Go Sports Go

I’m a sports fan. I’ve played most of the sports I watch. I watch curling unironically. I’ve even watched golf if I’m in a place that that has it on and I’m not in control of my own demise. Having played sports, one at a professional level, I have a sort of Zen attitude when viewing them. The stunts these men and women pull off (okay, I mostly watch men’s sports. Except beach volleyball. I never watch men play that) are amazing feats. Take it from someone who’s hurt himself trying them, it’s tough.

Which is why I hate being around other human beings when I’m watching sports. People ruin everything. Case in point, the other night we’re out watching a game (yeah, I know but it wasn’t my choice). It was game seven of a playoff game. Now I know some of you may not know that game seven is a big deal. But you can trust me when I say it is. For one of those teams their season is over and they get to start their vacation. Which doesn’t sound like a bad reason to throw the game but don’t be silly. These guys are professionals with professional pride that keeps them professionally battling until the final piss poor call by a referee ends their broken season. Then they get into their private jets and fly off to a secluded island inhabited only by supermodels.

Except for two thirds of the team who are making the league minimum which allows them a comfortable living but which means they can’t afford security details and lawyers to keep everyone who thinks they helped them on the way up so should get a piece of the pie away. Those are the guys you hear about getting shot during the off-season.

But it’s game seven. Someone is going home. I wish it was me. But it’s not. The bar is just beginning to fill up and the first sign is upon me. There is a couple across from me. The woman hasn’t shut up since we arrived. Now I don’t care if people speak. I only care if people speak and I can hear them. Especially across a large piece of real estate. All that means to me is they’re speaking too loudly. One of the main reasons I’m not a fan of this is, in my life, I’ve never run into a loud person who has anything worthwhile to say.

The game is minutes from starting and I hear a chilling statement from Mrs. Loud,

“I don’t even like basketball.”

Chilling. Absolutely chilling.

You may not think so but it’s because you don’t have the experience I have. When she said “I don’t even like basketball.” What she’s actually saying is, “I’m going to talk through this entire game screaming things like, “Shoot!” and “Foul!” And “Icing!” the moment a player touches the ball. And my husband won’t stop me because he hasn’t listened to me in thirteen years which is why I scream toward strangers in a cry for help.”

Or she’s just an attention seeking asshole. Take your pick.

So, before tip off (or as she may term it, kickoff) I know I’ve got that spinning around my ear hole. And then there is a man next to me. How can I explain him? With words, obviously, so that’s what I’ll use.

He has on blinding white kicks, right out of the box (later he took one off to let me take a gander of it. And I wish I was using my licensed comedic take on that), purchased today because it’s what his favorite player is wearing tonight and he thinks it’ll bring them luck.

His pants have the name of it’s designer up the side of his legs. Nothing says class like some other man’s name up your entire pant leg. And he has on a two sizes too small white t-shirt that not only shows off his pecs but also the gut they’re resting on. And a giant white G-Shock watch that he kept shaking and holding up to catch attention. He had to be wearing it for that purpose because he never once looked at it for the time.

From the opening tip-off I know what guy he’s going to be. He’s going to be the,

“There ya go.” guy.

Every dribble, every pass, hell, every movement is going to come with the phrase, “There ya go.” not once but twice every time his chosen team touches the ball. I know that may sound like I’m being negative but that’s because you’re very judgmental. Let me explain it this way, invite me to your job, let me sit next to you, and every time you move let me say, “There ya go. There ya go.”

I bet you’ll stab me in the eye with a pencil before you take your first sip of coffee.

I also know that “There ya go.” guy is going to work hard to get my attention. He’s going to say,

“There ya go. There ya go. Man, they were ripped off on that possession. You’d think the refs were doing it on purpose so the superstars could get to their private plane that’ll whisk them off to secluded supermodel island before midnight.” Or some other obvious conspiracy theory.

I get through the first quarter with the non-fan across the bar screaming versions of,

“First down!” and “Ace!” and “The stone’s is in the house!” pretty much every time there’s a basketball on the court.

And to my right,

“There ya go. There ya go. If they play tough D and get some offense going they can pull this one out.”

Yeah, and if it’s sunny tomorrow it might not rain.

I know there’s nothing I can do about the sports fan across the bar. But there’s a possibility I can get ‘There ya go.” guy to stop attempting to capture my attention. The thing is telling him to shut the fuck up isn’t an option. That’s too subtle. So I come up with something that will be offensive to some people but, trust me, if you were in my position you’d search your brain for something to escape the constant barrage of inanities pounding into your head.

I turn to him, do fake sign language to get his attention, take out my notepad, write something on it and show it to him. What I wrote was,

“I’m Deaf.”

Sure, I know, me, horrible person, you wonderful person who’s never in their life lied or cheated or finagled themselves out of a situation. Yeah, I know, I caught your first stone.

You know what? I don’t care about your poor opinion of me. And do you know why? Because it worked. He not only stopped trying to engage me he stopped being Mr. “There ya go.”

Which sort of sucked because, without the constant chatter, we may have had some things to talk about.

Adult Adolescent

I was sitting with a group of people who were talking about things I don’t care about. Themselves, golf, boats, did I mention themselves?

Don’t get me wrong, I like to be on boats, how can you not? The beer, the fishing, the body dumping once you get into international waters. But, like most things, doing it is much more fun than listening to people talk about it.

Especially when that person is a newly retired douche nozzle (much grosser than a douche bag) and he’s just purchased said vessel.

“I can finally fulfill all the dreams I put on hold while I worked all the time. Oh yeah, and raise my family.” His wife gives him the look that says,

“Oh, you raised the family and you worked all the time? If I remember correctly, you were too busy ‘working’ with your mistresses to have time. . .”

He saw that look and, wanting to get on his with story, made a slight adjustment in his tale.

“Of course, my wife did most of the work with the family. I was just a steady hand on the tiller. Speaking of tiller. . .” He deftly steers the subject away from the mine field.

He’s gushing in newly learned marine terms that he barely comprehends. But he’s proud as punch to be using them. And I’m pretty much over listening to them. I zone out as the conversation buzzes around me. Some people are paying attention to him most likely in hopes of going out on the boat this summer.

I don’t have to because that doesn’t interest me. Oh, I know he’ll get all certified and everything but I have my doubts his gigantic ego will feel the rules of the sea won’t pertain to him. After all he is the captain.

I pretty much stayed out of the conversation and deftly missed most of his bloviating but then I heard two words that caught my attention. It was during the discussion of what he is going to name this fine water vehicle.

Let me describe this grown man to you. He looks as if he’s stepped off a 1970’s Haggar Slacks ad. The hair, the style, the louder than necessary voice and color combination. Basically, he got a look during his first job at the law firm and firmly stuck to it.

I was just an innocent bystander when this started. I didn’t know any of them. I was sitting there minding my own business when they included me in their conversation because he needed just a few more people to make his ego self-stroking even more of an event.

These are all late 60-early 70 year old men. Men with pasts, a lifetime of motion, a base of knowledge gathered throughout time. And what phrase was being bandied about in the guise of the name of a boat has them howling with glee?

“I’m going to call it Wet Dream.”

Now I don’t know about you but, I don’t want to think of a gaggle of 70 years olds having wet dreams much less riding in one. But one and all (excluding the two wives present who are shaking their at the pre-juvenile hi-jinks they’ve been putting up with for decades from these scalawags) find great humor in the name of the boat being Wet Dream.

Oh, I get the humor, it’s wet and it’s always been a dream but it’s also a naughty double entendre! What scamps! But the idea that a grown ass man who can afford a brand new boat (and all that entails) would consider that simplistic comedic gesture not only funny but of serious consideration to be painted on the back of a boat has me fearing for nurses and other health care workers when he tumbles out of his boat one evening and breaks a hip on the dock.

My girlfriend is listening to this and also does not find it as amusing as all these AARP members.

“If we’re ever on a dock and see a boat with that name we’re walking the other way because I don’t want to see what crawls out of there.” I tell my girlfriend.

She’s in agreement and is about to say something with the newly christened boat owner asks me my opinion of the boats name. I look at all these smiling faces and said,

“You’re going to make one sixteen year old happy when he finds it at the salvage yard after you crash into a dock on your maiden voyage.”

Check out my TV show!

Of course, I did have many stipulations going in. I couldn’t be controversial, profane, insulting, intimidating, too risky, no innuendo, obviously no sex or violence, bad language was strictly prohibited and my humor couldn’t be too out there.

Basically, they wanted show with Chris Zell without the burden of dealing with Chris Zell.

Even though they had final edit I thought it would be fun so did it anyway. So, here’s what they came up with from the hundreds of hours of video I shot.


Rejected greeting cards

I’ve written for greeting card companies for years. It’s a tough racket and the sale/submission rate is mighty low. Sometimes I’ll have written something I think is a sure sale but other times I know I’ve written some stinkers. Here are some of those rejected greeting cards:

It’s your birthday!
Too bad no one cares.

I know our love is forbidden.
But court systems aren’t always right.

Thanks for the kindness you showed us.
By moving out of the apartment.
Your ex-roommates.

I know I can’t wait for your retirement!
It’ll be nice not having to do your job and mine.

Happy Birthday!
Mom made me buy this or she wouldn’t let me out of my room.

It’s spring!
So clean up your yard.
From the entire neighborhood.

Rose are red, violets are blue. . .
. . .you better hope we don’t meet ’cause I’ll punch you.

Good luck in your new home!
You’ll find your stuff in the garage.

I love watching you!
So could you go back to your old curtains?

Happy Graduation!
This is a reminder your first student loan payment is due.

Cat Wrangling

We take our cat with us whenever we go away for the weekend. My girlfriend likes to have him around. That makes sense. It’s probably the reason we got him in the first place.

He, on the other hand, is not a fan of how we make this transaction happen. He does not, in any way, shape or form, likes to be captured and boxed up. And that can often make it a battle between he and I. I always do the wrangling because, as I told her,

“Let’s have him only hate one of us.”

I’ve chased him down hallways, had to squeeze myself between a washing machine and a wall, spent countless hours looking for him (and being a feral that little bastard can hide. One time he did it so well we had to cancel the trip because we couldn’t find him), reached under every bed available, you name it and I’ve had to corral him there.

One morning he sensed something was up and was running around the entire house until he decided on the place he figured I couldn’t get him. That place was the top of the refrigerator. Now until you’ve seen a cat jump on a counter then leap onto the top of a refrigerator you really can’t say,

“Holy shit that was amazing.”

As much respect I had for his mad skills I still had the issue of getting him. There was another issue that was pointed out to me.

“Don’t let him knock over the expensive cookie jar.”

Up until that moment I didn’t know there was such a thing as an ‘expensive cookie jar’. So I had to figure out how to get the cat down and also not be blamed because it’s totally my fault if the cat bumps into and breaks the ‘expensive cookie jar’.

I thought about my predicament for a moment before coming up with a solution.

“Get down from there.” I barked.

And damn if it didn’t work. Surprised the hell out of me, let me tell you. I can’t get humans to do things I say.

And the battle continues. Sometimes I try to sneak up on him but that doesn’t often work. By now he’s leery of me on a full time basis. So basically it’s me running after him trying to corner him under a table or behind something.

Last week it was time to get him. He’d not been too concerned with our movements so I could keep an eye on him. Slowly I started to move toward him and he looked up, blinked into consciousness and jumped down from the couch. He ran through the living room into the dining room into the kitchen with me following.

Every time I pass a door I close it. I’m creating a maze to attempt to limit his locations. I walk into the kitchen, he’s standing in the middle of the floor, he looks at me then runs toward me just out of my reach heading under the dining room table.

I look through the door and see him. He sees me through the thickets of chair legs. I take a step back. I begin to form my plan of action. Yes, I spend my days trying to outwit a cat. Sometimes this entire adventure is like throwing snowballs at the sun.

I know, because it’s where he last saw me, he’ll be paying close attention to the kitchen door. So, stepping as quietly as possible, I go the other way. I sneak through the hall way and peek around, he’s still silently staring at the kitchen door. This is good for me.

I begin to creep through the living room, trying to stay out of his peripheral vision and I don’t even know if cats have peripheral vision (I just looked it up by typing in do cats have. . .and the first thing that came up on the search list was ‘periods’. Ah, why? But I ventured forth and found out that cats do indeed have peripheral There, now I don’t feel so bad about sneaking around).

He’s still staring straight at the kitchen door waiting for the moment when I step out to pounce on him. I slowly, quietly approach him hoping when I bend down to grab him my knees don’t creak. I reach toward him, he’s still awaiting my frontal attack as I grab him from behind with two hands.

At this exact moment three things occurred:

  1. he jumped, startled
  2. he made a sound like a 1920’s movie gangster, “Gaah, coppers, you’ll never take me alive.”
  3. he shit

So, yes, I literally scared the shit out of my cat.

I Had Reservations

There are more frightening words in the universe but I know of few that will strike your average man’s soul to dust quicker than ‘reservation’ and ‘wine glass.’ I know you could argue the point but you would, of course, be wrong. It’s not that you, the average man or the average man owner, don’t love both fine dining reservations and the occasional wine in a proper wine glass, it’s just that I’m the one writing this so that, of course, makes your opinion in this matter wrong.

There is only one more word that makes those above phrases more chilling. And that is the word ‘paint’ as in, “I’ve made ‘reservations’ for all of us to go to a fun evening where we’ll each ‘paint’ a lovely little ‘wine glass.'”

You may recall last year my girlfriends daughter, trying to make gift giving during Christmas time more fun, decided to get four tickets to an improv comedy show. If you don’t remember you can click here but, if you’re wise, you’ll just listen to me tell you that I have been in an enclosed room of tile and glass when a starters pistol went off and didn’t have as bad a headache as when witnessing the art that is improv comedy that night.

Now I know most of you reading this do not know me. You may read the occasional screed but you don’t know my personage. Let me clue you in on something, I’m not a wine glass painting kind of guy. There, I’ve said it. My hands have been broken and battered so often I have trouble holding a pen when I’m trying to jot down my terribly cleaver jokes. Clever, I mean terribly clever jokes (don’t worry, I didn’t go through the trouble of jotting that one down). So I’m thinking holding a dainty paint brush while downing copious bottles of beer isn’t going to manifest itself into a fine work of art.

By the time I’m done it may not even be a usable wine glass.

I don’t know if you are aware of this blatant cry for help from bars and restaurants to bring in customers called ‘Paint Night’ but it is abhorrent (think quieter karaoke). It is an evening when groups of people fill a room and, throwing all past knowledge away, think they can make an artistic statement on canvas (or, in our case, glass). I had the misfortune of stumbling into a restaurant that had one of these evenings going on some time back. All I’ll publicly say is about paint night is that it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever fucking heard of.

A roomful of tippling women following the direction of a ‘C’ level artist (who also happens to be a ‘D’ level comedian) trying to lead them into the formation of what may have been intended to be trees but only lead to some fairly frightening Rorschach tests. And yes, I did say women because, a quick survey of the room by yours truly noted one guy among the flock.

So the three of us (myself, girlfriend, and her mother) less than cheerfully (I’m only speaking for myself here. I didn’t make eye contact with the others for fear of them knowing I was at the point of bolting at any second) made the trek to meet the daughter at the location. I’ve gone to funerals with more pep in my step.

People, excuse me, women were gleefully chattering, holding aloft fun and colorful drink concoctions and gathering their glass canvas for an evening of convivial frivolity and all around good cheer. And you know nothing angers me more than convivial frivolity and all around good cheer.

We’re told by the equally cheerful leader (I’m getting a headache) to take our seats. Unfortunately, although I asked politely, my seat was not allowed to be in the car. I had to put on my happy face, damn it, and gut out the horror like a man. At least that’s what I was told on many occasions by my lovely girlfriend when my facial expression (and, honestly, guttural mutterings) didn’t quiet fit the ambiance in the room.

Because the waitstaff was slow I had time between beers to look around. I watched this one woman take it upon herself to help her friend (I knew that because I heard her say, “No, not like that. Here, let me help you.”). Once the paint speckled wine glass was ferried from her control, instead of a happy, I’m getting helped expression, she took on an expression of one who is being over taken.

It must happen to women in this group often because, before she could grab her glass back and crack it over the pushy woman’s head (just the way I would have liked to have seen it work out), the woman to her right whispered something in her ear that caused her to lean back, cross arms, and wait to get on with further convivial frivolity and all around good cheer.

I watched women intently painting their glass. I mean, concentrating as hard as a layman giving a tracheotomy to a stranger on a street corner with only the top of a cat food can and bic pen as tools. I’ve watched people create all kinds of things (I’m actually creating this right now) but the level of intensity here belies the camaraderie of earlier.

It has become a time when you find out that Cindy couldn’t paint a flower if you left her with only the stem. And although Sara starts out pretty good after her third or fourth alien green drink her art falls apart. Then you watch the one woman, the one who convinced everyone this would be fun, apply paint as if she was born with a wine glass in her hand. Her glass is tasteful, elegant and, this is most important to her, is receiving praise and little snippets of jealousy from her friends due to her creation. Just as she wanted it. Her evening is perfect.

Face the facts, no one is ever going to drink out of their stupid wine glass (fewer, I’d have to assume, would want their hideous painting hanging in their home). Most are only doing this because the group is doing it but, not so deep down, they know whatever they create is going to be utter shit and everyone is going to know it. Which is why paint night in a bar is the equivalent of a pissing contest between guys.

“Your glass looks like something Dexter would have dumped in the ocean.”

“The best that can be said about your glass is it should shatter before the outside world is exposed to it.”

As the evening moved mercifully on more and more glasses did mysteriously tip over and crack or make it all the way to the floor erasing all evidence. And the women this ‘accident’ happened to seemed lighter. Some of their earlier convivial frivolity and all around good cheer came back because they knew, although they wasted an evening doing the stupidest thing you could do in a bar, they now get to go home.

Glass less.

An Open Letter

I hope this letter finds you and yours healthy, happy and hirsute. We’re doing fine here on the ranch. It looks as if this years knish crop will be among our finest ever. That was some winter, wasn’t it? We still have snow in the backyard.

But that’s mainly because that bastard neighbor of ours, Periwinkle Strothers, hates when snow gets on his Astroturf so he snow blows and shovels it all into our yard. This year, combined with the snowfall we naturally got, we had over eighty-seven cubits of snow piled up. I swear old Per gathers up snow from his neighbors to put in our yard just to keep me from my spring hobby, naked snake juggling (I’m naked. The snakes wear tube socks. Just so we understand each other that it’s not weird).

But you don’t want to hear my travails. This is about a serious issue I’ve noticed over the last few years. And it’s not with many of my hard working friends (although some of those lazy working friends have succumbed). It’s with those who aren’t working anymore. It could be due to getting their dumb asses fired or it could be they were just fed up working for the man so up and quit; they could be faking an injury, oh, I’m not implying anything. I’m sure if you got hurt you really got hurt! They could have taken their retirement; they could be a member of the leisure class. But the type of that ilk who falls in to this have too much leisure and not enough class.

What I’m getting at is y’all got a bunch of time on your hands if you fall into one of those non-working categories. And you know that old saying, idle hands make you do things you’ll be embarrassed about later (especially if the cat is watching). But the thing I’ve been noticing as of late is that plenty of these folks are getting themselves into a black hole. A black hole I’ve come to find out is called internet conspiracy theories.

Oh, I know, they’ve been out there for years. Way long before that internet thing. I remember Batboy! But it’s reached a critical mass where people who, just six months ago I was having pleasant conversations about the theory of relatives, get all up in my grill telling me all about how the pyramids were actually alien space crafts that ran out of spewtonium 47 so had to stay there. They know this because an archaeologist by the name of Percival VanRouge dug deep enough under the pyramids to see the long dormant thrusters.

I know this opens up a whole new line of questioning. Things like, why are they telling me this? Did I ever exhibit a desire to learn about the pyramids? Or aliens for that matter? And what’s up with all the people with their first name starting with P in this letter? That’s weirder then the pyramid thing.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they just told their little pyramid story and ran. Oh no, they spiral right down into that glory hole, no wait, that’s not right. It’s some kind of hole. If I think of what it is I’ll come back and change it. But they don’t stop there. After the pyramids it’s the Mayans then the fact that Stonehenge is actually worn down family sculptures of the original land owners (who actually started the Illuminati) on and on and on. I’ve got to tell you, by the time they finally get to the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 I’m plumb tuckered out.

Just this week I’ve had two ‘non-workers’ each monologue at me for over an hour. By the end of their enlightenment to me I was more confused then the time someone let me merge into rush hour traffic without threat of an accident but they were just getting started. They could have blathered all night. But, thankfully, my narcolepsy kicked in so I was spared.

Now, friend, people talking about anything is always a time where you have the chance of learning something. But when you tell me the beloved Fred Rogers, he of his own neighborhood, was a sniper and was in Dallas the day some of JFK got out of the car, well friend, you start to lose me.

And, boy, do they think you’re stupid then! Holy granola enemas! When they first started talking to me about the secret room the phone company has to listen to everything we say they did it knowing I’d not only get it but I’d probably have some insight to add. But when I dared question the veracity of a secret room (that comes up #1 when you search for it in Google – I was told to do that and, because they were standing over me, I did. You’d think a real secret room would be further down in the search. But, what do I know?) all of a sudden I’m at the intelligence level of a moldy zucchini.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re not working for any reason, do yourself and everyone you’ll run into a favor. Get out of the house! Turn off the fucking computer! Go to a meeting (well, depending on the meeting that may not be a good idea)! Volunteer at a homeless rodeo! Take up table tennis!

All I’m saying is, it’s not healthy to spend the time equivalent of your old work day scouring the internet trying to ferret out if Aaron Burr was really a cross-dresser. I can see where it’s so easy to do. You have time on your hands, the equivalent of the an unlimited database at your fingertips. I can see how it’s so easy to slip down a rabbit hole (that’s the word! Don’t forget to change it from the earlier hole reference). That’s why you should take a second and push yourself away from the computer. I know the internet is a fascinating place. But, as with most fascinating places, danger lurks. I’m not saying don’t expand your mind to the possibilities of what’s under the surface of the world. I’m just saying, don’t make it your world. Maybe you could get a hobby to fill some time. May I suggest naked snake juggling?