Monday, January 30, 2017

Fresh Catch

Back when I used to wait tables, I would always have a cheesy, canned response to most of the things that a guest would say, if they liked their food. For example, if they liked the vegetables, I'd say that I had come in early and picked them fresh that morning. If they liked the wine, I'd stomped the grapes myself. The food? I cooked it.  The fish? I caught it. From distilling the spirits and brewing the beer to churning the butter and baking the bread, I was a veritable one man show and those corny lines never failed to make my guests laugh.

Don't ask about that secret ingredient.

Until that one time, when one of those corny lines became one of the most embarrassing things I'd ever said.

The restaurant that I was working at had a fresh seafood special that day, a seasonal thing that our clientele went crazy for and the place was packed to the gills. One of the tables in my section was a party of six older folks and they had all ordered the special. No big deal. I rang their order in and dropped off their drinks from the bar. When their food was ready, I dropped it off and ensured they had everything that they needed. Taking my leave, I informed them that I'd be back shortly to check that everything was to their satisfaction.

When I returned, I asked them how everything was and they were ecstatic, raving about their meals and asking just how fresh the soft shell crab special really was.

"Well, let me tell you, they're as fresh as it gets. I was out all night, working hard at it and I caught the crabs fresh, just this morning," I said. 

It was only after the stupidity fell out of my mouth that I realized what I had said. Things got really awkward, really fast, after that. Everyone at the table looked stunned. 

I'm like a finger in your ass. I'm either a wonderful surprise or I make everything fucking awkward and uncomfortable. Guess which one it was this time?

Silence reigned. I'd have killed for any sound, even crickets, but I have never heard a more deafening silence in my entire life. My embarrassment began at my toes and quickly crept up to the top of my bald head. I started to stutter out God only knows what, because I don't think that I was even capable of forming a coherent sentence at the time.

I stopped trying to talk and kept my mouth clamped shut, which for me, well, it sounds a lot easier than it is. The awkward silence continued to grow, flex, and stretch until one of the older guys, bless his arterial sclerosis clogged little heart, started chuckling and then he was laughing so hard, I thought he might stroke out and die on me, or something. The other two guys at the table joined in and soon enough, even the little old ladies started tittering behind their hands and I relaxed a little, knowing that they weren't going to freak out and have me fired.

I'd like to say that I learned a valuable lesson that day,  a lesson in the value of keeping my mouth shut, but we all know the truth of that...

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Long Walk

Memories are funny things, elusive at times and intrusive at others. Sometimes welcome, sometimes not, more often bittersweet; a knowing smile and a soft sigh, trapped where the shadows pool and pull. Childhood memories, wisps of smoke beyond my grasp and so much of that childhood is lost to me, or hazy and smudged, the result of traumatic brain injuries and additionally, I think, the willful suppression of most of whatever does remain, the memories that wait, like a trap to be sprung. And then, there are the things that I do remember, the monsters locked away in the closet and under the bed, where I’m afraid to look.

Sometimes, I look where I shouldn’t. I pick at the scars and the scabbed over wounds and I remember…

Memories truly are funny things. So funny. Memories of my mother, the little things that come to mind when I think of her and the complicated mix of emotions those little things bring forth, surging like a tsunami of childhood terrors brought forth by the ever-haunting ghost of her. How do I explain how the smell of soap makes me gag and remember the taste of every bar that she shoved into my mouth? One bar of soap that she’d forced me to eat, all because I’d asked her what a ‘grand prix’ was. I’d just wanted to know what the word ‘prix’ meant. She’d thought I’d said pricks, which was the way I’d pronounced it. One false word. 

Locked in the closet for hours, the darkness and isolation scratching at my soul, inciting shame, anger and madness. A betrayal of love, the smack of a paddle, a shoe, my father’s belt, his fist, in later years, a baseball bat; whatever might be within reach at the time. As I got older, the line between hidden and public abuse became blurred. I'm sure many of my friends remember my father beating me on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, or watching me flee, as I ran from him, or in later years, as I held my ground and stood up to him, fists flying. I never won.

Sometimes, I’d be punished for the things that I hadn’t been caught doing, misdeeds that existed only in my mother’s imagination. Not that any of it mattered, though, because I’m worthless and useless and stupid and a regret and so many other things that frankly, I’m sure I deserved all of it and who can deny the truth? 

I know this because my mother showed me the truth of all things and she told me these truths every day. Her truth, her fury, however she saw it at the time and her will was God’s will and it was God’s punishments that were being inflicted on me, in all His righteousness and wrath. That’s one story, one truth. And then there’s my story, my truth. The two truths are quite different. In my truth, I can’t place any real moment of affection, love or concern from my mother, but I can paint, quite vividly, so many scenes of her cruelty, both mentally and physically. I remember fear. I remember tears. I remember pleading, as only a small boy can, wishing for it all to stop and for me to go away, to cease existence, but it never did and I never did and my soul was kept in chains. Little things. The little things that come to mind when I think of my mother. Little things.

Soul killing things.

And with a strength borne from where I know not, I endured.

Somewhat perversely, I also loved my mother, and desperately so. I begged for her attention, her love and for her affection. I begged for these things, but I never knew them, not in anything other than the meager, measured and miserly fashion in which she dispensed them, only employed when she wanted something. It was pure manipulation and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker, every time. Desperation breeds fools. Love becomes a pyre and burns to ashes. All that remains are ashes, the burnt taste in my mouth. Love and loathing, a strange dichotomy to live with, to hate and love someone so much, at the same time. Strange indeed, but I’ve learned to accept it. Maybe it’s more like I just got used to it. Maybe there isn’t any difference between the two. And maybe I just don’t know anything. Whatever.

My parents were pretty hands off. They had rules, sure, but so long as I followed the few there were, they really didn’t care what I did, or where I went, so I had a lot of freedom at a very young age. I learned to take care of myself, because nobody else would do it for me. My parents just weren’t interested in being parents and so they abdicated all parental responsibility and I was pretty much left to my own devices. In my family, it was all about appearances, really. That and following the rules. If I screwed up in any way, if I were not the model child for all the world to see, there would be hell to pay and I paid Hell, almost daily, on a never-ending installment plan.

My mother had many strange obsessions, one of which was timeliness. She not only had to be on time for everything, she needed to be there fifteen minutes early, or she considered herself late and if I made her late, I’d be paying a little extra on that installment plan, so I usually had a bit of motivation. Usually, but not always. Being a young boy, I was perpetually tardy for everything, in the way that young boys are and I had the bruises to show for it. When I was seven years old, I had missed the bus to school and my mother was in a rage, because she had to drive me to school. That one incurred a beating both before and after school, plus, she locked me in the closet for hours. As did the second instance and once again, I was locked in the closet, a favorite and effective torment of my mother’s.

That closet…

A linen closet, just deep enough to wedge in a small boy in the space between the shelves and the door with no space to spare and none to move. A confined space, claustrophobic and made even more so by the absence of light and sound as the door would close and the darkness settled in. Nothing but the darkness and the smell of bleach to keep me company for all those hours spent in exile.

It was after the second time that I had missed the bus, my mother had told me that if I missed the bus again, I would be forced to walk to school. In my young mind, this was not a bluff. I’m sure that many mothers have uttered those words to their children over the years, but the difference is that my mother meant it and I’ve never had any doubt that she did. My mother always meant exactly what she said and she always followed through on her threats and promises. If she told you something, it was a one hundred percent guarantee of what and how it was going to happen.

I made every effort to get to the bus and school, on time.

Until that one day…

I had been waiting for the bus, my hands full of books, notebooks, folders, my lunchbox and pencil box. Backpacks weren’t really a thing back then, so you were stuck carrying everything by hand and it was always a juggling act, balancing more things than you had hands for. As the bus pulled up, I started making my way to the door as the other children started up the steps. Suddenly, I tripped and dropped my pencil box, spilling the contents out onto the sidewalk. As I stooped down to pick up my things, I could hear the other kids telling the bus driver that I wasn’t on the bus yet, but to no avail. I heard the familiar squeal as the door to the bus closed. I looked up in horror and panic as I watched the bus start to drive off. I dropped everything and chased after it, leaving my things behind and I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, which wasn’t fast enough, of course and I started crying in fear and frustration as I watched as the bus gained distance before it disappeared.

I went back to where I’d dropped my books, head down, walking like a condemned man to his execution.

I picked my things up, got myself situated and weighed my options. I didn’t know what to do. I was too scared to go home and incur the wrath of my mother. I didn’t want a beating now and then another when I got home. And then another, when my father got home. Three for the price of one. Such a deal. Plus, my mother was only going to make me walk to school anyway, so why not just skip the beating and walk to school? In my mind that was the only option that was available to me and so I set off, determined to walk to school. It was only about a thirty-minute bus ride, so how far could it possibly be?

It was four and a half miles. I Googled it.

It was a typically hot, late spring day, in Florida, with no breeze to speak of. Traffic was heavy on Collins Avenue, but I paid it no mind as I put one foot in front of the other and trudged on, step after step, the blocks turning to miles. I walked and I walked and then I walked some more, the Bal Harbor Bridge in the distance and it seemed to pull further away with every step. I counted those steps until I lost count. Bored beyond words, I kicked rocks and squashed bugs. I lost myself in my own mind, daydreaming, and for a time, I rose and I soared above it all. But mostly, I was bored. I was also thirsty and hot, soaked in sweat, sore and tired, but I was scared, determined, angry and frustrated. I cried nearly every step of the way.

As I was passing the golf course at Haulover Park (about three miles in), a Ford Mustang Convertible pulled over onto the shoulder of the road in front of me and the driver turned his head and called my name. I was dumbfounded. Right there in front of me was my principal, Mr. Stearns, who had come to my rescue. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

I was very familiar with my school principal, almost being a permanent fixture in his office, as I was always in trouble for something or other, whether it be fighting or just being a general annoyance and disruptive in class. These episodes were always followed by a trip to the principal’s office, a short lecture, a call to my mother and then, more often than not, the judicious application of corporal punishment that would be inflicted on my bottom by the school’s wooden paddle and the stern hand of Mr. Stearns.

I would be in the principal’s office, sitting across the desk from Mr. Stearns and we would discuss what happened and then the paddle would make an appearance. Our conversations would go something like this:

Mr. Stearns: “Now, I’m going to have to call your parents and get permission to spank you.”

Me: “You don’t need to do that, Mr. Stearns. You know my mother will say yes. You don’t need to call her, you can just go ahead and spank me.”

 I was more terrified of that phone call to my mother than I was of being spanked. That phone call meant at least two more beatings. Beatings and a punishment that would make whatever Mr. Stearns could do to me seem like nothing and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. Unfortunately, it never worked that way and he always made the call and then I’d spend the rest of the day in agonized terror of what would happen when I got home.


Mr. Stearns beckoned me to the car, opened the passenger door and I got in. I’ll never forget what happened next. He looked at me and he told me that when the bus got to the school, the other kids had told a teacher that I had missed the bus and that teacher had reported it to the office. Concerned, Mr. Stearns told me that he had called my mother to see if I had made it home safely. I hadn’t and my mother had no clue where I was. I’m not sure that she even cared. After he hung up the phone, Mr. Stearns called the police and then he took it upon himself to go looking for me, while my mother stayed home watching soap operas, something I didn’t know until much later.

A stranger to come to my rescue when my own mother wouldn’t.

As I got into the car, Mr. Stearns admonished me for walking and he told me that he would call my mother as soon as we got to the school and let her know that I had been found, safe and sound. Mr. Stearns must have noticed something in my face, perhaps it was a moment of fear that I hadn’t covered up quickly enough, but whatever shadow it was that had crossed my face seemed to completely unnerve him and I watched as a look of compassion and sadness flitted across his face, as if he had an inkling of what would be waiting for me, once I got home.

Things were different back then.

“I’m sorry. It will be okay,” he said.

And then he hugged me and I buried my face into his chest and cried once more, warmed by his compassion and shamed by his pity.

Mr. Stearns took a bit of a detour, before he drove us back to school, allowing us to enjoy a small part of the day in that fast Mustang convertible. He opened it up and it wasn’t long before he had me laughing and smiling, a moment to soar above it all. A fleeting moment, for all too soon, we pulled into the school’s parking lot and then he shepherded me into his office and called my mother to let her know I’d been found. He had her on speakerphone so that I could talk to her as well. When confronted, she denied ever telling me that I’d have to walk to school, but then she caught herself in her own lie and asked why I’d ever believe such a thing in the first place. She didn’t seem unduly concerned, but I could tell by the timbre of her voice that I had embarrassed her and there would be hell to pay. Just another day.

After that, Mr. Stearns plied me with ice cream and asked me if I’d like to go back to class. He told me that I could hang out in his office and read, if I wanted to, but I wanted to go to class. I just wanted to be around the other kids and not think about what would be waiting for me when I got home.

The school day ended and I took my time leaving the classroom. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to miss the bus ride home.

And then I was home.

The next day, my mother called the school and told them that I’d had an accident and would be out for a few days. I ended up missing a week of school after I “fell” down the stairs.

I never missed the bus again.

If you liked this story, please give this one a chance:

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Of Midgets and Men

Most people don’t seem to like Thanksgiving much. I mean, they like the utopian concept of the holiday well enough, sit around, hold hands, sing Kumbaya, be thankful and all that bullshit, but in truth, it’s nothing more than reality TV show, dysfunctional family bullshit with extra stress and the gluttonous consumption of animal flesh chased down with copious amounts of alcohol, just so we can celebrate the fucking over of Native Americans by our forebears and then watch as various family members experience epic meltdowns and titanic rages throughout the day.

Yelling and screaming, maybe even an assault or two, hopefully, a food fight, if you’re lucky. Good stuff. Uncle Joe sure looks great covered in mashed potatoes and I'm pretty sure he's peed himself. I’ve never seen grandma cry before and did you know that you’re the reason she drinks? That’s why the night before Thanksgiving is the busiest night of the year in bars across the United States and that’s because everyone is getting hammered and braced for ‘Family Time’. But you know what? I love Thanksgiving. No, I fucking love Thanksgiving and it’s not just because most of my family is dead and the few who are still alive are so far flung, that I don’t have to worry about putting up with any of that Thanksgiving dinner, reality TV show, dysfunctional family bullshit and I still get to consume copious amounts of food and alcohol. It’s a win-win situation for me. Don’t hate.

The reason that I love Thanksgiving is pretty simple, really. It’s turkey. See? Nothing too fucking complicated, I just fucking love eating turkey. A big fucking roast bird. With mashed potatoes. Oh, yeah. And gravy. Lots of fucking gravy. I want to be able to surf that shit. Like, absolutely smother that big honking pile of shit on my plate in so much gravy that I’ll have instant arterial sclerosis and my arteries are so fucking clogged with gravy that I can’t move.

Poke me with a fork and watch the gravy pour out. Gravy. It’s as American as pie. Oh, pie. Can’t forget about some motherfucking pie. Lots and lots of motherfucking pie. It’s as American as gravy. Apple, pecan, blueberry, whatever. Fuck that pumpkin shit, though. There’s only one way to eat a pumpkin pie and that’s to slice it up and then throw that nasty shit in the trash. You can keep the cranberry sauce, stuffing and the rest of that crap, too. Veggies? Nah, fuck that. Just because the turkey’s dead, it doesn’t mean that you should eat its food. Have some fucking compassion, people.

Just give me my turkey, taters, gravy and pie.

I’m kind of aroused, just thinking about it.

Gravy. It’s like edible KY Jelly.

Last year, I discovered another reason to love Thanksgiving and it’s quite a delicious one; a veritable plastic bag full of goodness, Boulder Canyon Turkey & Gravy flavored potato chips. Each wonderfully crunchy, salty, and tasty chip is like a little Thanksgiving adventure piled high with deliciousness. It’s like a little Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of flavor marching across your tongue. Be still, my cholesterol clogged and barely beating heart.

Unfortunately, they also have a Pumpkin Pie flavor. What the fuck were they thinking? What kind of sicko would eat something like that? Besides white girls, I mean. And my friend Steve, but he’s just a white girl at heart; he likes Broadway musicals and shit and he claims to be straight. White girls go crazy over pumpkin anything. I can’t even begin to tell you how much pumpkin spice chloroform has improved my sex life. Yeah, right. Anyway, there’s so much pumpkin flavored and scented shit these days, I’m surprised that there isn’t a pumpkin scented douche. Oh, wait, there is. He likes Broadway musicals and his name is Steve.

Unfortunately, Boulder Canyon Turkey & Gravy potato chips are a limited time item and are always in short supply, so I have to stock up whenever I see them. They start to appear close to Halloween and I make sure to buy them as soon as I see them, because they go fast and they are impossible to find after Thanksgiving. I was at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago, stoned as usual and wandering in circles around the store, pretty much the same way that I always do, when I spotted them. The heavens had opened up and a little light shined down and there they fucking were. Two bags. Only two bags? I was distraught. Some other motherfucker or motherfuckers unknown had beaten me to the booty, but there were still scraps. I snatched those bags up so fast, I was like the motherfucking Flash and I dashed to the front of the store to pay for my treasure, conveniently forgetting, in my excitement, all of the other shit that I had wanted to buy at the store and I hopped in my car and drove off. I immediately realized my sheer, stoned stupidity and quickly flipped around, making a U-turn in the parking lot, nearly taking out some midget in a mobility chair that darted out in front of me.

I stood on the brakes and came to a tire squealing, bone-jarring halt, barely missing the little dude. By all rights, he should have been flatter than silver dollar pancakes. He looked up at me and instead of just feeling grateful to be alive, he totally lost his shit, going off like a little firecracker. Fuck me. Now, I had a screaming midget on my hands. What the fuck? And why was the little shit so angry? It’s not like I hit the little bastard, not even close and I thought he was just as much at fault as I was, but suddenly I’m the bad guy? How the fuck I manage to get myself into shit like this is completely beyond me and I was starting to wish I’d hit the gas and not the brake. Instead, I smiled and waved like a grinning fucking lunatic, which only seemed to agitate him more. It took the munchkin another minute or two to wind down and after telling me to go and follow the Yellow Brick Road, the midget rolled on his way toward the grocery store and I shrugged the little motherfucker off and went to look for an empty parking space, found one and ran back into the store to get the rest of the things that I needed.

It was a pretty smooth trip, except for a couple of little things…

My girlfriend called and asked me to pick up a couple of bottles of wine. No problem. This became my number one priority, because a smart man knows better than to come between a woman and her wine. I veered off my path and headed for the wine section of the store, grabbed a few bottles, and in my haste, I exited the aisle without really looking where I was going and I accidentally collided with another customer. Guess who?

What are the fucking odds?

Little dude looked at me and I looked down at him and I watched as his face turned a deep red, kind of shading towards purple. It was not a healthy, nor an attractive color. I watched in awe as he sat there and pulled himself up to his full height, which wasn’t much, mind you and that little fucker unleashed a stream of invective at me that was so strong, I felt staggered by its weight. Everyone around us stopped what they were doing and stared. Thankfully, it was nice and extra fucking busy, so lots of folks got to see the freak show. Like half the fucking town. Mortified, I did the only thing that I could. I muttered an apology, tucked my tail between my legs, turned around and moved off as quickly as I could without breaking into a sprint. I did have to maintain some sense of dignity and decorum, after all.

Two aisles later and I’m grabbing some rice off of one of the lower shelves when someone crashed into me from behind and sent me stumbling into my cart, nearly causing me to faceplant on the floor.

Guess who?

The little motherfucker laughed and said, “Sorry,” before gunning his little scooter down the aisle, cackling like a madman and escaping before I could even come to my senses.

That little fucking prick. Whatever. I picked myself up off the floor.

As I came to the end of the aisle, he was sitting there waiting for me. He looked at me, laughed, flipped me off and then took off down the aisle. Asshole.

Go fuck yourself, dude.

I definitely should have hit the gas. Fuck that, I should have backed over him again too and then just gone back and forth a few times. Sigh… A boy can dream, can’t he?

One more aisle over and I ran into my friend Luke and we started shooting the shit for a moment, when all of a sudden that little prick comes zooming down the aisle, drives past us and yells, “Fucking asshole!”

Luke looked all sorts of befuddled, but I just laughed and I said, “I think he was talking to you, bro.”

“Did we really just get screamed at by an angry midget on a mobility scooter?” Luke asked. “What the fuck is wrong with people?”

I laughed and said, “Maybe it’s just you. You do seem to attract that kind of shit.”

We said our goodbyes and I continued on my way, coiled and ready to strike like a deadly snake if I spotted my prey, but alas, I didn’t see the little bastard anywhere, which was good news for him, because that little fuck was about to become a real-life Elf on a Fucking Shelf. Ugh, if I could only get my hands on him.

That little bastard was really starting to get on my fucking nerves. And what the fuck was he doing in the store, anyway? Shouldn’t Santa’s little fucking helpers all be up at the North Pole, this time of year? No wonder I can’t find a fucking Hatchimal.

I finished my shopping and headed for the cash registers at the front of the store. Exiting the aisle, I noticed an empty register and picked up my speed, making a beeline for it. That was when I heard a loud and high-pitched electric whine as the midget came out of the aisle on my left, heading for the same cashier that I was. Oh, hell to the fuck, no. That little bastard wasn’t going to beat me. I picked up speed and so did he, but there could be only one and it sure as shit wasn’t going to be that little prick. I looked at him and he looked at me, eyes locked, like two bad 50’s movie, hot rod drag racers headed for the finish line at the edge of the cliff. We locked eyes for a moment and I saw murderous intent as he swung his handlebars toward me. He tried to veer his scooter into my cart and pass me, but instead I feinted and then swung my cart directly into the front end of his scooter, shoving him off course and into a display rack of potato chips that was in front of the register and I laughed as I watched the bags of chips crash down around the midget and then his scooter came to rest, quite ungracefully, against a drink cooler. There were bags of fucking chips everywhere and I couldn’t help but laugh like a fucking madman as my cart popped into the chute and I strolled casually up to the register, feeling like I’d just won the girl and the race and fuck that guy.

The midget started carrying on, bleating like a wounded goat, as if he were completely innocent and hadn’t contributed anything at all to what had just happened to him and I was just big, bad Gulliver trying to destroy the poor little people of Lilliput. Yeah, fuck that. People started picking up bags of chips from the floor and clearing a path for his scooter to escape the wreckage.

I threw the few things that I had on the conveyor belt and paid as quickly as I could, which was a good thing, because Mr. Midget was on his way.

The cashier was just handing me my change when he started screaming. Again.

“You son of a bitch,” he started, but it was too late and I bolted from the checkout line and headed for the exit, but I stopped before I had gone too far and I turned around, looked that little motherfucker right in the eye, smiled and gave him a one fingered salute, before making my escape and running for my car, laughing hysterically the entire way.

People really should watch where they’re going.

I made it over to my girlfriend’s house without further incident. As I was unpacking the groceries, I foolishly decided to show her my prize. I pulled out the bags and I showed the chips off to her like a proud papa.

“That looks disgusting,” Hannah told me.

“Looks can be deceiving,” I said. “Look at me.”

“You’re disgusting,” she said.

“Be that as it may,” I replied, “These are actually really good. Try one.”

Hannah gave me a dubious look, but she tried one anyway.

“These are delicious,” she said.

“I told you,” I said.

She reached for the bag. I tried to pull it away, but I had created a monster. Hannah beat me up and took my chips. It was the school cafeteria line all over again and I was shit out of luck when it came to keeping my milk money.

While we were stuffing our faces, I had a brilliant idea. I have lots of brilliant ideas. Unfortunately, I’m the only one who ever thinks that they’re brilliant ideas. That’s unfortunate, but I have no doubt that one day, the world will see me for the genius I am. Probably not any time soon, though.

“Baby, what would you think if we made a poutine out of these chips?” I asked Hannah.

Now, before we go any further, I need to take a moment to explain what exactly poutine is.

Walk down a street after a hard night of drinking in Montréal and you’d be hard-pressed not seeing someone gorging themselves on poutine, a high-calorie classic staple of Québécois casse-croûtes—or “greasy spoon”—cuisine.

Just what is poutine, you ask? The delicious Canadian dish is comprised of a holy-hoser trinity of ingredients: French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Try some yourself and you’ll be hooked. It’s become so popular that it’s readily available at certain restaurants in the U.S. (Lucky New Yorkers can get their hands on some traditional poutine at Brooklyn restaurant Mile End.) Otherwise, the dish has become so ubiquitous in its home province that even McDonald’s and Burger King sell it as a side. A Brief History of Poutine, by Sean Hutchinson

Now poutine, like Rush, is Canada’s gift to the world. I’m sure that some of my Canadian readers will be quick to point out all sorts of other cool Canadian things and accomplishments, such as they may be, but you also gave us Justin Bieber and that wipes out a whole fucking lot of goodwill. Take him back and we’ll talk.

So, my idea was to take the chips, throw on a few chunks of turkey, some gravy, a little bacon and some cheddar cheese curds and we’d be eating like gods.

Hannah didn’t seem to be very enthusiastic about my idea.

“I really don’t think it would be a good idea,” she said. “I don’t think the chips would hold up well under the gravy and that it would just be a soggy, nasty mess.”

I knew Hannah was wrong, but I let it go. I was fixated on creating what I was sure would be a culinary masterpiece, this Pilgrim Poutine, as I was now calling it. We had one bag of chips left and I was going to use it for what God intended it for.

A couple of weeks went by and I’m pretty sure Hannah had thought I’d forgotten my brilliant idea, but I hadn’t. One night, I made an executive decision that it would be poutine night and headed for the store to begin collecting the ingredients. I called Hannah from the store and informed her of what was on the menu.

“I’d kind of hoped you’d forgotten about that,” she said.

“Would Bob Ross forget painting the Sistine Chapel?” I replied. “I’m making it, it will be delicious. Get over it.”

But Hannah wasn’t done. “That’s fine, but my biggest concern is that the chips aren’t going to make it. Could you please pick up some waffle fries, or something as a backup, just in case?”

I agreed to make the waffle fries, even though I didn’t want to. I was stoned and I knew what I was doing. I know my shit when it comes to cooking. What could possibly go wrong?

I grabbed a few bottles of wine, just in case something went wrong.

I was in and out of the store, quickly picking up the few items that I needed. Okay, that’s complete bullshit. I was so fucking high that it took me like ninety minutes of wandering around, just to buy gravy, cheese curds, turkey, waffle fries and bacon. Five fucking things, fer fuck’s sake. The problem was that I kept picking up this and that, changing my mind on the ingredients that I wanted to use and walking around in circles, returning shit to where I picked it up before finding something else and changing my mind yet again. Chasing my tail, like an idiot dog. Never take me to the fucking grocery store when I’m stoned. It’s a fucking trial is what it is.

At least there weren’t any fucking midgets.

So, I end up over at Hannah’s house and I’m unpacking the groceries. Hannah waltzes into the kitchen and turns on the oven, which I found curious, because we didn’t need the oven for anything.

“Why did you turn on the oven?” I asked her.

“To make the waffle fries.” she answered.

Wait. What? Bake the waffle fries? I’m not sure I understood what Hannah was trying to say. Who does that? It’s wrong. French fries. Waffle fries. Whatever. You’ll notice they all have the word fries, as in fried, in their name. They’re supposed to be fried, not fucking baked. This kind of fuckery just couldn’t be allowed to stand. I decided to set Hannah straight in the most assertive way possible.

“Oh,” I said. And then more meekly, I added, “Baby, I thought we were going to fry them. That’s what you do with potatoes.”

It was like I needed validation, or something.

“No, baby,” she said, “We’re going to bake them.”

I did as I was told.

Sometimes, I’m a smart motherfucker. It just doesn’t happen very often.

When the fries were ready, I took them out of the oven and added the turkey and gravy chips to the cookie sheet. Then I topped the fries and chips off with some roast turkey breast, shredded cheddar, cheddar cheese curds and bacon. I poured the turkey gravy all over that shit, turned on the broiler and tossed it back into the oven. I let it sit under the broiler just long enough for the cheese curds to melt and I pulled the cookie sheet out of the oven,

It looked like a big, heaping, honking, pile of shit.

Smelled fucking great, though.

I carefully portioned out the poutine, making sure that my girlfriend got the half with the waffle-cut fries and saving all the chips for myself, naturally. I handed her plate over.

“Did you give me any of the chips?” she asked me.

What? Wait. What? Oh, no. You don’t go dogging my turkey and gravy chips, make me cook something special just for you and then just expect me to hand over the good shit after you’ve talked shit about it for weeks? I battled a mighty midget, for fuck’s sake and you just expect me to hand over my loot? Oh, fuck to the hell no! Dog my chips and you don’t get shit.

“No.” I replied, “You said you didn’t want any and you made me cook the waffle fries for you. You said the chips wouldn’t hold up.”

“I didn’t say that I didn’t want any,” she answered. “I said that I wanted to have a backup, just in case.”

“But, I…” I stammered.

She just looked at me.

I rearranged the plates and reluctantly gave her some of the chips. I thought about adding one more herb, but I couldn’t find strychnine anywhere.

We looked at our heaping, honking, piles of shit and we dug in. It was fucking delicious and one of the best things that I’ve ever tasted and not just because I was stoned, either.

You should try it sometime.

Midget battles are optional.

Go read something else!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Lately, I've been toking on some very strong Amnesia from Clandestine Gardens. Clocking in at a wonderful 28.1% THC, this potent sativa really knocks your block off. One of my favorite growers, Clandestine, raises every plant with sunshine, unicorns and love, resulting in a heady, potent, and flavorful buzz, with a great aroma and a stickiness that rivals the paste you used to eat in elementary school.

Just a few hits from that shit and my brain collapsed.

No shit.

Look at that fucking deliciousness. Just look at it.

I'd been meaning to try the strain for a while. I'd heard good things about it, I'd seen it in the local retail stores and considered buying it, but, fickle smoker that I am, some other strain would catch my eye like some gaudy butterfly and I'd go with that instead and then I’d forget all about the Amnesia. It was like I had amnesia from not smoking Amnesia.

Anyway, my girlfriend and I were in Cascade Herb Company, in Bellingham,​ a week or two ago. I forget why we went, because I had literally just stopped in at The Joint - Bellingham​, for some outstanding Blue Bastard, which was an Indica from Treedom​ and a couple of half-gram pre-rolls of Bruce Banner and LA Cheese, from Analytical 360​, so I was well set for the night. Evidently, she wasn't.
Blue Bastard

Oh, I remember now. My girlfriend wanted to get a new vape cartridge and I had a 20% discount at Cascade, so off we went, hand in hand, in search of more weed. Because nothing says buy more weed than saving money on dope and nothing says true love more than going weed shopping, hand in hand, with your girlfriend. Skipping through the sunshine and rainbows, slipping on the unicorn shit.

We hadn't been to Cascade for a few weeks. We'd bought a few vape cartridges there, before our vacation to the east coast, but we hadn't been back since then and I'd been lazy, buying my weed closer to home, mostly because of my odd work hours and the vibe at the shop had changed a little bit.

Cascade has had a bit of a turnover in staff lately, with most everyone that we know either gone, or working hours when we usually don't or can’t frequent the store. When you've been going to the same place for a long time and you're used to dealing with the same people, you kinda sorta build up a relationship of sorts with those people and when it all changes on you, it throws off your equilibrium. It's like switching weed dealers, or escaping from the backwoods in Deliverance. It takes a little while before you become comfortable again and I still shake uncontrollably when I hear banjos.

We walked into the store and the comforting smell of good weed washed over us like a warm summer day. Sure enough though, it was all new people working that night and there wasn’t a familiar face in sight. Bummer, but no biggie, It doesn't need to be a social call. We'll just get our shit and leave, but things didn't go as expected. The dude behind the counter was really cool and patient with us, he ensured that we had the time and the attention that we needed and this made us feel more like people and not just a number. We checked out a few cartridges and then headed over to where the flower was, sitting all pretty inside of the glass display cabinets.

Everything looked and smelled so good! I just wanted to cuddle with all of the lonely little buds.

Fuck. I was about to blow my weed budget. Again. That happens more than you might think.

My girlfriend and I looked over those delectable nuggets of goodness, smelling this and sniffing that. Fondling bags and ogling buds. We asked questions and compared strains from different growers and the guy behind the counter seemed to have a taste in weed that was similar to ours, so we felt as if his recommendations could be trusted. He spoke highly of a few strains and growers and I picked out a few bags of buds, for us. I also asked for a recommendation for something that would make me giggly and stupid. Dude strongly recommended the Amnesia, from Clandestine Gardens. I'm quite familiar with Clandestine's products and I've never been disappointed. Their prices tend to be at the higher end of the scale, ranging anywhere from $14 - $17 a gram, but when it comes to quality and potency, you definitely get your money's worth. As I like to say, you can tell that it was grown with love… and unicorn shit.

Things were starting to get a little out of hand. In addition to what I had purchased earlier, between the two of us, we now had an additional eighth of Strawberry Tangie, an eighth of Amnesia, a gram of Blueberry and a big ass joint of Double Lemon Cheesecake for the ride home. You have to have a travel doobie. It's like a rule, or something and I'm big on following the rules.

We bought a lot of fucking weed. No worries, though. You can never have too much weed and it was all going to a good cause.

Getting me high.

Because I'm a charitable motherfucker.

But we hadn't finished shopping yet.

My girlfriend still wanted a vape cartridge, We looked the cartridges over again and she asked me to pick one out for her, because she knows that letting me do that kind of shit makes me puff out my chest and feel all smart and self-important and stuff. This way, I think I'm in charge and don't realize that she's in control. Whatever, I can live with my illusions. Quite comfortably, I might add. She told me she wanted an Indica, so the choice came down to either God's Gift, which we'd just had, or the Afghani Hash that I had looked at earlier and which I had kind of a hankering for.

I hope that's enough for the weekend.
Just before we left, the owner popped out of the back and it was nice to finally see a familiar face. He greeted us and then he introduced us to all of his new employees. Suddenly, the store felt as warm, friendly and welcoming as it always had. I'll tell you, that's the kind of shit that makes me feel like a valued customer and keeps me coming back. It's also one of the many reasons that I recommend Cascade Herb Company to everyone that I speak to. Keep up the great work, guys!

We smoked up on the way home and then we smoked up some more when we got there. The Double Lemon Cheesecake was smokealicious. We tried out the Afghani Hash and the Strawberry Tangie, first thing and pretty soon, we were both pretty lit.

I put the Amnesia away for later.

We smoked most of what we bought that night, over the course of the next few days and then we bought some more weed, forgetting all about the Amnesia. Sort of. I just kept looking for excuses to smoke other strains, keeping that Amnesia in reserve, making it my side bud.

It took me two weeks to break into the Amnesia, but after smoking out all day yesterday, I finally cracked the seal last night. I packed a bowl and then my girlfriend and I drove over to the grocery store to get some mushrooms for dinner. She lives close to the store, so we were only able to take a hit or two each, before we got there, so we sat in the parking lot for a few minutes and finished the bowl. I was feeling fairly fine, as we got out of the car.

As we approached the store, my girlfriend noticed one of her besties on her way in as well, with her bestie's bestie child in tow, so we took a moment to stop and say hello.

That moment was all that it took. By the time the two of them were finished talking about whatever shit women talk about, the weed had caught up with me and my eyes had glazed over like a doughnut. I was pretty fucking stoned and it felt fabulously fucking phenomenal.

Unfortunately, the worst place in the world for me to be when I'm stoned is at the grocery store. It can be deadly. I get lost. I fall into some kind of mysterious, space-time warp anomaly thing and I emerge from the store twenty-seven years later, like some kind of wasted Rip van Winkle. It's not pretty.

So, the two of us are now wandering around the store, fingering the food and leering lasciviously at this and that, sucking up time the way work sucks away my life. Gone and lost forever, but at least we were laughing our asses off. Everything was funny. 

Time dilation has some strange effects. So do large quantities of weed. Makes you think you know shit about time dilation, when you really don't know shit at all.

We were only there to buy one item, for fuck's sake! Well, there was one other item that I wanted too, but I was so high, So high, I couldn't remember what it was.  It was like I had amnesia from smoking the Amnesia.

At some point while the two of us were wandering through the desert, trying to find the promised land of the exit, we ended up in front of the freezer case where they keep some of the higher end things like duck and bison, as well as a few, more exotic meats. I noticed that they had frozen duck breasts and I suddenly had to have them, but I was stoned, so I had to debate it with myself, first. I live on a pretty tight food budget, so I have to justify spending money on erroneous things like food.

"Stop fondling the breasts and just throw them in the basket." My girlfriend demanded. Quite unfairly, I might add.

Jealous much?

I threw them in the basket and then I wanted to go stare at some short ribs, because I'd been wanting to cook them for a while and it never hurts to look.

They didn’t have any fucking short ribs. Bastards. Who does that?

We started looking at the steaks, instead.

While we were busy touching all of the packages of steak and playing with our meat that we had no intention of buying, she asked me what I had done with the duck.

"What did you do with the duck breasts?" she asked me.

"I've been pinching their little nipples," I replied. “They seem to like it.”

Did you know that a platypus has no nipples? Me either.

She looked at me, askance, rolled her eyes at me and said, "Don't make me kill you. I'm not in the mood to hide your body right now."

"You'd have to dig a hole, first," I answered quite smugly. Have to follow the rules...

"I have," she told me.

"Oh," I said. "Shit. They're in the basket. Please don't hurt me."

Fuck me. Gingers are dangerous when they get all riled up.

"No, they're not," she said. "There are only two things in the basket and duck isn't one of them."


I peered into the basket. I saw some mushrooms, some other fucking shit, but sure enough, there were only two things in the fucking basket and, neither of which was duck.

"What did you do with the duck?" I asked her.

"I never did anything with the duck," she continued, "You never put it in the basket."

Well, fuck me. Apparently, my overly stoned ass had thrown the duck back into the freezer. I sheepishly retraced my steps and went back to get them.

When I returned, she was looking a bit smug, but I quickly turned the tables on her.

"Did you remember to get your wine?" I asked her.

A panicked expression crossed her face and was replaced by a look of determination. She didn’t say a word, she just turned and ran like hell for the wine section.

Distraction and sleight of hand. You can always distract a woman with wine. It works like a charm, every time.

After that, we were over at the butcher case and we got into some conversation with the meat guy over exactly which cut of beef constituted a "medallion," because at $20 a pound, that medallion had better be something special and not the cheap ass sirloin that they usually try to pass off as "medallions." The meat guy didn't have a clue and to be honest, he told us that he thought the meat was sirloin. Well, as red as that guy’s eyes were, I'm pretty sure that he didn't have a clue about much and I know that fucker was just as stoned as we were and I’m fairly certain that he knew that we were stoned too. We know our tribe.

From there, we went to go stare at some expensive and nasty smelling cheese and then we went over to the new section that was full of artisanal meats, such as Jamon de Iberico, specialty salamis and other wondrous things, but, as before, we bought nothing. Finally running out of shit to look at, we made our way to the front of the store to pay for the few things that had managed to make it into the basket.

I still couldn't remember what the hell the other thing was that I had wanted to buy. It was like I had amnesia, or something.

As we were headed to the exit, we heard my girlfriend's bestie call out, "Oh my God, are you guys still here?"

Nice job there, Captain Obvious.

We sort of explained why it had taken us an hour and a half to buy four items. You really don't want to tell anyone that you're stoned out of your mind on fucking weed while you're in front of their nine-year-old child. It's just poor form.

We said our goodbyes to bestie and child and we left the store, headed for home. That was when I finally remembered that I had needed to buy toothpaste, of course, but now it was just too late and there was no way that I was going back. Grrrrrr...

On the way home, I was still so stoned, I forgot where I was going. And where I was. Which happens more than you might think. My driving was fine, I was just a mental moron, but at least I was coherent enough to drive, even if I didn't quite know where I was. I just kept driving until things looked familiar and luckily, I guessed right, when I turned left, instead of right.

Somehow, I managed to get us home and I even managed to cook dinner without the summoning the fire department. The cooking thing just took a while, that's all. Trying to multi-task was a disaster, because I kept forgetting what I was doing.

Eventually, I managed to get it right. Pan seared duck breasts with a balsamic glaze and a bacon-mushroom risotto, made with beef stock. It was fucking amazing. I make the best shit, when I'm stoned.

After dinner, we smoked a little bit of the Blueberry, to wind down after a long day and that seemed to ground us a little bit more..

Fuck me. I've smoked a lot of dank shit over the years and that Amnesia was some of the dankest shit I’ve ever smoked.

On the Goodshit scale, I'd give it a 9.5 out of 10.

And now I'm off to smoke another fat bowl of it. Thanks, Clandestine!