Hide And Seek

“Where have you been?” I’m asked by someone who doesn’t actually care where I’ve been. Even at my young age I know it actually means, “I’ve been here for minutes for someone to arrive to take care of this kid.” And with that the mother of my niece is gone.

Don’t get me wrong, my niece is an awesome kid but I have my own shit to do and watching her until I can ‘Where have you been?’ someone else wasn’t in my plans. But, timing being what it is, I’m stuck.

I give her a snack (maybe she’ll get full and fall asleep), I show her a magic trick (I had to learn magic to teach her something that would cause her to go off to ‘learn’ it so I could leave), I sit her in front of the TV (but, unlike most people, she has to have someone with her while she watches TV). So I accept my fate and sit there knowing I have two hours before I have to hit the road and still have to do a paper for school.

I attempt to write the paper on the couch but my niece decides she needs to discuss whatever dumb ass cartoon we’re watching as if it’s a discussion group on the fine art of anvil dropping. The cartoon ends and a non-animated program comes on which causes her disdain. This was a time long before 24 hour a day cartoon networks and she has no desire to watch whatever is on our thirty cable channels. Which amazed me. With thirty channels you surely must be able to find something. Who could ever need any more than thirty channels to find something to watch?

The world sure has changed. And also stayed the same because, just last night, I couldn’t find one fucking thing to watch on my five hundred and sixty three channels.

“Let’s play hide and seek.” She demands. I know it doesn’t sound like a demand but when a five year old tells a fifteen year old to play hide and seek the fifteen year old, if they are smart, they don’t argue. If they do soon the red-faced, breath holding beast will rear it’s ugly head and, after the storm, you’ll be playing hide and seek.

In the back of my mind I still know I have to get this paper in. I have no idea when someone will enter the house so I will be able to pawn, I mean, politely ask if they would do me a solid and watch the kid while I tend to my oh so important schoolwork.

“You hide first.”

Shit. It’s game time. I have two lines of reason at this moment. I can 1) grab my schoolwork and hide where she’d never find me (outside the house is a good option but, honestly, anywhere is fine. She really sucks at this game) or 2) just play the damn game because I know that, after five minutes, if she doesn’t find me she’ll just throw a fit and I’ll have to come out of hiding to soothe her shitty game skills mind.

I hide making sure to leave an arm or leg or head or entire body visible behind my hiding place because, as stated earlier, she sucks at this game. So, amazingly, she finds me and is so thrilled at her amazing skill level. Now it’s her time to hide. And here is when the game gets tricky. As stated thirty words earlier, she sucks at this game and that fact extends to her hiding. The problem is, just like her seeking skill, she is of the delusion that she is a skilled marksman. A bounty hunter of renown skill.

So, because I’ve sat in a living room chair and said, “There you are behind the lamp.” soon after I finished counting to 100 (leaving out all the numbers between 30 and 80 because 1) she’s not a great mathematician and 2) she’s already hiding) I know I have to wander around the entire house to ‘find’ her. After five minutes of wandering around the house saying,

“Where is she? She’s the greatest hider of the modern age?” Because I know I have to even though she’s hiding behind a kitchen chair and is clearly visible through the slats but she thinks she can’t be seen because her eyes are closed. I stumble upon her (“I never would have found you if you didn’t blink!)”and we do all this shit all over (“Yea!” I cheer dejectedly).

When it’s her time she hides in a closet. How do I know when I’m just on fifteen in my count? Because she makes the equivalent amount of noise of a chainsaw being thrown into a closet. During my count I have an idea. While still counting I go to my room and get my tape recorder.

“100.” I say at number twenty-seven.

I walk around the house talking and recording. After about five or six minutes of this I walk into the room where she is. I keep talking walking around the room. I even open the closet door but still can’t find her. How can I not find her? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she is great even though she’s giggling so much the pile of shoes she’s under is quaking. She thinks I’m an idiot at this game. That is not conjecture. I know because she tells me after we’re done.

I close the closet door, rewind the tape and push play. By this time I’ve probably recorded ten minutes of walking around talk so that buys me some time to gather my papers to sit in the hiding room to get my homework done. Every ten minutes or so I’d have to stop and do some live chatter while the tape rewound but, about an hour later, I was done with my homework, someone else had come into the house and I was declared the worst hide and seek player of all time.

Opinions vary, little one, opinions vary.

Image

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Out at a restaurant. . .

. . .a late 20 year old at our table all of a sudden got an attitude. I didn’t care but someone else asked her what the problem was. The problem was she’d eaten half her meal but had forgotten to take a picture of it. So I decided to help,

“Don’t be sad, you can take a picture of it tomorrow.”

The Talker

We get into a restaurant and sit at the bar as always. The reason we sit at the bar is not, as some of you assume, quicker access to liquor, but because of my girlfriends never-ending love for Abe Lincoln. Because of that love she hates all things booth.

And as far as tables goes, come on! She’s Italian! Too many viewings of The Godfather have kept her away from tables. I can’t even go to the restroom without a pat down when I get back.

I’m settling down and notice pretty quickly that the guy to my left is bending the ear of the woman to his left. Internally I put up an invisible wall to have a distinct (in my mind) separation between me and them. There is a little give and take in the conversation. With that I mean he talks 99.9% of the time and she says, ‘Uh ha.’ 00.1% of the time. But, for whatever reason, because I can hear what he’s saying (the wall is good but it’s not soundproof), she seems entertained. But I can tell her husband, who is standing there mute, is giving the ‘wrap it up’ signal with his eyes. But the guy keeps talking because it’s what he does.

Finally the conversation seems to come to it’s natural conclusion. Good for them bad for me. I know this guy will not survive without chatting. And, unless someone magically appears in the recently vacated seat, he’s going to be targeting me. I’m looking straight ahead at the TV, my girlfriend is looking at the menu. I’ve already decided what I want but, even though it’s a restaurant we’ve been to many times before, she has to go over it like it’s an ancient riddle in some shitty Tom Hanks movie.

In my periphery I can see him looking dead straight at me. I do not flinch, I do not move, I do not make eye contact. This is usually good enough to discourage people from trying to draw my attention. People who crave attention badly don’t really want to work hard to get it. I’m betting on that amount of self-absorbed laziness to get me through again.

But it doesn’t.

This guy totally ignores my wall (that he cannot see) and starts earhole raping me with a jokebook joke. I am assaulted two ways. The first is, some stranger is overloading my earhole. The second being, really? A street joke? A battered, tattered, remnant from the annals of joke history? I know he doesn’t know I write jokes for money and have heard every jokebook joke ever but I still cannot excuse that. He’s still earhole raping me.

He finishes the, to me, torture and I respond with,
That’s right, nothing. Not a “Huh.” Not a “Nice joke, ass ears.” Not a “You’re lucky I don’t pull that punk ass joke out of my earhole and stuff it up your ass.”

I sit there staring ahead. I can see him staring at me through the mirror. He’s stunned. I guess at first because someone didn’t go nuts over his joke. But then the realization that I didn’t even do the basic human thing of acknowledging him must have tampered with his head. He staring, I’m ignoring and one of us is starting to lose it.

I have a beer in front of me so you know it’s not me.

Finally, after staring at my profile for a lengthy amount of time, he mumbles something, turns and looks down the bar. The person nearest to him is two seats away and engaged in another conversation. That one will be a tough one to win over. He looks at me a few more times and I can see that he wants to try again. But he’s already used his ‘A’ material so, even though he’s going through his jokebook index file, he’s slowly figuring I might be a tough nut to crack. What he doesn’t know is if he attempts to speak directly to me again I will politely look at him, let him complete his lame ass joke, chuckle, like a normal human and say,

“If I wanted to hear anything from you I’d kick you in the balls. So fuck off.”

Although some of you may call it antisocial, I consider it self-preservation. Because I know what’s going to happen because it did minutes later. A guy sat next to him, a beat went past, and the guy whipped out the exact same dumb ass, lame, slightly updated eighty year joke. I do give him credit for doing it in the exactly same cadence but he loses that point because it shows me how many hundreds of times he’s told that same dumb ass, lame, slightly updated eighty year joke.

This time the guy took the bait. I could see the moment the hook bit into his cheek. So for the next hour I watched at the guy reeled his quarry in. It was a bloodbath. The guy relentlessly trolled him with joke and story and escapade as I watched the prey jump and twist and spin trying to extricate himself from this life-draining source. But, after a valiant battle, I watched as the blood drained from his face, his eyes grew glassy and dark for he knew his days were numbered. I watched as his spasmodic body was pulled into the boat and the last gasp of life exited his being.

And I laughed.

Better him than me, sucker.

Radio Radio

I was getting into a vehicle last night. The driver had the radio tuned to the local country station. We pull away and, after a while, the radio dial was tuned to a blasting static wave. After a beat I said,
 
“Improvement.”

I Asked Nicely

We walked into an establishment and it’s crowded. We see that there are two seats but they’re on either side of a woman who is seated alone nursing a drink. I’ll just ask her to move over one. That shouldn’t be a problem. People move all the time.

I walk up to her and politely ask if she’d mind moving to one of the vacant chairs beside her so my girlfriend and I could sit together. She said no. Can you believe that shit? She fucking said no. That’s never happened in the history of the world. My girlfriend is pissed but I tell her to chill and sit down in the empty seat on one side of the woman. I’ll occupy the other. My girlfriend fights it but sits down.

Begrudgingly.

The woman is sitting between us as we calmly order our drinks and are given menus. I’m looking at the menu and, after I made my choice, a poached salmon that sounded very good, I started to converse with my girlfriend.

“So, did you hear about June?” A non-existent person. It took her a second but she finally said no. “She told me she’s getting one of those labia tucks because she told me it looks like raw roast beef down there. As a matter of fact, she said that when she and her husband do it the sounds down there are like. . .”

“. . .Would you like to swap seats?” I smile at the kind woman’s offer.

“No, that’s okay. I’m fine.”

“No, no. I insist.”

“Oh, but it was such an imposition mere minutes ago.” She’s standing up with her drink in her hand.

“I insist. I’ll even get your first round.”

“Gee,” I say sliding my drink over and standing up. “That’s very kind of you.” I hop into the seat and turn my back on my benefactor.

The moral of the story is that it’s safer to be polite first because you’ll only have to pay for it later. Sometimes with visions you’ll never be able to get out of your head.

American Super Bowl

My girlfriend and I watched the Super Bowl at a Chinese restaurant in a rather beat down city. It’s my girlfriends favorite so we’ve been there many times. We get there and are quite surprised to be able to get a seat not only at the bar but directly in front of a TV. Sweet.

We order food and, as expected, the bar begins to slowly fill up. My girlfriend is to my left with five empty seats to my right. I’m in a perfect position on the corner. I know I’ll not be so fortunate to have them remain so for the entire game so I can only hope the person or people are not pains in the ass.

I do not get my wish.

Seated to my immediate right is a woman. A talkative woman. A talkative woman who knows nothing about foot ball yet refuses to let that limitation dissuade her for commenting on every play. Then asking her pretty much equally uninformed, bandwagon jumping husband a question he can’t answer so that leaves her to find her answer somewhere else. That somewhere else would be directly into my ear hole. There were countless times I had my right ear hole being over modulated a question into at the exact same time my left ear hole was being over modulated into with a question I knew inevitably my girlfriend would have.

But all that would come later. During the pre-game it was just your average pre-game chatter. By that I mean meaningless and unnecessary. I sit in the middle of this wondering what I have done to allow this to be part of my Super Bowl enjoyment. I was well prepared for any and all of my girlfriends questions, that comes with the territory, but to have a double barrel assault, I don’t remember signing up for that. But, I must have because that’s what’s happening.

A Hispanic guy sits at the furthest chair at the bar. It is the worst chair at the bar if your intention is to actually watch the game because that seat is behind the television. But he doesn’t seem fazed by this. He’s just sitting there ignoring the goings on sipping his beer. He seems happy so I don’t give him another thought.

That is until the national anthem is being sung.

“Oh say can you. . .”

And the Hispanic guy starts balling. I mean wailing. He buries his face in his hands and just sobs. I’m watching him because it overwhelms me. Here is a man, an immigrant with English as a second language, becoming so emotional over the theme song of his adopted nation that he’s moved to tears. At that moment I’m pretty sure he is the most patriotic person in America. His love for his adopted country runs so deeply the first few words of the song associated with it causes a joyous eruption of emotion. And it doesn’t stop when the song finishes. He wipes his eyes and thrusts his moist hands in the air in celebration of the life he’s allowed to lead.

That’s an American regardless of where he was born.

The game begins and, true to his seating position, he doesn’t seem to care much about the game. Maybe because he’s still trying to compose himself. Maybe it’s because he’s already received exactly what he came for. Whatever it is he’s satiated.

I wish I could say the same for the woman to my right. Not only did she talk all the way through the anthem she even talked through every motion of the game. The bar was subdued during the first half because, as things go with sports fans, when the team they’re rooting for isn’t doing well, there’s not a ton to discuss.

Fortunately for me the woman to my right and her husband left at half time. The Senegalese couple to their right moved over to better seats and they were very nice. Every once in a while they would politely ask me a question which I would answer to their overly effusive thanks. As the halftime festivities continued the bar started to fill up. An Asian guy and some friends took over a couple of tables. A Brazilian trio sat behind me. Some black guys stood behind me keeping up running and entertaining chatter as the game progressed.

At first there was a group of Hispanics who were happy and trash talking because, at the time, their team was ahead. Then an amazing thing happened, the tide, as they say, began to turn. Slowly people started to get more excited while the loud people from earlier seemed to lose their elation.

During a commercial break I got up to take a piss. When I came back I noticed an amazing thing. There were only four white people in the room. That never bothers me. I’ve been the only white guy in my own house. But it was just amazing to see people from all over the place enjoying themselves with such abandon. I sat down and thought about the long gone crying Hispanic guy. He’s the one, he started this day.

I won’t bore you with the outcome of the game but I will say that I was high fived and shook hands and was embraced by nary a white hand. It was a truly American moment. I had a hoodrat happily yell in my face while hugging me,

“I told you! I told you to never lose faith!” As an aside, we ran into him the next day and, let me tell you, he was still in a hugging mood.

I had an Asian guy jump up and down in font of me pounding me on the shoulders with a great big American smile on his face. The Senegalese woman kept patting my hand and laughing. Her husband kept high fiving everyone around him. They both kept thanking me.

It was probably the most American moment I’ve had in a very long time.