Monday, June 29, 2009

In Which I Realize Something

It is early Monday morning, the start of the last of my two days off for this week. The start of my work week normally looms ahead of me like something dark and ominous, but not today. I realized a couple of things yesterday, things that I probably should have been aware of already, or should have at least acknowledged. I'm sure that I have in some other capacity before, but for whatever reason I was finally able to wrap my mind completely around it. I guess sometimes, all it takes is the slightest, minute adjustment of the most simplest of things to make all the puzzle pieces finally slide into place.

I don't mean to be so profound on such a day where most of the world is trying to figure out how they're going to get through another week, but I came to realize yesterday that, despite all the things that tarnish the appearance of it otherwise, I love my life.

We have a small but comfortable apartment that feels more like home than any of the places we've lived before. We have jobs that pay us (almost) enough for our efforts, and allow for enough time to enjoy some of the fruits of our labor. We have our health, and we have family who love us dearly. Most importantly, though, we have each other.

Life smiled upon me when I met the woman who would become my wife. She is a wonderful and beautiful woman, whom I love fiercely and in every possible sense or meaning of the word. I know with absolute conviction that should every thing in my life fail and fall apart around me, as long as I have her to wake up next to in the morning, I will be okay. What's more, I take comfort in knowing that she feels the same for me.

The Boss and I spent some time yesterday unpacking some of the things for our kitchen and living room. Seeing our lives come together out of those boxes and storage bins, it just clicked. There will never be enough money. Cars will break down, jobs will be lost. Illnesses will come, some more permanent than others. These things do not matter.

My life, her life, our life, matters. For all that it is, and for all that it has yet to become, I love it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

In Which I Probably Shouldn't Laugh

Just across the fence that borders the parking lot outside our apartment is a day care facility. Back when I used to live in this town growing up, the building housed a commercial embroidery shop. From the outside it doesn't look like it'd be very conducive to a day care, with drab metal siding and concrete loading ramps, but they must have done wonders on the inside.

Through my office windows on the third floor, I can see over the fence. A cluster of thinning pine trees shield the backyard, but from my height I get a partially obstructed view of the play area. From what I can see, though, it looks just like any other day care I've ever seen, where Fisher Price playsets, Tonka trucks and Barbie dolls reign supreme. When the windows to my office are open, as they usually are when I am working, the sounds of the children playing next door filter in. It mostly is nonsensical noise to me, and for the most part, I tune it out.

There are times, though, when the cacophony of high-pitched voices is suddenly halted in unison. Sudden and absolute silence at a noisy day care usually means one thing:

Someone got hurt.

A heavy pause lingers on the air for a couple moments as the injured child comes to realize exactly what has happened, and slowly registers the pain. The child takes a huge, gulping inward breath, and then, like an air raid siren, the screaming begins.

The scream is pure and unabashed, the pitch and volume just short of the levels one would need reach to break glass. Next you hear the slapping footfalls of the caretakers running to the child, but their soothing tones and "Shh"-ing do nothing to console him. One can just imagine the tears running down his face, making lines in the dust that has collected there. And then, as the other children around him inch in closer and start to mumble amongst themselves, another noise is heard.

It's me, laughing my fucking ass off.

I know, I know. I probably shouldn't laugh at some innocent little kid getting hurt on the playground, but I just can't help it. It reminds me of when I was as a kid, always running full-steam-ahead, usually stopping for nothing until the inevitable trip and fall. I wailed many times over a scraped knee, elbow, or skinned palm.

It wasn't funny back then, but I sure get a kick out of it now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Which I Am Observant, Part Seven

Have you ever noticed that there will always be road construction on the route that you've selected as a short cut, and enough traffic behind you to keep you from being able to turn around?

Have you ever noticed that the easiest part of a project will often be the part you feared would be the hardest, and the hardest part of that project was the part you assumed would be easy?

Have you ever had so much free time at work that you start researching on Wikipedia the origins to many popular yet offensive four-letter words? (The article on the word "fuck" is particularly entertaining.)

Have you ever noticed that there is no such thing as running a "quick errand" when you go to WalMart?

Have you ever noticed that standing in front of a fan and talking like Darth Vader is just as fun as an adult as it was when you were a kid?

No?

Well, I have. What have you noticed this week?

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four , Part Five, Part Six)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Which I Become Inebriated

Yesterday, I got drunk.

As much as I wish I could save my ego and tell you that I got drunk for the first time ever in my life by consuming multiple alcoholic drinks, that simply was not the case. Herein lies the story about the time I got drunk by pounding back one shot.

---

Last night, while out to dinner with The Boss, I decided to order a drink. When I get drinks at restaurants (which is very infrequently), I order a shot of either Captain Morgan or whatever vanilla vodka they have. That way I can make my drink as strong or as weak as I'd like, or just pound back the shot and be done with it. So last night was nothing different, when the waitress came by to take our drink order.

"What would you like to drink?" the waitress asked. I motioned for The Boss to order first.

"I'll have a blackberry iced tea, please," The Boss said.

"And for you, sir?" the waitress asked, not looking up from her order pad.

"I'll have a Coke. And can I have a shot, too?"

She finally looks up. "Sure. What would you like?"

"I dunno..." I said, stalling. "How about a shot of Captain. Or Jack."

"We've got both, so which would you like?" She shifts her weight restlessly from one foot to the other.

I look at The Boss for a suggestion. I was tired and I couldn't make up my mind. She holds up two fingers, suggesting I order my second choice.

"Let's go with Jack," I say finally.

"Jack it is," the waitress says, and leaves to get our drinks.

A few minutes later she comes back. She sets The Boss' iced tea on a coaster, and does the same with my Coke. Next, she sets down a chilled double-shot glass filled with an amber liquid on the table next to my coaster. I look at it thirstily. We order our entrees, and the waitress leaves.

After I sip at my Coke for a bit, The Boss looks at me curiously.

"What?" I ask.

"Aren't you going to take your shot while it's still cold?"

"No, I'm going to wait until I have had some of my food first. I don't want it to sit heavy on my empty stomach."

"Okay," she says, with an inflection that seems to say 'it's your funeral.'

Having done plenty of shots before, I brush it off. Our food comes out shortly after, and by then I have forgotten all about it. With gusto, I dig into my bacon cheeseburger. When I'm about halfway through it, I pick up the shot glass. It's lukewarm now, so I decide to just pound back the shot rather than have it warm up my Coke. The Boss sets down her silverware and sits back, eyes wide.

I raised the shot glass to my lips, poured it down, and with a quick toss of my head, swallow. I grimaced as it burned on the way down. I felt the warmth of the drink travel the length of my throat and settle heavily into my stomach. The burning intensified, spreading up into my sinus cavities. I cough, trying to clear my throat but there is nothing there to be cleared. Tears pool in the corners of my eyes. I reach blindly for my Coke glass and gulp it down.

Once I gained my composure, I notice The Boss looking at me with a smug grin on her face.

"What?" I cough.

"Not what you were expecting, was it?" she asks.

"No, not really." I clear my throat again. "It has been a while since I've done a shot of rum."

"Rum?"

"Yeah." I point at the empty shot glass. "Rum."

"That wasn't rum, Mike. That was Jack Daniels."

I blinked a couple of times, and the alcohol hits me in the face like a brick wall.

"That was whiskey?" I ask, confused and becoming just slightly dizzy.

"Yeah. You just did a double shot of room-temperature whiskey. How do you feel?"

I couldn't answer her. I was too busy holding onto the table to keep from falling over. And just like that, I realized I had blazed right past being buzzed.

I was drunk.

I guess there is a first time for everything. I just didn't think I'd be that easy.

P.S. I had intended to order a shot of Calico Jack, for some reason not realizing that most restaurants don't carry bottom shelf spiced rums.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In Which I Finally Get To It

Approximately six years two months ago, I agreed to do a book review for a friend. His name is Chris Mancini. He had just published his first book and was looking to get the word out about it. His publisher sent me the book, which I quickly devoured, and I promised a prompt review. And then somehow, all the free time that I envisioned I had to write the review just slipped away. Kinda like that Steve Miller song.

Chris, other than being a comedian and a writer, is also eternally patient. He didn't nag me a single time for my review of his book, even though it's been a month since I've finished reading it and over a week since I promised ("at the latest, I swear!") to have this review finished. I have a list of excuses, should you want to read them, but I figured I've stalled enough. At long last, I'll just get right down to it.

His book is called "Pacify Me". The tagline says that it's a "Handbook For The Freaked-Out New Dad", but I'm going to make a suggestion to the publisher to get that changed. I think it should read "A Handbook for EVERY New Dad." Every guy who learns that he is going to be a father for the first time is going to be freaked out, whether he admits it or not. This book offers a lot of hard-won information from someone who has been there, survived, and wants to help a brother out.

To be brief, I found the book informative and enlightening, hilarious and sarcastic, honest (at some points brutally so) and heartfelt. It is well written, it progresses in a comfortable manner, and I couldn't think of anything he left out that I was still curious about. It was an easy and fun read, and I enjoyed the laughs and random pop-culture references. Perhaps most importantly, it wasn't at all the self-help book that I feared it would be.

When guys are in a situation that they know nothing about, such as the unique and tumultuous experience that is pregnancy and the consequent fatherhood, we get apprehensive towards someone offering advice, because everyone is offering it. We shut down a little, and wouldn't think to pick up a book to learn how to process what is going on, or to find out what to expect while she's expecting. We're going to be just as (okay, more) unsure as to exactly how to proceed as she is, but we'll be too stubborn to do anything about it.

When he eventually smartens up and wants to read a book about fatherhood, he'll want a book written from one regular guy to the next, from a regular guy's perspective. Something that combines humor with knowledge, and something that doesn't require constant reference to Wikipedia to understand. Thanks to Chris, that book has finally been written.

If I could urge every father-to-be to put aside their ego for a day or two and read just one book, it would be this one. As a guy who is not yet a father and finds the idea of fatherhood frightening, this book helped me. It really put things in perspective and make the whole process seem less daunting.

And for that, Chris, my wife and her biological clock thanks you.

---

You can find "Pacify Me" in bookstores now, or on Amazon.com.

Friday, June 19, 2009

In Which I Share Some More

Some of you may remember this post I put up a couple months ago. I've been working on it a bit here and there, and I wanted to share an excerpt from the next segment. For those who are new around here, please follow the link above and read the first part before continuing.

---

I came to know her by pure coincidence. She was one of the hundreds of faces that you see each day on your way to work, when you pick up a few things at the grocery store, when you drop off your prescription. We were two strangers in a city of thousands, our lives drawn slowly together. Fate, I guess you could say.

I couldn’t help but notice her, the first time I saw her. I was standing outside the building I worked in, delaying until the last possible moment before going inside. It was, as they say in the movies, a day just like any other. Another day of smiling politely at the boss who still hasn’t taken the time to know your name after three years. Another day of mindless productivity and corporate bullshit. Another day of watching the clock and praying for the day to be over, where the coffee is horrible and the only reward is the bi-weekly paycheck that never seems to be enough.

I stood there on the sidewalk, contemplating as I often did back then how easy it would be to walk out into traffic, to leap off the curb in front of a sedan or commuter bus, just to feel something different for a change. Or maybe, after the glass settles and the smell of hot rubber fills the air, I would feel nothing at all.

I was about to go inside when she walked by. Despite her anonymity among the throng of passersby, she was like a ray of sunshine in an endlessly dark place. It was her perfume that truly caught my attention, an intoxicating scent on the morning air that cut through my shadowy thoughts. She was passing in front of me, a slender brunette with a trim figure under stylish clothes. She carried a purse in one hand and a coffee in the other, and in that way she looked just like the multitude of other women trying to survive in this city that I had seen and met with apathy countless times before.

I was sure that I had never seen her before, yet there was something about her that seemed familiar to me. She walked quickly, her hair shining smoothly in the sun. I paused inside the doorway to steal another look before she was gone around the corner.

I followed her with my eyes for a few moments, and when she reached the corner of the walk she stopped. She turned and looked at me, and even with the distance between us I could see that her eyes were a brilliant blue. She smiled, and a rush of color filled her cheeks. She turned forward and started walking again, and disappeared around the corner.

I ran down the sidewalk to see if I could catch her. It only took me a few seconds to get to the corner where she turned but by then she was lost among the tangle of business suits and briefcases. I watched the crowd for a few moments before turning back down the walk to my office. I waited outside after my shift was over to see if she would pass by again, but the sun crept below the horizon without any sign of her.

The next morning I loitered outside my office again, hoping to see her. Gone were the thoughts of jumping into traffic. Instead, I twitched with anticipation. At last she appeared, walking with the same confidence that I had seen the day before. She passed, more beautiful than I had remembered her to be, and our eyes met. Her eyes looked deep into mine, searching. Her pupils sharpened, and the piercing blue of her eyes became too much to look at. I shifted my gaze to the ground at my feet for a moment, and then looked back up at her. I smiled, and breathed deep the smell of her perfume that clung to the rising breeze.

And what a scent it was! I filled my lungs with it, holding it in for as long as I could stand. It made my pulse quicken while everything else around me slowed down. It tasted sweet on my tongue, and a wave of inebriation swept over me. Every now and again since she left, I will catch a trace of her perfume on the air, the finishing touch of another womans ensemble. Remembering it now pulls back the curtains on the lies I tell myself, that I am surviving without her, when in reality, the pieces of me that I hold together for my outward appearance will forever be ripped apart. The memory of her is a wound on my soul that will never heal.

She smiled back, and a flood of red filled her cheeks as they had the day before. She tipped her head forward causing her hair to spill over, concealing her face. I wanted to say something, but my mouth had gone dry. She kept walking, pausing to smile again before turning the corner. This time, I didn’t follow her.

Seeing her disappear around the corner reminded me of being a child, and how I used to make tiny boats out of scraps of folded newspaper and release them into the burbling stream that ran behind my house. They would tumble along in the shifting current, beautiful and elegant and fragile. I would race along the edge of the water, following the boat as it floated until the little stream emptied into a larger river. The path along the stream ended here, and I would stand and watch the boat push courageously forward into the stronger current. I would crane my neck to see it go around the bend, and then it was gone. The fast current of the river frightened me, so I never tried to see where my boats ended up. I imagined a pile of broken ships, wrecked on stones or grounded on sandbars, torn apart over time by the water.

The chance of seeing this woman became the reason to shave in the morning or to spend more time pressing my shirts. She was the reason I trimmed my hair, bought new shoes, and tightened my collar. We had a routine on those mornings. She would blush when she smiled at me, and I would smile in return, never gathering enough courage to do anything else except that. Her smiles got me through one workweek, and then another, and then another.

There was one day where I didn’t see her. A misty rain was falling that day, the kind of rain that doesn’t seem to get you very wet until you step inside. I waited without impatience outside in my usual spot despite it, and when the time came when she normally walked by passed, I waited still. I delayed until I was late for work, but she never came.

At first I became worried. Where was she? Was she hurt? Sick? My concern for her safety consumed my thoughts, and soon my concern shifted into despair. I saw myself then as one of my childhood paper boats, breaking apart under the heavy pressure of the relentless water.

After a month of shy smiles and long distance glances, she had become an essential part of my life. On the days where I saw her I felt alive. I was grateful for her. It was different, to actually feel something, anything, other than the weight of my own thoughts. Our sidewalk relationship made me feel more human than I had ever remembered being. It took one day without her to make me wonder how I ever survived my life before.

I think I knew it long before that moment, but my mind finally wrapped itself around it then as I climbed the stairs to my office, wet from the rain. I needed her. She was oxygen, she was sunlight. She was gravity. She was an anchor, holding my life in place and keeping me from drifting away.

I knew it then, and I would know it forever.

---

Have a good weekend, folks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Which I Am Somewhere Else Today

I'm sure that most of you remember the post I wrote recently, about my not being ready to be a father. It was probably one of the better things I've written on this site, and today, TheFatherLife.com has chosen to publish it on their site.

If you can, take a trip over to where my article is at on TFL today and check it out.

Thanks!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In Which I'd Probably Get A Papercut Again

There is an adult bookstore in a nearby town. It's in a small building set back from the road, the window-less facade painted a somber shade of blue. The main entrance is off to the side, behind a tall wooden fence that also guards the parking lot from the view of those driving by. A sign hangs crookedly between a weathered set of wooden posts near the road, bearing the name "First Amendment Adult Bookstore".

I've never been inside the store, but I can't deny my curiosity about it. I've got nothing against porn myself, but I have to wonder what exactly the draw is to read an adult book. It seems to me like there would be a lot of unnecessary effort involved.

For starters, it's not very easy to read a book with only one hand. Sure, you can hold a book with one hand easily enough, but since I'm assuming that reading an adult book is like watch an adult video, and that at some point there is going to be some manual stimulation, how do you turn the page? It's got to be frustrating to have to stop every so often to turn the page. Additionally, how does one keep the pages from getting soiled?

Now let's just assume, for equal argument's sake, that you aren't helping yourself to the buffet while reading. How difficult must it be to concentrate on reading while pitching a circus tent in your pants? I don't know if I'd be able to keep anything in my brain long enough to follow even the most basic of plots when a majority of the blood in my veins is going to an entirely different place.

I could be entirely wrong here, but I wouldn't expect to find quality writing in an adult book, like one would would expect upon picking up the latest James Patterson or Jodi Picoult. Then again, I suppose that you don't read adult books for their (non-sexual) entertainment value. I mean, you wouldn't pop in a skin flick into your DVD player if you were looking for skilled acting or general cinematic excellence.

So many other questions beg themselves to be asked. Do they sell used adult books? Do they make adult books in braille for the blind? Is there a best-seller list for adult books? Do the authors ever do book-signing gigs? And I guess, most importantly...

Do adult books only come in hard cover?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

In Which I Cannot Believe It

Last night, The Boss and I went to our local Save A-Lot to get some cheap groceries. If you've never been to a Save A-Lot, I'm sure you've been to places similar to it. They sell all the different types of products you see at a regular grocery store under knock-off names, but instead of having everything neatly lined up on the shelves, they stack the products inside the boxes they were shipped in. It isn't the most glamorous place to shop, but glamour goes out the window when you're looking to save a buck or two.

There were a few patrons in the store at the same time as us who struck me as odd. Like the guy who was wearing a heavily insulated snow suit despite the 70-degree temperature and the stifling humidity, who bought nothing but three cans of dog food after commenting about how "tasty" they looked. Or the Hispanic woman who spent the entire time on her cell phone, who was wearing a black bra under a thin white tank top that exposed a painful array of back acne (or bacne, if you will), and bought a surprisingly large amount of single-ply toilet paper.

As we shopped, I couldn't help but laugh at the knock-off names of some of the products. Fruity Diamonds, Honey Nut O-Rings, Frosted Mini Spooners... the list goes on. We also saw some products we haven't seen at the local supermarket before, like a 3-ounce can of Ham Spread (yes, you read that correctly) that had 770mg of sodium per half-tablespoon. I don't even want to imagine what that would do to one's blood pressure. Or to one's stomach and taste buds, for that matter.

We chuckled our way through the store, trying not to stare at the strange customers and make a big deal out of the oddly-named products. We grabbed the essential food items that we needed to get through the next week, and were en route to the checkout lanes with our assortment of grocery staples when I decided at the last moment to grab a package of cookies. It was then that I saw these:


Really?

Do they have pubescent teenage boys running the marketing department at the cookie factory? There are just so many things that is wrong about such a name... So many things.

P.S. For those who are curious, they also sold Double Creme Betweens, and they are pretty damn tasty.

Friday, June 12, 2009

In Which I Help Out A Friend

I'm guest-posting over at MIT Mommy's place today, but the post isn't scheduled to come up until later. I wanted to share it with you here, but if you don't already read MIT Mommy's blog, head over there and check it out.

---

Summer vacations were a magical time for me when I was growing up. I’ve never forgotten that feeling of immense freedom as I got off the school bus for the last time at the end the school year. The end of summer and the start of the next school year was nothing but a faint thought in my mind, if it even was there at all. My summer-mind was always a whirlwind of all the things I had plans to do.

In addition to the activities that just about every boy does during his summer vacation (which, other than getting scrapes and grass stains, is testing the limits of his mother’s patience), my parents always packed my sisters and I up in the car to go camping for a week or two. Whenever I think about my childhood, the memories I have about camping are some of the best ones I have.

We made tie-died t-shirts and competed in sand sculpture contests. We ate countless hot dogs and hamburgers. We cooked pizza’s over the campfire in my great-grandfather’s unique campfire oven. We got sunburns and bug bites but miraculously avoided poison ivy. We got rained on and nearly flooded out, and learned the hard way about the benefit of properly hung tarpaulins. 

We went fishing and often caught more trees than fish. We went swimming until our fingers wrinkled and learned how to dive off the dock. We went canoeing and paddle-boating, and watched our mother water-ski that one time. We played board games and seemingly endless rounds of Twenty Questions by the campfire at night. We made s’mores and got scolded for making torches out of flaming marshmallows. We found that loud, snoring neighbors makes for a late-night giggle-fest. 

As my sisters and I grew older, we went camping less and less as our summer schedules filled up with extracurricular activities and summer jobs. I was lucky enough to find a woman who loves camping as much as I do, and we have spent many nights under the stars. We even went camping for our honeymoon. 

I hope you’ve had a good time making memories with your family, MIT Mommy. I look forward to hearing all about them when you come back.

---

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Which I Get Caught Up

I don't have the mental capacity for a cohesive post today, but there are a couple of things I wanted to share with you. It has been a hectic week, but anxiety-willing, I'll make it through in once piece.
  • The Boss and I are essentially moved into the new apartment. We've managed to get our bedroom, living room, and most of the kitchen set up, but it still looks like our apartment got a bad case of the stomach flu and vomited our belongings all over the place. My home office is shoved into the corner of the second bedroom, and I've got my laptop set up on a stack of storage bins, but hey... I'm online.
  • While holding my niece yesterday while she was sleeping, I commented that she was making some pretty weird faces. My sister assured me that it was normal, and that it probably was because she had yet to go to the bathroom since her last feeding. Not too long after that my niece grunted, and I felt my hand, which was cupping her bottom, get warm. Awesome.
  • I hooked up our television the other day. We get better reception in our new place, getting a whopping seven channels as opposed to the two channels we had at our old place. I finally have an excuse to sit in front of the TV for hours on end. Judge Judy never looked so good.
  • The landlords at our old apartment are trying to screw us out of our security deposit by saying that we didn't leave it clean enough. To put it mildly, it is complete bullshit. The Boss and I both busted ass getting that place cleaner than it was the day we moved in. We'll be meeting up with them this weekend to discuss it in person.
  • Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of the day The Boss and I got married. It was a pretty low-key day, but any day that ends with Chinese food and ice cream is a pretty good day in my book.
This is about all I have the brain power for today. 

I need to go find my Ativan.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In Which I Am Exhausted

The Boss and I have been working hard to finish up our move, but I don't want to leave you all alone with nothing new for too long. This picture of my new niece, Clara, will have to last you until I get back to my normal schedule on Thursday.



She is more beautiful that words, and it was quite the experience holding her for the first time. I'll write more about that later this week.

Friday, June 5, 2009

In Which I Am Going To Be An Uncle

Today, at 7:00am EST, my older sister, who is almost two weeks past her pregnancy due date, will be checking herself into the hospital to be induced. At some point later today, I will be an uncle.

And having said that, I am sort of at a loss for words.

I am nervous for my sister and my brother-in-law. I am nervous for my mother, who has been making herself sick with worry and anxiety over the past couple of weeks. Selfishly, I am nervous for myself because I am unsure of how seeing this brand new child is going to affect The Boss and her desire for a baby. I wish I could say that my thoughts on the matter won't change after seeing and holding my niece for the first time, but to be honest with you... I'm not sure.

At this point, though, that doesn't matter. What will happen will happen. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a safe and easy delivery, and that I'll get to see my new niece later on tonight.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In Which I Open Mouth And Insert Foot

Yesterday evening, The Boss and I loaded up my truck with what hopefully was the second-to-last pile of storage bins and boxes to move into the new apartment. It's about an hour's drive from where we live currently, and on the way over I chatted with The Boss about the post I wrote about my smart-ass remarks to nosy cashiers.

The conversation soon worked its way to the new apartment, and wondering what our neighbors would be like. We've never lived in an apartment complex before, so this will be an entirely new experience for us.

"I hope the people in the building like us," The Boss said. 

"Oh, they'll have no reason not to," I assured her. "We're good people."

"You're right, I know. It's just that I hope we make friends with some of the people in the building. I think it would be good for us." 

"Yeah," I said, noncommittally. The idea of entertaining new friends in our small apartment didn't exactly thrill me, but I went along with it. 

We arrived at our apartment shortly after, and as I backed the truck up to the main entry door, The Boss said, "If we see any of our neighbors tonight when we're moving stuff in, I hope we make a good impression."

"Don't worry," I said, distracted, but still picking up on the hint. "I'll behave."

Famous last words.

We saw a couple of our new neighbors and introduced ourselves as we carried our things up the stairs. I smiled and said the obligatory nice-to-meet-you's, keeping my promise to The Boss of making a good impression. Everything was going well, and before long there were just a couple of boxes left to carry up. I had inadvertently saved the heaviest boxes for last, and having made 17 trips up and down the three flights of stairs already, I decided to save myself an extra trip and take the last two boxes at the same time. 

Here's where things started to go wrong.

My legs were exhausted and my arms were sore. I was sweating profusely in some very uncomfortable places. I was tired of forcing a smile to random strangers I passed while wrestling with the box I was carrying. I wanted to be done, and I wanted to be done now. I hoisted the last two boxes and headed for the stairs. 

I had just made it past the entry way when I saw a man coming down the stairs towards me. He had a baseball cap on backwards and a clove cigarette sticking out of his mouth. I moved over to the right so we could share the stairway. 

"Hey," I grunted. A bead of sweat coursed down my forehead.

"Hi," he replied. "Moving in?"

I paused. 

Could it be any more obvious as to what I was doing? I was standing face to face with a man I had never seen before. I was carrying two boxes up the stairs, both of which were clearly labeled as to what room they belonged in. There is a truck parked by the door with piles of rope and tie-down straps clearly visible from where we stood. I had answered that same stupid question about seven times already that evening, and my patience for politely answering something that was so glaringly obvious had long since run out.

"No," I said. I continued up the stairs.

"No?" the guy said, apparently confused. He turned to watch me clear the landing and head up the next flight of stairs.

"Right. I'm not moving in. I'm moving out in reverse."

Open mouth, insert foot.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Which I Should Learn To Bite My Tongue

I went to the store a few different times recently to pick up a few things. Nothing special, just normal, run-of-the-mill type stuff for people that are in the process of moving, as we are. My first trip to the store was to get packing tape. At the checkout with two rolls of tape, I listened while the chatty cashier rambled on about the weather and tourists and her favorite brand of facial moisturizer to the customer in front of me. Her voice grated on my patience like steel wool on glass, but I waited as patiently as I could.

"Hello!" she said cheerily when it was finally my turn. I grunted a reply as I dug out my wallet. She rang up the tape, and asked, "Packing things up, are ya?" 

Now, I'll admit that there were plenty of things I could have said that would have been more appropriate of a response than the one I chose. A simple "yes" would have been sufficient, but I really wasn't in the mood for small talk. I went for the "shock" factor, something that wouldn't illicit any further dialogue from her. 

"No, I've got to seal up some envelopes," I said. "Don't want the white powder to leak out in transit, you know?"

The cashier took a step back and blinked. It worked. The rest of the transaction was completed in blissful silence. 

The next day, I was out getting some black heavy-duty trash bags. I encountered another talkative cashier who, despite his mullet and curiously strong coffee breath, was pleasant enough in comparison to the first cashier I dealt with. He asked me casually if I was doing some yard work.

I told him no, that the regular-strength trash bags tend to tear when I put someone - err, something inside them. And the black plastic was much more concealing.

I've never been handed change so fast in my life.

I suppose I should learn to bite my tongue and not say things that could potentially get me in trouble, but where is the fun in that?