January 26, 2012

Let's Go Sledding!

I like living in New Jersey.  I know, I am in a minority, but I do have quite a lot of great reasons.  Well, not any really great reasons, but I guess a few good reasons.  Okay, okay, it's not even really that good, I guess it's just alright.  NJ is just alright.

But, one thing we have that a lot of the other states don't have, well I guess a lot of them have it too...
Anyway, we have all four seasons.  (That opening was terrible, I am surprised you are still with me.  This is a post about the the four seasons, well to be truthful it is just about one season: the one we are currently in now, winter.  You know I should start this whole thing off again, and maybe it will be better.)

I like winter.

I mean, I hate having to heat my house, bundling up to go outside, scrapping the ice off my car, and warming up the car before driving it.  I hate shorter days, going to work in the dark and coming home when it's dark.  I hate seeing all the bare trees and empty gardens.  No BBQ's or eating outside, especially ice-cream.  You don't see Mr. Softee, do you?

(I failed again...another pitiful opening.  I tried, I promise.  Let's give this another go.  Shall we?)

I like sledding.

(Bingo - Nailed it.)
I didn't say I like snow, I said that I like sledding.  Not skiing or snowboarding.  I like sledding (and I include tubing too.)
Snow can be fun to look at from a distance. The beautiful snow on the mountain tops, or snow covered tree tops, but when the snow is all up in my grill that is when I detest it.  I'm an adult.  Adults hate snow.  We still have to go to work.  We still have to shovel our driveways and walks.  I want to enjoy it, I just can't.  Snow just adds more work.
I love the finished product of a snowman, but when the kids beg to make a snowman I try to smile through my groans.
"Let's make a snowman!" they all shout.
"Fine," through gritted teeth, I say.  We all march around the yard looking for the "clean" snow, because nobody wants a stained, homeless looking Frosty, although after he is finished he will just wear my clothes, where he will be made fun of for being out of style.
"Ha ha, look at Vanilla Ice."
So, we try to make the bottom ball of snow first, the biggest one.  Two minutes in, and I have a decent size ball growing, and they have since lost interest.  "You keep making the snowman, we're making snow angels!"
"Are you kidding me?"  I peg the snowball at them.  It explodes into a billion pieces and I have to start it all over again.  Because, "Dad, we really want a snowman?  Did you see fill in the brat's name has a giant snowman in his front yard?"
"I bet he helped his dad."
So, as the kids run around, destroy all the good snow, I roam around like a nomad trying to find snow to pack our friend Frosty with.  The three big snowballs are complete and ready for assembly.  Trying to place the middle ball on (because I couldn't be out done by some kid down the street) I throw out my back, but it is now successfully on the snowman.  Now, the head gets heaved on top.  It is lumpy and abnormal, like a contestant on The Biggest Loser.  
Now it's time it make it into a man.  We get rocks for eyes and a carrot nose, Twizzler mouth, a couple sticks for arms, and a shirt that I was planning on wearing to church the next Sunday, but got over-ruled due to being "out-dated.".  Plus, he is now wearing one of my hats that I should "no longer use", because when I wear it, "it just looks embarrassing."  I liked that hat, feathers and all.

So, the snowman is done, and I have shoveled us out and it is time to do a little sledding - Oh yeah!

Sledding is not the same as when we were kids, I know I sound old, but it's true.  This is how it is was when I was a kid.  We didn't have any man-made snow hills.  We didn't have the place where everyone meets to sled.  We would use any hill we could find.
It all started by getting dressed to go outside in this blizzard.  We would bundle up with three pairs of blue jeans, because we never had snow pants, and after the first ride, both butt cheeks were chapped.  The wool gloves just helped to keep our fingers wet, so that it would actually help induce frostbite.  The boots had just the right sized gap at the tops that when flying down the hill on a sled it was as if someone was shoveling the snow directly onto my feet, because jumping into the lake could not have made the six pairs of tube socks any more wet.
But, it was fun!
We would sled anywhere!
Hills with streets at the bottom.
"Watch out for the cars!"
Hills with trees.
"When you go down this hill, there will be three pine trees on your left, try to avoid them...and all the thorns on the right."
Hills with fences.
"I think it may have some barb wire hanging down, so be careful.  Plus, that rusted sign says, "Warning - Electric shock."
Hills with lakes at the bottom.
"You have to tuck and roll at the bottom.  Whatever you do, don't stay on the sled!"
Plus, we liked to live dangerously.  In fact, it was encouraged.
"Don't be a sissy, Billy, try standing on the sled, and grab that branch half way down, but don't fall into the stream on your left and traffic is starting to pick up on your right.  GO!"
"But, Mom, I'm scared."
"Hey, you wanted to go sledding."
I did want to go sledding, but I also wanted to see my thirteenth birthday too.
And to make it more dangerous we had metal blades on the bottom of our sleds.
"Come on, kids, watch out for the three foot long razors, and be careful you don't want to decaptate yourself like Cousin Artie."
The hills in winter caused more amputees than the Vietnam and Korean war combined, causing children everywhere to hobble and limp for the rest of their lives.
"War? Car accident?  Polio?  Oh, sledding.  That's awful." 
But, it was fun and still is.
I love taking my kids sledding.
However, I am not so sure they love sledding with me.
I have flipped my daughter while trying to jump a make shift ramp, using a wooden pallet and trashcan.  I have jumped onto my son's sled, and  by accident, completely whitewashed him the entire way down.  But, kids get over it.

The only thing I HATE about sledding is: the other people sledding.
First, wait till we are finished our ride.  The hill is going to be there in thirty seconds.  Wait!
Second, when walking back up the hill, stay to the sides.  Why would you think it is a smart idea to walk directly up the middle of the hill, where everybody else has just smoothed it down.  I would ban all people who have the nerve to do it.  Idiots.
Lastly, really I had no other real complaints, I'm just not a people person.  So, them just being there, annoys me.

So, after a long day of sledding, with frozen keysters, chapped lips, chaffed thighs, chilled toes, and numb extremities, along with the snot caked faces we arrive home to ring out the piles and piles and layers and layers of wet clothes and enjoy some hot coco by our electric fireplace.
I love winter.

Chilly Willy

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January 23, 2012

My meeting with Marlon Brando

"Hi, Mr. Manzo, would you mind coming up and saying 'hello' to my wife's boss, he's a really big fan."

Let's rewind, since you have no idea what I am talking about.  (Maybe I should have started from the beginning, but that was what we call 'the hook', it gets you, the reader, to want to keep reading to find what it is all about...however, it wasn't a very good one, so you probably aren't even reading this part.)

But, it makes one ask a few questions:
Who is Mr. Manzo?
Who is Shannon's boss?
Why is Shannon's boss a big fan of Mr. Manzo?
Why are you still reading this blog when there are dishes to be done, dinner to be made, laundry, or removing that uncomfortable zit you weren't sure if anyone noticed, but we all did.

The answers:
Mr. Manzo is Albert Manzo, and is married to Caroline Manzo, who just happens to be one of "the Real Housewives of New Jersey."
Albert Manzo showing off his famous choke hold on Caroline.

Shannon's boss is Jay.  He is the owner of the salon she works at.  Let's take a few seconds to discuss Jay, shall we?  First, a really smart business man, he owns two salons and does a great job with both.  Second, don't screw with him.  If you go to work, be prepared to work.  Do you know how much drama this man has to deal with? (I mean two salons and dealing with the wall to wall of estrogen, now that takes a strong man.  Trust me, I had a peek into his world.)  Lastly, When Jay is done work and ready to have a good time he's gonna try his hardest to make sure you do too.
Not Shannon's Actual Boss - Just I googled the word Boss and thought this picture was funny.

Cue story : Shannon's Work Holiday Parties

or as we like to say where I am from...
one hundred dollars, (I guess we never really had another name for it, we weren't very original.)

Sounds good, doesn't it? One hundred dollars.  And it's easy enough to get it too.  All you have to do is introduce Jay to one of the cast on the Real Housewives...and he's gonna make it easy for you too.  First, he'll rent a limo to take you to The Brownstone. (Think ritzy, glamorous, elegant...I know what your thinking those are also all words that describe Bill, but we are still talking about the Brownstone.) But, here is the easy part to making the one hundred dollars: One of cast members owns the Brownstone.  The kazoo sounds: da da da da...Mr. Manzo. (We are a cheap blog and can't afford a trumpet.)

We had to look spectacular,  (See* You Can Put Lipstick on a Pig) Jay, the stylists, and I arrived at the Brownstone...All of them looking foxy stepping out of the limo as they entered.  Shannon was looking mighty  beautiful, and I was looking like a Caucasian James Brown.
Not Bill
The room inside was magnificent.  There were large, round tables surrounding a colossal dance floor in the middle.  The room was filled with stylists from all over New Jersey...and me.  I didn't own a salon, I didn't work in a salon, I didn't even go to salons (Shannon cuts my hair in front of the TV at home.)  The room was dimly lit by the glow of the stylist's cellphones.  Facebook was on overload from all the uploading coming out of the room that night.
There were so many women there, an abundance of high heels, up-dos, and tight dresses saturated the area.  Hundreds of ravishing women, ready to have a good time.  (and ten or so men...and I'd bet a hundred dollars, most of them didn't notice there were any women there.) Now, I have no real statistics, but did you know that 99% of stylists are women? You did.  Good.  Now, I know you already know that all stylists have "that look".
Oh yeah, she is a hair stylist.
So just being there, I felt like I stood out more than Kirstie Alley in a room full of anorexics.
"That look" they have, I don't have that.  No, not me, my look is more the "bloated look" usually reserved for corpses found drowned in a lake.  And quite a few people got confused and thought a celebrity had graced their event, but were disappointed when they realized that I was the "Puffy" they were all talking about.
So, I didn't fit in with the stylists, but I did fit in with some of the other people there that night.
The owners?  No, of course not, apparently you have never read me before, because that was a terrible guess.
No, the staff.  Come on, that was easy.  You know, the guys serving the dinner then clearing off the plates and disappearing into the back.  Those guys.  So, while the chicks decided to go out and dance, I slipped away to find someone from the cast of the show.  Now, I had never seen the show before (and actually, still haven't) but that wasn't about to hinder me from finding them and  I would have stayed and danced, but two things were stopping me.
1.) I wanted $100.
2.) My dancing reminds people of a electrocution gone horribly wrong, somewhere between seizure and convulsion.  Dancing was off the list.
"Someone call 911, that inflated man looks like he is going to croak!"

"So, I hear someone from the Real Housewives owns this place," I said to one of my new busboy friends.
"Yup," he he replied and kept walking away.  I could tell he wanted us to continue this conversation while strolling around, so I followed him.
"Is she here?" I asked trying to keep up with my buddy, the busboy.
"Is who here?" he asked, now putting silverware into a tub.
"The lady from the Real Housewives."
"Caroline Manzo?"
Sure.  That sounds good.  "Yes, Caroline Manzo," I said.
He so kindly told me to see another staff member.  "Ask him," he said, pointing to someone across the room.
"Is Caroline Manzo here?" I asked the new fellow.
"She never comes here," he answered.  "Her husband does."
"And he is on the show?" It was a question that I tried to make sound like a statement, but still raising me voice at the end, just enough so he would have to answer.
"Yes," he replied.
"Is he here?"
"He might be."
Things were looking promising.  I could just think of all the things I could do with ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS.
One night at the movies.
Get dessert at Cold Stone Creamery.
Maybe even fill up the gas tank...that's right...I could almost see the attendant's face when I told him to "Fill it regular."  Are you sure, Mr. Uses Change In the Seats?  Fill it up?  Did you strike it rich? 
"Yes, Habeeb.  Let's see what this old Malibu can take." I would say.

Mr. Manzo was there.  In his office.  In Meetings.
I began to talk to more and more of the Brownstone's staff.  Finally, I hit pay dirt.  Mr. Manzo's personal assistant began to hear my story.  His eyes widened when I told him all about the cold cash I was about to make.  He must have thought that I was pretty cool, because he told me that "Mr. Manzo, has a few minutes in forty-five minutes.  You can come to the office and meet with him then."

I thought I could almost smell the money (although looking back it might just have been my cheap cologne.)
I told Shannon and forty-five minutes later...

Inside the office of Mr. Albert Manzo:
It was like walking inside to meet The Godfather, only I didn't know who this guy was, and of course I knew who Marlon Brando was.  This would have been such a better story if it was about meeting Marlon Brando.  Plus, it would have easier to write - because of course, you would have known who he was and I wouldn't have to do all that explaining.  Plus, Brando oozes coolness.  He did so many great movies and was fantastic in all of them.  I am such a big fan.
You know what?  I am changing this.  Let's pretend that instead of Albert Manzo (yawn) I introduced Jay to Marlon "The Godfather" Brando (wild applause).

So, here I am in the office of Mr. Brando:

"Hi, Mr. Brando, would you mind coming up and saying 'hello' to my wife's boss, he's a really big fan."
Adding, "I can make one hundred dollars."
That guy from Apocalypse Now was so cool, he said, "Sure, I would love to say 'hello.'"
And that is just what he did...
and Jay was so excited to see the guy from On The Waterfront, he gave me a crisp, clean one hundred dollar bill.

So, if you don't think that you will ever get to meet a legend, an icon, a star...think about the time...I met Mr. Manzo...I meant Marlon Brando.  It can happen to you.
Actual photograph, no Photoshop here.
Rolling in the dough,
"One Hundred Dollar" Bill

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January 21, 2012

You Can Put Lipstick on a Pig...

Dressing me up is a lot like declawing an alley cat.  It is gonna be a struggle and you might get a few bite marks, but when it is all over it is worth it.

I am a slob.  I am messy.  I am most comfortable in beat-up sneaks, torn jeans, and a shirt more holey than the Pope.  (Yes, I know it is spelled 'holy' when referring to something religious - but I was going for the easy joke...and yes, that joke was weak, but if you have read any of my other blog posts you would know I live off of weak jokes.  I wouldn't be able to write a blog about anything without weak jokes.  So, just laugh it off, and move on.  You're better than that.  Don't get so hung up on such a small thing, that really has absolutely nothing to do with this post.)

Where was I?  Mister Messy Bill.  I think I would be most comfortable if I stole and wore the clothes off of a hobo.  I hate shaving, and wouldn't mind the look the Uni-bomber made famous.

I hate getting my haircut, although my wife is a stylist.  I am a bum.  I can't make it any plainer than that.

I am not one of those hoarders, that keep a collection of their favorite piles of rat feces.  I love to be clean, just not well groomed.  I hate the feeling of being dirty, but I guess I don't mind the look.  I love smelling my armpits after the shower and smelling Lilac Melon Vanilla or whatever body wash happens to be in there.  So, don't get the wrong idea...I am clean.  I just like the idea of looking like a vagabond hippie, without the stank.

But, I do clean up nicely.  Sometimes, I am sporting the 80's look, but that is simply a lack of money to buy the latest hottest trends.  I like my "real" look, however, but it's hard buying clothes every few months, when the styles change.  Every time, I buy something new, by the time I get it to the car, it is no longer in fashion.  So, trying to pick an outfit out of my closet and not looking like Zack Morris is tough for me.

  I don't own a suit and I can't tie a tie.  Eventually, I am going to have to grow up and put on a pair of big boy clothes.  I am a second grader trapped inside a man's body (although, I am sure some would argue that last part.)  I use to borrow my black socks from Shannon, because my socks all included the words 'white tube' in the description.  My white undershirts look like they are Desert Storm camouflage (and probably bought the same year we started that war.)  So, I guess you get the picture or you have a real difficult time with reading comprehension, I am disheveled, unkempt man.

Shannon, however, is not...and doesn't like me to be that way.  *See 'Alone in the Bathroom'. Although, if honesty prevails there are those moments when I look at myself in the mirror, and in my best Fernando Lamos voice say, "You look mahvelous."  Because, when I rock the tux - I look like a scrawny sexy James Bond without the cool gadgets.

So, if you invite us to a wedding, bar mitzvah, christening, baptism, BBQ, graduation, funeral or just a gathering of any sort, I promise to look half presentable.  That is the best I can do.
Bill's big night on the town.

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January 18, 2012

Cleveland Rocks?

Years ago and fresh out of high school, two single guys decided to go on an adventure.  Fighting monsters and villains.  Battling the harsh elements.  Destroying anything that came in their way.  It was a road trip, almost too grand to be written.  It was epic.  And here is that story.

Jim and I went to Cleveland, Ohio. (and Kentucky)

Yeah, okay...I know what you're thinking and you're right...Cleveland sucks.  There I said it, so you wouldn't have to.  You see, it wasn't so much of an adventure as it was a nightmare.  So, if you have ever had a bad vacation or road trip or bad day, maybe you can relate.

We started out, just two troublemakers looking to do a little rabble-rousing, so we thought what better place to cause a little ruckus than good ol' Ohio.  Because, Cleveland is one of the greatest cities in the world?  (yes, there is suppose to be a question mark at the end of that last sentence)  Let's take a look at all the wonderful things Cleveland has to offer.

Exhibit 1 - The Indians.  A major league baseball team.  The last time they won the world series Truman was battling Dewey for the presidential election.  1948, kids.  The only time in recent history, Charlie Sheen was "acting" crazy as the Wild Thing in the movie Major League. (A great movie, might I add)

Exhibit 2 - The Browns.  The National Football team.  Cleveland is so bad they left.

Exhibit 3 - The Browns.  Yeah, they came back.  But, they are awful.  Players and coaches can't wait to get out, as quick as they can.  Ask Bill Belichick if he likes New England better than Cleveland and see what he says.

Exhibit 4 - Drew Carey.  I miss Bob Barker.  Thanks for taking the only thing I looked forward to while being sick away from me, Drew.  The Price is no longer Right.

Exhibit 5 - Lebron James.  (See Exhibit 2.)

Exhibit 6 - Even The Cleveland Show isn't any good.

And finally...Exhibit 7...and why we decided to go.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Because when you think of Rock and Roll, what city comes to mind?  If you said, Cleveland then you know absolutely nothing about music.  Even when the bands do their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction concert, they go to New York City.  No one wants to be in Cleveland.  No one.

But, we did.  We got into the ultimate babe magnet, a 1990 dark blue Ford Escort, and hit the road, traveling from New Jersey.  Traveling to Rock and Roll Mecca, the Hall of Fame.  We would see things that icons wrote and used to make some of the greatest music ever recorded.

It was 1995 and I felt like the President at the time in a room full of chubby interns.  (that is a real old joke, but when else am I going to be able to make Bill Clinton jokes?  Give me a break.)  We were two cool guys and what do cool guys do?  Arrive late at night in Cleveland and don't bother to make reservations for hotel rooms.  So...Drove around Blah Blah Blah boring details  No rooms  Blah Blah Blah  more driving  Blah Blah Blah.  There were no rooms to be found in the Cleveland area!  None!  So, we slept outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in that Ford Escort.

Let me tell you, you have not lived till you have spent the night in a Ford Escort.  It is a little like sleeping in shopping cart, only without the handlebar.  I however, slept like a newborn - waking up every couple of hours - there was some crying - and I couldn't roll over because of the radical bucket seat.

I awoke the next morning, the sun directly in my face.  The other seat was empty.  Jim was gone.  I looked everywhere.  He was nowhere to be found.  I found a couple quarters in my tight jeans and was planning on finding the nearest payphone to page him on his beeper.  (That is right, this story is that old)  And then there was Jim, coffee in hand, and finishing up a danish.
"Hey, they got a great continental breakfast," he said.
"Isn't that for people staying there?"  I asked.
"They didn't check."
I wanted danish.
I like danish.
My belly was hungry and danish would stop that.
But, I knew I would be the one to get caught.  My life would be over.  I would end up in some Cleveland prison.  I would bang a cup along the bars, singing some Johnny Cash tune, while trying to fend off the likes of  Bogs Diamond  and  Heywood .  There would be no "Red" to help me...and there would be no danish.  I couldn't bring myself to do go in a get a danish.

We walked around Cleveland for a little while, looking for a place to eat before our journey into the Hall of Fame.  But, Cleveland turns out is a ghost town.  It was like walking through Zombieland, without  all  the fun of the zombies.  No place was open and the city was dead.  I had almost given up hope, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, a jolly fat man eating sloppily out of a wrapper.
There it was - yippee ki yay.  Roy Rogers!  No, not the one with Trigger or Dale Evans.  No, the one that served something that kinda tasted like food.  I rushed in there and greedily ate that slop.  It was heavenly awful.  You understand, the greatest worst meal I had ever eaten.  Now, I was ready to be rocked!
Bring on the Hall of Fame!

I guess I should have known, because I know how rock and roll is, but let me explain the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1995...it belonged in Cleveland.  They opened up the roof and dump all the stuff in.  There was crap everywhere.  Nothing made any sense.  It was more disappointing than reading a blog about a road trip to Cleveland.  I couldn't find anything I wanted to see.  It was worthless.  I felt betrayed.  These Rock and Roll hoodlums had pulled a bait and switch.
"Come see Rock and Roll history."
"Sucka, we already fooled you into coming to Cleveland, now enjoy this mockery of a Hall."

We left with our heads hung low and all our hopes and dreams of our Rock and Roll fantasy had been flushed. My time in Cleveland felt endless, minutes felt like hours, hours felt like days, days felt like an aeon.  I could not wait to get back to my home.

Now, to help you understand how awful Cleveland really is, here is a list of seven things that you would think would be awesome, but really just plain suck.

Seven Things
1.) Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  
         (Were you not paying attention?)

2.) Taking candy from a stranger.

3.) Eating a McRib

4.) Going on the Tilt-A-Whirl as an adult

5.) White guys shaving their heads

6.)  Waxing your chest

There are still more stories about my time in Cleveland, but they will have to wait for another day.  My doctor says that too much stress isn't good for me at one time.  So, until next time avoid Cleveland at all costs. 
Consider this your warning.

The Always Wandering,


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January 16, 2012

From MLK to WJM

Since it's Martin Luther King Day, I figured I had to give him a little shout out.  This is a man that stood up, when most people sat down.  He spoke of equal rights and freedom for all men.  He helped change America, for the better.

The other day, I saw a sign that read: Closed for January 16th for MLK day.
MLK?  You were too lazy to print a sign that read: Martin Luther King.  Don't you think that we over use initials?  Why are we so hung up on the three-letter acronym?
It's a holiday and so, we'll play a game. Okay?
Can you get them all? (Let's do this like an episode of Dora the Explorer)
Let's start out easy, first.  Can you get all the acronyms?  Can you?  Come on, vĂ¡monos.
Good Job.  I knew you could.  Boots knew you could do it too.  Let's kick it up a notch and try some harder ones.  Are you ready? (pause)  I'm ready.  Are you ready for the harder ones?
Good.  I'm just happy that you are trying.  Just a couple more and we'll reach the end.  You can do it.  How many did you get, right?  (pause) Good job.  I think you are awesome.
Here's a couple tougher ones, yet.  Swiper no swiping.  Ready?
How did you do?  Wow!  Did you even go to school?  Maybe, this just wasn't your day.  I'm disappointed in you.  Okay, I'll give you one more chance...
Did you get the last two right?

In 1999, Shannon could not get the last two.  Why?  Because, I'm a cheap dope.  I know you are shaking your head in agreement with the last sentence and whispering, "he is cheap and he is a dope, but what does that have to do with the last two acronyms?"

Where is Bill going with this?  Crazy.  Where is Bill going?  Crazy.

Enough Dora, back to life, back to reality.  Well, here's a quick back story.  Shannon and I were engaged to be married December 4, 1999.  We had it all planned out.  We did all the stuff engaged couples are suppose to do before the wedding, and by that, I mean she did all the stuff.  I was the groom.  I pick a couple guys, rent a tux, and wait for my beautiful bride to meet me at the end of the aisle.  Meanwhile, she does everything else. And sure, I added my two cents in, because that is just the kind of guy I am...and those are the things we would change today if we were doing it all over.  (See above - cheap, dope)
Okay, so you get the picture...right?  Bill (cheap, dope, groom) Shannon (Beautiful, does everything, bride)

Let's rewind back farther, shall we?

My father was a bad man.  Not the kind of man like Shaft. My father was in fact, a down-right terrible human being.  (Come on, Bill, get funny, you are losing us)  I'll try.  His name is Frederick.  And it just so happens when I was born, I would be given a middle name, and I'll give you one guess what it was.  It was Frederick.  If you said anything else you should be embarrassed.  That's a bad job on your part.
(Note: This is Not Bill) - I was much more adorable than this ugly little thing.

Now, Shannon knew my disdain for my father, and also knew that I always said, in my high pitched voice, "When I turn 18, I'm changing my name to William James Merkh."  I said this numberous times.  So, I turned 18 and decided to change my name and heard, "Mr. Merkh, you can change your middle name for fifty dollars."
$50 to change my name?
I'm not paying that.  Who cares what my name is, for fifty big ones?  I can barely afford this acne cream.  (Remember I was young)  I am not changing it.    But, I forgot to tell Shannon.

Fast forward to just before the wedding.  Shannon sends out the invitations and there it was:

Shannon Lynn Briles is set to marry William JAMES Merkh.

"Who is William James Merkh?"  My family wondered.  I am...sorta.
It didn't matter what name I was, it was who I was.  So, if you have a bad middle name or first name or both...just make up whatever name you want.  Then start using that name.  Pretty soon it will stick and other people will start using it with you.  (Just a note: You can't use it for legal stuff)  It's fun, and when you do it- who can stop you?
Because as we sit back, relaxing, watching basketball, on MLK day, we think...
Martin Luther King
Oh yeah, his real name was Michael King.  He never legally changed it.  He decided to go by Martin Luther King and it stuck.  People started using it and here we are today with MLK day.  And you can do it too.  And if you don't believe me check it out, I dare you.
 Enjoy MK (Michael King) day, everyone!

Enjoy the time off,

January 13, 2012

Behind the Mascot

I have done some interesting stuff in life.  I have been given the privilege to do things that others can not say.  I have walked out of the dugout before a Major League Baseball game and helped throw out the first pitch.  I have skated between periods of National Hockey games.  I have run onto the court at half-time, and during time-outs at NBA games.  I have done all of them...

while wearing a large cow suit.

You see, in a previous life, I was a mascot for Chick-fil-A.  Something every kid has dreamed about.  Right?  Stepping onto the baseball diamond wearing a seven foot cow suit.  Lacing up the skates and stepping out onto the ice in front of 20,000 screaming Flyers fans, showing off the utters.  This is what life is all about.  Yao Ming almost stepped on me as I wandered aimlessly around the court, trying to exit.  I was built for the thrill of looking like a big heifer.  MOO!

I wasn't your everyday, side of the road, wave the sign...asking you to Eat Mor Chikin.  I was a somebody.  I only played the big stage.  I lived for the sporting events.  Plus, it was a little extra cash, and after I was done, doing my thing, I could watch the game.  Sometimes, from the suite.  Oh yeah, baby.

But, being the mascot had it's downsides too.  I'm sure at sometime we will delve into this deeper, but this session we'll deal with a the darker side of mascots.  A behind the scenes look at the underbelly of the mascot world.

I grew up a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies.  I still am to this day.  I bleed red.  (Well, I guess, we all bleed red, but, mine have little white P's.  I don't know what I'm trying to say.)  I'm a Phillies fan.  Managers have come and gone.  Players have left.  The stadium has been replaced. But, every since I have been little there has been one constant.  His name: The Phillie Phanatic.

That lovable creature, that appears during every home game.  He has big white eyes, a long red tongue, and he is covered in green fur.  His long green snout is thrust in the faces of many children and women...and let's not forget his dancing.  He rides a quad and pokes fun at the umpires and the opposing teams.  He shakes his belly, moonwalks, and he poses for picture upon picture.  He is almost perfect in every way.

I was going to be the cow one night.  Down below, in the stadium's innards, I was placed in the dressing room directly next to the Phanatic's dressing room.  There was even a star on the door with his name on it.  "Would you like to meet the Phanatic?" I was asked.


I knocked and heard a voice say, "Come on in," through the door.  I opened the door and to my horror sat a man in green suit.  The Phanatic head lay in the corner.  The green fur came up waist high and the rest was a skinny white guy.  Like some psychedelic centaur.  But, my vision of the Phanatic was gone.  In three seconds, I now knew the truth.  My childhood memories would never be the same.  I could never look at him the same way again.  He was just a normal guy wearing a big, green suit.  I had always knew there was a man inside, but now I knew who that man was.  The curtain had been pulled back and there was Oz.  It's like finding out that Santa was your dad.  You knew it before - but now you know.    *side note: He was a great guy and super nice.

A few weeks later, I was introduced to Phlex.  Phlex was the Philadelphia Phantoms, the minor league hockey team, mascot.  Phlex and the cow "worked" together a few times and shared a locker room.  He would always run out, waving a flag, pumping his fists in the air - trying to rally the Phantom fans.

Phlex, the guy behind the mask, was a snarly, angry individual.  His face was shaped like a dinner plate, and he had a speckling of whiskers.  His voice had a thick Philly accent, and he sounded like he had just tried to smoke the tailpipe of a Zamboni.  Late into one game, we sat in the locker room watching the game on the TV.  The Phantom was down by one and two minutes were left on the clock.  We were both packing up and he was going on and on about wanting to go home.

Meanwhile, on the ice, the Phantom's player broke down the ice - took the shot and scored!  The alarm rang and the lights flashed!  The Phantoms had tied the game!  The crowd roared with excitement.  There was Phlex, standing across from me, mask in hand, inside the locker room.  He held the mask above his hand, swearing, and slammed the mask to the floor.  "Unbelievable!" he yelled.  Picking up the mask and his flag.  "Well, here we go.  I'm gonna be here all night."

He put the mask on, ran down the tunnel, waving the flag and I could hear him pumping up the crowd.  I walked down and peeked.  He was running through the audience.  High-fiving, waving and getting the crowd all into a frenzy.  They had no idea what he was thinking behind the mask.

Phlex made his way back to the locker room.  The mask got removed.  "Overtime!  This is unbelievable."
I smiled, knowing the truth.

This post is in honor of my son's 10th birthday.  One of the world's biggest Phillie's fans, and a huge Phanatic fan.



January 9, 2012

Doggie Day Afternoons

"What is Bill grilling, Michael?"
"Is that hamburgers?"
"Oh, Michael, I love hamburgers too.  Especially, grilled ones."

That is my neighbor.  Peering over the fence talking to her best friend one afternoon.  And there have been many other similar conversations.  However, Michael isn't like you and me.  He shouts loudly when she comes home.  He craps in the backyard.  And oh yeah, Michael has a tail.
That's right Michael is a dog.  A collie of some sort and he can't speak. Why?   He's a dog.  He barks.

We however, don't have any pets.  My family is all pro-pet.  And let me tell you, they love all kinds of pets.  Doggies.  Kitties.  Bunnies.  Hamsters.  The Pet list goes on and on and on.  Pets are cool.  It is something extra to love and that alone is great.  But, due to allergies and cost, I don't see a pet in our future.

"But, pets don't cost that much, Bill."
We tried it.  But let's be honest, pets will get sick or worse yet if they get hurt a vet visit will be a must...and for some odd reason my health insurance doesn't cover animals.  Plus, the allergies, Shannon and my son turn into sounding like Darth Vader when they are exposed to animals for too long.  They also get rashes and puffy eyes making me feel like I'm walking through Walter Reed.  They look up at me through squinted eyes, with red faces and hands, and gasping for breath and ask, "You sure we *gasp* can't get one *gasp*, please."

I feel bad that we can't get one, but not that bad...
You see, I am not a pet person.  I don't care for them.  I understand why you might like pets, but not me.  I understand all the upsides for having a pet.  When I was younger, I basically lived in a zoo.  We were the Living Noah's Ark.  Two by two we had them.  Pets galore.  We had all kinds and each one received lots of love and kindness throughout their lives...but I'm through with them.

"But, Bill, what about the kids?  Kids need pets."
They don't.  I need a 72 inch flat screen LCD TV, but that ain't happening either.  They will adjust just fine without it, just like I struggle not watching Dexter on my living room wall.  Yet, I'm still surviving.
Not that we didn't try the pet route.  We have had a rabbit, dwarf frogs, and a scattering of fish.  They were cute, but now we just don't need the hassle that comes with being the owner of a proud pet.  (Remember Darth Vader at a war hospital.)

"You need a dog."
Big dog?  I would always be protecting my groin from the dog's baseball like tail or when it jumps up to snuggle with me and it feels like being hit by a linebacker.  It's tongue is the size of tennis racket - and drooling like an old man in a nursing home.  Plus, let us be reminded that we have to clean up after these beasts.  "Oh, Michael, we are going to need two bags for that one.  Were you eating Play-Doh again?  It shouldn't be teal."
Small dog? Yap.  Yap.  Yap.  Yap.  Race all over the place and jump onto my lap when I am at the peek of comfort.  Tell me when there is another dog within a mile radius and constantly hound me to go outside, because you need to poop and it's two in the morning and it just started raining...and now would be the perfect time.  And, now that you drug me outside let's poop every three feet, run around in circles and sniff at every tree, branch, telephone pole, hydrant and rock we find on our middle of the night journey.  And hopefully, we will find that annoying squirrel that loves to play tag.

Dogs.  No, thank you.

"How about cats.  They are independent."
Are they?  So, if I don't clean the liter box, they will?  They don't really want to be there, but hey you are feeding them.  They really want to claw you to death and show you their backsides as it leaves you scratched and in search of bandages.  They are cuddly kittens and then two weeks go by, and like a magician doing a trick, Wah-La, you got yourself a mean, old, independent cat.  He just wants to be left alone, so he can stalk the mice and birds.  He is also on the prowl to destroy any other cats he senses in the area.  They are nasty, nasty creatures.  

Cats.  You can keep them.

Gerbils, Birds, Ferrets, Mice, Snakes, Spiders, Iguanas, Monkeys (Okay, we'll have to talk about that one).  Pets are just not for me.  I see how having a pet would be great.  The best reason, is that they are the perfect excuse.  Were you over the in-laws a bit too long?  Gotta feed and let out the dog. That party not as fun as you thought it would be?  The dog is in the dark.  Who can say 'no' to that? 

And as a public service announcement:  If you are a pet owner, talk to it like it's a pet.  You can speak in that Minnie Mouse voice trying to convince the puppy that the thunder can't get him, but they aren't human.  He doesn't care what I'm making on the grill?  Unless, I am making it for him.  He doesn't care what I reading by the chiminea.  "Michael, is Bill reading the new Dan Brown novel?  I heard it's pretty interesting."

Because, when I start responding to the flowers, don't act like I'm the crazy one.  
"Purple Hydrangea, I'm making some BBQ Chicken.  
Hey, Red Rose Bush, this Dan Brown novel is exciting.  
Much better than his last one."

Finally, Michael is a Person name.  Pet's need pet names.  Fluffy.  Tiger.  Spotty.  Sir-Barks-A-Lot.  Because we all know that when you get behind closed doors he goes by his full name: Michael McSnausagepaws.

Now go take the dog out, I hear some bad weather is a brewing,

Michael's neighbor,

January 8, 2012

Handy Man or Handi-Man?

I don't know the difference between a converter valve and an electrical outlet.  I can barely change a light bulb. I don't know how to rewire the house, put up drywall or change the alternator in my car.  I know that my house has studs, and to find one, I look in the mirror...but the wooden ones I bang around on the wall trying to look like I know what I'm talking about.

I do know that my house has walls, a ceiling and a floor.  When I turn on the faucets, hopefully water comes out and every time I move the light switch I pray that the lights go on or off.  If there is a problem, I can't fix it.  I get out my trusty phone, expecting it to work but I don't know how, and call someone to make my problem go away. 

And every single handyman, bar none, will tell me how to fix the problem.  They will go through step by step on how they will fix the broken item.  They will tell me in great detail about every nuance, every step no matter how insignificant.

"You see, Bill, you got the rotor...right there...it's shaped like a pear and a cup of coffee...which reminds, I'm gonna need my coffee, now if you put the 1/4 inch steel..."  
And I'm out.  You already lost me and now you are adding math words to the equation.  That is not fair.  Just fix it.  I don't care.  I'm NOT fixing things for a reason.  My brain doesn't work that way.

Does it make me less of a man?  Probably.  But, when I tell you a story.  I just tell it.  I don't start it out with, "You see, Sal, in the story I am the protagonist and the antagonist is the spider cricket.  I will be doing it in the first person...now you see first person..."  You don't care.  You just listen to the story, right?  I have a beginning, an end and hopefully a decent payoff.

That was just the intro.   The next part of the story will be the content.  I will try to use sarcasm, it's a tool I use to poke fun at myself or others.  I will also be using a lot of exaggerations to drive home my points.  I will use adjectives, nouns, and verbs to put the story together.  This story is how I broke something and shockingly fixed it.  It kinda works now.  Well, at least it serves its purpose.

The family and I like to play games.  Board games.  Video games.  All kinds of Games.  One fine night, Shannon asked the kids, "which game do you guys want to play tonight?"  The answer came back with an excited, "HIDE AND SEEK!"
And Hide and Seek we played.  We have some major rules when playing it.
1.) No outside.
2.) No basement.
3.) No attic crawlspaces.
4.) No behind the toilets.
Oh yeah!  No hiding at the top of Mommy and Daddy's closet.  We have a large closet with wire metal shelves.  The shelves bend a little when we put towels on them, so when our son tries to hide up there - disaster is moments away.  So, the top of the closet is OFF LIMITS!

But, as you may know, I am too cool for rules.  They weren't my rules anyway...Shannon made them up.  I know of some great spots to hide in the crawlspaces, down in the basement and outside.  Plus, what is so wrong with burying my head and body behind a toilet?  I don't make the rules.  I break them.  I'm Daddy James Dean, baby.  A rebel, if there ever was one.

It was Shannon's turn to count, and my daughter decided to count with her.  That was okay, it was the boys turn to hide.  My son went and hid in the living room.  I chose my bedroom.  The closet.  The top of the closet.  I tore down the warning sign and ignored the no trespassing notice.  I started my climb.  I was nimble.  I was agile.  I was stupid.

Towels and extra blankets went tumbling below as I made my way to the top.  I could hear them counting and like a monkey I swung up to the forbidden land of hiding places.  Their counting continued.
I adjusted my position among the spare blankets and pillow cases.

Then from the other room:  "Ready, or not, here we come!" Their voices bellowed through the quiet house.  My heart was pounding in my chest.  They stormed the living room and quickly found my son.  "Where is Daddy?" my daughter said, beginning the interrogation of my son.  He would crack under the pressure, I knew it.  He would fold and I would be scolded.
"I don't know," he pleaded.  "I was too busy hiding."
Now, the three of them began to look for me.  My heart was racing and I was doing my best to hold my breath.  It was just me and Anne Frank, up there.  I was not going to found.

Shannon and the kids heard the scream, the crashing and the too quick response of "I'm in the closet!" being yelled from the bottom of the closet.  My fat butt had done some quick work of taking down the shelf in the closet, along with the shirts, pants, towels, blankets, pillowcases, shoes and the ironing board.  I had also done a project of opening up my back.  They opened the door, to see my handy work and me sprawled out among the closet's items.  

They were looking at me in horror.  I tried my best to act natural, like it had been something that I had been planning on doing, but it was to no avail.  I made my way to the bathroom, the gash on back hurt a little and my pride hurt more.  I was wearing my Phillies shirt and the tear in it hurt the worst.

"You're going to fix it!"  I heard. 
I was not going to be allowed to make any calls.  I was going to have to put my big boy Macho Mr. Fixit pants on and do it myself.  
That night as I hung up the shelf, alone.  I had a new respect for the Handy Man.  I went out and told Shannon how I had fixed it.  Leaving no rock unturned.  I told how I hammered the metal back in place and how I had screwed it back into the wall.
Thank you Mr. Fixits.  Now, I have some projects that need tackling, can you tell me how to lay some piping?  I need details.

Your Handy Man Bill?

January 5, 2012

Murk Merkh Searches for a Church

We as a family go to church.  Sunday morning has always and will always be a "church morning".  Right now, we attend Immanuel Baptist Church, but we didn't always.  We had to find it and so here is part of our journey to find it.

We left our last church and ventured out to find another.  We didn't have any children at the time and we wanted to find one that felt like home.  You see, for us, church had to be somewhere where we felt comfortable.  Somewhere that we felt safe.  We needed good preaching and nice people.
We wanted to start fresh.  Somewhere new.  So, we began looking.

We hit the yellow pages and decided to go top to bottom, a dart would have been a better idea, but we tried it this way.  Why?  I don't know.  It really isn't important, so don't get hung up on it.  Let's move on.

We tried a few.  Nothing impressive.  Nothing jumped out.  
Now, since we didn't have too much dough, and Shannon's job needed her to work one Sunday a month.  Sometimes, she would allow me to venture on my own, like an errant dog, in hopes of finding a church that we could both attend.

So, there I was, riding solo...without Tonto. (But if truth be told...I'm more of the Tonto.)  Okay, so we'll scratch that last part.  There I was, Tonto, riding solo.  Sunday morning came and she went to work, I headed to a random church. Gotta admit, a little intimating.  I walked through the double doors of this unnamed church.  People seemed friendly enough with their plastic smiles and their 'howdoyados'.  I smiled back, keeping my distance.  I was reserved, like I get with crowds.  (Sure, I can speak behind a computer screen...but when I go face to face with a stranger I instantly become an inept jellyfish.  I slur my speech.  I mumble my words.  And most people assume that I am mentally challenged.)

"Hi, thanks for joining us today."
"I like ice cream."

But, I continue to play the part of acting like a mature adult.  I sat down, four pews from the back.  I sat on the end and placed a hymnal next to me.  I needed space.  They had a picture of Jesus in the front, kinda looked like graffiti and Jesus himself bore an odd resemblance to Walter Matthau.  The preacher got up and lifted his hands, high into the air, and said that we were going to pray.  "Let us all link hands."
Link hands?
This was new.  This was uncomfortable.  I am a stranger.  You are strangers.  I don't want to link hands, thank you.  I want to close my eyes and pray.  But, I did it.  A balding man, wearing a blue blazer and looking like Patrick Stewart, grabbed my wrist and closed his eyes.  We were linked like sausages.  "This will be over soon," I told myself.  Sit tight.
The prayer was a mega-prayer.  And when it finally ended I learned that Mr. Stewart wasn't done yet.  He would not let go.  He had quite the grip.  I shook my arm, and he held on.  I was flailing around like a drowning swimmer...and strong hands wouldn't let go.  I was a drowning swimmer and Jaws here, had sunk his teeth into my wrist.  I raised my arm above my head and quickly snapped it down, breaking myself free and that is when I quickly exited the church...brushing past anyone that was in my way.  I could not leave fast enough.  
One of the greeters, a man with a large mustache, began to follow me, and now I was in full sprint.  "Sir, is there a problem?" he called, chasing me.
There was.  I ducked behind a car and then in full sprint made it to my car.  I even drove fast, checking my rearview as I drove.  I was home.  Safe and sound.

The following week, we both attended a quite large church building.  Beautiful interiors.  So far, so good.  It seemed pleasant enough.  Everyone smiled as we entered and we took a seat near the front left of the pulpit.  No Grumpy Old Man Jesus here.  The first few songs were nice and seemed quite enjoyable.  There were about one hundred or so people standing and singing.  The preacher, who reminded me of Don Johnson circa Miami Vice, then got up and made a few quick announcements and mentioned that he saw some visitors.  He then looked at us.  Directly at us.
"Well, newcomers, stand up and tell us your names," he said.
What?  This can't be happening.  All eyes were on us.
"Go ahead, stand up and say your names."
Give fake names.
Give fake names.
My brain was shouting.  We needed Detectives Crockett and Tubbs to get us out of this mess.
But, they didn't...and I couldn't give a fake name.  We both stood and I said, in my best mumble..."Bill Merkh and Shannon."
The preacher seemed satisfied.  "Okay, everyone.  While, this next song play through, go up and say 'hello' to Murk and Shannon."
Wouldn't you know.  The music started.  And they all got in a single file line down the center aisle and began to greet us.  "Hello Murk," they'd say as they shook my hand.  "Nice to meet you Murk."  I shook their hands and said 'hello' never correcting them, while Shannon kept repeating "his is name is Bill."  Less people greeted us at our wedding.
We left as soon as the final whistle had blown, we were out the doors.  "Goodbye, Murk."
"Murk, it was a pleasure to meet you."

We are happy at our church now.  We have found one that we love.  There are no wrist locks or chases and nobody makes a scene about us.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoyed.  Remember to follow me.  And LIKE our facebook fan page too.
You all are the best.

Your friend,

January 3, 2012

Super Freaks

Sometimes we all look like freaks, whether we want to admit or not.
Do you sing with the radio blaring TLC's No Scrubs, when you feel the elderly couple's eyes from the car next to you gawking at you?
Do you talk to yourself, when you are trying to remember something important?
 "Don't forget the Cheerios.  Don't forget the Cheerios."
Do you start mowing the lawn, but as your half way done, the sky opens and you have to make the decision:
A.) Do I look like a freak now, a continue to mow it while it's pouring.
B.) Do I look like a freak for the rest of the week because I have a lawn that half mowed, because I'll be busy till next Thursday.

Sometimes just doing stuff that is out of context makes us look like a freak.
Wearing a bathrobe = Not a freak.
Wearing a bathrobe to church = Freak.
Dancing at a wedding = Not a freak.
Dancing at a funeral = Freak.
Playing miniature golf = Not a freak.
Playing miniature golf alone = Freak.

Going to the movies alone = Freak?

I don't know.  I would say, "Nope, not a freak."  While, some of you reading would label that as 'freakish.'
You are going into a big dark room.  You are going there to watch whatever it is in front of you.  You are not talking.  You are trying to pay attention to the film you just spent this weeks paycheck to go see.  (And right after you just took out that second mortgage to go see Transformers 5: Attack of the Wallet.) There are no conversations, so there is no need for another human being to be present to make your experience any better.  In fact, most of the time the other person is just a distraction from the screen.  

What did he say?
I missed that line too, because I just said 'What did he say."
Who is she?
What else was she in?
Oh! yeah, I remember, Planet of the Apes.
Not the Tim Burton one.
Did you see that one?
Yeah, Mark Wahlberg.  You know Marky Mark.
Remember singing along with the Funky Bunch.  "You got the right stuff, baby."
Oh, that was New Kids.  Yeah, I'm thinking of his brother, Donnie.
I don't know why this movie has to be black and white.
Wait! She wasn't in Planet of Apes.  I'm thinking of someone else.  Forget it.
So, is Schindler guy ever gonna finish this list?

But, with all that to say:  I enjoy going to the theater alone.  In fact, I prefer it.  I can be engulfed in the action, drama or comedy without having the nuisance of someone bothering me.  I can simply watch without the distractions.

It was Die Hard 4.  It came out somewhere near the fourth of July.  I was alone. I took an early showing, wearing my baggiest clothes, so I could enjoy the snacks from Wal-Mart.  I arrived early to make sure I had the ultimate viewing position.  It was showing on their biggest screen and with the stadium seating I was going to find the perfect seat.  There were thousands of seats, everyone was mine for the choosing.  It was empty.  Not another soul within my theater mile.  I went up the forty flights and took DEAD CENTER.  I sat there a few minutes trying to answer questions like, "Who starred in Saving Private Ryan?  _OM H_NKS"
When a few faces started making their way into the empty theater.  Now, we had about fifteen small clusters scattered throughout the massive stadium.
That is when a clean shaven man, came in slurping from his monster sized cup, carrying a drum of popcorn and laughing loudly to no one began to walk down my row.  With thirty seats on either side of me, and fifteen hundred surrounding me...he choose the seat next to mine.  He plopped himself down, as if I were expecting him.  I wanted to get up or tell him to get up.  But, I didn't have any courage.  I sat there, contemplating my next move.
"Tom Hanks!" he shouted.  Boy, was he proud of that one.
"You want any popcorn?" he asked me.
"I-I-I-I'm sorry, what?" I asked.  Was he really talking to me.
"Popcorn."  he held out the large tub, letting kernels fall into my lap.
"No, thank you," I meekly replied.  Putting my head down.  What was I going to do?
The previews came on.  Let, me tell you.  This fellow loved him some previews.  He talked through everyone.  He shouted at the screen.  He laughed.  He commented.  I was so close to getting up and just moving, but I had picked that seat, and some schmuck was not about ruin it for me.

Then the movie started.  He couldn't have been more quiet.  I had check to see if he was still there a couple of times.  Near, the end I was checking for a pulse.  He said nothing, just watched the movie.  Was I on Candid Camera?  I continued to watch the movie and he was as quiet as a church mouse.  I needed to know what was he doing.
"Mind if I have some popcorn?" I asked.  He put out the popcorn, not saying a word.
"What did he say?" I asked.  He didn't respond.
"I missed that line too, because I just said 'What did he say.'"
"Who is she?" I asked.
And so I tried with all my might, to get him to say something, but he was too busy watching the movie...even though I think he nodded when I talked about Charlton Heston.
The movie ended and as the credits rolled, I said, "goodbye."  I think he was annoyed.

So, who was the freak?
I guess sometimes we all are.

Thanks for reading freaks.


January 1, 2012

Alone In the Bathroom

It's a new year!  We have made it to 2012, and if the Mayans have anything to say about it, this will be the last.  There is even a movie titled it.  (Not that I have seen it.)

Why is New Years so important?  Is it the whole concept of the turning over a new leaf? A new beginning.  A clean slate.  
Is it the resolutions?  We all make them, whether we announce them to the world or we keep them quietly in our heads.  We want to eat healthier, lose weight, stop smoking, fall in love or simply to do more good deeds to our fellow man.

Why do we do we make New Year’s resolutions?

It seems that it the perfect starting point for the changes to the past.  We can forget all about last year's disappointments and focus on the personal change that we are going to make.  However, most of  those resolutions fail.

My resolutions are usually driven by my own vanity...and truthfully, to impress to my wife, Shannon.  My resolution a few years ago was to the look better for Shannon.  I wanted to really impress her.  I wanted to lose those extra pounds and make her want to whistle when she saw me.  Instead of her normal gag reflex when I would take off my shirt.  Plus, if I continued to eat the way I liked (hamburgers drowned with cheese and bacon, plus a little more bacon and a little more bacon) I was going to have to start shopping for some man bras for the much needed support.

So there I was Alone In the Bathroom.  I had just finished shaving my face, and I was looking in the mirror.  (I think I might have been flexing my cheese steak induced arms.)  When, I looked down at my chest and saw a little tuft of hair making a straggly appearance.  I am not sure if I had ever noticed it before, but I was now a man on a mission.  I needed Shannon to find me sexy...and this hairball was in no way helping my case.  Something needed to be done.
I had just shaved my face, and looking down and there was the razor smiling up at me.  I could hack that unwanted hair right off with our friend Bic.

But wait!  What was all this stuff I heard about shaving chests?  I didn't want to go to bed and in the morning wake up to have a chest five o'clock shadow.  I needed another weapon to remove this nest of hair.  Through the cabinets I dug...looking for the perfect tool to begin my manscaping needs.  I dug deeper than I ever had before.  It felt like I was entering a bathroom Narnia, when my hand brushed against the box that was about take me on a journey of sexiness.


I quickly opened the box, and threw the directions to the floor.  No time for those, Shannon was going to start to wonder why it was taking me an hour to shave my face.  I grabbed the wax strip and peeled off the back.  I stuck the biggest square piece of wax to the target.  A perfect hit.  It covered the patch of hair and I knew soon that it would gone and forgotten.  I pressed against the strip.  I pounded the strip.  I rubbed it.  I kneaded it.  I pressed it some more.  "Good bye hair." I quietly cackled.  I let a good five minutes go by.  I gave the wax another quick pound.  I grabbed the corners of the strip...and pulled.

PAIN!  Hot flashing, numbing pain.  There was so much burning and blood.  Apparently,  Mr.  Wax strip is supposed to removed immediately.  I screamed till my throat was hoarse.  I felt as if I was the man in the Temple of Doom who had his heart ripped out of his chest.  Tears rolled down my cheeks and blood rolled down my flabby pecs.  Oh, the torture!

After several minutes of toilet paper clean up, I was left with the perfect raw flesh square tattoo.  The hair was gone, like I had wanted, but so were several layers of skin.  I had failed.  My intentions were good, but I had taken the wrong approach.  And maybe, that hair wasn't that terrible after all.

I learned some valuable lessons that night, alone in the bathroom.
1.) Leave the waxing to the experts.
2.) Read the instructions before trying anything.
3.) Let others help you with your resolutions.

Shannon wanted me to look better and she could have easily have helped me.  All I needed to do was ask.  Maybe you just need to ask others to help you.  Don’t try to fulfill your resolutions alone.

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