I have three sons, the youngest of whom just turned 18. They are all now legal adults! Their mother and I divorced 16 years ago. They didn’t live with me but when we had time together, I did my best to help guide them to this point in their lives. I knew I had limited time with them, so I’ve often wondered how much influence I could have had over them. So I’m writing them this letter to give them my rules for living so they can improve upon my successes, avoid my mistakes, and live a life that will make their kids proud. I don’t know if my kids are proud of me, but I’m very proud of them!
When your mother and I divorced, I had a few well-meaning people warn me that children of divorce will have an extremely challenging life. They told me you would have trouble in school, trouble with relationships, have psychological and anger issues. Instead, you turned into very resilient children. You never became a “child of divorce.” Your school work was exemplary, you were active in sports, and when you found jobs, you exhibited the work ethic I hoped I would see from you. I want to believe I had something to do with that, but I want you to know I give your mother credit for the majority of it.
Now that you’re adults, I want to give you my rules for living a happy, productive life:
Laughter is the best medicine. When you learn to laugh at yourself, you can get through anything life throws your way. You’ve heard the saying, “you’ll look back on this and laugh one day.” Laugh today instead! Laugh so much that people wonder about your sanity. I gave the eulogy for my mother and I had my brothers and sisters and friends of the family laughing during the service. Sure we cried before, during and after the service, but if you can laugh through your tears you’ll be okay.
Be kind to everyone. whether they deserve it or not. I learned this rule a long time ago and I’m still trying to perfect it. One day, I was driving to work. The guy in front of me at the light would not turn right on red even though there was clearly no traffic. I honked at him and got him to go. I turned right and followed him into the parking lot at work. He was the CEO of the company! I now gently tap the horn only when necessary. Be kind to everyone you know or don’t know, because that person you don’t know now could be someone very important in your life later. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
Don’t let pride get in your way. There will be many times where swallowing your pride is the best way to resolve a situation. Swallow hard and do the right thing. Be proud, but not prideful.
Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Honesty really is the best policy. When you lie to people, you create a divide between you and them. That lie will always keep you from closing that divide and prevent you from being close to them ever again. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is not true. What they don’t know hurts you. Cheating is a form of lying to yourself. If you think you can win by cheating, you have already lost. Stealing is wrong. I have no pearls of wisdom about that – it’s just wrong.
Love women just the way they are. I love women! I have more female friends than male friends! Don’t expect your logical mind to ever figure out women because they aren’t ruled by logic. You will drive yourself crazy if you question a woman’s motivation for doing something. It makes sense to them, so it doesn’t need to make sense to you! Don’t fight with a woman, because you will lose! Even if you win, you lose. Go with the flow, enjoy their company, treat them with respect, and always open the door for them (even if they could bench press the building).
Learn how to work a room. At any social gathering, it’s important to learn how to enter and exit conversations. If you’re at a cocktail party and you see someone nursing their drink and standing off to the side, talk to that person. Ask questions to find some common ground and talk the shit out of that topic. Don’t look around the room while you are talking to them just to see if there is someone else you’d rather talk to. When you are ready to move on, do it gracefully. Give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye and say, “It was great talking to you.”
Handle your finances wisely. Don’t use credit for consumer goods. If it’s something that will last longer than the payments use credit. This means you buy houses and cars with credit. You might have to use credit to furnish the house. You should never use credit for impulse purchase or for groceries. If you need to use credit to buy groceries, it’s because you are paying so much on your credit card bills that now you have to charge everything. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Don’t do it!
Love yourself. There will be many times in your life where you will not be proud of yourself. You will do something you’re ashamed of. You are not alone – this is human nature. As hard as we try, we can’t live a perfect life. When you mess up, learn from it and never do it again. Then, you have to forgive yourself and let it go. You can do this only if you love yourself and respect and value who your are. Loving yourself opens up your ability to love someone else and accepting them as they are. Then, when they fail to be their very best, you can be there to help them rather than scold them. Loving yourself lets you love others freely.
Friend quality is better than friend quantity. Having a few close friends who know you as well as you know them, and they love you anyway, is better than having a bunch of “friends.” Your best friends should be your spouse, your brothers, and a few other close friends you would trust with your life.
You aren’t the only one. There will come a time when you are surrounded by people who appear happy and successful and who seem to have it all figured out. When they are alone, they have doubts, fears and frustrations and they question why all those other people seem to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out all the time. Everyone has doubts, fears and frustrations. You’re not alone.
If all else fails, follow your instincts. You have been given the gift of intelligence and good looks, thanks to yours truly, and you’ve proven that you’re moral, ethical, and caring individuals. But there will be times where you don’t know what to do. Your conscience will never lead you astray. If what you’re considering feels wrong, don’t do it.
Finally, if you could just do one thing, it should be “enjoy life.” If you use the above tools, you should be well on your way to enjoying life to the fullest. We are on this earth for a mere blink of an eye. I hope to live long enough to read what you want to pass on to your children.
Show of hands – who here has gone on a date with someone they met online? That’s what I thought, I’m not alone! Ten years ago, I met many women through my Wednesday night karaoke routine. Every Wednesday night (and some Mondays/Fridays/Saturdays), I would close the karaoke bar. My confidence was through the roof during this phase of my life! I mastered the art of meeting people, not just women, and striking up a conversation as if we had known each other for years. I still count a few of those people as my friends even though I don’t get out much anymore. But I learned that chicks dig a guy who can sing and who approaches them with confidence while making them laugh at the same time. I learned much about the art of conversation because I met so many people each week.
I tell you all this so you can understand how unbelievably horrible my date from hell came to be. In the Spring of 2011, I became single again. It took me until the fall to begin looking around at all the dating sites available online. I created a dating profile on a couple of sites and sent out a few messages. Two things surprised me. One, the women who sent me messages were absolutely not my type! I’ve read that people psychologically choose people who they see as being roughly as attractive as they feel they are. If that’s the case, then I must be extremely overweight and horribly ugly! That was the type of woman responding to me! The messages I would send out to the hot women went unanswered, so I assume they were at their computer saying, “what the fuck is this guy thinking?” The second thing that surprised me was, the profiles people put up were not exactly accurate! Shocker! After having a phone conversation, and after one meeting for coffee, most of the people I met just ended up boring me. I couldn’t make a connection with anyone!
And then, the date from hell entered my world. I will call her “Lucifer” because I can’t remember her name. We agreed to meet at a bar/restaurant about half way between our homes. I arrived slightly early as I always do, and I sat at the bar with a view of the door. She came in and we had the normal chit-chat for about one minute. She then said, “I’m hungry, can we order some food?” Well, I really wasn’t planning on spending that much time with her as I had already made up my mind in that first minute that she wasn’t someone I’m interested in. So I responded politely with, “I hear the chicken wings are good here.” I’m such a wimp! She said, “I think I want some chicken fingers.” Awesome! Maybe we can bond over chicken!
Then things got weird. As we waited for the chicken, she wouldn’t speak unless I asked her a direct question. Once the question was answered, she clammed up again. There was no, “I was born and raised on a turnip farm, and you?” It was just, “I grew up on a turnip farm.” Silence. Awkward pause. ”So, a turnip farm, huh? That must have been interesting.” ”Yeah it was.” Silence. Awkward pause. When the chicken arrived, we had that to talk about, so it was all good. ”So, how are your chicken fingers?” ”They’re good.” Silence. Awkward pause. Om nom nom nom. Then her cell phone rang. She couldn’t find it in her purse before it stopped ringing, but the call was from her son. She sat there staring at her phone for a few minutes obsessing over why he would be calling her. ”Maybe he’ll call back. I’m sure he’ll call back if it’s important. Did he leave a voicemail?” ”No. I don’t know why he called.” Silence. Awkward pause. ”I wonder why he called me.” ”I’m sure he’ll call back.”
At this point, I was wishing someone would call me and tell me my apartment was on fire and I was the only person on earth who was going to be able to save the puppies in all the other apartments. I finally just gave up and said, “Why don’t you just call him back?” ”Oh, do you mind? I really want to find out why he called.” ”Please, go call him. I’m good here.” So she reaches into her purse and pulls out her pack of cigarettes. I’ve dated people who smoked and I lived with a woman who smoked, but this go-around, I was making smoking a deal breaker! ”I thought your profile said you didn’t smoke.” ”Oh no, I smoke all the time – way too much.” Stunned silence on my part as I watched her take her smokes and her phone out to the designated area outside the bar. Roughly 10 minutes later, she comes back in and, without explanation, says “I think I have to go, is that okay?” ”Oh sure, that’s fine.” I was celebrating in my head that this night was mercifully going to end! ”Well it was nice meeting you, thanks for dinner.” And we’re back to stunned silence. ”You’re welcome.” No awkward pause this time – she was out the door! I sat there and started laughing. I’m sure the bartender thought I was crazy, but I was just so happy she was gone! I paid my tab and went home to see if there were any puppies who needed to be saved.
I now had a great story to tell people. One of the people I told was the next person I met online. This one was someone I thought was too hot to respond, but she did. After a week of e-mails and a two hour long phone call, we went on a date. We met at the bar next door to Go Bananas. I sat at the bar with a view to the door. She came in and she was even prettier in person than the one picture she posted online. We chatted for a few minutes, and then we went over to the comedy club. She sat down and picked up the limited food menu they had and said, “I think I want some chicken fingers.” If she could have kept a straight face, I would have believed her. I saw just a hint of a smile as she waited for my response and then it hit me – I told her that story among the many things we talked about on our week of e-mails and two-hour phone call and she remembered it and used it against me! I’m going to marry that woman! No, really, I am! This woman is Alana, and the only way I can get her to read my blog is if I mention her! I put her at the end, so now she has been forced to read a story she’s already heard. It took me a while, but now we’re even for the chicken finger joke!
The people who know me casually see me as someone who would seem quite normal. I don’t throw off this weird vibe (at least I don’t think I do). I tend to blend in and mirror the crowd I’m with. When I’m with people who want to have the usual “hi, how ya doin’” kind of conversation, I can small talk with the best of them. When I’m with a group of friends ready to party, I can party with the best of them. I guess I’m saying that the conversation I’m having in my head can be filtered and used for good, not evil. Sometimes, the evil slips out. I’ve been told that I tend to say whatever is on my mind without filtering it. That’s true now, but that’s not always been the case. I don’t always say everything I’m thinking. That would make my cloak of invisibility fall off and you would see how much of a nut job I really am!
When I was a young boy, I was surrounded by a large, loud family. I’m talking 13 kids, two parents, four cats, one dog kind of large, loud family! My only hope to survive was to observe how the older siblings got into trouble and I tried to do the opposite. That worked out until I was the older brother in the house. I found new ways to get into trouble! I figured out that the less my dad heard, the better off we all were. You could haul off and smack your brother in the head, make him cry, and Dad would come in and yell at the kid crying! I experienced this phenomenon from both sides. It was bizarre being the one making someone cry and then sitting there while Dad yelled at them. He gave a cursory yell at the offender, but the loud one was the one who was really in trouble. So I learned that quiet is good and keeps you out of trouble.
The problem with this is, you really can become invisible in a group if all you do is observe without adding to the conversation. It took me a long time to become more vocal in group settings. Even so, I’m not the most talkative or loudest of the bunch. When I’m with a group of friends, there’s usually one person who dominates the conversation. They can be loud and boisterous and make people laugh at how silly they are. That will never be my style. I will sit there and pay attention and laugh when appropriate. There comes a time in every conversation like this where something pops into my head that may or may not be appropriate to share. When I do share, and it gets a laugh, I learn that sometimes the weird thoughts in my head can be appreciated by others. I’ll never tell a “guy walks into a bar” joke, or clown around in a crowd. There’s too much of the “quiet keeps you safe” in me to be that guy.
At home with Alana, it’s a different story. Here, I have an audience of one and she’s a great audience! She loves the silly! I can be a clown with her. Everything I do that makes her laugh has to be repeated so she can laugh again. After being with her for over a year, I could record a “best of” album of my greatest moments in silly! When the wedding planning began, and we had to go meet professional photographers, DJs, and the Rabbi, she saw my professional persona for the first time. This is the persona I try to maintain at work, though I’m not always successful with that. She was surprised at how “serious” I was in those meetings. I just explained that’s just how I am in those situations. I can’t be myself in every situation. So, she gets to see all the crazy that’s inside my head because she loves that shit.
The battle in my brain is ongoing. If you’ve been lucky enough (cursed enough) to be on the receiving end of a snarky comment on facebook, you’re welcome. You’ve experienced the unfiltered version of me. The other me, the quiet me sitting on the sidelines is having an unbelievable conversation with myself! I really need one of those cartoon thought bubbles hovering over my head. On second thought, that would be really dangerous to your well-being! It’s in your best interest that I not say everything I’m thinking. I’m not really being quiet to protect me, I’m being quiet to protect you!
When you think of Spock, you think of an emotionally detached, logical perspective. My life is ruled by logic. If it’s not logical, it’s just stupid! Many times, I have stuck my foot in my mouth by saying “Why would you do that?” I also get in trouble by saying, “That makes no sense!” Knowing I have a propensity to question other people’s motivations and thought processes has caused me to mask my questions with sarcasm. That’s not necessarily a good thing!
For example, I have a person in my office who begs for sarcastic responses! She doesn’t know it, and she’s not intentionally ironic, but she makes my logical approach to sarcasm entirely logical. Today, she tried to tell me that other people in the office were going to have a meeting on Thursday and they would be expecting my input on a certain document. These people have been meeting every Thursday for about a year now, so Thursday was not a surprise. The document was delivered to me a week earlier, so that was not a surprise either. So, I’m in the middle of my to-do list for the day, with the review of this document at the end of said list, when she came to my desk to interrupt me. She said, as she often does when she interrupts me, “Are you busy? I know you’re always busy, but I just wanted to remind you that the document needs your input, especially parts 3, 5 and 7 because that’s your area of expertise and they want to finalize this document at the meeting on Thursday, so it would be good if you could look it over and give them your input by tomorrow.” That’s not a run-on sentence, that’s how she talks! Every time she brings me information, I pretend to listen while thinking, “I know that, what’s your point?” In this specific instance, I mumbled after she left, “Really? I did not know that! Thank you for sharing!”
She starts every disclosure of information with a monologue of what she was thinking while making her decision on how to handle something. She will tell me things I taught her when I hired her!!! Why the fuck are you wasting my time telling me things I taught you??? Just give me the Cliffs Notes version and go away! This is not logical!!! When I asked her to give me a copy of the most recent Duke bills for a property we manage, but only the Duke bills that have gas charges, she gave me copies of every Duke bill for every month of 2011, prepared a spreadsheet showing the charges, and prepared a graph showing the fluctuations of the charges. My first, and only response was, “Why did you do this?” Her response was, “I already did this for another manager in the office, so I just thought I’d update it for you.” Of course I said, “I don’t need this! I just want a copy of the most recent bill with gas charges on it! How does this help me?!?” Once she pulled out the most recent bill and gave it to me, I was able to recycle the remaining 20 pieces of paper she wasted. Where is the logic in that thought process???
Okay, so I’m realizing I’m missing the emotionally detached piece of the Spock persona. Every time someone does something “highly illogical,” I get confused, which forces me to wonder how they could do something so clearly illogical. This confusion leads to my love of sarcastic responses because they deserve it for their illogical thought process! So if you see me with a confused look on my face, it’s not because I don’t understand you, it’s because I’m confused by how you could think in that way. It’s not a voluntary response, I really can’t help it! To answer the question I know you’re thinking, “Yes, I know this makes me an asshole!”
It’s officially “Holiday Season.” For me, that means many things, none of which are normal! First, we have Thanksgiving. For you, that means a day off filled with family you may or may not like. If you’re the host of this gathering, you have to get up early to get ready. Then, you get to clean it all up and fall into bed wishing you had spent the day at work! For me, it means a day off that begins with a 10K and ends quietly at home with the woman I love. In between, it’s filled with football, naps, and Facebook.
I have had Thanksgivings filled with family. As a child, we had to have a “kids table” for our own family! We didn’t need to invite extended family to fill the house. I liked helping Mom make the stuffing because it involved tearing up stale bread. As an adult, I found a recipe for White Castle Stuffing, so I had to make that! It was awesome! When I clean and prep the turkey, it comes to life as I thrust my hand into the cavity and make him dance. I never understood why the include the neck, but it was always a source of “R Rated” fun. Carving the turkey starts with such precision and ends with a plate of shredded meat yanked off the bone. Patience is not my strong suit.
The Thanksgiving conversations remind me of a first date. They’re always so polite and safe and no one really says anything. You haven’t seen some of these people since last Thanksgiving! If they’re on Facebook, they should know what the hell you’ve been up to so why do they always start with, “so what’s new with you?” Some families have the drunken uncle at the table who will say just about anything. Sometimes, I’m that uncle!
The first year after my divorce, my brother Carl invited me to his house for Thanksgiving. I went and had a nice meal, but it was awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t meant to offend him, I just felt like I was an intruder and not a guest. Every year after that, I was either happily alone or in someone’s house trying to find a comfortable chair. You can’t do a seat check in an away game!
I won’t even mention how much I hate using the away bathroom! (I guess I just did.) First there’s the lock that I’m never sure if it actually locks the door. Then, I have to turn on the fan to drown out the god awful noise that I’m about to unleash! Time to wash my hands. What the hell kind of soap is this? I just want clean hands – I don’t want to smell like a tropical rain forest! We top it all off by trying to figure out which towel I’m supposed to use. I’d almost rather be using the gas station’s bathroom at this point!
My current tradition with my sons is to take them out for pizza on Friday. We get to hang out and I don’t have to clean up. If I do decide to host another Thanksgiving, it’s going to include drinking games and Survivor style competitions where one family member after another gets eliminated from my house. I’ll leave the Feats of Strength for Festivus.
Larry King used to write a column for USA Today where he would share random thoughts. Now it’s on Twitter, but I’ve never seen it. I never watched his show when it was on, but I liked how he could just sit down and write such randomness for the newspaper. I too have many thoughts that pop into my head, with many of those thoughts turned into a Facebook status update. Today, I’d like to share with you my random thoughts Larry King style:
1. I have entirely too many plastic cards in my wallet. I have everything from credit cards to library cards to shopper loyalty cards. The only two I need are the Kroger Plus card and the 5/3 debit card. I’m one sub away from a free one at Jersey Mike’s, so I’ll keep that one too.
2. There’s not much worse than using a bathroom away from home, only to find out it’s broken and won’t flush! That’s a walk of shame if there ever was one.
3. Is there a better band than Radiohead? No band has put out such consistently good music that the masses don’t really understand, and where the band itself doesn’t really care if they do.
4. The internet consists of countless websites but I still go to only a handful of them every day. I always use Facebook, Yahoo e-mail, and dailywhat.com for comedy. If there’s anything else I want, I Google it.
5. Suspenders on suits make a man look like a man. Suspenders on jeans make a man look like a farmer.
6. I wonder if there’s a doctor willing to put me in a coma for 12 hours so I can get a decent night’s sleep.
8. Knowing that today is the first day of the rest of my life, while knowing that tomorrow is also the first day of the rest of my life does nothing to help me with my procrastination problem.
9. You know how it feels when you’re watching a TV show or movie and you see an actor you can’t quite name and you sit there trying to figure out what other TV show or movie you’ve seen them in? I feel that way when I can’t remember the name of the person in front of me.
10. Being funny is easy. Writing funny is hard!
I’m writing this using my laptop attached to my desktop widescreen high def monitor, while using a wireless keyboard and mouse. Basically, I’ve turned my laptop into my temporary desktop. Why, you ask? Because for the last time, my PC hard drive crashed! I’ve been a huge proponent of all things Microsoft for my entire life. I have installed every version of Windows (except Vista because that version really, really sucked) since the first version of Windows. I know how to replace and/or upgrade RAM. I know how to add or replace hard drives. I know how to replace video cards, sound cards, floppy drives, CD/DVD drives and I know how to connect to the internet without a wireless network adapter! In fact, I know the sound a modem makes when it tries connecting to A-O-fucking-L!! I’m that old and I’m that deeply tied to the Microsoft Windows world.
Two days ago, my PC started acting buggy. My Garmin watch that I wear when I run has a cradle that uploads my runs while it charges the watch. It refused to upload to the software. Then I downloaded an update to the software, but that was no help. After I downloaded a new music collection from Spin Magazine, it required that I open iTunes. I tried that, but nothing happened. So, I did what every good IT guy tells you to do – I rebooted! Then the fun began. My computer rebooted to a black screen with no cursor or anything. It just sat there mocking me. Of course, I just turned it off and tried again. I think I heard laughter as my hard drive slowed to a stop, then started again to another black screen.
Of course the next step was to start in Safe Mode, so I tried that. I wondered if anyone else compared Safe Mode with Safe Sex while I waited for my condom covered PC to boot up. The funny thing was, the condom worked so well that it prevented the keyboard and mouse from penetrating it! The computer shut down the keyboard and rendered it useless! So I thought, maybe it’s the fact that it’s wireless and I just need to buy a wired version. The next day, I went to Office Depot and spent $30 on the cheapest version I could find. I came home, plugged it in, and was thrilled to see the mouse work again! Until it didn’t!! I then endured one reboot after another as I sat and watched the light on the keyboard that told me it worked only until the computer said “fuck you, go away” as the light of my hopes and dreams went out.
Surely the System Recovery disks that came with the computer will work, right? Wrong! What about the Windows 7 installation disk – I’ll just boot it up from the CD drive. Nope! Every time I had an option to do something, my PC took away the keyboard and mouse and refused my advances! I was more frustrated than a virgin at a nymphomaniac convention! After hours of watching my PC reboot and reboot and reboot until it could reboot no more, I gave up. I pulled the hard drive thinking I would just go and buy a new one.
Then I started doing the math. $150 for a 1 TB drive. $200 for a new Windows 7 disk (the one I had was an upgrade version which required an earlier version). So, $350 later, I’m stuck with a 4-year-old PC with 2GB of RAM and a processor that is several generations old. I looked online at PCs and found that I could find a good replacement for $500 if I was willing to buy a computer with a processor that was just 3 generations old. Granted, they come with a 1 TB drive, but I have that in an external drive.
Finally, on a whim, I looked at the Apple Store. You have to understand how ludicrous I thought that time-wasting move was! I have refused to buy iPods and iPhones. I’ve become an advocate for Droid since they came out. Even knowing that my oldest son helped put himself through college by working at the Apple Store didn’t sway my opinion. I am a PC through and through! But then those bastards started reeling me in! I found the Mac mini and its tiny silver box. I found an operating system called Lion. A lion is much more interesting than a window! I found a mouse that operates as if you were touching the screen of an iPad. I found that spending an extra $300 will buy me a desktop solution that will also act as a High Def media center that I can hook up to my HD TV if I want to.
Ten text messages to my son later, I was sold. I’m getting a MAC! I remember introducing my kids to the computer. They seemed to learn very quickly how to use a mouse and find the programs they wanted to use on the PC. Now, my kids are leading the way. My oldest son just bought a top of the line iMac while my other two kids use either an iMac or a MacBook. My preferred music library organizer has been iTunes for a long time. Alana has an iPad she lets me touch occasionally (insert pun here). I guess $300 more than I planned to spend is worth it if it teaches me how to spell everything with a lower case i followed by a capital letter.
I got married when I was twenty years old. Everyone said we were too young to know what we were doing. They were probably right, but we were married for 15 years, had three wonderful boys, and currently have a good ex-spouse relationship. She took the plunge relatively quickly and remarried a few years after our divorce. I spent the next 15 years being either single or in relationships that weren’t going to lead to marriage. I wasn’t about to get married again. Not that being married was horrible, but I wasn’t ready to commit over that 15 year period.
As I dated, I found that there were three types of first dates:
- The date that can’t end quickly enough. I had these types of dates quite often! I went on dates with women who wouldn’t talk and who wouldn’t stop talking. I went on dates with women who claimed to be casual smokers but smoked a pack an hour. I went on dates that were supposed to be just a quick drink but ended up with them ordering food that they assumed I would pay for! I even went on a blind date because a mutual friend thought we’d hit if off. During the date, I began to question if my friend really knew me at all because this person was not my type at all. This is the kind of dating that leads to hilarious stories in the future.
- The date that leads to more dates. These types of dates gave me some hope that I might be able to meet someone normal after all. They were a good enough first date to warrant another. So you go out again and learn more about each other that you can’t learn during the first date “interview.” It might lead to more dates as you haven’t found anything causing you to turn and run as far away as possible – yet. Eventually, something happens that makes you reevaluate this person and decide it’s best to walk away. This is the kind of dating that makes you hopeful in the beginning, but you know in the back of your mind that it’s not really what you’re looking for.
- The date where you find “the one.” This is the date that is so obviously different from all the others that you go home alone wishing you didn’t have to. This is the date that tells you your life has just changed irreversibly because you just met your future. This is the type of date that made me want to ask Alana to marry me. Not on that date, mind you, but cautious optimism became outright giddiness. This is the kind of date you get to have once, if you’re lucky.
On our first date, Alana made a very subtle, straight-faced, joke about one of the stories in Date Type #1 that I told her about over the phone. You had to be there, but let me assure you she caught me off guard. The date was at Go Bananas, which is a great first date place to go. You get to spend some time talking while waiting for the comedians, then you get to see what makes them laugh. I already knew I could make her laugh because we talked for hours on the phone before we even went on the date. She loved my sense of humor and I loved making her laugh. A comedy club was the only natural choice for our date. After the club, we went next door to the bar. She spent the majority of that time flipping me off and saying “fuck you!” I knew I had either met my match or met the female version of me. This date took place in late November.
I’m 50 years old – she’s 36. I’m a Reagan Republican – she’s a Clinton Democrat. I’m an early bird – she’s a night owl. I’m a recovering Catholic – she’s Jewish. I could list all the ways we’re different but none of that matters. Over the next few months, we became inseparable. We started out by spending just the weekend together. Little by little, it became Friday through Sunday then Thursday through Monday. Then, it became odd to be at my apartment alone for even one night. I loved being alone in that apartment when I leased it in May 2010. I couldn’t wait for the lease to end in 2011. We became “roommates” for good on June 1st.
To be continued . . .
Those who know me well know I can get kind of cranky when I get hungry. I’m not talking about, “hey, my stomach is growling” kind of hungry. I’m talking about, “I will eat the spleen of the next person who talks to me” kind of hunger! When I get that hungry, you should throw some food at me and walk away quietly.
Last night, I planned on going home and cooking dinner. This dinner would have been ready at 6:00, which would have put me at the stomach growling kind of hunger. Instead, my brother asked me to drive him to pick up his car in Milford. He always helps me when I need it, so I told him I’d pick him up at his house when I got off work no later than 5:30. All was well and good until I hit traffic on the way to his house. What should have been a 15 minute drive turned into 30 minutes. It’s now 6:00 and time for dinner. There was no food in sight.
We drove to Milford with somewhat lighter traffic, so I remained calm. I dropped him off at his car at 6:30 and headed toward home. By now, my hunger had grown exponentially! Cars and traffic lights were my enemies and they must be punished if they slow me down! Of course I hit every red light possible, but it was the one guy who stopped at the yellow light who really pissed me off! I yelled something at him, forgetting that my top was down. I looked like an insane man ranting at the air.
As I approached I-71 South from I-275, I thought “how bad could traffic be at 6:45?” How about parking lot slow? Now starving and yelling like a mad man, I took Pfeiffer Road as a detour. At this point, I blame myself. I now had access to one restaurant after another and I could have stopped to eat. Since I was on an assignment by Alana to pick up Arby’s for her, I thought I’d just get something near there (I HATE Arbys) and go home. Wrong answer!
Going through a drive-thru pisses me off on a good day! This Arby’s drive-thru speaker had a hand written note saying “Speak Loud.” I had no problem with that! I shouted my order, confirmed it with the idiot on the inside, told him no thanks on the biggie sizing, and drove around to the window. You would think that my order would be ready fairly quickly since I was the only one in the drive-thru. However, following the rule of the land that says “when Jim is hungry, make him wait as long as possible!” I had to endure what seemed like 10 minutes to me (but was probably two minutes) to get the food and drive off.
I then went to Penn Station just around the corner. Again, I was first in line (they have no drive-thru), so I thought all was well. I placed my order and paid for it. My order included a small fry, so I looked to see if I was going to get cold fries or if they were cooking a new batch. When I saw they were doing neither, I said something to the girl who was standing there doing nothing “I ordered small fries, would you be so kind as to cook me some fries?” Or at least that’s what I thought I said. She probably heard, “Bitch, get me my fries before I see how long it takes for that grease to melt your face off!!!!”
By the time they handed me my food, I was like a drug addict going through withdrawal! The DTs were in full swing by this time! I grabbed the food, jumped into my car, and prayed there would be no delay getting home. There was just one more light to go and, of course, it was red and the car in front of me was turning left!
A normal person would have ripped the bag open and eaten the fries while waiting. Even though I was starving, I didn’t want the grease on the steering wheel. When I got home, I threw Alana’s Arby’s bag on the table and launched into inhaling my food! She just sat there like she was watching Hannibal Lecter eating liver & fava beans. When I was finished, I finally said “hello.” What she heard was “Good evening, Clarice“
It was now just past 7:00. It was only one hour later than I planned to eat. I was lucky I resisted the urge to kill someone during that hour. Some people have road rage – I have hunger rage! Next time you hear about a shooting at an Arby’s drive-thru, please bail me out!