Thursday, March 27, 2008

Outdoor Urination For Dummies

What follows is a cautionary tale. Be not fooled by the title; there is serious wisdom to be gleaned from the sentences and paragraphs that will be presented to you on this computer screen, unadorned, raw, unedited, bare and naked before your eager eyes and wanting mind. The author recounts this event at the risk of ridicule and embarrassment but considers this a small exchange if even a single person be saved from a similar fate as a result of this telling.

Let us go back now to when the author was just a young lad, capricious and full of wonderment

The conditions were formidable. Frigid. Arctic-like. Indeed, had the temperature dropped another 32 degrees or so it would have been right around zero. Makes the author shiver just thinking about it. The location was remote, on the outskirts of the outskirts of town. This was before the dawning of the age of cheap cell phones so contact with civilization was not feasible.

The landscape was desolate. With the exception of the free-roaming cattle and the occasional screech of a buzzard or crow (aka “black bird of the devil”), it was barren, lifeless, and eerily silent. For all we knew the cattle had evil intentions and would devour us at the first opportunity. Sure, they looked all cute and cuddly but they were large and outnumbered us significantly and one could never know what was going on the mind of one of these beasts. They were not to be trifled with as far as the author was concerned.

Nothing was to be taken for granted here, one’s guard never to be let down. Without the industrial size cooler full of hot dogs, chips, sodas, cookies, granola bars, and other rations, undoubtedly we would have resorted to unspeakable acts of desperation to avoid starvation. The author shudders at the possibility of what might have transpired.

The sky was black and most were sound asleep in their tents. The author however was in a conundrum. Nature was calling. And when nature calls this author answers faster than you can say “Flomax*”. But he was safe and snug in the comfort of a warm tent and the air outside was icy and potentially vicious livestock lurked nearby. There were occasional strange and unidentifiable sounds that rang out in the night, like banshees or pterodactyls. The author was dismayed at the prospect of venturing out to do his deed. He remained in his sleeping bag, pondering his predicament. Natures urge became increasingly more difficult to ignore but the author was firm in his conviction to not venture out of the tent. He wrestled with the issue in his mind for an un-recalled length of time.

Then it came to him; an idea, a possible solution to this dilemma. The author clearly needed to relieve himself but was determined not to set one foot outside of the safety of his tent. Perhaps there might be a way to satisfy both requirements. His tent-mates were fast asleep and it was worth a shot. He carefully and quietly slipped out of his sleeping bag and eased his way to the doorway of the tent. Yes. This could work. Quiet as a mouse he propped up on his knees, slowly unzipped the opening to the tent and then unzipped something else.


But something was awry. What the ?…it was no sooner than the author was experiencing the best sort of relief and basking in the glory of his ingenious idea that he felt a warm and wet sensation on his leg that signaled trouble. Uh-oh…big uh-oh. The author, true to his legendary reputation in technical and mechanical ingenuity, had failed to realize there was a second tent zipper that required unzipping; an outer screen that was virtually invisible in this darkness. But he was past the point of no return and the damage had been done. This was no flat surface and the damage was spreading and affecting other people in it’s wake, poor souls fast asleep and completely unaware of the peril they were in.

The author felt unbelievably better but now had a bona-fide moral dilemma on his hands. The decision was an easy one. Quietly he re-zipped the doorway (and his trousers) and eased back in to his sleeping bag. Mission accomplished though not without some collateral damage.

When daylight arrived it was obvious to everyone that something terrible had happened. It must have been a funny scene; all the commotion and not a single confession, a campfire mystery that would endure. The author was somehow one of the least likely suspects and managed to escape this entire incident unscathed, reputation unvarnished, though not without some guilt. To this day he considers it one of his greatest acts of deception and feels some twisted sense of accomplishment for pulling it off.

The author needed to get that off his chest. He feels better now. That secret has been with him a long time. He feels lighter, freer.

At this time it might seem appropriate to throw it out little phrases like ‘Tis better to be pissed off than pissed on’, and other epithets, but the author will spare you. One might think of R-Kelly also but he won’t go there either.

There is a moral as well as practical lesson to this story and the author hopes that it has been presented clearly and concisely. But just in case it has been lost in the delicate subtlety of this prose, he will spell it out for you one final time. Pay close attention and take heed. Re-read this several times daily if need be. Post it on your refrigerator. Whatever.

And never, ever forget….

If you’re going to piss out of a tent make sure you unzip the mother#$%!ing tent all the way.

(Now if you’ll excuse the author he’s got to make a quick run to the Al-Qaeda**.)

* The author is perplexed as to why a drug intended to help bladder control is called Flomax. Reverse psychology he presumes.

**Al-Qaeda is actually Arabic slang for “toilet”; specifically ‘foreign toilet’, indicating an actual commode as opposed to a hole in the ground. Seriously.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Dey Call Dat Girl Pooh-Cat!!"

The author feels it’s appropriate to preface the following commentary with a short tidbit regarding his background. From a very young age the other of this blog found himself in situations where he was the only white boy on a basketball court full of black boys. Even into the high school and early college years there were many occasions where he was the only white guy in the vicinity, more times than you could shake a stick at quite frankly. His history with black people is significant and somewhat colorful (pun not intended) and he only brings it up here in an attempt to make it clear to readers that he is anything but racist. Anyone who might be reading this and has known him outside of the ‘net can vouch to this. And not that it is particularly relevant to this discussion but the author would like to take this opportunity to also mention the fact that black people have been very good to him throughout his life.

Anyway…The author was on a little jaunt yesterday evening to pick up a pizza from Pizza Hut and had an experience that seemed worthy of a blog mention, inconsequential as it was.

Quick sidebar:
Yes, the author does occasionally put shitty food into his body but he does make every effort to keep this to a minimum and to his credit this was the new offering from Pizza Hut known as “The Natural” which supposedly contains all natural/organic ingredients including a whole grain crust. The author has no way of verifying this claim however and tends to have a healthy skepticism about this kind of advertising. While on this topic a quick quote comes to mind that originates with some sage of the Eastern persuasion saying something about it being not what goes into the body that defiles a man but what comes out of it. Please note that the author does not recommend using this as an excuse or rationalization for regularly ingesting the grease coated buzzard shit that passes for food and is inexpensively available on every American street corner.

The Pizza Hut trip…So the author was walking into Pizza Hut and was nearly bulldozed by a black woman who came barreling out of the door with alarming speed and astounding lack of regard for her surroundings and the people who might be in her path. The author made good use of his cat-like reflexes and dodged the threat resulting in a ‘near-miss’. This woman - of medium stature and wearing clothing that very much resembled ‘80s hooker attire – was also chatting on her cell phone at a volume that would ensure everyone within a thirty yard radius would hear every riveting detail of the conversation. Seeing as how the author and this individual essentially just whizzed right by each other, he only had the privilege of hearing one single phrase as it was blurted into the phone as if she thought she was speaking into an empty coffee can with a string attached to another coffee can some distance away: “DEY CALL DAT GIRL POOH-CAT!!”

Now the author has had more than his fair share of exposure to black culture and slang and at one time or another would’ve thought that he had heard it all but this pooh-cat thing stopped him dead in his tracks, struck by two simultaneous impulses: one of almost uncontrollable laughter bubbling up and the other of head-scratching confusion and exasperation. Refraining from either he proceeded to walk on in and pick up his Natural but “pooh-cat” was with him on the drive home. He had a good laugh in the car but also found the whole incident a little disturbing because it was representative of the type of behavior and lingo he was noticing more of lately.

The author at one time had an appreciation for rap music and in spite of the distasteful and negative connotations it carried, felt it did have some redeeming qualities. Unfortunately over the past six to seven years rap has undergone a grotesque transformation and morphed into something the author can hardly recognize. Indeed, he has his doubts that current rap lyrics are actually written by human beings but instead rather poorly constructed computer programs than churn songs out on an as needed basis and are then recited by gang members who are picked up off the street and perform in exchange for little more than a Cadillac Escalade and cubic zirconium tooth apparatus. The author would just as soon be locked in a closet with a rapacious wolverine than listen to this current rap music.

If the decline of rap music (and black slang) is any barometer or indication of the direction that society as a whole is taking, it is the author’s firm belief that we are headed for a cultural landscape that will make Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy” look like the European Age Of Enlightenment.

The author realizes he has gone on a bit too long for this type of blog entry and will close with some lyrics that are the chorus from what is a popular rap song at the moment:

“This is why, this is why, this is why I’m hot. I’m hot because I’m fly, you ain’t because you not. This is why, this is why, this is why I’m hot.”

“You ain’t because you not.” Let that sink in for a moment.

The author guesses that “Pooh-Cat” probably loves this song.

“The Natural” is actually quite tasty and if the author’s taste buds are any authority on the matter, the whole wheat/whole grain crust is legit. If you’ve gotta eat pizza and want to feel better about doing it, the author highly recommends “The Natural”. Coincidentally, the author also recommends the movie “The Natural” starring Robert Redford. You could even have a little theme night and dine on “The Natural” while watching “The Natural”.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Long And Weary Path

In much the same way he did every day at this time an elderly man walked hurriedly up the narrow lane, careful not to make eye contact with anyone, cursing under his breath this fate that had befallen him, silently resentful of the passers-by who were clearly more fortunate than himself. Today was like any other day for him. The breeze felt too cold and the sky was too white and blinding. The air was uncomfortably humid and each step seemed to bring a little more discomfort than the step before it. This had been going on for many years now.

It wasn't only the walking that had become progressively more difficult but the burden of life itself seemed to compound as today's troubles were heaped upon yesterday's troubles which were piled upon the troubles from the day before that. This progression went back as far as the man could remember. Things might have been better or different at some point in time but any memory of that was long gone. Even the narrow lane he was now walking on somehow seemed steeper and more foreboding than it had in previous times though he couldn't work out in his mind how this could possibly be true. There were many things he was unable to work out in his mind.

How many years now? How many years had it been since he had made the decision to walk this particular path at the exclusion of all others? Of course the answer to this question had long since faded from his memory. It really wasn't important anyway. He told himself this frequently. It wasn't important that there may have been other less cumbersome paths that would have been more kind to him over the years. It was useless to consider that indeed there may still be other options available, even now, after all that had happened. No. The decision had been made and that was that. Or was it?

In what had lately become a very rare occurrence – so rare that he could not recall the last time it had happened - a fresh and interesting thought appeared in his mind, a mind that had been repeating the same dreary and pointless cycle of thoughts for decades, a mind unable and unwilling to escape the inertia of it’s own bleak and self-defeating momentum. This thought came to him as a result of the previous question about his decision to tread this very path that he found himself on right now. Admittedly he had never questioned this decision before and admittedly this path had robbed him of his vitality, his youth, his optimism, his compassion, and an infinite number of other precious things that were now beyond the scope of his ability to remember them. Truly, the oppressiveness and weariness of this path could never be overstated.

The thought he had was this: Had he actually made the decision to travel this route he had been traveling for all of these years? Had it been a conscious choice? In what was an equally rare occurrence the man suddenly slowed his pace as he continued to make his way up the long and winding lane. He had walked this way thousands, maybe tens of thousands of times and how seldom it was that he ever actually slowed down. It was the unpleasantness of the surroundings that usually had him moving along as quickly as he possibly could, hoping to arrive at a more agreeable destination but (now that he thought about it) never actually achieving that.

No… He was sure of it. He had never actually made the decision to travel on this unfriendly, insufferable path. The decision had somehow been made for him. Almost everyone traveled this same path, which seemed to be the only reason – as far as he could tell – that anyone traveled this path at all.

By this time the man had stopped in his tracks and was standing completely, absolutely, still. This was much more than a rare occurrence. This – in fact – was something that had never happened before in the man’s history. Suddenly his surroundings seemed alien and hostile, even more so than before, and the sky became dark. Something like fear gripped him but it was stronger than any fear he had known before. It came over him with such ferocity and quickness that the term ‘fear’ was inadequate to describe exactly what he was feeling. Maybe this was it. Maybe death was approaching. But...there was this sound, far off in the distance, very faint. It was a sound so improbable - indeed impossible - given where he was.

The strangeness of such a sound in these surroundings was enough to rid the man of the crippling fear he had experienced just seconds prior to hearing it. Surely he must be losing his mind. It was faint but he could now begin to recognize what he was hearing, such a beautiful sound that it was. Music…Mozart? Beethoven? He couldn’t tell. He had never had much skill in identifying composers. And how many years had it been since he had heard music? The real question however, was how in the world was it possible to be hearing music in this environment. It was physically impossible and he knew this.

But something about the improbability of what was occurring sparked a flood of insight and realization about many of the questions that had appeared in his mind over the past few minutes or hours – whichever the case was – he wasn’t sure now, answers about the path and his choices and his present condition and other wonderful and fascinating things that he had no context for. The sky was no longer dark and his surroundings no longer seemed hostile but rather the exact opposite. Bright white light was pervading the atmosphere at a gradually increasing rate. The trees (which usually seemed like looming, malicious beasts of prey) now seemed not only friendly and welcoming, but almost sacred. He felt as if they - along with every plant, flower, and blade of grass - were smiling warmly at him, unmistakably aware of his own presence and miraculous beyond description. And this music...this symphony of music…so strange and out of place, becoming clearer and louder and more confusing, but the concept of confusing was becoming a moot point as events continued to unfold.

The light became even brighter and the music even louder; unbearably bright, and now impossibly loud. Everything else began to recede into the background. And then…

The morning sunlight flooded into the bedroom as Ben slowly opened his eyes, grinning and quite pleased with himself for changing the dial last night on his alarm clock radio from the hard rock station to classical.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Like, Oh My God!

Ok seriously, I'm just trying to see what this looks like. It's another test post! Don't start critiquing my literary offerings at a time like this. It's just not fair to the children.

It's really not fair to yourself either. Don't judge a blog by it's actual content. Okay? Judge it by the colors! Judge it by the template that the person picked out. Judge it by the persons picture; something, anything of real substance.

Testes, Testes, 123

This is a test post. Gee, does this look cool or what. I feel so neat. This makes me feel neat.