Monday, July 29, 2013

Mama Said There'd be Days Like These

You know those mornings when you wake up and can already tell that it would be better if you went back to sleep, took a pass on the day and just tried again the next day? I had one of those Thursday.

I don't know what I was doing in my sleep the night before, but I woke up tired, not the best way to start things off. But who cares! I was only working half a day because I was finally getting a doctor to take a look at my ankle. I'd be home in time to take a nap in the afternoon. Yeah, have fun at work, suckers.

The day started with mandatory training about employee/management relations. I was daydreaming about going home early when the trainer mentioned that supervisors need to pretend to care about employees, even if they don't, or something like that. I have always ruled my departments with a firm, yet gentle hand, so I felt I didn't need to pay attention at that point, until I noticed she was looking at me.


If there's one thing I hate about training, it's group activities or having to talk. Why can't it be like the old days when someone talked and we just took notes or doodled until the class was over?

"What's your name?"

Aw, man.

"Uh...I'm Scott."

"Hello, Scott. And do you have any hobbies?"

What? I thought this was supposed to be about managing. When did this turn into an inquisition? Hobbies? Geez, I don't know. And I don't really want to share anything with my co-workers. I don't know why, but I always feel strange about letting non-friends know about my interests and activities.

", no. No."

"Oh, come on, I'm sure you have something you like doing."

"No. No, not really."

Everyone was laughing. This happens a lot, usually in situations like this when I'm not trying to be funny.

"He rides his bike," said the teen librarian.

This led to more questions about bike riding and if I went out the previous weekend and it was terrible and crappy and it felt like an intervention or something and why can't I just sit here quietly? Funny, I have no problem speaking in front of crowds, which I do at least twice a week, but ask me about my personal life and you're gonna get a whole bunch of this:

After that terribleness, it was doctor time. Insurance switched my doctor to a place closer to my house, which was nice. The day can be salvaged after all. I fill out the paperwork, and notice that the place is pretty swank looking. Then I go in the bathroom and notice this:

I realize this is a crappy photo, but I wanted to prove that I wasn't making this up.

The author asks for $20 for 20 minutes. I thought it was funny that they wrote "asshole" and scratched that out to rewrite the less offensive "butthole." Hey, kids might see it. I felt a little apprehensive that my new doctor's restroom resembled a truck stop, but when I got out some CNN health show was talking about Roky Erickson and mental health, so that took my mind off the fact that my new doctor catered to perverts.

I didn't get a chance to watch too much when I was called back. I got weighed, which proved that, yes, four weeks of almost no exercise and a diet designed by Henry VIII and a kid allowed to buy whatever they want at the store will make you fat.

Then I waited about 3 years for the doctor to show up. 

The doctor was younger than me and sort of brusque, not even commenting on the long, grey beard I had grown while waiting. He asked me about my habits and medical history after I told him about the ankle, but it seemed like he didn't really believe me.

"Do you smoke?"


"Do you smoke?"

Hey, John Grisham, I've never smoked. And if I did and was trying to hide it, you think you asking it twice would trip me up? This is when I started to think my new doctor was kind of a dick.

"Well, I'd like to go ahead and give you a full physical today."

When I get terrible or anxiety-triggering news, I have a tendency to lose the ability to speak.

"Whu? Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah dah oh ah ah ah No. No. No. I thought we were just looking at my foot?"

"I think we need a full physical first." 

"Whu? Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah dah oh ah ah ah No. No. I just had one. Last year. Everyeveryevery Everything's fine. Just want to get the foot looked at."

You can't just drop that on somebody. I need time to get prepared for a physical. I came in with a hurt foot, I didn't plan on getting naked today. He seemed even more brusque after that, probably because he wanted to see my pee-pee, then sent me to get x-rays and come back to his house of horrors.

He came back after another 7 years and said that it looked like tendon damage and he would refer me to a podiatrist.

"So, is that bad?"

"I'm referring you to a podiatrist."

"Is there anything I should be doing for it?"

"I'm referring you to a podiatrist."

Fine, be a dick, see if I care. I asked him another medical question that I had mentioned to the receptionist when making the appointment.

"I thought we were just looking at your foot."

Jeez, this guy was really upset about not being able to make me pass out. I guess I'd be upset, too, if I had perverts advertising their services on my bathroom walls. Anyway, he gave me a prescription and wanted to do blood work.

"How does blood work have anything to do with my tendon?"

"It can show overall blahblahblah and underlying blahblahblah and I really just want to poke you with needles."

"Yeah, maybe next time. I'll get a physical this year, I promise."

It was too late for a nap when I got out of there. I did get some cool x-rays, though - check 'em out:
There's gotta be something I can do with this for Halloween.
Next time I wake up tired, I'm calling, and getting back under the covers. Nothing good can come of a day like that. I've learned my lesson.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Death Comes Ripping

In the near future, every band will have a documentary made about them. I'm eagerly awaiting Party at the Spoke House: Gainesville Bands of the '90s. But I usually end up watching them, even if I'm not a fan of the band in question, so maybe I'm part of the problem.

I didn't have my hopes too high for A Band Called Death. I figured it would be an entertaining hour and a half out of the crippling Florida heat, and I could eat some nachos.

But man, was it good.

Death was an early '70s  proto-punk band consisting of three African-American brothers in Detroit influenced by Alice Cooper and the Who. Black people didn't want to hear them. White people didn't really want to hear them, either. Actually, that's not really fair, they could have had a record contract with Clive Davis if they changed their name, but the band stuck to their guns, pressed a forgotten 7" single and eventually broke up.

35 years after the band broke up, they were rediscovered by record nerds and reunited and repressed a full album.

In between is a fascinating story about family, dedication, the power of creating against indifference, and the rediscovery of long-forgotten music. While I think the music is more hard rock than punk (not that there's anything wrong with that), the vibe is definitely punk in the creativity, drive, and stubbornness, seeing worth in music that was ignored or mocked by 99 percent of the world. (and in the funny/offensive name).

The second part of the movie lags a bit when it gets into the record nerds rediscovering the band (I never did figure out the story of the guy who saw the $800 single on ebay. Did he buy it? And why was Jello Biafra in there talking about weird records if he wasn't going to talk about the band/record in the movie? Do Henry Rollins and ?uestlove pass each other in the parking lot constantly as they get filmed for yet another music documentary? Do they carpool now?), but the ending of the reunited band playing to enthusiastic crowds more than makes up for confusing record nerds yakking.

Funny, touching, and rocking, A Band Called Death gets five stars, two thumbs up. Now I feel bad that I ripped my copy of the album from the library instead of buying it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ankle Biters

Nestled among the ads for X-Ray Specs and Sea Monkeys in comic books was usually an ad for a fake cast. The drawing featured a guy proudly showing his cast while two girls consoled him.  "Avoid unpleasant tasks! Gain sympathy," the ad promised.

This was highly appealing, as these were two things I was always on the lookout for. I never broke any bones, so the thought of wearing a cast seemed cool and exciting. Girls would probably look at me differently, my friends could write stuff on it, and best of all, I'd get out of yardwork. Yes, a whole exciting world would open up to me once I broke some bones.

I never ordered the cast because it was expensive and I couldn't figure out how to trick my parents into thinking I had broken my arm and somehow gotten to the doctor's office to get it set without them knowing. I put it out of my mind, except for those days when I had to rake or pick up mangoes and wished I had a fake cast to end the misery and injustice of my child labor.

My luck held and I never broke a bone, even after a lifetime of foolish decisions and risky stunts.  In fact, probably the closest I've come happened last week.

I was out running last Thursday evening. I was feeling good. In fact, I was thinking about running the whole 7 mile trail which I hadn't done in a while. I was pretty close to doing some air guitar/drumming to certain motivational songs, as well as some Rocky-esque shadow boxing.

Then I hit a hole. My foot went in, twisted, then tripped me on to the street. As a man, my first reaction was to get up, pretend it didn't hurt, and keep running, only maybe at a slower pace. Then I got those weird stomach pains that signal, "Yeah, I think that really messed you up. You should probably limp home."

Holy crap, was that a long walk home.

As with all injuries or problems, I figured I just needed a good night's sleep and everything would be all fixed up in the morning.

A week later, my girlfriend noted that I still had "corpse feet," thanks to my swollen and purple toes and ankle.

First night. I used to have an ankle.
It looked bad. So bad that I kept making up "C.S.I" opening scenes in my head.

"Looks like this guy....was defeated," the desensitized detective would say, right before Roger Daltry screamed to signal another episode of gross forensic mysteries, possibly focusing on foot decapitation for creepy sex purposes.

So I started wearing a boot. It's a big, clunky, pre-cast thing that takes about 3 hours to strap into and makes me walk like Frankenstein.

Couple things I've noticed during my recovery:

One, architects love to put stairs all over the damn place. Houses, businesses, you name it; apparently a building isn't complete until a set of rickety or narrow stairs are installed.

Secondly, I don't feel I'm getting as much sympathy and freedom from work as the ads promised a young me. Even though when I'm making a difficult work call or driving around town with a throbbing ankle, I'm saying "Come on. I have a busted ankle," that doesn't seem to have any effect on people's reaction to me.

About the only thing I was able to get out of was mowing the yard, although paying the guy $15 just made me feel like a puss. I could feel Hank Hill shuddering as I forked over the cash.

Since I don't have an actual cast, I also can't have people write on it, so I'm really not getting the full effect here.

I'm beginning to think that ads in comic books have completely lied to me.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Smashin' Trash

One of the apartments I lived in post-college had a dumpster about 15 feet from my door. This was awesome.

It was awesome because we didn't have to put our trash cans out in the street like regular chumps, we could hurl it into the dumpster from the porch like kings. With a regular load of trash, you'd sort of swing it in your arm a few times to get some centrifugal force going,* then watch it fall in an inspiring arc into the dumpster. And if some of the garbage didn't make it in to the dumpster, well, that was some garbage guy's problem. We tried.

Over the winter, my roommate and I instituted "Gin and Tonic Winter." This meant that we bought a huge bottle of Kash and Karry gin and made gin and tonics around a fire that we made by burning sticks and pallets, sometimes grilling hamburger patties that he liberated from his job at Burger King. It was classy and sophisticated.

One of my hazy memories from Gin and Tonic Winter was going around to every woman in attendance (which probably wasn't too many) and saying, "You wanna come inside and see my new widescreen TV?" To which my friend Pat would say, "Hey, you don't have a widescreen TV," to which I would respond with a comical "SHHHH!" This line/routine did not work.

Around this time, Gainesville had become a magnet for the homeless. Not regular down-on-their-luck, Brother-can-you-spare-a-dime homeless, but homeless wrapped up in countercultures. There was a big Rainbow Gathering in Ocala, and several of the Rainbowers stuck around Gainesville for a while, begging for change looking like a costumer took all the dirtiest elements from hippies and punks with a little bit of raver and threw them all together with a little Pigpen dust.

They never seemed to come around our gin and tonic bonfires, probably because the class and sophistication I spoke of earlier would have made them feel unwelcome.

The day after one of our parties I was cleaning up, gathering bottles and whatever other trash was left in the house. These were pre-recycling days. I took my first bag and started swinging. This thing was heavy, loaded up with who knows how many beer bottles, as well as our usual weekly trash. I got it swinging pretty high, but decided maybe I should just walk the 15 feet over to the dumpster and act like a normal person just this one time.

I walk over with my trash and hear a noise before I dump it in. Holding my breath against the garbage smell, I peek in. Looking up at me like Gollum was a dirty face-tattooed dumpster diver who narrowly missed getting brained with a ton of bottles.

I always checked the dumpster before throwing stuff off the porch after that.

*Honestly, I don't know if that is centrifugal force at all, but it sounded very sciencey and smart.