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