I know I had some doubters about my recent pranks with yellow caution tape. Yesterday, I opted to surprise strangers by X-ing their doors with it. Obviously, I didn’t get caught in the act or shot. If I had, at least I would have a good story. Or you would, repeating the headline about me getting shot for pranking strangers with tomfoolery. The upside is that you could wrap me with the remainder of the yellow caution tape roll.
Today, my new roll arrived from Amazon.
Life just shattered into a whole new series of possibilities.
Keep your eyes open, friends.
In an entirely new way, I have a lot more flexibility in both planning and executing pranks.
My favorite cousin posted this to social media today. I made it at least a couple of decades ago. I once made a LOT of this sort of thing. She has a hoard/treasure trove of such memories that’s she sorting through. It warmed my heart and is still making me think back.
Despite giving away a large number of my “Get-out-of-jail-free cards,” I still have some left. It always surprises me when people who know me say they won’t need it. Duh! A disproportionate number of people who’ve been in my proximity have, in fact, needed one. Or two. I try to keep one under the floor mat at all times. Because if I’m going to get arrested, I’m definitely going to want to see the look on the policeman’s face when I hand it to him. Yes, I know that the cards on top are “Go to Jail” cards instead of “Get out of jail free” cards.
Epictetus: “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”I have: Life. Choice. Opportunity. Whether I squander them is entirely my choice or fault. This has been true for my entire life, whether I believe it or not. At 54, I believe it. Love, X
Knowledge you won’t find in a textbook: “Never complain about not having a shoulder to cry on if you’re around cannibals.”
When I met the new Latino coworker, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t like him, although something about his name, Adversario, gave me pause..
I ain’t saying his hair is a mess… but, you know how people talk about tearing their hair out? He looks EXACTLY like he both failed and succeeded at doing just that.
Some people worry about getting pulled over for speeding or drinking. My biggest concern is getting pulled over after someone discovers my latest artwork. I could post a picture of it, but I’m not going to. I like to think that someone out there will see something creative or beautiful and accuse me of having done it.No matter where it is.
For those who need a good groan…Today’s tear-off flyer..
The yellow conical sign in the middle of the hallway indicated “Wet Floor.” So I did.
Compatibility Comparison: If during the night there is a strange and inexplicable noise from anywhere inside or outside the house…. if one person says “whatever,” and the other person always jumps out of bed as if WWIII is starting, it’s over. Both people think the other is crazy.
Lovesakes, both new and old, juxtaposed, filled with light and nuance. The bird’s silhouette transposes a heart; whether it’s wounded or promise-filled depends on the beholder..
I made a tear-off sheet of compliments, for anyone needing one… I’m uncertain which is my favorite: “you smell like cheese” “even IRS agents smile around you” “you’re totally kidnappable” .
When I heard someone say, “She has an infectious laugh,” all I could think of was penicillin.
At 54, I went to my first rave last Saturday. I walked in and punched the first person I saw. Hard. Middle-aged people should not be unleashed to new experiences absent a brief explanation that the words naming activities often have ZERO overlap with how they sound. Technically, though, the guy I sucker-punched did indeed ‘rave’ quite a bit afterward.
Sometimes you can tell when somebody has had an unimaginably bad day. I left a 102% tip.Whatever preoccupation previously existed, it irrevocably vanished, leaving a huge smile behind.
Caveat emptor! I spent $199 on a WWF Wrestling Starter Kit….
Life accelerates away at a pace I can’t fathom. It boggles my mind that I’m at the same weight I was in 1985.I wish I could travel back and tell myself that the only thing that matters is that love seldom looks like we expect it to.Love, X
Some clichès have critical hidden flaws.”When you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” For all of y’all who have never dug a grave, that’s some pretty good cardio and intense exercise. If you can dig one, chances are you can dig forty seven.
This morning, I drove across town, heading back. I felt like I had been on another planet for a day. In a way, I guess I had. Whenever you find yourself in a transition in life, try to take a moment to snapshot how you’re feeling. That feeling later morphs into comfort or consolation, no matter what the ‘after’ you find yourself in looks like. Life is going to sneak up on you anyway. And no matter what you’re planning, some of the things that you dread reveal hidden treasures – while other certainties end up fizzling or filling you with disappointment.
Yesterday, to my horror, I realized that pink fuzzy dice are prominently featured in the amazing book, “The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste.” It’s a good thing my set of pink fuzzy dice can’t read English, or their feelings would be hurt. To my delight, many things I like had their respective pages. “Everything is in bad taste to someone,” I like to remind myself.
I also became a fun memory for someone yesterday. He’d never had someone come in and say, “I want however much pico de gallo $20 will buy. I ain’t here to negotiate. Whatever it is, it is.” To my surprise, it was a LOT. And they threw in two bags of unrequested chips and salsa for free. After I paid for my order, a shorter Latino man came around the corner. The cashier pointed at me. (He didn’t know I was looking at him askance.) The Latino man looked in my direction. I waved like I was recently injured in the head. It was apparent to me that he had poked his head out to see ‘who’ ordered so damn much pico de gallo. He hastily retreated as I waved to him. I told the cashier in Spanish, “Does spying cost extra?” He laughed.
I’m also 100% sure that the two workers in the liquor store I entered thought I was trying to steal. Naturally, I made at least five needless and random tours around the smaller store. I thought about ducking below the top to REALLY draw their interest but don’t want to be banned from another liquor store.
On my walk yesterday, I discovered so many hidden gems, hideaways, and unexpected pleasures. On one dead-end side street, I discovered new and fabulous houses. The style was so odd that I realized I loved it. It’s not something I would ever choose, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m impressed. At the outlet of that street, I stopped and did pushups. The smell of the towering mimosa tree was unbelievable. I stood under it as the purposeful wind swirled the scent around me.
I also got reminded this weekend of how much turmoil some people have to endure. Some suffer so much invisibly that they don’t come out of it alive. Having done the one wise thing I’ve done in a year and going to counseling gives me an entirely different appreciation for those who don’t go when they need it. Right now, I am sure that someone will read this and be one of those people who secretly have a private feedback loop running in their head, the one telling them that there’s no point or that maybe they shouldn’t be here. Counseling isn’t what you fear it might be. But it can be the starting point. And so many people would benefit from getting a handle on their issues now. We don’t realize we’re at the beginning of an avalanche until we’re half-buried in snow. The best gift you can give someone is the confidence you need in yourself to be able to tell them that they would benefit from getting help. And if you’re the person needing help, give yourself the gift by confiding in someone that you need help.
I stopped this morning and bought two containers of chalk, one of which I almost entirely used, making a ‘small’ homage somewhere in Springdale. A couple of people witnessed me in action but said nothing to discourage me. It’s too bad I wasn’t wearing pants. (Just kidding about the no-pants portion. Although that much chalk residue is a real problem at times.) It’s not like chalk is graffiti; it’s as impermanent as we are, though we cavalierly pretend otherwise as we move around on the face of this planet.
Leaving the grocery store, I saw an older Latino man ahead. Both arms were weighed down with liquor store bags. I slowed, checked behind me, and tossed the myriad mess from my passenger seat into the back. Pulling up alongside the man, I rolled my window down. (Yes, my Spark has roll windows, which is something that I love the idea of.) “Hop in,” I told him in Spanish. He politely declined. I insisted and repeated my first line with a bit of salty language. He laughed and put the bags on the floorboard as he climbed inside. I saw that he had Harps bags tucked inside each liquor store bag. (For those few people who don’t drink, black liquor store bags are much stouter than their grocery store counterparts.) About halfway inside, he realized how small the car was. “Where are you headed? I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.” It turned out he was staying a couple of miles up the road. I asked him he needed anything: money, food, a ride somewhere else… “No, but thanks,” he said. He told me he was working twelve hours a day and sleeping in the garage of one of his friends. I didn’t pry, but he volunteered that the last year was the worst year of his life. Without thinking, I said, “You’re paying the price now to have your life back.” He looked at me, and I realized that I probably touched a nerve. “Verdad.” He got out, picked up his bags. He nodded his head as a farewell as he walked up to the house.
I opened the garage door and fired up the grill to make grilled chicken breasts and portabello mushrooms. Almost immediately, a dog wandered up. For a brief second, I thought he was going to attack. Unexpectedly, he ducked his head and began to wag it back and forth, his eyes downcast. I kneeled and petted him like he was my dog, oblivious to the initial idea he might bite. After I finished petting him for a couple of minutes, he laid on the garage floor, content. I found some old smoked turkey breast and put it on the ground. He ate it, his tongue working across his snout long after he finished it. When I finished grilling, Guajolotero, as I named him, still was sprawled out on the garage floor. I cut up one of the huge chicken breasts, along with a portabello mushroom, and fed them to him. He ate slowly but thoroughly. Even though he still licked his chops, I petted him again. Afterward, he casually plopped down to rest again. Apparently, he adopted me. If that’s the case, I will hope he doesn’t expect freshly grilled chicken and mushrooms on the daily.
Two hours later, he’s still in the garage, chilling.
. . .
“It doesn’t matter who you’ve been with, it matters who you end up with.” Anonymous wisdom .
“It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, if you’ve made amends as much as you can, it only matters who you end up to be. None of us are ever finished – and those who think they are, well, they are ‘finished’ in quite another way.” – X . . .
Something I learned in counseling.
Do you feel like you failed today, or worse, that you were a failure?
If you’re alive, you succeeded in doing something, even if it is the minimum necessary.
Tomorrow, survive again.
Stop expecting a dramatic crescendo of satisfaction from each of your days and eventually, gratitude for JUST the minimum will take root. . . .
I hope to get my hands on this door, to help in transition into something else.
This morning, I put the assorted nonsense I use during the day in my pocket. For some reason, I had a $5 bill and put that in my right pocket too. I never do that, especially since I would usually drag it out accidentally and lose it.
After eating lunch/supper, I drove back toward the house. I waited at the light on Emma and Butterfield Coach. It’s challenging to get good visibility on the left, an issue exacerbated by people pretending they’re racing in the Indy 500 as they come around the long curve. An SUV crossed the intersection doing at least 70. I waited, craning my neck to check again. Before you say anything, waiting until the light turns green IS an option. Still, it is just as likely to get you killed – and for two reasons: people have no patience waiting on someone to legally and safely turn, and a red light is often just encouragement to speed through an intersection illegally. I forgot to mention that East Springdale’s residents are less likely to have both a driver’s license and insurance at any given moment. It’s one of the many reasons I advocate that the city uses the actual roads for the annual Demolition Derby.
As it turned out, my light turned green, and I pulled out quickly. (That’s what she said. My apologies. That was a reflex TWSS there.) A couple of seconds later, I looked in my rearview mirror. A cobalt blue Hyundai was coming up behind me exceedingly fast, probably going 75 mph. As they passed, I noted that the car had five younger people in it, two of whom shoved their arms out the window, using their middle fingers to wave hello.
I concluded that I had interfered with their driving progress for zero seconds while they sped and failed to stop at a red light. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that information.
The blue car, of course, caught up with a throng of traffic. A throng, whatever that is. So I followed them up Butterfield to Friendship. I turned left as they did. At this point, their guilty conscience probably convinced them I was angry about getting flipped off. I wasn’t. I was amused. They passed my normal turn into the neighborhood I live. A block further on, they turned into one of the dirt driveways on the side. The other side of the road isn’t part of Springdale city limits – and it shows. The high class you’d normally associate with Springdale diminishes considerably on that side of the road. (I apologize for the snark there, Rodeo fans.)
I stopped across from their driveway. I got out of my absurdly blue car and walked across. The driver’s eyes widened. Yes, it’s true someone could have shot me. I can think of no better way to die than by pranking someone in East Springdale unless it is to be shot by a jealous husband in bed. I handed the guy in the passenger rear seat a $5 bill and said, “Get yourself a 6-pack. And stop driving like pansies.” I laughed.
Someone inside the Hyundai said, “Dude, what the f—?” in a high-pitched voice.
I drove away, smiling like an idiot.
I like to think that this merry band of miscreants will be flipping off MORE people, expecting others to tip them for the honor.
The Washington County Sheriff wasn’t too happy with my emailed plan to save money: offer professional mugshots/headshots at the jail. It’s so stupid that I guarantee people would pay for it. Yes, I’m ‘people.’ Please, take my money for this idea. .
P.S. You know you’re in trouble when you write a joke like the one above and legitimately fear that friends and family are going to get pissed about it. I mean no disrespect. We all have our struggles and I don’t judge. Unless you were arrested for something stupid, like putting your bag of weed in the metal detector bin before getting scanned. . Love, X.
Saturday, I was driving on 412 East, near the airport. Because I hadn’t eaten much, I pulled out a bag of sea salt PopChips, and ravenously and enthusiastically began eating them. (As if there’s any other way to eat these!) I noticed something in my peripheral vision to the right. I turned my head and found myself stopped in traffic alongside one of the toughest-looking Latinos I’ve ever seen, as if Danny Trejo woke me up by sticking a shotgun in my mustache. I probably froze for a second. The Latino turned his head to his right. A second later, the woman in the passenger seat leaned forward and craned her neck to see around her huge boyfriend/husband/kidnapper. And laughed. The Latino driver then laughed and pointed at my car. He then gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up and grinned ear to ear. I laughed, gave him the thumbs-up in return, and kept eating my PopChips. I briefly considered challenging him to a race but opted to leave him with his dignity.
As my eyesight slowly required reading glasses, I sewed less. Threading a needle is equivalent to playing Operation after drinking 42 cups of coffee while undergoing a prostate exam. A friend wanted me to sew him a custom ripshirt which will necessitate at least 100 threadings. Yes, although it seems unlikely, both of those facts are true: I do have a friend, and he requested that I hand-sew him a custom ripshirt. It seems as unlikely as Bigfoot at the McDonald’s drive-thru, and not just because Squatch prefers Wendy’s for burgers and Sonic for food poisoning. What’s the old cliché? “Truth is stranger than fiction, and typing is better than diction.” Yes, I think that’s it.
The preamble to the story notwithstanding, I find myself using longer and longer threads to avoid threading the needle needlessly. A few minutes ago, I started another thread, one about 18″ long. I knocked my notary stamp off the desk. I’d placed it there to remember to take it with me tomorrow. I leaned over to retrieve it… and though it paints me in a reckless and risky light, the needle in my left hand stuck me in the face, not too far below my left eye. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who might be curious about the sensations such a stupid act elicits. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case: it hurts worse than accidentally sitting on a seatless bicycle.)
I angrily looked at the needle as if it were at fault.
After this exaggerated brush with death, I decided to choose another activity until such time as my good senses return. 2027 will probably be safe. I cut the last run of stitching, tied it, and then set the needle on the desk. Or thought I did. I got up, left the room, and returned. It was then I realized I had dropped the needle on the carpet. Somewhere. I couldn’t find it, even with a directed lamp bright enough to rival a middle-aged bald man’s head in the middle of the summer. At that point, I did what any unreasonable person would do: I used my socked foot to rub the surface of the carpet. In 15-16 swipes, my food did manage to “find” the needle. The stabbing pain that I’d experienced on my left cheek repeated itself on the side of my left foot.
I will need to get a gun safe to store my needles.
Meanwhile, for my next act, I’m going to slice vegetables, blindfolded, after drinking a vodka sour.
I see no issues with this plan. Vodka is a tried-and-true numbing agent in the right volume, and a blindfold will ensure I don’t faint at the sight of blood. Since I can sew, I can stitch up my hand as easily as a shirt.
PS I apologize in advance to all the foot fetishists. My feet did appear in Foot Magazine, Dec 2019 issue.
A bit of truth to start, followed by a bit of goofy…
I’m not actively trying to lose weight. 160 lbs. was low enough to suit me and almost certainly not sustainable long-term. I felt that strange sensation that something had changed when I put on my pants and belt again after a day of shorts. Getting on the scale, there it was: 156. I’ve been walking a lot and probably eating less. The eating less part is mostly because I’m not hungry, have been occupied with other things, and when I do eat, I’ve been inclined to eat less quantity and simpler food choices. I ate great lunches at restaurants Sunday and Monday, so I’m not starving myself. (Not to mention I ate at Mr. Taco Loco today for lunch.)
Someone I love very much gave me a lovely gift over the weekend: a thank you card she forgot to mail 24 years ago, one in response to a wedding gift from me and my deceased wife, Deanne. I told my family member, “Not all tears are sad tears.” It touched me deeply, and I saw no reason to conceal or push away the tears. This is one of those instances where being a packrat led to a moment of remembrance and emotion – and a much-needed one, too.
Since life often jumps on you all at once, another moment that happened last weekend was that I felt forced to let someone down severely. I’m never proud of doing it. I won’t justify it or explain it. Of course, I have a list of valid reasons. Valid though it was, I know my response runs against the universe’s karma rules.
Even the speed trap advisory signs at the library are sending me a very clear message. I can’t run as fast as Michael Scott, obviously!. PS Standing next to the sign dressed like I am with a work badge, and holding a cell phone facing the road… a LOT more people suddenly slow down, as if anyone would ever trust me to be a part of anything with so much tomfoolery potential. Also: even the police who are randomly driving by suddenly realize they can’t very well speed past it like that, not with an idiot standing there with a phone. I propose that a bunch of us meet down here and have some fun with this. Anyone who can beat Michael Scott’s speed (12 -31 mph, depending on whether you count the car run or not) will win a free toaster, or a lunch date with me.
I’m getting contradictory signals about my index cards, the ones I use for all sorts of tomfoolery <○○> and practical note-taking. My cousin gave me two packs over the weekend and today someone gave me a pack, winked, and told me to engage in an endless series of index card creativity and/or pranks. I feel like this might be a test with no right or wrong answer. . Update: a coworker saw this post while I was still at work and gave me TWO more pads of usable note-craziness! In his defense, he is retiring soon, so he can cause as much mayhem as he would like.
Not that I struggled with eating since October, but meals are somehow generally more purposeful now. I forgot to eat all day at work. Today, I went to Acambaro on College Avenue. “No, I don’t want to sit down. You’ll tie me to the chair. Again,” I told the helpful worker. A waitress from a previous visit nodded at me, undoubtedly remembering how insistent I was that she bring me an inhuman quantity of pico de gallo. “What can I get you, then?” She asked. “Ten orders of pico de gallo,” I confidently said. “Ten? Are you sure you want ten?” I waited, pretending to consider it. “You’re right, I better get eleven.” I smiled. “Okkkkaaaay,” she said. “Wow, that’s seventeen dollars after tax,” she added. “Did I set a new world record here? If not, I have another forty dollars if necessary. Pico de gallo affects national security, so let’s not do anything negligent here.” I smiled. She smiled, saying, “Are you going to eat all that pico?” I nodded. “But for reference, what other uses for pico de gallo do you have in mind?”
I waited by the register, pretending to read one of those promotional magazines that look like they are produced by overimaginative marketers who also suffer from a lack of a sense of humor. The woman who rang up my purchase placed the big sack of pico de gallo in front of me. “They didn’t put them all in one container,” she said and shrugged. I shrugged dramatically, too, and pirouetted, bowed, and turned to walk out the door. She probably thinks I’m on drugs, which is ridiculous; I don’t do drugs when I’m drunk.
(If I triggered anyone with the joke about being high or drunk, I would apologize. But you’re pretty much asking for it by reading what I write.)
I drove down to Evelyn Hills shopping center and parked facing the VA and College Avenue. I sat in the car, watching traffic and a parade of interesting people coming and going. I ate all ten pico de gallo cups, sprinkling Tajin on each container and dipping PopChips into them. It’s exactly what I wanted. The pico was fresh and delicious. My shirt and lap probably looked like they belonged to a third grader by the time I was done. Tomatoes, cilantro, onion, chip pieces, and Tajin seasoning covered me. When I finished, I hopped out of my tiny car and brushed myself off furiously. A man who seemed to have fallen out of the unhappy tree stood by his black Mustang and shook his head in my direction. Because I didn’t know what he disapproved of, I turned to face my car and started doing jumping jacks. When I turned back around, he was in his car and definitely no longer worried about expressing his opinion of whatever he thought I had been doing.
I entered the store, one I’d never before been inside, and walked around. It was interesting and a little unsettling, the mixture of products and clientele, as if a strange retail reality show were being filmed on a very limited budget. I found a dozen mylar balloons and wandered the aisles with them. Because I’m sure I looked a little goofy holding a dozen balloons, twice I pretended that the balloons were pulling me slightly off the ground. I repeated the trick at the register, much to the amusement of the cashier. “Yeah, you guys should be careful. You could lose a customer with this much helium in the balloons,” I told her. “You do know it’s not Father’s Day, right? she asked me, looking at the balloons. “Not in Venezuela, where I’m not from,” I told her. She failed to notice the extra ‘not’ in my reply. “Oh? That’s interesting,” she replied.
I went to my car with the twelve balloons and did the impossible magic dance of getting them inside and tying them firmly – and in a way that wouldn’t unexpectedly blind me while I drove. Not that it matters. Driving on College Avenue in Fayetteville is like sticking your hand in a horse’s mouth. I hopped into the car and exited the shopping center. Immediately and without cause, the balloons became a little loose, so I hooked a quick right into the first parking lot. I went around to the passenger side, opened the door, and pulled the middle of the excessively long balloon strings away from the parking brake. As I did so, all the balloons pulled up way faster than I expected. Seven of them sailed away. Five remained loyal to me and in the clutch of my left hand. I stood and watched the seven escapee balloons fire into the sky. The people on Highway 71 watched too. I saw more than one point at them. I love releasing balloons – I just prefer a controlled release. I’d forgotten the #1 rule of balloons: they are never as tightly tied as you’d presume. (This is one of the principal rules of handcuffs and restraints too, but if you’re reading what I write, you already know that.)
I left the remaining balloons where they needed to be, talismans of unusual composition, to remind those who find them that the world is meant to be enjoyed.