Tuesday, September 28, 2004

...The Sound of One Gooch Clapping

My senior year of college I was heavily involved with my fraternity and was also in a serious, steady relationship with a girl who practically lived at my apartment. I look back at these days fondly, but I remember at the time feeling sometimes overwhelmed by the lack of *me* time. So I started a tradition with myself.

Every Monday afternoon while my roommate was at work, my girlfriend was in class and there were no fraternity events scheduled, I would drive over to the local burrito stand, order a monstrous chicken burrito (if I was stoned I’d sometimes order a couple of tacos as well) and a Pepsi and brought it all back to my apartment to eat while I read the latest issue of "Entertainment Weekly". I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I looked forward to this event every week.

I guess I’ve always liked to have these solitary traditions with myself. When I was 9 my parents sent me off to Jewish sleepaway camp for a month, something I hated every minute of not because I didn’t make any friends (I did) and not because the camp didn’t offer lots of fun activities (it did), but because it ruined my daily “Watch `Chico and the Man’ reruns at 11AM” ritual. I have my priorities. And I did get discouraged.

10 points if you’re not confused by the previous sentence.

Friday, September 24, 2004

...A Few Small Repairs

I am nothing if not realistic. I pride myself on living in the real world as it actually is, not some idealistic fantasyland of my own creation. So am I aware that what “sounds” good is not always the way things actually are. I’m sure that if I were to peruse the profiles at any random Internet dating site, I’d see lots of profiles stating that “I am interested in meeting someone nice, sensitive, intelligent and with a good sense of humor”, and while that is all fine and good, experience has shown me it is rare that the good-looking guy loses the girl to the kind and sensitive one. I’ve also worked in sales long enough to know that despite the platitude that “money can’t buy happiness”, earning a large income can allow an otherwise ordinary guy to date women who would ordinarily be way out of his league. At my last company you could always tell who the top sales reps were by the respective hotness of their dates to the Christmas party.

And I’m more than aware that despite whatever changes have occurred in gender roles over the years, most men are still attracted to women with stereotypical feminine attributes. For example, as much as it often annoys me that my wife’s beauty regimen makes us perpetually 3 hours late for everything, at the end of the day I have to admit I enjoy being married to a woman who likes to look pretty, smell nice, and dress well.

On the flip side of the coin, there is definitely an element of truth behind the porn fantasy where the suburban housewife is so turned on by the plumber who heroically rides in to fix a problem for her that she decides to fuck his brains out. I’m not so archaic as to not understand there are many women out there who are more than capable of handling such things themselves, but this does not take away from the fact that a man’s ability to perform these tasks in a competent manner can only make him more attractive to the opposite sex.

If you ever want to hit me where it hurts, to pinpoint my deepest insecurities and self-esteem issues, just bring up my complete lack of talent in this area.

I don’t think I lived a particularly privileged childhood or anything, but ours was a house where you called someone when anything went wrong. My mom kept strings of handymen fully employed just by consistently having them do major and minor work around our house, leaving me without the opportunity to develop any “do-it-yourself” skills. We always had a gardener so I never learned how to mow or edge a lawn.

I was able to keep this deficiency hidden throughout most of my 20s, when I lived almost exclusively in apartments. It was known only to the various maintenance crews of the apartment complexes I lived in, who I would call to help me with everything from repairing a broken garbage disposal to fixing a closet door that had come off its tracks.

When I bought my first home all was exposed. I gave mowing my own lawn the good college try, but having literally no experience in this area, it always came out looking like a bad haircut. My wife had previously explained to me what a waste of money hiring a gardener would be, but after seeing the results of my labor she flip-flopped her position quicker than a politician.

Worse was the fact many of my close friends happened to buy their first homes right around the same time I bought mine. Unbeknownst to be, these guys had been secretly hiding “Mr. Fix-It” skills that made me look all the more pathetic in comparison. Countless times over these past few years I’ve had to experience the degradation of listening to my friends explain how they just repainted half the rooms in their house, retiled their bathrooms, installed ceiling fans, replaced sinks, planted sod in their backyards, built decks, etc., while their wives absolutely gushed at the extreme masculinity possessed by their husbands. I felt so bad these were services I simply couldn’t offer to my own wife. I often felt like just handing over my balls and tapping out.

A typical repair scenario in my house is exemplified by the following situation that occurred last week:

We had a leaky faucet in the kitchen. My first inclination was to ignore it hoping it would go away. When our tile threatened to ruin amid the river that was quickly developing on the kitchen floor and as the smell of mildew started to permeate the house, I could no longer avoid the issue. I took out my tools and went to work, but in all honestly, my incompetence in this area is so complete that I may as well have just grabbed a scalpel and tried to perform open-heart surgery. Not only did my attempt at repairing the faucet not fix the problem, it appeared to actually cause a second, more pervasive leak, requiring an immediate call to a plumber.

Does it come as a surprise that the plumber ripped us off? That he claimed there was no way to fix the leak and the only solution was to replace the faucet altogether? Most guys in this scenario could have easily called his bluff by replacing the faucet themselves. But that would require knowing how. Or having the aptitude to learn. My sweet, long-suffering wife stayed quiet to spare my feelings, but I could see the look of disappointment in her eyes as I committed hundreds of dollars to a project that could have been easily avoided if I had anything resembling normal masculine skills in this area.

To regain some of my lost manliness, I chose this same day to replace all of the locks on the house myself. I was able to complete the task, but I’m not going to lie to you – based on the quality of workmanship, I don’t like our chances should someone decide to break in.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


The Big Boss Man

If you ever take a trip down to Cobb County, Georgia, you better read the signs, respect for law and order.
You'll serve hard times.
You'll be serving hard times.
You know the Big Bossman'll make ya walk the line, you better watch out boy or you'll be serving hard times.

He carry's a big stick, a ball and chain too, if your looking for trouble, he'll be coming after you.
You'll serve hard times.
You'll be serving hard times.
You know the Big Bossman'll make ya walk the line, you better watch out boy or you'll be serving hard times.

You'll be serving hard times.
Serving hard times.
You know the Big Bossman'll make ya walk the line, you better watch out boy or you'll be serving hard times.

Hard times. Hard times.

You know the Big Bossman'll make ya walk the line, you better watch out boy or you'll be serving hard times.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

...Where I'm Going, Where I've Been

Have you ever had that experience where you're about 3/4ths of the way through a really good meal and you find yourself getting kind of depressed because you know pretty soon you're going to be done?

That's how I feel as I find myself getting near the end of this:

SIDE NOTE: I got contact lenses shortly before my freshman year of high school; something I will always be thankful for as it made high school a far more pleasant experience for me than I'm sure it would have been otherwise. But there was definitely a period in junior high where my thick glasses gave me an uncanny resemblance to Bill Haverchuck

Lucky for me, my depression was eased when this arrived in the mail yesterday:

As anyone who knows me personally will surely attest, I'm about as far removed from being a touchy-feely, emotional type of guy as you're going to meet. But as I sat last night with my two stepsons, ages 8 & 10, who usually roll their eyes when I try to share with them the music, movies and TV shows of my youth, and watched as they laughed uproariously at a perfectly timed, "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?", well, who wouldn't shed a tear?


Thursday, September 09, 2004

...A Smorgasbord

A good reason to quit smoking: Even though your nose has grown accustomed to the smell, no matter how much mouthwash you use, how many times you brush your teeth or how much perfume or cologne you put on, all the non-smokers can still smell it on you. And who wants to be remembered as the person who stinks?

The ying/yang of my life: Stopping at the grocery store today, I actually found a parking space right in front of the store. This happens to me about once every 5 years. Leaving the store, I forgot where I parked and had to walk around and around before finding my car.

Something that will either make you like me more or hate me: Call me a party pooper, but I have an instinctive dislike for any music I can imagine large groups of people giddily singing, clapping or doing a synchronized dance along with. Hence my distaste for virtually all of today’s “pop” country music.

Something that is repeated all the time to the point most people buy it, but is generally bullshit: You can’t judge a book by its cover. I’m talking figuratively here, not literally. I’ve found that my first initial impression of people generally tends to be right in the long run.

Something to ponder: If I had never met my wife chances are I would still smoke dope pretty regularly.

A confession: Maybe it’s immature, but I find great humor in knowing that every person I run across during the course of my daily life has likely sat down to squeeze out a turd within the previous 24 hours.

Choosing just one: If I was truly the last person on the face of the earth and no longer had reason to care about my appearance, I think I would live on a strict M&Ms diet. They’re good.

Stating the obvious: People are rarely looking for an honest answer when they ask if they look fat.

New Dad Faux Deep Discussion: I find it fascinating that newborns have absolutely no language skills. That means it must be impossible for them to think, since they have no language to think with. That's trippy dude.

How to piss me off:Use that “What Happens in (insert place), stays in (insert place)” line on me. Like, what the fuck did you think I was going to do, go babble it to everyone?

A slightly misogynist tendency of mine: I find it difficult to not take a person just slightly less seriously after I’ve seen them naked.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

...Early Morning Goochings

I have a massive fear of death to the degree that just thinking about the fact I will one day cease to exist can send me into major panic attack mode. Ironically, when this happens, I feel like I’m going to die. No amount of logic (“You won’t be around to worry about it, so what’s the big deal?”) or sappy platitudes (“If you spend all your time worrying about dying, you aren’t going to do much living”) or religious beliefs (trying to convince myself there really is such thing as Heaven) does anything to help. When I was a kid I comforted myself by imagining that by the time I grew up medical science would have improved to the point where living forever would be the norm.

I’ve yet to hear an adequate explanation as to why you are expected to tip in accordance with the price of your bill when you eat at a restaurant. Is it somehow harder to carry a plate holding a $40 lobster to a table than it is to carry a $5 cheeseburger? I can see tipping based on the size of your party, but tipping based on price doesn't make any sense.

Isn’t it a bit disingenuous when people complain about athletes not playing “for the love of the game”? Seeing as sports is how these guys make a living, this comment to me is just as ridiculous as someone chastising me for not doing my job for the love of selling integrated audio-visual technology presentation systems that help people communicate information in large groups. I mean, would you criticize a Wal-Mart employee who argued with his boss for proper compensation, working conditions, etc. At what salary level do you lose the right to complain when you don’t think you’re getting what you deserve?

Something I fear worse than death? Confrontations. I’m the type who won’t tell the waiter when he screws up my order, won’t speak up when I think I’ve been overcharged for an item at the grocery store and at this very moment I’m working up the guts to go back to the mechanic who fixed my car to tell him the same problem has reoccurred. I think it all boils down to a deep-rooted fear of people associating me with being a nuisance to them.

The few times I’ve shaved my goatee most of the people who I’m close to have encouraged me to grow it back claiming I look better with than without. While I tend to agree, I get a little offended by the underlying message behind the suggestion: Your face looks better when a good percentage of it is obscured by hair.

I haven’t lost all of my jealous tendencies. The first and biggest fight I ever had with my wife came just a few months into our relationship, almost 4 years ago. We had run into her most recent ex-boyfriend at a restaurant/club and I couldn’t get her to agree with me that he was fat.

I am a proud American, but I consider it a sign of the overall lack of taste and intelligence of the American people that the consistently brilliant "Scrubs" isn’t by far the highest rated show on television.

When I was single, I never knew how to react when I’d see a really good-looking guy with a mediocre-looking woman. Should I be happy that one of the better players in the game had left the competition, making it easier for guys like me to play? Or should I be mad that the guy just screwed up the curve?

I’m not just fishing for compliments when I admit that yes, I’ve had the fantasy about being a porn star before, but no, I’m nowhere near big enough to even be considered for a position.

I could retire tomorrow if I had a dime for every sitcom that ever had a scene resembling this -
Person A: Person C is the biggest blowhard, idiot, low-life, good-for-nothing, untalented, useless, egomaniacal, is...standing... right...behind...me, huh?

A source of much guilt for me is the fact circumstances prevent me from spending as much time as I should around my dogs.

It was recently revealed to me that I have something of a friend of a friend of a friend connection with the drummer of Hoobastank . Actually, it’s more of a son of a friend of a brother-in-law type connection. While I’m on the subject, I saw No Doubt at a tiny club in Berkeley about the size of my living room in the Summer between my junior and senior year of high school (1990). The main thing I remember was that guys were stuffing $1 bills down (then brunette) Gwen Stefani’s pants.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

...Goochin' On

I have never, except for maybe in high school, exaggerated the number of women I’ve had sex with. I just count things that are questionable to make the number higher (oral, times when I couldn’t “finish”)

I’ve come to grips with the fact the mere sight of me does not strike fear into the hearts of men

Like George Constanza, I would prefer that a woman think I’m good-looking but have a bad personality, rather than think I’m so-so looking but with a great personality

My theory on marriage: Regardless of whatever problems, disagreements and annoyances you may have with each other, if the sight of each other naked still gets you worked up, everything else will work itself out

I don’t think I have a substance abuse problem, but looking back at my life thus far, most of my fondest memories are of times when I was drunk, stoned or both

I tend not to worry about having more than others as much as I don’t like to think that others have more than me

Among the jobs I applied for as my college graduation grew near was as a WWF play-by-play announcer. I guess it goes without saying that I didn’t get the job. But someone from their HR department did call me. I think that was because I sent them a letter threatening to sue when I noticed they had hired a new announcer after writing me a form letter saying no openings were available

I enjoy watching other people’s relationships as an outside observer, mainly because during the course of any romantic relationship, people show some signs of insanity, and that’s always a little bit fun to watch.

I have an immense, probably irrational aversion to anything schmaltzy to the point I continually root against the Cubs or Red Sox because I know I would never be able to stand the gooey sentimentalities that would be spewed forth if either team were ever to win the World Series. I guess I don't like a good underdog story.

I have a lot of good college stories from my fraternity days, but I don’t like to tell them as much as I used to now that I’ve hit 30, because it feels kind of Al Bundyish (repeating the same stories of your glorious youth over and over and over)

It’s hard to not feel some regret at having stayed faithful during relationships that ultimately didn’t work out.

Maybe you don’t notice it so much from my blog, but in real life I have a lot of weird little personality quirks that I hope my son doesn’t pick up. My wife must wish for this too as she keeps telling me not to act weird around him.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have worked harder at baseball. I could never catch a fly ball, and once we moved to fast pitch from T-ball I had a hard time judging balls and strikes, but I was a fucking awesome pitcher if I do say so myself. No one in my Little League could figure out how to hit off a leftie like me. I think the life of a Major League pitcher would have suited me just fine.

I like Metallica to the degree I own a few of their CD’s and have seen them in concert a number of times, but I don’t admit this to many people because I don’t want to be confused with one of those weirdos whose obsessive fandom is at the point they read Metallica’s lyrics as their own personal philosophy.

People who claim it is a double standard that men who sleep around a lot are called “studs” while women who do so are called “sluts” are full of shit and they know it. Unless you’re Brad Pitt, getting laid takes some work if you’re a guy. If you’re a woman, provided you’re under 200 pounds and remember to brush your teeth, you can pretty much get it whenever you want it. Is it so strange to be more impressed by someone who can kill a bear with a pocketknife than with someone who (to overuse an already overused cliché) shoots fish in a barrel?

I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on things romantic, but I’m pretty sure that any relationship that can be described as, “I know he/she has a wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend, but he/she doesn’t understand him/her like I do” isn’t ever going to lead to anything that you look back at fondly years later.

Ever though I was raised in a relatively religious Jewish household and although I will always consider myself Jewish, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that one of the nice things about being married to a non-Jew is that I get to actually participate in the Christmas season instead of feeling like an outsider for all of December.

My first job out of college was as a customer service rep for an audio-visual products company. It sucked in the sense that I went from 4 years earning my degree in English Literature to processing orders for transparency film (the stuff you put on overhead projectors). I comforted myself with the idea that I would write a book based on my experience that would be a take off of “1984”. The end of the book would have the main character genuinely excited and happy about earning an extra $.50 for each additional box of transparency film he could sell. That was an actual incentive program in my department. And the $.50 was split among the whole department, you didn’t get to keep it all to yourself. And I do mean $.50, not $50.

I’ve never told anyone about my blog, not because I’m super secretive or anything, but because I’m conducting an experiment to see how quickly it will take members of my family and my friends to discover it. So far, only my wife has found it and I think that was probably just because I forgot to clear out the cache on our home computer.
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