Friday, May 24, 2013

Head Games

You know when you get an idea stuck in your head and it rattles around in there like the chorus to a catchy song and you can't get it out no matter what you do? This happens to me fairly often.

Lately I've been thinking about head injuries.

I'm not really scared of getting hit in the head, really, it's more like I have this idea that sometime when I get older I'll get a stroke or dementia or hit in the head with a coconut and have a complete personality change.

I'd like to think I have a fairly good disposition at the moment. For whatever reason people seem to like me, so I guess I'm doing something right.

But all that could change with one future accident.

Would I become belligerent? Racist? Would I turn into one of those guys waving misspelled placards and screaming about the government? The worst part would be overhearing people say, "Yeah, Scott's kind of a dick now, but he was a great guy before that coconut fell on his head."

And that's the greatest tragedy of my future personality change; nobody I'd meet since my accident would know how awesome I was before. It's pretty sad when you think about it.

Of course by then I would have alienated all my friends and family, and would only have the staff at the poor people nursing home to scream at.

The funny part about all this is that I know that the odds of something like that happening to me about equal to winning the lottery or getting eaten by a shark, and I realize that this is one of the dumber things taking up space in my head, but it still bounces through my head every once in a while like the chorus of a classic rock song.

And again, I'm not actually really worried about this happening, but if I'm wearing a helmet the next time you see me, try to understand.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

If I Strip For You Will You Strip for Me?

I'm biking to work Tuesday, cruising down the Riverwalk and just digging the water and sky and thinking how much better life is without sitting in a car every day when for some reason the story of the disintegrating shoes sticks in my head.

When I started working at the library I dressed up - tie, nice pants, the whole deal. It was my first real job and it felt like the thing to do; a real coming into adulthood. Sure, I could have dressed more casually, but I liked feeling professional, like I wasn't a college student who could get away with wearing shorts to work anymore.

I wore my one pair of nice black shoes every day. I don't know when I got them, maybe my parents bought them for me, but I know I hadn't worn them in years - once in a while for a wedding or job interview, but they mostly lived in the closet.

One day while helping a patron, I noticed my gait was a little off. I also noticed black chunks of something or other all over the library. Not being that bright, I didn't think much of it. As I walked out to lunch I noticed I was definitely wobbling.

I don't know what material Stacy Adams uses for the bottom of their dress shoes, but the Florida humidity had slowly dissolved it, and after years of fighting against the climate, the soles of my shoes were finally giving up the fight, leaving big chunks everywhere I walked.

I made it through the rest of day on my wobbly shoes, then finally threw them out when I got home

"That was pretty funny," I was thinking, as I made my way into work. "Luckily those days are behind me and I don't have to deal with those sorts of problems anymore."

About two hours later I'm at the radio station. "This chair feels funny," I think. But I continue with my broadcast because I am a professional. Sort of like Dr. Johnny Fever to the county's blind radio listening residents. Walking to the car later it's almost like I can feel the breeze on the back of my legs. Weird. I guess that's just the feeling of good radio.

Hey, wait a minute.

That's when I discovered a sizeable hole right at ass level. I had noticed a smaller hole in the back pocket from my huge public servant wallet rubbing against it a few months earlier, but didn't do anything about because I'm cheap and lazy and it wasn't too noticeable. But this hole must have just sprung up. Right? I mean, how long could I have had my ass hanging out like this? Did they see at the radio station? At work?
A pin-up nobody wants to see
Luckily, I was able to go home and get another pair of pants before being arrested for public sexiness.

I learned a couple of things from Tuesday's incident. One, as soon as you think you have everything all figured out, that's when you need to watch out. And secondly, if you even think your clothes are getting worn out, donate them immediately.

Friday, May 10, 2013

You're One of Them Little Fancy Lads, Aren't Ya?

You know what was cool about growing up as a skateboarding punk rocker in the '80s? Being able to look at old pictures without cringing. No neon Spuds McKenzie shirts or acid washed jeans for me, no sir. Just jeans or old man shorts and a T shirt, Chuck Taylors or Vans on my feet, and possibly a flannel. Yep, even though we were weirdos, the basic outfit is a basic classic American look.

Foot high mohawks? Yeah, there were a few of those, but they were generally worn by posers - people who worshiped English bands like GBH or the Exploited and wore leather jackets in Florida's 90 degree heat and humidity. And how the hell could you skate with all that hairspray and extra clothing?

Or maybe my friends made fun of those guys because we had jobs and parents who wouldn't let us get funny haircuts.

So yeah, no reason to be embarrassed by my fashion choices at all. Other than gaining a few pounds since high school, I could totally rock an outfit from the '80s and still ...oh wait. I'm forgetting about the blazers.

My friend Curt and I were at a track meet. As distance runners we had hours to kill until we were needed or missed. We'd pass the time by wandering around whichever school or city we were in, walking to 7-11 to get something to eat, stealing road signs, looking for record stores, whatever.

Today we found a garage sale. We were probably going to buy something anyway, just to show up to the track meet with some crazy stuff to further cement our reputation as the team weirdos. But then we saw a rack full of suit jackets.

I don't remember which one of us actually expressed the idea, but we decided that we needed to buy a jacket apiece. We would start a new punk fashion statement.

"We'll be like the Buzzcocks or the Jam," I remember one of us saying. "All those old bands dressed up and they looked cool."

And we had just the occasion to wear them.

The Buzzcocks, before punk became synonymous with bum.

The Replacements were playing that weekend in Tampa on my birthday. We had never actually heard them, but we understood them to be more rock and roll than the stuff we usually listened to. This would be an excellent time for us to debut our new suit jackets. Soon after, all of Tampa and St.Pete would be dressing like us. Maybe even those Replacement guys would start wearing suits. "It all started in Tampa," one of them would say. "We saw these guys wearing the crap out of some suit jackets and it just all made sense."

I can't speak for Curt, but I definitely felt a little self-conscious that night. Not only were we younger than most of the concert-goers, but we were dressed differently. Of course, years later, this would be the official dress of rich guys - blazer, jeans and a T-shirt, but at the time, we were young fashion pioneers, lost in a sea of T-shirts. It didn't help that some drunk guy kept asking me, "Hey, you're in that one band, right? The drummer? That's you, right?" I couldn't tell if the guy was legitimately confused or messing with me.

But no matter, the real test would come Monday. We were both going to wear our new jackets to school.

But if regular old guy jackets were cool at the punk show, we had to do a bit more at school to shock the squares. I spent most of Sunday night decorating mine - safety pins (I still don't really understand what safety pins have to do with punk), buttons, painted slogans, anything I could attach to the jacket, I did. I even made up a card that said 'Property of Funeral Home' in spooky Gothic script. The lame conformists of Manatee High were gonna have their minds blown when they saw my radically reworked suit jacket! And you know, maybe it would open some minds, get some people thinking about the conformity we were pushed into. Maybe, just maybe, the youth would feel my message. It would be like one of those 7 Seconds songs about unity.

I got to school early and waited for Curt. It was already sort of warm. People were definitely looking at me. Hey, this thing is really hot. Uh...yeah, people are definitely looking at me. I mean, yeah, that's totally what I want - to show that I don't follow their stupid fashion rules and, this thing is really hot. Yep, everyone is staring at me, all right. Hey, isn't there a law that says schools have to provide air conditioning?

I can't remember if Curt didn't go to school that day or did go and didn't wear his jacket. I do know that two guys in suit jackets was a lot cooler than a single guy in a modified suit jacket, no matter how bravely I tried to pull it off. I also know that the jacket only lasted past homeroom when it was stashed in my locker for the rest of the day.

I have since learned that if you want to wear something different, like an old hat or, I dunno, a pocket watch or a cane with a wolf head, you have to own that stuff - act like it's the most natural thing in the world. Your self-confidence will make it work, sort of like that Emperor in that story about the awesome suit. I can't exactly remember what happened in the end, but I recall the whole town thought he looked dope in his new clothes.

Of course, that was way more than my fragile high school self-esteem could handle. And if I'm being honest, probably more than I could handle now. No wonder I've worn the same stuff basic outfit for decades.