Thursday, October 28, 2004

...Where Everybody Knows Your Name (and Measurements)

Yesterday a sales appointment I had scheduled with a police department in what I guess is now being called “The OC” was cancelled at the last minute (as in right as we were pulling into their parking lot) when the Lieutenant who arranged the meeting had to rush out on an emergency call. I had this great spiel all prepared and then some nimrods had to go and attempt to rob a jewelry store and hold its owner hostage.

While it made for something of a wasted afternoon, it did give my partner, Bob, and I the opportunity to revisit on old hangout of ours, The Swinging Door. This was the default after-work bar of choice for the employees at our former job due to its location barely a block away from our old office.

Having been a regular patron of The Swinging Door from when it first opened its doors in 1998 through just a few years ago when my old company moved our office to another city, I couldn’t help but feel a little like a proud parent when I saw it had recently been named one of the “Top 20 Dives Bars in the U.S.” by Stuff magazine. Its success can be solely attributed to their simple but brilliant marketing strategy, which can best be described as “Never underestimate the desire of the average American male to have incredibly beautiful women acknowledge his existence”.

The bar, which is female-owned (she is the one on the far right in the picture from Stuff) exclusively hires extremely hot, porn-star/stripper-looking women to work (in very revealing outfits) behind the bar. For example, she was our bartender yesterday. Kind of like Hooters, but far more intimate and less commercial.

The average guy (read: most), in the course of his daily life, not only has little to no chance* ever to date women who look like this (*except maybe if he makes over 500K per year), but would likely have difficulty getting any such women to even give him the time of day. But come to The Swinging Door, and not only are these women forced by necessity to talk to you, they’re actually likely to flirt with you a little bit too. Maybe even call you “Sweetie”. I have no idea what kind of tips these women make, but I’m guessing they make out pretty well. Something has got to be paying for all those fake tits.

Personally, while I’ve always enjoyed the bar’s laid-back, casual atmosphere and very reasonable drink prices, I’ve never been as excited about the bartenders as most of the guys who frequent the place. Not that I can’t appreciate the sight of a beautiful woman. I’m married, not dead. It’s just that I hate being condescended to. I will admit that I tend to get a little oversensitive about stuff like this (and definitely overanalytical), but I get offended by the notion that these women think it is so rare that anyone who is both A) Female and B) Attractive talks to me that when it does happen I will become so incredibly mesmerized that I'll lose all sense of logic and start throwing money around like a madman. Probably the same reason I’ve never been all that big on strip clubs.

As you can imagine, the patronage of The Swinging Door is decidedly male, I guess for the same reason I would never frequent a place where all the bartenders looked like Chippendales dancers. Who wants to look that shitty in comparison? In fact, it was extremely rare to see any women in the place besides women from my old company, who went there only because of its proximity to the office (and because that’s where everyone else was going). Lucky for me, one of those women was my wife. It’s where we met.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

...Gooch Mitzvah

I’m conflicted as it regards my belief in the existence of Heaven. Intellectually the concept is pretty difficult to swallow. It just reeks of something somebody made up one time and many other people chose to buy into to make themselves feel less freaked out about dying. But on the off chance Heaven really does exist, I do try my best to have my good deeds outweigh my bad ones.

I’m also firmly of the belief that there are some good deeds so powerful that one incredibly selfless act has the power to counteract 100 more minor indiscretions.

Tonight I agreed to let like 6 kids have a sleepover at our house.

St. Peter, I’ll take a Scotch on the rocks.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

...My Fifteen Minutes (Almost)

So I tried out for a game show about two years ago."The All-New Scrabble". Not to be confused with the old Chuck Woolery-hosted "Scrabble" game show from the 80s that bore no resemblance to the actual Scrabble board game.

My incentive to try out was two-fold. First, I live only an hour or so away from Los Angeles and figure you have to take advantage of the unique opportunities living in this area provides you. Second, I had just started my own business and was living on practically zero income at the time. A nice influx of cash would have come in real handy. I was actually disappointed to learn the grand prize was a brand-new, shiny Ford Expedition, though I guess I could have sold it and ended up with the same result.

I passed the initial written test they give you that is supposed to weed out the complete dumbshits. Believe it or not, it was pretty hard. Half the test was answering obscure trivia, the other half was solving word puzzles. Apparently the way “The All-New Scrabble” works is you earn your Scrabble tiles by correctly answering trivia questions, hence the format of the test. Supposedly they make the test so difficult for a reason - the theory goes that when you’re on camera and under pressure you’re going to lose about half your brain power due to nerves anyway, so it probably helps to have a decent amount to spare. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I passed. I don’t think my very fragile ego could have handled the humiliation of performing the Walk of Shame out of the room had I not.

Next was the mock game mode where all of us remaining hopefuls were pit against one another in a pretend game to see how we’d fare. Like father, like son, I guess. Years ago my dad, who is a certified Really Smart Guy (member of Mensa, graduated from high school @ 16, is a very good guy to have on your team when playing Trivial Pursuit) flew down to L.A. to try out for "Jeopardy". Their test is *really* hard. Of a group of about 50-100 people, my dad was one of only about six to pass.

This is the part where he choked. Not only did he have a difficult time mastering the art of ringing in at the proper time; he failed to prepare himself with an “Interesting Tidbit“ to share during the “Get to Know Our Contestants” portion of the show. The best he could come up with was that he participated in Rotisserie Baseball.

His other problem was that he, like me, is of the “show our excitement on the inside” variety of people. Stoic. Even on a subdued show like “Jeopardy” he was deemed too unenthusiastic and was constantly being reminded that he needed to appear more animated. Despite the moral victory of making it to the final round of the Contestant Search, he never did make it to the show.

Having had an extremely brief (as in one night) career as a professional wrestling play-by-play announcer, I thought for sure my “Interesting Tidbit” was unique and interesting enough to ensure my spot on the show. Except they didn’t ask me about that. All they asked is what I did for a living. I figured having just started my own business was fairly interesting as far as careers go, but I guess that goes under the heading of “Stuff That is Interesting Only to Me”. Apparently working in the audio-visual-technology-systems-integration industry isn’t all that fascinating to the rest of the world.

Also, did I ever mention my lack of hand/eye coordination? Or, more appropriately, brain/hand coordination? I knew the answer to every question that was asked during my mock game, but unfortunately so did the very bubbly young woman I was competing against. I successfully rang in only once during the entire game. All I remember is that the answer was “Origami”. I don’t remember the question. Once you answered your question correctly and earned your tiles, you had something like 30 seconds to make your move on the Scrabble board. Did I mention I’m not great under pressure? I’m usually a fairly decent Scrabble player, but I’m the type that takes a long time between moves. Given the short amount of time to play and with too many anxious eyes planted on me, all I could think of was to add an “s” to the end of a word already on the board to make it plural.

I think this may have sealed my fate. The producer temporarily stopped our game to use my move as an example for the rest of the group. An example of how moronic it was. How, like in the Scrabble board game, you are allowed to do fancy moves like combine letters to where you are actually spelling two words at once (horizontally and vertically), a move I had missed, and how doing so might make for a far more exciting game than just adding “s”’s to existing words.

Like my dad, I never did get a callback. But, then again, to date I haven’t seen “The All-New Scrabble” on the air yet. So I still check the answering machine messages pretty regularly.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Fuck Me Gently With a Chainsaw

Life has not always smiled upon me. But sometimes it has thrown me a bone here or there.

As I’ve written about previously, within my first month of college I found myself dating a blond, stunningly attractive, Southern California-bred, big-chested beauty, Kat. I would love to be able to share some kind of ultra-romantic, dreamy, straight-out-of-the-movies tale of our love affair, but, sadly, there is no such tale to tell. All signs that ours was a doomed affair were evident from Day 1.

Our first official “date” as a couple was to a large Friday night beach party. We came to the party together; she left shortly thereafter with a friend of hers and a car full of dudes, none of whom happened to be me. Clearly they were not off to a Checkers tournament. I spent much of the rest of the night pondering that whole “It is better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all” quote. Another goofy platitude to place in the bullshit pile.

As I searched around for a large, heavy object to attach to myself and proceed into deep waters, a girl, Tabitha, who I recognized from the floor below mine in our dorm, walked over and asked if I’d like to dance. As luck would have it, my roommate was out of town this particular weekend, leaving me our room all to myself (and guest).

Tabitha was attractive enough. But it’s amazing how one’s standards raise after getting a taste of the good life. After drinking Dom Perignon, can one ever really go back to Cook’s? If Kat was filet mignon, Tabitha was a nice, tasty, juicy burger cooked just right. Perfect 90% of the time, but disappointing if you were expecting filet mignon.

She had two other strikes against her. One was she dressed funny. I’m not sure if this was a conscious decision on her part to buck trends and prove her individually by creating her own unique style or if she was just clueless. She wore outfits that didn’t seem to fit together properly. Standard for her was to wear a long, heavy, green skirt with a black leather biker jacket.

Also, and I know of no way to say this politely, she had weird boobs. Imagine a rubber band cut with scissors so it is in the form of a straight line as opposed to a circle. That was what her nipples looked like.

The following night we attended our school’s football game together and then went back to her room. I thought for sure I was getting some. Instead, she started in with a long confessional about how she didn’t want this just to be about sex. She then put some CD on (the song of which escapes me) and asked me to join her in a slow dance. Alone in her room.

I think everyone has his or her own fine line of where the romantic crosses over into the cheesy. That was mine.

Meanwhile, I went on a one-man smear campaign, making sure anyone who would listen knew conclusively that Kat was a big-time slutty ho. Bush-Cheney, Kerry-Edwards? They ain’t got nothing on me. The flaw in my theory, of course, was thinking that any 18-year-old guy would look at the fact there was an extraordinarily hot woman within their midst who was more than willing to sleep with just about anyone as a negative character trait. But I digress.

Tabitha was a sweet girl. To give you some insight into her personality and character, the only time I had spoken to her prior to the beach party was in our dorm’s laundry room. The ratio of dryers to students was something like 1 to (a number over 100), so it was not uncommon to find your clothes removed against your will if you committed the sin of leaving them unattended in a dryer for more than 5 minutes after the end of its cycle. Most people just took your clothes and left them in an unruly heap. It was to be expected. Imagine my surprise to walk into the laundry room one day to find Tabitha neatly folding and separating my laundry for me and apologizing vociferously for having taken them out of the dryer before I had a chance to retrieve them.

Obviously excited about our blossoming relationship, Tabitha cornered me one evening in the cafeteria to ask permission to bring a group of her friends to my dorm room the following night to give them an opportunity to meet and get to know me.

Coincidentally, later that same night Kat chose to confront me about my aforementioned smear campaign. She had obviously been planning her opening line for some time, as it was clearly delivered from memory.

“Are you truly an asshole or do you just act like one?"

Truth be told, given that she had at least a week or two to come up with this, I thought she could have been a little more creative. After all, she was a Journalism major. But it was delivered in front a group of my friends, so it had its desired humiliating effect.

As is often the case in fiery relationships like ours, we were making out about 20 minutes later.

The next night, as promised, Tabitha came to my dorm room with a receiving line of her friends. I remember putting her off with some line about a big assignment being due the next day.

Seeing as we all lived in the same dorm, it didn’t take long for Tabitha to discover I was back with the same girl I had spent so much energy railing against. I became accustomed to being the recipient of her nasty scowl every time we crossed paths.

We are defined, at least in part, by the choices we make.

And on and on and on…

Saturday, October 09, 2004

...Self-Indulgent Navel Gazing

Julie H. asked:How did you wind up with/ choose the nickname "Gooch"?
It is an ode to the often mentioned, but never seen tormentor of Arnold on my favorite sitcom of all-time, “ Diff’rent Strokes”. I started using “The Gooch” moniker a few years ago for any on-line activity where I was hesitant to give out my real name.

The Dave asked:If you were an insect about to hit a windshield at 90 mph, which one would you pick and why?
A bee. At least I’d have a chance to say I went down fighting and maybe stung someone on my way out.

With your time left, please expand on the duality of mankind.
I’ll have to get back to you.

Snick asked:How did you and Mrs.Gooch meet?
At work or at a bar, depending on how you look at it. She came to work for the company I was with at the time, but our positions didn’t interact and we worked in different parts of the building so we didn’t see each other much. We “met”, as in actually talked to/got to know each other one night when a group of us went out to drinks after work.

Catt asked:Why did you start blogging? How'd you get into it? What's the attraction for you?
The short answer is my sister started a blog and it seemed like a fun idea. Also, I am a former English major who now works in a completely unrelated field that I very much enjoy but that doesn’t allow much room for my more creative side. This blog provides that.

Tara asked:Ritz or regular saltines? and why?
Ritz for taste, saltines if I have a hangover and feel throw-uppy.

Also, what was your wedding like?
The usual...guests, vows, food, dancing, drinks, a little nookie.

Esther asked: vanilla or chocolate?

Sloth asked: Could you scratch my itch, please?
Depends where it is. I’m married.

Mike asked: 1.How's baby Gooch?
Very well, thank you

2.Do we truly have any control over our destiny? Is time a series of vectors radiating infinitely from every single point, or are they merely arcs leading back to the same ultimate conclusion?
Some, but not complete and a little of both.

3.What's for dinner?
Stuffed pork chops (don’t tell my mom), cream cheese potatoes and sugar snap peas. One of the added benefits of my wife staying at home since the birth of Little Gooch is that she’s turned into a regular Martha Stewart. Every day I come home from work to find new nicknacks decorating the house and a different gourmet meal being prepared. Actually, to be more accurate, she’s turned into a regular Rachael Ray, since I think that’s where she’s getting most of her recipes from.

April asked: What is your biggest talent?
You know what’s sad? I can’t think of anything on Earth that I possess more talent at than the average person. Unless you count knowing a lot of minute trivia about professional wrestling and 70s and 80s sitcoms as talent.

RLB asked: How are your wife's kids (did you adopt them? If so, your kids...) treating Gooch, Jr.?
You have to keep in mind my stepkids are (soon-to-be) 9 and 10, so any free moment they have that isn’t going to school, doing homework, going to soccer/karate practice, Cub Scouts, etc., is usually spent outside doing something with their friends. So a lot of the time I think they forget he is around. But when they are home they are surprisingly sweet with the baby. Ironically, my younger stepson, the one my wife and I were very worried would be jealous and resentful at no longer being the baby of the family, seems far more interested in his new brother (as far as holding/feeding him) than my older one.

Vadergrrrl asked: How many girls have you slept with?
I haven’t even had that conversation with my wife; you think I’m going to do it here? Plus, anytime the answer is "more than a few" people always assume you're lying or bragging anyway.

Let’s just say it's enough that I don't worry about ever going through a mid-life crisis someday where I realize I got married without playing the field enough. I do, on the other hand, as I think I mentioned in another post, kick myself at having stayed faithful during certain long-term relationships that didn’t end up working out, and sometimes try to calculate the hypothetical additional notches to my bedpost that could have been added had I been blessed with 20/20 foresight.

Anne asked: Maryann or Ginger?
Neither. They’re both old enough to be my mother.

Harriene79 asked: Are you the one on the pic found at the upper right?

Pup asked: 1. Flying or invisibility?
Seeing as I’m afraid of flying and doubt I would be any braver even if I could do it myself, I’ll take invisibility.

2. Who wrote the book of love?
Not sure about the book. I’ve always thought Woody Allen made the best, most honest, movies about love - “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” in particular.

3. What's one thing (material thing) that you wish you had but don't?
Well, as of this writing my Ford Explorer has nearly 200K miles on it and was just returned to me after an overnight stay at the repair shop, so a brand new Hummer H2 has never seemed quite as appealing..

Kim asked: 1. I have a leaky faucet, can you give me some home repair advice?
Yeah, don’t ask for my help.

2. If your wife gained 50 pounds, would you still love her?
No offense, but I hate this type of question because it requires that you answer either
A) In the way that is sure to garner the desired “Awwww” response, and make you come of as sweet, loving and romantic as possible
B) Honestly

3. How tall are you?

Leese asked: 1. I'm with Mikey. How's Baby Gooch?
See above

2. Coming up to the Bay Area anytime soon? Would love to meet Mr. and Mrs. Gooch and kids.
We’ll be up for Thanksgiving. Not sure of exact dates yet.

Cybelle asked: Beatles or Elvis?
Beatles, though I”m not particularly passionate about either, having been born a generation or so too late.

What do you do when no one's looking?
The same thing every other guy on Earth does when no one else is looking.

Aimee asked: Do you breathe under water in your dreams? Do you fly in your dreams?
I have never breathed underwater in my dreams. I have flown in a few.

Sarah asked: do you pee in the shower?
No, but as my brother-in-law, Chef, noted later in the comments I used to have a roommate who was quite open about doing that with regularity, which grossed me out to no end seeing as we shared a shower.

ever wonder if Jesus was the real deal and secretly check in every once in a while?
No. I’ve never claimed to be the world's best Jew, but I’m not a turncoat.

Whoooooooo are you? Tell me who the fark ar you?

Jack Smyde asked: Hey Gooch, what's your secret?

Here’s one - I never learned how to drive a stickshift

Sloth asked: Does your baby sleep through the night?
He has once or twice, but not with any regularity yet. He is only getting us up about once a night now though, instead of twice like before. You’d think this would be a good thing, but instead it just makes my wife and I fight over who has to feed him, since it is a one or the other thing now, as opposed to taking turns like before :-)

Does your heart feel twice as big when you look at wee Gooch?
I find that I’m kind of stuck at the amazement/disbelief stage, where I find myself completely in awe of the fact I actually created this living, breathing, human being.

Do I look fat?
No, butI don’t know that I’ve seen a real recent picture.

Varla asked: Do you now say to baby Gooch "Goochie goochie goo!"?
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that has occurred more than once.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Ask the Gooch

A hectic schedule this week will keep me from posting any fresh material for a few days.

So I thought I would rely on the ultimate blogger shortcut, the "Ask Me Anything You Want and I'll Respond To it in My Next Post"-post. Answers will likely be posted Wednesday or Thursday.

Have a good week everyone!


Friday, October 01, 2004

...Have We Read My Blog Lately

Is there anything more annoying than when people use the term “we” when they really mean “you”?

One of my partners, who is otherwise a really good guy, is especially bad about this. He’s always asking stuff like, “Can we call (insert vendor) too see how quickly they can ship (insert product)?”, “Have we invoiced (insert customer) yet?”, “Is there any way we can call (insert vendor) to check on status (of our order)?”, “Have we called (insert customer) to schedule installation?”

I hate the condescending passive-aggressiveness of it, the way it implies that the asker is somehow a partner in whatever task he’s requesting be performed when in actuality he’s just trying to dump it all off on you.

I don’t mind the work, I just hate the notion that I need to be coddled.

Or I could be overthinking this.
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