Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Do I Know?

Be yourself.

Don't be your older brother. Or Ryan Gosling. Or Eric Jones, the most popular kid in 8th grade.  You are you because there are things about you that nobody else on this planet can mimic. Be proud of that.   

Listen to people. Listen to everyone. Listen to anyone for that matter. Listen more than you open your mouth. Nobody cares about the time you snuck out of your apartment and egged Mr. Wignall's house, they want you to listen to how frustrated they were when their little sister passed away from cancer. Actually pay attention to the details of other people's lives and see how they view you as a friend. Laugh at their jokes, and cry at their swan songs.

Grow a pair. Ask her out. She's just as nervous as you are when it comes to finding a potential mate, so what is so difficult about making eye contact with her after Math class and inviting her to dinner? Listen to what she says. Open her door. Give her your coat. Tell her she looks beautiful every single time you see her. And when you're walking her home and can see her lower lip shaking, grab her hand and give her a smile. Don't be afraid when you're both standing on her porch. Be the man she wants and be the man she needs in her life.

Suit up. Take a shower and shave your beard for her while we’re on this topic.

Disconnect to connect. Pay more attention to the words she is telling you at midnight at Denny's than the foam dance party Tallon Robertson just invited you to on Facebook. Stop caring about your status. Or likes. Or comments. Or upvotes. Or Tweets. Stop reading this blog every single day and go outside and meet a stranger. Make a phone call to an old friend you haven't talked to in three years that used to shoot hoops with you when everyone else had gone to sleep.  Talk to a person without using your thumbs.

The glass is half full. Don't be Mike Mangum or Jesse Himebaugh and think a sarcastic comment is the best response to what she just said. 

Because it isn’t. 

Ask questions. Every single day.  Question life. Question your professors, your classmates, your peers, and your friends. Question the big man upstairs when you're on your knees every night. Question yourself.  Wonder about what you are doing here this very moment and why you are doing it.

Learn something new. Every single day.  Learn about foreign politics and weather patterns and 17th-century French poetry. Learn about color-coded personalities and the traits of someone struggling with depression. Learn how to change the oil on your 2010 Nissan Rogue.  Learn a new word. Learn a new language. Learn your own language while you’re at it. Watch The History Channel instead of MTV. Learn about the things you call mysteries. Learn about the things you could have learned back in high school.

Learn about the things that you couldn't.

Work your tail off. Work on things that matter. Forget about beating Bioshock Infinite or landing a 180 kick flip. Work on things that will actually make a difference in your life like writing a literature review, or giving a stellar public speech, or installing a sprinkler system. Work on your senior thesis when everyone else is out playing sand volleyball. Work on yourself when no one else is watching you.  Work on your weaknesses, and work on your faults.


No seriously, care about something other than yourself.

Care about everyone. Care about your family. Care about your friends. Care about your enemies. Care about the toothless veteran holding a cardboard sign just off the 5300 South exit begging for money. Care about who is running your country. Care about who isn’t.  Care about the World Series and the Nobel Prize. Care about donating money to a cause greater than iTunes. Care about your character, about your relationships, about your personal beliefs. Don't expect people to actually care about you.

Because most of them actually don’t. 

Remember the glory days of your life.  The time you first met your Dad, the time you ran a marathon, or the time you kissed her in the parking lot while it was raining.  Remember the road trip you took to California with your college roommates.  Remember the good times.  And remember the bad times. Because those are the times that really made you who you are now.  The time you had to give away your pet turtle. The time Mark Pledger punched out your front tooth.  The time you made fun of her for being bulimic. Or the time you hid Matt Valdez’s cigarettes from the cops. 

Change yourself one small bit today so the person you are in ten years will seem like a stranger. Enjoy the little things. Catch your breath for a few minutes.  Give them a hug when neither one of you are expecting it.  And hold on to them just a little bit longer, because who knows, you may never get that chance again.    

Smile. Be calm, and go call your Mother even when you don't need to.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dead Man Giving

I get the best Birthday presents from a dead man. 

This is the part where I google the words "funny songs about dead people", pick the one that sounds the most hip, and then ask you to download it from iTunes and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of your reading, just to get the best audio effects for this post.

Sometimes I wonder when a person reaches the age when their annoying offspring has given birth to more annoying offspring, thus placing the title of "Grand" next to their surname, if a handbook is given to them explaining the rules of being a Grandparent, which then on page 38 has a segment titled, "How To Give Really Rotten Presents".  If so, my Grandma reads that chapter over and over again before every major holiday.

Bless her heart, which by the way is the marquee phrase we all use before we're about to write six paragraphs talking smack on someone, but my Grandmother gives the most "bummer man" gifts possible.  Oh, you don't know what "bummer man" gifts are?  Bummer man is when a secondhand surfer is an eyewitness to your girlfriend breaking up with you on the corner of Tabernacle and 700 East and walks up to you with his sun-bleached tips and shades, put his hand on your sagging shoulder and says the most dejected two words possible; "Bummer Man."

That is the same miserable feeling I have whenever I get a present from either of my now living Grandparents. 

This feeling was born on my 11th birthday when my Grandma gift-wrapped an extra large wool polo with the Carnival cruise line logo sewn into the left breast pocket.  Yes, she gave me that for my 11th Birthday, I kid you not.  After all, how many 11-year olds do you know wear collared shirts, let alone collared shirts that advertise for a cruise ship that he's never been on? Certainly not this one.

It only got worse from there.  A pocket hymn book when I turned 14?  An undersized BYU volleyball sweater when I turned 18?  How about a broken nose hair trimmer three Christmases ago?  That's right kids, my Grandma thought giving me a broken nose hair trimmer would make me feel the true meaning of Christmas.  Not just a nose hair trimmer, which by the way should only be given as a gift to someone after they have had their mid-life crisis, but a broken one. 

And I'm not the only victim in my family. What about the bright orange scarf to my Aunt on her birthday, an Aunt who doesn't even know the color orange exists?  Or the 6-foot long stuffed sheepdog to my cousin as a wedding present?  Or what about when she re-gifted a pair of socks to my other cousin because she was just cleaning out her closet?  Yes, all of these have been used as awful presents from a woman who I have a suspicion escaped from a crazy house in the 70's. 

Her late husband on the other hand was and is the best gift giver in the history of Grand-parenting.  Tenth row Jazz tickets to watch Shaquille O'Neal and the Magic for Christmas when I was 11? Check. A brand new Adams golf driver 15 years later? You betcha.  Even giving me his pride and joy pickup named Shasta when I turned 17?  Please excuse me from tearing up, but the man knew how to hand out presents. 

The other day I was rummaging through his closet and found a brand new Old Navy T-shirt and a pair of gold toe socks with the tags on both of them just waiting for me to find. The guy's been in the ground over a year now and he's still handing out surprise birthday gifts when I least expect. 

Sure beats a broken nose hair trimmer.      

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Shut The #### Up!

Please.  For the love of the Indiana Jones trilogy, will all of you Instagram addicts out there stop using hashtags?

For full effect, play “Take On Me” by A-Ha, which was rated by Rolling Stone as the Number 1 one-hit wonder of all time, right above Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come On Eileen”, and Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping”.  I choose this only because it is the background music that epitomizes hip trends that fade fast, which is exactly what hashtags are. 

Sometimes I lay in bed at night and curse Mark Zuckerburg for buying out the woman’s guide to posting annoying pictures of every waking second of their lives for $1 billion.  No, we don’t want to see your Jalapeno spinach Quinoa cakes, your foot long hot dog at the Atlanta Braves spring training day, or when you drew a mustache on your pointer finger and made a black and white montage of six photos.

Sadly, all three of those have been on my feed in the last 45 minutes.    

Taking pictures is one thing, and I understand the stereotypical female with low self-esteem’s need to document every single snapshot that will ever take place in their entire life, but why do you feel the need to write a novel with no spaces just to get our attention at how AWESOME and UNIQUE your photos are? And what demon that wasn't cast in the film The Exorcist thought it would be a brilliant idea to add the pound sign before every single one of these mini-narratives?

Seriously weirdos, this has to stop.  Do you all really understand the purpose of hashtags?  They are designed so if someone searches for a topic that is similar to what you posted, they may by chance stumble upon your photo and/or tweet.  Tell me this, how many people search the terms #breastpumpingmybostonterrier, #myloveandaffectioncanbeboughtwithhoneydos, or #myhairisthelongest?

Internet Troll: “I really just want to see random photos of people with very long hair.”


Again, the above-mentioned hashtags have been lifted from my actual Facebook feed page.  I actually know someone that has tried to breast pump a Boston terrier.  Don’t ask me why I know this person, they just exist. And why they decided to put the pound sign in front of their disgusting action is beyond me.  It’s something I don’t understand at all. 

But that’s the thing, I don’t think all of you actually understand hashtags in the first place.  I think you’re missing the concept of why we use them. You think that by using flashy wit with no spaces and starting it off with a pound sign that we’ll appreciate your photo that much more?  Hashtags are the pet rocks of social media.  Nobody has a clue why we use them, they’re just the trendy thing to be a part of so we might as well join them, right?

Wrong.  Hashtags are pointless. A step in the wrong direction of mankind’s potential intelligence.  A sign that shows we are only using less than 1% of those lumps attached to our necks.  Take my little sister Lunchbox for example, who this afternoon toyed with the idea of giving her soon to be born daughter Raleigh, the middle name of hashtag.  THAT’S RIGHT! My niece’s name would be Raleigh # Bybee.  Who the curse word thinks that’s a good idea?

No one.  She might as well give it a manly middle name like Ross, or Elner, or something weird like that. 

Give it up all of you stalkers that check your feed every six minutes and upload pictures of soggy bowls of Captain Crunch and pink retro granny bikes you rode to work this morning.  We see that you need the attention with thumbs up signs and little remarks about your photos making you feel like we actually care, but must you continually write a four-page essay without using the space bar and think that adds value to your contribution to social media?

Because honestly, it makes you look like a complete jacka##. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sermon At North Park

You'll have to excuse my tardiness in posting this, it seems March Madness has taken over the majority of my attention. And if Aaron Craft had missed that three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left, I might have gone berserk on a 60-inch plasma television.

For full effect, download "Live Like We're Dying" by Kris Allen and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

When I was nine years old my parents enlisted me to play little league football for the city of Roy. This action may have played an influence in the fact that for a large portion if my life I would randomly lose consciousness and drool all over myself. However, I can also see this as one of their unique parenting tactics in hoping I wouldn't follow in the feminine footsteps of my other 10 sisters, so I'm not going to blame them for that.

In the five years that I played Roy Recreation football, (who by the way had the most hideous uniforms possible, brown and orange, come on!) I had one head coach who stuck out to me, Coach Neil Thompson.  For the sake of any Community fans out there reading this, I'll refer to him as Fat Neil Thompson.

Fat Neil Thompson was a legend in Roy Rec. football history. A middle-aged Oompa Loompa who didn't care that a permed mullet and Ray-Ban sunglasses were two decades out of style because his smoking hot wife and Harley Davidson made him the baddest coach on the block.  Fat Neil Thompson was a five-star boss in my book. To this day every kid he coached would go to war for him, no questions asked.

One frozen November afternoon at North Park, Fat Neil was trying to keep a group of nine-year olds focused on our upcoming championship game while snow came down and ADD settled in.  It was certainly hard to concentrate on football on a day when we couldn't feel our own pinkies, however that afternoon Fat Neil Thompson taught me something I perhaps would say is the only positive thing I have ever heard while living in that cursed city.

Fat Neil: "Hey! You guys wanna die?!"

To grab our attention better he could have said something like, "Who wants candy?!" or "Beau Hadley wet his pants!" but Fat Neil Thompson was only a football coach, not a motivational attention grabber. To those who were listening, he directed our sights to the highway, and pointed at a running stick figure in shorts and a tank top.

Fat Neil Thompson: "You see that guy way out there running by himself?"

We all turned and watched the stick figure inching his way along the highway while 30-degree temperatures grabbed a hold of his britches.

Fat Neil Thompson: "That right there is dedication kids. If you ever want to do something great, something amazing, you need to be like that lone runner way out there. Doing something hard when you don't think anyone else is watching you."

It has been ages since that sermon at North Park took place, and who knows where Fat Neil Thompson ended up. For all I know he joined an underground tour of "The Grateful Dead" and hasn't been heard from since.  But in the almost 20 years since he preached those words to me and my team, I can still picture that stick figure on the highway, with a pair of Ray-Bans delivering his spontaneous wisdom.

And every once in a while, when I'm by myself late at night, shooting hoops, swimming laps, or running stairs, the words of wisdom echo in my head. The sacred words of Fat Neil Thompson

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Blog About Nothing

Sometimes when it’s well after 1:08 in the morning, and Dances With Wolves is playing on IFC in the background, I’ll just stare at a blank screen for a few hours and be stuck trying to figure out what random subject I’ll be hacking at with my cynical wit this week.

You’ve seen Dances With Wolves haven’t you?  You haven’t?  Oh, you saw Avatar instead?  Which was basically Dances With Wolves in space?  Gotcha. 

Times like these come every so often.  I think it's what those professional gurus call "writers block"; where ideas are swirling around in your head and all you can think about is going to Wendy's and ordering fries and a frosty.  Yeah, I think that's where I'm at right now.  For some reason I'm at a standstill, I've hit the wall, have nothing to go on.  I'm two lines in and keep getting distracted by Kevin Costner dancing around in South Dakota. 

But I can’t let you down can I?  After all, this blog is going to be the most amusing part of your day isn’t it, aside from your Instagrammed pic of that ugly black dress your friend wore with brown shoes? That was hideous, wasn't it?  This is the part when you let a smile creep across your face and exhale strongly out of both nostrils at the witty remark I just made mocking your social media fashion frenzies. 

Seriously though, I’m all out of ideas.  It’s been over three years, 391 posts, over 10,000 page views and I haven’t let you down just yet I would say.  I’ve produced some pretty quality stuff over the years haven't I?  Posts about marathons, killing dragons, redneck boxing matches, and 90’s mating rituals, so why for the life of me can I not think of some stupid topic to riddle with sarcasm and Family Guy-esque metaphors that will make you laugh for a good 90 seconds?

On my phone I have a list of, I don’t know, 400 random topics (hence the blog title) that I’ve jotted down to pull ideas from and write a solid 700-word post on the spur of the moment.  They range from liberal folks with hyphenated last names, to Diet Coke being the methamphetamine of obese women over 30.  But an idea has its limitations, its drawbacks.  Many times there are only a few puns I can pull from it, and there really isn’t going to be some moral victory found in the last sentence.  Therefore it will only remain JUST an idea. 

But there are other topics to pull from, I know that; topics that will make you laugh, make you cry, and will stir up every other emotion in between.  However you’re probably tired of hearing me rehash the humor of being a single man in a married world ripping on the countless dating escapades I’ve encountered, or the ridiculing of social media and how it’s ruining our society as a whole.  And trust me, making fun of my Grandma’s bowel movements can only take me so far. 

So where do I turn?  What am I supposed to write about? How am I going to make you keep clicking on my Facebook link day after day, week after week for years to come? I don't know if I can do that, because right now it's quarter after two in the morning and Dances With Wolves is rolling credits and  I've got absolutely nothing, you hear that, nothing! Wait, nothing? That's it! I'll pull a Seinfeld and write about nothing. This is genius!

You'll enjoy that, right?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Glory Days

Have you ever seen a former friend standing at the end of the cereal aisle at Harmon’s, and then immediately re-routed your path to the orange juice just so you wouldn't have to make an awkward entrance and catch up on old times with him?

What about seven minutes later when you’re standing next to the glass display of dead meat getting a 12 oz. cup of Oriental Chicken Salad scooped up for you and you see him again. Walking toward you. Wearing a green t-shirt and flat-brimmed Boston Red Sox hat like he always did.  You brace yourself for an uncomfortable encounter by staring down the ginger-skinned sophomore dishing up your soon to be lunch, when at the last minute that buddy you don’t want to talk to makes a split-second look your way, and then blatantly walks the other direction, hoping you didn’t see him make eye contact. 

This is when you come to the realization that your relationship really didn’t mean anything at all. 

For full effect, download “Coin-Operated Boy” by the Dresden Dolls and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

The above experience may or may not have occurred yesterday when two former “friends” did or did not want to rekindle the flames of an eh…so-so bromance.  We did have some decent times, nothing special by any means.  A few late-night Denny’s runs here and there, a couple of double dates, but nothing journal and/or blog worthy.  And that’s exactly why when both of us were in the same grocery store during lunchtime, we wanted to be as far apart from each other as humanly possible. 

You all know what I’m talking about, a meeting like that has the same clumsy feeling that a wedding reception line or a ten-year high school reunion carries, and there are plenty of us who have suffered through a few of those in our lives. 

Unnamed class officer: “So uh…what are you up to these days?”

Swamp Thing: “Oh uh…you know…same old, same old.  Work, school, paying the bills. How about you?”

Unnamed class officer: “Pretty much the same.  Just had our second kid.  She’s a beauty.”

Swamp Thing: “I’m sure she is…”

Cue uncomfortable three and a half second pause.

Unnamed class officer: “So you remember that one time…when we uh…”

Swamp Thing: “Yep, sure do…”

Unnamed class officer: “Yeah…”

But the thing is, you don’t remember that one time, you’ve forgotten it completely; erased it from your memory to stock your conscious full of dirty diaper changes, Modern Family episodes on DVR, and brainstorming sessions with your boss.  Those are the memories that are now being shown in the display cases of your mental mall.  You don’t want to remember the times you had with your old roommate, which then make any interaction with him as bad as a blind date who hasn’t been taught how to floss.  

The relationships we have with one another are controlled by our smart phones and iPads.  We don’t care about the intricate details of what is really going on in each other’s lives.  Heck, this blog is the only way you’ll ever know anything about me anyway, admit it.  All we want to know about each other is whatever status comes up on our feeds every morning, nothing more.  We stick to communicating through Facebook so we don’t have to have those awkward conversations; it’s our surrogate protection from any form of actual interpersonal connection. 

The sad thing is, we’re all happy with that.  

And so I kept my head glued to the ground and self-checked out as fast as I could, pulling out my cell phone and conveniently calling my Grandma, (you know, so if by some slim chance I did actually bump into him, I had an excuse to catch up with him some other time).  We have both gone our separate ways since our glory days, and I’m sure that neither one of us would have given ten seconds worth of airtime to hear how the other was doing, and actually cared for that matter. 

But I’m ok with that.  And I’m sure he was too.  And no doubt all of you have those same shallow holds on people that you once enjoyed a few solid hours with, but don’t want to permanently delete from your Internet persona.  Just keep your fingers crossed that you both don’t make eye contact at the same time in Harmons and are then forced to endure an awkward scripted conversation. 

That only ruins those memories that you don’t want to remember.   

Sunday, March 17, 2013

This Is Madness!

This week is a man's version of Black Friday. 

For full effect, download "Madness" by Muse and play at full volume throughout the duration of this post, which might I add is a far better tune than that "One Shining Moment" garbage that CBS plays once the nets are cut down. 

For the record, if you're a woman reading this post I would strongly suggest closing this window and going back to your Facebook feed, for this has nothing to do with my awkward dating stories, social media trouncing, or my continuing search for the girl with the yellow umbrella. This post is as manly as they come, and the majority of females reading this will be bored by the end of the next sentence.

This is without question the most wonderful time of the year. It's better than Christmas. In fact, it is Christmas. It's my Christmas. It's the time of year when brackets are photocopied and sent around the office so that all of the male sports gurus can give their "expert" opinion on who will survive.  This is the most cutthroat time in all of sports. And I L-word every minute of it. 

March Madness is the most legal addicting drug that every man should go right ahead and splurge on every single year. It's the time of year when we use up our sick days meanwhile laying in the same position on our leather couches for four days in a row wearing nothing but sweat pants and Cheetos. It's the time of year where we actually invest emotional attachments to teams like North Dakota State, or Akron University. March Madness is the religious holy grail in all of sports. 

Just think about the beauty we have witnessed over the years. There were the glory days of the Duke Blue Devils in the 90's, and into the 2000's for that matter, the classic Cinderella runs of Gonzaga, George Mason, and VCU, the game winners by Kemba Walker of UCONN, and near game-winners/heartbreakers by Gordon Hayward of Butler. March Madness has it all; upsets, OT thrillers, legendary coaching duels, the Western Kentucky mascot, all of which has Dick Vitale commentary on the side. You can't beat it! 

The thing that makes college basketball so unique and so valuable is the emotional levity that every single game carries. The game means so much more to the players, and you can see it in the tears they shed after a loss.  In the pros it's not like that at all. You lose a game, eh, so what? You still have to lose three more before you're finally down for the count. In college basketball if you lose one game, that's it. Peace out. Pack your bags, and don't come back. If you win, you survive. If you don't, OFF WITH YOUR HEAD! 

I have a hard time trying to imagine what the world was like before March Madness.  It was probably empty, dull, and boring, kind of like the plot line to a Michael Bay movie.  What would people do in the greatest sporting month of the year? Twiddle their thumbs and watch spring training games from the Grapefruit League? Spare me the monotony please.  March madness is that extra scoop of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream that our cute waitress Betty so generously gave us for dessert.  And we get it every single year! 

And so it begins again. The most sober sports intoxication that we all can get wasted on for three weeks and 67 games.  Never mind if I have mentally checked out of all personal responsibilities until the beginning of April, I have an excuse, and so do you; a hardwood floor strait jacket that we should all warmly welcome with open arms every third week in March.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Boss Can Beat Up Your Boss

For some reason my boss thinks I grew up wearing a trench coat.

Come on now that doesn’t fit me at all, does it? I have never been a part of the mafia, or listened to a full verse of any song by Insane Clown Posse.  I am no Jared Burton. 

For full effect, download “Workin’ For The Man” by PJ Harvey, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

On most Friday afternoons, the majority of our country’s population would be using their personal blogs to vent about how awful their boss is, how power-hungry, how over-working, or how bald, fat, and ugly he is, but in my situation that’s not the case.  I’ve got a great boss, a heck of a supervisor, a man that secretly steals my phone, hacks my Facebook account, and uploads the status, “Karl Malone is the most overrated basketball player of all time.” Come on now, what’s not to L-word about this guy?

Now don’t misinterpret me on this post, this is by no means a form of brown-nosing, or an attempt to get on my bosses good side and hope for a raise in the future.  For all I know the man will never read this post.  Ever.  He’s practically deleted himself from the world of social media, and makes fun of me for actually thinking that blogs have value.  Read this?  Yeah right.  Brown-nosing is when I laugh at stupid jokes when they’re not funny and tell someone that their daughter doesn’t look like a one-legged Rottweiler with Bell’s palsy. 

But in all seriousness, my boss, is “the shiz” as Snoop Dogg would say.  He’s a man you would want on your team no matter what sport you’re playing; basketball, croquet, or jai alai.  The guy will fight for you when he doesn’t have to, build you up when you need it the most, and can eat an entire box of Rice Krispie Treats cereal in one sitting.  Yeah, he’s that kind of guy.   

Historically, bosses have been given a bad stereotype, like they’re the ones who are anal-retentive, showing up to work with navy suspenders and a cornflower blue tie on Tuesdays, annoying you to death by their constant hounding and repetitive requests to come in Saturday morning and finish a departmental inventory of socks.  My boss, he’s none of that. My boss dumps a quart of salt in your ice water when you’re not looking, and then makes you feel like a thousand bucks by genuinely complimenting you on a 30-second video clip that’s just barely above par.  Yeah, he’s kind of a big deal.   

Now you may be shaking your head and saying to yourself, “Brock, your boss really isn’t that cool, my boss is equal to, or greater than the caliber of your boss in levels of quality.”  Oh yeah, well did your boss help you make a 70-foot March Madness bracket on the windows of your office last March?  Does your boss give you a diet and workout regiment for how to run a marathon?  Can your boss do a spot-on impression of Professor Fink from “The Simpsons”?

My Boss/Professor Fink: “As you can see, the uh, clavin, time warp transmogrifier is out of whack for all future tomfoolery, clavin.”

Yeah, now your boss looks like Kevin Spacey’s character in the film, “Horrible Bosses”; a cornflower blue paper pusher with 37 pieces of flair on who’s asking if you got the memo on the cover sheet for those TPS reports.  My boss eats pieces of crap like that for breakfast every day of the week.  The guy’s got an English degree and has actually done something with it, besides settling for an assistant librarian’s job in Bonanza, Oregon.

Without question, where I’m currently working is by far the best job I have had in my entire life, and the same can be said about the man I’m working for.  A guy who works for one-hundredth of his actual value, and has a mean mid-range jump shot to boot.  I still haven’t figured out where he got his suspicion about me being a part of the trench coat mafia when I was an undergraduate, but either way, he’s a big reason why I enjoy showing up to work every morning. 

And who knows, maybe one of these days I’ll dig up my black leather slicker and surprise the old guy.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

If I Die Young

Statistically speaking I have now narrowed down the three most heavily trafficked time slots on the Internet: Tuesday evenings between seven and eight, Friday afternoons from two to three, and Sunday mornings somewhere in between eleven and one.  I only tell you this because it has been a great discovery in helping me see when to publish this grand old blog of mine and get the most readers.  83% of you are going to browse Facebook on Tuesday night just after finishing “Pretty Little Liars”, or on Fridays after lunch when you have already checked out of work and are ready for the weekend, or also on Sunday mornings when your Sunday School teacher forgot to read the manual on how not to suck at teaching the gospel.  It’s because of this that I will consistently reward you with the best blogposts you’ll read all week. 

Thanks for being such a reliable clientele.

For full effect, download “Old Man” by Neil Young, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

Before I delve into diabetic chaps with braided ear hair, I would like to make a small suggestion that perhaps may improve the quality of your life.  When your words are on display, whether in a public forum or in a massive e-mail sent to your fellow employees, be a good chap and don’t use the most elaborate, bewildering, polysyllabic words possible to try and impress those around you.  We don’t care that you lay in bed at night and use the thesaurus app to find more extensive language that will put you a level up on the rest of the field who simply use “normal” vocabulary.  Besides, we all know that you’re only going to amount to being an assistant city librarian with an Associates Degree in English anyway, so why look like a fool trying to astonish everybody with big words?  You’re better than that and you know it.  

Anyway, back to ear hair.

Yesterday afternoon the Rhinestone Cowboy and myself took a nice spring ride across St. George as we continued our preparation for that giant triathlon thingy happening in a few weeks.  Great times, I will say.  I didn’t care about the young couple riding those weird looking giant tricycles, or those 100-year old Grandmas picking up their Scottish Terrier’s poop on the trail, they weren’t in the way at all.  Just being outside, with a nice spring wind on our backs, our legs pounding away the miles while the sun beat down on us; it was a glorious day I tell you. 

I sound like I’m writing some kind of romance novel here that stay at home Moms would drool over. 

Ginger protagonist: “And then I saw him there, standing upright in the field of lilies.  He reached over to me and…”

Alright, enough of that… So we’re wrapping up our ride, our legs barely turning the gears as we’re crossing an intersection, when a geezer who might as well be Colonel Sanders’ little brother yells at us while we pass him by.

Little Colonel Sanders: “SLOW DOWN!”

I did a double take in my head wondering if the wrinkled senior was saying that in all seriousness, or if perhaps his granddaughter might have perhaps taught him the delicate art of sarcasm.  He must have been joking.  After all, we were barely moving, nay, crawling past the man.  We were pedaling so slow I nearly lost my entire balance and collapsed on the road, yet this KFC wannabe was asking us to slow down?

Is this what happens when we get old?  Do we begin to see the world at an actual snail’s pace?

We often mock and criticize the elderly for being pioneers of the geriatric, and stubbornly living in their own generation, unable to think outside the box or be able to keep up with the world going on around them, but is this some sort of mental gloss that gets waxed over everybody’s temporal lobes once they hit 70?  Is there a point when we will all wake up in the morning, stare at our wrinkled, grey, beehive-haircutted heads and say, “Alright, I’m done! No more progression! I’m in my own world from here on out, and nobody better ever get in my way!”

Scary to think about, but I think that’s the verdict for everyone

At times I do feel like an old man, like I am pulling a classic Keith Tronic, complaining about giving up the ideal parking spot for my Honda Pilot, or how I need to invest in a more reliable leather couch, and I’m not always proud of that.  The world is a railway express every single day of our lives, with more decisions, responsibilities, and executions to be handled on a non-stop basis. But at what point will we all throw in the towel, live on our own time, and turn to a pair of young’ns walking their bikes past us on the intersection and yell at them to “SLOW DOWN”!?

Whenever that is, I just won’t use really big words.  That way I’ll avoid being stereotyped as both old, and a douchebag.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Driving Miss Harvey

I think I fell in L-word once.  Well, almost. 

When I was 17 years old a beautiful girl with intoxicating black hair knocked on my apartment door and asked if anyone was going north for the weekend.  This is the part where you slow time down to a standstill with “Lady in Red” playing in the background while I nod my head slowly and have a Subway sandwich falling out of my mouth, stunned by the surprise maiden’s beauty. 

“Uh, yeah… I am.” I said.  I really wasn’t.

“Great.  Well how about we take off in half an hour?  Does that work for you?” she asked.

I nodded my head in a stupor. 

“You are such a lifesaver.  Thank you SO much! Oh and my name’s Chelsey.  Chelsey Harvey.”

I smiled like a twitterpated third-grader and watched her walk back to her apartment.  I think this is what Hollywood screenwriters call “being smitten”.  You see kids, I had no reason whatsoever to drive five hours north that weekend, none at all.  In fact, that distance was one of the main reasons I went to college in the first place; to get as far away from the place that I wasn’t proud to call home, only popping back in every third Christmas when I had to.  But when Miss Harvey knocked on my door and asked for a ride, all of my reasoning went out the window. That’s usually the case when 17-year old pimples like myself get a taste of what society calls “the L-word”.

In my eyes, Miss Harvey was out of my league.  WAY, out of my league.  She was a drop-dead gorgeous dancer with standards and values that put Mother Teresa to shame. Meanwhile, I was a 17-year old nincompoop living off nachos and Mt. Dew who used Chris Farley as a role model.  Out of my league I tell you. I didn’t even feel like I belonged in the same time zone as this girl, let alone to be used as her personal chauffer.  

“You have a lot of music in here” she asked me on the ride home.  “Do you like to sing or something?”

I smiled back at her.  “Well, I was in choir back in high school, but I’m nothin’ special.”

Her eyes lit up. “Really?  Sing me something.  Anything!  I want to hear!”

This is the part where the clock on my dashboard clicked just after midnight, and the mile markers rolled on somewhere in the mid 150’s, and I bashfully sang an acoustic version of “More Than Words” with BBMak as my accompaniment.  Meanwhile Miss Harvey sat wide-eyed in the passenger bucket seat and savored every note that rolled off my tongue. 

“Sing it again.” She said when the final chord faded out.   

I gave her a puzzled look back.

“Again.  Sing it again.  Or sing me something else.  You are incredible!  And I just want to hear you sing to me.”

Hearing those words coming from who I pictured as the most beautiful girl I had laid eyes on in my entire 17-year existence will really boost a teenager’s self esteem.  Hearing those words made me feel like I was starting to fall in L-word with someone. Shocking, I know. 

And that’s how it began.  Every few weeks Miss Harvey would come knocking on cue on a Friday afternoon, ask around if anyone was headed north, in which I would toss whatever responsibilities and prior engagements I had to the side and pack up my 92 Nissan pickup with our duffel bags. I didn’t care about loads of homework, potential work shifts, or anything else for that matter, my life revolved around this girl, whenever she needed a lift. 

For two years we did this.  Spur of the moment trips where the two of us would hit the road together.  Countless rides were shared where she would tell me about her family, about her dancing career, about her best friend who was getting ready to go on a mission, and I would sing to her for hours while we passed Fillmore and Beaver and Cedar City, with her restarting the songs every time I thought she had drifted off to sleep. Every few weeks for two whole years we just shared the road together. I sang, she talked, and the miles just passed us by.  You can’t write a better chick-flick plot, I’m telling you. 

At that point in my life, rides with Miss Harvey were some of the only things that I looked forward to. They were my motivation to be a better person, to truly care for another individual whole-heartedly, to sacrifice time, money, and passing grades in History 1700 just to be with another person.  But, as with everything in life, things change. People go different ways.  I packed my bags for two years in Virginia, and she had one of those formal ceremonies that changed her last name to Peterson. We never had our rides anymore, and as one of my only regrets in life, I never got to tell the girl that I think I loved her.

As cliché as the phrase sounds, hindsight truly is always 20/20.        

I don’t think this story has been triggered by a rush of emotions, or that I’m at the precipice of a serious relationship and there is someone I think I’m truly falling for, that’s not the case at all.  I’m just a young buck who lives vicariously through Ted Mosby and still thinks Dumb and Dumber is a quality movie.  All I’m saying is this: if at some point in my meager existence I was willing to do absolutely anything and everything I could to please a girl who I hands down didn’t deserve; if those feelings were stirred somehow in the slightest degree whatsoever, then at least I know they exist. That they are real, that true L-word really is out there.   

And maybe I’ll feel those same things again the next time a random girl knocks on my door needing a ride somewhere.