Monday, February 28, 2011

Pac's Friday

Coincidentally, I have two exes with birthdays on February 27th, both named Joe. My first Joe is still an important part of my life and an anchor of our social circle. He'd been planning for a year to spend this birthday in Munich and JB and I and several other friends have been planning to join him. It was going to be my first vacation since starting my current job two and a half years ago.

My plans changed with the recent passing of my father. Since several deliverables were postponed by my absence, I had to work on catching up. Joe understood, of course. JB started to waffle about going too, but I told him I'd feel twice as bad if we both cancelled. So my partner and a large group of my friends left for Germany on Thursday.

As the weekend came I started to feel a bit lonesome and disappointed, but then reading StevieB's Friday post put things in perspective for me. Having everyone else off doing their own things gave me a rare opportunity to spend the weekend doing whatever tickled my fancy.

After work Friday I stopped at the grocery store to pick up supplies. Checking in on Foursquare I was pleasantly surprised to earn my Animal House badge. It seems the Publix by Georgia Tech is tagged "frat boys". Bonus!

Getting home with my liquor and economy size generic personal lubricant, I was a bit at a loss as to how to proceed. So I opened Scruff to send a message to my guru in this adventure.

Pac: "Now what?"

Stevie: "Pop the top off and get to rubbing. But order take-out first, you don't want to get the phone all greasy."

Pac: "Awesome." Let's save that for Plan B.

So I made myself a cocktail, gave myself a haircut and performed some general manscaping. After sweeping up the hair and applying direct pressure to stuff, I was ready to get dressed and hit the town.

My favorite bartender was working and he suggested I scruff him later if I wanted to get together after he got off work. Looks like I won't be needing Plan B after all. By eleven o'clock I was beginning to realize I should have taken a nap. And had dinner. Feeling old, I left the bar and stopped at Subway on the way home. I woke up on the couch around 8am with the television still on and my cat noisily licking the cheesesteak wrapper.

Bummer. With Plan B back on the table, I reached for my iPad to apologize to my bartender friend. That's when Scruff delivered my Saturday evening plans...

Friday, February 25, 2011

History, Part 2

When my sister called I was on the phone with Joey. Last time I spoke with Joey nearly a year ago, he was telling me he was getting back together with his ex. I'd never met David; that relationship ended just before I met Joey in 2006 and we became friends. Yes, with benefits. I heard a lot about David though, and I don't remember one good word.

Then it seemed David's latest boyfriend left him and he reached out to Joey. And Joey reached out to me. My advice? Take things slow. You're in the driver's seat. Treat it like a new relationship and start dating for a while before committing to anything exclusive. People can change in four years and you need time to get reacquainted before making any rash decisions. Even I wasn't sure if my advice was sage or selfish.

Maybe Joey heard my words, but he didn't listen. Before the week was over Joey was moving into David's house and telling me to contact him through his sister if I needed to reach him. I never did. I missed Joey, but kept telling myself it was for the best. It was certainly good for the home front, as JB never liked Joey.

Over time, it got easier. When I did think about Joey, it was from a historical perspective. A chapter of my life uncharacteristically dramatic and tumultuous. And exciting and passionate. I was relieved to move on to the next chapter. I found myself developing new friendships and activities that seemed to help occupy the empty space.

Then this came two weeks ago.


I didn't call. Joey tried calling me a few times before I accidentally answered. I was waiting for my sister to call with news about my critically ill father and answered without looking at the display.

I listened to Joey for 45 minutes. David had kicked him out. Drama. As someone who always listened to him and knew him well, he was using me as a mirror to examine what went wrong.

"Am I a negative person?"

I dodged to the left, "Not always. I like it when you laugh."

"Do I complain too much?"

I dodged to the right, "Well, it's not like you don't have a lot to complain about."

All this time I kept thinking that maybe I should just be honest and direct. Tell Joey he's a drama junkie who never takes personal responsibility for his own feelings or for the predicaments he finds himself in. But five years of experience taught me it would just elevate the drama level, and I frankly didn't have the energy. I was worried about my dad.

And what about that? A half-hour into our first communication in ten months and he has yet to ask about me and how I'm doing? Since we're self-examining our faults, let's add "self-absorbed" to the list.

I finally interrupted Joey while he was explaining how David, while still recovering from his latest cosmetic procedure, had the nerve to tell Joey he looked old.

"My sister is calling."

"I can hold." Sigh. He was fishing for reassurance and he was willing to wait for it.

[A minute goes by.]

"You there, Joey?"

"I'm here."

"I have to go, my dad just passed away."

~~~

That was a week ago Wednesday. This past Sunday, the day after the funeral, I was at my sister's house in Wisconsin when I got a text from my bff Eddie. Seems he was surprised to run into Joey at a popular local bar a block away from my house. The same place where I first met Joey five years ago. It's local to me, but a 100 mile drive each way for Joey. No surprise, I thought. Already falling back into old habits.

"And he's looking good. Real good."

Ouch. Thanks Eddie.

An hour later, a text from Joey. "Call me when you get a chance."

I still haven't had a chance.



~~~

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm Not Dead Yet!

I heard on the radio this morning that Abe Vigoda turns 90 today. Twenty-nine years after People magazine said he was dead.

Click for current Abe Vigoda Status
("Reload page for update.")
You have to admire the sense of humor of a man who can walk onto his own séance on the David Letterman show to declare "I'm not dead yet, you pinhead!"

Happy Birthday Abe!

Just Joe

Ordering coffee at Jittery Joe's. The brews are "Medium", "Dark" and "Decaf" and the sizes are "Little Joe", "Joe" and "Big Joe".

"I'd like a Dark Joe, please."

"What size?"

"Joe"

"What size?"

"JOE"

"WHAT SIZE?"

"Medium."

"That'll be two dollars. Next?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life's Great®

There are dozens of cities across the country and even in Europe where I can visit and know I have a place to stay, whether it's a guest house, a spare room or even a sofa. That's why it feels odd now that when visiting my home town, I have to stay in a hotel.

For Dad's funeral, my sister wanted to reserve a block of rooms in the same hotel for the out-of-town family and friends. Unfortunately the only place she could find in Escanaba with enough available rooms was the Super 8.

It actually wasn't so bad. Pet-friendly and the wi-fi, like the coffee, is free. I learned how Super 8 is the official hotel of Richard Petty Motorsports, so it's got the whole NASCAR cachet going for it. I found it odd but interesting how the room doors didn't spring themselves shut and, indeed, tended to stay open as guests milled around and socialized in the halls and common areas, occasionally popping their heads in to say hello or look for their free-range children. Despite the blustery winter weather outdoors, inside had the warm communal vibe of a southwestern trailer park.

The pool area was filled with teenagers drinking beer and pushing each other into the water. The bare concrete and sharp brick edges ensure a future lawsuit that all the NO DIVING stencils in the world will be unable to prevent. It's enough to make me wish there was a way to abdicate my Foursquare mayorship.


On the upside, I didn't see any bedbugs. I figure either the climate is too cold for them, or they were wiped out long ago by the Legionnaires'.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Familiar Faces

I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words of condolence over the loss of my father last week. I got the call from my sister last Wednesday morning that Dad had pneumonia and his condition was critical. As I was preparing to take time off work and make the trip up to Michigan, he passed away around noon.

Dad had been in ill health since suffering his first stroke three years ago at age 69. Although he seemed to bounce back at first, one setback after another made it clear he could no longer live on his own. Since then my brothers and sister and I have been dealing with his care and trying to sell the house. Although the logical part of my mind knew this time was coming, I was still taken by surprise at his rapid decline and passing. I don't think anyone can say they're really prepared.

Over the past year I watched as my dad morphed into his father. If you gave me a photograph, I wouldn't be able to tell you if it was Dad or Grandpa toward the end. This week as I was reunited with my aunts and uncles, I realized Dad's sisters are starting to bear a remarkable resemblance to Grandma. And I noticed my cousins have grown into attractive young adults that are spitting images of their parents as I remember them from years ago.

I stood at a collage of photos that one of my aunts put together. My four year old nephew was holding my hand methodically pointing to each photo and asking, "Who's that?"

"That's beeba Gus," I'd tell him each time. (That's what he called his grandfather.)

As he got to a photo of Dad as a toddler, I changed my answer. "That looks like you!", I told him. "Is that you??" I teased.

"Noooo," he laughed, "that's beeba Gus!"





Monday, February 21, 2011

Goodbye

I spoke these words Saturday, February 19, 2011.

My dad used to tell us he believed each person's heart had a specific number of heartbeats over his lifetime. That was his excuse for not exercising.

I learned so much from my dad as I grew up. I learned not to leave tools outside in the rain. I learned electricity is not a toy. I learned that little "check engine" light is not intended as my reminder to change the oil.

And by watching how he made sure my brothers and sister and I got everything we needed to start our independent lives, then how he took care of Mom when she got sick, I learned the meaning of devotion and sacrifice for the sake of love.

Thank you Dad. And thank all of you for being here to pay your respects.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Deal

In general I never mix business and pleasure. But I've known Jeff for years, having worked together for a former employer. Back in those heady start-up days things weren't stuffy and corporate at all. The average week would end with a keg of beer on the roof. Compared with my colleagues, I felt like the stuffy, uptight voice of maturity back then. And I remember having more will-power. I was always in control.

But things have been tense lately, at work and at home. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a "problem" or anything. Yeah, things got a little crazy a few months ago, but that's not unusual and I've always been able to reel myself back in. But I've been getting sloppy and it's affecting how I feel about myself. After this, it's cold-turkey.

As I walk into the office this morning, I feel my coat pocket for the envelope. I'm sure Jeff would have taken a check. Like I said, we go way back. It's just always been cash. I'll stop by his office this afternoon and we'll make small talk. I'll ask about his wife, he'll tell me about the kids. And when I go home tonight, I'll have the goods. One last hurrah before I reassert my self-control.

I know it's my choice. Nobody twisted my arm. But I still find myself feeling a bit of resentment toward those who would profit from the weakness of others. Then I remind myself... girl scouts are non-profit.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

I think people who know my JB would agree he's a puzzle wrapped in an enigma covered in fur. But the tootsie roll center is pure estrogen. It's not that he's effeminate, not in demeanor. He just has a woman's brain. And heart. Maybe even gay men aren't immune to subconsciously looking for someone just like Mom.

He's a natural care taker (care giver?) who makes sure everyone who enters his circle of influence wants for nothing. He wears his heart on his sleeve. When he gets withdrawn, I know there's something bothering him. If he tells me "it's nothing" I know I'm in trouble for something. I don't push, I know it'll only be a matter of time.

When a sentence starts with "I have to tell you something..." or "Can I ask you a question?..." I cringe. The other day he was upset about something I did in a dream of his. He gets insecure if he thinks I don't find him attractive any more. And this always puzzles me, since I think I always make my feelings for him crystal clear.

But just to be sure, I'm going to make sure Valentine's day is properly observed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rich Dad, Wealthy Barber

When tonight's earlier events had me reeling, I do what I normally do when I can't sleep. I reach for a book. A nice boring book. I had a particular book in mind, something I found in the B&N bargain bin while I was buying an expensive book about some esoteric programming language.

Where ever that expensive book is, it's obsolete. But I still have my $5 friend... somewhere on one of these shelves. It's called "Eureka!" and no, it's not about that SciFi show. It breaks down 91 of the most important ideas of mankind and explains them so even I can understand. It's like Aristotle for Dummies.

I love that book and know it's around here somewhere. As I pull books from the shelves, out drops an envelope. Odd. Inside this envelope are ten of the crispest $100 bills I've ever seen. I have to laugh. Only my JB would hide money where he would never think of looking.

I put the envelope back where I found it and made a mental note to someday remind him about his stash. I love that man.

History


Oy this can't be good.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Discurbing Development

Call me curious, but when the city posts a seven foot sign in front of my house, I feel compelled to read it. Notification of Midtown "streetscape" improvements. Evidently even gay neighborhoods let their vanity get the better of them as they mature and wonder if their bushes might be detracting from their other points of interest. Unike myself however, this kind of 'scaping needs more than steady nerves, electric trimmers, disposable razors, two hand mirrors and scrotal styptic.

The first "improvement" was to cut down and chip the old established trees along the street from here to the park. Along with a great deal of noise, this made the sidewalks look unnaturally bare. No matter, the sidewalks are coming up anyway for utility work. Meanwhile traffic is reduced to a single lane in each direction, making the morning commute just that much more of a delight. Yesterday it took me ten minutes just to pull out of the driveway. And not all the lanes will be coming back since part of the road surface is being sacrificed to make room for wider sidewalks, parking spaces and new trees to replace the old trees.

Just like my own grooming projects, there may be some discomfort, chafing and a prayer it'll worth it by swimsuit season.

Welcome to the neighborhood! Go back where you came from.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wow, Your Vacation Sucked

Now that the History Channel chased me away with pickers and pawn stars, I'm looking for new channels. I think I've found my new favorite show on the Travel Channel. "When Vacations Attack!" It's probably because I haven't had a proper vacation in two and a half years.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pushing It

My friends just had twins and I want to get them something. I'm thinking the stroller smartphone mounting bracket is probably not the best idea. I'd feel horrible watching that security video on YouTube.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Who Needs Groundhogs 2

Thanks to Groundhog's Day, I never forget my patents' anniversary. Seriously, who gets married on a major holiday? I suspect my older brother had something to do with that.

Forget Punxsutawney Phil, I have my own ritual. On Groundhog's Eve I go to a drag show. If I can see Lateascha Shanté Shuntel's shadow from the back of the bar, we're in for a long, scary Winter. It's not good news.

But last night wasn't a total loss... I earned my RuPaul badge ! Thank you Greg for the tip.