Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An insult to monkeys

I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
- Mark Twain in Eruption

There is a quote by Plato that I recently saw that says anyone who thinks he is too smart to engage in politics will be punished by being govern by those who are dumber. How can this ever humble country boy hope to have a rational argument with one of the most brilliant minds in human history. Except that here in South Carolina it appears that battle was lost long ago and the best hope, at least from my perspective, would be to hunker down and take cover from the shit that our wise and intelligent leaders are stirring up exponentially.

Waking up this afternoon I began cruising the internet to get some idea of what I events I might have missed the last several hours. Much to my expected regret I did not win millions in the lotto, an alien starship did not arrive in Earth orbit, and there is still nothing on the market to magically return hair to my balding head. However, on a much more expected note South Carolina politicians are once again doing their best to earn a segment on The Daily Show or provide fodder for the the last night comedians.

Bauer wants another constitutional convention

Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, o
Bauer,Andrene of four Republicans running for governor, said he's spearheading a national effort to have a second constitutional convention to fight health care reform.
"This is a battle -- I can't think of a battle more important than stopping what's happening in Washington right now," Bauer said.

For those not familiar with South Carolina politics Bauer is thought of so poorly even in Republican circles that when there was talk of Governor Sandford as a possible Republican VP pick in the last election a certain amount of panic ensued when it was realized he could be running the state. The idea of someone like him taking part in any Constitutional convention should scare the living shit out of people.

Never fear though, the Appalachian Trailer walker himself is still courageously fighting all forms of evil taxes, even on cigarettes.
Sanford still wants tax cut with cigarette tax hike
Gov. Mark Sanford said today that a recently-enacted federal health insurance law will not change his position on raising the state cigarette tax.
Sanford has opposed any cigarette tax increase that did not include an equivalent tax cut. The Senate is likely to begin debating raising the tax by 50 cents per pack this week.Sanford,mark
At seven cents per pack, South Carolina's cigarette tax is the lowest in the nation.
The federal health care law is projected to cost the state $914 million by 2020, but Sanford said he would not support setting aside additional cigarette tax revenue to fund the mandated expanded coverage for low-income residents.
"We're still at the same spot we were," Sanford said. His office had previously said the governor would reevaluate his position due to the health care law.
Sanford's veto has been a key roadblock for lawmakers supporting a cigarette tax increase. A majority of lawmakers support raising the tax, but the House failed to gather the two-thirds support to overturn a 2008 veto.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Cosmic Karma Looney Tune

Despite the seriously bogus school project involving the teaching of complex economic concepts to my daughter and the rest of her second grade class that I was not taught until high school she and I were having a good time rolling peanut butter balls in the kitchen Wednesday evening. This project has strained my otherwise laid back attitude because the local Conservative acolytes of free market capitalism are doing their best to indoctrinate the young before they might be exposed to any nasty socialistic ideas like there might be something more to life than squeezing the last possible cent of profit from selling the public more crap.

For the last couple of weeks Miss Wiggles was nearly overwhelmed with homework assignments involving such things as filing for a business license, coming up with a business model, and my favorite part of the project so far having to write and record some sort of commercial for her business. My son Darth Spoilboy was able to write some lyrics along with a perky melody, which we recorded on a simple tape player. Unbelievably Wiggles' teacher suggested in the instructions for the commercial that her students could do a video and burn it to a DVD since they had a big projector attached to the class computer. After reading that segment, I am sure some capitalistic computer geek will have a full-fledged, high production value commercial complete with pretty computer graphics this Friday when the parents come to see the class business exhibits.

After much discussion and research, Miss Wiggles and Dragonwife decided on doing a candy business, which was especially pleasing to me since I allowed an array of socialistic tinged thoughts of revenge to dance through my mind about leaving the capitalist pig teacher to deal with her class of sugar-hyped kids for the rest of the day after all the parents leave. That brings me to the sad and tragic events that I guess was the universe teaching be that such sinister thoughts can send my karmic balance sheet into the red.

My daughter and I jumped feet first last evening into the preparation of chocolate covered peanut butter balls long before Dragonwife made it home sending clouds of confectionery sugar into the air as we added it to the already mixed mound of creamy peanut butter smelling of a cup of high fat butter inside the food processor. After mixing thoroughly she and I spent about an hour rolling the goop into inch-wide balls then placing them on a baking sheet which then we then put inside the refrigerator. During this father/daughter time, which I admit was nice, an old Bugs Bunny cartoon somehow drifted to the forefront of my mind. It was the one where Elmer Fudd dresses up in body armor looking for all the world like cast offs from some Star Wars golden R2D2 droid singing "KILL THE WABBIT" to the tune of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.

Wiggles and I started singing the tune while rolling the peanut butter balls with both of us almost losing all semblance of sanity; so much that when Dragonwife walked in she thought Wiggles had followed me over the edge of sanity and into the silliness abyss. It's a long story but as far as my wife and in-laws are concerned, my sanity has always been in doubt and I revel in the near eternal question they ponder about what dumb thing I will do next.

For the rest of the night my mood, so elated even with the ridiculous project taking so much time, had me singing "Kill the Wabbit" and thinking about old Elmer coming upon some hole and gleefully stabbing his spear into the darkness hoping to nab old Bugs that I made myself take a step back and chill out. Still though I was flying high and actually eager to head on out to work a few hours later. Little did I know that the cosmic karmic bitch had laid a trap for me as I headed out of town that would derail me the rest of the night.

As I was driving past the last of the mega-churches on the way out a little bitty rabbit jumped out of the darkness at the last second and with an oak tree on one side of me and a passing car on the other I was not able to turn enough to avoid the small creature. In fact, the rabbit, caught in the headlights, jumped around enough in confusion to line perfectly up with my right front tire. The result was not quite a bump but more than the feeling of a soft squish as I passed over the creature.

Despite general opinion and some evidence to the contrary I am not some redneck who enjoys running over small animals in the road. Yes, I will eat such small and innocent creatures as Peter Rabbit, Steve the Squirrel, and Bambi but unlike some people I know I do not laugh when such traffic encounters happen and actually feel bad about them. For the rest of my drive to work I was totally bummed out feeling like some slime found on the surface of a dead pond. Yes, I did realize the irony that I was joyfully singing "KILL THE WABBIT, KILL THE WABBIT" just a few hours earlier.

Getting into work I found I had a sterilizer down with a note from the head surgical nurse on the night shift saying she needed it back up and openly wondered why I had not come in earlier. The fact that I am not on-call this week and that the sterilizer guy who is on call told the second shift general maintenance guy to wait for me is just something I did not even try to explain to the head nurse since she would not listen if I tried.

A few hours later and after moving other equipment all packed less than an inch away from the disabled sterilizer I get the nasty beast back up and running then smash the living shit out of right-hand pinky finger moving all the stuff back in place. Once again, my childhood fixations on my Looney Tune pals brought the image of Daffy Duck looking totally disgusted and muttering "You’re despicable" to a very satisfied looking Bugs Bunny standing off to the side munching a carrot. The head nurse who walked away without saying a word played the part of Bugs last night. Truth be told I figure I got off easy, see she was banned from ever wandering into labor and delivery again after being caught rubbing ranch dressing on one of the newborns. The foot-long sub roll and shredded lettuce beside the baby pretty much removed all doubt about her lack of basic humanity.

Of course after that the third-shift general maintenance dude calls on the radio needing help chasing down a set of clogged toilets resulting in us deploying a really nifty but smelly device that runs through the pipes cleaning out anything that might be blocking the flow resulting in an hour of brown liquid fun. After a shower, a new set of scrubs, I retreated into one of the cardiac operating rooms and listened to the Elvis channel on the satellite radio. During the first hour, the King sang old gospel tunes and interspersed between the songs were curious stories that Elvis had not been right in the head for many years before his death. While not a huge Elvis fan and with some basic knowledge that the King did have a few monkeys on his back all his life I was still shaken a little to learn far more than I wanted to know about his skewed view of the world. Nevertheless, I spent the rest of the night in that operating room relaxing to the music and hoping my karmic equation thrown out of balance by thinking commie inspired thoughts and running over the innocent bunny had returned to the plus side over my nightly tribulations.

I was extremely encouraged to that effect this morning as I sat in the cafeteria making love to my onion bagel heavily smothered in artery clogging cream cheese. The biggest thing on my mind during that time was the upcoming final exhibits for my daughter and her classmates of their business projects. The only bad thing is that after my karmic cartoon ride Wednesday night I figure I will now have to be on my best behavior and refrain from any snarky, socialistic comments to the gathered happy capitalists. I can tell Dragonwife to slap me across the back of the head if I should get that nasty gleam in my eye, a sure sign I am about to open my mouth. She always gets a kick whenever she has a pop me aside the head when I am about to do something stupid.

With that covered and as long as I avoid running over any small animals I think I should be okay.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Dog and Chicken Love Story

Some of my fondest memories while growing up very often involved family gatherings around the dinner table on a Sunday afternoon. These events were always at my grandparent’s house and the best ones drew in my mom, siblings, aunts and uncles, and their kids enjoying both my grandmother’s cooking and the simple pleasure of having everyone so close. The usual menu of simple Southern foods hardly ever changed during those countless Sunday gatherings but none of us cared. It was never about the food although to this day no one makes fried chicken or potato salad like my grandmother did and the sweet taste of her ice tea whose special technique in making it was lost with her passing is something I will always remember.
Those afternoons were more about the love and protection we felt in each other’s company. Being drawn together bumping elbows at my grandparent’s dinner table we instinctively knew it was safe to relax and set aside the demands and worries of daily life until Monday. These days the pace of modern life and the stress it creates leaves us little time for such respites.
Looking back at those Sunday afternoons I now believe our family gatherings satisfied a primal need to when the world was a far more actively hostile place with safety only found in numbers and around a roaring fire holding off the predators that lurked in the dark. It was not just the company and food that pulled us together, it was the stories told at that dinner table that after countless retellings kept us amazed and connected to events and people long past. One such story involved the strange love affair between Lulu the dog and a chicken.
The late 1940’s in Georgetown, South Carolina was a time of slow transition from a past still tightly tied to traditions and attitudes from the period after the Civil War to the era we live now. For the South, the Second World War had been the tipping point that began to break the cycle of poverty and ignorance that had seemed as immutable as the heat and humidity of a Southern summer.
It was the same for my grandparents, the war offered a way out of the life of a tobacco sharecropper that had bound both their families to poverty for generations around Marion, South Carolina. A bout with mumps as a child had left my grandfather completely deaf in one ear making him illegible for service during the war. However, opportunity to get away from the sharecropper life came in the form of a paper mill that had just opened down in Georgetown.
The change from working the tobacco fields to the production of paper brought a change in location but not a huge improvement in living standards. Instead of living in a rural cabin my grandparents, my toddler mom, and her new infant brother were living in a drafty house on the edge of Georgetown several blocks away from the paper mill. The pictures that survive of that house show a plain, unpainted structure raised about a foot or two off the ground resting on a foundation of brick columns spaced evenly underneath. A porch, covered by an extension of the roof, offered the only relief from the humid summer heat and in the back was a clothes line where items were hung to dry after largely being hand washed. Even with all this it was a vast improvement over what they had lived in before.
The transition from a rural environment to a largely urban existence required them to leave much of their old life behind. The garden they grew that supplied much in the way of their vegetables was no longer possible and just about all the animals that were a part of normal rural life had to be left behind.
There were two exceptions though, one was a small collection of chickens and a mixed breed mutt of a dog named Lulu. My grandparents kept the chickens for both the eggs they could produce and the when the time was right the stew they would be a part of once their egg laying days were over. The purpose for keeping Lulu had far more to do with practical reasons than for anything sentimental that might come to mind now. Lulu’s whole reason for being was to safeguard the chickens that roamed around my grandparent’s house scaring away any other dog or cat that might try to take away an important part of the family diet.
With the lifestyle today people have gotten use to and conveniences available now such a dreary and primitive existence is something they could never fathom. The mere mention of constructing something as simple and energy saving as a clothe line in most modern suburbs will send the members of the homeowners association scurrying like rats for the published neighborhood guidelines then the attorneys to force the removal of such an eyesore. I cannot imagine the near chaos that would ensue if someone dared to keep a few chickens around a suburban house in such an anal environment.
Still though in many ways, I believe people were generally happier and dealt with the struggles of life far better than many do today. I am separated from that life by several decades but I arrived on the scene far enough back to experience the echoes of what it was like. People just made do, did not complain, and looked for things that made life interesting. This is where the story Lulu and her adopted chicken usually started.
The way the story was told the strange affection between the dog and the chicken was first noticed late in the afternoon of a hot summer day as my grandmother and her best friend, Mrs. Wendell, were shelling butter beans on the porch. Down on the ground and underneath the house they heard the continuous chirping of what they thought was a lost baby chick. With plenty of breeding hens around and a more than ready rooster it was normal to have baby chicks all around the house. However, baby chicks usually stayed close to their mother hens and by instinct the chickens had long since drifted back into the protection of the small coop kept behind the house.
My grandmother came down from the porch and looked underneath the house to see Lulu laying down on her side in the cool shade with a baby chick resting in the crook of her neck. Wanting to get the chick back into the coop she reached for the bird only to have the normally placid dog growl menacingly at her, which was very strange behavior. After a couple tries, each with the same result, it was said my grandmother gave up and after fussing at the dog went back to shelling her beans expecting my grandfather to do something about it when he returned home after his shift.
My grandfather’s health during these years was not the best and he ignored the situation until his next off day. By this time it was clear that Lulu had adopted the small bird who followed her four-legged mother around the same way it would have the feathered kind. The best guess anyone over the years could figure was that some hen had laid an egg away from the coop and by sheer luck the egg had somehow stayed warm enough for the bird to develop and hatch. After hatching the newly born chick must have drawn the attention of Lulu and had imprinted her as its mother. Lulu, who had birthed many litters of pups over the years, was well versed in the maternal instinct and the connection was made.
The funny thing was that no one would have ever figured that the chicken would try to take up the behavior of its canine mother. As the months rolled by it was noticed that Lulu’s adoptive chicken had started chasing cars much in the same way as Lulu did. It was the same with squirrels, who it was said Lulu had a special hatred for and did her best to catch when they came close enough. The chicken would chase after them as well and if the story is to be believed one time actually jumped down from the porch onto one, grasping it with its claws until it was able to scramble away. This is where everyone, but mainly my grandfather who saw the incident, broke down laughing. Lulu’s chicken even hated the mailman and would peck at his feet as he walked up the steps of the porch. Lulu herself had long since been taught not to bother the mailman but was reported to have looked on in pride as her feathered daughter did her best to peck through his shoes.
The biggest astonishment and final tragedy came when a cat tried to get into the chicken coop one night. Lulu was already an old dog when my grandparents moved down to Georgetown and a couple of years went by after Lulu adopted the bird. Knowing Lulu’s time was drawing near no one could bring themselves to think about cooking her adoptive child although it never produced eggs like the other chickens that had been born around the same time. The two were never far from the other and always slept together under the house. However, one night the whole house was awaken to a huge commotion involving the chickens in the coop, Lulu barking, and the very irate squawking of a single angry chicken.
Once outside with a flashlight my grandfather spotted a cat cornered underneath a section of the house with Lulu barking and growling on one side and her chicken squawking and flapping around on the other. It was reported that the stray tomcat looked bewildered to have two such adversaries defending the coop and it unable to retreat. Still though a cornered animal is a dangerous thing and it lashed out one last time with its claws catching the chicken at the neck. Blood spurted everywhere but Lulu used the moment to grab hold of the cat in its jaws and did not stop shaking until it was a loose and bloody pulp. But it was too late for the chicken, her neck had been cut as cleanly as if a butcher knife had done it and was dead on the ground.
In this age such a strange story might end with a funeral of some sort for the brave fowl but the memory of the Depression was still too fresh and my grandparents would have been dumbstruck over such a foolish idea. Lulu’s chicken was cut up and stewing in a pot later that morning to be served as supper that night.
During the countless telling of this story over the years there was always a heavy pause as the family reminisced of how sad it was that Lulu had lost her final child in such a way. That did not stop them from sitting at the table that night and spreading her remains over the rice that my grandmother had cooked beside the steaming pot containing the confused bird. Maybe they should have had some sort of funeral over the chicken because for years my grandparents, my mom, her brother, and Mr. and Mrs. Wendell and their kids who had come over for supper that night all swore that the chicken tasted like dog. So much that they could not eat the meal and had to throw it away which was an unheard of thing during those years.
Lulu was the next casualty; she was devastated at the loss of her adoptive child and passed away quietly one night underneath the house a few weeks later. They buried her not far away in a stretch of woods that bordered the paper mill; her site was marked by a small wooden cross that my grandfather made.
My grandparents moved out of that house a few years later and into the one across town that I would know. That old house next the paper mill was eventually condemned, along with several others in the area, and torn down but the area itself stayed empty well into the 1970’s. It was after one of the first times I remember hearing the story that I asked if I could see the legendary dog’s grave. So on a cold winter morning one day my grandfather took me to the area and sure enough I saw the remains of an old cross still standing with “Lulu” carved into the wood.
As stories go, it is one of my favorites and if anyone wonders I believe every word of it. Not that it matters because it keeps me connected to those times and people who lived far fuller lives with much less than the tepid little souls now who cannot find satisfaction with so much.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Screw it, I'm done.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
In Dodd We Trust
The abject silliness and spineless maneuverings that passes as intelligent management of the republic by our elected officials teamed with the craven little cowards claiming to be journalists these days but do little to hide the fact they are wholly owned little bitches of the rich and powerful has overwhelmed me again. When Jon Stewart, an admitted entertainer out for nothing but laughs, on a consistent basis has a far greater journalistic impact than the real news outlets anyone with a couple of working synapses should at least worry a little.
Stewart is the only person on television that has explained the current plutocratic system that owns and runs this country plain enough that even a few teabaggers just might have a chance to understand how we are being fucked without the benefit of vasaline to make it easier or a kiss to say thank you after.

I really need some time away.
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Reform

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Global Warming Game Over

For me the basic element in science is doubt, all evidence for a theory has to be placed on the table and tested time and time again by qualified independent researchers. This is especially important given that there has been a lot of gnashing of teeth on the conservative news outlets about a possible "climategate" in which thousands of evil commie scientists are working night and day to perpetuate an international hoax to sabotage all the honest and hardworking American capitalists and destroy the American economy.

Now I have no problem with real and honest doubt and debate about a very complex and difficult subject such as the theory that human activity is altering the Earth's climate. Although I do find it funny that the morning morons on Fox and Friends seem to be able to boil such a complex subject conveniently down to propagandist allegations. Then again the fat afternoon drug-addicted radio talker does break away from his ultimately self-serving and narcissistic rants as well to do his share to poo-poo the basic theory. Don't know about anyone else but myself but for some reason neither the morning morons or the oxycontin hero of the radio waves nor any of their media kinfolk impress me very much with their scientific credentials.

Yeah, they can drag out a few scientists whose bottom line usually has them receiving a paycheck from some oil company or other special interest looking to protect themselves from the tree huggers. Then you have occasional fruit cake out to challenge scientific dogma. Believe me, I'm righteously cool with that but you have to be careful or pretty soon you will be denying hard proof facts like that HIV causes AIDs and that there might be a scientific basis to astrology like Nobel winner Kary Mullis.

Now comes the much tortured point to my little rant and it involves methane. Frozen in the arctic tundra and the seafloor of the Arctic ocean are vast amounts methane which everyone with IQ points in the double digits knows would be a stark and global nightmare if it was released into the atmosphere.

The scary thing is that sections of this uber-greenhouse gas are showing signs of instability:

Here is the meat of the article:

Now we are dealing with some serious shit here and even the strongest opponents of humans being the cause of global warming will grudgingly admit at times that the climate is changing, its just that we are not the cause. My issue is that while these people can drag out a few scientific bitches and the oddballs believing in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and Area 51 aliens the vast majority of the respected scientific community believes that we have a huge problem that will ultimately engulf everyone on the planet. Lets just hope we get serious about it before we start seeing plumes of methane being released from the tundra and the ocean floor, cause when it happens its game over for everyone including the morning morons and Oxycontin wonder.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tropical Dan's Restaurant

Updated Author's note: Slight recovered from a painful weekend I found where I got the idea for this story. Check out "One-minute Writer" for the Saturday prompt and for other excellent prompts. No, I don't normally comment there because I can't limit either my writing or my mouth to short pieces. Brevity may be the soul of wit but I am often accused running a shortage of common sense and active wits.

Yes, "Tropical Dan's" is a real restaurant located in Cocoa Beach although the real name is completely different, after this weekend I don't need anymore hassles. Finally, excuse the typos but I'm just too damn tired. If I get motivated I may correct them at work tonight.

Strictly speaking, from my point of view I was in my element and enjoying myself immensely sipping a cold margarita while sitting on the patio deck of an ocean front restaurant in Cocoa Beach, Florida at the end of a long drive and a vacation about to begin. Neither Dragonwife nor my son, Darth Spoilboy, could say the same with the former restlessly sitting in silence and the latter at least momentarily placated by his Nintendo Gameboy. The issue not only causing Dragonwife’s restlessness but a few other people sitting around us some discomfort was a local lady enjoying herself far too much.

We had arrived that afternoon in the Cocoa Beach area as insurance to avoid any possible chance of missing our cruise ship that would leave the next morning for a weeklong trip around the eastern Caribbean. It was late September of 2001 and Dragonwife was having a hard time figuring out what she wanted for dinner as we drove into town. We were surprised to find many of the local restaurant’s closed for the season and she was ambivalent at best about the ubiquitous national chains that we frequented far too much back home. Spoilboy being six years-old at the time preferred the Burger Clown and his chicken nuggets but while I would have been okay with the boring national chain restaurants, I steadfastly refused stopping at any of the national burger joints.

For a couple of hours we drove around Cocoa Beach looking for a local eatery that would somehow appeal to Dragonwife but not have a wait time longer than fifteen minutes. Since we were not the only offseason tourists looking for dinner by a long shot any place we stopped had a wait of at least thirty to forty-five minutes. The funny thing about her not wanting to wait was that if you counted the time we spent driving around looking for another open restaurant that somehow interested her we could have been seated and served at least a couple of times.

Spoilboy was a little easier to satisfy being that if forced he would give up his nuggets for macaroni and cheese that just about every restaurant has on the kid’s menu. Which was fine but I could not help but think that the only thing separating the box version of macaroni and cheese made at home and the restaurant version was the addition by the chef of a small sprig of parsley and charging six dollars for a cup full of the stuff making the scam a marvel of capitalism.

The answer to our searching was spotting a sign for “Tropical Dan’s Restaurant” advertising fresh caught seafood, steaks, salads, and a healthy kid’s menu. Dragonwife being on a fresh and healthy eating kick along with a supposedly healthy kids menu pleased her immensely, that was until we pulled into the parking lot. Tropical Dan’s Restaurant was definitely a locally owned eating establishment that even to my eyes had reached its peak about the same time Neil, Buzz, and Michael lifted off for the moon from nearby Cape Canaveral.

The building itself was extremely weathered and faded by the Florida sun and whatever storms must have pushed ashore since the days of Apollo. Mounted on the outside wall next the entrance facing the parking lot was an old stuffed life-sized marlin whose lifeless glass eye almost seemed to be saying if you didn’t like the joint we could kiss its fishy ass. Surrounding the marlin were several other smaller sport fish seemingly caught in a very old net that was literally falling apart. What sold me on the place as we left the car was the miniature surfboard hanging over the front door being rode by a large parrot in tropical shorts and wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

It looked slightly sleazy, dirty, and about to fall apart and I loved the place without setting one foot inside. Of course, Dragonwife suddenly developed a taste for some chicken entrée at one of the national chains but since I had the keys to the locked car and with some old guy carrying on a conversation with a nearby trash can she followed Spoilboy and me inside.

Inside it was dark and cool with absolutely no waiting except I must admit the hostess was a little rude spending several minutes talking on the phone while we stood in front of her. What mollified any anger I might have had was seeing the snap shots on the wall of her with several astronauts including a few I recognized like Sally Ride, Stormy Musgrave, and I swear a recent one with John Glenn.

“Good evening, how many for dinner tonight?” The hostess coolly asked after finally hanging up the phone. I will never be accused of an over abundance of charm but after a few questions from me about the pictures of her with the astronauts we were no longer simple lowlife tourists out to talk trash about their restaurant but respected customers. Thankfully Dragonwife didn’t blurt anything out to change that assumption but I knew she was thinking it.

“Since it’s such a nice evening can I recommend the patio deck next the beach? It’s just a little stuffy in here this evening,” She said escorting us through the dining area.

Taking our seats outside the ocean breeze and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore Dragonwife began to unwind and relax because of the surroundings and was pleasantly surprised by the items on the menu that at least on paper agreed with her exacting palate. Too bad it didn’t last for very long.

Within minutes of our being seated two more families joined us outside and almost at once three waitresses swarmed out to take the drink orders from each table. It was then that we learned that Tropical Dan’s Restaurant was less a local version of TGIFridays or Applebee’s but a slightly more risqué version of Hooters. Each of the waitresses now outside taking orders wore something that was more than a bikini bottom and less than actual shorts. All three of the waitresses wore matching t-shirts that had a pair of drunken parrots on the back, one having passed out on the floor and the other still clutching a mug of beer with a huge shit eating grin on its face. The fact that the t-shirts the waitresses were wearing were three sizes too small and in no way made it anywhere near their belly buttons was something happily noticed by every male sitting outside.

The lady customers on the other hand, including my wife, could be heard mumbling comments of shock and disgust. What their exact issues were I just don’t know since my attention was riveted elsewhere. Still though my family was already committed and we ordered our food with each person enjoying their own aspects of the surroundings as we waited.

The food turned out, even to Dragonwife, to be outstanding. She ordered the broiled salmon with steamed vegetables and I ordered something called Crab Cake Benedict with asparagus that to this day I would drive all the way back down to Coco Beach for just to turn back around and drive home again if I had the time and money.

The fun really started halfway through our meal when the tiki bar attached to the deck opened with the bartender starting a CD playing mild reggae and steel drum music. A cluster of locals came off the beach in various states of dress from golf casual to couples wearing respectable bathing suits surrounding the small bar. It was a good-natured crowd talking and having a few drinks and I believe everything would have stayed cool had one last addition to the group not arrived.

The crowd around the bar greeted the newcomer as “Janice” in a boisterous manner as she walked up the small set of steps from the beach and Dragonwife immediately chuckled at the sight of her.

“She has been rode hard and put up wet, “Dragonwife leaned over and said to me watching Janice join the bar crowd. “

While my wife was somewhat amused one of the ladies at a neighboring table looked shocked apparently having her moral balance upset by Janice's appearance. “She really shouldn’t be out in public dressed like that.” She said loud enough that those at the tiki bar might hear which they appeared to have not heard or more than likely just ignored.

Janice in truth was a sight and the best one word description of her would have been rough. She was blond but it was clear that wasn’t her natural color and that the sun had long since permanently frazzled the actual substance of her hair and despite any honest attempt to style, would never obey any effort at organization for long. Her skin was a dark brown much like old leather proclaiming years of living in the sun and her face held a matching set of elaborate wrinkles but despite it all, hints of an attractive, younger face were still discernable. What really got everyone’s attention was the swimsuit Janice was wearing. It was a midnight black thong bikini with a matching top that was just as small made from material that had to be ultra strong to contain what bodily parts it did cover. The “curious” thing was that the attributes the thong exposed below and the bikini top barely covered above were both far younger looking that the rest of her body and face would suggest.

The commotion she caused with her arrival soon settled down and the collection of tourists at the tables went back to their meals. Except that Janice soon became the life of the party and things only got wilder with her deciding to remove her bikini top.

Even Dragonwife started to get restless as Janice began to introduce herself to all the people on the patio deck paying special attention to the lady who spoke aloud about her choice of beachwear. I think Dragonwife was worried about how Spoilboy would react to Janice parading around but my son had been first preoccupied with his fried shrimp dinner then his Nintendo Gameboy we had thought to bring from the car as we came in.

Janice did finally stop at our table and spent a minute or two engaging in small talk. It was clear that Janice had crossed some line and the hostess was talking with two guys who soon came up and escorted her off the premises, but not before she noticed my son.

“Now who is this handsome young man?” She said stroking Spoilboy’s head and playing with his hair. That finally pulled my son away from his game and he looked up first at Janice, stared at her like he was confused, and then looked over at me.

“Look dad, tits!” He said sounding only slightly amazed at seeing such items not belonging to a family member for the first time. “Are they real?’ he asked a second later like they might be some figment of his imagination arriving far too early. The scowl I received from Dragonwife was a quick and silent reminder that she often disapproved of the speech I used around our son.

"No honey,” Janice said as the bouncers finally grabbed her by the elbows pulling her away, “they cost me a bundle.”

Far from being disturbed by Janice’s attention or her engineered assets Spoilboy was largely unimpressed and never mentioned the incident again.

All things considered it was quite a start to a very memorable trip.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Naked Ugly

It’s easy to forget at times but the little moments are really the best part of life. This was something that I had forgotten over the last couple of weeks dealing with the normal array of shit that often has me questioning the validity of God’s plan for the universe and the cosmic joke that can be my life. 

You may ask what had gotten Beach Bum waxing philosophically again risking a Zeus-like lightning bolt from the Big Guy upstairs tired of the constant whining coming from one petty human and the questioning his omnipotent authority. The Big Guy upstairs has a whole host of problems from the easy to the impossible. His concerns range from answering the prayers of species on a planet about to be wiped out by a comet looking to be the cue ball to their planet being the eight-ball into the corner pocket to fighting off American bankers so evil and voracious that they have scared the shit out of the devil.

My concerns are sub-atomic stuff in the greater scope of existence but they none the less I found a few this past weekend testing the limits of my warm and fuzzy feelings for humanity.

Proving that nothing occurs in a vacuum and explaining why Joe “You Lie” Wilson is the congressman for this area Dragonwife accidentally let it slip Saturday that the slimy low-life neighbor living across the street called the sheriff on us about a year ago. The problem was that we had bought a new car outright and had donated the old and tired Corolla to charity. I had transferred the tag to the new car leaving the old car sitting in the yard waiting for the people to come take it away. This find example of the area, instead of manning up and coming to talk to me about it, called the sheriff forcing them to come to the house and ask about the car and what we were going to do about it.

Dragonwife was home at the time and very calmly and professionally explained the situation. Now the deputy sheriff didn’t care she was already pissed because our fine neighbor cussed out whomever he talked with on the phone promising to use his friendly relations with the high and mighty of the county to ruin her day if a deputy did not come out and force us to do something with the old car. Once the deputy had her information, she drove away and the old Corolla sat in the yard for at least a few more days until the tow truck working for the charity came and took the car away.

Wisely, Dragonwife kept this information from me. See me and that sorry fucker had words about three years ago that came very close to blows and him threatening me with all sorts of wrath from his mighty friends.

Upon learning about this stuff Saturday, I was torn two ways. One I was pissed as if it had occurred just then. Two, I was smart enough, for a change, not to go ambush the bastard over something that had happened a year ago. Especially since another neighbor I was friends with came by my house a few months after that asking me strange questions I thought at the time whether or not I was still pissed at the guy. It was easy to figure out my friend was probing for information but I thought it was over the original incident.

That day became even more warm and fuzzy when I learned that the credit card that we had just paid off a month ago had well over a thousand dollars back on it. After cleaning up the iced tea that I had coughed all over my son and a few of his friends watching them play Mass Effect 2. My young Sith Lords helped me to sit down because I was dizzy over the knowledge that the almost eleven hundred dollars earning interest for the big corporate fat cats so they could have an even bigger bonus next year bought replacement ceiling fans for the perfectly functioning ones still attached to the ceiling. Other home improvement items were also bought and I was assured we saved a bunch of money on them as well. After that, the room began spinning and I blacked out.

So I was actually happy Sunday night returning to work. I was comforted by the general mayhem and even hearing a guy being wheeled into the Emergency Room on a stretcher with a six-inch butcher knife sticking from his skull claiming that all he did was sleep with his mother-in-law reassured me everything was going to be okay.

But after returning home this morning it was then I that I knew God still had me in his thoughts. I went straight to the shower stripping down to the birthday suit wanting to get cleaned up and then catch a little of the comedy we call human civilization on one of the news channels. I had already jumped into the shower when I realized all my manly man soap had been used. The other options sitting on the small shelf in the shower stall would leave me smelling all rose peddle soft and lavender sweet and I just wasn’t in the mood.

Knowing my son, Darth Spoilboy, being in the early stages of hormone-induced girl chasing had a huge collection of assorted manly man soaps and shampoos I turned off the water and still buck naked jumped out of the shower to walk across the house to the bathroom he uses. In doing so, I had to pass the foyer in clear view of the front door, which has two small windows mounted on either side.
Passing by the front door, I noticed movement coming from one of the small windows next it. Frozen in shock were two missionary types, they could have been Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons. Both were skinny white dudes wearing 1950’s short sleeve shirts and razor thin black ties. Adding to the effect was the official NASA pocket protector each had inserted in their shirt pockets. The words, “Jesus Saves” blared out in gold lettering on the pocket protector.

From the look on their faces I figure they had been about to knock on the door and try to share with me assurance that I would see paradise if I joined their faith. The circumstances just struck me so damn funny God had to have arranged it. A second or two either way and I would have missed them or heard them knock and went straight into super ninja mode with me hiding until they left my doorstep.

For a split second, the theme song from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” played in my head with Clint squaring off against armed bad guys in a dusty old west town. So I grabbed my package like the weapon it is and turned into the foyer to go open the door. I don’t know why but I must have spooked the dudes because they were on the other side of the neighborhood and still running when I saw then again after opening the door.

The cool thing is that I figure I won’t be bothered by those guys or their buddies anytime soon. Its these small moments in life that bring order and cosmic balance to my mind.