Friday, March 29, 2013

Danger Dad

1939 Packard Dashboard
Although the day my dad died, thirteen years ago this week, is etched in my mind, I prefer not to think of that so much. I like thinking of his life in total, the good times being so much more of what he was about. My earliest memories all center on riding in the car. Dad was the guy who drove the car back then because mom didn't get her license until I was around five. The first car I remember was the thirty nine Packard with the big running boards. Dad used to make us sit out on the running boards when he'd buy us ice cream cones. He didn't want us to drip that shit on his upholstery. Despite how bad that sounds, the car wasn't moving. We were parked in front of the Tastee Freeze. He wasn't that mean. What I remember most about that car was sitting up on my mom's lap at night, on our way home from my grandparent's house. I suspect that the Packard didn't have a working heater because what I remember most is how cold it was. I also remember the dashboard lights, especially the radio. When My mom would get tired of holding me on her lap she would stand me on the floor between my dad and her. Yes, cars used to be huge, gigantic beasts, with lots of room. There were no children's car seats back then. There were no seat belts, no padded dash, no breakaway knobs on the dashboard, no law that said you had to put the kids in the back seat. No, I rode up front where the action was, free and unencumbered. Not like these little pussies we have now. Oh, little Johnny needs to be strapped into the back seat like a mummy. Little Joanie has to wear a helmet, and god forbid, if she isn't strapped, positioned, and padded just right, mommy goes to jail for child endangerment. But I have strayed off my subject, dad. Dad would never have purposely put us in danger. It was just how things were done back then. Hell, when my mom and dad were kids, they let them run off to join the circus or work in a meat grinding factory. It's all about perspective, isn't it?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cheese Heads

There is something reassuring when I'm sitting on a airplane, and I smell the aroma of coffee mixed with the odor of that blue toilet disinfectant that they use on airplanes. It means that the plane successfully got off the ground, and I am in a seat near the front.

All went well with our trip to Chicago and Milwaukee. We saw Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Auditorium Theater. Go see it if you have the chance. It was very good, especially the ping pong ball scene. We also took a tour of the Robie House on the south side of Chicago. Robie House is a beautiful home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and is in the middle of being refurbished. Folks in the tour group were horrified though, when Mark said he would paint all the woodwork white if he owned the house. I don't think anybody is going to sell Mark a historical home soon anyway, so they needn't worry. Finally, what was perhaps the height of our trip to Wisconsin, second only to the wedding, and possibly our drunken outing with my sisters, was our stop at the Mars Cheese Castle. Nothing like a  roadside tourist attraction to round out a hungover drive back to Chicago. I had a bratwurst on a bun with a Diet Coke, while Mark shopped for cheeses and useless crap. By the way Dennis, you'll find a delicious cheddar infused with red onions in your refrigerator. Real good on a hamburger.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Last Call

I smiled at the bartender as she slid the large glass of vodka my way.
“These are my baby sisters.”
I had just arrived at the little party in the hotel lounge, and I was attempting to ingratiate myself to the bartender. She wasn’t having it.
“Lucky you.” She sneered back at me.

The wedding had been wonderful. There was plenty of liquor, food, and fun, but at around ten in the evening Mark and I were pooped, so we returned to our hotel and went to bed. At midnight the phone rang.
“Where the hell are you? We’re all down stairs at the bar. Get your ass down here.”
I knew better than to argue with my youngest sister. If I had just rolled over in bed and ignored her, she would have been pounding at the door of our room within minutes. So that is how I found myself sitting at a hotel bar after midnight, with a couple of my sisters and numerous nephews and nieces. In front of me was an assembly line of vodka. Halfway through one, another would show up. One after another until finally the lights slowly came up, and the bartender shoved a plastic cup of vodka in front of me.
“This one is in a to go cup. Get it? To go! The bar is closed.”
And so it was according to the security guard the hotel had sent to usher us out.
“There’s another lounge on the second floor.” We were informed. So we took our party on up there for the next fifteen minutes until the lights again brightened. I looked around, and saw our old friend the security guard.
“You all have to leave, now!” He informed us.
I know my sisters can be loud, but they’re harmless. And I’d like to say, I’ve been kicked out of better places. But I haven’t. That very fancy hotel lounge was the nicest place yet that I’ve been told to leave.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Time Travel

1973, the taxi cab pulls up to the departure area at O’Hare. I pay the man ten dollars and go inside to the ticket counter.
“I have a reservation for one to San Francisco.”
“Certainly sir.”
I present my credit card to the nice lady.
“Would you like an aisle seat or window?”
“Window would be nice.” I reply.
Minutes later I am at the gate boarding the plane. About an hour into the flight I am served a hot meal, on a real dish, with a real knife and fork. After the meal I am served a cocktail for one dollar, and I lean back in the large comfy seat and light a cigarette. Of course not without asking the lady sitting in the aisle seat if she would mind. She didn’t.

I cannot get that first experience flying cross country out of my mind. I wish I could because it is the image that pops up every time I am faced with airplane travel. I seem to always imagine that this time it will be like that again. It never is. Last Thursday we flew to Chicago. Mark and I left for the airport with plenty of time to spare. It was 5:45am when we arrived for our 7:15 flight. We hustled over to the TSA security check-in only to find a line that disappeared around the corner, and out the door. I looked over at the haggard looking woman in the TSA uniform and asked if that was the line for security. In her best broken English she barked out, “Dat way mon, dat de end.” An hour later, after slowly inching our way towards the spot where you are frisked, stripped, and fondled, a near riot broke out. Four shiny, well healed, white ladies walked right up to the queue and cut in. Almost Immediately Mark started screaming “End of the line is back there! You, yes you, end of the line is way back there!” When it became clear they were going to ignore Mark, more loud shouts, mostly with New York accents, started up.
“Hey youse, the line starts back there!”
If it wasn’t for the swift work of a TSA supervisor quickly moving them to another line, there might have been some blood spilled.

One more thing about flying in this day and age, don’t fall for the early boarding bullshit. I paid an extra twenty dollars for early boarding, meaning we would be boarded with “Zone 2”. When we got to the gate they had just started boarding. It went like this.
“Now boarding business class and zone 1.”
Ten seconds later.
“Now boarding zone 2.”
two seconds later.
“Now boarding zones 1,2,3,4, and 5.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

White Wedding

Heavy socks, check. Long underwear, check. Long pants, check. Thermal undershirts, check. Flannel shirts, check. Other long sleeve shirts to wear under flannel shirts, check. Heavy coat, check. Hoodie sweatshirt, check. Sweaters to wear under hoodie sweatshirt, check. Stocking cap, check. Gloves, check. Hat to wear over stocking cap, check. Second pair of gloves, check. Muffler to wrap around my neck and face, check. Ear muffs, check.

Despite all the planning for our trip to the northern tundra, I can't shake the feeling that I am forgetting something. I watched the WGN weather report today, and they said it might snow Sunday. That's the day we'll be driving back to Chicago from Milwaukee. Very scary. I'm not sure if it would be better to let me with my bad eyesight, or Mark, the worst driver in the whole wide world do the driving. (When I say Mark is bad, I mean worse than an Asian girl in San Francisco. Worse than an old fart driving slow in the fast lane with his turn signal on for twenty five miles. Worse than a texting teenager driving daddy's big car. Mark is bad.) Anyway, I think we'll have fun, but I'm going to pack extra blankets, food, and water in the car just in case we slide off the interstate and into a ditch. It might be days before they would find us. Hmmm, maybe I should get a rifle to fight off the wolves and grizzly bears too.

P.S. Yes, I know the bit about Asian girls in San Francisco is somewhat racist. If you live in San Francisco, as I did for a year, and find that it is not true that Asian girls drive poorly let me know. I feel pretty sure about that one, unless there has been a massive change in the last thirty five years.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Don't Forget the Beach

"Hey Alan, let's go to this famous German restaurant while we're in Milwaukee. Oh, and they have a nice art museum in Milwaukee."
"No Mark... "
"Milwaukee Public Museum looks good too, and the Harley Davidson Museum."
"But Mark... "
"I want to go to this Third Ward neighborhood. They say it has lots of shopping."
"Mark! Listen to me... "
"We should go to Miller Park."
"Okay, that's enough. Miller Park is for baseball and they aren't even playing yet."

He does this every time we travel. Mark cooks up a slew of things to do so that every single waking second is occupied. He leaves no room for my required naps, (two a day) and no relief for my tired wallet. Mark doesn't understand that I can't keep going non-stop, and it's not because of old age. Even when I was young I needed a break when I traveled. The biggest problem with our trip to Milwaukee and Mark's obsession with seeing everything that is there to see, is that we will be there less than twenty four hours. At least four of those hours will be at my niece's wedding. So I will need a hour or so for napping when we arrive at our hotel. Then there is the time it takes to attend a wedding. This is followed by eight hours of sleep after the wedding, breakfast, my after breakfast nap, and finally checking out of the hotel. I suppose we can drive by that famous German Restaurant on our way back to Chicago.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Err and go Bra

Yesterday morning I awoke at eight in the morning, pulled on some shorts, and took my dogs for a walk. Down at the corner we stopped so that Chandler could play with Guinness and Jameson, a chocolate lab and golden retriever, while I chatted with their owner Mr. McNamara. When I got back home I whipped up some homemade corned beef hash with eggs for Mark and my house guest, Mr. Morrison. Later in the morning, after taking a shower and scrubbing myself with some heavily scented green soap, I put on a pair of green shorts, and a green Polo shirt. I kind of looked like a big booger, which wasn't what I was going for. No, it was Saint Patrick's Day. I was wearing the green for Saint Patrick's Day.

So let's recount my morning. I greeted an Irish neighbor and his dogs with Irish names, served some corned beef to my Irish friend, took a shower with Irish Spring soap, and put on some green clothing. What I wasn't going to do on Saint Patty's Day was drink one drop of alcohol. No green beer, no green schnapps, nothing. Not vodka, not wine, not even a swig of Nyquil. I am alcoholled out since Mr. Morrison has come to visit. It's not his fault, that's just how things happen when we're together. Besides, I don't like to go drinking with amateurs and Saint Patrick's Day is full of them. The kind of people who puke up their green beer. Guy's who hang on you all drunk, get right up in your face, and tell you crap. The drinker who falls asleep at the bar. I don't like them. So I yesterday I stayed home and did nothing, and this morning I feel great. We'll see what happens next weekend. I'm going to a wedding in Milwaukee. I hear they brew beer there.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Just Rice Today

Ugh, I'm hung-over today. I was mistaken yesterday when I said Mark put beans in his jambalaya, and those would soak up the alcohol. He doesn't, and there was nothing to soak up the alcohol last night except for my brain. Another problem with yesterday evening was that nobody recommended that I stop drinking after three drinks. Instead my friend Dennis suggested we go across the street and drink some more at a different bar. For that reason, and because of a request to see Dennis in drag, I have put the above photo in today's post.(Correction, Since Dennis threatened to kill me if I published that photo, I have instead posted an artists rendering of what it did look like.)_

My gnarled stomach and pounding headache aside, it seems that I didn't get the worst of it last night. Mark wins the award for most awful experience of the evening. While texting to a friend and attempting to take a leak at the same time, Mark dropped his phone... In the toilet, not the urinal. He brought the thing home, dripping wet, and put it in a bowl of rice to dry it off. That means that Mark put his hand into a public toilet, in a bar, late in the evening after it had received much use. Yes, that makes me smile all over the inside of my face. On the outside though, I look very concerned.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beans and Rice

My friend from Chicago, Dennis, and I aren't heavy drinkers on our own. I haven't had a drink since Saturday night, and Dennis tells me he hasn't had one in over a month. The problem is when we get together. When I lived in Chicago we would often, like nightly, go out drinking together. I could slug down drink after drink, and by the end of the night I'd have drunk myself nearly sober. Not any more. Now it only takes three drinks to do it to me. The problem with that is the third drink makes me so stupid I'll order a fourth, so Mark has learned to whisk me out of the bar as soon as he sees that third drink halfway down.

Dennis has come to visit me. He's going to be here for around three weeks, and tonight we're going out for a cocktail or two. Hopefully we have learned in our old age to moderate. Also for one of those weeks, Mark and I will be up in Chicago while Dennis watches Chandler and Sasha. Just to be safe, I plan on eating a large portion of Mark's jambalaya tonight which is mostly rice and beans. I've learned over the years that beans tend to soak up the alcohol, and the rice doesn't hurt either. Now that should keep me sober. Either that or there'll be a drunk wandering around town blowing farts.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Forward, Fall Back?

Quick, no looking at any kind of a clock, what time is it? You had to think about that for a moment, didn't you? Goddamned time change, I hate it. Spring back, fall forward, I can never remember what I'm supposed to do. Thank goodness for my satellite television, and the computer.

Yesterday morning I woke up at six. I knew something was wrong because it was pitch black outside, and the neighbor's dogs weren't barking. It didn't matter, I was now wide awake. I laid there in bed for over an hour with Sasha snoring away on the pillow next to my head, with Chandler stretched out across the foot of the bed. They knew what time it was. They knew they had hours before it was time to go walkies. I just kept laying there thinking, shouldn't it be just a little bit lighter outside? But no, the sun didn't start coming around until nearly eight and by that time I was ready to fall asleep again. Not Chandler. His inner clock woke him up and at exactly eight in the morning he jumped off the bed and started whining.

Last night Mark and I watched television in bed until well after one in the morning. We were wide awake. Today I am a bit daylight savings time lagged. The dogs still are confused as to why I have walked them so early, but we will get used to it. What I don't understand is why they change the time twice a year. What purpose does it serve? They say it has something to do with farmers and them needing more sun in the evening, but that's bullshit. They have head lights on their tractors and lights in the barn. Not only that, it's the same amount of daylight no matter where you move it. I have to go now to feed the cats and walk the dogs. They aren't ready for it, but I don't want to stay up until two in the morning again.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Eye Candy

Right now I am doing the most hated part of being a landlord. I'm interviewing potential tenants and showing them the available apartment. Wait a minute, I take that back. That would be the second most hated thing. The first would be having to evict the previous tenants, and then going into the apartment with a gas mask to clean up the food from the bedroom closet floor and the dog shit from every other room of the house.

Over the weekend there has been a parade of potential tenants taking the guided tour of the property. There was the neighbor, who I like, that never called me back after saying he wanted it for sure. Couples, both gay and straight, have looked it over. The most intriguing, and possibly the best damn looking prospects, were two young men of about twenty who would look spectacular laying out by the swimming pool all summer. And by best damn looking, I mean they were handsome young guys who run in marathons. They were very fit and tanned. So that's why I have drawn up a lease, put in the special instructions about the pool area, and I will offer it to the older straight couple for a hundred dollars less than the two fit young guys were told. I'm no idiot, at least not any more. The last time I rented to two young guys was the time I had to clean the food off of the bedroom closet floor.

Friday, March 8, 2013

News Bulletin; Márkus Dead!

Le Meurtrier Faux
Early this afternoon a man named Mark burst into the home of his handsome and debonair ex-boyfriend, Alan, and murdered Alan's imaginary new boyfriend. Police say that the imaginary new boyfriend, a very sexy and well endowed man named Márkus, was repeatedly stabbed with an imaginary knife. "It was just awful. It was as if he were possessed. I thought for sure I was next." said the very good looking Alan. In a statement to the Keystone Police Department Mark said, "If I can't have him, nobody will. That idiot Márkus was a home wrecking gigolo."
After interrogating the suspect for at least a minute, the police released Mark with the stipulation that he vacuum up the remains of Márkus, clean the kitchen, and make Alan dinner.

Now that didn't take too long, did it?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Would You Like to Use the Bathroom Sir?

Yesterday morning I was munching down on some delicious cereal that Márkus (my imaginary boyfriend who does not resemble in any way a real living person ) had brought home. It's called Great Butt Blowing Grains or something like that. All I know is that it was chock full of dried blueberries, pomegranate, and I suspect some prune bits, because I wasn't even half finished before I felt the rumblings in my nether regions start up. I've told Márkus time and again not to buy these colon clearing cereals. Something nice and bland like corn flakes or Cheerios will do. No need to induce great volumes of gas in me. I do that just fine by myself.

Yesterday afternoon was my bi-annual visit to my ophthalmologist's office, also known as Dr. Baker's Tower of Torture. I had my eyes poked. I had a ten thousand watt light shined into each eye. I had eye drops to dilate my eyes, and then an even brighter light flashed into them. The most hated piece of torture equipment in my doctor's office is something called the 'Field of vision test', where they make you keep your head stuck in a very warm box with flashing lights. With each flash of a light you have to press a 'clicker' to prove you saw the light. Halfway through this twenty minutes of hell the machine makes a loud beep, and the technician lets out a frustrated breath.
"You moved your eye, and the machine voided the test. We have to start all over again."
It was at this moment that Márkus' revenge hit. I had been trying to hold it back for over ten minutes and is probably why I moved, voiding the test.
I sat there and pretended nothing had happened.
Obviously I was about to explode, and couldn't deny that I had farted.
"Would you like to go use the bathroom sir?"

I went to the bathroom and did enough to let me get through the test and out the door without asphyxiating the technician. It was quite embarrassing and I blame Márkus for that. So tonight I'm going to eat a big bowl of that Great Grains Blowout cereal before bed. Then I'm going to serenade Márkus all night long. Maybe he'll remember to buy me corn flakes next time.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It Snowed 70 Years ago

Seventy years ago today, my mom and dad got married on a very snowy day. Over four inches of snow fell on the morning of their wedding. My mom tells me she walked to the church just as you see her in these photos.

Dad passed thirteen years ago, but mom is very much with us and in charge at 91.


I kind of like John Boehner. Despite his lack of testicles, and jelly like spine when it comes to standing up to the tea party morons, and despite the fact that he is against almost everything I am for, I think he has one redeeming value. He's a crybaby. John Boehner will start sobbing at the drop of a hat, and I find that somewhat endearing, because I am also a big crybaby. The other day Márkus (my fake boyfriend) and I were watching a movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. There were more than a few moments in that film that had me weeping, which I don’t like to do in front of Márkus. For some reason he likes to tell everyone that I was bawling during a movie. The worst was My Dog Skip. I think I cried for nearly thirty minutes at the end of that one.
“Geez, I didn’t think Alan would ever stop crying over that dead dog.” Márkus will announce to a bar full of people.
Which brings me to another thing that makes me cry. Dead pets. Sometimes I’ll stand outside my kitchen door, staring at the row of cat graves, and my emotions will get the best of me. If I get caught standing out there crying, I just blame it on the fumes from the garbage cans.
“Must be those onions Márkus threw out this morning.”
But the truth is just about anything can get me all emotional.  Photos of dead pets, and dead relatives will send me into a teary funk. Even television news shows can trigger my tear ducts. Like when I see that orange tinted, droopy eyed, John Boehner standing in front of a camera with that ‘I just don’t know what to do’ look on his face. It’s so sad.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I took Sasha out for her evening walk the other day and ran into the nice lady around the corner. I noticed that her little dog, Olivia, was wearing a coat.
"Well doesn't Olivia look stunning in her leopard print coat." I gushed.
Diane was very pleased that I had noticed, but then she got a bit of a frown on her face as she took a long look at my dog.
"Where is Sasha's coat? She's going to freeze out here tonight."
Diane was wrong, Sasha was not going to freeze. The temperature was sixty degrees.

Floridians are a different breed when it comes to cold weather. We are pussys, and big babies. That's because for six months solid the thermometer never strays under seventy nine degrees, and that is only if it rains. For the rest of the time the temperature stays above seventy except for about two weeks worth of days when it can drop as low as the thirties.

Tonight was one of those times it got really cold. It is forecast to drop into the upper forties. Brrrrr...  As I walked outside with Chandler tonight I noticed that there was quite a lot of smoke in the air. I've witnessed this phenomena before, and this time I knew better than to call the fire department. The last time this happened I could swear the smoke was coming from a house down the street, so I called and asked if they could send a police car to check it out. Five minutes later my house was surrounded by fire trucks, and a burly firefighter was pounding on my door. She scared the hell out of me. Anyway, it turned out that all it was, were the fireplaces of my upscale neighbors. You know, the very same folks who bitch and whine about second hand cigarette smoke.

Friday, March 1, 2013

My New Boyfriend

Well it seems the feces hit the device with the rotating vanes Wednesday morning. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not to write one more word about Mark and his comings and goings.
"Alan! What the hell did you write this morning? Why are my friends calling and asking me about me screaming at the computer?"
"Uh, I don't know. I didn't write anything bad about you."
"This is the second goddamned time this week you wrote about me. Stop writing about what I do. I'm goddamned tired of my friends asking me personal things that they shouldn't know anything about."

So I won't be writing about Mark anymore. I beg of you, please don't call him early in the morning and ask him questions about my blog. Don't walk up to him in a bar and start chatting about his latest faux pas that you read about. You only get me into trouble when you do that. From now on I will be using a fantasy boyfriend as my foil. Whatever I write will not be about Mark in the least. It will all be made up, it will be pure fiction. This little dust up between Mark and me created a little gap in my blogging, but I think with my new approach I can now go on.

Tonight for dinner Márkus, my new boyfriend, decided to make me a delicious low calorie meal. I have to admit it was damn good, and I have to give Márkus some credit. He is at least trying to feed me healthier food. The only problem is that although Márkus put a plate of skinless baked chicken breasts with a side of broccoli in front of me, the plate was so piled high with food I could hardly finish it. Of course when I mentioned that, Márkus blew up and started cursing and dancing around like a crazed marionette..