Ice Bucket Challenge

I’d never really heard the term 'bucket list' before the movie and all kinds of things raced through my head. Could it be a list of famous buckets or a list written on a bucket or a list of types of buckets? Answering this would take a bit of time.  

It all started when I kicked a bucket and it wasn’t on purpose but some of my accidents make the most interesting stories and I didn’t die, at least not right away, and if people heard that I had kicked the bucket, they wouldn’t be thinking I literally knocked one over. This wasn't the first time I had a run in with a bucket and I knew it wouldn't be the last but knowing that we’ll all someday kick the proverbial bucket has created the need for the bucket list which has been popularized by the movie of the same name and if I did have a bucket list, I’d first put ‘get a bucket’ on it, for the list, and I would never want to cross everything off of the list because there would be nothing left to shoot for. 

Casual Friday and The Ice Cream Dance

It was a Saturday, about as random as summer Saturdays go and I was with my girlfriend, well she wasn’t my girlfriend at the time. We were just friends and spending the day in Greenwich Village in Manhattan (I thought I’d make it clear as I’m sure someone will tell me about the other Greenwich Village: “Haven’t you heard of Greenwich Village in downtown Boise? Where you been dude?”). The friend, I’ll call Iza, well because that’s what I called her, a lot of people called her that, was the easy going gal who could laugh away the afternoon just sitting on a curb talking to a stranger. We mostly just wing it as it makes for those Singing in the Rain moments. 

Review of Fish in the Dark - from a totally biased fanboy

I saw Fish in the Dark at the Cort Theatre in NYC for my birthday and I must say that the show was pretty, pretty, good. I got the seats on a whim, or seat that is, but I’ll get to that later. I was watching Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO and I must have Googled something in reference to the show because before you know it, I was presented with an ad for Larry David’s Fish in the Dark and I’ve always hated how cocky Google is when she guesses what I’m going to type after just one letter which reminds me of that television show Name That Tune where two people would compete to see who could name the song in the fewest number of notes, and when one guy would say “I can name that tune in one note,” their competitor would say ‘name that tune’; that guy never got it right and neither does Google. 

A Date with a Bird

I hit an animal, well not on purpose, not really, and it’s not like I punched one or it was in one corner and I was in the other and we squared off like Rocky and Clubber and it wasn’t a case of me saying ‘he hit me first’ like in that old Bill Cosby skit and I was in my Honda and the car really did the hitting and I wasn’t speeding, well not really, and my hands were at 9 and 3 (they don’t teach the 10 and 2 technique anymore because a deploying airbag could turn your forearms into matchsticks) and it wasn’t a large animal either, it was small and I’m not sure if I realized I hit it at the time. 

A Fight at a Funeral with a Felonious Footballer

I know it seems like the plot of a bad Mel Brooks movie, but I got into a fight at a funeral - maybe I should have said Larry David and perhaps it wasn’t really a fight - would you believe a heated debate with a piece of Italian bread thrown? - and this wasn't just with anyone, my fight was with the brother of the deceased who just happened to be an NFL linebacker, and a murderer, alleged, but that’s a bit premature…I should have mentioned that part first, and he didn’t kill his brother, and at the time, no one knew he had ‘possibly’ killed someone; he was like the spy only his handler knew about.

I already told the story of a friend who had committed suicide, and this was that friend, who I called Chuck, not his real name, but it seems appropriate considering he had so casually tossed his life away. Chuck was a rehab outpatient when we first met and he was clean for a good number of years before the backslide…first it was beer, then cigarettes with pot right on its heels, and we got an “it’s just a cigarette dude, chill the fuck out” every time we brought it up so we stopped bringing it up and yada, yada, there we were at his funeral, a wake actually, with three hours, in between sessions and me attending, per the mother’s request, dinner with the immediate family - it turned out to be the shortest dinner in the history of the world. 

I was close with two of the three brothers and the third, the football Erik, who was built like a young Frankenstein, I knew in passing. As bread was broken, the blame was passed around with most pointing the finger at themselves wishing they had done this or said that, the rearview mirror armchair quarterback type talk that probably goes on after most suicides, and then there was Erik. 

He had been mostly absent somewhere across the country which might as well have been Romania with everyone else doing the heavy lifting but he somehow came with his luggage filled with enough blame for us all. He pointed and things said under his breath became shouts before long with us accused of everything short of being the second shooter on the grassy knoll. And then came my turn, which I expected, but not in the way I expected it. The fault was with me being there at all since I wasn’t blood family, and I got his point, I just took issue with the way he pointed. 

The mother defended me saying that I had just as much right, maybe more than him since his plate remained empty for more than a few Christmases. He pointed and shot, “Get him the fuck out of here. I want him gone.” He got louder and more aggressive and the Italian bread I was eating somehow, someway, hit him in the face. I’m not saying I threw it, I’m also not saying that I don’t throw it, but some jumped up, and chairs flipped back, and the whole lot of us spilled out into the parking lot with my 5’10” 175lb frame dwarfed by his 6’2” 250lb mass; he thought he was a real Smartacus, yet he seemed clumsy, very clumsy. 

I might have been a little less aggressive if I had known that he had known the old ‘I killed someone and didn’t get caught’ trick. And no it wasn’t in Iraq and it didn’t happen amidst the chaos of war. There was one girl and two guys and one wound up with a bullet hole in him with his blood on the outside…it was a question of who done it for over a decade. 

We all know that personal recollection is inaccurate and that eight-six people in the same time and place have very different experiences and there were probably a few people there who could poke holes in my story. It’s been fourteen years and some will say I pulled out an Uzi and others will remember a small disagreement over how much to tip; the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. There are only a few things I know for sure: the crime was in 1994 and the arrest in 2009 and somewhere in that fifteen year time frame, I almost fought a professional football player at his brother’s funeral, and a piece of Italian bread paid the ultimate price.  

Just before life goes on...

Happy birthday to me is what I sang when I woke up which is typically around 4am most mornings, even weekends, but this day is different, and not just because she is sleeping beside me but I am turning, or have turned another year older, but it didn't happen just then like flipping a light switch but it was gradual and somehow yesterday I was a year younger but today, a year older and I’ve hit that age where people say they’re actually much younger than they are but when I was in my twenties at my first job a coworker, who was in her forties and “not very attractive” as she put it, turned 44, she told everyone she was 54 because “if I told them I was 34, they’d say ‘life has really beaten the hell out of her’ but if I tell them ten years older, they'll say ‘for 54 she doesn’t look half bad.’” 

I told you that story to tell you this story….my girlfriend was set to leave this morning, leaving on a jet plane, I didn’t know when she’d be back again…she’s an actress, a mighty good one and she has real talent while I’m just pushing numbers around a spreadsheet but she also does modeling, the face and hand kind because even though she makes my eyeholes open wide on those early mornings after a sleepless night, she’s a vertically challenged outcast at 5’5”, at least for the walkie models, but she’s always wanted to act, really act even though she was quite successful in NYC, Hollywood, which I consider a cesspool, is the dream, her dream, and although I couldn't join her, I wouldn't stop her.

It was either she stayed for me or we'd be apart and alone. Last weekend was, quite literally, our last weekend, so I thought, but she had other ideas which is why she is, right now, sleeping beside me but she so sucks at surprises, and I told her so, because instead of coming straight home after work yesterday, I ran a few hours of errands and when I arrived home, two hours after normal time, she was fast asleep on the couch. I just stood there watching her sleep and thought about how this would be the last, could be the last, and then she’d be gone. Sometime after midnight, I carried her to my bed, our bed, and still sleeping, she wrapped herself around me like Sophie's child and I kissed her on the head, and we’re still here, she’s still here, and life doesn’t move on, at least not for another hour or two, and even though it's 5:30am, I’ve got time, we’ve got time, just before life goes on. 

She Had a Great Fall

The smooth sexy curves, the fine lines, the lovely and oh so sexy shape that initially attracted me and kept me hooked for the last seven months made me concerned when I saw her fall face first on the pavement. I held my breath as only I could do in that situation and I watched her for a split second lying there and not making a sound. Wi didn't have to roll her over because I knew what I'd find, I knew what I’d find when I heard her land with that marked slap. I kneeled down and traced my fingers across her back, and slowly, oh so slowly, I rolled her over. I closed my eyes and opened them while she was lying there prone on her back. I looked up into the sky wondering why this would happen to her, would happen to me, I when I looked back there, what are the odds that she would so prematurely have a cracked screen.

She was resting on a wall, a wall I had laid her on dozens of times in that past and although that wasn’t her only fall, that was the worst one. I imagined that the protective case should have helped or maybe a screen wipe could somehow put her back together again but there would be no miracles, not on this day.

All of the Apple Geniuses and all of the Apple Doctors, couldn't put my iPhone back together again. I should probably mention that I had, or currently have might be a better term, an iPhone 6 Plus I affectionately refer to as my iPhablet. The fall wasn’t her enemy, it was really the sudden stop, or the sudden stop on a hard surface which was broken already so I’m not sure what right the broken ground had to break my precious phone, but as I write this, she's in the back room getting worked on and the doctors or geniuses or maybe just one genius and I’m hoping she comes back in one piece. 

A Truck Rolled Over

I witnessed a car roll over last night...a truck really and I think it was a Toyota Highlander but it was tough to tell because it rolled over at least twice and every body panel was badly damaged. The truck was still running and all four guys were still trapped inside. I pulled over and left my car running with my Apple Watch charging on the console, my iPhone in its holder, and two laptops, an iPad, and an iPod Classic in my bag on the front seat. When I determined all four guys were okay in the truck, I thought about how to get them out and their main concern was their iPhones, I thought to myself where has technology gone when we, after getting into a pretty bad auto accident, worry about our technology more than ourselves. Rather than argue with them, I had them pass me their iPhones through the partially open moonroof which I could only wedge open enough to get their phones out. It was raining so I put their iPhones in my pockets, reached up and yanked the front passenger door open. Another guy pulled over and helped to get the guys out of the backseat while I worked on the guys in the front seat. The driver was wedged behind the steering wheel and the passenger couldn't get his seatbelt off. I had the driver turn off the still running vehicle and we worked on unwedging him from behind the steering wheel. When he was able to break free and finally stand with his head sticking out of the passenger door, I had him help his passenger get the seat belt off. When we pulled them safely out of the top of the car which was technically the side and got them safely on the pavement, one of their concerns was that I still had their iPhones...the driver was worried that his dad would kill him for totaling the truck and wouldn't that suck if your dad killed you right after you escaped death...they were all still in shock which was understandable as they had just been in an accident, but their phones made them somehow feel safe...and now that they had them back, everything was going to somehow be all right...they didn't say that but they didn't have to. I could see they were very disoriented and when they got their bearings and realized that they could have died, but didn't, the only real relief was when I handed them back their iPhones. I looked over and saw my Honda still idling with the window down, and when I got back to my car thirty minutes later after we calmed the four guys down, the leather seat was wet and all of my devices were gone...kidding, they were all just sitting there waiting for me. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I don't really go anywhere without at least five Apple devices on iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook Air, and Apple Watch, and an iPod Classic...but they were the least of my concern when I saw the rolled over still running truck with four guys trapped inside.

Call Me Harry

Just call me Harry, and not like Harry and the Hendersons or Harry Potter or Harry Caray or Harry Houdini, even though I am quite magical, or Prince Harry, although I am sometimes referred to as royalty, or even Hari Kari which is also referred to as Seppuku and sounds like something I’d like to try with soy sauce and a side of rice. I was a Harry to a Sally and it had to be her meaning we began as friends and it blossomed into something more, more than we both wanted to admit at the time and I have to admit I wasn't faking it. This happened during the release of the film When Harry Met Sally with a somewhat sardonic Harry Burns (burns? really? does it have to be that on the nose?) playing opposite the cheery Sally Albright (all bright? does Rob Reiner think we’re that dumb?) and posed the question, perhaps for the first time, can women and men be friends without sex getting in the way?

We watched the movie with her mother and when the friends and sex issue came up, I looked at her and she looked at me and we somehow knew what the other one was thinking and I was thinking that's it's so nice when you can watch a movie with someone and not have to talk and when she glanced over to see if her mother had noticed, her mother gave her that “I’ll have what she’s having” sort of look.

It's All in a Name

I’ve heard that you shouldn’t criticize someone until you walk a mile in their shoes but what if they’re a different size than you and the shoes squish your toes or they like penny loafers when you’re a Doc Maartens guy or they might actually have athlete’s foot or smelly feet or just have the pair with the hole in the bottom like in old timey movies. I get the phrase ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ and I know what it’s trying to say, I just think it does a really crappy job of saying it.

I go to Starbucks quite often, but less frequently than I used to. Many stores have a policy that when you order your beverage, it’s not just coffee people (they have tea too), they ask for your name which the barista (how pretentious) writes your name on the side of the cup. Now during crowded times of the day when six people are waiting for their drinks, this make a whole lot of sense as sometimes people order the same beverage.

There is one Starbucks in particular, where a certain do gooder takes these rules to the nth degree. This wasn’t just the one time and she is always very adamant about not placing my order until I had given her my name which is not Lorenzo but that’s the name I gave her. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: I’d like a grande soy chai.
Her: Okay, name please?
Me: Name?
Her: Yes, I need your name to place the order (as she put sharpie to cup).
Me: But I’m the only one here. 
Her: I still need a name.
Me: But there’s no one else in the store. Who’s drink would it be?
Her: It’s store policy. I can’t place your order without a name.
Me: Okay, Lorenzo.
Her: Lorenzo?
Me: Yes, Lorenzo..
Her: That’s not your name.
Me: How do you know?
Her: You don’t look like a Lorenzo.
Me: You asked for a name and I gave you one.
Her: You want me to write Lorenzo?

I just smiled and she reluctantly wrote Lorenzo on the cup. I came back the next day and, again, I was the only one on line and she asked “Name?” ‘ Really? “You don’t remember me from yesterday.”

She asked for a name again and this time I said, ’Kurt.’
Her: That’s not your name.
Me: How do you know that?
Her: Because you were Lorenzo yesterday.
Me: If you knew the name, why did you ask?
Her: Because you need to provide that every time. It’s store policy.
Me: You asked for A name and not MY name. Kurt is a name. 

She wrote Kurt on the cup and we did this dance every day for a few months and she never really got the joke. Rather than walking a mile in another man’s shoes, I’ve had quite a few opportunities to quite literally drink out of his cup and be someone else, at least until I finished my tea. Just like Ferris Bueller pretending to be Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago, to get a lunch reservation at a posh restaurant, I can be someone a bit more exciting than just everyday do you need someone to calculate your lunch tip ‘Craig.’

If I introduce myself as Craig, people are thinking, ‘well this guy could do my taxes’ or ‘he probably drives a Honda’ but when I’m Lorenzo, I can be a reclusive billionaire, or a bull fighter, or on the cover of a romance novel, or righting the wrongs of an unjust government with a sword and a cape. And Kurt brings some interesting lifestyles to mind.

I don’t know any Kurts personally but I am a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five and his resemblance to Mark Twain didn’t exactly hurt his career. Kurt Cobain killed the hair bands with an old t-shirt, a stool, and an acoustic guitar. A Kurt was also Penny’s muscle-head boyfriend from The Big Bang Theory. If I introduce myself as Kurt, I sound more literate, more musical, and more muscular than just plain old ordinary Craig. 

I have revisited when I know she’s working and I’ve used:
Abe (Lincoln and Froman)
Liberace (there could be two of us) 
Rasputin (yeah, that guy)
Madonna (don’t judge)
Craig Cougar-Melloncamp
Engelbert (Humperdinck)

You could fault me for using Engelbert because it’s such an original name, but is it really? I did a little research (very little - thanks Wikipedia) and Engelbert wasn't his real name; he actually began his career as Gerry Dorsey but he made the name change as Gerry “wasn’t arresting enough” and the real Engelbert Humperdinck was a famous German composer; the German Engelbert seemed to have a more adventurous life than the pasty English Gerry, but Gerry wasn’t his real name either; he was born as Arnold George Dorsey and it seems he just kept changing his name until he sounded more famous. 

I’m not going to change my name as I think Craig is a perfectly fine name but I do like the idea of ordering my morning coffee as Kerouac or reserving a table at a Chinese restaurant by simply saying, ‘Seinfeld, four.’ At a wedding recently, I made it a point to introduce myself to everyone I didn’t know and use a different name every time. To one guy I was Copernicus and an older couple knows me as Leonardo (not as in DaVinci or DiCaprio but as in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) and to a hot twenty-something wearing a dress that would be small on Barbie, I was Fabio but, oddly, that didn’t help my chances of hooking up with her or anyone and neither did Casanova or Vlad the Impaler. 

For now, my legal name with still be the ordinarily boring Craig as I so used to turning around when someone yells it and with the name change, you know I’d have to spend an entire week at the DMV trying to justify why my name is changing to Stephen King.