Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Those who know me know that I have many, what have been termed, "irrational fears." I cannot use the restroom, anywhere, unless the shower curtain is open or at least has been peeked behind first. Needles or seeing needles go into someone, I actually broke out in a cold sweat once when I had to get an IV. I cannot stand the sight, feel, or sound of metal on teeth. I once bit a quarter because I saw a man bite a gold coin in an old movie and thought he did so because coins taste good. They do not. They taste like mineralized terror.
What few realize is that my fears are not irrational. There is a legitimate explanation for why I am afraid or averse to certain actions or objects. For example:
The most prominent of my "irrational fears" is my utter disgust with "dangly" things, or things that dangle. This stems from doing yard work and other outdoor chores alongside my father when I was younger. He would often, at random times and especially in autumn, shout either "Polish handkerchief!" or "Snot rocket!" and proceed to jam a finger or thumb up one of nostrils and expel the contents of his nose at me. This usually led to the discovery of some sort of mucusy nastiness dangling from some part of my body accompanied by dry heaves and occasionally an emptying of my stomach.
Lindsey does not comprehend this fear and has tried to correct what she sees as a simple, albeit strange, aversion not realizing it is a byproduct of youthful torture. Many times she has tried to show me the used portion of a Kleenex and, generally, when she sneezes she aims her face in my direction. I have since developed a compulsive need to wipe clean every part of my body after she sneezes at me, regardless of whether or not the foulness in her sinuses has made contact with me.
There remains one fear, which I admit is irrational, or at least improbable, that prior to now I have not exposed. Reflections when it is dark. Having a mother convinced that she is a) in the Matrix, b) has driven through a forcefield, and c) has legitimately lived in a haunted house, it is understandable that when the X-Files first began airing in 1993 she fell in love almost immediately. It became a Sunday night tradition to watch the X-Files as a family together, Brett usually hid somewhere, Alex was a baby, through her social derangement may stem from early exposure to the show, and I watched, enthralled.
One particular episode when I was 12 managed to do what no other episode to that time had done, terrify me. There was a cult in the show and a substitute teacher who used dark magic, holding someone's personal item over a brightly burning flame chanting, muttering, to murder the person. I had an early morning paper route that my father graciously performed over half of the work for and allowed me to take credit for as well. I was convinced, for some reason, that if I were to look into the windows or glass doors on my route that I would see reflected behind me that substitute teacher, holding one of my papers over the candle, chanting and muttering at me.
This complex was strengthened when, for some reason beyond comprehension, I twice saw the re-release of The Exorcist in the theater, late at night, coming home when the house was completely dark, quiet, and I had to walk by a full-length mirror to get to my room.
Logically I know there will be no newspaper wielding occultist substitute or demonically possessed girl in the reflection but I cannot help but keep my eyes glued to the floor when passing a mirror when it is dark. It has reached a point that I cannot look into a mirror at night, early or morning, or during an eclipse without first turning on a light. Though my electricity bill is high my deaths by dark magic or possession is low. I consider it a win and will gladly continue to pay extra each month to preserve my life.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I am an unabashed, self-proclaimed, outspoken cinephile. I watch movies and then judge them, sharing my opinions often where no one has asked to hear them and emphatically defending whatever position I have taken. This has caused no end to strife in my marriage, as my wife is one of those who foul the earth by their desire to watch movies simply for “entertainment.” It sickens me.
Our major clash comes over the move Rocky, the first film in the string of never-ending boxing movies starring Sylvester Stallone. The first, however, is a triumph of authentic acting and writing, showing the poor underdog at his best yet still losing the opportunity of a lifetime to a superior athlete. It is full of the complexity and authentic characterization that makes a truly great film.
My wife’s loathing for the film is deep and dark, much like the overriding look and feel of the movie. She despises the movie so much that for my birthday, when she made me a coupon book of things she would do for me, things she usually detests, “Watch Rocky” was one of them. Then when I tried using it she told me that particular coupon had expired, though no written expiration date had been written in.
Over the years I’ve tried to bring her over to my way of viewing movies. Watching first those films that bridged the gap, that were slightly mindless yet still fun to watch, classics like the original Parent Trap, the Princess Bride, or The Frighteners. We never moved beyond that point. In fact once she got wise to my plan she reverted and has since forced me to sit through films like Just Like Heaven, My Little Ponies (the Movie), and Steel Magnolias.
I’ve since given up and have had to go underground with my film watching. Now when I want to watch something truly great I call a friend, invent an excuse to be out of the house, and meet at a pre-determined location. The only refuge I have left is my refusal to couch my comments when forced to watch the tripe my wife considers enjoyable.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Justice takes strange forms. Generally it is understood by religious peoples that vengeance and retribution belong to God; that those who conduct lives of wickedness while on earth will be punished in the hereafter if not while they are yet alive. Or for those that are truly vile, I speak here of those cretins that talk loudly or use cell phones while in the movies, perhaps they will be punished both on earth and in the life to come.
It is frustrating when we feel we have been wronged by a person knowing they might not get their comeuppance until after they have passed on. Occasionally, however, someone who has mistreated us is punished while we are around to enjoy it. No, we should not enjoy seeing another punished but it does feel nice to gloat until the guilt hits.
While working at her retail job my wife was recently screamed at by a small woman with an irritatingly high-pitched voice. She wanted to buy a living room set on her husband’s account and didn’t understand that without her husband present to authorize the transaction legally the company could not push through the order. The woman, finally fed up by being told ‘no,’ made a disparaging comment directed at my wife then stormed out.
A few weeks passed then I got a call from my wife while she was at work. Apparently the woman above had been arrested for fraudulently using her EX-husband’s account, a fact she neglected to share with the sales associates at the time she was trying to use it to buy her furniture. Now one of the women from work has to appear in court to testify against the woman who was illegally using her husband’s account.
My wife has commenced gloating and due to her lack of a soul will probably not stop. I, on the other hand, must wait until the hereafter.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I live in a constant state of terror. My life is constantly threatened and I am only safe at school, where I am too ashamed to speak out about the abuse I receive at home. My wife, having both Irish and Scottish ancestors, has a temper of legendary proportions. She has deep red hair that seems to ignite with an internal flame as her anger rises and spills out into the physical world in the form of verbal and non-verbal cruelty directed at me.
Recently, for seemingly no reason at all, she informed me I was a “doody mahoodie.” I responded with, “Oh yeah. Well, you’re a doody mahoodie with a dirty patootie.” Her reply, which I was quite impressed with, was “Well, you’re a doody mahoodie with a dirty patootie and a pony named Judy!”
Not wanting to be outdone I shouted “Well, you’re just a mean old woman!” The onslaught I faced was unlike any my imagination could conjure. Such a torrent of slapping accompanied by girlish wailing the world has never seen. I tried to hide myself under a layer of pillows and blankets yet foolishly left one of my feet exposed. She grabbed my foot and pulled me crying from under my protective layer and slapped every inch of exposed skin until a pink glow filled the room.
I was left lying on the bed, my skin too raw to move, sobbing quietly until sleep overtook me. The next day at school, when my classmates asked me where my bruised and sunburned look came from I thought of my wife and hurriedly responded, “I fell down the stairs.” It’s just safer that way.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
College has been a trying experience for me on many fronts. One in particular that distresses me is my personal health. When I started my formal schooling in the winter of 2004, yes it’s 2008 and I’m nowhere near to being done, I was a svelte 6’3, 210 pounds. Now, four years later, I’m still 6’3 but have put on about 140 pounds. How is such a feat possible? Simple, I have no time to cook or exercise and so eat the majority of my meals from fast food restaurants.
What most interests me about the various fried food dispensing chains is not the food but those who work there and keep the place running. Typically McDonald’s is worked entirely by Mexicans with a white manager. Wendy’s is almost always all Mexican staffed while Del Taco keeps a better mix of ethnicities. Only stoned college and high school kids work at Sonic so I don’t go there.
As most, if not all, fast food consumers are white people looking to avoid the work of preparing a meal themselves at times the clashing of cultures leads to difficulties and hilarity surrounding an order. After a long night my wife and I went to Wendy’s and obtained our order with no difficulties until I asked for salt. Observe:
“May I have some salt,” I ask, loudly as I’m sitting in the passenger’s seat.
The drive-thru clerk looks at me, tilts her head to the side like a cat might do and does nothing.
“May I have some salt, please?” I figured she might be waiting for the magic word.
“Sal…Wha…?” She continues to stare at me.
“May I have some salt!” Now my ire is up and I don’t understand why this person refuses to hand me a package of salt.
“Sal…tuh?” She then shakes her head and walks over to the manager who comes to the window.
“What can I get you?” the manager asks.
“Salt.” I reply curtly.
“Salt? Oh yeah we have salt.” Then she too stares at me, doing nothing.
“Can I have some?” I shout. My wife by this time is shaking with a fit of giggles, trying not to laugh at my difficulty in obtaining a simple table seasoning.
She looks startled, grabs enough salt packets to re-salinate the Great Salt Lake and thrusts them into my car.
We drive off and I vow to never again come to Wendy’s at 9:45 p.m. on a Wednesday evening. All other times are free game though.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
When I was six years old, living in Euless, Texas, with my family and new baby brother, I had an adventurous group of friends. We explored the woods not far from my home, without first disclosing our location to our parents, could often be found jumping from the second bunk of a bunk bed onto bean bags below, and to this day, though I do not remember why, are banned from a certain Wal-Mart in the Dallas, Texas region.
It should come as no surprise then that one afternoon, with not much to do; we decided we would join the circus, each specializing in a certain talent we wanted to learn. My friend Casey wanted to be a trapeze artist, his younger brother Ricky wanted to train lions, and I wanted to walk the tightrope. As we did not have lions or a high pole from which to rig up a trapeze swing but did have rope we could string across a three foot section of tall fencing, it was only natural that I develop my skill first.
I decided my tightrope walking act would be revolutionary so, after Ricky and Casey strung the rope across the fence, holding it tight, I instructed the fourth member of our group, Josh, to begin hitting the rope with a plastic bat. I climbed the fence, a good six feet tall, took one step and fell headfirst onto the fence latch which for some reason, in Texas, was on the ground.
I now have a dimple under my left eye that can be seen when I smile or scrunch up my face and had not been present before my foray into the circus world. Needless to say my friends scattered like the rodents they were, my parents were merely relieved I was able to keep my eye, and now a picture of the vicious swelling and bruising of my face hangs in the entryway to my parent's home. My mother tells anyone who will listen it is, to date, her favorite picture of her oldest son.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I will be the first to acknowledge I am a little more than pleasantly plump, in fact I believe I crossed the line into obstinately obese not long ago, yet I am working on it. My methods are slow and often frustrating as I indulge in culinary pleasure far more often than is healthy. My wife also acknowledges that she could stand to eat healthier and exercise as well. Yet this recognition blossoms into full-fledged mania when “The Biggest Loser” is on.
Inspired by those far larger than she my wife has taken to weekly emptying our cupboards of anything even remotely fattening or, as I would phrase it, delicious.
“We are going on a diet!” She yells, empowered by seeing those who have lost so much weight in only three months. “No more soda, no more candy, no more anything!”
The next day she invariably works early, my first class is not until 11:00 a.m. so I have the chance to sleep in. Awaking at 10:00 a.m. I scrounge for breakfast yet find none. My cereal, the peanut butter, the jelly, even the butter is gone, making my options little more than dry toast. All good food in our apartment is now in the dumpster outside, the victim of my wife’s purge.
It wouldn’t be so bad if later that same day I hadn’t received this message on my phone: “Hey, sorry, but I was really hungry so I went to Arby’s with a friend for lunch. I love you and I’ll see you tonight.”
Listening to the above three times my stomach gurgles in righteous indignation as I sit down to a healthy lunch of toasted bread and water, imaging sweet revenge in the form of the spicy bean curd I’ll be serving her for dinner that night.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
It should come to no surprise to those that know me, or are forced to endure my presence, that I have a volume control issue with my voice. I can often be heard shouting things that in a normal conversation would not even give occasion to raise one’s voice. For example, a friend and I were at a Subway restaurant, about to get a sandwich before seeing a movie. We placed our orders at about the same time and when it came time to pay the sales clerk asked, “Are you together or separate?”
I shouted in reply “UH, SEPARATE!” The sales clerk stepped back, not accustomed to having otherwise normal responses bellowed at her. My friend started laughing uncontrollably and I turned a deeper shade of violet than my usual flushed mauve.
Another time the same friend and I were at Barnes and Noble. Again, it came time to make our purchases and an innocent sales clerk asked, “Do you have a savings card?” Not thinking anything of it I replied, “No, I don’t.” It wasn’t until the sales clerk’s eyes grew to the size of dinner plates and my friend began laughing that I realized I had, again, shouted what should have been a spoken reply.
I have taken to trying to listen to my own voice as I speak not due to any self-absorption but to spare myself any future embarrassment. I am already 6”3, weigh over 300 pounds, and have the reddest face out of almost anyone you’ve ever seen. Unfortunately I usually only realize what has happened after the fact.
Such was the case the other day when, as my wife dropped me off for a class, I told her, jokingly, “Only a complete sucker would donate blood.” She turned red and turned to look out of the windshield, directly in front of us was a group of students unloading a Red Cross truck, setting up for a blood drive on campus. From their shocked looks it was apparent I had, again, shouted something inappropriate.
I did the only thing one can do when something as embarrassing as this happens, turned a deeper hue of scarlet, ducked my head, and hurried on my way as quickly as I could while my wife laughed and left me to my fate.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I remember it well.
On the freezing fields of Snowbound I first set eyes upon my foe, JamonDuke3. I bore down upon him, my automatic rifle firing unceasingly, hurling grenades until he was weak enough for me to deliver the death blow with my own hands. His lifeless form flew through the air as though a sack of flour had been hurled into open space. It was there the addiction formed and my compulsion grew. What's more, there have been others.
girlymanErwin, streetpanther0779, and LordChubbuck soon joined JamonDuke3 in the fiery depths reserved for those who dare oppose me. I am strengthened occasionally by a friend, Chinook Imlah, in my endeavor to rid the world of these loathsome beings and together we rain explosive justice down upon our enemies. Though at times our opponents seem to gain the upper hand, more often than not we are victorious.
The next step in my program is to acknowledge a greater power that can give me strength in my quest to overcome my addiction or compulsion. Though not difficult to acknowledge a greater power it is another matter altogether to willfully allow said power to stop me from delivering swift death to my enemies. I am ashamed to admit that the glory of battle calls to me every time I enter my living room and all too often I give in to my compulsion in order to feed my addiction.
My wife is a great deterrent to my addiction as when she finds me engaged in my noble quest she often complains until I lay down my weapon of destruction and take part in altogether more wholesome activities. Will I ever be able to go a single day without once trying to punish those who rise up against me? I do not know. I can only say at present the number of those felled by my hand are many and every time I seek to beat down one of my adversaries another rises in his stead. Tomorrow I shall seek out bebotheace and if after his demise no one opposes me I may be content to give up my addiction. I will just have to wait until then.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
During a recent argument with my wife, there are many, I jokingly told her “I’m going to take you down.” She responded with, “Well, I’ll take you all the way down, down to Chinatown!” Not wanting to lose yet another argument, making my record 0 to 497 for our three and a half years of marriage, I came back with “Oh yeah? Well I’ll take you to downtown Chinatown.” She did not care for this reply.
Immediately my wife, Lindsey, fumed “There is no such place as downtown Chinatown!”
“Sure there is,” I said. “It’s like Portland. There’s the city of Portland and then there’s downtown Portland. Same thing.” She cared for this explanation less than she did my informing her of the existence of downtown Chinatown.
“It is not the same thing!” She punched me in the arm and left the room, effectively ending our argument. Or so she thought.
Recently we were at Circuit City looking at LCD televisions when I happened upon a gem of 1980s filmmaking “Big Trouble in Little China.” It was only six dollars. Not knowing my true motives for wanting the movie Lindsey let me buy it. The ambush came that night while we watched it.
As the film progressed in the haphazard manner befitting a movie made in the 80s I exclaimed, “There it is! There it is!”
“What? What’s there?”
I turned, smiling, “Proof positive of the existence of downtown Chinatown.”
My arm has been burning for the past two days where she punched me, yelling, “There is no such place as downtown Chinatown!”
I don’t know why I’m compelled to do or say the things that anger her so much. I can only say you have to see her, fuming, almost rabid, insisting that something as meaningless as downtown Chinatown cannot exist, to understand. If you saw it, you’d probably join in.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
"Are you Sarah?"
"Well, what are you doing in my classroom?"
The rest of the students laughed as our instructor winked at us.
"Uh," she looked around nervously, "I got an e-mail?"
It wasn't a question but she said it like one.
"Well, you're not on my list, so why are you here?" The last word stretched to three syllables as our instructor jokingly motioned around the room.
"I registered for this class. The e-mail said I was registered?"
"This is a block class; you're probably in the second block."
"Okay," she sat down and began unpacking her bag, taking out some paper to take notes.
"If you're in the second block, you need to come back when that starts."
"Oh. But I'm registered for this class." She was confused, staring at the professor. "I'm registered now."
"Right, but this is the first block. You're in the second block. Come back in October." Our instructor looked at us, not sure if this girl was really confused or just joking.
"But I'm registered?" Asking this did nothing to strengthen her argument.
"The second block starts in October. Come back in October."
Class members began to laugh; the girl looked bewildered but gathered her things and started towards the door. She turned around, another question on her face.
"Come back to this room on October 25, at the same time. You're still in the class; you're just in the second block."
The class began to laugh again and the girl stumbled out the door. It is ridiculous that a person can make it to college and yet remain incapable of grasping a seemingly simple concept. A friend who works in the BYU Bookstore recently adjusted his status to on-call after a customer repeatedly insisted there was only one Korea.
"What's this South Korea, North Korea business? There's just Korea. Like Vietnam."
He just couldn't handle the general stupidity existent on a prestigious university campus. Neither can I.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
At school our teachers soon caught wind of my family's plight and treated both myself and my brother as though we were made of porcelain, about to break at any moment. I got into a fight with a boy named Raymond Lovejoy because he called me fat. I was sent to the school counselor because obviously I had fought due to my stressful situation at home, not because Raymond was a jerk. My brother, Brett, already an artistic individual, was allowed to draw during class because he too must have been suffering and this was his form of release.
Brett, who was in the third grade, was often commissioned by his classmates for drawings. A girl in his class asked Brett to draw a skull for her and he, thinking nothing of it, drew it for her, adding in flames to great effect. Later that day he was called in to see the school counselor and my mother was called. Brett's drawing had been discovered in the locker of another girl in his class bearing the inscription "I know where you live and am going to kill you and your family." Brett appeared to be cracking under the intense pressure of having a sick mom, newborn sister, and exhausted father.
My mother came to school to meet with Brett and the counselor and upon examining the picture began to laugh. Though the artwork was most definitely Brett's the handwriting was not. It appears the girl who had asked for the picture did not like the other girl in whose locker the picture was found. My mother went home and Brett, and myself, were made to meet regularly with the school counselor. Neither of us had a clue as to why we had to meet with the counselor but she had games and comics in her office so we made the best of a bleak situation.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
As I entered the whirling hormonal storm that is teenage dating I kept myself alert for the appropriate circumstances. My friends quickly bypassed me on the road to pubescent maturity informing me the first kiss was awkward, shy, and usually wet. Still, I remained convinced that my first physical romantic encounter would occur as I had seen it depicted; passionate, forceful, and direct.
The summer of before my junior year of high school I was set up on a blind date with Maggie. She was tall, slender, and had long brown hair. We were naturally at ease together and began seeing each other regularly. After a few weeks we had an opportunity to attend a music festival in Salem with a group of friends. Though only 30 minutes away, Maggie's parents were wary of her traveling so far without an adult present. Though okay with me going to Salem, I opted to remain in town with her.
We had an enjoyable evening together, spent at Borders Books. We listened to CDs, read books, ate at the café, and walked together hand in hand. Our date, as had all others, closed on her doorstep. Typically I said good night, we hugged, and she went inside. This night, however, after our embrace she stared deep into my eyes, placed her right hand on my hip and with her left grabbed my shirt collar. I recognized this as the iconic moment, my first kiss was imminent, and I was terrified. Sinking into flight or fight mode I watched as my body clumsily placed my hand on her hip, blurted out "I had a great night tonight," turned and fled to my car.
Now married, the stereotype shattered, I sometimes wonder how life might be different had that night gone differently and always decide it could not be better.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
When I was two years old my family moved to Euless, Texas. My father got a job as a draftsman, designing steamrollers. Having moved to Texas from the Northwest my language was monitored closely to prevent the addition of any local colloquialisms to my expanding vocabulary. The first time I said “I’m fixin’ to go to school,” (school having two syllables in my near Southern drawl) my bicycle was taken away for an entire week. My mother stood firmly by my father as he observed my development.
As I grew my parents ensured I had only those experiences appropriate for my formative years. A day at Six Flags. A birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. A baby brother to guarantee my self-esteem issues developed while I was young. By the time I was five years old only one childhood experience yet eluded me. The sleepover. Convinced a sleepover would cement a high standing amongst my friends, who had already had sleepovers, I began routinely pestering my parents.
The summer before I entered kindergarten they relented. Five to six of my friends were called; their parents promising their children would be present at the appropriate time. It was a Friday evening; we watched the Masters of the Universe starring Dolph Lundgren and ate taco-flavored popcorn. All was progressing well; none of my friends suffered the teary breakdown that so often accompanies the young staying over.
Stuffed into my bedroom, slowly drifting into sleep a phantasm suddenly appeared. Emerging from my closet a terrifying apparition in white with glowing eyes screamed into the room instantly expelling the contents of three young bladders. As we huddled together, damp and afraid, the specter fled from the room, shaking with laughter. The door left open we observed my mother and father, red-faced and laughing on a bed sheet, two flashlights on the floor.
As the years progressed and new terrors emerged I have often been comforted by the fact that the monster under the bed was just my mother or father, making sure I grow up right.