Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Off Season Post 37: What Does it All Mean?


Hello, Readers.  Welcome back to the latest installment of my creative outlet.  I’ve had a few requests for posts over the past couple of weeks and, as I mentioned in my last post, I think the request for my take on pop country music is a good one.  I’ve been contemplating exactly how I’m going to present that in light of the mountain of thoughts on that subject that I have to organize.  To the Reader who requested that, thank you.  I’ll get to it but not this week.


This week I’ve been in a somewhat reflective mood.  I’ve had many things going on in my life—some positive, some negative, some of which inspire indifference—that have caused me to look inward in order to search for answers to the conundrum we call Life.  Alright, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic.  I think a better way to say it is that I’ve had a lot going on in my life lately and the combined effect of all of the tiny things I have to pay attention to have caused my mind to become more active than a spastic colon after a Mexican dinner.  In short, I need your help sorting out some things. 

 
In light of my vagueness, I suppose some background information would be helpful.  Like a modern day Dickens novel, mine is a Tale of Two Cities.  For you lit buffs out there, I’ll continue the comparison.  Honestly, I can’t decide if I’m more Charles Darnay or more Sydney Carton.  Top that off with the fact that I’m not a huge Dickens fan and you should feel my pain.  In short, I still need your help sorting some things out. 

 
You see, being a lawyer is an odd thing sometimes.  I’d love to tell you that this career is the noble pursuit of many of the things that our culture holds dear and, in fact, is built upon.  I’d love to tell you that I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and I protect their inalienable right to have their grievances heard and decided by their equals in a court of law blinded by absolute indifference to the social status, race, religion, or politics of the litigants before it in the name of upholding the rule of law.  I’d love to but that’s difficult to reconcile with the fact that I spend a good portion of my day arguing with some guy in a short sleeve shirt and a tie in a cubicle on the fifth floor of some Midwest insurance company over five grand and a few commas in a Settlement Agreement and Release.  Half the time that guy is an inalienable as*hole who is anything but right. 

 
Work isn’t always such a struggle.  In fact, I often leave the office with a sense (albeit a small one) of progress.  The people that work for me seem happy with me and I try to be a considerate, sympathetic (empathetic when I can be), and reasonable boss.  On occasion, even the people that sign my paycheck seem happy with me.  Law firms (as I’m sure some of the readers can attest) are often horrible places to work and are, ironically, filled with the most egregious violators of every social more or boundary ever invented.  I’m happy to say that mine is not one of those firms, but let’s be honest, it’s called “work” for a reason.  If I could retire tomorrow, I would.  Granted, I’d still do SOMETHING, but I’d do it on my own terms. 
 

So why am I whining?  I’ll be the first to tell you that through no action of my own I’ve been tremendously blessed in my life.  Despite the bumps in the road and even the sinkhole to which I’ve not so subtly alluded in the past, I feel lucky.  I often wonder why that’s the case in light of the fact that I’ve taken very large steps on my own volition toward thumbing my nose at that good fortune.  I suppose that falls under the age old question “why do good things happen to bad people,” and, frankly, I don’t know the answer to that. 


I suppose we all have a sense of justice hardwired into our brains.  Try giving a child less soda than his brother or letting his little sister use his favorite toy.  From an early age we are imbued with the concept of fairness.  Granted, it’s impossible for us to articulate it at that age and I’m not certain it gets any easier to articulate it as we get older.  Some things simply ARE.  I suppose Hindus, Sikhs, or Buddhists would assign their respective definitions of “Karma” to this little puzzle.  Stated another way, fairness is a result of action.  You get what you deserve, in other words.  If you treat someone badly, then the universe will extract a payback upon you in order to balance it out.  The converse is true as well.  That concept is a little tougher to reconcile for a Christian; see Job, David, or even Jesus. 


I’ll stop there with the religious references because my struggle this week is not about God or religion.  I don’t want to start a debate or a holy war.  Rather, it’s about Self.  I had an especially horrible day at work last week and I left feeling frustrated and deflated.  I wasn’t five blocks away from my office when tremendous feelings of self-doubt with regard to my career choice, my finances, and the path I’d chosen in my life entered my head uninvited like a carjacker hiding in the bushes waiting for me to pull up to the stop light.

 
I went to the gym after work and had an especially cathartic run.  Indeed each drop of sweat that poured from my body was like a small piece of that self doubt leaving me forever and removing my saline soaked shirt was like shedding the very doubts I’d accumulated during the day.  I was whole again . . . well, at least until I got home and opened some bad news in the mail.  Over the rest of the week this cycle repeated itself.  I found myself taking breaks throughout the day to read your comments on this blog in order to remind myself that regardless of my perception; somehow I make a small difference in someone’s life.  This blog makes people laugh and writing it has made my life a fuller, more gratifying place to be since the first keystroke. 


So, what’s my point?  Well, I got to thinking on one of those aforementioned cathartic runs the other day.  Perhaps “wondering” is a more accurate classification of my process.  I wondered what I mean to you Readers.  I wondered if you take me with you beyond the 15 minutes you spend giggling at my nonsense on your screen.  I wondered if something I’ve written has ever made a REAL difference in any of your lives.  I wondered if I stopped writing tomorrow how that would affect you.  In a word, I wondered what Some Guy in Austin really means to you out there. 


Here’s what I’m asking this week.  Please write me at dp010835@gmail.com or simply post a brief comment answering one or more of these questions for me in any way you see fit.  I’m certain I’ll be back in rare form the next time I post.  For now, humor me. 


Thank you all for playing along.  Enjoy your week, kiss someone you love (consensually, of course), and take a moment to be grateful even though you might not feel like it.  I appreciate what you bring into my life.  Until next time, take care of yourselves.  In the meantime, if you need me I’ll be trying to keep my karma from running over my dogma.  DP     

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Off Season Post 36: That 'T 'Aint My Credit Card


Hello, Readers.  Welcome back to the latest Off Season Post.  In light of the heavy subject matter of last week’s DP Tells All Part 4 post, I’ve decided to lighten things up a bit this week by relaying another one of my infamous stories of my youth.  I’d like to thank all of you for your emails and comments over the past couple of weeks.  It’s nice to know that you’re all still out there. 


Before I start this week, I’d like to send a shout out to my close friend, Scott Angle.  Scott is, among other things, a musician and one hell of a guy.  He’s never let me down as a friend and he’s about as reliable as a snug pair of Jockey underwear during an all out sprint.  Scott recently started a new venture here in Austin.  He opened a food trailer on South Lamar known as Honky Tonk Hot Dogs (www.honkytonkhotdogsatx.com) that blends his Chicago roots with his love for Austin honky tonks and REAL country music. 

While it’s Scott’s baby, all of us have been pitching in any way we can.  I recently worked a few shifts as cashier, prep cook, food runner, and after hours left over beer drinker.  The food is great.  The music is wonderful and the atmosphere is fun.  Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood and tell Scott that Some Guy in Austin sent you.  I’m certain he’d be willing to offer you a nominal discount or an extra napkin for dropping my name.  Congratulations on making it work, Scott.  We’re all proud of you.  Now let’s get to it. 



For those of you who have been reading my drivel for a while, you’ll recall that my college roommate, “Lenny,” and I have a very colorful history of pranks.  I’ve covered his car from top to bottom in baloney.  He retaliated by leaving a raw cow heart he got at the butcher under my car seat for two weeks in August while I was out of town training for my first job after college.  I once wrapped his keys in an entire roll of duct tape and he once placed a rolled up load of dark chocolate cookie dough with corn mixed in it under my bed.  I literally thought it was his feces until he picked it up and ate it in front of me.  Mature?  No.  Funny?  Hell yes. 


Other pranks include sending a homosexual masseuse named “Tino” to Lenny’s door at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning after taking him out and getting him hammered the night before, moving all of the furniture—including the pictures on the walls—in his room into the back yard and reassembling it just as it was in his room, picking up the front of his car and moving it sideways so he couldn’t get it out of the driveway, and filling his coat pockets with pasta. 


Our pranks were not always directed at one another, however.  There have also been times when we’ve cooperated in order to retaliate against various third parties. One time we got in a fight at a party with some members of the Kappa Sigma Date Rape fraternity.  Outnumbered, we left the party only to return at 3am after downing gallons of beer at a local dive bar.  We snuck into the quiet, dark house and stole the middle cushion off every couch in the house.  Lenny used one of those cushions as a floor seat to watch football on for years after that.  He probably still has it.    


There’s more.  Upon meeting my college girlfriend’s mother for the first time he shook her hand, looked over at me and said, “I don’t know what you meant by ‘frumpy,’ she’s lovely.”  I once did a stint at the local comedy club in college trying my hand at stand up comedy.  Lenny would come to every show and just as I was inevitably about to bomb, he’d yell from the back of the room, “DO YOUR GOOD STUFF!”  Every time one of Lenny’s (and there were many) new potential “love” interests would call the house for the first time and I would pick up, I’d ask a few questions, put her on hold, and then pick up the phone and say, “Lenny has horrible diarrhea right now but he said he’d call you back when he’s done, can I get your number?”    


The list goes on.  We’ve known each other since we were teenagers.  These days, the pranks are fewer and further between, but occasionally we get the other person good enough to warrant retelling the story again and again to whomever will listen.  The following is one of those instances. 

Cut to a few years after college.  I lived in Houston and Lenny lived in Dallas.  We were both in our early to mid-20’s, working on our own definitions of success, and enjoying the freedom that being single and earning decent money brought into our lives.  In retrospect, we had it just about as good as it can get back then.  I’m happy to say that while I didn’t always feel like the luckiest person on Earth, I did have a real picture of how good my life was at that time.  I’m certain Lenny did as well.  We’d both worked very hard to pay our own way through college plus or minus our parents' best efforts. 


As I alluded earlier, Lenny had a tendency to juggle women—a lot of women.  His dance card had a dance card.  He might as well have had one of those red “take a number” things you find at the deli mounted on his bedroom door.  I wouldn’t call him dishonest or irresponsible; however, he was charming and he knew it.  He made me look like a monk—a really hot and irresistible monk, but a monk nonetheless. 


Lenny called me one afternoon and told me he was on his way to Houston for a business meeting with the Houston Aeros, a local IHL hockey team and a client of his.  He suggested a night out at the stadium and insisted that I round up as many “possibilities” for him as I could.  I immediately went to the letter “E” for “Easy” in my Chicktionary and got to work.  For the record, Lenny and I referred to this morally flexible type of woman as a “Dropped French Fry.”  You know, kind of dirty but you’d still eat it.  Annnnyyyyhooo . . .

Let me pause here for a moment to explain a few essential details necessary in order to gain a full appreciation of this story’s denouement—that’s a fancy French word meaning “kickass ending.”


Lenny is notorious for two things:  Being habitually and egregiously late and having an uncanny talent for creating a major inconvenience when the possibility of one simply doesn’t exist.  Time has tempered my frustration with these two things, but at that time, my own notorious fault, impatience, often got the better of me.  I cannot count the number of times I dropped him off, picked him up, waited on him, or bailed him out of trouble. 


He’d lose his keys in a bar at 4am and call me for a ride.  He’d lose his car because he was too drunk to remember where he parked it and then get lost walking to find a pay phone.  I once had to pretend to be him in a mandatory meeting with a college professor after he missed a Monday flight home from Las Vegas because he was getting a tattoo.  I waited to pick him up at the Austin airport for an hour before leaving in frustration.  Notwithstanding my glaring role as his enabler, this was simply part of the equation if you were to call yourself a friend of Lenny.  Back to Houston.


Lenny arrived in Houston and I rounded up the trove of trollops I’d artfully assembled and headed to the Compaq Center, where the Aeros played their games.  Lenny’s client had arranged a sky box for us complete with complimentary beverages and food.  Don’t tell Lenny, but that little piece of information was used liberally while trying to gain takers for my tramp parade.  Like a tractor needs diesel, loose women require free booze and heavy hors d’oerves in order to begin purring.  After hugging it out in the most heterosexual way possible, Lenny and I turned our attention to the task at hand. 


Like virile male cats, we sprayed the room with charm.  After working the “possibilities” Lenny set his sights on the most vulnerable doe in the herd.  He moved his gun from “Charm” to “Kill” and I could literally see the walls of consideration and social nuance disintegrate around him.  He was like a dog after surgery with one of those giant cones around his neck only able to focus on what was directly in front of his face.  He couldn’t lick himself either, which meant he was going to have to find someone to do that for him.  In short, I knew I was in for a long night.


After the big hockey game we hit a dive bar.  Incidentally, it’s the same bar where my “Squishy Situation” (http://guyinaustin.blogspot.com/2011/09/off-season-post-18-squishy-situation.html) date would occur a few weeks after this night.  A few more friends joined us and Lenny continued to pile on the charm thicker than peanut butter.  Close to last call, I hit the bathroom before playing one last game of pool with a few friends and paying out my tab.  Much to my chagrin but unfortunately not to my surprise, Lenny was nowhere to be found.  I searched.  I called.  I waited.  I sighed.  I headed home at 2 a.m. a conflicted soul.  On one hand, I was frustrated that Lenny ditched me for a dame.  On the other, I was, in fact, the one responsible for setting his poonanny plan in motion.  I went to bed that night indifferent and alone struggling with the curse of my awesomeness. 


Fast forward 5 hours.  My cell phone begins to ring and right away through a foggy cloud of unmetabolized alcohol I am painfully aware that it’s Lenny calling for a ride from wherever he ended up.  Luckily, the girl he went home with was a friend of one of the other girls who I’d never met which meant I wouldn’t be held directly responsible when Lenny “forgot” to call her after the gang bang or whatever.    


I’ll spare you the swearing and just let you know that Lenny was across town and had to be at a client meeting in about 2 hours.  Never mind the fact that I had to be at work in an hour and a half.  I took a quick shower, dressed and headed out to pick him up so I could bring him back to the stadium where he’d left his car. 


Why didn’t his “girlfriend” bring him, you ask?  Because he couldn’t remember her name and didn’t want to wake her up.  CLASSIC.  He identified two cross streets for me and I picked him up on the corner.  I believe it was the intersection of Syphillis Street and Promiscuous Drive. 


Annoyed, I went to the garage where he’d left his car.  I dropped him off and drove away.  As you’ve already surmised, it’s never that simple with Lenny.  My cell phone rang and it was—you guessed it—Lenny.  “Dude, I have no cash and I left my debit card behind at some bar and forgot to close my tab.  Can you come back and pay for me to get out of the garage?”  Again, this is quintessential Lenny behavior (see his aforementioned talents).  I went back, paid the $26 in parking charges he’d incurred, and headed to my meeting.  I arrived 15 minutes late cursing him the entire time.  After that meeting, I fielded a phone call from Lenny and gave him directions to the bar he’d been at with the floozy from the night before so he could get his card back and pay his undoubtedly exorbitant tab. 


Contrary to everything I’d learned about Lenny, I simply chose to go on with my day blissfully certain that he was through annoying me until the next time we met.  And then the phone rang.  Apparently, Lenny had gone to the bar where he thought his credit card was and they didn’t have it. 


“Call and cancel it,” I said. 

“No, call your friend and have her call what’s her name and find out the name of the bar we were at,” he responded.
“Hell no.  Then I’ll have to listen to what a jerk you are and then I’ll be a jerk for knowing you.  What did the bar look like?”


“It was next to some Pink Pussycat place or something.”

BINGO.  Anyone who lived inside the 610 Loop in Houston prior to the year 2003 or so is aware of the tasteless pink neon sign on Richmond Drive heralding the presence of Live Nude Girls at the Pink Pussycat Cabaret.  To call it a sore thumb would be an understatement. 

By the way, I have a great DP and MH story about that place involving a one armed stripper whose smoke break we interrupted, but that’s a completely different post.   


Next to the Pink Pussycat Cabaret was a bar called The Cellar.  It was close to where I found Lenny wandering like a panhandler in the morning.  I told him I’d go by and get his card during my lunch break.  Keep in mind that at this stage of my life I had not yet reached Big Shot status.  Therefore, my lunch break was from 11-12:15 rather than “Whenever I leave to whenever I finish my third beer.”  I left my office in Houston traffic and drove—hungry—over to The Cellar.  It was closed.  Pissed, I returned to my office. 


I drove back after work.  To be fair, it was on my way home, but it was still a needless inconvenience I had to endure while Lenny was simultaneously setting up a replica of last night’s festivities save for the fact that he was back in Dallas rather than still in Houston.  I got to the bar and walked in.  I approached the bartender—who turned out to be an insufferable asshole—and politely asked him if I could close “my” tab and pick up “my” credit card.  He begrudgingly asked “my” name and rifled through last night’s stack of the Lenny’s who all forgot to close their tabs. 

“Here it is.  I need to see some ID before I give you the card back.”  “Lenny,” I said to myself under my breath.  After unsuccessfully attempting both to talk my way into leaving with the card and calling Lenny to verify that I was not there with nefarious intent, I left.  Again, pissed.  I called Lenny on the way home and left him a scathing message about the card.  He emailed me back the following morning saying that he’d talked to the bar and they’d be expecting me.  Again, I dropped by on my way home from work but this time, I was able to get the card.  I left but not before dropping an extremely generous—and intentionally punitive—gratuity on the tab. 
DP:      “Alright, As*hole, I’ve got your card and I’ll mail it back to you.  Happy?”


Lenny: “Can you FedEx it?  I need it.” 


DP:      “&*$$##!!!!!&&**)**&&^^%!@!!!!”

Here’s where it gets interesting. 


Stewing in the hot broth of circumstances, I eventually cooked up a scheme to get back at Lenny.  I first need to lay a predicate before telling you what I did.  The following paragraph, at first anyway, will seem like a nonsequitur.  Humor me.  


There is an anatomical area on the human body known as the Perineum.  It is generally defined as the surface region in both males and females between the pubic symphysis and the coccyx.  In layman’s terms, the area between the hooha and the bunghole.  If you’re still confused, I can’t help you.  Colloquially, this area has many names.  Down here in Austin, we refer to it as the “Taint” as in “’T ain’t your balls, ‘t ain’t your ass.”  However, it’s also commonly referred to as the Nacha, the Grundle, the Gooch, or the Chode.  I’m sure I’m missing some others, but you get the picture.  So, how does this fit in to our story?  Allow me to explain. 


As I continued to fuel my frustration at Lenny by projecting all of the external annoyances that come with living in Houston upon the thought of him and fighting some of the world’s worst traffic, I vowed revenge.  I arrived back at my house knowing that there was a FedEx store between me and the park where I went to run.  I threw my keys, Lenny’s card, and my wallet in their usual place between my computer and my printer and went to my room to lose the work slacks in favor of my running gear. 

I disrobed and realized that my favorite pair of running shorts were not in my drawer; rather, were still sitting in the dryer in the laundry room.  As I walked, sans clothing, across my living room and past my home office toward the back of the house in order to retrieve my gear I was struck with an epiphany.  Sitting there, face up next to my color printer was Lenny’s shiny Bank of America Debit Card—you know, the one he desperately needed me to FedEx to him because he used it every single day of his life.  It was the one with his picture in the corner.


As I looked at Lenny’s smiling face on the card I began to grin from ear to ear as I pictured it grinning back at him---from my taint.  I detoured into the office and fired up the color printer as I removed a small piece of Scotch tape from the holder thingy and rolled it into a sticky little circle and put it on the back of Lenny’s credit card.  I then stuck it to my taint, mounted the color copier, rearranged certain parts of my anatomy in order to ensure full exposure, and hit the “Color Copy” button—all while fighting to control my laughter.  What emerged from that copier was nothing less than pure genius. 

As I stood there naked laughing hysterically at myself, I took the time to appreciate the nuances in the copy.  There was the perfect placement of the credit card equidistant from—shall we say—Points A and B.  There was the proximity of Lenny’s smiling head shot to my junk and the unmistakably, crystal clearly defined letters of his full name and middle initial on the card.  “Brilliant,” I said aloud before getting dressed and heading to FedEx to hatch the rest of my plan.


I arrived at FedEx still smiling and proceeded to pick up two envelopes.  I sent the card overnight with a 10 a.m. next day delivery to his office and the “portrait” next day air to his house with the “leave without signature” box checked and chuckled my freshly copied taint to the park.  When I awoke the next day, I began counting the hours. 


At around 10:30, my phone rang.  It was Lenny calling to thank me for my generosity and—as was his custom—apologize for the inconvenience.  My response was something to the effect of “It wasn’t a problem at all, Lenny.  I’m really happy you have your card back.”  He called me later that morning to let me know that he'd used his card several times already that day and thanked me again.  Of course, the pleasure was all mine. 


Fast forward to around 5:30 that evening.  I’m driving—again in Houston traffic—home from work when I hear the delicate buzz of my Blackberry in the center console.  I pick it up and open the email from Lenny that just came in.  “You’re Dead,” it read.  At least that’s what I think it said.  The tears of laughter in my eyes made it difficult to read. 


Well, there it is: yet another juvenile account of my wilder days.  Take care of yourselves—and your taints—in the off season and feel free to send me ideas for posts.  I have a request for a post on my take on Pop Country music next week.  I’ll post as soon as I can.  In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be running some copies.   DP