Monday, January 22, 2018


Me, Tackling Dave

My brother Dave is around five years older than me. When I was a kid, I thought he was the greatest. So smart, so strong, and I assume he was handsome because he had all the girls in the neighborhood after him. He and I hung out together quite a bit. I remember him saving me from a tornado one summer afternoon. He dragged me three blocks, across fences, and into our basement ahead of the twister. Okay, the tornado had already passed by that time, but it's the thought that counts. Dave also saved me from a crazed bull at the Four H Fair when I was around five years old. Okay, once again it might not have been just like that. It wasn't a bull, it was a calf and it didn't really threaten me. I was terrified when I saw it and stepped into a pail of water. Dave took me home so I could put on a dry shoe and sock. In the summertime we sailed homemade toy boats down the poop infested Midlothian Creek, explored the forest at the edge of town, and caught frogs in the swamp that is now Lewis Memorial Park (It was much more fun when it was a swamp). Wintertime meant snowball fights with neighbor kids while we hid in a snow fort built at the edge of the street. We went sledding down the hill in the woods behind Willow Lane. That hill seemed to be a hundred feet high, but it probably wasn't more than six feet high. Dave and I had a good time back then, so that's why I am always glad to see him now that he has entered his twilight years.

Dave came up to Chicago this past weekend to babysit Mom. Her live in caretaker had the weekend off and Dave wanted to do his part, so he spent two days with Mom. Dave lives in Florida and we don't see that much of him anymore. That's why I drove out to Tinley Park on Saturday to spend some time catching up on things. Dave and I have always been quite physical with each other, meaning, fist fights (Usually slap fights), wrestling, and mayhem. It was as if we were ten years old again. There in my Mother's house on Saturday, Dave and I started a little push, shove thing in the hallway. All in good natured fun, but without my mom to put her foot down and tell us to stop that goddamned fighting (Yes, Mom used to swear). But Mom didn't need to referee us. Dave is married. His wife, Judy is familiar with our behavior and she did a very respectable job of telling us to "Stop that fighting."  (Notice, Judy doesn't swear.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

I See Dog People

A foot of snow? No problem, Chandler can sniff out a morsel, dig through that snow, and scarf it down in seconds.
Tennis ball went under the sofa two months ago? Scout gets bored and knows exactly where a fun toy is... under the sofa!
I'm in the kitchen quietly trying to find a snack. I am seriously quiet, stealthy, I snuck in there while both dogs were sleeping. I find that Mark has left an apple fritter in the donut box so I slide it out gingerly. Not a sound did I make, but one crumb drops to the floor. A teeny, tiny crumb. Before I can even bend over to pick it up, Scout is there. She heard the crumb hit the floor.
Both dogs are sleeping on the floor in the hallway. Suddenly, in unison, their heads pop up, their ears go to attention. It's the mailman. No, he's not downstairs putting mail in the hallway. He's across the street in his truck, just sitting, sorting some mail. The dogs know he's there and start barking. Every goddamned day they do this.

I am constantly in awe of my dogs and their senses. Smell, sight, hearing, they have it all. I'm pretty sure that Chandler and Scout think I am terribly handicapped. They wonder, what's wrong with that guy? I can't see what they see, I can't smell what they smell, and I never hear what they are hearing. They probably look on me with pity and are only loyal to me because they feel sorry for the feeble human. Honestly, the only thing I have that they don't have are fingers. I have the ability to open cabinets, to open the door and let them out, and the ability to attach the leash and take them for a walk. They probably wonder why I waste such a talent bagging their poop.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Return of The Mack

Back in the 1970s, when I was a young man, the area around State Street and Randolph Streets had many large movie theaters. These theaters had seen their days and were starting to get a bit dilapidated. Revenues were down and most had switched over to what was called, "Blaxploitaion" movies. Some of these movies were not too bad, like Shaft and Super Fly, and had some great soundtracks. I never was able to see those movies until Turner Classic Movies started showing them. I was too scared to ever go into those downtown movie theaters. I'd be the one white kid in a sea of scary black people. The truth is that I would have been just fine, because I have learned that white people are much scarier than black people. So anyway, I didn't get to see any of those movies in the 1970s. 

Yesterday I watched a Blaxploitation movie called "The Mack". It was made in 1973 and had all the production values, the soundtrack, and the acting of a period porn movie but without the sex. The part that I liked best was the 'Players Ball' segment, where the pimp of the year award was given out. It was filmed in Oakland, California and had real pimps, real prostitutes, and came across as authentic pimp home movies. The Players Ball had everything, big floppy hats, fur coats, spangled whore dresses, and best of all, the pimp-mobiles.

I still remember seeing pimp-mobiles gliding down the Dan Ryan Expressway back in the 1970s. Gigantic Cadillacs all 'pimped' out with fake gold where chrome should be, big round headlights, Rolls Royce grills, and the big puffy, landau roofs. I wanted one. Seriously, back then I wanted one of those pimp-mobiles. Not because they were the height of style, but because they looked so cool cruising down the city streets and because I knew they would not be around long. They were of a specific time and place. Just think how cool I would have looked. A skinny, long haired white boy driving down the Dan Ryan with my floppy hat and fake fur coat. I probably would have been shot.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Hole

I have about half a dozen unfinished projects around the house. At some point in the progression of a project, I get overwhelmed and push it out of my mind. I have some touch up painting on the walls that needs to be taken care of, but I just keep the lights low so you can't see it. That seems to keep Mark off my ass for now. In the basement are at least three things that need finishing. Right now I can blame the cold for not following up on those because there is no heat in the basement other than ambient heat from the boiler room. My worst half finished job is in the bathroom. I can't hide from it, I can't hide it from Mark. He looks at it every day and gives me reminders, from subtle digs to outright yelling about it. What happened is that I took down the bathroom mirror so that I could install a new to us, used medicine cabinet. The medicine cabinet was found at a flea market and is the perfect fit for the age of our house. It has that authentic 1920s look. The problem is that the hole where it is supposed to go has been yawning at us for almost a year now because I can't get the old adhesive off the tile around it. Somebody had used Liquid Nails to attach the modern mirror that I took down, and Liquid Nails is very hard to remove. I am slowly moving towards finishing the job. I have a tool that I borrowed from a friend, I have a drop cloth, and I found my safety eye goggles yesterday. I have placed these items within a few feet of the bathroom so that if a sudden burst of energy comes over me, I will be ready to attack that job. That's my other problem, energy. In the morning as I shave and stare into the temporary mirror that I put up, I think to myself 'I'm going to do it. Today I'm going to finish this mirror business.' And then I eat breakfast, take a nap after breakfast, and in no time at all I find that it is nearly cocktail hour. Seems to happen every damn day.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dad Comes Calling

Dad visited last night. We were in some sort of indoor batting facility and I was being lobbed pitches while Dad watched. I would swing and miss while Dad would critique my swing, and he did it without cursing.
"No, you swung right past that ball. Why do you move so stiff? I'll tell you what, I have a friend who can teach you how to swing a bat."
Dad mentioned the name of a man who I recognized as a famous Major League Baseball player. A dead baseball player. Then I realized Dad still thinks that I'm a kid. So I told him I wouldn't need his friend and showed him my knee with the four little scars on it.
"Look, I have bone on bone arthritis in this knee." Then I pointed to my ankle, "And I have a bone chip and missing cartilage in my ankle. Besides, my body is getting kind of old and stiff in general."
Dad looked over at me, by now we were in the car and he was driving, and all he said was "Oh, okay."

A few things about this. First, I love it when my dad shows up in my dreams. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, he seems happy. Also, it was cool that my dad knows a famous baseball player. I guess when you're dead you meet new people. Mostly, I was surprised that he didn't know everything about me. He didn't know what I have been up to all these years. That means he isn't hovering over me watching every single thing I do all day, and that is a very good thing... considering the stuff I look at on the internet.