Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Beware The Motivational Meme

                If the internet has taught me anything, since the days of AOL and that screeching old dial-up modem sound, it’s that there’s very little you can trust on-line.  Unscrupulous individuals among the human race have certainly done their best to disrupt the fabric of harmony and the beacon of hope that we all thought the Internet would be. I’m not just speaking of the spammers or the e-mail Princes looking for your bank information to send you millions of dollars. I’m talking about motivational Memes.
                The motivational meme is quite possible the most dangerous of all Internet damnations. I’m specifically speaking of those picturesque scenes of setting suns over golden meadows, or crisp and clean waterfalls cascading over green leafy waterfalls, or some picture of a dirt or paved road leading off toward the horizon. These memes are dangerous. Not for their photographic content of course, but for the often completely ill-conceived motivational message they contain, usually written in some beautiful script or bold, unignorably cheery letterhead.    
                These are a trap because the majority of them contain nothing but terrible life advice. One sided, empty, misdirected life advice about friends or lovers or family or returning favors, or Panda love. Well, the Panda love ones might be alright. But the rest are often complete hooey.  
                Here’s my reasoning, I saw one of these memes yesterday that went something like this (I’m paraphrasing a bit) “Some friends are like shadows and are only visible during the bright times, but real friends are still with you in the dark.”   I know what it intends to mean but it fails miserably at actually conveying its message. Plus, it’s completely untrue. Friendship is complex and often difficult to sustain even in the best of circumstances, but the eventuality and reality is, even your closest and best friends on occasion WILL LET YOU DOWN. It’s not a permanent thing. Everyone at some point or another let’s someone they care about down. It’s just life. So those friends that “disappear” in the dark times, well, they’re still there, they just have their own lives going on or their own deeply rooted psychological issues to deal with that might, just might, take priority over your issues.  Friendship, in my opinion, is not predicated on the idea of who is there for me when I’m down, but rather, who understands when I’m down and doesn’t judge me for being so.  That’s friendship, in the bright or the dark. 
                There was another one that sort of gets me annoyed; it goes something like (again paraphrasing) “There’s no reason to look back on the road you’ve been on, just keep moving forward.”               That’s utter rubbish. Sure, we should keep our eye focused on what’s ahead and not wallow in the mistakes of the past, but it’s important to remember where we’ve been. Just walking blindly forward endlessly without having a sense or knowledge of the past means you haven’t learned anything. If you don’t have a sense of where you’ve been, a sense of what those experiences taught you, even if they were bad or embarrassing or things you regret, then they have played an important part in your journey and should not be ignored or simply forgotten for the sake of forward movement.
                I also really hate the ones that go like “What you are afraid to do is a clear indicator of the next thing you need to do.”  Not because the message is false or inaccurate, but because it sounds like something the very elite would say. Sometimes the reason we can’t do something isn’t because we’re afraid, it’s really because we do not have the means. It’s almost like saying, “If you wish hard enough, it’ll happen.”  I’m not afraid of success so what you’re saying is, I don’t have to do that next. (Ok. Cool. I won’t. Whew! Big relief there.)  I think it sends a mixed message rather than one that says, “Hey, try. It might work out. It might not, but at least you tried.” That seems somehow more direct and honest to me than, “Don’t be a chicken, go jump out of a $50,000 airplane cause it scares you, buddy.” 

                I think what we really should take away from these scary internet motivational memes is that there are no quick fix phrases for any situation in life and to read these things with a grain of salt. Life is never just black and white, people aren’t always bad or always good, and real wisdom comes from thinking for yourself and coming to the conclusions that best suit your specific situation. It’s important to maintain a little perspective on these things and remember how complex life is and that no one phrase is the turnkey to happiness or spiritual peace.  Except for those Panda love memes, those will change your life.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Like a Nudist in Winter

Like a nudist in winter,
she’s cold.

Like a Chicago February,
she’s icy.

Like a meat locker,
she’s frozen.

Like a 19th century arctic explorer,
she’s chilled to the bone.

The cold got in, deep and fast,
freezing and arresting the things that
used to be.

New snowy caverns opened,
new abominables arrived.
New snow paths made,
old ones collapsed under
the weighty ice.

The chilly fury,
the icy veins,
the unrelenting cold wind
of long frozen anger.

Like a nudist in winter,
she’s shivering.

Ever so slightly.

You can see her gooseflesh.

Her lips are a little blue.

She’s cold, but she won’t
let on.

I can’t warm her,
but there is a small fire,
if needed.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Party of One

                Sid cringed at the sight of all the happy partygoers. It was another summer Saturday just made for back yard grilling and drinking and watching all your couple friends enjoy the hell out of each other. It was also the fifth bar-b-que he’d been to this summer that Sid had attended alone. It was getting extremely tedious.  He stepped through his friend Craig’s house and stood at the sliding glass doors that looked out toward the rear deck and yard. There were so many people Sid just couldn’t stand and what’s more they were all with someone and had been for a very long time.  Sid cleared his throat and put on his party smile and stepped outside. Craig noticed him immediately.
                “Hey buddy,” said the host Craig, “how’s it going man. Glad you could make it! But hey, I know it’s a really bummer and that you just got here but I was wondering if you could drive over to the store at the corner and grab a couple bags of ice. I was trying to call you on your way over but you didn’t answer.” 
“Yeah, I don’t answer my phone when I’m driving. It isn’t safe,” said Sid.
“Right, of course. But do you mind buddy? I’m really sorry to ask but Karen said she asked Janet and her husband but they had to drop the kids off at Janet’s mothers and it’s just so out of the way and you know...,” said Craig.

Craig stood near the grill, a Kiss Me I’m Important apron tied around his waist, he was balding and fattening, and his arms were akimbo on his hips. His face was pleading and sweating, wrinkled up into a strange worried and constipated ball of red cheeks and tired eyes.

“I don’t mind Craig. I’ll be right back,” said Sid.

He didn’t mind at all actually. As the single guy, nearing 40 without a girlfriend, a wife or kids it was sort of expected that he be the one to get the crappy jobs at parties. Sid had no illusions it would be any other way and he was happy to escape the crowd before they had a chance to judge him. And he knew they judged him anyway. He knew they talked about him when he wasn’t there. He knew they talked about his old girlfriend from 100 years ago and how fun she was and where was she now and how they heard that she was married and living in California. That didn’t bother Sid at all. He didn’t care about that. But still it was nice to escape their opinionated eyes while the sun was still out. 

Sid got to his car and drove over to the near-by convenience store. A nagging annoyance was creeping at the back of his neck. There was just something dumb about having a big back yard party and forgetting to buy ice. It wasn’t all that complicated, especially with a store so close by. Craig and Karen just couldn’t be bothered Sid guessed. He grabbed five big bags of ice and dragged them to the front of the store, trying to avoid creating any giant puddles on the floor.

The clerk silently rang up the five bags, helped Sid put them into larger plastic bags and wished Sid a mumbled, “Have a nice day.”  Sid dragged the bags out to his car and tossed them in the trunk.  A siren wailed in the distance as Sid moved toward his driver’s side door. The wailing sound got closer, followed by the sounds of an ambulance siren and police sirens. Sid looked over his shoulder toward Craig and Karen’s house on their quaint residential block. He found himself imagining the party engulfed in flames and the party guests running around in Craig’s exploded Hell. The Kiss Me I’m Important apron in tatters and flames on the perfectly trimmed grass, now blackened from the heat of the grill’s explosion.

The ambulance and Fire engine passed the store and kept driving down the busy street. It didn’t turn at Craig’s block but kept going. Sid got in his car and started the engine. He drove around the block and parked in a space much further away than his original good spot in front of Craig and Karen’s.  He went to the trunk and got the ice and lugged it back toward the house. 

“Oh man, thank you so much dude! I really appreciate it,” said Craig as Sid re-appeared in the yard, “Just toss it in those coolers if you could. Thanks!”

Sid nodded and dragged the ice to the coolers and started dumping it in.

“Oh thank you Sid, that was so nice of you,” said Karen. She was holding a large glass of white wine and greeting some other couple that Sid hadn’t seen before. 
“Yeah, no problem. My pleasure. Glad to help,” said Sid, but Karen was already back to the new couple, ignoring Sid.

Sid finished with the ice, got a beer and sat down in the first available lawn chair.

“Hey, sorry, I was saving that seat for my wife,” said a random tanned and tall guy.
“Oh, sorry,” said Sid as he bounced back up from the chair.

The guy nodded and Sid wandered over toward the edge of the party. He looked around for a place to smoke, some place in the shade, where the other party goers couldn’t see him. They might have been smokers in their old single lives, but now someone who still smoked on the verge of 40 years old was some sort of pariah. Sid found a spot near the garage and lit his cigarette. He listened to the random conversations of the 30 odd people present, crammed into Craig and Karen’s hip backyard. 

“Oh my god, is someone smoking? Ugh,” said a woman’s voice.
“Ugh, who still smokes,” asked another woman.

Sid sighed and tossed the cigarette into the alley. He put on his most amiable face and returned to the slowly gathering party horde.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Not your Stepping Stone (or font size)

                The day was lost the moment the Monkey King’s army attacked New Bastion City. The human forces were no match for the aggressive unrelenting monkey onslaught. Peter Tork was unstoppable. Davey Jones was a killing machine. Mike Nesmith put the heads of his enemies on spikes and paraded them through the city square.  Mickey Dolenz was a power god of manslaughter.  Plus there were like, some other monkeys, like, doing stuff… Egad, what a terrible way to start a Friday story.  Monkey murderers? That’s just awful. I’m sure there are far more interesting things to write about on this wonderful Friday, for at least some of the nation. (Wildfires, torrential rain areas, flood plains excluded.)
                I would say a Friday story about man’s inability to stop the Planet of the Apes from happening is a bit trite.  There’s got to be something better to write about today. Let’s see what’s in the news… Oh god, let’s not. Damn. The news is terrible out there. My God, why don’t we all just stay in our homes and hide under our beds!
                That would be silly of course. We have no choice but to go on, if only we could go on in a bit more civilized manner. Would the gang problems be abated by bringing back the Gentleman’s Duel at dawn? I can only wonder. I mean, it wouldn’t happen and both guys would live since gang members can’t aim for shit. They seem to shoot everything and everyone but their intended target. God, get some weapons training if you want to be a shooter. No one just picks up a gun and is Annie Oakley. And if you don’t know who Annie Oakley is then go back to school and study history and then you really won’t need a gun because you’ll be better educated and can resolve issues without resorting to murder.
                Perhaps I’m being optimistic about it. 
                (Cough)…. So, Friday… Summertime… (Sniff)… yeah.  Downtown! Wooo!
                There were a bunch of teenagers on my train this morning all headed into the big city for a little summertime fun. The young men looked unkempt and were proud of it. Although when I was their age I certainly wasn’t much better. I refused to dress like those corporate squares. Then I started dressing like those corporate squares on complete purpose because the whole punk/Skater/grunge thing was played out. The young women were dressed inappropriately for my judgment of their age. One young lady was wearing a pair of shorts that I’m not sure could be legally defined as “shorts” and they left nothing to the imagination. I could only roll my eyes and think, “This is what we’ve done to these girls. Damn you magazines, movies, pop culture, TV, snake oil salesmen, Sarah Silverman!”
                I could not hear their conversations, thankfully. I do know that one of the young girls left her sunglasses at home and it was the worst tragedy to ever occur since Richard the III. That and they all really wanted Jamba Juice. Which I suppose is understandable since I really wanted a cup of coffee.  The boys however, were very silent. It was easy to see that their pubescent minds were completely baffled by the amount of young woman skin in front of them.   They were mostly speechless, brushing their way too long in front hair off their faces. I mean I had really silly hair as a young man. Who didn’t? But I wore a hat almost all the time, with my hair pretty well concealed. These young men wear hats, with their hair sticking out all over the place. I mean, why wear a hat? Damn kids and their youthful vigor and vim.
                I suppose I’m only jealous of their opportunity. They have their whole lives ahead of them and mistakes to make and new experiences to have. I’m getting to a point where I’m at the bar talking about gray ear hairs and quality nose hair clippers. So I’m sure there’s a jealous tone to my “young people today” rant. Plus, I have to say, I don’t remember teenage girls dressing so provocatively (although they may have, I just don’t remember because raging hormones seem to cloud good judgment and memory), so yeah, I’m a little jealous of those young men and their early fumbling attempts to be impressive. Wasn’t that the fun part of being young? Trying to win the affections of a young lady (or whoever was the object of your obsession) was the best part of your day. Maybe that was just me. I thought if she only looked at me, or smiled, or said hello, or accidentally walked past me in a crowd, was a great day.  It was even better if they liked you too and you got to have all those great new experiences together, the new heart swells and lows and aggravations and highs and laughs and cries. It was so wonderful that I would love to try it out again. 

                But we can’t go back. We have had our experiences and have to sit back as patient observers of the young and look forward to the new experiences that might come with aging. I know I have to have a doctor stick his or her finger up my butt soon, so that’s something to look forward too. New experiences.  New horizons. PPO’S, HMO’S, IRA’s, 401K’s, taxes, bills, bills, bills, Bill, death, life, choices, money, work, family, death, birth, death, death, taxes, painting, planting, gardening, shopping, new pants sizes, old boxes full of pictures of your teenage self, all the things that the kids don’t have to deal with yet we, as the rapidly aging Generation X, have to do.  It’s monkey business.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Saying Everything with Nothing

There’s something I want
to tell you,
but I’m not sure what it

There’s something I want
you to see,
but I can’t see it

There’s a song I want
you to hear,
but I’m not sure how it

There’s a story I want
you to read,
but I forget the

There’s a glade I want
to run in with you,
but I don’t recall

There’s a game I want
to play with you,
but I don’t know the

There’s the lie I want
to tell you,
but I only know the

There’s a time I want
you to be there,
but I don’t have a

There’s a show I want
you to see,
but I don’t know the

There’s the heart I want
to give you,
but it lost it’s

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Everyday on a City Sidewalk

Sidewalk love affairs,
passer-by morning stares,
two more people on the concrete,
missing that chance to meet.

A quick upturned glance,
a smiling, ready stance,
for that one passing chance,
to find a never-ending dance.

Bodies crowd and part,
every move a possible start,
for that lasting moment,
and the missing component.

A sunny summer day,
women in sundresses on display,
moving quickly along the sidewalk,
never a second to smile and talk.

Surrounded by buildings cased in glass,
rushing and bustling in a flash,
they’re gone too quick,
to catch a flirty wink.

Love, one concrete square at a time,
each step, another tolling chime,
for the love light left,
between life and death’s cruel theft.

All the women on the street,
high heel shoes on their feet,
stepping along so serious,
above and beyond imperious.

My heart beats each new block,
as my open eyes take stock,
and new, intimidating options are presented,
trying to understand something newly fermented.

My soul is open for the potential,
but my heart is sore from the prior tangential
and each longing gaze on the street,
is torture for the incomplete.

Yet on it goes with each forward motion,
longing stoking the locomotion.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Motives and Movements

                Jeff sat down in front of the lavatory door. It was the only seat available on his crowded morning commuter train. It’s Jeff’s least favorite place to sit on the train. Public toilets in any sense were just the worst possible places on Earth as far as Jeff was concerned. This idea of a toilet, so close to the rest of the commuting people just made Jeff feel dirty and covered with fecal matter and disease. He would resist the very normal temptation to freak the hell out though. It just wouldn’t be proper to start screaming at the top of his lungs in front of all these other morning weary travelers.  So Jeff just stared at the lavatory door and prayed that it would remain shut.
                He’d always been cautious around public bathrooms. Jeff was traumatized by a public bathroom as a very young man. He was just about eight years old and at the beach for a Summer Day Camp excursion. This beach was not some idyllic, pristine country setting, or glamorous California coastal paradise. It was a Chicago beach in the 1980’s; a time when the beach was slightly less horrifying than the prospect of nuclear annihilation with the Soviet’s.  There was always a risk of stepping on broken glass at the beach, or the metal ringlets from pull tab beer cans. The beach was a place of unknown danger, secluded mysteries, and goblin-like monsters creeping in the shadows of a beach’s public restrooms.
                Growing up in the big city there were always new experiences to be had and not all of them good.   One such experience was the Day Camp Beach trip from the local Park District run Day Camp. Jeff considered the Day Camp about as interesting as a dental visit or an afternoon spent inspecting the riches of dung beetles. He hated day camp. It was bad lunches, bug juice, and almost ceaseless hours of accursed Dodgeball. The counselors were not very inventive in the activity department, so Jeff’s little group of squirts wound up playing Dodgeball all day. Jeff liked the days that they got to spend inside the field house doing something with arts or crafts. Those were the good days. There was very little threat of getting beaned in the face with a big red dodgeball in the field house confines.  So a full day trip to the beach with Day Camp was hardly what Jeff considered “summer fun”.
                The beach was crushed with the hundreds of other City Park District Day Camp kids all screaming and shouting and pushing. Jeff only had one friend out of the day camp kids, Conrad. And he couldn’t go to the beach trip because his mother didn’t want him to go. Jeff was envious of his friend Conrad.  
                The kids exploded onto the beach like they were being chased by the hounds of Hell yet Jeff wasn’t all that interested. He was an introvert then, very much like the adult introvert he became. He was contemplative rather than impulsive, he was quiet rather than brash, and he didn’t do anything without looking before he leapt. So when he got off the bus for Day Camp Beach day, he was on high alert for anything terrible.
                Luckily for Jeff, the day wasn’t too bad. He actually had a little fun playing in the sand and learning how to make sandcastles that actually looked like the thing they were supposed to be. But as the day wore on he felt the terrible pressure starting to build in his guts. Soon he’d have to visit a public bathroom for the very first time, on his own. He’d been to parks with the old wooden outhouses that smelled like the rotting farts of a thousand beer shits before, but he’d gone with his dad, who somehow made the whole experience bearable through a constant stream of berating curses, “Just go already damn it.” His father wasn’t at the beach though and the pressure was starting to get a little painful.
                The beach had a stone and brick public washroom near the edges of the sand and sidewalk. It was a red brick structure for the most part, but it was hard to tell considering the amount of spray painted graffiti covering the exterior. In the 1980’s, a public building was defined by the amount of graffiti that covered it. If there was a lot of spray paint and graffiti it meant “STAY OUT” if there was only a little graffiti it meant, “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” and if there was just one or two little spray paint marks it meant, “DAMN KIDS”.  This public beach lavatory was well beyond the level of “STAY OUT”, it was tattooed to the point of being an entryway to Hades from which there would be no return.
                Jeff had to go though. There was no other place around for an eight year old, essentially on his own, since he’d long sense wandered away from the sandcastle crowds and the other damn kids. He would have to enter this forbidden temple of horror on his own. 
                The beach lavatory was dark. There were no functioning overhead lights. The windows were mere slits of sunlight that your eyes simply couldn’t adjust to. It was so bright outside that you were blind in this dark cavern of foulness. The smell hit Jeff first. It was gas but somehow solid. It was the smell of garbage on a sidewalk, in the sun, next to the corpse of an 80 year old man that had also crapped himself before the gangrene got to his leg. It was the sort of smell that would make Satan think twice about this whole, “Evil” business.  Jeff tried to hold his breath but it was too late and the stink of a million shits had already entered his mouth.
                It was dizzying but Jeff had to go. He had to just take care of his business. He’d never been into such a place before. He’d been in a few public bathrooms at restaurants and they were always pretty well maintained. So he’d assumed that a City like Chicago would certainly have public restrooms just as decent at the worst restaurants. Jeff was not prepared for the darkness, the pissy dampness or the odor of pure death this public lavatory presented.
                Jeff moved passed the floor to mid waist urinals, which were just as tall as Jeff. They were not running like the ones back at school. These urinals seemed to be filled with everything but urine.  Jeff felt the heat of the lavatory. It was Amazon hot in the lavatory. It was a cement swamp of foulness that didn’t seem real. It gave the darkness a hazy quality that Jeff had never experienced. He walked past the urinals toward a row of stalls. It was dark. It was quiet, except for the faint sound of water dripping somewhere.  Jeff worked his way slowly past the first stall. 
                There was no door on the stall. It was a toilet, surrounded by brick, and the darkest mold and filth Jeff had ever seen. It was darker than the darkest night in that stall. It was a black hole of pure stink and fear. It was the bathroom the Grim Reaper used after a night of severing souls and drinking Tequila. It was unusable.
                Jeff moved to the second stall. It too was missing a door but it was sort of bathed in a slim slit of light from a window overhead. It wasn’t right but Jeff just couldn’t see why.  Even though there was light coming in, it was still a pit of blackness. An impenetrable darkness consumed this stall that no light could diffuse. Jeff stepped closer to the stall. The feeling of having to “go” had long sense passed. It had been over taken by fear and adrenaline.  Jeff timidly stepped closer to the darkness in the second stall when the darkness suddenly looked up at Jeff.
                Jeff screamed and stumbled backwards. There were white eyes connected to a heavily bearded face with crazy shaggy black hair covering its head, connected to bare shoulders and the shadowed nether region of a man sitting on the commode.  The man thing shouted in surprise at the site of Jeff, but Jeff heard a growl. A hobo growl. So he screamed again and ran from the dark pocket of hell’s lavatory, leaving that man thing on the shitter and darkness.
                The beach was a breath of fresh air as Jeff went scrambling across the sandy surface in a full terror run. He ran back toward where his camp group was and tried to blend in. He didn’t want the lavatory monster to find him. He figured it was best to blend in with all the other damn kids.  Jeff just silently mingled with the other day campers until it was time to thankfully go. Jeff didn’t tell anyone about the hell hole lavatory. He kept it to himself. It was a seared memory in his young brain.  It would make him the man he would be.
                The train pulled into the terminal and everyone stood up to disembark. The lavatory door across from Jeff’s seat remained closed. Jeff shuffled along with the rest of the commuters but in the back of his mind he feared the man thing was probably behind that closed train lavatory door, still shitting, still sitting, and waiting for Jeff to return.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Every Day is the First Day

Back in the working  world
and seeing all the
strange I’ve missed.
The things I haven’t
see in a long while.

The curious collection
of people’s shadows
stretched long in the
summer morning sun
and having trouble
figuring out which
one is yours.

The downtown down
town dog walkers,
that walk dogs with
little colored booties on
each dog paw.

Backpacks, backpacks,
backpacks hauling only
God knows what to and fro,
from home to office, office
to home.

Suspicious professional women,
eyeing every man that
passes by like a protective
mother bear.
Eyes like razors, on lasers.

The oblivious zombies,
the oblivious cell phone zombies,
the hungry, weakly sitting where
ever they can.

Hot dust, garbage smelling shade,
perilous street crossers, cutting it
closer than needed.
Crowded shuffling through narrow
elevator holding.

Some things I’ve missed,
some things I haven’t
some things forever the same.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Not Afraid to Complain

                So it’s a hot Friday rolling into a potentially melty face weekend and we’re all super excited about it. Well I, for one, am not. I am a heavy sweater. That doesn’t mean I am made out of wool and keep you cozy during the winter, it means I sweat a lot when the temperature gets above 73 degrees.  I’m not sure where this particular aversion to heat came from; most likely my Irish heritage has something to do with my absolute displeasure with extremely warm environs.  I just start to sweat thinking about how warm it’s going to be. This is not a great way to impress women or be the man that men want to be.
                I get too hot very fast and it’s very annoying. I’ve always been that kid on the Little League field wiping the sweat out of his eyes as that one easily catchable pop fly sails over my head. The whole crowd yells for me to pay attention but I can’t because the sweaty salt is burning my eyes. Plus I needed glasses back then and I probably wouldn’t have been able to catch the damn ball even on a 50 degree day. Yet, I blame the sweat in my eyes. Headbands, hatbands, all were useless in the prevention of sweat just pouring down my face and dripping off my chin.
                It’s not like I’m terribly overweight or incapable to physical activity. I do quite a lot of movement. (Seriously, I do. Just because you haven’t personally witnessed it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I’ve never SEEN you have a kid but I’m sure you have one or two or I know you work but I’ve never SEEN you working.) So I can’t imagine why I’d sweat so profusely when the mercury hits anything over 73 degrees. I’m just a sopping wet mess of man, dripping and sloshing, red faced and dying for the cool breezes I know I desperately need before my brain cooks in my own skull. 
                I’m reminded of the poor people of Pompeii that attempted to shelter themselves from the exploding volcano by hiding in the seaside boat houses. The heat was so intense from the volcano that their brains cooked and exploded out of their skulls. Really! It’s true. Skulls have been found showing they burst from the inside. It’s completely gross and I fully expect to die that way every summer when the humidity and heat rolls in.
                It’s my fate to just be too hot.  I live in the Mid-West where the humidity can climb to impossible levels of dampness and not rain. I’m sure I’ve seen weather reports wherein they report 98% moisture in the air but it just won’t rain. I mean, that’s like walking through a lake of water molecules.  It’s all vapor and gross. Plus there’s all the heat from the concrete jungle I live in. There’s almost no un-air conditioned escape available. I mean really, what good is a shade tree when the humidity makes it feel like it is 105 degrees outside. That’s not cool Earth, not cool. Literally, not cool.
                I really like summer though. I enjoy shorts and short-sleeved shirts. I like sitting outside with friends and strangers and acquaintances, having a cold libation, laughing at the incredible annoyances of life on planet Earth. I enjoy the hell out of that; unless I’m sweating the whole time. I’m surprised I don’t have a nick-name like, “Waterfall Mike”, or, “Old Sloshy”, given to me by those that have to bear witness to the Niagara Falls that is my summertime embodiment.  
                Shirts don’t stand a chance. I destroy most of them through copious perspiration before most people have had their breakfast. I certainly just can’t take the shirt off either. My white skin is far too delicate for direct exposure to sunlight. I won’t even go to the beach for fear of blinding everyone around me for seven miles. I’m pretty sure they can see me from space. It’s a national Security issue I’m sure. So I just don’t bother. I’m sure my incredible physique has something to do with my disinterest in beach going as well. I heard a good description of a human body last night that I think is terribly apt for me. My whole body is rather thumb shaped. That’s not to say I don’t have arms and legs a sweaty head, but the general idea I get about my body is its thumbness.  I’m not fat, but I’m certainly not ripped like some Hollywood super man.
                I don’t like pools very much either. I risk sunburn even with SPF 490K. Plus, I’m much too warm to add to the primordial soup that is a backyard pool.  I feel like the water temperature goes up instead of going down when I get in the water. I’m like that water heater thing that plugs in to an outlet and then there’s a metal coil on the other end that goes into a coffee mug and heats up the water. That’s me. A thumb shaped metal coil heating up the pool water so some giant can make coffee.  I’m sure he’d spit it out too since it’d be so damn salty. 
                So if you really need to find me this hot and humid weekend. I think it would be your best bet to find me basking in the miracle of Air Conditioning as often as possible with a cool drink in my hand. I might still be sweating a little but I will certainly be closer to cooling off to a normal human temperature. I promise I won’t hug you, until I’m dry.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tossed and Turned

                “I can’t sleep,” said Harry.

                The room stayed silent as Harry stared up at the ceiling fan. The darkness was only broken by the occasional passing headlight reflecting off the storefront windows across the street.

                “Why not? What’s wrong,” asked Margaret in a snoozy haze.
                “I don’t want to tell you,” said Harry.

                Margaret opened her eyes and turned over on her pillow to face Harry.

                “Don’t want to tell me? What’s that mean,” asked Margaret.
                “I think you’ll get mad,” said Harry.

                Margaret turned all the way over in bed and put her hand on Harry’s shoulder.

                “You can tell me anything Harry, you know that. No matter what, you can tell me,” said Margaret.

                Harry took a deep breath. He opened his mouth but nothing came out. He found he couldn’t make a sound. He didn’t know how to tell her that he knew that she didn’t love him anymore. He found her e-mail to her mother in which Margaret expressed how trapped she felt by Harry and how she wanted something more out of life than he could give her, even though he’d done his best to try and make her happy. He didn’t know how to tell her that he understood how she felt and that maybe, with her falling out of love with him. He may have fallen out of love with her, but he wasn’t sure.

                “I don’t know what to say,” said Harry, “I don’t… I just have a lot swirling around in my mind I guess,” said Harry.
                “Why would that make me mad,” asked Margaret.
                “I didn’t mean mad, just, I didn’t want to bother you with what’s going on in my head,” said Harry.

                Margaret sat up on her elbows and considered Harry for a moment. He was on his back, hands folded on his chest. He looked fatter than she remembered. “When did he get so fat,” she would wonder.

                “Well, you did wake me up so now you have to tell me what’s bothering you or I will get mad,” said Margaret.

                The room was silent again as Harry held his breath. Margaret continued to stare at him through the darkness. A car drove by blaring bad, tasteless music too loud.

                “It’s a wonder anyone can sleep with all that racket outside,” said Harry.
                “Right,” said Margaret. 

                She lay back down and turned away from Harry. 

                “I know that things haven’t been great between us lately. I know that you feel a little underappreciated and maybe a little put upon while I’ve been trying to get myself back together. I know it’s been hard on you and I want you to know that I am sorry,” blurted Harry. 

                Margaret stayed still on her side of the bed. The same side she’d had for nine years without any variation. Her eyes were open, staring at the darkly lit water glass she kept on the nightstand.

                “I just want you to know that I do appreciate all the things you do for me, and for us. I want you to know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed. I may not always say it, but I do really appreciate all that you do,” continued Harry, “I’m just getting back to normal and I hope you can bear with me for a while longer.”

                Margaret rolled over onto her back and stared up at the ceiling fan.

                “Now I can’t sleep,” said Margaret.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

C'mon Brad!

Today we enter a land strange and mysterious. A land of darkness and incomprehensible madness. Today we join the few who’ve ventured here before. Today we join, The Friday Guild.
                The Friday Guild, shrouded in secrecy since the late 1700’s, is a loose cabal of those closeted hedonists that must suffer through the “other” days of the week.  They not only Thank God it’s Friday, they celebrate it with offerings of the flesh through magical sexual conquest and goat’s head dancing. The Friday Guild meets in underground caverns; their meetings are lit only by candles; they wear the ceremonial “Friday” powdered wigs of our forefathers and they eat massive amounts of gravy smothered mashed potatoes, followed by lots of wine and Tequila. However, this is a more formal and antiquated setting for the Friday Guild. Today they are most likely meeting at that bar up the street that you want to go into but just never seem to have the time.
                They love Fridays. In fact, the restaurant, TGIFriday’s is actually a front organization for the Friday Guild. That’s why there’s so much gravy and mashed potatoes there. Plus all the crazy crap on the walls. An alligator head wearing sunglasses and a cowboy hat? A clear sign that the Friday Guild is there. 
How do you spot a Friday Guild member? They are a crafty bunch and they are able to blend into the normal fabric of society Monday through Thursday. They look like our mother’s, our sister’s, our brother’s and that one cousin you sort of wish wasn’t a cousin but are now resigned to the idea that they’re family and it’s super wrong to have those thoughts about them. That’s who they look like. They mix in around the coffee maker, telling stories about old Seinfeld episodes and how they just started watching Orange is the New Black and how much they totally love it.  These are the members of the Friday Guild.
They are a shady organization; however they have no leadership structure that can be detected. They seem to congregate where ever there are “happy hours” and “free mini tacos” or “free high school cheerleader car washes”.  En mass, they are a true force to reckon with. They manipulate jukeboxes with a graceful deftness and can get a whole room singing along to Journey with such ease you’d believe there was indeed something magical about them.  They also dance like no one is watching. 
They have no uniforms other than what is called “Appropriate Casual Friday attire”. In years past, these outfits included Hawaiian shirts, wacky neck ties, tank tops with a tasteful shawl and the occasional jean jacket, but nothing is standardized. 200 hundred years ago, in the beginning, they could be spotted by the shortness of their pantaloons or the tremendous size of their bustle.  However, they are harder to spot now thanks to Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and various other fashion police squads.
It is their mission at the Friday Guild to embrace all things Friday (Friday of course being named after the Latin dies Veneris or "day of Venus") which means they are all about riding seashells on the surf,  naked as a jaybird while being followed by cherubim and seraphim. Which is very similar to the SocietieDe Tuesdanauts but without the colorful sashes and trombones.  They are diligent in the fulfillment of their lusty drink specials and saucy flirting with wait staffs.  It is important to remember that if you find yourself drawn into a secret meeting of the Friday Guild, it’s best just to go with the flow.
If you are not part of a local Friday Guild Chapter house, I suggest joining. You have to bring your own goat’s head for the dancing ceremony but based on the current popularity of goats in advertising I’m sure that won’t be a problem. Otherwise, remember their secret “high-five handshake”, which in all reality is just a regular high-five, just more often and by that one guy who you normally don’t like to talk to because his shirts are just way too tight for his physique.  (C’mon Brad, you can’t wear that shirt anymore.) Just remember that and you should be able to blend into their meetings like you were there the whole time.  Heed what you have learned here today and remember Omnes speciosa Friday!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bedtime Cookies

It may not be best,
before seeking rest,
for cookies to be eaten,
in hopes they’ll sweeten,
what dreams may come.

No crumbs in the bed,
just a sweet tooth fed,
hoping nothing will encumber,
an easy, cozy slumber,
to awake bright-eyed and bushy.

A quick cookie before sleep,
ahead of counting sheep,
seems perfectly fine and right,
before saying goodnight.
What harm could come?

Fevered cookie dreams,
fevered cookie screams,
drenched in cookie sweat,
cookie nightmares to forget,
The cruelty of bedtime cookies.

It’s not their fault or sin,
it was mine, much to my chagrin,
seeking that last sweet snack,
before hitting the sack,
The price was mine to pay.

Yet upon waking,
past dreams of cruel baking,
I felt refreshed, renewed,
sugared and cubed,
Ready to start this long day.

So cookie sleep forgotten,
a day starts less rotten,
with only one more to go,
time to get this road on the show,
Maybe cupcakes before bed tonight.