Thursday, April 28, 2016

Alan in Lisa Land; Bad Weather

Gray, drizzling rain, cold clammy weather. It's like Illinois is trying to prove to everybody, including me, that moving from Florida was bad. True, not having a home of our own for the interim is a bit troublesome, but my sister Lisa has been the most gracious of hosts. My brother Gary went out of his way to find us a really decent car to replace the PT Cruiser. Mark absolutely loves his new car and most shocking, he seems to be a better driver when he's behind the wheel of the Ford. Not good enough to brave the dreaded Dan Ryan, sixteen lanes of mayhem, but better. Seeing my mom almost every day has been sweet, even if she forgets that we were there moments after we walk out the door. Bette has found her pee pad pissing place in my sister's basement, so I don't have to wake up three times a night to take her out anymore. Best of all we are only twenty two days away from closing on the new house, and I think we have found our new tenant for the upstairs apartment. My friend Dennis has said he wants it. The best part about that is that when I call him up and ask if he wants to go out for a drink, he won't have far to go when he picks me up. So screw you Illinois weather. I have warm clothes, an umbrella, and I'm sure I can buy a pair of boots somewhere for the inevitable winter. Besides, I've always wanted to run a snowblower.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bette, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Florida Anymore

Tinley Park, August 23, 1956

"Blattttt... Bloooot...Blatttt...  "

Watching TV at my sister's house in Tinley Park and I am startled awake by what sounds like a flatulent elephant. It's a severe weather alert. We didn't have too many of those in Florida because if it wasn't a hurricane, it wasn't really severe. Oh sure, we had tornadoes, but Florida tornadoes are wimpy things. They might flip a semi truck or toss a shed across the lawn, but I don't ever remember one actually lifting the roof off a house. Not even a "mobile home" roof. The scary sounding weather warning on the television reminded me of my mom. Mom was, is terrified of tornadoes. I don't blame her, we experienced at least two tornadoes tearing through Tinley over the years. The first one hit while I was outside in the park with my brother. I was six years old and I watched as the giant funnel cloud tore through town just blocks from where we were playing, while my brother and his friends continued playing ball, oblivious to the carnage taking place. The second one was when I was in high school. It hit just as we were going out to board the busses. So exciting.

Back at home, All my mom had to hear was the word tornado on the radio and she would round up all the younger kids, jam them into the crawl space under the stairs, and leave them there for hours. Now that I think about it, Mom may have been buying herself a bit of relief from the horde. Before we moved to the "new house" Mom would order us down into the basement, which I hated because we couldn't see all the excitement happening out in the yard. Lawn chairs blowing around, trees creaking, lightning and thunder. I always loved Midwest storms. They come quickly, and leave just as fast. Unlike Florida where a hurricane can go on for hours and hours, with actual trees slamming down onto the roof and everything that isn't tied down blasting across the landscape. Hurricanes truly scared the living shit out of me. Tornadoes, not so much. They are like going to a casino. I have just as much chance of being hit by one as I do winning the big jackpot on a slot machine.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Thirteen years ago I told Mark that "This is the last car I am ever going to buy." I fully intended to keep the PT Cruiser until I could buy collector car license plates for it. So Mark wrecked it twice, Chandler covered the entire interior in white dog hair, the air conditioning stopped working, and finally the heat stopped working. So from the heat of Florida, to the cold of Chicago, I suffered, sweating and shivering. Also, over the last few years we have spent a few thousand dollars in repairs on that thing. Don't get me wrong, I liked it enough. It could carry a kitchen range in the back with the hatchback closed, and it had all my favorite radio stations on the presets. However, now that we have moved to Chicago and Mark has realized what it means to not have heat, he insisted that we get a new car. So we did. Besides, none of my Florida radio presets worked here in Chicago. Last Friday we traded in the old PT Cruiser on a nice Ford Fusion. It's a 2014 with only 14k miles on it. And as we drove away from Manteno Ford Mark told me how happy he was. Not only did he tell me that he finally feels like an adult driving that car, but he will no longer have people mistaking him for a lesbian. I myself love the car. It's really nice, and I kept my promise that the PT Cruiser would be the last car I ever buy. I made Mark buy the Ford Fusion. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Alan in Lisa Land; The Dogs

This has nothing to do with the dogs, but I always thought Mark took forever to get ready to go out. That was before I went out for a drink with my sister. All I can say is that I am glad I am not a woman. The amount of upkeep and work it takes to make yourself look exactly like you did one hour earlier must be mind numbing. (By the way, Lisa looked fine one hour earlier. Even after a full day of work.)

Chandler and Bette have made themselves right at home here in my sister's house. They, along with Lisa's two dogs, have formed a nice pack. The only problem is that Bear, my sister's dog, and Chandler both think they are the alpha dog. They are both wrong, I am the alpha dog. Also, Chandler and Bette have a view of the street from the front window, something that they have never had before. So every person, truck, school bus, and squirrel sends all four dogs into a frenzy. What I find adorable, is that when Lisa comes home from work all four dogs greet her like their long lost mother, jumping all over her and each trying to get her undivided attention. The other day I saw Lisa returning the love. She was out in the back yard with a bucket full of dog shit. Yes, I know. I should be out there picking that shit up, not Lisa.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ham and Cheese

Our friend Stephen says he is coming to Chicago in May. Stephen is a theater guy. He is the costumer to the stars, if you are starring in a show in Indianapolis. Really, Stephen went from working in our hotdog stand to owning his own booming, theater costume business in Indiana. Some people are so into theater that they just can't live without working in the business. Now I like going to the theater, but I have never considered that I could have a role in it. I think it goes back to my childhood at Saint George Catholic School. I had the opportunity to be on stage twice while I was at Saint George's, if you count being an Altar Boy as being on stage. I was also involved in a school play, in our school basement. The funny thing is that I was kicked out of both productions, and for the same reason. Bells. As an Altar Boy you had to ring some bells at a particular moment in the Mass. I thought it was hilarious to ring the bells at the wrong time, distracting the priest. It always elicited a snicker from my fellow Altar Boys. Not so much for the priest. "Get out! Right now, get out!" boomed Father O'Connell, and my Altar Boy career was over. A bell was also responsible for the permanent end to my stage career. The nun responsible for putting on the play had picked me to be the sound effects guy. My place was off stage, and all I had to do was set off the bell on an alarm clock when a phone was supposed to ring. The bell would ring, the girl on stage would pick up the phone, and my job was done. The trouble was, I lusted for more. So after doing my job the right way the first time, I decided to let the phone ring one more time after the girl started talking. The audience roared, I was a hit. Everybody saw the humor in my antics except for the girl on stage and Sister Frances. She didn't yell quite as loud as Father O'Connell, but she pretty much said the same thing.