Saturday, December 31, 2005

An Early Happy New Year

I'm taking a quick break from more party preparations and realized that it's getting late and the likelihood of posting again today is slim. Sooo...

Happy New Year to everyone, and cheers to all my new blogger friends and readers! I really have a lot of fun doing this--mostly due to each of you that take an interest in my mostly boring life.

Best wishes in 2006!

Friday, December 30, 2005

More Getting Ready

Getting ready to have people over is very serious business. There are lots of things you've got to get EXACTLY right. For example:

You've got to have the right hat. And the perfect goofy look to go with it.

And then you've got to have goofy friends to match.

Then you've got to find the perfect place for the spinning DJ lights.

And then the swirly ceiling lights.

And finally, you've got to get the spirits aligned.

Getting Ready for the New Year

Tomorrow night I'm having a few friends over for New Year's Eve. I'm REALLY excited about it. It started when my friend Doug said "Hey, let's do something together on New Year's," followed shortly by "just something small for our close group of friends." But you know I can't do just any ol' get-together. I'm going all out. Invitations, caterer, party hats and even a stripper. [Of course, since I'm on a budget, I'm doing the stripping myself.] OK, just kidding. No stripping. Well, unless...

More to come on documenting the event. But for now, the invitation...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Peek Pic 22

New chairs for the living room!

Commence the Shopping

Now that the shopping for friends and loved ones is over, I can start looking around for a few things for myself. Today I'm heading out into retail hell and to pick up a few things I've been wanting to get. Here's my shopping list for today:

--New chairs for the living room
--Mirror (or art) for above the fireplace
--Something to wear for New Year's Eve

Hopefully today's peek pic will be my new chairs sitting in the living room. They BETTER fit in the back of the SUV, because I've got a flaming need for instant gratification.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rental Cars

I hate rental car companies. They are the absolute scum of the earth. They are worse than car salesmen, realtors and Jehovah's Witnesses combined. I find their business practices to be unethical, inconsiderate and downright intimidating. Now I realize that someone with a blog named PlaysWellWithOthers probably shouldn't do a lot of ranting, but in this case, I think it's warranted. Here are a few of the things I don't like:

The insurance. How am I supposed to know what my policy covers vs. what their policy covers? Insurance laws--especially for rentals--vary from state to state. When they ask me if I want it, they almost always say, "Are you SURE you're covered?" I almost never am. Sure that is. I think. Maybe. Most of the time I see/hear experts that say the car rental policy is unnecessary, so why do I have to encounter such confusion (aka extortion) at the reservation counter? Here's a customer-focused tip: Factor in your insurance premiums--at cost plus reasonable margin--into your prices and spread the cost over everyone and quit bothering me with this.

The gas. This is an unbelievable inconvenience, even with their vast array of options. First, I have the option of paying upfront for a full tank of gas at regular prices, even though there's a very good likelihood I'll get screwed by doing so. I also can fill the tank myself at a gas station within two miles of the airport, even though I have no friggin' idea where these gas stations are, and even if I were inclined, I'd have to drive around forfivee miles just to find them. [Oh, and don't forget your receipt, they need documentation to make sure they're not getting ripped off. God forbid!] Last, I can always just turn in the car with however much gas is in the tank; however, I'll pay $6.43/gallon (wait--didn't they just offer to sell it to me for market price?). Another customer-focused tip: Start a marketing program like "Turn in your car with however much gas you have left. We'll fill it up at market prices!" I mean, you don't charge me extra to wash it, do you? Or put air in the tires? Or oil?

The contract. EIGHT. That is the number of times I had to sign the rental contract. Seven initials, one full signature. There is absolutely no need for this (but maybe I should have an attorney validate this point). From the little I know about contracts, ONE signature will do. I think this is nothing but pure intimidation. Have there been studies to prove that people that sign eight times are much better drivers than those that sign once? Ridiculous. I mean, I could borrow the full amount of the car online WITHOUT a signature. How much does a Dodge Stratus go for these days anyway, like $1,000? Geez.

The walk around. This is when you are handed a card and a barely sharpened pencil and told to document every scratch, dent and ding on the vehicle. First, why the hell can't THEY do this? Can't they have an itemized list ready for me to sign? Why do I have to take my valuable vacation time to look over their cars? Aren't they going to do it anyway when I return it? And how many times have I had to do this in the dark? This is more blatant intimidation under the guise of "getting me" if I scratch their car. Hey--guess what: scratches happen. Sometimes they’re not even my fault. Factor your "scratch risk factor" into your prices and quit making me walk around in the freezing cold with a flashlight for something that no one looks at when I turn it in anyway.

Oh and another thing: I'm getting really tired of walking to row number 43 to get my "Gold Club" rental car. Think of it like this: if EVERYONE is Gold, NO ONE is Gold. I want my car on the front row three steps from the door. The heater better be on, the trunk better be open and there better not be ONE fucking scratch on it! I mean, after all, I signed my LIFE away for this stinky under-powered American piece of crap.

There. Now I feel better.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Peek Pic 21

Drinking and driving is BAD. However, feel free to buy
some booze at the drive-through liquor store.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Index 2005

Average number of naps I've taken, per day: 3
Total number of chocolate chip cookies eaten (so far): 157
Number of Ambien I've swallowed: 4
Maximum number of children in the house at one time: 6
Showers I've taken: 2
Text messages I've received (at .10 each): 249

Gallons of Diet Dr. Pepper consumed thus far: 16.4
Trips to Wal-Mart: 3

Price of one trip to Best Buy: $764.18
Ratio of gift cards given to children by me: 1:1
Number of fur-lined leather dog coats Casey got for Christmas: 1
Number of fur-lined leather dog coats Casey will hate to wear: 1
Poll that thinks Barbie Hair-Do set looks like Jessica Simpson: 8 out of 9
Number of sports games on TV while here: 16
Number I have watched: 0
Pairs of socks received for Christmas: 4
Pain in my lower back prior to arrival in TX: 0
Pain in my lower back after sleeping on sofa in the study (on a scale of 1-10): 9.8
Number of times Mom has asked if I wanted something to eat: 16,294
Number of times I've said Yes: 14,258
Number of times I've felt like vomiting from eating too much: 3
Number of movies watched: 4
Number of Wal-Mart gift cards given upon advice of sister-in-law: 2
Times I was told Wal-Mart "sucked": 3
Minimum number of times I rolled my eyes at my brother: 114
Number of my five nephews that bear one of my names: 0
Number of times daily I remind my brother and sister of this fact: 10

Bob the Boyfriend

Every year we have something they stays etched in our minds about the current holiday season. This season, it was Bob. Bob is the boyfriend/man-toy of my mother's oldest sister, Joyce, who after 30 some-odd years of marriage, recently found herself an eligible divorcee. They met as neighbors in one of the local "retired, but not dead" communities. They attend dances together, travel, go to movies, etc. etc. One of things they've recently taken up is painting.

Admittedly, Joyce has had a long career in painting as really is quite good. Bob, however, is just learning. And while most amatuers readily admit their novice status and usually beg for understanding when presenting their work, Bob suffers from the inability to see that his work sucks. And I mean REALLY sucks. To make matters worse, Joyce encourages this behavior by telling him it's good. So much so that this Christmas Bob decided to my parents a gift of his creation. A serious gift. As in "I am giving you this to hang in your bedroom as a celebration of your love" kind of gift.

Now, I'm no art expert. And I generally shouldn't laugh at anyone trying to be artistic, because I'm about as artisitic as a rock. But boy-o-boy, you gotta see this to believe it.

The original:

Bob's interpretation:
And the laughs just keep on comin...

A few Christmas pics

Happy Holidays everyone! Here are few random pics from Christmas dinner.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Peek Pic 20

The layout of my parent's neighborhood is set on top of former working pecan orchard. This is what the kids have picked up out of the back yard so far this year (at $5/bucket).Anyone want some?

Good news!

I've been promoted!

Things are different here

There are nine of us staying in my parents house over the holidays. Five adults, four kids. One of the things that I've noticed is how different a house of nine is than that of a house of one. So far, here are the things I've noticed here that don't usually happen at my house:

--$400 grocery bills
--Loud, unexpected noises
--Sports watching
--Elephant selling
--Video games
--Sleeping on the sofa
--Waiting for the bathroom
--Running in the house
--Being waited on
--Being cooked for
--Sword fighting
--Gutteral laughing

I could get used to this...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Peek Pic 19

Even when I am on vacation, I'm unable to appropriately distance myself from my usual responsibilities of creating new and exciting business opportunities. In this case, I have served as the primary business consultant to my niece's newly opened "Elephant Store." We're already talking about franchising.

In spite of...

--In spite of the fact that my ride to the airport flaked out on me, and that there were approximately 150 people in line ahead of me 25 minutes before departure time, I got on the plane in time (that's a story for another day).

--In spite of unbelievably acute gastrointestinal distress at a time when I was unable to leave my seat on the plane, I made it to the San Antonio airport restroom just in the nick of time.

--In spite of having my luggage confiscated by Midwest officials due to my untimely but necessary stint in the San Antonio airport restroom, AND being paged over the airport system to "report to the Midwest ticket counter," I eventually got my bag.

--In spite of heavy traffic, and slow-moving trucks pulling trailers of hay, AND driving in gear "2" rather than gear "D" for about 20 miles, I eventually made it to my parents house.

But it's all worth it, because now I'm getting to spend quality time with my Dad while we listen to his favorite Enya CD. No TV, no kids. Mom's on the phone in the other room. He's leafing through the sports section, I'm blogging. We're intermittently chatting about computers and planes and rental cars and country music and Ozzy Osborne and bowl games and movies and sleeping arrangements. Important topics, indeed.

While we do this, we are also having another bonding moment--the supreme responsibility of "keeping an eye on the cookies" in the oven. We decided to approach this task as a team.

Dad: [Wearing an oven mitt in the colors of a Holstein cow] OK, how do you tell when they're done?

Me: [Not looking up from the laptop]. When the smoke alarm stops.

Dad: No, seriously. I can't tell.

Me: Are they brown?

Dad: I think they're sugar cookies, so they may not turn brown.

Me: Oh God, then we're screwed.

Dad: Go get your mother.

Ahhh, how I cherish these little moments. I only wish I had been watching for them sooner.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Peek Pic 18

Guilt in a can, as prescribed by my personal medical professional.

Rat Race

As I look ahead in the checkout line at Best Buy, I wonder where all these goddamn people hide at other times of the year. I am certain we are violating a fire code. I bet from the security cameras near the ceiling it looks like an ant farm. And well, this particulat impatient ant can't wait in line. And as I walk back to the car, I realize that due to this impatience, I'll now have to repeat the same process, but at another store, at a time even closer to Christmas. Methinks, "OK, maybe I'll try Wal-Mart."

Park on the very back row. Freeze my ass off walking inside. More people than Best Buy, but these customers aren't nearly as evolved as the ants at the previous store. They only have one of what I'm looking for, and it's ugly. And then, on my way out, I slam right into a basket while turning a corner, only to look up and see a guy I dated once for about 3 weeks. I smiled, hesitantly. He forced one back. I don't think I ever really broke up with him, I just stopped calling. I'm sure he secretly wished that he broke my wrist when I ran into his cart. I secretly wished I was at Best Buy.

And that was only at lunch. After work, I've got to:

Pick up my dry-cleaning.
Get invitations for New Year's Eve party.
Stop at the Apple store.
Drop off videos.
Pick up prescription refill.
Go to the bank.
Clean house.
Take Lucas and Sarah to dinner.
Drop presents off at Doug's.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll get some sleep before my flight takes off tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. And if I don't, it's nothing to worry about. I've got 6 full days of sleeping and eating ahead of me. HO HO HO!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Peek Pic 17

This card came in the mail today from my cousin Brittany and her hubby, David.
How did they know what I asked Santa for this year??

Proust Questionnaire

If you've ever made it to the back page of a Vanity Fair magazine, you've no doubt seen/read a "Proust Questionnaire." Each month a famous person responds to a series of questions taken from Andre Maurois's Proust: Portrait of a Genius. If taken seriously (some don't), the questions can be incredibly insightful into the subject's personality. Sometimes I ask the questions of people I've recently met, or even make it a game at a party. So rather than subjecting YOU to it, I'll be the guinea pig. There are only two rules: 1) The subject can answer any way he/she wants (this can be as telling as the answer sometimes); and 2) No explanations of the answer is required.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Drive. Hygiene. Humor.

What do you most value in your friends?
Their ability to make me smile--without doing anything.

Besides family, who or what has had the greatest impact on your life?
Coach Tom L. and friend Owen B.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Urbane diction.

What is your principle defect?
My insatiable need for new stimuli.

What is your favorite journey?
From the office to home.

What is your perfect idea of happiness?
Everyone else happy.

What would you consider to be the greatest of misfortunes?
Losing a loved one unexpectedly.

What is it you most dislike?
Religious zealots.

What is your favorite occupation?

How would you like to die?

In my sleep, dreaming of my childhood.

What is your present state of mind?

What is your greatest fear?
Failure. At anything.

What is your most treasured possession?
Casey. Followed closely by my laptop.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Rebounding from the throws of depression.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Abstinence, from anything.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Jean-Luc Picard

Monday, December 19, 2005

Peek Pic 16

Pre-packaged sushi from Hen House: $7.45
Eukanuba Rice and Lamb Formula, soaked in water: $0.50
Dinner with someone who loves you unconditionally: Priceless

Letter from Casey

Dere Daddi,

I hop I dont git in trubble for getin outta my howse and yewsing yer cumpewtr. But I nede to tel yew a few theengs I am mad abowt.

Furst, whi dont we go owtsyde fer walks enny morr? I no its kold en tharz wyt stuf all ovr tha playse, but I can taak it, im tuff. And r we neffer gonna go to tha P-A-R-K enny morr eether? Yes, i can spel PARK--ur not fewlin ennyone. I no the yaard iz bigg but thare r big poopsickles owt thare for mi to stepp en. yukki

Therd, yew nede to plaa wif me morr. Ur alwaas on tha cumputr or wachin tha teevee or en bed wif a buk. I shud be plaaing alll daa long. Chooin bons iz booring.

Sekont, itz nott faar to kepe me en miy howse wen peepl r heer. I am waaa tew kuwt to nott be tha sintur uf atenshun. I promiss not to jumpup. I promiss. Et just hapins. I kant hellp it.

an Daddi, won moor theng... Kan yew pleez slepe on tha uthur syde uf tha bed? Yew kynda hawg mi spayse.

Ri Ruv Ru,

Friday, December 16, 2005

Peek Pic 15

Ya know, I thought we lived in a "wireless" world. WTF?

A Pain in the A**

If, by chance, you happen to be wrestling a squeaky toy from the jaws of a ferocious Beagle and you hear something go "pop" in your right forearm, this may be a sign of a painful injury. And if this condition persists for more than 4-6 hours, you will soon be unable to perform the following functions without experiencing excrutiating pain. I encountered all of them throughout my day yesterday...

--Wrestling squeaky toys from the jaws of ferocious Beagles.
--Brushing your teeth.
--Starting your car.
--Pressing Lock/Unlock on the keyless remote.
--Turning any doorknob to the right.
--Using chopsticks.
--Waving. Especially waving.
--Opening a bottle of anything.
--Being "scissors" in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
--Removing your cell phone from its holster.
--Carrying groceries to the car.
--Opening the refrigerator.

I suspect there might be a few other things for which I use my right hand exclusively that also might be painful, but I thought it was best not to get started on something I couldn't finish. You know, like, um, painting.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Peek Pic 14

I want a kitty, some bones, a plasma TV for the bedroom and a new ball!!

Where's Willy?

I snapped this shot while waiting in line for a Subway sandwich. It's a 4'x2' picture hanging on the wall. Do you think the photographer had any idea how many subconscious phallic messages are in this photo? I mean, seriously. After I looked at this for just a few seconds, I considered having sex with my meatball on wheat. And I hardly EVER do that anymore.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Peek Pic 13

Coffee time at the office.

That Day

On my 12th birthday, I only wanted ONE thing: A Daisy 880 pellet gun. Pump action. All of my neighbors had pellet guns and BB guns, and I secretly longed to be a hunter like my older brother. My father never hunted, but I had no idea why. Somehow I saw that as a weakness. Besides, what could be more exciting that honoring our natural instincts of hunting and conquering beasts for our survival? Or at least that's what they told me...

Two months preceding my birthday, I earmarked the page in the Sears catalogue and showed it to my parents on numerous occasions. They sneered at the thought. One month preceding my birthday, I cut pictures out of the catalogue and taped it to a piece of white cardboard, along with assorted accoutrement such as extra pellets, targets and a scope. It was a mural of a prepubescent arsenal. More sneering.

But come June 4th, after all the kids left from my birthday party, a long, slender box (wrapped smartly with a bow, of course) appeared on the kitchen table. My eyes were as big as dinner plates. Inside the box was my coveted Daisy, complete with a large, shiny scope and several boxes of pellets. It was as if my mural had come to life. After a torrent of "thank yous" and "oh my gosh, oh my goshes" were over, my Dad and I ventured into the back yard for a lesson in handling a rifle.

"First, don't EVER, EVER point a gun at anyone." he said. "You can KILL someone with this thing." I thought immediately of Trevor, my shitty little neighbor. But only for a second. OK, maybe two. "This is not a toy."

"Second, until I say otherwise, you are NEVER to use this gun without your Mom or me here watching you." I nodded.

"Third, I only want you shooting targets with this thing. You shouldn't be out here killing innocent creatures." With this, my mind's eye raised an disappointed eyebrow.

"Yes, sir," I said as if there were any other answer. Satisfied that he'd sufficiently put the fear of God in me--as well as the fear of Dad's Pellet Gun Rules--we went about adjusting the scope and setting up paper and aluminum-can targets around our large back yard. While we did this, I imagined that far up in the trees, wings and tails alike quivered with fear.

For the next two weeks or so, my Dad and I religiously practiced shooting. We had contests to see who was the best shot, and I even learned the fine art of hitting a moving target. I truly enjoyed the time with Dad. I had finally found something I really liked doing with him. That is, until That Day.

That Day where my parents had walked across the street to visit the neighbors. That Day that I snuck my gun out of it's case and toted it outside in the back yard, unsupervised. That Day an innocent bird sat unknowingly on our back fence, just next to the bird feeder. That Day I've never forgotten.

"Just one shot," I thought to myself. "No one's watching. It'll be awesome!" I pumped the gun to its maximum ten pumps, propped the screen door open and steadied myself against the door frame. Inside the scope the bright red bird was as big as an elephant. Its chest was so bright that the cross-hairs seemed to disappear. I steadied my aim and gently squeezed the trigger.


I leapt with joy when I saw the bird fall backwards over the fence. I had hit my target with military precision; executing my plan with stunning accuracy. I ran as fast as I could to see my fallen prey and marvel in completing my mission.

But instead of seeing a slain enemy felled at the hands of a master gunner, I saw a beautiful female Robin writhing in pain. She was gasping desperately for air and a single wing flapped over and over in an effort to escape her executioner. In all of my 12 years, I had never felt such shame. Flush with pity, I decided I needed to end her suffering. I gently stepped on her body, held the barrel directly to her head and finished what I had so selfishly started just seconds before. After mercy had been granted, I dropped the gun at my side and slid to the ground in a tearful heap. I sobbed uncontrollably for what seemed like an eternity.

When the tears stopped, I fetched a shovel from the garage and buried the Robin. I even fashioned a cross with two sticks and a tall piece of grass. Thought I don't recall specifically, I'm certain I also administered a 12 year-old's version of a funeral. I was desparate for anything that might redeem me from such an awful act.

That Day the Daisy 880 was put away. Forever.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Peek Pic 12

My sophisticated new memory technique to remember to start the dishwasher.

Brokeback Mountain Review

Go visit Pajiba for an AMAZING review of Brokeback Mountain.

Quite possibly the most thorough and well-written review I've ever read.

Yes, We're a Technology Company

A telephone conversation between two co-workers:

Tim: So Vickie, just following up on this purchase order... Did you get your new laptop?

Vickie: [In Louisville, KY]. [With strong accent]. I sure did! Came Fed-Ex just yesterday.

T: Cool. Do you like it?

V: Oh, yes, I just love it!

T: What kind did you get? The IBM or HP?

V: Hmm, I really don't know. How do I tell?

T: Just lower the lid, what does it say on the top?

[Short pause, rustling noises over phone.]

V: Well, it says "DY"

T: [Long pause]. Umm, Vickie...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Peek Pic 11

The brushing.

Random Thoughts #7

--Friday night cutie-pie Matt and I went to dinner and to see "The Chronicles of Narnia." I liked the movie a lot. I read all of C.S. Lewis' books when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper, and I really thought I would remember more of the story. Oddly, all I could recall was that somewhere in the story there was a Lion, a Witch and a Wardrobe. But then I started to calculate how long ago it was when I read them. And then I changed the subject.

--Every holiday season I send cards to friends and family.
I like to go all out with the coolest and highest quality cards I can find. For my gay friends this year I got these really cute, pink glittery ones with a tiny present dangling from a white bow on the front (campy Christmas is fun). There were 8 in the box. What I didn't know was that the pretty little white bow was only tied for the one on the front of the box. The remaining 7 cards I was supposed to tie myself. Ummmm, no. They're going back tomorrow, even the one I wrote in. I have neither the skill nor the patience to tie stupid little bows on cards that cost $2.50 a piece.

--My mother called me tonight about 7pm for help with a computer problem. Apparently she had been trying to get her address book that she typed in Excel to merge with some labels in Word. I had her send me the file and I created a merge file and had it back to her in about 5 minutes. She e-mails me back and says thanks, because she had been trying to get it merged since 9am this morning. Poor thing. She's really better off with a typewriter sometimes. Well, except when it comes to Free Cell.

--Casey and I went to PetSmart on Saturday to get his picture taken with Santa. Although we eventually got a decent pitcure, it wasn't really the experience I was hoping to have. Right after we got finished with Santa, he took an uncharacteristically runny shit right in the middle of aisle seven. It was so messy that I had to ask this pimply-faced teenaged employee to hold him for me while I cleaned it up. He just stood there and watched. Ya know, not for nothing, but as much money as I spend at that goddamn store, someone could clean up a little diarrhea for me. What ever happened to "Clean up on aisle seven?" Oh well, crawling on the floor in a crowded retail store cleaning up shit has a way of humbling you. I suppose I needed it.

--As I was typing, I couldn't decide whether it's "PetsMart" (as in a Mart for Pets), or PetSmart (as in smart pets, or pets that are smart, or something). I landed on PetsMart because it made more sense to me. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Learn from my mistakes.

--I watched "Mysterious Skin" on Saturday. That Joseph Gordon-Leavitt is really growing up. And in a good way. A really good way.

--Purely by accident, I learned this weekend that the small black box in the middle of a laptop power cord also can serve as a nice little mini-heater for your sweatpants on a cold winter morning. Just a tip.

--I'm not worthy... I actually got an e-mail from John Moe granting me permission to reprint his [imho] hilarious list. Between this and Hot Toddy from the famed Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven visiting my site (and commenting!), I'm going to have to have to start tiding up around here. With all these dangling participles and split infinitives, a guy can get a complex. Maybe I can get a Blog Maid. What a cool job.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow Innuendo

Like any self-respecting Texan, I get a little giddy when it snows. Even if it's just a flake or two. Yesterday, I got pee-my-pants giddy when it snowed a whopping 11 inches. Yes, 11 inches. Eleven WHOLE inches. The big one-one. Wait, what was I talking about?

Anywho, in the midst of all my revelry, I had the chance to snap a few pictures. Hopefully it'll make up for my lack of a Peek Pic yesterday. (Admit it. You missed it, didn't you?) Sorry if the spacing is off. Blogger's interface sucks when in comes to picture placement. (Click to enlarge).

All 11 inches, right on top of the patio table.

So many inches, I saw stars. Oh wait. those are sidewalk lights.

Gotta take care of the little one, too. (I meant the dog, smartass.)

Naturally, I had to document. Who's gonna believe 11 inches?

The next morning, I cleaned up the white stuff WITH A SHOVEL.

If I had this, I think I could handle more than 11.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


If I happened to be on death row awaiting clemency from a governor who was also known as "The Terminator," I'd be ordering up my lobster dinner. No, wait. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. No. Double-meat bacon cheeseburger with chili. No. A Frito pie. SHIT. This is why I could never kill anyone.

The Intruder (Part II of II)

If you haven't already, please read Part I first.

"Holy SHIT!" I said outloud as I watched the her open the back gate and peek inside. Being the brave one that I was (at least when old ladies were my adversary), I protruded my chest and ran to the back gate to confront her. "HEY!" I said to her from across the patio. She turned away once again. Frustrated, I went straight for her, grabbed her sleeve and gently tugged so I could see her face.

And then, in a curiously high-pitched but scruffy voice, she said, "Oh no, I'm just in the wrong place. Sorry." At that moment our eyes locked. My once hell-bent pupils no doubt dilated at the sight I saw, and in one fleeting glance, my entire world was both shaken and stirred. It truly was one of the few speechless moments of my life. Underneath the wig and sunglasses was none other than Mr. R, dressed head-to-toe in women's clothing.

Heels, pantyhose, makeup, rings, bracelets, purse, a nice broach, and even a bonnet for her, um, his, hair. I'm certain that the look on my face was unforgettable and that my mouth dropped directly to the ground. It was the first time EVER, that this small-town Texan had ever seen something like this in person. And to top it off, he slept five feet from my door.

I froze like a deer in the headlights. He walked away. Briskly.

In 1988, I didn't have access to the internet for research on cross-dressers. My only point of reference of a man wearing a wig also happened to be a man carrying a butcher knife behind a shower curtain. I didn't have the foggiest idea what to do. Tell the guys? Tell his wife? Tell my parents? Tell anyone? I did what any other normal guy would do: I walked immediately to the A&P and bought a padlock for my door.

Fast-forward 2 months.

After thinking on it, I concluded that Mr. R was no threat to me and I decided to keep this little secret between us. I only told my closest friends, who--after a good laugh--were very supportive in helping me make the decision not to squeal. Oddly enough, my silence must have given Mr. R. an extra sense of security, as I began to see him "dressed" more and more. Once, while he and his wife were watching TV. Another time, I recognized him in the frozen food section at the grocery store. He became so comfortable that I had the chance to snap this photo from my window on his way out on the town (this is actual picture of him):

Now don't get me wrong. This creeped me out a little bit, and I moved at the end of the semester. But during that time, I actually developed a strange admiration for him for doing what made him happy, even if it was a bit unorthodox. I also secretly hoped he appreciated my understanding (this was a bit step for me as a "worldly" college student). And though I didn't really know it at the time, I would seek similar understanding from friends later that year as I grappled with my own issues of being gay. It was truly the first time I got to appreciate the Buddhist saying "If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path."

Congrats for having the balls to do what made you happy, Mr. R. Even if they are pulled back with duct tape. :)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Peek Pic 10

The Boots
In honor of our first "5-7 11 inches of snow" this season.

The Intruder (Part I of II)

I moved to New Rochelle, NY in the Fall of 1988 to attend Iona College. I was awarded a half-academic, half-athletic (water polo) scholarship to attend. I was not, however, given any housing subsidies, so I stayed off campus with several other water polo players. We lived on Webster Road, about a mile from campus in the house of Mr. and Mrs. "R."

Mr. and Mrs. R were very hospitable people. They had an older, but well-maintained, three-story house with a lovely above-ground pool in the back yard (pictured below). If you'll notice, the pool had ample decorations, which the guys and I referred to as a Mexican construction zone. There was also a floating dolphin that tended to stare at you when you came in really late and stoned drunk tired.

Mrs. R worked at a local church part-time, and Mr. R had a thriving catering business in addition to being a war veteran and commander of the American Legion in New Rochelle. I felt safe with them.

Three water polo players rented rooms from them: one on the second floor across from the master bedroom (me, a freshman); and two upstairs on the third floor (Ben, from Australia; and Jake, from Portland-both sophomores). I think we paid something paltry like $200/month, all bills paid. The three of us shared a phone and a bathroom.

There was no separate entrance for the tenants. We walked directly into the kitchen from the back entrance as if we were members of the family. Except that instead of swigging OJ out of the fridge and grabbing a leftover piece of pizza, we ducked our heads and walked quickly and quietly to our rooms. I always had an unsettling feeling about walking into the house of complete strangers while they were having dinner or watching television. They didn’t seem to mind at all. I eventually got used to it.

After living there for nearly 3 months, I got into a routine. I would leave for school on my bike early in the morning and return after our workout in the evening, generally around 7-8. I rarely deviated from this schedule. Except for one unforgettable day when I was expecting a letter in the mail.

I came home about 2:00 p.m. to check if the letter had arrived. It had. I was so anxious to open it; I sat at the bottom of the stairs and immediately began reading it. Shortly after I began, I was startled by someone entering the front screen door and jiggling the lock on the larger, wooden door. Thinking I had forgotten to lock it back, I rushed upon her to see who she was and what she wanted.

"Can I help you?" I said matter-of-factly. She turned away the second she saw me and scurried out the screen door, mumbling something under her breath. "Wow," I thought to myself. That crazy old bitch was actually walking into the wrong house. How bizarre. So I figured I should watch her from the window, just to make sure she was OK.

The tiny but rotund woman had on a long, puffy overcoat and behind her gigantic 1970's sunglasses stood perfectly quaffed hair. From the window, I couldn't get a good glimpse of her face, but I could tell she was a little wobbly in her heels. I assumed she had been down the street at the Beechmont for a couple of cocktails and may have just been a bit confused. I watched her walk down the sidewalk on the side of the house, and much to my surprise, she entered the back gate...

[To be continued.]

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Peek Pic 9

Can we play ball for just FIVE more minutes? I'll wait here while you decide.

Not-So-Good Porn Titles**

When Harry Met Sally, They Had Sex with One Another
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Whilst Having Sex
American History XXX
Reservoir Dogs Humping All Over People's Legs
All Quiet on the Western Front Except for the People Having Sex
Schindler's List of People to Have Sex With a Whole Lot

Sex Degrees of Sexparation
O' Brother Where Art Thou Doing It?
You've Got Mail, and Also Tons of Sex!
The Day the Earth Stood Still Somebody Somewhere was Having Sex
Some Like it Hot e.g. Hookers

**Reprinted without WITH permission from John Moe. Taken from "Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans--The Best of McSweeny's Humor Category.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Peek Pic 8

Beats fingers. Well, sometimes.

Random Thoughts #6

--I was sick all weekend. It started Friday afternoon at lunch with a headache, then quickly became a full-fledged sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy-head, fever kind of sick. Plus a sore throat. I managed to sleep just about the whole weekend, which helped, but it made the weekend go by way too fast.

--On average, it takes just about 46 seconds for a Nutter Butter to sink in a glass of Lactaid Fat Free milk.

--I realized this weekend that I have a habit of inspecting the Kleenex after I blow my nose to look at my, um, productivity. I fully appreciate that this isn't socially acceptable, but a guy's got to know what's coming out of his body, right? It helps me make decisions about how sick I am, or what type of medicine I need to take. The funny thing is that I caught myself trying to do it discreetly, even when I was by myself.

--Why is John Lithgow pitching Campbell's Soup? I hate seeing actors I admire stoop to pushing commerical products. Especially that of watered-down chicken parts soaked in mushy vegatables.

--I need to make travel plans to go home for Christmas. I shouldn't bitch, but two trips to Texas in a matter of a month from each other is a bit excessive, not to mention taxing on the checkbook. Maybe I can convince my family to start having Christmas in June, or Thanksgiving in July.

--I sneezed approximately 213 times in the making of this post.

--And here it is, Monday morning, and I've decided to stay home one more day. If you want to picture my slavish dedication to my job, picture me in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, with 3 days worth of facial hair (for me, that's to my ankles) with a headset on, having a conference call with Louisville, KY, Chennai, India and Eden Prarie, MN. Ah, technology.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Peek Pic 7

When my date asked if I was into toys, I said yes.

Out of This World

I love astronomy. I am absolutely fascinated by the size and complexity of the universe. So yesterday, when NASA released the latest picture of the Crab Nebula from the Hubble Telescope, I spent most of the afternoon perusing some of my favorite space sites. While doing so, I started keeping a little mental journal of facts I think are amazing and decided to write them down and share them. Aren't you lucky! I'm going to do it like a Harpers Index, just because I like the format. Enjoy!

Number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy: 200 billion
Estimated number of galaxies in the universe: 125 billion
Temperature in deep space (absolute zero): -273 C (-493 F)
Number of Earths that would fit inside Jupiter: 1,000
Number of Jupiters that would fit inside the Sun: 1,000
Number of times brighter some stars are than the Sun: 600,000
The speed of light: 186,287.5 miles per second
Distance light travels in a year: 6 trillion miles
Distance to nearest galaxy (Andromeda): 2 million light years
Distance from Earth to Sun: 93 million miles
Minutes it takes light from the Sun to travel to Earth: 8
Radius of the universe: 10 billion light years
Time it would take to travel across the Milky Way at light speed: 100,000 years
Farthest distance a man-made object has traveled in space: 6.4 billion miles
Number of confirmed black holes: 14
Number of hours it took me to compile this list from internet sources: 3.5
How much I enjoyed doing it on a scale of 1 to 10: 10

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Peek Pic 6

A small fraction of my cheesy paperback collection.