Monday, February 22, 2021

You Can Pound It With a Hammer

 

A popular ad on TV when I was living in Tampa, Florida at the age of nine or ten was a commercial about the last paint job anyone would ever need for their house, place of business or tar paper shack out in the swamp. It was called Armorlite I think. (For purposes of the story, we'll just go ahead and call it that.)

In the break between prime time shows like "Leave it to Beaver," "Perry Mason" or the "Jack Benny Show", a salesman with a snake oil slick voice contended the greatest paint in the world now existed. His convincing baritone demeanor insisted we were fools to not immediately book a crew of Armorlite professionals to apply this fantastic new product on our beautiful homes and businesses.  Armorlite would last forever and a day and was guaranteed for that long.  Lifetime worry-free paint job. Nothing better in this or any other Universe.

Visual proof action videos ensued of a burly guy pounding the paint with a hammer while the slick salesman overdubbed,"This paint is so rugged you can pound it with a hammer."

Scene then switched quickly to hurricane force winds driving obstacles at the newly applied paint and when the happy homeowners emerged from their hurricane ravaged homes, the paint was just fine.

The commecial blitzkrieg lasted a long time.  Long enough at least have an impact on the conversations of two bored ten year olds scuffling heel first back towards Johnny C's house. Reaching his house meant we had to pass our favorite hobby shop, the name of which escapes me now.

Johnny noticed the Ford Econline van parked next to the hobby shop and all the ladders leaned up to the back of the concrete block building.  On those ladders were guys with spray guns spraying some god awful smelling liquid on the rear wall. 

Whenever time was not pressing, we always gave the hobby shop some solid loitering time.  We'd walk around inside fingering cool hobby stuff until Gruff hobby shop guy booted us out.  He was gruff, but not an asshole.  I actually liked the guy. 

He finally told us it was time to move along.  Before we left, Johnny C asked him, " Are those guys painting with that new paint we see on TV? My dad told me they had painted the garage where he twists wrenches. The smell here smells just like Dad's garage."

Gruff hobby shop guy nodded confirmation and we exited the store.

Outside we stopped and watched the men as they painted one section, finished, moved all their scaffolding and ladders and began on a new section.  The two of us watched for some time, often bothering whoever would listen with questions like, "Can you really hit it with a hammer?"  Or, "How long does it take to dry" and "Will the smell go away".  The Armorlite pros eventually became weary of our questions and told us to beat it.

Both Johnny and I forgot about the hobby shop for quite awhile.  One of us must have seen another commercial and connected dots that led the two of us to make an early in life bad decision. At some point after school one day, either Johnny or I suggested we test the paint out on the hobby shop.

"Cool. Let's do it"

One of us surely said something akin to , "But we don't have hammers."

I can remember talking while we walked in the direction of the hobby shop.  We were both pumped and seriously considering how this test would unfold.  Neither of us wanted to go home for hammers we might lose and then all Hell would break loose. So we decided to use rocks.  

Rocks were like hammers.  I had actually relied on rocks several times to help construct various forts in trees, in the pucker and one really cool fortification on an island in the mangrove swamps that rimmed Tampa Bay just to the south of my house.

We walked the last so many hundreds of yards looking at the ground and collecting rocks we thought might suit the job at hand.  You just don't get accurate throwing results from just any rock.  A good throwing rock has to fit the palm just so.  The weight, heavy enough to have some impact, but no so big it was tough to throw.  A lot to consider when choosing decent rocks to toss.

We approached the store from the rear.  The plan was for one of us to throw rocks and the other to judge the result.  And then we switch out and do it again and again and again until we ether proved the commercial or debunked it.

The paint was some rugged.  Throwing small skipping type stones appeared to have no impact.  Frustrated now that my pockets were empty, I grabbed a brick from over near the dumpster. The brick chipped the Hell out of that wall.

Johnny and I decided the test was incomplete.  One chip does not mean much, especially since we went over kill and heaved a brick at it.  Surely they did not mean bricks.  We left the immediate area and sought more rocks a little larger than skipping rocks but still smaller than a brick.  

As it turned out, rocks just shy of half brick size could chip the paint nine times out of ten.

That's when this comedy stepped up its game.  The store owner appeared.  

I remember stopping in mid throw when he asked, "What the Hell are you two doing?"  Johnny and I dropped our rocks and turned to face him. Glaring at us, he again said, " Well, what are you doing?  I just had the store painted. "

Retroactive awareness does nothing to address current problems self inflicted out of stupidity.  I immediately understood that trouble was here and I was in the middle of it. Understanding trouble was not going to help going forward.  But I tried to mitigate its damage with an explanation.  

"Uh, we were testing the paint to see if the claim was true."

"What claim?"

Johnny spoke up. "You know, the ad on TV that claims you can hit the paint with a hammer and not damage it."

Gruff hobby shop guy walked over to the rear wall to look at it.

"Jesus Christ.  You kids destroyed the paint job"  He turned toward me.

Funny how when it really counts, adults never seem to understand the logic of children. "What is your name and phone number?  I will be calling your parents.  And don't even think of lying to me.  And don't even think of running.  I will catch you."

I squirmed uncomfortably under his glare.  I turned toward Johnny to seek some support.  Johnny had turned tail and all I saw was the back of him disappearing in the distance. I would have to take the hit alone or run away like Johnny.  I chose to stay.  I think it was because of the stressed sound of the store owner's voice. I knew we had really screwed up.  

I looked at the store owner and he looked at me.  I remember giving him my name, phone number and address before I also turned tail and ran home.

I had found serious trouble and dragged Johnny along with me.  I did not give up his name to the store owner.  My parents figured "the other kid" had to be Johnny.  It only took one question from Dad and I was spilling my guts.  I had learned by that time in my short life that my father valued truth above all else. Lying was a betrayal.

Johnny's father refused to help pay for repainting the rear of the hobby shop.  Dad fronted all the money and I was out my allowance for the better part of the next year.  There was grounding and a month's worth of disgusted looks to bear, but over all I thought my parents handled it well.  

Johnny showed up at school on the following Monday with a black eye and serious bruises on his arms.  He often showed up to school damaged in some way.  I would find out later his father hit him and his older sister quite often.  

I was not allowed in their house after that nor was I allowed in the hobby shop ever again.

Later .....................................................


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Tall Lois

Early in fourth grade I was relegated to front row status because of my inability to sit up and fly right while parked in the back row.  I didn't mind the move to the front row.  I could see the blackboard better.  After several weeks of broadcasting my displeasure over the punitive move to the front, I unexpectedly admitted to the teacher that I could see the black board better. That move was directly responsible for my life long love/hate relationship with eyeware.

The move also meant Lois sat three rows behind me now.  I could no longer show her my affection with the variety of kicks to her desk or annoying her with the random poke.  She always turned around, pursed her lips and glared. Her response told me she felt the same about me.

When I think of the priorities used for liking a yucky girl back then, I smile. Though the rules of  attraction would change when puberty kicked in, my attraction in fourth grade was solely based on Lois' abilities in the games we played at recess and her bad ass attitude when confronted by an intimdating boy.  She never backed down.  It was love.  And it was mutual. Of that I was sure.

Fast forward to the 5th grade.  I was older, more mature, and I had actually gained an inch or so in height.  I was becoming a man and full of myself as a member of the upper class of Dale Mabry School in Tampa, Florida. I entered my new classroom, chest puffed out and ready to take on any comer.

Lois walked into the classroom with her circle of young hens, all tittering, smiling and being goofy girls. I was shocked, astounded, poleaxed.  This was not the Lois I had grunted goodby to last June.  This Lois had become a giant.  She towered over her peers. She towered over me.  Her compact and normal kid body from fourth grade was now a skinny tree with twigs for limbs.  I had to tip my head back some to look her in the eye.  When she looked down at me, I knew the flame that had burned so brightly back in June was now snuffed out.  She pushed me aside and found a seat.

I was crushed. The one kid who had owned space in my mind over the summer just blew me off.

My pain was short lived when Johnny Cox threw his shoulder into me as he passed. "How's it hangin Four Eyes?"

 "Like a bugle, wanna blow it?" My half hearted almost wispered response stopped him in his tracks.  He looked at me, looked at Lois settling into her new desk and shook his head. 

Johnny had been the only friend who knew of my crush on Tall Lois, which he began calling her from that day on.  She hated it and took him on more than a few times because of his incessant teasing.

Fifth grade had officially gotten off to a rough start for me.  The day ended as it began with me walking home after making a year long enemy of my new teacher and royally pissing off Tall Lois when I punched her in the arm and ran away.

I spent serious time that year ridin the pine in the principal's office.  My relationship with my teacher, Mrs Mahoney, was acrimonious and hate filled.  Early on while being detained after class, she whispered in my ear that every year she finds (picks) the class troublemaker and that this year I was it.  She was evil personified.  Because I felt challenged, I attempted to rise to the depths of her expectations.  I fought her at every turn.  Fifth grade could not have ended fast enough for me.

Not all my Fifth grade memories were bad though. Every other Friday we would march down to the Music room and dance. I think I was the only boy who eagerly looked forward to dance class.  

Dance class was not so much about the dancing. It was more about covertly steering this ungainly and wild group of kids towards the civil and polite world of adults.  We were segregated according to sex.  Boys with sweaty hands looking at their feet on one wall. Girls lined up across the empty floor doing the same.

On the music teacher's cue, the boys were expected to cross the grand expanse and politely ask a girl to dance.  The girls were instructed to not be picky and accept appropriate dance requests. Always dancing with the same partner was frowned upon. That would not be polite. Yeah, that was how it was supposed to work.  Eventually by the fourth or fifth class, the fidgeting and fussing ceased and we actually danced for more than a tune or two. 

Square Dancing was by far our favorite.  I remember being fond of the Bosa Nova until I was teased relentlessly the following week.  Most of all I remember it was during Dance Class my affair with Tall Lois blossomed into something neither she nor I would ever have admitted to any of our same sex buds.

That first class, I zeroed in on Tall Lois right out of the gate.  I followed protocol and asked nicely.  She stared down at me with empty eyes and said, "Okay. Whatever."  And with an eyeroll only a girl can create she thrust out her hand for me to recieve.  

The hair on the back of my neck stood on end when I took her hand.  Cool! Her hand seemed to be sweating more than mine.  I don't remember that first dance other than it involved much stumbling and awkward hand holding. At the end of the dance Tall Lois leaned down and softly told me she was really pissed I never contacted her over the summer. I remained silent and smiled. And then she smiled.

I still do not have women figured out. Tall Lois taught me some first clumsy lessons regarding the upcoming intramural sport of sex, marriage and all the uncomfortable baggage that is packed in the trunk. Besides my mom, she was the first female to bring me joy and pain for no other reason than she existed.

I never saw Tall Lois after fifth grade.  We moved to Tallahassee so my dad could get into the hotel business.  I did hear from Johnny Cox some months later.  Tall Lois and he had buried the hatchet and now she was his girlfriend. 

"In your face. You're such a loser, Four Eyes. She always liked me better than you.  And besides she is more fun to watch than you ever were."

Keep it "tween the ditches ...................................

_________________________________

Tall Lois was real.  My crush was real. Johnny Cox was real. And Mrs Mahoney? Sadly, she was very real.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Three Monkeys


So here we are only a few days into Trump's SECOND impeachment trial and already some Republicans are morally outraged that this shit show continues to move along just nicely, thank you very much. 

My main man, Lindsey Graham, is living Life like he means it and sitting on top of his horse called Righteous Indignation.  Isn't he the cutest when he's angry and on his high horse at the same time?  You can tell that butt plug is in just the right place.

Lindsey's two compadres, Senators Hawley and McConnell, have pulled from their quivers of political stupidity, two different approaches to deal with this SECOND impeachment trial of His Royal Majesty, Donald J. Trump, Grand Ruler, and God's All Around Right Hand Guy.

Sen. McConnell is favoring the "lie like a rug and act amenable to whatever those evil Democrats are cooking up" shtick. He believes wool has been pulled over their eyes.  And since it has worked in the past, there is no reason to believe it won't this time.  Those silly Democrats are nice guys but surely just a bunch of chumps.

Sen. Hawley is utilizing the "I have watched, I have listened, and I see no case here" strategy.  Nevermind the fact he did not watch the videos offered up by the house managers and appeared to either be asleep or in Zombie mode when a Democrat stood to speak.  No, his mind was not made up before this trial.  Riiiiiight.

As it turns out, or how it probably will turn out, Trump will skate again.  I would be all upset and teary eyed over this except that:

  • Trump will be the only President to have gone through two Impeachments.
  • The Republicans have to put their names on a vote that will live long after their sorry asses are dead and gone.
  • The involvement of Christian Insurrectionists in the Jan. 6 fiasco brings the whole notion of Dominion and Theocracy under a new and brighter light. Contrary to what they profess, the Dominionists don't like the Light.  They prefer to wiggle and giggle around in the dark slime oozing free in dark corners of ancient Biblical basements.
  • No matter what, Trump will find it hard to find work anywhere, even as a dog catcher.
  • And finally, by their continued insistence on protecting Trump, it looks even more possible that the GQP will go down with their master. Good Riddance.
Keep it 'Tween the Ditches ..........................................................

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Purging Alcohol Infused Retrospective


Angry and confused, the rank and file found themselves uselessly milling around tired monuments to nonexistent alternate realities. With frantic breaths, they screamed at everyone nearby that what happened to them was a travesty like none other in the continuum of Time and Space. They are positive they have been egregiously wronged.  Why else would they be so upset fer chrissakes? 

It does not matter that Heaven Sent Overlord misinformed them with lies and outrageous innuendoes. He claimed not only had he been cheated, but worst of all, so had they been scammed and were now left without the greatest leader ever to grace the planet. 

Calling them to arms in so many words, he tells them the only way to take their country back is to fight for it.  He makes no mention of the four year lie he foisted upon the land he claimed to love. Each repeated lie that passed his lips fires up a nervous and angry crowd, soon turning them into a lynch mob.  Once they have heated up nicely, he sends them forth to breach the walls of a country he assures them is set steadfast against them. 

So they marched. They were not so useless now, by God! 

Brandishing spear tipped poles with fluttering mixed messaged standards, they streamed awkwardly to barricades held in the tenuous hands of unprepared truncheon packing protectors of the Peace.  The Blue Line has no choice. They step aside.  And the mob was now at the door of this once fine example of a constitutional republic. 

I sat in front of the flat screen opened mouthed and watched this tragedy unfold. Mild shock quickly turned to outrage as I witnessed those same poles that had been so busy waving flags now turned into sharp weapons of blind hate and over the top discontent. 

I have never been so ashamed of my fellow citizens as I was on January 6, 2021.  And now, they want a pass.  Time to move on they say.  Their leader has been vanquished, so get over it.  We didn' t mean any harm.  Jes tryin to save the republic from the evil child eaters of the other side.  To all that I say................. 

Kiss My Ass! 

This was not a Big Deal.  It was a Huge Deal! Anyone who participated in this Treason should hang their heads and find dark corners to hide until the rest of us feel like dealing with your sorry asses.  

Personally, I will never forgive the GQP.

Call me Disgusted .................................................... 



Saturday, January 30, 2021

Uh, Okay

A conversation between my father and I in the early 1970s. Originally posted 10/13/05.  Edited some.
________________

When I was a youngster I watched John Wayne and his Leathernecks storm beaches. assault hills, and bomb Jap carriers. At age 8, I longed to be just like him. The war movies of the 1940s and 50s were epic adventures of men larger than Life itself. They walked tall, killed many enemies and died like all men should. With their boots on, their cause always just, and the good guy always prevailed. Germans, Japanese, and later North Koreans were the evil menace. They preyed upon the weak. They killed, tortured, and pillaged like they were born to it. Never in all those childhood Saturday matinees were our boys anything but heroic in their efforts and humble in their victory.

It was around age 15 when a friend's brother came home in a box from Vietnam that I began to question the nobility of war. I was 17 when an aging John Wayne tried to do for Vietnam what he had done for us in World War ll and Korea, "The Green Berets" was full to the brim with noble causes, chock full of heroic gestures, and full up with dead bodies, mostly those evil Viet Cong. And John dutifully died at the end of the flick like any good hero should. At least that is how I remember it.

When once I used to feel the patriotic juices welling up at the sight of the Duke blasting his way into a bunker to save his battalion from sure annihilation, I just sat there and and felt sad. It had only been a few days earlier a good friend had come home in fewer pieces than when he left. His unwillingness to speak of the evil he had witnessed and the evil he may have done spoke more to me than if he had given me the blow by blow. The year in Vietnam had made him old before his time. Maimed and bitter he turned up the drugs he had fallen into in the Army and ended up dying of an overdose 2 years later.

By age 19, I was against the war, but willing to go if called. Something inside me still clung to the images of God and Country the Duke had embedded in my brain so many years earlier. The war may be wrong but it was still a noble undertaking. Naive and sure of my own immortality I had decided to enlist if my lottery number was low enough. It was a sure thing my grades would not keep me out. 

I sat in my dorm getting drunk the night they drew the birthdates. About 10 o'clock, the phone in the hall rang. Someone hollered for me. It was my father. My Brigadier General, retired ole man. He was shit-faced too. 

We began that converstaion in mutual inebriation and hung up sober as judges. What he said to me that night rocked my world. What I told him rocked his. 

He began by saying he had decided that Vietnam was of no purpose and made no sense. An exercise in stupidity that would have no effect other than people would die. He ended with an offer of a one way ticket to Montreal, Canada. 

I was speechless. Was this same man I grew up wondering if he had any other clothes than the uniform he wore everyday? Was this the man who spent 31 years protecting our shores from the menace across the seas? The same man I never felt a connection with? 

An awkward silence I remember next. Moments dragged on while we both contemplated what he had said and what it must have taken to say it. Regaining some composure, I managed a barely intelligible "Uh, okay." More awkward moments while we both chewed on this awesome recognition of a man questioning basically his whole life. 

I snapped out of my astonishment and struck back with my own news. " I appreciate the offer Dad, but I decided I would join up if my number was low enough." I quickly added my reasons. To not be willing to do my duty would be disrespectful to all of those before me who had sacrificed. But most of all I did not want to shame him. His life had been dedicated to the defense of our country and I would not dishonor that memory by running away. 

Some serious silence now. Loud silence. I could hear the blood pulsing in my ears. And then he spoke. "Uh, okay. But promise me you go in the Navy or the Air Force. Only dum-asses are Jarheads or Grunts." 

"Uh, Okay. Thanks for calling Dad. Talk to you soon."........Click. 

The Epilogue 

As it turned out my number was 200 something. They only drew a few over 100 dates that year. I did not end up serving. But I still remember that night like it was yesterday. It was one of those important moments in a life when a father and son connect on a level neither had reached for before. We both hung up feeling pride in the other.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Bowie and the Whacko Redhead - Revisited

I did not appreciate how close to the edge I was flying back in 1978 when I was driving Rock n' Roll bands from one end of the continent to the other. I had been on the road pretty much non-stop for two years. The mind numbing miles built up. One hall began to look like another. I often had to check my itinerary the morning of a stage call to remind me what town I was in and what town I was heading for.

My time behind the wheel became a blur of interstate super slabs interrupted by nightmarish back ins to backstage loading docks run by surly stagehands. Sleep was often a luxury. Food, while plentiful, was always the same leftovers found in Green Rooms across the nation or the classic gut busting fare served in truck stops.

I was on the David Bowie tour in the spring of 1978. We were on the last leg, the whirlwind part. The bunched up series of shows on the East Coast meant travel distances dropped but the strategies to make it safely in and out of a city grew ever more complicated.

The East was where I had learned the ropes of driving. I was back in my element. I could get 6 or 7 trucks to Madison Square Garden without much hassle as long as everyone stuck together. I could back into holes the western drivers considered impossible. In other words, I came east and I was a star.

We had three towns left. Providence, Boston, and we finished with two shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was in Providence the comedy of errors began for me.

A normal crowd of groupies and sycophants were hanging out in the lobby of the Providence Howard Johnsons when I stumbled through the roulette door to check in. How these clowns seemed to know where to go puzzled me. But they were always around.

Whacko Redhead was parked on one of the over stuffs tapping her feet. I only noticed her because her red hair was a couple of feet long and looked like it had not seen the business side of a comb or brush in years. And on her head was a Red Sox cap. Our eyes met. Mine stopped at her face. Her stare went right through me. Kinda scared me if you want to know the truth. I smiled weakly and continued to stumble my way to the front desk. I checked in, got my key and directions to my room.

Maybe two minutes after throwing my shit on the bed and collapsing next to it, someone knocked on the door. Not happy in the slightest, I dragged my sorry butt off that bed and opened the door.

"You're with the Bowie Tour aren't you?"

There, in all of her 5 foot grandeur stood Whacko Redhead with her feet apart like an umpire and her hands on her hips. She pushed past me and came into my room.

"So what do I have to do to get backstage?" She plopped on my bed.

By this point in my Rock n Roll career, I had grown tired of the groupie scene. The easy sex for backstage passes had gone stale for me. Add in the fact that I was dead on my feet and my mood was not all that agreeable. So I lied.

"I don't do backstage passes anymore. I'm tired. I need some sleep. Please leave." And I continued to hold the door open.

Whacko Redhead did not get up off the bed. Instead she began to tap her feet again like in the lobby. "Well then", she started, "I am sure one of you drivers is horny enough to cough up a pass. Who should I see?"

Her direct manner and her piercing blue eyes cut through me hard. I began to chuckle. "Well, Billy Boo is perpetually horny. He's always ready for some head."

"Which one's Billy Boo? Not the 400 pound whale with the whiny voice and scraggly beard?"

"That would be Billy Boo."

"Uh, no thanks. I picked you. So, what's it gonna take?" Her blue eyes bored right through me.

"Darlin, all I want is some sleep. Even if I had the urge, I don't think the engine has the fuel." But I closed the door and walked back into the room.

That was my first mistake.

At age 26, we guys always have the urge and the fuel even if we don't think we do. And this is something all the women know. An hour later Whacko Redhead and I were saving the planet by taking a shower together. That sleep I thought I needed traded in on easy sex for a backstage pass.

I lost track of Whacko Redhead during the show that night. But come time for load out, there she was sitting on one of the speakers waiting to be loaded on my truck. When a stagehand slapped that speaker, she hopped off and walked over to me at the back door of the trailer.

She reached around my waist with one hand and pulled my head down with the other. After planting a screamer of a kiss on me, she backed up. "Well, I guess that's it then. You are off to Boston now."

"Yeah, I guess so."

And then I made my second mistake.

"How'd you like to go to Boston with me?"

I don't think I had even finished talking and she had the passenger door of the truck open and was scrambling up the looped footstep. By the time I had climbed in behind the wheel, she had a doob lit and was passing it over the dog house to me.

With traffic, the Old Boston Garden was at most a two hour drive from Providence. Once there, I figured I would finally get that sleep I needed. It was possible my head could be on a pillow by 2 AM. With stage call not until 8 AM, I might get 4 hours of solid shuteye.

Whacko Redhead had other plans. On the way out of Providence she insisted I stop at her apartment so she could grab some clean clothes and maybe gussy up some. Since finding Boston Garden should be no problem for the other drivers and the fact they had over 8 hours to find it, I cut them loose with a call on the CB radio. I pulled into Whacko Redhead's apartment complex around midnight. I didn't pull out until 6:30 AM the next morning. And again like so many times before, I made stage call with only minutes to spare. Buford, the head engineer for SHOWCO was not impressed. Damn women.

I got my trailer unloaded and then headed to the Holiday Inn in Somerville. After a quick romp in the sack with Whacko Redhead, I headed for the shower and left her in bed thumbing through the itinerary for the tour. As I toweled myself off, there was a knock at the door. I wrapped my towel around my waist and opened the door expecting one of the crew or a hotel employee. There standing in all their Parental intimidation are Mom and Dad. I had forgotten that I had invited them down from Maine to see the Bowie show and hang with all the cool people backstage.

I didn't move. I didn't say a word. I just looked at them. In the meantime, my dad's eyes had gotten bigger. My mom's eyes had become slits. I turned around and sitting there in one of those hotel room chairs buck naked was Whacko Redhead. Her eyes had grown big also. She jumped up and scurried to the bed and began to gather her clothes.

I still just stood there saying nothing. What was there to say?

Mom finally spoke. "Well Mike, are you going to invite us in?"

"Uh, yeah, come on in." I stepped out of the way just as Whacko Redhead made a beeline for the bathroom with her clothes clutched so to cover her naughty bits.

Mom and Dad come into the room. Mom's eyes are still slits. Dad is grinning from ear to ear. He said, "So all those stories are true huh?" Mom shot him a hard look of disgust and then began to scan the room for a safe place to sit.

I heard the shower kick in. Good, Whacko Redhead was cleaning up. I turned to my parents, “Folks, make yourselves comfortable. I'm going to get dressed. Be out in a moment." Mom and Dad just looked at me. They still had not sat and that grin on Dad's face was beginning to unnerve me.

Once I was dressed I came out of the bathroom and was relieved that Mom and Dad had figured out where to sit. It seemed to take the edge off the situation that had started so badly. I began. "So this is kinda awkward......"

Mom immediately interrupts. "Awkward? Christ on a crutch Mike, you invited us down. You know how hard it is to get your father to go anywhere, and when we finally get here, you are shacked up with some whore."

"Mom, she's not a whore. They are called Groupies. And besides..........." I can't finish. Mom was not listening. She had made her decision.

Dad piped up and said, "Well I for one am glad we came. She seems a delightful young lady."

Mom turned and stared at my father. "Delightful? Why do you say that? Because she was naked?"

"Why yes dear. Because she was naked. All young ladies are delightful when unclothed."

I can tell my parents were getting primed for one of their daily spats. It always started the same way. One baits, the other bites. I spoke up. “Okay that’s it. Stop right now. Let’s head to the Garden. I’ll leave Angie here. She won’t mind.”

My mom could not resist a parting shot as we moved towards the door. In a loud voice she warned, “Don’t leave any valuables here Mike; they might not be here when you get back.”

Whacko Redhead, her head hanging out of the bathroom door, stuck her tongue out. Dad smiled at her, then said, “Nice to have met you.” Mom tugged on his arm, glared at Whacko Redhead and we left.

Thankfully, the following hours at the Garden were so special for my parents and myself, the incident at the motel became but a footnote to one of the most bizarre days I had while driving Rock n Roll.

Since it was near the end of the tour, David Bowie had a catered high end meal set up for the crew. Chefs with big hats cooking while waiters wearing white waist coats served food that was absolutely some of the best I have ever eaten. Mom and Dad got to sit down with us. As it happened, David Bowie sat at our table and talked with my parents. He chose our table because their elderly presence was so out of character for this business. My dad was able to hang out at the Sound board while Buford ran his sound check. Both of them ended with respect for the other. They were both geeks. Dad asked questions that Buford had to strain to answer. Geeks just love that kind of shit.

It turned into a good day. If I had had a plan to begin with, I could not have come up with a better series of events to completely impart just how insane the Rock n Roll business was. My parents begged off when I suggested staying for the concert. The meal, meeting David Bowie, the sound check and of course Whacko Redhead was excitement enough for one day. They drove me back to the motel. As I got out, they both insisted they had a wonderful and if nothing else, an interesting time. They drove home to Maine.

I still had to deal with Whacko Redhead though. She had been cooling her heels at the motel for 5 or 6 hours. Even though she could have robbed me blind during our previous two days together, my mom’s warning skittered through my mind as I walked to the room. What is it about moms and their ability to weasel their way into our minds? It must have something to do with that bonding during pregnancy. After all, they have nine months to implant whatever insidious control device they want.

With this floating around my mind, I opened the door of the motel room. The mess I left was straight now and a fully clothed Whacko Redhead laid passed out peacefully on top of the bed covers. The king size bed wrapped around her like an acre of pasture wraps around a cow. Her red hair seemed under control now. Her eyes closed, she was the perfect picture of calm. I crawled on the bed beside her and was asleep the second my head hit the pillow.

Later ....................................................
______________________________________
 
Originally written in March of 2010. The slight edit is to replace real names and clean up obvious grammatical and spelling mistakes.

The story is true to the best of my memory. The dialog is added to create connection and color to the events as they unfolded. 

2,178 words

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Anger & Sadness


So I lasted a tad over two minutes into Trump's final Presidential Bloviation at Joint Base Andrews before I had to leave the kitchen and come in here to my office and begin an effort to find some personal perspective that might help me understand what I , my family, this nation has gone through over the last four years.

This will take some time.  Closure and Perspective can be elusive when Anger and Sadness mix in such volatile quantities. 

Keep it 'tween the ditches .................................

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Bean and the Elevator

I posted a cartoon on my Facebook page this AM.  A crude joke involving bodily functions and an elevator.  I posted it with no comment.  

I was hard into my second cup of coffee when I remembered a connection between the elevator in the New Dorm at Towson State and Bean, a best friend struck down before his time.  The cartoon I had previously posted became that much funnier and I laughed out loud again as memories of my old friend drifted in from the edges of my mind.

Bean and I attended the same military school in Charlotte Hall, Maryland. He was a senior when I enrolled as a new cadet in my sophomore year.  We did not really become friends until Lacrosse season.  I had never picked up a lacrosse stick and Bean, well, he was an awkward 6'5" stringbean who was not athletically gifted. Neither one of us were on the coach's top ten list.  We were fixtures on the JV team.  We had great fun making snarky remarks about well, everything.  Bean was a very funny guy.  He sure could tell a story.

Bean graduated in 1968 and immediately was filed as gone and soon to be forgotten.  I graduated from Charlotte Hall in 1970. 

Two weeks into my freshman year I was cluelessly wandering around the Student Center at Towson State when I hear "Crum" shouted from across the big room.  Coming towards me in his signature disjointed walk was a hippie version of the Bean I knew in high school.  No amount of hair or tattered hippie attire could hide him. We became very close friends who often saw each other daily even though Bean was a day hop who lived off campus. 

In the Spring of my Freshman year construction began on a new dormitory behind my dorm. It was to be 14 stories and when finished would introduce Co-ed living to Towson State. 

Bean's and my first brush with the New Dorm was while construction was ongoing.  Because college students are really just big children, a construction site is still a big draw.  And we were drawn to it often as a spot to smoke weed and explore stoned.  The view from the top was outstanding.

Our very first exploratory mission started with me discovering what I thought was a huge closet on I think, the 3rd floor.  Baked out of my mind, I said, "Look.  A big closet.  Wonder what this will be?" 

I stepped into it.

I had stepped into the main elevator shaft. Stepping into nothing is a very strange experience, especially when I noted the construction debris coming into focus at the bottom over 40 feet away.  I knew in an instant I was screwed.  Nothing I could do but follow the rules of gravity.  As I quickly approached face down, this is gonna hurt position, a hand grabbed the waist band of my jeans and pulled me to safety.  I am sure Bean saved my life that day.

Fast forward to when I was living in the completed, fully functioning New Dorm.  It was the first dorm Towson erected that was higher than 3 stories.  Mistakes were made.  One was inadequate elevator service.  Daylight hours found the only two elevators constantly in action and students having to wait for sometimes 5 -10 minutes.  The higher you lived, the bigger pain in the ass they were.  So of course on occasion Bean, Toole and I had to make the trip even more difficult when we could.

Since the people on the lower floors were used to dealing with overfilled elevators, we came up with our "Act Full" schtick.  An empty or close to it car would open for us on the 9th floor.  We would stand shoulder to shoulder as if we had been the last bits of human flesh able to be stuffed into this elevator.  "Now act full".  Nobody ever challenged us on the way down. We thought it was hilarious. However, most of the occasional innocent bystanders trapped in the same car with us were not.  I remember one nice looking coed calling us assholes when she walked out.  Oh well, college students are often assholes.  I will own my part in being one from time to time.

And of course I will never forget the time Bean farted in the elevator when it was chock full and he and I were the last people in for a trip to the first floor.  Bean looked down at me, nudged me with his elbow and then let loose with a deafening, lengthy, and odorous fart that slowly expanded to the rear of the elevator car.  It was a slow progression you could follow with your ears as it caused coughs and at least one noticeable gag reflex when it hit the rear wall. It made my eyes water.

So here we are not even to the 8th floor yet and Bean has gone and poisoned us.  I look up at his face and I see a face of beatific calm. He looked at me and winked.

At the 8th floor the door opened to a group in a hurry to get to class.  Several charged the elevator hoping they could muscle their way in.  Suddenly, as if on cue, they stopped like they had hit a wall.  One fella coughed and said, "I'll walk."  Floor after floor to the bottom it was like this.  All the while Bean stood there in innocent wonder looking around for someone else to blame.  As we stepped off he raised his hand and pointed at me and held his nose.  Asshole.

Damn, I miss Bean.  He was one of the greatest friends I ever had.  Sadly his life was taken in a farm accident in 1980.

R.I.P. Bean.  I still miss you.




Thursday, December 24, 2020

CRUM's Official 2020 Seasonal Salutation


I have never been a big fan of the Christmas season.  As a child, I learned to dread it's coming.  My father, who struggled with depression and alcoholism, ramped up his pain at this time of the year.  I inherited his tendency for both the demon rum and the depression. I tried to break the chain, but was only able to rein in the alcoholic overloading. Depression is part of me year round, but worse in December.

So here we are in a year tailor made for me to wallow in more depression than ever before in my life. Covid sucks, Trump sucks, and I discovered that what I suspected is actually true.  The planet has been allowed to be run by self serving jerkwads proving that the average slob, peon, serf, or drooling minion is getting what they deserve.  So yeah, I should be in depression heaven here.

Oddly, I feel more upbeat than Christmases from my recent past.  For all the lousy and hateful things we have done to ourselves this past year, there has been a tidal wave of care sharing, as average folks coast to coast rose up to meet the various challenges of 2020.  Against many odds and nattering idiots, millions of good people put nose to grindstone and carried our load. 

Their existence has re-confirmed my faith in Humanity and I see lights at the ends of our tunnels.

HO!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Fear

For years I have had various ideas, observations and considerations float in and around the smoldering wreckage in my mind. Most often I don't really notice them other than a quick acknowledgement and then let them die in the swamp out back. But have enough "what if's", "what about's", and "only if's" pass by, eventually I was bound to stop everything and go, "Yeah, What about that?"

In the last four years, the notion of Fear and its pervasive, insidious grip on our national psyche has consistently been up front and in my face. America and yes, even a large charge of the World's population live every day in fear of something catastrophic ruining their day, their lives, their existence. Irrational fear that often cripples them and makes them prone to grasping any slim chance to escape the unknown and non-existent tragedy coming at them at warp speed. That makes for fertile ground where liars, scammers, and purveyors of Righteous Indignation ply their evil trades. Humans love to be afraid.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was right when he said "All we have to fear is fear itself." Yet we have conveniently forgotten this basic truth. Meeting a challenge head on is certainly better than meeting one with doubts swirling around and poisoning our resolve.

I am not immune to fear. I have my favorites I pull up on occasion to fill that void when despair seems lacking. And while I wallow in my fears, I know it is a useless and destructive endeavor that is bound to not bring me closure, satisfaction or even gratification of any kind. Simply put, fear is a colossal waste of my time, as it is for most folks unless they are chained to wall with a greasy one eyed prison guard approaching them as he rubs his hands and declares, "We gonna have some fun tonight."

After reading my above scrawling on fear, my quiver of fear is again empty for the moment. I sit here a rational and clear headed man who knows that beating fear is more than half the battle. Yet part of me is already jonesing for more fear to replace that fear I just purged. I feel like an MC Escher painting looks. I keep climbing those steps and never leave the basement.

Keep it tween the 'ditches .......................................

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Democracy is Cracking Apart

I have had it with lies from the Right, especially the lies from election fraud idiots, Covid deniers, Evangelical wackos and their brain dead idol, D. Trump. We will be years getting over the damage Trump and the spineless leadership of the Right has done to our country.

Hoping that a new year with Joe Biden leading an often clueless and fractured Liberal Cavalry will somehow fix it is using an overly optimistic dose of wishful thinking. The light at the end of the tunnel is but a fading glimmer.  Like the McCarthyism of the 1950's, the Trumpism of the 2020's will most likely have to burn itself out over time.  How much time is anyone's guess.

A sizable chunk of our dumb ass population has allowed itself to be sucked in by baseless conspiracy theories and lies fomented by morally corrupt mouthpieces operating with the support by authoritarian leaning One Percenter's.  These insensitive money grubbing mercenaries have no ethics and care little what form of government we have as long as their coffers and interests are in front of everyone else's. But they do seem to find the Representative Democracy we supposedly exist in now particularly problematic and loathsome as it actually relies on the very people they want to exploit. To them its like herding cats.  Doable, but it would be so much easier if we all were brain dead drones. Sadly, because the Right has lost its mind, their goal seems to be in site.

In short, the USA appears to be headed for Banana Republic status and I do not see any way out of it unless the Right blows itself up.

Later .........................................

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Big Hole in My Life

So there is a big hole in my life now.  A hole that I oddly seem to miss.  As much as I pissed and moaned, I had become used to and if truth be told, looked forward to it every day.  A day without Trump tweeting, waving his tiny hands and moving his ass like lips somehow now felt empty after 4 years of his daily dosage. The new normal that Trump introduced in 2016 had become customary, SSDD ordinary, not unique and different.  How sad is that?

I am actually very happy, some would say, ecstatic that our sad excuse for a President was trounced by a guy he called "Sleepy Joe".  I am thrilled especially that he is really showing who he is with his 2 weeks of tantrums and holding his breath til he turns blue.

But with only Trump Flu to hold my attention now, I am beginning to jones for my daily dollop of Trump, the man.  The two of them sort of canceled each other out by keeping my brain busy multitasking the fear and loathing I had for both.  By keeping me busy, the two kept me from dwelling on one alone.  And now, all I have to be worried about is Don's flu. And its not enough.

But then I am heartened by the knowledge that from now on, our new normal will be throwing all of us new curves that may end up fucking us royally, but it will be an interesting ride.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ....................................

Friday, November 13, 2020

CMA Snubs Again

Country music has a special place in my heart.  It was the first music I remember hearing as a toddler in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Webb Pierce, Roy Acuff, and countless other hay seed crooners and twangers filled my early years with the music of white trash America.  Smitten, I never looked back until it became nothing but Top 40 garbage in the 1970s. 

As I grew up, other music genres turned my head.  Folk, Blues, Rock, Jazz, Metal, and even Classical all have their place in my heart.  None however had the impact of that first kiss, Country Music.

I turned my back on the twangy Pop music that passes for Country music today.  It had become more about the flamboyant factor than the talent factor.  It all sounded the same. How big your belt was or how long your tassels were seemed to override the actual musical ability of the performer. Sure there were talented people performing, but they had caved to the POP music mentality that mediocrity sells. Their efforts became homogenized, pasteurized, no edge crap.  With the exception of the Outlaw movement in the mid 1970s, Country music became dead to me. And it has only gotten worse.  Style over substance.

For awhile the Outlaws realigned Country music with its roots.  But then it too became a sad reflection of itself when all the up and comers claimed that they too were outlaws.  Sorry but they weren't.  Wannabes who failed to carve their own unique niche.  Posers, the lot of them.

So here we are in 2020, post CMA awards show.  I don't like awards shows.  I figure already huge egos need no stroking from me by watching them prance in front of a camera.  Anyway, so what do I read today?  They did not even mention 3 country performers who passed in 2020 who represented Country Music more honestly than they ever have.  John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Billy Joe Shaver were snubbed.  What a bunch of thankless, self important assholes those CMA honchos are.  Not even a mention.  WOW!

Some current Country stars took notice.  Two claim they will return their CMA membership cards. And I love Sturgill Simpson's reaction on Instagram;

“Don’t get it twisted…wouldn’t be caught dead at this tacky ass glitter and botox cake & cock pony show even if my chair had a morphine drip,” 

But America loves mediocrity and this snub will pass under the bridge without notice.  

Keep it 'tween the ditches .............................................

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The "I Don't Give a Shit Cult"

I started out Life as an Episcopalian.  Once confirmed, I spent time as an acolyte and briefly considered traveling the road to priesthood.  I changed direction that day at Hot Shoppes in Bethesda when I watched my priest snuggling against and kissing a woman not his wife. I quit playing the religious game. Ever since I have only stepped foot in a church when customs warranted it; Weddings, funerals,etc.

No longer being a believer does not mean I am an Atheist or an Agnostic.  No, there is one place to settle that will drive the extremist advocates of the other 3 choices bonkers. I now belong to the Cult of the "I don't give a shit people".

We just do not care if there is a supreme being in charge of it all.  Believing or not believing does not alter our path from the cradle to the grave.  Shit will happen and has happened to us.  Worrying about fixing blame or credit is an exercise in futility.  Worrying about after life nightmares inflicted by mythical beings is just crazy.

What I do worry about though are all the abuses, billions of deaths, and cultural separations that have been part and parcel of almost every religion since their creation in Holier than Thou twisted minds before recorded Time began. It has nothing to do with silly fables thought up to scare children.  

Religion is about control and power in the here and now. Anything positive that happens through religion is only allowed as long as it helps in the continued dominance of the targeted population.  

That is not to say the emotional crutch Religion offers should be banned.  Believe. Don't believe.  I just do not care. But I will care deeply and will resist should religion ever become mandatory.  

Keep it 'tween the ditches .................................


Monday, November 09, 2020

The Voice of a President

For the first time in over 4 years, I heard the voice of a President. I had forgotten what a President sounds like.  Today I was reminded.  It was a confident, calming voice asking us to be united, not divided.   

I had left the TV news on and used it for background noise as I stumbled through my morning.  The voice of a President stopped me in my tracks.  The voice of a president was not coming out of a president.  He's not one yet.  We will have to wait until January 20, 2021 for the Voice to become official.  But I know the voice of a President when I hear one.

President-Elect Joe Biden did not whine, accuse, or spew lies.  There was no hate in his tone or his words.  His voice was all about a future he insists he will try to return to us.  His voice was promising that wounds will heal if we can stop pissing on each other's shoes.  And what I found most encouraging was, he did not promise nor claim credit for things he said he would do nor in things he had no part in.  He promised to go to work and asked that all Americans join him in regaining the heart and soul of what our nation used to represent.  Its not about us against them, rather it's about all of us together working to right our ship.

I won't hold my breath.  I am still harboring buckets full of hard feelings for anyone on the Right.  It is obvious the Wingers are feeling pissy also.  But then they always have been pissy.  Its part and parcel of the Winger soul.  If you ain't pissy about some dunderheaded move from those limp wristed black lives lovin rainbow losers of the evil Left, then you should not call yourself a Republican.

But today I again heard the voice of a President.  And when I did, I could almost see some light at the end of my self inflicted tunnel and my shoulders felt lighter than they have in 4 years.  Maybe there are better times coming our way after all.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ........................................

Saturday, November 07, 2020

A Much Needed Reset

Well it appears here in the States we are about to enjoy a much needed reset.  I know I need one.  The last four years of the hate and discontent fomented by Donald Trump was workin my last nerve hard.  No kidding and serious shit.

I have dumped life long friends.  That sounds awful, but I had to do it to alleviate the complete disgust I had for them and their enabling support of someone so awful and damaging to our country. The evil they helped to flow over our grand land in wave after wave finally drove any hint of kinship to them out into the dreary climate that had all of us by the short hairs.

Do I regret losing friends over someone so loathsome as Trump?  Hmm.  Some days, yeah I do. 

But then I find Maggie and stroke her hard.

Later ................

Saturday, August 22, 2020

A New Level of Stupid

I never anticipated the level of Stupid some of my fellow citizens could attain.  It seems the 2 thousand people who make up a Facebook Group called "Loaded Guns Pointed at Benis" have reached new heights or maybe depths of moronic behavior never before in existence.

Using some obscure and at this point, unfathomable Right Winger Logic, taking a picture of  themselves pointing their handgun at their crotch somehow "owns the Libtards".  Regardless, it appears that finally someone ruined the fun and shot their sack.  Fear not though, these rugged individuals gave the hero a big "atta boy".  That'll show them dirty Liberals who is serious and who is not.

The madness gripping my country at the moment is really beginning to do more than just worry me.  Each new day with Trump in charge of the tensions between us makes sure we hate each other as much as possible.  The animosity is so thick it cannot be cut with a knife.  The only way I see our anger with each other dissipating is by wearing it out until both sides are just too exhausted to carry their cause's torch another inch.  And given the entrenchment tenacity in play at the moment, it will be years before we see any serious bipartisan cooperation like it used to be.

The new normal is beginning to take shape.  Fight it wherever you can.

The Originating Article from BroBible

Later ................................................

Monday, August 10, 2020

1619

With a new school year pending, one of the many irrational gaslighting notions coming from the Right is back near the top of the Winger Fears of the Week.  The 1619 Project.  Mention it in the wrong place and eye balls don't just roll, they may even fall out as the afflicted grab their heads in mortal fear of the new Libtard attack on their mindless Father Knows Best, Life is a White Paradise state of mind.

It seems the 1619 Project  aims to change the Nation's historical narratives proud White people consider sacrosanct.  Anything challenging the popular but inaccurate rendering of how the USA became and is still becoming rattles their many cages which are now comfortably numb to truth , facts, and what the American Way should have been and should be today.  Throwing Black folks into the mix is like adding fuel to an already blazing fire.  You can almost hear those proud White sphincters nationwide pucker up hard.

I became suspicious of historical accounts after I experienced 12 different school systems before I graduated high school.  Each state had their own twist on their regional history that may or may not have jibed with a state somewhere else.  In Virginia, I learned that Virginia had always been the Center of the Universe, not just during the Revolution and later, the Civil War.  In Florida I learned that the most important thing to happen was some Spanish dude looking around like a moron for a fountain of youth.

I realized that history is not only written by the victors, it is being constantly re-written by those in charge.  Historical accounts are always in a state of flux because of new facts and more importantly new perspectives that come from viewing the past through different lenses than the lenses of those who wrote the first, second, or even third version.

Fear of the 1619 Project is nothing but another Right Wing tempest in a tea pot.  Calm the fuck down.  Any new version of History taught in schools has to first make it into print.  And to make it into print, it has to be approved by the school systems in the various regions and states.  So no matter how radical the 1619 Project seems, we can count on a mostly watered down version at best.

That said, it is well past time to re-write our history to include a more honest narrative regarding Native Americans and African Americans.  The popular vision of stalwart heroic figures fighting the oppressive Red Coats is over stated.  The saga of a noble war being fought over "States Rights" that left over 600,000 soldiers dead from both sides needs to be updated.  And possibly the most egregious of them all, persuading ourselves that robbing and killing an indigenous people carried with it some level of  moral superiority.

So many of the truths and facts of our past have been conveniently ignored, denied and re-framed for a G audience that we have no real clue about what and why things panned out as they did.

A healthy Historical rendering is one that is constantly looking for more of the truth and less of the fluff buried in those events that made us what we are today. 

White history is only a partial history.

Later ..........................................



Friday, August 07, 2020

The Asian Century

I hear folks whining about the poor choices we have for President this time around.  I agree. Neither one of the top contenders are ideal.  But we need to step back from the disaster we created for ourselves in 2016 when we allowed a complete idiot take over the White House.  The damage he has done will take years to clean up.


Right now, we need a responsible gatekeeper, a practical man who will work to restore sanity to the national insanity that currently has our nation in its grip.  Joe Biden does that for us.  He is our check valve, our pausing moment while we figure out just how much damage Trump and the Right have done to our country.  Once Trump is gone, we can begin bickering over the details of putting us back on track.  

Regardless, the US is no longer the power that it was through the last half of the 20th century.  Trump and Covid19 have made sure of that.  As part of our healing process Americans will need to own this reality and do it quickly.  We keep floundering and thrashing around wasting time pissing on each other's feet while the rest of the World is already months ahead of us in what is now the Asian Century.

Stop wasting time worrying about what we once were and focus on what we want to become.  Because the days of being the only big dog in the dog park are over.


Keep it 'tween the ditches ..............................................

Drunk & Disorderly

Turning a deaf ear to the obnoxious noises coming from south of here down there inside the DC Beltway where the empty suits reign, I have decided that tonight I would sip Evan Williams whiskey from my 100th anniversary Stainless Steel Stanley Flask.  And to fill those empty moments between swigs, I'll slow scroll through my FB feed and listen to music turned up to Wow.  I will know I have reached full on, in your face inebriation when the music is no longer heard but rather felt through the hairs standing up straight on the back of my neck.

More than a few swigs later, I realize I just don't care anymore.  The alcohol has done its job.  Tomorrow, I'll pick up where I left off, restack the worry, the fret, pack up my anger, and fall back into line like the rest of the citizens who don't dare to guess but still worry what tomorrow might bring.

My new normal is starting to fit me now.  I am coming to grips with a different Reality packing different rules than the ones that ran things not even a year ago.

I think we have finally arrived in the 21st century.

Buckle up ..................

And BTW - the image has nothing to do with the post.  I just liked it.  It's a close up of a personal custom build I put together over a decade ago now.  I loved that bike.