Another Brick in the Wall


When I was six, I lived for soccer and I slept with my ball every night. Mike was in high school and lived across the street and there was a goal on his front lawn. I mostly played goal while he drilled shots until my wrist finally broke. But that didn't stop me. There was a local league and my Dad became coach with my brother on defense. I wore #6 because our favorite player was Beckenbauer and we kicked the ball on the bright green field at Giants Stadium. 


When I sat on Mike's front lawn and he didn’t show, I went to Copper Beech Middle School and shot against the beige brick wall. There was Craig and Andy on the wall and I mean Craig and Andy were literally spray painted there but in different colors.


I created a game and when the ball hit Craig, I’d get a TV dinner and when it hit Andy, I lost one. Every time I got one, I’d take a step back and every time I lost one, a step forward. I was always at that wall and by the time I was twelve or thirteen, I could hit the upper corner from half field. 

I went back to the school recently and a lot had changed in thirty years. The wall was still there but everything around it was different. It almost seemed out of place, but when I looked closely, I could see the faded outline of their names and it even though I had never really liked them, I had an odd craving for TV dinners. 

A Date with Daisy Duke


My first car was a Fiero and it was a while before it was really mine. I put a GT nose on it, a whale tail, bigger rims and wider tires, and I lowered it 2 1/2 inches. But that’s not really what did it. I was a new college student and a bit short on cash. Everything needed was taken care of and everything else was more or less not. One time, a headlight was out so rather than replace it, I kept my brights on. So they wouldn’t shine in oncoming drivers eyes, I adjusted them down. It worked out great until the high beam on the opposing side stopped working. But I just kept driving that way and when a car in front of me was going too slow, I flashed the lights and they would pull over so I could pass.

When I was barely sixteen, I worked in a tire warehouse that was connected to a mechanic shop which was part of a mall. When shoppers locked their keys in the cars, they would come to us. I got so good that every time the issue came up, I was called to the front. My record was under five seconds and I even helped a dad who locked his keys, and his kids, in the car.

To practice, I would use my own car and I did it so often that I popped the clips on both doors and I couldn’t get into my Fiero at all. Since the doors were plastic, I popped the clips off of the bottom of one door and to get in, I got down on my knees and elbows and reached up into the door and threw back the unlock rod with my hand. 

It wasn’t long before the passenger door wouldn’t open up at all I had to roll down the window so friends could climb in Nascar style. Because of her grace when climbing in, I called my girlfriend Daisy Duke and she ate it up. When I got the door fixed and it actually opened, I picked her up and it wasn’t until she had climbed in an out at least eight times over the course of the day, that I told her the door was fixed. I lean back and smile when I think back to those times when it seemed like we had nothing. 

Death is a Formal Affair


I went to a funeral recently. We’d been friends for almost twenty years and I can count on both legs the times I’ve seen him in a suit. It was odd to see him sleeping in a pine box and wearing formal wear. They say that death is the eternal sleep but I've never taken a nap while wearing a tie. The people people behind me probably thought I was just praying but I was just trying to make sure, and I wasn't until I saw the cue ball scar above his left eye. He would have been more easy to spot wearing jeans and Nikes and with a beer in his hand. 

The Tibetan movie Mountain Patrol began with a sky burial which consists of the family dressing the body in ceremonial garb, and carrying it to the top of a mountain where the vultures waited. They strip the body and the vultures would do what vultures do. Talk about the circle of life. The more clean picked the body is, the more favored the person is in the afterlife. It’s an odd practice until you consider that Americans hand their loved one off to a stranger who drains their blood, fills them with chemicals, and puts them in a display box dressed in their Sunday best.

Back to the Future


If I had a time machine, I’d go back rather than forward; I think most people would. I’d go to the soccer field on Sunday morning when was eight and I’d shoot on goal before the game started. I’d go to my first apartment and lie on my twin bed. I’d go to my first office job with the Controller who scared me the first five times I met him. I’d sit around the table with friends over beers and stories which got better after every round. I’d take my Fiero with a full passenger seat on a Friday night mission to nowhere. But none of those things is the thing I’d do first. You know what I’d do first? I’d go to see her, just after she met him, when I could have had her forever with a look and a too close hug. And we’d lie hip to hip on the hood of my car. And she’d let me know that if it didn't work out with our relationships, I’d have to come up with the most romantic way to propose. 

Naked Lunch


My first job was working in a warehouse and I took it way too seriously. My boss knew this and he couldn’t increase my pay, but he did throw me a bone every once in a while. When the bigwigs came for a lunch meeting, he sent me to get the pizzas which involved me walking out into the mall, ordering the pizzas, waiting for them by walking around the mall for an hour, then bringing them back to the meeting room. They had me hand them the pizzas right there at the door and they never did let me in. Then I went back upstairs and sat around with my coworkers and we told stories about what we imagined they did with the pizzas. We had more than a few versions, but this is my favorite: they spread the pizzas out on the floor, took off their three piece suits (all adults wore three-piece suits back then), then they rolled around naked on the pizzas. It’s been thirty years since I first made a pizza run, and even now, I can’t order a slice without being reminded of it. And you think that would ruin it for me. 

iWood: Opportunities Lost


I once considered buying a house on Johnson Road. The house wasn't so impressive and the fact that my friends lived around the corner didn't move the needle either; it was the address. The number on the house was 9 and that didn’t have any special appeal but paired with the street name, that was what grabbed me. No one mails letters anymore but I would have, just to write 9 and Johnson together, and I would have made one addition: I would put a “ after the 9 to read 9” Johnson…Road, and it would have been perfect, until I met the guy who lived at #13. 

Here's looking at you...


I saw her on a Monday and it felt like other Mondays, but Mondays after that were different. She had no makeup, her hair was in a ponytail and she wore a t-shirt, yoga pants, and sneakers that could have been Candies. She brought fresh slices to the corner booth and cleared off a table on the way back. Maybe she's Ingrid Bergman, before they found her, or possibly the owner's daughter. Perhaps she's escaping from something. Am I the only one who sees? What if she's single? Would that change things? Should it change things? I'm not sure I know. I'm not sure I'll ever know. For now, I can grab another slice, and leave my empty plate on the edge of the table.    

Death of Honda


My Honda died, well not dead dead, just dead enough. I bought it from a friend, a former friend and he’s dead too, dead enough. The death was unexpected; things were strained for a while, and even though I thought things could keep on going forever, they just suddenly stopped, and I was stranded. 

I’ve had Hondas before, well Honda, okay, it was an Acura, and I sold it at 300,000 miles; my sales pitch was to put the buyer in the passenger seat and get it to 110 mph in fourth gear, and it was a five speed. A year or so earlier, I had parked it in another friend’s driveway next to two other Hondas, they really were Hondas, and we had 660,000 miles of Hondas side-by-side-by-side. 

I thought my Honda was cut from the same cloth and I imagined it breaking 300,000 miles; in every sense, it was superior to my Acura: a top of the line V6 Accord and garaged since new. It recently got a timing belt, a water pump, four Michelins, the list goes on and on. A recall poorly done leaves me with a slipping transmission, and Honda doesn’t stand behind cars and I wish they did, because I still have reverse. 

I Say Moo


I’ve always wanted a leather messenger bag but I feel sorry for the cow so my rationale is that the cows they use for making these bags were old and sick, not cows taken in their prime. Or perhaps a mean cow, who cut the other cows off in traffic and he feels he has to make some sort of penance. And I imagine the cow’s dying wish was that on a cool crisp morning, the kind of morning that makes you love mornings, to have his dried out carcass slung over my shoulder with a MacBook inside. And somehow it helps. 

Somewhere Down the Road


She said, "This one's for you," but it wasn't and we were running out of songs and it's not because we were Fanilows. Even now I know I knew it was magic and we were more than ships in the night. There were rain drops between us then and us now and she was taking a chance in case tomorrow never comes and the old song was her smile or wink or shared shoulder. If we can hang on, we'll be ready to be just one voice, somewhere down the road.