Cantina For The Best Time

About a week had gone by since the night at The Underground, but Josh just couldn’t seem to get it out of his head.  So when his old friend (& now again current friend) called him up and invited him out again he jumped at the chance.  The Reno Cantina Los Tres Hombres was closing, her husband worked there as a bartender, and they were closing down the bar by coming close to giving drinks away.  A good time was promised to all.

Josh was excited.  He had just cashed his unemployment check that he was receiving since the company he worked for in Washington closed down due to the financial crisis.  Because he was getting it from Washington (through Nevada), the amount he was making was almost the maximum someone in Nevada could get on unemployment.  Because the cost of living in Nevada was so much lower than in Seattle, the unemployment check could go pretty far.  Because Josh was living with his dad for the time being, his expenses were near zero, meaning that check went even further.

So again, Josh borrowed his father’s Dodge Magnum and headed to Reno for what promised to be a good time.  It was another warm night, and though he wasn’t exactly sure what it was, there was a definite feel of excitement in the air.  The only thing that tempered his excitement was knowing he had been thinking about his friend’s odd sister, and the odd moment he had with that odd sister the last time he saw her.  He had to remind himself that she was off limits.

He arrived at the Cantina.  Knowing it was closing was somewhat a disappointment for him, because he had fond memories of playing shows there, back when he was in a band.  He was happy to see that a large amount of people seemed to have turned out for its last hurrah.  He parked in the lot, and walked through the warm, electric night air inside.

There was no doorman, no group of people waiting to get in.  Since the Cantina was also a restaurant, you weren’t carded until you sat at the bar to order a drink.  From the entrance Josh used, the bar is basically the first thing you see, so there was no need to look around for his friend, the group she was with, and particularly…the sister.

His eyes went to the sister immediately.  She looked good.  She was sitting on one side of the half-square bar, closest to the door from which he entered.  At first, he was disappointed to see people sitting on either side of her.  He quickly shook that feeling off, reminding himself that it would be wrong to make a move on his friend’s sister.  He thought it would be particularly wrong, since he had recently asked out his friend’s cousin.

“Your friend is going to think you’re using her to go through her friends and family members,” he thought to himself as he sat on the side of the bar diagonally across, yet close enough to talk to the beautiful sister.  “You are going to hell for this.”

He didn’t even try to hide that he was eyeing her.  He knew he shouldn’t be, but she looked so good.  The internal struggle consumed him when she looked his way and smiled.  A smile so beautiful, his ethical dilemma suddenly left his mind.  He looked away, then back.  She smiled again.

It was on.  Sister or not, it was on.  He was just about to say something to her when the cousin walked in and sat a couple seats down.  He was worried it would be akward, but she was with somebody.  So he said hi to her and introduced himself to him, and turned his attention back to the beautiful sister.

“Hannah!” he shouted across the bar.  “What are you drinking?”

“What?” she asked in reply.

“What can I get you to drink?”

She smiled, and answered that she liked tequila.  He was scared.  His family has a history with tequila and so, aside from the occasional Margarita at a Mexican restaurant, he pretty much stayed away from it.  He didn’t even really know tequila, except Patron seemed to be really popular, so he asked if she wanted that.

“No, I like Cazadores.”

“Casa what?” he thought to himself.  “Oh well, we’ll give it a shot,”he thought again before shouting to everybody, “Who’s gonna drink with us?”

And so he ordered Cazadores shots for everyone at the bar and toasted to the Cantina.  Her friend’s husband was behind the bar along with another woman.  In between sneaking glances and smiles at Hannah, (his friend’s beautiful sister, the “Hold me like a baby” girl he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about), he talked with her friend’s husband and the other bartender about the closing, and asked how many people were working that night.  He asked if he could buy them all a round and he did.  Then he asked Hannah if he could buy her another drink.  He repeated those steps a few times before engaging Hannah in small talk from across the bar.

At some point, he considered asking his friend if she would mind him trying to pick up her sister, but he never got the chance.  The woman he was sitting next to, (another friend of his friend’s), tapped him on the shoulder and showed him a napkin.  On the napkin was a message.  “Trade seats with Hannah.  She likes Josh.”  It was written by his friend.

She did trade seats when Hannah got up to go to the bathroom.  So Hannah came and sat next to Josh.  They talked about anything and everything.  They joked and laughed.  They had a few more drinks but did not get sloppy.  He didn’t need the napkin to know she was interested, but now he had a clear conscience.  They continued flirting, talking, and laughing.  The rest of the Cantina seemed to fade into the background as it was fading into history.

He paused the conversation for a moment, looking deep into her eyes.  She smiled, and Josh said, “Come here.”

And she leaned in, and he kissed her for the very first time.  He knew then, that he didn’t want to stop.  And as they left the Cantina for the very last time, they were still kissing.

And in his head, played the silly jingle he’ll never forget.  “Cantina for a great time.  Los Tres Hombres.  Cantina for the best time.  Los Tres Hombres.”

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final chapter of the epic How I Met The Hannah trilogy!


Hold Me Like A Baby

It was an ordinary late September evening in northern Nevada.  The air was still warm as the young man drove his father’s Dodge Magnum through the Y that separates Sparks from Reno.  As he drove along 4th street, he noticed the absence of other cars on the road.  As he continued, he questioned whether he really wanted to go.

He knew 4th street was home to run-down motels, tweakers, hookers, and homeless.  It had been for years.  Did he really want to go see an old high school friend’s husband’s band in some shit-hole on 4th street?

He became acutely aware of the cell phone in his right front pocket.  All he’d need to do is pull over, make up some excuse, call his old friend, and turn back.  It had been almost three months since he filed for divorce and years since his marriage was more than just a formality.  He had gone out a few times already since being back in town and had fun.  Why not tonight?

So he fought his social anxiety and slowed the car as he looked for some club called The Underground.  And in a block devoid of any life, he finally saw a group of people standing in the doorway of an industrial building.  There were a few cars right out front, & then he saw a lot of cars and groups of people on the adjacent side-street.  Then, he finally saw the sign that confirmed he was in the right place.  He turned down the next side street, and parked his father’s beloved car in the most well-lit, least sketchy spot he could find.

He was feeling nervous, yet excited.  His hair was recently cut, he was wearing his douche-bag shirt, (a shirt by a particular company he hated, that was popular with douche-bag, bro-types, but looked good on him and seemed to resonate with the ladies), and as he approached, he noticed he had already caught the eye of a few of the young women near the door.

He smiled at one of the young women standing near the door.  As he paid the doorman the $5 cover, he was asked to show his ID.  He pulled out his Washington driver’s license and the doorman remarked on the state of issuance.  The young woman took the opportunity to talk to him.

“Are you from Washington?”

“No,” the man smiled, “I’m from here, but moved to Seattle about 6 years ago.  Now I’m back.”

“I’m (name erased due to alcohol, and later events),” the woman smiled back.  “Are you staying for all the bands?”

“I don’t see why not.”  “My name’s Josh.”

“I’m waiting for a couple friends, Josh,” started the woman, “I’ll see you in there?”

“Sounds good,” Josh replied as he moved from the entry way into the large room that was The Underground.

“1 down,” he thought to himself.

He looked ahead to the stage.  It was a decent room, the stage looked large enough for most bands.  The floor was wide and unobstructed, except for the groups of people milling about.  The soundsystem looked to be rather impressive for a club of its size.  To the left was the bar, and at the edge of the bar was his old friend from high school.  When he saw her, she noticed him at the same time and called him over.

She was with a large group of people.  She introduced Josh to her husband, who seemed like a friendly person and started talking music with Josh right away.  He was already glad he decided to show up.  She then introduced him to her female friends.

They were all fairly attractive.  In fact, one of the females he took interest in was not just her friend, but her cousin.  He wondered if he should stay away from her for that reason, but decided cousins were fair-game.

Then she introduced him to her younger sister.  She told him they had only met about a year earlier.  They had the same “sperm-donor” (her words), lived in the same city most of their lives, and only found each other a year earlier.

She was beautiful.  They exchanged hellos, and they turned away from each other.  He definitely did not give her the same type of greeting he gave to the woman near the door.  Only one thought was going through his mind at that time.

“Sister.  Off limits.”

She didn’t really seem interested anyway.  And so, after a few drinks, he started chatting with his old friend’s cousin.  She was nice, and could hold an intelligent conversation.  And as he scanned the room to see about the other women he noticed, he became aware that most of them were Woo-girls.  (For reference, a Woo-girl is a woman, who, after a few drinks, becomes a very sloppy, loud, annoying creature who attracts potential mates by yelling “Woo!”)  Even though Josh was wearing his douche-bag shirt, he didn’t really consider himself to be a douche-bag (the ideal mate for the Woo-girl).  And so, he continued talking to his old friend’s cousin.  Despite the lack of a major spark, he asked for her number to see if maybe something would develop later.

As he was walking back to his old friend toward the end of the night to say goodbye, the beautiful sister approached, (or stumbled up to, in actuality) Josh.  Before he could react, she threw her arms around him and slurred, “Hold me like a baby!”

Josh didn’t know what to do.  He looked around the room for help, or a hidden camera, or something to give him a hint as to what the hell was happening.  His arms remained pinned to his sides.  After a moment, he laughed.

She let him go, looked up at him, and said, “I’m so sorry!”

Josh smiled, looked back at her and said, “It’s okay.  Happens all the time.”

He didn’t make any kind of move, and simply left the night at that.  She was too intoxicated, and she was still his friend’s sister.

A couple days later, Josh called the cousin to see if she’d like to go to a concert with him.  He left a voicemail, and fortunately, she never returned the call.

He went to the concert alone, feeling a little strange going by himself, but proud of himself for doing it anyway.

And all the while, a thought bounced around in his head of the great night at The Underground, and of the beautiful woman who grabbed him and said, “Hold me like a baby.”

To be continued…

Bad Interwebbers!

I love the internet.  I love reading blogs.  I love reading well-argued opinions that cause me to question my accepted view of the world.  I love the funny things I now I have access to without having to wade through hours of Futurama episodes to find the one comedy special I want to see.  I love having access to music and art the industries wouldn’t have let me see.  I love r/cancer on Reddit for the support I’ve received and can hopefully offer.

I do not, however, love internet commenters.

Everyone has opinions.  I’m one of the most opinionated people I know.  There is nothing wrong with having an opinion.  In fact, if someone has no opinions on matters that are important (in my opinion), I automatically believe they are stupid.  That belief is, in fact, just an opinion.  They could be extremely brilliant people, who simply do not share my interests.  Even though they should, in my opinion.

But the internet commenter has no opinions.  They have facts, in their opinion.  They are absolutely positive they are right, and they are going to tell you that.  They might even present statistics to prove they are right.  You can not sway them with any counterpoint, even if you present more statistics to back up your opinion, and even if your reasoning is superior in logic, in your opinion.  Or at least that is my opinion of them, anyway.

It took me a long time to realize that engaging in any discussion with these internet commenters is completely futile, in my opinion.

The internet has given everyone a platform to present their opinions, and in my opinion, that is a good thing.  But too many people accept the opinions of others on the internet as fact, in my opinion, and it is my opinion that it results in too much polarization.

If libtardhater_24 & thuglifer16 really had all the answers, does anyone really believe that people in power wouldn’t notice?  Yes, people in power are often very self-serving, in my opinion, but if they could solve the world’s problems by reading internet comments, don’t you think they would?  If they solved the world’s problems, they would be so popular and would be set for life, and immortalized in the annals of history.  If only they’d just read the comments!

The other major problem in the age of internet commenters, in my opinion, is that there is no room for compromise.  No room for reasonable discussion.  No room for conceding a position in one area, and holding firm in another.

On the internet, you are either anti-government, or a socialist.  You either support foreign policy decisions, or you support terrorists.  You aren’t allowed to be anti-war while supporting the troops.  You aren’t allowed to recognize that most police officers are highly trained professionals who just want to help their communities, while also recognizing that too many are racist, poorly trained, jumpy, idiots who are protected by unions and the tendancy for police to view each other as “brothers”, rather than co-workers.

And the hilarity of it all is these entrenched people, who refuse to recognize any middle ground, in my opinion, often hold and spew views that are completely contradictory.  Why is it, the commenters who believe so strongly in the 2nd Amendment, seem to ignore the 14th?  If you want to argue that the Constitution gives you the right to keep and bear arms, then you have to acknowledge that your state has to recognize same-sex marriage because other states do.  You can’t be for smaller government unless it comes to what occurs between consenting adults in a bedroom.  Well, you can, but it is stupid, in my opinion.  You also can’t be someone who believes in government regulation and services, but think that all police are evil.  Again, you can, but it is just as stupid, in my opinion.

Yesterday, I posted about getting rid of the practice of tipping in restaurants.  And while if you read that post (I’m sorry) you may have been left wondering why I wrote a post about the practice, with arguments for and against, only to tell you I was undecided about it.  That may have seemed pointless.  But, obscured in all that babbling there was a point.  The point is, I don’t know.  Not, “I don’t know what the point is.”  The point itself is, I don’t know.

In my opinion, we need to learn to admit we don’t have all the answers.  We need to start considering that other people may have some validity to some of their arguments, even though you find yourself in different camps.  There is a difference between Democratic Socialism and Totalitarian Style Communism.  There is a difference between Capitalism and the Free-Market.  There are unnecessary, complex, ridiculous regulations, but there does exist a need to exercise controls over the greedy, dangerous, unfair business practices of the international conglomerations.

It is okay to recognize that crime is too high within certain communities, but it is not okay to ignore the socio-economic conditions that lead to it.  It is okay to realize the deeply ingrained social issues of people living in poverty, but you must acknowledge the exploitation of those issues by the people who keep them there.  Conversely, it must be acknowledged that just because somebody has reached a position of success, they didn’t necessarily step on anyone to get there, and may be doing more to help people than any “grass-roots” level movement could.

“But Josh, isn’t this, in fact, just one large internet comment from you?”

Well, yes, & no.  My blog-type-thing is mine.  The opinions in here are my opinions (if you didn’t catch that the ninety-seven times I already said that.)  I’m not commenting on anyone else’s article, I’m presenting to you, my opinions.  I’m certainly not stating my opinions as facts.  My job isn’t to dissuade or persuade you.  It is to give you something to think about, or at least let you know the kind of random shit I think about.

So?  What do you think of my opinion on internet commenters?  Please let me know your thoughts, in the comments section…on the…internet.  Oh wait, I guess not ALL internet commenters are bad, in my opinion.

The Tipping Point

IMG_20150114_131631Many restaurants across the country are giving their employees raises and benefits, & banning tipping.  This is seen as a victory for workers in the fight for a living wage.  Many people who frequent restaurants think this is a great idea as well.  I have heard the argument that it should be the employer’s responsibility to pay the employee, not the responsibility of the customers.  I have a very strong opinion on this, because I know many people who have worked in the service industry (including myself).  And that opinion is…I’m undecided on this issue.  Strongly undecided.

On the surface, it sounds great!  No longer does the employee have to worry about providing excellent service and still getting stiffed by some cheapskate and maybe not make rent.  And no longer will the restaurant customer have to worry about whether they should tip 15% because it is lunch and not a particularly nice place, or 20% because the service was good, or more because the service was exceptional, it is a fancier restaurant, they want to impress their date, or they think their server was hot.  I’m not even going to mention how hard it can be to do the math when you’re out to eat after drinking 13 shots of Jameson.

Furthermore, this would eliminate the chances of a good waiter or waitress having a bad shift of tips for service problems that may have actually been the fault of the kitchen staff, expediter, or management.  Generally, if your server seems to be moving quickly, attentive, and mostly pleasant, you should understand that any slow service is likely not their fault!  Never under-tip because it took a long time to get your food when everything else was good.

Another great thing about this trend is that many very, very stupidly managed restaurants require tip sharing.  I’m not talking about a waiter or waitress paying out their section’s busperson, I’m talking about tip-pooling.  This is a travesty!  I worked for a company where we pooled tips.  It sucked, because I hustled, I smiled, I put up with the biggest jerks and made the best damn coffee those terrible machines would let me.  And in that business, that fast-food of coffee location, when I was on the window, that box was stuffed full.  There was a reason I was always on the window during the morning rush.  And then we would get the tips and I’d watch the slow, lazy co-workers who were picking their noses in front of the pastry case while I was running back and forth between the machines, the frozen drink machine (you know the frozen drink I’m talking about), and the window…I had to watch them take the money that was given to me!

Which leads me to my next thought.  Tips aren’t wages!  The government should not be allowed to tax tips!  Since I am not a server’s employer, anything I give a server is not their wage, IRS!  It is a gift.  I give a gift to the server because I appreciate the way I was served.  I’m not paying their wages, greedy government bastard!

So with all these problems with tipping, this new trend of paying restaurant workers more and offering benefits in exchange for no tipping policies should be a great thing right?

Not so fast, Speed Racer.

Let’s look a little closer.  Who really benefits?  Good servers, on a good shift can make bank.  Does anyone really believe the few dollars more an hour will make up for a lack of tips?  A weekend evening shift at a restaurant with good traffic for a good server can be more than an office worker makes in a month.  And those coveted weekend shifts?  Well, without tips, who wants to work the busy weekends?  Instead of the best workers getting scheduled on the busiest nights, you’ll get stuck with whoever couldn’t get out of it.

Let’s look a little deeper.  If you haven’t noticed, cash is quickly becoming a scarce resource.  Plastic, or even phone payments are quickly becoming the preferred method.  (Until the chip implants & “credits” take over.)  Why does this matter?  Well, for every transaction on a credit or debit card, a business typically gets charged a percentage of the total.  So imagine a scenario where you go out to eat, and the service is so great, you tip 50%.  (It has happened to me a few times.)  So the food was $100.  The restaurant would get charged…let’s say 3% on that transaction.  $3.  They build that into their pricing.  But you tip $50.  So the transaction is $150.  The charge to the restaurant is now $4.50.  That extra $1.50 cost to the restaurant exists solely so you can tip their employee.  So it is costing the restaurant additional money to allow tipping.

Granted, it is a very small amount of money, and the raises provided to the workers would likely be more.  But those fees for tips are unpredictable.  Wages can be budgeted for.

Also, with the exception of the horrible tip-pooling operations, getting rid of tipping gets rid of the incentive to provide service that is above and beyond.  If you believe that they can rely on their manager to notice the great job they’re doing and give them performance raises, you must be a manager who probably doesn’t notice your employees taking shit about you behind your back.  You are so out of touch, you likely have an issue with your nervous system.

Finally, as a frequenter of eating establishments (okay, not really frequent, because I can rarely afford it, or feel too sick to go out), I like to give the person providing exceptional service a little extra.  They could do the nuts & bolts of the job, and still deserve their pay and position.  But when they make you feel like a friend, or a respected individual, and are a little quicker than they could be, and strike that perfect balance of being attentive enough without hovering…I like to let them know monetarily, that their extra effort is appreciated.

So to summarize, I am really against this new trend of paying restaurant workers salaries in lieu of tips, except that I really think this idea could be quite good.  Don’t try and change my mind, it’s already made up.  I am 100% completely undecided.

Where Words Leave Off

“Where words leave off, music begins.”

-Heinrich Heine

I’ve lost a lot of things because of cancer.  My energy, some organ functionality, a working immune system, a reliable GI system…but one of the losses that pains me most is the loss of hearing in my left ear.

One of my favorite ways to wind-up, wind-down, or just feel anything, was to put on (or in, as the case may be), headphones & listen to music.  I loved to hear all the subtle nuisances in a song, the panning of the instruments, the feeling of being there as the musicians recorded, the things you miss standing away from speakers.  A Day In The Life by The Beatles will never be the same.  That hurts.

But I still love music.  I still need music.  If it’s good, I don’t really care what style it is.  I’m not trying to brag about how varied my musical taste is.  I’m not going to write some pretentious piece about the music you’ve never heard and I have because I’m just that hip, before being a hipster was cool.  No, I’m going to give you an example of a song that has helped me get through, or get excited, or feel something.  You may have heard it, you may not have.  The genres vary.

These may not be deep, but some are.  They may not be groundbreaking, but some are.  So open your ear(s) and mind, & check them out.

Note to the RIAA, ASCAP, BMI, & any other performing rights/copyright enforcement organizations:  This blog-type-thing is not monetized.  Any links included herein are from YouTube, & are most likely available from the artists themselves.  I do not own the copyright to any music linked to, & make no money by linking to it.  Furthermore, even if someone does read this, & clicks the links, it only serves to provide publicity and exposure to the artists.  However, I DO own the copyright to all of the commentary and opinions offered herein, & if you use it for YOUR monetary gain…I’ll sue the ever-loving shit out of you.

Walk Off The Earth Revo In Paris

This is an original song by a Canadian band of immensely talented individuals who play music a little differently.  While their songwriting may not be the deepest or most thought provoking (yet), it is fun & there can be no doubt about their talent.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check out their cover of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know.  

Next up is Rise Against.  I love almost every song they have put out, even from the Fat Wreck Chords days.  My favorite is But Tonight We Dance, because it speaks to me personally.  While Rise Against is known for their political music, not all of it is message music.  It does, however, always convey emotion.  I can’t link to my favorite, because I can’t find it officially posted, so here’s one of my other favorites, Give It All.

The next song I wanted to link to is The Dance, by Garth Brooks, but he thinks YouTube is the devil…so fuck him.  Beautiful song, though.  He shares writing credit, so I imagine the other writer is very talented.  Besides, everyone knows that foosball is the devil.

To quote Monty Python, “And now for something completely different!”  Here is Bel Biv Devoe‘s Poison.  This is the remix version.  I prefer the original, but again, I only link to official uploads to be prevent being sued for…DA-DUM-DAAAA…one MILLION dollars!  Yes, it’s dated, yes, it’s cheesey, but it’s damn fun.

Audioslave.  Yes, the music is simple.  So?  Does it not make you feel?  Does it still sound good?  Then it does its job.  I don’t care if you liked Rage Against The Machine better, or think Chris Cornell should only sing with Soundgarden, you can’t deny that Like A Stone is a great song.

Home, by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes.  This is OUR song.  You can’t have it!  It is mine and my Bear’s.  By that, I mean we don’t own it, but it is our song.  You can like it, but it is our song.  Okay, I’m sure tons of couples say that, but it’s ours!

DemonsImagine Dragons.  A little over produced, but a good song at its core, & the video may make you cry at the end.  Also, if you want to donate to the Tyler Robinson Foundation, that wouldn’t hurt my feelings any.

Those are the only links I have for you, because many artists don’t have the songs I was looking for officially on the Tube of You.  Either that, or I just didn’t feel like searching them all on your behalf.

But check out (legally), the following unlinked songs, and the ones above that are unlinked to as well…although maybe not the Garth Brooks song, because well…foosball.

You’re Coming Too CloseNo Use For A Name.  Buckingham GreenWeen.  Red RockThe Smokin’ Armadillos.  The Come On Eileen (cover version, originally by Dexy’s Midnight Runners) –Save Ferris.  BeerReel Big Fish.  Little WingJimi Hendrix.  I Want You BackThe Jackson Five.  California Dreamin’The Mamas and The Papas.  She’s GoneNOFX.  VoiceSprout.  Hey FellaClutch.  John The FishermanPrimus.  The Spirit of RadioRush.  Then find anything by Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin.  When you’re done with that, try Make It Hardcore by Public Enemy.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  If you like music, you’ll love it when you open to music from different genres.  Open your mind, and your ears.  Use your hearing while you have it.

Regrets? I’ve had a Few…

But then again… Screw it, I’ll mention a few for the entertainment of you, my dear readers.

I made the same mistakes any kid does, just learning how to live.  But by high school, I feel like I had my base set of morals down.  My personality was fairly set.  There are some exceptions, which resulted in some of these regrets.

I know it seems crazy that I could have ever made mistakes, given how awesome I am, and how much everybody loves me, but I assure you, even someone as near perfect as myself screwed the pooch once or twice.  (Though, thankfully, pooch-screwing is not something I’ve actually done.  That’s just wrong!)

I don’t regret much.  The things that happened made me the damn-near perfect person I am today.  It’s one of the most fascinating things about me.  

The only mistakes I’ve made that I really guess you could call regrets are the ones where I hurt someone else, or pushed away close friends, or tried to fit into the box that I knew I’d never fit into.  Anything pre-high school is off limits because kids are still trying to figure out who they are, & any hurt feelings I caused to some of the young women I dated is also off limits because that’s just part of figuring out who fits well with you.  Unless I said something horrible out of fear in which case, here is my blanket apology to all the girls I’ve loved before, who traveled in and out my door…

We’ll focus on high school, because that is where I did the majority of things I regret.  I was at the same school with most of the kids I grew up with, so I had a large group of friends.  I wasn’t exactly popular, per se, but I wasn’t an outcast either.

I was in band, but since I played drums, most people didn’t consider me a band-geek, until they saw me in my geeky uniform.  Once out of it, I was quickly forgiven.  A little secret though, is that I WAS a band geek.  My best friends were in band.  I love music, of almost any kind.  I’m still a band geek.

The drummers would practice outside the band room.  One of my friends who played alto saxophone (if I remember correctly) parked her blue Ford Escort on the curb right in front.  It was one of the most coveted spots, & she must have arrived 2 hours early everyday to get it.  Most of the curb in front of the school was red, so we’re talking prime real estate.  The car was small.  And so, thinking we were being funny, the other drummers and I would lift the car and move it.  Maybe onto the grass, maybe to another street, maybe just into the red-zone.

The first few times, she laughed after freaking out, wondering where her car was.  We’d tell her, she’d move it back, all in good fun.  Only, I guess not so much for her.  Because on about the twentieth time, she got really pissed off.  Really.  Tears, yelling, obscenities…pissed.

I was a bully, and didn’t even realize it.  I liked her, she was a friend.  I didn’t do this to feel better about myself.  I didn’t do this to hurt her.  I was just too stupid to put myself in her shoes and realize that what was fun for me, may not have been so fun for her.  I did apologize when I realized it, & stopped doing it, as well as convincing others to stop, but I still regret that.

Then there was Keith.  Keith was someone I considered a friend.  He was very small.  Skinny and short.  But he was nice and funny and hung out with my core group of friends.  So what did we do?  We picked him up and jokingly tried to put him into the school’s trash cans.  We never actually put him into one, but would always pretend to try.  He’d keep coming around to hang out with us, so once again, I thought it was all good fun.  Until it wasn’t.  One day, he had enough.  He called us all assholes.  He was shaking and crying.  I tried to apologize, but he wouldn’t let me.  I suddenly realized that he didn’t have many other friends, and tried really hard to be our friends, & that’s the only reason he kept coming around.  We were assholes, but just didn’t know it.   Keith was a strong person.  Kids shoot people today for less.

After school, I hung out with one of my best friends who lived on my street.  We had a great time, playing sports in the front yard, basketball in the backyard, singing outside in the street, and accidentally breaking a few windows.  We also picked on his sister.  A lot.  We burnt some of her Barbie dolls at the stake in the backyard.  (By that point, she was pretty much over Barbie’s, but still…kinda mean.)  She just kept on being nice though.  Eventually, we all became friends.  She became so cool we stopped seeing her as a tag-along.  She’s still one of my closer friends & like a sister to me.  But I’m still sorry for burning her dolls and making fun of her New Kids obsession.

I had my first serious girlfriend throughout most of high school.  I don’t regret that, she remains a good friend to this day.  I do regret how much I focussed on her.  I stopped hanging out with some of my friends to spend more time with her.  I also cut a lot of classes (particularly 1st & 2nd period) to spend time with her.  You think I’d regret that, but I don’t.  (Because fuck making adolescents do Math & Science before 9 am!)

I regret letting my mom talk me into staying in band after my Sophomore year.  The band director was CLEARLY done.  He checked out, with the exception of making his daughter Dum Major at one point.  I don’t regret going through his office to find the scores that proved someone else performed better in the competition for the job.  There was nothing left that I learned in the next two years, & could have done better musically by using that time to practice.

I regret staying in school as long as I did.  I dropped out & got my GED, my Junior year.  I was talked back into returning for my Senior year.  I took 8 classes a semester, to the usual 6, & picked up 4 extra credits in a self-paced alternative ed. period.  I got a 3.63 GPA.  My second semester, I talked to my Guidance Counselor, & we worked out exactly how many credits I’d need to take in order to graduate with my class.  He let me know that I would need another half-credit we didn’t account for on the day after the deadline to sign up for correspondence.  I was done.  I showed up to a class here and there to hang out with friends, but that was it.  I don’t regret that.

I regret all the bullshit, “You need to have a back-up plan.  A high school diploma is too important.” advice that I believed.  Most of the kids I went to school with don’t even know the difference between you’re & your, don’t understand the dihydrogen monoxide jokes, don’t know that Rosa Parks wasn’t just some lady tired of being forced to sit in the back of the bus, but was working with the NAACP to challenge the law and get arrested on purpose (making her much more brave).  She also wasn’t the first to do so, but was thought to be a better poster-person for the movement.  I don’t regret losing out on the piece of paper that represents my knowledge or intelligence in no way.  After all, I’m nearly perfect.

I never wanted a diploma job.  I wanted to be a musician, an artist, a writer.  If I hadn’t wasted time in school, and practiced those things when I wanted to, I probably could’ve been pretty good at them by now.

And as always, the cancer fits in here.  I can’t work in any of those diploma jobs right now anyway.  Unlike what Rand Paul says, I’m not gaming the system.  I need to stay away from people, because of my immune issues.  I can’t predict or schedule the tiny amounts of energy I could have to be productive.  I would not be allowed to take a bathroom break, for long portions of time, multiple times a day.  I wouldn’t be allowed to nap whenever I crashed.  What a waste of time.

I regret all the times since high school that I’ve told people I’m damn near perfect as a deflection of my own crippling self-doubt.

No, just kidding.  I AM damn near perfect, and so are you.  We all have some flaws, but try not to focus on those or you’ll just end up living in regret.  Regrets?  I have a few, but then again, too few not to mention.

If You Think I’m Settling…

October, 2009, Sparks, NV

A young, recently divorced man walks with the young woman he is seeing to get Jimboy’s.  For those of you who don’t know what Jimboy’s is, I feel terribly sorry that you either live in a place without a Jimboy’s, or live such a sheltered existence where you just have never experienced the best, terrible food there is.  There are no Jimboy’s in Seattle, which is good for my heart, but bad for my soul.

But I’m getting off track, because I want a taco from Jimboy’s and all the orange grease that flows from within.  Back to the story.

The new couple was very hungry for lunch.  They could’ve driven, but the day was unusually nice, so they decided to walk.  The young man was very taken with the young woman, and she seemed to be taken with him.  All was right with the world.

As they walked, they talked and laughed about all kinds of different subjects, seemingly random, but connected by a word or look exchanged.  It was the kind of conversation only new couples have as they are beginning to fall in love without realizing it.

Suddenly, she said something to him that stopped him in his tracks.  The exact words were lost to other memories in his mind, or perhaps the chemotherapy he would have a couple years after.  He does remember the gist of it.  Basically, she said something insecure about her looks.

The young man was stunned.  Here was the most attractive woman he had ever laid eyes on, disparaging her looks.

The young man remembers exactly what he said then.  “After my divorce I promised myself I’d never settle for anyone who wasn’t worth it.  So if you think I’m settling…you’re out of your fucking mind.”

The young man smiled to himself on the compliment he had given to the young woman he already cared so deeply for.  They continued walking.  As they walked, they were overtaken by a noticeable silence.

“Perhaps it was too soon for him to tell her that he wasn’t just settling for someone by being with her?  Perhaps she’s just really hungry?” the man asked to his head.

When they arrived at their destination, they ordered and the young man, happily wolfed down two tacos, & a bean burrito.  The woman, however, barely touched her food.  The young man noticed.  Concerned, he asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t really feel good, suddenly,” she said, her eyes focused on the uneaten food sitting lonely on the bright orange tray.

“That happens to me sometimes too,” said the young man, obliviously.

And so they left Jimboy’s, to return to the motorhome in the young man’s father’s driveway, in which the young man (& usually the young woman) stayed.  As they walked, the silence grew.

The young man’s head was spinning.  What had gone wrong?  He retraced the day, but nothing came to him.  Perhaps she was just ill, but he had his doubts.  She just seemed distant.  And sad.

About half way to the motorhome that would later affectionately be dubbed “The Shed”, he couldn’t take it anymore.  He stopped, turned to her, and asked, “Was it something I said or did?”

Breakthrough!  The young woman’s eyes welled up with tears as she stuttered out her reply, “You won’t settle?  I know we’ve only been seeing each other a short time, but I thought you really liked me.  Are you seeing other people?”

The young man was horrified, shocked, happy, sad, and amused all at the same time.  “Oh my God, no, Sweetness,” he began, “I meant that with you, I’m not settling because I don’t think I’m settling for less than I deserve when I’m with you.  I’m not saying I’d never settle with you.  I don’t know what the future will bring, but I love being with you.  And no, I’m not seeing anyone else.”

Her smile returned.  They embraced each other right there on the sidewalk.  They walked back to the motorhome yet to be called “The Shed” and laughed and talked the rest of the way.  They talked mostly about the incident that just occurred.  It is still a topic brought up between the couple, everytime they have a misunderstanding.

Despite the way the man has a tendancy to say things that can easily be misinterpreted, and despite the way the woman has a tendancy to misinterpret what is said whenever remotely possible, whenever the misunderstanding is cleared up, the man and woman still laugh and talk about whatever was misunderstood.

They talked and laughed the entire time they were dating.  They talked and laughed at their wedding.  They talked and laughed after they cried when the man was diagnosed with cancer.  They talked and laughed while waiting for his blood counts to recover, even when it became clear they weren’t going to.  They talked and laughed when he could stop the coughing fits from the Aspergillus Pneumonia.  They talked and laughed when they found a donor.  They talked and laughed when he got his transplant, & during each up & down on the rollercoaster of good days and complications thereafter.

They have the kind of conversations that only great couples have as they continue to fall in love, and know it.

If you are in a relationship, & don’t talk and laugh anymore, think about it.  You’re probably settling.


 I love you, Sweetness!