Saturday, June 10, 2006

Just Wondering

I wonder if when they named Lake Titicaca they knew they were giving schoolkids a double dose of snickering pleasure.
Or maybe kids these days are just way too sophisticated to laugh at a lake named after boobies and poop.
(Haha! Boobies and poop.)

Old Girlfriends, Part One


I don’t even remember now where I met Cindy M. I know she rode with me to Summer school in 1974, but I don’t think that’s where I met her – although it might have been; a tiny bell just went off that sounded like Cindy’s sister Pam asking me if I would give her little sister a ride to school so she wouldn’t have to. (Pam was a year ahead of me but I knew her cuz she was in band and I hung out with the band people even though I couldn't play any instrument but the radio.) Anyway, I needed a credit to move up to 11th grade. Cindy was just a rising freshman, but I guess she had some unfinished business back in the eighth grade. I can’t imagine she was getting a jump on high school; she was a pretty girl but by no means a brain.

I do remember our first date – we went to the South Windermere Theater on a double date with Pam and her boyfriend. I have no idea what movie we saw but I can tell you every word we spoke during those two hours.

Me: So, do you want some popcorn or something?
Cindy: No, thanks.

For the first hour of the movie I was debating with myself whether or not I should try to hold her hand or put my arm around her. In fact the debate was so intense that I probably haven’t forgotten what the movie was, I probably didn’t even know it at the time. Somehow I did work up the courage to hold her hand, and I clung to it till the credits rolled even though I became severely dehydrated from all the water I lost through my palm.

I do not remember our first kiss, but I do remember a time when Pam and Cindy came to my house after dinner. They were walking around the neighborhood selling something or collecting for some cause, probably Rainbow Girls, an organization they were active in; I even went to a Rainbow Girls installation that I had forgotten about until two seconds ago. Cindy and I stood in the foyer and smooched while Pam talked to the old folks. (What a pal!) Then I went walking with them although I’m sure people must have thought I was one ugly rainbow girl. I didn’t care. It was a beautiful Summer night, I was able to hold Cindy’s hand now without needing an IV and we laughed and kidded around with Pam. That was probably our best moment as a couple.

The best but not the most memorable. That would be the occasion of the Yacht Club dance. Cindy was nervous because she had just got braces. She needn’t have worried, she looked great. In fact, out there in the parking lot leaning against the bumper of that Volkswagen 411 was the first time I ever said, “I love you” to her. Mercifully she said “I love you too.” And thinking about it now I hope I wasn’t so calculating as to time that announcement specifically when she was feeling insecure and more likely to respond in kind. I don’t think so.

I wasn’t nervous but I probably should have been. I was wearing a dress shirt – a new experience for me. I never wore anything that had to be tucked in. That’s what I called the cursed things too – tuck-in shirts. But it was a semi-formal event and I wanted to look good for Cindy. The only problem was I couldn’t get it to look right. Naturally I had no experience with tucking in shirts (except for church and I didn’t really care how I looked at church; I was just counting the minutes till I could get out of that tuck-in shirt) and no matter how many times I tried there was always some billowing out or something. I wanted it to look perfect which to my mind meant absolutely tucked, no billow, like a Ken doll all dressed up for a night out on the town with Barbie. (It would be years before I learned that this look I had in mind was impossible to achieve.)

After a couple of hours of standing in front of the mirror I hit upon what I believed to be the perfect solution. I tucked the shirt tails into my underwear. Now that looked sharp! Absolutely nothing billowing.

I had been praying that the music would be all slow songs. but of course it wasn’t. Our conversation was almost as awkward as my dancing, but at least I had the consolation of knowing that I looked good – well, not me so much as my perfectly-tucked shirt tails. I kept checking them every few minutes to make sure they hadn’t come untucked, and they hadn’t. But what I did not realize that while I was out there gyrating spastically around to Abba or the Starland Vocal Band or whoever, my underwear started riding up. From the back it was obvious that my shirt was tucked into my underwear, and my underwear was headed toward my shoulders.

It could have been a huge traumatic disaster but Tommy Meteraud pulled me to the side and discretely informed me of what my Froot of the Looms were doing. (What a pal!) I’m sure Cindy saw it but she never said anything. Neither did I.

Unfortunately this great love affair did not end happily or even dramatically. Cindy M’s father was one of the meanest men I’d ever met. Nobody believed me when I told tales of this tyrant and his terrible temper until the day he had a temper tantrum at the Hess station where my brother was working. Now I have at least one witness. Anyway I brought Cindy home a few minutes late one night and she got put on restriction for eight or nine years.

We never officially broke up but Summer was almost over and so were we. The next time I became aware of her she was dating some rock-headed JV football player and I had moved onto a girl named Laura B, a definite step down.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bricks of bread and the Big White

When I was a kid growing up in Richmond Virgina, there was a drive-in movie theatre we frequently passed and that I used to call the "Big White" (because the screen was big and white.) My parents thought this was cute and they picked up on it and they started calling it the Big White too. Even after I learned to read and knew it was called the Broadway, my parents still called it by my childish nickname till the day we moved out of Richmond.
I was mortified at the time, but now I understand why they did it. When our kids were growing up they had their own words for some things, and a lot of them Kim and I liked better and still use even though the kids have outgrown them. Actually, in a rather dramatic example of history repeating itself, they used to call the Charlestowne Square Cinema the Big Light (cuz it's big and lit up colorfully) and Kim and I still do.
At some point I figured I should save some of these neologisms for posterity and I compiled a family dictionary. Here are some of the entries in that lexicon:

Bank (v) To strike, usually on the buttocks, as a punishment.

Brick of bread (n) better known as a crouton.

Brokan! Brokan! “That object is no longer in working condition.”

Kid Radar (n) An uncanny ability generally found only in young people whereby one can know exactly when nudity or xex is on television. This also works if grownups begin to get physically intimate or to discuss anything xexy. (Kim's and my contribution)

Painolish (n) Colored polish applied to the finger or toenails.

Pinkleberry (n) A color almost indistinguishable from periwinkle

Polluter (n) Another name for a computer.

Pooter Thing (n) a Whoopee cushion

Privacy (n) A person’s genitals, or less commonly their butt or some other part of their anatomy they don’t want others to see.

Table of Continents: Page near the front of a book or magazine that tells you on what page each chapter or article begins.

Tarzaran (n) A cosmetologist or hair-stylist. Also used as an adjective as in “Tarzaran school”.
(an off-the-wall term from Leah.)

Thing With No Pictures (n) Radio

Toast Intolerant (adj) Unable to properly digest milk and dairy products.

Twoever (too-ev-er) A long long time. Maybe even longer than forever.

Two Nut Sandwich (n) it means tuna salad sandwich

Whacked Out of Your Oars (adj) Extremely silly or intoxicated.

Whistle (n) The epitome of cuteness. If something is “cute as a whistle” it is some kind of cute.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

What we've learned from the McRib

A few years ago, Dylan fell under the spell of a commercial for McDonald's abominable McRib sandwich. He had to have one. I tried to dissuade him, pointing out that he didn't like ribs, he didn't like barbecue, he didn't even like McDonald's, but there's never any talking Dylan out of anything; logic is powerless against him. So I said I would take him to McDonald's and buy him one of the damn things, but he would have to either eat the whole thing or pay me back. He agreed.

He took like two bites out of it before he said "Okay, I'll pay you back." But I had mercy, and I decided to give him a way out of it. I told him about advertisers and said if he would sign the following paper he would not have to pay me back.

This is the paper he had to sign:

I understand that advertisers' job is to take my hard-earned money away from me. They do this by using every sneaky, underhanded dirty trick in the book to convince me that I must have their newest piece of junk. They also lie almost all the time. From now on, when I see something advertised and I think I want it, I will stop and ask myself why I want it. Is it something I really need or have I been hoodwinked by dirty rotten advertisers? For example, if it is a barbecue sandwich offered and I do not like barbecue, I probably will not like the sandwich.
Name ________________ Date _____________________________

Thursday, June 01, 2006

This is my new column for Country Standard Time magazine. Sometimes I just slap these things together cuz a deadline has snuck up on me. And some I like cuz I actually found a way to say something within the context of country music. I'm sorta proud of this one.

Money AND Honey

When I was a young man I made up a list of my life goals. I wanted to find my soul mate, fall in love, get married and stay married and in love. And I wanted to have plenty of money.

That's all I wanted. (And because I was more romantic than rapacious, I wanted them in that order.)
I am happy to say that I have found the woman of my dreams and this summer we will celebrate our lucky 13th anniversary. Our love grows deeper and stronger all the time, and if the second part of my plans shows no signs of ever working out, I know I really shouldn't complain.

But. . . but, sometimes I do wonder what two nickels rubbing together would sound like. What it would feel like to know you could afford take your kid to the doctor or fix the washing machine without having to worry about where the money's going to come from.

And I finally figured out the problem. Country music messed me up. It taught me at an early age that you can't have both love and lucre.

I mean, I was probably in the womb when I first heard Patsy Cline singing "Poor Man's Roses" and Hank Williams wailing "Mansion on a Hill," the former about a girl who chose love over money and was happy, the latter about a girl who chose a man with money over her broke-ass boyfriend and was miserable.

As I grew older, I listened to Jeanne Pruett doing "Satin Sheets," about a woman married to a rich guy pining away for the pauper she really loves; to Whispering Bill Anderson's "Peanuts and Diamonds," about the girl who married the rich guy who gave her diamonds but who wishes they were peanuts from the destitute dirt farmer who owned her heart and not much more.

The list of songs that drove home the same message goes on and on. "Crystal Chandeliers" from Charley Pride, "Rose in Paradise" from Waylon Jennings, "Tight Fittin' Jeans" from Conway Twitty, and perhaps most explicitly, Johnny Paycheck when he sang "Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets . . . You know where to find my door and I know what you're crying for."

The subconscious is a powerful thing. I've spent my life listening to country music and absorbing its messages, one of the main ones being as soon as you can afford really nice fancy bedclothes your wife is going to leave you for some penniless guttersnipe (or cry herself to sleep every night wishing she had.)

So, this is a plea to all the songwriters in Nashville. Can't y'all please write a song about a guy with buckets of money, a diversified portfolio, a big house AND a satisfied spouse?

Oh, and make it a catchy one so it will stick in my subconscious and do some much needed reprogramming.

Come on, people. I'd like to sleep on satin sheets before I die. Just not alone.