Tag Archives: People

Don’t Judge my Boxers Until You’ve Walked a Mile in them

5 Feb

If you haven’t been following along (shame on you), I’m thinning the stuff in my life and publishing embarrassing photos of myself and my junk. I listed the first five items the other day. One of the reasons for this nonsense might be that the well of writing topics has completely dried up. How else can I explain why I’m photographing and inventorying MY UNDERWEAR. You’d think I’d have something to say about immigration reform or gun control . . . anything.

Hey, screw it, I’m gonna roll with this.

I guess I’m writing about it because I’m fascinated by what other people keep. When we were looking to move to Edwardsville, we walked through dozens of homes. Jennifer looked at the overall layout, the size of the rooms and all that practical stuff; I was peering into closets and mentally calculating the cubic tons of junk that was stored in basements and garages.

Jennifer: So, what’d you think about that tiny kitchen?

Me: Did you see how much shit they had in their basement?

Jennifer: Yeah, but what about the kitchen?

Me: Yeah, I noticed the pantry was loaded with pudding and jello.

And the hoarding shows on TV . . . oh my god, I can’t watch a single episode without craving 100 more. So I don’t watch at all.

A minimalist is the opposite of a hoarder. I’m waiting for a show about minimalists. Do you know why that’ll never happen? Because you won’t find seven decomposing cats in the layers of trash in the garage.

* * *

Here’s an article about a scientific study about the stuff people keep. Watch the video and check out the book.

* * *

Today, the fifth day of February, is, officially, across the nation, Count Your Underwear Day. My new favorite holiday.

First, I want you to know that I could totally live without underwear. 

I’m out there, Jerry, and I’m LOVIN’ EVERY MINUTE OF IT.” 

Okay, let’s get this over with.

Boxers

6. Boxer Shorts (yellow with black bikes)

7. Boxer Shorts (black with white skulls)

8. Boxer Shorts (gray with baseball players)

9. Boxer Shorts (black with Tiki Gods)

10. Boxer Shorts (white with thin black lines)

Four were purchased on clearance from either Target or Old Navy; the fifth was a Christmas gift.

Next time we might count and inventory my socks, so make sure you sign up for e-mail alerts. It would be a crime if I were to write about my socks without you knowing.

House Hunters is Fake: One More Reason to Walk Away from the Couch

9 Jul

Why It Matters That House Hunters Is Fake

And read this Washington Post article too.

What? House Hunters is fake? If you’re a fan of the show, I’ll bet you’re a little miffed. I knew it was a part of the big shit hole they call “reality TV” (read: not so much reality), but now we know just how pathetic it can be.

Here’s a quick overview of their deceit. They pretty much make up everything. Oh, you’ve already purchased a house? Let’s “craft a narrative.” Let’s pretend you haven’t bought a house and let’s also pretend that you’re desperately looking for more square footage. And then we want you to “tour” your friends’ houses (which aren’t even for sale) and act like you’re torn between them. And, um, sir, could you act a little bit more excited about the size of this bathroom?

The real sad part is the people who waste hours and hours of their lives sitting on the couch watching this crap. The sisterhood of women can shout out “But what about men and their sports?” and I agree. But it’s somehow more sinister when you find out you’ve spent five hundred hours of your life on a show that’s morally crooked. Wouldn’t it be like finding out that professional football is rigged?

In this fleeting life, the outcome of a football game is just as meaningless as some strange family’s decision to live here or there. Maybe I’ve watched an episode of House Hunters … no, actually I haven’t, but I have walked into the room, looked at the TV and caught a few seconds–a minute here and there–in the process of asking my wife a question (or whatever) and if you add up all those seconds, it amounts to a full episode. And I don’t see the appeal.

But the show appears to be popular and it wouldn’t surprise me if people shrug off this bit of news. People want escapist entertainment, to forget about this “hard” life and focus in on the “lives” of strangers, even if those lives are created by producers with one goal in mind: to make as much money as possible.

Do You Feel That Erosion?

20 Jun

On Father’s Day, my mad paternal skillz were rewarded with a clogged floor drain in the basement. An hour later, Ivan from Belarus arrived with the nastiest pair of gloves I’d ever seen. After snaking our hole, dislodging our muck, and taking $275, he gave me a 45 minute history lesson on Eastern Europe. I thought 15 minutes was fine–you know, hit the basics–but I’m terrible at producing body language that conveys “I’m bored!” Most people would cut through it and say “Hey man, it’s been interesting talking to you, Ivan.” Not me. My smiles and nods said “I can stay out here all night, dude.” Ivan feasted on my anti-assertiveness.

Ivan talked with a thick accent, so the 45 minutes felt longer. I kept leaning in like that would somehow help me understand him. I eventually drifted through him and all at once we noticed that we were standing with our backs together; it was so wierd.

Now that I think about it, he could have been talking about another topic entirely, like the intricacies of poop flowing through pipes. I do recall hearing something similiar to “feces,” and, at one point, he used a palm-down, flat hand to animate something moving at a fast pace. His hand whooshed from my right to my left with a subtle downward slant. Hmm.

I fixated on his fingernails as he gesticulated. A different plumber once told me that plumbers should never chew on their fingernails. It could have been part of a plumbing joke, but it seems a good policy anyway. Earlier, Ivan stuck his whole arm into our floor hole. He said something that I didn’t comprehend and then something that I did: Put you arm down there and feel that.

Huh?

I stood looking at him hoping the pause would communicate that I didn’t want to put part of my body in the dirty hole, but he said it again. He said something about this being “clean” water, separate from the “dirty” water. I thought “Wow, we are so not jiving on the definitions of clean and dirty.”

That hole was not clean. Dirty. Very dirty.

Still, as a responsible homeowner, I felt obligated, so I slid my arm down there and felt what I was supposed to feel: growth on the surface of the pipe. He said “I don’t know if it’s corrosion, or … erosion, or what, but that build-up is making your hole smaller than it should be.” Erosion? I doubt that. If I wasn’t so grossed out I would have chuckled.

I had two thoughts: something’s going to bite me or my hand’s going to get stuck. I pulled out safely, but my bicep had slimy, black shit on it; I wanted to run to the sink in the next room. I took one step and he started talking about the growth some more, so I stopped. I held my gross arm out away from me like I had Body Integrity Identity Disorder: a compulsion to sever a healthy limb from your own body. He could have been messing with me; I’m not sure, but–damn–he has to realize (doesn’t he?) that regular people aren’t used to getting icky sludge all over themselves.

I wouldn’t be shocked if he was laughing at me as I scrubbed my arms. I should have said “See this shit on my arm, that makes it not clean.” What are they teaching kids over there in Belarus anyway?

Back outside as the sun was setting on our conversation, he said something like “feces,” which could have been “species.” I thought we were talking about plumbing again, so I blurted out “I can’t believe I put my arm down that hole!” He looked at me like grasshoppers were climbing out of my nose. He said “Oh no, that water something something something. I would never tell you to put your arm into something something toilet paper and poopoo.” I felt like such a wuss.

Maybe he thinks every man has an inner plumber fighting to emerge, that we’re born attracted to funky smells and oily smudge marks. Well, I’ll tell you, Ivan, I wasn’t born with a silver pipe wrench in my mouth. No sir. So next time a plumber urges me to join in for the dirty bits, I’m going to stand up for my right to stay clean.

Perverts with Video Cameras

31 May

Here’s a study for you. I’d like to know what percentage of men are capable of secretly videotaping naked women. I don’t know how you’d go about this, maybe combine psychological tests with a truth drug. I would guess 3%. I’m in the 97%, but I can see through walls anyway.

This story shocked Edwardsville in April. I always thought this dude was  creepy looking, but otherwise an all-around decent guy. Then he was busted videotaping a woman at the Image Sun tanning salon. She was facing away from the wall he was behind, and saw his hand and phone in the mirror in front of her. She yelled out something like, “Asshole!” and then alerted the front desk who called police–the perv’s buddies.

Every kid in the district goes through the fifth grade D.A.R.E. program, so tons of kids get to know Officer Collins. My daughter knew him. She’d always say “There’s Officer Collins!” when we spotted him around town. He performed this service for 13 years. That makes his one of the most recognized faces in the city.

It’s outrageous to me that he would risk everything–his current job, his future career options, his marriage, his freedom–for a couple of cheap thrills. Law enforcement and community service was his life. And yet he stood there in the tanning salon, maybe naked, holding that cell phone, and made the decision to commit a felony. Apparently he misjudged the risk. Or he’s stupid.

Shortly after his arrest and release, I thought I saw him at my younger daughter’s school. A bald guy walked by my car as I sat eating a salad. I was like “You’ve got to be shitting me!” It wasn’t about him being around kids, but him being out in public after such an embarrassment. So I took a few more bites and jumped out to follow him. I had to see if it was him and I wanted to see how the other parents reacted. I wanted to see people awkwardly avoiding him.

For a few minutes I felt like a cop tracking a suspect. I wanted to approach in stealth mode, sprinting from tree to tree, but decided to go casual. Kids eventually exit the school from two doors 40 yards apart. This bald guy walked to the door my daughter doesn’t come from, so I had to go out of my way to circle around in front of him.

Damn. It wasn’t Mr.Peepers. I was disappointed.

* * *

And then we have this guy in St. Charles. It was easier for him; he owned the business and preyed on clients. One of them found a camera in a tissue box. Police found 140 videos of women taken in bathroom stalls, tanning beds, and massage therapy rooms.

* * *

 This guy was a teacher, videotaping high school girls, clothed. He zoomed in on certain body parts.

Bad Teacher

* * *

And finally, this creepy guy was busted using a pen camera hidden in a magazine (Pervert Illustrated?) recording women in shorts and skirts from an “upward angle.”

Creep!

* * *

It’s not a stretch to say this type of crime in increasing. And not just in my neighborhood. Every creep has a video camera in his pocket. Maybe the silver lining is that, in the past, perverts would put themselves in position to peep on women with their own eyes. Now they’re using cameras and leaving behind incriminating evidence.

Let’s picture our Edwardsville cop in 1998, in the same tanning salon, with no phone, standing on a chair with his head (perhaps with hair) over that wall. She sees him, but he’s a respected cop. No evidence of prior malfeasance. I don’t know, maybe he goes free.

But in 2012, he’s screwed. They’re all screwed.

People Watching (Why You Don’t Want Me Jogging in Your Neighborhood)

22 May

Common question asked while people watching: “Did you see that?”

Have you ever sat in a crowded place and just watched people? Of course you have. I think “people watching” is a common enough activity. I would go so far to call it unavoidable. If you ever go to a department store–a Walmart–you must be doing a little of it. I can do while pushing a cart; I’ll even stop and feign interest in bath mats if I hear something striking coming from an interesting face.

It’s enough time to create a tiny snapshot of people’s lives, no more than prejudices and stereotypes. When I see a mom unabashedly yelling at or spanking her kid, I shudder thinking about how she disciplines at home. I see families that look like they just climbed out of a dumpster and wonder what their house looks like. I see beautiful people and wonder if they live beautiful lives.

An extension of my love for people watching is actually discovering how people spend their time. I would love to grab an interesting-looking person on the street and ask “What are you all about?” Obviously, I don’t mean literally “grab” them–that’s against the law and could get you killed–but just talk to people. Sadly, I’m not one of those people who can approach strange people. Everyone seems so busy. And if I find myself in a conversation started by a stranger, I’m not able to ask such personal questions. Instead of probing, I end up being probed, which is uncomfortable.

Generally, I have to rely on the written word or television for glimpses to the inside. Though I rarely watch them anymore, I’m fascinated with shows about addiction and mental illness. I like Hoarders and Intervention, but the latter scares the crap out of me. A whole section of this addiction show is reserved to remind us that it can happen to anyone. She was such a happy baby. Maybe that’s why reality shows are so popular: our fascination with what’s going on behind the curtains.

When I jog at night by a house with unblocked windows I can’t make myself not look. What’s going on in there? Are these people happy? Miserable? Is there an alcoholic living there? Is someone dying from cancer?

My wife makes sure our shades are drawn at night. I tend to leave them open. What would people see in our house? Maybe me reading or cleaning up after the kids. They would see kids running, jumping, fighting, dancing. In the warm months, they would hear the sounds of kids and dogs–thuds, barking, screams, crying. They might hear music.

That’s boring, common stuff. It’s what you’d expect to see. The juicy stuff isn’t visible from the window. It’s in histories, sad stories untold, hidden feelings, dark thoughts, tense conversations in inner rooms.

I like to think that every house on our block contains a fascinating story, enough to fill a book I’d read. That’s every house on your block too. And your house. And of course mine.

Metal Studs in My Skin Would be Totally Sick, No, I Mean That in a Bad Way, Like Ewww

15 May
Cool Dude! Nice iPod Nano Sixth Gen watch!

Couldn’t he have centered it a little better?

Why can’t I come up with cool shit like this? This tattooed, professional body piercer implanted four metal studs into his skin to hold his sixth generation iPod Nano. I saw that and was like “Yeah man, that’s what I need. I gotta make me an appointment with this guy.” I’m always searching for a convenient spot for my iPod and I’ve tried almost everything.

When I’m jogging I can’t stand my iPod bouncing around in my shorts. It feels like there’s a small agitated monkey in there. I’m already in a piss-poor mood when I first set out (especially if it’s above ninety or below thirty degrees outside,) and the jiggling makes me want to break into the nearest dwelling and beat someone upon their head and neck. (Kidding!) After a mile, though, I settle into a more peaceful place.

My fourth generation iPod Nano (okay, this “generation” nonsense is getting on my nerves) like the one in the photo will shuffle away from what I’m listening to if I shake it, intentionally or not. It’s the worst idea ever; nice going Jobs. I’ll venture into the settings to turn off this lame feature, but it always comes back on, like it’s an evil mini-robot sent here to mess with me, probably to kill me. The other day the stupid thing seized up, and then iTunes told me that it couldn’t recognize it anymore. Another clue that it’s planning to murder me in my sleep. “I don’t even recognize you anymore.”

Back when Nano was sane and functional, I’d dress it up in a rubber suit and strap it to my right bicep with a Velcro strap. It was a decent solution, but it’s uncomfortable after 30 minutes and I’ve experienced strap tightness issues: too tight, my whole arm goes purple and dies . . . too loose and it slides down towards my wrist. Also, I have to contort my arm to look at the tiny screen and that’s almost impossible on the run.

My old Shuffle was fantastic for exercising. Before I gave it to Ainsley (and before it was filled with every Alvin and the Chipmunks song ever recorded,) I would clip that bad boy onto my neckband, shove the ear bud cord down my shirt, and hit the streets. My new fourth generation Shuffle is too small. I occasionally pop it into my mouth thinking it’s a mint. Unfortunately, it stopped working last week. It’s definitely in cahoots with Nano.

So this week I’ve been using Ainsley’s iPod Touch, which looks like it’s been tossed from a moving car twelve or thirteen times. Here’s a fun thing to do: give a delicate, expensive gadget to a six-year-old, and then check on it in six months. If it’s not, just, GONE, then it will certainly be beat to holy hell. The screen is shattered; I’m waiting on one of us to slice a finger off playing Temple Run. This is the same child who, to clean her Nintendo DS, rinsed it under running water. Needless to say, the “techno-bath” turned it into a hundred dollar paperweight.

Really, the larger problem has always been the earphone cord. Sure, this “studly” guy’s wrist-pod looks cool without wires hanging from it. If a “strapless” watch is all he wants–okay, I’m souring on this idea. God, I’m glad I didn’t go through with my implants. I mean, this genius didn’t do a dang thing for the headphone problem. Now, if he would’ve implanted the cord too, then we have something to talk about here.

And what about the lightning pace of change in the portable music market? How many magnets would it have required to securely haul a 1979 Sony Walkman? Eventually, the player will be IN the buds, activated by voice. Oooh, I just excited myself right there. Wouldn’t that be awesome: no wires, no armbands, no pocket jiggling, no implants.

I’m gonna go invent that real quick before lunch.

Feelin’ Forty: Some Thoughts on Aging

3 Jan

I turn 40 this year.

Turning 40

Some consider the big 4-0 one of the most difficult milestones, like Oh my freakin’ God, yesterday I was young, today I’m old. But “old” is subjective. I don’t feel old. I still have hair (non-gray). I don’t have unexplained pains. My energy level is usually high. A quick web search tells me that I can expect to live to around 77, so, going by that, I’m more than halfway done with this life. Given my relatively healthy lifestyle, I’m going to predict I’ll live to see 80. So . . . I’m half dead . . . is one way to say it.

But when I first “existed” on March 5, 1972, I didn’t know–to use a colloquialism–my ass from a hole in the ground. I don’t even remember the first 4 years. I probably didn’t get much done.  I didn’t work a single minute on important global issues (my mom would have told me if I had). I just crawled–then ran–around and . . . developed, I guess. I sat around playing with little wooden toys. My point was going to be that the next 40 years will be better than the first.

Then I thought about it for a minute, always a mistake. It’s possible that my last 4 years (theoretically from age 76 to 80) will, again, be spent trying to figure out the difference between my ass and a hole in the ground. The first 4 years is tolerable because a lot of the silly stuff you do is adorable, but can you find anything adorable about a grown man pooping into a diaper, ripping it  off with one hand, and then winging it into a ceiling fan? Oh, you do, huh? Sicko. And don’t accuse me of making fun of Alzeimer’s sufferers, because I’m writing about about things I’ve already started doing.

I’m just thinking out loud here.

I’m writing about this because I’m sitting near two “old” people in Sacred Grounds. They’re in their 70s, maybe 80s. They’re wrinkled up like a couple of raisins and they’ve gone gray up top. I just can’t keep my eyes off these people. I want to ask questions. What do you think about your . . . oldness? Does it take a day’s worth of energy to get to and from the coffee shop? Are you guys wearing diapers?

I went to the restroom, came back, and they were gone.

I’ve decided that i’m okay with 40. I’m not going to worry about things I have no control over. All the wisest people, past and present, will tell you the same thing. They say “Dude, worry kills!” The Alcoholics Anonymous folks are going on and on about it right now in church basements all over the world.

God, grant me the power to keep my diaper strapped on until someone comes along to change it and the power to not worry about how the Serenity Prayer goes.