Monday, January 26, 2015

Banks Bank

He was the first black player on the Chicago Cubs, was a Gold Glove winner, was elected MVP of the National League twice, picked to play in fourteen All Star games, was the National League home run champion two years in a row, and was the all time most beloved Chicago Cub ever. And I got to shake his hand and have a little chat with him thirty four years ago. It had nothing at all to do with baseball.
"Hello there. How are you doing today? Did the Bank of Ravenswood take good care of you?" Asked the tall black man in the suit coat.
I was walking through the lobby of the Bank of Ravenswood in Chicago and the very familiar looking man had stopped to talk to me.
"Um, uh...  yes." I stammered out, realizing it was Ernie Banks.
"Were you able to get all your business done?"
"Well, yes." I answered.
"Is there anything else I can help you with today?" Ernie asked me.
There wasn't. I had just closed my account at the bank, I was moving my money to a bank closer to my new apartment further south. But how do you tell Ernie Banks that you aren't going to be using his bank anymore? I mumbled something about having to close my account and Ernie Banks shook my hand and thanked me for my business. With a big smile he promised me that if I ever wanted to open an account again, I would be most welcome. So why was Ernie Banks, one of the greatest baseball players in history, greeting people and talking to schmucks like me in the lobby of a Bank ? Why did Ernie Banks have to take a job in a small Chicago bank after a long baseball career? Maybe it had something to do with his salary for all those years he played ball.




Friday, January 23, 2015

The Redheaded Step Child

You just know that smells bad
I live in a very odd neighborhood. Ninety nine percent of the homes around us are waterfront and expensive. Then you have our street. We are the redheaded step child of the neighborhood. I'm not complaining, it makes things a little interesting in this boring land of eternal summer. One of my favorite bizarre behaviors of a neighbor, of all time, was when the lady across the street warned me not to walk my dog Chandler to the end of the street. She said it wasn't safe, and that she had been watching aliens from outer space hanging around down there all night. Unfortunately for her, she has ended up in an institution down in Miami, her dog was picked up by animal control and killed, and her husband lost everything and has been living in the bushes around town. Which brings me to another neighbor. When this neighbor moved in next door I planted a row of palms to protect me from the view of his various boats, and his cars and trucks on jacks. Don't get me wrong, I like the guy. I just don't like looking at his property. This morning I noticed my dogs were very curious about something on the other side of the fence. So curious that they commenced barking at the gate nearest the front parking area. It wasn't until I took them for a walk later that I noticed that one of the neighbor's boats was gone. In its place was a white SUV, and a tent. Somebody had pitched a tent right in my neighbor's front yard. I looked things over and it seems that somebody is living in the tent. For now I'll let things be, because I really don't know the story. I don't know if it's temporary, or maybe an act of charity for some homeless person, I just don't know. What I do know, is that the person living in the tent is either a young man with long hair who wears some kind of weird hat, or it's a woman. A very rough looking woman.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tell Alicia

I was trying to think of a new Alicia and Alexis video for today, but I came up with nothing. If anybody has any ideas of what kind of a situation they'd like to see those two in, leave a comment. For now, here's a re-run of one of my favorites. It's as disturbing as it is funny, so that means it is good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Pee Room

When I bought this house I had plans for the little sun room off of the living room. It has floor to ceiling windows on two sides, and long ago I tiled the floor so that it looked like brick. At one point I had it set up as a guest bedroom for when my parents and others visited. The only drawback was that when they closed it off for privacy there was no air-conditioning. Anyway, I never intended to keep it as a guest bedroom. My plan was to remove the floor to ceiling windows that faced north and install French doors that opened to the wood deck out back. I would still love to do that but a tight budget and procrastination have stood in the way. Instead that room has become the place for the storage of liquor, cook books, and just about anything that Mark cannot find a place for. I realized yesterday that the sun room had become a lost cause when I asked Mark what to do with some large bowls I had just washed.
"Put them in the pee room."
"The pee room?"
Mark looked at me as if I were a dunce.
"They go in the pee room with the other bowls."
That is when it hit me. The sun room has become the pee room because a little over a year ago I trained Bette to pee on her puppy pee pads that I had set along the floor to ceiling windows. She has never given up that option to pee in there. If I am sound asleep and no amount of walking on top of me can get me to awaken and let her out, Bette simply goes into the sun room and pees on the puppy pee pads. So if you come to visit and I offer you a cocktail, just move over into the pee room and help yourself. Watch your step though.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's a Neighborly Day in This Beauty Wood

Our little street is comprised of nothing but rental buildings. Besides the guy next door, I am the only resident/owner on the block. The rest of the street is made up of renters who consist of weirdos, old people, hipsters, gay guys, lesbians, and rednecks. Across the street is a guy who never turns on the air-conditioning, not even when the temperature is near one hundred and the humidity isn't far behind. At the end of the street is a building with a parking lot full of pickup trucks. That's where the rednecks live. Then there is the pot head on the corner. He's a very nice guy who always has a dog cookie for Chandler. Next to the guy who never uses his air-conditioning is a nice young straight couple with two adorable pit bulls. Bette loves them, both the pit bulls and the humans. It's a street full of diversity, all races, all religions, the proverbial melting pot.

Yesterday, while I was walking Chandler, I noticed the guy who owns the building two doors down was showing a young couple the apartment that he's been trying to rent out for the last two months. Here's the problem. I looked over at the young couple, a woman and a man, and my lizard brain took over. For a few seconds, maybe more than a few, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling of worry washed over me. You see the young woman was what my sick little mind took as normal, she was white, but the man was black. Not mocha, not Obama like, but black. With dreadlocks... and a pit bull dog. They had brought their dog along for the landlord to see, which is something I also like prospective tenants to do. Anyway, it didn't take long for my rational brain to beat back my lizard brain that was freaking out over the prospect of a black neighbor.

"You already have black neighbors. The nicest guy on the block is black. Your nephew married a black girl and they'll eventually have black children who will be your blood relatives. For krissakes asshole, you live with a black man. You've done things with him....  "

All that went through my mind in less than a second and I regained my sanity. But the lesson that I take from this is that anybody can be a racist. No matter how we white people try to re-train ourselves to think differently, there is always that tiny grain of intolerance floating around up there. The lizard brain. Be aware of it, fight it, and try very hard not to judge others before you know them. I hope you all had a nice Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Whiney the Poo

To learn more about Mandy, click here.

One of the employees over at Abandoned Pet Rescue took ill the other day, so I again volunteered to spend the morning cleaning up the big dog room. As I was herding dogs out to the 'back yard' so that I could clean out their kennels, the lady in charge came up to me and told me that, "You need to record your hours so we can pay you". I assured her that it wasn't necessary, that I was a volunteer who was doing it for the animals. I wouldn't be taking any money that could be spent on improving the lot of these dogs and cats. So I continued going about my duties as that morning's chief dog shit picker-upper. Unfortunately for me the dogs had, had a bad night of it. I don't know if it was a change in the food, or something else, but there was more crap than usual. As I went down the line checking each of their kennels out, some of the dogs in their excitement were flinging bits and pieces of poo and droplets of something moist out through the gates. No problem, a little soap and water and you'd never even know I had dog poo/pee stuck to my arm. I have a pretty strong stomach, which you definitely need doing that job, but I think I finally met my match. When I got to the big black Labrador retriever, Mandy, it was obvious that she had come down with a case of diarrhea. It smelled so bad that for the first time in all the years I've been volunteering at APR, I came within milliseconds of vomiting. It was sheer will power that kept my morning bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats from coming back up, and it honestly made me rethink that offer of being paid to do this. I then realized that there was no amount of money in the world that would make scooping up puddles of dog diarrhea palatable. They just couldn't pay me enough, so I'll continue to do it for free.