Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's All You Need

When I first started writing this blog, I promised myself three things:

1          1)      I wouldn’t write about religion.
2
2          2)      I wouldn’t write about politics.
3
           3)      I would only write about things from my own life experiences.

I’ve kept those promises to myself, until now. Starting today, I’m going to break all three of those promises and I’m starting with religion, sort of and I’m going to do it by taking a potshot at one of the most basic tenets of Christianity.

Now, before anyone starts foaming at the mouth, let me sweeten the pot by going on record as an atheist. I don’t believe; I don’t have any faith. If you are a person of faith, don’t worry, I’m not trying to convert you to my point of view. I’m not the evangelical sort. I don’t care what you choose to believe in, that’s your right. I don’t have any problems with people of faith; I just don’t have any myself. I’m not persecuting anyone, so don’t freak out.

So, what’s this potshot all about? Well, it’s a phrase that Christians say all of the time, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Seriously, you guys say that shit all of the time. At least, I hear it a lot. Are you guys trying to tell me something? Well, I have a response for you.

Love the sinner, hate the sin. How is that supposed to work, exactly? You have to admit that it does seem a bit conflicting. Pay attention, my friends, because you’re sending mixed messages here.

Love the sinner, hate the sin. Blech. I hate it; can’t freaking stand it. It’s a terrible, horrible phrase and should never be used. Luckily, we can fix it and I’m here to show you how. There’s no need to thank me, I’m here to help! Let’s look at the phrase again. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Well, you know what? That last part, that bit right after the comma, that hate the sin crap? It needs to go. No, seriously. It really needs to go. Don’t worry, Jesus never said it and it’s not in the Bible, so we can feel free to change things up a little. Come on, say it with me, “Love the sinner.” Period. It sends a much more simple and concise message, wouldn't you agree? Plus, you get an added bonus, you don’t have to hate anything or anyone; you’re no longer passing judgment. It’s a beautiful thing, right?

Well, sort of. I still don’t like it, so let’s fix it up a little more. Love the sinner. Hmm… Remember that whole passing judgment thing? You’re still doing it. No worries. I’m here to help, remember? Let’s look at this again and see if we can fix it. Like Bob the freaking Builder, "Yes we can!".

Since we’re no longer judging, why don’t we just go ahead and leave out that last part about ‘the sinner.’ It’s only two words, what’s the big deal? Well, it would leave us with just one word, wouldn’t it?
LOVE
Think about it. Love. It’s a pretty important word, wouldn’t you agree? Plus, it sounds much, much nicer and if you’re incredibly lazy, like me, it takes a lot less effort, because you’re no longer trying to do two things at once. It’s much less confusing and there’s no mixed message. It’s simple and it’s concise as well as elegant and eloquent. One simple word.
LOVE
Yeah, I like that. It’s all you need.


Friday, May 23, 2014

O' Brother, Where Art Thou?

My family moved around a lot, when I was a kid and the longest period of stability that I was to know until I was an adult was the four years that I spent in military school. We were like gypsies, always moving, never putting down roots. By the time that I was twenty-nine, I had lived in seven states, at least twenty-three different cities and gone to four different high schools. I had even lived in some of those cities multiple times over the years. That’s a lot of moving around.

When I was sixteen, my family moved back to Philadelphia, for the fourth time. I don’t remember why, exactly; maybe it was for me to have that long sought stability, maybe it was for me to go to college, or maybe it was just to indulge me. Who knows? I was just happy to be anywhere but Florida and even more importantly, for the first time since fourth grade, I now had my very own bedroom. It might not seem like much, but if you’ve never really had one, it’s a beautiful thing. The only thing that I needed in order for my happiness to be complete was for the moving van to arrive and for my motorcycle to be offloaded. It was spring and the days had been clear and warm; I couldn’t wait to go for a ride.

When that happy day arrived, I set about washing and waxing my baby, to get her ready for her inaugural ride through Philadelphia. As I was finishing up, one of the neighbors from across the street meandered over to introduce himself. As I saw him walking over, I took his measure and was struck with this uncanny sense of déjà vu. I knew this guy from somewhere, although where I didn’t know, His face was eerily familiar and I also felt something else; a vague sense of something wrong. I was instantly on guard.

The guy introduced himself as Michael and we shook hands. As we were talking, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seen him before, that I knew him from somewhere. Michael looked so familiar and I don’t know what it was about him, but he made me feel very uncomfortable. We chatted for a bit and I told him that we had just moved up from Florida and that I would be starting college, in the fall. I really don’t remember any of the things that he said until he spoke the following words, “Steve, I haven’t been completely honest with you and there’s something important that I have to tell you.”

“Oh shit,” I thought, “I knew there was something wrong. This guy’s gay and he’s hitting on me. Why does this kind of shit always have to happen to me?”

I had no idea just how wrong I could be.

“I’m your brother, Michael,” he confessed. He then pointed back in the direction that he came from and said, “And over there is your sister, Sandy and your mother, Barbara.”

Holy shit! Yeah, I say that a lot.

Maybe I should have mentioned that I’m adopted. By my grandparents. Strange shit and an even stranger story. I’ll get around to telling it, one day.

“Holy shit!” I thought, my mind finally making the connections. “No wonder he looks so familiar, he looks just like me!” And he did. It was uncanny; we could almost have passed for twins. It also explained my uneasiness.

Michael went on to tell me that he hadn’t seen me since I was a toddler and that when the three of them had realized just who the new neighbors were, they had become very excited.

I did not share in their excitement.

How was it even remotely possible that we had moved across the street from these people? The odds had to be billions to one and yet, here it was. There is a special word that I save for occasions such as this one. It was a complete and total mindfuck.To say that I was less than thrilled, would be putting it mildly.

While I recovered from these thrilling revelations, Michael really opened up, telling me how he and Sandy had thought that they would never see me again and that they could hardly believe that it was really me. He told me that they hoped that we could get to know each other, that maybe we could be friends and perhaps, given enough time, we might even learn to be a family.

I looked into his eyes and I saw hope and I saw something else. I think I also saw fear, reflected back at me.

Just for the record, as mentioned above, I am adopted by my grandparents and the events surrounding my adoption literally tore my family apart. There are some serious skeletons, in the old family closet. The story is long, complicated and filled with tales of abuse, attempted murder, abandonment, neglect, foster care, kidnapping and lots of other fun, family activities. I won’t delve deeper into that, not now and not here. I don’t know why I was spared while Michael and Sandy were condemned to their lives, but I’d heard many stories about them, none of them good. Tales of alcoholism, addiction and worse, ran rampant throughout my family. They were said to be nothing but trouble and were not to be trusted.

My parents were never able to give me an adequate explanation as to why they chose just me. The best that I ever got from them was that Michael and Sandy had been exposed to the insanity for too long; they had seen too much and were themselves already exhibiting signs of mental instability. My parents went on to explain that they thought that I was young enough to still have a chance. Their reasoning has never sat well with me, nor has it ever made any sense whatsoever, but they also thought that my life was in extreme danger, at the time. I guess that in the end, they did the best they could and made the best choice they thought possible, when looking at a catalog of bad choices. And sometimes, if it smells like bullshit, that’s because it probably is.

In the end, I too, had nothing but bad choices. Although these people were related to me in a biological sense, they certainly weren’t my family; quite the opposite, they were complete strangers to me and I didn’t owe them anything. And what about my parents? What would they think? How would they feel? Wouldn’t they see this as treason, as the ultimate act of betrayal that it would be? What about me? What about what I was thinking or feeling or even what it was that I wanted? Did this complete and total stranger have any right to intrude upon my life?

I had already made my decision. I did what I thought was best at the time and now, more than thirty years later, I still think that I made the right choice, but for one short-lived moment of regret.

I’m sorry,” I said, “but I can’t.”

In that moment, in those five words, I saw all hope fade from Michael’s eyes, only to be replaced by a depth of unknown loss and sadness the likes of which I had never seen before and rarely since.

“I can’t do this,” I continued. “Not now and maybe not ever. Regardless of the past, this is my family and for better or for worse, this is the only life that I know. I would never do anything to harm my family, Michael. I’m sorry, I truly am.”

The expression that crossed his face has haunted me for years.

Michael started to say something else, but only a sigh escaped his lips as he turned to go. What it was that he wanted to say I will never know; perhaps I’m better off not knowing. It was pitiful, watching him walk away like that, head down, with his hands in his pockets, looking for all the world like a beaten dog. If he would have had a tail, it would have been between his legs as he scurried off. I can’t even begin to tell you how terrible that made he feel and yet, at the same time, I felt so relieved.

After a few minutes, I went back into my own house and told my parents what had happened. They totally freaked out, but calmed down after a bit and they asked me how this had made me feel. For a moment, I was shocked, because my parents had never before asked me how I had felt about anything. You see, in my family, emotion was seen as a sign of weakness; we didn’t have “feelings”. After recovering from my second shock of the day, I told them that I was more than a little freaked out, myself.

Things got a little weird, after that. You know, as if they weren’t weird enough already.

Michael, Sandy and Barbara would sit on their front steps (they lived in adjoining row homes) and just stare at our house. Talk about uncomfortable; I felt like I was being stalked and it was really, really creepy. We started to avoid the front of the house. We kept the shades and curtains drawn on the front windows. We started parking in the alley around back and using the back door, instead of the front one. No one in this house, it seemed, was willing to confront the ghosts of the past.

After a few months of this, my parents asked me if I wanted to move. I couldn’t say yes, fast enough. Hell, I would have gone back to Florida, if they had asked me to. My parents took a lease on this huge, luxury apartment, that was just incredible. They put the house on the market, taking a huge loss, when it sold, but they seemed as eager to get out of there as I was. They never said another word about it. With my parents, when something was over, it was over and you forgot all about it, unless it was something that you did to piss them off; they’d never shut up about stuff like that. I was in my late 30’s and my mother was still bitching about things that I did when I was twelve. Even worse, the woman has been dead for years and I still hear her bitching at me.

Family. What a strange and wonderful thing that can be and what a terrible and tormented thing it can be, as well. Originally, this post was going to be about family; about redemption, forgiveness and second chances, but as I started to write about those very things, the words just stopped flowing and I found myself thinking back to this story instead, but it still ties in. Family has to be more than just blood, or the flesh of my flesh and that of my once beloved. There has to be a bond, something that with the best of people, you feel right away; some sort of connection. You feel connected to your family and accept them as family. I felt no connection to those people; I felt nothing for them, other than pity. Well, they also made me feel pretty creeped out, too.

I thought that I had seen the last of Michael, Sandy and Barbara when we moved away, but little did I know that I would run into all three of them again, a decade later and a thousand miles away, but that’s yet another story.

I know that some of you will think that I was unnecessarily cruel, that day. Some of you will think that I made the wrong decision. All I can say is that time has proven my decision to be the correct one. I know that many people who are adopted long to find their birth parents, for whatever reason and that’s fine. For the life of me, I’ll never understand why someone would want to find the people that didn’t want them, but that’s just how I feel. I don’t judge, I just don’t understand. I’ve never met my biological father. Well, I have, but I haven’t seen him since I was seventeen months old, so I just don’t remember him, which is a good thing. I’ve unwillingly met the rest of my birth family; perhaps things might have worked out differently, if I’d been given a choice. Giving birth to a child doesn’t automatically make you a parent. It’s the people who raise you and love you that matter. That’s what being a parent is.

These many years later, I look back and I feel a little guilty, as I second guess myself. Was I too hasty? Should I have given Michael and Sandy a chance? After all, they had never done anything to me. They were innocent children at the time of my adoption and if anything, Sandy had tried to protect me from my birth parents. From the stories that my own parents told me, she was a hero. All that they were asking for was a chance to get to know their brother. Was I right? Was I wrong? I don’t know and I never will.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention Barbara.

The last I’d heard, Sandy was living on the opposite side of the state from me and Michael fell off the face of the Earth years ago. We had some mutual friends and no one has ever heard from him; he just disappeared. If I wanted to and if he’s still alive, I’m sure that I could track him down, but I’ve never had the desire to look for him. I’ve also heard that Barbara is long in her grave and perhaps that is where this whole matter is best left, in its grave, with all of the other dead things.

Life is really strange, sometimes.

I had a few people proofread this story for me. I was looking for errors in spelling and grammar, as well as any issues with the story itself. Hopefully, everything has been corrected, but any mistakes are mine and mine alone, although I sometimes will intentionally use improper grammar. In the course of this proofreading, I was asked if this story was true and if we really did move across the street from my birth family. Here is what I have to say about this:

All of my stories are true. If I make something up, I will tell you in the story, but every word of these stories are true, unless otherwise noted. The events in this story really happened. We really moved directly across the street from my birth family. The odds against this happening have to be beyond calculation and yet it happened. As I said earlier, it was a complete and total mindfuck.

Questions, questions, I’m so full of freaking questions…

What do you think? Did I make the right choice? Would you have done something differently?

Are you adopted? Have you searched for your birth parents? Did you find them? How did that work out for you? Was it worth it?

Begging and pleading for attention…

As always, comments, questions, criticisms and insults are always welcome and encouraged.

Thanks, for reading and for coming back.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Secret Recipe

Guess what?
Chicken butt.

You have to be a little demented, I think, to work in the medical profession. I know quite a few doctors and nurses and they are all pretty fucked in the head. Now that I think about it, all of the police officers, firemen and EMTs that I know are pretty messed up, too. Alright, let’s be honest here; most everyone that I know is fucked in the head and that includes myself. If you’ve read more than one of my stories, you can count yourself in there, as well.

This is a story that was related to me by someone I know in the medical profession. Due to privacy and other concerns, there will be some information that will be left out and I will not be posting any screen captures of our text conversation. I don’t know whom this happened to, just someone who was on duty at the time that it happened. I do not know any personally identifiable information about this person. This is not, I repeat, NOT something that happened to me.

A friend of mine works at the ER in an inner city hospital. He occasionally tells me some hysterically funny stories about what happens during his shift in the emergency room. This is one of those…

For the sake of this story, we’ll call my friend, “Paul.”

I got a text from Paul, the other day. A man had come into the ER complaining of extreme discomfort and was very, very embarrassed. As it turns out, there was a very good reason for his discomfort and embarrassment; the man had shoved an entire raw chicken, up his ass.

Now then, before we go any further, let’s explore this salient fact. How, exactly, does one go about shoving an entire chicken in their ass? The logistics of this are almost beyond comprehension and seem to defy both logic and physics. Let’s start with a somewhat edited transcript of our text conversation, which we can explore and discuss.

Paul: Most unusual complaint at triage, today, “I have a raw chicken stuck up my butt.”

Kind of makes you wonder if the guy stated this in a casual way. You know, like it’s an every day kind of thing, to walk around with raw poultry in your ass. It also reminds me of an old joke. What’s the difference between kinky and perverted? Kinky is when you use a feather and perverted is when you use the entire chicken.

Paul: Must check to see if it’s a full moon tonight.

I would definitely say that having a chicken stuck in your ass is something that one could safely call a “full moon”.

Me: I call shenanigans, on that one. Was it the whole chicken?

I don’t believe it and yet, I’m clearly ready to accept it and very much want it to be true. That’s really fucked up.

Paul: Whole small fryer! Gives new meaning to “chicken in a can”… lol!

Have you ever seen chicken in a can? I have and it’s fucking disgusting. It’s a whole chicken, ensconced in a lovely congealed gelatinous goop of chicken fat and then canned and preserved, for your gastronomic delight. Perfect, with a nice Pinot Grigio. What really grosses me out is that people actually eat this shit.

Whole Chicken in a Can Taste Test:
www.seriouseats.com/2009/04/whole-chicken-in-a-can-taste-test.html

It even has its own Facebook fan page:
www.facebook.com/pages/SWEET-SUE-WHOLE-CHICKEN-IN-A-CAN/126931264690?_rdr

Get some today! You never know when civilization might end or you’ll need a new sex toy:
www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00E3AYVA8/ref=pd_aw_sbs_1?pi=SL500_SS11

Paul: Truly, it is very perplexing. I can’t imagine rummaging thru the fridge looking for something to make for dinner… seeing the chicken and thinking… “Hmmm… I wonder how that chicken would feel up my ass?” Out of all the choices freely available during the course of the day, this guy chooses chicken.

Upon reflection, this last statement makes me wonder how many different “freely available choices” Paul has considered shoving up his own ass, but hey, who am I to judge? Truly, it is very perplexing…

Me: At least it wasn’t alive, when it went in there. Maybe it’s his own special marinade?

And if the chicken had been alive, that might have given new meaning to the term, “hen-pecked”.

Me: I’m going to pee myself, if I don’t stop laughing. People are already looking at me like I’m insane. I’m used to that, though.

Yeah, definitely not a text conversation that I should be having at work. Fuck it.

Paul: Insanity is shoving raw poultry up your butt. And waiting three days to seek medical attention.

Holy shit! Three days. This guy had a chicken in his ass, for three fucking days. WTF? No, seriously. WTF??? How in the fucking fuck, do you manage to function with a chicken in your ass to begin with, but to hold out for three days? I’d imagine you might feel a little bloated. Just a tad. Another thing; did he think that he was just going to pass it? I’ve heard of shitting a brick, but a bird? Shouldn’t he have left a drumstick out, you know, just to keep a handle on things?

Wait, it gets better…

Paul: The poor guy now has salmonella and has to go to the OR (operating room/surgery).

Well, no shit (bad pun intended). He wrecked his rectum.

Me: Three days? Not exactly the intellectual type, is he?

Paul: I feel bad for him. He was so embarrassed.

Not to mention fucking stupid. And no, I don’t even feel anything remotely resembling sympathy, for that dumbass.

Paul: Just think… if he had not come in, he could have died from embarrassment.

I have to disagree. The guy would have died from stupidity, not embarrassment. The embarrassing part is having come so close to winning a coveted Darwin award, only to have it snatched away at the last second by the fickle fingers of fate.

A short while later and I’ve got picture mail. It’s an x-ray that shows someone with a chicken, shoved up their ass. It’s depraved, demented and disgusting. It’s fucking awesome.

Two days later…

Me: I wish that I could write about the chicken man. I’m still giggling over that one and still trying to figure out how he got it in there.

Paul: I would be interested to know how much lube it took to accomplish that monumental task.

Dude, don’t do it! Please! Use one of those “freely available choices” instead.

Paul: And you could certainly write about it w/out it being a HIPAA violation… but none of us knowing all the details, it would be difficult to make a story out of it.

Me: I don’t need the whole story, lol. The text convo and the x-ray work just fine. I just won’t include any screen shots of the texts.

The next day…

Paul: Cornish game hen according to the OR report.

Me: Any explanation of why?

Paul: He told the psych nurse he tried navel oranges, cukes (cucumbers) and baking potatoes before, but the chicken was the biggest food item he’d accomplished. He said it made him cum harder and several times.

Kids, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!! Not only is it dangerous, but it is just so wrong, on so many levels. Plus, it’s not a very balanced diet. I’ll bet this guy is a chef.

Paul: Btw… he is a chef.

Well, I didn’t think he was a fucking rocket scientist. Chicken is definitely off of the menu.

Me: I’m sure he was feeling quite accomplished. Was he planning on roasting the bird, after marinating it in the secret herbs and spices?

Me: You are demented, btw.

Paul: That is definitely the pot calling the kettle black.

Me: Me? Perish the thought. Besides, it’s an admirable quality.

Paul: A good writer understands his material. If you’re gonna write a story about him, you really should know firsthand what you’re writing about. I don’t want to know the details and don’t come crying to me if it doesn’t work out for ya!

Me: Well, there is a turkey in the freezer…

Paul: Call the Butterball hotline first… the defrosting instructions might be different if it’s going in the ass instead of the oven.

Me: Good idea. Defrosting it, I mean. Wouldn’t want a brain freeze.

Me: Clearly, I wasn’t thinking.

Paul: I may be overstating the obvious here… but anyone who contemplates shoving a large poultry up their keister already has brain freeze.

Why, thank you, Captain Obvious.

Paul: I’m not judging.

That’s good. Judge not, as the Bible says.

Paul: The heart wants what the heart wants.

Me: Does that mean you’re okay, with small poultry? Would you like me to send you some quail?

Paul: That is so thoughtful. I do not like quail though.

Tried it before, eh? How much lube did that take? Truly, it is very perplexing…

Me: It’s the thought that counts.

Paul: A true friend.

We started chatting about other things and then got on to the subject of raising teenagers and helping to guide them towards making the correct life choices.

Me: Do this, don’t do that. Never shove a chicken up your ass. Need to prepare them for the world.

Teach your children well, as the song says and never miss an opportunity to turn a life lesson into a true learning experience.

Paul: Never shove a chicken up your ass should be ingrained in them from an early age. Important life lesson, I say!!

Obviously, you don’t consider it that important, if you only gave it two exclamation points. Everyone knows that the really important shit gets three exclamation points. Three, motherfucker, three!!! One, two, fucking three!!! My work is never done.

At that point, I had to call my son, to talk to him about the inappropriate cover photo that he had just posted to Facebook, so that was the end of our text conversation. When/If I find out what became of Chicken Man, I’ll post an update.

Let’s take away some important lessons from this little story. While fresh fruits and vegetables are certainly delicious and I’m sure they can be lots of fun, they are not very hygienic and should not be used as sex toys, even if you plan on eating them after playtime is over. The same goes for animals. I know that food is sexy and all, but please refrain from shoving it up your ass.

No chickens were harmed in the writing of this story.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Fugitive

Just a little joke that I found amusing.

A man escapes from the prison where he’s been locked up for 15 years. After being on the run for a few days, he breaks into a house and finds a young, married couple in bed.
The convict ties the husband to a chair and then ties the wife to the bed. The convict gets on top of the wife, kisses her neck and then gets up and walks into the bathroom.

While the convict is busy in the bathroom, the husband whispers to his wife, “Honey, this guy is an escaped convict; he’s probably spent a lot of time in jail and hasn’t seen a woman in years.”

“I saw the way he kissed your neck. If he wants to have his way with you, don’t resist. Do whatever it is that he tells you to do, no matter how painful or degrading. Satisfy him, no matter how much it sickens you. This guy is very dangerous and if he gets angry, he may just kill us both. Be strong, Honey. I love you.”

His wife responds with obvious relief in her voice, “Oh baby, I’m so glad that you feel that way, but he wasn’t kissing my neck, he was whispering in my ear.”

“He told me that he was gay and he thinks you’re hot. Then he asked me if we had any Vaseline and I told him it was in the bathroom. Be strong, baby. I love you, too.”

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Slide It In

I killed a forest last night. I didn’t mean to, but I did. Let me see if I can explain this, without looking like a complete fucktard. Wish me luck.

Some of you know me as a friend (sorry, ‘bout your luck), others as a writer. Some of you know me as a professional photographer, while others know me as the IT god, that I am. Some of you know me from my time in the music industry, or for my charity work (don’t judge me) and some of you don’t know me, at all. What most of you don’t know is this: I also have another profession at which I slave away. I work in the hospitality industry, which means that I work that job, for tips. This isn’t a post to bitch about that job or how cheap you fuckers are, just an introduction to something else that I do and other than this paragraph, only a brief mention of it in this story. It’s just a part of the setup. I’m glad that we’ve got that out of the way, aren’t you?

I was on my way home from work last night and I needed to stop at the ATM at my bank, to deposit enough cash to cover my car insurance, because it’s nice to have a car, insurance and a driver’s license. Wait a second. I have questions…

Yeah, I probably have explanations and tangents, too. Let’s explore and discuss.

1. Why does shit always seem to happen on my way home from work? It’s usually late at night and I just want to go home and go to bed, because I have to be up bright and early in the morning. You can forget that bright eyed and bushytailed bullshit. It’s a simple thing, right? Get in the car, drive home and go to bed. Any imbecile can accomplish that, right? Apparently, not this one. Shit always has to happen on my way home. Even tonight couldn’t be a normal night. What I thought was going to be a drunk driving checkpoint, turned out to be a downed power line. There were a hell of a lot of cops, though; you’d have thought it was a fucking donut convention, but putting sugar on shit don’t make it a donut, as my daddy used to say.

2. One of the things that I love about my bank is that their ATMs not only accept cash, but they count it and it is credited to your account, immediately and as a bonus, I don’t have to go inside or deal with an actual human being (that always tries to sell me shit I don’t need), which is fine by me, because I hate most human beings. I’ll bet you never would have guessed that. Another thing that I love about my bank is that they send me a daily reminder of just how poor I am. That’s pretty awesome. One of the things that I hate about my bank is that they confuse the hell out of me. I don’t know why, but I have like four zillion accounts. There’s primary checking, reserve checking, growth, and savings. Okay, maybe not exactly four zillion, but you get the picture. I just need two; checking and savings. The lady that explained this to me had the most unintelligible accent that I’ve ever heard and was so confusing, I asked her if she could put me on the phone to Chip, in Bangalore, because I thought he might do a better job of walking me through their Byzantine banking arrangements. She looked at me blankly; most people do. My level of sarcasm is so advanced, mortals think I’m stupid. Another thing that I hate about my bank is that the ATMs do not give out lollipops. That shit’s not right.

Okay, I think we’re good, for now. I’ll get to the forest part, in a minute. I need to scroll back, just to see what the hell I was ranting on about, anyway. Hold on for just a sec and I’ll sum things up for you.

I was on my way home from work and stopped at the ATM, to deposit money. Wow, look how far we made it into the story before I made you read all of that other shit. My bad. Look, it’s 4:00am, I’m still awake and I’ve had a lottle bit of whiskey. A lottle. It’s like a little, but a lot.

I pulled up to the ATM, like I have a hundred times before. I lean awkwardly over my door and fumble my card into the machine, sliding it in, just like always. Score two, for me. Hooray! Now, I just need to put in my PIN. Simple stuff, right? Nope. I can barely reach the keypad, but I figure that I can reach over just a little bit more and so my hand slips and I input the wrong number. No big deal, the ATM likes me; it gives me a second chance and this time I won’t be so lazy. I open the car door a little bit and I lean out a little bit more and it’s still not enough, so I stretch just a little bit more and I, well, I fell out of the fucking car. Okay, I didn’t really fall out of the car, but I could totally see it happening and I’m truly amazed that it didn’t. Plus, it would have been spectacular!

I managed to enter the correct PIN (batting .750, baby!), pressed all of the right buttons on the screen, but then my hand slipped again and I selected the wrong account. I had to cancel the transaction. The machine spat out a receipt. Why it gave me a receipt for a cancelled transaction, I guess I’ll never know.

That’s tree #1.

Time to start the whole process over and try to explain a little more. My car is a Saturn SC2; it sits very, very low to the ground. The bucket seats in the damn thing are so fucking low, my ass drags along the pavement. Don’t laugh, that’s how I brake. Kind of like a modern Fred Flintstone, but maybe not quite as cool, as he is. I can’t get out of the car, because I parked too close to the damn machine, and I can’t really open my door, all that much. I could have moved the car; that thought just occurred to me, but it didn’t last night. Look, I was tired. I use a lot of energy trying to appear to be too busy to deal with your petty ass. Being elitist and snotty wears a body. Who has time to fucking think, anyway? That shit’s overrated, if you ask me.               

So, I slide my card back in, enter the wrong PIN again, then enter the right PIN, press all the right buttons, toss in my cash and the machine spits it back out, telling me that I can only insert fifty bills, at a time. I only have two bills; one hundred dollars. Obviously, you don’t know what you’re talking about, so let’s try this again. I put the money back in and the machine counts it and accepts the cash. I just need to press the button and confirm it There are only two buttons; two simple choices. A monkey would have a 50% chance of getting it right. Not this monkey. My hand slipped again and I hit the No button on the screen. The machine spit the money out again. Then, it shot out another receipt.

Tree #2

Fer Fuck’s sake.

Card in; check. PIN entered, check. Hand slips again, check. This time, it’s a fast cash withdrawal and the machine spits out fifty dollars. Not quite what I was aiming for. I’m not usually like this. Usually, I’m very graceful. Like a ballerina. On crack. And meth.

Another receipt, for my growing collection. Tree three.

Wash, rinse, repeat. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Card in, PIN entered and deposit selected. I’m almost there. I’m so excited, I feel like a hooker on payday, outside a Navy base. Of course, I managed to screw it up again. That’s what I do best; break things and screw shit up. It’s a natural talent; not everyone can do it. I’m special. Very special. Don’t hate.

Tree #4, Five, six, seven and eight soon follow. Unfuckingbelievable. It’s really not this hard. It’s a fucking ATM, not quantum theory.

Try #9. I’m literally begging the machine; promising it anything. At this point, it can have my ass, if it wants it. I make it through all of the foreplay and then I throw in the cash, it spits it out. I put it in again, it spits it out again. In, out; in out; it’s almost like sex, just without the fun and I really don’t like the thought of having to pay for it, because I am not seeing a happy ending, in my future.

One more tree. That’s nine. One last try and then I’m giving up.

The tenth try goes flawlessly and leaves me with one last receipt. That’s tree #10.

I look at the Death Star sized wad of paper in my hand and toss it in the trash receptacle that was so thoughtfully provided. Maybe it wasn’t exactly a forest, but it was still a shit ton of paper. Don’t know what a shit ton is? It’s a metric measure of volume. Maybe you should have paid attention in school, instead of playing with yourself. You should know this shit, you know?

Time to head home and it is smooth sailing, all the way there. I park the car, lock it and then unlock it to get the things that I forgot to take with me and then I have to do it again, because I forgot some other shit, too. Sometimes, I forget shit, okay?

“It’s okay,” I tell myself, “I’ll be safe in ten seconds. I just need to make it in the door, just a few more feet…”

My roommate locked the storm door.

Fuck me….

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Security

When I started writing again, really writing, not just a piece here and there, but really writing, this was the very first story that I wrote (there’s actually another piece that I broke off to form the base of another story). It’s deeply personal and for a long time, I debated whether or not to post it on here. For better or worse, I’ve decided to post it.
As always, comments, opinions, suggestions and insults are always welcome.

Last November, I went back to West Virginia to visit my children. My oldest son’s football team had made it to the playoffs and I had sworn to him that no matter what, I would make it to one of his games to watch him play and I knew that it meant the world to him, as it meant the world to me, to do whatever it took to honor that promise. I missed all three of my boys desperately and it was with great expectations that I set out upon my journey.

I left home at six that morning; I’d barely slept, I was so excited by the thought of holding my babies again and I was driving as fast as I dared, down those dark, deserted country roads that were shrouded by a dense fog, when there was a sudden flash of brown and white caught in the glare of my headlights. Before I could even form a thought, there was a bump and a thump, as pieces of my car and the deer flew off, into the dark morning mist.

Fuck. Maybe it was more like Holy Fuck.

I pulled over to the side of the road and went to look for the deer. When I found her, she was in bad shape; broken and bleeding. I showed her the mercy that she so desperately needed and blackened my own soul a little more in the process, before heading back to the car to inspect the damage. I tried not to think about what I had just done; I locked it away, in the dark places with other memories that are best forgotten.

Double Fuck. Not fuck, but Fuck, with a capital ‘F’, for extra emphasis.

I had hit the doe with the edge of the front end, on the driver’s side. The headlight assembly was torn apart, the left front quarter panel was missing a good chunk and the hood was a bit buckled. Amazingly, all of the bulbs were still intact and were still working and the car seemed to be running fairly smoothly, although it did rattle a bit. That was new, but if I turned the stereo loud enough, I couldn’t hear it and I could then pretend that it wasn’t there. I’d bought the car just four days before.

Triple… You can guess where I’m headed with this, right? All caps. Go on, say it. Throw in a bunch of fucking extra exclamation points. How’s that, for extra fucking emphasis?

I called my ex-wife, just to let her know that I’d been in an accident and to let her know that I was on my way, but if there were any problems, I’d do my best to let her know. Her response was basically; glad you’re alive, fuck you and you’re an asshole, for waking me up. It’s good to feel loved.

Determined to make it back to West Virginia, I got back in the car and drove off, arriving back at my former home, without any further excitement. The children had been told that I wouldn’t be able to make it, so my visit was a surprise, for them. The property hadn’t changed, in the time that I’d been gone, with the exception of a few ‘No Trespassing’ signs. Idly, I wondered if they were there, for my benefit.. Shaking my head, I walked up to the door and was about to knock, when I noticed that the lock had been changed. I found that somewhat amusing, as I hadn’t kept a key and lived three hundred miles away. As I raised my hand again and knocked upon the door, I thought again of my family, as I had for the entire drive down. While I was ecstatic to see my children, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would feel, what I would do and what I would say, when I saw my ex-wife. Even though I’d started dating and was convinced that my heart was purged, would sixteen years of emotion come flooding back? Was my stoicism nothing more than a façade that would crack and break? For a moment, I hesitated; I was frightened. I didn’t know what to expect, or what to feel.

“To hell with it,” I thought and I knocked upon the door.

In seconds, my nine year old son was peeking out of the window and I watched as the shocked smile spread across his face; the worship and adoration of a son, for his father. I heard him shout, “Dad’s here! Dad’s home!”

Well, he was right and he was wrong. I was there, but I wasn’t home. Frankly, I didn’t know what, or where home was anymore. Home wasn’t here and it wasn’t back in Pennsylvania. It was like some weird Daliesque bizarro thing; definitely a Twilight Zone moment.

The door flew open and he was in my arms, hugging me for all he was worth. It was incredible. It’s great, to be loved.

And then I saw her standing there. She was as beautiful as I remembered and as much a stranger as someone that I’d never met. And I felt… nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was beautiful and liberating. Before I could even blink, my other two sons were in my arms and I just held my family to me and we shared in the joy of being reunited, after many months apart. It was at that moment that Belle, my demon of a Black Lab (she’s still my dog, damn it!), realized what all of the commotion was about. Telling you that she went ballistic, might be putting it mildly. Belle sprinted down the hallway, knocking the children aside as if they were bowling pins. Nothing was going to stand in her way, until she could get to me. For Belle, her daddy was home and all was finally right, in her world. She jumped on me and her paws were on my shoulders. I guess she wanted her hugs, too. It saddened me to know that I would be breaking her heart again, too, when I left.

I exchanged a few hollow pleasantries with the ex, neither of us meaning the words we said, while the cold look she sent my way said unspoken volumes. I quickly gathered up the kids and hurried them out to my car. The plan was to take them out for lunch, bring them back to the house, so that my oldest could get ready and then take them all to his football game. I hoped that I was going to be almost as popular as the pizza was going to be. When the boys saw my car, they made sure to let me know that it looked like a great car, but it would probably look a lot nicer if I didn’t go around hitting deer with it.

Like I said, it’s nice to be loved.

After lunch, we hurried back to the house and while my oldest son was getting ready, the other boys helped me pack a few things into the trunk of my car. My youngest son, who was two years old at the time, had been clinging to me, from the moment he saw me. He was and still is in that wonderfully affectionate stage of childhood, one that’s full of unexpected, but always welcome, hugs and kisses. Too young to understand the upheaval in his life, he just missed and loved his dad and I certainly felt the same way about him; about all of them. I’ve found that there’s a lot less joy in each day that I spend without my children.

When we got to the field, I saw a lot of old acquaintances and a few friends. Some were cold and distant and some were as friendly as always. Apparently, sides had been chosen and I’m sure in most cases, not chosen. If it makes you happy to throw a dirty look my way, by all means, be my guest.

As we made our way into the stands, my oldest ran off to join his teammates. The younger boys hung out with me for a bit, before running off to play with the other children, occasionally returning to try and scam money for candy from the concession stand. I’m proud to admit that they were only partially successful.

My son’s team won and advanced to the next round, a game they also won, advancing once more, into the championship game, where they became the 2013 Tri-County League Varsity Champions. My son was overjoyed at their victory that day and I was too, so very happy to be able to share in his triumph. When the celebration was over, we drove back to their house, so that my son could get cleaned up and I could pack up my car with some of my belongings that I had left behind. I would be moving into my new apartment the next morning and I would finally have room, for some of my things.

After we had finished loading the car, I realized that I had nothing, when it came to household items. I asked my ex-wife if I could take a blanket, as the days and nights were growing colder. I could tell from the look on her face that she was not pleased by my question.

“The only one that you can have is dirty,” she said,

“I can wash it,” I replied. “There’s a washer and dryer, in my apartment.”

She made a face, but she honored my request.

Upon hearing all of this, my medium son told me that I could have one of his blankets, because he had so many of them. He ran into his room and promptly returned with his Superman comforter, which he handed to me. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder how a shit like me and a bitch like her have managed to raise such amazing and selfless kids, but it’s apparently the only thing in our marriage that we ever managed to get right. I thanked son #2 for his generosity, but I think I might feel a little odd and be a little too old, to be sleeping with Superman blankets and Star Wars sheets. Besides, I’ve been holding out for the complete Hello Kitty and Strawberry Shortcake sets.

While this was going on, my ex-wife had gone off in search of the blanket and soon returned, handing it over to me. The moment that I touched that relic of the past, it became much more than a dirty blanket to me; it became a secret treasure and I had no intention of washing it, ever. That dirty blanket would smell like home and it would comfort me, through the endless and lonely hours. Had she known the gift that she was so unexpectedly giving me, I doubt she would have given it so freely, if at all.

Too soon, it was time for me to leave. I spent a few more minutes with the boys, hugging them to me one last time. It was so very hard to let go of them and by the time that I did, all four of us were in tears. My ex-wife invited me to stay for dinner, but it was only out of courtesy; I knew she didn’t want me there and I didn’t wish to share a table with her, either. I had a long drive ahead of me and I wanted to get home.

After I got into the car, I sat there for a few minutes and held the blanket to my nose, breathing deeply. The blanket smelled like my boys and my dog and my house and… someone else; it smelled like home. I smiled a secret little smile, put the blanket on the passenger seat and drove off.

After an extremely long day and long drive back to where I had been staying, I left everything in the car and went straight to bed. There was no sense in unpacking anything, only to pack it up again for the move to my new apartment. As soon as the new day dawned, I packed a few more things into the car and headed off to the new place, unloaded my things and headed into work. After yet another long day, I headed to my new place, where I promptly fell into “bed.” At this point in time, my bed consisted of a small air mattress, comparable in size to a pool float. It sucked ass. It didn’t matter, though; I was exhausted and I had cocooned myself inside of that treasure of cloth and dirt. Just the scent of it was enough and as I closed my eyes, for one brief, glorious night, I was home again, instead of alone in this strange new world to which I’d exiled myself. It was beautiful and it was wonderful; it was torture and it was Hell, to wake up alone and remember all that I had lost.

I woke early  the next morning, knowing what I had to do, what I needed to do, to finally let go and find closure; perhaps even a little peace, if only symbolically.

I clutched that blanket to my heart, hugging it like it was one of my boys and I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, once again. And once again, I was home, even if it was only to say goodbye, one final time. I opened my eyes and I tossed the blanket into the washing machine, cleansing the remains and stains of her, from the blanket and from my heart. It’s strange, yet fitting that what I thought would be a comfort, became a lesson in letting go, instead and just like you can never go home again, apparently, you can’t take it with you, either.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Baby

Elmwood Cemetery, Shepherdstown, WV

I was wandering through the cemetery; a mix of Confederate graves, forgotten stones and family plots; a place where Antebellum South antiquity meets Mid-Atlantic modernity; I was happily snapping away, until I came across this marker, tucked away in the back, with the simple, heart-wrenching inscription of “Baby.” I took a moment and I thought about this poor child, alone, these many years. Had she taken a breath and smelled the sweetness of life? Had she opened her tiny eyes and gazed with love and longing, upon her mother? Had she felt that radiant love, returned to her, if only for the briefest moment? Did she even have a moment, before she fell, without a name? I wondered how many years it had been since anyone else had thought about this child and I felt a wellspring of grief that seemed to span the many years that lay between us. I’ve thought of her in the days that have passed; I wonder if she’s lonely still.

I wrote this a few years back and rewrote it a little bit, today. The original photo and post are available on my photography page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/phatography). Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find an original copy of the photo and I was unable to download the photo from Facebook, so the photo that is posted here is just a screenshot, from my phone. I still think about this child, from time to time. I guess that I just wanted someone else to think about her, too.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Brainwashed

Not too long ago, I had a very strange conversation, with my ex-wife. Our conversations are always strange, but this one was way, way out there. Medusa (my ex), informed me that I would no longer be able to have private telephone conversations with the boys and that all future conversations with them would be monitored by her, because she was convinced and consumed by the notion that I was brainwashing the boys and turning them against her. To say that I had a “WTF?” moment, would be putting it mildly. Gathering my wits (what little I have; no worries, it didn’t take long); I calmly told her that I always defended her and her decisions, when it came to the boys. I told her that what she proposed was unacceptable and that she certainly didn’t need any help from me, to make her look like a jackass; she was doing a fine job, all by herself. As I’m sure you can imagine, that didn’t go over too well and she exploded. Oops.

Allow me to back up here, for just a moment. When the boys and I are together, or when we speak on the phone, their mother is not allowed to intrude on our time together. She and I lead completely separate lives and I want to keep it that way. The rare times that she does come up in conversation, it’s usually because the boys are bitching about her and I find myself defending her, often to my chagrin.

Recently, while driving back home after picking up the boys, the older two brought up the subject of brainwashing and what their mother had said about it. They explained that she had told them of her concerns and that they informed her that we do not talk about her and that I am not trying to turn them against their mother. She didn’t believe them, either. It’s a vast conspiracy, don’t you know? By the way, I also killed the Kennedys, eat kittens for breakfast and know that Jimmy Hoffa will always be a founding cornerstone of the Meadowlands Arena. Did I also mention that I buried Paul? Oh, cranberry sauce. Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name. Tangents. I need to stop that.

Every now and then, a moment comes along that can define you as a father. Take that opportunity and use it as a learning experience; do it, for the kids.

The boys asked me what brainwashing was and asked me to explain how it’s done, so I outlined the simple method that I like to use. I started to explain the procedure quite thoroughly to them.  As soon as they were asleep, I would take a pair of forceps and…

“Dad, what are forceps?” they wanted to know.

“I’m glad you asked,” I replied. “They’re like giant tweezers.”

I further explained how I would shove the forceps up their noses and pull their brains out through the nasal cavity, as if I were extracting a giant, slimy booger. This was met with massive giggling from the peanut gallery. Once their brains were removed, I would rinse them off and pat them dry, before using a little Spray & Wash to get rid of any stains and dirty thoughts.

More giggles.

“What happens next?” the medium one asked.

“Well, that’s when I toss them in the washing machine; add a little Tide and a little bleach. Oh, and always be sure to wash them on the gentle cycle,” I advised, “Brains are very delicate and you don’t want to damage them. Next thing you know, your brains are squeaky clean. I hope. Also, it’s very important not to put them in the dryer, as they will shrink and you guys can’t afford to let that happen; they’re already small enough.”

“But how do you get our brains back inside of our heads when you’re done,” the oldest asked.

“Well, you see, that’s the part of the problem that I haven’t quite figured out, yet. You boys haven’t had a brain in your heads since Christmas, but don’t worry. I didn’t want to lose them, so I shoved them up your butts. Basically, you guys have had your heads shoved up your ass, since December.”

The car erupted in laughter. Love, giggles and laughter; our typical time together, that’s what it’s all about.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Big Squeeze

My youngest son loves hugs and so do I. I mean, who doesn’t love a good hug. I’m not talking about those fake things that you give to people you haven’t seen in a long time, but the squeeze you so hard to me kind that says everything you never could. The kind of hug that bares your soul and is nothing but pure, unconditional love. The hug that says I love you, I need you; you are the most important thing in the world to me. Everybody needs and deserves a hug like that, even an old bastard like me. A big squeeze, as the little guy calls them, is one of the best things in life. I am a spontaneous hug monster, when it comes to my kids and you never know when I’m going to pounce. No matter how good, or bad I might feel, there’s nothing like a big squeeze, to make me feel a whole lot better.

My two youngest sons still love hugs, but at thirteen, my oldest is way too cool for that kind of stuff. He let me know. Apparently, he’s a man now. He actually said that with a straight face and to my credit, I didn’t laugh and piss him off. It’s kind of strange, but since the divorce the boys and I are closer than we have ever been and we communicate amazingly well. I am quite the keeper of secrets. Oh, my… the horrible and terrible secrets of nine year old boys… I think we communicate so well, because I treat them with respect, speak to them as the little adults that they are and actually listen to them, when they have something to say. I must confess, I didn’t always do all of that, but I’m learning. This fatherhood stuff is nothing more than some huge, bizarre and freakish experiment, except that you’re experimenting with lives, so don’t screw up too hard, or too often. To be honest I don’t know how or why it all works, but it works and that’s all that matters.

It was a Sunday and it was getting close to the time for us to leave Philly and head back to Baltimore. Son #1 and I had been talking earlier and he had opened up to me; I knew he was hurting. The divorce has hit him the hardest and I know that he really misses me. The shame is that the children are condemned to pay for the sins of the parents. Nobody wins in a divorce, not the children, anyway. My oldest and I have always had a very special and close relationship. I lost sight of it, for a time, but I’ve regained my vision. Now that special relationship is shared by all four of us and that’s just the way we like it.
I’m their father, not their friend, but there’s so much more to it than that.

While we were chatting, I asked him a few questions and explained to him that I asked the first set of questions, because I’m his father and I needed the information to help me do my job more effectively. I further explained that I asked the second set of questions, because I love him and needed that information, because I cared. He answered my questions and then he told me that he thought I was the best father ever.

“You’re far from perfect,” he told me, “But you do your best. I love you, Dad.”

Three simple sentences. Thirteen words. I could never have imagined that so little could mean so much. I could have died fat and happy, right then and there. I was beaming. Never had I received higher praise, not even when someone calls me an asshole.

As we were getting ready to leave, I ambushed all three boys, with spontaneous hugs. The little one squeezed me harder and harder, as if he never wanted to let go. The medium one was the same way and I squeezed him back, my heart dropping through my chest. When I pounced on the big one, however, he tried to push me away. Too cool for hugs, remember? No way. Never let the moment pass you by, never let it get away. I hugged him even harder and whispered in his ear, “Don’t fight it. I can see how much you need this. I love you, buddy; it’s okay. I love you and that’s all that matters.”

He fought against it a little more, quite half-heartedly and then his hands dropped to his sides. That was okay; I hugged him even harder.

Suddenly, it was as if a dam had broken and he threw his arms around me and hugged me back, as hard as he could.

“I love you, Dad,” he said and that was when the tears started. He was unleashing a flood of emotion that was of biblical proportion and I stood as solid as a mountain as I let it wash over me.

“I told you that you needed this, buddy. It’s okay, everything will be alright,” I told him. “I love you, too.”

We hugged each other a little bit longer and then he got his emotions under control. Shortly afterward, we finished loading the car and we began our journey. None of the boys wanted to leave. It’s not that they didn’t want to go home; they love their mother and their home, in West Virginia. They just wanted to be with their dad. I didn’t want them to leave, either, for when they leave, my heart goes with them and then it’s a long, cold and lonely drive home, to a place that isn’t really home; a place where the echoes of laughter and tiny footsteps have faded.

We made our way down to Baltimore, where we met up with my ex-wife, said our goodbyes and I began the long journey home, dreading the emptiness that would greet me.

There’s actually a point, to this story. No matter how hard someone tries to push you away, don’t let them. Don’t give up and don’t give in. Fight harder. Pour your heart and soul into it; those are your strengths, use them. Break through and be prepared to catch them, when they break. Lend them your strength, fill their heart with your love and NEVER, ever let go. We only get one chance at life; learn to live it well, never miss an opportunity to let someone know how much you love them, to find forgiveness, or help to bear a burden. It’s never too late, until it is.

I had thought this story was finished and except for some minor editing, was “in the bag”, but then something else happened that I thought should be included.

My children came to visit, over Spring Break. As soon as we got here, my oldest son asked if he could speak to me privately and we went back to my bedroom, for a few quick words. When we got there, he turned to face me and looked over my shoulders to see if anyone was looking and then he threw his arms around me and hugged me as hard as he could. I was pleasantly stunned.

“I love you, Dad,” he said, “and I’ve missed you. I’m not hugging you, because I just farted, or anything.”

Sigh… I’ll take what I can get…

Don't Hiss Yourself

Courage, valor, bravery; whatever you want to call it, is such a strange commodity. For most people, I think, it’s instinctual; you just react, there’s no time to think. For other folks, courage is a willful act. I’ve also heard it said that a hero is nothing but a coward who screwed up and ran the wrong way.

What defines a courageous act? My father strapped a B-17 around himself and flew bombing missions over Nazi Germany, at a time when the Luftwaffe was swatting down American bombers as if it were nothing more than a turkey shoot. My father’s final mission was over Stuttgart, Germany, in August of 1943. Only two planes returned to their base in Chelveston, England, that day. Two planes. Out of an entire squadron. My father’s plane, Round Trip, did not live up to its name, that day and after two years of war, his luck had finally run out. My father was thrown from the plane, seconds before it disintegrated. Gravely wounded, only he and one other crewmember made it to the ground alive. Captured and hospitalized, he managed to escape from Germany and made his way back to England, where he was awarded a shit ton of medals. That took some serious balls.

My brother volunteered for Viet Nam at a time when duty, honor and country were concepts that most of the country seemed to have forgotten. That also took some seriously big balls. He got himself a bunch of little trinkets, too.

My friend Paul, a federal law enforcement officer and Afghanistan vet, found himself in the middle of the OK Corral, while on a shopping trip at a local mall. While he engaged the shooter, his young daughter B, took his even younger daughter into the Sprint store and calmly dialed 911. What Paul did took guts, but if you ask me, it was just fucking crazy, but that girl has more balls and brains than most of the guys I know.

As for me, when I was younger, I used to question my own courage, but it’s been tested, numerous times and I’m proud to say that I’ve always done the right thing, every time. I’m not claiming to have done anything special, or extraordinary, just the same thing anyone else would have done, in the same situation. Sometimes, what I’ve done was instinctual and others were more of an “Oh shit, I guess I’ve got to do something” kind of thing. That’s when you have time to get scared and the pucker factor comes into play. Don’t know what the pucker factor is? The pucker factor is how tightly your sphincter contracts, in direct relation to your level of fear. In other words, it’s how tightly your asshole slams shut when you’re scared shitless, so to speak. The combination of fear and pucker factor might even cause you to lose your courage, even if it’s only for a moment.

Like everyone else, I get frightened, but I can work through my fear and get the job done. However, there are two things that can get me to freeze up; spiders and snakes. I don’t like spiders and snakes. Sorry, they just completely freak me the fuck out. Spiders don’t bother me as much, anymore. Hopefully. Snakes, however, are a different story.

And so we begin…

It was an amazing spring, that year. The birds had returned, en masse and the mountain had exploded with its usual color, vibrancy and splendor. There’s nothing like a deep breath of pure mountain air, mixed with the bouquet of spring. It was magnificent. There was an overabundance of life that year and we were having lots of close encounters with the local wildlife. Our favorite discovery was when we found that a robin had built a nest in a basket on our front door and the eggs had just hatched, bringing three new chicks into the world. We were all so excited and would watch from the window as the mother fed her babies.

I don’t remember where Medusa and the kids were, that evening. Maybe they were at church, or her mom’s, or wherethefuckever; it doesn’t matter. They were headed home and this story is about me and that’s what matters. Oh, look, I’m an arrogant prick, today. Big surprise.

Anyway, I had to let the dog out. When you live in the country, you pretty much let your dog run off and do doggy shit. You know, stuff like visiting their little doggy friends, tear up some trash, chase smaller animals, piss off the neighbors, get a little doggy action, poop; whatever the hell it is that dogs do when people aren’t looking. Our Cleo was a sweet and happy girl that just loved to run through the forest and never missed a chance to go outside and play.

I opened up the front door and There It Was. It, in this instance, was a ginormous black snake that was trying to slither its way up the front door so that it could snack on some baby robins. It had to be at least fifteen feet long (Ladies, any time a man tells you length, be sure to divide by 3). The head of this monstrosity (it was as big as my fat ass and it had eyes the size of dinner plates) was hovering around the height of my crotch. No bueno. We locked eyes. Fuck me. In that moment, as I looked into those bottomless black depths, I felt my asshole crank up to Pucker Factor 10. A cold shiver of fear ran down my spine. Cleo, upon seeing the snake, turned tail and ran like hell, her nails skittering across the hallway tiles, leaving me to face the, cue Samuel L. Jackson, “Motherfucking snake,” alone. Pffft… man’s best friend, my ass. And that’s when IT happened. That mutant monstrosity of a snake dropped its gaze to my crotch and opened its mouth, exposing row upon row of razor sharp teeth. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that black snakes don’t grow to fifteen feet long and have row upon row of razor sharp teeth, but you didn’t see this mutant ninja motherfucker with its x-ray vision and I just fucking knew that bastard could see my balls through my pants and was now thinking of starting off with an egg appetizer. Holy Mother of God! It was going to bite my fucking balls! And so I did what any rational human being would do, I shrieked like a twelve year old girl and I slammed the door shut. All safe and sound, right? End of story, right? Not exactly. Remember, Medusa and the kids were due home, any second. You may also remember that I mentioned  that whole “Oh shit, I guess I’ve got to do something,” shit. Unfortunately, this was one of those moments. I couldn’t take the chance that the snake would be gone, by the time that my (ex)wife and kids returned. Hell, it could eat the ex, get food poisoning and die, for all I cared, but the boys were a different story; I mostly liked them.

I set off in search of a weapon, for this, the death match of the century. Looking around, I saw nothing handy and decided to check the laundry room. As I passed by the living room, I noticed Cleo cowering in the corner.

Jealous and wishing I could do the same, I told her, “Thanks, for all the help.”

She whimpered. Coward that she was, it’s still painfully obvious that she was the smarter one in the house that day.

I ransacked the laundry room, finding all sorts of useless things. Laundry detergent and lint weren’t going to be very useful. That was when I noticed my very own Excalibur. Okay, maybe it was just one of those aluminum rods that hold ceiling tiles in place, but in my mind, it was a mighty sword. I should have made myself a tinfoil helmet and shield to protect me, too. Steeling myself as best as I could, I strode forth to do battle with the venomous viper, hoping all the while that it had slithered off, but no, when I opened the door, that greedy bastard was still there. Say it again, Sammy, “Motherfucker!”

Well, I told that sonofabitch to get the hell off of my porch, but did he listen? Noooo.
I tried to be all nice and shit and does he show any appreciation? Nope. Instead he tries to strike me. Motherfucker! That bitch just tried to bite me. Oh no, you didn’t!

I took a swing with the rod and connected with the snake; the rod bent and part of the snake went flying. After a second, the snake struck again, this time biting the rod. Oh, hell no. It was on like Donkey Kong and probably looked every bit as farcical, but I now had a wild snake up my ass (so to speak) and with a battle cry of, “No balls for you!” I charged the snake, smacking the shit out of it. It tried to strike back, biting the rod, every time, but thankfully, it didn’t bite my rod, if you know what I mean. I chased that fucker all around the porch and let me tell you, it wasn’t a very big porch and I’m very, very clumsy. I probably did more damage to myself and the porch than I did to the snake. I was as relentless as a fucking honey badger, though and just as crazy. Honey Badger don’t fucking care.
`
The snake retreated and began to look for a way out. I smacked it a few more times, but then it finally found a hole in the porch and escaped. My ego swelled, with my extreme manliness and I patted myself on the back, for a duel well fought and like a triumphant gladiator returning victorious after a match, I entered the house to the imaginary roar of the imaginary crowd in my head.

After Medusa got home, I told her the story of my battle with the ginormous rattlesnake. That’s right, I said rattlesnake. Look, it could have been a rattlesnake and by saying that it was, it took some of the sting out of admitting to the shrieking like a twelve year old girl part of the story. I don’t know why, but for some reason, she didn’t believe that it was a rattlesnake, or that it was fifteen feet long, or that it had row upon row of razor sharp teeth, dripping venom and how it tried to eat my balls. You’d think she’d at least be grateful that I had saved their lives, but nope, not even a beej, much less a thank you. Ungrateful bitch.

If you enjoyed this story, or if you hated it, please leave me a comment and let me know. Comments, suggestions and criticism are always welcome. Thanks! - Steve

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Kristallnacht

This is a work in progress, so I’m not really counting it as a post. It is meant to be an epic poem about the holocaust and will eventually be set up as an immersive multimedia performance art experience. It is being posted here and will be edited over and over again, with many more parts being added. The third piece that is on here now, will be moved further back in the composition. I need to lose myself into the period for a few days, for inspiration. I’d like you to be able to view the creative process with me. The first poem was written many years ago, but lost to the vagaries of time. It is reconstructed here (the only four lines that I can remember; the first and last two), but the original was much more powerful and moving. You’ll also notice that the writing style differs from the other writing styles you have seen, so far. I blame it all on the voices. No, not really, but sometimes they have some really cool ideas. No, not really. The best way that I can describe my mind is for you to envision galaxies colliding. It never stops. Ever. As always, comments, criticism and insults are always welcomed. If you like it, please let me know. If you hate it, let me know that, too. Thanks. – Steve

I Kristallnacht

You ask me, child, if I remember
I remember, I remember, I remember
Hobnails on the cobblestones
And the strutting marionettes
Torches in the night
Shattered glass
Spilled across the sidewalks like stars across the sky
A million points of light
Shouted commands and muted whimpers of fear
Beatings and blood
A mitzvah for the host, this brutal, ritual bath
Running, screaming, shots in the night
Tears and horrible, inhuman laughter
Boots on the stairs and a pounding at the door
Hide the children!
The wood cracks, splinters and breaks apart
Raus, raus!”
Too late! Too late!
Too soon, our voices join this choir of the damned
And the world burned around us
Collapsing in upon me
And those who speak no more.
You ask me, child, if I remember
How could I ever forget?

II Six Points of Yellow

A star of yellow cloth
A patch upon my clothing
A stain upon my soul
They hunt, they come in packs
Wolves, they are
They strike without warning
Juden,” they call
“Halt,” they command
They descend upon you
They feed their madness
Sometimes, they hurl words
The easier pain to bear
But most times those words are weighted
With fists, brick and stone
“Am I not one of you,” I cry
They laugh, “You are nothing like us.”
The blows rain down
No, I am nothing like them
I have become nothing
Perhaps something less

III Boxcar

The baby never stops crying
A sardine has more room
And smells so much better
The press allows for no movement
The baby never stops crying
I don’t know how many days have passed
The baby never stops crying
I am thirsty, there is no water
I am hungry, there is no food
I have soiled myself, there is no shame
Just the endless standing
The baby never stops crying
Did I fall asleep? Am I still awake?
Please, let it be a dream
The baby grows quiet; she will cry no more
The grandfather next to me is the next to go
And still he stands
Lord, help us. God of my fathers, hear our pleas
How many more?
The endless miles clack by
We are less than cattle

Monday, April 14, 2014

You're Only Bae Twice a/k/a The Return of Kodilla

Yet another unexpected text message pops up on my phone. I don’t know who this guy Michael is, that used to have my current phone number, but it’s getting pretty old, getting his texts, calls and pics. Evidently, he has a lot of service issues with DirecTV (big surprise) and is always on the verge of having his electricity turned off. Oh, and Michael? You need to pay your car insurance, too. I don’t know why he doesn’t have enough money to pay his bills. From most of the texts that I’ve read, Michael must have sold enough drugs to supply half of Philly, but I guess you can’t sell dope if you don’t pay your phone bill. Plus, I’ve had this number for about eight months now, so I’m assuming that these people that keep texting me aren’t exactly MENSA members, either. I’m also assuming that Darwin will work his magic, before too long…

Let’s get back to the story.

This text pops up on my phone:

Incoming Text: its kody aka k rock

Okay. And? The only people I know with an aka in their names probably like to do fun and romantic things like take long walks, appreciate sunsets, love puppies and  enjoy a good prison gang rape. Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone with an aka, in their name. And shouldn’t it be a/k/a, anyway?

Irritated Me: So Fucking what?

Like I said, I’m getting a little pissy about this stuff.

kody aka k rock: Huh

kody aka k rock: Figured you would want to know

Figured that I’d want to know what? That you’re a dumbass? I think I already won the fucking prize for that.

Okay, I’ll be nicer to Mr. k rock Me: Whoever you’re looking for, this isn’t theory phone [number] anymore

Okay, I’ll be nicer to Mr. k rock Me: Their

kody aka k rock: Stop playkn babe

Stop playkn babe. Could it be? Holy shit! kody aka k rock must be Kodilla! I’m going to play it so smooth this time that I’ll be seeing titties in minutes. I’ve got a plan. I’m so fucking cool.

Smooth Me: Maybe if you send me a pic, I might remember you better

kody aka k rock: Ok ok hold on

Score! It was that easy! It only took seconds and I am laughing my ass off. As usual, my smooth moves, slick words and suave demeanor have conquered another woman. I mean, I can’t rely on my rugged good looks, alone.

Time passes and no pic. I guess Kodilla was just too shy, to send that pic, after all. No boobies, for me.
Sheesh, you’d think that after letting a guy give her a pearl necklace, she’d give up the goods, but noooo

But the very next day (I feel like little bunny fucking foo foo, right here), a pic pops up in my notifications. I’m thinking that it’s the ex, sending me a pic of the little one doing something cute and adorable. It’s cute and adorable, because it’s my kid. If it were your kid, it would be fucking annoying.. So, I open it up and it’s from kody aka k rock and it’s not quite what I’m expecting. I’ve been cheated! There’s no Kodilla. There’s no titties. There’s nothing but some butt ugly dude, making a strange face and sticking his tongue out.

Insert pic of butt ugly dude here.

Let me tell you, my life is just an endless series of WTF? moments. I don’t know about you, but I sure could lead a much less interesting life. Really. I don’t know who, or what I assraped in a previous life, but I’ve surely paid my debt by now. Was I Stalin? No! So, back the fuck off, Karma, you bitch. I had a plan and shit and you and Mr. Murphy came along and assfucked me. Fuck. Fuck. Fuckitty fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I just wanted to see some tits. Was that too much to ask?

No Titties For Me, Me: Dude, I’ve never seen you before in my life

kody aka k rock: ctfu up I know my boyy just told me I had his number wrong

Another thing that pissed me off was that I had to look up ctfu, using Urban Dictionary and that made me feel old. Cracking the fuck up. That’s stupid.

kody aka k rock: can I get a picture back?

Okay, I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m a guy and he still wants my pic.Yeah, no. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m just not into guys. It’s fine if you are, it’s just not for me. Women do get my blood flowing and I’m a pretty big fan of tits. Is that so wrong? Besides, I’m not that kind of whore. So, no dude, you can’t get a picture back. I don’t send pics of myself to anyone, for any reason, not even shirtless selfies in front of the bathroom mirror. The best you can hope for is a badly drawn stick figure.

In my mind, I thought, “Drat! Foiled again!” Or at least something to that effect. I’ll guarantee you that there was an “F” word of some sort, in there. I never sent a pic. I never answered back. The conversation ended there.

New rule, people, so pay attention. No one is allowed to message me, without first sending me a pic of female human breasts. Nice ones. Firm. Like melons. No exceptions.

Well, that’s the end, right there. No moral, no tidy ending. No titties, either.  
That’s the way life works, sometimes. Nothing more than Karma biting me in the ass. If you need to draw any conclusions from this meaningless story, if you need something to carry away and warm the cockles of your heart, take this – I Like Tits. Bodacious Ta-Ta’s. How’s that for a deeper meaning, motherfucker?