioso way of saying . . . Killed It! 

-The Cubs? Not so much winning going on there. And I think I love that fact more than deep dish.

-And not for nothing, but if the Red Sox win it all this season? Welp, they bought a title. Hey, as a Yankees fan who has been hearing that shit forever . . . it’s all about the fair play of a turnabout.

-Oh shit, I almost forgot. As far as the Rob Zombie masterpiece of a Halloween reboot goes, I can’t stop falling in love again with his music placement. Going with one of my all time favorite Rush songs . . Tom Sawyer? In the truck stop scene? Only a writer on the level of Isaac Newton (Or Quentin Tarantino . . . same diff) would be able to grasp that kind of gravitas. Wow? Meet za.

(Since I have a sweet spot finish for this post, Imma throw one of my favorite Rush spills in right here.)

-Ann Curry, you are my Joe DiMaggio in curls. And please, please, please! Come back!

-Katie Couric? Stay wherever you are.

-That Friday the 13th game I have actually been playing on PS4 . . . kicks. Ass.

-I can’t believe I just said that. Much less . . . meant it.

-And might there be a future post on this Friday the 13th game? Call Vegas right now, and win big with the yes.

-Speaking of . . . What if you would have gone to Vegas, like thirty years ago, and tried to lay money on this here bet? That America’s Father (at the time) Bill Cosby would be known as a sexual predator . . that the saintly Joe Paterno was covering up child rape (he was), and that Donald Trump would be elected President in 2016? Vegas books would’ve been like, “Yeah, and the Raiders are moving to Vegas.” And well, there’s that.

-Just finished watching Season 3 of Fargo, and while I didn’t find it to be the strongest of the entries thus far,  it was still plenty satisfying. Which is why this show is still my favorite. Because its not lazy in the buildup, and it’s not predictable in the end. And if you’re a fan of writing for writing’s sake, you understand.

-The Yankees woeful present tense is still better than what I had imagined for this season. So, nope . . I’m not fluxed. Even the slightest bit.

-And as far as the Red Sox are concerned (because I can’t bring myself to stop brawling with Yawkey Way) . . . I have been in touch with Neil Diamond’s agent, and he is open to a Buffalo Wild Wings dinner. Soooooo . . . that fucker is gonna be mine. Figure out your late innings anthem from here, Beanies!

-I promised myself I wouldn’t fall for a Starbucks drink this summer, so . . . umm. Well, damn you Midnight Mint Mocha and S’Mores fraps!

-I miss smoking every single day. So thank you running, thank you for keeping me from going back.

-Hey, I damn fraps and I give thanks to running. It keeps me even. Because the meds . . . are way more expensive.

-The idea of D Wade joining up with the Cavs next season? I am totally fluxed. Because guess what King James! You only started winning anything after you rented a room in D Wade’s house on South Beach! And yes, that’s how I feel about it.

-Still, if Carmelo joins up with the James Gang, Imma be excited for the Land. Much.

-But D Wade? Please go anywhere else, with the anywhere else meaning the Lakers. Or Heat. Or hells, just hit up Ice Cube.

-When did commercials become philosophy class? Have we become that shallow? Ugh, people!

-I haven’t watched CNN, FOX or MSNBC in over a month now. And to think, once upon a time, politics was my favorite swing. Damn. How times have changed.

-Is Trump still President? Wait . . don’t answer that. I’ve tricked myself into believing Harrison Ford is running things.

-Harrison beat out Michael Douglas in my imaginary (enough) America.  The runoff was decided in a Chopped showdown. Which is no more ridiculous than what actually happened. In fact, it’s much less so.

–If Ice Cube is reading this . . . I can still hit a spot up 3. With much certainty. Just. Saying.

-I bought myself a Harambe stuffed animal yesterday. Because as far as my stuffed animals go, I Never, Ever, Forget.

-Shared a cool story with my son’s girlfriend tonight about how me and some of my peeps once sat outside the Trust Building in Lancaster City, Pa and listened to Ed Kowalczyk of Live do his thing. It was one of my all time favorite free concerts. Right up there with the late great Robert Palmer’s Jones Beach gig, which I took in from the parking lot whilst waiting on my girlfriend back in high school.

-So lemme get this straight. Peter Jennings is dead and Bill O’ Reilly . . oh, never mind. Life ain’t fair.

-Was that too soon? For O’ Reilly?

-Well, it was too soon for Jennings. So let’s call it a tie.

-3 Headed Monsters WIN! Bill Clinton would be proud.

Black diamonds are forever

You wake up one day and it occurs to you how incredibly routine you have become.

It happens in much the same way as water sips at a compromised point of entry; in the deep and cumbersome sleep of gravity’s lonesome push. And then one day, the breaking news is crashing down on your head. All those days of before, the ones that would sunshine themselves into a disco melody, have lost some of the boogie and some of the flash and most of that midnight funk.

Listen, shit happens. You get older and then Father Time gets together with Mother Nature and they start tinkering around under the hood and before you know it, you’re hearing one fucking noise after another. And all those noises come with bills. So you grab routine, because routine is predictable and predictable is better than noises and bills.

So it was that I had my day all planned out: Coffee, breakfast and the papers. Some meditation, a run. Do some writing and then get to some work stuff. Routine? Sure. Chill? Absolutely. Hey, I didn’t say routine was painful, I just said it was . . . well, routine.

Wat up homie?

This particular pal of mine (We’ll call him Brian since that’s his name) begins every single text to me the same way. I could bitch about it, but he’s part of my attempt to ditch the routine and get back to some modicum of unpredictability. The dude is the Ted Bundy of grammar, but he’s also inspired the return of poker nights and a St Patrick’s Day game plan, so Imma give him his props for getting the band back together; even if he wasn’t an original member. It still counts.

Getting ready to do some meth.  I replied.

Haha! Wana go ski? 

When? I replied.

Now. 

As in RIGHT now? I replied.

Yes. 

At this point, I felt like telling him that I really had a date with some crystal meth. What in the hell gave him the idea I was ready to launch my ass off the side of a mountain without an oxycodone/bourbon drip at the ready? Oh yeah . . . I did. Because I’d been talking about carving up some white powder for the last month as if I was Tony Montana after a wholesale jaunt to Bolivia.

Sure I replied, because I really had no choice.

Wel be there in 20

Nah, I’ll drive up and meet you. I replied. Because breaking from the routine doesn’t mean I’m squeezing my ass into a quarter of a seat and listening to music I ain’t tuning up. No, it don’t mean that. Predictability has its privileges.

Back in the day, my pre-game for a day on the slopes used to consist of a donut stop, a fresh pack of smokes and a speeding ticket. It was the kind of clockwork that has allowed Switzerland to remain neutral in perpetuity. But that was back when I had my own ski gear and season passes and . . . oh you know what? Fuck Father Time and Mother Nature.

My piss poor New Years resolution was to go skiing three times this winter season. And just when it looked like I would have to mark it zero, I got a reprieve from the routine. And from the meth too. I’m not gonna lie, I still miss the shit out of the donuts and the smokes. But that’s what hitting 70 is gonna be all about. Because I’ll be damned if I’m gonna waste my golden years on applesauce and blood thinners.

So I did the black diamonds and it really was just like riding a bike. And falling off the bike, in gruesome fashion. Again after again after mind numbing again. And you know what? It was wonderful, to pick myself up out of those ugly bits of mayhem and to be thankful that all my parts were still attached to all the right places. And so I did it again until the again was director cut worthy, as if I was imploring that hill to give me its best Conor McGregor because if there’s one thing I know how to do plenty well, it’s take a punch. Mind you, I’m not nearly as pretty about the whole thing as I used to be, but that’s where routine is a Mother Nature’s helper- because it humbles you sufficiently, and it allows you to be grateful for the try.

I came to own that particular moment in time and it was a righteous bit of disco, tell you what. And the next day proved no big deal to me, because . . . as it turns out I’m more limber than I’ve been in ages thanks to a routine of running and meditation.

Funny how that works.

 

 

 

 

Lost and found playbooks, Brett Favre-less adventures and Elvis watching.

It’s nice to see a story that didn’t end in “worst case scenario” for a sports town that has seen its fair share.

You have to think it was a good sign for the Falcons when Kyle Shanahan’s backpack was returned to him forty five minutes after he lost it, with the contents undisturbed. All he had in that backpack were some personal effects, game tickets and . . oh yeah . . . the Falcons Super Bowl playbook. And maybe it’s a good sign that Bill Belichick didn’t get to play like Mr Potter to Kyle Shanahan’s George Bailey. And so maybe there are signs, and good ones, to be had for a sports town that is seeking sports title number two, that their quarterback’s number happens to be two.

Unlike most of the football public, I don’t hate the Patriots, I just happen to be rooting for the Falcons in this one. And not because of the “Rise Up” theme or because their uniforms are way cool, or even because Julio Jones is my newest gridiron crush. Nope, I’m with ’em because I want to see Georgia’s capital city win a day. As it stands, the Braves are the only team to have brought a championship to Atlanta.

Lots of peeps don’t remember the old Atlanta Flames hockey team, which is perfectly understandable seeing as how they played mostly forgettable hockey for the eight years they called Atlanta home. But they did sport some of the coolest sweaters in the business and the hell’s fire “A” just added to the exotic nature of a Southern based ice hockey team.

The Hawks will always be Dominique Wilkins’ team as far as I’m concerned. The “Human Highlight Film” was disco on the hardwood in the ’80’s. I had never been to space until I saw him play at the old Spectrum. It didn’t seem possible that a human being could jump that high without rocket boosters. The dude could have dunked a basketball from the top of the key with a full glass of water atop his head and not lost a drop of it. He was a controlled fire in high tops. His teams were solid if unspectacular; perennial contenders who were one star shy of serious title contention.

It seemed as if the Braves owned the deed to the National League for most of the ’90’s. They were stapled to October like Michael Myers, and their starting rotation serves as a Hall of Fame quiz. It was as impressive a run as the modern era has seen, and it was only surpassed by the team that cost them a couple more championships- the New York Yankees.

The Falcons have had their moments over the last fifty one years but many fans tend to remember them as the team that traded Brett Favre before he was Brett Favre. The Steve Bartkowski days provided a brief remedy for all the losing that preceded it, but the Dallas Cowboys always stood in the way of bigger play dates. The Jerry Glanville Edition- with Neon Deion and “Bad Moon” Rison and the head coach leaving a ticket for Elvis at Will Call- was about as much fun as a team could be without actually winning a title. And the ’99 squad surprised everyone by making it to the Super Bowl. Well, everyone except John Elway.

So now the Falcons are back again. Ready to try this whole thing on for size again. With a different Sheriff and a different posse and the kind of firepower that would’ve made Glanville blush. And they’ve got a ring leader who has never gotten the due he deserves in Matt Ryan. All that blather about his struggles in the postseason is a convenient way of dismissing his big numbers in the 2013 postseason, when his club was a play away from making it to the Super Bowl.

And not a blessed stitch of all that sports history matters right now. Because the Falcons have their game plan, safe and sound; and it doesn’t read of Patriotism in the least bit. And they have a bunch of fellas who probably wanted to see the Patriots here, because that’s how hungry prize fighters think. And they have a coach who ain’t just happy to be in the big game and a GM who worked this whole dream into being and an owner who actually gives a shit about his team and his town. Something tells me they don’t give a damn about signs, even if it is a pretty cool thing that they’ll be spending their fifty first year of existence playing in Super Bowl 51.

I’d like to think Brett Favre will be watching the game with Elvis.

 

 

 

 

Where peace gets its chance

When the end comes, I would like to think there will be a welcoming committee. The people I’ve lost will be there waiting for me with smiles and hugs and lots of really bad jokes. They won’t behave like angels because I wouldn’t recognize them if they did. In lieu of the harps and melancholic rituals I was always told to look for on the other side, they’ll have the snarky adjectives going strong; behaving as if it was just another rainy Monday morning in the middle of all that living. They’ll bitch about having all the time in the world and we will laugh our asses off, because that kind of thing will be a punchline from the ever after. The stuff that mattered before will keep on mattering, but it won’t come with a baggage check.

I hope there’s a makeshift ballgame going on in the backyard, with seat cushions for bases, a picnic table serving as the pitcher’s mound and a semi-circle of trimmed hedges playing the role of an outfield wall. I will move through the kitchen and stand at the back door watching; my finger nails scratching a clumsy guitar song along the screen. I’ll breathe in the freshly cut grass and shuffle my feet to the piping hot music coming through the transistor radio on top of the refrigerator. Outside, the laughs will paint colors into the air and the smiles will go frozen inside the life of a snow globe.

The clock that hangs on the kitchen wall might be a Van Gogh masterpiece, with the hours hand a sunflower and the minutes hand the petals and the tick will speak to me in French and the tock in Italian and the roam of five minutes time will feel like the most romantic thing. Dragonflies will write sonnets in the blue sky and the breeze will sound like Carole King. And deep inside the learning of all these many things, I’ll see the truth.

You have faith in the people you surround yourself with, but you don’t really know faith until it’s time to say goodbye.

Drinks Goes Legitimate . . no, seriously . .

Change happens.

In fashion, trends fluctuate between old school classicism and disparate absurdity with the blunt rationale of a Joaquin Phoenix presser. Technology is even more volatile, considering the next gen device you got for Christmas? Yeah, it’s going clearance this weekend at Target. And no discussion on change would be complete without mentioning Heidi Montag, whose face has undergone more reconstruction than the Old South.

Mark Twain loved the idea of change, not because it was especially interesting but rather, because it possessed the kind of precocious disposition that abetted his satirical wit. John Lennon didn’t much care for change for the very same reasons. It wasn’t interesting enough, and it was too damned unpredictable.

Of course, I agree with both of them. If not for change in all its infinite forms, literature would read like an owners manual. That said, I’m not enamored with change just because it shows up on a daily basis and happens to be an attention whore. I’m freakishly devoted to that which provokes and seduces me, and I do not give a damn as to whether it came from yesterday or tomorrow.

Which explains this place, and why I stubbornly kept to the original architecture and content for as long as I did. Because it just so happens that this place has followed me from a forgettable time in my life to right here, and in all that time it has never, ever failed me. This fact has absolutely nothing to do with me, but with every single curious traveler who ever came along and granted me an audience in the comment section.

You kept this place kicking.

A blog that specialized in absolutely nothing did get one thing right in the years from there to here. The company it kept.

Sooooo, this here is the change I was talking about. Drinks is going to be changing up its look, starting with this header and the new theme. The content will be changing as well, with interviews, round table discussions, debate posts and more. And here’s the best part of all this brand new . . . I brought friends.

These gals amaze the hell out of me with their wicked talents.

Mama Mick is where curls go to learn more about curls. But she is so much more than a pretty face, and if you’re not already familiar with her work, you should be. She’s the genuine article, the real deal, and when she lets loose with the words, you will crush hard.

Mary does to words what great artists do to canvas. She transforms the void into something rich and bold and everlasting. Her posts are stand-alone gems, portraits of the people, places and times she has come from. I am in deep love with the way she writes a story.

Christy is my editor in chief, on basically all things writing. The respect and admiration I have for this woman would not fit in a single post, or a thousand of them for that matter. If her divine inspiration was solely about the crazy beautiful stories she crafts, I wouldn’t have thought to start Drinks over, but it’s not just about the words. It’s about the example she sets, because she is one of the most resilient people I’ve ever known. She calls me “Soul Man” and she would know all about soul, because her well is overflowing with the stuff. I realize just how lucky I am to be writing with her, and how blessed I am to call her a friend.

The Ladies of Drinks have become my yesterday and my tomorrow as far as this blog is concerned. They’re gonna help turn this bachelor pad into something special.

Fo sho.

 

 

To Peace, Love and Goodwill

For most of the three hundred and fifty eight days that lead up to this one, life is just happening to us. There’s work and play and dreams to figure out, so we go at it without much thought to peace and love and goodwill. Oh, we want these things on a daily basis, no doubt. But we seldom dwell on just how beautiful a thing it is when the trinity gets to swimming in holy synchronicity.

Christmas Eve is when things slow down. Greetings linger and gestures take on added significance and people get busy with the idea that a good feeling can change the day you’re walking inside of. And it’s usually around this time of the year when the inevitable question always gets posed, “Why can’t we be this way all year long?”, to which we crook our heads in deep thought and wholeheartedly agree to try it on for size. And then December 26th happens and we get back to our everyday worlds just in time to break our New Year’s resolutions before they even really get started.

And next year will get to stepping and inside the three hundred and fifty eight days that get us to this one, peace will go missing. Love will come with serious math and the reception on our goodwill signal will, at times, be shitty as all get out. And somewhere in the middle of it all, someone will raise their hands in a collective sigh and say “Fuck it.” To which we’ll crook our heads in deep thought and wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment.

It would seem a lost cause of a thing, this world of ours. I mean, it wasn’t all that long ago I was posting on the idea that, and I quote . . . “There’s no such thing as world peace.” And yeah, maybe it’s easier to figure out Donald Trump’s hair than it is to figure out a way to bring people together. And maybe love is best suited for sitcoms, so as to dull its razor sharp ferocity. And maybe goodwill is the place where you drop off your unwanted shit to some wiseass teenager with ear plugs the size of hubcaps.

Well, maybe we shouldn’t take a lost cause of a world at its word. Because I also wrote somewhere, in some other lifetime that “nothing is ever lost. Only misplaced.” And I believe it now as I did on the night I wrote it. So there’s that.

Good thing for us that hope never goes out of style. So, in keeping with that spirit, we fight for the better places and we challenge the most impossible of odds and we believe in that crazy little thing called love. It’s always going to be worth it because as long as you have the chance to change something? You have everything you’re ever going to need.

Peace, love and goodwill.

 

It took a lot of stupid to get this smart

sunflowersI had one of those days last Thursday. The kind of day Mary J. Blige could go platinum with. One minute all was chill, and the next I was in the middle of a thunderfuck of shitty news . . hurtling down on top of my head like meteor sized raindrops delivered from Wolf Blitzer’s torture chamber.

(Editors Note: While I can’t confirm that Blitzer has a torture chamber, I also can’t confirm that he doesn’t.)

I took to my car in search of a peaceful, easy feeling with which to answer the remains of an otherwise shitty day. In the time before cell phones, this would’ve proven to be a great fucking idea. In the here and now? Not so much . . .

My phone chimed to life with a strange number and I punched go. Maybe it’s a weakness, because I feel that strange numbers aren’t really strange at all. They’re just . . misunderstood.

“Hello?”

Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Calling to piss me off. Some more. I had been involved in a car accident last month when some asshole made like Tony Stewart and clipped the side of my rental. Further proof that while accidents happen . . assholes happen even more than that.

Jessica sounded sweet so I kept it brief.

“. . . You guys charged my credit card as per the cost of the one day rental and my deductible, there’s nothing else to talk about. You guys got paid.”

“Well . .”

“Listen, I don’t need to give you guys my information. That’s my claim agent’s job. . she must be on vacation. From my claim. All I know is Enterprise got paid, my State Farm agent is getting paid for doing nada and me? I got an Amex card that’s screaming at me before I even get started on my Christmas shopping. I’ll email you guys my agent’s contact information. If you get hold of her before I do, tell her I said Happy New Year.”

I hung up before getting a reply. I felt kinda bad for doing so, but the feeling passed a few seconds later.

My phone chimed to life again and I realized I have to change my ringtone before I come to hate “House of the Rising Sun”. I mean, one of the best songs ever made, and I bastardized it with a fucking ringtone!

“Hello?”

“Marc?”

“Sure is.”

The conversation was about a library bookcase I sold at auction some time ago when I was liquidating all the sentimental artifacts I had been schlepping around since my divorce. While oversized and completely impractical, the bookcase was my Lebowski rug. It centered any room I was in, it spoke to my truths and more than all of that? I really dug it. Anyways, I came upon the bookcase again recently. It was being used as a display in a local gift shop and when I inquired about it, I was told it wasn’t for sale. The shop owner wasn’t around so I had left my information with the kindly gentleman tending the counter. I also jotted down an offer, which was two times what it had gone for at auction. I figured if the owner was the one who’d bought it at auction, this might convince him to play ball and if not, I was willing to go three times.

The owner informed me that he really hadn’t given any thought to selling the piece . . that he really didn’t even know what he would ask for it. Long story short, the dude ended up going five times the auction price, at which point I ceased negotiating. If I’m gonna pay someone to screw me, I’ll just do what half of America is doing and call Ashley Madison.

Couple minutes later, another chime.

Dad.

No. No. No. And just in case I wasn’t clear on it, no. I let my voicemail be the heavy.

A few minutes later, I got the boomerang chime.

Mom.

“Hey mom.”

“Why aren’t you answering your father’s calls? He just wants to know how you’re doing.”

“Sorry, I was picking up a prostitute.”

“You should call your father. He worries.”

“No mom, you worry. And you don’t have to, I’ll be putting in a call to him and I won’t wait until I get arrested to do it.”

I placed the phone down on the seat and promised myself I would toss it out the window if it chimed again. And then I came up with the genius idea of doing some grocery shopping because it’s my instant Zen.

I took to the produce section to pluck some mangos . . but they weren’t happening. And the avocados looked deader than Desi Arnaz. The bananas were too green, the pears too soft and don’t even get me started on the kiwis.

My phone chimed again, Big Papi.

“Sup homie?”

“Care to wager on the game Sunday?” Big Papi asked.

“Sure. A case of beer?”

“Heineken if the ‘Boys win.”

“Sam for me when the Dolphins win.” I replied.

(Editor’s Note: I’d love to blame last Thursday for conspiring against me in this football wager, but . . it’s Miami we’re talking about. I could’ve made this bet on the day I wed Vera Farmiga and I still would’ve lost.)

I left the market without so much as a Milky Way bar or the latest issue of Cosmo after which I reserved the entire evening for brooding, escaping detection in the process. I guess I’m just a natural brooder, yanno? I got into my jams and was perusing Netflix when my phone chimed again.

Jen.

I tossed with letting it go to voicemail. There were a million reasons for this decision, all of them solid enough. But here are five.

1- I had work in the morning.
2- I won’t turn down sex.

Okay, I don’t really need the other three reasons.

“Hey.” I said.

(Editor’s Note: See #2.)

Turns out, Jen didn’t want sex. She just called to see how I was doing, how the day had gone. She had remembered things I didn’t even remember telling her. And that’s when it struck me that the good women in my life? They just keep showing up.

I shared my Thursday and she shared her week and we shared all the in between stuff too. Having a friend with benefits may be one of the best ideas I’ve ever had, which only makes sense since it was her idea to begin with. And then I confessed how I almost let her call go to voicemail and why. This brought out her crazy sexy laugh.

“You’re not all that, Rico Suave.” She said.

“I have two kids who remind me of this on a daily basis.” I replied.

We got to talking about Alanis and that got us going on irony and Krispy Kreme donuts and the conversation turned into this great big vase full of sunflowers. Next thing I knew, I was off the mat, getting dressed and heading back out. Not to see Jen but to finish the grocery shopping I never started. And while the mangos were shit for, the special on walnuts was too good to pass up. And forget the avocados, the eggplant was gonna work just fine. And to those bananas and pears and those dreadful kiwis, I had sushi rolls and Haagen Dazs and of course, a Milky War bar.

I walked outside to find . . . rain. The sunroof. I had left the fucking sunroof open! I started jogging to my car as I cursed under my breath at a Thursday that had gone into fucking overtime JUST to take me under. And then I slowed up to find the sunroof wasn’t open after all. And then I realized there isn’t a Thursday alive that’s ever gonna take my ass down. Cause I ain’t gonna let it.

And so I tucked away the shitty of what had become a forgettable yesterday. And then I opened that fucking sunroof (Ooookay, I cracked it. Still counts) and I cranked up some Alanis and I understood myself differently.

It was nice.

 

 

 

 

Letting go

I have this one thing to do before I let go.

His name was George, even though I usually just called him by the thing he rode to most of all, sonofabitch. Which he was, in technicolor splendor. I say that with much love and all sincerity, because I knew the heart inside this beast of a man whose life read of a Runyon novel. It was a heart which contained unmistakable traces of gold, an element that cannot be lied into existence, as any chemistry teacher will rightly tell you. There’s gold and there’s Broadway corner, no in between.

So there’s this. A letter, to a friend who hit the road and broke my heart in the doing. His loss leaves me with an immense reconstruction job- forcing me to fill the hours he no longer provides, and the place he can no longer spell. I want to damn him to Hades for leaving before I was ready, but that would be a lie. I was ready. Just not that kind of ready. You never are.

Hey George,

It was time. I know it was. Just the same, it’s so incredibly hard for me to process the idea that you are gone, as in the non-refundable kind of gone. You, the fixture in my life since I was seven years old and into girls. From nine when I first smoked a cigarette. From junior high when I hated the folks. From high school when I had no fucking idea on anything, yet, oddly enough, knew everything. From my twenties when I got banned from calling your office because of the time I was making with your secretaries. To marriage, which you told me to be serious on. To divorce, where you played Rabbi to me and Kim, loving us both and grieving the loss just the same.

The whole way along, you were there. The common thread. The hold. The glue. For me. For mom. For sis. It was always that way, for as long as I can remember. As bad ass as you behaved inside your imperfect storm of a world, the deeds you granted to us were good and better. You always showed up when showing up was the only thing that mattered. It’s why I wrote you that letter back when you pulled me out of a mess I’d dug for myself when my youth driven shoveling skills were sharp as hell. You weren’t kind in the rescuing of me, but man, you were real. You helped me survive my 21st year when I had no fucking idea as to how that was going to work.

It was rare for me to feel certain of anything in my younger days. I pissed off the wrong people and I made the right people angrier than all get out. I was loud and silent in the raging of my mostly lost place in a world I never quite understood. And out of the so many places and things that might have killed me, you provided cover. Never admitting such a stoic thing as that, just doing it. You were the lesson I live by now: Do the good thing silently, and trust the good thing to be loud enough. I’m romanticizing it, sure. But I will cause I can, now.

You know what got me on Tuesday night? The fact that I never get another conversation with you. I never get the chance to whine and bitch and laugh and be completely wrong inside the right of it all. I never get that again. And that feels like the kind of thievery that makes me want to punch the cosmos. How dare you leave me without one final anything. That was such a lousy way to say goodbye. You are a sonofabitch.

So guess what? I’m going last word, and I’m having it with this. I love you, man. I love you much and forever.

Hey, you get to hound on Marilyn Monroe . . . so I get this.

We fight for the fine places we make in this world

This blog is where I come when I feel a soapbox moment happening, or to loose an idea or to rage over some miniature catastrophe with tongue firmly planted in one cheek while the vodka drenched olives hold tightly to the other. And then last week happened, and so I don’t feel much like camping out as Cayman Thorn today.

There was little Nichole Kristine Cable, who we came to know inside the desperate hours of her too short life. She only got fifteen years because a sick bastard lied her away from the house, and there’s no way you can wrap your head around this case without wanting to scream. My initial reaction is to curse the door that our connected world has opened. But I realize it’s not that easy. I realize that the worst laid plans of people do not concern themselves with convenience so much as they concern themselves with doing bad things, no matter the avenue they have to take to get there.

My reasoning self was justified and my scream stifled when I witnessed the rolled up sleeves I found across WordPress during the search for Nichole. Bloggers pressing their re-blog button, and showing me why a virtual neighborhood can matter every bit as much as the white picket fence variety. Hey, the only sense this world really makes, is that which we give to it.

What happened in Oklahoma is a humbling reminder that we don’t have the last word, despite our top of the food chain existence. Because the truth is, Mother Nature’s name is on the deed and we’re just renting. The proof of this was supplied by pictures of a town that went the way of a bad science fiction ending. And so it was heartening to see all the help that moved in just as swiftly as the tornado which had taken so much away. Cayman Thorn and I would agree on one count. Give.

I’ve never been to Colorado, but I have a solid education on the place thanks to a gal who possesses more back story on the Rocky Mountains than Sacajawea. Susie Lindau is a renaissance woman of the hottest order, with a To Do list that runs chapters long and never goes stale. She’s a one woman band, whose wild ride blog treats readers to heaping spoonfuls of love on everything from skiing to tennis to Christmas card making.

Susie shared her reality with all of us in a post this week. And I can’t go somber on this, because if I do, she’s going to fly in simply to kick my ass and fly back out. And there is nothing worse than having to pick someone up at the airport just so they can kick your ass.

Kicking ass is what Susie is going to be doing to the C word. Seriously, you mess with the bull, you get the horns AND Colorado, AND Danny. And all of us.  If you need more backup than that? You’re a shit screenwriter rehashing an ’80s cop show who’s hogging up all the Wi-Fi at your 7-11, so nuke that Hot Pocket and take the Asst Managers job at Target already!

As for backup, we got your back, Susie. All of us, from here to there and every other single place in between.

We love you. Much and always. For teaching us the one simple thing in a world gone mad.

Love wins.