Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lies My Parents Told Me

I think my parents were pretty honest with me. Like all parents they lied about lots of stuff; Santa Claus, secret trips to the doctor's office, and anything involving 'building character,' but they always seemed to come clean when asked. So I'm inclined to believe them more often than not.

Every few years they will tell me about how the bassinet (sort of like a crib, but...different somehow) that my sister and I used growing up and subsequently passed around the family was owned previously by country superstars George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Apparently the Jones family lived in Lakeland for a while, where my sister and I were born and somehow the bassinet made its way to my parents.

Like I said, I'm inclined to believe them, and it doesn't really seem like something they'd make up, but a couple things don't seem to add up. First of all, how the hell did the bassinet get to my parents? I'd like to imagine George Jones loaded out of his mind running across my dad in a parking lot or something and saying, "Hell, I gotta bastardette you can have, hold on a second." Or maybe my dad won it from him playing poker. I'd like to think Jones and my dad compared sideburns afterwards.

On a side note, George Jones getting a DUI on a riding mower on his way to get a drink is funny and somewhat charming in an old school Otis the Drunk manner. When my neighbors get drunk, I just get to hear a lot of cussing and Kid Rock. As a society, we really need to bring back the comical drunk. C'mon people, put some style in that drinking!

I can pull off a mean "She Thinks I Still Care" in the shower, and there was that time my sister found a hidden stash of cocaine and whiskey in the bassinet, so there just might be something to the story.

George Jones is playing here next month. It's fifty bucks, which means I won't go. I'm thinking of seeing if I can locate that bassinet and emailing his management. Reuniting him with his long-lost baby...bed or whatever the hell a bassinet is would surely warrant free tickets, right? He would be overcome with emotion, remembering the times he and Tammy rocked their kid together and have to get me front row tickets.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Friends are Thirteen Years Old

My good friend Patrick was in town last weekend. I had to work. Whenever we meet up with each other, we exchange gifts as a sign of respect, much like the wise Native Americans of ancient times. Or maybe it was the Dutch.

Anyway, since most of the crap we like is juvenile, stupid or of interest to only a handful of nerds in the world, it just makes sense to give it away, rather than trying to sell it on ebay and trying to reclaim about a tenth of what we paid for our treasures.

By the way, I just bought a ton of '70s Italian Star Wars ripoff DVDs. Will these eventually end up as Christmas gifts? Only if my friends are very lucky.

I hid my meager bag of stuff for Pat, hoping my white trash neighbors wouldn't steal it or use it as a training tool for their 30 pit bulls. When I got home from work I had a huge box of treats waiting for my by the front door. A ton of really nice Ben Sherman shirts, some old band T-shirts (scored a sweet Mod target shirt, Black Flag bars, Birthday Party, Smiths, Devo, all sorts of stuff it seemed like I should have had at one point), and a smattering of DVDs and CDs. Yeah, that box was pretty packed with awesome. What's that? The box itself? Uh, well, here's a photo of the box that was on my doorstep for the mailman and God and everyone to see:

The other sides give operating instructions ("in the butt") and celebrity testimonials. I'm sure my neighbors had a good laugh over this when they were up on my porch looking for stuff to steal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Actual Question I Got Today at the Reference Desk

So, uh...there was this had a girl in it...she had, like, a nose. I think it was a comedy...or a drama. Do you have that?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm walking through the jungle gathering mangoes. I meet Raquel Welch. I make a nice mango cream pudding.

I absolutely hated doing yard work growing up. There were some things I didn't mind, watching the grass yield to the power of my mower, that was pretty cool. But pulling weeds or raking the yard was like being sent to the gulag to a 13 year old me.

But the absolute worst job was gathering mangoes. We had a huge old mango tree and my sister and I would have to gather the rotten mangoes off the ground and put them in a trash bag. We might have had to separate the good mangoes and put them aside or something, I have completely blocked that out of my memory.

We would put this job off as long as we could. It didn't help that we never knew when it was going to be forced upon us. My parents didn't seem to have any sort of schedule for chores, it was more like my dad would decide, "hey, this is the exact minute the kids need to clean the yard of nasty, rotting mangoes. Let's get them on it right now."

Standing out in the sun, praying for rain or the sun to set, picking up brown, squishy gnat-infested mangoes was like working on a chain gang. And that smell - that sweet, rotting smell - that stuff smelled like death. The worst were the mangoes with bites out of them. That meant that the huge river rats had been feasting the night before, and were probably hanging out in the darker parts of the yard waiting to bite us and fill us full of the rabies.

It also didn't help that we could see our dad sitting in his chair watching football while were slaving away. He didn't have anyone telling him to work, we bitched to each other. And none of our friends had to do yard work. I remember my neighbor telling me, "My parents hire people to do that stuff. That's what you're supposed to do in the '80s." My parents did not subscribe to that theory.

Picking up mangoes could take us all day, mostly because we would have to gingerly pick up the smallest portion of mango possible with our thumb and forefinger and throw it into the bag before the rats came charging at us, and also because we didn't understand that it would have been a lot quicker to, you know, actually do the job instead of standing out in the yard complaining about it.

I suppose that stuff was supposed to build character. I don't know if it worked or not. Now that I am old, I am obsessed by yard work. I can easily spend all day pulling weeds or raking or mowing. And I have my dad's "I just got this idea! It has to be implemented right now" trait. But you know what I will never do? Touch a damn mango. Neither will my sister. Just seeing the nasty things bring back memories of brown, rotten, rat-bitten fruit baking in the Florida sun. Do you know how many times I've been in a nice restaurant and heard a waiter describe a piece of fish that sounds awesome until he utters that terrible phrase, "covered in a mango salsa?" Too many to count, my friend, too many to count.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Body Blow, Body Blow

When watching boxing or a Muhammad Ali documentary almost every guy will think, "You know, I could do that." You realize you couldn't land a punch or anything, but you could probably last a round or two. Hell, who hasn't been punched before? And they use gloves in boxing, right? That ring's pretty big, with some fancy footwork you should be able to run out the clock for a while, take a punch or two, collect your huge paycheck and go home.

I'm a doughy, out of shape 40 year old, and I still secretly think I could box professionaly. I don't have these delusions about other sports. I know I could never complete a pass in the NFL. I would have no chance of making a layup in the NBA. Hell, I probably couldn't even sink a free throw, what with everyone shouting and waving crap at me.

But boxing? I could totally do that. Worst case scenario, I get knocked out within seconds, and I have a story for the rest of my life. I could be watching Mike Tyson in The Hangover on my wall-sized TV and legitimately say, "I fought that guy once."


"That's what they tell me. How else do you think I could afford this gold-plated house?"

I'd like to think that when my opponent and I tapped our gloves in the beginning, I'd do that "fake hand shake to the hair adjustment" move. I figure I'm getting knocked out soon, may as well give the people their money's worth. And how awesome would it be to dramatically rise off the floor while the ref is counting me out and my crusty trainer is shouting at me to stay down?

'80s movies are to blame for my delusional belief in my boxing skills. As everyone knows, to be a great boxer, all you need is heart, someone to believe in you, and a training montage set to an inspiring '80s ballad. I don't really have the first two, but I could totally do a montage. Run on the beach for a while, do some sit-ups, hit that big ...punching bag thing, no problem. "Eye of the Tiger" is a bit too obvious, let's go with ...hmmmm. Def Leppard? Not enough synthesizer. Journey? Too played out. Hey, this montage might be harder than I thought.

Of course, this fantasy only applies to old school boxing. MMA is too dude-touching for me. Hey, you know, boxing is probably losing tons of revenue to MMA. They should be looking for a new underdog story to teach America how to dream again. And with my "everyman" physique and "Joe Six-pack" avoidance of training, hard work and sense of entitlement, I could be just the underdog they're looking for. Where do I sign up?

*When I say "almost every guy" I really mean, "Me and a guy at work I talked to about boxing once." With that sort of rigorous sourcing, I could totally be a lifestyles feature editor, if I only lived in New York.