Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Prior Life

Recently I have been asked to elaborate on my past, specifically my salad days in the Sunshine State. I grew up in the swamps of Florida and my family owned a roadside citrus stand. Really, it was more of a tourist trap situated along a lonely stretch of state highway in the central part of the state.

When a newly-built stretch of interstate took most of our traffic away, the family had to improvise. That's why I started wrasslin' gators when I was only five. Over the years I trained with some of the legends in the business: Lefty Johnson, Peg-leg Pete, Tommy Two-toes, Stumpy McGee. It was a proud tradition and I was considered a natural. No duct-taped snouts or toothless gators for me. I was the real deal. Sure, I got my share of nips and gashes, but I must say with all humility that my show saved the family business.

I am not saying that I was the sole bread winner. My sister became quite adept at carving indian faces out of coconuts and my mom made orange blossom honey. My brothers sold illegal fireworks from a shed out back and my dad made 'shine way back in the orange grove. It was truly a family business and you could tell we were prosperous by the number of gold rings my Daddy wore.

I was on my way to the big time in the gator wrasslin' biz, an audition at Gatorland in the tourist mecca of Orlando.

The night before I was to wrassle Hungry Joe, a 500 lb. monster with a crooked grin, I had a dream that changed my life. The Geico Gecko came to me that night and asked me to stop exploiting his reptile brethren. It meant the end of my career and the end of the family business, but I had to agree.

How can you say no to that little guy?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Sweet Taste of...Perfume?

On my lunch hour one day last week, I was about to enjoy my meal in a local sandwich shop when my senses were hijacked by another customer entering the dining area. In her late 50s or early 60s, this woman was a spectacle of what was clearly a lifetime of diet and fashion disasters.

Stretch pants strained to the absolute limit of the polyester fiber's tensile strength. The straps of her orange high heel shoes threatened to burst with every step she took. Her sweatshirt was emblazoned with a giant yellow smiley face, the intended purpose of which was to assure those around her that there was no reason to run screaming for the hills. The poor smiley, however, was grotesquely misshapen by this woman's bulging torso and the expression was more of a grimace than a smile.

A spectacle of this sort could have gone down in my book as a mildly amusing distraction if it weren't for olfactory assault that followed her around the restaurant like a cloud of mustard gas. One can only guess at the price per gallon of this woman's scent. And I say gallon because she had obviously bathed in no less than 2 quarts of the stuff before leaving her single-wide that morning.

Because I have clearly committed some awful deed that has unleashed the most negative form of karma in the universe, this woman elected to sit in the booth adjacent to mine. Her invasion of my lunchtime oasis away from work could not have been more complete if she had intentionally sat on my sandwich and stomped on my chips. For, you see, as I gagged to breathe, I realized that her odor had not only destroyed my sinuses, but my taste buds were ruined as well.

Any pretext of gentleman's manners were quickly discarded in the interest of self-preservation. As my tongue melted in my mouth I tried to explain the problem to her, but she just snorted and went back to munching on the first of her two footlong meatball subs.

Other patrons were coughing and gagging, the windows were fogging up with a yellowish layer of slime, small children were crying and I quickly came to the conclusion that this was an emergency situation. My training kicked in and, as I tried to explain to the police, my actions became automatic. I snatched the nearest fire extinguisher from it's perch on the wall and I let loose. By the time I finished, the fire extinguisher
was empty, the perfume lady was covered in white powder, everyone in the restaurant was cheering and, yes, the odor was gone.

I sat back down at my table, brushed off my sandwich and finished my lunch.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pig Wrasslin'

I was talking with my mom the other day and she quoted an expression that was just so relevant.

"Never wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty, but only the pig will enjoy it."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Black Ice

Why do so many drivers get upset about black ice? Don't they realize that less friction means better gas mileage? It's basic science.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Checkered Past

Recently, it has come to light that I have a dark spot on my past. Even though the election is over and even though I was not a candidate for any public office, I think I should clear the air on this matter.

Technically, yes, I am an axe murderer, although I prefer to say "reformed axe murderer." Life is never simple and there's much more to the story so I'd like a chance to elaborate.

When I was in high school, I was cast in a rather avant-garde play about an itinerant lumberjack gone mad. I happened to own a flannel shirt which was kind of rare in Florida so I got the part. I was told that the axe was a fake, made of rubber.

The crew included a special effects guy who was considered quite handy with the fake blood and after my first swing in rehearsal, I figured he was a genius. The blows to fellow cast members seemed so realistic that I was amazed. Well, it seems that the prop guy wasn't very bright and there was a bit of a mix-up with the axe.

To make matters worse, the director kept yelling "cut! cut!" and things just got out of hand. Needless to say, I didn't get a very good grade in drama that semester.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Washing The Cat's Bed

The cats tripped me when I was on the way out to my car yesterday. It was no accident. They were demanding my attention in an evil, cat-like way.

The cats in question are two brothers and don't belong to me. I am renting a furnished house for the time being and these came with the package. I guess I would describe them as semi-feral; a gray and a black. The lady who owns this house lives nearby and she comes to feed them every day, but they always stay outside. They were here before me and they will probably be here after I leave so, even though I am not much of a cat person, I treat them with the respect deserved by a couple of successful squatters.

For the most part, they keep their distance. They steadfastly refuse most human contact and even my Dr. Doolittle daughter, Anna, has been unsuccessful trying to pet them.

As for me, the cats and I share a mutual disdain for one another. If I get up and out the door before my landlady comes to feed them in the morning, I will usually oblige and fill their bowls. In turn, they refrain from leaving dead birds on my doormat.

After being tripped, my first inclination was to check and see if they had been fed. Actually, my first inclination was admittedly less benevolent. (deep cleansing breaths) So, I checked the bowls and they had food.

When I looked at the brothers, I noticed that their fur-licking activity was in overdrive. I have never studied cats, but I'm told this is how they clean themselves. Why they don't just jump in a muddy creek like a good hound dog, I'll never know.

Then I looked at my car which was filthy; coated with salt from driving in the recent snow. I suddenly realized why the brothers had tripped me. Their bed was dirty.

I drive a 1995 Mercedes E320, a bargain I recently found on ebay. It's a comfortable little sedan, but its primary purpose in this world is not transportation. No, it is, first and foremost, a cat bed. You see, if you add up the time I spend driving it versus the time it serves as sleeping quarters for the brothers, there's no comparison. They graciously allow me to take it to work in the morning so long as I bring it back by bedtime and the hood is nice and warm.

The evidence of my car's primary function can be found on the hood and roof in the form of muddy paw prints. The sad fact is, that as I struggle in my quest to finalize an unsavory domestic situation, I just don't have the energy to do battle with the brothers for the sake of my paint job.

So I drove my cat bed to the car wash and as I shoved quarters into the coin slot, I tried to convince myself that it was good for the car's finish to remove the road salt. The truth is, she's already a goner. When I move out of this rental house, I'll probably just put my car up on cinder blocks and abandon it to it's adopted purpose. Sometimes you simply cannot overcome the forces of nature.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When Syrup Goes Bad

I’m scared to go into my kitchen. Last night, I opened the fridge and noticed that the bulb had burned out. No big deal, right? Well, I reached in to grab a gherkin and from out of a darkened corner Mrs. Butterworth jumped me. Naturally, I freaked! She tried to pin my hand down and I think she was going for the Rolex.

I just barely managed to escape, but my hand was sticky with maple syrup and my nerves were rattled. I mean, you don’t expect that kind of behavior from common breakfast foods. The only explanation I can come up with is that the eternal darkness made her go mad.

“What to do? What to do?” I was beside myself. I guess I could have called the cops, but how do you explain something like that to the 911 operator? Strange as it may seem, I had to accept the fact that the authorities might not believe me.

“911, what is your emergency?”
“Yes, hi, my maple syrup just tried to mug me.”

After reflecting on the possibilities, I decided to handle it without the gendarmes. They have such limited imaginations.

How to proceed? I knew I would need some help, but where to turn? After looking through the cabinets I came across a couple of stout characters that gave me reason to hope. Under the sink I found the muscular Mr. Clean standing there like a beacon of goodness in his bright white t-shirt. Behind him was the Brawny Lumberjack clad in a flannel shirt and holding an axe.

So I enlisted these two heroes to restore order to my kitchen with every confidence in their abilities. I opened the fridge only as far as needed, tossed them in and slammed the door.

Well, there was a terrible commotion for several hours. Some of the lesser condiments were screaming to get out, but after a while everything calmed down. Just to be safe, I left it alone overnight.

This morning I got up and went to the kitchen to fix breakfast. Everything seemed normal, but I needed milk for my cereal. I opened the fridge just a crack to peak inside and discovered that Mrs. Butterworth remained at large.

She was wreaking havoc all about the fridge and the place was a disaster zone. Mr. Clean and the Brawny Lumberjack were cowering behind her like prison bitches and cleaning up the syrup spills. It was pathetic, really. I just closed the door and sealed it up with duct tape.

As I sit here now, I’m just trying to determine which cabinets to remove so I can fit another fridge in my kitchen.