Friday, June 28, 2013

I Do... Not

Woo hoo! It's a great and momentous time in the history of the United States. The Supreme Court has said that you cannot legislate a group of people into a lower class than everybody else. You cannot pass a law that says two people have the right to marry and another couple do not. They also made a point that the marriage of two people of the same sex does not in any way harm the marriage of two Southern Baptists, a Kardashian, or twenty Mormons.
Hoo.. fuckin... ray!!!
Now my friends who got married three years ago in Boston, if they move back to Boston, are legally married. And then there are my friends from California who got gay married five years ago during that short one month window of legality out there. Unfortunately for me, I do not want to get married. Seriously, I do not want to do that. I have lived for sixty three years as a single person and I don't see any reason to change that now.

As soon as MSNBC announced the SCOTUS decision, Mark started planning our wedding.
"We can get married in Chicago at the Drake Hotel, overlooking the Oak Street Beach. Oh, or at that Peninsula Hotel." He gushed.
"But I don't wanna get married...  " I whimpered, as tears filled my eyes.
Geez, the look I got from Mark. Like I had just punched him in the gut. Here's the thing. I hate weddings (all you nephews and nieces had still better invite me). They are just another version of a party, and I really hate parties. So anyway, I finally told Mark that on my death bed I might re-visit this marriage thing. In fact I might re-visit it sooner than that. I'll have to check, but if I can get survivor benefits from Social Security I just might do the dirty deed when Mark turns retirement age.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Robert's Rules

Living in Florida means having to deal with so many pests. I don't know just how to deal with the bad roofing contractors, and Women from New Jersey talking on their cell phones while sitting stopped at a green light, but I do know how to deal with nature's pests. Insects, we're up to our eyeballs in them. Palmetto bugs, fire ants, mosquitoes, termites that eat concrete, you name it, we have it. What I also have is an excellent exterminator. I found this company about three or four years ago when I turned on the television and saw their ad. In the ad they had two dwarves dancing around and making jokes, so I figured they must know how to kill bugs. I called them up and signed the contract. Now it is years later and we are bug free. No more ants, no fleas, no giant cockroaches trying to move the furniture around. In other words, there is no need to keep the exterminator coming around. I mean, using the reasoning of Justice Roberts who says that there is no need for the Voting Rights Act anymore because black people are now voting freely in the old Jim Crow states, I have no need for the exterminator. I have also determined that I do not need to put any more chemicals in my swimming pool. Sure, at one time I had to deal with the green algae that kept blooming in the pool, but that stuff hasn't come back in a long time. So I'm going to just stop dumping the chlorine and algaecide in there. I'm sure everything will be just fine from now on.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Things That Go Bump

During the first fifteen years of my life my mom was pregnant seven times. That means nearly fifty percent of the time mom was very uncomfortable. The rest of the time she was just pissed. What I do remember is that she had her bottle of Mogen David in the refrigerator to take the edge off those 'pissed' times. Don't get me wrong, she was a good mom. It's just that she was so busy trying to keep us all in line it seemed like crankiness was always right around the corner. Maybe that is why there is a certain piece of slang that has popped up in the last ten years, that drives me crazy. I heard it again just last night while Mark was watching one of his favorite gossip/screaming, fake news shows. From the lips of Mario Lopez came the words "Baby Bump".

I don't know if women find that term demeaning, but I find it very disrespectful. It sort of dismisses not just the grandeur of child birth, but the awful crap a woman has to go through just to pop one of those things out. I may be wrong, chances for that are pretty good knowing my track record, but I suspect most women would hate that term. Besides, if they are going to keep using baby bump to describe the obvious side effect of getting pregnant, what am I going to use when I tell the story of my mom dropping newborn Alan on his head during the trip home from the hospital?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bear Down

Before I say another word let me make this clear, I do not dislike fat people. Unless I'm sitting next to one on an airplane that is. But other than that I am fine with fat.

So a week ago Sunday I was invited to bowl on the Sunday league. Although I was passed up at the beginning of the season, it seems that I am good enough for them as a last ditch replacement. Anyway, like I said, I have been bowling now for two weeks. This past Sunday I noticed that guys on the league were very nice to me, and a couple of times I could have sworn I was being flirted with. It finally hit me when I asked the league secretary, "Who do I make my check out to for my dues?"
"Bear Bowl, make it out to Bear Bowl."
I was bowling on a gay league for 'bears' and the men who like them. I have always been of the opinion that many who call themselves 'bears' in the gay community, are actually nothing more than fat men who need an excuse. Luckily for them, there are some guys out there who like that beefy look. I am not one of them, and I am not all that enthused about being perceived as a bear. Although one of the guys who gave me the quick look over was sort of cute. Still, let's get this correct. I am not a bear. Sure I'm beefy, and kind of fat, but I am not a bear. What I am is a skinny, hairless twink, trapped in an old fat mans body.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Cure

If you have a dog you know that this is how it happens every time. A perfectly happy and rambunctious pup will suddenly reject their food, stop drinking water, refuse to go out to pee or poop, and then lay lethargically in their favorite bed as if they are on the verge of death. Always on a weekend when you can't get them to the veterinarian. This time it was Sasha and in addition to her getting sick, I have to deal with Mr. Panic, a.k.a. Mark. In a screeching voice, I hear from the bedroom, "Alan, come in here! I think she's dying. Oh my god Alan she stopped breathing!"
Knowing there is really nothing I can do, I make my way to the death bed of our little schnauzer.
"Look," Mark screams at me, "there's something horribly wrong with her!"
I bend over the little lump of a dog and her eyes look up at me as if to say, leave me the fuck alone. She is definitely sick, I've known that all day. What I don't know is what's wrong with her.
"She'll be alright. If she is still sick in the morning I'll call the vet's office."
"Oh my god Alan, how can you be so callous? She'll die before then."
No amount of explaining about how dogs do get sick, or about how much it would cost to take her to an emergency veterinarian would make Mark stop looking at me as if I had already buried a knife in Sasha's heart.

The next morning when Sasha again refused her walk, her food, and any water, I called the vet's office.
"Okay, but we are only open from ten to noon on Saturday, and we have five other emergencies ahead of you."
I instructed Mark to get dressed, I put my shoes on, and I hooked Miss Sasha up to her leash.
"Come on Sasha, do you want to go in the car?"
Sasha loves riding in the car. She jumped up, ran to the door, dragged me down the porch, through the gate and to the car where she stood on her rear legs pawing at the car door. It was the most action I had seen from her in over thirty six hours.
"Well look at that Mark. I think she's cured."
So we put her in the car, drove around the neighborhood for a few minutes, and then I instructed Mark to let Sasha and me out of the car a block from home. It was a miracle. She peed in the Crumb's yard, pooped next to Ryan's front door, barked at the Dalmatian dogs a block away from us, and made friends with a couple of terriers we came across. By the time we got home she was famished and devoured a hot dog along with a bowl of her regular food. I don't know if they teach this in veterinarian school, but I think they should. Right up there with how to suggest to a grieving dog owner that they should spend thousands of dollars just to keep their beloved pet alive one more week, they should teach the ride around the block cure.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Take a Leak

It was two thirty in the morning when I got up for my first pee of the night. As I stood there I could hear water running through the pipes in the wall. Who the hell was taking a shower at this hour? I figured my tenants must have had a good reason for late night showering and went back to bed. An hour and a half later I was up for pee number two (Peeing all night long is one of the benefits I have reaped by living past sixty years). Again I heard the water running through the pipes. Nobody could be up using the water at that hour. Somebody must have left one of the garden hoses running, but there was a thunder storm raging outside and I was too sleepy to go out and check.

Why is it that every time I think I am catching up on my finances, something goes horribly wrong? At the first light of day I went outside and checked all the hoses. None of them were on, but over at the edge of Mark's tomato garden a strange thing had happened. A bubbling brook had sprung up out of the ground just like in "The Song of Bernadette". Only this was not going to cure anybody except my plumber. Fourteen hours later, and four hundred dollars lighter our water main was repaired.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Peahenpecked?

One of my favorite television shows is American Pickers. It's a show about two guys from Iowa who roam across the country in a van, and pick through other peoples junk. No, it's not that I have a secret yearning to root around in dusty attics and dirty barns for more crap to clutter up my house. I think I like the show because I have an idea in the back of my head that someday they might stop by here, and relieve me of Mark's vast collection of clutter and crap. Anyway, on one of the recent episodes of that show they traveled to Florida and remarked on how almost everything that lives down here will either poison you, bite you, or kill you. That made me laugh because I encounter many of those things every day in my garden. Yesterday morning I was able to add one more odd creature to my list. As usual I got up early to walk Chandler. I harnessed him up, and as we made our way through the front gate I saw a peacock walking down the middle of the street followed closely by a stalking kitty cat. I don't know what the cat thought it was going to do with a bird twice as large as him. I do know that peacocks can be downright nasty and that cat might have been severely pecked if he didn't watch out. But of course he couldn't have been any worse off than I would be if I sold all of Mark's crap to the American Picker guys. I wonder what you would call that, hen pecked, or maybe men pecked?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Family Circuit

This morning I was channeling my eight year old inner self. He drew this cartoon.


Monday, June 17, 2013

First Dip of the Summer

No, not me. I'm not the first dip. I've mentioned before that my swimming pool is nothing more than a big hole in the back yard that I throw money into. It costs hundreds of dollars to fill it with water, hundreds more in chemicals and even more money to run the pump that filters it. With all the hours I have to spend cleaning it, if I had to do it all over again I wouldn't have it. At one end I have a horrible algae problem and at the other end it is an open sewer for the raccoons to poop in. The only way I can justify not filling it in and turning it into a butterfly garden is if I swim in it once in a while. So yesterday I pulled on the swim trunks, cleaned out all the algae and coon poop, and went for a swim. As an added bonus I invited the dogs in. Sasha was a bit reluctant and Chandler absolutely refused. Maybe it was because they could still smell the raccoon shit in the pool or they just would rather hunt down the back yard cats. Anyway, we all had fun. The cats, not so much.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where is the Rudy Vallee Music?

Our old Grundig-Majestic
Do you know what is depressing me and making me feel like an old, old man? The oldies radio station that I've been listening to for the last twenty four years. The oldies radio station that I deny listening to because I don't want to admit how old I am. I guess I really haven't been paying that much attention to it for the last year. I'd turn the radio on, tune in Majic 102.7, and just let it play. It was yesterday when I realized I was enjoying the music on that station more than usual. Everything they played was bringing back memories, except not memories of my high school days. They weren't playing the songs from the nineteen sixties that has been their bread and butter for decades. Instead I heard Wham, Madonna, and a whole schmear of music from the nineteen eighties. This wasn’t oldies music, The Fine Young Cannibals aren’t an old rock group. I was just dancing to that music in the dance bars a few years ago. I was already a well established adult when that stuff came out. How could they be called oldies? And then for the first time in a long time, I paid attention to Majic 102.7’s tag line that I’d been tuning out for the last year. A man with an authoritative disc jockey voice came on and said, “Majic 102.7 plays your favorite oldies, from the sixties, seventies, and eighties!”

Obviously ‘Majic’ has moved on. No more fifties, and very little sixties music any more. No more catering to the Baby Boomers. They know on what side their bread is buttered. Why program to a swiftly diminishing audience? There's a reason there aren‘t any radio stations playing nothing but big band music from the forties. So Majic made a savvy economic decision. I assume that soon they will move to draw in more listeners and start slipping in stuff from the early nineteen nineties. That should piss off all those Generation X  and Millenium kids who think it‘s a hoot to mock us Baby Boomers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An Unfortunate Series of Embarrassments

Ponce de Leon 'discovering' Florida
"Please, don't embarrass me tonight."
"I don't care. You know me, I say what the hell's on my mind."
"Yes, but there are rules. You can't just shout out what you want to say. This isn't some church on the South side of Chicago."
"Well somebody has to speak up."
"Fine, you can speak up, but just don't embarrass me."
So went the little conversation Mark and I had before going to the city council meeting last night. We were there as a show of strength from our neighborhood against over-developing a large tract of land down the street from our house.

First order of business at the council meeting, the 'invocation' or as it is more correctly called, the prayer. Normally when I find myself stuck someplace where other's religions are being foisted upon me, I just sit there and ignore it. When everybody else stands to pray I sit. Unfortunately, because we had arrived late, all that was left was standing room. So when the crowd of sheep stood to pray, I had no choice. While the reverend droned on, and on about the "One creator" and how we had so much to thank this guy in the sky, Mark and I had to stand there. Finally he wrapped it up and everybody said 'Amen' and sat back down. Everybody except Mark. He shouted out, "Praise Allah!"  People's heads snapped around fast to see who the damn terrorist was. One of our neighbors who was sitting close to us, seemed shocked and told Mark that she didn't know he was a Muslim. He isn't, he's a provocateur.

Next up, the Mayor reading a proclamation about how Florida was "discovered" five hundred years ago and how absolutely wonderful a man Ponce de Leon was. I thought Mark was going to explode. He danced around and made faces, and when he started to shout out something, I had to give him a little nudge.
"Remember, don't embarrass me."

Town council meetings are normally a snooze. Boring, with a lot of legalese and people flapping their lips saying nothing. Not this meeting. Not when an old guy named John DeGroot stood up to have his say. He was given three minutes and he made the most of it. First he explained to the city council how inappropriate a prayer is at a government meeting. Then he gave them a history lesson about Ponce de Leon, and how five hundred years ago it was all about murdering the native population and then importing other human beings to enslave and use as beasts of burden. Finally he looked each council member in the eye and told them that he realized their minds were made up on the development at the end of our block. He correctly pointed out that it was all based on greed. Greed was what had built Florida and still has a total grip on our government. Five hundred years ago when Ponce de Leon landed in Florida it was all about greed.

Anyway, it was a very entertaining city council meeting. And best of all, Mark didn't embarrass me. I don't think I embarrassed him either. That is the core of our relationship, not embarrassing each other.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hot Stuff

Gasp, huff, huff. Florida summer is back. Hot, and humid, with air so thick that you can move it around like a fat sweaty man. This is the time of year that we seal up our homes so as to not let one ounce of that heavy tropical air in. The only reason you would open your windows between May first and October is if the dog farted. Yes I know all of you in other parts of the country have hot weather, but you get a reprieve once in a while. Five, ten, even fifteen days of hot humid weather, and then you get the cool front. Sure it spawns a couple of tornadoes, but at least when they've spun on through it's cooler.

Last evening Mark and I met up with one of our friends for our regular Monday cocktails. It's two dollar drink night at the 'Depot', and we like to get our money's worth. Unfortunately, the Depot's air conditioning was broken last night. It was hotter than a fat man's underpants. More moist and smelly than the armpits of a country lesbian in August. Sure they had some fans blowing the stale air around, but it was no help. I thought the main bar was hot, until I used the restroom. I swear I got a sunburn in there. Eight, large bare light bulbs, situated directly above the toilet. Thank god the Depot has an outdoor patio. Otherwise we would have had to stop with our third drink.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tony vs. LeBron

We have three televisions in our house. One is in the kitchen and is very small. Another is in the bedroom and is big enough to watch in bed, but it is not gigantic. The television in the living room however, is four and a half feet across. It is very big and when special shows are on television, that is our go to screen. Last night I was all prepared to watch the NBA finals, the Miami Heat against some team from a small town in Texas. This didn't go down very well with Mark.

    "What do you mean you're watching basketball tonight? Are you insane? The Tony's are on tonight!"
    "Yeah, I know. I'm sure the Tony's will look just fine on the bedroom television. I need to watch basketball on the big, high definition screen. With my bad eyesight, on that little television, basketball just looks like a bunch of black guys in shorts chasing each other."

So guess who won this argument? I look at it this way. Tomorrow morning everybody in South Florida will be talking about the big basketball game at work over the water cooler. Mark correctly pointed out to me that our water cooler is actually in our bedroom. He also pointed out the fact that I don't work.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sudden Impact

Warning: If you are easily disgusted, or have a low threshold for vomiting, read no further.



Okay, I assume that if you have gotten this far I can pretty much say whatever I want. You were warned.

I have ignored those probiotic commercials on television thinking that it had nothing to do with me. I might have been wrong about that. This morning I felt my usual urge after breakfast, so I made my way into the bathroom. I strained, I squeezed, I put my all into it, but no dice. Or should I say, no poop. There was something definitely in there, it just didn't want to come out. I tried standing up and jumping, and then I tried pulling my legs up as far as I could into the fetal position. Still, nothing would come out. The harder I tried, the greater the pressure built up. After twenty minutes of this I pulled my pants up and Googled my predicament on the computer. It wasn't much help. Honestly, this experience has given me so much more respect for what women go through in child birth. To make a messy long story short, after almost forty five minutes the beast within finally burst out. No, it didn't just pop out on it's own. Without getting too graphic, my solution to the problem involved a free condom that was given out last weekend in a local bar, and my finger.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Facebook

Hey, it's Thursday morning and there is no new story on Alan World. What's up?
I'll tell you what's up, I was swallowed by Facebook. I got totally absorbed by a certain Facebook page and didn't do anything at all but read that thing and comment on it for about twenty four hours. I even got up in the middle of the night because something on there kept bothering me.

Somebody, who I am sure has the best of intentions, started a Facebook page about the town I grew up in. It is all about the history of that town and more specifically, the time period that I lived there. The nineteen fifties and sixties. Suddenly I am coming across names and places that are jarring the memories loose. Places we hung out, people I knew, and things that happened. For the first few hours it made me feel young again, but as I read more I realized I was old. Very fucking old. First of all, most of those old places don't exist any more. They've been torn down, or burned down. And just about every other person mentioned in a comment is found to be dead when the next person leaves a comment.

One comment in particular, after somebody posted a nostalgic look at our old neighborhood, bothered me. The commenter said, "Those were the good old days."
Not very original, and definitely not true. What would be more accurate is, "Those were some good days for us. We had a lot of fun living in our little world."
The thing is, the nineteen fifties and sixties were 'the good old days' for only a select group of citizens. If you were a black family you were confined to the inner city. There was no bucolic suburban alternative. If you were gay, there was almost nowhere you could live the promised free life that we were told all men were entitled to. It was not the good old days for atheists, for those who's thinking leaned too far left, or women who wanted more than 'barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen'. Don't get me wrong, I love this little nostalgic stab into my past. There are a lot of things I forgot about, and a lot of things I remember. One thing about this facebook page is that I am finding out the true stories behind some of the happenings at the time. Like the fact that one of my neighbors used to bring some of the boys into his house to show them his porn collection. My only problem with that is, why was I left out?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dumb Ass

My actual seventh grade report card
Not long before my dad died he handed me a large brown envelope with my name on it. I opened it later at home, and what I saw couldn't have been more horrifying. It was every report card I had ever gotten, from first grade until I graduated high school. It was not a pretty sight. I could see that starting in first grade, when everything was average, until seventh grade, there was a steady trend downward. Seventh grade turned out to be my nadir. When I repeated seventh grade in a totally different school, things did start to improve, but very slowly. At least I never had to repeat a school year again. Still, I graduated high school with no more than a remedial knowledge of English, and math.

It wasn't until I was 31 years old that I finally learned something about the English language. That was due to my job as a bartender in Chicago. One of my best customers, who also happens to be my best friend now, would sit at the end of the bar and constantly correct me. In just six months I learned more than those nuns could teach me in seven years.

So what was it about that Catholic school and those nuns that made it so hard for me to learn? Why is it that a school system that I have heard for years is so much better than public schools, couldn't teach me the basics? The answer came to me yesterday when I came across a photo that jogged my memory.



Not only was one nun teaching over sixty children, she was wasting a good part of the school day filling the children's heads with religious garbage. Although this photo was taken a couple of years before I started school, it was not much different when I was there. I now remember that there were four school rooms for eight grades. We had second graders in our first grade classroom. Even when they built four more classrooms they were still over crowded. They just couldn't keep up with the Catholic baby boom. Luckily for me the bar I worked in thirty years later was rarely crowded.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

But Madge, You're Soaking in it

Over a week ago our dishwasher crapped out. I haven't hand washed the dishes in twelve years so I was in a hurry to get it replaced. I immediately ordered a new one on line to pick up at a local store. At the same time I called my next door neighbor, Mr. Clampett, and asked if he could install it for me. It is now a week later and the new dishwasher is still sitting in our dining room, waiting to replace the old one. I don't really care that Mr. Clampett keeps putting me off. I know that he's a busy man. He has two kids, and a part time job. Our next appointment to install the thing is today. I certainly hope it gets taken care of because if it sits out in the dining room for much longer, Mark will start using it as a table/book case/place to dump his stuff when he walks into the house.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Slim Pickin's

I was never good at sports, and at this point in my life I don't think I'm going to get any better. There was a time, about twenty years ago, that I actually was good at bowling. Even that has passed me by. That's why I watch sports on television. I can go for three hours and when the game is all over, I'm not winded. One thing that used to happen quite often when I was a kid is that I was usually picked last. Softball, last; basketball, last if at all; any kind of athletic game and I was picked last.

Yesterday I walked over to the bowling alley to see if I could get on a league. I haven't bowled for a year. They cancelled our league and I just didn't take the time to check out bowling on a different evening. But I figured I still have a ball, some shoes, and a bowling bag that have been sitting in a locker over at the bowling alley. I should put them to use. Sunday was the first night of the summer league so I figured I'd be able to get on a team. After sitting for one hour through the pre-bowling meeting, and listening to people argue over the rules and other minutia, it was finally time to bowl. Son of a bitch if they didn't fill every slot with those who showed up. By the time they got to me there was no more room. I was shut out even though I knew a few people on that league. It was kind of creepy to not be picked. For a while I felt like I was ten years old again, but I got over it. After all, my television still works and there are plenty of baseball games on all summer.