Friday, October 29, 2010

Off Season Post 6: My Popsicle Hurts

Hello again, bored off season readers. They—whoever “they” are—say it’s wrong to lead off anything with an apology. However, “they” didn’t have significant computer trouble this week. Between my personal laptop going crazy and my work laptop crashing like Lindsay Lohan after an all night coke binge, I haven’t had access to the on line world until today. I’m sorry for that, but things just happen sometimes, I suppose.

Thanks to the IT Department, I’m up and running again and I’m in time for a Friday post. Thanks to those of you who sent emails or Facebook messages of encouragement and I’m even thankful for the “What the F*ck?” message I got from a not to be named reader. I’ll take your hostility as a sort of affectionate expression of your pent up frustration. It’s not me, it’s you. I get it. I hope your blood pressure subsides once you see I’ve posted.

We’re six full weeks into the Bachelor off season and, frankly, I’m wondering if anyone is reading anymore. Imagine the big blow to my ego knowing that my entire blog reading base is using me for my insight into a reality show rather than tuning in to vicariously experience my radiance and charm via my online posts. Sigh . . . .

At any rate, I’m glad you’re still reading. This week’s shout out goes to Christy in Charlotte, North Carolina who sent me a message after having a Brad Womack sighting at 9:30 a.m. on Tryon Street. She commented on his ultra tan skin, carefully coifed stubble, and ultra tight jeans. Gee, thanks for that, Christy. I’m happy to know you scoped out his package on your way to work. I wonder if that’s standard practice for you or if it just applies to Bachelor contestants. I’m sure his jeans are unreasonably tight because his ego is in there somewhere. I’ll get to Womack eventually. Thanks for stalking him for me.

I also want to thank those of you who took the time to comment for the advice, name suggestions, and overall encouragement you provided over the past week. I’ve had a lot going on and being able to count on some positive feedback at the touch of a button makes more of a difference in a crappy day than you might imagine. I know it’s hard to believe but Lone Star beer bottles don’t always contain the solace that a person seeks. Although they do contain clever puzzles on the underside of their bottle caps, which makes it more interesting to drink. They even have an iPhone app that solves them for you in the event that you’re too drunk to complete rudimentary word association games. I use it often. Hell, I spend so much time in bars that I had to put a neon sign above the bathroom in my house just so I could find it. With that in mind, let’s get to it.

As I drove aimlessly and awkwardly home from the airport headed North up the Missouri-Pacific Freeway (also known as Mo-Pac, or Loop 1) in Austin this weekend, I used the rare alone time that my drive afforded me to ponder possible blog posting subjects. My general rule is to await inspiration via a daily occurrence or an early morning dream. Considering the fact that I awoke abruptly after dreaming of being chased by a white elf with a giant hammer screaming “mayonnaise” as froth dripped from his mouth I was a little short on inspiration this week. I was forced to force myself to think about it.

About halfway toward my destination, I realized that I left my iPod in my man bag in the back seat. Sadly, I would now be forced to listen to the radio. Between the iPod and satellite radio, I rarely, if ever, listen to the radio, but I figured I’d see how the other half lives this week. I turned the radio on, hit the “scan” button and began to listen.

After enduring commercial after commercial for various local businesses and listening to the local sports hacks complain about the current state of college football, I took matters into my own hands and began to manually scan. It’s amazing how spoiled a person gets from his own iPod. Even though Algunos Hombre en Austin speaks Spanish, I found the preponderance of Spanish stations quite shocking. I moved on in search of popular music. I wondered what the iCarly crowd was listening to these days.

I stumbled upon what I assumed was the local pop station. I listened to a couple of songs I didn’t recognize. Although I had no idea what the songs were or who the “artist” was, I did recognize the familiar structure of the American pop song. It hasn’t changed in ages.

In a mid to up tempo 4/4 beat lasting no longer than 4 minutes, we get a 13-20 second Intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-Bridge-instrumental-chorus, chorus . . . .(or something very similar). The songs tell a relatable story and have a catchy hook that every person with a financial interest in the song prays will bounce around uncontrollably in the listener’s head for the majority of the day. It’s as formulaic as an episode of Happy Days (rest in peace, Mr. C.), but it’s worked forever.

Some Guy practices some entertainment law and I can tell you that there is a ridiculous, filthy, unfathomable amount of money in songwriting. I’m severely oversimplifying the formula, but a songwriter gets about nine cents—get this—every time any song he/she has written is played on any radio station anywhere in the world . . . forever. The songwriter also gets nine cents every time the song is downloaded or an album is sold. Toss in movie rights and a piece of the album sales and you get the picture. Those are referred to as “mechanical royalties” and they don’t include “performance royalties” that the person performing the song gets.

Let’s put that in perspective. Michael Jackson (rest his moon walking soul) wrote 4 of the 9 songs on Thriller. The album alone sold 110 million copies worldwide. Do the math. Now you know why any unknown rap star on MTV Cribs can afford to paint his $500,000 Bentley purple, put a chandelier inside of it, and replace the trunk space with a giant set of speakers and park it near his poolside grotto with a gold plated stripper pole in it. Trust me we’re all in the wrong business.

With this in mind, I decided to select the next three songs I heard on pop radio and make it a case study for myself. Notwithstanding the fact that Yoko Ono gets half of it, I was certain that the Lennon/McCartney song catalog was certainly worth the nine cents paid whenever a Beatles’ song is played. Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Paul Thorn (Google him and listen. He’s a friend of mine), Pete Yorn, and even contemporary artists like Jewel or Sarah McLaughlin have real songwriting talent and deserve the money from the effort they put into both the composition and performance of their songs. How bad could pop radio be?

Unfortunately, as I would soon be reminded, popularity and wealth are in no way related to talent, especially in today’s market. In today’s climate, the above mentioned group is now the exception rather than the rule. Allow me to explain.

My car is fancy enough to have that display thing that tells me the name of the song and artist. I simply used my iPhone to take a picture of the display for the next three songs I heard. The first was a song called “Take it Off” by some little brat named Ke$ha—no the money sign is not a typo. Please. Let’s examine Ke$ha’s poetry, shall we?

And now we lookin' like pimps
In my gold Trans Am.
Got a water bottle full of whiskey
In my handbag.
Got my drunk text on
I'll regret it in the mornin'
But tonight
I don't give a
I don't give a
I don't give a

I wondered why looking like the boss of a sex worker was a desirable quality. I pictured her and her friends in purple velvet leisure suits with matching hats, silk shirts, and big canes. A gold Trans Am? Is she kidding? I seriously doubt Ke$ha was alive when the gold Trans Am was fashionable. She was born in 1987 and Smokey and the Bandit came out ten years before that and, ironically, starred a brilliant songwriter named Jerry Reed. The only people to ever really buy those cars were middle-aged Burt Reynolds fans with a porn stash and a silk, chest-hair sporting shirt to match. Why does Ke$ha own one and why does she have to get her drunk text on in it? I found that odd, especially in the green friendly world of today. Shouldn’t she be getting her hybrid on or something?

A water bottle full of whiskey in her hand bag? Everyone worth his salt knows that Johnny Law would ferret that out in a heartbeat. A handbag usually has a license in it and can easily be matched to a women because it can be identified with the outfit it matches. Hiding whiskey in it precludes deniability. It’s a foolish choice. You hide your whiskey in the center console or under the passenger seat. That way if the Five-O pulls you out of the car you can always deny you knew it was there. It worked for Lindsay Lohan and a host of other celebrities. Paris Hilton just used the “that purse with all the cocaine in it didn’t match my outfit” defense to get out of a bust. There’s nothing like endorsing drunk driving in a sports car and simultaneously giving your audience poor arrest avoidance advice. Oh, and the song sucked too.

Guess what, though? I Googled it when I got home and it’s currently number 10 on the Billboard Top 40. Oh, and Ke$ha—rotten advice aside—wrote it. Know what that means? You guessed it. Nine cents every time it’s played or sold . . . forever. I went to the liquor store in my Trans Am and got a bottle of whiskey to fill up my water bottle before assuming the fetal position in the shower.

After thinking that Ke$ha’s masterpiece couldn’t be topped, I settled in to my drive home and opened my mind and my ears to experience the next offering. It was a song called “California Gurls” by Katy Perry, who, as I was thankful to find out shortly after my Ke$ha Google search, is actually from California. She’s a poor man’s Betty Page with less talent and softer features.

I suppose the fact that she’s a product of the California public school system would be apparent from her inability to spell “girls” correctly. That state has some serious education problems it needs to address. Besides, everyone knows that the Artist formerly known as Prince and then by some symbol and currently again known as Prince is the only person who can look cool with a bunch of misspellings in his songs. Prince rules, by the way. He’s unbelievably talented—and purple too—despite the fact that his real name is Roger Nelson.

Annnnnyyyyyhoooo . . .

Katy’s masterpiece offers the following wisdom:

California girls
We're unforgettable
Daisy Dukes
Bikinis on top
Sun-kissed skin
So hot
We'll melt your Popsicle
Oooooh oh oooooh

Sex on the beach
We don't mind sand in our Stilettos
We freak
In my Jeep
Snoop Doggy Dogg on the stereo (Oh oh)

Notwithstanding the fact that songs about California girls are a hackneyed premise, I find the song confusing. Why is it necessary to put a bikini on top of a pair of Daisy Dukes? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Also, wouldn’t sun-kissed skin so hot actually freeze my popsicle? I mean if she’s going go to for a sexually charged metaphor she might as well make it accurate. Is that too much to ask? I can’t have my popsicle melting at the sight of sun-kissed twenty-somethings. That would be embarrassing.

At least she had the wherewithal to hyphenate “sun-kissed.” Oh, and if I’m going to freak in someone’s Jeep, I’m opting for some Bon Jovi. Snoop Dogg is hardly romantic. Then again, if I’m freaking in my Jeep with stiletto wearing hussies with sand in their pants, perhaps Snoop would be more appropriate.

Like Ke$ha, I Googled Ms. Perry—now Ms. Russell Brand, by the way—when I got home. Guess what? It’s currently number two on the Billboard Top 40. Guess what else I found out? She wrote that song along with four other people, including Calvin Broadus—also known as Snoop Dogg. Know what that means? You guessed it. She gets about two cents every time it’s played. After drinking half of my water bottle full of whiskey, I really wanted to go freak myself in a Jeep.

The final song in my pop music experiment was a song by Beyonce called “Check on It.” I’ll be the first to say that I love Beyonce. Call me what you want, I dig her. I was a Destiny’s Child fan before they broke up and I actually own the gospel album that Michelle Williams recorded after they disbanded. They wrote their own stuff, danced their tails off, and worked hard to get where they went. I respect that. Incidentally, I respect Katy and Ke$ha for that as well, but think Beyonce is far more talented. More about that later.

Check On It is a song about checking on it. It goes like this.

If you got flaunt it, boy I know you want it
While I turn around you watch me check up on it
Ooo you watchin' me shake it, I see it in ya face
Ya can't take it, it's blazin', you rock me and amaze me

You can look at it, as long as you don't grab it
If you don't go braggin', I'ma let you have it
You think that I'm teasin', but I ain't got no reason
I'm sure that I can please ya, but first I gotta read you


I’m thankful that I can look at it as long as I don’t grab it. It’s nice to have options. Normally, I’m not inclined to grab it after looking at it after period of time, but I was happy to know my limits. I was also relieved to know that if I didn’t boast about looking at it that Beyonce was inclined to let me have it. At first, I wondered if she was teasing, but took comfort in the fact that she had no reason to do so. Truth be told, I like that song. It—as is intended—is mindless, fun, and catchy. Oh, and Beyonce is quickly approaching the 100 million sold mark and she owns her own music. That’s a hell of a lot of nine cents. No wonder she wants me to check up on it before I grab it.

At the end of my experiment I found myself shaking my head in disbelief. Keep in mind that these three songs have reached the top of the charts in dozens of countries all over the world. They are played literally thousands of times per day and will be for years to come. Talent or no talent, it’s a good thing to get a song on the radio—and it pays the bills as well.

Look, I’m a free market guy and if someone offered me that kind of money do whatever it is that I do, I’d take it in a heartbeat. I suppose it was a combination of dumb luck and hard work that put all of those songs on the airwaves and I’m glad we live in a place that allows a song about freaking in a Jeep to make millions of dollars for the people who put it out there. That still doesn’t stop me from crying about it.

Well, there it is. Thank you all again for weathering my computer storm and I’m sorry it took me so long to post this week. Next week’s post might be a day or so late because of work obligations but you can figure that out on my Facebook page. Please, especially in the off season, keep the comments and emails coming. That’s what keeps me afloat. Take care of yourselves and enjoy the change in the seasons. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be putting some back and some neck upon it while you stand there in the background and check up on it. DP

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Off Season Post 5: Land, Lost Love, and Latex Castles

Hello again and happy Tuesday. I hope your current responsibilities are squared away for the next half hour or so. If not, I hope you can fake like they are. I can literally hear the office doors closing and sense computer monitors from Orlando to Ontario and from Bangor to Bakersfield being strategically positioned so as not to tip off the powers that be that they are about to pay an employee to read my thoughts. I love it.

I actually had one of those half sleep, half awake, pre-dawn I don’t want to get out of bed yet dreams where I imagined myself negotiating with all of the employers around the country who were sick of their employees reading my blog during work hours. After some Erin Brocovich-esque discussions, I agreed to take 25% of the number of productivity dollars lost in exchange for agreeing to post my blog on Saturday instead of Tuesday.

The good news for my readers is that you’ll know if that agreement ever comes to fruition because I’ll start posting on Saturday and I’ll change my name to Some Guy in a Mansion Atop a Big Giant Hill in Hawaii with Nubile Polynesian Women Bringing Him Lone Star Beers and Rubbing His Feet.

Before I begin, let me give a huge shout out and congratulations to my college roommate, the now infamous “Lenny.” Of course, you are familiar with his antics via the beef heart and blinking traffic light stories that I conveyed a couple of weeks ago. To my utter shock and my genuine joy, Lenny actually won an Emmy award this weekend for his work on a television commercial. Let me say that again. Lenny won an Emmy—a real Emmy.

Let’s put that in perspective. Lenny has as many Emmy’s as Susan Lucci. He joins the ranks of DJ Paul, Lord Infamous, Juicy J., Crunchy Black, Gangsta Boo, and Koopsta Knicca from Three 6 Mafia who won an Oscar for “It’s Hard to Be a Pimp Out Here” from the movie Hustle and Flow. Lenny has one Emmy. Do you know how many Emmy’s Chuck Norris has? Zero. Santa Claus? Also a big fat zero. Nice job, Lenny. Call me when you get the Grammy nod and I’ll fly out for the ceremony. We can party like Biggie and Puffy except without the getting shot at the end of the evening part.

I have to confess that I’ve had a busy week since the last time I wrote. I’ve had both personal and professional obligations to fulfill and a lot of negative junk in my life this week. Such are the ebbs and flows of life and my spirit is undaunted, yet still affected. That often leaves me feeling like the best looking hooker on dollar night, but I was able to come up with a few ideas based on some random occurrences during my week. I’m feeling more reflective and serious today, so I won’t make any representations as to the laughs contained in this post. Keep in mind that it’s also 2 in the morning as I write this. With congratulations done and the off season in full swing, let’s get to it. Oh, and I’ll get to Womack later.

Land

For the past few months, I’ve been searching the Hill Country just West of Austin, Texas for the perfect piece of ranch property. In places North of here, they call that a “farm,” the Kennedy family would refer to it as a “compound” and use it for amoral behavior away from the peering eyes of the media, and in Louisiana—which makes up its own rules about everything—they call it a “camp,” but it’s essentially the same thing: it’s a piece of land I own and unless there’s polygamy or revolt actively occurring within plain sight of the Federal Government then just about anything is legal. For the record, I could never be a polygamist. Not because I have some overriding moral objection to the lifestyle, but because I don’t need one woman nagging me about doing things around the house, much less two or ten for that matter.

Can you imagine how many trips to Home Depot I’d have to make or how many curtain rods and wall sconces I’d have to hang? My “Honey Do” list would be immense. I’d go broke sending out Save the Date cards for my multiple weddings. Then there’s the bed problem. I’m having enough trouble selecting and affording bedding for one king size bed. I’d be hard pressed to go through that exercise more than once. That brings up a thought. Perhaps places like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware should actively target polygamists in their mailing campaigns. I’m going to write a letter. Incidentally, I took a lot of your advice from last week’s post. I’ll give an update on my bedding situation in the near future.

Annnnnyyyyyhoooo . . .

Merle Haggard sang, “big city turn me loose and set me free” and that’s been on my mind lately. Some Guy needs Some Space. It will be my Monticello, my Neverland, my Graceland, my Dollywood, my whatever Abe Lincoln called his house. The good news is that I’ve found a place and I’m in the process of making it mine. I used to camp and hike a lot in college and it always centered me. I’d disappear for days at a time and venture out to random state parks in and around Central Texas. I always found the need for me to do that very confusing considering my penchant for attention and social contact. Regardless, it always made me happy.

I realize that not all of you think the idea of schlepping a heavy backpack full of supplies miles into the woods in order to build a fire and sleep on the ground while foregoing any attempt at hygiene for a few days is liberating, but it works for me. Having a place to escape to is a good thing and I think we all search for that in our lives. Mine just happens to be in the country and I’m fortunate to know that considering the fact that I previously searched for it in the bottom of every whiskey and beer bottle west of the Mississippi for years. It’s not there. I hope you find yours.

It’s only about 25 acres, which in Texas is like a tiny mole on a fat lady’s back, but hey, it’s enough space to sit in my cabin and write my anti-technology manifesto before building letter bombs and mailing them across the country. Perhaps I’ll just stick to writing love letters to Jodi Foster. Once I get settled, I’ll be interviewing impressionable young ladies to join my commune and do my bidding. Oh, and I’ll need a Tex Watson type too, so please pass this on to your male friends. It’s never a good thing to lead a “family” without having a Tex Watson type to blame everything on in the event of a raid. (See Jim Jones, David Koresh, and that wacko that killed himself when the comet flew by a few years ago.)

I’ll keep you posted as to my progress. In the meantime, I need some name suggestions for my property. Please stay away from anything with “Lone Star” in it. As you might imagine, that’s a pretty popular name to use in this neck of the woods. It’s like naming something “Big Sky Whatever” in Montana or naming your daughter “Maria” in Mexico. I’ll share some of my favorite name suggestions next week and put them to a vote.

Lost Love

The second big thing on my mind this week is a close friend of mine who is in an impossible situation with the object of his affection. See, he’s been dating this woman for five years and—without going into too much detail—the relationship is destructive and it’s been getting worse. In the past few months, he and his old lady have graduated from bitter texting and screaming matches to stalking and lying in wait outside various Austin establishments and his home. The drama has begun to spill over into everyone’s lives and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. It’s excruciating to watch and unsettling to everyone involved.—just like a Justin Bieber video.

Memo to anyone trying to hold on to a relationship: Unbridled jealousy is not constructive. Monitoring Facebook posts, incoming calls, outgoing calls, texts, emails, and any other interaction with another human being in an attempt to control the person you “love” is not only impossible, it’s creepy. It didn’t work out for a certain group of Germans known as the SS and it’s not going to work out for you. Squeezing a cute little bunny tightly in order to hold on to it ends up killing the bunny. Put down the infra red binoculars and pick up a copy of Of Mice and Men.

Also, attempting to manipulate someone with the threat of infidelity is not only cruel, it’s futile. Trying to keep someone in a relationship by threatening to sleep with other people if he doesn’t stay with you is freaking crazy. I don’t care if the hooha wears a big red cape with an “S” on it, anyone who gets an ultimatum like that ought to run like the Chief from the insane asylum after he killed McMurphy and smashed through the window.

Oh, and another thing: being deliberately mean and spiteful in order to guilt another person into submission for simply living his life is not a romantically desirable quality in a partner. People should be allowed to talk to other people and confide in true friends who care about their well-being. It’s easier to be a homosexual in Uganda than date you.

Isolating a person from others is a control technique used by some of the aforementioned cult leaders in this post. If you’re going to go that route, you might as well consider something more subtle, like waterboarding or killing a pet. Trying to force a person to love you is like lying on the beach and begging the waves to stop: the person doing the forcing ends up exhausted and beaten and the waves never respond.

The last two paragraphs may sound a little preachy, but it’s hard to see a friend in that situation and it’s impossible to talk him out of it. We’ve all been there, but usually when we’re very young. In the end, it’s difficult to make someone who loves someone else realize that a person is bad for him. It’s also hard to for a person in that situation to accept that each person in a relationship is responsible for its success or its demise. In the case of the latter, it’s usually the last person to make a mistake who gets all of the blame. We all get exactly what we put up with and my friend is no exception. Perhaps I’ll invite him to be a member of my commune. Perhaps he can be my Tex Watson. As Forrest Gump once said, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

Latex Houses

This weekend, I had the pleasure of accompanying about ten five year olds to the local bouncy house for some weekend fun. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, I’ll explain. A bouncy house, or moon walk in some circles, is a giant inflated latex structure usually in the shape of something that kids love like castles, monster trucks, or sharks. Kids get in, jump around, and scream like banshees for hours at a time. Spawned from this particular invention are places with clever names like “Inflatable Wonderland” and “Pump it Up.” Unfortunately, with my warped sense of humor, I also think they sound like places to buy sex toys, but that’s neither here nor there. These are large places with multiple bouncy houses where normally responsible parents bring their offspring and slide slowly, yet purposefully away into a Zen existence and ignore the kids for an hour or two while they jump around like maniacs. It’s very therapeutic . . . for all of the parties involved.

Upon arriving at the bouncy house, corralling the kids, getting their admission bracelets secured to their wrists, and claiming a spot in the corner for myself, I sat back and observed. It’s been stated dozens of times before, but everything a person needs to know about life can be learned in a place like Inflatable Wonderland. It’s amazing to me how the interaction between a cross-section of children mirrors the reaction of adults.

Of the ten kids about half of them took off with reckless abandon toward the nearest bouncy house like marauders ready to rape the land and pillage its women. The strongest, most aggressive kids arrived first and proceeded to enter the house and jump around while the two that lagged behind did their best to follow. After a short time, one of the children emerged with tears in his eyes. Apparently, the others started a game of “jump tag” and he wasn’t invited to play. Rather than stay and fight, he chose to retreat and bother me for a solution.

It struck me that most people approach life this way. They run mercilessly toward the nearest oasis in search of something called happiness without taking the time to think about other options. The strongest and most aggressive of us usually succeed in finding something inside that oasis and quickly claim it as our own. Some lead. Some follow. And, as was the case on this day at the bouncy house, there’s always a whiney pus*y in the bunch.

Of the remaining five kids, one of them wandered off on his own in order to inspect all of the bouncy houses available. He was deliberate, careful, and reticent. I noticed he seemed to be talking to himself—weighing all of the factors that should be considered when selecting his perfect play time situation. He ultimately selected the bouncy house with various reptile animals and a bridge inside as opposed to the larger ones with the wide open jumping spaces. He’d made a good choice, but he failed to experience the adrenaline rush associated with taking a risk. In real life we’d probably refer to this kid as an Engineer or an Accountant.

Two of the girls of the remaining four took a seat in the side play area before choosing a bouncy house. One of them bossed the other one around before ultimately deciding which bouncy house would be suitable for both their needs. Clearly, that kid was destined to have her own talk show and I found myself thanking my lucky stars that I wasn’t married to her mother. Even at five years old, the kid was working on a Type A personality and it was clear that she liked to be in charge. I made a mental note to tell the other boys to avoid her at all costs. They’d be emasculated eventually. There was no need to speed up the process.

The remaining two children, a boy and a girl, stood quietly, close to the sitting area unsure of what to do. They were scared. Ultimately, their parents had to get up and walk them toward the bouncy houses. The parents stood there, nervously watching their children as they jumped among the other kids, flinching each time another child got too close or their child fell down. “Sad,” I thought. Being afraid of anything but the Boogeyman at five years old is a hell of a way to grow up. “They’re in a rubber room!” I felt like yelling at the concerned parents.

Some kids are naturally shy just like others are naturally rambunctious. Teaching them to fear absolutely everything is not good. The good news is that after some prodding from the parents and after realizing that they were, in fact, in an inflated rubber room, they loosened up and enjoyed themselves. Like camping and hiking, it never ceases to bring a huge smile to my face when I see children laughing and having fun. If only we could visit that place as adults again, if even for a short time.

The problem with growing older is that there are fewer and fewer bouncy houses to discover. Seeing the pure unadulterated joy in a child’s eyes caused by something as simple as jumping up and down is perhaps the closest thing to perfection we might experience as adults. Remember that the next time you hear a child laugh or see a child cry. In teaching them, we often forget how much we can learn from them.

All in all, the children had a wonderful time and so did I. If the truth is told, I have to admit that by the end of two hours I was ready to leave, but I left there with a renewed sense of the value of my own life and what it means to be an example and a mentor for young children.

I realize that this week’s post might disappoint those of you waiting for my usual sarcasm or bathroom humor, but hey, it’s my blog and this is where I’m at this week. I do appreciate the off season readers, but even I have to reflect sometimes. I hope you don’t mind too much. If it’s any consolation, I’ll be back in usual form next week, as I plan to tackle the usual Bachelor subjects, including the selection of our repeat bachelor, Brad Womack.

Until next week, take care of yourselves, enjoy your week, and take a moment to stop and smell some metaphorical roses—regardless of what those roses are in your life. In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be exploring the deep vicissitudes of my character. DP

Monday, October 11, 2010

Off Season Post 4: Some Guy Needs a Bed

Welcome back, Faithful Off Season Readers. After another week off from our favorite show, we all took a deep breath and wallowed in the solace that a bachelor has indeed been selected. At least there will be something to watch on ABC come January 9th and with the Holiday Season just around the corner, we’ll be there in no time. I’ll get to my analysis of Womack eventually.

I have to confess that I’ve been busy at my real job for the past couple of weeks and with that comes the drain and strain that we all feel when things are hectic. Couple that with my drinking and carrying on and I’m lucky I can put a thought together. Inspiration came in odd places this week and this entry is a combination of those moments of clarity. I hope you enjoy it. With that said, let’s get to it.

I awoke at a decent hour on Sunday morning after my usual Saturday night spent sipping Lone Star beers in an Austin honky tonk enjoying the sights, sounds, and energy around me. Motivated by the beautiful Austin weather, I decided to hit the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve located exactly 3.3 miles from my Bachelor Pad (see what I did there?) for a trail run in order to sweat out the Lone Star and get some color back in my puffy face.

There are several state parks close to my place and I enjoy going hiking or for short runs through the trails. There is something about the sound of the creeks carving their way through the limestone, juniper, and cedar trees on their way to the lake that makes me forget about everything bad in my life and focus on what’s good. All of the stress seems to fade away like the freeway noise behind the blanket of fall flowers and underbrush. The splotchy pattern of shade made by the sun peaking through the trees onto the crushed pink granite trail and the sound it makes as my feet hit it calms my nerves. Each time I go, I am reminded that there are certain things in life that no one can put a velvet rope in front of and make a person wait in line to see. Besides, trail runs are great places to meet chicks. Alright, I’m not serious about that last part, but I needed that comment to offset the introspective sappiness of the previous sentences. I hope you understand.

Mind cleared, sweat broken, and heart rate well above my target zone for over 30 minutes, I slowed to a brisk walk and as my muscles began to tighten, I began to think beyond the cool shower in my immediate future. “Some Guy in Austin needs a new bed,” I thought. Yes, I thought in the third person. I suppose that’s a leftover from last week, but hey, Some Guy in Austin likes to talk in the third person sometimes.

For some time, I’d been contemplating a new bed purchase and after spending the last couple of weeks in various heavenly hotel beds, I realized that my current sleeping arrangements were tantamount to the sleeping arrangements below various overpasses on the East side of the city. My mattress was like an octogenarian: old, saggy, uncomfortable, and not any fun to sleep with. Additionally, my comforter and sheets were more worn than the soles of my favorite boots. Winnie the Pooh was so faded, he looked like Casper the Ghost. Yes, the time had come to go bed shopping.

I made it home all the while mulling over where I’d be going to shop. I knew of a mattress place just up the freeway, so that would be easy and I assumed there would be a place to look at beds and bedding close by. I’d start there. I showered, dressed in my favorite shopping for bedding pearl snap and hit the road on a mission. I’d allotted 2 hours for the entire process and hoped it would take less.

On my way to the mattress place, I put in a phone call to a trusted female friend. Let me qualify that last sentence. I have many trusted female friends, but I called the one I knew had spent a sh*tload of money on her bed. She had throw pillows for her throw pillows and every bedding accessory you could imagine. Getting in her bed would be like a five year old getting in that foam pit thing they have at various bouncy houses around the city. She was kind enough to provide me with a couple suggestions and I decided to follow them. After all, if Jerry Rice told me how to catch a football or Tony Dovolani told me how to do the paso doble, I’d listen.

“Check Ikea for pillows, quilts, and lighting,” I was told. “Go to Restoration Hardware for the bedding, but just buy the duvet cover, comforter, shams, bed skirt, and blanket at Restoration. You can get the sheets somewhere else for less.” my helpful friend continued. Huh? Where I come from a “blanket” is the same thing as a quilt and a comforter, “sham” means something dishonest, and men don’t need skirts. I had no idea I needed a duvet and if I had one, why would I want to cover it? Some Guy in Austin was confused. Nonetheless, I’d committed two hours and I headed North to Round Rock, Texas, the location of the nearest Ikea. I’d deal with the mattress later. After all, how hard could that be? As far as I knew, there were only three kinds: twin, queen, and king. No problem, right?

I realize that Ikea has a nationwide presence, but for those of you unfamiliar with Ikea, allow me to explain. Ikea is a Swedish company founded by some Swedish dude with a penchant for poor quality, particle board furniture that’s impossible to put together without the magic Swedish screwdriver that only they have in their possession. Frodo and his buddies couldn’t find it if they tried. The actual Ikea store is literally as big as Sweden; however, Sweden is cheaper, has fewer people in it, the signage is easier to read, and the terrain is easier to navigate. Also, everything in the store has a label, is named something weird, and every vowel in the name has two dots over it. I wondered if Motley Crue was from Sweden.

As I traversed the endless labyrinth of Swedish crap, I couldn’t help but notice the poor husbands, boyfriends, significant others who had unquestionably been forced to forgo whatever NFL football game it was their sole desire to sit down and watch in favor of accompanying their mates to the store. “After all, honey, it IS a relationship and it’s important to be a team player,” I’m sure they all heard upon putting up a cursory protest before folding like a dinner napkin. I wondered how well that argument would go over when the tables were turned and it was time for the “you know what I’d REALLY like for my birthday?” discussion at bedtime. There’s no “I” in team, but if you move the letters around there is “Meat”—as in “Beat your own.” Sigh.

The men all appeared to be weary shells of their actual selves like GI’s on the Bataan Death March, except rather than being prodded with bayonets and threatened in Japanese they were forced to carry unreasonably burdensome, unassembled Swedish whatnots while being nagged in English.

Watching the men shop, I was reminded of being in grade school and watching Marlon Perkins’ Mutual of Omaha as the poor, defenseless gazelle was chased mercilessly by the hungry cheetah. “Dude, run!” I thought. “You’re being emasculated!” I had a strong desire to help but thought better of it. Why get involved? After all, Galileo was right and look at all of the trouble he went though.

After wandering around for the better part of half an hour I realized that I had no idea what I was looking for or why I had come to the store in the first place. As if Regis Philbin asked me, I decided to phone a friend. “Why am I here?” I asked the female friend who’d sent me there in the first place. I was informed that I needed to select at least two king sized sham pillows so that my sham covers would have something to cover. Of course. “Are the Swedes known for their sham pillows?” I asked wondering why I’d just driven 30 miles out of my way.

Ignoring me, my female friend told me that I should select firm, cotton filled sham pillows. After all, I needed goose down pillows for sleeping but the puffier the sham pillows, the better. Also, if I was planning on changing my color scheme, I should select a new quilt for the foot of my bed since I didn’t have any bolster pillows. “Are the Swedes known for their quilts?” I asked wondering why I’d just driven 30 miles out of my way. “Is brown a color scheme and what the f*ck is a bolster pillow?” I thought. I had a pretty significant Stuff Chicks Like flashback at that moment and quickly ended the conversation. Good lord. As the Zen high of my morning run melted away like a stray ice cube on an August sidewalk, I headed for the exit. Sham pillows indeed.

As I drove back toward Austin, I attempted to relax with some Robert Earl Keen (Google “Dreadful Selfish Crime”) on the iPod. “I am guilty of a dreadful selfish crime,” the lyrics went. “I have robbed myself of all my precious time. . .”. I wondered if Robert Earl Keen had ever been to Ikea.

After Googling “Restoration Hardware” on my iPhone—don’t get the 4GS, by the way. I was forced to get it when my 3GS broke. It drops more calls than the Dallas Cowboys do passes. In short, it sucks—I found the nearest location and decided to proceed according to plan. Ikea was a bust and I needed to log some progress toward my bed upgrade before giving into the temptation to find a patio and pop a few Lone Stars. It was, after all, 80 degrees with no humidity. I’d sleep outside if I needed to. I was thankful that there was a book store in the same location as Restoration Hardware. I like book stores and having one close was like seeing a favorite relative sitting between the only remaining subway seat and the creepy guy in the trench coat. Somehow, I knew I’d be alright.

I parked and marched toward Restoration Hardware unsure of what to expect. When I entered, it was readily apparent that the store was founded by someone who is color blind. Everything looked oatmeal to me but I was assured that the “colors” on the showroom floor spanned the range from “white” to “ivory” to “shore” to “mist” to “dune” to “slate” to “sand”. Like I said, everything looked oatmeal. It was the anti-Ikea.

Lessons learned from Stuff Chicks Like, I quickly located a salesperson to assist me. “Kellie” was happy to help me and the look in her eye when I told her I was looking for bedding was the same look that Sylvester the Cat gives Tweety Bird as we see Tweety turn into a large pork chop.

Kellie let me know that Restoration Hardware had everything I needed for my new bed. She asked me some basic questions like, “what color is the bed frame and head board?,” “what color are your walls?” and “what color are your curtains?” These all seemed like logical questions; however, when weighed with the fact that everything in the store matched every other thing in the store, I’m not sure it mattered.

Kellie recommended the Vintage Washed Belgian Collection over the Italian Vintage Washed Collection and showed me the province stripe, classic stripe, and linen stripe. I thought it would be classic if providence would intervene and just get me some damn linens. Oh, and why was it necessary to point out the fact that both collections had been washed? I’d expect them to be clean upon purchase. Also, both the Italian and Belgian collections came with sheets made of---you guessed it—EGYPTIAN cotton.

Look, I realize that Mussolini’s army spent a lot of time in Northern Africa but I seriously doubted they ran up to Egypt to do some sheet shopping between battles. I don’t think the Belgians were tooling around Egypt in search of better bedding, but then again, I’m not certain of the location of the Maginot Line. As far as I know, Venetian blinds are made in Italy and Brussels claims those tiny cabbages called sprouts. Why is there Egyptian cotton in their respective bedding collections? Man, shopping for bedding is a bitch.

I asked Kellie what recommendations she could make and quickly realized that she was a commissioned sales person. She suggested the Distressed Ionic Capital End Tables for a whopping $1,695 . . . each and the Flemish mirror for a comparatively modest $715. My capital end was very distressed at this point. I wondered what caused the tables so much heartache and couldn’t even begin to imagine what they’d cost if they’d been raised properly. Where is Flemingland anyway and what’s so great about its mirrors? I wished they had a store with American mirrors and bedding. I’d bet that would be cheaper.

I began to ask questions like, “do you guys have the Bed in the Box like Target does?” Unfortunately, they did not and any charm points I’d made with Kellie were quickly taken back. After selecting sheets, a duvet cover, pillow cases, sham covers—which, by the way are pillow cases for sham pillows so I can’t figure out why they are called covers while the others are called cases—and a few more things I “needed” but can’t remember, I went with Kellie to the cash register.

With a straight freaking face, Kellie rang up all of the items, looked me in the eye, and then asked me for $1,300 and some change. Holy sh*t. My mind raced. Let’s see, 1,300 dollars. Not including tip, a Lone Star runs on average about $2.50 here in town. That’s 520 Lone Stars, or approximately 50 nights out in Austin, Texas. “What is Kellie CRAZY?” I thought. 1300 dollars for sheets is a complete waste of money. It takes me approximately 20 Lone Stars to fill my gas tank and my gym membership is around 15 Lone Stars. Clearly, I’d have to consider such a significant purchase. I hadn’t even gotten to the actual bed frame or the mattress. Some Guy in Austin was dumbfounded.

At the end of the day, I opted to have Kellie put the stuff on hold for me. I’m going to enlist the help of my pushy female friend in order to confirm that I have indeed made an admirable selection before I purchase. I promised her a sushi dinner and a couple of drinks in exchange for her assistance. That should run me about 25 Lone Stars, but I’d feel better about the bedding if I got the perspective of someone who is accustomed to wasting money on those sorts of things.

Well, that’s it. My semi-productive little Sunday came and went. I’ll be certain and post pictures of the completed bed and all of its accoutrements when it’s complete. I’m going to take another shot at it this weekend. In the meantime, if you need him, Some Guy in Austin will be washing his Egyptian cotton. DP

Monday, October 4, 2010

Off Season Post 3: Beer, Batman, and Beef Hearts

Welcome to another Off Season post and, as always, thank you for taking the time to read. I realize that we’re about 3 weeks into Post-Bachelor doldrums and I’ve been trying my best to keep the readers interested. Luckily, my first two posts seemed to go over well and I’ve received my usual, steady stream of emails, Facebook posts, and comments on the site, albeit, a little lighter than usual. Of course, since my last post the big announcement that Austin’s own Brad Womack will AGAIN take another shot at finding love or going on a journey to find love or connecting with someone in hopes of going on a journey to find love or finding love after going on a journey and finding a connection. Whatever, the dude is taking another shot at it. I’ll get to him eventually.

I know you’ve all been busy removing your Summer/Spring bedding, knick knacks, and home décor in exchange for your Fall/Winter gear in addition to rearranging your closets so that your sweaters and other seasonally appropriate weather attire are readily accessible.

See ya later linen, come on down cashmere. Sayanora Summer candles, welcome Winter potpourri. So long sandals, bring on the boots. Yes sir, the sweet sound of a crisp Fall breeze whooshing through the trees pales in comparison to the sound of fresh Fall air filling the vacuum of a hibernating Space Bag as pillows and comforters inhale the Fall air and come back to life. It’s the little things that make life grand.

I’m certain that you’ve also been wondering what the topic of this week’s blog would be. I could feel the tension in some sort of M. Night Shyamalan kind of way and I’ve been searching for inspiration this week. I could regale you with some more bad date stories or bore you with some good date stories. I could resurrect Stuff Chicks Like and spend the weekend watching Eat, Pray, Love or sipping pinot grigio at a local wine bar before getting my nails done and my hair did. I could watch the Real Housewives of Wherever and blog about how shallow, spoiled, and sculpted the women appear.

In fact, I spent most of this week wondering in various airplanes, taxis, and hotel rooms where and what I would be inspired to write about. The truth is that my internal musings were more reflective this week than in week’s past. I hope you enjoy my thoughts. With that, let’s get to it.

Sitting in a taxi on the way from a Houston airport to my swanky Downtown hotel—I have Hilton points—my phone rang and it was my old college roommate calling to suggest we play a practical joke on a mutual friend. That conversation is unimportant, but after that call, I was hit with my first inspiration of the week.

I recalled an email I got from a reader who wanted to know if I was “this funny all the time” and if “my friends were funny too.” The email, from somewhere in Michigan, asked if I was a practical joker or if I was “normal” during the day. I instantly pictured myself running for a phone booth, tearing open my shirt in order to reveal my cape and tights before writing the blog. Normal? What does that mean?

I thought about it and realized that my core group of friends—and my twin brother—are literally the funniest people I know. I’m scared that each one of them will start a blog. Here are a couple of stories about my college roommate, who we’ll call “Lenny” for purposes of anonymity.

Yes, you read that correctly, Some Guy from Austin has a twin brother. Yes, he’s identical. Yes, he lives in Austin too. Yes, I’m aware that Brad Womack also has a twin brother who lives in Austin. No, Brad is not my twin brother. No, I don’t know what he’s thinking or feeling all of the time. No, we never switched places, classes, or girlfriends. No, he doesn’t think I’m the least bit amusing. No, we don’t look exactly alike anymore but we did when we were children. In fact, there are pictures of us where neither of us can tell the difference between each other. Try that on for a weird feeling. That about handles most of the usual twin questions. Maybe I’ll write about it some day.

Cut to a twenty-something Some Guy in Austin before pearl snaps and boots were the norm. I was single, carefree, my hair looked good, and there was a sense that I could tackle anything that came my way. I was a college graduate and had just been promoted through no fault of my own to a really high paying sales position with the company I worked for straight out of college. I lived in a house in Northwest Austin with three roommates. We had four bedrooms, a hot tub, a big yard, and my share of the rent was $238.00 a month. I spent most of my paycheck on beer, shots, and women. I wasted the rest of it. I was riding that fine line in my life where I had more money and time than I did responsibility and I was well aware of it. I enjoyed every second of it. Truth be told, I enjoyed it a little too much.

Lenny was one of my roommates. A Midwesterner, his parents moved down here when a major company relocated to Austin. He was shorter than me, good looking, funny, and we made a great team. Every year we threw a Halloween party at the house and every year it got bigger and more ridiculous. A guy once showed completely naked except for a pair of black Chuck Taylor high tops with his head wrapped in an entire roll of Saran Wrap. The guy hung out—literally—by the keg all night and to this day, I still don’t know his identity. I eventually had to ask him to move across the room because some of the girls at the party did not want to refill their beers for fear of brushing up against his junk.

At any rate, the big party was in full swing one night and we were quickly running out of beer. Lenny, who spent a ridiculous amount of money to rent a realistic Batman costume that he literally had to be tied into, tapped me to run to the Party Barn in order to get another keg before the 1 a.m. cutoff for alcohol sales. I was dressed as Romeo. I had on poofy shorts, a poofy poet shirt, a beret looking thing, tights, and slippers. For some reason, the fact that we were dressed this way and would be riding in Lenny’s maroon, convertible Chrysler LeBaron with a white roof and white leather interior with the roof down and a keg of beer in the back seat did not deter us from getting in and heading for the beer barn.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Party Barn, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a giant red barn with the doors open that you drive into, honk your horn, and the Party Barn Guy emerges in order to take your beer and wine order before taking your money, assembling the order, and sending you driving down the street. I love Texas. Before you judge, keep in mind that if that place existed in Louisiana, a person could also purchase fireworks and hard liquor.

We hopped in the LeBaron with Batman driving and Romeo riding shotgun. Despite the fact that the keg and the giant gray garbage can protruded out of the back seat like a fat guy in coach, our drive to the beer place was uneventful. Lenny pulled in and I reached over and honked the horn. After what seemed like a few minutes, I looked at my watch realizing that it was indeed an anachronism with respect to my Shakespearean garb. I made a mental note to take it off when I arrived home. It was getting pretty close to 1 a.m. and if the Beer Guy didn’t emerge, we’d be stuck at our rager with no beer. That means that the dance party we had planned couldn’t happen and all of the women at the party who were dressed up like slutty whatevers would go elsewhere. There was a lot at stake. Everyone knows when there’s a lot at stake it’s nice to have a superhero handy. Fortunately, we did.

Lenny put the LeBaron in park and jumped out of the car over the door. He almost tripped on his cape. “Batman needs a keg!” he announced loudly with his hands on his hips as he entered the secure glass office of Party Barn Headquarters in search of the Beer Guy. I told Lenny that speaking in third person was a nice touch and opined that Batman himself would have probably done something similar. He agreed.

The Beer Guy emerged . . . unamused. I sat there in the passenger seat laughing my romantic head off. “What light through yonder office breaks! It is the Party Barn and the beer guy is the sun!” I said in my best Shakespearean slur. The Beer Guy was still unamused but Batman was laughing. The guy exchanged our keg, tapped it on the spot, and set it in ice in the trash can and Lenny and I picked it up, put it in the back seat, and seatbelted it in for good measure. We were drunk. Before we paid, the Beer Guy actually checked our ID’s and the best part is that Lenny never took off his Batman mask. As far as the Guy knew, he was selling booze to Bruce Wayne. Classic. Refilled and ready to go, we got back in LeBat Mobile. “Stab it and steer, Batman,” I said and we pulled out at approximately 1:10 AM ready to rescue the party. Here comes the funny part.

Let me just say that I neither condone drinking and driving nor do I think it’s funny. However, we were foolish back then and were blessed with the good fortune of not hurting anyone or anything. With that said, Batman and Romeo were loaded. We had no business operating anything with moving parts—including the girls at the party--much less bursting into businesses and demanding booze in the third person. Driving down one of the main roads in Austin, we enjoyed the feel of the cool October air on our skin and laughed about Batman buying beer. Not paying attention, Lenny blew through a blinking red light and we both went silent. Simultaneously, blinking red and blue lights appeared behind us. “Oh, sh*t,” we both said as Lenny eased off the turbo booster on LeBat Mobile and pulled to the side of the road. Holy Jailhouse rape, Batman!

I can only imagine what the officer thought as he approached the LeBaron with a seatbelted, tapped and iced, full keg of beer in the back seat being transported to an undisclosed location by Batman and some guy in a poofy shirt and tights—I didn’t expect a cop to get the Shakespeare reference. I had visions of being thrown in the County Drunk Tank in my outfit and suddenly realized that I looked really gay. I mean, Batman would be fine. Perhaps I could be his jailhouse bi*ch and he would protect me. Before I could ask him if I could be his prison wife, the officer reached the car and we sat in silence, looking forward as he inspected us and the keg with his giant cop flashlight.

I realized that the next few moments were crucial as I began to rehearse my brother’s home phone number in my head. I would call him first and hope he answered to come bail us out. I wouldn’t tell my parents what happened but I would tell my boss just in case they sent some sort of notification out about these sorts of things. He’d understand and I wouldn’t lose my job. Wait, I’ll have to put this on every job application I fill out in the future. Spin, spin, spin, spin, my mind raced during those moments and dread began to fill my tights—perhaps it was urine, but it felt like dread.

“Where are you boys headed?” the cop asked. Not wanting Lenny to explain in the third person where Batman was headed, I spoke in my best trying to sound sober voice obviously unappreciative of the circumstances. “We just got a keg for a Halloween party and we’re headed back to the house now,” I offered.

“Do you have any idea why I pulled you over?” the officer asked Batman. I reasoned that it might have something to do with the 16 gallons of cold beer in the 50 gallon trash can in the back seat, but I appreciated the opportunity to answer the question. With both hands still on the wheel, Lenny looked over at me and smiled. “Uh oh,” I thought.

“No, officer, I don’t know why you pulled us over,” Lenny said with a smile. “I pulled you over because you ran that blinking red light back there at the intersection,” he said shining his flashlight back at the crime scene. Lenny, put the car in park, took off his seatbelt, and leaned out of the door in order to look backward at the intersection. He looked the officer right in the eye and through his Batman mask said, “Yea, but it was clearly between blinks.”

Complete silence filled the air as my eyes widened and I began to shake my head. I’d finally get to feel what it was like to be handcuffed. After about 10 seconds or an eternity—I’m not sure which—the officer looked at me, looked at Lenny, and looked at the keg. And then he began to laugh—hard. “How far did you say you live from here?” he asked. “Five blocks, do you want to follow us there?” I asked. The officer confirmed our addresses via our driver’s licenses, made us swear that we wouldn’t leave the house, and sent us on our way. Oh, and Lenny still never took off the Batman mask.

The last thing I remember that night was looking at my watch—I’d forgotten to take it off—and noting that it was well after five o’clock in the morning. I stumbled past the empty keg cups, picked up the Sir-Mix-A-Lot CD case from in front of the stereo, and knocked on Lenny’s door because I hadn’t seen him in a while. I opened the door and there was Lenny lying face down in his bed sans cape and Bat boots but with the rest of the Batman suit in tact. “You alright?” I asked. “Batman’s drunk,” he said. Drunk indeed.

Story number two:

After work one evening I had an even stronger desire to hit the town than I usually do. I hopped in my car and drove home expecting to get Lenny off the sofa and out of the house in order to scope some Betty’s and power some brews. Note: I no longer use the phrase “scope some Betty’s and power some brews;” however, back in those days, it was a big part of my vernacular. Unfortunately, when I arrived home, Lenny was not there.

At that time, Lenny was finishing up his final year in school and was still bartending to make ends meet. They rarely met. In fact, if both of his ends ran into each other on the street, they wouldn’t recognize each other. I called the restaurant and got him on the phone. He told me that he’d be getting out of work after 2 a.m. because he’d picked up the late shift. I was upset. Lenny was the Robin to my Batman, the Hardy to my Laurel, the ying to my yang; although we’re both heterosexual and never had occasion to touch each other’s ying or yang but there was this one time where we fell asleep and woke up in each other’s arms but we’re not supposed to discuss that anymore because it really didn’t mean anything and besides, a one time cuddle with a man doesn’t make a guy gay. I mean, if you ride a horse once, does that make you a cowboy? Annnnyyyyyyhoooo . . .

I was thirsty and ready to hit the town. I musked up and jumped in the car. While driving down to the bar where Lenny worked—after all, I reasoned that his inability to join me on the town warranted a few free beers—I began to laugh out loud because I was struck with a moment of brilliance. Yes, I was going to play a practical joke on Lenny and it would involve his prized maroon LeBaron with the white roof and white leather interior.

I detoured to a local grocery store and went to the deli counter. My plan was to cover Lenny’s car from bumper to bumper with some sort of lunch meat and then disclaim any knowledge of the act. My first choice was olive loaf. That’s the mystery meat with green olives peppered throughout it. I wonder who in the hell invented that and, better yet, how he talked anyone into selling it. At any rate, olive loaf was in the neighborhood of five or six bucks a pound—due to the labor costs involved in its preparation, I assumed—so I ditched that idea. I went with olive loaf’s lower rent, white trash cousin, baloney. If olive loaf lived in a mansion, baloney would live in a trailer. Baloney is basically a flat hot dog and its consistency would be perfect for my plan.

Next, I had to figure out how much baloney it would take to cover a maroon Chrysler LeBaron. I had to assume that the roof would be closed since it would be parked in a public lot. In case you’re wondering, the answer is about five pounds thinly sliced. After fending off the oddest looks from the guy behind the deli counter, I paid for the baloney and headed out to find Lenny’s car.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I parked, took my bag of baloney, and located the LeBaron. I covered the hood, the windshield, the roof, the side and rear windows, and the trunk with the baloney. There were a couple times during the prank when I actually had to stop because I was laughing so hard. Several people walked by and gave me odd looks. Baloney in place, I sat back and admired my work. I strongly considered waiting until 2 a.m. just to see the look on Lenny’s face when he left work with a sore back, sore feet, lime dried hands, smelling like a restaurant longing for a shower and his bed only to discover that his car had been wrapped in lunch meat. I’m actually laughing as I type this.

I composed myself so as not to tip Lenny off to the fact that I had just baloneied (yes, that’s now a verb) his car, and went into the restaurant for a few free beers. During that time, several of our friends also walked into the restaurant and I had to jump up from my bar stool in order to intercept them so they would not ruin the prank. “Hey, Lenny, you want a baloney sandwich?” one of our friends yelled across the bar as he entered. Lenny, smiled but was clearly confused. Whew, he had no idea.

After a few beers, I left the restaurant to head Downtown in order to meet some friends. Of course, I shared the baloney story and we all toasted to Lenny, the LeBaron, and Lunch meat. The next morning, despite my adamant denials, Lenny laughed with me about prank saying that when he emerged from the restaurant his car was covered with stray cats enjoying the baloney. We had a good laugh and he vowed to get me back.

Fast forward a few weeks later. It was mid-August in Austin, Texas and the city was in the midst of one of the worst droughts in fifty years. Temperatures had been above 100 degrees for over 30 days in a row and not so much as a drop of rain had fallen in months. My boss informed me that I’d be in Phoenix for two weeks for some training. I booked my flight and headed out of town. Trading Austin in August for Phoenix in August is a lot like trading the steam room for the sauna. I did manage to have a great time in Phoenix, but that’s an entirely different blog entry.

Upon my return, Lenny picked me up at the airport on a Friday evening and we went out carousing and carrying on as always. At one point in the evening he found himself literally being followed by some drunk girl from bar to bar. She’d apparently lost her friends and was really determined to hook up with Lenny. My brother was with us and we politely pulled Lenny aside and told him that he needed to ditch her because she was annoying us. Eventually, after she followed us to the third bar, Lenny got sick of her too. “Hey, do you like to dance?” he said. Her face lit up and she smiled from ear to ear. “Yes! I loooove to dance,” she said. Lenny looked at her and said, “Well, go dance then.” Look, I know that’s a bit mean, but man, was it funny. We all ended up feeling guilty about it, but we quickly recovered and drank the rest of the night away.

The next morning was Saturday. I slept until about 10 a.m. and awoke with an unusually bad hangover. It was all I could do to pull myself out of bed. I had to be at the dry cleaners before they closed at 2 p.m. in order to pick up the clean work shirts and pants I’d dropped off before my trip. I’d taken all of my other clothes on the trip and they needed to be cleaned.

I sipped Gatorade, took a cold shower, took a bunch of aspirin, and did anything else I could in order to summon up the energy to walk. At 1 p.m., I donned a baseball cap and some dark sunglasses and headed to my car which had been parked in the street, in the sun, for two weeks. I cranked it up and began to drive to the cleaners with the A/C on high praying that the car would cool down and sweating like a fat kid at the park. I basked in the misery of my hangover as my head throbbed and my stomach churned. “Get to the cleaners and then you can get home,” I said to myself. “It’s a ten minute trip.” And then, the smell hit me.

I was overcome by the foulest smell I’d experienced in my entire life. My mind searched for a solution as to where it was coming from. I rolled down the windows in order to see if the smell was outside. It wasn’t. I turned off the air conditioner in order to see if I had a mechanical issue. I did not. I opined that a squirrel had died in my engine and the air condition was now blowing the smell into my hungover face. I stopped the car in a parking lot, got out into the 100 degree heat and opened my hood. No squirrel. I got back in the car and proceeded—immersed in the smell—to the cleaners.

Luckily, this was the sole errand I had chosen to run this day. I took my dry cleaning, opened my car door (I had a two door), and popped the seat up in order to hang my clothes from the hook in the back seat. When I did, I noticed a small piece of white paper protruding from underneath my seat. I hung the clothes and pulled on the paper. I pulled out a softball sized object wrapped in butcher paper and taped with masking tape. I put it on the hood of the car and opened it. I literally gagged and dry heaved when I discovered a rotted, bloody, semi-cooked cow heart on the inside of that paper. I threw it in a nearby dumpster fighting back the urge to puke.

When I got back to my car, I looked under the seat again and found a handwritten note in Lenny’s handwriting that read, ala the Godfather, “DP sleeps with the beef hearts.” At least Luca Brasi was dead when they mailed Clemenza and Tessio the fish, I thought.

I discovered later that Lenny had lied in wait for the right moment to pay me back for the baloney caper. As soon as I left town, he found my spare car keys, went to a local butcher, purchased a cow heart, and stuck it under my seat where it sat for two weeks in the Texas heat. It took weeks before the smell subsided in my car. I have to admit, he won that exchange.

Well, there it is. In response to a reader’s inquiry some stories about my friends. Lenny and I are close to this day. I was just his best man in his wedding and I see him often when he visits Austin or I’m in Dallas. I could literally fill 100 pages with stories like these and I’m grateful every day to have a friend like him in my life. Pranks aside, he’s been a great friend to me for most of my adult life and I wouldn’t trade the gagging and puking I endured at the hands of a rotting beef heart for his friendship. Until next week, if you need me, I’ll be plotting my revenge. DP