Dumb Wish

I wish I were dumb. Not that I’m intelligent by any means. Clever, sure. But I’m not very smart. When I say dumb, I’m suggesting that I wish that I could take certain information and knowledge that I have retained and flush it down my brain stem. The reasoning for this starts out with some really great news:

Miss Sally is pregnant. That’s great news.

The not so great news is that this is #2 for us. Greg is #1. During the Age of Greg, much knowledge was gained about where a baby comes from, what hormones it disturbs for nine months, and how insanely purple an umbilical cord is. Other areas explored were the eat, shit, sleep cycles and the learning to not fall down and babble interpretation. All of this information was learned through brute reality and sleep deprivation. It was a tough time, but because I had no idea what was about to happen next, a blessedly dumb time. The Age of Greg is moving on. We are now entering the Age of Two Kids. Also know as the Doug’s Not Going Out For Another Six Years Era.

So to get back to the point, I’m not so dumb anymore. Now I know ahead of time what hormones get riled up. And because nature is such a bitch, they are going to be different ones than before. Now I know that I’m not going to get any sleep. It’s not like I can store up 45 naps to use at a later date. And any of the joy that was shared by the three of us before, now needs shared by four with a three year old who doesn’t share.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly happy. Miss Sally and I wanted to have two kids and that was always the Plan. The reality is that it is sometimes best to be oblivious to some of the realities of pregnancy and child birth. Now I know ahead of time about Braxton-Hick’s contractions and Sally’s unrelenting discomfort and stirring and that there’s more than just water when the water breaks.

So I wish I were dumb. Only because there is responsibility with knowledge. Now that I am not dumb, I can plan ahead for these possible issues. I can be the one that steps up and keeps Greg occupied while Miss Sally doesn’t sleep, but has to try. The fridge can be stocked with vanilla pudding and then re-stocked with chocolate because all of a sudden the sight of vanilla makes Miss Sally nauseous. The heating pad is staged. There is always filtered water. I’ll park the car as far as possible on the right side of the garage.

I guess in the end, me being dumb only helps me. Me not being dumb helps Miss Sally. And besides lifting heavy things, helping Miss Sally is about all I can do that has any merit.

I love me. But I love Miss Sally just a little bit more. (And believe me, that’s a lot.)

Jeff's Wedding

Jeff and Liz got married yesterday. Jeff now holds the world record for the longest kiss. I'm sure they can review the tape and get an accurate timing, but I think it clocked in around 22 minutes.

Nice job and great reception.

And now everyone knows the truth about the bachelor party fight. I told you my recollection was a bit hazy.

Smokin’

Back when I had the greatest job in the world, I spent eight months at the Museum of Natural History in Denver, Colorado. During that time I made friends with Stephanie, who was a volunteer at the museum. We became good friends and better drinking buddies.

Stephanie had a roommate whom I will refer to as The Witch. Well, she was a self proclaimed witch. She had the books and the hair and wore gothy clothes. I didn’t really think she was a witch. That was until Steph and I walked in on her sitting naked in a ring of candles. It might have been a pentagram, but she knocked some over running to the bathroom. (Oh yeah, that reminds me, she was really pale, too.)

The Witch had an ex-boyfriend. He was a drummer. She should have known better. Unlike other drummers, this guy had a job as an assistant manager at a grocery store. Also unlike other drummers, this guy had a car which he left unlocked while he was working as an assistant manager at a grocery store.

One night, The Witch wanted to get some revenge on the ex-boyfriend. I’m not sure who brought the smoke bombs or where they came from, but needless to say, they were there in the car with the three of us as we sat parked across the street from the grocery store. The Witch thought it would be funny if we tossed a smoke bomb in his car and then watched his reaction as he opened up the door.

Steph and I hunkered down in her car as The Witch made her way though the increasingly protective darkness. Like a total dude, the drummer ex had backed into his parking spot. Like a total ass, he parked right up next to the store in one of the better spots. The Witch made it to the car and wisely checked to see if the passenger side backdoor was unlocked. It was. She lit a smoke bomb. In one fluid motion she threw it into the car and slammed the door. Not-so-stealthily she ran back to the car and flopped in the backseat. We quietly laughed hysterically.

We peeked out the windows and waited to see roiling smoke through the windows of his car. We waited for the great gouts of smoke to erupt. We waited. Nothing. Debate ranged between whether the smoke bomb had not gone off or if one was not enough. The solution to both possibilities was to throw two additional smoke bombs into the car.

This time, The Witch walked right up to the car. We could see her silhouette with the store’s double entry doors lit on the other side of the car. She lit the two smoke bombs. She opened the door.

A great murky fog squeezed out from the top, bottom and side of the door. The first smoke bomb had gone off. Whether it was the slight tint to the windows or if we had not been paying enough attention while laughing, we missed that the car had filled with smoke.

With witch-like determination, she tossed the two other smoke bombs in the car, slammed the door and ran back. The first smoke bomb now had two new friends to hang out and smoke with.

I want to remember that we laughed even harder, but I think we were all stunned. If one smoke bomb created that much smoke… shit.

We waited for drummer ex to leave the store. Twenty minutes later, lights started to go off in the building and people started to come out the front doors. As an added bonus, the drummer ex was a kind enough assistant manager to ensure that all the workers got to leave at the same time, so there were five additional witnesses. The bastard made us wait an extra few minutes as he chit chatted with his five buddies. Probably about his stinking band. He then opened his car door.

As expected, smoke belched from the car. Unexpectedly, it just kept coming out. Even in the dark, you could see the smoke oozing out. The other dudes ran over to the car. Drummer ex kept saying, “Dude! Dude!” They opened all the doors. The co-workers insisted that his car was on fire. Drummer ex kept saying, “Dude!”

We drove off before they started looking for witnesses.

Later, after The Witch got back together with the drummer (duh,) we found out some other details. Drummer though that the smokage had been committed by an ex-worker. (We were safe.) The smoke bombs burnt a hole in his carpet, but did not start a fire. (We were not felons.) The car never lost the sulfur smell of the smoke. (We were avenged.)

Steph is now married and a semi-professional photographer. The Witch is into scrapbooking. I’m still trying to figure out where those smoke bombs came from.

Yield

I love yield signs.

The concept is simple: YIELD = merge with traffic, but make sure you give the right of way to oncoming traffic. In some situations, you might have to completely stop, but that would show everyone behind you how much of a pansy you are.

The yield sign has a different meaning depending on which side of the sign my ego is accelerating from.

Say for instance, I am the one with the yield sign. As I approach the sign, I accelerate to match the flow of traffic I'm about to intrude upon. There’s nothing as gratifying as passing someone on the inside of the merge lane. As I accelerate, I expect that if there is a car that is beside me, they will continue on their way and that I will slow down, slightly, to allow them in front of me. I will then slide in behind them like a good little boy. If there is a car right behind the first car, I expect them to understand that I am yielding, but to keep the flow of traffic going, they should maintain their speed to allow me to sneak in. If they do not allow me in, then the next few seconds are a bit hairy. Usually, as the merge lane ends, there are scraps of trash, tires, bits of steel and (if you live in Jersey) mattresses on the side of the road. As you drive over these items, they kick up, like a James Bond car secret weapon, and rain down upon the car behind/beside you. It causes them to change lanes or slow down so that you can merge. You win! You’ve got three flat tires, but damnit you won!

Now let’s say I’m the oncoming traffic and some idiot is trying to merge in MY lane. First off to the mergers, accelerate. Yield sign is red like a stop sign, but that does not mean slow down, so you should use the merge as a launching pad. If you are going as fast as the traffic you are merging with, you’ll have more MPH to negotiate with. As I approach the people merging, I classify them into two categories; Jerks and Grandmas. Jerks are OK. They speed up and cut you off and sometimes kick up a mattress off the side of the road. I can live with that. If I see a spoiler, neon or hear bass from ¼ mile away, I know that with a few hand gesture transactions, we’ll all make it through the yield OK. Grandmas will kill you. You don’t have to have silver hair to be a Grandma either. It’s the hesitating. The stopping. The talking on the cell phone and looking over the shoulder. It’s best to change lanes or just drive into the concrete barrier and be done with it. Grandmas are why everyone is late to work or dead.

Basically, what it boils down to is that yield signs are for everyone else. If I am merging with you, you should be kind enough to let me in. If you are merging with me, follow the law, slow down and get behind me. I would hate to see what would happen in an alternate universe where I would have to merge into traffic with myself.

Conversation

Me to Friend: Are you hooking up with whatshername?
Friend: No.
Me: You can tell me.
Friend: I’m not hooking up with whatshername.
Me: But if you were hooking up with her, you would tell me that you weren’t, right?
Friend: Probably
Me: So, are you hooking up with whatshername?
Friend: No.
Me: That’s all I needed to know.

And the award goes to....

Stu did not win a Grammy last night.

He was up for:
FIELD 24 - PACKAGE
Category 86 - Best Recording Package

In 2003, Stu had a residency at the Coleman Center in Alabama. He wrote and composed some music and had a number of local choirs and individuals sing the lyrics. It’s only a 24 minute album. It's called The Clouds. To me it’s Southern-folk-alternative-gospel. Shows you what I know about music.

It was nominated because of the packaging. A handmade, 7” x 7” folded, rigid composite with a die punched aluminum applique with cotton inset and handwritten liner notes on the interior. (Or a square piece of cardboard with a cotton ball glued on as Shorty called it.)

The packaging was pretty neat. There was no way he was going to win. He was up against Ani DiFranco and Aimee Mann (winner.) Stu originally pressed about 200 CDs and made 200 of the covers for the center, family and the locals. His album was picked up by Annova Records and he was asked to create 300 more… all by hand. Art becomes Labor.

Stu didn’t win. But he didn’t need to. He lives in the moment of the creation and moves on. Sounds like a goofy artistic cliché. He’s all about the journey. I’m all about the destination. Somehow, we seem to get along pretty good. He created the album. All I had to do was buy it.

Next album up for Stu: Shrimp Attack See you at the 49th annual Grammys.

Gun Range

On Thursday, Shorty and I went to a local shooting range. The day before, Shorty not only suggested we should go, he looked up pricing on the internet and he even called to make sure we could get in. Thursday comes around and he’s left his guns at home. He was not committed into going. I was committed. I suckered him into my car with Sirius radio and the West coast replay of Howard Stern. We drove to his place and got the guns. He left the ammo in the apartment and tossed the guns in the trunk. I was automatically assuming that we would get pulled over and I’d have to blurt out that there were guns in the trunk and then the inevitable cop with his foot on the back of your neck as you are eating asphalt. Oddly enough, on the way to the range, we passed by four of Columbus’ finest.

We drove to the range and parked. The place looked as it should; old building in need of paint although it had one last summer. Hand written signs about where not to park and that the proprietor had guns inside. Four cars were parked outside at 12:30pm on a Thursday. I guess you could call that busy. Shorty grabbed his guns and we walked inside. I let him go first.

The inside was very basic. You could say that it was decorated with a wallpaper of guns and gun related accessories. I especially remember the smell. A mix of cigarette smoke (banned nine months prior, but really, whose gonna tell a guy with a sidearm to put out his cigarette?) and what I found out later was gunpowder. It was a very distinct smell that started my heart racing.

Short started talking with one of the gentlemen behind the counter. (Most males behind counters are “guys” and “dudes”. The men behind this counter were gentlemen and sirs.) The two gentlemen looked like they were brothers; same stature, same glasses, same white beard, same white hair. The only difference was that one had less white hair than the other. Shorty wanted an expert to check out a revolver he inherited from his grandfather. He pulled out the lump of metal and unwrapped the red cloth around it. It had a black handle and black everything else. It also had a gun lock on it. The less white hair gentleman said, “Get that thing off of there.”

Shorty had left the trigger lock key at home. He said sir a few times and sorry a few more. He was able to ask him a question and the gentleman was able to open the cylinder and answer it. He did comment that the gun was very nice and in very good condition. Shorty beamed.

The second gun was pulled out in its case. The gentleman behind the counter had Shorty open the box so he could take a look at it. It looked like a BB gun I had as a kid. The gentleman nodded and we were handed eye protection and ear protection. Shorty purchased 100 rounds and a few targets.

“You’ll be in #8 down at the end”
“You got it.” Walk off boldly.
“#8! Go through the other door.”
“Yes, sir!” Skitter skitter skitter.

I don’t want to make this place out to be a hole in the wall, all though there were several thousand. This was definitely not a brushed stainless steel / marble with teak trim. The carpet was stained with copper and black residue. There were empty casings everywhere. The booth walls were marred and scored with dings. It is what it is. We set all our goods down on a bench next to #8.

There were two other guys shooting down in the #5 booth. They were finishing up and from the piles of shells around them, they had been there a while. As the one guy put away a gun, the other grabbed a broom and industrial dust pan and made a few compulsory sweeps along the floor, picking up about 20% of the casings surrounding their booth. Oh well, I clean the same way at home.

Shorty opened the 9mm gun case and pulled out two empty clips. He showed me how to load the clips with 10 bullets. The clips hadn’t been used much, so it was tough getting the last four bullets in. I couldn’t see doing that in the middle of a gun fight.

“Reload!”
“It hurts my fingers, Captain.”

Shorty attached the target and sent it flying forward out 25’.

We inspected the gun. Shorty showed me how to load the clip. Keep it pointed forward. Keep your finger off the trigger. Keep it pointed forward. Release the metal thingy. CLICK. Aim. Pull the trigger. Pull the trigger. Go ahead.

BAM.

I have never fired a hand gun. Now, I’ve played hundreds of video games with guns. I think I’m pretty good. This was no comparison. The gun felt foreign in my hand. The weight and the kick were body jarring. The sound was expected, but even muffled it shocked me. It seemed like there were 15 variables to align and meld to get the bullet to hit the target. As soon as you pulled the trigger, all 15 were scattered and you’d have to start over. Grip the gun. Not to tight. Hold it steady. Line up the sights. Relax. Not too much. Hold the gun straight. Keep it level. Bend your knees. Squeeze, don’t pull the trigger. Prepare for the recoil. Keep it aimed.

BAM. BAM. BAM.

My adrenaline was pumping. I was physically shaking. What a rush.

I squeezed the trigger again and I was out. It’s a very odd feeling when you squeeze and expect a shot. Kinda like when you are walking down stairs and are expecting one more, but hit solid floor instead. I swear I only fired four shots.

Eject the clip. Put the gun down. Shake. I’m such a pussy.

We brought the target forward. I hit all ten times. Five in the white, four in the black and one just barely in the red. The shots were all over the place. Shorty tried to be congratulatory. “Well, you at least zoned in on the center.” I didn’t have any idea which shot hit where and when. But hey, one in the middle. Mostly.

Well, to sum up, I’m hooked. We ended up buying 50 more rounds, firing off a total of 75 apiece. My aiming seemed to get worse as I gained confidence. Still, it was exciting, fun and over time I felt more comfortable with holding the gun. I’m hooked.

Shorty packed up the guns and threw way the empty bullet boxes as well as most of the used targets. We kept two. (I hung one on the wall at work. That kind of freaks co-workers out.) As he was putting away the guns, I grabbed the broom and industrial sized dustpan and started cleaning up some of the shell casings on the ground. When you shoot off a 9mm gun, the empty casings go flying in a most random fashion. I’d love to isolate the ting of them bouncing off the walls and floor, but you can’t hear it though the ear ringing BAM of the gun. I swept and discarded and swept.

As I swept up, Shorty went back up front to pay for our ½ hour. The gentleman with more white hair looked at our equipment sign out sheet and said, “Well, I see one set of ear protection, but you signed out for two. Unless you’ve got a second head, we might have a problem.” Shorty replied quickly , “Oh, my friend still has his. He’s cleaning up.”

“He’s what?”

They leaned forward to look through the lexan barrier at booth #8. I didn’t see them look at me, but Shorty said the gentleman was slightly amused if not amazed watching me sweep up.

“Well, I’ve got something for him when he comes out.”

I finished up. Finished up in an Augean stables impossible way. I could have been in there twelve hours. I mean shit, there were shell casings in the roof. I walked out and thought I was in trouble.

“What were you doing in there?”
“Um, sweeping up, sir?”
“You didn’t have to do that, son. Here, I like you.”

He handed me a gold token, good for ½ of shooting. “Thanks!”

Per usually, I had to say something wiseassish, “I’m not going to leave a mess in a place where everyone carries a gun.” The gentleman replied, “See, an armed society is a polite society.” We all laughed our manly laugh and left.

We plan on going back next week. This time with the trigger lock key.