Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Off Season Post 9: Shams and Shotguns

Hello patient, loyal readers. I have to tell you that I’m embarrassed to have missed my Tuesday deadline again, but when it rains it pours. Between traveling, my pre-holiday work load at my “real” job, and being sick, this week and last week were stressful. I don’t often bring the office to the blog, but this week, it’s relevant. I’ve been working on a contentious divorce case involving a lot of property and—most importantly—three small children.

Those cases are extraordinarily draining on me both emotionally and physically. Sometimes it’s a bad thing to have a heart when you practice law—at least from a personal perspective. At any rate, if I lose this one, it’s not some insurance company or giant conglomerate that has to write a check. Three kids lose a parent. Ergo, I haven’t felt very entertaining. Truth be told, I’ve been cranky and unbearable to anyone who did not have the capacity to serve me a Lone Star beer. I was a lot like Tommy Lee Jones in that Fugitive movie with Harrison Ford or Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy.

Although I’m still a bit under the weather, I’m feeling better now and I apologize, especially to those of you who were nice enough to send me supportive emails. Special consideration goes to Lori from Chicago for the “Geez, will you post already” email she delicately composed and forwarded and to Wendy from Vancouver who sent me a “Come out, Come out wherever you are” email. Thanks for at least pretending to care. Those both made me smile.

The good news is that you’ll all have a time killer while you’re digesting the holiday turkey and stuffing from your office party provided by that one lady in your offices who has been working there since Truman was inaugurated. Sure, everyone secretly despises her and her stuffing is dry and inedible considering it comes out of some weird, discolored, old Tupperware container she got as a wedding present in the early 40’s, but the boss likes her and you have to pretend. There’s always that one person who brings her “signature” dish and expects everyone to convulse on the floor in ecstasy after tasting it. It usually sucks. At any rate, it’s the effort that counts and we all eat it and then complain about it over email later. I’m sure you all have a version of this story in your respective offices.

While exploring the deep vicissitudes of my character and wallowing like a hog in slop in my sickness, I managed to have a couple of interesting adventures this week which, upon reflection, reminded me of the duality of my character. I plan to share that with you this week. But first, the shout out section of the blog must be addressed.

This week’s shout out goes to the Fabulous Lincee Ray, author of ihategreenbeans.com, who gloriously killed two birds with one stone by topping my priceless “gift” of Wes Hayden tickets for her birthday by presenting me with my birthday presents and simultaneously taking my Dr. Pepper picture for her contest. I hate the picture, by the way, but hey, it’s nice to feel needed. I was in Houston on business and Lincee jumped at the chance to give me my birthday gift.

What did she get me, you ask? A “Some Guy in Austin’s Greatest Fan” sign autographed “What’s Up Dawg?” by none other than Wes Hayden himself. She even took video of him signing it and wondering aloud if I was “gay for him.” Good Lord. Homoerotic narcissism aside, it’s nice to know he can write, I guess. Oh, and for the record, Lincee giggled like an eighth grader at Justin Bieber meet and greet as I opened the wrapping paper. Also for the record, I’m not “gay for” Wes Hayden or anyone else.

Touche, Lincee. Nice job. I’ll treasure it forever. In addition to that, Lincee was kind enough to throw in an I Hate Green Beans long sleeve cotton shirt and one of her patented Mix CD’s featuring every #1 Billboard Top 40 country song from the year of my birth until today. Thanks, Lincee. You’re a class act and I appreciate the gifts—even the first one. That gift will now officially be referred to as “The Gift Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned” (TGWNSNBM) on my site. I will frame it and put it above the toilet in my guest bathroom. It might come in handy if I run low on toilet paper. With that said, let’s get to it.

I traveled on Thursday and even though I’m a Platinum Points Big Shot and what I’d consider a professional domestic flyer, traveling this time of year is always excruciating. I have absolutely no idea why the security procedures at any given airport present such a problem for the general public. No liquids over 3.5 ounces, remove shoes and metal stuff, take jackets off, put laptops in a separate bin, and hang on to your boarding pass. How hard is that?

Apparently, it’s harder than calculus to the vast majority of the American public. Thank God for the Fly By Lanes. Travel safely everyone, but please, don’t clog up my security line. Come prepared and when in doubt, check a bag instead of trying to carry on your mini-refrigerator and cram it into the overhead bin. I suppose the delay in boarding does get me an extra whiskey in First Class, but even I’d be willing to forfeit that in exchange for less aggravation. No wonder that Slater guy went nuts—no pun intended.

When I arrived back to my beloved Austin on Friday morning, I spent rest of the day under the medication-induced delusion that I would be perfectly fine if I went out and downed a few Lone Stars. I had a few friends playing gigs at a local honky tonk and decided to go for a listen. I killed a few Lone Stars, listened to the music, and even had the self-discipline to be in bed around midnight—which for me is tantamount to a leopard changing its spots or Charlie Sheen not sleeping with porn stars. In short, it’s a big deal.

I awoke Saturday morning and stared regretfully into the Hunter ceiling fan in my bedroom, watching the blades circle slowly and silently around as I relived each of last night’s beers. I felt like Martin Sheen in the opening scene of Apocalypse Now except I didn’t cut my hand while trashing my room in my tighty whiteys and I wouldn’t be given the assignment of heading deep into the jungle to face and destroy my alter ego.

I turned on the television and noticed a motivational speaker’s infomercial. He encouraged me to “get amped up” and “fight” each day of my life. Vagueness aside, I imagined him talking directly to me and pulled myself out of bed in search of cold medicine and hot coffee.

While sitting there waiting for my coffee to brew, I Googled the speaker on television. I’m always curious when I see one of their ilk to see what qualifies them to motivate me into adopting their “method” and how they can unabashedly guarantee “success” if I follow it. The fact is that most motivational speakers—including motivational messiah Tony Robbins--haven’t done anything but “motivate” people to buy their motivational products and attend their motivational seminars.

I’d be one motivated MF’er too if I could talk someone into paying $1,500 to see me gesticulate in a headset and enthusiastically speak in generalities for a couple of hours. Whatever works, right? For the record, if a person finds inspiration in anything one of these guys has to say, then I’m all for it. Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, coach. Alright, Woody Allen said that last part, but Tony’s “method” is just not for me.

Regardless, I was inspired and motivated by my cup of coffee. I looked around my bedroom and decided I was content with my new bed, shams, comforter, duvet cover, accent pillows and blanket, fancy sheets, and goose down pillows. Browsing my “fan” email, I came across an email from Danielle, a reader in Dallas, who suggested that I skip the bolster pillows and add three “Euro Shams” behind my regular king sized shams in order to complete my bedding. It was at that moment that I decided to explore her suggestion rather than take my stuffy head to Saturday morning Spin class at my gym. All I had to do was find out what a Euro Sham was and I’d be in business. After that I planned to go to the Gun Show. Life is, after all, about balance.

Hmmmm, I wondered. Where would I learn about Euro Shams? Smiling to myself, I facetiously typed in www.eurosham.com into my search engine and was surprisingly redirected to www.euroshams.org. Go figure, I thought. Convinced that there is a conspiracy between the highest internet content authorities and any company geared to sell unnecessary crap to disposable cash bearing consumers, I began reading.

“Euro shams are typically coverings used for big sized European style pillows. They are highly decorative and will create most pleasing bedding aesthetics. These coverings are designed for special types of pillows that are large and also square in shape. Furthermore, they cover the pillow as well as the pillow cases.” So basically, it’s a big useless square pillow that goes behind my useless rectangular pillows and I “need” three of them.

The site offered some more helpful hints that made me unequivocally grateful that I am a man—albeit one who entertains his audience by subjecting himself to this. Some of my favorites are below.

“Before you go to sleep on your bed, it is normal to remove the shams.” Thank God. I’d hate to be ostracized like Quasimodo crouching in the shadows of the bell tower if I’d chosen not to remove the euro shams prior to sleeping.

“From their origins in the middle to late nineteenth century till the present the shams have undergone many changes but still remain very impressive.” While the Irish were starving for lack of potatoes, the euro sham was enjoying its nativity. No wonder the Irish hate the English.

“They are ideally suited for propping up your head while lying in the bed and wanting to watch television or do some serious reading.” I’d be willing to bet that I need another type of sham for actually watching television or doing some casual reading. The euro sham is the “save the date” card of the pillow world, I thought. Incidentally, can someone explain to me why the save the date card is necessary. Why not just send the invites out early? Also, why does the damn thing have to be a refrigerator magnet? Not only do I have to sort through your junk mail, now I have to look at you and some dude your about to marry in some softly lit pose in white matching shirts staring meaningfully into each other’s eyes every single time I want a beer. It’s a waste of refrigerator space and postage. Just send me the damn invite, would you?

Back to my shams.

In addition to the shams, I needed some artwork to add whimsy and pop to my walls. The room, although nice, needed something to tie it together. I texted my sister, the fastest, most prolific texter on the face of the Earth. She’s like the Usain Bolt of text messaging. At her suggestion, I decided to go to a store called Garden Ridge Pottery. W.A.S.P-Y name aside, I was assured that they had aisles of euro shams and artwork at an affordable price. If I couldn’t find suitable euro shams, I told myself, I could probably find that Dogs Playing Poker painting or the Velvet Elvis I’d always wanted. Off I went in search of whimsy.

I arrived at the Mecca called Garden Ridge Pottery at approximately 10 in the morning—the exact moment they opened. When I pulled into the parking lot, I was surprised beyond expression to find that the lot was substantially full. It was the female version of the football tailgate party. I expected to see shirtless women painted orange with Garden Ridge foam fingers swilling wine coolers and grilling paninis on the backs of their SUV’s. Man, holiday cheer is some serious business.

I parked approximately 7 miles from the store and began my trek toward the Everest of holiday stores. I fancied myself a sort of Edmund Hillary venturing where no man had dared go before him. Incidentally, the history books have been corrected to reflect that Hillary’s Sherpa, Tenzig Norgay, was also able to summit Everest. Prior to that, only the white guys got the credit. Think about that. That’s like taking the Black Eyed Peas success and only listing Fergie on the Grammy. Alright, it’s not EXACTLY like that, but you get the idea. Annnnnyyyyyhoooo . . . .

As I entered I have to confess I was a bit overwhelmed. “Discover Acres of the Latest in Home Décor Ideas” read the giant mural on the back wall. Acres indeed. How in the hell am I going to find a euro sham in here, I wondered. As a stepped gingerly into my realm of the unknown I noticed hoards of middle-aged, semi-overweight women in outdated jeans, t-shirts, and either Crocs or flip-flops buzzing around like bees in a freshly disturbed hive. I longed for one of those smoker things that beekeepers use to sedate the bees. I actually feared being hit by an oncoming cart.

As I wandered aimlessly through the acres of the latest home décor ideas, I quickly discovered that most of the acreage was filled with the most unnecessary and ridiculous garbage I’d ever seen in a store. There was about an acre and a half of things made from sheet metal that I assume were meant to be displayed in some decorative capacity because for the life I me I could not envision a practical use for any of them. Metal roosters, howling coyotes, and life sized metal knights stood there like the terracotta statues in Qin Shi Huang's Tomb in China (Google it). I wondered if Qin Shi Huang wasn’t the first owner of a Garden Ridge.

After successfully avoiding the sharp edges of the sheet metal army, I wandered past the fake ficus section. I have to confess that I own several fake ficuses? fici? and they make a lovely addition to an empty office corner and add a delightful accent behind a lonely club chair. However, it was odd seeing an entire forest of these things. Occasionally, I’d notice one of those middle aged women pushing her cart around the store with one of those giant trees in it and I’d wonder how she was going to fit that in her Plymouth Voyager along with all of the sheet metal figures she’d be buying that day.

On my way to the pillow acre, I spotted the bedding section and decided to make a detour just to see how the Garden Ridge selection matched up to my recent purchases. They had 4 aisles of the Bed in the Bag. How pedestrian, I thought. Bed in the Bag, I said, nodding my head in disapproval. Everyone knows that it’s essential to purchase a down comforter and a duvet cover separately. After all, how can anyone be expected to sleep well if he doesn’t obtain a quality duvet cover and a set of sheets with a high thread count. Bed in the Bag, indeed.

Proud of my newly obtained bed snobbery, I continued to the pillow acre with my nose in the air. Literally aisles and aisles of pillows encircled me. It was like some bizarre scene from Alice in Wonderland except I wasn’t high and there wasn’t a smiling cat messing with my head. Euro sham, Euro sham, I repeated to myself in an attempt to stay focused.

When I finally found the euro sham section, I noticed that there were many different sizes of the same pillow. Then the male in me kicked in. At this point, my shopping patience tank was running on fumes and I immediately made a b-line for a euro sham with the identical colors I had in my fancy schmancy bed. The pattern was whimsical, yet masculine. I grabbed three of them. Done. See how that works, ladies. See. Decide. Grab. That simple.

I carried my shams across the store to the “art” section of the acreage. I got many strange looks from the Garden Ridge veterans. I think they assumed I worked in the stock room or something. They comforted themselves by thinking that I was an employee who removed some defective shams rather than some dude who entered the nest in order to gather some honey. Row after row of assorted sizes of pictures beckoned for my browse. There were literally a dozen versions of that “Live, Laugh, Love” picture that every woman absolutely must have in her kitchen or sitting room and I took great pleasure in discovering the source of that sign. I felt like Jonas Salk or Enrico Fermi. That picture is the Dogs Playing Poker of the female universe.

I searched in vain for my dogs playing poker picture and eventually ran out of patience with the acres of the latest home décor ideas. Shams in hand, I made it to the check out line and stood there as everyone silently waited to pay for their junk while simultaneously judging the selections of everyone around them. I paid, walked the 5K back to my car, and went home to acclimate my euro shams. They looked astounding.

Pleased with my selection, I stood there at the door of my bedroom and admired my color scheme. Visions of nubile young fairies floating effortlessly through my room in praise of my heavenly bed danced through my head as I congratulated myself. I strongly considered having an open house in order to show it off. I envisioned the throngs of beautiful women who would see the bed and melt like a stick of Velveeta in the microwave. Incidentally, I prefer to make love with the lights on but find that most women prefer that I shut the hatchback despite the fact that the cargo light does give off a romantic glow. Alright, that last part is a joke. Bottom line is that I’m happy with my bedroom. I will post a picture or two on my Facebook page in conjunction with next week’s post. Stay tuned. And thanks to all for your suggestions, support, and assistance.

I’ve mentioned before that all of this running around and doing fancy things is not really my bag of tricks. I take a lot of grief from male friends who somehow think that writing about the Bachelor or shopping at a particular store will actually change my sexuality. I find that amusing considering the fact that most of those guys are busy watching mixed martial arts fights which consist of a couple of muscular, sweaty men rolling around in their underwear.

At any rate, I have fun writing about it and one reason I think it works is because I am so out of my element. Dark honky tonks and outdoor places make me tick and, although I’m not afraid to explore my feminine side, I have to admit that my weekend trip to Garden Ridge in lieu of the gym had me feeling a little off base. Fortunately for me there was a gun show at the Travis County Expo Center for me to attend.

Let me just preface this section by saying that I know good and well that the vast majority of the audience probably thinks that gun shows are for reactionary, Second Amendment fanatics with an unwarranted, irrational fear of the government looking to compensate for life’s failures and the size of certain parts of their anatomy. Well, that’s true, but they are also for everyone else.

I like guns. I like the Second Amendment. I like the fact that I can walk into a gun show with a few hundred dollars and walk out with a gun. I don’t hate The Man and I don’t plan on moving to Northern Montana and founding my own country. I’m also not interested in turning this into a political debate. My ONLY point here is that I went to a gun show after I went to Garden Ridge.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of going to a gun show in Texas, let me take a minute to explain how it works. Various gun dealers from across the state obtain permits to exhibit their guns and sell them at the show. In addition, private individuals can either pay a fee for booth space or simply bring their guns to the location and sell them. Dealers are required to do a background check on anyone they sell to in Texas. If you pay your taxes and don’t have a felony on your record, you can get a gun. That gun is registered to its new owner and reported to the state.

Private individuals, however, are not required to check on anyone when selling a gun. In Texas, a gun is like any other piece of personal property. For instance, if I want to sell my lawnmower, I just go out and sell it. It’s the same with a gun I own. I know that sounds absolutely insane for those of you in states where the local government does everything but post a guy in a black suit at the base of your bed to ensure that you don’t obtain a firearm, but that’s how it works around here. Growing up I can still recall seeing a gun rack in the back of every pick up truck on the road. Those racks usually had a rifle or a shotgun secured to them. I suppose that’s like seeing a Hassidic Jew on the streets of New York or an Amish family in a horse drawn buggy in Pennsylvania. If you’re from there, you just don’t think much of it but to an out-of-towner, it’s as shocking as the day is long.

I drove out to the Expo Center and entered the show. At the door were several police officers. Their job is to take one of those plastic locking mechanisms and place it around the trigger of any gun on site after making sure it’s unloaded in order to prevent it from being fired. I think that’s a good policy. I bypassed that step since I didn’t bring a gun. I paid my five bucks and entered the show. Frankly, it didn’t look a hell of a lot different from Garden Ridge save the fact that instead of sheet metal coyotes and a plethora of pillows the aisles were filled with pistols, knives, and semi-automatic weapons.

Middle aged women were replaced by scruffy middle aged men in jeans and camouflage. Believe it or not, a lot of children were there with their parents as well. Various booths featured treats like cotton candy, roasted nuts, and soft drinks. Understandably, you can’t get booze at a gun show. You have to go to the General Store in order to obtain beer with your ammunition. Why am I telling you all of this. Well, here’s the reason:

It struck me as I was walking from aisle to aisle eyeing the proud WWII veterans displaying their artifacts and weapons from the war, chatting with various semi-automatic gun dealers about the latest and greatest guns, and haggling with several Regular Joes over the price of a pistol, a rifle, or a shotgun that all of the men in there were doing the exact same thing the women in Garden Ridge were doing: they were GASP! Shopping!

I chuckled to myself as that realization hit me and I made a note to write about it. At the end of the day, it’s all about what we’re really interested in seeing, isn’t it? Which brings me to my point of the day. The next time your husband, boyfriend, or male friend refuses to accompany you on a shopping spree just remind yourself how you’d feel walking around aisles upon aisles of guns or whatever it is that doesn’t interest you. THAT’S how a man feels when he is forced to go shopping at the mall.

It’s not that we oppose your shopping or that we don’t appreciate the end product. Clearly, I’ve learned the value of being selective in my bed purchases. The simple truth is that most men absolutely hate to follow someone around a department store where they are forced to comment on things they really have no opinion on in the first place. To top it off, we’re usually asked these questions while simultaneously missing a sporting event and holding your purse.

So, as we all enter willingly or unwillingly into this holiday season, please keep your heads about you. Please treat each other kindly and remember what the season is truly about. Unbridled consumerism and overconsumption tend to cloud the fact that we all get a little extra time off and a little more of a chance to make a difference to one another. Enjoy Black Friday, football games, giant meals, seeing loved ones, blowing off the in-laws, napping on the couch, drinking too much, Christmas tree shopping, watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, playing backyard football, staying up late, and please give thanks for the things we take for granted every single day.

From the Great State of Texas and from the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving and I’m thankful that all of you take the time to read and comment each week. You’ve all made this year rich, fun, and gratifying for me and you’ve all made a significant difference in my life. Thank you.

I’ll post next week after the holiday and I plan to include some surprises in the next few posts. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be fluffing my sham pillows with my rifle. DP

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Off Season Post 8: Loose Ends

Hello again, Readers, and welcome to this week’s installment of my simple little blog. Of course, you’re technically getting two for one this week but that’s due to my lack of punctuality over the past two weeks—well, that and my hard drive’s decision to ignore me. Nonetheless, I’m happy to be inching closer to my usual Tuesday post and I hope that you’re happy to have me back.

Thank you, as always, to my solid and steady commenters and emailers. I’m going to ignore the fact that I’ve received an inordinate amount of Katy Perry and Ke$ha YouTube links and emails and, yes, I’m now painfully aware that Ke$ha has been photographed in various compromising positions. “Thanks” for sending me the clips and pics. It’s not like I didn’t ask for it. She’s dirty. Not good dirty either.

The truth is I’m starting to like both “Take it Off” and “Hot and Cold.” Listening to these songs, I was reminded of that Petri dish experiment we all see in various biology films in high school when they put two cardiac cells into the same dish. Eventually, the cells meet, join together, and begin to beat in unison. I found myself wanting to beat up the beat or whatever it is that The Situation and Snooki and the rest of those terminally drunk, gelled, and spray tanned fools on that show do when they hit the dance floor at a night club. In short, I’m officially a victim of the American pop machine.

This week’s shout out goes to Lauren the expatriate Texan who lives in England. She emailed me to let me know that she dressed as Ke$ha for a Halloween party. I assume that entailed rolling around in the gutter and dousing herself in hairspray and neon paint, but I’m happy it worked. Thanks for the email, Lauren. Post a pic of the costume on my Facebook fan page so we can all enjoy it. I’m sure that party was a dirty freak parade (yes, I’ve officially quoted Ke$ha).

The second special shout out this week goes to my good friend, Lincee Ray, the delightfully funny author of www.ihategreenbeans.com. November 4 was her birthday and she was overwhelmed with joy when I presented her with her gift. What was it? Well, nothing but the best for my friend, Lincee. Thanks to my immeasurable generosity, she is now the proud owner of two tickets to see Wes Hayden in concert.

Where, you ask? Toyota Center? Reliant Stadium? The Astrodome? Nope. Finger’s Furniture Store on the Gulf Freeway in Houston. That’s right. Wes is playing a furniture store on the side of the freeway on Friday, November 12 from 5-7 in order to kick off their “Main Event” sale. Oh, and it’s also a free show. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.


Amazing what being on a reality dating show can do for a music career, isn’t it? Good job, Wes. Congratulations on your furniture store gig and congrats on being the prequel to the main event, which happens to be a furniture sale. You’re welcome, Lincee. I’ll look forward to getting your birthday gift to me next month. Have fun.

Speaking of terrible music, one more word about Katy Perry and then we’ll get to the subject of this week’s post. Someone sent me the lyrics to “Hot and Cold”—a song which apparently launched Ms. Perry to superstardom. It begins, “You change your mind like a girl changes clothes. You PMS like a b*tch I would know.” I believe it was Leviticus who first extolled the virtues of decisiveness and consistency. It’s refreshing to see Katy Perry hammer those points home. God help us all.

I will say a final word about pop music—at least until I write about it again. Regardless of the inane content, meaningless lyrics, and the shameless over production, auto-tuning, and remixing that goes on in the studio, that music has its place. I suppose we can debate this all day long, but as Voltaire said, “a long dispute means that both parties are wrong.”

I once went to Britney Spears concert before she went nuts and it was super fun. Granted, it was fun for me because I’d spent the hours prior to the show at the Hooters across the street from the venue drinking pitchers of cheap beer. My eyes are often bigger than my liver. When I got to the show, everyone there was too young to drink and there was no line at the bar, but it was fun nonetheless. After two hours, ten beers, and a thirty-five dollar concert shirt—which I still wear from time to time—I can say that she put on a good show. Who did I go with? You guessed it---Lenny.

At the end of the day, pop music is mindless, fun, and catchy and we all know that there are few greater pleasures at the end of a busy work day than getting in our cars, turning up the radio to an ear splitting volume, and singing along with a catchy song. It’s like a mini therapy session. Sure, Ke$ha’s lyrics will never compare with The Ego and the Id, but then again, history hasn’t been so lucky with overanxious Austrians, has it? For the record, I think that’s my first ever Freud/Hitler reference. I’ll throw in Schwarzeneggar and Falco for good measure. And yes, Hitler wasn’t German. Oddly enough, Napoleon wasn’t French either. Annnyyyyhoooo . . . .

As always, the last few days have left me searching for a topic to entertain you with this week. While thinking about it, I realized that I have a few loose ends to tie up. Granted, “Loose Ends” could have been the title of last week’s blog entry, but that’s an entirely different story. I owe you answers on my mattress purchase, so I’ll start there. With that said, let’s get to it.

After my bedding/mattress post a few weeks ago I received overwhelming responses from you readers containing various money saving tips, suggestions, and shopping advice. After amalgamating all of that into a cohesive list, I decided that the real money should be spent on the mattress and the sheets. Off I went to Mattress Firm to secure my heavenly purchase.

Clever, punny name aside, I found the Mattress Firm right up my alley. The floor plan was wide open unlike Ikea, Star Furniture, and other stores of that ilk that are designed with the sole intent of getting you lost and keeping you in the store. It’s like a Vegas casino without the prostitutes and free booze. If there was a fire or another like emergency in Mattress Firm, I am confident that I could make it out alive. I was also confident that if the salesperson pissed me off I’d have no trouble finding the exit. At ease, I walked toward the showroom floor and was immediately greeted by “Dan” the Mattress Salesman.

Dan was very “mattress salesman-ey.” He sported cheap, gray slacks that fitted poorly and fell just below his ankles but high enough above his Payless loafers to see his socks. I wondered if he’d grown since purchasing them. Look, I’m not judging. As you’ll see, Dan turned out to be competent, honest, and extremely helpful. I just think that if you’re going to buy cheap slacks, you might as well buy the right size. That way, when people do make fun of you they can say, “man, those slacks are really cheap, but they fit so well.”

Dan’s ensemble also included a white oxford shirt and a slate blue tie which he secured to the aforementioned oxford with a tiger eye tie clip. When was the last time you saw one of those? Exactly.

In an obvious attempt to fan the flames of the sales guy stereotype, Dan rounded off his get up with a gold bracelet pleasantly complimented with the standard sales guy gold Cross pen. You know, the one that comes with the gold Cross mechanical pencil that every person to every retire from a middle management position in a Fortune 500 company from 1979-1985 received as a parting gift. When was the last time you saw one of those? Exactly.

Dan was clearly a Wayne Newton fan. A gold bracelet? Honestly, for a moment I wasn’t sure if Dan was a mattress salesman or if he had plans to enter the adult film business. I wondered where he parked his sports car and I wondered if he backed it into the space.

Pleasantries exchanged, I cut to the chase. “Look, Dan, I don’t know s*it about mattresses and I need a king sized one for myself. What can you tell me?” I find that the direct approach works best with sales people. Also, swearing lets them know you’re not going to engage them in their witty, insincere “I’m building a rapport so I can close the sale” banter. Dan got the hint.

Dan told me that the three mattress types they offered were soft, firm, and plush. Without asking what it was I said, “I want plush. Take me to your most expensive plush mattress.” Surprised, Dan led me over to the mother of all plush mattresses. He first asked me if I wanted a King or a California King. Huh? Dan explained that a California King is longer, yet narrower than a regular king bed. Go figure.

I suppose that makes sense considering the fact that the actual state of California is much longer, yet narrower than all other states. Come to think of it, so are their lines at the Sizzler. That rule, however, does not apply to their Governor, who is undoubtedly much wider but not as tall as other Governors. Odd.

There it was, the Simmons Black 1000 Density Beautyrest Matress with Super Pocketed Coil Springs. Dan let me know that it had the maximum single layer of Super Pocketed Coil springs available in any mattress on the market. I made a note to use that line with the ladies at a later date. Apparently, that feature is good for refined motion separation, conforming comfort, and support. Meaningless, but it sounds good.

In addition to those fancy coil things, the mattress featured total Surround Beauty-Edge Foam Encasement with QuantumLock technology for a maximized sleeping surface and increased durability. It’s not every day that a person experiences foam encasement in addition to having the benefit of QuantumLock technology. I immediately felt important.

But wait, that’s not all. Dan let me know that the Energy Foam support base adds stability as part of Simmons’ patented no-flip construction while the Triton foundation with the PowerBeam brace provides greater strength. Was I buying a truck or a mattress? Finally, Transflexion Comfort Technology ensures the bed will feel consistently comfortable throughout its life. Holy sh*t. That’s a lot of fancy stuff for a thing you sleep on. Transflexion? That sounds like something you’d find in a cross dresser’s underwear.

“Great,” I told Dan. “If I buy everything I need for one of these, what’s it going to run me?” I asked. “I can get you out the door for around $3,750.00,” Dan said with a straight face. “Man, that QuantumLock sh*t is pretty f*cking expensive,” I thought.

“You got one of these Black 1000 things on the clearance rack?” I asked. We walked over to the clearance rack and after inspecting several mattresses, lo and behold, I found a Black 1000 one. Dan explained the clearance rules and let me know that there was no warranty on the clearance mattresses. I was fine with the lack of warranty because, as a lawyer, I was confident that if anything went wrong I could think of a whole bunch of ways to sue someone for a free mattress. Trust me, the last thing I’d ever want to be remembered for being is a lawyer, but the degree does come in handy at times.

Tidbit: all lawyers are secretly upset that in spite of the fact that a law degree is a doctorate, they don’t get addressed as “Dr. Whatever.” As I mentioned before, I’m not into titles, but I see the point. It’s the only doctoral degree going that doesn’t come with a fancy title. I suppose I’ll have to stick with Some Guy in Austin, Esquire.

At any rate, Dan let me know that I was in luck. Apparently, “The Firm” (really?) was running a sale which allowed me—after taking into consideration all of the available discounts and letting Dan “see what he could do”—to get that $3,750.00 mattress for $799.00. “Perfect,” I said. “Ring it up.”

For some reason, those words baffled Dan. Confused, he paused, looked at me, and said, “Don’t you want to lay on it or something?” I told Dan that I trusted him and we proceeded back to his “office” (read: desk in the middle of the showroom) to seal the deal. I did, however, have two important decisions to make before I was able to sleep the sleep of angels on my new mattress. First, I needed to decide if I wanted the standard 9 inch box spring or if I preferred the shorter 5 ½ inch kind. Preferring to minimize the risk of a broken ankle when getting out of bed, I opted for the latter.

Next, I had to pick out a bed frame. “The Firm” (really?) offered three choices: a cheap one, a better one, and one with wheels on it. Why in the world would I need wheels on my bed frame? I’m not in an old folks home and I don’t foresee myself wheeling it out of the bedroom in front of the fire place in order to impress the ladies. Besides, the wheels would irreparably damage my bear skin rug. Was Dan crazy?

I opted for the fancy, wheel free bed frame and made a mental note to go headboard shopping when I mustered up the patience to do so. All in all, I walked out of Mattress Firm for just under $1,200 including tax and delivery costs. The entire process—listen to me, ladies—took me 17 minutes from start to finish. I could have left a day old puppy in the car with the windows up on a summer day and still returned in time to spare him any harm. I could have started Stairway to Heaven on my iPod and made it back in time for the guitar solo. I could have put a baked Alaska in the oven and returned in time to . . . oh, you get the picture. Let’s just say that I like my mattresses like I like my women: affordable, easy, and comfortable to lie on. Alright, lighten up. That’s a joke. I was going to go with a Transflexion joke, but I thought better of it.

After leaving “The Firm” (really?), I decided that I needed some fancy sheets to go on my new bed. Of course, I still needed a headboard, duvet cover, comforter, pillows, perhaps a mattress cover, and all of the other junk that goes into making a bed into a heavenly bed. For now, I needed some sheets. After all, my Simmons Beautyrest was being packaged for delivery and I was determined to sleep on it that night.

Down the street from “The Firm” (really?) was a store I’d previously entered in my Stuff Chicks Like series in order to complete the ingredients to my now infamous Diaper Cake. Bed, Bath, and Beyond was in my sights and I prayed that my friend Helen was there to help me. I entered ready to drop some coin on some high thread count.

I wandered aimlessly through the various sections in search of Helen like Tony searching Spanish Harlem for Maria in West Side Story or a crack addict searching for change in the cushions of his couch. Unfortunately, my search was for naught. My sweet, wonderful Helen was not working. Undaunted, I approached the first person I saw with a nametag on in order to bother her into showing me some sheets. “Kim” turned around when I tapped her shoulder and immediately I ascertained that Kim was a big b*tch.

“Can you help me pick out some sheets for my new bed?” I asked politely like a 4 year old asking his mommy to fix him a grilled cheese sandwich. I instantly received a Joan Crawford Mommy Dearest YOU PUT YOUR NEW DRESS ON A WIRE HANGER?!! look from Kim. She pointed simultaneously to the sheet section. Rather than call her on her freaking attitude, I walked toward the sheets alone. Sometimes it’s appropriate to pick your battles, I told myself. Besides, it’s not her fault. She’s probably got a really bad bladder infection and the AZO Standard she’d been popping in her pie hole for the past three days wasn’t working. It was the weekend now and she’d have to wait until Monday to get a real antibiotic. At least that’s what I found myself hoping as I trudged on in solitude toward the bedding department.

I made a mental note to send over a case of cranberry juice to Kim when I got home. I smiled to myself picturing the utter confusion on Kim’s face as she opened the package in the BB&B break room and read the card. If I followed through on my plan, I committed to include a haiku on my card to Kim.

Dear Kim,

Bladder infection
Big Fat No Help With My Sheets
Drink Up, Crankyface


P.S. (F You).

I decided to go with white sheets since I had no idea what color anything else I knew I’d be picking out would be. These would be perfect starter sheets. I could worry about the fancy stuff later. I immediately selected the Palais Royale 630 Geo Sheet Set, 100% Cotton, 630 Thread Count sheets. They screamed comfort. The label told me that these “Supima cotton sheets with a faint geometric pattern have an anti-crease finish that reduces wrinkling.” In addition wondering if the chemical used in their anti-crease finish is carcinogenic, I wondered why my sheets should be wrinkle free. Don’t they go UNDER the comforter or am I missing something?

Also, what in the hell was Supima? I wondered if that meant “expensive” in Latin or some other dead language. I also thought it could refer to the name of the tribe of the 5 year olds who are tied to stake and forced to manufacture these sheets all day. Regardless, I hoped they were comfy—the sheets, not the children; although, I hoped they were well fed. I told myself that making sheets was probably easier than making tennis shoes and that learning a trade at a young age was important. Ironically, this belief will help me sleep better at night.

For good measure, I decided to look at some pillows and comforters in order to get a better idea of what I liked. “Sarah” was there and, thankfully, she did not have the bladder infection that Kim did. For a moment, I was thankful that bladder infections are not contagious, but then I realized that they are, in fact, contagious, but was certain that Sarah and Kim would not be engaging in the type of behavior that would provide the optimal conditions for the transfer of the aforementioned infection—at least not while I was in the store. I revised my thankful thoughts and limited them to being thankful that bladder infections were not airborne.

I told Sarah what I was looking for in my own words. She looked confused. “It sounds like you need an accent pillow,” she said. Without skipping a beat, I put on my best Some Guy in Austin smile and playfully retorted, “Accent pillow, sure, I’d like a Spanish one that speaks broken English.” Sarah developed a bladder infection.

Unamused, Sarah pointed to several options but suggested I wait until I had my sham covers picked out so I could bring them in and compare them to the accent pillows. “For crying out loud, does it ever end?” I thought to myself. No wonder women disappear for hours at a time only to end up sloshed at a wine bar belting flights of chardonnay, pinot grigio, and sauvignon blanc surrounded by bags full of things they will ultimately return.

Ultimately, I settled for the sheet purchase and, as I write this, am awaiting the delivery of my new mattress. Realizing that you’re probably all sick of my bedding adventures by now, I’ll stop writing about them. However, I will post a picture of the finished product on my Facebook page when I get it done. As always, thank you for taking the time to read today. With a full week between this post and the next, I’m certain I’ll have time to develop a much better topic for next week’s TUESDAY posting. Keep writing, commenting, and reading. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be camping out in front of the Gulf Freeway Finger Furniture Store saving Lincee a spot in line. DP

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Off Season Post 7: DP Tells All . . . Again

Hello, Readers, and thank you for hanging in there with me during my hectic week. To be fair, I did warn you that this post would be up a couple of days late due to my “real” job, but I do apologize for the break in continuity over the past two weeks. The wonderful news for the reader is that I will be back on schedule with a Tuesday post on November 10. “Make yourself necessary to somebody,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson and I suppose that’s what I’m trying to do.
This week's shout out goes to one of my closest friends, Suzanne. She's a fancy schmancy Hollywood type and her movie ExTerminators just came out on Time Warner Pay Per View in 80 million homes. She wrote and produced the movie. It stars Heather Graham, Jennifer Coolidge (Stifler's mom), Joey Lauren Adams, Amber Heard, my friend Farah White, and the lawyer from Scrubs. It's about some women who take revenge on men who have wronged them. It's right up my audience's alley. It's funny, smart and worth the four bucks. Rent it and let me know what you think. Congrats, Suzanne. I'm proud of you. With that said, let’s get to it.

It’s time again for another installment of DP Tells All. I have to confess that I was a bit hesitant to invite the onslaught of emails and Facebook messages in order to assemble this round of questions. The blog has been growing and I’ve actually been officially recognized on two separate occasions, which was, in a word, weird but flattering. Also, since the last post, I’ve been getting more requests for really personal information.

With that said, I appreciate all of you for sending in questions and comments. Keep sending them. If I find it too personal, I’ll at least respond and let you know that. We’re all friends here. I just don’t want the FBI calling me to tell me that they busted into a suburban home in Anytown, USA or Anytoooon, Canada and found a shrine dedicated to me. If you feel inclined to make a shrine, I greatly appreciate it. However, please refrain from kidnapping buxom women and starving them before carving them up and inserting a rare butterfly in their mouths or making it rub the lotion on its body or giving it the hose.

Nonetheless, validation is important to sensitive writer types and yours is much appreciated. Now that I’m validated, I’m relieved that I can avoid withdrawing totally from society for the better part of my adult life to a cabin in the woods in order to write my poems believing that no one will ever read them. It worked for Emily Dickinson, but when was the last time anyone ignored an inbox full of work on a weekday in order to read any of her poems and guffaw like Foghorn Leghorn behind a closed office door in hopes that no one hears? Seclusion my ass.

I’ve narrowed down the questions I received to the top 12 questions and I’ll answer as best I can. Here we go.

1. Boxers or Briefs?

I forgot to mention that these questions are in no particular order of importance; especially this one. I will own the fact that I invited you to ask questions and will therefore answer it. I wear boxer briefs. I’m certain you’re all aware of what these are, but I’ll explain regardless. This is the brilliant marriage between the baggy, free-as-the-wind boxer and the sterilizing snugness of the tighty whitey (see Tom Cruise in Risky Business and Top Gun).

I’ve never been a proponent of boxers aside from their usefulness as a cover up when mulling around the house, watching TV, or waiting patiently for the maid to enter my hotel room. Without getting too graphic, the Texas heat and humidity does not lend itself to a boxer friendly environment. Let’s put it this way. Given too much freedom to roam, certain things stick to certain other things and become uncomfortable. Combine that with the fact that—while snug in all of the right places—my jeans are not tight enough to keep the aforementioned boxers in place and an inordinate amount of bunching occurs. It’s like wearing a support bra with that three inch thing of hooks on the back of it and a pair of panty hose in the summer. It’s miserable. I do, however, own 4 pairs of boxers and do lounge in them from time to time.

Likewise, I am not a proponent of the tighty whitey. Although I have fond memories of the tighty whitey as a child, I no longer see the need to wear them. I no longer wrestle with my brother and I don’t take over my parents’ bed to play fort. If I want to show off my package that badly, I’ll move to the South of France and rock a Speedo on the beach. As fun as that sounds, I prefer the comfortable reliability and subtle, yet effective support of the boxer brief. Thank you so much for that question. I can’t wait until the people that I work with read this. Next question.

2. Where was your new Facebook Fan Page profile picture taken?

I found this one interesting. Notwithstanding the fact that this could be a thinly veiled attempt to stalk me, I’ll go ahead and answer. That picture was taken by a friend of mine at The Mean Eyed Cat, a bar in Austin. I go there often. In fact, if I was in there any more than I am now, I’d be a bar stool. Notice the nuances of the picture. Of course, there’s me, Lone Star in hand, sporting my usual pearl snap, relaxing with my boots up on a bar stool. The pearl snap is a blue gingham pattern featuring white snaps and long sleeves. You’ll notice I’ve taken the time to roll the sleeves up—not too much, but just enough to scream “he’s as serious as it gets but he’s relaxed right now”. Yes, the soft blue color let’s everyone know that I’m holding on to Spring while the long sleeves say I’m ready for Fall. I’m a man in transition and my outfit reflects it.

There’s also the Texas-shaped Lone Star Beer neon sign to the left in the background. That’s my beer and that’s my state. I love that sign. There’s the soft, comforting dim neon lighting gently diffused through the bar like refreshing mist from a jungle waterfall and assorted Johnny Cash memorabilia that liberally covers the entire bar along with the pictures sent in from around the world of various patrons wearing Mean Eyed Cat t-shirts in exotic, far away locations. Paradise.

Upon closer inspection, you’ll see the back of a woman over my left shoulder. She’s standing in front of the old school Wurlitzer juke box that features sad old country songs from the 50’s to the 70’s. Then, there’s my hair. Ah, yes. My hair. Like the bar itself, it’s carefully constructed, yet oddly casual and pleasant to look at. It’s all Elvis but not Elvis impersonator. That’s what I call a Sunday night in Austin, Texas. A beer, a jukebox, a casual place, and friends to laugh with. That picture is a small slice of what became a perfect evening. I dig it and that’s why I posted it.

3. What is your off season “process” for writing and how does it differ from the other posts on the Bachelor?

Wow, it’s nice to see I’ve added the creative writing student demographic to my audience. Actually, it’s a good question. You might imagine that coming up with what translates to 6-7 single spaced pages of new material every 6 days is not easy; especially when there’s not a douchebag like Jake in sight from which to draw.

Incidentally, I see he has a new beard . . . I mean girlfriend. There’s not a doubt in my mind that they deserve each other. Far be it from me to wish anything negative on another person. But in this case, I’m certain that I don’t have to. I’m sure that “relationship” will work itself out without my intervention. I’ll look forward to Jake’s next “acting” job on the WB and I’ll look forward to her Playboy spread and tell all interview when he dumps her for the man he’s secretly been seeing. Anyyyyyyhooooo . . . back to my process.

As I stated in the first DP Tells All, I typically watch the show once while taking notes, let it sink in for an hour, and write from 11pm to 2am. During the off season, I just pay attention to what’s around me all week and then write. I may make a note during the week if something strikes me as funny, but for the most part, what you see here is the first stuff that popped into my head when my fingers hit the keyboard. I think that’s one reason why it works and I’m not going to tempt fate by trying to reinvent that.

“I fear explanations explanatory of things explained,” said Abe Lincoln. I think Abe was right. Some things just “are” and need not be overanalyzed into oblivion. Remember back in the late 80’s or early 90’s when Coca-Cola had the “brilliant” idea to change its formula and reinvent itself? Lesson learned. If it ain’t broke, don’t go tryin’ to fix it. To be fair to the reader who asked this question, I suppose my process could be described as “experience.” I literally put down on the page exactly what would go through my head if I weren’t trying to write. Sure, I polish it a little, but what you see is what I think. Get it?

4. Where do you get your quotes from?

“Originality is the art of concealing one’s sources,” said some cynical guy who believed that no new ideas are possible. I think what this question implies is that I have some source material or I go to the Internet for quotes. I actually don’t. I’ve always been a word person and I have a very good memory for things I find interesting. I’ve always been that way.

I remember walking to the bus stop in first grade and quoting “And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which was a book my father would read to my brother and me before bed. I read somewhere that Dr. Suess shopped that book to 27 publishers before burning the original manuscript. He obviously went on to get it published. I wonder if that inspired him to write “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”

When I was in college I had about a 15 minute walk from the bus stop to my first class. I used to spend those 15 minutes trying to recite various Walt Whitman or Lord Byron poems in my head. I always wonder if Whitman or Byron ever pictured the scope of their work reaching that far where a hung over college kid could actually recite it on his way to class, generations after it was written. In case you think I’m weird, I used to also recite Bon Jovi lyrics to myself. Life is all about balance, after all.

If something I see reminds me of a quote, I include it in the blog. If I can’t remember it exactly, I usually just refer to it generally. I will confess that I do fact check the literary references from time to time. I’ve been incorrect a few times, but I’ve been in the ballpark. I’m a fan of quotes and of language in general. I find them easy to recall and to relate. I’m glad the reader who asked me this question noticed.

5. Have you ever written anything besides the blog?

Yes, I’ve written a book that I’m currently working on putting into final form. I plan to self-publish it early next year. It’s not funny. In fact, it’s about serious stuff, but I’ll give the readers a heads up when it comes out. Truth be told, it’s been done for a long time. I just haven’t had the kind of time I need in order to really sit down and polish it. That’s not a piecemeal activity.

I’ve also written a few books worth of poetry. Believe it or not, that all occurred between the ages of 17-21. I simply can’t do it anymore. I don’t know why, but the words don’t come to me like that anymore. It’s very Arthur Rimbaud of me, I suppose, except for the fact that my stuff isn’t exactly Season in Hell. At any rate, a few of those poems were published years ago, but I’ve long forgotten where. I’ll see if I can find them for you.

Also, I used to write for an entertainment magazine in college. My infamous college roommate, Lenny, and I were “entertainment editors” for a local magazine. Fancy title aside, that meant we were tasked with going to every bar, restaurant, event, concert, or cook off in town in order to drink, eat, and shake our respective tail feathers, and then write 500 words about it. It was a fun time in my life. Giving us that job was like giving the keys to the hen house to the foxes. We definitely took advantage of it. I stumbled out of many hen houses back in the day.

I’ve written a few short stories for various creative writing classes I took in college. I’ve written several professional articles and countless pleadings, motions, releases, and all of the other stuff litigation lawyers draft on a daily basis. I write the occasional love note, thank you card, and text haiku as well. It’s a little more difficult to get on that last list, however.

6. What other Ke$ha songs do you know?

Until last week the answer to this question was “none,” but thanks to my big mouth I’ve received a slew of emails from readers chiming in on their favorite or most despised Ke$ha songs.

I actually took the time to pull up a video called “Dirty Picture” on YouTube because several parents sent me emails saying that they literally cringe when that song comes on the radio and they are in the car with their kids. Yet another reason to spend the five hundred bucks on the iPod hook up for the car.

I’ll give Ke$ha credit, though. Between “Take it Off” and “Dirty Picture” her song titles don’t leave a lot to the imagination. Dude, she’s dirty. Not good dirty either. She’s just dirty.

7. Do you have any dogs? What kind?

I’ve had a few dogs in my lifetime, but I don’t have one right now. When I was a child, both of my parents had a penchant for finding and bringing home strays. When I was a little kid we had a mutt named Buttons. I liked Buttons. My brother and I would torture the poor thing by riding him, putting clothes on him, and generally bothering him for most of the day. He was always very gracious about it and we never got bitten, although we probably deserved it.

After that, I had a black Labrador named Magic. She lasted 17 years and was eventually put down by my parents when I was in college. Labs are great dogs—well, that is if you can make it past the first two years when they cause more damage to a house than a coked up Charlie Sheen in a Los Angeles hotel room. You gotta love that guy.

I was once driving home from work on the Hardy Toll Road when I lived in a town called Spring just north of Houston. I saw a puppy trapped on the middle divider struggling desperately to get away from the speeding cars. I stopped my car across two lanes of traffic during rush hour and walked back in the opposite direction of traffic while dozens of drivers honked and yelled at me.

Sensing that I was coming for him, the dog lodged himself beneath a stopped suburban. The driver exited her car and she and I crawled under the suburban to rescue the damn dog. I took off my work shirt, which was already covered in grease and road dust and wrapped the puppy in it. I took him straight to a local vet and paid $300 to have him cleaned and treated. The very next day, my air conditioner broke and I called “The Guy” to come out and fix it. He brought his 8 year old son with him and as his dad was up in the attic fixing the A/C the son told me a tearful story about how his dog broke it’s leg and ended up being put down.

When the dad came out of the attic, I told him about the dog and asked if he’d be interested in seeing it. They followed me to the vet and ended up adopting the dog—who they affectionately named “Hardy” after the toll road where I’d found him. About 6 months later, I received a picture of the little boy and a happy Hardy playing in the backyard. I still have it.

That’s a true story and I smile when I think about it. Sometimes I believe that we need reminding that we don’t really control a whole lot of anything down here. I think that was one of my “sometimes.” So if you’re one of the people who honked and swore at me on that fateful day, put that in your tailpipe and smoke it.

8. If you were a flower, what kind of flower would you be?

I don’t know, but I’d have a huge stamen. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Next question.

9. What is the world’s fastest land animal?

The world’s fastest land animal is the cheetah provided that the word “fastest” refers to the speed at which a land based animal can run. Thank you for reading and writing in with a question, Lenny. I’m happy I could help you out.

10. How tall are you?

I’m 6’1”, although I wear boots (“cowboy boots” in some states) most of the time, so I’ll go with 6’3”. Thanks again for reading and writing in with a question, Lenny. I’m happy I could help you again. I’m sure the readers are too. I should have smothered you with your filthy pillow when we roomed together in college.

11. What is the meaning of life?

True love, my friend. True love. I stole that from St. Elmo’s Fire, but I think it’s true.

12. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you? Be honest!

Alright, I’ve saved the best (or worst) for last. This was actually one of the first questions I got and I had to think about it for a day or so before visiting my therapist and forcing myself to retrieve this memory via hypnosis. Here goes.

A couple of years ago I was at a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course in Houston. CLE’s are required courses that lawyers have to complete each year in order to keep a law license current. Big Brother starts sending me “friendly reminders” about 3 months before my birthday because the yearly requirement is measured from birthday to birthday. Like my mother, the Bar Association has mastered the fine art of nagging me into submission months before something is due. By the way, my mother has recently learned to nag via text and email; a practice I fondly refer to as E-nagging. She should teach a CLE on it.

At any rate, CLE’s are usually fairly boring and the object is to sneak out as early as possible after signing in (proof of attendance), collecting the necessary course materials, and eating the free lunch that is included in the price of admission, but return close enough to the end of the program in order to cash in your nametag for the two free drink tickets at the meet and greet in the lobby bar after the course. It’s not unlike the strategy used by the killer boyfriend in the early 80’s Charles Bronson thriller, Ten to Midnight, except instead of killing someone you go to your hotel room and sleep off last night’s hangover. Annyyyhooo . . . (when was the last time you got two of those in a single blog entry?)

So I’m at the morning session of the CLE and, of course, I’d been up late the night before drinking at the hotel bar. Since they didn’t have Lone Star (it was a shi shi hotel), I drank my fancy fall back non-liquor beverage, Guinness. I can drink about 100 of those. It’s like a liquid candy bar. Mmmm. Because I had to be up early for the CLE, I limited myself to about 80 of them. What’s life without discipline, right?

The other thing to do at a CLE in a room full of lawyers is, you guessed it, look for hot chicks. Now I’m not suggesting that I go to these things to hook up. I don’t. However, when you’re sitting through an 8 hour presentation on the finer points of the latest statutory updates and Supreme Court decisions affecting construction litigation, you tend to wander a bit. I’m just saying.

As I walked up to the buffet table to fill my giant 40 ounce coffee cup for the second time, I noticed an attractive woman and remembered her from my Bar Exam preparation class. She recognized me too and we began chatting. She moved her things a few rows down and we sat together through the lecture. I entertained her with witty stories and she did the hair flip, giggle thing letting me know that she was undoubtedly fascinated by me. Keep in mind that we’re in a construction law seminar. Paint drying would be more interesting. Things were going swimmingly and I was encouraged by the fact that we'd be sitting together all day. I made a note to ask her to dinner after the class.

About 30 minutes into the first speech the effect of my 80 ounces of coffee began to weigh on my bladder like a fat woman on one of those big rubber balls that they do sit ups on at the gym. Wanting to be smooth, I waited for a break in the action and politely excused myself about 10 minutes before the scheduled end of the morning speech when I knew that the auditorium would be filled with people in the aisles all headed to the nearest restroom. In short, I couldn’t wait that long. I had to pee like a Russian racehorse (whatever that means) and I got up.

I politely asked a hotel employee where the nearest restroom was and she pointed me to a small sign about 300 yards down at the end of the conference hall. I was honest and said, “look, I really have to go. Is there a secret one closer?” She laughed and pointed to a shallow hallway about 50 feet in front of me. “That’s the handicapped restroom.” I thanked her and walked toward it, my bladder pressure building.

I opened the door, walked in, locked the door behind me, and hit the light. It was a typical handicapped bathroom with rails around the walls, plenty of room for a wheelchair, and a single commode. Here’s where it begins to get embarrassing.

When the light went on I was shocked to see that the restroom had already been used by someone else in dire need of a place to go. However, whoever had used it before me did not have a bladder problem---he (or she) had a colon problem. A big colon problem. The entire commode, the back of the wall, the toilet tank, and most of the surrounding area looked like some sort of fecal rendering of a Jackson Pollack painting. If Mount St. Helens would have been a rectum pointed at a toilet, this would have been the result.

I was disgusted, but man, I had to go. I carefully made do with the situation. I backed up and washed my hands in the sink before checking my hair and winking at myself in the mirror. I looked at the horrible aftermath of the explosion that had occurred behind me and chuckled to myself. “Poor bastard,” I thought. “That guy must have been hurting pretty bad.” I considered my late night drinking binge and thanked the Lord that I had never been put in such a horrible situation.

Still thinking about someone running desperately down the hallway, ass clenched tightly, ready to explode, a big smile came across my face and I actually began to laugh to myself. I simultaneously opened the door in order to return to the seminar. As I exited the restroom—smiling—I looked up and standing there—alone--waiting to use the restroom—was the hot girl I’d been sitting next to. My smile disappeared and I began to stutter. Just as I was about to attempt to explain, I heard my name being called. It was another friend of mine and he was walking toward me to say hello. I took one step forward and he shook my hand. As he did, the girl walked into the bathroom and shut the door. Horrified, I looked to the crack in the bottom of the door and saw the light go on.

I talked to my friend through the entire break and never heard a word he said. After the break, I never saw the girl again. She didn’t sit down next to me, say goodbye, or sneer at me from across the room. Nothing. She vanished. I’ve since attempted—twice—to friend her on Facebook but to no avail.

And that, my loyal readers, is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me.

Well, that’s it. The second installment of DP Tells All. I hope you enjoyed it. I’ll get back on schedule next week. Thanks for reading and thanks for being patient. Until next time, if you need me, I’ll be cleaning my bathroom. DP