Archive | September, 2020

Stay Gold

28 Sep
“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
-Robert Frost

2020 has been one raging asshole of a year. If it were a person, it would be that guy in your office who went vegan and started doing yoga and won’t stop talking about how centered he feels and how amazing his skin is now that he’s off the processed foods. If it were a food, it would be candy corn pizza smothered in Miracle Whip. If it were a song, it would be some unholy mashup of The Devil Went Down to Georgia and We Built This City. And if it were a movie, it would be The Garbage Pail Kids Movie: weird, horrifying, and seemingly without end.

I say all of that to say that 2020 has really had me thinking a lot about life and time, in particular, better times, which would be any year that came before this. Time is a stubborn thing. It marches forward no matter how much we wish it would stop or at least slow down. And no matter how much we look back and wish we could return to an age where shit actually made sense or at least one where we didn’t care, it just keeps going. And we’re all swept up in the current.

The Robert Frost poem that kicks this post off is one of my favorites and one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately…and not just because it was used to great effect in one of my favorite ’80s movies, The Outsiders. Nothing gold can stay — I’m not even 100 percent sure what that means, but it rattles around in my brain like a mantra and makes me feel…something, which is really all you can ask for from art. I don’t think there’s any need to dissect it any further than that.

Aside from dick jokes, I occasionally write poetry, but I rarely share it and I’ve not ever published anything that one might call serious. But today I wrote one. One that I believe condenses my feelings about time and what Nothing Gold Can Stay means to me into a handful of lines. I hope you like it.

Time
Is an ocean
Dip a toe in
Soon up to your ankles
Then your waist
Then pulled fully into its bottomless depths
Gently at first
Then with more ferocity
Until the shore is but a spot on the horizon
Until you can see it no more
Until you can no longer keep your head up
It pulls you under
And you are naught but a memory whispered across its waves.

I’m no Robert Frost, but whether you like my poem or hate it with the white-hot intensity of 1,000 suns, I hope it made you feel something. And maybe I’ll publish some of my others in the future. Until then,

The Eternal Spotlessness of the Drunken Mind

15 Sep

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

-Hunter S Thompson

“To alcohol! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

-Homer Simpson

Gather round, kids! It’s story time. I realize it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything. According to my watch it’s been…OVER TWO YEARS??? What the hell, man? Why didn’t anyone tell me? I must have fallen into some kind of Rip Van Winkle sleep between posts. Damn. Things have…changed since the last time we talked, haven’t they? 2020 has been one hell of a couple decades. Remember when the worst we had to deal with was all those pearl clutching prudes freaking out over Shakira and J-Lo’s Super Bowl show? Good times. Hard to believe it’s been 84 years since then.

And this meme has been in use for at least that long.

Well in any event, I’m back with a charming anecdote for you to share around the campfire or whatever.

As you may have guessed from the oh-so-clever title of this post, this one involves booze. NOTE: I am not endorsing mass consumption of alcohol as described in the following story. Even though it’s brought me lots of laughs and good times, I can’t guarantee your experience will be the same. To put it another way, I’m a professional. Don’t try what you’re about to read at home.

Drinking, like smoking, is only for the coolest badasses.

For real though. If you survive, you will wake up feeling really stupid. Not worth it.

Let me set the scene for you: the year was 2005, The iPhone 1 was still two years away. If you wanted to “Netflix and chill,” you had to employ the services of your local postman to deliver you a physical DVD with a movie on it like some kind of cave dwelling troglodyte. And people genuinely liked the music of Fergie for reasons that even today science has not been able to figure out.

I had just started dating a girl, let’s call her Janet, who would become my girlfriend…for a while. One Sunday in early November, I surprised her with tickets to a Baltimore Ravens game for her and her friend, let’s call her Chrissy. Janet had a parking pass that was close to the stadium. What she failed to mention was that stadium was the Orioles stadium, Camden Yards. If you look at a photo, the stadiums appear to be right next to each other. On foot, this is not the case. We walked for what felt like 500 miles and then we walked 500 more until we finally got to the tailgating lot.

Now, here in Baltimore we tailgate for 5 hours before a football game. What do we do for all that time? Glad you asked — we stand around listening to music. And we drink. A lot. Because we only know how to get one kind of drunk: as fuck. And that’s what we proceeded to do. Beers were consumed. Shots were slammed. Karaoke was sung though there was no karaoke equipment anywhere to be found. And no food was consumed because, as any doctor will tell you, food will just interfere with your buzz, you fucking nerd.

And then he will give you a wedgie.

We had a great time and the five hours passed quickly. And now we had a football game to attend. Oh yeah. So once we were good and hammered and game time was upon us, we began our walk to the stadium. From the tailgating lot, the stadium is about 1/4 mile up the street on the left. I was walking behind Janet and Chrissy and decided to cross the street without telling them. Why you ask? Well, alcohol is a hell of a drug. All those beers and liquors had drunkened me. And that’s going to be my go to excuse for the rest of this tale. Anyway, I watched from afar as they fell in with a different group of people. My drunken brain decided that those people were obviously much cooler than me and they decided to hang out with them. Fine. Whatever. Hang out with your new pals. See if I care.

Eventually, I made it to the stadium and got in line at the gate to enter. I looked around and didn’t see Janet or Chrissy. Obviously, they were still with their new friends. Still, I figured I should try to reunite with them. So I called Janet. No answer so I left her a light, jaunty voicemail message. As I got closer to the entrance and they were still nowhere in sight, I continued calling and leaving voicemail messages, each decidedly less light and jaunty and more passive aggressive than the last. It all culminated with a message that went something like, “Look, I know you guys found some friends to hang out with. Whatever. Cool. Might be nice if you at least meet me at the seats since I, you know, got you the tickets and all. I’m going in now bye.” I know, what a dick. Oh, but it gets worse.

Inside the stadium, I had to make my way to my seats, the best in the house — way the fuck up in the upper, upper deck. Now, at the time, there was no escalator on the premises and though I’m sure there had to be an elevator somewhere, fucked if I had any idea where it was. No, for me the only way to get to the upper echelons of the stadium was to climb the stairs ALL the way up. I got myself a Sherpa and a pack mule for the 250 or so flights of mountainous stairs and began my ascent.

Eventually, FINALLY, I got to our seats fully expecting to see Janet and Chrissy seated there with smiles on their faces and beers and hot dogs to share. What I actually saw was some empty-ass seats. Son of a bitch. Where were they?? I decided to try Janet’s phone one last time and left a final, angry voicemail before sliding my phone into my pocket where I felt…something. Something vaguely cardboardish. What the hell? “Oh,” I thought, “That must be the raffle tickets I was coerced into buying earlier from that little league baseball coach.” I pulled out the raffle tickets…

…along with a pair of Ravens tickets.

Janet and Chrissy’s tickets.

I HAD THEIR FUCKING TICKETS.

Realizing this meant they had no way in, I hiked back down to base camp and headed straight for the exit. As I tried to leave, the usher told me I couldn’t come back in. I nodded and then tried another exit. And then another. I kept trying and each time a different usher told me if I left I couldn’t reenter. Why did I do this? Remember a couple paragraphs ago where I mentioned being drunkened by alcohols? Yeah, that. And I guess I was hoping to find a cool usher who would tell me he’d let me come back in. I never did find him and so I left.

Now outside, I searched the sea of people for Janet and Chrissy’s faces. Nothing. I didn’t know what to do. So I took out my phone and called Janet again. Still no answer and I couldn’t call Chrissy because I didn’t have her number. Damnit! Now what? Wait…I think I heard something on that last call. Sounded like Janet’s cellphone ring. Was she nearby? I called again. Definitely her ring, but where the hell was she? As I walked forward, it got louder. I looked around. I couldn’t see her, but I knew it was her phone. Shit, did she lose it?

I kept calling and following the sound of the ring I approached a storm drain and looked down: the ring was coming from inside the storm drain! Holy shit! How did her phone get in there? And oh my God, is she in there too? Who knew, but probably! No — DEFINITELY! I got down flat on the ground and pulled at the metal grate. It was welded to the street and didn’t budge. I leapt to my feet and implored passersby to please help. Her phone was down there and maybe her too!!  Help me pull up this grate before she gets eaten by Pennywise for Christ’s sake!!! To their credit, they all gave me a wide berth and a look that screamed, “Don’t acknowledge the crazy person.” Out of ideas, I called yet again. The ring was clear as day. Maybe it wasn’t in the storm drain? Maybe it was somewhere near it. I looked down again and it all clicked horribly into place…

Flashback:

Three hours earlier — the tailgate is in full swing. Everyone is drinking, singing, partying, etc. Janet comes over to me and tells me she needs to use the bathroom. Can I hold this?

And she hung her purse around my neck.

The purse that was still around my neck three hours later.

I feel like there is a Memento joke to be made here…or not. All you need to know is that I’m really dumb.

Now, I can hear you saying, “Wait…how did you get past security with a purse around your neck? You’re lying.” Okay, first, rude. Also, this was 2005. Security was pretty lax. And I’m guessing they probably figured it best not to say anything to the drunk man with a purse around his neck. I get that.

I opened the purse and, sure enough, there was her phone. Stuffed to the brim with angry voicemails left by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I ran to the street. Traffic was thick and I hopped into a cab. The cabbie drove away and asked me where I wanted to go. I confidently shouted, “Right here is fine,” because I realized I had no idea where the hell I was going or why I even got in a cab in the first place. I was in it for maybe eight seconds and traveled about half a block. Brilliant. I walked over to the sidewalk and stood there, drunk and stupid, without a clue what to do next. Suddenly, Janet’s phone rang. This time it wasn’t me calling, but Chrissy. I answered and asked what happened to them. Turns out they had walked to the car and waited for me. Oh. Yeah, that would’ve been the smart thing for me to do as well, but as we’ve established many times, I was very much the opposite of smart.

I walked back to the car and it turns out Janet and Chrissy had an adventure of their own. After we got separated, Janet passed out leaning against a port-a-john and Chrissy got hauled into the medical tent and given fluids. It was pure coincidence that they were able find each other after all that.

We ended up leaving the car on the lot and took a cab to the Paper Moon diner. We didn’t see a second of the game, which is all for the best as the Ravens lost to the Cincinnati Bengals because they were complete ass in 2005.

All in all, not a bad day.

You should eat at Paper Moon. It rules. And it was on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. https://www.foodnetwork.com/restaurants/md/baltimore/papermoon-diner-restaurant

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