29 September 2011

Regrets Abound

I've done some dumb things. I've done liquid diets and blown my savings trying to historically recreate the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz. I confess that back in my drinkin' days, I got behind the wheel when I had no business doing so. The list could go on for a pretty long time but I'll cut to the chase.

I have tattoos. And out of five, I'm only interested in retaining two. The tacky sun/moon combo on the top of my foot, the eye of Horus (or, also commonly known as B17 on the flash poster) on my ankle and the remnants of a horrible relationship on my shoulder have all overstayed their welcome on my body.

Unfortunately, these new-fangled "lasers" that allegedly remove tattoos no longer welcome are quite pricey and well above my pay grade. I've resorted to using the old timey method of tattoo removal called TCA. Yes, I'm applying acid to my skin to burn away the ink I already suffered for once. It's a little crazy.

The process goes like this: dip a Q-tip in a 30% solution of trichloroacetic acid and rub it vigorously over the offending tattoo. Wait 30 seconds to 3 minutes or until the skin is in such pain that time is of no consequence whatsoever and, hopefully, there is a clear path to an empty bathroom and the water is colder than a witch's nose. (I keep it clean. My mom reads here.) Within a couple of days, mild blistering *may* occur, the skin will dry and peel and the ink will begin to break down. I will have to repeat this cycle another six times to see appreciable fading. It hurts, it's ugly and it's probably yet another really bad decision. But, this is the only option I have right now. Que sera sera.

To my young friends and readers, I suggest piercing. Damn right! Punch holes in everything you got! Go see Stan at Cheap Trx and tell him you want one of everything and two of a couple things. Get jewelry with spikes and dangling crystals on it. Horrify your parents and shock your friends! Get indignant with potential employers about your freedom of expression. Pierce. It. All.

And when you grow tired of everything in that last paragraph, take out the metal, put the barbells and rings in a drawer and go about your business like it never happened. You still want ink? Go down to Art Monster on Cherokee and have them airbrush whatever you want on to a shirt or helmet or some Chuck Taylor All Star hightops.

Meanwhile, I'll be home burning off layers of my skin with toxic chemicals I bought off of Amazon. Not a good look. Not a good look at all.

11 April 2010

Your "Comfort" is Making Me Uncomfortable

If you wear shorts, prepare to be offended. (That's as much of a disclaimer as I'm going to offer.) Shorts being defined as a lower body garment with holes for each leg but any fabric covering the actual legs does not extend below the knee.

By my calculations, only 3 percent of the United States population is capable of wearing shorts properly. I see young women who refuse to admit that they have saddlebags at 19 (blame your genetics, you can't do a thing about it)wearing what amounts to a denim diaper and women who can't pack it into one movie theatre seat proudly strutting out in the spandex version. Grandpas everywhere pull their polyester shorts from Wal-Mart up to their man-boobs and my brothers in the neighborhood sag the plaid and I've more than once thought they were wearing their jammies.

Shorts look cute on the following people: kids at summer camp, soccer players of any age and any person, regardless of how ill-fitting, doing landscaping work in their own back yard. If you do not fall into any of these categories, please do not wear shorts. And, as a gentle reminder, if you violate this prohibition and wear cotton shorts that feel like they *might* be bunching in the crotchal area- they are. And we can all see how hungry your nether regions are because your privates are eating the shorts.

Might I suggest a lovely and cool linen pant? Perhaps a breezy cotton skirt? A flowing summer dress is flattering, quite comfortable and will adequately mask the orange peel residing on the back of your thighs. Men, I will give you a pass for some longer, cargo style shorts but only if there isn't an implied trade between seeing your lower leg AND the crack of your butt. Shorts are equipped with belt loops.

Believe me, when you see the pictures from the barbeque up on facebook, you will thank me.

05 March 2010

Gimme the Hope! Gimme the Change!

I was down for hope. And I was certainly up for change! It was in the spirit of “Yes, We Can” I geared up with voter registration cards and Barrack Obama literature and hit the streets two summers ago. Optimism flowed from my every pore.

But flash forward a year and a half and I feel like the kid at the carnival who throws his hardest pitch at the propped up platter, only to learn after the fact that the plate is made of plastic and he just wasted his five bucks on balls instead of enjoying a sugary funnel cake.

I have a kid running around with no health insurance because she doesn’t qualify for Medicaid, her job doesn’t offer it to part-timers and university plans are still too expensive and offer the equivalent of catastrophic coverage only.

While I am fortunate to have a job, I feel a certain amount of “survivor guilt” because the majority of my highly qualified and certainly educated friends do not.

I stand in line at the grocery store with families who are putting back staple items because they don’t have enough money to cover the final bill. There have been a few times I’ve covered the shortage out of the aforementioned survivor guilt. Call it the Shop N Save Bailout Program.

So, no. I am not pleased with the administration I campaigned for, voted for and trusted to put a cover over me and my fellow man. The promises have remained largely unfulfilled and, while I find President Obama to be a dynamic personality and enjoyable speaker, I can’t proudly slap a “Yes, We Did” bumper sticker on my ride.

But, it’s not too late! If I speak out about my personal hopes and changes someone will hear. If you and I, as citizens and humans, voice our dissatisfaction with current domestic policy and the fact that our military still occupies Iraq, we will be heard.

My voice alone is loud but if we speak together it will be stronger. If ten of us join forces and voices we will be noticed. If one hundred mouths speak the same words we will rattle windows. A thousand yells will prompt action and a million shouts cannot be ignored.

I will not be ignored. ARE YOU WITH ME?

07 February 2010

Waste Not, Want Not

I have cable TV for two reasons. First, it makes my internet cheaper. Second, I do enjoy the Food Network. One of my favorite shows is Chopped. The basic premise is to give 4 chefs/cooks a basket of odd ingredients and see if they can make something edible out of the miscellany within 20 minutes.

Sometimes they freak out and pull an “I can’t WORK with this!” routine. When this happens I cuss the wuss out via my television and tell them to rinse the sand out of their bikini bottoms.

My kids and I have been living at varying degrees of single-parent poverty for a really long time. The mortgage has never been late but there have been many a night when the pantry contained the barest of ingredients and it was the dregs or hunger. We learned to adapt and be creative out of necessity.

After a while, it became almost a game for my oldest kid. I often challenge her. “Chopper, we have garbanzo beans, curry powder, strawberry jam and one dried out portabella mushroom. Can we squeeze dinner out of that?” More often than not, she scoffs and calls me a “weeney” for my lack of vision. In 10 minutes she can make something out of almost nothing that will feed a party of six and does a pretty fine job of it.

Hopefully, I’ve armed them a life skill and an appreciation for (on a good week) fine ingredients and (on a bad one) ingredients at all. My mom’s basic grocery list included eggs, cheese and bread. We always had those things and I learned to use them in a hundred combinations. I’ve passed along to Chopper and Runt a relatively constant supply of jasmine rice, butter and coconut milk. Different list but same philosophy.

To date, none of us have starved to death.

21 January 2010

Wrap it Up, I'll Take 'Em Home With Me

I am a child of the 80's. I had the waterfall hair, the parachute pants, the Jessica McClintock prom dress. My music was largely Duran Duran, Madonna and Culture Club. I drove a red-orange Dodge Omni 024 with a sunroof although my dad will swear on a stack of bibles that it was a Charger. Nancy Reagan was pitching "Just Say No" rhetoric while Ol' Ronnie was involved in much more nefarious deeds than weed and club drugs.

Safe sex was a big deal. AIDS and HIV were our teen aged boogeymen. Suddenly, getting pregnant wasn't the worst case scenario of unwrapped sex- dying was. There was much talk of how to protect oneself against this horrible disease. But the real rub was that nobody actually HAD condoms. Sure, we were supposed to keep them on our person at all times, but nobody every did. They were still hidden behind the counter at the drugstore and we resorted to the dark, dismal free clinic located in a creepy basement to get a very limited supply.

Even if someone got their hands on a rubber (as we called them), there was epic embarrassment in trying to bring up the topic with sexual partners. Most of the time, the latex sat in the glove compartment, the purse or the wallet out of sheer discomfort and nervousness.

Last weekend, a friend was looking for some action. Hey, a consenting adult with no significant and committed partnership is entitled to get some nookie if she/he can find a willing party. Said willing party was located and this exchange occurred between the layer and the layee:

"Do you have condoms?" Yes. Yeah. I think so. Hm, nope.
"Well we have to get some." Yeah. But can you cash a check for me? I need cash to buy them at a gas station or something.
"I have six dollars. Is that enough?" Should be.
"Ok. You can go get them and I'll wait here." Well, I don't have a car. Can you give me a ride to get condoms?
"Yes. Let's go."

And they actually went! And bought gas station condoms! And did it! And by "it" I mean they had sex with gas station condoms purchased with their last collective six dollars after a rubber-run!

I supposed I was sufficiently embarrassed enough for all parties. But let's chalk one up for safety! Yay!!

11 December 2009

What to Do About Jesus?

Some years ago, my kid took a missionary trip to build housing in one of the Mexican towns on the edge of Texas. I asked her to bring me a Jesus on the Cross, similar to the ones I had seen in the tiendas on Cherokee Street in St. Louis.

These crosses are formidable. They are made from very substantial, solid wood and the J.C. figurine is detailed and also quite large. I have seen them the size of a notebook and I have seen them the size of, well, Jesus. Either way, it was no small request to ask her to haul Our Lord and Saviour across the border and back to the Gateway to the West.

But, she did it for me and arrived Stateside with the requested icon. Certainly larger than a breadbox but not so big as to scare off burglars or prompt calls to the police from concerned or frightened neighbors. I hung it on a wall in my bedroom.

His hands were the first to go. I really have no idea what happened, only that, in retrospect, I should have called in a Holy Man of some variety as soon as I noticed his mitts were disintegrating. For lack of a better idea, I "supported" the figurine to the cross using a rubber band from some broccoli. That may not have been the best course, either. The elastic snapped and sent the porcelain form skidding across the bedroom floor. Now I had a Jesus with missing hands and feet that could not be affixed to the wood. Nor did I have any religious advisor to tell me if there was a proper method or protocol for reassembling the piece. A quick glance at my watch told me that lightning was due to strike at any moment.

What does one do with a broken Jesus? Gorilla glue it together? Bury it somewhere? Donate it to St. Vincent DePaul and hope I'm not struck dead for putting it in a Hefty kitchen trash bag with pants that don't fit anymore?

Next time the kid goes to Mexico I'm just going to ask for some poor quality, bootleg DVDs.

Oh the Times, They Are A'Changing

You may look back a few entries to the one where I proudly proclaim, "I'm back!" Feel free to taunt me with an approriate "Liar, liar. Pants on fire." I deserve it.

But the masses have spoken and demanded my return for real this time. (Thanks, Mom!) So, here is my pre-posting update so y'all can catch up, get hip and just dig it.

Harford Coffee was sold and my close friend gave me a gig leasing residential property. This is an excellent job for me because I do not have to wear pantyhose or any variety of uniform provided by Cintas. It's also a great situation because I get to interact with all walks of life and generally clown all day and get paid to do it.

Chopper is 18 and going to college. She could easily be America's Next Top Model only her snark is much more understated than those rookies that Tyra is coaching. For my old HCC pals, you've seen Michaela around town a million times and probably wondered how a young woman with so much sophistication landed in St. Louis.

Val is an outstanding student, a cheerleader, a competitive diver and a careful driver. Alas, she hasn't dragged home any young man who deserves her company yet. I have threatened a few with my Louisville Slugger and a shovel. No, I've threatened ALL of them with the slugger/shovel combo. It's my obligation as her mother to mortify her.

When I'm bored and starved for attention I still perform in community theatre. You know, so I can clown and NOT get paid for it. Volunteer clowning for the amusement of the people. I am also trying to wiggle my way onto the Marine Villa Neighborhood Association board because I feel a call to get my 'hood working together toward a greater good and I'm pretty sure I'm just the man for the job.

Some things are different and some are just the same. But, nothing is as certain as change.

Stay tuned for some stories, some giggles and some social commentary provided by yours truly.

23 December 2006

Dying of Thirst

Three hundred miles away and what do I miss most about St. Louis? Iced tea.

I guess one could say I drink a lot of tea- pretty close to a gallon a day. But I'm an iced tea snob and it can only come from a few sources if it's to be really good iced tea. Hartford Coffee and the south county Hardee's both make a drinkable tea but the supreme iced tea maker, the exhalted beverage dispensing king of them all, is Quick Trip. Any Quick Trip, at that! Extra large cup, filled with crushed ice (you know, because at QT I have the option for crushed or cubes-another bonus)gurgling with unsweetened, freshly brewed tea made with filtered water and seven packets of Splenda. Dayum, I miss that.

In a moment of adventurous weakness, I purchased a diet raspberry flavored Snapple from Walgreens and promptly wretched upon opening the bottle. 'Twas too vile to touch my lips. It smelled like skraight-up vomit.

So, I'm back to my former fave, Diet Coke, until I can get the hell out of the state of Indiana and back to the things I love the most...like QT iced tea.