Thursday, September 29, 2011

Facing our problems head-on...or not.

Of all the spineless, gutless, backboneless (Oh, hang on...please see "spineless").

Shortly after firing manager Ozzie Guillen with only two games remaining in the 2011 season, the Chicago White Sox appointed bench coach Joey Cora to act as manager for the team's lame duck two-game finale.

Tuesday morning, however, Cora received a text message from Ken Williams, the White Sox General Manager, requesting that he not show up at the ballpark to fulfill his brief managerial duties; the deal was off.

I suppose I can understand why an upper management figure may opt to digitally, rather than personally, dismiss an employee who had served his team for seven years. Nobody enjoys an uncomfortable confrontation, especially with Cora's well-documented history of accepting disappointment so...moistly?

That's a young Alex Rodriguez comforting little Joey after the Seattle Mariners' 1995 Cinderella season finally screeched to a halt at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. I'm sure A-Rod was whispering gems of encouragement, like "Don't take it so hard, Joe. I'm going to be richer than deep fried butter in a couple of years."

White Sox GM Williams certainly desired to avoid, at all costs, the crop dusting copter of tears which would have irrigated the moose and buffalo heads in his office had Cora heard of his firing face-to-face.

But sometimes, don't you agree that these folks need to bite the bullet and administer the medicine in person?

I was laid off from my final job as an accountant back in 1991. Apparently, the proprietor hadn't been drawing enough business to support a staff, which is quite understandable, given that I was his sole employee.

Rather than investing two minutes' time to explain the situation, the guy left a lengthy note on my desk, concluding with two weeks notice, which I discovered upon returning from lunch.

No words were exchanged, not even "I'll be your cashier whenever you're ready."

For the next two weeks, he avoided me like I was a Ukrainian loan shark trying to collect an overdue advance. He actually left the bathroom midstream as I nestled myself into the adjoining urinal.

How do I know it was midstream? Oh, I just do.

Around the same era, an acquaintance of mine who had been married for a couple of months, received a call from his wife as he settled in to watch Monday Night football at a friend's house.

"Hi, what's up?"

"I'm leaving you."

"What do you mean? Where are you going?"

"It's not important. I'm leaving you and I won't be there when you get back tonight."

How nice of her to let him know over the phone that she had been seeing another guy throughout their engagement and wedding, yet felt too "trapped" to face reality and do what was necessary.

The dude probably still gets a splotchy rash on his throat that looks like Italy whenever he hears the Monday Night Football theme song.

I can think of only two scenarios where digital communication may trump the presence of two people in the same room. I think you'll understand why when you read these examples:

"Hi, honey. Hey, listen—there's a chance that you may experience painful urination and discharge in the next few days. Heck, maybe you already are! LOL. How do I know this? Doesn't really matter. And don't worry, the good news is that I've been to the doctor and I know exactly what the problem is."

"Hey, babe. Remember that six-figure 401K dealio I had at work? Funny thing—I withdrew it and put it all down on the Red Sox on September 1 when they were nine games up in the wild card race. It was crazy, did you hear about it? They didn't make the playoffs! Hey, we've faced bigger obstacles, right? LOL."

If you ever, ever feel physically threatened due to self-incurred acts of gross stupidity, you may reason that a good beating at the hands of the offended will solve the problem. It won't.

Remember, texting is God's way of keeping stupid people safe.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A little too much time on my hands.

What do you think?

Are those not two of the most pissed off cartoon birds you've ever seen? Chicken and stars, they look mad.

As irritated as he looks, a salty cardinal doesn't exactly get my knees a knockin' the way a bear or lion might. And what's up with green part of the seahawk's eye? Last I checked, that section of the eyeball should be white without exception; any other hue is highly distracting and signifies profound avian liver failure if I'm not mistaken.

At any rate, that's my souvenir from Sunday's National Football League clash between the hometown Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in an NFC West battle of angry birds. My friend Corey and I rendezvoused three hours prior to kickoff at FX McCrory's, a Seattle institution located in the shadow of Seahawk Stadium (the facility's corporate moniker has been redacted due to the ridiculously high monthly cost of my telephone land line), on the south edge of the city's historic, and charmingly sketchy, Pioneer Square.

I pulled up a stool in the already packed bar and sipped an IPA while waiting for Corey to show. Pennants of every NFL franchise hung from the ceiling, displaying each teams' nicknames, colors and logos.

I studied each squad's branding. Most teams are represented by the city in which they reside, which makes perfect sense—the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, yada yada. Three teams, including the Seahawks' opponent, Arizona, have chosen entire states as their turf. Fine, but a little greedy.

And two teams have elected geographical regions: the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots. Come on, though. There's no such thing as "Carolina." That's like saying that the combination of North America and South America is America. It isn't. If it were, we'd have a lot of confused Republicans trying to decide where to put that big fence.

I suppose I understand why the entirety of New England claimed the Patriots. You'd need a lot of defenders for this logo:


This dude looks like a cross between Halloween night at King County Jail and my grandpa trying to pick up his keys.








While we're on the subject of NFL mascots, this one is supposedly the most imposing of all:

The Oakland Raider helmet decal.

Sorry, but even the cardinal looks fiercer than this guy. When the helmet, which appears to protect a nasty closed head injury, combines with that missing eye, we're just hoping he's eventually able to recite the alphabet and feed himself a couple of Ritz Crackers.




Some themes are even more confusing:

This is the Cleveland Browns helmet. First of all, it's orange, and secondly, Cleveland, you are pretty much the oldest team in the league. You had your choice of all the names and colors. You decided to name your team after a color.

Nice work.



Finally, this is the what's going on in our nation's capital:

The team is known as "The Redskins."

Can you believe that in the year 2011 Anno Domini, a professional sports franchise is named the "Redskins?"

Why aren't more people upset about a team with a name equally as insulting as "Slanty Eyes" or "Black Skins?" Unbelievable.


I finally broke the trance and peeled my eyes away from the pennants when Corey arrived. As he settled onto a stool in the crowded bar, we talked about football and life, of work and family. I've known him for forty years, so we didn't have to worry about small talk.

Especially when two pissed off cartoon birds were waiting for us down the street.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Faux sure.

It's happening all around us.

An entrenched attribute of our popular culture, it's enveloping our world with greater frequency every day.

The New York football Giants are the most recent purveyors of this behavior. Last Monday night, in an attempt to sidetrack the St. Louis Rams' no-huddle, "hurry up" offense, the Giants' Deon Grant feigned injury, lying prone on the field and thereby interrupting play to be attended by trainers and allowing his team to regroup.

St. Louis cried foul, claiming that New York's dishonest behavior circumvented the spirit and integrity of the game.

Professional soccer players have used the phantom flop for decades, enabling their non-writhing teammates to enjoy a cappuccino and smoke on the sideline while securing a post game dalliance among the babes in the lower bleachers.

Apparently, however, enough is enough when it comes to America's number one gladiator spectacle. We love our bloodsport.

But no one likes a fake.

Bernie Madoff, Milli Vanilli, John Boehner's tan—we're so repulsed, we feel so betrayed when these scandals finally expose themselves to the light of day. And here's the rub:

We're all fakes. Sometimes, anyway.

When I first began dating my future wife, I tried my darnedest to make her think I was the bee's knees. I was still me, I suppose, but more like "Tim with Techron." You know how, when you fill your car up, you choose octane level 87, 89 or 91? I was totally 91 for at least the first six months, then 89 for about a year.

I've been Unleaded 87 for the past twenty.

How about job interviews? Is that the real you? Do you naturally sit forward, back rigid, maintaining laser eye contact while mentally minimizing galvanic skin response to avoid sweating through your wool trousers and spotting the interview chair?

Once you're hired for that job, and you start asking people for stuff, do you end your request with "That would be great!"?

That's fake. An India Pale Ale which also burns fat would be great. Rick Perry losing bladder control on national television would be great. Emailing someone a jpeg of a logo? Nice, but not great.

Naturally, we can't say exactly what's an our minds when dealing with someone we don't like, especially on the job. Not saying something like, "I'd rather lick the beater batter while the Kitchen Aid is still running than talk to you right now," isn't necessarily disingenuous, it's merely prudent.

There are also instances when fake is fine. Even though many artificial substances are acceptable or even preferable, the word "fake" is never used as the preceding adjective. It's "field turf," not fake turf. "Faux fur" sounds so much more luxurious than "fake fur" and certainly, "toupee" holds greater appeal than "fake follicle fez."

If you're not one hundred percent yourself with one hundred percent of the people with whom you must deal, don't worry about it; it's a dauntingly tall order.

And if you hate this post, please—just be fake.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Having a Fair Time.

"Mom, can we go on the rides now?"

"Umm...in a little while. We're going to the craft pavilion first. Your dad wants to see the model airplanes and bottle cap collections and I want to look at the quilts."

"Then can we go on the rides?"

"Well, then we're going to look at those precious baby farm animals."

"Geez, Mom. How about after that?"

"Well, hon, after that, we'll probably get a corn dog, wait in a long line for scones and then watch the demonstration of Ginsu knives that can slice through a condominium and those wonderful insoles which make you feel like you're walking on a cloud of silky tapioca."

"And then?"

"And then we'll get free hearing tests and shopping bags and then I suppose you can go on the rides...but only three...in Kiddie Land."

Was that a strangers' discussion I happened to overhear? Was it dialogue between my wife and one of our daughters?

Nope to each. It was a composite discussion between my mother and six-year-old self, featuring each obstacle which stood between walking though the turnstiles at the Western Washington State Fair and feeling the wind in my hair as an un-drug-tested ride operator controlled my destiny with his grimy lever hand.

Who doesn't love the fair? What's not to savor about finding yourself occupying that perfect spot where the combined essence of wood chips, onion burgers, animal poo and cotton candy assumes permanent residence in your olfactory archives?

When you're little, it's almost too much. You're assaulted from every angle. The food, the prizes, the games; every sense is beckoned for instant gratification and I think that's why so many kids actually hop, rather than walk. Check it out next time you go. They hop.

By the time I was old enough to walk around unsupervised with a couple of buddies, I couldn't contain myself. I was accompanied by some guys named Kevin, Jeff and Terry, but in reality, I was a lone wolf that day, especially after laying my eyes on that huge, stuffed Tony the Tiger.

Come on...how hard could it be to knock over three milk bottles? With every failed throw, I lusted after that fake feline with increasing zeal. I wanted to burrow my face into its unnaturally orange body and tuck it triumphantly under my arm while continuing on to sample the fair's remaining delights.

Alas, my quarry proved elusive due to the crooked nature of the milk bottle game, and to exacerbate matters, I had spent everything I had on this foolish endeavor. I would walk silently behind my cronies for the remainder of the afternoon, penniless, bored and shamed.

Another memorable moment occurred when I viewed the fair through the eyes of a young adult. When I've mentioned my ex-girlfriend in prior posts, I've used such adjectives as insane, crazy, clinically insane, batshit crazy, BundyGacyDahmer insane and I'll-bet-she-wouldn't-find-me-in-Belarus crazy.

Same girlfriend.

From the moment I parked my car in someone's front yard for seven dollars, she became fixated on purchasing a personalized memento of our fair experience, and finally settled upon a calendar featuring a large picture of the two of us. Here was her reasoning, and it's all going to be one word because she talked really fast:

"Youcanputitonthewallnexttoyourpillowsothattheminuteyouwakeupthefirstthingyouseewillbeus."

I did. And it was.

After standing in line for about an hour and finally nailing the perfect pose, we walked around for a while and left. Every day subsequent, after I sleepily gazed at that calendar and was instantly jolted awake, the only memory associated with that thing was going to the fair just to get it.

I really don't mean to be negative about the annual extravaganza in Puyallup. I've had some fabulous fun with great folks, and I''ve usually possessed the discipline to hold onto my money for more than the first twenty minutes.

And when I take my kids, we hit the rides first.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ode to last weekend.

All my teams lost big this weekend,
Every one was beaten.
The Seahawks made
My chest hair fade.
My Huskies took a cleatin'.

All my teams got drubbed this week,
Even the Seattle Storm.
Oh, well, fear not.
Sue Bird's still hot.
And her poster's in my dorm.

All my teams sure sucked this weekend,
I saw them from my couch.
I swore so hard,
My stomach lard
Flew from its protective pouch.

My teams all got just killed this week,
But still I had to see it.
That Mariners squad,
I swear to God,
Looks more like donkey shee-it.

My teams got beaten down this weekend,
UW got screwed bad.
That ref's my pick
For biggest dick
This side of Jalalabad.

All my teams got smoked this weekend,
My girl's team lost eight-nil.
So sad she was screamin',
I took her ice creamin',
And said, "Just wait until..."

All my teams lost all their games,
My wife said, "Get a grip."
Maybe I'll learn to cook
Or change my look
Like Napoleon's brother, Kip.

There's always next week.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's not crap. It's stuff.

Twenty-five years—that's how long I've worked in downtown Seattle. And although it's not the largest city in the world, it nevertheless provides a well-rounded smorgasbord of urban spectacle.

I've learned that, when spotting a crowd congregating on the shallow horizon, people have gathered for one of the following reasons:

1) Someone has put out a donation can and has set up shop juggling flaming honey baked hams.

2) The remaining two original members of Styx have been spotted and are signing autographs before boarding their tour bus after a pleasant lunch at Cheesecake Factory.

3) Somebody is handing out free stuff.

Yesterday, on the way to my bus stop, a sizable clump of humanity blocked my path homeward. Individuals randomly broke off from the gaggle, clutching large wads of plastic packets in each hand. I arduously sidestepped the crowd and finally surmised that small packages of dry cat food were being distributed out of the back of a colorful van.

I'm sure the stuff provided a highly tasty treat for that favorite fuzzy feline, and god forbid that people would resort to it for their personal nourishment, but most of those I witnessed were well dressed working whiteys who confiscated so much cat food that they had to form hammocks with their shirts and tie them up a la Daisy Duke.

Free goods make us different people. If we cruise by a table selling dehydrated sea bass and aspic bars for three cents each, we'd barely stifle a spontaneous gag and accelerate past the scene—I'm not paying three cents for that swill.

If they were free, however, we'd not hesitate to grab ten of them, plus the complimentary "Sea Basseroles for Dummies" booklet.

As always, I'm not above a robust lust for free swag. Every time I pass the supply closet at work, I scoop up a couple of Post-It pads, because, hey, when's the next time I'll be down on the third floor? Could be days. And since I use one Post-It note every twenty-seven days, my children and grandchildren will need not worry about their re-attachable sticky paper requirements. Ever.

I am a provider.

Pens are similar. When was the last time you completely spent the ink from a pen, tossed it away and proclaimed, "Time for a fresh pen. Goodbye, my friend." I think I've done this three times.

It's amazing that pens are still manufactured. You'd think that, by now, we've left them so in many different places that they could just be noticed, picked up and used like bicycles in Amsterdam.

So much other free stuff that we snag up seems so good at the time, yet ends up just occupying space: Plastic stadium cups (which need to be stored sideways since they're too tall to stand up in the cabinet), tote bags (which usually are stored inside a tote bag with other tote bags) and condiments (mustard and soy sauce) are the clutterers of our existence.

Those free t-shirts can feel like a total score in the heat of the moment, especially when a furry mascot shoots one from a cannon, it bounces off an elderly woman, lands in the lap of an armless veteran and we manage to wrestle it away for the privilege of unrolling an XXL garment which reads, "Compassion: Pass it on. And Drink Bud Light."

Okay, that's it. I'm not going to pursue free crap anymore.

Unless it's some type of chips.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This medication is fantastic. Except for one thing...

Before I begin today's tale of personal awakening, a few caveats:

If you currently feel sated with my personal medical data, and I wouldn't blame you, go ahead and click back to the Walmart shoppers site.

You might consider putting down your pepperoni and Velveeta Hot Pocket, or anything else you may be eating.

If you happen to be married to me, take this opportunity to contemplate my plethora of other awesome physical monuments.

Okay, now that that bit of housekeeping is behind us, I'll get on with it.

I've been experiencing some skin issues lately; two warts, to be more specific. One lives on the top knuckle of my right index finger, and, after repeated skirmishes and all-out "wartfare," this alien has merely returned meatier and more robust. I'd even consider calling in a priest, but I'm not interested in listening to a wart shout profanities about what my mother does and where she does it.

The other offending body resides on my left little toe. After years occupying mere nuisance status, it's apparently experienced a puberty-ish growth spurt and has surpassed its neighbor to the north on the distraction meter. Walking has become painful, as the rubber toe of my Converse often sandwiches this fleshy growth like a cauliflower-stuffed panini.

I, like most people, have been putting off addressing these unwelcome house guests with my doctor, but, just as I awoke that fateful morning determined to sever a toxic journey with my girlfriend,  yesterday morning greeted me with a similar resolve.

I scheduled an appointment for the afternoon. Quickly summoned to the exam area after walking the two blocks to the Medical Dental Building, I was pleased to be finally addressing these nagging blemishes.

Okay, just a side note, here...why the hell do they have to weigh a guy who's having a couple of warts looked at? It's cruel and unnecessary, and my clothes are extremely heavy. Also, I found it highly inappropriate to hear, "Damn, son," whispered by a medical professional.

I was led into an exam room and told to remove my shoe and sock, sit on the tissue covered table and wait for the doctor. They always know how to throw you off a little. You can never be at your witty best with your ass sticking out of a gown, nor can you when fully clothed except for one bare foot which is five degrees colder than the rest of your body.

These rooms are all the same, and they usually have a magazine rack. I always struggle to decide whether to grab some literature or just stare at the sharps container. Since the stack included Sports Illustrated, I hopped off the table, crinkling the paper beneath my butt and grabbed the magazine.

I'd only flipped open the cover when I heard a cheerful tappity tap on the door.

"Hello, again."

Again? I thought. I hadn't seen this guy in seven months, for a physical. We'd been intimate, yes, but come on, it's been seven full months, man.

The way he poked his head around the door gave me the feeling I'd been caught in the middle of something. I felt an eerie deja vu as I held the magazine with a tube of personal lubricant resting on the counter just inches to my left.

I quickly shed the 1976 flashback and we got down to business.

"Okay, here's the course of action I'm recommending." I liked his decisive attitude.

"We're going to freeze the warts, probably four to five treatments for each. I've also been prescribing a pill which has been very successful in ridding the body of all its warts, not just the ones treated topically."

Perfect, I thought. Finally, we're gonna make some headway.

"There is one side effect, however. It's very rare, but I'm obligated to tell you that this medication can cause breast pain..."

Okay, no big deal. I don't really like my breasts referred to as "breasts"; "pecs" or "chiseled chest chops" are better, but, whatever. I can handle a little discomfort.

He continued, "...and possible lactation."

Oh, my god. Have you ever been shocked and highly amused simultaneously?

"Are you serious?" I asked.

"I'm afraid I am."

Wow. If my wife had known about this medication eleven or sixteen years ago, I'd have been popping these things like Skittles and providing daddy smoothies while she went back to work. If people think they're repulsed by mothers who breastfeed in public, what would happen if they'd seen me at the mall food court, gently stroking the head of an afghan-covered infant as it burrowed into my nourishing torso?

Honey, come one. Let's eat our Cinnabons somewhere else.

Despite the total freakiness of this medication, I think I'm going to give this a shot. Warts are a drag, and if I can rid my body of them, I suppose I'm willing to assume the risks.

And besides, I've heard that terry cloth shirts are in this fall.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011: How do you feel now?

Can you believe it's been ten years?

The sun has risen and set on three thousand six hundred and fifty days, yet my memory is as clear as the sparkling azure sky on that morning I dropped off my six-year-old for her fifth day of first grade. She slammed the door of the Ford Ranger, I waved goodbye and, as usual, flipped on the news radio station.

Five hundred and twenty weeks ago, I listened as anonymous reporters and eye witnesses recounted the young day's events as I drove. Before even speeding up enough to shift the stick into third, I had learned that three jet liners had been hijacked.

What? Planes aren't hijacked anymore. They haven't been hijacked for thirty years—not since the days of D.B. Cooper.

Two had been flown into the World Trade Center towers, one into the Pentagon.

Okay, that's impossible. No pilot would do that, even at gunpoint.

Both towers subsequently toppled, killing thousands, perhaps tens of thousands.

That's ridiculous. It's impossible for two passenger aircraft, no matter how large, to completely destroy a pair of hundred-story skyscrapers.

And that's when my brain ceased processing data, when the shock response in my amygdala engulfed all emotion in a scratchy, woolen blanket of disbelief.

Do you remember the little details which transpired in the following days and weeks? Were you harnessed with an invisible bungee cord, long enough to reach only the bathroom and kitchen before snapping you back to witness the macabre, commercial-free spectacle on television?

Do you recall the haunting quiet in the skies above? Did you attempt to shield your young children from the news? Did you lie down at night wondering, "First the planes hit, then the anthrax...what's next?"

Were you afraid?

I wasn't a child when those planes hit, but a massive bubble of naivete and innocence which had previously enveloped me like a womb, burst that sunny morning. It's cold out here, I thought.

So very cold.

I became suspicious, as the terror alert bounced from yellow to orange to red back to orange. I spotted an unattended lunch cooler in a work elevator which prompted a hasty call to building security. Any loud jet noises over the city elicited an involuntary neck jerk, forcing my focus skyward.

And now, we're one hundred and twenty months removed from the seismic paradigm shift that was September 11, 2001. How do you feel about things?

Do you feel safe? Has your life changed the way you'd anticipated it would?

Have you sacrificed? After America was thrust into World War II on December 7, 1941, "sacrifice" entered the household vernacular. Rosie the Riveter and victory gardens, rationing tickets and war bonds contributed to a united effort for a world on the brink.

I have not sacrificed. Unless you care to count arriving at the airport half an hour earlier than before and removing my shoes and putting my shoes back on before I boarded that plane to Vegas.

The one percent of our population which comprises our military has assumed one hundred percent of the risk. Our nation remains as politically divisive as ever; pettiness prevails on both sides of the aisle and "patriotism," in word, rather than meaning, has morphed into a polarizing weapon of the right.

The world needs healing, yet America has turned inward and lashed out at the same time. George W. Bush famously ended every speech during his presidency with the words, "May God bless you. And may God Bless the United States of America."

The problem was that he stopped there.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Really, it's not what you think.

Sometimes, there's nothing you can do, nothing you can say...in fact, it's better if you don't even try.

Every once in a while, you're flat out, red-faced, hand-in-the-cookie-jar busted.

Such was the case Monday, when television meteorologist, Brett Cummins awoke in an empty hot tub, gingerly spooning with another guy. Hey, no big deal right?

Except the guy was naked and wearing a dog collar...oh, yes, and he was dead.

Allegedly, the weatherman and soon-to-be canine man cadaver had arrived the previous evening at the home of the hot tub's owner, a third gentleman who subsequently engaged in some heavy drinking and drug snorting with the pair.

The host apparently retired to his living room couch around eleven that night, leaving the other two in the bathroom hot tub to play "get the dog collar and we'll see who the weatherman's best friend is," or something like that.

Awakened the following morning by the weather dude's loud snoring, the homeowner arose to discover the two men lying in the now empty tub, one shivering and disoriented while the other appeared quite comfortable in his cold, stiff deadness.

I'm sorry to make light of a tragic situation, but it seems that any type of spin on this situation by the TV personality would have proved impossible. What could he have possibly said to the police?

"Officer, please let me clear this up right now. We were trying to sober up, so we simply thought of the most wholesome show ever made and reenacted Lassie rescuing Timmy out of the well."

"Sir, I can explain everything. But first, have you ever visited a television studio and enjoyed a complimentary lunch, including pudding, with Little Rock's favorite meteorological celebrity?"

Most high profile figures who attempt to talk their way out of hugely embarrassing situations only subject themselves to further public ridicule. Remember veteran Republican Senator Larry Craig, who was caught soliciting sex in an airport men's room? He claimed that his hand reached into an adjacent stall to retrieve a square of toilet paper, rather than as a "game on" signal to the stall's occupant?

Okay, has anyone in the seven thousand year history of our planet, while using a public restroom, reached down to grab anything off the floor, let alone a single square of toilet paper? Even if my infant daughter had fallen from one of those lavatory changing tables, I only would have hoisted her with my elbows and subsequently scrubbed each of us raw with twelve dollar SOS pads from the airport news stand.

I'll be the first to admit that things have gone south for me on occasion. Back in high school gym class, the coach was instructing us on various agility drills. During his lecture, I grabbed a couple of tennis balls and placed them strategically in my nylon shorts to display my testicular prowess to the encouraging cackles of my cronies.

At that moment, the coach asked for the tennis balls to demonstrate a drill. I sheepishly extracted each ball slowly from my shorts and handed them to him, their green fuzziness still radiating my groin's heat.

"Real classy, Tim." He was disgusted. My friends were delighted. I was emasculated.

Other situations could have deteriorated quickly. That morning I dropped my preschooler off and she handed me her naked Barbie doll at the last minute and I tucked it into my coat pocket and forgot about it, any type of police frisking wouldn't have ended well that day.

And that's why I'm really trying to hedge my bets in the future, to avoid potential well-intended catastrophes. If that shopping list on the fridge contains only three items, and they are zucchini, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" and the new Shape magazine with a shirtless Ryan Reynolds on the cover...

that'll require three separate trips to Safeway.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Giving in to breaking out.

A lot of stuff happens as we age.

I realize that's no breaking news flash, and most of it I can grudgingly accept, if I cling to a philosophical approach using geographical analogies.

Hair which once sprouted from the top of my head has apparently retired and relocated to warmer, more southerly regions. I've accepted this, and I'm not anticipating a return home, even to visit relatives for the holidays.

My lower back has experienced a series of civil wars, rendering the area virtually lawless, its day-to-day stability hinging on the teetering tribal alliances of corrupt warlords. Humanitarian deliveries of Vicodin, physical therapy and muscle relaxants have secured a tense d├ętente, yet after decades of turmoil, scar tissue litters the horizon.

The luring brothel that is my gastrointestinal tract beckons the unwitting tourist. Bacon cheeseburgers, pepperoni pizzas and deep fried butter slabs line the seedy bars and dark alleyways. Once the transaction is consummated and morning's light illuminates the filthy truth, not even a Pepcid/TUMS power cocktail can stave off the inevitable.

Okay, enough with the talk of Arizona, Sudan and Bangkok. Here's an annoyance I can't abide:

Acne. I still get it.

What the hell? I still wake up, stumble into the bathroom, gaze into the mirror and spot Mount St. Helens, lava dome and all, growing on the side of my nose.

At least when I was a kid, I had a full head of hair, a strong back and a thin body to distract myself from the festering pustules littering my teenscape. Plus, the acne followed certain covenants—face and back only, with occasional rogue tenancy within a nostril or under an eyebrow. I actually had to sit out a band practice once due to a lip zit which rendered trumpet playing highly painful and futile.

I was pretty embarrassed. The band director looked puzzled when I told him, yet didn't question my injury, which was kind of nice of him.

Now, I don't get wicked clusters of them like I used to, but I'll find one on my forearm or between a couple of fingers...even inside my ear. Seriously? I had no idea the insides of our ears had pores. Inside-the-ear skin always seemed more like a tarp over some cardboard, where substances just glance off.

I'm forty-nine years old, and people my age with pimples are as out of place as a dog in a halter top. Wait, I saw one of those at the beach yesterday. You know what I mean.

The human body needs some tighter rules regarding phasing out one class of blemish prior to introducing a new unsightly attribute. On second thought, maybe I'm just being unreasonable; maybe I should embrace these tiny imperfections, possibly even name them.

I think I'll call this one on the tip of my nose "Rush."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Saying goodbye to "The Kids."

Sometimes, an event will take you by surprise. You'll feel a little too emotional about something—something which you definitely hadn't anticipated.

When McDonald's discontinued the "McDLT" back in 1991, I was floored, yet understood America's demand for a vegetable-free burger. Hey, if we want lettuce and tomato, we'll go to the freakin' Sizzler salad bar.

After leadfooted executives screeched the brakes on clear "Crystal Pepsi" in 1993, I reeled in anger and confusion. Finally, I could see exactly what I was drinking...which was absolutely nothing.

I've already discussed my aversion to change, so after ABC announced the cancellation of All My Children after its forty-one-year run, it struck me particularly hard.

The last episode is scheduled to air September 23.

I haven't even watched the show for ten years, but this king-sized kibosh, for whatever reason, hit me at the source of my life-sustaining Chi energy spring.

I kindled my romance with AMC during the summer of 1972. Erica Kane, Phoebe Tyler and Palmer Courtlandt were the prehistoric predecessors to Atari and Nintendo for a certain pre-adolescent boy. I was compelled to watch the program since it wedged itself between Joker's Wild and Let's Make a Deal, comprising the day's sole game-show free hour of television.

My burgeoning fascination with physical adult relationships was fed on a daily basis. From twelve to one, the camera panned in as closely as humanly possible on two finely coiffed heads as they savaged one another's uvulas into scar tissue.

So that was pretty cool.

A soap opera is an interesting beast; after watching for about a week, you've got most of the characters and story lines established and you can walk a away for another six months, only to re-establish your long distance relationship anew.

Such was the case with "The Kids," as the show came to be identified during my college years. What began as a closet group, much like a quilting bee or Scientology auditing session, eventually evolved into a substantial gathering huddled around a small black and white TV in my fraternity room, to catch up with Greg and Jenny, Jessie and Angie, and Tad and...whomever.

Why do I love this show so very much? Is it because it mirrors real life? Perhaps.

How often does someone just show up at my front door to confront me about my secret twin who's been robbing armored cars?

Boy, if I had a nickel.

Did my own children age twenty years in six months, like many soap opera children have been known to do?

No, but I certainly have.

Forty-one years—that's a year for every freakishly long eyebrow hair on my face. On September 23, I'll be tuning in for that final episode of All My Children.

Or else my twin will.