Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Living In The Past

As I've mentioned before, I am writing a book.

Actually, I've already written a book. It's called Gone With The Wind. I really hope it does real well.

Seriously, I have really written a book and it is called The Umpire Has A Mullet which I have featured a time or two on this blog. TUHAM as it is known on the internet message boards, it about a time in our family's life when it revolved around one thing: Recreational League Baseball.

I started writing TUHAM  in 2004. I finished it a couple of weeks ago.  Hey, I got a life you know.

I have started writing another book, if you can believe it.  This one is about my high school career. The working title (that's what we authors call it) is Surviving The Smoke Hole and Other High School Accomplishments.

As you might have guessed, it is a little difficult to write a book.

First, you should have some idea about what you are writing about. I think I have that covered since I'm writing about my high school career.

My goal is to convey how weird my high school experience was. I made these terrible grades but since I wore glasses people thought I was smart.

Ninth grade was pretty rough, grade wise, but I righted the ship and did okay the rest of my time in school, except for Chemistry.  I have no idea how anybody makes a good grade in Chemistry. Some of you people might say, "study". Yeah, right, just try that.

For some reason, foreign languages were tough for me too. I took French in seventh grade and made an "A" so I thought I could breeze through it in high school. Hey, I only made one "C" in French. I'm not going to tell you the other grades.

I figured my problem in French, besides not studying and thinking the teacher was an old bat, was my pronunciation of French words. Apparently, I didn't use enough mucus when I tried to speak French.

In a great moment of Manis Logic, I decided to punt French because I le suxed in it and take Latin instead. Which ranks right up there with New Coke as far a decisions go.

Ever heard the poem about Latin? "Latin is a language/Dead as can be. First it killed the Romans/Now it is killing me".   There has never been truer words spoken.

One thing good about Latin is that you didn't have to speak it like French. However, you had to translate a lot of Latin words (those Romans had a different word for everything) which were usually about Caesar and Gaul.

A weird thing happened in my first year of Latin, and no, it was not me studying. The teacher died in the middle of the year. I should have known something was wrong with her when she gave me detention for saying "Oh Snot" in class. It got a big laugh. The next day when I went for my detention she had totally forgotten about it. She told me I was a real sweet boy.

As you might guess, they don't grow Latin teachers on trees, but we muddled through somehow with a substitute and I think I might have even made a "B" in my last quarter of Latin I. There have been saints canonized for less.

For Latin II, the following year, my high school hired someone just out of college. She aced the SATs. Just what I needed.

This teacher was smart and sweet and just a swell young lady. And I probably was her worst student. She retired recently from teaching and I bet you I was in her Top Ten of Worst Students Ever.

But the book is not about me. It is about my time really. P.J.O'Rouke in his book Baby Boom calls my age group "The Sophomore Class". We're at the tail end of the post war generation. It was a time we could check into the Hotel California but never leave.

It was a time in which America just sat down and took a breath. It had been a real busy time in history before then. If it wasn't a Presidential assassination it was a Presidential resignation. If we weren't at war, we were going to the moon.

Somehow, in the misty water colored memories, all people remember of the 70's is Star Wars and disco. My goal is to explain it a little better with some help of my goofy jokes.

Now, if I can only remember more of it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

50 People Running For President

Back when I was in high school, Paul Simon released a song called Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover.  If memory serves, Simon gave only five ways to leave your lover. Where's the other forty five, Paul?

It was 1976 and there were about four hundred Democrats running for President, at least initially. Anyone remember Mo Udall? I do, but I can't remember where I put my car keys. It is a curse.

Well, as part of the comic genius  I was developing back then, I wrote a song called Fifty Men Running For President to the tune of Paul Simon's song. Yes, I was Weird Al before there was a Weird Al.

Unfortunately, I forgot where I put the lyrics to that song. It has been almost forty years ago and I have had a life since then.

As part of my public service, I will review the people that are running for President. There are a lot of candidates. It is hard to know who to vote for. The problem is all inside your head. The answer is easy is you take it logically. I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free, there must be fifty people running for President. First, the Democrats.

Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Clinton really needs no introduction because she won't ever go away. She has a good chance of becoming the first woman and the second pathological liar (Nixon being the other) to become President.  Reason for running: It is time for someone with boobs to be President and I've got 'em.  Slogans (s) Worship Me, Pigs.  Resistance Is Futile. 

Elizabeth Warren:  She is one of those Northeastern liberal Democrats who think Karl Marx was too conservative.  Her slogan: Mine Are Perky.  Has absolutely no chance of winning the Democrat nomination or getting invited to a fraternity social.

Martin O'Malley:  Former Governor of Maryland. Slogan: I'm Martin O'Malley Reason for running: To let people outside of Maryland see what a dynamic person Martin O'Malley is and maybe get a reality TV show. Would not rule out transitioning into a woman like Bruce Jenner. Already has a name picked out:  Martina O'Malley

Now, The Republicans.

Ted Cruz: Freshman senator from Texas that may/may not have been born on earth. Slogan: You don't want to sit next to me on a plane.  Somehow managed to convince a woman to procreate with him.

Ben Carson: A soft spoken individual who overcame crippling poverty to become one of the leading brain surgeons on earth. Of course, since he does not share some of the same views as someone at Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, we should be wary of him. Additionally, when a Dr. Carson say "scalpel" to a nurse, he gets a scalpel. When a President Carson says "Tax Cut", he'll hear "Racist". It would be real frustrating for him but that's just the way politics rolls nowdays.

Rand Paul: Leader of the Libertarian Wing of The Republican Party, Paul is the son of Ron Paul who is probably sending him e-mails about The Federal Reserve. He's a little bit snippy with female anchorwomen. He's probably two interviews away from saying "Jane, you ignorant slut".

Mike Huckabee: Folksy former Governor of Arkansas who has one major problem: he has met me. When my wife and I went to New York a few years ago, we got tickets to Huckabee's TV show.  We met him, told him we were from Georgia and he said these words which I can imagine Lincoln saying at Gettysburg or Eisenhower saying on D-Day: "We got something for you that you Georgians ought to like."  It was a gift card to Cracker Barrel.

Marco Rubio: Freshman senator from Florida who gives great speeches but reminds you a little too much of another Freshman senator from eight years ago. Son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio would have been the NEXT BIG ONE WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR if he was a Democrat. Since he's a Republican, he won't get that Messianic treatment, even though, so far, the elite media has been fairly gentle with him. But don't worry, he'll be depicted as a knuckle dragging mouth breathing member of the Ku Klux Klan before you know it.

Rick Perry:  Former Governor of Texas. Has new glasses.

Jeb Bush:  Slogan: I Barely Even Know My Dad and Brother. Raising tons of money. May actually be a Democrat.

Scott Walker:  He is the anti-Bush because he's not from a well connected family and may actually be a conservative. Did not graduate from college, which is consider bad because Sarah Palin and Rick Perry have college degrees. Had a mullet as a young man. Slogan: Go Packers!

Chris Christie: Because every comedy needs a fat man. Reason for running: To Super Size the economy. Slogan: Hey! Are You Going to Finish That?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Advice to Young Men From An Old Married Man

I have now been married for 29 years.

I am not an expert on marriage. I am an expert on how to be married to Lori.

Soon, our son will be marrying his fiance. I have been giving him advice for the past couple of months that I would like to share.

First of all, you actually have to like the person you marry. Not Love or Luv.  You have to like that person as a person. In others words, you would still talk to this person if you were not in a romantic relationship.

It shouldn't come as news but a lot of dudes don't do this. They love the body of the girl they marry. Hey, a smoking hot body is important but all of that flies  out the window when the apartment floods or the heater hose busts in the car.

This is really personal but it is also the best thing I have ever said in my life and I'm really proud of it.

Lori and I had our first real romantic encounter and my head was swimming. I had an epiphany that I loved this girl. However, I didn't want to mess things up by getting too deep in the weeds with love talk. So I said to her, "Lori, I don't know where all of this will go, but I want you to know that wherever it goes, I will always be your friend." 

I have been her friend over the years and she has been mine.

Secondly, you actually have to the listen to the person you marry. Women communicate with words, vocal tones and body language.

You may want to make a note of that. Women really work at communication, while men try to get by with various moans and grunts.

If you listen to a woman once, she will expect you to listen to her the rest of the time. Wives will give pop quizzes just to make sure you are paying attention. Another proud moment of mine is the time Lori was talking and suddenly stopped to give me a pop quiz to see if I was listening. I quoted everything she said back to her, WORD FOR WORD.  I should be given a Nobel Prize.

Men should learn that words actually communicate something different to women than the definition of the word.

Men use the word "fine" to mean something looks good and does not need improvement. Women consider the word "fine" to be an insult.Consider this scenario: Wife models a new dress for her husband. Her: "Do you like it?"  Him: "It's fine"  What She Hears: "It looks like death warmed over." I would suggest you consult a thesaurus and use words like "great", "amazing" or if you are from Alabama, "Yer so hot".

My mother gave me great piece of wisdom before I got married. She told me most marriages fail in either the bankbook or the bedroom.

My advice to anyone getting married is to make sure that you, as a couple, are compatible in the bankbook. You have to have a clear understanding of finances. In other words, guys, you may have to give up something if it costs too much money.

Also, I cannot stress this enough, you CANNOT HAVE SEX WITH OTHER WOMEN  WHEN YOU ARE MARRIED.  Women find this very offensive and it will cost you a lot of money.

My final bit of advice: You don't have to win every argument. You don't have to argue. I've found that the pain in my head goes away when I agree with Lori. It is quicker that way.

I encourage everyone to get married. It has really worked for me. Of course, it helps when you have a wife like mine.

Sorry boys, but she is taken.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Next Stage

Two weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk at work. I had just gotten a cup of coffee since I was going to work a little longer that day. I had my ear buds in and I was listening to iTunes on my phone.

There's a statement 16 year old Alan never thought in a million years he would ever say as 55 year old Alan. I was listening to songs on my phone. Back when I was growing up, all phones were landlines and came in one color: black. Sure, they "had" other colors like red and green, but those were for rich people.

A call came through. It was my wife.

I think Caller ID is an amazing, miraculous invention. Now, you don't HAVE to answer the phone. You can let it go to Voice Mail. Again, and it wasn't that long ago, that you HAD to answer the phone because it might be someone important.

I thought it was odd. My wife usually calls me at the office number, not on my cell phone. Then, I heard a voice I hadn't heard before.

In that split second, a million ideas, none of them pleasant, went through my mind. The main theme of all of those thoughts was something bad had happened to my wife.

The voice identified herself as someone who works with my wife and explained my wife's father had died. She said my wife was very upset. I asked if she wanted me to come pick her up. I heard "Yes" and I could picture my wife shaking her head.

I told my boss I had to go. But I had to shut down my computer and finish my cup of coffee. My boss asked what I was waiting on. I told her about the coffee. She gave me a Styrofoam cup and told me to leave.  

I was walking to my car and I called my wife back. She had gotten over the initial shock and asked me to meet her at her father's house. I went to her father's house.

I called our son and told him. He said he would meet us there.

I got there first. There was a police car. Two officers were inside. They explained that while it was technically a crime scene, the detective (who had just left) is about 100% sure it was natural causes. A neighbor that regularly checks on him, found him dead. They wanted a family member to identify him.

They took me back to a bedroom. There he was.

You always wonder what you would say in a moment like that. I said, "Yep, that's him." Brilliant, I know.

Now it has been two weeks.

We have been going through the house. The man must have kept everything he ever bought.

He had not one, but two copies of John Denver's Greatest Hits. One on "vinyl" and one on CD. I never knew he liked John Denver.  He also had a copy of Englebert Humperdinck's  After The Lovin'.  Englebert just didn't seem like his type of guy.

The man was never at a loss for a ladder. I counted five. And if you need a screwdriver, I think I know where you can find one at. 

We opened one drawer. It was full of tax returns. One was from when Jimmy Carter was President. If the IRS is going that far back on you, you are in trouble.

My wife and her family are working on the estate. It is going to be a challenge but it will get done.

Two weeks after the day, we met a couple for dinner. They have two kids. All have graduated from college, like my son. They have a son that is married. They are empty nesters like we will be in a few months.

The husband was the executor of his father's estate. He gave us a few pointers  and related his experience.

I left our meal thinking about the stages of life. We're in school. We pair up. We marry. We buy houses. We have kids. We go to school plays. We go to baseball games and football games. We turn around and the kid has sideburns and a girl friend. We turn around again and the kid has a degree and a fiance. We bury our parents.

Here we are at another stage of life. Some stages are simply more fun than others.