Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Respect My Authority

We have dipped the torches in kerosene, and sharpened our pitchforks. The villagers are getting ready to storm the castle. Well not quite, we actually are getting ready to take on city hall. It's the residents against the gigantic gay resort, part one.

In a previous story I told of how they plan to tear down the church at the end of our block and build a five story, one hundred and twenty five unit, gay resort/hotel complex. Now obviously it's not the gay part I worry about, that's actually a plus. It's the traffic and noise thing that has caused the entire neighborhood to be up in arms. In an attempt to block the complex, this past Thursday an anti G-resort meeting was called for all who wanted to attend. So many irate citizens showed up that folks were spilling out of the room, and out into the hallway.

About a hundred and thirty people came to the meeting in a very pissed off and angry mood, and after an hour of people coming up with all sorts of cockamamie ideas, it was finally decided that we'd have a petition, and all show up at every city hall, and zoning meeting en masse. What's more, each block in the neighborhood was to have a block captain to make sure everyone signed the petition, and showed up at the meetings. Guess who was named block captain for our block.

Thank you, thank you. I want to say that I am humbled by your choice and trust in me, and I pledge that I will fulfill my role as Block Captain to the best of my ability. Yes, I am the block captain. Of course the fact that I was the only person from our block to show up at the meeting might have something to do with that.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fat Boy

I walked out into the living room and there in the middle of the room was the kitty litter box. That it was in the center of the room was strange enough, but the fact is we keep it under a counter in the kitchen (Yes I know, not very appetizing, but it's the best spot, close to the garbage can).  How the hell did it get there? The cats aren't strong enough, the only possibility was Chandler. Sure enough I found him cowering in my office, the look of shame on his face. He had apparently caught his dog collar on the lip of the cat box while partaking in that irresistible delicacy, cat poop encrusted with scoopable litter. I can only assume he tried to back out of the thing and dragged it all the way into the next room.

I’m fairly certain that if I left Chandler alone in a room with unlimited food, he’d eat until he exploded. Chandler eats everything. Everything except dog food designed for overweight dogs, which he will leave in the bowl until he feels he might starve to death, and then he’ll only eat it grudgingly. He'd rather eat the cat poop, or lizards, or even a stick he found out on the street.

Speaking of exploding, Mark must have noticed that I lost a few pounds while we were in Chicago. I opened the freezer and found a load of ice cream sandwiches and my favorite, Blue Bell pistachio and almond ice cream. On top of that he’s been whipping up some scrumptious dinners lately, and baking cakes and cookies. I don’t know if he’s trying to kill me with food, but it might have been a mistake to finally go over to the lawyers and sign that will. I should have put in a clause that cut him out if I died from too much cholesterol.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So Sari Chandler

When I was a kid, my dad would drive us to grandma's house and I'd stare out the car window at the neat little homes occupied by Polocks, Lugans, Micks...... oops I mean Polish, Lithuanians, and Irish. Just a year later my dad would take the exact same route to grandma's, and all the faces of the neighborhood would be changed. They'd all be black, the result of the most nefarious scheme in real-estate, blockbusting.

I thought about that when Mark took me to an Indian restaurant in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. The place was on West Devon Avenue on the north side, and the last time I was in that neighborhood, thirty years ago, it was all Jewish. In thirty years the place had gone from delis and 'wholesale' stores, to a little slice of India, albeit without the smell. There was not one Jewish business left, it was all saris, phone card stores, and travel agencies that only seemed to book tours of India or Pakistan.

Mark has taken me to an Indian restaurant before, in Fort Lauderdale. It wasn't very good. I couldn't be sure if I was eating cat or goat, even though the meat was listed as chicken on the menu. That and the overwhelming smell of the curry made it not a very satisfying experience. The place Mark had picked out for us this evening, however, was not that bad, and the fact that we could bring our own bottle of wine helped immensely.

One of the best things about going out to eat with Mark is that he is always confident that he can make what we just ate better, and on the way home he promised that he'd be trying to cook Indian food when we returned to Florida. Well he did, and it was. Mark made some Indian fish that was spectacularly good, followed the next day by something called tandoori chicken. The chicken was orgasmic. In fact it was so damn good I asked him to make it again, and it was just as good the second time. He blew that Indian restaurant out of the water. The only problem with eating all this Indian food is the gas. Poor Chandler, he likes to sleep on the bed snuggled right up against me, and I pretty much kept him up all night long doing the tandoori toot.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meet the Candidates

I would make such a horrible news reporter. Last Wednesday a gaggle of gay candidates had a 'meet and greet' at our favorite bar, including the 'One strike, your dog is dead' guy, Ken Keechl. So Mark and I went. What pisses me off is that I had the video camera in my pocket, and in the heat of all the discussions, I forgot to pull it out and at least get something on it.

When Mark had suggested we go and talk to the candidates, I asked myself, is that such a good idea? I've been with Mark many times when he starts talking politics, and he tends to get a bit frenetic. His arms start flailing, his voice rises to a pitch that only dogs can appreciate, and before you know it he's throwing out malapropisms left and right. As a precaution, when we arrived, I headed straight for my favorite bartender and ordered a couple of drinks. I hadn't noticed that we grabbed two bar stools next to a pair of guys wearing all the accoutrement of political sycophants. They had on the candidate tee shirts and buttons, and applauded wildly every time their favorite candidate was mentioned. By the time I got the drinks and turned to Mark, he was already enmeshed in a heated discussion with them about Ken Keechl.

"You guys are tea baggers, aren't you?" one of them said, as he stabbed the air with his finger.
It was too late. The discussion had apparently turned into an argument, and every time I tried to interject, and explain that I just wanted to ask Ken Keechl about the dog law, I was accused of being a tea party crazy guy. After a few back and forth hysterics between Mark, the tea bagger guy, and me, I finally broke down and turned into my dad. "You're a fucking nut, that's what you are, a fucking nut." I shouted. That did it. The bartender and everyone within earshot looked at me, and the two guys stood up and walked away.

Where they went, was right over to Ken Keechl to give him the 411 on the guys laying in wait for him at the bar. Instead of going the other way to avoid us, he came over and engaged us in a very civil conversation about his dog ordinance. I have to give him credit for that. He explained that the problem was with the judges misinterpreting the ordinance and not the law. I then suggested that maybe he should change the law so it wasn't quite so ambiguous, which he agreed to look into. I told him that if he was sincere about that I'd consider voting for him. He then smiled, looked into my eyes, and said, "Oh, just between you and me, I can't lose." and he walked away.

What it might have looked like if I had taken a photo.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Paper or Plastic, Asshole

Once in a while I say things out loud that I really only meant to think. This morning, while at the supermarket to stock up on cat food, I blurted out my true feelings.

You have to understand that it had been building since we walked in the door of the Publix. The first thing I encountered as I pushed the cart through the door was an obese woman and her kids. They were blocking all access to the store while she scanned the sales brochure looking to see if she could afford to pack on more fat. With a gentle nudge of the cart against her ass, she finally got the hint and moved on only to reveal another obese couple. This time it was two gay 'bears' chatting away in the middle of the aisle, probably comparing notes on what removes back hair better, Nair or Epilady.

After negotiating my way past them, I finally got to the pet food aisle where I encountered a man standing in front of the cat food with his cart. He was staring intently at the shelves, oblivious to all around him, seemingly trying to levitate the cans into his cart. It wasn't working so I squeezed myself in between him and the cat food to retrieve a case of Nine Lives, and a bag of Friskies. This apparently awoke him from his trance, and excusing himself he pushed his cart over my toes, and moved it a whole three feet down where he continued to stare at the cat food.

I am not a good shopper. Mark seems so at ease in a store. It's like he was born to roam the aisles, and is naturally drawn to the best deals. He slips between the fat people, and around the displays like a cat on a hunt, while I lumber through like a crazed bull. That's why when I approached the checkout counters, and spotted two short lines out of the five, I started rolling fast towards them, scaring people out of my path. Just as I got to the first one a young woman pulled into the lane. Fine, I kept moving and went for the next one, except the young woman changed her mind and she went for that one. That's when I blurted out, "For Christ sakes, make up your mind!"

I didn't mean to shout it out, but something snapped and out it came. The reaction was swift. Heads spun around to see who the asshole was, and the young lady shrunk back, sputtering apologies. I have to tell you, I did feel like an asshole, but at least I was the first asshole in line.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Every time I travel, I have a little anxiety attack just before I return home. In my mind I picture starving or dead cats. I fully expect that when I drive up to the house I'll find a nothing but scorched walls, a burned out shell of my home. I imagine walking into the back yard and finding a green pool, filled with an algae soup three feet below the rim, with the pool pump fried from pumping air. None of that happened.

We arrived home in the afternoon and found that other than weeds growing a foot tall, which happens even when I am home, nothing was out of place. Upon stepping into the entry hall, I could see out the back door that Lindsey and Britney, the outdoor cats, were lounging next to the sparkling blue swimming pool, fat and happy. Everything looked to be in order. My tenants had followed my orders precisely, and all was well. Then I opened the door.

The odor hit me like a sucker punch. A stew of stale cat food, and sixteen days of dirty kitty litter assaulted my nose. It was my own fault. I did not spell out exactly what to do in my instructions. Yes, I left a detailed note on how to feed Carlotta and Fat Kitty, at what times, and what pill to give which cat. In plain black and white I told the folks who would be watching the house, all about how the back yard cats were to be fed, at what time, and how much. What I forgot to make clear is that they needed to rinse out the cat food cans before throwing them into the kitchen trash can, and also to scoop the kitty litter every day and throw it in the garbage can outside the kitchen door.

After airing out the house, throwing out the garbage, and using up an entire bottle of Frabreze, we managed to make the place habitable. We were home, and glad of it. Oh, and both Carlotta and Fat Kitty were alive and glad to see us, and happy that we cleaned out their litter box so that they wouldn't have to piss on the bathroom rug anymore.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We'll Leave The Lights On For Y'all

Coming back home from Chicago, we stopped at a hotel in Georgia, where I had to sign an agreement that we wouldn't leave the dog alone in the room. This was a little problematic, since after the long drive we wanted to have a couple of drinks, so we were obliged to bring Chandler along with us when we went down to the hotel bar for cocktails. Luckily, drunks love dogs. One of the patrons was gushing all over Chandler when she asked, "So who's dog is Chandler?".
"He's ours.", I replied.
She looked at me, then at Mark, and I could see the gears whirring around behind her bleary eyes. "Oh, I see.", She snipped, and that was the last of her.

Traveling with a dog has it's challenges. On our way up to Chicago we stayed at a motel just north of Atlanta. It was the only one we could find that would allow a dog over twenty five pounds. When I took Chandler out for his late night walkies, I discovered why they didn't care about the dog. Between the prostitutes, and their pimps lurking in front of the motel, and the rats running across the parking lot, Chandler was considered a higher class of tenant.

That motel wasn't even the worst. In Tennessee we were stuck in a dump called the Sleep Inn. I dare say, very little sleeping is actually done there. The view out of our room window was of the air-conditioning system, and an Arby's drive thru. Inside the room, the carpeting was a slimy, dirty mess, and on each bed were filthy duvets. I immediately threw the duvets on the floor when we arrived, envisioning all the naked asses that had sat on them over the years. I was also very careful to not let my bare feet ever touch that floor. Chandler on the other hand found the place to be a wonderland of odors. It was kind of unsettling when he would come across a spot on the carpet, and spend an inordinate amount of time snuffling up the aroma. In fact I was almost relieved when he lost interest in the carpeting, and discovered how much fun it was to leap from bed to bed. Which he did, off and on, for a couple of hours. Despite the fact that I felt dirtier after taking a shower in that room, and I had to listen to Mark carp the whole time about the dump I had picked out for our stay, I was happy. My dog was with me, and my dog was happy. He got to groove on some really funky odors, and nobody yelled at him when he jumped on the furniture.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mark's Promise

On our drive back home to Florida we decided that trying to do it in two days was insane. Okay, I actually decided that letting Mark drive at all was insane, but I had no choice. In fact, after sitting in the passenger seat for a few hours listening to Mark's constant whining, and screaming, while huge semi-trucks loomed in our rear view mirrors, I decided that Mark was insane. There was also this.
Mark, "How does this cruise thingy work again?"
Me, "Push the button in, and when you reach the speed you want push down on the lever."
At that point Mark would speed up to seventy five miles per hour, and push down on the lever. As the car slowly drifted back down to thirty miles per hour I'd ask, "Did you push in the button?"
"Stop yelling at me, I can't figure this crap out, why are you so mean to me.........  " (For years Mark was responsible for the operation of the County Courts computer system, yet cruise control is a mystery to him)
He would then begin sobbing while at the same time berating me for screaming at him not to get us killed.

I was laying back in the seat with a nice little pillow under my head, resting. It was very relaxing, Mark had actually driven ten minutes without panicking, and the hum of the pavement lulled me into a semi-conscious stupor.
"How do I speed up with this cruise control?", Mark asked, jarring me back to reality.
"Push the lever up to speed up, push down to slow down. Up, speed up, down, slow down. Easy, just remember that."
Two minutes later, as I was drifting off to sleep.
"How do I slow down?"
"Like I said, push down to slow down, Push up to speed up. Down, slow down, up, speed up."
I again tried to sit back and relax, unable to actually sleep knowing some highway mystery would perplex Mark within minutes.

So why was I trying to get some sleep while Mark was doing all the driving? Here is the truth. I drove ninety percent of the way to Chicago and back. This little respite from me trying to drive with my blindness, was because I was actually seeing double with what little sight I have left. Mark's promise of driving all the way to Chicago ended around Port Saint Lucie, Florida, and I had to make a decision. Do I want to die with Mark at the wheel, or take a chance that my vision is just good enough to see the white lines on the interstate? That's how bad a driver Mark is, I chose to drive. My only other option was Chandler, and he's only a marginally better driver than Mark.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Photo Friday

Chandler goes to Nashville
 Chandler in front of the Ryman Auditorium

On Broadway helping me choose a bar to go to

Chandler with Elvis and Pervis

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mark's Ass

I am an ass. More specifically I am Mark’s ass. No I don’t mean that I am two, skinny, caramel colored bags of flesh hanging off Mark’s backside. I mean that I have become Mark’s pack animal. His donkey for carrying various suitcases, shopping bags, and whatever else he has accumulated during the course of our trip to Chicago. As I write this little blog entry, my back is killing me. I have schlepped heavy suitcases up stairs, and bags of dirty laundry back down. When we go shopping, or even if we are just passing through an area, Mark ends up with bags and bags of crap that he ‘just had to have’ that I end up carrying.

A few years ago Mark bought a cute picnic basket with dishes, wine glasses, and all the other accoutrements necessary to recreate a Georges Seurat painting. Ever since he dragged that thing home he has been begging me to go on a picnic with him. I have been pooh poohing that idea because I know it will end up with me dragging that heavy picnic basket across hundreds of yards of sand dunes, or through woods infested with bugs. Believe it or not he actually brought that thing up here to Chicago, with the intention of having me lug it along for some genteel gathering in the park that he imagined we would be going to. Wrong! I’ve seen picnics here in Chicago parks. Basically they consist of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans barbequing chicken, and kicking a soccer ball across gay boys picnic blankets. I hate picnics, but I managed to compromise with Mark this time. Instead of the picnic basket, he has allowed me to carry all his picnic stuff in a back pack strapped on my back. Just like a pack animal.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Look Ma No Hands

Mark and I saw Billy Elliot last week. The good Billy Elliot, not the Asian Billy Elliot , or the Mexican Billy Elliot , or the Italian one. No, we saw the Caucasian, American Billy Elliot as god intended. You see because the part is so arduous, they have four kids playing the title role of an English boy living in a dying coal town, and we lucked out and saw it with the race appropriate Billy. Now I am all for color blind casting, but within reason. You wouldn’t cast Whoopi Goldberg to play Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, and Britney Spears as Prissy, that just wouldn’t be right. Well maybe Britney as Prissy would be okay. Anyway, it was a great show, and the kid who played Billy was fantastic. In fact, it was so good Mark didn’t have to nudge me even once to keep me from nodding off.

Going to the theater is not one of my favorite things. Mostly I do it for Mark. Yes I enjoy it, but some of the inconveniences involved tend to put it down on my list of fun things. Half time, or intermission as they call it, is never long enough. The curtain comes down, the lights come up, and I race to the lobby where I need to make a snap decision. Do I go for the cocktail before the line gets too long, or the toilets before that line is out the door. This night I chose the toilets first.

As I scurry into the restroom there is one urinal available, which I quickly sidle up to. I don’t know if women have this problem, but I tend to be pee shy in public toilets, and if anything is out of place, everything locks down. After I unzipped and prepared to go, I noticed the guy next to me was reading a program at the urinal. It was when he stood there with one hand holding the program, and turned the page with the other hand that my urethra pinched shut, and everything was sent backwards up into my bladder. I don’t know what was going on down below, maybe he had a third hand or he was just one of those straight shooters, but I decided to go up to the bar, join the folks in line up there, and pray for a short second act.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ravinia Smack Down

Last week we went to the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago to see Patti LuPone. Ravinia is sort of a Lollapalooza for gays and snooty rich people, except that instead of getting high on pot and being mashed together with a bunch of sweaty people, the nice folks sit in lawn chairs and sip wine by candle light. It’s all quite civilized.

Most people get to Ravinia early so that they can find a decent spot on the lawn to spread out their chairs and picnic blankets, and maybe even get a glimpse of the stage. Mark and I went early and got to the park two hours before the performance, where we procured a nice location on a small rise about a mile from the ’good’ lawn seats. I didn’t consider it that bad a spot because we had easy access to the toilets, and with the help of binoculars we could see the tops of the heads of the very last row of pavilion patrons, but not the actual stage.

By the time the show started all the lawn space had been taken up, and as we sat there watching the backs of the hundreds of people between us and the actual show, two mothers with two young girls came straggling up looking for a place to camp out. I pulled our picnic blanket aside and offered them a few feet of room when one of the little girls whined, “Is this where you’re going to put us mommy?”  Mommy immediately took the girl’s hand and escorted her away, to discipline her and tell her about manners I surmised. I apparently surmised wrong. A few minutes later she came skipping back with an ice cream cone, and after a few words back and forth she blurted out, while glaring over at me as if I were some kind of alien monster, “What? We’re not moving from this horrible spot?” Once again mommy took her by the hand and led her away. Probably to buy her a puppy and a new car.

My dad, Big Al, would have never stood for that kind of behavior. His discipline was swift and harsh. A quick flash of hand was all you saw before you were seeing stars. I know most people don’t approve of physical punishment and do the nicey nice things, like time out and bribery with an ice cream cone, but Big Al’s swift justice worked on me. A time out for Big Al was the time between when you acted like a little asshole, and the time he got his belt out. In fact, I knew enough not to even open my mouth like that little girl did. Of course that situation wouldn’t ever have come up when we were kids, because my dad would never have taken us to such a snooty place to begin with.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Photo Friday

Chandler goes to the big city.                                          "Nice skyline, ahhhhhhhhh, and I like the grass too."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Video Thursday

This is not a put on. This is really Mark driving the way he always drives. I have to admit, the longer we are in Chicago, the better he is driving. However, there are no hills, or curves in Chicago.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pray for Titties

On our little drive up to Chicago I noticed something peculiar as we motored through Florida. Just north of Orlando we seemed to enter an alternate reality. At some point the Flag of the United States was no longer displayed, and in it’s place huge Confederate Stars and Bars waved from flag poles along the highway. We had driven north into the ‘South‘, where that word is not actually a direction on the map, but a state of mind. Albeit a confused state of mind.

Now you have to realize that this is my knee jerk opinion. This opinion is based solely on what I observed within eye-shot of the Interstate highway system that runs through the Confederate States of America. What I found is that southerners love Jesus in a very public, and scary sort of way, while at the same time they patronize titty bars, and love to blow up firecrackers. At least that’s the impression I got from the billboards along the highway. If I were to make an assumption about what they love the most based upon the number of billboards, I would say titties. Titties by a long shot, followed by a scary form of Christianity, with firecrackers running a distant third.

Oh, and there is one more thing I discovered about the south. They have very dirty bathrooms. Just ask Mark, he grabbed for a paper towel at a roadside gas station, and came up with a used baby diaper. We actually got into a fight about that one. He said it was my fault because I chose the gas station. Personally I don’t think we could have found one much cleaner than that. After all, if it’s clean enough to change the baby’s diaper it must be clean enough to take a leak.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gods and Gas

I think my dog has a serious problem with religion. Why else would he always choose as his pooping spot of choice, church yards? Back home in Florida he always poops down the street at the hippie church, and now here in Chicago he has decided that the best, and most attractive plot of land to take a crap on is the front yard of the Buddhist Temple. It’s not like he occasionally poops at the church or the temple. He always and without deviation poops in front of the church and the temple, and nowhere else. I have noticed that the Buddhist temple has a large statue of a woman in front of it and people leave offerings below her. Today it was fruit, and the other day somebody left a six pack of bottled water at her feet. Maybe Chandler is just offering up his steaming pile of crap to the Hindu god.

Chandler’s first offering to that god, Sid Hasta La Vista, or whatever her name is, was huge. That’s because he hadn’t taken a poop for over forty eight hours, the entire length of our drive to Chicago. The McDonald’s hamburgers we fed him in the car probably didn't help things, and that brings up another subject, road food. Mark’s notion of our ride up north included stopping at quaint mom and pop roadside diners, and sampling the local fare. Although I had reservations about a gay black man and a gay white man sauntering into various diners across the deep south, it did seem intriguing. Sadly we didn’t get to see how the Klan lives up close, because the actual reality is that you can’t take a wild, eighty pound dog into such places. No, our dining experience was a series of McDonald’s drive thrus, all of very even quality, meaning they were quick, and greasy. A by product of this situation was a car full of dog and human gas which Mark insisted was all Chandler and me, but I know better. Mark has simply perfected the art of the silent killer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Long and Grinding Road

Almost every summer when we were kids, my dad would take a week of vacation, load his burgeoning brood into the station wagon, and take us to a lake in some exotic place such as Wisconsin, or Indiana. The weeks leading up to the trip were filled with increasing excitement as the big day of travel neared. It was not the prospect of swimming and fishing however, that excited me. Sure, watching my mom fry up the little fish we had caught earlier in the day, and then gagging on the pin sized bones when we ate them, was tons of fun, but I always found the long drive to get there much more entertaining. That was when we would see strange wildlife splattered across the pavement, and could listen to my dad's entire repertoire of cursing as he smooshed dead skunks under the tires.

It was those fond memories that caused me to agree when Mark suggested a road trip to Chicago this summer.
“We can take the dog with us, and we’ll be able to cart all the crap I buy back home in the car.”, Mark added.
He was very smart to put the dog part of his proposition ahead of the shopping part. He knows how I hate to leave Chandler when we travel. The only drawback I could see with his plan, was the fact that I don’t drive, and the guy who would be driving, Mark, is the worst driver on the planet Earth outside of a few Chinese people. Despite those obvious problems, the road trip was on. So this past week Mark, Chandler, and I piled into the car, along with enough luggage for Mark to live for a year, and drove to Chicago.

Riding with Mark is intense. He cannot navigate interstate highways unless they are in an arrow straight line. Curves make him go into a panic and slow down to a crawl. Now Florida wasn’t too much of a problem, but as we made our way through northern Georgia Mark would vacillate between hysteria, and intense anger at the highway designers who “Made these damn roads so goddamned curvy.”. I have to admit, at one point I did reach over and give him a knuckle rap against the side of his head because he tried to stop on the interstate while a semi truck was tailgating us. Mark’s driving is so erratic, and he screams and shrieks so often while driving, that I found I couldn’t get a moments rest. It was like I had driven the entire way, I was so exhausted from him waking me up. At least Chandler took it well. He slept almost the entire time in the back seat, oblivious to how near he had come to death.