Saturday, December 31, 2011

Decide How You Are Going to Travel

I love taking trips, whether they are quick ones to a place an hour away, like when we spent the day in Daytona Beach, visiting people and places in other states, or trips such as the four-day cruise the girls and I took recently. While it’s true that people who know me would call me a homebody, and for the most part they would be right, there is a part of me that loves to take the people I love and go explore some new city or vacation spot. The problem is that sometimes I’m just not that good at the organization part and I waste more time on a trip than I benefit from.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What’s In a Name?

While skirting around town last week, I was listening to Christmas music on the John Tesh Show and he read a piece on baby name trends for 2012. You stopped reading when I mentioned John Tesh, didn’t you? Yes, I sometimes listen to his radio show; I also like show tunes and am quite comfortable in pink shirts as long as they have a pocket. Stop judging me!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Ghost Town

It wasn’t that long ago, was it? I mean, have I really gotten so old that I’m beginning to sound like my father whenever he would say, “I remember when…?” He would then ramble on about how movies were a nickel and that included a jumbo buttered popcorn and super-sized soda with change left over for candy. Nowadays you can’t even pay tax with that nickel.

With a heavy sigh I realize that it’s probably true, and while change itself usually doesn’t bother me, this shift in trends over the past few years has saddened my heart. You see, I remember when holidays were about families being together and Corporate America believed it as well. I know there are some out there who will protest that it still is, but really, it’s not, not by a long shot. The focus has shifted from a Norman Rockwell Christmas feeling to that of Wall Street, and the American consumer has been sucked in with all of the fancy promises of cheaper deals and better bargains. We’ve sacrificed spending time with family for spending money, and it truly is a sad exchange.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Emotional Hoarders

Awhile back, I wrote a piece on Emotional Vampires, those people who suck all of your positive energy with their constant negativity. However, there’s another group of emotional denizens that exist that I find just as nauseating. I call these dysfunctional misfits the Emotional Hoarders. While the Vampires drain you of energy, leaving you a shriveled husk of a person, the Hoarders bury you with the baggage that they have accumulated over the years. Their minds are a storage chest of tragedies that have been saved and instead of leaving it in the attic of memories they lug it around and decorate every new thing they attempt – new relationships, new jobs, and new experiences. They just can’t let things go.

Monday, December 19, 2011

When They Stop Believing

“Lyla said that Santa wasn’t real.”

Sarah froze, a sudden panic of sadness settling in. Dylan was only seven-years old, a first grader. She was too young to have her Christmas fantasy taken away. With a lump in her throat, Sarah asked, “And what did you say?"

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Holiday Shuffle

“What time are you eating Thanksgiving dinner?”

I shrugged. “Four or four-thirty. Why?”

“Okay, good. I think we can make it. Her family is eating early.” Nathan wore an expression of relief as if he had just weaved through a minefield and survived.

I just shook my head and laughed. “You’re going to get fat keeping everybody happy.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Welcome Home

The Sensation found home at about five that morning, but we didn’t know it until six when all three of the girls’ alarms went off calling us back to reality. I fought the urge to call the cruise at an end until I absolutely had to. Phones were staying off until we left the port simply because I didn’t want to deal with the outside world yet. If the kids had burned down the house, or killed each other, there wasn’t anything we could do about it until we were off the ship anyway, so why worry before it was absolutely necessary.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The World Tilted

Wednesday was our Sea Day, which meant twenty-four hours on the ship with no land in sight. It was going to be like Sunday, just twice as long. This was the day to relax and take in the ship without hurry. There would be no sight-seeing except for the cast of characters that made up the passenger list and in them was quite the roll-call.

The day began like the rest as we had found a routine we liked and stuck with it; we slept in and then had breakfast. Why mess with a good system, right? Life without alarm clocks was wonderful.

Monday, December 5, 2011

“Blue Balls”

As we walked the streets of Paradise Island, I noticed the bridge that I had seen earlier from the rear of the ship. It seemed that people were paying a toll to get onto the island and I wondered if that was part of the price of seeing Atlantis and having celebrities close at hand. On the ferry ride over the tour guide had informed us about the wealthy Americans, such as Oprah Winfrey, Nicolas Cage and Michael Jordan just too name drop a few, that had taken up residence on the island or camped out at the luxury resort. We were also pointed to the Bridge Room, which had become known as the Michael Jackson suite because he stayed there once. Anyone who would like to sleep in the same room could do so for $25,000 a night as long as they stayed there a minimum of four nights. You can buy a house for that!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Search of Atlantis

We went to sleep at sea with the gentle rocking of the ship and we woke up in Nassau. I’m used to going through a couple of states in a single day of driving, falling asleep in Florida and waking up in Mississippi, but it boggled my mind to go to another country on a ship in less than half a day. What’s more, I’m sure the Carnival Sensation wasn’t breaking any speed records to get us there, unlike Char who pops in the soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean and thinks she’s in a Fast and Furious movie.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In All Things Give Thanks

Thanksgiving. It’s a time that forces everyone to stop and do what they should have been doing all year; give thanks. It is proof that we take so much in our lives for granted. You know that this is true by how many people whine about their lives. Allow one little thing to go wrong and their entire world comes crashing down. Yet, it’s in the sudden catastrophes that we need to stop and give thanks as well, because with the right vision within the negatives are buried positives.

Monday, November 21, 2011

“It Looks Like Alabama”

Normally, I can sleep through anything: kids screaming, rock concert, the girls asking me to take out the trash. However, if I’m sleeping in a moving car on a trip, I can feel the fluctuations in the car such as when we slow down or speed up or if we turn a corner. It was the same on the ship. I knew when we had left open sea and were coasting into Freeport and that is what woke me out of a comfortable dream. Our curtains were closed, so I couldn’t see outside, but I could feel it in the motion of the ship, the subtle changes.

Glancing at my phone, which also serves as watch, music player and note pad, I groaned when I saw it was only five in the morning. However, I slid out of the bed, trying not to wake the girls, and peeked out the balcony door. There was Freeport.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It’s Tradition to be Traditional

With Thanksgiving coming close it brought my mind once again to the subject of traditions. I love traditions, those acts that seem to happen on a regular basis or with special ceremonies, and I have many that I hold dear to my heart such as our annual December First Party. Traditions help us remember key moments in our past that have helped shape us and point our children to a promised future. However, more than the small rituals we practice, I thought of the mindset we have as a people. Let’s face it; it’s tradition to be traditional. Traditional marriage. Traditional family. Traditional worship. Traditional Frosted Flakes. Personally, my favorite is traditional coffee, because I want mine to taste like real coffee and not vanilla ice cream. Still, the mindset of the traditional can kill; kill spirits, kill relationships, and kill growth.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

We’re Cruising Now

The four of us stood on the small balcony of our stateroom, leaning over the rail, watching the ocean ripple past us as the three-dimensional view of the Florida coastline diminished into a thin line.  We had actually done it.  Despite our fears and all of the obstacles that had cropped up, we were on a cruise and Char hadn’t passed out yet or caused a panic.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

“Don’t Be Mad”

“Ok, so don’t be mad but I have news to tell you.” That was the text my son, Nathaniel, sent me at ten in the morning. He had been gone for four days with his girlfriend, Christina, to visit Tallahassee. His mother, a Gator fan, wasn’t thrilled with the location, but it was one less person in the house for a few days, which is always a treat.

It’s funny how as parents we react differently to each of our children as they grow up. If any of the other four would have sent that text I would have gone into instant panic. Someone was pregnant? Someone was busted? Someone was stranded? Someone was all three? I have great kids; they just enjoy life as much as I do and haven’t learned the tricks of surviving without the major missteps.

Then there’s Nathan.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Punishment Continues

As if I wasn't being punished enough for my Ben & Jerry's addiction, the girls weren’t satisfied with just going to the gym. No, this intervention was to include dieting as well. They had joined Weight Watchers, which meant, I found out, that by proxy I had joined as well.

"Do you know how much I have invested in this?” I held my medicine ball gut out for display. I didn't need to push it out far as it already stuck out pretty good on its own. It was then that I discovered my Krispy Kreme money had gone to pay for my membership to the fitness center. That, to me, was a misappropriation of funds. Embezzling funds is a federal offense, right?

Monday, November 7, 2011

What’s That Burning?

I know I’ve said that I work out at a gym, but that to be fair, we don't really go to a gym. We are members of what is called a "fitness center". That is probably the politically correct term that replaced "gym" like Asian-American replaced Oriental. I'm not sure when people became so embarrassed of their heritage and ancestry, but somewhere along the way a gym became associated with brutish, iron-hefting thugs and had to be softened to appease the more gentle sensitivities of the easily offended. Besides, why would I want to go to a gym? It was those guys that kept beating me up in school.

Because it is a fitness center, it can now hold such things as massage chairs and tanning booths, which in a gym would probably be misconstrued as just heavier weights. The massage chair I didn’t necessarily enjoy even though I was told it was good for me. “It loosens up your muscles and helps you de-stress.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Not Cutting the Muster

One of the biggest wastes of time, especially in Corporate America, is meetings.  Most are merely repetitive nonsense where the big boss gets off on forcing underlings to suffer through the droning of his voice.  He believes that it’s the meetings that justify his position and the more he has the more valuable he must be.  Of course, most of the meetings are about why nothing is getting done, which can be answered by “Too many meetings.”

Going on our cruise, I thought that for four days we could escape the monotony of meetings, but before we had even set sail there was a mandatory safety meeting.  It was set up so that people in bright orange vests could tell us what to do in case of an emergency and demonstrate how best to put on a life jacket.  Of course, my first thought was if the girls had brought the right shoes to go with the standard emergency orange, but with twenty-eight pairs in our room I’m sure they could make something work.  We’d just be late to the meeting while they decided.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Save the Planet

As with all of my vacations upon checking in, the first thing I do is examine the bathroom facilities.  This is important because usually it’s the only personal time I get on a trip, and the more noises I make behind that closed door, the more alone time I receive.  Our cruise to the Bahamas was no different.  We had arrived on the boat at 12:30 only to find our rooms would not be ready until 1:30, which really confused me.  I mean, it’s not like a guest had just checked out.  The boat had been in port for several hours.  Surely, they didn’t wait until just before we boarded to remember to clean the ship.  Yet, by the look of the toilet, they had done just that.  Luckily, along with the small container of lotion and brand new Bic razor, they also provided a worn-out toilet brush.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All Aboard!

I don’t like the heat; or rather it doesn’t like me. My low blood sugar seems to turn me into a puddle of Jell-O faster than the average person and soon I look like a dying jelly fish stranded on the shore. I don’t mind going to the beach, however, as long as I have my umbrella to keep me in the shade and no one tries to coax me into the water or out into the sun. It’s the atmosphere of the beach I relish; not the beach itself. If we could transport it into an air conditioned enclosure, it would be perfect. So, when the girls got excited about a cruise they wanted to go on obviously I had mixed emotions.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It’s Greek to Me

           When I was just a child, which the girls say is still going on, my family would make quarterly trips to Disney World.  It didn’t matter that most of the time we really couldn’t afford it.  Mom had had enough reality and needed an escape and it was always Walt Disney that provided it.  My sister and I had no clue about finances or that the trip would mean we would be eating potato soup all week.  All we cared about was that we were heading to the Magic Kingdom, the place of pirates and talking mice. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Suicide by Treadmill

My idea of physical exertion is turning the television channels without a remote, driving a stick shift instead of an automatic and buying beer with the twist-off tops. I break into a sweat just watching a sporting event on television. The one time a friend took me to the driving range, I almost killed him. Not on purpose, I promise you, and not for the ludicrous notion of inviting me, as you might think. No, I actually looked forward to going. What happened was that, although the intention was to send the ball high and far out onto the already golf ball-littered green, it went straight for his head, which was on his body parallel to me. I gave him my club and went for a banana split.

I don't exercise. This is a fact that people have come to learn and love about me. They now had someone they could point to and say. "But, Honey, I don't lay around as much as Robbie does.” And I was fine being the lower standard in athletics for my friends. It made me seem more intellectual. "No, really, you go ahead and play volleyball. I'm going to sit under this pink umbrella and read War and Peace."

Saturday, September 10, 2011

“Chicken Is My Life”

As I was growing up, my mother did everything she could to keep me from working in the real world. Her philosophy was, “Once you start working, you never stop,” which applied to everyone but those who make a career of being on welfare. She wanted me to enjoy being a kid as long as she could and for quite awhile I took complete advantage of it. My father, however, had been working since he was seven and as much as he wanted the best for his children, I’m sure he wanted us out of our chairs and earning our own Slurpee money. Parents are always saying that they work hard, so that their children don’t have to, and then we don’t work at all and they get angry. And my father worked hard, very hard.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Theme Park Rationale

Theme parks such as Disney World, Busch Gardens, and Sea World are a writer’s paradise, at least for gathering characters.  Even locals are at their most touristy behavior once they’ve parked their car in Goofy 13 and began that mad dash to the waiting tram to whisk them away into another dimension where fantasy trumps reality and they’re willing to pay $2.75 for a 20 ounce Diet Coke.  “It’s still cheaper than at a movie theater,” we say as we buy sodas all around.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No Vacancies

It happened. I know people say that time flies, but from the moment our first entered school we never thought the day would ever arrive. We were destined to be tortured with designs made out of macaroni shells and shoe boxes crafted into facsimiles of what I think were houses. But it did. Zac, our youngest, finally graduated high school and after the commencement and the hours of beer pong that ensued, we breathed a sigh of exaggerated but well-earned relief. Not because he had made it, but because they all did. Every child was successfully out of high school and no longer begging for lunch money - just lunch.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What's That You Say?

My dad is deaf. At least, for the longest time that is what I thought. However, as my birthday candles climb in number each year, I now know that he's not deaf at all. (I don't mind needing more candles each year because the cake has to get bigger to hold them, which is a definite plus to a sad reality. It's a bittersweet catch 22.). However, my father is not deaf. To be honest, I don't think any older man is really deaf. My theory is that our level of hearing has been raised in proportion to the nonsense we have to tune out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's a Girl Thing

In the late 60's James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot came out with the musical Hair. I never saw the play, only the movie version with Treat Williams and while the play was about more than hair, it did bring up a valid point. Men don't really care about their hair. "Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees, give a home to the fleas in my hair."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Passing the Greeting Card Torch

My phone dinged the other day and since the sun hadn't come up yet I knew without doubt who it was. Looking through sleep fogged eyes I read a text from my mother. "Did Zac get his birthday card?" He did, of course. Three days prior. The check that had graciously accompanied the card was already cashed and spent.

So, I ask the stupid question because her text had already given me the answer I knew was coming just as her bank account had given her hers. "I take it he didn't call and thank you?" Of course, he hadn't. Neither had Heather or Chris or Nathan.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Moon Walk to Nowhere

It was during a Michael Jackson video, I believe, when I first saw the Moon Walk performed. I want to say it was while he wore the infamous red jacket with all the zippers, but I'm probably wrong. I didn't pay much attention to things in the 80's and just about everything had a myriad of zippers attached, even shoes.

Still, I do remember loving the dance step. And Michael made it appear so easy. I have a hard enough time just walking forward. For those who might have either not been born in the eighties or too stoned to remember, the Moon Walk in it's basest description is to look like you're walking forward while in fact you're actually sliding backward. I was impressed. Of course, I'm told that I'm easily impressed. I am male after all and we laugh at flatulence. Just saying the word makes us chuckle.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Climbing Ladders Causes Brain Damage

It's a proven fact that climbing ladders causes brain damage and it begins on that very first rung. OSHA doesn't have a way of preventing it, so it goes untreated and even unannounced.  Therefore, ladders don't come with safety stickers cautioning the Climber, and we see the damage daily.  Of course, it's not too severe at first, but it is there and noticeable to those closest to the Climber. It sometimes begins with memory loss. With that very first step you forget what it was like on the ground, your feet on solid earth.  The Climber gets a heady sensation of power over those still on the ground, which makes sense as I hear the air gets thinner with the higher altitude. However, while it is intoxicating, it is also mind-numbing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Emotional Vampires

The world is fascinated with vampires right now. The Twilight series, True Blood, Kim Harrison, Laurel K. Hamilton, Anne Rice, Buffy and Angel, all of the neck biting, blood sucking fantasies that can be had are readily available. Television shows such as CSI have done episodes pitting vampires against werewolves in century long battles with mundane endings. People have their teeth cosmetically altered while some even go so far as drinking actual blood. That part gives me the heebie jeebies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Everyone Has a Story

Everyone has a story.  Everyone.  The bartender who stands behind the wooden counter polishing the stained surface as he listens to other stories being told over whiskey has his own tale.  The librarian who whispers the code for the hiding place of a Tale of Two Cities has a story.  The hooker looking for a ride, the pastor behind the pulpit and the person delivering your mail, all have stories and most want someone, even if it's just one person, to know their story.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The World Wide Clothesline

I have to admit, I’m not a big fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love the World Wide Web. It’s made my life as a writer so much easier. I have access to court records, news from around the world, and key lime pie recipes right at my fingertips and I never have to get dressed. Before I actually had to put on clothes and go to the public library, or even worse, Barnes and Noble where I know it’s going to cost me fifty bucks. I can’t leave that place without buying a couple or five books and a three dollar coffee.

When we were first introduced to life online we would get lost for hours. I remember Char saying “Good night” at ten while I was clicking link after link only to feel like she was saying “Good morning” twenty minutes later. In truth, I had been up throughout the night lost in the silly things one can find on the internet. It can be totally addicting like Cookie Dough ice cream.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Take Two Aspirin and Text Me in the Morning

Technology and I do not get along. I've stated this repeatedly I think, which makes me wonder why my mom keeps calling me for computer advice. It's a well established fact that I don't know how to fix things, only how to break them. Case in point, when the brakes start going out on the car, my solution is to turn the music up louder so that I don't have to hear the metal grinding against the rotor. I've discovered that's not the answer to cell phones or computers, however. I know because I tried.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Greatest Show on Earth

I was not a happy camper. All morning long I had been looking forward to this little break in my day only to have it stolen by a poor economy. Too say I was pissed is like saying Liberace was a casual dresser. You see, the girls had to go grocery shopping for the week and located conveniently next door to Publix was nestled this quaint little coffee shop with an outdoor patio. The plan was to take my notebook and enjoy a cigar and coffee while the girls replenished the sustenance at home. It was the only reason I offered to drive them over the bridge to the store in the first place.

But it was closed, out of business, painted windows. They even took the tables and chairs from the sidewalk! I could have at least snatched my free coffee from Publix and still had a quiet and productive hour, but no, those selfish bastards took the chairs as well. Now there was no coffee and no place to park my backside. The day had turned sour faster than the girls can swipe the credit card.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No Organization Past This Point

I totally get it. Really, I do. Furthermore, I agree with them. They want their friends to come into the house and not have to apologize for me. “I’m sorry. I know the place is a mess. You see, well, Robbie’s been home.”

I’m not new to this. I grew up with it. My mom refused to leave my bedroom door open because as she said, “It looked like an atom bomb went off in there.” We had the age old fight about making the bed, which absolutely made no sense to me because in twelve hours time I was going to be back in it. I still don’t make my bed. Char does that and I think she takes great delight in tucking the bottom of the sheet under the mattress at the foot of the bed so that when I crawl in I feel like Gulliver pinned down. Of course, the first thing I do is kick like a wild man, sending the sheets everywhere. It looked like a wadded mess but at least I can snore in comfort and not bondage.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Draw the Line

I stood at the rest area on I-75 staring at three doors, each with a different placard – women, men, family.  Now, I believe in family vacations, family dinners and the family getting together to clean the garage that I messed up.  I believe in family picnics, family game nights and family reunions.  I believe families should spend holidays together, especially if they want a gift and that as one, they endure school plays and beginning band concerts.  However, I draw the line at families taking a dump together.  Some things were just meant to be done alone without the benefit of a family member talking to you the entire time and urinating into a porcelain bowl is one of them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Answer Me!

I'm sitting on my back porch, enjoying a cool breeze and the flow of creative thought while ignoring the ear-piercing chittering of an obese squirrel telling me the bird feeder is empty, when my phone beeps. Not a landline, mind you, as I refuse to pay for one. I mean, what's the point really? Everyone in my house has a cell phone and I see no reason to pay even $19.95 a month for telemarketers to disturb my supper.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Income's Broken

"Of course I’d love to go. You know that. It’s just that I can't afford to. You know I'm on a fixed income."

"Really? How did you fix it, because mine is broken to Hell?" And with the gas hikes it seems more like devastated.

"Robbie, you know what I mean. I only get so much to live on a month."

"And mine fluctuates?"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Robbie, It's A Girl!

August 20, 1988, life for me changed drastically.  It was the night our first son, Nathaniel, was born and the beginning of parenthood and everything that went with it – diapers, teething, bottles found behind the sofa a month after they went missing.  I had always wanted to be a father and had some strong views on raising children, which haven't changed much over the years even though some might think I surrendered.  Two years later, almost to the day, our second son, Christopher, entered our lives and doubled our efforts as well as the diaper volume.  Another two years and Zachariah exploded on the scene and life was forever an adventure.  Three boys, each one as different as their deliveries, now took up our time, our money and our love.  Poor Char was the only female in a house full of sweating testosterone.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Now Playing...

I love a good movie.  Who doesn’t, right?  However, I hate movie theaters.  This isn’t meant to upset my friends who write for the big screen.  I’ll watch the movie, but in the comfort of my own home with a pause and rewind button.  Oh, theaters are great for watching massive explosions and sci-fi special effects, but I want to be alone.  I don't mean going by myself.  Oh, no.  I'm talking empty movie theater all to my lonesome.  That is why I don't go to the movies.  People are there and the average person can ruin a good movie.

Now, I'm not a total isolationist.  I enjoy people.  That is, I enjoy them in the right environments.  A movie theater does not classify as the right environment.  Neither is camping.  When I go camping I want to enjoy my surroundings - the woods, the stream, the peace and quiet from city-life.  I don't take portable DVD players although I will take a radio.  We went camping with some friends once who packed a portable television, gas grill and half a dozen other home luxuries.  I didn’t get it.  What's the point of camping if you're going to stare at the screen the whole time?  Part of the fun is the break from civilization; from the noisy routine we have termed daily life, to commune with nature, not Hannah Montana.  If your kids can’t get along outdoors for a weekend without the boob tube then don’t expect a high GPA.

But this Mess is about movies, not camping, so back to my rant.  I don't see why people would pay $8.50 to see the latest Nicolas Cage blockbuster on a 30ft by 70ft screen and then talk the whole time.  I hate it when people talk during a TV show!  It's outrageous what they charge to see a movie nowadays but it's even sadder that people actually pay it.  Do you know how many books I could buy for what a date night at Cinema World costs?  A small soda, which is the same size as a kid's drink at McDonald's, is $3!  Then you have to have popcorn because, really, what's a movie without popcorn oozed over in butter, and that costs eight dollars.  A box of Mike & Ike's at Walgreens is a buck fifty while at the theater it's three-fifty.  That's more than a hundred percent mark up!  Not even the big oil companies are that bad.

When I was in elementary school I was invited by another family to go to the movies.  I can’t remember what movie it was but I do recall the mother’s purse because it was huge and to this sixth grader’s eyes seemed bottomless.  There were all kinds of candy that just kept coming out and homemade popcorn.  It never ended!  With prices the way they are, I couldn’t blame her.  (And just quick aside here, hot dogs don’t belong on a movie theater menu board.  They are to be reserved for sporting events or lunch at 7-Eleven.)

It takes sixty dollars for the girls and me to go see a movie, which is the same price of dinner at Texas Roadhouse including the tip.  To be honest, I have more fun eating out than going to see a movie.  Why?  People.

When you go out to a restaurant you expect it to be noisy.  Shoot, almost all restaurants come with large televisions on the walls anyway.  People are talking, sharing drinks, food and laughter.  It's expected.  The couples who carry a newspaper and book to dinner with them are the exception to the rule, not the norm.  However, in a movie theater you expect silence.  This isn't your house where you can rewind to hear the last bit of dialogue because Char and Teri are commenting on how much Hodges of Criminal Minds needs their comfort.  If you miss something you have to wait for it to come to Netflix or spend another sixty dollars.  And if you have to go to the bathroom, don't come back asking me what you missed.  I didn't pay my water bill so I could afford this movie and I’m not going to be your live DVR.  Go before the show, cross your legs or tie a knot in it till the movie is over.

When Star Wars Episode One came out I took the family down to the Vero movie theater because they were the only ones that had stadium seating and I wouldn't have to put up with Johnnie Redneck and his camouflage baseball hat.  We spent the mortgage, got our popcorn and drinks and picked the best seats in the house.  The previews, which count as no-talking zones by the way, and commercials played out, the opening credits zoomed across the screen and Char fell asleep.  As the movie ended, she woke up.  At least she didn't snore.  She even falls asleep during the movie at home so maybe it's Ewan McGregor's fault.  Still, she didn't snore or sprawl out so I could only complain about wasting money on her ticket but then again, I ate her popcorn so it was all right.

People in movie theaters make no sense.  We went to see Season of the Witch and were the first people into the theater.  We picked our seats, settled in and savored the over-priced popcorn.  Another family entered next, dad, mom and two tiny little kids.  They didn't even look around to survey the seating vacancies, of which there were over a hundred.  No, they marched right up to us and sat directly behind us....and talked!  The place was empty.  Only one other couple came in and they went to the very top probably to do something besides watch the movie.  The only thing worse than this family sitting behind us would have been if they sat in front of us.  Why sit near us at all?  We weren't even in the middle.  Were they thinking we were going to hold them during the scary scenes?  No way!  I had a girl on each arm and popcorn in my lap.  I was filled to capacity.

And why bring a five-year old to see a scary movie?  Really, Season of the Witch has some intense Van Helsing type scenes in it.  Is this how we desensitize a generation?  Or is this How to Raise a Psychopath?   There are some movies out there that I won't watch even today and yet we put tiny kids in front of computer enhanced wolves devouring a man.  No wonder they can't go to sleep without Benadryl.  Teri couldn't watch the movie without gauging my right arm with her fingernails, which reminds me I need thicker shirts.  A lady walked past her to go to the bathroom and about sent her into cardiac arrest.  Thank God it wasn't in 3D!

That's another movie gimmick I can do without.  It only adds useless scenes to the movie so that people can be WOW-ed by spinning staffs or lengthy explosions.  Char was watching Clash of the Titans at home the other day and I paused long enough to watch a staff spin out into the air in slow motion before hitting its target.  The only reason that scene was even put in the picture was the 3D gimmick, which was now wasted on me as I didn’t own a pair of those cool glasses.  I don't mind another Pirates movie.  I loved the characters and story lines.  But 3D?  Really?  I don't even want to see porn in 3D, which I'm surprised hasn't been done, yet.  And if it has, please keep it in your private collection.

Movies are only social events before and after, never during.  That's why I don't like going.  Most can't keep from chatting at the worst times.  I know that funny things pop into your head and you just can't resist.  For instance, Nathan took me to see the remake of the original Star Trek and in one scene Kirk, Sulu and a security guy is skydiving down to this massive weapon of destruction, probably the one they couldn’t find in Iraq.  One was in blue, another yellow and the security person in red.  I couldn't help it.  I broke my rule and leaned over to Nathan and whispered, "The red one dies."

And he did, along with my interest in the big screen.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dressing Room Musings

You would think more stores would put greater emphasis on their dressing rooms.  Really, most are no more than outhouses inside.  I'm standing in one right now and it's sad that I'm actually standing.  There isn't a chair anywhere close by.  I went to the cheap furniture section and grabbed a camp chair and flipped it open.  I know I'm going to be here long enough to smoke a cigar if Florida still allowed smoking inside.  I understand why they don't, however.  I've seen the mentality of most smokers who think their right to smell like a stale ashtray supersedes my right to enjoy my bubble of air.  Someone would eventually be slipping a nice silk blouse over the lit cigarette dangling from their chubby lips and the next thing you know I'm buying a shirt with charred holes.

Why am I going to be here that long?  Simple.  The girls never take just one item in to try on.  It's more like a closet full in a cart.  Literally, the maximum allowed is eight items and Teri has to make four trips.  Char has already made one trip and is on the hunt for more.  I need a chair, coffee and Wi-Fi.  I'm going to be here long enough for this to be a 5,000 word essay.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Did You Say Something?

As a writer (at least, that's the excuse I've been using), I listen to every conversation except the one I'm in. That includes the ones going on in my head.  As I said in I Collect People, I am always searching for those unique characters to spin into interesting tales.  I also do the same with snippets of conversations that I overhear in malls and small gatherings.  Okay, yes I eavesdrop, but people sometimes say the strangest things that would fit perfect into a story.  As the saying goes, “Writers are really spies.”  The key, however, is to not laugh at the conversation and alert them that you’re listening.  Furthermore, you can't let the people you're supposed to be listening to know that you've given up on their conversation, either.  That would be rude.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Can't Get Comfortable

If you've ever seen even one episode of The Big Bang Theory then you know Sheldon has his spot on the couch.  He's measured it between the bathroom and the fridge, positioned it for sunlight and the flow of air conditioning.  For him, it was the ideal spot.  No one else was ever allowed to sit in it as it was perfectly formed to his posterior.  To say he is obsessive about that small cushioned seat is an understatement.

I know how he feels to a degree, but for me it's not the seat, or at least not just the seat.  It's the head-space as well.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Gift of Sacrifice

"No greater gift is there than that a man should give his life for another."  For some, sacrifice comes easily while others can barely pronounce the word. As a parent, I know about sacrifice.  I learned it from my parents as I looked back over the years.  There were times that we ate but they didn't.  There were Christmases that my sister and I had gifts we didn't appreciate while they had nothing.  I had what I needed for school while my dad skipped lunch.  Sacrifice.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Just Want Some Gas!

Standing in line at Murphy’s Oil USA, I waited to make my twenty dollar donation to the big oil companies.  You would think it a simple task, but as I have found in this modern age of convenience, nothing is convenient.

An ancient man and his daughter stood in front of me, him talking feverishly to the clerk while putting his hands in the pockets of his Atlanta Braves windbreaker and her trying to get back in the car without too much notice being drawn to them.  I knew she was the man’s daughter because she kept apologizing to the clerk for the much older gentleman’s behavior and only a child would be embarrassed enough to apologize for a parent's ranting.  It's karma for how we as children embarrassed them with our flashing our underwear at the audience during our second grade Christmas play.  Our parents may even be faking it just for revenge.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Drive between the Screaming People

I don't know if it's karma, fate or mockery, but I find it absolutely ironic that after I decide on the title of my first collection of essays my glasses snap in half.  The book, "Hey, Four Eyes!” is a collection of essays based on my growing up years, in which I wore thick glasses for the majority of my puberty.  I decided on this title two days ago and suddenly I find myself in need of a new pair of eyes.  Even glasses, it seems, don't like being the brunt of jokes.  I know I hated it growing up.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taking Out the Trash

It’s a fight every week.  Actually, it happens twice a week because garbage pickup occurs every Tuesday and Friday, but still it’s a battle being waged.  Recycling is picked up on Wednesdays but I can understand that being forgotten once in awhile since they changed the schedule, but after a couple of weeks I would think he would know.  But, he doesn’t, not until 7:30 the mornings of and that’s because I’m screaming at him as he’s still sleeping.  “Get the damn trash out!”  He leaps out of bed still groggy and tripping over his quilt to scurry around the house emptying all of the small garbage containers into one big one that he has to wheel down to the road.