Thursday, July 31, 2008

Or at least get run over by a bus

a sestina, by me

I certainly didn’t expect to
Have to write a sestina when
I had this great idea in the first
Place. They’re super complicated, plus I
Am not that good at this to begin with.
But I’ll give it a shot.

That’s what I thought: a shot
In the dark is the only way anyone’s going to
Come up with
Sestina as their poem of choice when
They leave their comment. I
Should have thought this over first.

Most people just made fun of me. The first
Few were hacks taking their shot –
Which is fine – that’s what I
Expected to
Happen. But that was when
I didn’t know what I was dealing with.

Out of nowhere, with
Malice like Cain’s first
Murder, when
He shot
His brother to
Get back at him, I

Was blindsided. I
Was nailed with
No mercy by Falwless, pinned to
My own promises. First
I did a shot
Of whiskey, and when

I had one, I wanted another, and when
I had ten, I
Decided to not even give it a shot.
It was a lucky stab anyway, and I didn’t deserve to be stuck with
Punishment for that. But that was only at first.
I knew I couldn’t bring myself to

Go back on my word just to make things easier. When
Someone gets me first, I
Turn the other cheek. But when I do, I’m secretly praying that she’ll get shot.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I was in Michigan last week, nine days of lying on the beach, eating grilled meat, playing golf and beach volleyball and drinking to my heart’s content, or maybe a little past that point. I actually got back from vacation exhausted, like I needed a few ten hour workdays to really wind down and relax.

I guess I’m still like a kid in that sense – for me, vacation is like recess for me. I get out of where I’m trapped all day every day working, and for a specific, limited amount of time, I get to do whatever I want as long as I don’t throw up or make anyone cry. And let me ask you this: do you see a lot of first graders lying around the blacktop with a kickball under their heads, or flipping through Calvin and Hobbes while they lounge on the playground’s bouncy bridge like it’s a hammock? No, you don’t.

So I went and I ran around and I got sunburned and cut my feet running through the woods shoeless playing Foxes and Hounds, and bruised and abused myself so that I was physically sore for the whole second half of the week. That’s just how I roll.

And I ate and drank too much, because the food – my goodness, the food. With as many family cooks up there as we had, the food was abundant and delicious. The dinner rundown:

Saturday: Grilled brats, burgers and hot dogs, with whatever accoutrements
Sunday: Grilled beef tenderloin
Monday: Barbecued pulled-pork sandwiches
Tuesday: Lasagna
Wednesday: Beer-butt chicken and cheesy cornbread
Thursday: Shrimp, mussels, corn, chorizo sausages
Friday: Grilled whitefish with cherry salsa
Saturday: Grilled pork loin

Oh, you could almost hear us all getting fatter.

On Sunday, before we left, my brother and I were sitting in the car when he decided that it would be fun, if you had a dog, to name the dog a crude or suggestive word. Groper, Fuckstick, Anus, Herpes, Buttplug, Merkin, Phallus the Fister and Whore are a few possibilities.

And now I’m back, sitting at work, and it seems somehow fitting that the list of names keeps running through my mind. Over and over and over again.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sipping on

I have two things to say. Firstly: I don’t remember what the first thing was. Secondably, I am a little bit drunk.

As I have been know to say before, someone put gin in my grapefruit juice. I don’t know how this happens (I do), but every three weeks or so, my morning wake-me-up has alcohol in it. Why? How? Who knows? (I do.)

I actually never drink grapefruit juice, because I don’t like it. It’s bitter and pink, like a grandparent who’s moved to Florida, and we all know no one likes old folks. Or grapefruit juice. And that’s the point.

This would be a good time to point out that the first time I tried to spell “gin,” I wrote “finger.” I guess that means I’m a fast typer. A fast, bad typer. Fast, bad and drunk. I think that should be the title of my autobiography.

Oh, I think the first thing (back to the first sentence, ignoranuses), was something about how I said Brandy hated to swear and then she said the “fuck-word” in a comment (for shame, Brandy!) and also about how allthewine got mad and jealous that I wrote a post about Brandy (I did?) and not her (I didn’t). Meanwhile, Lil is ignoring me, despite the alleged fact that she had a crush on me once (never gonna forget that one), except for very gracious responses to my corrections of her sports-related posts, which I reply to drunk. That’s kind of an inside joke, huh.

Let me explain. Actually, never mind. Suffice it to say that the ladies seated around me are laughing at me right now and I think they have a pool going as to whether I will cough or burp next. I’m guessing cough.

Yes! I was right. Even though I sorta fake-coughed it, and burped a little at the end. Aaaaand I just saw money changing hands. I guess I was right – they are literally betting on my physical condition. I don’t know whether to be flattered or depressed. I guess, like Jane Austen says, “when in doubt, be flattered.”

Ok, she just said “oh! Sounds like it’s breaking up though.” Talking about my chest-phlegm. Why are these people in the office? Wait, why am I in the office? I ought to be on the beach, drinking beers and trying to hook up with someone.

Waaaaait a minute! I remember what the first thing was. (first and fourth paragraphs, retard.) It was about how a bunch of people read and commented on my last post. What? Why? I felt like I was at a grungy club, just hanging out with the people I knew, then all of a sudden people start grinding up on you from every side, and at first you think “gypsies! Whoah, is my wallet safe?” and then you think “what if I was getting interrogated and the police guy said ‘where on the doll did you touch her’ and I would just have to rub the doll all over like I was giving the poor thing a full-body massage,” and then you think “oh this is bad,” and then “hey, this ain’t bad!” But eventually you realize it’s neither good nor bad. It’s just a bunch of people rubbing up against your blog.

See what I did there?

Yeah, me neither.

Credit to rs27 for the style of this post (is he just drunk all the time? is that his little indian secret?) and to Chris because he just kicks ass and I don't know how else to mix him in - I always make friends when I'm drunk, what can I say?

I'm off to Michigan for a week, so you peeps take care. I'll see you in August.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

When people stop being polite and start being "get me Robitussin"

People who know how to write well say, “write what you know.” But that can be difficult for people like me who don’t know very much, and don’t have very interesting lives. I’m kidding, of course. Nothing is difficult for me.

And because nothing is difficult, I can write about what I know, or I can just make up stories. Did you know I make up a bunch of the stories on here? It’s true. Like the one about the naked chick on the beach, and the Supreme Court justices running down the street with guns, and the awkward conversation with my coworker, and really hating BlogHer, and that one about the guy getting arrested, and about wearing silk underpants.

I hope that doesn’t bother you. No, let me rephrase: that shouldn’t really bother you, should it? It’s not like we’re best friends and I lied to you. Sure, a story might not have happened, but it could have.

That’s one reason I didn’t get the big flap over the guy James Frey who wrote the book and called it a memoir, but then it turned out he changed a bunch of details, and he was on Oprah and then everyone hated him for it… why? They didn’t know him – so who cares if the story really happened or if it’s just a story. If it’s a good story, it’s a good story. That’s what I say.

If this really bothers you, then whatever, maybe this is actually the post that’s made up. Convince yourself of that. Or don’t.

Oh hey, I have a question. How do people set it up so that only a little bit of their blog posts show up in Google Reader… because then people have to click through to their blog and so you can see who’s reading, right? Mine was never set up like that, so I could never tell, which is why I didn’t find out until today that Brandy has me in her reader. She came over because of an overwhelming impulse to comment on my highly intellectual BlogHer post, and I was all, “heck yeah, Brandy’s got me in her Reader, what up now, bitches?” But then I got nervous because I have the feeling she doesn’t like bad language, and sometimes I use bad language, especially if I am really worked up or bored. Sorry about that, Brandy. I shouldn’t have said “what up now, bitches?” a little bit ago. Also, I shouldn’t have repeated it just now.

There’s something of a ruckus going on across the internet right now about something I wrote about gay dudes for my work. I can’t really get too specific, unless I just come ahead and disanonymousize, which I was thinking of doing anyway (thoughts?), but suffice it to say that there’s kind of an uproar about whether I am a homophobic bigot.

Well, that’s hogwash. I have tons of gay friends. Well, that’s not really true. But I think I saw a gay person once! Plus, I call my friends gay, you know, if they’re being gay. I’m not coming out like I planned. Wait, I wasn’t planning to come out – shoot, that just made it way worse. I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I should stop now.

The final thing I have to say is this: I have a cold, a bad cold. It’s ninety-five degrees and I have the worst cold I’ve had all year. This is (look away, Brandy!) bullshit. But anyway (you can look back, Brandy), I blame the complete incoherence of this post on my cold... and on the fact that, like I said, when you write what you know, it’s just kind of boring. The end.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. The second greatest was convincing you that you're interesting.

So. Oh my gosh. Have you guys heard? BlogHer is coming up! Zomg! Only like a week, or like, two weeks or something!

You’ve heard about it, right? San Francisco, tons of FAAAAB female bloggers from all over the country! And international, too! Everyone’s posting on their blogs about it, about how fun it’s going to be, about how many awesome shoes are going to be worn, and ohmigoodness, we are going to have a cocktail. Maybe even three! Then we will take pictures of ourselves with our cocktails! Can you believe it?! Pictures!

Wait. Just wait. Stop, take a deep breath.

You forgot about the part where I don’t give a shit. Maybe that should be your next post on the topic: “BlogHer is coming up, but I’m not going to talk about it because Fort Knocks does not give a shit, at all. Not even a little bit.”

Because, let’s face it, if I don’t find your blog entertaining, that’s probably because it sucks. If I don’t find a topic interesting, that’s probably because it’s fucking boring.

It’s not that I’m calling you a boring person… just your mind. Your mind and your ideas and what you like to talk about. Pretty fucking boring. But not you personally. You are a unique snowflake.

One time one of my friends asked me to proofread his paper in high school. So I did. And you know what? It was boring, and I told him so. But he didn’t believe me. He kept the story. And one week later, he got struck by lightning and died.

So what I’m saying is, if you keep yammering about BlogHer and how fun it’s going to be to meet someone who you feel like omg you already know, you’re probably going to die.

So don’t say you weren’t warned. Don’t come spooking about in ghost form after the terrible earthquake that destroyed the convention center in San Francisco, saying “oooooo if only I’d knoooowwwwnnnn.”

Here’s a list of topics and activities that would be more interesting than posts about BlogHer:

1. Margarine vs. butter
2. What’s the longest word you’ve ever spelled with alphabet soup?
3. Watching your toenails grow
4. Counting the number of times you can count to one
5. Waiting for a bus
6. Watching Twelve Angry Men on mute in slow motion
7. Blowing your nose
8. Beating a dead horse
9. Literally
10. Blowing a dead horse
11. Trying to fit two golf balls in your mouth
12. Choking on one of them
13. Betting on the exact date of the Apocalypse
14. Farting in a wetsuit
15. Saying “hamburger” over and over until it sounds weird
16. Learning to speak klingon
17. Stretching a rubber band, then letting it unstretch
18. Growing a mullet
19. Saying “hamburger” in klingon over and over until it sounds weird
20. Writing this boring, boring list

If you’ve got anything to say, I’d love to hear it. No, of course I’m not serious.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nude beach conversations

There’s a beach on the California coast, somewhere in the Central Valley, I think? Does that even make sense? I don’t know, I was out there for a week-long trip and didn’t do any of the navigating, so I never really knew where we were. Plus I was drinking. But the exact location doesn’t really matter for the story.

We were at this beach. In California. And man, let me tell you, it was gorgeous. I grew up with Lake Michigan beaches, and as impressive as those are, they’re not quite as big as beaches on the ocean. People who first see our beach in Michigan are always surprised at how big it is, at the fact that you can’t see across the lake, that the sand is so much finer than ocean sand, that the waves are actually big – but still, nothing like a Pacific Ocean beach.

They’re just so much bigger. The waves break over a long gradual slope of a hundred feet instead of twenty. The waves are eight feet instead of four.

We lay back on the fluffed brown sand in our sunglasses and sucked on Bud Lights, and that’s when I noticed the woman without a shirt on.

I was surprised, naturally, to see a woman topless on the beach, which one of my friends had described as “semi-private” – I don’t know what that means, but I was doubly surprised because most nudists you’ll run across are sixty, sweaty, and swinging. This woman was none of the above.

She looked young thirties, but I suppose she could have been pulling off a lithe forty. She was lying on a towel on her back, with her knees up and her head up, propping her elbows on the ground behind her for support. She was only about thirty feet down the beach to our right, sitting with another woman who was wearing a full two-piece swimsuit. This girl wasn’t. Black bikini bottom – and that’s it.

Quite honestly, none of us made too much of it.

“Oh, I didn’t know this was a nude beach.”

“Yeah, I don’t think it is.”


“Hey, pass me another beer.”

End of conversation. We went back to drinking, minimal talking, and watching the waves beat the beach.

But then the guy happened.

This guy was probably fifty, but he could have been forties. He wasn’t in bad shape, but he had some kind of pot-belly working, and I think it must have been a new development, because he’d definitely gotten his swimsuit before he packed on the pounds. It was snug, a little blue and white number that left most of his thighs breathing free and the seams might have split if he started doing lunges.

But he wasn’t doing lunges. He was walking over to the woman purposefully, his hair-covered gut preceding him like the advance guard in a royal fat parade. The man shuffled up, careful not to kick sand onto her towel, pushed his sunglasses onto his head and began, “could you please put a… you know… put a shirt on?”

“I’m not trying to bother anyone,” the woman said. My ears perked up immediately. This could be good.

“Well, some of us would just like to enjoy the beach and not have this… immodesty going on.”

And this is when the exchange got so outrageous I literally could not believe it.

The woman shifts position a little, looking as cocky as you can when you’re lying on the ground talking to someone standing over you, and says, “it’s just my body.”

The guy is not about to take shit. “Yeah,” he says, “and it’s just my erection.”

I was amazed that the woman could even respond, but who knows, maybe she gets this all the time. “You don’t have to look at me, you know,” she says.

“Yeah, but when I look somewhere else, I still imagine them. And they’re even bigger in my imagination.”

I was stunned. I couldn’t even laugh, I was so shocked. My mouth fell open and a little beer dribbled out.

But he topped himself. “And what if…” he stumbled. “What if in my imagination, you don’t have pants on?”

The woman was confused and ready to acquiesce. But she had one last rejoinder: “even if I put a top on, you’ll still have your imagination.”

“I hope so,” he said, and it was a withering blow. The woman was overwhelmed, defeated. She grabbed a matching black top and threw it over her neck, then hurried to tie it behind her back.

I couldn’t blame her. At that point, the guy’s next move could have been to ask her to put suntan lotion on her back or strip off his swimsuit, plop down on the towel and say, “scooch over, will ya? And then tell me a little about yourself.”

But he didn’t. Instead he shuffled back in the direction he’d come from, farther up the beach. The women picked up and left about ten minutes later, possibly because they heard us snorting with uncontrollable laughter.

That was the only time I’ve ever seen someone naked-ish at the beach, but I have no desire to do it again. I can’t imagine ever topping that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just had this awesome exchange

I was walking out of the bathroom not ten seconds ago when one of the jackasses I work with was walking in - the same one who sent an email to the entire company to "use white-out sparingly." I don't even know what that was about. Does anyone even use white-out any more?

Whatever. Anyway, he goes in, immediately turns around, sticks his head back out and calls to me, "Hey!"

I turn around.

"Are you the one that layered the toilet seat with toilet paper?"


"But you were just in there."


"So you peed right through the middle and didn't get any on the toilet paper?"

I thought about it for a second. "I was just washing my hands," I remembered.

He starts walking toward me in that jokey-bossy way where people want to be friends with you but also have authority over you. "How bout you let me smell your hands."

"How bout I let you put my balls in your mouth."

Long, awkward pause.

Finally, I say, "I'm sorry," and turn and walk away.

Probably going to get an email about it tomorrow, with the whole company cc'd.

A peek inside my outbox

Last night I went to a poolside barbecue and then drank far too many beers for a weeknight while sitting on a 35th story balcony at State and Superior downtown, trying to flick cigarette butts into the pool two hundred feet below, watching fireworks explode one block away and listening to the echoes boom off the sides of the skyscrapers. I don’t have a good post in me right now.

Then, my little muse of a cell phone informed me that my message memory was full. So I thought, hey, let’s post all the text messages in my inbox. And here they are, 112 gems, for your viewing pleasure.

1. What?
2. Oh no sanks. Even though that does sound delish right now.
3. That apple was epically delicious.
4. Cheers! Let’s get drunk about it!
5. Maybe we should get there a little early to make sure the bar is ok and taste-test the Guinness.
6. Still at work, leaving in ten… Be at the bar around ten to six?
7. 55 90 armitage Ashland Belmont?
8. Don’t smoke without me.
9. You read my scene?
10. Hey thanks. It still very much sucks, and we could still very much do it.
11. Guess whether or not I am yammered and have your number.
12. Someone put gin in my grapefruit juice.
13. She’ll probably do it too… I’m still in bed.
14. You have no idea. No, you probably do.
15. In. Tonight we go out. Joe’s birthday.
16. Long and drunk.
17. Way to go, dude! I found my phone in the driveway yesterday. In shards. Go us!
18. Actually just stayed in and got ploughed with my brother. You do anything?
19. I left my life in Irving.
20. Compound bow, carbon-fiber arrows.
21. Shut the fuck up.
22. Yao or Yaos?
23. Where are you?
24. That is incredibly ironic.
25. A tradition unlike any other.
26. Cubbies!
27. Cuckin Fubs.
28. I don’t know what the deal is.
29. I did. I sent him an email. Where do they live? Email me directions?
30. When are you getting to J&J’s?
31. Did you call me?
32. You get drunk last now?
33. Oh yeah, sorry, got it.
34. Did you get her evite idea? Do you want to do that or should I? Prolly you.
35. I don’t know
36. .
37. %
38. Parked for the third time so my smoking engine can cool. In Bellwood or something.
39. No thanks, I’m sure I’ll make it. Eventually.
40. Haha ‘moral’… good one.
41. Movie?
42. Thanks, who’s we?
43. Miss y’all too. Let’s hang out sometime.
44. Grand!
45. Seems to be the story of the day…
46. I think men should be more embarrassed of their nipples.
47. No, I meant because they can’t possibly compare to how perfect mine are.
48. Don’t fuck with me, man.
49. Boohoo. (hug)
50. It’s been arranged.
51. Murder any rodents lately?
52. Oh yeah, just got back.
53. Yup.
54. Aim for the black fag
55. Splendid! I’m about to be a pro baller, hopefully, what more could you ask? What are you up to?
56. I diggoo
57. Feck off
58. No offense
59. That’s from sitting on the copier.
60. Throat, head, body.
61. I just want you to know I have no memory of texting you last night.
62. Entirely p-bear.
63. Are you serial?
64. Broooodaaaayyy
65. For sure. Also have to say ‘oh em gee I hate spence’
66. Score. You’ll totally get on TMZ
67. I’ll give you eighty bucks if you do all my laundry.
68. What?
69. Are you sure it wasn’t him? Yeah I want to go to Michigan too for sure.
70. Hey, just finished golfing, ready to go. What’s the plan?
71. Yeah, let’s all hang out. I don’t care where…
72. I’m all hopped up on Mountain Dew!
73. Holy crap caffeine buzz. I just had two jumbo monsters, which is the equivalent of… wait for it… thirty cups of coffee.
74. Aselin Debison
75. Working?
76. What the shit, Tiger?
77. And he needs it now tonight, he fuckin needs it more than ever.
78. Right back at ya.
79. It’s likely.
80. Let’s boogie!
81. If you blow low enough.
82. I’ll drink it.
83. Etoh walks if you blow a James Bond.
84. No dude- gave up a twenty-four point halftime lead.
85. Yup. I’m starting the second game tomorrow.
86. It’s Friday, everyone’s goodly. I still don’t like Boston.
87. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time for me to drink waaay too much.
88. How’s downtown?
89. Parents tropical disease. Children of incest.
90. Emi typed confessions, girl’s therapist.
91. Time to start a new streak
92. He’s at an evening of recollection.
93. Heading now as in leaving now? Haha, you’re going to miss the game.
94. I’m leaving.
95. Oh wait, I just got a pitcher of beer.
96. Supplemental income?
97. Waiting for his brother to get to the bar.
98. YES IT IS!
99. What’s imd?
100. I said ‘cot’ mother.
101. haha, no, I really have baseball.
102. How bout now? Six minutes?
103. Four minutes? Four minutes?
104. You’re so immature.
105. You spelled ‘ynur’ wrong.
106. Aah, you fucksteak. I didn’t even notice the sandwich till now.
107. Nice, supreme court.
108. That and sex.
109. I dunno. Plan?
110. He’s at a wine and cheese party, isn’t he? Lottie’s might work.
111. Let me know.
112. Oh. Well. What are y’all doing?

Now we can do several things (damn, typing that took me longer than I expected). We could say everyone picks one text that they want more context on (or two). Or we could have fun trivia like this quiz entitled “Mom or Booty call: which is which?”

1. 43 and 97
2. 17 and 87
3. 100 and 45
4. 4 and 81

And then you have to figure out which was which. Ok, you’re right, that wasn’t much fun. So you think of a game. My head hurts.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Not for the faint of shart

One of the things that I like best about baseball is the road trips. Playing at home is great, sure – you’ve got the home fans, a familiar playing surface and a much easier commute. But there is nothing, absolutely nothing like the fun you can have on a baseball road trip.

After ten, or fifteen, or fifty hours on a bus together, guys get pretty punchy, pretty familiar with each other and pretty bored. I can’t describe the feeling, I guess – so let me sum it up with one example. The baseball road trip environment is the one where one guy creeps up the aisle behind another guy who’s watching a movie and sees how long he can rest a part of his naked anatomy on the guy’s shoulder before he notices. Then the guy notices and yells, startled, and then tries to punch the other guy in the balls while he trips back down the aisle and everyone giggles and screams and hollers like they’re seven years old and someone just got pantsed.

Not everyone likes this kind of atmosphere. It’s crude, it’s immature, it’s petty, and very often it’s genuinely unkind, sometimes even cruel. I understand those reactions. If you’re one of those people, I say “you’re right – that’s a valid complaint. Also, don’t play baseball.”

On one road trip to Washington, D.C., after seeing the mall and the Smithsonian and everything else good and great around the city, some of us started to get bored. It was the second day we’d been there, just around that time when guys start getting slap-happy and someone does something crazy. Well, this particular time, that person was Lance, our left-fielding leadoff man, working in coordination with Mark, the backup catcher.

They bought Ex-Lax – neatly packaged in miniature chocolate bars.

But the execution of the plan was the real genius. They picked a target: Rob, the closer, the butt of a lot of the team’s jokes and a man with a beast of a temper. And then they struck – moving up from opposite directions, Lance with two full bars of Ex-Lax chocolate and one of Hershey’s.

“Hey Rob,” chirped Lance, “you want some chocolate?”

Rob was not buying it. “Yeah right,” he said. “You put something in there that’s gonna make me throw up or something.”

Mark popped over his other shoulder at the perfect time. “What? Rob, you need to relax, man. Not everyone is out to get you, you know,” he said, and grabbed a piece of chocolate from Lance’s hand.

Rob watched carefully as Mark put it in his mouth and chewed slowly. And that was that. They had him. Before fifteen minutes were up, one bar of the Ex Lax was in Rob’s stomach. The recommended dosage was one square – or two in cases of extreme constipation. Each bar had six squares.

Rob didn’t sleep all night. He was in the bathroom. All. Night. Long.

What made it worse was that his roommate, in fear of having his stash of porn discovered, had put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, which meant the maids had not replenished their toilet paper that day.

By midnight, Rob had run out of toilet paper and switched in desperation to hand towels, then bath towels.

He did his best to make his tormenters suffer with him though, screaming periodically from on the toilet, “Lance, I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!” Several times, after a few minutes of silence, the following yelled exchange occurred:

Lance: How’s it going in there, Robbie?
Rob: I’m going to beat the shit out of you, asshole!
Lance: [giggles] Oh, poor baby!
Rob: Ghaaaa! Fuuuuuck!

I don’t know what else to say. I laughed as hard as I could for each item in the next impossible sequence:

Rob’s roommate, who had left the sign on the door, got his karmic due when he took a shower in the tub where Rob had thrown the pile of used hand towels, which clogged the drain and left him unknowingly standing in a puddle of poop-water.

Rob was visibly waddling the next morning as he carried his bags to the bus, and when he tried to chase down Lance in the parking lot, he pulled up after four steps with a cry of pain.

Lance somehow managed to convince Justin, the 350 pound first baseman, to eat SEVEN squares of Ex Lax. For the next two days, Lance would ask him every hour or so, “So Justin, how you feeling? Pooping much lately?” And the answer was always no.

When Justin finally found out what he’d eaten, he just shrugged and said, “yeah, I’d been a little backed up, but since then, I’ve been fine.” Unbelievable.

On the trip home, I learned what the term “fruitbowl” meant, as well as discovering that it is possible for one man to urinate 40 ounces in a 7-11 cup. But I guess that’s a story for another time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

July 4ths Past and Present

Fourth of July weekend coming up, and I don’t know what I’m doing. I could either a) go up to our summer house on Lake Michigan with some of my brothers and sisters to rock out on the beach for three days, b) go up to Wisconsin to hang out with my cousin Jake, play golf, drink beer and play Polish horseshoes, or c) stay here in Chicago, go see the free Old 97’s show downtown and then head to my cousin Joe’s kegger at his apartment in Lincoln Park. Decisions fucking decisions.

Meanwhile, I love summer, I fucking love it. Some people complain about the heat; I don’t really have a problem with it. I actually don’t really mind sitting around and sweating. It’s a little uncomfortable, sure, but I never had a problem with “oh, ew, it’s gross, it’s getting on my clothes, it’s soaking up my armpits, everyone can see it.” Yeah? So everyone can see it. What? I’m sweating.

There’s always the debate whether the heat of summer or the cold of winter is worse – always at that critical moment: getting in your car. In the summer, it’s an oven; the heat smacks you in the face when you open the door, the steering wheel burns your fingers. In the winter, your ass is an iceblock for the first five miles of driving. I’ll take the heat any day. The freezing feet, the ice-chapped face, cheeks, nose, ears, fingers… yeah fuck that.

So I’m a fan of summer, big fan. And coming up to the Fourth as we are reminds me of the Fourth of July Weekend I had a couple years ago, I guess in 2006, my Wisconsin cousin Jake was living in town working at the University of Chicago, and we drank beer together a lot with my other cousin Jake who lives in Chicago and is the same age.

July 3rd, I think it was a Monday, was when all the haps were on, since no one wanted to be out all night on a work night. So after spending all afternoon drinking at the Taste of Lombard out in the suburbs where you bought beer with little paper tickets and then swinging by a party at the house of another cousin, we headed into the city around 10:30 to make bad things happen.

Quick side note: check out the Taste of Lombard sometime, it’s actually really fun. Decent bands as long as you don’t listen too closely, cheaper food than the real Taste even though it’s still way too expensive, and $3 beers or something like that, so you can get ten or so and not go totally broke.

Anyway, we headed in on 290 and then up into somewhere near the Wrigleyville area to meet with Wisconsin Jake’s ex-girlfriend and a bunch of her hot friends from the University of Miami and U Florida.

You’ll pardon me while I go on a tangent about Jake’s relationship with this girl, we’ll call her “Allie.” It’s hilarious. It was the weirdest relationship you’ve ever heard of, and a genuine testament to two things: first, you can really change a lot in four years, and second, ohmygosh you are literally fucking crazy.

Jake and “Allie” became an item sometime in their sophomore year in high school after a process of courtship that began, when, in Jake’s words, “I thought it would be fun to just pick out the hottest girl in the whole class and try to make her like me.”

It’s ok for Jake to say things like that because he has a new girlfriend now, and so he obviously doesn’t care about the old one.

And also, I can understand that impulse he’s talking about – it’s definitely something I’ve done before, and definitely the most fun part about a relationship: trying to get the girl to really, really like you. You don’t even need to like the girl, but it helps if she’s cute and it’s really intense if she’s considered ‘hard to get.’ You start slow, with a tiny bit of extra eye contact, knowing glances during drinking games, and pretending to like her favorite movie. And you want to know the secret killer move? It’s so easy, but I swear, so effective. Just use her name. Every time you’re talking to her, just say her name more often than you would in normal conversation. I don’t know why, but girls love this. Seriously, it’s dynamite.

After a while, if you’ve played your cards right, the girl is really going to want you – and not in a physical, lusting way (although probably that too) – she’s really going to want to be with you. It’s possible, and in some cases likely, that she’s already thought of marriage, already imagined your initials embroidered on a new set of his and hers bathrobes. She’ll talk about you to her friends, her mom, wonder if you’ve been hurt in the past and that’s what’s slowing you down, and wait for you to ask her out, which she thinks is inevitable.

Girls, you think this is classifying you as foolish, impetuous and petty. That’s not what I’m saying. Well, some of you. But the girls this game has been run on have not been foolish. They’ve just been overmatched. Some guys can do it, they really can.

When her friendships and her performance at work or school start to suffer because of how much attention she’s giving you, you’ve reached the point of no return. At that stage, there’s usually nowhere to go. Inevitably, she will end up disillusioned, crying at least once, possibly in need of therapy, and you may be missing a lamp or some other household fixture that she threw across the room, plus she probably slapped you and you might feel guilty.

It’s actually pretty easy to ride the storm out. All you have to do is… nothing. Ever. She’ll really really like you, you do nothing. She’ll ask you how you feel, you give some vague response. She might even ask you out, but you’re busy. Not that you don’t love hanging out with her, you’re just busy that night…. No, you’re busy that night too. But you’ll see her at the party this weekend, right? Awesome. Soon she’s not too sure of her feelings. This is when you either stop answering her calls, or if you’re a real dick, kiss her when she’s drunk. That’ll really fuck her mind up. But even so, after a few months (yes, unfortunately it does usually take that long), she’ll be over you. At least she’ll say so. She’ll probably need therapy to actually get over you.

But Jake lacked the discipline to pull the trigger before things got too serious. Plus, he started actually liking “Allie.” Before you knew it, he had a three-year relationship on his hands.

They shipped off to different colleges after graduation with vague plans (they weren’t together-together, but they still talked on the phone every night). I know, Jake’s such a pussy, right?

But those nightly phone calls dwindled to weekly, and when she came to visit second semester, things were just a shade different. Plus, I think that weekend, they got in a big fight and “Allie” went off and smoked a bunch of cheeba with people-that-weren’t-Jake.

Over the next however-long, the relationship tapered off. But they still considered themselves “friends,” as long as you include the quotation marks, and so when she happened to be in town for the Fourth of July 2006, it was of course a good idea to get good and liquored up and then meet at a bar downtown amidst a covey of friends to “catch up.” Good lord, I’m laughing right now remembering that night.

I wasn’t 21, which means you can’t drink legally in this country, but thankfully the first bar we went to didn’t card, so we snagged a table in the back and the two Jakes took turns going to buy pitchers while we waited for the girls. I remember being super nervous about being caught drinking underage, so to calm myself down, I was sucking down beer at an extra-quick pace. We all got drunk.

Soon the girls got there. They were about five of them, maybe? I don’t really remember. But there were some good-looking Florida-tan honeys among the bunch, including a tall redhead who was just my style.

In case you’re wondering, there’s not going to be any drama or fighting in this story, except Jake fighting to drive in a straight line and me fighting not to throw up out his window later.

The second bar we go to checks my ID and the fake is rejected. Shit. So we wander a block or so, and then the three guys, who have to go to the bathroom, gleefully do it in a crevice between apartment buildings directly across the street from Wrigley Field. Yes, I have pissed right across from the right-field ivy.

Thankfully, the second bar, a 5 am bar, takes my ID, and we’re in. Immediately, I head to the bar while the guys negotiate the girls to some open space in the back because the place is packed well past the point of fire hazard full. For the next two hours or so, Jake and Jake and I take turns heading to the bar to pick up six Bud longnecks, two apiece. At some point, Jake thinks shots of Jaegermeister are a good idea, and somehow in the bump and scuffle, I end up next to the cute tall redhead, cheersing and happy-fourthing.

Her name was Megan, she went to the University of Florida and she was an agnostic – that’s all I remember from that conversation. And then, after about a hundred “do it already’s” from Jake and Jake, I got her number and typed it into my phone, which had a broken screen.

I can just picture it now, and it’s an embarrassing thought: leaning up against the wall typing carefully and squinting hopelessly into a blank black screen. For all I know, the fucking phone was off the whole time. But then she called it and it vibrated and everything was ok. I think one of the Jakes gave me a high-five.

Next thing I know, the bar is closed and we are outside, where Wisconsin Jake is, I shit you not, trying to convince a crazy homeless woman to believe in God. This went on for about twenty minutes. Every time he thought he was making progress, she would just start laughing insanely, throwing her head back and cackling.

Eventually we dragged him away and started off down the sidewalk.

Jake and “Allie” were having a conversation and lagged behind the rest of the group, and Jake was up ahead, flirting and cavorting with the girls. I was in the middle, falling behind the main group. At first I thought it was because I wanted a view of Megan’s butt (which was terrific by the way – a little short on bosom, but perfect pear-shaped badonkadonk), but soon I realized it was because I didn’t know where the fuck we were going. “Where the fuck are we going?” I asked reasonably.

One of the girls shouted back that she knew or had a place right down the street where we could have a beer and then crash, but we’d have to be up and out early because her parents were coming to help her move at eight in the morning. I looked at my watch. It was 6:15.

After Chicago Jake and I discussed this fact (“an hour of sleep? Yeah fuck that.”), we slowed down enough for Jake and “Allie” to catch us and then waited until she decided to go talk to the girls. Then, without saying anything, we just started walking slower and slower, a collective thought of “this is retarded” gathering strength in our minds.

So we turned around, found Jake’s car, and swerved home under the rising sun. Yeah, about twelve miles.

But not before we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast sandwiches, where Jake tried to convince the cashier that his McMuffin had come without cheese and I laughed so hard that I literally fell off my chair.

I used to be such a badass.

Now I can’t even decide what to do this weekend.