So this hit FB today. It’s fun, funny and potentially makes a blind date survivable. What sez you?
I can’t afford a Porsche. My home life is good. So what’s a slumping middle aged fart to do? Grow a beard naturally. Quickly becoming one of the dumbest moves of my life; one that leaves me scratching my face wondering how countless males over thousands of years indulge in what I am finding to be a facial fiasco.
There is really no serious backstory to my latest indulgence. I went on vacation for a week, didn’t shave, saw a picture of Michael Stipe online and thought, to myself; man, something like that would drive my mother nuts. In reality, she could not care less, but clearly I am harboring deep childhood resentments; and while the idea of growing a beard is quite manly, I am finding it quite childlike in oh, so many ways.
Friend: “So, you are growing a beard?”
Me: “Just channeling my inner Hemingway,” (can’t you tell by the quality of these prose?)
There are many aspects to this new endeavor that leave me scratching my face (including scratching my face). For starters, my upper lip has become a pulp filter for my daily glass of OJ. And I like a little pulp.
Additionally, at my age, I have an ongoing battle with the hair growing out of my nose. Now I have to contend with it growing up my nose. To make matters worse, it feels like there are spiders crawling up my nose. It does kind of tickle but terrifying when it wakes me up in the middle of the night.
And how the heck does anyone manage one of these things come winter and more specifically, cold season? Are there even enough hankies to deal with the drip? If mine lasts that long, there might be another article in the offing.
My lower lip is becoming like cactus. The constant prickling into my upper lip finally drove me to break out the razor on my lower lip. I was in constant fear of cutting my lower lip in the process. Just thinking about the pruning makes my flesh crawl.
And what about wild hairs? Vanity and desire not to be confused with Ted Kaczynski, Charles Manson or white supremacists, is preventing me from going full Grizzly Adams on this thing. I thought shaving was a pain in the ass, but pruning is far more dangerous and time consuming. Shaving around the edges is proving to require the steady hands of a brain surgeon. I am not a brain surgeon. I am shaving 1% of the area, yet my cut ratio has gone up 50%.
My face has become the bread basket of the world. Besides a gathering spot for orange pulp, it’s like fly paper for bread crumbs, hamburger juice, condiments, dressings, and pretty much anything else that does not enter my mouth via a straw. Domino’s kitchen sink pizza’s got nothing on my face. And it’s not just food, when I go outside, the thing is like a shrimper’s net, hauling in all kinds of flotsam and jetsam.
When it gets wet, it stays wet. I suppose I should have anticipated this. Drying the mop after bathing is not too bad, but as soon as I set foot into the 98% heat and 100% humidity of the sunny south, my empathy for Samoyed’s goes off the charts. At least Samoyeds are cute. I have no excuse for the sweat dripping pizza hanging off my face. It is as if my face has sprung a leak.
And what is going on under all this fur? Is my complexion returning to that nightmarish wreck that was my face from the ages of 15 through 20? The Horror. The Horror. And what about nits? Am I going to have to buy a monkey to pick the critters off my face?
Certainly, there are some reasonable arguments for the beard. At least, unlike my (regrettable) tatoo, when I can’t stand it anymore, I can go buy some Proactiv and a new razor and get rid of it.
So how long will my indulgence last? Hemingway’s beard did not end well. But that Michael Stipe thing?
Maybe I’ll let my mom decide.
So this woman, Lenore Skenazy comes on the radio this week with talk show host Dennis Prager, and they’re talking about the insanity of government, health professionals and other lunatic fringes whose mission is either to suck all of the joy of a kid’s life, wrap them in a cocoon of bubble wrap, or turn us parents into bigger idiots than we already are. I probably wouldn’t have remembered any of it except that Ms. Skenazy’s website is called Free-Range Kids, which stuck in my otherwise porous brain. That and the fact my kids used to shit sand every time we went to the beach. Both of them survived to adulthood, and while I escaped spousal and government punishment, I did deal with some pretty heavy diapers.
Anyway, the whole exchange made me think back upon my own childhood and the guiding lessons I learned through experience. Importantly, a little wisdom I learned when I was fourteen from Ms. Maggie.
Like most folks my generation, I could write a book on the “abuse” we took from our parents. The cars didn’t always have seat belts, much less child seats. Our parents smoked in the car…with the windows up. Air condition in the car, when it worked, was a luxury. If felt carsick, they stopped the car, I took off running down some dark alley to avoid barfing in public, and they didn’t call in a missing child report when I didn’t come back to the car in 5 minutes. If we stopped at some rest area out in the styx to have a picnic, they sent me into the filthy bathrooms barefoot and alone, let me eat my picnic in the sun with no sunscreen whilst drinking a Coke with yellow jackets buzzing around the lip of the can, and eating off a picnic table cleaned only by rain and ants. And that was just the car. If I think about the hazards like bicycles, the woods, any type of water, strangers, etc.; well, like I said, every kid of my generation could probably write the same book.
But this is really about Ms. Maggie and the two lessons she taught me when I was fourteen. Ms. Maggie gave me my first job as a junior counselor at Camp Grasshopper, a day camp operating in the sunny southern city of Atlanta, Georgia. About a week before camp started, we had a couple of days of training to learn the camp songs and what activities we would be leading, what the kids’ schedules would be, and the two important safety notices by which I would come to raise my kids.
The first was this. Never help a kid climb up something (like a jungle gym or any other play structure). If they can get up there on their own, they can figure out how to get down on their own. If they need your help climbing, then they have no business up there in the first place. A blinding flash of common sense, right? But a great lesson in standing down that helped my kids gain self confidence, set goals for themselves, push their boundaries, learn how to stand on their own and fall down on their own. My mom certainly didn’t have Ms. Maggie, but every pair of long pants I owned had patches on them, and my knees are scarred to this day. I suppose my Mom somehow knew this rule and allowed me to be a free range kid.
The second rule Ms. Maggie taught me was this: Hot dogs can basically be eaten frozen. The kids brought their own sack lunches every day but the last day of camp. On the last day each counselor would march their assigned campers through the blistering hot sun, across the itchy field and into the woods for a cookout to celebrate a great week of camp. Once at our “campsite” we would make a fire, roast hot dogs on sticks, make s’mores and basically have a big’ol time. There was no safety instructions related being careful in the broiling sun, the danger of sharp sticks, matches, keeping the kids from being roasted alive in the fire, ground attacks by chiggers, trudging through poison ivy, eating cooked marsh mellows that might fall on the ground, or keeping the kids hydrated. The counselors were all pretty smart, and I suppose Ms. Maggie figured we all had plenty of common sense or they wouldn’t have hired us. What we did not know however, is that the average attention span of a five-year-old is about thirty seconds, and that was about how much time a five-year is willing to hold a compressed tube of snouts, ears, butts, tails and other associated chemicals impaled upon a sharp stick over a camp fire. Hot dogs, as it turns out are basically pre-cooked. This wisdom enabled us to focus on sharp sticks turned into sharp swords in the hands of five-year-olds rather than worry about the dangers of feeding them raw pork parts.
Thanks to these two rules and Ms. Maggie, I can happily report my children never died from uncooked pork or from playing on a playground. And they never died on my wife’s watch either. I can’t say my kids were truly “free-range” as the electric collars did a pretty good job of keeping them in the yard. Other than that though, they had a pretty long leash.
I don’t know if the crew was singing and dancing below decks, but there was definitely a lot going on above the waterline on my recent vacation. Just got back from a 7 day Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas which really should be renamed the Mother Ship of the Seas. Ain’t no sea monsters ever gonna mess with that mother for sure. Anyway, the cruise line did a wonderful job, the boat (yeah, I call it a boat) was spectacular, clean, had amenities on top of amenities, a crew so friendly it gives the Mouse a run for its money. Definitely one of our top 10 family vacations.
I sound like an ad for RC right? Hey they did a great job. That said, with 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew on a boat that big I did make a few observations which alternatively disturbed, amused or left me scratching my head. Let’s talk a little bit about the people, the food, the boat, and politics.
This was one of my favorite parts of the cruise. Because I was too cheap to pay for wifi, neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. Trump were able to join me on my vacation. I missed neither and picked right back up on my favorite soap opera upon my return. Like I never left. Thanks RC for pricing your wifi so high that I was not even tempted to know what was going on outside your bubble.
There were three types of people on our ship. The reasonably healthy, the chronically unhealthy, and the critically unhealthy. About an hour after we set sail we had to turn around and go back to port to unload a “critically unhealthy” passenger. People were huffing an puffing all over the ship. There were scooters everywhere. With a helicopter pad above deck and a morgue below, the cruise lines make it a perfect vacation option for even the most unhealthy folks.
95% of bikini clad women on the Allure of the Seas really shouldn’t be wearing one, and 100% of bikini clad men should not be wearing one. Modesty suggests we tuck it in or cover it up people!
The diversity of the passengers and crew was like a jar of jelly beans. I liked that change from my daily bubble a lot.
While touring the ship, I stumbled into the Gym (hidden behind the Spa) where I saw a sign up sheet for an on board seminar entitled “The Secret of a Flat Stomach.” All I can think is the only way I’m getting a flat stomach is by laying face down on the deck with some critically unhealthy person standing on my back. Apparently, the flat stomach is still a secret because no one signed up.
I saw a little narration Morgan Freeman did on a late night show on a guy with a selfie stick and was struck on my cruise by the role of the selfie stick on the cruise. Is narcissism one of the seven deadly sins? Apologies for going down this rat hole, but is it me or is there is something very dark about this whole thing?
And how about the Tattoos? There was more ink on that boat than squids in the sea. I really don’t get it, but more power to the ladies and men who make a living off the canvas of skin. For those thinking about it, just remember tattoos are NOT like fine wine. They really don’t get better with age.
Ah, the food. Guilty as charged. I am not sure what is so compelling about what is basically cafeteria food, that one should be so inclined to binge upon it for 7 straight days. I sent both my weight and cholesterol into the stratosphere. With the exception of the lobster tails and the lamb chops, the mounds of food I ate were truly unexceptional.
The secret to cruise quisine, I suppose is in the gravy. No matter the food, European, American, Asian, India, South American, Mexican, Canadian, Australian every cuisine from every country was smothered in its own gravy. If you like the gravy and want it a la carte, just order the soup. Light fare meant light colored gravy. The only continents lacking their own gravies were the Arctics. And the only arctic gravy was ice, and the only way to get that freely was to buy a beverage package.
Indeed, getting ice water on the Allure anywhere outside of a restaurant required either a paid beverage package, a great deal of charm, or a fare amount of sneakiness. No lie, you can’t even get cold water out of the tap in your cabin because they pump in hot water through the cold tap just to keep you from drinking it. Whenever I got ice out of the Freestyle Coke machine or charmed a bartender to spoon some over, I felt like I was practically stealing it.
They must have made the most amazing bulk purchase on asparagus prior to leaving Fort Lauderdale because for the several days it was asparagus at every meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love asparagus but after a few days, the ship’s pools and hot tubs started smelling like asparagus (actually, I am just kidding, but they did serve a lot of the stuff).
Scale. Everything is huge. With one exception. Cabin bathrooms. This is actually a good thing because it forces organization in the tiny space, discourages lingering, and the proximity of the toilet to the sink allows one to ship and shave at the same time for maximum bathroom efficiency. Oh, and the showers were tubular. Kind of like a human jimmy cap. Not quite sure how that was working for some of my shipmates.
That’s about all I’ve got. Happy sails!
Your time has come. You head on up to those pearly gates to meet good ole Peter. You boldly state your name, he looks through his list, and examines you gravely.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. You can’t come in. I’m afraid you have to go to…the other place.”
Being the gentleman that he is, he gives you directions. On your journey, you begin to imagine the terrors of the potential scenarios that await you: the classic hellfire, or perhaps an eternity of hard labor? You envision desolation, unimaginable heat, a jail cell. But as you round the corner and meet your fate, you see that it is even worse than you could’ve possibly imagined.
Before you looms a massive Forever 21.
As you enter, for a moment you are fooled.
You think, “I guess I haven’t been so bad! I get to shop the latest trends and pay next to nothing for them! This might be fun!”
You wander into the first cavernous room. It is “festival” themed, with racks of flower prints, fringe, and tie dye surrounding you. It’s not exactly your style, but you think you might find something you like.
But then you take a closer look. The racks have no organization; random clothes are all mixed together. You find a shirt you might like, but alas: XXL. You glance around, thinking there MUST be a rack containing your shirt. You carefully begin to dig and sift, like an archaeologist trying to preserve a bone (because surely there’s an order to this madness, right?? Someone must have a plan here….right?)
You search and search, but it seems that is the ONLY shirt of its kind in this god-forsaken room, despite the fact that the room is enormous. You begin to grow weary. You’ve exhausted this room’s many racks so you wander into the next space: club themed.
Somehow, despite the fact that club attire is not at ALL your style, the devilish pull of the store takes over your body and you find yourself once again desperately sifting through racks, shelves, and corners. You begin to succumb to the feeling that surely there must be something in this room for you to try on. I mean it’s so BIG! There are so many options! In your sheer desperation to get to the dressing room, you grab several items in varying sizes close to yours, thinking “Well, I don’t really like this on the hanger, but maybe it’ll look really great on!”
This happens in room after room. Your arm grows weary from carrying so many items, at which point you get excited all over again. You think you MUST have something you’ll love in there, simply because there are SO many pieces! You begin to search for a dressing room. At this point, you are shaken from your concentrated stupor enough to notice the music: thumping, mind-crushingly repetitive pop music. Each song sounds exactly like the last, except that each NEW song is somehow WORSE than the last. You start to get a throbbing headache, both from the horrendous sounds you’re being forced to listen to and the sheer weight of the clothes you’re carrying.
You round the corner and FINALLY: you see a dressing room sign. You gleefully rush towards it and BAM, you get smacked in the face with the sight of a line so long it makes Disney World on spring break look like amateur hour. You hold back and join the end of the line.
Approximately 3,892 incredibly painful seconds go by as you stand there like a pack mule with your load. You have time to think about each minute of your life, each choice you have made, and wonder how you ended up in a place like this. Your head throbs, your feet ache. And just when you’re about to give up, you get a dressing room.
You walk down a dirty, dingy hallway and go into a small, cramped dressing room. The door’s lock is broken. Fluorescent lighting causes you to jump when you see yourself in the mirror: you look like an evil witch who did meth for 6 years. You take a deep breath and try on the first item. It fits terribly, with itchy fabric that somehow highlights all your worst qualities. Great. So now you’re a FAT evil meth witch. You try on item after item, each piece (like the music) worse than the last, until you’re utterly convinced that you were the most heinous creature to walk the face of the planet. The mirror becomes your biggest enemy.
And then: a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. An item that you normally wouldn’t think twice about: it’s plain, boring even. But it doesn’t make you look as bad as the others! Comparatively, you’ve never looked better and…look at that! Only $6.49, what a steal! Relieved your efforts were not for naught and energized by your “find”, you dump all of the other clothes with the pained woman manning the dressing room and find your way back through the maze of the store to the checkout. Hardly believing your bleary eyes, you are stopped in your tracks at the sight of (you guessed it!) another line longer than the Amazon river.
Brain about to pulse out of your head, with no self esteem left to give this terrible place, you decide maybe you should look around at the rooms you missed until the line dies down. You wander aimlessly into a room with western attire. And then one with workout clothes. And one with bathing suits.
…And you do this for the rest of eternity. Because hell is a Forever 21.
Seems like every summer we catch a wave of jacked up comic books at our local theaters where, for about $60, two people can explode, chase, battle, scheme, swing, launch, fly, blast, swim their way through nearly 120 minutes of saturated popcorn and a bladder expanding soda. Heck, for $2.50 I practically get that riding the subway to work each day, plus, for no extra charge, it comes in odorama, which, thankfully is hard to duplicate on the big screen.
But what of these “super” heroes and villains? It’s got me to thinking…
A man who is a spider. Does he take all his meals through a straw?
A man who is a bat? Lazy bum sleeps all day.
A girl who is a bat? Seriously, how does one tell the difference? Boobs?
A man who is made of Iron. Now that’s just absurd. He’d be house bound like those with morbid eating disorders.
A man who is an ant. Wouldn’t think twice about stepping on him.
Captains Marvel, Universe, America, Planet, etc., etc., etc. Why just Captains? Why never promoted?
And what about the Doctor’s?
Dr. Strange. “Yes, I’d like to make appointment with my gynecologist…Dr. Strange.”
“I’m sorry, Dr. Octopus is unavailable. He’s in surgeries right now…”
“Yes, I need to get my Prozac refilled, could you please ask Dr. Doom to call that in for me?”
Dr. Manhattan. What, is his specialty, Mixology or something?
A man made of plastic. Perhaps he could be sent to do something about the Pacific Ocean’s Trash Vortex?
The Flash. Why am I seeing all of those black spots?
Robin. Poor fella.
A man who is Super. Popular on Pride Day no doubt.
Man of steel (see man made of Iron above).
Two-Face. Yep, knew him in high school.
A woman who is a Wonder. Now that is one I completely get.
Hey, as far as I am concerned, the only Caped Crusader I care about is:
Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please, Please… Rinse, lather repeat.
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. Good God. it’s Soul Brother #1, the Godfather of soul, Mr. Dynamite, Mr. Please, Please, Please. Jaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown. Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown. Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaames Brown. Superhero of Soul, Funk, Rock and Roll.
It’s time to address what I feel is a very serious problem in New York City: The Wandering Sidewalk Meanderers.
Never heard of them? Allow me to raise your awareness.
A Wandering Sidewalk Meanderer comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms, but they all have one defining quality: slowly walking in the middle of the sidewalk, occasionally veering to one side or another, usually just as you’ve increased your speed of walking in hopes of passing them.
These Meanderers will keep you trapped in their wake for blocks on end, seemingly knowing exactly which side you’re going to attempt to pass on and when you’re going to do it. They keep their leisurely pace, not considering the fact that perhaps the people stuck behind them are late for work, hurrying to brunch, or trying to catch a movie. No no, these Wanderers are quite determined to single-handedly slow the pace of New York City, one harried walker at a time.
Generally, they take the form of old people, which is almost excusable. As you approach one such Wanderer, you momentarily slow down on your own accord, taking the care not to interrupt their calculated steps or accidentally knock them off balance. You briefly marvel at their gumption and strength to continue living in such a busy city at such an age, much less to keep on walkin’ along instead of succumbing to easier modes of transportation. But beware, unsuspecting sidewalkers. These little old people are devils in disguise, for I believe they think that if THEY have to slow down, the whole world must slow down with them. It’s as though their age has ripened their intuition, and they make a game out of blocking your way, knowing full well you’re too conscientious to barrel right past them. They gracefully shift back and forth, confusing and frustrating you until you give up and feel like a horrible human being for getting annoyed with a sweet old lady in the first place.
Another majority is tourists. You know the ones. Hoards of school groups on walking tours, families with cameras and maps in hand, couples madly in love on vacation. Even tourists by themselves. You can always spot a tourist because they are either:
- Not dressed appropriately for the climate. At all.
- Proudly and smugly sporting NYC apparel as though all New Yorkers proclaim their New York-ness to the masses
- Looking up at the buildings, mouths agape like some sort of trout.
- Wandering around the Sidewalk
Now usually, the final factor is the product of a combination of the first three. They are overwhelmed by the sweltering heat and sweating through their jeans, so they can’t walk quickly. They’ve never been here before, so they don’t know where they’re going or how to get there. They’re in awe of their surroundings (which is cute, but frustrating all the same) so they stroll like it’s Sunday in the park. NO, TOURISTS. You are the reason why New Yorkers hate Times Square. Honestly, the tourists are even worse than the little old perpetrators, because they usually walk 3 or 4 across, further inhibiting your ability to scoot around them. And they don’t have the added benefit of being cute and wrinkly.
And sometimes, it’s simply random: a housewife on her phone, a dejected college student who had a hard day. I understand the need to walk slow, but don’t weave about! We CANT HAVE THIS, people! Imagine the havoc that be wreaked if people in cars did this as well, driving slower than the speed limit and weaving all around the road. Horns would be blared, wrecks would be caused, thousands of dollars in damages would be accrued. It’s too bad we don’t have little sidewalk horns we can honk…perhaps we should make sidewalk rules and regulations! Or perhaps I’m just becoming just another impatient New Yorker.