Thursday, June 24, 2004

Crazy Old People

The elderly are some really great people that have all done something spectacular. In the last ten to twenty years they have stopped accepting social change and simply ask us all to follow the rules of the road circa their childhood. I attribute grandparents for imperatively informing the younger generations that there are certain rules for every situation, commonly called etiquette.

It does not take someone long to realize the silliness of having three different forks or trying to set a platter down amongst the personal set of glassware in front of you. A lot of these issues are brought up in a wedding. Why, because when two groups of people that have a minimal level of comfort with each other there a level playing field is needed. It is like the Geneva Convention of social exchange. (With the same success rate)

I am midway into witnessing my second wedding planning. I enjoy it to this point, like all other spectator sports. Once it becomes an interactive experience I am sure my views and blood pressure will change. There are so many old relatives that just need to see traditions upheld that the bride and groom’s visions are at best, second on the list. So it seems, once your old, then you get to see what you really wanted to see when you got married forty years ago.

The phrase “the etiquette says…” is almost as obnoxious as listening to someone with a Cambridge accent. The rules of etiquette are just like our motor vehicle laws. No one follows them until they know they are being watched, or they see somebody else break them. Shame on them! One can not plead ignorance when they claim to be so proper. I find it to be tragically humorous when people argue over who should assume the bill/responsibility.

My favorite rule of etiquette is the bride’s family is to pay for the wedding. THE WEDDING. The groom’s family gets the rehearsal dinner. That’s huge. It’s like having to buy a new tux and then someone else chimes in “hey, I’ll buy your shoes.” It helps but really in the grand scheme of things it is a drop in the bucket. What is expected is that since the bride’s family fronts the bill, they get first dibs on everything.

The rules are much more closely watched during a meal of a formal event. Pass the salt and the pepper. Glasses to the left and when you finish your plate put the fork and knife at 4:00 to let the help know you are done. Only cut three pieces from your entrée at a time. Either back in England around 1200 somebody had too much time on their hands or they went to a reception where children were allowed.

Perhaps my least favorite rule is the thank you letter. I understand the written appreciation for a gift is nice. However I feel that my initial thank you was much more sincere and personable than a 4x5 card saying “thank you for the card and gift it was much appreciated. I also enjoyed getting to see you at the (fill in event).” When people read those blatantly insincere messages they still somehow feel better. “Oh, he really appreciated the gift. I thought his smile and hugs were all show. Now I can rest easily knowing that he truly was pleased with the gift.”

I want to start sending “you’re welcome” cards. This may take some time to catch on but I strongly feel that this gesture will let them sincerely know that I sincerely appreciate their sincerest gratitude for whatever gift to which I bestowed. As of now, it is the only load of crap occasion Hallmark has not guilt tripped us into.

I respect elderly people, most of the time. As long as they bathe and try to listen to the conversation I will most definitely let them sit down and enter a room first. Maybe the elderly hold onto etiquette since it is an excessive display of decadence. Decadence for them since it made them feel like aristocrats, fussing over the dire importance of such items as salad forks and butter knives.

The old world mentality manages to still survive decades of social change. Etiquette has long outlasted its good friend chivalry. Chivalry was a noble concept that eroded when women wanted more than a coat over a puddle or a chair tucked in for them. These social guidelines that are still in place are only still here for the same reason some families still have fine china from many generations ago. Both are only brought out when there is a special occasion amongst people with a special bond.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Girls, Girls, Girls

As many of you know, I tend to declare and embrace my perpetual bachelorhood. The truth behind the matter is I tend to dig my own grave more than I would prefer. In the past few weeks I have stepped up to the plate and took the pitches given and then walked my lame self back to the dugout in defeat.

Sometimes my motives are no more than maintaining simple dialogue. It must be simple for the reason of loud music or those meddling friends nearby, and who really goes out to have a profound conversation. I am sure people do have the immediately deep connection, just rarely is it one that is sporting the ever so exquisite mini skirt.

Occasionally I don’t even know I am hitting on a girl, and she goes and says she is not interested. Apparently when one is within a five foot radius of a young woman it is taken as a sexual advancement. Intentional or not, it is always good to know rejection could happen at any second. When accused of making advancements, I usually am unappreciative (most likely because they were unsuccessful). Example, she was in a band and I was intrigued (no, seriously), I asked a few too many questions and she dropped the line. “Well, my boyfriend…” Amazing. Boyfriend you say, he must be the drummer.

Another night in the city I was en route with my friend. For identity reasons let’s refer to him as Rohn Jossi. It is important to know he was the driver of the 95 Subaru Legacy. Anyway, we were approaching a parking lot near some bars and I noticed a black VW. I looked at the driver to make sure she was an attractive girl. Her story checked out. I purposely looked longer than normal to get her to notice me (I figured what would happen? I am in a car). I forgot I was in a 95 Subaru Legacy. She looks at me with disbelief that I, a mere peasant am looking at her Gucciness. I give back the nod indicating, yes I know I have no chance but at least I did not waste a beer on you. Meanwhile, Rohn saw this budding vehicular romance and chose to roll the window down. Forced to talk, (as she too amazingly rolled her window down) I muttered “yeah…that’s all I got.” “Yeah, right” she said. Then she looked at the passenger door of the Legacy, her face became repulsed with the sight of a non-German import. Rohn sees this and screams “don’t be dogging the Legacy. The Legacy lives on!!!” We then parked to go strike out with more girls.

I remember being in trouble with my mom when she had her back to me. “I have eyes in the back of my head” she always told me. Well I think there are other girls with those same powers. It has come to my attention mainly on long straight-aways when I am behind a girl for more than ten seconds. Yes, by nature I have looked at the trunk. However, the few times I am not, these girls catch my attention by unnaturally tugging their shirts past their butt. In moments like those I stand wrongly accused of gawking.

Then there was the job offer I just could not refuse or could I? Desperate for work, I called anything that seemed remotely respectable. The offer was to work for a public interest group that focuses on environmental policies. The term “canvassing” was used liberally. What that really meant was standing around street corners like a knob and asking people to care about the Earth they are destroying. I was interested.

The sole reason why I did not walk out of the interview was almost as amazing as the reasons to leave. I walked into a small room with folding chairs and eight people. Guess who was the only person dressed professionally? The rest of the tree huggers were wearing shorts, backwards hats, and sandals. Clearly, I was the only environmentalist there that was not representing the persona of pot head extraordinaire. One of the guys was fixing his sock and I noticed his house arrest anklet. This was a high caliber pool of applicants.

Then she walked in. Suddenly getting paid $300-500 a week seemed ok as long as Kat was my boss. She is tall, tan complexion; she was wearing an orange tank top, and her knock out punch- orange eye shadow. Kat is a beautiful girl, so beautiful that I would have willingly sacrificed my credit rating to take her out. I chose to try and make more money. I want to call her back and let her know that I will not be taking the position but was wondering if she was free to get together.

There is an old saying when you fall off the horse get back up on it. No one ever considers that maybe the horse is not interested in having you try and ride them. (Maybe the horse had someone try bareback and is hesitant to ride altogether) Nor do they mention that the horse will take joy in your fall and retell the story to all their horse friends as they chuckle by the oat bag.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Rumors, Oooh Nasty Rumors

A short while back I ran into someone I went to high school with. Now the precursor to this tale is that I have no qualms with my tenure there but I do remember which people were maturely stated, dill holes.

I have not reached the ten year reunion time, nor am I that close. The lesson many people must know is that which lies ahead. Whenever I run into someone from high school, they usually were not my best friends. As logic would have it, I actually talk to my friends once in a while.

So when they come into my plane of vision, it is just like in the terminator with that red screen with the shifting cross-hair. Their id is matched. A run down follows in my head;
First name: Jag
Last name: Off
Last seen: class of 99
Description: big fan of Dr. Martins, spitting chew on the carpet, excessive levels of cologne, Napoleon’s complex.

That’s how it goes. Do I say hi to these schmoes? Sometimes, but really they would only expect me to stroke their ego. It’s not a matter of who’s better than whom, or who dated the librarian’s daughter (which she was oh so hot- until the make up came off), this is about common respect. Which is sometimes just comes in second to good old school spirit.

Why do we have such an animosity towards people we went with to high school? Is it the 327 votes short of homecoming queen? Finally hitting puberty in our junior year? Or maybe it is an even more pressing matter like residual prom hangover/bitterness. I won’t deny mine. The reason why I went to prom as a junior, in case it sucks at least I can redo it the following year. Well, junior year was just the appetizer for the main course of betrayal and for desert how about what most people had, sexual frustration.

The people I am most interested remain to be the same. What exactly are the dance team girls up to? How many finished cosmetology school? Which one actually did not join a sorority? Most importantly, I want to make sure their ideals are still the same. Do they still appreciate the ugly? For without the ugly the dance girls would not look nearly as stunning.

We use to have pep rallied for the dance team going to the state competition. They danced against two other teams. One time we had to actually celebrate them getting second; out of three teams. I heard their spirit fingers just weren't jazzy enough.

Back to the moral of the story, keep your mouth shut. (I know I should talk) The reason for that being the more you talk the more get embellished by some dumb box when really you meant nothing more than “wow, I would not have expected.” Remember these were the same people that assumed anyone new to the school was probably gay. Yeah, because you know those homosexuals, can’t just commit to one thing they’re always so flighty.

So, one of the guys I graduated with is now in prison. It is easy for some to say he was mixed up with the wrong people and strayed from the path of the righteous Catholic he never was. This may just be a blessing in disguise. The parochial system couldn’t teach this air head how to read so maybe some special one on one instruction is needed. Please, if you are getting upset about the air head remark let me support it once more. When you forget what page the class is on that is normal. When you forget what chapter the class is on you are an official blockhead.

In other news, many of the teachers that taught me have been caught in love affairs. The allegations were always there, office flirting. Laziness sets in and before they knew it, the private detentions were deemed unacceptable barring doctor’s note. All that happened just when the Catholic community was celebrating their five week anniversary of no sexual conduct cases.

Who would have thought a Catholic high school Melrose place could exist? What would Jesus do? Most likely not the biology teacher, the music teacher, or the health teacher. (Side note: Teaching health is a blatant sign that all efforts to avoid all academic realms of the school have failed and now one must choose a curriculum they can understand. Chapter 1: Why showering daily is important)

I believe we are on the verge of another golden age for our own social circles. I also believe that these golden ages are the results of when people with genuine concerns for the integrity of man need a vacation from all the drama we bring onto ourselves.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Only the Good Die Young, so I Retired at 23

It seems not too long ago I was leading a prosperous corporate life. Then I had a revelation. What would I rather do than go to central Georgia? Answers: a) join a health club b) live back at home c) drink Coors Light or d) anything. Well, I will let you decide the answer I chose.

So I cashed in my hundreds of dollars in my former 401k and headed off to Arizona for an early retirement. As luck would have it, my money ran out around the Midwest. Which is a blessing in disguise since I would prefer frostbite over sweating from the back of my knees. I still managed to wake up and take my vitamins (2 hot pockets) and start my day like any other walking heart attack.

Somewhere between the chuckles of Cosby and Golden Girl reruns on TV Land I got the nerve to play tennis again. After the mid-day set, I liked to go home and watch the people drive back from work and say to myself, phew! I am glad I got myself out of that when I did.

Sleeping late was great, but there was still a lingering problem. Sometimes it's hard to stay up past 9:30 when you know you'll just end up sleeping through Regis and Kelly. Plus, what about my income? Some may think I am naive to retire at 23 but when you know that the government has your back with such fine programs as social security and Medicare it's just down right silly to worry about nickels and dimes.

I started to give back to the community in the past month. I did some projects like cleaning the gutters and dewinterizing (yes it is a word) the pool. Both tasks easily cleaned my sinuses.

If you ever, ever are thinking of getting a pool- don't unless you can afford for some other schlub to clean it for you. Even with a cover on it, our pool turned into the largest freaking bird bath in the county. A week later and the former floating compost heap is ready for summertime fun.

It is not a heated pool, so I love to invite people over for the first time to swim and tell them it is warm. "Are you sure it's warm?" "Oh, yeah I was in it yesterday. If you never have seen the face of instantaneous shrinkage, I recommend it is quite humorous.

People asked me if I regret my retirement decision. No I do not. That all may very well change if I run out of money. I have a lot ahead of me this summer. There are festivals pretty much every weekend. And where there is a festival there most definitely is a church bingo tent. Maybe I'll go play and amaze them with my unbrittle bones and perhaps pick a recipe or two on how to make a good casserole.

If you don't slow down sometimes you may realize that life already woke up, shuffled to the elevator, rode the bus to the pharmacy and just passed you by without you even knowing what you missed out on.