One of his favorite places to eat used to be (used to be) Red Hot & Blue. For those of you not familiar with the chain, it's a safe bet for grabbing some barbecue. A conservative estimate would be that 98 percent of Red Hot & Blue's patrons come to taste their "award-winning" St. Louis style ribs.
Such was the case during our second, and final, visit to Red Hot & Blue.
When dad wanted something, he would go to great lengths to make sure he got it. Time, money, weather, physical distance, laws - things of that nature that might deter any normal, rational person from wanting something - were of no object to him. He was going to get it. End of story.
On this particular day, that item just so happened to be Red Hot & Blue's St. Louis style ribs.
I couldn't have been older than 10 or 11, but I can still recall this entire dining experience from start to finish. Dad was actually in a pretty good mood entering the restaurant, probably because he had already downed a couple of Coors Lights at home.
We were seated at a table and you could just tell right away that his expectations were pretty high - even impracticably, unattainably high - for this one specific meal. He had been clamoring about the damn ribs for two days and we were finally there, about to order.
First our drinks. You knew dad meant business when he ordered two Coors Lights right off the bat, "in frosted mugs, please." This was really going to be a dining experience for the books. Halfway into his second beer, our waitress was ready to take our order.
Dad didn't even open the menu. He knew. He had lived out this very moment five times over in the past 48 hours, and he surely didn't need to consider what else he might dine on that night.
"I will have the house special," he said. "Actually, make it two orders of the sweet St. Louis style ribs for me. I'd also like some extra Sufferin' Sweet BBQ sauce on them, too. I love that stuff. How do you guys do it?! And another Coors Light, please."
We all could sense something was off because the waitress was writing none of this down. But dad didn't seem to notice yet. She was just standing there, holding her pen and paper, looking mighty nervous. She was probably 18.
(With a trepid, flinching face) "Um, wow, I hate to tell you this, sir... But we're actually all out of ribs. I'm sorry."
Oh good lord the disappointment. You could feel it instantly. I felt extremely uncomfortable and felt so very bad for this unfortunate waitress. She had no idea what she had just said.
There was only silence for what felt like an eternity. It just hung there. My dad was absolutely raging inside, and he was doing his best to contain it within himself. But he just couldn't. This was too much of a disappointment for him to stay quiet. By this point his jaw was clenched tight and he was shaking his head slowly, staring down into his lap. Then the long exhale. We braced ourselves.
"What. Do. You. Mean. You're. (fingers for quote marks) 'Out.' 'Of.' 'Ribs.'? Huh?!"
She didn't have an answer for him. That's all there was to say. Somehow Red Hot & Blue had run out of what they do best. Blame it on a mishap in inventory or awful managerial skills, but this young waitress was just the messenger. You could tell she was hating her very existence at that moment, hating the restaurant's lack of ribs, wishing and willing to give her own ribs to dad with a side of Sufferin' Sweet BBQ sauce just to calm him down.
"You have got to be KIDDING me! You are OUT of RIBS?! RIBS are what you DO! No, it's ALL you DO!"
Now we were making a scene. We tried our best to act like we didn't know the man. Dad was getting loud and riled up, his face beet red and he was scooting out of the booth to present his argument standing up, complete with hand gestures.
"No! Nononono! This is like going to a football game and having them say, 'We're sorry! We're out of football players at the moment, so we're gonna play BASEBALL for you instead!' Yeah! THAT'S what THIS is like!"
The manager had by now been alerted to the situation and approached our table, apologizing to dad and encouraging him to order something else.
"No! I am not ORDERING anything ELSE! Honey, grab the kids. We're leaving!"
And just like that we left and have not been back to Red Hot & Blue since. Dad still holds a noticeable grudge against the place, often giving the building itself the middle finger while driving by.
I saw her again, only this time I was not using the facility. While waiting for the elevator, I caught a glimpse of our culprit as she strode into the lobby - all 5 feet, 90 pounds of her. Knock. Knock. Before lowering her shoulder into the door, she looked back at me with a face that reeked of "Yes-I-am-really-going-to-do-this" bravado. And in she went.
The verdict of this case is really quite simple. In fact, I'm quite embarrassed for ever over-thinking it. The truth stands that this person clearly knows what she's doing, and is simply too lazy to walk up or down one measly flight of stairs to use the restroom that has been designed and designated for her entire gender.
Ignoring social norms, public signage and etiquette in general, she enters, uses and exits the men's room on a daily basis, very aware and unconcerned that she might run into a man during this process.
My parents' house flooded, so they hired a plumber to work on the pipes. Yeah, apparently the guy took the "working on the pipes" part as an open invitation to use our home computer to download porn.
Thanks, jackass. Way to have my mom come downstairs and find you minimizing windows at light speed.
"Excuse me... What are you doing?"
"Uh (click, click)... Um... (click, click, click... clickclickclickclick)... Oh, yeah, um, I needed to check my e-mail to see if I had a message from my sister - she's having a baby today."
"A baby, huh? So what's this on the desktop here? I'm pretty sure that's two people fornicating. Is she your sister?"
You, sir, just lost your job.
She will be surfing around aimlessly and somewhere between the Disney Channel and ABC Family she will land upon a Made-for-Lifetime Movie. Starting then, the remote will not be touched for at least three hours, depending on what point you have entered the programming.
You poor bastard.
Whichever program you are coerced into watching, this will be the overarching message: men are horrible, horrible creatures (pigs). The series of events it takes to reach this conclusion is irrelevant. On Lifetime, it always ends up here. So don't be alarmed.
Comprehensive analysis of Made-for-Lifetime Movies reveals that only two basic plot lines actually exist. They also form the basis of everything ever aired on Lifetime (excluding some commercials, of course).
Main woman is in a seemingly happy relationship with a semi-wealthy to wealthy man, who nine times out of 10 has black hair and a goatee. One day woman grows suspicious of man when one or more of the following happens:
1. Man says he will be "held up late at the office because of the upcoming board meeting and the boss is breathing down my neck."
2. She finds another woman's lipstick on the collar of his white dress shirt.
3. He claims to be away on business, but after an amateur investigation and/or pursuit, woman discovers man to be in the arms of another woman, at a motel very close to their home town.
Again, not important. Man's plan is foiled and he now tries to kill woman. He always drives a black Lincoln. Due to man's careless nature and susceptibility to let testosterone get the best of him, he fails, and woman ends up killing man in self-defense. If she has a child they move far, far away to start anew. If she is not a mother, she moves in with her own mother to mend.
Conclusion: men are horrible, horrible creatures who kill women (if necessary).
Pretty intense stuff to be near the Disney Channel, no?
Main woman is successful, independent and of the upper-middle class. She either is ill with or has recently fought and overcome breast cancer. She oft reflects on the several serious relationships she has had in her lifetime (no pun intended), but that have failed to materialize into anything permanent. She wears dark-rimmed glasses and has four close girlfriends.
Her best friend sets her up on a blind date with a loose acquaintance of hers - "a friend of a friend." To her own disbelief, the date goes surprisingly well and she ends up falling in love with "Mr. Right." The couple is happier than ever when things take a turn for the worse.
Over a bottle of red wine, an argument ensues and man strikes woman. It is not yet evening. When she regains consciousness it is the next day and she has trouble piecing together the previous night's events. Then she notices the cuts and bruises on her neck and arms. She concludes she has been abused. She is about to go to the police when she receives threats from man not to do so, or else there will be "repercussions." Her friends encourage her to do so anyway.
So she does. Mid phone call or en route to the police station, there is a struggle between her and man, usually in her own home or on the side of the road, in the woods, at dusk, in the rain. Either way glass is somehow broken. She kills man in self-defense.
Conclusion: men are horrible, horrible creatures who beat women (if necessary).
To the directors of Lifetime Television: are you feminist lesbians or twice-divorced straight women with an undying hatred for people with penises? My guess is the latter since every woman ever featured on Lifetime Television is straight.
Can you imagine if there was a channel like this for men? I mean, there's plenty of stuff out there that objectifies women - but what about an entire channel where the target viewership is sensitive males and plots feature backstabbing women who lie, cheat, connive and steal from men and men are left with no other choice but to kill women in self-defense?
It just doesn't seem possible.
So grab a beer and get comfortable, guys. It's gonna be a long one. Just remember: you're not that bad.
For a parting thought, I'll leave you with this: I recently discovered that Lifetime is actually an acronym. The underlying message? Like, I Freaking Envy The Instant Men Existed.
Inebriate 1: "Guys, I am STARVING! Where can we get something to eat?!"
Inebriate 2: "Uh, gee, I don't know, I'm really not that..."
Inebriate 1: "I KNOW! How about Mel's?! I've never been there!"
Inebriate 2: (Exhaling) "Ah... Mel's... I mean, I guess if you're really..."
Inebriate 1: (Hurling self into empty street) "TAXXXIII!"
Mel's is only popular for one reason: it's open late. Much to my chagrin, they've studied local drinking establishments closely and found that all of them close at, gasp, 2 a.m.! Can you believe it? Those intelligent bastards. So how late does Mel's stay open? Until 4 a.m., which is one waffle away from being open 24 hours! Maybe it's got something to do with keeping the staff at part-time so they don't have to offer them any benefits. Their compensations stop at the '60s checkered uniforms. Chic!
Anyway, being the only (disclaimer: following word used loosely) restaurant that's open late, Mel's has become something of a ward or corral for the drunk. Bars close and haggard looking men, women and zombies saunter into Mel's to eat terrible, terrible food. Everything is messy. The people are loud. The food is fried twice. The talk is slurred. The lighting is unnecessarily bright (spotlights + inebriates = unsightliness). Yet they herd people in by the dozen, and they hook up, flirt and pass out over waffles, gyros and milkshakes, with the occasional homeless person sprinkled in who made his/her way in off the street and has gone yet unnoticed.
It's an ugly scene.
The first and last time I was at Mel's I saw a man heave and projectile vomit under his table, onto the feet of his friends. One of the guys was even wearing sandals. Gross! And there was no reaction. None! As if this was acceptable behavior or nothing out of the ordinary for a drunkard's haven. I was the only one who reacted, halfway across the room. After wiping his mouth on his sleeve, he regained focus and ate the rest of his pancakes. I think I even saw him making out with some woman in the lobby when I left. What a romancer. (Not sure how he pulled that one off actually.)
I don't know if I've ever witnessed a more appalling act take place in an eating establishment. Holy hamburgers. Mel, check please.
I was first introduced to the Big N' Tasty in Alabama, circa 2003. While on a cross-country drive, a van of teenagers happened upon a certain McDonald's with a giant marquee beneath its golden arches. The displayed message? Why, an invitation for passers-by to come in and try the Big N' Tasty.
But there was one small problem. The letter T. It was missing.
What should have read "Taste Our Big N' Tasty" actually read "Taste Our Big Nasty." Whether it was the handiwork of a prankster, an illiterate or the wind, we hadn't a clue. But what we did know was that it was hilariously appealing, and even more effective than the original message could have ever hoped to be.
Big Nasty? Yes, I'll have two.
The menu of this particular McDonald's also offered something not commonly found in other franchises. The McIce. What might sound like a dessert is really just, well, a cup filled with ice, no lid. And it costs a dollar! The McNapkin and the McStraw were other add-ons, should they have tickled our fancy.
Really, I shouldn't be surprised at all. You outdid yourselves, again, for worse, again. What is with you guys? Huh?!
Here, let me spell it out for you:
Humans ≠ Pigeons
Humans ≠ Your Friends
Humans = Humans
Why is it then, pigeons, that you want to be man's best friend? The dog already holds this title. We'll give you a call when there's a vacancy. Until then, it is incumbent of your to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Ya heard? Distance is the operative word here.
Know what I saw the other day? Take a guess. No, go ahead. Give up?
People throwing rocks at pigeons. Rocks, pigeons. Rocks!
Can't you see what you've done? You're like the worst bird. Get it through your greasy little heads. The rocks were sizable ones - the size of an infant's fist - and they pummeled you. I mean, can't you guys fly? Last time I checked the roofs of cars or my own apartment window the answer was yes. (Hey, how do you guys manage to land a direct hit on my window anyway, which, of course, is perpendicular to your flight pattern? Is this like an in-flight, drop-and-release sort of thing where you pinch out a bomb 30 yards away and let gravity and momentum take care of the rest?)
Don't pull an ostrich or a penguin. FLY AWAY! But no, you pigeons took the beating happily, believing each next rock to be a cheeseburger. You guys oughta be ashamed of yourselves. What a pathetic display. Some of you dropped like bowling pins. Others slowly hobbled away from the beat-down. Those unstoned approached the stoning like a buffet line, only to be turned away wholeheartedly disappointed and very much stoned.
So just to see how dumb you are (and how much I could get away with) I threw my shoe at you. That's right, my frigging shoe. And guess what? BAM! It took one of you down. Sucka. Sparwled you out flat on the ground. Wings out and everything.
"Squawwwk! Oh, that wasn't a baguette?" No, shit-for-brains, it's not a baguette. It's my shoe. Eat shoe.
Somehow your pals were not phased and only came closer to check out my shoe.
"Maybe this shoe stepped on a baguette earlier in the day and is harboring tiny, little baguette morsels in its sole?!" Nice try. I almost had to say "excuse me" to retrieve the damn thing. I swear, ants are harder to squash.
And another thing: where do you get off trying to enter my hotel room? I didn't ask room service to send you up here. I didn't order no pigeon. But there you were on my balcony, walking through the sliding glass door and by the foot of my bed like some sort of freelancing maid. Maybe it was the horrified look on my face that compelled you to strut out, albeit at a casual pace. Be urgent about these things, please.
Once on the terrace you trapezed the bannister to the next room! Who invited you, pigeon?!
Shalimar is an Indian/Pakistani buffet on Connie C.: “I like how they give each table a pitcher of water, because they know you'll keep on needing a refill.” Well holy fucking shit. What happened here? Connie gets an entire pitcher of water and I get the Water Nazi? Doesn’t seem fair. Mike W.: “My only warning about the place: avoid the tap water like the plague. Something in the place makes it taste vile.” Whoa. I didn’t really notice this, probably because I felt privileged just to get one glass and cherished every last drop of it. Maybe Water Boy had another breakdown and started poisoning the pitchers? That’ll really deter them from wanting more and, eek, squash the possibility of them getting it themselves! Erin R.: “I'm sticking with Naan-N-Curry.” That’s more like it. Go, Erin! Lucas M.: “Quick service, cheap prices – pretty spicy though, so prepare to drink lots of water.” Yeah, Lucas, you know, it was a bit spicy but the whole MURDEROUS STARE and pouring charade kind of did me in. Wish I could’ve. Vivian K.: “We were brought two pitchers of water and six Styrofoam cups for three people.” Criminal.
Do not, under any circumstances, no matter how incredibly thirsty you may become, attempt to pour yourself, or anyone else, water from the pitchers at the beginning of the buffet line.
Do not be fooled into thinking that since the pitchers are found next to the self-serve buffet and the plates, and the silverware, and the napkins, and the glasses, and, for that matter, housed under the roof of a please-help-yourself, take-more-than-you-want, actually-take-more-than-you-could-possibly-ever-need establishment, that it would be prudent of you to refill your own glass.
Shalimar employs water boys, or a water boy, rather (looks like a boy, sounds like a boy, is in fact a man), who, I found out, takes his job very, very seriously. Even more so than Adam Sandler does, or did.
As I reached for the pitcher, a loud, snappy chirp bludgeoned my ear drums...
“Ex-CUSE me, sir! You will NOT pour yourself water! That is MY job!”
He first ripped the sweating pitcher out of my hand, then the glass out of my other. He marched back to where I was sitting, roughly 15 feet away, my arms still at a 90-degree angle to my body in a weird sort of abandoned pouring position from holding said items now taken, filled my glass, water spewing out of the container like Niagara, and slammed it down on the table – all the while never looking at what he was doing, but instead staring fiercely into me eyes.
Everyone in the tiny place had turned their heads to gawk, probably thinking I tried to hold up the buffet at gun point, maybe for money, maybe to cut in line. Who knows? They slowly directed their attention back to their plates, taking small sips from their glasses, scared shitless of having to ask for more.
On Yelp, Shalimar invites guests to “…indulge in a sweet temptation… there's no excuse!” Actually, Shalimar, I can think of one pretty good excuse, but I don’t know how to say his name. Let’s go with Water Boy. Water Boy is a pretty damn good excuse not to indulge in a sweet temptation or ever set foot in your cursed restaurant again.
Let us further examine the comments found on Yelp.
What a menace, that Water Boy - tyrant of the Indian buffet.
Connie C.: “I like how they give each table a pitcher of water, because they know you'll keep on needing a refill.”
Well holy fucking shit. What happened here? Connie gets an entire pitcher of water and I get the Water Nazi? Doesn’t seem fair.
Mike W.: “My only warning about the place: avoid the tap water like the plague. Something in the place makes it taste vile.”
Whoa. I didn’t really notice this, probably because I felt privileged just to get one glass and cherished every last drop of it. Maybe Water Boy had another breakdown and started poisoning the pitchers? That’ll really deter them from wanting more and, eek, squash the possibility of them getting it themselves!
Erin R.: “I'm sticking with Naan-N-Curry.”
That’s more like it. Go, Erin!
Lucas M.: “Quick service, cheap prices – pretty spicy though, so prepare to drink lots of water.”
Yeah, Lucas, you know, it was a bit spicy but the whole MURDEROUS STARE and pouring charade kind of did me in. Wish I could’ve.
Vivian K.: “We were brought two pitchers of water and six Styrofoam cups for three people.”
This is going to be hard for me to explain to you – accurately explain this feeling to its fullest potential – how happy I am sitting here, sitting here right now in my new underwear.
They’re incredible. They’re soft. God. They’re even stretchy (soft and stretchy!).
I won’t even tell you where I got them because I don’t want you depleting the already limited supply of the world’s best, most comfiest underpants. Tomorrow I’m going back for more. For all of them.
Onto why this warrants discussion/any thought at all. Up until yesterday I could not find a decent pair of underwear anywhere, so I had been living without them entirely for quite some time. And I had been searching for months, years, just for that one pair, that one pair of perfect undies.
So I cast my net far and wide and noticed a startling, alienating trend: a majority of boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, etc. are now made without an opening to, um, access yourself… like, a man’s self. (This is awkward.) Dudes out there - dudes you probably know or even sit next to - are buying underwear without easy/any admittance to themselves. They’re basically wearing Speedos or big Baby Jesus diapers beneath their pants.
“Now how the hell does this work?” I thought. I felt clueless, like I had missed out on some important lesson/trick that my dad failed to teach me. Why would I not want the opening? I’ve known it all my life! Am I going to drop trou every time I’m in the restroom? I certainly can’t let my coworkers see me in there with my pants around my ankles now, can I? So what gives? Are more males popping a squat for the ol’ No. 1 like the ladies do? Or maybe they just go on themselves?
I’m fascinated, really, you can tell.
I was left with the following options:
1. Buy said skivvies and fashion openings with my box cutter, perhaps adding buttons later on (and learning how to sew in the process).
2. Continue as is, opting out of undergarments altogether.
3. Move on with my quest for the ultimate underwear.
Can you guess which one I chose? Wait, you already know the answer to that one don’t you? I moved on. My search ended when I entered STORE NAME WITHHELD (strange, never liked going in there). At first I was bummed to find plenty of underwear that would seal a gent off to the outside world. But then I noticed a limited selection of pairs with nice little diagrams on their packaging, indicating there was a diagonal opening for me to use. Joy! After examining the fabric, they also seemed like they’d be very cozy and not make me feel like I was being held hostage down there.
I got them, a bunch of them, and now I’m going back for the rest. Revel in my triumph,
I hope this letter finds you well – your feathers clean, your little bellies bursting with food, your fragile legs both very much in tact and functioning, and your eyes uninfected and each fitted snugly into their itsy-bitsy little sockets.
I am writing to you today seeking answers to some concerns I have. We’ve known each other for quite some time now, pigeons, and I feel we’ve reached a point in our relationship where we can be honest with each other – brutally, beautifully honest.
Despite my attempts to teach you manners, you still do not move for passers-by on the sidewalk. The other day I saw a man step on a pigeon. How one gets close enough to a healthy bird to step on it is beyond my comprehension and, more importantly, inexcusable on your part. I’ve noticed that small animals like you pigeons (chipmunks, squirrels, etc.) have become increasingly unafraid of humans, when the reality is that you should be. Make no mistake: we are at the top of the food chain. Remember that thing we talked about? Apparently not. And you guys paid your stepped-on friend no mind. I heard him squawk, and you didn’t even blink or budge. You just focused on picking at bread crumbs stuck in the pavement. Which, the more I think about it, is probably understandable…
I know bread crumbs are about as good as it gets for you, contrary to my efforts to explain the food pyramid. Guys, human vomit is not part of that pyramid, but rather some weird exodus of the pyramid’s semi-digested contents. This stuff is NOT OK to eat! Not food! Alas, I saw you on Monday on the corner of Market and Powell. I’m not going to name names, ahem, Percy, but Jesus Christ let the piece of corn floating in the puke go! It’s not worth it! You’re walking, practically swimming in it and I can see your little barf footprints on the sidewalk – haphazard, wandering aimlessly, circling back on each other three and four times over. For God’s sake – was the bum drunk?
You guys know better. I know you do.
And the pooping. Oh Lord, the pooping. Can’t you find a nice patch of grass to unload on? How about
At this point, pigeons, I can only hope we don’t have to see too much of each other around town. This city is big enough for the both of us, so should you feel these differences are irreconcilable, I will understand and move on with the rest of my life, pigeon-free.
There are bounding hills everywhere, homelessness runs rampant, the weather is downright depressing, rent will bankrupt you and there exists a concerning lack of beautiful people. Topographically speaking, or regarding the subject of scenery or topography, if you study maps, if anyone at all still uses those archaic things, or whatever you want to call it (perhaps land?), it’s actually very pretty. But it pretty much ends there. Mother Earth got all the looks in But look closer. This is a city of colloquial inner beauty, for sure – also of organic foods, free-range chicken/turkey/beef/dairy/child development/hair/etc., fine wine, activism, venture capitalism, affluence, technology startups, bi/tri/quadlingualism, canine appreciation/celebration, tourism, bike enthusiasm, messenger bag variety, free-trade coffee, not having children (aka “population control”), six-figure salaries, six-figure condos/apartments/small abodes/adobes, pride, eminent earthquakes, bridges, BlackBerrys (BlackBerries?), etc. The pace is fast, competition and ambition run deep, and it is hard for one not to feel life passing him/her by – rolling like the fog rolls over this peninsula, through these buildings every day as if they were fingers raised from the palm of the earth, pointed toward space – like the frigid water that channels through the painted legs of the Golden Gate. In stride with this feeling, it is also hard for one not to want to disappear amid the shuffling, or stop life’s busy little movements altogether. Or at least for a short while. Actually, maybe just long enough to take a lunch break a couple times a week.
There are bounding hills everywhere, homelessness runs rampant, the weather is downright depressing, rent will bankrupt you and there exists a concerning lack of beautiful people. Topographically speaking, or regarding the subject of scenery or topography, if you study maps, if anyone at all still uses those archaic things, or whatever you want to call it (perhaps land?), it’s actually very pretty. But it pretty much ends there. Mother Earth got all the looks in
But look closer. This is a city of colloquial inner beauty, for sure – also of organic foods, free-range chicken/turkey/beef/dairy/child development/hair/etc., fine wine, activism, venture capitalism, affluence, technology startups, bi/tri/quadlingualism, canine appreciation/celebration, tourism, bike enthusiasm, messenger bag variety, free-trade coffee, not having children (aka “population control”), six-figure salaries, six-figure condos/apartments/small abodes/adobes, pride, eminent earthquakes, bridges, BlackBerrys (BlackBerries?), etc.
The pace is fast, competition and ambition run deep, and it is hard for one not to feel life passing him/her by – rolling like the fog rolls over this peninsula, through these buildings every day as if they were fingers raised from the palm of the earth, pointed toward space – like the frigid water that channels through the painted legs of the Golden Gate. In stride with this feeling, it is also hard for one not to want to disappear amid the shuffling, or stop life’s busy little movements altogether. Or at least for a short while.
Actually, maybe just long enough to take a lunch break a couple times a week.
Ten has always been my floor of choice, but I've been trying out eight as of late - and eight is where all of this happened.
I was in a stall going about my normal business when I heard the door open very slowly.
"Hello?" The voice was high pitched, shrill and effeminate. "Is anybody in here?"
I froze. Was I in the wrong restroom? Had I walked down one too many flights of stairs in an early morning stuper? I peeked through the crack in the stall door and saw the men's urinal. I was momentarily relieved. What the hell was happening?
My first reaction should have been to shout "YEAH!", but I was busy checking if I was mistakenly using the women's restroom.
Then it happened.
Click... Clack... Click... Clack...
Pink toenails in pink heels. Right there. Walking across the tile with all the stealth, caution and calculated risk a soldier takes when crossing a field of land mines... and into the stall next to me.
Could she not walk up or down one measly flight of stairs? Yeah, someone is in here, honey. You'll find out soon when I flush this damn thing. Was she nursing? Was she newly transgendered? Still using the men's room, huh?
So I flushed much to her surprise. The timid little gasp on the other side of the stall wall led me to believe she was embarrassed. But the next week it almost happened again. Almost.
"Hello? Is anybody in here?"
"YES! ME! I AM IN HERE!"
No click clacking. She patiently waited outside for her turn to use the men's restroom while I deliberately stalled. I exited and saw here standing there. Waiting, moving past me when I headed for the stairs. I stopped in the lobby and could hear her put down the toilet seat.
But she didn't ask if anyone else was in the restroom.
For her, eating is a slow, lethargic process that's open to the public. It almost looks like she hasn't been doing it for very long. Here, let me help you shovel that fork full of salad into that tiny little skull of yours, you beast. You're scaring everyone in the conference room. How have you made it this far in life? I'm getting you a bib. The last report I gave you was handed back to me with a dollop of salsa on it. Not cool. Not what I ordered.
There I was, sitting at an intersection on a stretch of road that runs straight for a mile - the only car on the road. In broad daylight, Walter somehow failed to see the red light he was nearing or notice that I was stopped. About 30 yards before the intersection, Walter slammed on his brakes before plowing into me. (Insert loud screeching noises he probably couldn't hear.)
Walter and I still haven't officially met - largely because he didn't even get out of his car after hitting me. Not only that, he didn't even break his 10-and-two grip or put his car in park.
I didn't know if this was a display of arrogance, unawareness or confidence that his Buick (surprise) was not damaged (built like a brick shit house). Even if he would have killed me, wiped the road with my brains, I don't think he would remember my name because he's completely senile.
I was pissed off. Irate. I got out and approached Walter, oblivious, still sitting in his car. I had never been in an accident, and never did I imagine I'd have to explain to the other person what happened and why I was loitering around their car on a now-busy road. It seemed to me that both parties involved would understand the events that just took place... and get out of their cars.
I was wrong.
He thought I was one of those people collecting change for charity. Sorry, Walt, but I'm collecting for damages today.
Walter should not have a driver's license. He's clearly incapable of driving safely. I couldn't even communicate with the guy.
"Can I please get your driver's license and insurance information?"
I would assume that anyone in his position would be able to process my request, let alone understand what the hell I was asking for and why.
All I got was an, "Ehhhhhh?!"
Was he human? Looked like it. Maybe he was past his expiration date or something. Alas, 15 minutes later I think he finally caught on. Throughout the entire dilemma, he never put together a coherent sentence or used any real words for that matter. At one point I thought he tried to say "card" or "brake," but when I inquired about what he was saying he just continued to moan, "Ahhhhhh!"
Senior citizens like Walter, like my own grandparents, should have their driver's licenses revoked if they do not have the capacity to drive safely. For those who complain and argue their rights, they should be given large, red styrofoam cars incapable of harming anyone, even at top speeds.
All over America, a confused generation of fashion-conscious females (this just in: males also) is roaming the countryside looking like they are on their way to the battle of Wounded Knee.
Footwear originally worn by Native Americans has apparently made a comeback, and at this rate the antiquated traditions of husking corn and ethnocide will be resurfacing any day now. When the Native American culture was systematically deconstructed and assimilated in 1890, little did the people know their spirit would live on...
in the form of overpriced, poorly made designer boots.
You all know UGG - the sexy, trendy name that pretty much summed up fiscal 2004 for footwear. Let me be the 75,000th person to say that if any Native Americans from the 19th century were still alive, a copyright lawsuit would be filed and UGG stock would hurl itself into an eternal abyss. The Sioux, the Apache, the Cherokee and the Iroquois are rolling over in their graves right now. Thanks to us retarded consumers, a once staple of their daily lives is now an accessory to our evenings.
Now we can choose what color we want our little booties to be. Do you think Native Americans had a choice when they were going to war or preparing for winter? Hell no. They were worried about dying and freezing to death and chose brown by default - not because the other colors were out of stock or because brown was in style, but because brown was all that existed. Alas, 117 years later, women (this just in: men also) can choose between several colorful UGGs, ready and willing to pay an arm and a leg for the damn things.
So while we're at the height of capitalizing on the demise of other cultures, the uniforms Jews were forced to wear upon entering concentration camps were sort of cute too. I mean, I bet they had no idea at the time that the garments haunting their being would make a comeback and be worn by free people, but neither did Native Americans.
It's bad enough our ancestors killed off almost all indigenous people, the rightful proprietors of this land. But this is just insult to injury. Not only did we steal their soil, purge their culture and rape their women, but we also stole their sense of fashion.
When you stop to think about it, the ski mask is rather incredible. Designed with the good intention of keeping a person's face from freezing and falling off, this gem is now the face of armed robbery. Crooks all over the world are doing their part to make this the first illegal garment. Then there would actually be fashion police (and they'd have guns too).
Come to think of it, how far do you think you could walk into a bank while wearing a ski mask? If you somehow made it all the way up to the teller, can you imagine the look on his/her face when you defiantly slide your deposit ticket across the counter with one finger? You'd be the hero of every man, woman and child in the building.
Can someone please try this?
On my way home for another lame college spring break, there was a rather long traffic jam on the highway. Some background information: the Service Engine Soon light had been on for about a week, and fixing it was the focal point of my break. Riveting, I know.
What happened next was truly awesome. During the stop-and-go traffic, the ABS light came on. Seconds later, the battery light came on. I wasn't sure what all of this meant, but I knew it wasn't good. Traffic started to pick up, and I stepped on the accelerator. The airbag light came on. Next, the radio died. Then the power windows. All my gauges - speedometer, gas and the like - flatlined and fell.
At this point there was an eminent wave of destruction swelling around my car, forcing it into what appeared to be self-destruct mode. Finally, the entire car called it an early day and shut off entirely. There was no chance to pull over, so I was sitting in the middle of the left lane of the highway. Now I was the reason for the traffic jam.
I would estimate there was about two miles of traffic behind me. Low balling it. My life was put even more at risk when the jackass behind me passed me on the left shoulder while giving me the finger. Yes! He didn't choose to merge into the right lane of traffic to pass me. Wasn't having it, apparently. He was going left come hell or high water. As you might know, what the lead car does in a traffic jam can set a horrifying precedent. Traffic jams are notorious for conformity. I now had cars whizzing past me on my right, and to my left was a stream of pissed off people driving through the muddy median. Most honked their horns, and more fingers were raised. Yes, people. This was my intention: to park my car on the highway. Get over yourselves.
I couldn't get out of my car because I would've gotten run over. After taking a moment to myself, sitting in my shaking car, I elected to call 911.
"Yeah, hi, um... god, I don't know how to say this. My car just died on the highway. I'm holding up a lot of traffic in the left lane.
"OK, sir, let me patch you through to a towing company."
"Hi, this is 911, we've got a broken-down car on the shoulder of the highway at mile marker 110."
"Um, excuse me."
"I'm not on the shoulder."
"Oh. Well that's what you said."
"No I didn't. I didn't say that."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah I'm sure! I am sitting in the left lane here, blocking a couple miles of traffic! You'd better come quick!"
"Oh my god. I am so sorry."
All I could do was wait for the tow truck. I stared out my rear-view mirror at the sea of cars behind me. Many drivers didn't notice my car sitting there or observe the stream of traffic bulging around me. I was almost rear-ended several different times.
Then a red semi truck pulled off the right shoulder. Out of the truck came a large burly man who resembled Santa Claus. I beheld my savior. Claus jumped into a small gap in traffic with both arms raised and waving. Tires screeched, and I could smell the burning rubber. That Claus.
He ran over, opened the door and told me to put the car in neutral. In one effortless motion, Claus pushed my car into the median. He scampered back across traffic and got into his truck. This was all very surreal. He may as well have had a sack of toys slung over his shoulder.
Now that I was out of the car, everyone could put a face with the person who had been causing the delay. Tons of death stares. People are dicks.
Then the tow truck arrived. John. John started laughing and said he heard about me on the radio. I didn't know what this meant. He said he was listening to the radio before the 911 call came in, and a woman called the station and told the listeners on air that there was a crazy man with a death wish just sitting in his black Grand Am, blocking the left lane of the highway. This was not amusing.
For $250, we got the car hooked up to his truck. Then we drove. Fast.
I'm not sure how fast you think tow trucks go, or can go, but previously I had thought that all trucks in general stayed in the right lane and went about 50 mph. Not John. We were soon in the left lane doing 80 mph. That's 80 mph in a town truck, towing another car (my piece of crap car), passing other cars. I've never seen more confused faces in my life. Jaws dropped once they saw the truck passing them, and upon seeing we were also towing another vehicle, they blinked and shook their heads in disapproval.
I had to say something to break the ice, so I went with, "Wow, John... I've got to be honest with you. I really didn't think tow trucks went this fast." John admitted he had a proverbial lead foot that had gotten him into trouble many, many times before. He called the 50 mph truck speed limit "lame."
At our peak, we actually passed another tow truck that wasn't even towing anything. I saw the driver mouth "god damn it" as he eyed the mass of metal passing him.
Cool beans, huh? Not quite. Though we made it home in record-setting fashion, my car was seriously broken, and so was my trust in Pontiac.
I miss that car. Actually, scratch that.
First and foremost, it is important you understand how menial my job was. I was a peon - just another kid who was looking to make some money before college and perhaps climb the ranks of social hierarchy. Dishwashers were treated like animals at the golf course. Filthy, rabid animals. Sad but true. Anyway, on my first day I was introduced to a cook, a man of superior status, a higher life form, named Jason. Right off the bat, I could tell Jason was bad news and even worse - white trash. It could have been the barbed-wire tattoo around his wrist, the fake gold chain around his neck, or the low-life ambiance that was emitted from his many missing teeth, but it was immediately clear to me that this guy sucked.
Fast forward to two months later. One Sunday, Jason and I were the only people working in the kitchen. This is when he saw an opportunity to take advantage of me. Not in that way, dipshit. But to take advantage of my occupation as a serf and my naivety. Up until this point, I was aware of the fact that Jason had no driver's license due to a couple of "bogus" DUIs. Sadly, I was unaware he frequently asked co-workers for rides home. As you can probably guess, Jason cornered me at work and started begging for a ride home. "It's not that far, man. Come on! Help a guy out." I agreed.
(OK, hold on a second. To help lighten the mood of this story, I'm going to start referring to Jason as "Dumbass.")
As we drove away from the golf course, Dumbass started directing me to his apartment. Upon arriving at his modest abode, he told me he was going to run inside real quick and get something he wanted to show me. I had no idea at the time, but I should have left. Dumbass came back and got into my car. "What are you doing?" I inquired. "I'm gonna need you to take me to see a friend of mine. He owes me some money, and I need to pay him a littlie visit. It's not a far trip, I'll pay you $50." Like a house on stilts in a hurricane, I crippled under pressure and followed the orders of upper management. Bad idea.
By this time in the story I was on the interstate, which is nowhere near the golf course. Turns out Dumbass lied. We neared a three-way split in the interstate: the left leading to downtown Detroit, the middle to Toledo, Ohio, and the right to Ann Arbor. I could sense this was the determining factor in where I would be spending the next hour of my life. I was praying for Ann Arbor. "Get in the left lane, we're going to Detroit," Dumbass mumbled. My heart sank.
Inner-city Detroit. Not the suburbs. Not I'm-from-Northville-yet-I-tell-people-I'm-from-Detroit-when-I'm-traveling-out-of-state Detroit. After exiting the highway, I drove down a road in what was probably a residential area, but looked more like a place where a bomb had recently gone off. Dumbass told me to slow down, and that the place we were looking for was five houses ahead. I glanced five "houses" ahead. On the left, there was a dilapidated yet quiet-looking home. On the right, there was a home with 10 black men crowded on a small lawn drinking beer and working on a Chevy Impala. I could sense what was coming. "OK, stop the car! It's the house on the right," Dumbass yelled. Fantastic news.
I received specific instructions from Dumbass to stay low and, this is still my favorite, to not draw attention to myself. Well, aren't those some comforting statements? "Stay low"? When does anyone need to stay low, save a war or a terrorist attack? "Stay low" is a bad command to give to someone - it will only make them nervous. The latter was even more impressive and easily outdid the former instrucion. "Don't draw attention to yourself." Thanks, Dumbass, I think you and I have already fucked this one up huge. After fiddling with something secured in his boot that I believed to be a knife, Dumbass set off into the sea of Detroit locals guarding the home. I was sweating profusely. Looking back on this whole bizarre scenario, I should have left him there to die. But then again, he probably would have paid me a visit next. So I waited.
What seemed like an eternity later, Dumbass came sprinting out of the house like a bat out of hell amid the confused-looking group of urbanites who started to shout, got into my car and yelled "Drive!" Again, telling someone to "Drive!" is something that should rarely, if ever, be done. If necessary, it should be used in moderation, for it implies that eminent danger is upon us and that driving very fast is the only chance we have to escape the coming certainty of death and/or injury. Nonetheless, I understood and chose to "Drive!" as fast as I could.
I didn't know what transpired in the house, but I had a better idea once we got back on the interstate. Dumbass pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, and I told him I normally don't let people smoke in my car. He replied by shaking out five crack rocks into his hand from the empty pack. I was beside myself at this point - completely dismayed as to what had happened that day. As Dumbass broke up the rocks in his hand and snorted them, he proceeded to tell me how he recently moved to Michigan from Miami, where he used to deal cocaine. "They arrested my old man on a sting," Dumbass explained. "Fucking cops," he elaborated. After Dumbass enlightened me with more of his senseless stories, I learned that not only was I harboring a drug dealer, but an ex-convict as well. What a great way to spend a Sunday. The "Lord's" day. He did pay me though - $50 like he promised.
The next week, Dumbass robbed our work. That's right. He robbed the place. But since he didn't have a car, this made his getaway much less smooth than the average criminal. Apparently Dumbass had been stealing cash from the golf course for months and decided to take off running after stealing the last amount of the beer-cart money, leaving his cooking apron on the pavement of the parking lot during his mad dash to the nearest major road. Oh yeah, Dumbass also broke into our boss' house to steal a few items and held up a local video store at knife-point. He was apprehended later that week.
Needless to say, this was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I know you know this because you wasted your time reading my incredibly stupid story. I'm sorry. But I felt I owed it to you to let you know what a moron I was. I am convinced that I am a different person now, and that such horrible judgment and decision making is behind me. As for Dumbass, he's still in jail. If he dies in his cell, it's well deserved for being such a loser.