Thursday, August 31, 2006

A dee-ba dee, That's all ffffolks.

When I started my job back in February, I had no access to anything. After a few days they enabled my Windows account so I could log in to computers. I was perfectly happy using the local admin account prior to this since no one could track my idiot surfing habits that way.

It took a few more days to get e-mail access and even more days to get access to the trouble ticket tracking system.

So that shows you how much importance they put on new people being able to do anything.

Tomorrow is the end of my two-week I QUIT, DAMMIT period. But, they already hired a guy and I have nothing to do since I refuse to order parts on the understanding that it could take two weeks to resolve any discrepancies within the whole Breaktek parts ordering via SAP system. So I called out sick on Wednesday because I was actually sick, but my boss thought I was making it up so he sent me an e-mail which said, "IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THURSDAY BE YOUR LAST DAY I'M FINE WITH THAT."

To which I replied:

O-FUCKING-K. SOUNDS GOOD TO ME, TURBY.

Then I didn't get a response. So I reconfigured myself anyhow and said I'm not working on Friday and that's the mindset I enacted.

Still this morning I had no response about if I was done today or done tomorrow. So I called my boss. He didn't answer. I called the other guy I work with. He didn't answer, either. So I sent that guy an e-mail to call me ASAP.

He called about 20 minutes later. I said, "Did you talk to that bosshole?" He said, "Yeah, I was just on the phone with him."

I said, "Did he say about today is my last day or anything like that." The other guy said, "No, he didn't say anything about that. But I just told him I quit." I said, "Good for you."

So then I called the bosshole. He said, "OH! I'm glad you called. You were two items down on my list. So then he says, "I'm fine with you working through tomorrow." And I says, "Well, I'm fine with me being done today." And he says, "I'm fine with that, too." So that was pretty much it. There was supposed to be some kind of exit interview, which I believe consisted of him telling me to leave my company fone with the other guy I work with. And that was it.

So, now with confirmation that I am not working tomorrow, I sent an e-mail to the people at the site and said TODAY IS IT. I'LL STAY THROUGH THE END OF THE DAY AND MONITOR THE CALLS BUT OTHER PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO ORDER PARTS.

And 20 minutes later I couldn't login to my e-mail. Two minutes after that it kicked me out of the call tracking system and said my account was invalid.

So I gathered up my headphones and my CD's and my book and my papers and my jug of Chik-Fil-A iced tea and I said, "See y'as zhnoop."

That place was actually an okay place to work. But, because of the situation of working for an ass.company of fuckheads, I will still have to close with:

Fuck that place.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Two obese Pattys...

McDonalds, in their life-long quest to make everything and everyone bigger, is now giving away Hummers with every Happy Meal.

No. I don't mean that kind of hummer. I mean little metal and plastic models of GM's gas-guzzling behemoth. So now they are not only teaching kids how not to chose the right foods, but they're also lending a hand in showing them how to lay waste to the planet and keep gas prices going up, up and up.

Fuck McDonalds. And fuck Hummers. That goes for the H2 and the mini-hummer and any other gigantic V8 monstrosity which can't fit into an oversized parking space.

If you need a ladder to get into your car you better be a truck driver. And I mean a real truck, with 18 wheels. Not a mini-tank which you can't navigate worth a shit and which you inexplicably SLOW DOWN TO A CRAWL to go over a tiny little bump in a parking lot. If you're going to drive an off-road vehicle and waste fuel efficiency by having the biggest, knobbiest, most friction producing mud bogging tires, then at least have the courtesy to bounce it over a few bumps instead of slamming on your brakes and causing me to spill my Chick-Fil-A nuggets on the floor.

Fuck.


Monday, August 28, 2006

How to make me happy in one easy step.

1. Click here:



Of all the reality shows out there, only one can can stop me dead in my tracks every single time, even if it's a rerun. These guys make me hurt I laugh so hard. The trailer is short - and half of it is build-up. The few clips in there are already giving me problems with trying to contain myself while I sit here at my desk knowing that if I explode from laughter from seeing a shopping cart or a huge rubber ball slam into something that I will have people coming over to investigate.

For my wife -- yes, Party Boy is in there.

Going too far.

I think I have actually done it. I'm over the edge.

You see, I currently have tap3 on my flinders. It's making it hard to type, actually.

Why do I have tape on my fingers, you ask? It's simple.

Snacks.

I brought a bag of snacks to work today. I tried some earlier and it just wasn't working out for me. I'm trying to combine activities to get the most out of my time here at work. The activities which are being combined are:

Monitor the actual work queue. This takes very little effort.
Read a book. Also, not much effort. Until you try to incorporate it with:
Eating a snack.

Some snacks might not cause problems. Cookies and brownies are fairly easy to keep off of your book. It's also pretty easy to keep the whole world from knowing you were eating them at your desk.

But, I've chosen a more conspicuous snack which sticks with you all day long if you aren't properly prepared.

I'm now prepared. I'm eating left-handed since I turn pages with my right hand. And my left thumb, index and middle fingers are capped with packing tape.

Now I can eat my Cheez Doodles and no one will be the wiser.

Handicapped

I have known something for a long time time now. I guess I've known it since around the time I sprouted up and started being taller than everyone else around me.

The fact which I learned early in life is this: The handicapped toilet is much more comfortable than the regular toilet.

Not only is there generally more space available to manuever around once you close the door, but the toilet paper is also a little further away from your leg so that you aren't constantly mashing it into the wall.

Being of beyond average height, the handicapped toilet really is just much more comfortable to sit on. When I sit on the regular toilet, I feel like I'm squatting down to crap in a hole in the floor. It stresses out my knees and if I sit there for too long (like when I smuggle in a good book or a thick catalog, or if there is a whole lot of interesting graffiti) then my legs fall asleep and it's very awkward trying to leave the bathroom afterwards.

Today, however, I had to use one of the regular toilets. Usually, I would just exit the bathroom and check on another floor if I came in to find that the luxury suite was already occupied. However, I could not do that today since there was some guy in front of the sink preening himself and he looked right at me when I came in. It would have been terribly confusing to everyone involved if I, having come lumbering in with my book half-hidden under my arm, were to suddenly turn about and rush out the door again.

So, I avoided eye contact with the primper and I entered one of the smaller poop areas. I was really taken aback at just how low the toilet was, and when I sat down on it I was certain I was going to hit the floor. But, no. I ended up on the low seat, with my knees poking up around my chin. Since I hate the non-handicapped toilet I quickly did what I had to do and finished up.

The other trouble with the sunken toilet is that I have to somehow contort myself and manage to fold in half in order to do the wiping action. I am too large for the constricted space of a standard shit box. I will not use one anymore.

As I exited the low-slung poo dungeon, I noted that I hadn't heard a single sound the whole time I was in there. No sniffles, no pages turning, no paper tearing, no feet scuffling, no belt buckle or change-in-pockets clinking. Nothing. Just me pooping.

I looked over to the closed door on the main attraction and since no one else was around, I peered through the crack. Nothing. Just an empty seat.

I pulled the door open so that no one else would be fooled by the devious practices of the one-who-shuts-the-door-on-an-unoccupied-stall.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Chocolate Crumbs

I just bought Pepperidge Farms Chocloate Chunk cookies out of the vending machine.

It was a toss-up between them and the miniature Famous Amos ones in the spiral contraption next door.

I made my decision based on the fact that I'm still kind of hungry and the Pepperidge Farm package said the cookies inside weighed about 0.12 ounces more than the Famous Amos ones.

So I put in my sixty cents and hit the button. My cookies dropped. I got them out of the slot.

Back at my desk, I opened the cookies and found that the package did not actually contain "2 Big Cookies!" as advertised. Rather, I have a small plastic tray full of cookie debris. I wish I had a camera because it looks so pathetic. I wish I had a spoon because it would make it easier to eat them.

Fucking dirty-ass vending machine.

Catterman

This is kinda dumb, but makes me laugh:

 

http://cathcat.blogspot.com/

 

The Dingle-Dangle


We had a name picked out for our baby a long way in advance.

The baby was out in the world for all of twenty minutes before I started calling him other things. He was blowing spit bubbles out of his mouth so he became "Bubble Bear." Which led to names like "Bubbles" and "Little Bear."

A few weeks later, Bubble Bear gave way to "Doodles." Doodles was transformed into "The Doodle," "Doot-Doot," and "Doodle-ooo," and "Doodle Bear."

More recently, I found myself laughing at something he was doing and I told him he was "The Dingle-Dangle."

When I sing him songs consisting of these various names, he smiles and laughs as if he's already aware of what an idiot his father is.

He's been working on talking for about six weeks now, and he can pull off a pretty good, "Hi." If you say, "Hi!" to him a few times he'll say it back. Sometimes, he'll see you and smile and then say it on his own.

Yesterday, I had him sitting on the couch next to me since he had been drinking a bottle and fell asleep. When he woke up about an hour later, he was working on some bubbles, as ususal, and he did something new. I can't be sure which one he said, since he's only 13 weeks old and he's got a brand new mouth with no teeth, but what I heard was, "Doot-Doot." The "D" was dragged out and bubbly, and he might have been saying, "Doodle," but either way, he surprised the shit out of me.

For the next hour or so we sat on the couch telling each other, "Hi, Doodle," and "Hi, Doot-Doot."

I will Sur-veev

I have been inspired by my surroundings. I have had a revelation of massive proportions, all due to the upcoming season of Survivor.

In my revelation, I see a world where white people can live in white towns full of white stores and go to white schools and white churches. In this world the blacks, jews, asians, arabs, latinos and gays can all have their own little towns, too. The white people will watch their white sports teams play other white sports teams and their children will grow up to be happy white people.

If you want to buy a burrito, you have to get a day pass and an escort to take you to Mexi-Cali, but you better be home by sundown or they'll lock you in and you might never get out.

The black people won't be allowed to eat at the white Burger King and the white people won't be allowed to chase after the asian women. It'll be all good clean fun and everyone will get along just fine. I'm sure of it.

Maybe the people who make Survivor should take a look at the fiasco surrounding the dingleberry who opened a restaurant called "Hitler's Cross."

Do they think people have somehow gotten over centuries of bigotry and hatred in the last thirty years? I think it's going to take a lot longer than that to breed out the strain of ignorant white trash who think it's a good idea to drag a man (black, gay, or otherwise...) behind a truck.

It's been twice that long since Hitler slaughtered millions and his face isn't even welcome in some backwater hole on the subcontinent.

So go ahead, show your idiotic race war on the television. But you better think twice about how it's going to affect Bubba and Bodean after they polish off a case of Milwaukee's Best lounging on the broken couch in front of the off-brand big-screen TV in the living room of their burnt-out trailer.

Bubba and Bodean might hop in the pickup, go snatch Bob and the other Bob out their respective trailers and go out prowling. They'll say, "Hey, d'joo see them niggers outscored the whites and the asians on Sore-vay-verr? Let's go teach one of 'em they can't mess with my TV shows like that."

Or maybe not. Maybe they'll see the irony of pitting race against race and they'll laugh out loud as it becomes clear to them that the bigotry that was passed down from their father (who also learned it from his father) is just oh-so ridiculous. Yeah, and maybe I'll find a million dollars in a box in my garage tomorrow.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Where are the heroes?

The post below regarding George W. Bush has reminded me of a thought I've had brewing for while now...

The terrorists are winning.

The proof is in the reaction to the latest "liquid bomb" scare. They've known this was a possibility for a long time. A very long time. Yet now people can't take their water or their shampoo or their goddamn coffee with them on a plane.

And the public outcry is nearly nonexistant. It's probably more accurate to say the public have become sheep, even more blind than ever before. The rumblings I hear now are along the lines of, "Well why is it such a big deal? You don't need to take that much stuff with you on a trip," or, "Whatever it takes to keep us safe, I'm for it."

Fuck that.

The goal of the terrorists is to change life as we know it - to strip us of our freedoms and our feeling of being safe in our own places. They are absoutely, undoubtedly winning in this regard. We do not feel safe in our own homes or cars or on planes full of other Americans. We lose more and more freedoms everyday, and the people just turn a blind eye, going about their day and hoping that when Christmas time rolls around their spouse buys them something nice.

As we sit around trying to get used to our new less-free, less-safe lives, the terrorists are achieving their goals. They are willing to sacrifice everything to this end, and it's why they have been so successful.

And really, I'm not telling you anything new here, but I want you to think about something:

Say you're on a plane and a group of hijackers announce they're taking over. There are several things which are a given in this situation. First, the hijackers will show their force. If they've managed to get some sort of weapon on board, they might threaten or kill a crew member. They will claim they have a bomb. The 9-11 hijackers made that claim to keep the passengers calm. But there wasn't a bomb.

There is a world of difference between a box cutter and a bomb. Somebody on those planes should have known the bomb was bullshit.

In the sense of some kind of mixable liquid bomb -- Even if these people get on a plane with some kind of makeshift device, they're going to have to get control of the plane before they can assemble and use it. They're going to use the threat of the device - which is not yet functional - to maintain the cooperation of the passengers.

If you sit there like sheep, you're going to die. If you give them the time to put their device together or allow them to take over the plane's controls, you are going to die. They don't want to re-route your Flight from London to Boston to Lebanon to secure the release of hostages. They want to cause a scene of death and destruction. They're willing to die to see this through.

The people on United 93 stood up to the terrorists. United 93 did not cause thousands of deaths. Yes, the people onboard died, but it's possible that they saved many more lives. I'm certain that if that plane had hit another U.S. target the emotional damage to the country would have been devastating. I'm proud of the people who gave their all to save so much.

And that's where you come in.

If a group of assholes tries to take over your flight, fucking take them down before they get started. Yes, you might get hurt. Yes, you might die. But if enough people stand up against box cutters and sharp bits of plastic then the major tragedies can be averted.

Use your laptop for a shield. Chuck some kid's gameboy at the dickhead holding a ball-point pen to the flight attendant's throat. Take these motherfuckers out and show them that you're not afraid to die for what you believe in.

If enough people have the conviction to stand up to these playground bullies, then eventually they will see that their actions do not affect us. If we're not afraid of them, then their "terror" becomes bullshit.

In this kind of situation, I would fight back at these fucking zealous idiots with everything I had. I would not stop until they had broken the last bone in my body and beaten the last breath of life out of me.*

If you can't say the same thing - if you would sit back in your seat, avoid eye contact and hope for the best... well, then maybe the terrorists are right. If we don't fight back we're all just a bunch of spoiled rich cowards trying to bully the world into seeing things our way.


____________


* and this is exactly why the situation in Iraq is the way it is. Pretend Iraq is a 747 flying from Baghdad to Madrid with a plane full of Muslims. In the eyes of the "insurgents" the U.S. led military forces in Iraq are the exact equivalent of a group of radicals at the front of the plane trying to break down the cockpit door so they can take over.

If I'm willing to die for what I believe, why is it so hard to understand that they're willing to die for what they believe?

The world is falling apart. George W. Bush is going to Kennebunkport, where he'll test his golf skills with Poppy.

This pretty much speaks for itself:

Dangerous Days

Instructions, please?

Say I get a headache and I find some medicine in the cabinet.

How do I go about using the medicine I've found to alleviate my headache?

I suppose I should mention the medicine I've found is in a little tube like a giant lipstick and the sticker on the tube says, "HeadOn."

So... does anyone know what I should do with this stupid shit?

I tried rubbing it on my armpits like deodorant but that didn't seem to do much for me.

Maybe this bit from Wikipedia sheds some light on why it didn't seem to work:

Chemical analysis has shown that the product consists of almost entirely wax. The two listed active ingredients: white bryony (a type of vine) and potassium dichromate are diluted to .000001 PPM and 1 PPM respectively.[2] At these levels it is unlikely that they have any effect.

I'm going to try rubbing it on more parts tomorrow.

How to do something else just as useless.

I put some links over there on the side. Look this way ----->

Squub is the home of I, which in this case is not a pronoun referring to myself. I is someone else.

Phoooiee is scared of bugs.

Liquid Pork Gun plays instruments of the Tooter family and is also related to Phoooiee.

Funky Smith knows Phoooiee from way back.

Lost in Translation

I think somewhere along the line something got fucked up.

People think the story about a boy crying "Wolf!" when there wasn't really a wolf is designed to teach kids not to invent bad things because when bad things actually happen people will never believe it.

I've learned the truth.

The origin of that story has to involve a woman rather than a boy.

And it doesn't involve a wolf.

Because, you see -- A kid in the woods seeing a wolf -- a wolf growling and with teeth bared, lips quivering... that kid won't scream or shout or yell or do anything as dramatic as what happens to me all the time.

Two nights in a row now, my wife has emitted a bone chilling scream which has made me think the baby must have fallen on his head and he's now bleeding to death out of the hole where his neck used to be.

However, there is no such disaster. No one has been hurt, no one is in danger. There is no problem whatsoever.

My wife's problem, and the source of the screaming which stops my heart dead in its tracks is much less threatening than any wolf or mortal injury.

Tonight, she saw a grasshopper. It was on the box of diapers she had bought earlier. Sometime in between putting it on the counter and eating dinner, the grasshopper had made its way to the box. My wife saw it from across the kitchen and let loose a horrendous screech, then she fled the room.

Last night there was a praying mantis on the wall near the door.

I don't know how these fucking things even get in the house - the mantis was really big - like too big to squash if I were the type of person who squashed bugs.

But, no matter the size, it's really not the type of thing to warrant a blood-curdling cry or the hours of huddling under the covers unable to sleep that ensued.

It's just a bug. What's it going to do? Eat you? I don't think so.

I picked up the grasshopper with my bare hand. Imagine that. I'm still OK.

Goddamn bugs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I hope this time I will wake up dead

Sentenced - www.sentenced.org

I wrote a whole novel while reeling from the effects of the last two or three Sentenced records. There must just be something about living half of the year in total darkness that puts sorrow, discontent, anger, and despair at the forefront of your creative energies. I've always felt a strong attachment to Sentenced's music - especially the last decade's worth when they replaced their original singer with a fellow named Ville Laihiala.

In 2005 Sentenced announced they were quitting - their final release "The Funeral Album" has logged almost as much time on my turntable (yes, the vinyl record playing machine) as my Rubber Soul or Abbey Road LP's.

So Sentenced is done. But it seems there are still sparks out there... Today, while busy at work, I found this:



It seems Ville Laihiala has a new band called Poisonblack. The production isn't as clear (at least on whatever streaming encoded shit YouTube uses for audio) as Sentenced, but the feeling comes through loud and clear.

I'll stop now so I can play it some more.

Johnny Paycheck

Out. Done. Finished. Over.

I sent my resignation e-mail on Monday.

My manager sent me one back stating he had accepted it and he appreciated that I gave a "professional two weeks."

WHAT THE FUCK IS A PROFESSIONAL TWO WEEKS?

See... here's the deal. I work for a company. They are involved in comptuter technology - primarily the so-called repair of computer technology. To protect the names of the innocent, we'll create a name for this company. Since it's computers, it should be something with "tech" but we'll have to change the spelling. And since they are in the repair business we'll have to come up with something witty on the front end. Like "Break-tek." Or "Dipshit-Tek." Or "Backwards-Bunch-of-Idiot-Assholes-Tek."

Like I said, I work for Break-Tek. They contract to companies and organizations to provide on-site service. I'm an on-site technician. At least for the next two weeks.

Since I actually respect the people who I see everyday - those being the company paying Break-Tek money (call that "AMOUNT A" ) for my services so that Break-Tek can pay me a salary (computed by dividing "AMOUNT A" by 2 and then giving me 5% of that amount.) - I did give a two week notice.

The last time I quit Break-Tek (I never learn...) I gave one week.

But anyway, now I'm stuck here for two more fucking weeks. And today is the worst so far. I've got salsa music coming out the cube in front of me and the guy two cubes to my right has, since my arrival, been my main source of hate. See, two-cubes-away-man has no inside voice. And he's on the phone ALL FUCKING DAY LONG.


But I won't have to deal with it any more. I'm outta here. Goodbye one-way hour and a half commute (on a good day) and goodbye worthless 1.5% raise.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bad with People, part 1

I once heard a song called, “I am Bad with People.” It’s was on some website. I don’t recall who sang it, but it’s a funny song. And it really describes my relationship with the rest of the human race quite accurately.

I am bad with people. I don’t do well in social situations unless I’m with someone I’ve known for a long time and then I just sit and crack inside jokes which cause the other people around some discomfort. I don’t mind if they feel left out. I feel that way most of the time.

I’m especially bad with people of the opposite sex. I always have been, but I don’t know why. Sometimes my interactions with and reactions to the opposite sex have been downright retarded. Actually, I think you could say that’s true of most such experiences.

I’m going to try to keep this chronological, but I’m certain to ramble. The tangents will be made as brief as possible. Please accept my apologies in advance.

My earliest memory of interacting with the opposite sex is, strangely enough, a good one. It’s one of the few good ones. As a very young child, I attended preschool at a local Methodist Church. The church was simply a place which had space. I don’t recall there being any religious aspect of my preschool. What I do remember is that it was called, “Humpty Dumpty School.” It’s still there today.

Humpty Dumpty School did not have a bus since the students were from a large surrounding area. It was the responsibility of parents to get their children to Humpty Dumpty School on time. Again, an anomaly here since I don’t remember being late to Humpty Dumpty School. Starting in 5th grade things would change for the worse in regards to ever being on time for anything.

My parents, through means unknown to me, managed to hook up with another set of parents who lived just up the road from us. One set of parents would take us to Humpty Dumpty School in the morning, the other would pick us up in the afternoon. The child which belonged to this other set of parents was a girl. I think her name was Leigh.

I can recall a cold morning in the backseat of a car. I don’t remember if it was her parents or my parents driving. But as I type that I stumbled upon another memory from that backseat – this one from a warmer day.

At this point in my short life I was able to count to ten. On the warmer of the two days being remembered here, Leigh demonstrated her ability to count to twenty. I quickly learned how to count to twenty with her, but neither of us knew where to go from there. We naturally made it to twenty-nine, which seemed to make whichever parent was driving happy with our reasoning, but after a time or two we kept going, even though we had no idea what was ahead. After twenty-nine came twenty-ten. And twenty-eleven. By twenty-twelve there was laughing from the front seat and the concept of “thirty” was offered to us. Our three-year-old brains were dumbfounded.

On the colder day being remembered here I recall Leigh, in her heavy winter coat, crossing her arms in front of her. This caused her padded coat to puff up.

“See,” she said, “I can make boobies like my mommy has.”

My coat was equally puffy, so I tried it, too. I achieved the same effect, which made her laugh.

I don’t know whatever happened to that little girl. I’m sure we remained friends through the rest of Humpty Dumpty School and we probably started Kindergarten together. But, my family moved a few miles away half-way through my year of Kindergarten. I went from West Side School to Bel-Air School. Not only was that a change in Elementary schools, but it was also a change of school districts. West Side School feeds Braddock Middle School which feeds Allegany High School. Bel-Air kids went to Washington Middle School and then on to Fort Hill High School. The really fucked up part was that I lived in a small area where every other surrounding neighborhood was in the other school district. So we weren’t friends with the kids who lived on the other side of the woods. As we grew up, undoubtedly our friends lived a half-hour across town.

Anyhow, I remember being invited to a birthday party at her house a few years later, but by that point I had a new batch of friends and I really felt like an outsider. I didn’t really remember who she was and I didn’t know any of the other kids, with the exception of Sean C., who would be a sort of in-and-out fixture of my childhood.

It wasn’t until I got to Middle School in the sixth grade that I ran into any of the kids I knew from Humpty Dumpty School. The back of my Humpty Dumpty School class picture shares a few names in common with my high school yearbook -- names like Robbie C., Michelle K., Chi B., and Matt K. There may be more but I don’t immediately recall anyone else.

The next member of the opposite sex to enter into my consciousness was a little blonde girl in my new Kindergarten class. Her name was Alison. Alison was definitely a flirt, as far as a five-year-old girl can be a flirt, and she seemed to genuinely like me. I went to her house for birthday parties or just to play whatever games little kids play.

I fought over the chair next to her at the lunch table with Michael T. blah blah blah .

Michael ended up losing his pear in the fray. It slid off of his tray and splattered on the floor. He raised quite a fuss about it and made one of the teachers go get him a new pear. Toward the end of lunch, the pear was still on his tray.

The teacher who had gotten him a new pear asked him, “Aren’t you going to eat that after I got it for you?”

He replied, “No. I don’t like pears.”

I only have one other concrete memory of Alison. I know there were lots of trips to her house, usually to play with a group of friends from school, but only one really stands out.

It was a beautiful summer day. We had played outside and made a fort, and we had played some games inside. As the day wore long, the group of friends dwindled to the point where I was the only boy left. The only other girl was named Tracy. We played a game of “Ditch Tracy” for a little while and somehow I ended up hiding with Alison in the downstairs bathroom.

She said she had to pee and told me I could watch but only if I sat under the sink. When she was finished she told me she knew that boys and girls were different but she wanted to see how. I found myself right in the middle of I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours. So we did. Tracy eventually figured out where we were and was outside the bathroom pounding on the door but we didn’t let it interrupt us.

I showed her mine and even let her watch it work as I made my own pee to mix with hers. I didn’t realize until years later that I got gypped when all she showed me was a bare patch of skin with no sign of the inner workings.

I never saw her again without her pants on, and I didn’t see her much at all after that. Soon after, she transferred to private school. The next time I heard her name was when someone mentioned she was dating one of the guys in my first band. They broke up before I got a chance to see her again.

In third grade, I met Cara. Cara was a cute little red-haired girl and I was hooked on her from the get-go. Cara lived in a big house on the other side of the neighborhood. It wasn’t all that far from my house – maybe a mile or two, but to an eight-year-old with a BMX bike from K-Mart it might as well have been a hundred miles.

Cara was friendly with me in school, but there was no real sense of boyfriend/girlfriend in third grade. You liked somebody and maybe they tolerated you or even sat with you and read a book, but that was about the extent of elementary school relationships. The only time you said you had a girlfriend was when your grandfather asked you, point-blank, “So, who’s your girlfriend?”

It was obvious to me that you –HAD- to have a girlfriend by the way I was constantly asked this question, so when I liked a girl I would give her name as my response.

Something inside me, however, told me there was supposed to be more to it. I had no idea what there could be, but I decided to ride my bike to Cara’s house one weekend.

I recall that my first attempt was unsuccessful. This was not due to any lack of trying on my part. I got on my bike. I think I had a backpack with some snacks and a drink for the long trip ahead. I made it to the end of my street, which was more like a bend and a name-change than an actual “end.” I made the mistake of pedaling up Michael T.’s driveway so that I could get a gravity-boost for the big hill which was the next obstacle on my journey.

As I reached the top of the driveway, my brother came out of our house, a mere two doors down the hill, and informed me that my dad was looking for me. I don’t remember why he was looking for me, but I do remember that it wasn’t good. I went back home to see what he wanted and found myself at the bad end of a beating. I don’t recall if I had lost his screwdrivers or if I had left a hammer on the floor or if I simply hadn’t cleaned up some toys. Whatever the case, I was done for the day. I was sent to my room, crying, and probably had as much idea why it happened then as I do now.

Either the next day or the next weekend, I resumed my task. I hopped on my bike early and took off without a look back. I didn’t try to double back for any speed boosts, I just made sure to get beyond the sight-boundary of our house as fast as I could.

This particular trip was unlike that you hear most people tell of their childhood. I did not have to go uphill both ways. I did have to go uphill half-way, however. It was about the time I reached the apogee of my journey that I had my first doubt. As I sat at the top of the hill, I knew the rest of the trip to Cara’s house was downhill. I also knew that if I turned around and went home that I was in for a tremendous downhill run. In that moment I realized that if I continued on, I would have to face the road from her house back to this point coming home, and that part of the trip would be uphill. I had never ridden my bike on that part of the road before. I knew the general elevation of it, but I didn’t know how steep, or how bad, it would be. After all, even at eight I realized that what you see and experience on a bike is far removed from what you see speeding by in a car.

I also didn’t even know if she would be home. My visit was a surprise. I suppose I hoped she would think it somehow gallant that I rode my bike all the way to her house. I’m so far removed from the child I was that I can’t really be sure of the thought process that lead to this endeavor. But I do remember how good I felt when I came to the decision to do it, even if I didn’t know how to get there until my mom helped me with the neighborhood map from little community phone directory.

I sat at that point for a minute or two. Maybe I drank a Pepsi or a Capri Sun. Maybe I ate a Swiss Cake Roll. But I knew in my heart what I had to do, so I let my bike roll down the hill away from my house and onto uncharted roads.

I passed places I had been driven by car and realized how far I had come. I passed the road which lead to Blair S.'s house. At the same point was Andy W.’s house. I had been driven to both of those places for birthday parties and to play with my friends and both of them seemed so far from home.

I made the turn down the gently winding road to Cara’s house and I didn’t have to pedal at all. The hill was long and it carried me swiftly to her door. I knocked, not knowing what to expect.

The door opened and Cara’s mom invited me in. I spent the whole day there, but I can’t remember what happened. I vaguely remember board games and Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I distinctly remember her father’s remote-controlled R2-D2 and I remember that his HBO box was mounted next to his recliner, within easy reach, rather than on top of the TV like ours. For those who never had one, an HBO box was the very earliest cable converter. If you set the knob in the middle, you could watch your regular TV channels. If you put it on channel three and turned the knob to the right, you got HBO. If you turned the knob to the left you got Superstation TBS. If you left it turned to the left and turned your TV to channel 2 you got WBFF from Baltimore, which had Captain Chesapeake. Captain Chesapeake played Speed Racer cartoons, so he was alright in my book.

Eventually, I went home. Someone may have come to pick me up, or maybe I rode my bike back home, I don’t recall. Sometime after that, I gave Cara a flower. Or maybe more than one flower. In return she gave me a Stomper™. Any girl who buys you a Stomper™ must really like you.

Not too long after this, Cara’s parents moved across town. She ended up in the other school district. I didn’t see her again until my senior year of high school. She played the flute in a small specialty orchestra which was made up of players from both high schools. Either she didn’t remember me or she ignored me on purpose. Despite several weeks of rehearsals and many performances I never got the nerve to talk to her and ask if she remembered me.

Cara moved away and my dad moved out right around the same time in my childhood. I’ve always wondered if I would have developed more confidence with girls if my dad had stuck around, but even before he split he wasn’t around much. And when he was home he tended to get pissed about something and send us to bed crying. But, as I lay this out for whatever reason, I’m confronted by the fact that up until this point my boy-girl relationships were healthy and about as successful as you could expect for a couple of little kids.

Fifth grade brought a lot of changes. I got to meet with a counselor who determined that I was mad at my mom because all she did was sit around and cry all day long. The counselor was the father of one of my friends, but I always felt comfortable talking to him. He pulled me out of class two or three times and I certainly recall feeling much better about myself after we talked.

When I was in fourth grade, the elementary school went up to sixth grade. That changed my fifth grade year. I was part of the first fifth-grade class which would graduate and go on to Middle School.

Also, for most of my fifth grade year I had the same teacher for every class. That teacher happened to be married to the counselor who had helped sort out my family issues. I was part of the “smart group” of kids in all of my classes, but fifth grade is when I started to falter. The disruptions at home affected my ability to concentrate in school and I took very little interest in math. I remember on one test I altered all of the division symbols to appear as plus signs and I completed the problems as if they were simple addition. I had no idea how to do short division.

During one math class, I was scolded for drawing race cars. I had perfected a three-quarter perspective view on stock cars and this particular masterpiece had two cars going into a turn and even had blurry lines on the track. This drawing was confiscated and I was told I needed to work on my math. Not allowed to draw, I concentrated on the only other thing in the room which interested me – a girl named Rebecca.

Rebecca had long, thick dark blonde hair. I can still picture it to this day. She had a delightful smile and I tried my best to figure out how to go on a date with her, but it’s just not something that happens in fifth grade.

I sent her Valentine gifts, called her incessantly to ask her to go to a movie, but the best I ever got from her was a sour face one day when I turned up at school with a cold sore.

The woman who taught all of my fifth grade classes that year was a terrific teacher. In one of our units we learned about student government and within the span of a single class period our newly formed student body had unanimously decreed that fifth graders should have access to the new playground equipment which had thus far been only a temptation on the other side of the glass doors. As a class we elected to go from zero play periods to a half-hour in the afternoon on the new playground.

She had a natural ability to get every one of us to grasp the information she was teaching, despite that we all learned at slightly different speeds. The only thing she couldn’t conquer was my utter lack of interest in math. If I had shown the slightest inclination I’m sure I would have done much better. After all, I never studied much at all though school. I was content to absorb what was thrown at me and, for the most part, it worked out just fine. The only problem was when I was switched off and ignorant to everything around me. There was no way to absorb any information in that state.

She also had an uncanny insight, which I still do not understand to this day. I had tried to play the trombone in the school band in fourth grade. I never practiced the trombone so that didn’t last long. In fifth grade I was given the opportunity to play the cello in the school orchestra. Since this one didn’t cost my mother any money she had nothing to lose by saying, “O.K.”

The orchestra seemed to do the trick. I guess it was the strings – something just felt right about playing a stringed instrument. I took to the cello very quickly and was soon teaching myself through the back of the book while the other kids were still stuck on the first three songs.

At the end of the year, we had an orchestra concert. There may have also been a chorus concert on the same program, but that could have been a different night. I performed in both and I remember when the show started I was standing in the front row with a huge fucking grin on my face. I was trying to sing around it, and trying desperately to –NOT- smile, but I knew in that instant that what I was doing was magical. I’m sure it sounded terrible. I’ve been to enough school concerts to know that fifth graders have no sense of intonation. But I felt a sense of being in the right place that I had never felt before.

I know the chorus concert was first. Whether it was the same night or not is irrelevant. I do know that when it came time to play my cello, which included a solo called “Pizzicato March” (think the meow-meow-meow-meow Cat Chow commercial song) I was not nervous at all.

After the concert, my teacher came up to me and congratulated me, then she pulled me aside. I don’t know what she saw, and I don’t even know if she saw it that night, but she took me aside and made me promise to her that I would not let music rule my life. I didn’t understand what she meant since I had just done a good job playing music, so she clarified that what I had done for school was good but that I shouldn’t get involved with rock bands and popular music. She explained to me (and this was something I did not understand, or even remotely fathom until I was about to graduate high school) that music is fine to listen to but that I should not let it dictate who or what I am.

As I look back, I recognize that she may have been reacting to my ability to write, from memory, the lyrics to Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys” for anyone who requested a copy, yet I couldn’t figure out what the fuck nine divided by three was supposed to equal. I distinctly recall her blowing up at me the next week in school when I showed up wearing a Duran Duran headband I had gotten from my friend Patrick.

I was safe for the moment. It would take another year and half before I let music completely take over my life.

Sixth grade was an eye-opening experience. I was tossed into Middle School with tons of kids I never met before. My first day, I found myself in my homeroom – room 113 down at the end of the hall by the auditorium. For some reason Gary B. was also in room 113. All the other kids from our “smart kids” fifth grade class were here with me, along with a bunch of people I didn’t know. Gary B. was the only kid from Bel Air School who was not from the “smart kids” group. Gary B. was, first and foremost, a troublemaker. And, true to form, he started off the day picking on me. I didn’t back down, and had not yet learned that some things are better unsaid when there are girls present. Maybe that is another factor in my inability to relate to any girls in middle school. Then again, maybe not.

Eventually, Gary B. was dragged off to whatever hole he was supposed to be in and things slowly got underway. We were in a new school with a new schedule and something called “sections.” Like golf, the lower your section number the higher the quality of your classmates. I was in 6-1. I liked being in 6-1. Everything was on the fast track. There was no waiting up for stragglers who didn’t grasp the concepts we were being taught. Those who lagged too far behind got dropped a section. And, for some odd reason, the sections dropped in pairs. Odd numbers always stayed odd. Even numbers always stayed even. They said this was because 6-2 was basically the same as 6-1 but they had to split the group up because it was too large. But we all knew better.

In sixth grade I was reintroduced to some old acquaintances. Robbie C. and Matt K. from Humpty Dumpty School were banging around somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-3. Michelle K., also from Humpty Dumpty and who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, was designated as the school slut. Hindsight tells me this is most likely due to her specifically refusing to do the things she was “heard” to have done.

In Mr. King’s science class, I also got to know a little pipsqueak of a kid who had skipped a few grades. He liked to go out on the playground after lunch and eat wild onions. That he chose to swivel around in his chair in front of me and blow onion breath in my face did not make for the best of introductions. Somehow, however, he is the closest friend I have today.

I didn’t really fall for any girls in sixth grade. A girl named Nicole, who bantered with me in the hallways a few times in the first weeks of school, comes to mind. I believe it was Mike T. who told her I liked her. I had never even met the girl before, it was just one of those tormenting kinds of things that he was good for. I remember she was tall, and her dark hair was pulled back with two barrettes which had her name on them. She was in a different section so I didn’t see her very much.

But, as I type this I am reminded of two girls from the school bus. Both of them were older. One of them had something about her which drew me in like a magnet. I think her name was Jennifer. She was in eighth grade. This time I made the mistake of telling Mike T. I liked her. All of the other kids tormented me about it for weeks. They pushed me to sit with her, or to try to talk to her. I would freeze and not know what to do.

One afternoon on the ride home, she came to my seat and sat down next to me. She said she was sorry that the other kids bothered me so much. Then, without warning, she kissed me on the cheek. This lead to a lot of hooting and hollering from the back of the bus amidst calls of “check to see if he has a boner!” I weathered this torment as I did all the other shit. Jennifer, if that was even her name, didn’t ride my bus any more after that year. Last I recall, she got pregnant in high school.

I think it was just after the kiss that Beth L., another eighth-grade girl from the bus, asked me to dance with her at a school dance. I obliged her and we did our awkward adolescent circle-walk to a slow song. Since she was part of the group at the back of the bus which tormented me I never trusted that she was seriously interested in me. She did sit next to me on the bus a few times, but I determined that I wanted nothing to do with her if she hung out with people who were mean to me.

Watch out for those fucking commas.

Tom Smith.

Bill Bugglesnatch.

Adam George.

Up there are the names of three fictional people. I just made them up. (So in case you actually have one of those names, I'm not taking about you, fuckstick.)

I am talking about the people who can't read.

When Tom Smith sends you an e-mail, you might get something which looks like this:

FROM: Tom Smith{tsmith@poop.com}

Some people might not have their mailer configured properly, so you might get something like this:

FROM: OUTLOOK USER{bugglesn_2006@hotmail.com}

And if it's from a company account, it might even look like this:

FROM: George, Adam{adam.l.george@cooters-inc.com}

So... now.

When you get an e-mail from Adam George at your job and he wants to come and fix the noisy printer you've been complaining about, you should at least be kind enough to NOTICE THE FUCKING COMMA and respond to his e-mail in a proper manner.

You can reply with:

Come now. I am here.

Short. Simple. To the point.

OR. You can reply with:

Adam:

Please come now to fix my printer. It is driving me totally batshit.

Thank you.

Molly

BUT, what you SHOULD NOT DO is reply with:

George:

I am going to be in my office at 2 PM. Please come at that time to look at my printer.

Thanks,

Myrtle



First, you don't ever close a letter with just "Thanks," Put a "you" after it and then a period.

Second, when two names are separated by a comma THEY ARE OUT OF ORDER.

HOW HARD IS THAT TO UNDERSTAND? I mean, really now, people. Pay attention. GET YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR DIRTY ASSES AND RE-READ YOUR ENGLISH TEXT BOOKS. Actually, it would probably be more accurate for me to encourage most people out there to simply READ, rather than re-read it, since they likely skipped it the first time around.

So yeah, watch out for those commas. You never know who's going to go ballistic when you use their last name as a friendly greeting.