Thursday, June 10, 2021

A Gun in His Ear

Final Exams were over. The boys were celebrating. Mike had just sparked a third joint when the three of them heard Bill up on the third floor. If they could hear Bill on the third floor, it meant Bill was probably having self-control issues again.

Bob looked at Mike, shrugged and motioned him to pass that joint. Tom sat between them on the couch and snickered. He was always useless when he mixed pot and beer.

The boys were not unsympathetic to Bill and his struggles. The guy had just come back from Nam ferchrisakes. They knew he had seen some shit, done some shit and he had night terrors regularly. But tonight was a celebration two extra semesters coming. Two of them finally snagged enough credits to graduate and they wanted to party. Damn Bill and his personal demons. They turned up the stereo.

Sometime later, loud banging on their door broke through their drunken fog. Mike was the first to crack an eye. He wiped the spittle off his chin and rubbed his eyes. He stood and found his footing. Barely awake, he staggered to the door and opened it. It was Bill’s girlfriend wide eyed frantic and incoherent.

“Bill’s threatening to shoot himself.”

Mike leaned into the edge of the door. “What? Bill has a gun? When did he get a gun?” Mike’s return to Reality picked up its pace. He turned and yelled, “Hey assholes, Bill has a gun.”

Mike, with girlfriend in tow, began the trek up to Bill’s apartment.

“I have never seen him this bad. I only wanted to use your phone …… Please, don’t go.” She continued her warnings right up to the moment Mike pounded on Bill’s door.

The door opened. Bill’s six-five, 250 pound body filled the doorway. Mike looked up into his neighbor’s face.

“What are you doing Bill?”

Bill stuck his .45 in Mike’s ear. “I will blow you away.”

Really pissed now, Mike grabbed the gun and pushed it down.

“Meet me in the alley asshole. And leave the gun.”

Mike turned around. With Bill on his heels, they tromped back down the stairs. Bill’s girlfriend followed, her weeping eyes bulging and wondering which one was the craziest.

The drunken warriors passed Mike’s open door. He shouts, “No one sticks a gun in my ear.”

In the alley Mike and Bill faced off. Before Bill could focus, Mike knocked him down, rendered him helpless and pushed his face into the gravel. “Never, ever stick a gun in my face again. Got it asshole?”

Bill mumbled. Mark lifted Bill’s head and said, “What was that? You give up?”

“Yeah”.

Just like that the fight was over. The two of them staggered back to their respective apartments and life returned to normal. The next morning Mike’s roommates asked how it was possible he was able to best Bill. The man was a scary monster ferchriskes. Mike took a moment to answer.

“He was drunker than I was.”
_____________________________________
        Is sticking one's nose in other people's affairs wise?  In this real situation 
        from my college days in the early 1970s, I must have thought so.

I whittled this story down from 763 words initially to the 500 you see now.

BTW - As I wrote this I kept wondering if I was mis-remembering some of the details.  The big moments happened as I wrote them. But now in retrospect, I did mis-remember some things worthy of note and maybe should have been part of the story.  Bill had gone to Nam, but his most recent issues stemmed from his three years as an inmate at a state prison in Jessup, MD. He was on parole when this happened and he was definitely not allowed to own a gun.  No one called the cops and Bill was not put back in jail.  Not sure if that lasted as we were out of that apartment within the next year.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...........................................
_____________________________________
Cross posted at the BoZone ll

Thursday, June 03, 2021

The Barbeque Challenge

In my eight year old mind the ordeal lasted hours. When panic sets in, seconds become minutes, minutes become hours which can soon turn into overnight. In this case it was still daylight when someone finally saved me. So, as to not exaggerate beyond customary norms when I retell it, I say hours. And folks can then infer it was more likely an hour or less, maybe even only minutes. The panic was real regardless of how long I suffered.

It was the fall of 1961. My family had recently settled on Augusta Street in Bethesda, Maryland. If memory serves, we moved there in spring of that year. I had plenty of time to make friends and engage in all sorts of outdoor summer adventures. The two friends I remember to this day was Jimmy, "Can't remember his last name" and Chuckie Doyle. All of us lived on Augusta St. It was a natural bond formed out of geographical and equal age conveniences.

It was on Augusta Street I first learned the rules of playing in the street and what the territorial limit of my wanderings from home were. When a car came, someone yelled, "Car" and as if Moses had just parted the Red Sea, the gaggle of dirt encrusted little tackers would step to the side and let the car pass. And I was allowed to wander as far as Mom's voice could travel. Life was beautiful. I had a grand time that summer.

One of our favorite games was Follow the Leader. Each time, Chuckie, Jimmy or myself would try to outdo each other by pushing our path into increasingly dangerous scenarios. Sometimes it was a tree we climbed. Sometimes a wall to walk on. The choices became more risky and less sane each time we played.

The more we played, the harder to find new challenges became. But it seemed each time; one of us would finally find a dare the other two were not interested in. That day's game was then over and a victor declared.

I cannot remember who was first with the Barbeque Challenge. I am guessing it was Chuckie. He was the craziest of our trio. Plus he was skin and bones, while Jimmy and I favored the chunkier, but ever popular Russian Peasant body style. He knew if anyone could meet this challenge, he could. He was skinny and had the right mindset.

In our travels and investigations of the backyards in our neighborhood, one yard had a very nice natural stone barbeque set up. The grill was huge and the chimney stack was a good size, maybe five feet high. It did not take long to include that barbeque into our regular follow the leader challenges.

At first I am sure it was all about climbing the chimney and standing on top. Once we had all manned up and successfully climbed up, stood up, and then climbed down, there was nothing to do with that barbeque. But then Chuckie noticed the opening of the flue. He looked at it one way from the top. He climbed down and looked at it from the bottom. Satisfied he could make it, he climbed into the fire pit and into the flue.

I imagine Jimmy and I were shocked and wowed when he popped out of the top covered in soot. We most likely said something like, "That was so cool." Chuckie definitely won that day's contest. Eventually Jimmy and myself found the courage to try it and the barbecue became just one of the mandatory obstacles we incorporated into our version of "Follow the Leader". It became so mundane, we even began going down the flue and out of the fire pit. No other kid in the neighborhood would try it. We were bad ass.

Fast forward to the fall. The advancing cold weather drove any thought of barbeque adventures from our minds. That yard quickly became just a connector to the best walking route to school. And the walking route to school quickly became an unpleasant journey of heel scuffing drudgery, especially as the temperature sought lower temps day in and day out.

I remember the day of my ordeal well. It was a rare warm fall day. I was walking home alone. Like every other day I walked home from school, I began to cross the backyard where the barbeque resided. It all gets somewhat hazy at this point.

I remember looking at the barbeque and thinking I ought to climb down the chimney just for old times’ sake. And I proceeded to do just that. Unfortunately I failed to appreciate I was not wearing summer shorts and Tee shirt. I was bundled up in jeans, long flannel shirt and a zip up jacket with a hood. I had become too big to fit down the flue. Just past my waist with my head down was when I realized the ugliness looming in my future.

I have endured moments of panic here and there as an adult. But no panic is more impactful I think than the panic of a child. As soon as I became too wedged to move, I knew I was screwed. And of course my next reaction was to scream and scream loudly. Unfortunately, my screams had to make it down the rest of the flue before the sound of my panic made it out into the light of day.

The older kid who finally found me said later I was lucky he heard my pitiful sobs. All I remember is his laughter and after an eternity, him asking, "Where do you live kid?' I told him and he ran to my house to fetch my mom. It was only after he ran to get her that I remembered she was probably still at work at a department store nearby. My panic level spiked even more.

As luck would have it, Mom had clocked out early at Woodies and she was home. While it felt like forever, she probably was at the chimney in a few minutes. Any notion I had that I was being saved because she loved me went out the window as soon as she opened her mouth. 

"How the Hell did you get in there?" and, “Christ on a crutch Mike, what gave you impression this was a good idea?” The verbal rebuke never stopped as she and the kid struggled to extricate me from the chimney.

Once I had been yanked out and was sitting on the ground rubbing skinned hands and knees, Mom began to laugh. The kid began to laugh also.

I did not laugh. I was just thankful the nightmare was over
_________________________

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

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

The Duke of Puke – The 2nd Yawn is Always the Most Satisfying

I first saw Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band in a tiny bar in the Washington DC area back in the late 1970s. Touted as a cross between the punk experience from England and the great Blues of the South, Rootboy Slim put a jagged edge on contemporary American music. 

 His music was best heard after too many beers and shots in a run down dive with a tiny stage crammed into the corner. His most famous song, "Boogie til you Puke" still ranks as the best binge drinking song ever. One concert at the Varsity Grill in College Park, Maryland turned into a riot that spilled into the streets and onto Rte 1. He was banned by local bureaucrats from playing there ever again. But public pressure brought him back for a coliseum gig a couple of years later. He died in 1993.

What I knew about Root Boy was his public persona. I had no clue of his real world life until I googled it. Raised in what I would assume was upper income circumstances, he misspent his youth getting kicked out of one prep school after another. But he did land a scholarship to Yale and was in the same fraternity with Dubya, a future president. Dubya, as president of the frat, banned Root Boy from ever stepping foot back into their frat house after an apparently raucous night of debauchery when Root Boy came back to campus the year after he graduated. Root Boy was also arrested for climbing the White House fence while way too high on LSD. All this before he formed his band.

I often wonder about guys like Root Boy, Divine, Iggie Pop, and all the other icons of outrageous behavior I enjoyed back in the day. Their music and films maybe did not reinforce my own struggle to come to grips with the white bread culture I found myself in, but their music and films did prove I was not alone in my dissatisfaction with the status quo. It seems that youthful rebellion is woven into our humanity more as a reality check for the rest of us than just the surface pain in the ass it seems to come off as. ..... The Kids know.

I have no clue now why I did some of the things I did as a brain dead punk. I can only guess it had to do with a general cluelessness that accompanies teenage boys as they stumble towards adulthood. Not thinking before they jump is their stock in trade. 

If it felt good, looked good, or seemed like a good idea at the moment, I did it. I still wonder how I survived. Root Boy did not.
______________________________

Some Root Boy Tunes you might like or maybe even remember:

~>  Credit Card Woman

~> Mrs Paul, Mrs Paul

 ~>  Too Wrong to be Right

~>  Livin in the Ghetto

 ~>  Boogie Til YouPuke

Monday, May 31, 2021

Tulsa Race Massacre

100 years ago seems like a long time.  And it is.  But 100 years is not long enough for some of the ugliness of our collective past to have faded into the shadows that hide memories long forgotten.  Some tragic injustices will not stay hidden no matter how well they are covered up.

The Tulsa Race Massacre, which began 100 years ago today, is a perfect example of such evil. If America is even half ass serious about changing our future, the nation needs to face its past, warts and all.  No more Pollyanna history books.  No more glossing over the genocide of a native population and certainly we can no longer contend that slavery was no big deal and hasn’t been an issue for 160 years. 

We need to admit to the injustices our country committed as well as the wonderful events that made us a great country.  Until we face our past, good and evil, our true greatness will never be realized.

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

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Big Con

During my coffee deliberations this morning, I again considered organized religion and its overall affect on the human condition.  I often think about religion, specifically the big three religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.  And though their control is slipping, between them they still have the planet by the short hairs.

I long ago stopped believing the notion that followers of religion had a moral leg up on the rest of us.  In fact, after years of being force fed the big lie of “Religion good, Heathen bad” nonsense, I have decided the opposite is true.  All three use subtle and insidious language to justify their exclusion of any not within their fold.  They have used and some still use convoluted logic to justify political actions including war, enslavement, and genocide to force people into or out of their sphere of influence. 

I have nothing against spirituality that includes believing in an intelligent presence greater than we are. Considering just how orderly and precise our natural world is, I am of a mind that there is some intelligence invested into what and who we became.  But as soon as any spirituality becomes a group who uses intimidation, exclusion, and secrecy to push its agenda, any morality the tenets may include become moot.

Organized religion is not our friend. At its core, organized religion is not even concerned about the fact or fiction of an all powerful god in charge of us all. It is a bureaucracy clad in fancy vestments and holy rhetoric that is more about controlling us than saving us.  It was created for this reason in the beginning and so it shall be forever and ever.

We have been bamboozled, hoodwinked, and played for fools by the biggest and longest con in history.

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Perfect Joint and a Circle of Hippies


I was on You Tube looking for some "how to" videos a while back.  One video led to another, and before I knew it, I was watching  "The 10 things not to do with a Joint."  Funny how Google/You Tube manages to subvert your original search purpose by dangling enticing titles on the side bar.  Surely ten things not to do with a joint has to be of more import and interest than how to change a spark plug in a Jonesred chain saw or the best way to replace a rake handle.

Anyway, I punched up this tutorial about the author's notion of ten things not to do when handling, rolling, passing or smoking a joint.

While some of the hints and suggestions had merit, I could not get past the pitiful excuse of a joint the young ladies used as their main prop.  I watched in horror as fumbling tattooed  talons created what they obviously considered a righteous and acceptable smoke.

Is there no pride anymore in the artistry needed to roll a solid doob?  Where is the respect to all us aging hippies who perfected the techniques needed to produce a rail free joint that burned clean from first spark to that last ember burning the thumb and forefinger before dying a noble death?  Damn Kids.  No respect for tradition.

I perfected my joint rolling in military school rolling countless Bugler cigarettes in the dark of night to be consumed out of sight of upperclassman officers who wanted nothing less than to catch me with a butt and punish me ridiculously and embarrass me in front of my peers.  

 A pack of rolling tobacco was easier to hide than a pack of cigarettes. So when the commissioned officers came sniffing around with one of their snap inspections at dark thirty in the morning, I was usually safe.  I did get caught occasionally, but nowhere as often as some of my classmates.

So I graduated from high school and headed off to college. With my solid background in rolling cigarettes, it followed that I was a wiz when it came to twisting up a doob to pass around the circle. Just another face in the freshman crowd. It was not long before my joint rolling made me stand out.  I took pride in rolling a good joint and my results proved it.  My joints more often than not smoked evenly, were solid enough to stay together and were not so tight that getting a hit was like sucking a golf ball ball through a garden hose.

Along came 2nd semester and the speech class I signed up for.  Our final grade was based almost solely on our performance in three speeches.  I only remember the demonstration speech.  The other two are lost to the dust heap of historical doesn't matter.  The demonstration speech was one where we were tasked with not just speaking, but also physically demonstrating something we thought might be of interest to the class.

I agonized about this speech.  What was I going to demonstrate?  How to clean a M-1 rifle, another skill I acquired in military school?  Problem with that was I no longer had a M-1 rifle to use in my demonstration.  I voiced my dilemma out loud and all my roommate said was, "Teach em how to roll a joint.  You taught me."

Eureka! Problem solved. Waitng until the day before the speech actually worked out this time.  I was prepared by years of practice.  Now, all I had to do was write the words.

The next day, as I prepared my materials on the table at the front of the class, my introduction went something like:

"Fitting in in today's Hippie world takes more than the right tied dyed T shirt or Mother Earth sandals. If you want to hang with the long haired freaky people, having some basic skillsets in your quiver will go along way to cementing that relationship with that barefoot bra-less blond in the summer dress stuffing a flower in her hair. And while there are many things you can learn that will impress, nothing will create more admiration than rolling and passing the perfect joint in front of a circle of Hippies."

At this point I had all my materials ready.  I then began the process of rolling the perfect joint and explaining each part of the process so that anyone who paid attention could roll, if not the perfect joint, at least a passable one.  And though the instructor commented that my speech was inappropriate in a way he couldn't relate because he had never been faced with this kind of quasi illegal behavior. But he clapped, he smiled, and I got an A. Gotta love that Liberal Education.

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

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Insurrectionist Party

 

So Joe, of "Morning Joe" wants us to stop calling Trumping Qanon Insurrectionists Republicans.  He contends that they are giving good Republicans a bad name. He claims there are now three parties, Democrats, Republicans and the Insurrection Party.  Damn convenient parsing of reality there Joe.

Hmm..................

Sorry Joe, but as long as those Trumping Qanon Insurrectionists call themselves Republicans, the whole party owns them, lock, stock and barrel.  And even if they drop their affiliation, they are still members of the Right and responsible for the stupidity that followed Trump into the White House.

Who sat mute and did nothing as the Tea Party movement poisoned the Conservative roots of the GOP?  Well, in case you are suffering  convenient Right Wing Memory Loss you Wingers love to engage in, then you would know it was the "Good Republicans" who are first and foremost responsible for what we are dealing with today. If your members had a spine in the first place, we might be looking at more of a bi-partisan arrangement than we are now.  You allowed the stupid and uninformed of your movement take it over.

Your GOP birthed the John Birch Society.  Your "conservatives" were responsible for Joe McCarthy and his clown friends, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan ruining so many people's lives in the 1950s.  Your economic policies have never been good policies for anyone but the rich and yet, you keep shoving them in our faces.  Your tendency to mix in religion with your politics is most definetely a recipe for the disaster that unfolds today. 

All in all,  Right Wing mentalities have done more harm than good to our country. So stop with the apologetic squirming meaningless effort to disengage from that which you are responsible for.  But then that is what Republicans do, never own up to anything.

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

Friday, May 21, 2021

Johnson Closure ll

 


Your Hose is too short

    Your Pump is too weak

       Stand closer to the seat dude

         Or you'll Piss on Your Feet


The words scrawled on the wall above the urinal caused me to laugh out loud. It was a generous and boisterous laugh. I tried to stifle it, but the damage had been done. I could feel the eyes of others turning my way. Interrupting the solitude and false perception of being alone in a men's bathroom was an unspoken taboo. These guys were concentrating and now I just broke the mood. Way to go asshole. Laughing out loud in a public toilet can bring the wrong kind of attention. 

Totally embarrassed now, I attempted a hasty zip up. Shit! Seems I didn't pack it all in and now I had my business pinched hard in the zipper. I began to double over like my butt was trying to run away from the pain. I wanted to scream. It hurt, oh so bad. I knew if I screamed right on the heels of the belly laugh, someone might beat on me. I managed to stifle myself.

A decision needed to be made quickly.  I was drawing attention standing there with my hands holding my naughty bits well past what would considered an acceptable time frame. I knew it was going to hurt more when I unzipped that which had been stupidly zipped up between those evil meshing metal teeth. Holding back the tears and the screams of agony, I yanked hard and yes,...............It hurt even worse going down than it did going up. I tried to not make a sound, but a weak little girl squeal escaped without permission.  

I tried to regain my composure while repackaging the wounded package. I thought I was cool as I stiff legged it over to the sink to wash up. All I could think about was the pain while frantically waving my hand under the stupid sensor to get some flippin water going. Nothing. No water. 

I looked up in the mirror over the sink. My face was beet red and a vein on my forehead was throbbing hard enough I thought it might blow. Again I began frantic hand waving trying to get some water to flow when a hand reached over and hit the top of the faucet head.

"Bub, you have to hit it. Waving at it ain't gonna cut it." 

I looked over at a huge guy standing two sinks over. The look on his face told me I was not acting cool. He was doing his best not to laugh. 

I muttered, “Thanks”, and focused on washing my hands.  I found the door and left. The sounds of several male voices laughing followed me out into the daylight.  I can remember thinking, “You just don't follow up a belly laugh with a scream and leave a men’s toilet with your dignity intact.”

 I returned to the car and the journey with wounded pride and wounded body. My darling wife asked me what was wrong. "Nothing", I said, preferring to not have more salt poured on my wounds.

This happened to me on one of my trips south some years ago. The tale speaks for itself.

Later Gator ...........................................................

_____________________

Originally written in 2009.  I re-worked a few corners, tweaked this or that and well, here it is, same ole shit in a brand new almost fresh package. ................ Enjoy

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Mile Stick 32 - 1/26/1978 - Expect No Mercy Tour

Nazareth's "Expect No Mercy" tour in the winter of early 1978 was aptly named.  While the tour was in support of their latest album, "Expect No Mercy", the title also predicted the grinding punishment the tour became. We pulled off 28 gigs in 38 days, with most of the shows happening in the Snow Belt of Indiana and Ohio.

The last trailer was loaded at the Morris Auditorium in South Bend, Indiana, early AM, January 26. Because we had several days to travel the 150 miles to Columbus, Ohio, the drivers went back to the motel.    The plan was to leave the next morning. There was no hurry.

By the time we had gotten our act together the next morning the snow had accumulated to over ten inches and was blowing and drifting like crazy.  Before we even pulled onto the Ohio Turnpike, we had white out conditions.  It only became worse once we hit the open spaces of the super slab.  The landscape had become a kind of Siberian wilderness totally inhospitable to anything alive.

The planned convoy fell apart at that point with each driver deciding how much to push themselves and their trucks.  Two drivers pulled over and parked.  I ribbed them some as I passed them, but said good luck, I'll save you a stool at the hotel bar in Columbus, Ohio. I don't know why, but I was sure I would make it before dawn.  It was less than 150 miles ferchrisakes.  Slow and steady, just don't let up.

In conditions like this it's a good idea to keep the CB turned on and the mic handy. Everyone in a thirty mile radius it seemed was trying to talk at the same time.  I punched up Channel 19 and kept my mouth shut.  I wanted to know what was ahead, but didn't think I had anything to add. All I could do was react to what the truck in front of me did.  The snow was drifting, blowing and at some point we lost tangible contact with the turnpike and were relegated to driving blind with only the flickering tail lights of the vehicle in front of us to show the way.  Trucks and cars in our group began to bail by either pulling onto the shoulder or if they were lucky onto an off ramp presenting itself in the few moments of visibility that broke the constant waves of blowing white.

At some point the CB chatter almost died out. The truck I had been following pulled over into a snowdrift.  He said his goodbyes and good lucks and he was gone. Suddenly I was in the lead of, I did know how many, vehicles trying to continue  East on the Ohio Turnpike. 

I hesitated to key the mic as it seemed reckless to remove a hand from the steering wheel at that moment.  But I did.  I also slowed to about 15 mph as I began a running commentary over the air regarding the obstacles, any cars and trucks following me might be interested in missing.  The road was littered with stuck and stalled traffic.  

Like some Twilight Zone Pied Piper, I navigated through and around more than a few jack knifed trucks, too many cars to count and one oversized rig with a double wide house trailer tipped over in the ditch.    That is when my headlights lit up Mile Stick 32.  The road was completely blocked.  Three tractor trailers had tangled up together and had become one mashed up mess of trucks and truck parts.  

I found out later, no one was seriously hurt. I remember one aggressive trucker was whining over the radio about the pace I was keeping.  I told him he was welcome to pass the convoy and take his chances.  He passed us like we were standing still, all the while hooting and hollering on the radio about his mythical legacy in the annals of truck lore.  And when he passed us, I took note of the long nosed Kenworth hauling a black refrigerated trailer with shiny stainless steel doors.

As it turned out, he had caused that accident that stopped me. I had to smile when I saw the damage he had done to that beautiful rig.  Mythical legacy, yeah right.  Driving too fast for the conditions, he plowed into a stopped rig at the tail end of a six mile back up.

At this point, I want to relate some thoughts from the journal I was keeping back then.

“Here I sit at mile marker 32 1/2 behind 6 miles of backed up traffic. The states of Indiana and Ohio are completely shut down.  The CB has gone crazy. A CB voice from a base station comes in louder and stronger.  The voice tells us his handle is "Black Bird" and that he can see the highway when it isn't snowing. He is located at mile stick 32 about a quarter mile off the highway. Blackbird then informs us the only way out is by snowmobile."

So there I was stuck in a truck with an idling engine and snow drifting up the windshield.  At first the CB was full of voices, some calm and others frantic.  The folks stuck in cars and some of the truckers needed to be evacuated.  I remember Black Bird informing us he had talked to local emergency honchos and they asked if any of us drivers would be willing to camp out in our trucks and keep the other trucks running by siphoning fuel from one to another.  In my immediate area, a Roadway driver and I agreed to fill in.

Almost immediately after agreeing to stay, I decided to get out of the truck to check the tanks of the trucks near me. I called on the CB for a weather check.  Black Bird came back with a report of -18'F windchill.  I pulled on an extra pair of jeans and four tee shirts and then my jacket before I jumped out.  

Damn it was cold.  The scene was out of some horror story that transpired in the harshest moments of a winter night.  The vehicles in the immediate area had become scattered ghostly lumps upon which snow would continue to build for the next 14 hours.  My windshield was almost covered by a drift nine feet tall. And yet, it was actually passable by foot as the snow had been blow off the road surface between the vehicles.

The Roadway driver and I took turns over the next few hours siphoning diesel from one truck to another.  I ended up smelling like a fuel jockey.  The big R driver managed to stay immaculate.  I actually had a great time feeling useful. Drinking Jack Daniels and smoking a couple of doobs between moments of duty out in the elements kept everything mellow.  A huge bonus was feasting on bodaciously good sandwiches and coffee delivered to us by Buckeye State Eskimos on snowmobiles. They fed us three times before the tow trucks found us in the massive traffic jam. And it helped that we kept those twelve trucks running. It made the clean up on our stretch go faster.

This kind of storm is not unusual in that region what with the Great Lakes nearby and all.  But this storm was definitely one of the "once a century" storms.  One truck driver ten miles south of us on a two lane highway drove off the road and tipped over.  His rig was completely covered by snow and he was not found for three days.  It was that kind of storm.

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

Monday, April 19, 2021

Buckeye, Arizona or Near By

 

The four truck David Bowie Tour left SHOWCO's headquarters in Dallas, Texas on the 25th of March, 1978. We were given three days to make it the 1500 plus miles to San Diego for the first show. The second show had us backtracking to Phoenix, Arizona the next night and then turning around again for a show in Fresno, California on the second of April.

So it went for the whole tour. Back and forth, up and down and then back again. A crazy person constructed this itinerary. Add in the five flat tires, missing mud flaps tickets and a coolant leak among the four truck entourage those first few days and right out of the gate I was sweating bullets.

The load out in Phoenix went smoothly. By 2:00 AM all four trucks were loaded and on their way to Fresno, 600 miles away.  I drove the last truck out. With two full days to make the trip, no one felt much pressure.Cleetus ran into trouble on a bypass off  Interstate10 around Buckeye, Arizona about 30 miles outside of Phoenix.

The construction detour stretched for miles in the desolate tumbleweed country betwix and between the dusty bo-dunks scattered across western Arizona. Nothing but moonlit desert and the occasional reflection of coyote eyes caught in my headlights as they crossed in front of me. A few miles into the bypass I came across Cleetus’ truck pulled over. Cop cars and their flashing lights were parked at both ends of his rig. Not the typical driving violation scenario.

I pulled over just past the mess of vehicles and jumped out of my cab. As I ran back towards Cleetus' truck, a cop magically appeared in front of me with his hand up insinuating I was to stop and engage him. A few yards away, Cleetus was standing in the lights of his truck. He was handcuffed and playing the sad cowboy perfectly without his "Gus Model, Fine Palm Double S" cowboy hat sitting on his balding head. Yeah, nothing more pitiful than a cowboy with no ten gallon hat perched loud and proud on their noggin. 

I explained to the cop that Cleetus was driving one of the tour trucks. The cop seemed unimpressed and remained unwilling to let me pass. I pushed past him anyway and crossed the few yards remaining.

I was fired up. I knew Cleetus going to jail would put yet another crimp in a tour that had already gotten off to a rough start. All I could think about was "the show must go on" attitude that permeated everything in a Rock tour. I yelled, "What the Hell Cleetus? What is going on?" I could feel the vein in my forehead begin to bulge.

A small man with a very large sidearm strapped to the side of his brown uniform turned toward me. Parked on his head was one of those small bill dress "Cattleman Stetsons" all the cowpoke bankers and lawyers wore with their string ties and Tony Lama boots. He looked at me hard and asked, "And who might you be?"

Without thinking I blurted, "Okay, maybe you know what the fuck is going on."

The look on cop's face was one of true incredulity. I knew immediately this guy was not used to insolence from anyone. A local Napoleon of some kind I guessed. 

"Steady there son.  Don't go off half cocked."  

Dress Stetson stepped toward me and continued, "Son, we locals don't get the chance to associate with you boys in the big rigs much anymore now that the Interstate is built. The state says we aren't officially allowed on it. So, all we have are our local roads like old US 80 here. But lucky for both of us…….” He hesitated, grinned and continued, "Well it’s lucky for me and the boys there is construction out on Interstate10. The bypass dumped you and your friend here in our jurisdiction. And son, we don't tolerate as much foolishness on our roads as the State boys do on theirs."

I heard what he was saying but could not focus on the words. He was obviously on a different page than I was. I needed to bring us together. I stuck out my hand, introduced myself and stated the reason I stopped. Bowie Tour, need to move on ASAP and what can I do to make that happen? I really was not interested in the why of the stop at that point.

Dress Stetson took my hand. Instead of shaking it, he covered our mutual grip with his other hand and squeezed hard until it hurt and then let go. "Son, I am the sheriff here. You are in my town now and this driver has broken our laws."

My mind was beginng to calm. In a more measured tone now, "Okay. What law did he break?"

"Initially it was a lighting problem with his trailer. No lights. Then it turned into much, much more."

I looked at Cleetus. He shook his head. I was immediately suspicious. Cleetus was always meticulous to a fault regarding his tractor and trailer. This seemed to be an encounter with cops looking to commit some extortion or worse.

"Much, much more? What do you mean?"

"Drugs son, drugs. His brief case is full of drugs. …… Take a look.” He signaled one of his deputies to hand him Cleetus' briefcase.

I looked at the cop and said nothing. He stepped closer to me with the open briefcase in his hands. There in the glare of truck lights I saw neatly packed on top of Cleetus' itinerary, more than a few bags of what I figured were go fast pills. Nestled right next to them was a sizable bag of pot, maybe an ounce or so. I shot Cleetus a hard look.

The sheriff’s eyes stared at me throughout this review of the evidence. When I looked up he said, “A bigger question though is, what are we gonna find if we search your cab? More drugs or what?"

I was no longer anxious. I was pissed. The kind of cold, well controlled pissed I needed to be as it turned out. I looked the local sheriff in the eye and I lied. He didn’t deserve the truth.

"You won't find drugs. Got some Jack Daniels and cigarettes in the sleeper, but no dope."

We looked at each other. The sheriff finally turned to one of his deputies and told him to search my cab.

I asked, "Did I do something wrong?" The sheriff turned back to me.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I did not get pulled over for anything, suspicious or otherwise. I stopped on my own. And I don't remember giving you permission to search my cab."

The sheriff smiled. It was not a friendly smile. But he did stop the deputy he had charged with the search.

"Son, you are making this more difficult than it needs to be. Are you giving us permission or not?"

I looked at him and said, "Go ahead. ..... Though, it would have been nice to be asked first. You won't find anything."

Meanwhile inside my head, my mind crossed its virtual fingers and hoped the deputy would not find my bag of pot hidden in the cassette tape box. The sheriff and I continued to stare at each other for some seconds. He broke our mutual trance and yelled at his deputy just as he opened my cab door. "Nevermind, come on back here. We gotta go. Take the cuffs off. We'll continue this back at the station."

The sheriff looked at me and then at Cleetus. His smile had disappeared. "You two follow us back and we'll figure all this out."

I had a moment with Cleetus before I headed back to my truck. He looked so pitiful I couldn't be mad. He said, “Mike, my trailer lights were fine until after I stopped. They must have pulled the pigtail. And you know I wasn't speeding. They're just breaking my balls. I think this sheriff is looking for a pay day."

I had already considered this. "Yeah, me too Cleetus, me too. Go ahead and follow them back. I'll be there directly."

All the way back to the cop shop, I considered how to approach paying a bribe. I had only done it one other time in Cherry Hill, South Carolina. And in that case, the cop had been right up front. Plead guilty on the ticket and pay him an extra $100 dollars over the fine and I wouldn't have to stay overnight in jail in order to go to court the next day.

Back at the station, I was struck by the sad condition of the adobe covered building. But this was Arizona in 1977. The whole state was run down. The wave of retiree condo constructions and golf courses was still a decade or so in the future.

Inside the station was a single big room cluttered with desks, tall files and bookcases. A drunk tank was in the rear separated by floor to ceiling bars. The sheriff’s office was a closet sized room tacked onto the side of the building. 

It was in the sheriff's office with just Cleetus and myself present, the sheriff worked everything out. It only took maybe ten minutes. He made it clear that he had us by the short hairs. If he wished he could really throw a lot of misery into our lives and screw up the tour.

He stopped asking and began telling us what we were going to do. We were going to pay him to turn a blind eye. After which, we were going to leave his town and never darken its streets again. And we were not going to speak of this to anyone else in the law enforcement world in and around Arizona.

Then he asked me how much money I had in my pocket. The cash they took from Cleetus when he was frisked was just enough to whet his appetite. As he explained, he had to have something to share with "the boys".

The sheriff was holding all the chips and I knew it.  Rather than arguing, I dug out my wallet and pulled out the $1200 that was in the main dollar sleeve. I conveniently skipped the other $1000 I had folded up hard in one of the credit card pockets. As I handed it over, I asked, “So how much did Cleetus give you?

As he counted my cash, he muttered, "Your boy had $1000 on him. You guys sure travel well loaded, I will say that much. $2200 will do just fine. ............ Now, go out to your trucks and drive away. We are done here."  His cat ate the canary smile made me want to punch him.

Cleetus started for the door. I didn't move. "And what about the drugs and the ticket." Is Cleetus free and clear now and in the future?"

The sheriff laughed this time."Son, you really are a pain in my ass. If I say it's over, it's over. You'll just have to trust me. And by the way, the drugs stay here, but he can have his brief case back."

So Cleetus and I continued on to Fresno. Not once did we go over 55MPH.
__________________________________

True story - Dialog added to make it less a report and more a story.  I do remember though puckering hard when I lied to the cop.  I called his bluff and won.  I do not recommend doing that however.  I was lucky.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Swimming Trunks

When I was a young child I became used to having my older brothers drop in and then out of my life without warning or notification.  After all, they were twelve and thirteen years older than I was. There was not much we had in common when I was a kid.  Our interactions only lasted until the next new adventure entered their lives.  Army, college, marriage and professional careers all interrupted any continuity I may have wanted or expected.  But being a military brat, I had become used to inconsistency in the flow of my life. So, their erratic presence in my life was nothing I took note of.  They were just here one day and then gone the next.

When I was nine or ten, D was living with us on San Rafael Street in Tampa, Florida.  I cannot remember whether he had just gotten out of the Army or was about to enter the Army.  Regardless, he lived with us for a period.  At that point in my life he was twenty one or two.

D was not quite just another adult in my life.  He was something in between someone I had to listen to and someone I didn't.  Or so I thought at the time.  As soon as he showed back up in my life, I jealously and selfishly thought I should be the main focus of his attention.  My view was there was so much to do together, we had better get started.

I heard he was talking about scuba diving with friends in the clear waters of limestone caves scattered around the state. Of course I wanted to be included.  But I wasn't.  Not once.  Not ever.

In my mind, I was being punished for some reason.  There was no good reason to keep me from coming along.  I was an excellent swimmer who loved the water. Excluding me was just mean and I was not going to put up with it. 

It never occurred to me that besides being a pain in the ass little brother, cave diving was dangerous and he knew damn well Mom and Dad would never let him do it.  To his credit, he did try to tell me all this and more.  I heard what I wanted to hear. It was punishment, pure and simple.

I watched him leave for his various dives and plotted my revenge.  He would be sorry he did not let me go with him. Yeah, I was going show him. But how does a nine year old get payback on an adult without serious repercussions?  As it turned out, they don't. 

 One night I heard D on the phone making new plans with whoever it was he dove with.  By that time I had come up with what I was sure a fool proof plan. I was going to hide his swimming trunks. So, I stashed them in my room out of sight. He would not get them back unless he let me come along. That would show him. 

Yeah, right.

What happened the next morning is why I remember this incident so clearly.

The next morning D was frantically looking everywhere for his swim trunks.  He was fired up and getting angrier by the minute.  Mom was telling him to calm down, we would find the trunks.

Twenty minutes or so later of fruitless search and D is ready to scream. I sat on my bed, ostensibly minding my own business but beginning to realize I may have over played my hand.  D was really pissed he could not find his swim trunks.  So of course, I kept my mouth shut, now more afraid than vindictive.

It was the second or third time he asked me if I was sure I had not seen his trunks, when I caved and came clean. The look in his eye at that revelation told me if I had been anywhere close to his size, I would have probably been beaten senseless.  Never saw even tempered D as a scary human to that point. I produced the swim trunks, and with a disgusted last look in my direction, he headed out to meet the people he would go diving with.

Since a parent was involved in the search, this dust up with my brother fell under parental interest.  From my mom's demeanor, I knew to expect incarceration in my cell until suitable punishment had been deliberated. Since Dad was at work, any final decision would have to wait until he got home. So I cooled my heels in my room.

I heard dad drive up.  I opened my door a crack and listened to my parents as they conversed in the kitchen.  Too many walls turned their conversation into gibberish accented by laughter and then silence. In a few minutes, my dad appeared at my door. His face gave away nothing, but when he spoke, I knew I had screwed up.  He listed all the reasons I could not possibly have gone with D and all the reasons they were angry at what I did. And then he surprised me.  He told me I had been punished enough and I was free to go.

Mom came to the door and looked in at me in my sad sack state and then looked at Dad.  When their eyes met, they both busted out laughing.  Each time they looked at me, they laughed harder.

Go figure  .........................................

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Three Little Pigs


My brothers and I have been trading memoirs these past few months. The different ways we three have approached our memoir activity reflects I think basic outlooks we each have regarding our time on this planet.  Think of the Three Little Pigs.

My brother D is methodical, chronological, and logical in his approach.  Start at the beginning and tell the story as he remembers it unfolding.  I am jealous of his ability to line up his life so cleanly in his mind. I'll call him the Brick House Pig.  D's the guy who sets a goal and with nose to grindstone works on it, whatever "it" is, until realization.

J has offered brief vignettes that do not necessarily connect any dots chronologically, although his stories do favor the early part of his life. J is the Stick House Pig. He was focused and successful, but always looked fondly at the grass on the other side.  

Me? Well I am a loose dog.  There is no logic or continuity between the tales I share.  When I am reminded of something from my past, I write about it.  Memories from the age of first awareness to some less than a decade old and everything in between. And yeah, I am the logical choice for the Straw House Pig.  I'm the brother who wandered aimlessly through Life trying to latch onto that next bright object. The butterfly catcher.

Three brothers of the same mother but different fathers.  Three brothers who were well prepared for Life by imperfect parents who struggled with their own demons. Three brothers who approached Life on their own terms.  All three of us have had victories.  We have all experienced failures.  But each of us lived our lives without livng in each other's shadow.

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

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

The Tortoise - An Almost Completed Dream

I went through a phase some years ago when I was sure I had stopped dreaming.  I know of course this is not so because everything I read about dreaming is that we all do it, all the time.  We often just do not remember doing it.

Well, I missed dreaming.  Or rather, I missed my ability to recall a dream. I found myself waking up and immediately wondering if I dreamed this time.  Then about a decade ago, I began to remember pieces and parts of sleep time adventures again.

Okay. I had re-established the fact that I still dreamed and that the dreams were as odd as they ever were.  Now I wanted to remember them enough to write them down.  

So, this is my best recollection of what I dreamed last night between trips to the toilet to pee.

Suddenly I found myself in a van. Of course I was driving.  After all this was my dream. With me are several unrecognizable people. Their faces were vague and blurred, basically just three voices talking at the same time. I couldn't tell what they were talking about.  They seemed to be enjoying themselves, so I concentrated on the deteriorating rural dirt road we were traveling on. It quickly became a road set at a steep angle to the side.When I looked out the right window I looked directly into the ditch.

No one seemed concerned other than me.  The blurry faces were too busy talking and laughing.  I decelerated because of the embankment and we began to crawl along at a couple of miles per hour.  Up ahead I saw a tortoise in the ditch huffing it the same direction as we were going.  As we slowly passed him, I could not take my eyes off him. Only a last second yank on the steeering wheel kept the van from going into the ditch.

All the while I pointed to the tortoise and shouted multiple times, "Did you see that? Did you see that? " 

The Blurry faces in the car stopped talking.  As if on cue, eyes appeared on the blurry faces. They glared at me for a second and immediately turned back and fired up their conversation again. 

I said, "Hey, calm down assholes. You just missed something you won't see again any time soon."

I wanted to stop and check out the tortoise. But there was no safe place to do so.  The road had become a goat path, leaning this way and that. I was now faced with a real possibility of rolling the van.  Magically, or because I am such an awesome driver in my dreams, I lifted my legs and the van kind of jumped and landed tires first on a road of asphalt with proper ditches on both sides.

Before I could get back up to speed, a house appeared on the left that had not been part of the upcoming landscape before I saw it.  Suddenly it was there with a proper driveway, a huge two car garage and many gabled windows built into the roof of slate shingles.

I pulled up the driveway and right into the garage like I lived there. Leaving the chatting trio in the van  I got out and went into the house by the front door.

Entering a huge foyer, I stopped and considered where to go first.  I heard voices straight ahead.  Down a hall and into a den or family room filled with worn out furniture. An older couple was sitting on a couch watching TV.

Without any introduction, I started right in. "Do you know you have a tortoise walking this way.  It can't be more than 100 yards away.  It's huge.  Big as a spare tire.  Must be 100 years old I bet."

The old man turns in my direction and waves me off with an insolent and smug shake of his hand.  He points at the TV screen and turned back to watch it.  I stood mute for a few seconds considering how no one was interested in the huge tortoise outside.  It pissed me off.  I moved in front of the couple and blocked their view of the TV.  In unison, they looked up at me.  Again I stood mute.  

The old lady finally says, "Well, what is it?  You're blocking our TV."

I did not move.  Just as I am about to speak, something wet and cold hit my face..............

My eyes opened and Maggie's nose was about three inches from my face.

Damn!  But I smiled, scratched Maggie behind her ears and immediately set to remembering the dream.  And now here I am having successfully retold as complete of a dream as I ever have. Total accuracy is a bit sketchy, but its close.

Good morning everyone.  Getting off to a great start. 

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

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Free Speech and Other Nonsense

I have mentioned my run as a moderator for a local Facebook page, "What's Up in Acton".  It is a closed group page that only insists new members have some kind of connection to Acton, however vague. It is a private page with no official connection to the town government or those who run things here.  

The page is popular I think because Jim (the main man) has rules about keeping it a page free of animosity, political garbage, and senseless whining.  To that end, Jim brought on board as moderators folks he thought would help him run it as he had envisioned.  I think he picked me to keep me from breaking the rules.  I have heard the best cops are the ones with law breaking in their past.

When I began this thankless task I think we had under 1900 members. As of today, 4/6/2021, there are 4,872 members.  Thankfully, most of them follow the rules and post their recipes, their proud images of sons, daughters, and the new brood of baby goats videos.  It's really not a tough job moderating the page, until it isn't.

Every so often someone will get a hair across their butt about politics or other controversial subjects and the posts end up getting out of hand.  A moderator will show up and quash the animosity ASAP.

What follows is often butt hurt responses about Free Speech no longer existing in this country. I won't get into from which side of the aisle these claims come from, but they are a predictable result of shutting comments down.   Moderators are called losers, Big Brother, and once I was called a POS in a private message from some guy who was kicked out of the group. The POS comment was a badge of honor I am proud of.  Made me wish I had actually been the moderator who had shown him the door. The guy was a constant thorn who was sure the World revolved around him and his petty stupid whining.

What instigated this blog post and the title regarding free speech was last night a post was able to gain legs and really take off.  Apparently all four moderators had better things to do than monitor the Acton page at the time. 

It was another rant about a resident who lives on our conduit to the world, Route 109.  This citizen finds it neceesary to fly an American Flag upside down in their dooryard.  It has been up for quite awhile now.  And at least two posts about it have been a center of hate and discontent.  What I find interesting about the post is it points out the folks who really have not taken the time to understand the rules of flag flying as opposed to the laws of flag flying.  There are no rules, only US codes with no penalties attached. The back and forths also establish just how many folks hypocritically pick what flag code is sacred and which flag code isn't.

I found the post at 2:00 AM and after 3 minutes of reading the stupidity, I deleted it.  

So now I am guilty of stepping on someone's Free Speech rights when in the post they posted they were all for stepping all over the Free Speech rights of the flag flier.  I did explain that on a private FB page, the owner or their designees establish what is considered acceptable.  

I only post this piece today in my blog because I can't post it on the Acton Page.  It would be against the rules.  But here on the BoZone, I make the rules and if I want to whine, then by jeezus I will whine.

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

Friday, April 02, 2021

Corporate Hypocrites

So, I was listening to Little Marco Rubio, US Senator from Florida, spout off this morning about US companies putting negative pressure on the State of Georgia regarding their recent legislative assault on the voting rights of Georgia citizens. He called Coca Cola and Delta Airlines "Woke" corporate hypocrites because they continue to do business with China, while here at home attack the very institutions Americans hold dear and near. I assume he meant the voting bill in Georgia as if it was somehow good for America. 

I literally choked on my coffee when I heard one of the nation's biggest hypocrites call anyone else a hypocrite.  And in keeping with the shameless ways of the GQP, he said it with a straight face.  I couldn't see his hands.  I imagine he had his fingers crossed.

His point centers on specious GQP logic that Coke and Delta are using false idealism to pressure Georgia.  They are not. It is all about their bottom line. They want to keep the money flowing into their coffers.  Any threat to that flow needs to be addressed.  And believe me, boycotts are a serious threat.  Not so much for the actual lost business from losing customers, but the negative Public Relations that result and haunt them for a long time after. They don't care about voting in any state.  They care about losing money and most of all, market share.

Corporations survive on their ability to deal with the various pressures of their markets.  That they may reflect the attitudes of their customer base is not hypocritical, it is just business as usual.   There is no hypocrisy, just what can they do to improve the bottom line.

And rather than call out Georgia himself, Little Marco Rubio insists on being the good Republican by pointing fingers at someone other than his own party.  He attempts to make it seem that Coke and Delta have become pawns of the Chinese in their quest to defeat America. The real enemy of America is the GQP. And Marco is eagerly and enthusiastically spreading the Right's destructive propaganda.

What a worthless, lying piece of shit Marco is.

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A World of Whiny Little Bitches

While ideologies do battle in ornate houses made of rules and laws, the real damage done is found on the air waves and inside internet jungles where Truth is created out of thin air and successfully feeds the fantastical imaginations of a stupid and ignorant multitude. Facts don't matter.  Truth is kicked to the curb.  Outrageous lies repeated infinitely become the accepted narrative.  

Anonymous Wingers sit back after posting their favorite made up shit.  They are satisfied they have owned more than a few Libs.  They light their virtual smokes, kick back, smile at the ceiling and wonder if this might not be better than sex.  

Life has become an in the moment experience where everyone becomes a target for the Winger's years of suffered existence in a perceptual world constructed out of self inflicted hate and fear.  They are now whiny little bitches and would love it if everyone else would be too. Misery loves company after all.

The Libs are slow to catch on.  Their attempts at utilizing common sense and logic falls flat. Their feelings are hurt when they are accused of being elitist assholes who look down their noses on the bedrock ignorant of the Right.  Meanwhile, Wingers are sure the Libs are nothing but agents of Lucifer and as we all know, only God Fearing folks know what a Patriot really is and how to wave the flag properly. Considering the notion of tolerance as more important than owning an AR-15, the Libs are sure Wingers are nothing but selfish bastards trying to put  God n Guns before their country.

Hurt feelings all around soon turns to anger all around.

 Logic, facts, and empathy have failed. The Libs slip into the same ditch with the Wingers and it becomes a shit flinging, no holds barred virtual  bitch fight. Sanity has left the battlefield leaving Truth and Wisdom nothing but trampled leftovers of fruitless hate and discontent. 

There are no winners when everyone loses.  No one on either side seems to care.  They both have caved to fighting the good fight with no regard to how it will all turn out.  

And so it goes.  As this mission to turn us into a world of whiny little bitches finds new heights and direction, the reptilian enablers smile from their polluted bogs and ponds because they have known for years this is definitely better than sex.  Their job done, they roll back over and slip back into the murky grease stained waters they exist in.

What the Hell.  We all have to serve somebody. If it cannot be serving ourselves, it might as well be the Them who tell us lies we so desperately want to believe.

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

_________________________________

Apologies for taking liberties with the King's English. Knotting up the panties of the grammatically correct was not my intention.  Just having some fun is all. I usually try to do a better job.  

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 ....................................................