*** This originally appeared just over a year ago, but thought it warranted a second go round. Enjoy!***
I figured out some time ago that my sense of humor doesn’t always go over with some people. Those people are usually way too normal, so their under-appreciation doesn’t prompt me to construct a noose or stuff my head in an oven. If they’re bold enough to comment on my immaturity I usually respond with “I know you are, but what am I?”
It’s always hard to refute solid persuasive techniques.
But then there are doctors.
After my recent few go ‘rounds with the doctor I’ve become convinced that few –if any—have a sense of humor.
I first noticed this lack of humor over twenty years ago when my oldest daughter was born. My wife was on the bed, knees up, screaming through contractions. I alternated between watching a basketball game on the television mounted on the wall of the hospital room and attempting to sooth her, which only brought on greater screams. Looking back, I’m not sure if it was my watching the game or my soothing bedside manner that caused the screaming to amp up.
The doctor was down where she was supposed to be, doing her thing. Finally, the baby came out. The doctor held up the baby for me to see.
“Well, dad, what do you think?” she asked.
I pointed to the umbilical cord. “Now that’s my boy! Look at how well hung that kid is!”
The doctor glared at me. “That’s the umbilical cord, not a penis. It’s a little girl.”
Me: “I knew that. It was just a joke. You know? A joke?”
Me: “Heh, heh…?”
That didn’t work out too well, so I tried a joke when our second daughter was born. Just after my wife gave birth the doctor looked at my wife and said, “Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Me: “Not too bad. I’m feeling pretty good actually. Could go for a sandwich though.”
My latest failed attempt at humor with a doctor was during my recent medical exam.
Doc: “That mole on your side by your waist looks kind of odd.”
Me: “You mean the one on my love handle? ‘Love handle.’ That’s a technical medical term.”
Doc: “Yeah, whatever. I think we should have it removed.”
Me: “Oh. Okay.”
Doc: “Now drop your pants and bend over the table.”
Me (dropping my pants): “Boy, if I only had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that.”
Me (bending over the table): “Be gentle with me doc and just leave the $20 over by my coat.”
Doc (After her brief anal invasion): “Everything feels alright there.”
Me: “I certainly thought so. Was it good for you too?”
Doc (glaring): “We’ll send you home with a kit so you can take some stool samples for us.”
Me: “I hope it’s a big kit, ‘cause I had one helluva breakfast.”
Me: “Okay, how do I go about working this kit?”
Doc: “The directions are on the box. Just follow those.”
Me: “Okey-dokey.” Usually a chirpy okey-dokey brings a smile to any one, but this doc’s facial expression appeared to be carved out of granite and only had one mode: glaring.
Doc: “Come back next week and we’ll remove the mole.”
Me: “Okey-dokey.” I figured since she was still glaring I’d give her a double dose of the okey-dokey thing.
I went back the following week. In some ways it was a repeat of the previous visit.
Me: “Hey doc, is there any way we could remove the mole with liposuction and then maybe catch the other love handle too?”
Doc: “No. We’ll be cutting it out.”
Me: “Aww. Cut that out.”
Me: “Okay, so where do you want me?”
Doc: “Up on the table, pants down, laying face down.”
I jumped up on the table and decided I’d lay off the jokes for a bit. I watched as she prepared the needle and then walked toward me.
Doc: “Okay, first you’re going to feel a little prick.”
Me: “Really? Are you just gonna softball ‘em in like that?”
Doc: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Nothing. Never mind. I’m okay.”
Doc: “Okay. First the little prick.”
Me: “That’s what she said.”
The little prick ended up being a huge sting. I’m not entirely certain it needed to hurt quite that much. Maybe she was tired of my humor.
Doc: “And now you’ll feel a little burn.”
Me: “Penicillin will take care of that though, right?”
When she was done cutting, she sewed it up and slapped a Band-Aid on it.
Doc: “That should take care of it. If you’re comfortable removing the stitches you can do it yourself in a week to ten days or you can make an appointment to come in and have them removed. Just keep them clean and don’t scratch at them.”
Me: “You mean the stitch could itch like a bitch? Heh, heh. Just thought I’d throw some alliteration in there for ya.”
Doc: “Okay, whatever. We’ll have the test results from the mole and the sample you brought in within a couple of days and give you a call.”
Me (feigning hurt): “That’s what they all say. ‘I’ll call you,’ but then they never do.”
That’s when I was certain that doctors either had no sense of humor or they simply hated my sense of humor.
That is, until I got the call a couple of days later.
Doc: “We got the tests back. There are traces of blood in your stool, your blood counts are off a bit and the mole could be pre-cancerous: a melano (-something-or-other-I can never remember words with more than eighteen syllables) so we’ll need to take out a bigger piece.”
Me (still trying to remember what ‘stool’ was): “Uh. Um. Blood in the stool? The mole is a mela –whatsits and you need to cut out a bigger chunk?”
Doc: “Yep. So we’ll schedule that and see if we can set up a colonoscopy, but we’re booked out for the next four months.”
Truth be told, she’s probably still laughing.
***Still trying to get my day job caught up so I can devote a bit more time to my website. Until then, hope you enjoy this blog post from a few years ago.***
Obvious observation time: there is a lot of irony in life. Just the other day I was thinking, “Back in the day…” again. My father used to do that and I swore I would never do that when I got older. When Dad and I had a “Back in the day…” discussion, it went something like this:
Dad: “Back in the day, you used to be able to buy a candy bar for a dime and a soda for a quarter.”
Me: “Yeah, but dad, that was in the 1930’s. Did you even have a dime or a quarter? I mean, if you don’t have a dime it doesn’t matter if the candy bar costs a dime or a thousand bucks, does it?”
Dad: “Shut up, smartass.”
But now, as I grow older, I’m slipping into the “Back in the day…” mode. What prompted this installment of “Back in the day…” was a recent car advertisement I watched. I forget what brand it was, but the car had a back up warning alarm, a camera for backing up (so you didn't have to twist your head or use a review mirror, I guess), front passenger airbags, side air bags, seat edge airbags androof airbags. It had so many airbags that if you ever bumped into anything you’d probably feel like you were suddenly thrust into the middle of a marshmallow.
*Minor digression: How come you see chase scenes in the movies where they intentionally run into another car and no one’s airbags go off? The movies really ought to start investing in safer cars for their people.*
Anyway, after watching the car ad (by the way, you could simply push a button and the thing would parallel park by itself – hands free) I was struck by how far automobile safety measures have come. Back in the day, the best safety measure was to get as much metal around you as possible. That’s why so many of the cars from the 1930’s through the early ‘70’s were HUGE. You wanted more car around you than the other guy, so if you did have an accident, he’d at least come out on the losing end of the deal.
Cars were a lot boxier back then too. Seatbelts were either non-existent or, if they were in the car, you pushed them down between the cushions so they didn’t end up giving you a wedgie or wrinkling your clothes. The only airbags any one knew anything about was the term’s slang use for breasts. (Hey, I was a kid and there were about two dozen different terms we used for ‘breasts’ and we used all of them constantly. We were, after all, boys.)
Because the cars were so boxy, there was plenty of room on the top ledge behind the backseat where a kid could almost lay full-length to sleep on long rides. Of course, this totally obstructed the driver’s rearview mirror, but dad was usually intent on getting to where he was going, eyes front, never looking back. With four kids in the backseat, a fifth laying behind and above the backseat smashed against the rear window, and dad a mom up front, we still had room to get into fights with a pretty good arm swing range. Like I said, the cars were HUGE.
With so many kids in the car and I the youngest, I usually got stuck in the middle where the transmission hump kept my feet wedged together and my knees uncomfortably under my chin. If my feet slipped off the hump, it was taken as a deliberate assault on a sibling’s “car floor territory” and another fight was on.
You know, looking back, in a way I guess I was surrounded by human airbags, so I was probably the safest one in the car.
There was one pseudo-safety feature that our car had, but it was only when my mom was driving.
I figured out as I got older that mom was a terrible driver. I don’t mean it as an insult to her. She was a great mom, but as a driver she was like a cat on a skateboard going down a rock slide.
She tended to drive with one foot on the gas and one on the brake. She drove hesitantly, unsure of herself and paranoid that every other person on the road was a worse driver than she was. If a driver pulled up to a stop sign facing the road we were on, she would slam on the brakes –and that’s when the automatic safety feature kicked in. If you were a kid riding up front alongside her, she would hit the brake and at the same time slam her right arm against your chest.
I don’t know why she didn’t just dig out the seatbelts, but she seemed to think that the right arm of a 115 pound mom would stop a 130 pound kid from flying forward (her knowledge of physics was as limited as her driving skills). We were usually prepared for the sudden slamming of the brakes, so all the right-arm-guardrail-thing did was knock the wind out of you or crack against your sternum.
It was painful, but it was an act of a mother’s love. I sometimes think of it and wax nostalgic. In fact the other day I was telling my daughter:
Me: “You know, back in the day, we didn’t have all these safety features on cars and we seemed to do okay. In fact, the simplicity of the car was kinda nice.”
My daughter: “Yeah, but dad, don’t you think that if your folks had had all of the current safety features available to them they would have used them? I mean, if it wasn’t available at the time, how could you really do a comparison?”
Me: “Shut up, smart-aleck.”
My daughter: “Yessir.”
Ah, the irony of the circle of life.
* I was thinking of my mom today and for some reason vividly recalled this previous posting (btw, that's an artful way of saying that this blog posting is a re-run. An oldie, but a goody. One that stays with you. One that lingers in your thoughts long after...okay, you get the drift.*
Once upon a time, it was okay to smack your kid. In fact it was encouraged. If you didn’t have a kid to smack, you could borrow a relative’s kid to keep up. Sometimes a complete stranger would lend you their kid. People were nicer and more giving in those days.
I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing and I’m really not into making some kind of social commentary here. That’s not my place and, frankly, I’m not smart enough to take that on.
But it gives one pause to think: Maybe it just depends on the type of smack. It could be anywhere from a mild swat on the rear, to an open handed slap, to a closed fisted-our-relationship-is-about-done hit. There are varying degrees of smacking, varying degrees of reasons, and varying degrees of if it’s working for you or not.
My mom was big on spanking. She’d use anything from an open hand to a belt. But she was at a huge disadvantage – she had four boys and she only weighed about 110 lbs soaking wet.
She had more credibility when we younger. Swats actually hurt and you didn’t want to push her into the belt range or –the most terrifying of all—the dreaded “wait until your dad gets home” range. But as we grew bigger, her spankings became kind of a running joke among the siblings. She would spank while we were standing up and wear herself to a frazzle and we hardly noticed she was there.
It would often get to the point where we’d ask her to please stop because we feared she’d hurt herself. She was a belt-wielding tempest in a thimble.
Until she discovered “Mom’s Helping Hand.”
We were on a driving vacation (huge mistake on my parent’s part). It’s never a vacation if you’re driving all day with three boys between ten and sixteen in the back seat.
My brothers and I fought incessantly. We were civil during a roadside break or if we stopped to eat, but that just gave us a chance to rest up for the next round of fighting. We’d start off in the car again and start in on each other again. When you’re younger you always want to start fights with your siblings verbally, but know that it’s going to get physical, well, just because it will.
We’d start with the “He’s touching me!” thing and it quickly degenerated from there. Dad remained stoic in his driving, as though we didn’t even exist in his universe. Mom would try to turn in the passenger seat to smack us, but her position was awkward and her blows easy to deflect.
Finally, we stopped in a tiny town and went into a small store with all the usual small store accoutrements. As we spun the bumper sticker rack round and round, mom made a new discovery: a thin, plywood paddle in the shape of a hand. Written boldly across the paddle were the words: “Mom’s Helping Hand.”
Yes, back in the day they actually sold weapons (under the guise of 'souvenirs') for parents to use to smack their kids.
Our eyes bugged out just a bit as she held it and smiled. I don’t remember if the thing cost a dollar or twenty dollars –whatever the price, I’m sure she would have paid it.
She bought it and soon we were on our way again. And soon my brothers and I were at it again in the back seat. Mom gave us the required warning then reached back to smack us with the paddle.
The thing hardly hurt at all. In fact, my oldest brother laughed at her attempt. She tried smacking harder, but that only amused us all the more.
Then mom discovered the laws of physics or the laws of impact or just the simple fact that she could make a slight change that would have a profound impact (literally).
She lightly knocked my brother on the side of his head using the edge of the paddle.
His hands went up, one to defend himself from another paddle-edged blow, the other to rub the recent smack. Tears welled up in his eyes. My other brother and I watched in wonder.
What mom just did was effective.
Of course, we were just kids and too stupid to learn by the example just provided. We had to try it out for ourselves. And our theory was right: the edge of that damned paddle HURT.
We settled in quietly for the remainder of the vacation. Mom sat up front smiling. Dad was even smiling as he drove. If we even batted an eyelash in what could be construed as a confrontational manner, she’d lift the paddle and we’d shrink back into the seat.
I don’t know what ever became of that paddle, but however strange it may seem, I get nostalgic when I think of it.
I think I actually miss it.
And I know I miss my mom.
*I've been a bit busy of late and haven't posted a blog lately (or blogged a post, either), so here's a little blast from the past. I promise to have something new to share with you soon!*
I don’t really hate much. Hate is a pretty strong emotion, so I’d just as soon save it for that one really big thing –or person—and then just hammer ‘em with hate.
I do hate wasps. I’m not a science guy, so it’s probably no surprise that I cannot think of a single thing in nature that a wasp is good for. Unless they sting someone you hate, then you’ve got the hate voodoo working for you pretty good. Other than that a wasp is worth nothing, zip, nada.
I have a healthy respect for spiders and snakes. I don’t hate them, but I do know they have nature’s aura of “don’t touch” and although I don’t hate them, they can be annoying as hell sometimes. I know, they’re all part of the “circle of life” thing, but sometimes I think they try to annoy me on purpose.
They annoy me by being sneaky.
I have a spider on my back deck that has become my nemesis. He is an industrious little bastard and he works all through the night to build his web exactly over the area I have to walk through every day to clean the dog run. I get a face full of web and wonder if there’s a spider attached to it somewhere. After slapping myself silly and screaming like a ten-year-old girl, I calm down and make a vow that it will not happen the next day.
The next day: déjà vu.
Snakes do the same thing, but they’re not as predictable (even though being predictable is fairly lost on me). I have snakes all through my yard. They’re just little garden snakes. Or is it garter snakes? I’ve heard it pronounced both ways and have never been sure. Except that 'garden' makes more sense, because what woman in her right mind would wear one for a garter? Anyway, I digress…
I first started noticing the snakes while I was mowing the yard. They like to wait until that last possible moment when you’re about to step on them, then they wriggle out of the way. I catch movement out of the corner of my eye and jump up on the lawnmower screaming like a ten-year-old girl again. Once I’ve recognized what it is, I’m okay. It’s just that initial movement where you don’t expect movement to be.
I’ll be honest. I used to get a flash of anger when this happened and would reflexively bark over the snake with the mower. I’m kinder and gentler now. I now stand panting and work on getting my heart rate down as they slither away.
But once in awhile these aspects of nature work as great teaching tools –even for me who knows nothing about nature.
When we were cleaning out our backyard (previous house that sat on a rock pile) I heard a buzzing by me. I stopped clearing rock to listen, but it would stop. This happened a few times until I located the source. I picked up a rock from a pile and there was a wasp, caught in a Black Widow’s web (notice the capitalization there which is a sign of respect…or fear). The spider would move in for the kill and the wasp would buzz, turning it’s stinger towards the spider until it backed away again. The weird dance kept repeating.
I called my kids over to show them nature up close. Survival of the fittest. Darwin in action. I should have made a Nat-Geo film of it. The girls were about five and seven at the time and they watched on in wonder at the struggle. Finally, my oldest looked up at me.
“Who do you think will win, daddy?” she asked.
I picked up a rock and smashed the spider and the wasp with one blow.
“Man, honey,” I said. “Man always wins.”
We’re sneaky that way.
I wrote recently about the shenanigans of my nearby neighbor (and by “shenanigans” I mean illegal activities) and in writing that piece I was reminded of past neighbors who lived much closer. Like apartment closer. Like apartment complex closer (and by “complex” I mean stacked up and crammed side-by-side).
Of course, just starting out, you often have to make do (and by “make do” I mean lots of canned food, ramen noodles, and an apartment about the size of a VW Bug).
*Side note: Okay, I’ll stop doing the parenthesis (and by…) thing. It’s good for a smile or an occasional chuckle, but it wears thin after a while (and by “thin” I mean…)…Shit, the (and by…) thing is like a drug of some kind. Hopefully, I can get through the rest of this without going into withdrawals.*
Anyway, my wife and I were starting out by making do. Oddly enough, the shoebox we were making do in was below another similarly sized shoebox inhabited by none other than Julia Snobdeface (Yes, a fake name. Fame has not yet compensated me monetarily enough to withstand even a mild lawsuit).
I knew Julia from high school. She was two years younger than I and, as her fake last name would imply, she was a princess. Apparently, being humbled by living in an apartment the size of a Tupperware container did little to nothing to extinguish her naturally haughty demeanor (hey, extra points for me for using the term “haughty demeanor” –I think I even used it correctly).
But if her living conditions had no effect on her narcissistic personality, one would think that her boyfriend would. We weren’t sure what his name was, but we assumed he was of the same privileged background because of his pricey car and clothing, but more because of his nose which was raised so high that he risked drowning in a hard rain. Since we had no name to refer to him by, we gave him a Native American name based upon his visits to Julia’s apartment: Screwemandrun. The name was not without merit. His typical visit went something like this: Show up. Engage in limited chit-chat. Engage in very quick sex. Run down the stairs to his car and be gone, gone, gone. We could tell all this because when you’re “making do” you generally have to do it in a place with walls and ceilings made of construction paper and Elmer’s.
We were impressed by his agility in navigating the stairs, but even more impressed by his speed in…other areas. Although we were impressed, we also thought his routine might be a bit unfair to young Julia. I didn’t plan the next part out per se. It just kind of happened organically.
I slowed Screwemandrun down.
My wife and I retired early. As we settled in, books in hand, we heard Screwemandrun ascend the stairs and knock on Julia’s door. My wife and I exchanged looks, knowing the great auditory treat we were in for.
We heard the door shut and muffled conversation –which lasted all of about ten minutes. Then there was a momentary silence before the sound that can only come from a very weary mattress with aging springs.
It sounded like something between a squeak and an over-weary Wal-Mart greeter sighing between “Welcomes.” And it was rhythmic. And it was growing faster.
That’s when the idea hit me.
I jumped from bed, raced for the phone and phone book and called Julia Snobdeface.
Here’s the best part: the squeaking noise stopped and she answered the phone! Of course, when she answered I hung up and laughed maniacally at my successful prank.
Within three minutes they started again…and again I jumped out of bed and called her…and again she answered!
This went on a total of four times. You can’t make stuff like this up. The last time I tried to call she didn’t answer. I should point out that she also wasn’t able to connect the dots and realize it was someone calling who could hear them and their mouse-like noises. They lasted another two minutes, we heard muffled talk, and then he scrambled down the stairs and jetted away again.
Did I feel bad? Did a little guilt creep in because of my behavior?
Not a drop.
I looked upon it as a favor to Julia. She ended up with almost 20 minutes of sex instead of the usual five. Although it was interrupted sex, it was a longer session than we’d ever heard before.
Perhaps it left her wanting. After a couple of weeks and a few more visits Screwemandrun stopped coming over. We’d heard that she’d broken it off with him. We felt a sense of relief at not having to endure the Screwemandrun cycle anymore.
But then the regular slumber parties with about 12 teenaged girls began.
Julia Snobdeface apparently became celibate, but she did so in a 14-year-old girl way.
To be honest, I began to miss Screwemandrun and his speedy rituals. They weren’t any less annoying, but they ended much, much quicker.
Maybe I should have gotten to know his name so I could have helped those two lovebirds get back together.
Live and learn.
Please, be considerate of your neighbors, but more importantly…
A few posts back I made mention of how, back in the day, it was okay to smack your kid. In fact it was encouraged. In the post I wrote mainly about how my mom found “Mom’s Helping Hand,” which gave her the edge (pun intended –you’ll have to read back if you missed it) over three unruly brothers in the backseat on a traveling vacation.
What I didn’t get into is that smacking a kid was also okay at school. Again, it was encouraged. Some teachers still refer to that time as “the good old days.”
Let me preface this next part by admitting that when I was 15 I was an ass. I’m not saying that justifies hitting a 15-year-old, only that in a lot of cases where I was smacked I kinda had it coming. However, a couple of times I was at least a bit undeserving of what I got.
One time was in shop class. I forget the teacher’s name, but he gave us the mind-numbing task of taking a piece of sheet metal and a small ball-peen hammer and tapping on the sheet metal until we shaped it into a bowl. This took hours, days. I think it may have taken some kids a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the teacher sat back and watched us or sat in his office and watched television. All the students were small ball-peen hammers, a small anvil, some safety glasses and the ear-ringing sound of 30 kids tapping for an hour every day.
Finally, after hours, days of tapping I had a somewhat bowl shaped piece of metal. I thought perhaps this would be enough to satisfy him so he would at least give me some other mind-numbing task to do.
I set my hammer and safety glasses down on the anvil and called him over. Please, please, please let this piece of crap look enough like a bowl that he’ll let me move on. He came over and I showed it to him. As I was showing it to him and desperately pointing out all of its bowl-like features, he reached over, picked up the small ball-peen hammer and hit me above my eye. You know the spot: that ridge of bone that’s covered by your eyebrow.
Funny thing –an eyebrow doesn’t afford much cushion when you get hit with a ball-peen hammer. Granted the hammer was small, maybe 10 or 12 ounces, but it was a friggin’ hammer.
I jumped back in case he tried to hit me again and put my hand to my eye. I looked up at him and he said, “See? If you would have had your safety glasses on, that would have hardly hurt at all. Now what did you learn today?”
I had actually learned a lot in that few seconds. I learned that getting hit above the eye with a ball-peen hammer really hurts. I learned that the shop teacher was an asshole. I learned how to dwell on revenge almost immediately. But I think I found the answer he was after.
“That I should always wear my safety glasses.”
He said I was right and signed me off on my bowl.
I didn’t tell my parents about it, because any kind of trouble I might have gotten into at school would have only been magnified and repeated at home. That was also a social norm at the time.
The next time I was hit by a teacher it was a vice-principal. (I still have trouble with the spelling of ‘principal.’ I deliberately want to spell it ‘principle,’ because friends, they are not your pal.)
I forget exactly what I did that landed me in his office. Maybe I threw a desk out a third story window or something equally smart. In any case, I sat across from him, slouched in the chair, maintaining my ‘cool.’ That’s what’s important when you’re 15 and crap hits the fan. You must do your best to remain looking cool.
He leaned back in his chair looking at me. I slouched in mine looking at him. Finally he sat up and leaned his forearms on his desk. It was obvious he had decided what to do with this miscreant before him.
But actually, he let me make the decision.
“Here’s the deal,” he said. “You can either take a week’s worth of lunch detention along with a phone call home or you can take a swat.”
Reminder: trouble at school meant trouble at home, only magnified. I didn’t care about detention; I was scared of the phone call home.
“Detention and phone call home or a swat?”
“Yep, those are your choices.”
“A swat? A single swat? That’s it?”
I almost laughed. This was way too easy.
“Bring on the swat,” I said. Maintaining my coolness was fairly easy at this point.
He reached down to the lower right-hand drawer of his desk and brought forth the paddle. I think he did this rather slowly on purpose, you know, for dramatic effect.
The dramatic effect worked. As the paddle was revealed I could see it was made of three quarter-inch plywood, about ten inches wide by twelve inches long. The handle was long enough to grasp with both hands. He had even taken the time to drill a number of one-inch holes through the paddle to compensate for wind resistance.
He smiled and I realized my eyes were probably as large as pie plates. Then he said what no 15-year-old boy wants to hear from a grown man.
“Stand up, bend over and grab your ankles.”
I did as I was told, while still trying to maintain the cool (which was becoming increasingly harder to do). As I bent over I could see him through the space between my side and my arm. He gripped the handle of the paddle with both hands and had it raised like Babe Ruth wanting to tear the cover off one before it rocketed out of the ballpark. I held my breath as he stepped into his swing.
I can honestly say that I have never been hit harder by anything before or since. He hit me so hard with the paddle that it propelled me three steps forward and into the wall. I clung to the wall dry heaving. I could feel nothing on my backside. I actually felt the impact up into my insides. If the wall had not been there I would have went down.
I looked back at him while I continued to dry heave and catch my breath at the same time. He stood smiling, twirling the paddle in his hand.
Once I could breathe a bit, I tried to grasp at the cool, but it was pretty much gone.
“That it?” I croaked.
“Yep. You can go on back to class now.”
I really knew the cool was gone then, because I started feeling the pain in my backside. I could barely walk, but I managed. I shuffled slowly, like an old man who’s dropped a load in his pants. Definitely not cool. All the cool had been swatted out of me.
I think back on it now and I realize that I should have told my parents. I look back and realize there was something sick about that man. No grownup should derive that much pleasure from hitting a kid that hard.
But we can all learn from negative examples and a lot of those negative examples don’t involve a swat. So learn from it, apply what you’ve learned and move on.
Just don’t let anyone swat the cool out of you. That’s just wrong.
Although it may show me in a bad light, I have to be honest about this particular blog posting: I recently watched a fellow human being crash and burn…and I enjoyed watching it.
I should point out that the person involved in the crash and burn is (was) my neighbor. The reason I enjoyed watching is because he is an ass of the highest magnitude. I also enjoyed watching because it involved a small army of police personnel and ended with the neighbor in handcuffs. Now that’s solid, live entertainment in anyone’s book.
The gratification of watching the crash and burn also came from watching the neighbor go from bold, to brazen, and right on into boneheaded. I’ll admit that much of what I share is conjecture, but it is conjecture based on multiple observations. The specifics of the observations are simple facts.
The neighbor started off as many neighbors often do…he was an ass.
What made him an ass, of course, were his actions, behavior, and basic regard for his fellow neighbors. Through some fluke in property lines and municipal boundaries, this neighbor’s house and property were located outside of city limits, even though most of the adjoining properties were within city limits. This may not seem like a big deal, but it allowed him to engage in activities that wouldn’t be allowed within city limits: shooting firearms into an embankment in his back yard while houses stood just beyond the embankment, playing music beyond loud until way past most normal people’s bedtimes, building a motorized monstrosity that was one third monster truck, one third dune buggy, and one third pure noise. He was also able to have a number of people in residence for varied periods of time.
Which is part of what started the rumors.
When you see a house whose owner doesn’t appear to have any visible income and seems far too young to retire, you begin to wonder how the mortgage payments are being made.
When you see a house where people, most of them quite younger than the owner, come and go at all hours of the day and night, you begin to wonder when a drive-in window is going to be installed.
When you see someone (again, with no visible means of income) buying expensive toys including large trucks, huge trailers, the motorized monstrosity, six speedboats, and a variety of other spendy items, you begin to wonder where the money comes from.
Yes, I’m hinting that the neighbor was probably involved in the production, distribution, and (after talking to him a couple of times) consumption of illegal substances.
I’ll admit that he started off bold. He wanted to build a huge shop building, but needed the neighborhood’s approval to proceed. Of course, he’d pissed off just about every neighbor, so that didn’t work. Then he found a loophole in the system that said he could build onto his house. It didn’t matter the structure, just so long as it was attached to his home. So, a month or so later, there was a huge shop building blocking the neighborhood, but thinly attached to his house via a small covered walkway.
Score one for probable drug dealer.
His brazenness grew as he installed a chain link fence with an automatic opening gate and an entrance way reminiscent of an old western ranch. Then he began posting signs on the gate and fence. These signs had all the subtlety of a pregnant lady pole vaulting: “No Trespassing,” “Beware of Dogs,” “No Trespassing,” “Absolutely No Trespassing,” “Beware of Guard Dogs”…you get the picture. If one sign got the point across, three would really make an impression. Of course, the signs only made people look more closely.
Two primary events illustrated his move from brazenness into bone-headedness. The first was his “camera shield.” Near our house –and nearer to his— there is a water pumping station. We live at the bottom of a hill, so as you can probably guess, the station pumps water up to the houses living further up the hill. The water company, in a stroke of common sense, has a camera that sits on a pole and keeps a watch on the pumping station so that no miscreants can sabotage it without being recorded.
Our presumably drug-involved neighbor planted two poles on either side of the camera and mounted a metal sheet so that the camera might not inadvertently record anything happening on his property.
The sheet metal almost screamed, “Don’t look over hear at any possibly illegal activities!”
The second event was his purchase of a motorhome. The motorhome wasn’t a nice, new, gadget infested behemoth that you would expect. It was older, beat up, and needed a new paint job –eight or nine years ago.
We jokingly referred to it as his “Walter White” mobile – the character on “Breaking Bad” who used an old motorhome as a mobile meth manufacturing lab. The joke quit being funny after our neighbor gutted the motorhome, but didn’t replace anything he’d removed from the inside.
At that point, he had moved so far into the “bonehead” zone that his ending was inevitable.
I returned home from work the other night and was mildly irritated that a sheriff’s Suburban was parked at the corner, forcing me to swing wide to get around it. Then I looked past it to the neighbor’s place.
The number of police vehicles was, to me, astounding. There were two sheriff’s cars, two sheriff’s Suburbans, four or five unmarked police cars, and two S.W.A.T vans. As I pulled into my driveway I watched eight military-looking men in full camouflage and brandishing weapons march from the house, followed by two police officers.
My neighbor was pushed over the hood of one of his many cars, shirtless and handcuffed.
I watched in awe for a few minutes and then laughed.
I wanted to go ask the cops what they’d nailed the guy on, but then realized it didn’t matter. They should have been able to charge him for being such an extreme moron.
I wanted to go over to the cops and offer a high-five, but thought that might not be appropriate.
The cops spent the rest of the evening looking for evidence in and around the house.
And here’s the best part: at that point the house became a kind of flytrap. The cops all left, except for a couple who stayed in the house. I watched the next day as at least two cars pulled up to the house, only to have the drivers arrested and hauled away. The next two days I watched a number of cars drive slowly by the house, do a U-turn and drive away.
It was a thing of beauty.
I’m told that it hasn’t been in the news yet because of federal law enforcement involvement. The feds like to have everything locked tight before they advertise their score.
I’m a great admirer of the bold. I can begrudgingly give a tip of the hat to the brazen. But when the person’s character moves into the bonehead zone, I don’t have much patience, let along respect.
He went down. I’m guessing he went down hard. And I’m guessing that as his upper body lay across the hot hood of the car and the handcuffs held his wrists behind him, he probably heard me laughing from across the street.
On my last blog posting I compared the fights in movies with a couple of fights I had in real life. Obviously, the real life fights weren’t near as glamorous nor were they near as clichéd.
As usual, films (and writing about films) got my mind to wandering…again. I’d pointed out many of the film fight clichés, but there are so many other kinds of clichés in films. Some of these I find amusing, some slightly annoying, and frankly, some just piss me off.
So without further ado, here are some clichés we’ve all seen in countless films, but that I would like to see disappear…forever…or at least until they become the “forgotten clichés” and can be used again without being a cliché. (Got you thinking on that one, didn’t I?)
In no particular order:
1. Walking Away From an Explosion Without Flinching
This one is a mild irritant for me. Yeah, it looks cool and all. The hero knows the explosion is going to occur, so he just walks away from it without looking back. And when it does go off, there’s not so much as a skittish eyebrow from him.
There are two problems with this film cliché. The primary problem is that, no matter who you are, some of these ginormous explosions ARE going to make you flinch, if not out-and-out crap your pants. When most people have a bang the size of a small nuke go off behind them, they tend to drop to the ground, curl into a fetal position, and start crying for momma. The other problem is, of course, there would be about 50 different shades of authorities immediately converging on the spot. But our hero takes his time getting away from the destruction. In fact, if he’d have brought a picnic lunch, he’d probably pause to scarf that down as well.
So….gotta call bullshit on that cliché.
2. Bullets, bullets everywhere and not a one can hit.
There is a caveat to this one, which I’ll hit (pun intended) in just a minute, but think of how many movies you’ve seen where bullets are quite literally filling the air…but not one of them hits the hero. Okay, the hero might get a slight flesh wound, but just enough to show what a badass he is in taking pain.
The caveat to this one is, although the hero sometimes also struggles to hit a barn wall from the inside himself, he is able to carry off that one critical shot that will knock the microscopic detonator off a gnat’s ass at 400 yards with a .45 caliber pistol and save the day.
Another ‘bullshit’ called in either shooting case.
3. Specific body part shots.
Okay, this is similar to the last one with the main difference being that the hero can shoot a bad guy in just about any part of the body the hero chooses. This includes arms, legs, ears, toes, fingers, and in primarily older films, hands. Tons of guns shot out of bad guys’ hands back in the day.
As anyone with even the slightest amount of shooting training knows, you aim center mass and continue to shoot until the threat is neutralized. Then you walk over and shoot them a couple more times just for good measure.
So, as in #2….bullshit.
Ah, the couple finally got together after jumping through all kinds of hoops of fire and piles of, well, whatever piles they have in that particular movie. Then the big, first kiss.
And they friggin’ nail it.
The take after each other as though their trying to suck the little dangly thing at the back of the throat out (what the hell is that thing called anyway?). They’re so passionate it almost looks like they’re eating watermelon instead of kissing.
Does that happen in real life? Well, maybe for you (show-off), but for most people, no way. There’s hesitation, there’s uncertainty, there’s sometimes even halitosis. She moves to her left, he moves to his right and they do that face dance trying to get aligned.
And there are the thousands of thoughts and questions flying through each person’s head: “Tongue or no tongue? Hey, I didn’t notice that nose hair he has sticking out. What if she turns her head at the last second and this ends up being a kiss on the cheek? God, please don’t let this be a kiss on the cheek…etc.”
All this awkwardness goes on with just about every first kiss. Except mine. In the 9th grade I was pinned against a wall by a girl who (I later found out) people referred to as “Snake Tongue Sally.” But that’s a story for another blog posting.
Once again, bullshit called on movie cliché #4.
5. What the hell happened to the airbags?!?
Hugely exciting chase scene (action directors continue to try top Gene Hackman’s chase scene in “The French Connection”). Cars are flying around 100 mph. They ram each other in the rear (phrasing), sides, front, top…you name it. Finally, there’s a really cool spin that throws off one driver or the other and they crash into (fill in the blank here).
And not a single, solitary, government mandated airbag goes off in any of the cars. How the hell is that possible? If a modern car did just a small portion of what movie cars did the interior would explode engulfing the occupants in an instant marshmallow.
How the hell did these movie cars even make it out into the public domain without a safety recall of some kind?
Ummm, need I say? Bullshit.
6. Women are weak and need a man’s protection…or love…or superior action skills…or his cool car…or…whatever.
If you go by what the movies put out there, women wear high heels, usually something tight and/or skimpy in way of a top, and are completely helpless.
Hey guys, here’s a good tidbit of information to hang onto: at some point in your life you will have a woman completely, totally, inescapably, undeniably…kick your ass. You won’t even know what hit you. You’ll be sitting in a puddle of your own testosterone wondering, “What the hell just happened? And how can I put a spin on it that, if it won’t make me look good, will at least not have me go bankrupt in regards to man-points?”
Trust me. Physically, mentally, or emotionally if it hasn’t happened yet, it will. Remember to wear your helmet and athletic cup.
So, huge cry of bullshit on that one.
Okay, this one is my all-time most hated cliché, so if I slip in a profanity or two here, well, so be it.
This cliché is so over-the-top dramatic that it’s laughable. And just about every movie director is guilty. Even fucking George Lucas pulled this shit…more than once…and with Darth Vader (give me just a second here, my stomach is churning a bit). George Lucas - brilliant filmmaker, crappy writer. Just sayin’.
Think of it…many of us have experienced huge catastrophes in our lives…but when it hits have you ever, in your life, dropped to your knees, clinched your fists together and looked up and yelled, “Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!!”?
If you did….wow, let loose of your dramatic tendencies, will ya? It’s cheesy and well, frankly, embarrassing for everyone else around. Suck it up and go find an empty room somewhere where you can curl into a fetal position and cry into the carpet like the rest of us.
And so there you have it. My small list of movie cliché pet peeves. Obviously, this list isn’t all inclusive, so if you have a movie cliché that just makes you want to throw your soda at the screen, please feel free to share in the comments section. And if it’s better than one of mine, I might just drop to the floor, clinch my fists, look up, and yell, “Nooooooooo!”
Just observing, sometimes remembering, often shaking my head, then writing.