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.
In the waning hours of the holiday season, we decided to squeeze in one last activity by heading out in the pouring rain for a matinee showing of The Accountant. Perfect rainy day activity but ultimately a bit more interactive than I anticipated.
I drop my wife off in front so she could avoid the rain and get tickets. I then wade off to find a spot in the crowded parking lot to dock my vehicle. 50 yards from the theater, I wedge in between two other U-boats; but before I step into the monsoon I get a txt from my wife advising to skip the line and just find us a seat in the theater. She notices there are no ticket takers, and with 5 minutes to the show if one of us doesn’t grab seats we may be watching the movie with our necks at a 90 degree angle to our bodies.
She’s not kidding. The lobby is wall to wall-to-wall wet wool and bad breath. I serpentine through the lobby masses and head for the entrance to our theater.
Somehow on my way in, I get sandwiched between three larger than life characters (husband/wife/child). The woman in front of me is unaware I have slipped in front of her husband and is narrating her thoughts on seat selection at full volume. Clearly thinking hubby is right on her heals and having selected her preferred row she barks, “How ’bout this one?” At the same time she wheels around and finds herself face to face, with me. Apparently she thinks I am a big white ghost because she lets out a, shriek, then immediately breaks into this humongous HAW HAW HAW when she realizes she has been blabbering absentmindedly to a total stranger. She and I do this little dance in the aisle, and I step into the row immediately in front of her selected row. BIG MISTAKE.
Anyway, the woman, her husband, young daughter (I’m guessing about aged 8 – in an R rated movie??), tub of popcorn, large drinks and assorted luggage sit behind me and continue their conversation through the previews. I put my wet umbrella in the cup holder of the seat next to me and a minute later my wife lands.
A man and woman in front of me are also working through a large vat of popcorn but not 5 minutes into the previews, the man gets up and heads for the snack bar. He returns as the opening scene appears on the screen and I miss the set up for the movie. He then proceeds to sit (thankfully), pauses briefly before tearing into a grocery store size bag of something.
Could have been candy. Could of been Calamari. But whatever it was, it was two hours of crinkly loud. Like nails on a chalkboard, how someone could occupy themselves with a bag of such volume is unimaginable.
Now this is no spoiler, but The Accountant is about a high functioning man with Autism who is also a trained killer. As you might surmise, the movie builds around the eccentricities of this unlikely combination of behaviors. Pretty much every time the Accountant mumbles some inappropriate comment or puts a bullet in some nasty guy’s head, the trifecta behind me bursts forth with hearty HAW HAW HAWS, MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCKS, and HONK HONK HONKS. Even the eight year old. Between the inappropriate comments, head bullets, and GUFFAWS there is the occasional “jump out of the closet/big white ghost” scene met withheld now familiar womanly shriek followed immediatley by a stereophonic MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCK, and HONK HONK HONK. Oh, and of course there is the ringing cell phone during the final head/bullet scene. She answers it of course.
Between the the incessant CRINKLE, CRINKLE, CRINKLE and HAW HAW HAW, MYUCK MYUCK, MYUCK, HONK HONK HONK, I feel a bit like week-old turkey in a rude sandwich. To say the rain must have driven all the rats out of the sewers would be a huge overstatement, but I have to chuckle at the world in which we live today.
A few additional thoughts:
- The Accountant is worth seeing in the theater or in home.
- Next time I choose the long ticket line over seat selection.
- “All you had to do was pick a freaking decent seat and you picked the two between the Three Stooges and Willy f’ing Wonka.” (reprimand from my wife)
- When I get a little uptight. I write.
- If I put the words, “Donald Trump” in my blog post will I get more views?
If you got past the conspiracy theories, mud slinging, “softening” on positions, media frenzy and general acrimony of the the 2016 election that was all the news yesterday, (I think they should load both candidates up with beer, escort them to a mud pit, let them go one-on-one and winner take all, but that’s a rant for another day) you may have stumbled across an article about potentially habitable planet Proxima b. Located outside of our solar system, Proxima b is apparently the closest potentially habitable planet to Earth at just over 4 light years away which, by my bubba math, is about 24 trillion miles. That’s one hell of a road trip, and reminds me of my 1979 Honda Civic which looks and drives like its traveled a couple trillion miles.
Suffice it to say, neither my Honda not any conventional spacecraft is going to be humping it to Proxima b anytime soon. We’re going to have to come up with a new mode of travel more in line with the make believe world of Star Wars or Star Trek.
So here’s a question. Have you ever seen a cockroach either appear or disappear? If you are like me, the short answer is, NO and YES respectively. Where I come from, lots of folks call the big ones Palmetto bugs and when they appear they generally cause women and adolescent girls to scream, old folks to swoon, men to go for a shoe or magazine, and children to ask their parents if they can hop on and go for a ride.
Anyway, I have never seen a cockroach enter a room. Not once in my life. They simply appear.
Walk into a room, poof, they are in the middle of the carpet. Turn on a light, poof, they are traipsing across the wall, look up from a book and they are strolling along a counter top.
Unless you nail them with a shoe or magazine (which requires light speed, I might add), more often than not, they simply disappear into thin air . You aim, fire, miss then lift up the sock they just ran under and poof, they are gone, or the notebook, or the chair or the wall hanging. They simply vanish. Get my drift?
So I am thinking, perhaps the best way to Proxima b is by way of understanding the cockroach. If they appear from thin air and then disappear into thin air, who’s to say they aren’t the ticket to understanding long distance space travel? If they can do it, why can’t we? Heck, they are probably already Proxima b already. Light years ahead of us.
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!