What Does It Really Feel Like Outside and Are There Baptists in Italy?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so when the first cold snap of the season came upon us today I was listening, and reading the local weather pundits.

“The first cold snap of the season is upon us.”  According to the local meteorologists/hairdo’s/suits, an “arctic” front was “barreling down” from the frozen north.  It could be the coming of the Apocalypse!  The temperature might just dip below 30 degrees!  I think that if there had been the slightest chance of snow, the local weather hairdo giving the forecast, just might have had an accident.  I watch all the Alaska shows, so that just in case there is a grizzly attack here in Greenville, SC I’ll know what to do. You know the shows I’m talking about.  They have to cut their own firewood, not for ambiance, but to actually heat their homes that are the size of our breakfast nooks, or they might actually die.  Now I don’t know where you’re from, but to me that’s cold.  30 degrees ain’t cold.  Cutting firewood so you don’t freeze to death is cold.  But what struck me was all the uproar about what it really feels like, or what most of us know as “the wind chill factor.”

Now the goal posts in my head might be further apart than most people’s, so I figured I better look up what the formula is for the wind chill factor before I make too big a fool out of myself.  Yeah, I know, too late right?  One organization touts itself as using more than 2 factors, and they have “patented” their work, so I am afraid to ridicule them by name.  I don’t want to get sued.  Not that there is anything to sue for in the first place, but it means I’ll have to open more mail than usual, and there will be phone calls.  I hate phone calls. Thank goodness someone invented texting.   Here is the link to their website that tells you they use more than 2 factors, but because it’s “patented” they can’t tell you how they do it.  I think the more factors you use the more ridiculous you look.  First here is the actual formula for the wind chill factor from weather.gov. Basically it means, if the wind is X and the temperature is Y, it really “feels” like Z.

WindChill = 35.74 + (0.6215 × T) − (35.75 × Wind) + (0.4275 × T × Wind)

Because the user might need the Wind Chill in Watts per meter squared ( W , it can be m2 ) calculated using an air temperature in degrees Celsius (°C) and a wind speed in meters per second ( : s m )

WindChill = (12.1452 + 11.6222 x sfc − 11.622 × Windsfc) × (33 – T)

 

Okay, everybody got that?  Real easy right?  But here’s my question, and we’ll just stick with wind chill factor and forget about the “other guys patented formula with more variables.”  How do they figure that out?  I mean at some point someone had to go outside and say, “You know it really doesn’t feel like 20°F out there with the wind blowing at 15mph, it really feels like -10°F.”  They had to have some Goober stand outside with a thermometer and an anemometer (I had to look it up.  I thought about putting in just windometer, but we need to learn at least something once a day, right?) and shout, “Hey Barney. The wind is 15 mph and it’s 20°F, but what does it really feel like?”  Then Barney had to shout back something like, “I don’t know Otis, but I’ll guess 6.2°F.” (I actually keyed in the numbers into the weather.gov windchill conversion chart to get the actual number.  We’re just being all kinds of sciency today aren’t we?)  Barney had to have stayed outside long enough to get enough readings for the math types to have been able to come up with a formula. Now you know why I think using more factors makes you look more ridiculous.  “Okay Barney, the wind is blowing, the temperature is X, but now you’re wearing a coat, the sun is out, but you’re standing in the shade, in the driveway wearing Birkenstocks and socks, and it’s snowing, what does it feel like now?”  Barney had to reply, “yeah, it doesn’t feel like 6.2°F anymore, it really feels like 7.2°F.”  Having gone through all those machinations, they came up with the formula I gave you above.

If they didn’t have a guy standing outside, then don’t give me the wind chill factor.  Wear your suit, poof your hair and tell me what the weather is going to be like tomorrow.

How would you have liked to have been that guy standing outside?  I know it had to be a guy because a woman wouldn’t have been that dumb.

As a side note today, I would like your opinion.  We were watching a tribute to the 3 tenors, by 3 of the youngest, littlest, skinniest, purtiest guys, with the biggest voices, and hairdos, you have ever heard, on PBS Saturday night.  In my uncultured opinion if you’re going to sing like that, you need to be big, fat, bald, and with a plate of spaghetti next to you.  In other words you need to look like me and/or Pavarotti. They were performing in Florence outside of the big Cathedral.  My Mom asked, “What is the name of that church?”  Instead of saying “The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore” which is the actual name of the Cathedral, I deadpanned, “1st Baptist of Florence.” Nobody laughed, and one person remarked, “Do they have Baptists in Italy?”  Somebody tell me, how is that not funny?

Don’t Kick My Chair During the Scary Part, Dude!

The play, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight,” almost scared a little bit of pee out of me.  It was great.  I generally like going to plays, always have, but I saw one this summer that just bored me to tears, so I haven’t been too motivated lately. I think you are always more disappointed in something when your hopes regarding that something are up unnecessarily high.  Needless to say I have been tentative about going to another one.  Unfortunately, I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, so the missus wanted to take me to a play and dinner, so I said “okay.”

Kim made the reservations or at least she tried to.  My wife, as sweet as she is, tends to have issues with technology. When she is using her phone, kindle, or laptop, and something doesn’t work the way she wants it to, the conversation usually goes like this:

“Here, fix it.”

“Fix what sweetie?”

“Fix this!”  She is now shaking the device at me.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“It won’t work.”

“Well honey, I kinda figured that one out on my own.”  For some odd reason or another, that response never goes over too well.

“Is there anything in particular it’s doing or not doing?”

“It won’t work.  Fix it.” Still shaking, or wagging, said device.

Someday I’m going to learn to just take the device and make it work without asking questions.  But seeing as how I fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down, it ain’t gonna happen.  This is the same guy who asked his, not even close to being 68 year old wife, after she told him that the recent super moon hasn’t been this close to the earth in 68 years, if she remembered it looking like this. So, I take the device, which, this time, happens to be the laptop.

Tap, tap, tap, fiddle, fiddle, fiddle, adjust, adjust, adjust.

“Okay sweetie, here ya go.”

“What did you do?”

“I keyed in the password.”

“Thank yooooooooo!”

A short time later she says to me, she says, “there are no good seats until the 12th.”

Now my birthday is on the 3rd, and we had already planned to meet my mother and brother at Biltmore in Asheville, NC on the 2nd for lunch and a tour. Then on the 3rd, Kim had planned to take me to dinner at our favorite steak place (which means our favorite restaurant), the Peddler, in Greenville. Plus, she bought me a new electronic device.  So I’m not feeling slighted on the birthday celebrations. She could have stopped at the electronic device, but I’m not going to tell her that.  I’m good with my haul.  Dinner and a show is just a bonus, and it’s a play anyway, so like I said, I’m not too keen on going. But what are you going to do?

“That’s okay honey.  We’re doing enough for my birthday, don’t worry about it.”  I think I’m home free.

“Well there are good seats available on the 12th.”

“That’s okay.  We don’t have to go.”

“Okay, good.  We’re booked on the 12th.”

“But I said you didn’t have to do that.  You’re doing enough already.”

“We’re booked, we’re going.”

“So basically, this has got nothing to do with my birthday.  You just want to go to dinner and a play?”

“Not basically.  Yes!”

So we’re booked for a play, disguised as my birthday present.  It’s a comedy thriller, “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight”.  I’m not sure how they’re going to do that.  The best thriller I ever saw was the movie “When a Stranger Calls” and there wasn’t anything funny about that.  Except for the time they thought they had finally caught the guy. The mood was peaceful, everybody was breathing a sigh of relief, and then the heroine hears coming from the bedroom closet, “Have you checked the children?”  She rolls over to wake her husband and it turns out it’s not her husband lying next to her, it’s the killer.  That part of the movie wasn’t funny.  What was funny, were the 4 girls sitting 5 rows in front of me, screaming, jumping up, climbing over the people sitting between them and the escape route that was the aisle, and running out of the theater.  That was funny.  So naturally I’m a little skeptical about a “comedy thriller”.

We don’t attend the theater often, but I’ve seen movies where people go to the theater.  In my opinion we look the part of theater goers.  I’m wearing khakis and a sweater and the missus is wearing a nice outfit that I can’t even begin to describe other than, “She looked good,” which for my wife is pretty much all the time.  The only thing missing was me wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches, and Birkenstocks with white socks.  Isn’t that how most men attire themselves when attending the theater?  Elbow patches and Birkenstocks?  That’s the way they do it in the movies.

Before the performance we attempt sophistication by ordering a glass of wine at the concession stand. We don’t do this often and we want to fit in.   2 problems.  #1 the wine comes in small plastic cups.  If they wanted to be any more southern they should have just used Red Solo cups.  #2 the love of my life, when asked by the “bartender” what she would like, responded by saying she wanted something sweet.  We’re not exactly at a wine tasting, so the guy looks at her like I usually do when she asks me, “Are you paying attention to me?”  For all of you keeping score at home, it’s not a pleasant look.  All you husbands out there know what I am talking about.

“We have Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio.”

She looks at him like I look at her when she says, “Are you paying attention to me?”  All you wives out there know what I am talking about.  My wife enjoys wine, but is not exactly a Sommelier.  I’m not either.  Needless to say I had to look up the word that means “wine expert.”

I told her to try the Pinot Grigio, I ordered the Cabernet, and we stood there “fashion policing” the other theater patrons. There was not an elbow patch, or pair of Birkenstocks to be seen.  We crumpled up our “glasses” dumped them in the trash and found our seats.

Some guy walked out on the stage, turned out it was the Executive Director Allen McCalla, to make announcements, pitch a couple of the sponsors, and tell us a little bit about the play.  For some reason everyone applauded when he came out.  I’ve met Allen, and he’s a nice guy, but he really didn’t do anything except walk out on the stage, so I’m not real sure why everyone was clapping.  They clapped when he left the stage too.  I asked around, but nobody else could tell me why they were clapping either.  Turns out he also directed the play, so, what do I know?

The lights came down and the play started.  And you know what?  It is pretty funny.  I still don’t see the thriller part of it yet.  I should have known better.  The play is set in kind of a stereotypical thriller setting, farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, with city people, the wife played by Emily Grove, and the husband played by Sam McCalla, who have never been in the country before, renting for the next few months.  The colorful farmer, played by Evan Harris, who is leasing them the house, is pretty funny.  He tells the standard ghost story of a hermit who, years before, had murdered someone in that house and had never been caught.  Previous guests have claimed to have seen ghosts in the house.  The sightings are always mysteriously preceded by the sound of an unearthly heartbeat.  The stage is set.  You know someone, or some people, ain’t a gonna make it to the end of this play.

The play continues and the wife, who has mental issues, decides to stay up late reading. And then it happens. The lights flicker, and you start to hear a heartbeat.  The lights flicker again, and she starts freaking out a little, screaming for her husband.  The lights go out and she’s still screaming.  I didn’t know a theater could get this dark.  I’m sure they were there, I’m really not looking, but you can’t even see the glow of the exit signs.  We have now moved from comedy to “full tilt boogie” thriller.

Now back to our story.  The wife is still screaming for her husband, it’s still pitch dark, the heartbeat has gotten louder and faster, a light shines just outside a window that has mysteriously opened, and then, all of a sudden, the wife shines a flashlight around the room, and it lands on the hermit, a hideous figure holding a bloody knife ready to stab her.  She screams again, and all the lights go out again.

The lights come up, the husband rushes into the empty room with the wife still holding the flashlight screaming about the hermit with the knife.  Everybody calms down, except the wife of course, and the play continues, jokes are told, the audience laughs and the husband goes back to bed, having searched the house and not found the first hermit.  The wife, she’s still pretty worked up, kind of like me at this point, so she decides to stay up.

A little background about me, at this juncture in our story, would be appropriate.  I’ve never liked blood and guts horror movies.  However, when I was a teenager I used to love the non gory thrillers like the first “Halloween” movie, which was, surprisingly, not that gory, and the aforementioned “When a Stranger Calls.”  They were pretty fun, and let me tell you why.  My first car date, or the first date I had after I got my drivers license and didn’t need my Mom or somebody else’s Mom to drive us, was the first “Halloween” movie.  The first time the creepy music started playing, and the killer jumped out of the shadows with the knife, my date jumped straight up out of her chair and landed in my lap, where she remained for the rest of the movie.  Yes sir, I had me a good thing going.  Scary movies?  Who knew?  So, I saw all the scary movies through High School. Let’s face it, being startled is fun, and more importantly your date being startled is even better.

So when the wife in the play decides to stay up, I know this isn’t such a hot idea.  Sure enough here we go.  The heartbeat.  The flickering lights.  She runs over and closes and locks the window.  The heart beat gets louder. She grabs the shotgun off the wall. The heart beat gets louder and louder.  The window, that she has just locked, flies open, the drapes billow with the wind, and suddenly the lights go out.  The theater is pitch dark, again.  The sound of footsteps is audible.  The wife screams and I’m about to come out of my skin. And then it happens.  The guy behind me decides to cross his legs, and he kicks the back of my chair.  He couldn’t have picked a worse time to try and get comfortable. I mean for crying out loud you can’t do that sort of thing, at that point in the play!  I thought I had been had.  The jig was up.  They had caught up to me.  It was in that moment I thought Freddy Krueger himself was banging on my chair.  If I hadn’t used the rest room before we sat down I might have had a bigger problem.  I kid you not, I’m not making this up, I literally came up out of my chair, and hollered “Oh s#*t.”  Thank goodness at that very moment, back on stage, the wife decides to fire the shotgun, so my expletive isn’t heard by the rest of the audience.  It is, however, heard by those within my immediate vicinity, rows O and P.  The lights come back up, and I won’t tell you what happens because it is a good play and you need to see it someday, but jokes are told, everyone laughs and we break for intermission.

I am really hoping this guy is wearing elbow patches and Birkenstocks.  I turn around, and sitting there, not wearing elbow patches or Birkenstocks, is just a regular guy wearing jeans, sneakers, a Clemson sweatshirt, with a big grin on his face. He is sitting with; I am assuming, his wife and another couple.  I want to break bad on this guy so much, but he is just sitting there smiling, kinda knowing what he did, and trying his best not to laugh.  I’m 6’4 about 310 lbs., depending on what I had for dinner (we hadn’t eaten yet so it was probably close to 305), so when I turn around, and you don’t know me, after having my kicked my chair, you probably would be just a tad worried.  This guy is just grinning.

It’s kinda hard to break bad on a guy when, #1 he is not wearing elbow patches and Birkenstocks, #2. Clemson has just lost to Pittsburgh on a last second field goal, and #3. your wife is sitting next to you, with her hands over her face, shaking uncontrollably, doing her absolute level best not to fall down in the floor in hysterics.  The best I could do was look the guy in the eye, point my finger at him, and say “DUDE!!”

This was one of the times when “sir”, “hey you”, or “excuse me”, just wouldn’t work.  This was a “DUDE!!” moment if there ever was one.

“DUDE!! You kicked my chair at absolutely the worst time, ever!”

He just keeps smiling, I look down the row, and his party is basically mirroring Kim, hands over their noses and mouths, not looking directly at me, and shaking hysterically.  It is at this point Kim loses it, and everybody else blows up.  There was no hiding it.  “Mr. bad ass, 6’4” 305 lbs., scared of the dark, jumps at a shoe bump,” is now the hit of The Greenville Little Theater’s row O and P.  I shake hands with “Clemson,” watch Kim hand out tissues to everyone on our two rows so they can wipe the tears of laughter from their eyes, check my shorts, and sit down to watch the rest of the play.  It is just as good as the first part, and I still have a couple of expletives left in me for the rest of the scary parts.  Kim never fully regains control.  In fact at one point she pokes me at the wrong time, just to see what I would do.  I don’t disappoint.  I am still worked up. One week later I might still be.  I can’t say as I blame her though.  I would do the same thing if the shoes were reversed.  Dadgum play should have been called “Don’t Kick My Chair During the Scary Part, Dude!”

We still had dinner left to attend.  But since nobody else wore elbow patches and Birkenstocks, we didn’t bother with Chateaubriand and a good Cabernet.  We went to Waffle House.

 

 

 

 

My own personal St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

I think it’s fairly well accepted assumptions that the worst thing a husband can do is NOT get his wife a gift on Valentine’s Day.  That particular assumption would be WRONG, and I am here to tell you about that “something even worse”.  I am here to tell you that not only did I not have a gift for my wife on Valentine’s Day, I did that aforementioned, “something even worse.”  Have you ever heard of the sin of omission and the sin of commission?  I managed to pull them both off on one very bad Valentine’s Day.

I think it has to be just about the experience of every guy, who is truly in love with the woman of his dreams, that inevitably, disaster will strike on the worst day of the year that it can happen to him.  Yes gentlemen, and ladies, I am talking about the day of the year that most guys, who are truly in love, try and make the most special for the lady with whom they are in love.  And though we men may get it right most years, every one of us has a Valentine’s Day disaster that makes them cringe every time New Year’s ends, and the Hallmark Channel starts playing Valentine’s Holiday movies.  This is just such a story.  Except, that it was not one disaster on the same day, it was two.  And out of the two disasters that did happen, one of them was not, my wife having the flu.  That’s how bad it was.  My wife having the flu on Valentine’s Day did not even make the top two of things that went wrong.  So instead of this being the story of my St. Valentine’s Day Disaster, this is the story of my St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.  And it was all self-inflicted.

The date February 14, 2007.  Valentine’s Day.

We had just moved to Wilmington, NC from Greenville, SC where I had taken a job as Director of Operations for a large kitchen and bathroom cabinet distributor.  Kim, my wife, had not yet found employment, so she had planned an elaborate dinner at home for Valentine’s Day.  Now let me tell you this much.  My wife cannot cook.  She will be the first one to tell you this, so I am not doing any wife bashing here.  This story is completely about my bashing.  So for Kim to prepare an elaborate Valentine’s Day dinner was very special, and a real effort on her part.

A brief history to illustrate my point.  6 years earlier, on the first birthday of mine that I “celebrated” with Kim, I came home to find our dog, Doolie, greeting me at the door, as always, but this time covered in cake batter.  Her curly cue tail was its typical wagging machine, and her tongue was hanging out like nothing had happened.  Daddy was home and it was time to party.  Kim was standing at the door in a red plaid apron with tears in her eyes.  After glancing at the disaster, that was our kitchen, cake batter on the dog was not the only place it landed, and being the eloquent lunk that I am, I asked her a probing and unexpected question, “what happened?”

Lower lip trembling and with eyes moistening, and in the understatement of the year, she said “I tried to make you a cake for your birthday and it didn’t work out.”

“Sweet bean,” I stumbled, “How many dishes did you use?  Was this going to be an 8 layer cake?”

“No,” Her voice quivered, “I tried 3 times to make a cake and burned all 3 of them.  After the second one burned I thought I would play it safe and start making a third cake, you know, just in case.  That’s when I started to smell smoke coming from the oven, turned, and knocked over the bowl with the batter in it.  Doolie, as always, when there was a chance at a snack, was right next to the bowl as it hit the floor, bounced once, and that’s how she got covered.  I knew you would be home soon, sniff, sniff, sniff, and I wanted to get the cake ready, which is why Doolie has not yet been de-battered.”

This was all told to emphasize how much of a cook my wife was not, and how special, and burdensome, it was that she was trying to make a nice dinner for Valentine’s Day.  Unfortunately, for me, or her, you’ll have to be the judge, it gets worse.  She also had the flu.

The flu had been coming on for a couple of days and it was not yet in full debilitating flower, so that morning I told her not to do anything special for Valentine’s Day since she felt so bad.  When she got better we would go do something.  I even asked her, knowing what the answer was ahead of time, “would you like to just go out?”  We never go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. I mean why would you? The crowds are too big, and of course the prices are jacked up 2-3 times the norm because of the “special” menu the chef only prepares for Valentine’s Day.  Well I got a big negatory on that suggestion.

So, at the end of the day I bebop on home half expecting to have to cook/grill something, which is cool, because I know I have steaks in the freezer.  Pop those bad boys on the grill, a little caramelized onion, baked potato, a little chocolate wine that I found earlier that week, and we’re in business.  Little did I suspect I was about to be out of business.

When I got home I found out I didn’t have steaks in the freezer.  Those steaks had been thawed and cooked and were on the table set with our wedding china and a special red rose plant that she had bought especially for the table setting.  Let me tell you what, Kim had made that table look good, food, place setting and all.  She had made Steak Dianne, what looked like fresh asparagus, and strawberry short cake for desert.  I was a little upset with Kim for cooking when she felt as bad as she did, but instead of saying so I said, “Yeah boy, looks good, let’s eat!.”  Take notice, that was the only thing I did right that night.  It goes downhill from here, and fast.

So we sat ourselves down, lights dimmed, candles lit, basking in the glow of our love, but not for long. So, against my better judgement, (remember the cake) I went ahead and took a bite.  I went for the asparagus first because I love asparagus.  Big time, slap me on the fanny and call me Alice, love asparagus.  And this from a guy that usually won’t eat anything that at one point didn’t have a face on it.  Well, not only did the asparagus taste bad, it tasted like feet, no worse, it tasted like feet with fungus.  I don’t mean to intentionally gross anyone out, but the point needs to be made that what happened next was a reflex and not intentional.  I mean what kind of dork spits out food that his wife cooked on Valentine’s Day, despite having the flu, on to their nice wedding china that may have been used maybe 4 times in the last 5 years, unless it was pure reflex?  I need to point out that there was something wrong with the asparagus, and that it was not Kim’s fault, though later on I found out that it actually was her fault. (The asparagus turned out to have come out of the can.)  It did not just taste bad.  It was not just cooked incorrectly.  There was something technically, clinically, and morbidly wrong with the asparagus.  Anyway, in my mouth it went and out of my mouth it came, splat, right on the plate, and right on top of my Steak Dianne.  OOPS!

There are moments in your life when everything just stops.  I am reminded of Clement Clark Moore’s poem, “Twas the night before Christmas.”  Santa is coming, the narrator has jumped out of bed, he’s looking out the window, and sees St. Nick and his reindeer, flying for crying out loud, in bound, things are happening, it’s getting exciting, and then Moore comes in with the line, “As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky…”  I have always felt like that line just stopped everything.  I mean think about it, there’s been a serious clatter, sashes have been thrown open, he sees a fat guy wearing a red suit, in a sleigh, not on the ground, but flying, and being pulled by eight flying reindeer, and all of a sudden dry leaves are flying?  What’s up with that?  In this day and age if something like that happens, particularly in the South, pistols are being pulled, shotguns are being locked and loaded, and serious gunplay is about to take place.  Either that or the jug is passed around one more time because that’s some good hooch!!  But what Moore does is completely slow down time, and the moment is painted in suspension eagerly waiting the next move.

That’s how I felt at that particular moment.  Events were happening, the world was about to crash down, and then right before the dam broke and all hell was about to break loose, time stopped, and dry leaves began flying. I was given time to reflect on the stupid thing that I just did.  Whether intentional or not, it was just stupid.  And I knew that stupid thing was going to have consequences, and the consequences were going to begin just as soon as time decided to reengage itself.  I also knew that there was absolutely nothing I could do about what was coming.  I may not have known specifically what was about to happen, but there was one thing I was sure of, it was going to be bad.  No amount of artillery can be called in to stave off the storm of remuneration that was about to come my way.  No form of conciliatory gesture could protect me from the flood gates that were about to open, and there was nowhere I could run, and no where I could hide, to avoid the world of hurt that was about to come down.

With fresh regurgitation on my plate, and the gods of chronology, having come back from a smoke break, I slowly turned and looked at my wife.  And that’s when it happened.  The eyes started moistening up.  The lower lip started to quiver, remember the cake?  I hastily looked towards her hands and then directly at the steak knife that was easily within her reach, and was temporarily relieved that no movement in the direction of the steak knife was detected.  Later that evening I would regret that she had not made a move towards the knife and then successfully put me out of my misery, but for now, the hands were still and not moving in the general direction of that knife.  Before I could get out, “but honey…” the chair was shoved back, she stood straight up, wiped her mouth like the lady that she is, and stomped out of the dining room, down the hall, into the bedroom, and, what a shock, slammed the door.  And then in a twinkling I heard on the floor (apologies to Clement Moore), click, click, click, tap, tap, tap, trot, trot, trot, and the bedroom door opens.  Click, click, click, tap, tap, tap, trot, trot, trot, and the bedroom door closes.  Instead of reindeer on the roof, the dogs, as soon as Kim had headed down the hallway, jumped up and retreated as well, and unlike my sorry self, were allowed into the bedroom and on to the bedroom carpet. I need to add that the bedroom door was re-slammed with added emphasis that said “Don’t even think about it”.  We had two dogs at the time, one half Australian Shepherd and half Great Dane, and the other, the older one, who had experienced the cake batter, was a mix of Rottweiler, Lab, Doberman, and probably some kind of hound.  I think they both knew I was damaged goods, and figured the safest place to be was somewhere that was not in my vicinity.

So now I am stuck with a dilemma.  It’s every man’s conundrum.  I’ve pretty much screwed the pooch, so what do I do now?  I’ve blown Valentine’s Day. I know the one thing I don’t do, is turn on the TV.  So what do I do?  I look down at my plate, at this fabulous meal my wonderful wife has made, and I ate the rest of it, by myself.  Candles still a glow, plates reflecting in the candle light, lights still dimmed, and me tucking in to steak and strawberry shortcake, solo. Minus the asparagus of course.

You would think that would be the end of the massacre. But regurgitation was only the beginning.  What happened next is more the punch in the gut after the slap/shotgun in the face.  Kim finally emerged from the bedroom about 2 hours later.  I was reading, no TV for me.  I had self-sanctioned.  (Of course I cleaned the table and the kitchen.  I might be stupid but it’s not intentional.  That kitchen was scoured.)  The problem was she emerged 2 hours later with my Valentine’s Day present.  Nothing fancy, but she knows I like movies, we both do, and she had bought me “The Lord of the Rings” DVD extended edition, by Director Peter Jackson.  I’m a big fan.  She had calmed down and was actually okay.  I tried to explain that it was not her fault.  The asparagus had to have something clinically wrong with it, but I only tried that once.  Yes, that is correct, once was once too many.  (I should have just left it alone.  I haven’t taken 9 years to write this story for no good reason.)  But this brings us to where I had done something smart only to have it back fire in my face.

This should have been the point where I produced Kim’s well thought out and planned Valentine’s Day present.  Turns out, an historic blizzard in the Ohio Valley and New England put the cherry on top of this, just most fabulous of all, Cupid Day.  Since Kim was staying at home in those days, and since I had just started my new job, I could not order anything and have it shipped to the house or the office.  I wasn’t yet clear on what the office policy was on getting personal mail, and I didn’t want Kim getting the delivery before Valentine’s Day.  So what I did was order it the day before, and had it overnighted via FedEx, so that it would arrive on Valentine’s Day. Or at least I thought I did.  It was a really nice pair of warm, brown velvet, pajamas.  It was a very good present for Kim.  However this was not to be my day.  The aforementioned blizzard shut down The UPS terminal in Louisville, KY and nothing could get in or out for 2 days.  If I had just Fedexed it, like I thought I had, it would have been routed through Memphis and missed the storm, but NOOOOOO!  It had to be UPS’d.  Not that I have anything against the United Parcel Service, it’s a wonderful company and I am on great terms with our UPS driver.  But I had just hurled up Kim’s meticulously planned and executed Valentine’s dinner, and not only had she not killed me instantly or inflicted some sort of painful bodily injury, but she had just presented me with a really nice gift.  This was the time when I really needed to produce a nice gift.  So what did I have to give to her?  I was the classic wordsmith, “Ummm, honey, you’re not going to believe this, but your gift is sitting on the tarmac in Louisville and won’t get here for a few days because of a snow storm.  But HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!” This is the point where I longed for the steak knife, and wished Kim had put me out of my misery a couple of hours prior.  I just wanted to go somewhere and hide.

But dead people can’t go hide, particularly ones like me who have just been massacred.  I never thought that I could do something worse to my wife than not having a gift for her on Valentine’s Day.

To wrap it up, I’m still married 10 years later.  And you know what Kim actually did believe me when I told her; her present was hung up by a snow storm.  Things went so bad that day, it was actually funny and we still laugh about it.  At least I think she laughs about it.  She hasn’t stabbed me with a steak knife yet.  I think that might be because the pajamas did actually show up a few days later.

Take away lessons:

  1. When your wife cooks you something, eat it and keep it down, then tell her you loved it with extraordinary enthusiasm.
  2. Always have your Valentine’s Day present in hand the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day.
  3. Always have a dog(s) around so that when you royally screw up, I mean the screw ups that are actually your fault, not just the ones your wife says are your fault, they can make your wife feel better while you are banished to some other place she is not.
  4. If you see a fat guy dressed in red, flying in a sleigh pulled by 8 reindeer, don’t shoot, just pass the jug.

It’s on the schedule

What can I say?  It was on the schedule.  That is the excuse I give everyone for doing probably one of the dumbest things I have done in a while.  Truth is I just wanted to do it, so I did.  45 mile bike ride for Meals on Wheels Saturday morning and it started while it was pouring down rain.  Yep, not the smartest thing I have ever done and just confirms that I am probably at least one socket wrench short of a full tool kit.

There are a couple of things you need to understand about riding in the rain.  One is that it really messes up your bike, and if you don’t clean and lube it well after a ride in the rain, you are going to have issues and believe me, I have enough issues to go around without getting my bike wet.  The second thing is that when you ride in the rain you have brake problems.  The brakes on a road bike are simply two rubber pads squeezing up against an aluminum wheel rim.  Unless you are squeezing your brake handles really hard you probably are not going to stop when it’s wet.  Let me rephrase.  You probably won’t stop when you want to when it’s wet.  You’ll stop all right, but it might be when you hit the thing you were trying to stop for.  There are a bunch of other reasons to not ride in the rain, such as it’s cold, miserable and just plain not fun, but I think those first two should be enough for our purposes.

I was really looking forward to this ride, and it was for a good cause, though whether or not anyone rode didn’t make a difference as far as fundraising was concerned.  I wanted to do it, and it was on the schedule.  I had been training for it by riding the route a couple of times in the preceding weeks.  However I did not ride the complete route.  We missed one of the turns in the training rides and it came back to haunt me, but more on that fiasco later.  There were several options one of which really was not an option.  There were 5 choices for routes.  A 100, 63, 45, 25, or 10 mile fun ride! Guess which one was not an option?  As stated earlier I did the 45 miler.  Fortunately we could do the 25 miler if it got really bad and we knew where the turn off was so there was always the thought when we started that I could turn back with no shame if it came to it.

It’s one thing to get caught out in the rain while riding.  It’s inevitable that one day that will happen, if you ride regularly, and I have been caught out in some monsoons.  However, it’s a completely other fun time to start out while it’s raining.  AND, it’s just on the other side of crazy when you wake up 30 minutes earlier than you had planned and it’s already pouring down rain.  I mean it was a frog strangler.  But, it was on the schedule, so I had breakfast found everything I had that I could wear that was waterproof, and set out.  I think one of God’s greatest inventions is the Ziploc.  The wife, Kim, did give me a look, and suggested that she give me a ride to the start point at Furman which is only about 2 miles from my house.  Can anyone guess what that look meant?  For those playing at home, it meant, “Why don’t I give you a ride to the start, because it’s pouring down rain, and there is no way you are going to ride in this mess, so you may as well get there, and then get back in the car and come home before you embarrass me by riding in the rain and then writing about it.”  I replied to the look in the following manner, “That’s okay honey.  This way if it’s too bad I’ll know it before the start and I won’t have ridden very far and can come on home.  But be on standby this afternoon because I might need a ride home. Love you.”  Just to relieve the suspense I’ll go ahead and say she did come and pick me up afters.

I do want to state categorically that this was a wonderfully presented event, and me pointing out a couple of things humorously, in no way should diminish the hard work, preparation, enthusiasm, and execution the volunteers and the good people at Meals on Wheels exhibited.  Okay, everybody clear?  Good people, wonderful event, fantastic execution, will do it again, etc. etc…?  However…when you send out an email telling people to be there 30 minutes early, 8 am, for specific instructions because of the weather, you need to give out those specific instructions 30 minutes before the ride starts.  Guess what time Mark showed up?  That’s right 8 am, already soaking wet I might add.  Why?  Because it was on the schedule.  So big, ole, wet, ziplocked up Mark, waits around in the rain waiting for instructions, while everyone else waits, yes wait for it, in their cars with their spouses.  I refer you back to the “Look” referenced in the previous paragraph.  I did find an overhang to stand under with about 10 other people.  Guess what time instructions started?  8:28 am.  Guess what the instructions were?  No change to the 45 or 25 mile route.  1 change to the 63.  GO!!!!

Still pouring down rain by the way.  Lots of comments being made about how it has just been decided we are doing the 25 and not the 45.  By the way if you are ever riding in the rain don’t ride directly behind anyone.  Bikes tend to not have mud flaps, particularly the one in front of you.

Surprisingly the ride itself was fairly uneventful.  It rained for the first hour and a half, but stopped after that.  Conveniently it stopped when we got to the first rest stop which was placed strategically at the turn off for the 25 and the 45 mile routes.  I had worn enough layers and Ziplocs so that after the first 15 minutes I was no longer cold, just wet and when we pulled into the rest stop for fuel.  I mean, am I going to pass up snacks?  Not a chance.  I met a nice guy named Robert with whom I was riding the first leg (had to look up the grammar on that one, don’t expect it to be a reoccurrence).  I was feeling pretty good so, hey, let’s do the 45!  So instead of turning right we turned left and went up the first wall, notice I did not say hill.  This one I was expecting as I had ridden this part of the route before.  15 minutes later my heart was out of my nose and back in my chest and we were cruising along in the Scenic Highway 11 area.  No issues, it was a nice ride, the rain had stopped, the weather was cool, and I was feeling good.  I was riding my ride without worrying about keeping up with a crowd.  The course was really well marked so there was no worry about getting lost.  The next stop was at the 24 mile mark and it was on top of a looonnnngggg hill.  But it was manageable.  Stopped again for “free” food and realized that the new position of standing up vertically was a little more of a challenge than I had anticipated.  But I still felt pretty good, so we continued on.  Got to a turn off at about the 30 mile mark and interestingly enough there were two people at the intersection and neither one of them was pointing in the same direction.  As you can imagine I was a bit disconcerted, but my fears were quickly alieved when one said “turn right for the 45, left for the 63.”  Now I have never been the sharpest sword in a fight, but this was one of the smartest decisions I have ever made.

I was feeling good.  No cramps, no fatigue, not overheating, butt not sore for sitting on a seat made for skinny people, so I thought about turning left and doing the 63.  I turned right.  And to quote Martha Stewart, “It was a good thing”.  Remember, good people, wonderful event, fantastic execution, will do it again, etc. etc… I don’t know who the sadistic bastard was that came up with this route but at mile 32 everything went to hell and the route decided to go straight the frack up.  I still have 13 miles to go.  I was no longer feeling good.  I was now going straight the frack up, straight the frack down, straight the frack up!!!  The slow rolling inclinations and declinations of the Carolina Foothills were no more.  For those of you know Paris Mountain, I ride that probably once a week, and these inclines, while not as long, were steeper than anything Paris Mountain has to offer.  To top it all off, now we now had the SAG car behind us, the car that brings up the rear of the group with its lights flashing, so that no one gets lost and so that everyone knows where the back of the group is.  I sort of expected it, since the crowd was light and I ain’t exactly what you would call Speedy Gonzales on a bike, particularly when the route goes straight the frack up, straight the frack down, straight the frack up!!!  But it’s always kind of embarrassing to know you are the last one.  But dignity has never been one of my strong suits anyway.  For crying out loud, I’m 6’4”, weigh 300 lbs., wearing lycra, a stupid looking helmet, soaking wet, wearing a bright yellow jacket so everyone can see me looking like this and I am sitting on a device that I have been hit by a car, not once, but twice while riding.  Plus the seat I am sitting on is not much wider than a stick.  Needless to say I am not bothered too much by the SAG vehicle right behind me.

My understanding was the route was changed to avoid a hill, that to be honest, is a bad one.  I think they replaced 1 really bad hill, with 73,412 bad ones.  I prefer my pain all at once not spread out.

We made it back.  I was completely gassed.  There was beer and one of the trainers at the Y, Sharon, had suggested beer was a good recovery drink.  Who was I to argue?  There was great food from Table 301.  Fabulous Mexican chicken, pork and fixin’s.   I texted the wife to come pick me up.  I could feel the “Look” through her texted reply and she came right down.  She’s real good about that.  She knew I was hurting.  But I got a different “look” when I got in her car.  Someday I will write about how my wife likes to keep her car clean.  I mean, “throw someone in the back, take out their appendix, and never worry about MRSA” clean.  The hospitals in town should take pointers from my wife.  I got in the car and got the new “look”.  I really couldn’t figure it out til we got down the road a little and I caught a whiff of myself.  Whew!! Sweat, and road rain ain’t exactly a Yankee Candle kind of fragrance.  It also explained why my dog, who is normally so excited to see me, she will climb all 82 lbs. of her ½ Great Dane self into my lap, was hiding in the back of the van.

I told Kim that despite the rain, and the hills, it was a great time.  She replied that she was still trying to figure out why I did it.  I told her, “It was on the schedule.”

Morning workouts are not energizing!!

What I don’t understand about working out are all these people who say that working out makes them feel better.  After a workout they are more energized, awake, alert, and have a better outlook on the day.  Would somebody explain to me that why, after I work out, I’m tired, I’m not more energized, and as far as being alert, what I really need is a nap?  My energy is gone.  You know where it went?  It went into my workout, that’s where.  This issue has perplexed me for a long time.  But I think I finally figured it out.

I used to never workout in the mornings, for the reasons I have just stated.  When I worked out in the mornings and then went to work, I was tired for the rest of the day.  I used to work out at the end of the day.  And at the end of the day I was tired and got to go to bed.  I didn’t have to worry about having enough juice in the tank to be able to perform well at work.  Well now that I have issues and don’t go to work every day, I work out in the mornings.  You know, I might as well get it over with as soon as possible.  And now that I am going in the mornings I have figured out all the hype about how people who exercise in the mornings are more energized, alert, awake, and have a better outlook on the day.  You know how they are doing it?  THEY AREN’T WORKING OUT!!!  THEY ARE PARTYING!!

I discovered it the other day while I was in spin class.  I think I have explained this one before.  Spin class is a bunch of people on stationary bikes in one room with an instructor telling you to go faster all the time.  Most of the time the music is cranked up really loud, which is good for me because it hides the sound of my heart beating really fast, and keeps down the worry about whether or not the big one is coming.  I don’t know about you guys, but it always makes me nervous when I can hear my own heart beating.  I also always get a bike down front.  Nobody else likes to ride in the front so I get more room and I am also out range of the fans.  There are four big fans to keep everyone cool.  I don’t understand that one either.  I sweat a lot, I mean a lot.  When I was growing up, no one wanted to guard me playing basketball because they were afraid of getting slimed.  And when the air is blowing from the fans, and I’m soaking wet, I start freezing.  Plus why are you working out if you don’t want to sweat in the first place?  Anyhow, I sit down front so I don’t freeze and so that no one bothers me.  It’s a fairly efficient arrangement.

Before class started the other day, I noticed a lot of chatter, people talking, and laughing, making plans for the upcoming weekend.  The instructor, Sharon, started the music, but not too loudly, which is unusual for her because she likes to crank the funk.  Sharon doesn’t mess around with a bunch of warmups either.  She might call it a warm up, but I call it full speed.  She warms up for a minute out of a 60 minute class and then you’re into it.  Her theory is you paid for 60 minutes, you get 60 minutes.  Sharon is really good.  So about 10 minutes into it, I start hearing my heartbeat, and noticing I am about at max heart rate.  You notice your max in two ways.  The first is you are wearing a heart monitor, and the instrument panel gives you a read out,  and the second is there is this pounding in your chest and throat and you feel like you are going to explode.  I’m still trying to figure out why I paid for heart monitor.  I’m pretty good at knowing when I am about to explode.  But what I also noticed was the chatter had not stopped.  People were still yakking away like nothing had happened.  Sharon was in full force, I was breathing like an asthmatic and there were still 50 minutes to go.  She finally cranked the tunes, because I think she was tired of hearing everyone yak, yak, yak also, and the class continued.

When class was over, as usual I fell off my bike and laid on the floor for 10 minutes while these yakkers came up to Sharon, no sweat on them at all, and thanked her for the wonderful class.  I’m soaking wet, have drained a 32 oz. water bottle over the course of 60 minutes and would beg someone for a defibrillator hit if I could speak.  Wonderful class my fat patootie.  Good class, effective class, great workout, yes.  But wonderful?  Nope.  Wonderful is what you save for a fine dinner, a marvelous party, a 2005 Bordeaux, and a good rendition of Beethoven’s 9th.  Not the brutality of what that class should be.  The indication of a good spin class is how many people are lying on the floor flipping off the instructor once the class is over.

What I am getting at is all these people who say working out energizes them for the rest of the day, AREN’T WORKING OUT!!  THEY ARE SOCIALIZING!  No wonder they have so much energy.  They haven’t used any!!

I took a dyslexic class last week.  I’m cured.  Either that or when I last fell off my bike in spin class I must have hit my head and jarred something loose.

My mouse adventure

I am actually starting to feel like Uncle Si on Duck Dynasty.  See, I have this mouse issue.  I mean this guy is brazen.  Every night at about 9:30 the little stinker scoots across the den, behind the bookshelf, does a little shake and bake, heads for the recliner before making his final mad dash for the kitchen and a hard right under the refrigerator.  He does this all right in front of the wife and me.  Lights on, TV blaring, and the dog who is HUGE, staring right at him.

We have had this problem before, but all I do is go down to Lowes, buy 4 mouse traps for $2, put some peanut butter in them, actually just one trap does the trick, and WHAM!!, squashed Fievel. So, I set out a Fievel smasher behind the bookshelf that he was using for cover on his nightly dash.  It completely blocked his path, but I figured what the heck, most people would enjoy a little energy boost of peanut butter during their daily workout.  This pain in my existence must be training for an event or something, because instead of stopping for a bite, he took an immediate left and went in front of the book case in plain view, darted behind a CD carrier, and went around the bookcase, headed for the recliner, the kitchen, and the safety underneath the fridge.  But that’s not all, the next morning, I get up to see if I snagged him on his return trip, and that little wiener had come back, and ate the peanut butter out of the trap without setting it off!

Now I’m on a mission.  I put on the camouflage war paint and set out all the traps.  I have one behind the bookcase, one behind the recliner, and even one in front of the bookcase set right behind the CD carrier.  I’ve got all the bases covered.  No way I miss him this time.  That night, same thing, out he comes, quick left to go in front of the bookcase, dodges the trap in front, scoots behind the TV, bolts for the recliner, completely ignores the snack stashed there and, zip, right under the fridge.  I am to say the least a little ticked off, but not much.  See we have been studying and talking about patience in mens’ group meetings on Wednesdays, and contrary to popular opinion, I am loaded with patience.  The wife, not so much.

That night before I went to sleep I thought I heard the trap go off.  I was not really sure, and was just going to sleep so I thought I could be hearing things, but anyway it could wait until in the morning.  I get up the next morning.  Guess what?  One of the traps went off, flipped over and it looked like a little tail sticking out from underneath.  GOT HIM!!  Nope.  He had not only set off the trap and got away, but he took the peanut butter with him.  What I thought was a tail was simply the locking bar on the trap.  I was hacked, but that’s not the clincher.  So I make the coffee, and I am sitting down in the “reading room”, you know, reading the paper, when guess who comes strolling in underneath the door?  I am not in a real good position to do anything about it, so he comes in, stares at me, raises his right paw, and I kid you not, I think he gave me the finger, and darted underneath the bathroom vanity.

I finished, the paper, and went to check the other traps and sure enough, no bait in them either, and none of the other ones are set off like the first one was.  Now he has two traps in the den, and one in the bathroom in the cabinet.  I am on a mission.  But what I really need is another lesson on patience and irritability, because I am running out.

Enjoy!

I’m not sure how funny I can be today. Most, if not all, of you know that I struggle with what the medical profession refers to as being overweight.  I tried to find a less technical term but was unsuccessful.  I’m not sure I’ll ever make a doctor happy seeing as how I have to weigh 165 lbs to be “healthy” or have the “correct” body mass index for my 6’4″ big butt frame.  I topped the scales at 315 today.  The last time I weighed 165 lbs I was 14 years old and weighed out of Pop Warner football and had to play in middle school where there was no weight limit.  In fact I think I ate 165 lbs of food the the last time I ate at Golden Corral.  Needless to say I don’t think I am going to see 165 lbs again without contracting a serious stomach virus that lasts 18 months.  But 245-250 is reasonable and achievable.

Problem is I like to eat and I mean I like to eat a lot.  I joke around that my favorite meal is buffet, problem is I am not joking.  Man, ain’t nothing like walking in to Golden Corral, or the Corral as regulars like to call it, and knowing that you don’t have to decide from a menu what you can have this time.  YOU GET TO HAVE IT ALL!!!  YAY FOR ME!!  So anyway all this has caught up to me, back problems, endurance problems, that sort of thing so back in October I joined the YMCA hoping to get back in to pre-marital shape.  Otherwise known as the golden years when you could eat anything you wanted to and not gain weight.  I used to cycle a lot, 100-150 miles a week at a brisk pace and was in top notch form.  But then I got married and all that came to a screeching halt.  I wish I could blame it on the wife but I can’t.  For one thing she reads this blog, and B it really is my fault.

So I start the working out, did the initial weigh in , 310 lbs, got a picture and everything, trust me you don’t want to see it, unless of course you yourself are interested in losing your appetite.  Did the math and 2 lbs a week would put me at 260 right about now.  I was getting up at 5:30 am, swimming every morning, taking those spin classes 3-4 times a week, in addition to riding my bike when the weather permitted.  I stepped on the scale every morning, no progress, well sometimes there was, but we’ll save that for the next paragraph.  6 months later, yesterday morning, 315 lbs, oh yes I am in a great mood ready to put out the humor.

Well old pudge here decides he needs to do a little portion control, because he actually has, at times, been able to lose the weight.  See fellas, when he does eat right, and healthily (new word) I might add, he loses 2 lbs a day.  But guess what he does to celebrate.  Yep, that’s right, Golden Corral!!!  So porky does what he does best when he don’t know nuttin.  He researches.  He lands on Nutrisystem.  AHA! Portion control.  That’s what he needs.  Just send me the food, tell me what to eat and when, and the lbs will roll off.  You’d think that a grown man could do that on his own. So I sign up, it’s even a fairly reasonable price.  And then the food comes.

I now know how I am going to lose weight this month.  They send you 28 days worth of food, 4 weeks for those keeping score at home, and you have to buy some fresh vegetables to go along with it, but it’s still reasonable.  The problem is when you open the box, there’s more box than there is food.  Needless to say after two days on this “diet” there ain’t a whole lot in me now either.  And I am not happy about it, not one bit.  What is really irritating, is for lunch today I had this here cup of cheese noodles and chicken that looks about the size of one of those old timey cup of soup deals.  There can’t be more than 2 mouthfuls of food in this thing.  The directions say, heat, stir, and ENJOY!  Everything that comes from this company has the exclamation of ENJOY! either at the beginning or the ending of a sentence.  ENJOY! a glass of water 156 times a day.  ENJOY! a cup of nutritious vegetables 4 times a day.  Open the packet of this cookie the size of your fingernail and ENJOY!  Decorum dictates that I keep my true feelings about what they can enjoy to myself.  Now I know how that mouse felt when I finally caught him last week and why he was giving me the finger at the end. (See previous post)

Anyway, it’s my fault, I should’ve been more on top of this a long time ago, and now and little pain to go with the gain, or loss, is appropriate I guess.  Still doesn’t put me in a very good mood.  I wouldn’t exactly say I am oozing fruits of the Spirit, but would kill for an apple now that you mention it.