Back When I Wore an Eye Patch

It hurts to think, let alone write, about this one. The pain I endured, both physical pain and emotional pain, in a few seemingly endless days was more than enough for an entire childhood.

I used to play basketball (though not very well), and as a second-string member of our high school's junior-varsity basket ball team I relished the rare occasion I was put into a game. This usually only happened when we were winning big (rare), losing by a whole hell of a lot (more common) or had several injured players and simply needed more bodies on the floor (the most common). This particular game found me on the court in the latter scenario.

Energetic and uncoordinated and wearing my pristine, never-been-sweat-in uniform, I took to the hardwood doubting my every ability to successfully contribute to our team's well being, what with the intense level of the tied competition. A real nail-biter, in the sense that any match can possibly be when it's just a big collection of below-average to downright-awful players. We were a sporting crime scene of short, white teens who haphazardly threw an orange ball toward a towering basket (we're talking season-high scorers with a whopping 15 points, games where two teams collectively could not break the 30-point mark and MVP candidates pretty much wrapped up by the end of the first practice). So it should come as no surprise that what happened during my 30-second stint in the game rendered me the next injured teen - my primed body, my blossoming spirit - on the (end of our) bench.

After a missed free-throw by the opposing team, I threw myself into the key for the rebound, along with seven other pimply kids. I had clear sight of the ball, and behind it, my own teammate coming toward it with outstretched arms. We both missed it (shocking!), but where I retracted my arms he did not, and I now had clear sight of the tip of his dirty index finger coming right into my eye as if he were ringing a doorbell. Blinking is a reflex that's done pretty quickly, and I didn't even have time to do it before he was fingering my cornea, then my iris, then my pupil, as an optometrist would later theorize.

So off the court and onto the bench for medical attention, where I loathed for my scraggly self and pondered some of life's greatest questions: like if I would be kicked off the team for doing so poorly or if the dozens of girls I had crushes on who were in attendance would ever talk to me in class again (further analysis concluded they were actually not in attendance after all, and were likely out doing something much cooler).

My right eye. It was broken. It/I/eye couldn't see anything, and I had trouble walking and making out faces. Here's the kicker: our family was going on a skiing trip the very next day, and we were to fly out of Detroit into Salt Lake City. For those unfamiliar with the snow sport, it's one that requires functioning eyes to have any shot at being preformed safely and successfully. A visit to the emergency room saw me into the night donning a humongous, makeshift eye patch. They were fresh out of the cool pirate ones, I guess.

I had white gauze running diagonally around my head, and a thick foam pad over my eye (some cotton balls in there, too). Fastening the patch to my face were two pieces of tape, laid across each other in a giant X. My head resembled that of a mummy. And I was expected to get on a plane the next morning? Come on...

I pretended I wasn't keeping track of (19) or wasn't noticing or didn't care all that much about the stares and finger-pointing and giggles and mockery (hand covering right eye, walking like a mummy) I garnered at the airport. Try it sometime. Or don't. Pure humiliation. I couldn't even look at (not able to/didn't want to even if I could) napkins, tissues or toilet paper. We landed in Utah, where a second optometrist rid me of my cursed mummy wrap, trading me it for a pair of those cool ultraviolet (UV) sunglasses that are popular among senior citizens and persons with cataracts. I looked great on the slopes with those boxy beauties.

High school was the best.

An Ode to Margot (May You Soon Rest in Pieces)

This is going to sound harsh, and I intend for it to.

Margot, my love, you are the only thing, living or inanimate, that I absolutely despise about my new apartment. You and your owners (my neighbors). For anonymity's sake - and because I don't want your owners finding this post by Googling your stupid name (which I'm sure they do on a regular basis), which is actually even more unique, ill-thought and dumb-sounding than "Margot" - I will be calling your mutt face "Margot" in the words that follow.

I should have known upon move-in. I should have known that leaving my back door open for 30 seconds would result in you wandering into my place like you were interested in subletting for the summer. Margot, I believe you were the first living thing I met in this building, howling and growling at me like I had no business being in my own newly rented unit. You were in my kitchen, what with your pudgy, girthy figure; short, brown coat; flat-iron face; black, recessed snout; stubby, bowed legs; and wiry, curly tail. You resemble that of a pig, Margot. A pig that is a dog.

Now, I love dogs. I grew up with dogs my entire life, and I still plan on owning and taking care of a dog one day (a dog unlike Margot). I even moved here from a city where there are statistically more dogs than children. But when your coddling owners treat you better than 99 percent of parents treat a living, breathing child - when I can hear all three of you swooning outside my apartment at 1, 2, 3 in the morning because Margot just took a dump - I simply have to draw the line: I hate you all.

I don't know how you do it, man. I'm calling you "man" because I forgot both you and and your girlfriend's names. It's like you're a stay-at-home father. But again: for a dog. You don't work, you don't go to school, and are somehow up both earlier and later than I am - usually playing with Margot in the dog park, championing her to fetch a poorly thrown tennis ball as if she were some primed Olympic athlete in training; or carrying her up and down the stairs like she just had four prosthetic knee replacements, or polio; or trying to verbally convince her for 10 minutes to stop barking at my back door (a cross-section view of which must be rather amusing - me on one side in my kitchen, shaking my head in disbelief, you two on the other side, one barking relentlessly at a big slab of wood and the other, apparently smarter life-form standing behind you, asking you if you really think continuing to bark at my door is the best idea when he should in theory be kicking you in the butt and saying, "Get your ugly ass back inside this apartment this instant!" It's not the best idea, Margot, and it's really goddamn annoying, so stop); or seeing the girlfriend, the bread-winner in your household, off to work each day (this is equally special [read: nauseating] and involves more baby talk, the boyfriend standing at the gate, Margot in his bosom, both of them waving goodbye to her, a human hand clenching a mangled paw in one pathetic, cross-species au revoir. "Say goodbye, Margot! Wish mama a good day!" This. Every freaking day).

In fact, as I write this, I am listening to you two playing on the back porch, which is also my back porch, which is also adjacent to my bedroom. It is exactly 1:20 a.m. on a Wednesday. "Go on, Margot. Go on! Get it, Margot! That's a good girl. Who's my favorite? Who's my favorite girl?! Yes, Margot! Yesh, yesh, yesh! That's a good Margot! Good girrrlll! Yesh, yesh, yesh!"

Gag me with a spoon, this is sickening. I hope I don't sound like this when talking to my cat. I try talking to and treating pets like they are accountable human beings, or friends of mine. It's better for both this way - the animal doesn't feel belittled and I don't feel and look like a complete jackass. Truth be told, I really wanted to name my cat Karen so I could fully live out this experiment. Alas, things happen...

At this point in the evening I will digress by taking twice the recommended dosage of NyQuil, so as to savor any shot I have at getting some shut-eye tonight (or ever). Thanks.

This Post is About How My Dad Got Poison Ivy (Down There)

Not sure how you pulled it off, dad, but I really gotta hand it to you on this one. It's not every day that a man encounters poison ivy, touches it and somehow manages to spread the stuff all over his crotch. It would seem some of the modern miracles mankind has managed to actualize over the course of time - clothes, for example - should have prevented at least two of the three from occurring. Or maybe that's just my opinion.

I knew something was amiss when mom called me laughing. She told me how after weeding the yard you noticed a patch you'd missed and, instead of putting your gloves back on, pulled those suckers out of the ground with your bare hands. You made your way into the house, wiped the sweat from your face and neck, and proceeded to use the restroom. Then you washed your hands? Oy ve. Had this been one of us kids growing up you would've salivated over the poignant life lessons and back-in-my-days that were practically begging to be wrought on our halfwitted brains.

I know exactly how this one played out, too. Let's see. Ah yes. You awoke with an incredible, painful itching sensation on your jowls, and soon later an illustrious, crimson rash on the most fallible member of man's southern hemisphere. After consulting mom, a trained nurse, her advice to you was likely "oh go on," "you're such a baby" or the more valuable "see, i told you so! should've worn gloves!" (afraid she was right). Now, normally you would've craned your neck, tried to simmer, bit your nail and thought of a quick comeback or retort, but not this time. No, at this point the swelling was all you could think of, more than you could bear and certainly the center of the vortex in a mass brain-wash of irritated, itchy thoughts and impulses. With no other option, you chose to show mom exactly what turmoil you were in. The proof was right there. This is when she really lost it on the phone...

Described to me by my own mother, in hysterics, as "swollen to two times its normal size, and ruby-red," I had to excuse myself from the office because of my disruptive laughter and tears. Sorry, dad, but this is pure gold. It's amazing it took this much convincing to get mom to offer up a ride to the hospital, which, once there, I understand more comedy ensued (at your expense). When the doctor asked you to drop trou I guess you made the nurse exit the room? I think I would have done the same. And upon seeing the swollen soul the doctor himself joined in on the fun, recommending you be at the pool in a Speedo instead of the hospital, laughing with mom about how other doctors actually charge male patients money to make them leave the operation room looking like dad had on his way in. Aw, poor dad!

A couple tubes of topical steroid cream later, you were back at home rendered useless on the couch, me on the other end of the line, listening to you explain how a bag of frozen baby carrots has never felt so good on one man's loins.

Get well soon.

My First Bar Fight

This past weekend I wound up in my inaugural bar fight. Turns out there is a first time for just about everything. "In" a bar fight as in physically situated within and surrounded by a large, gale-force skirmish, rather than the "in" where one is actually the one throwing drunken haymakers. Strangely enough, however, a group of us did seem to spark the incident, albeit unknowingly.

Everything about this bar fight was ironic and cliche.

Let's start with the irony: it was ironic because Sopo is a bar situated on Southport - a yuppified avenue where the infant-to-puppy ratio is something like 1:2. Maybe even 2:2, which can be reduced to 1:1, but 2:2 sounds more impressive - almost like there is too much cuteness going on and the 2 and the other 2 will somehow leap the colon and unite to become 4, which is a pretty big number, and while it wouldn't be immediately clear what a ratio or cuteness factor of "4" would stand for... it would be kinda intimidating. Bottom line is that bar fights and cuteness are and always will be mutually exclusive, so that makes this particular fight pretty damn ironic.

OK, now for the cliches: everything about this fight was cliche because, as you probably guessed, it contained all of the basic elements found in any average, run-of-the-mill saloon scrap. Such items included:

- Misunderstanding/personal slighting
- Communication breakdown
- Escalation
- (Now) shirtless man
- Secondary bystanders who have no affiliation to primary (shirtless) character(s), but who nonetheless egg on, provoke and support the contestant(s)
- Broken glass/pool cues
- Haphazard attempt at "drawing first blood"
- Cheering/unanimous content
- Isolated, unrelated, accessory fight erupting at an indeterminate distance from the hostile nucleus
- Authorities
- Ensuing indignance

Yes this, my very first bar fight, exhibited all of the above. (Granted, two items were intentionally omitted from this list: tons of booze and loaded patrons, which should be inferred, of course. Moving on...)

There's not much to be left to the imagination, really, so I'll just throw it out there in case you haven't pieced it together yourself.

[barfight]His Excellency the Inebriate bumps into us and asks if we have a problem. We say "nay" and remind Inebriate it was he who did the bumping into. Inebriate repeats former question, but louder. Inebriate's own troops heed quarrel, strangely siding with us. Inebriate collects growing hatred for strangers, transfers to own cronies and, later, self. Polo shirt is removed and former question is repeated, but louder. Public attention has been captured, outcry commences. Inebriate's confused cohorts raise hands, try to pull a Churchill a la "Sinews of Peace (Iron Curtain)," whence Inebriate delivers initial blow. Patrons hit floor in droves. Separate fight is waged on other side of bar, glass bottles broken over table edges, pool cues over knees. Hollering and semantics plot inversely proportional lines on some graph in some underground laboratory in Russia. Bouncer arrives, bull in a china shop, with pithy aphorism a la "not on my watch," "not in my house," "not on my shift," "no way, José," "no you didn't," "nobody messes with MY NAME HERE." Additional bodies hit ground, more carnage. Screaming blonde woman in skirt is hoisted over different man's shoulders and carried out. Bartenders and general kitchen staff (hopelessly) try to deter the use of cameras, cell phones, small recording equipment. Vow to selves to search for new jobs. Amateur videos of preceding 45 seconds debut atop YouTube's "Featured Videos" section. (Way too many) authorities arrive. Remaining people asked to leave. Sopo as we know it closes, maybe for good.[/barfight]

Did I miss anything?

OMG, Dad! Rattlesnake!

In my pre-teenage years I was pretty much obsessed with snakes. Go figure. The only thing I might have liked equally were dinosaurs, but reptiles usually reigned supreme in my book, somehow managing to be the focus of almost every thought I had, awake or sleeping.

I even pretended to be a snake at times, which is tougher than it sounds, hissing and slithering down the carpeted staircase to greet my grandma when she visited, who still hates snakes to this day, only to stand up at her feet with rug-burned elbows and knees. She would say something like, "Snakes don't cry, silly!" and I would feel pretty dumb and less snake-like and have to hold back those awkward emotions that the first waves of puberty evoke in young boys. Sigh.

So snakes, to me, were the cat's pajamas. I would go exploring in the woods and physically collect snakes, wearing my dad's muddy boots and placing them into a giant, yellow bucket. I knew precisely where to look, how to approach them, how to pick them up and hold them, how to hiss like them, how to bite them like they bit me... things of that nature. Very well read. I would bring them home and show my screaming parents who, for some reason, did not find it to be nearly as cool or amusing as I did. Never fully understood that one. Psh, who doesn't love snakes?!

Somewhere in there our family was entertaining the idea of vacationing to Arizona, which I lobbied for pretty hard, mostly because there are snakes there, too - but cooler, more-dangerous snakes. I didn't tell my parents this, of course, choosing to cloak my real intentions by lobbying behind other non-snake platforms, such as geographical attractions, overall climate and family bonding. And it worked! So off we went.

No sooner had we arrived to the hotel than I started running into the desert like a lunatic. I had already studied the map in the lobby and chosen a desert trail to hike (remember: secretly in search of snakes). My dad insisted on accompanying me, and I'm now thankful he did.

We neared a bend in the path when the sound of rattles, maracas and other Latin-rhythm-section-sounding things filled the arid air. Rattlesnakes. A whole bush of 'em. JACKPOT! Holy hell, kid. What were you thinking? Out came a rattlesnake from the lair in all of its scaly, serpentine glory, flicking its black tongue every which way and hoisting behind it its glorious rattling tail - the same one I had been drawing so poorly for so many empty years. I wanted to hold it and take it home with me and name it and be friends with it.

Before dad could grab me I bolted and got way too close to the rattlesnake, and I quickly realized this was the extent of my poorly devised plan. I... was kind of just really, really scared now. I wanted to cry, partly because of the whole awkward puberty thing brewing but more so because I was now standing within striking distance of a frigging rattlesnake. Thankfully my dad had read to me before bed in my infancy, usually snake books, so he was fully aware of the best-practices for deadly snake encounters.

"Hold still, dammit!"

"I'm scared!"

"What the hell have you gotten us into, David?!?!"

"I don't know, I'm scared!!"

Dad crept toward me and the snake and grabbed me by the arm, hoisting me up into the air and running down the desert path, me with my feet off the ground, crying against his chest.

I liked snakes a little less after that and got really into dinosaurs instead, which isn't as dangerous of a hobby, you know, because of the whole extinction thing.

Back When I was Husky

Back when I was husky I had to wear "husky" jeans. I was probably too young to know what this meant for me, you know, socially, and my mom did one hell of a job to make sure I didn't find out anytime soon. Imagine her fear! Kids can be downright mean in the fourth or fifth grades.

I threw her for a loop when I started gravitating toward non-husky jeans (aka jeans made for regular-sized children) at the local Kohl's. I would ask her if I could try them on and she would have to come up with some funny explanation about how I would not like them or how they weren't quite "my style." Ha! "My style!" Please, mom - I'm 10! Anyway, poor woman, God bless her, she got me to try on and actually like the "husky" pair each and every time, usually fit with a chic, stonewashed finish and a cool, little (big) elastic waistband to accommodate my fluctuating, flabby figure.

Well, further into the school year I flat out asked my mom what "husky" jeans were really all about. By this point I (amazingly) had what they like to call "friends" and it was only a matter of time before I compared myself to them. And their clothes, too.

So out came the, "Mom, why do all my jeans say 'husky' on the waist?"

"Oh... Well... Honey..."

I can't remember her exact quote, so I won't even try to B.S. something. I'll paraphrase. She told me that the "husky" referred to the majestic Siberian husky or Alaskan husky breeds of dogs, and like these dogs the jeans were rough, tough, resilient and rugged, much like myself, and said I should be proud to sport such trousers. Heck, she even suggested that I was just as cool as the popular canine that my jeans represented.

From that moment on, unbeknownst to me, I lived out the rest of my chunky childhood relatively carefree.

I Take My Yogurt Warm

New colleagues and old friends, gather 'round. Time to clarify something here. Those delightful Yoplait Lights you see sitting on my desk are deliberately left out for hours on end, usually until the end of the day when they are just ripe enough for human consumption. It seems over the years I have come to like yogurt a considerable amount, but this comes with large, abnormal caveats: it must be of room temperature, and it must be either the Very Cherry or Very Vanilla flavors of Yoplait's flagship fleet of Light yogurt. No exceptions, please.

All of you think this is gross, I know. I am yet to meet a single person who will entertain the idea of eating warm yogurt. Most of you warn of diseases and contamination, of spoiling and bacteria, but I am still here, somewhat healthy, after years of taking this stuff down at lukewarm levels. Truly, I find yogurt most appetizing when it can barely stay on or in a spoon by itself.

You see, yogurt needs a lot of tender-loving care at this volatile viscosity, and you should use caution when enjoying it so warm. Be forewarned: for some reason (physics?), when opening the container at said temps, yogurt likes to burp. In the fraction of a second it takes to crack the foil seal, a little bit of warm yogurt spittle will inevitably come flying out toward you. Now, there are a couple things you can do here to combat the burp. You can:

A) Insert a napkin between you and the Yoplait
B) Point the Yoplait away from you
C) Weather the burp head-on, in hopes that it might not happen this time

Whichever you choose, please enjoy your yogurt (warm). I know I'll be!

Black Towels = the Devil's Handiwork

I think this is the worst product ever made, not to mention indisputable evidence that an evil axis exists. Have you ever had these, black towels? I am a guy and don't really know about or am cognizant of things like this, but black towels shed, I guess? I consider this to not be my fault - how was I supposed to know? I saw no label on them, otherwise I would not have bought the shedding kind.

I basically showered and used them for the first time and didn't really pay too much attention, but upon getting out and glancing in the mirror I noticed I looked like a caveman, but with black hair where they have brown. Or like a giant black bear. Or a fuzzy gorilla. Those are better comparisons than a caveman who has black hair. I am one of those in the mornings now. I even get to dust myself off after showering, or else I show up to work with black cobwebs all over my face.

I've even washed these stupid things several times over, but to no avail. They just keep shedding, crop dusting the white tiles until my bathroom has this black, dusty film thing going on where the crap is everywhere and I try to clean it up but it's no use because, hey, guess what, I have to shower tomorrow as well and it's just going to happen again and again, so... I really regret this purchase. What I do try to do though is not write a strongly worded letter to the manufacturer or take them back to the store or burn them or throw them away but clean the shower while I'm in there using it. Yeah. I use my right foot which must look kinda funny because, well, for starters I look kinda funny without clothes but then you put me in there with my wet foot and it's even funnier I think. So the foot. My (right) foot is how I clean the pollinated shower. I get it nice and wet and kinda use it like a shammy or a scrub on the furry tub, gathering all the black tufts so that they're clinging to my right foot, usually to the bottom of it, and when I've assembled enough of it or until I'm satisfied I rinse it all off and it goes away down the drain.

I've been doing this for about four weeks now.

Bottom line: please do not buy black towels. I'm not sure why they even make these things, because who else is buying them besides me?

Geeze, black towels.

Today I Stepped Over a Knife on the Subway Stairs


Makeout Session From Mars

Last night, 300 people and I witnessed the makeout session to end all makeout sessions.

At the Do Division Street Festival, somewhere among the hipsters, scenesters, vendors, musicians, mommies, daddies, strollered children, tethered canines and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists show that populated the busy block, two women started going at it like it was nobody's business. It was hard not to notice this public display of, um, affection, since the women were breaking through such large barriers. Literally: they knocked over an orange "ROAD CLOSED"obstruction like it was a house of cards, thus moving their engagement to the pavement.

Intense stuff for a Sunday.

I'm still not sure If I've ever seen something like this. Probably not. I was standing against the barrier when I noticed them running toward it, and me. The one woman turned and pushed the other one up against it and they started going to town on each other's lips. We're talking something from the movies, people - from "Ghost" or something - with the hiking of the leg and eyes rolling back into the head and all, except replace Patrick Swayze with a lesbian lover.

I questioned their sobriety, but certainly not their passion. Was this beautiful? Was this sloppy? What on earth was happening here? Hath "Candid Camera" been reincarnated? It definitely wasn't as composed or as touching as "Ghost," but I couldn't deny their conviction. And then they knocked over the barrier. This is when the public's attention was drawn from the concert to the makeout soirée, and even the yellow lab in front of me raised its ears and titled its head toward the rumbling couple. It was like one of those cartoon fights, illustrated as a tumbling tornado in all of its fury and tarnation, leaving the characters bruised and gasping for air upon finish. Something was in the air that night, and it took these two women by surprise. (I don't know this feeling.)

Some parents left abhorred. Drunk men cheered and took pictures. Sober men's girlfriends hit them on the arms. I was somewhere in the progressive mingling, and it occurred to me that spring had finally arrived.