Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dear People with Bumper Stickers

I can make things much simpler for all of you.  No one cares that you like Phish.  Ditto on The Greatful Dead.  No one will Eat Bertha's Mussels just because your car told them to, and no one gives a damn about your sticker family.  If you love it so much, go back to the OBX.  I've become highly suspicious of the level of merit it takes for a child to become an honors student by the sheer volume of children who have appear to done so.  I could care less who you voted for or plan to, and this doesn't make me want to "coexist" with you so please stop advertising all of this on your bumper or back windshield.

Is any of this really important enough that you feel the need to broadcast it to every schmo that follows you in the car?  Is the band moe. so integral to your state of being that all must know of their importance to you?  You're the type of person that sees a "Cool Story, Bro" t-shirt on the boardwalk and simply must have it to complete your wardrobe.  You need to say something at all times, because the silence is too much.

I had bumper stickers on my car.  I put them on when I got the car at age sixteen, and never bothered to scrape them off until I was 22 and had a job where driving around with a faded Operation Ivy sticker in the window wasn't the most professional choice.  The point is, I put a bunch a stickers for punk bands on my car because I was a sixteen year old wuss in Catholic school that wanted to look cool.  I'm not a 50 year old redneck with a "NoBama" sticker on my car simply because the darkest person I trust is my friend Cooter with a sunburn after a day of fishing.

I was too young to know better.  Since you are allowed by law to drive around thousands of pounds of metal at high speeds, I only wish you were smart enough to know better. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dear Couple at the Bar

I can be a man of simple tastes.  I look forward to watching DVD episodes of a twenty year old tv show, I work in my vegetable garden in nice weather, I love going to diners, and I like going to see coverbands.  If both of you gross drunks could have ruined any of those other things, I am sure you would have tried.  You seemed content to stick with the last one though.

I recently went out on a night off with some friends to catch Vinyl Rhino play at a local bar.  The night was promising, with the decent coverband fronted by the obligatory hot blonde lady singer.  The bar I went to had been the scene of previous aggravation, so I should have been wary.   No, I ignored that, and tried to enjoy the covers of Spin Doctors and Macklemore while tolerating the watered down diet soda bars love to give designated drivers. 

The first sign of trouble might have been the derelict I dubbed Dancin' Dan.  He would go to the bar, buy a beer which he would immediately down, then dance a lap around the room.  The pace of the song didn't seem to matter, as he was merely dancing to the tune of his inebriation and most likely the nagging voices begging him to pinpoint exactly what terrible decisions led him to this point in his life.  On his fifth lap or so right in front of me, I moved to avoid his flailing elbows, and that's when I saw the two of you, not five feet from me.  Some forcefield had to have blocked you from my vision until that point.  Some blessed angel put a blindspot in my vision so I could continue enjoying my evening.  It would have worked if not for Dancin' Dan.  Once you both had been seen, you could not be unseen.

Both of you somewhere between a really hard late forties and still pretty hard looking mid fifties.   She was straining desperately against her acid washed jeans, and he kept his hand on her ass at all times to make sure the pants didn't burst.  For the next hour, when I looked, you were both either making out, or talking with your faces so close to each other that you might as well have been.  This is not hyperbole.  You made out through an entire set of the band.  Teenagers that were hoping to get laid for the first time would have given up on the display of PDA you were putting on.  At one point I am fairly certain she stuck her tongue up his nose, but I think it made me black out.  I will never be able to listen to Katy Perry the same way ever again, because the only thing that was roaring were your upper middle aged hormones and your lack of regard for those wanting to hear cut rate versions of popular songs in peace.

Things took a turn for the worst during Total Eclipse of the Heart.  She was vaguely fondling her own breasts while talking into his mouth like he was a fast food order microphone, and either started crying or had a stroke that made her bottom lip stick out and gave her Forrest Whitaker eyes.  He tried to talk her down, but after she made a few more rounds on her boobs and shed a few tears, she was somehow able to surgically remove his hand from her ass and storm away.

I had expected the bar to erupt into spontaneous applause as he rushed out of the door after her.  The drummer would have tapped his sticks together three times and the band would have let loose with a blistering rendition of "You Give Love A Bad Name" while the beautiful redhead in the Little Mermaid dress would drape her arms around me and tell me how brave I was to stand so close to the madness you brought upon us.  Instead I got a Miley Cyrus song and a lap passed by Dancin' Dan, because this world stopped caring a long time ago. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dear College Kids

Undergrads: I hope you chose a vocational school.  Please tell me you went in, preternaturally smart at eighteen, and said, "I'm going to be a doctor!"  Please tell me you chose SOMETHING.  If you are in a liberal arts school, like my beloved alma mater, just hope they pass you a jug of lube along with your diploma, because you are going to be screwed for the foreseeable future. 

Grad students: Let's hope you picked smart when you went to undergrad, because the bills you are going to face when you get out will never get paid by the job you may or may not get when you finally re-enter the real world.  A degree in business will get you nothing anymore, expect something to hang on the wall of the hovel you can't afford to rent.  For many of you, you'll be at least 25, and may have never had a real job before.  You'll be the first to be eaten.

Our parents didn't have it like this.  If they went to college, they were guaranteed a job.  If they did that job, even passably well, they could keep that job for life, with the benefits, raises, and pension that came with it.  They were able to get married at 21, and buy a house, because of the security.  I've had my job for eight years.  If I stayed until I retired, I wouldn't have a pension.  I can't count on raises, and my benefits were sliced so bad you'd think they were part of a ginsu commercial.Ward and June Cleaver didn't have to worry that Wally and The Beav would be living with them until they died.  Wally probably looked at a college campus and was deemed smart enough by that glance to be a CEO, and Beaver was drafted by the Dodgers straight out of little league and was given 72 virgins as a draft bonus. 

Where does this leave us?  It leaves us as a generation that either got lucky and found a good job that pays well, or a bad job that pays something, or we had to move back home and live in extended adolescence.  You don't meet your future wife by bringing her back to mom and dad's house at  age thirty.  You get labeled a weirdo, and you spend your Friday nights at work, or watching whatever crazy antics Tim Allen has gotten into while eating cold Acme brand Mac and Cheez knockoff in your childhood living room.  That's how the Unabomber started, just an FYI.

Another gem to consider: if you can't even afford to rent an apartment, you will never be able to save enough to retire before you drop dead at you desk at work.  Companies now try to hire only part time, regardless of your skill level, so they don't have to pay benefits.  Should you have gone to grad school and amassed that debt, no amount of part time work will alleviate that.

Somehow, those my age and younger, the world decided to hit the reset button on us.  There's no playbook anymore on how to be successful, how to be happy, and how to make a life for yourself.  Everyone whose parents aren't funneling them money is thrown into a pit and told to fight until you either win or lose.  Most of us are losers. 

So, if you just got back to campus for that final semester, please enjoy yourself.  Drink, hang out with your friends, and just have fun.

It's bad out here, and I'm not sure it's ever going to get better. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dear Frederick, MD

I like your town.  I was served the best Monte Cristo sandwich I have ever eaten at the now defunct Jennifers.  I bought my kickass dart set at your shop Edgeworks, and then got some Aerobars at the English store across the street.  That's plenty of good times right there.  What I am writing to you about is a bad time I had, and letting you know that you have the ability to make sure that it never happens to anyone ever again.

As with most things that happen to me, everything started off innocently.  I went back to my friend Furious T's house for a weekend away from college.  To my recollection, we had designs to take a trip out to Gettysburg, or some other Civil War site, but for Friday night, we decided to stay local.  When in Frederick on a Friday night with a hunger in your belly and a thirst only an ice cold pitcher of cheap beer can quench, you will find yourself at the Old Town Tavern.  We met our friend Bangor Van Goor, and after several beers and low priced hamburgers, we bought a couple of sixers for the walk home, and hit the town.  Luckily, I was wearing a fishing vest, which I believed was the height of fashion at the time, so I was a walking dispensary for beers and cigarettes. 

After much walking and a couple more beers, we found ourselves in the lovely park of yours.  No, your benches and gazebos had no hold on us.  We needed entertainment, and where better to go on a drunken night than the playground.  The junglegym was too low to the ground, and I hit my head on that.  The swings made the beer make me dizzy, and the springs on the rocking horses cannot hold a drunken gigantor for longer than a few seconds before pitching him to the ground.  Bangor and I did a wicked remake of the Rob Zombie "Dragula" video on the play train, but that didn't last long enough.  What drew my attention was the play fort, with its tantalizing enclosed corkscrew slide.

I clamored up the steps, and establishing my lordship over the castle, and did my best impression of the French knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail.  I postured some more, and then rocketed myself into the mouth of the slide.

There's something you didn't advertise on all those signs that said useless things like "The Park is Closed At Night" and "No Loitering".  What you failed to mention was that a very tall overweight man wearing a fishing vest full of cans of beer will easily get stuck in your corkscrew slide.  For one, my body was too long, and my feet were a foot or two from the bottom of the slide, while my head ended up a foot or so from the top.  The corkscrew had my body screwed around, and the bulk of my vest and my bulk itself made a nice tight fit for a slide made for children.  Unfortunately for me, my friends had frolicked off to play elsewhere, and I couldn't move myself out.

What you didn't count on is that I am a genius.  I was able to ascertain that I needed to lose bulk, and after several minutes of trying to think myself thin, I was able to worm a hand into my jacket and peel free a beer can.  Draining that, I became less bulky, and even more brilliant.  By the time I finished a third beer, I was able to wriggle myself to get my feet closer to the ground.  More importantly, I was able to get to the inner pocket of my vest and get my cigarettes, and that is how my friends found me.  They saw plumes of smoke coming out of the slide, and knew that it could have only been me.

So, to get back to what you can do: please implicitly label that your park is not for drunken manchildren.  Your rides need specific height, weight, and most likely, age requirements.  Failing this, please install ashtrays in your corkscrew slides.  I was covered in ash when they pulled me out.  This could have been avoided.  You could have done something, but you did nothing.