Monday, January 18, 2016

NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES

So, last night I had one of those dreams. Some would call it a nightmare. Others would say I crossed over into the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits.

Yeah. Listen to my story now; it was a crazy dream:

It was as if my 10-year-old daughter Bridget and I were in a Japanese anime or manga…something akin to a modernized “Lone Wolf and Cub.”

Check out the films or manga if you haven't already...
In narrative of this twisted dream, I was being hunted by an evil ghost. I don’t recall the why’s and wherefore’s as to this vengeful spirit’s purpose. It was just after me. Guess I had wronged it somehow.

It seems that the dream itself took place in Japan because the next part of the nightmare I recall is that she and I are on the bullet train, the Shinkansen. It’s there that we discover that the wraith is indeed a female and she shares the same name as my daughter. This revelation comes about by us translating the Japanese kanji (ブリジット), which is “Burijitto” or “Bridget” in Japanese. There was also some business with us acquiring magical katanas/swords that could harm ghosts, but my memory is sketchy on this now. Regardless, it was made clear that Bridget’s weapon was better than mine. This will come into play later.

So, she and I eventually disembark the train with the nasty phantasm hot on our trail. We ultimately come to an open field, readying ourselves for an assault. The assault comes…the specter comes right for me. It moves almost like the alien Predator in the classic, 1987 film: it’s there, but not there, and for fleeting moments I can briefly glimpse the vaguely human shape as it rushes towards me. I hack at it repeatedly, but my blows do no harm, yet the phantom is hurting me as it right on top of me. Now, I studied martial arts and Kendo, the Japanese sword art, as a teenager and I still can handle a bladed weapon fairly well, so this should not be happening.

Suddenly and swiftly, two strikes hit the assailing apparition from the side and it backs off of me. It’s Bridget, of course, giving my attacker what for, but in the process her sword, the better sword…the sword that is clearly the ghost slaying sword, is flung from her hands.

She screams something to me…something I cannot hear. I assume she’s telling me to reclaim the sword and I endeavor to do just that but, quick as flash, the unremitting spirit is upon me once again, enveloping me and that’s when I awake with start.

Now, here’s where things get really weird.

I’m totally awake. My eyes are wide open. My heart is doing its best John Henry impersonation on my chest. A split second later, Bridget’s Furby toy, which is sitting on shelf in the far corner of the room springs to life. The toy lights up the room and begins to spew its inane jibber-jabber. This Furby has been dormant for at least two months. No one has touched it or molested it in quite some time because, quite frankly, the stupid thing is fucking annoying. Panicked, I bolt upright in bed and glance around the room, which I can see fairly well due to the eerie glow emanating from the Furby’s digital eyes. There’s nothing to see. Nada. Zip. Zero. Nothing.

You can go fuck off an die, Furby.
I grab my phone to glance at the time. It’s 5:04 AM. Finally, the Furby has shut the hell up. All this excitement has filled my bladder it seems, so I leave my cozy bed as the wind howls mightily against the windows. Unaware as to what new weirdness awaits me outside my door, I step into the hallway to see the clothes I left carefully draped over the bannister are now haphazardly lying on the floor. It’s was as if someone was pissed off at me and decided to dump my shit on the floor…just because they could.

This has never, ever happened before.

I’ve left clothes over that bannister dozens of times over the last year or so and they’ve always been exactly in the same place when I awoke in the morning.

Obviously, I stumbled into something supernatural as I slumbered last evening…something mysteriously paranormal and vaguely evil. And it clearly wanted to frighten me or send some sort of message. Why? I do not know. Usually, something like this wouldn’t bother me so much but, right now, I haven’t the time nor the inclination for such nonsense.

Go away, whatever the hell you are. Oh, and leaving my fucking daughter out of it. You want me, you come get me.

Dream bullshit or not, I can assure you that if you cross my path again my sword will be sharp and at the ready. 

Make no mistake about that.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST

Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express'd
In russet yeas, and honest kersey noes;
And, to begin, wench — so God help me, la! —
My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw.”

~ Berowne, Act V, Scene II, Love’s Labour’s Lost

So, a little over a year or so ago I was working for a crappy little magazine that focused on the transportation industry. It was an infinitely dull job…not helped by the fact that the most of the people that worked there were myopic twats. I’ll even go a bit further to say that a couple of them were, I’m quite sure, certifiably insane.

One of the much-needed respites I would take from this place was during my lunch hour when I would visit a used record store that was nearby. It was a cool store, with an equally cool vibe, that awoke many memories of my late 70’s, early 80’s childhood, sitting in front of a “Hi-Fi” stereo listening to classic records from the likes of  KISS, Queen, Rush, Aerosmith, Styx and AC/DC with various friends and family members.

On one of my last trips there, I came across some buried treasure of sorts. While a was checking out a near mint copy of the Rolling Stones self-titled inaugural record, an envelope fell out of the sleeve and landed at my feet. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but I quickly snatched it up.

Mick and Keith should write a song about this letter and call it "Carol" then set it to the tune of "Angie"
It was a letter, and a rather old one by the looks of it. It was address to a “Miss Carol Makers” who lived in Northeast Philadelphia (the store where I found it is in South Jersey). It had a 5 cent, George Washington stamp on it which was made/used in 1962-63. But there was no return address and no postmark, so it obviously was never mailed.

For a fleeting moment, I thought about taking the letter to the counter and turning it in. But, my journalistic instincts got the better of me: I needed to know what was inside this envelope. So I quickly pocketed my find and made a hasty exit, as if I was a sketchy, teenage shoplifter boosting a couple Beastie Boys cassettes.

Never mailed...why, I wonder?
When I got back to my office at work, I opened the envelope to find a love letter of sorts. It was nothing Shakespearean in stature or rhyme, but it was endearing in its own ham-fisted way. And it even had a bit of wonky sexual innuendo tacked on at the end as far as I can tell.

The letter is printed in brown ink, maybe with a felt-tip pen or marker of some sort, and it’s in ALL CAPS. It reads as follows:

                “Dear Carol,

“The boy you should hate is on the other end of this pen. I’ve had a lousy Christmas this week. I thought I was having a good time. Thursday night I finally realized I was being selfish, practically ignoring you. There’s NO reason at all for not seeing you, I’m just not good to you, like, I just realized having such a girl as you I should do everything I can to talk to you & be with you.

“You’ve put up with me for almost a year now, I’ll never forget this past year you’ve been better to me than you should have. I wasn’t half as good to you as you were to me. You never did anything wrong to hurt me. But no I was to (sic) foolish, first ‘Mary’ then I didnt see you, or call you for a long time (you’ll never guess whats on the radio) There’s an arrow drawn here from the end of “radio” back up to the name “Mary.”

“But you are so great to me, that those things didn’t matter. (I guess to you they’re both like scars.) All that I can say is if I lost you now Id fall apart. I told you before Ill never hurt you again I’ve tried not to & Im gonna try harder not to. I’m not going to hurt you. Lets forget all our hard times Sunday and start (his “S” looks much like a “B” here…not sure why) new.

“Well Im gonna stop cause I (this “I” looks much like an arrow here…again, not sure why. My best guess is that his hand was getting tired because after the first two paragraphs he started skipping many apostrophes in his contractions as well) got to call you in about 20 min.

Love,

Bob”

Click on either page for the full-size version
There are two rather odd postscripts to this letter. Off to the left hand side and in a bubble of sorts is: “I got 10 finger-nails again.” This seems to be a point of pride for ol’ Bobby, I mean, why else would you mention something that fucking weird in a love letter? Was Carol appalled at his lack of 10 fingernails? Did she say something along the lines of “Call me when you have 10 fingernails again, you freak!?” The mind boggles at the possibilities…


Under that is something ever weirder, and this is where the sexual innuendo part kicks in. Taking up the last third of the yellowish stationary is a crude drawing of a gnome (I guess?) with long cap pulled down over his eyes. Over the gnome, written in rainbow fashion are the words: “BURT CAN’T SEE ANYTHING.” The name, “BURT,” is written along the brim of the gnome’s cap. To the right of Burt is written: “lets get lost on a country road with Burt.”

Now I could be entirely incorrect, but I’m guessing Bob named his penis “Burt” (why some men do this still confounds me to this day), and he’s implying that he and Miss Carol should forget their troubles and just go bang on a country road somewhere. The “let’s get lost” line is a pretty strong indicator to me that this is what he wanted, but it’s the gnome’s hat that seals the deal in my mind because it looks like the tip, or reservoir, of a condom. Take a look at it below and make up your own mind:


Since I came across this letter I’ve been rather curious as to how things turned out for Bob and Carol, and most of all why did Bob never bother to send it? I would think it has to do with the very last line in the letter when Bob writes that he will be calling Carol in “about 20 minutes.” My guess is that call either went really wrong or really right and there was no need to send the letter after that either way.

I’m a romantic at heart and I’d like to believe that the call went well then these two Northeast Philly kids (where I was born and raised, hence my heightened curiosity) went on to have a wonderful life together…regardless of Burt, Mary or the dire fingernail situation.

But who the hell knows, right??

The main reason I’m finally writing this post is to use the power of the internet and/or social media to find out what really happened with Bob and Carol. So, if you are reading this and would like to know more yourself, please share this anywhere and everywhere…especially if you live in the Philadelphia area. Let’s see if we can use this 21st century tech to track down these two, 60s love birds.

Here’s what’s known from the letter itself:
  •          It was written in the early to mid-60’s (the stamp seems to be from 1962-63 and the first Stones album was released in the U.S. May of 1964).
  •          It was written to Miss Carol Makers who lived at 2828 Sandyford Rd. Philadelphia, PA 19152.
  •          It appears that Bob’s last name is Martini and that he lived at 11606 Depue St. Philadelphia, PA 19116. If you look closely at the stationary in the pictures above, it has a name and address on it (Mrs. David Martini 11606 Depue St. Philadelphia, PA 19116) that is crossed out for some reason, so it may not be legit, but I’m guessing that ol’ Bob used  his Mom’s stationary and didn’t want Carol to know.
Alright internet sleuths get to sleuthing! You are all hereby deputized by me (hey, I do work for the cops now after all…), so let’s crack this!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

THE CALL OF THE FREAK

Oh, inside angel, always upset
Keeps on forgettin' that we ever met
Can I bring you out in the light
My curiosity's got me tonight

She's a lot like you
The dangerous type
Oh, she's a lot like you
Come on and hold me tight”

~ The Cars, “Dangerous Type”

In the past few months I’ve rejoined the dating world…and, truth be told, it hasn’t been fun. Nowhere near as fun as you imagine in those anger fueled fantasies during times of wedded strife. So, here’s a savvy tip from your ol’ Uncle Jer: try really, really hard to “love the one you’re with” as the old Stephen Stills song advises and stay the hell out of the sad, middle aged dating scene.

I honestly don’t remember women being so cautious and guarded during my last dating go ‘round almost 15 years ago. I know things have changed in 15 years, but they haven’t changed that much, have they?

Yup. This about sums it up.
It really and truly seemed to me that a good many ladies were just going through the motions – just dating because they had nothing better to do and think they should be dating. There was just too much passionless disinterest staring across at me from a good many café tables not to start wondering what the in the holy hell was going on here.

I’m entirely open to the fact that this general, feminine malaise could have been my fault. After all, it had been 15 years since my last date. My looks have changed, sure, but I wouldn’t consider myself an ugly old man at 44 by any means. Maybe I was doing something wrong? Maybe I was sending out some desperate asshole vibe or something? I’m not egotistical enough to think that I’m some sort of perfectly mannered Adonis, but I have no issues expressing myself and many people do find me witty and engaging, which can win the day in many dating/social situations.

So, I was at a loss and about to put things on pause for a while when about a month ago I met someone. Someone I could certainly see rebuilding my life with. There’s just one problem…

…she has no freak in her. Just trust me on this, she doesn’t. No, I’m not going into details because I’m not that kind of guy.

You just knew a picture of this super-freaky mofo was going to show up here, didn't you?
Most rational people would say that’s a damn good thing. But, no, not me. Older doesn’t necessarily equal wiser it seems. Jer likes the freak…and the freak likes Jer.

But the freak is dangerous. The freak will swallow your soul and gleefully ask for seconds while you wretchedly sob in the corner, looking for the shredded pieces of your life to cobble back together.

I know this danger full well because I’ve danced with the freak several times in my life…and you pay the fucking price when you boogie with the freak. My three longest relationships have all been with women who definitely had something of this freak in them. None of those relationships ended well. Gee, what a shock, right?

These unsettling thoughts have been rattling around my brain since this new woman left my bed late Sunday morning. I knew when I awoke that something was missing…it was my old friend the freak, of course. I know this unfulfilled feeling all too well because I have experienced it previously. It’s been some time, but I remember it well. In the mid to late 90’s I cast aside two fantastic girls (who both really seemed to dig me) because, well, try as though I may I just wasn’t that into them.

They lacked the freak and the freak in me knew it. End of story. Goodnight, ladies…don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

The pained expression on the girl's face here just says, "Yep, I'm totally doing this..."
There must be some sort of harmonic resonance between freaks, like humpback whales silently singing to one another, because when two like-minded freaks get together they can be scarily inseparable, and that co-dependence is typically the downfall of them both. They’ll destroy each other in the process of singing the freaky ballad that only their counterpart hears.

As I stated previously, I am 44-years-old. I want, no, I NEED a nice, normal relationship with a nice, normal woman. It seems I could have that here if I could get out of my own goddamn way and close off my ears to the siren’s song…

…but the call of the freak is hard to deny. I can hear it now, faintly...off in distance...and it's not coming from where I need it to be.

God help me it isn't.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chasing Ghosts

"Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home..."
Today I cleaned out the last of my things from my ex-house. In no way did I ever want it to be my ex-house…but that is out of my hands now.

I really enjoyed living there for the better part of 14 years. I enjoyed the tranquil neighborhood. I enjoyed the affable people. And most of all, I enjoyed raising a family there.

With little to no help, especially over the last few years there, I did everything I could to make that house a home; I made sure the kids were fed, the various animals were taken care of, the laundry was clean, the bills were paid and the homework was done. All of that is forgotten now…swept under the rug like so many dust mites.

“So it goes,” the late, great Kurt Vonnegut would have written.

So it goes indeed…

Let me tell you, it was quite the unsettling experience doing this today. It took me much longer than I anticipated because I was “chasing ghosts” around every corner. The kitchen retains the laughter of a lifetime. The dining room still smells of holiday meals and Christmas trees. The basement sustains memories of raucous parties, scary movies and video games galore. Even the goddamn stairwell floods me with recollections of the last words I ever said to a sweet, sweet girl.

Every nook and cranny of this place punches me in the gut and brings me to tears. Every nick in the paint or crack on the wall has a story to tell: The story of the family that no longer lives there. Their pictures still may be scattered about the place but, trust me, they’re all gone now…

…and not because I wanted them to be, or they really and truly needed to be.  

As hard as it is, it’s best to let all of this go now. For my own sanity’s sake I can chase these ghosts no longer.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lakefront Property?

Where I've lived for the past eight months or so has, by all practical accounts, a really spectacular view. Take a gander for yourself:

Beauty, eh?
The house sits right on the banks of a palatial, man-made lake. On pleasant days, rays of gorgeous sunlight bounce off said lake and stream through the windows into house. Ducks and geese float aimlessly to and fro; turtles poke their heads out from the depths below looking for a bite to eat. Basically, it's the tits.

Unfortunately, you can't do a goddamn thing with this lovely lagoon but look at it. I kid you not. I have proof of this ridiculous assholery below:

These two warning signs are literally about 40 yards away from one another. Why?
When I moved in it was the dead of winter, and the first thing I recall thinking upon seeing the lake was, "Ooooh, I'd love to play some pond hockey on that." When I saw the above signs, which are just about every-goddamn-place in the development, my adventurous, fun-loving heart sank.

The only reason I can think of as to why you cannot even stick your pinky toe in these precious waters is that the property managers and/or community association doesn't want to deal with any legal ramifications if/when someone's kid happens to scrape their knee on a rock while swimming in the lake. Ugh. Double ugh.

This kind of mealymouthed bullshit makes my head spin. What have we become as a people, as a country, when you can't even skip a rock a across a placid body of water (something I'm rather good at and would love to do on a sun-dappled day) because some fucking dipshit lawyer said you can't?

Well, at least you can look at it. But you'll have sign a waiver (in triplicate!) first...

Friday, July 10, 2015

BEER PARTY FOR TWO



During the summer of 1988, on the cusp of my senior year of high school, I decided I needed throw a no-hitter and/or perfect game in the Commodore 64 baseball game, Hardball! Essentially, I wanted to do this because I was rather lonely and awkward in high school after being very popular in grade school, and I needed something positive and/or winning to occupy my summer months.

I’ll be sharing excerpts on this blog from the journal I kept for each game I played. These entries have been edited and/or re-written a bit with some “adult” perspective and clarity. A few names have been changed here and there as well.


GAME 35 – AUGUST 18, 1988

What would a summer be with underage drinking shenanigans? It wouldn’t be much of a summer, truth be told…especially if you grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and attended  one of the many Catholic high schools in the area. Weekend keggers were a way of life all throughout the school year, but it was a way of life that I (mostly) had zero to do with. It just wasn’t my bag. I never understood the appeal of standing in the woods in the freezing cold just to drink shitty beer out of a plastic cup. And besides, I was rarely ever invited.

I had an on-again-off-again friend who lived just around the corner by the name of Mark Greenberg. Mark was a year older then me and could be a bit of a loner and loose cannon, hence why we were "on-again-off-again" friends. His parents and sister were down the shore for the week (in Wildwood, New Jersey…that hive of scum and villainy where most of NE Philly absconded to during the summer months), so he decided, in true “Risky Business” fashion, to throw a party.

If only it turned out like the infamous party Joel Goodsen threw in that classic, 80s flick. All teenage boys of that era dreamed about hosting a balls-to-the-wall bash of that magnitude. I mean, who wouldn’t want to party with the stunningly gorgeous Rebecca De Mornay and her hooker friends? As long as Guido the Killer Pimp didn’t make an appearance all would be well.

This “party” wasn’t that. At all. In fact, being chased by an irate pimp would have been more exciting on many levels. Since I had to work that night and ended up walking home, I didn’t make it to Mark’s house until a little after 10 PM…just when any good party should be morphing into the “baddest jam in the land” as Prince’s “Housequake” so aptly stated.

But, alas, Mark’s house was deader than Dillinger. The basement door was open and the faint sounds of a baseball game wafted out towards the street. As I glided closer to the door, the distinctive, familial banter of Harry Kalas and “Whitey” Ashburn was a welcome sound to my ears, as it typically was to all Phillies fans throughout the Delaware Valley.

"Hard to believe no one's here, Harry..."
The sounds of the game drew me through the door, down the narrow laundry room hallway and into the basement proper. There Mark sat all by his lonesome. The aforementioned Phillies game was playing on a small, 13” color TV against the far wall. There was an open cooler with a case of Budwiser cans (No keg?? Sacrilege!) bobbing about in the half melted ice. About five or six empty cans were littered about Mark on the couch.

“Hey man...join the party,” he slurred, waving towards the empty room.

I grabbed a beer out of the cooler and sat down on a chair adjacent to the couch.  “Who’s winning,” I asked. I cared about the game, even though the scuffling Phils were waaaaay out of contention by this point of the season, but this was more small talk until I could get to the bigger question of WHY THE FLYING FUCK WAS NO ONE ELSE HERE???

“Phillies are up one-nothing, but it’s only the second inning out in LA,” Mark said while polishing off another can.

He heaved the can across the room and it struck the far wall with weirdly muted metallic sound. I could tell he was super pissed that I was the only person who bothered to show up. I would have to pick my words carefully here. Mark could be volatile; this guy was well-known for pummeling dudes out on the ice during pick-up hockey games just for breathing on him wrong.

“So,” I began as I cracked my beer and took a healthy swig as if I did this every damn day of my life. It went down easy. Too easy. This could be the beginning of an interesting evening.

“Noah couldn’t make it?”

Noah was Mark’s best friend and a bit of a strange ranger in my books. I didn’t think there could be a guy more awkward and gawky than myself at age 17, but Noah was definitely that guy. At least I was coordinated and good at sports. I’ve always maintained that being sporty saved me from a good deal of ridicule and bullying growing up. Oh, you think it’s fucking stupid that I dig Dungeons & Dragons, video games and comic books? Well, let’s see what you think about that when I school your ass out on the court/field of your choice, motherfucker. I just rolled a natural 20. Kiss my ass. Twice, bitch.

Unfortunately, Noah was neither graceful nor athletically inclined. On top of that, he was just socially inept…constantly telling awkward, unfunny jokes and then laughing like a fool at said jokes. But I mean, realistically, who doesn’t want to party with a guy named Noah out of sheer curiosity? There could be full-blown ark shenanigans involved after all.

“He called,” Mark spat while fishing another can out of the cooler. “Said he wasn’t feeling well or some shit. I don’t know.”

“Well, looks like it’s just you and me then,” was my winning response.

Mark glared at me for a moment. I wasn’t real sure what was going to happen in that bone-chilling moment. I steeled myself for the worst…but then he raised his can in toast fashion, exclaiming: “Here’s to that then!”

We clinked cans and continued to watch a ballgame that was indicative of the Fightin’ Phils ‘88 campaign: Kevin Gross threw a complete game, striking out five Dodger assholes, but the Phils still managed to lose 2-1 basically because Ramon Martinez (older brother of Pedro) was the better hurler that night. And, oh yeah, the Phillies sucked. Real hard.

This line-up struck fear in to the hearts...of no one.
As the game ended, Mark flipped off the TV then staggered up the stairs with nary a word of goodbye. He had consumed a good 12 beers by the end of the game to my six, so I wasn’t all that offended by his lapse in end-of-evening etiquette. The time had come to go home and continue on my quest to beat that damn game into submission.

Luckily, my house was almost literally right in front of Mark’s on the neighboring street, so all I had to do was hop a couple fences and I was home. This return trip almost went off without a hitch, but my Jedi- like reflexes had to be brought to bear as I hopped the final fence which put me on the deck of the above ground pool in my yard. When I hit the deck after flipping over the rickety, wooden fence, I teetered a bit being somewhat drunk. My stumble-bum momentum would have carried me right into the pool, but I was able to reach out and steady myself on the pool’s ladder before I took the “Nestea Plunge.”

I quickly laughed this off and within moments I was back in the cool stillness of my basement lair – my inner sanctum. And with two quick motions, my C64 and disc drive were ready to rock. I typed LOAD “*”, 8, 1 without even looking down at the keyboard. Drunk or not, I could type in this command line with my eyes glued shut.

Soon the Hardball! load screen was in front of my face, mocking me once again. I cursed the names of the programmers and designers: Bob Whitehead…what a tool! Ed Bogas…he molests collies! Mimi Doggett…she’s a dirty ho and so is her momma!

I stared at this damn screen quite in a bit during my teenage years.
I cackled to myself as these silly insults ran through my mind, and in that moment I really wished I had the foresight to snag a road beer from the cooler before I left Mark’s house. Such is life…

As the torturously slow C64 loading process continued I wondered if Cara was home yet. I snuck a peek at the house neighboring mine out of the row of small windows above my computer desk. The light was still on above the Campozzi’s side door. That meant she was still out and about with whatever asshole that currently wasn’t me. And here it is past 1:30 AM on a Thursday night. What a naughty, naughty minx Cara was this evening. Again, not with me.

Finally, the game booted up and I got down to the brass tacks. I chose my red and white clad All-Stars, set my line-up the way I liked it and thus began the thirty-fifth game of my summer series.

Things were going very well right out of the gate. I crushed a three-run homer in the bottom of the first and was pitching lights out baseball. I was calling all the shots tonight, like a loaded gun…to paraphrase lyrics from Aerosmith’s awesome “Back in the Saddle.”  

But in the top of the sixth inning, the game cheated and that dickhead Hank Contos ruined the perfect game I had going with the dreaded “glitch” hit where the game suddenly sped up then slowed down, making the ball nigh impossible to get to before it dropped in for a hit.

I sat in muted silence for a moment with the joystick resting limply in my hands. “Fuck,” I exclaimed while reaching for the computer’s power switch.

“…you,” I finished as I clicked the switch off as forcefully as I could without busting the machine itself.

I went to bed. There was nothing else to do at that point. The damn game had bested me yet again.

I went to sleep that night with flights of Anheuser Busch angels singing me to my rest. I dreamt that Clydesdale horses were dressed in Phillies pinstripes, taking the places of Juan Samuel, Chris James and Darren Daulton out on the diamond.

Don't drink this. Ever. Just say no, kids.
I didn’t know horses could play baseball, but they looked like goddamn equine all-stars in my dream. It was like something out of an old-school, Merrie Melodies cartoon come to life in my alcohol addled brain. It was funny, sure, but oddly off-putting all the same.

I awoke the next morning with a very dry mouth, a throbbing skull and the distinct thought that the vile swill that flows in vast rivers from the factories in St. Louis, Missouri was the piss of Satan himself…

…and I never wanted to partake in it again.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

OKLAHOMA LILY and the T-VIRUS


About 14 years ago, a long forgotten screenplay I wrote won an award at some podunk film festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so I got a free trip to the Sooner State.  Yee-fucking-ha.
I forget the name of the award even. Doesn’t really matter at this stage of the game, does it? What does matter is the story I’m about to tell you, the girl (and the game) this story is about.
The film festival itself was a sham…a goddamn joke, really. That’s how I wound up in a Pizza Hut, nursing a crippling hangover the day after I arrived. The night of my arrival in Tulsa, I drank myself into near oblivion while playing “Resident Evil: Code Veronica” in my hotel room because I realized (straight away at the opening “reception”) that attending this festival was going to be an utter waste of my time. But in this run-of-the-mill Tulsa Pizza Hut was where I met her: Oklahoma Lily.
I’ve had two “traditional” one-night-stands in my life. As I see it, there are four reasons for this: 
1. It’s just not my bag. Call me kooky, but I honestly prefer relationships to random, sport sex.
2. I have no pick-up game and/or strategy when it comes to meeting ladies. My philosophy has always been: If it happens, it happens. I refuse to bother a woman with some bullshit line or whatever. That kind of approach always seemed annoying and idiotically obvious to me.
3. The women who typically dig me aren’t really the one-night-stand-type. They are the cute, smart ones who wear no makeup, trendy eyeglasses, and work at Barnes and Noble while getting their Master’s degree in 12thcentury literature written by roving bands of Germanic skull-fuckers. 
4. I’m not very lucky, and luck seems to play a large part in the whole one-night-stand racket.
But…I was rather lucky on this day, to be sitting in this particular Pizza Hut that was tucked away in dusty corner of “T-Town” because Oklahoma Lily was there. Lily was a waitress, and to borrow a line from a really fantastic Prince song about a waitress: she was a dishwater blonde, tall and fine…she got a lot of tips.

This song rules. Period.
I don’t recall what I ate (I’ll go out on a limb and assume it was pizza of some sort), nor do I recall being particularly flirty or chatty with Lily as she took my order and served me. I was licking my wounds and cursing the gods on high for leading me to Tulsa in pursuit of my writing/filmmaking dreams, so I wasn’t really in the mood to play Prince Charming. What I do remember is when I went to the register to pay she asked me what I was doing in Tulsa. I told her that was a guest at a film festival that was being held at the community college, and I offhandedly added that she should stop by later if she was interested.  I said this as more of a courtesy than anything else. Lily handed me my receipt while nodding in the affirmative.
“Maybe…maybe I will,” she said with a charming Southern drawl accenting her words.
With that, I beat a hasty retreat back to the community college to pretend like I was having something akin to a good time. I thought nothing more of Lily…until she appeared at the festival 45 minutes later looking absolutely adorable.
I’m still not sure how she did it. She must have been a long lost cousin of Superman or The Flash because they’re the only people I’ve even seen do a more thorough quick-change in a that short a time span. Yes, I know that Superman and The Flash aren’t real, but characters in comics and films count, goddamn it. Regardless, Lily went home, got a shower, threw on some make-up, changed into a flowery, form-fitting sundress, and drove back to the campus in approximately 45 minutes. It seems implausible, but she did it.
My eyes fell on her immediately as I was coming out of an inane interview I got roped into for a local TV station. She shyly waved to me in that awkward way that told me she really wasn’t sure what the hell she was doing here. As soon as I saw her do that, I knew it was GAME ON.  
“Wow…don’t you clean up nice,” I idiotically uttered; almost cringing as the words tumbled out of my idiot mouth which should have been sewn shut at birth to avoid verbal atrocities such as these. Cassa-fucking-nova himself has nothing on my silky smooth moves, I tell ya.
To Lily’s credit she didn’t laugh, or run away in terror or anything like that. She just smiled back at me readily as if to say, “Yep. Have at it, big boy.” Game on indeed…
We decided to take in a couple of the films at the festival then she would show me around town. One of the films we watched, directed by a squirrely dude out of Vegas, was very good. The other, directed by a douchey stiff from Chicago, was a piece of shit. So it goes.
We tooled around Tulsa in Lily’s white Pontiac Grand Prix, talking all the while. Unabashedly, she had god-awful country music on the radio; a fact that I, unabashedly, ridiculed her for. She took my jibes in stride, asking where I was from. “The great, fighting city of Philadelphia,” I bellowed like the over-blown, mustachioed ring announcer I am in my mind. She just rolled her blue-grey eyes at me, and took to calling me “Philly” for the rest of the time we were together. I didn’t mind one little bit…this fascinating creature could call me whatever the hell she pleased.

Should have been better...
My first taste of true Southern BBQ was a bit of letdown, truth be told. Lily and I stopped at place called Mahylon’s for a bite to eat on our trek through the rather cool little burg. Mahylon’s was highly recommended to me by a woman I met on the flight down to Tulsa. She raved about the place, and I’m not sure why really; the food was OK, but nothing to rave about. I didn’t care all that much at the time because I was learning more about Lily. She was 24, going to school part-time, and was a divorcee. She was married at the tender age of 16 which blew my mind. I couldn’t fathom going to the fucking prom with your husband, or discussing asinine homework issues with your wife. Upon sharing my thoughts on her teenage marriage, Lily gave me an “aww shucks” shrug of her shoulders and said: “Yeah, it kinda sucked. The sex was fun for a while though.”  
The next stop on the Magical Mystery Tour of Tulsa was, unsurprisingly, a pool hall. It wasn’t something out of the movie “Roadhouse,” but it wasn’t all that far from that beer-and-blood stained cliché either. As we were entering the establishment the bouncer at the door checked our ID’s. I stole a quick glance at her Oklahoma driver’s license as she handed it to the behemoth guarding the entryway to this billiards palace, noticing that lovely Lily lied to me about her age. She was 19…and only just; about nine years my junior.
While we played, this new knowledge of Lily being a little too close to jailbait age for my comfort weighed heavily on my mind. Nothing untoward had happened yet. We drove around, shared a meal, and had a few laughs. It could certainly end there if I wanted it to. But did I want it to end? I was pretty damn sure that she didn’t. The story about her teenage marriage during dinner made more sense to me now. I surmised that she was freshly divorced from the high school husband, and this whole evening with me was her cutting loose and letting her freak flag fly a bit. Who was I to rain on that parade?
As that though crossed my addled mind, Lily leaned over directly in front of me to line up a long, across-the-table shot. Her already criminally short sundress rode up a bit, revealing the cutest ass I had ever seen…which was only held in check by a silky, red thong. One of the quasi-redneck guys playing on the table next to us noticed this sexy, little maneuver as well. He nodded then gave me a robust thumbs up.

No, this night was definitely not ending here.

Later, back in my shitbox of a hotel room, I sat on the edge of the bed, sipping a beer that I didn’t manage to consume in my perturbed state the night before.  Lily was standing in front of the TV, kind of playfully swaying back and forth. She pointed at the Sega Dreamcast that made the trip with me to Tusla because that’s how I roll, mofo.

“What’s that,” Lily queried.

“It’s a Dreamcast. It’s a video game system.”

“Why does it have that squiggle on it?”

“Because some guy was paid lots of money to come up with it and put it there,” I replied matter-of-factly.

“Maybe a woman came up with it? It looks like something a woman would come up with,” she insightfully remarked as she ran her index finger over the Dreamcast’s iconic red “squiggle.”

“Maybe…I’m not really sure…”

“Can we play something on it?”

“Sure,” I quickly said as I stood up, now directly in front of her, I partook of her honeyed aroma. The scent was glorious…I wanted more. I wanted anything and everything this girl had to offer.
I placed my beer on top of the TV. I asked if I could kiss her. She responded without any words; her reply was to place her delicate lips over mine. The saccharine taste of those lips bested her scent by the power of ten.
Our kiss lingered and our tongues danced for a few, blistering moments before she coyly pulled away, nodding toward the Dreamcast.

“Let’s play for a bit,” she cooed.

“Sure thing,” I whispered while hitting the POWER button the Dreamcast. It fired up, and quickly loaded the “Resident Evil” game I was playing the night before.

“Oooh, what’s this about?”

“Killing asshole zombies mostly.”

“Sounds pretty cool.”

“It is,” I said while handing her a controller.

So we played for next couple hours, taking turns controlling S.T.A.R.S. agents Claire and Chris Redfield, killing asshole zombies, laughing, talking, and playfully touching the whole while. We called it quits after the Leonardo DiCaprio wannabe, Steve Burnside, becomes a crazy, ax-wielding lizard man after getting injected with the T-virus. The gaming portion of our evening had officially ended. The making out portion had re-commenced with a frenzied, full-bodied passion…and that was damn good.

Hi...my name is Steve. I like long walks on the beach and ingesting small rodents.
 It is in no way my style to kiss-and-tell. I’m not getting into the garish details of who did what to whom and all that. Quite frankly, there’s not that much to tell in that department. The sex was just OK. It was two people (and one, from what I can surmise, was relatively inexperienced) who really knew little about each other and each other’s bodies. There was an awkward eagerness to that whole affair that was white-fucking-hot, but yeah, as far as the mechanics went it could have been better. We both get an “A” for effort, but a “C” for execution. Maybe a “D” from that shitty, Russian judge.
                The next day at the festival went much better. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a massive waste of my time, but my mood was much improved. Go figure. As she was leaving in the morning, Lily said she would swing by after work that day. Obviously, I looked forward to seeing her again…but the festival ended and she never showed. So it goes.
                As I ambled back to my hotel room which was across the road from the community college, I was startled by a shrill car horn from what sounded like right behind me. Pivoting quickly, I saw Lily’s Grand Prix gliding across the vast parking lot. She stopped next me, beaming as she rolled down her window.

“Didn’t think I was coming, didja,” she playfully asked.

“I must admit, I did not.”

“Well, here I am…”
               
Indeed. Here she was. And now that she was here, I wasn’t sure what to do with her. I had grand plans of another spirited romp through Orgasms-R-Us, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Was ours a love that was more than love, I and my Oklahoma Lily? Or were we just two people who offered each other a friendly port in the rather boring storm that is life in Tulsa, and wound up playing video games and boning a couple times in a run-down motel room? It sure seemed more like the latter now that she was here with me again, so I stalled and made small talk for few, dragging minutes.
Finally, Lily leaned out of her driver’s side window. We shared a brief kiss, and she muttered as I was pulling away: “What was the name of that game again?”

“Resident Evil: Code Veronica,” I answered, wondering where this was heading.

“I think I’m gonna hafta pick that up sometime. Can’t let that damn T-virus spread any further, ya know.”

“No, you can’t,” I laughed.

“See you around sometime, Philly.”

She hit the gas, driving off into the burnt orange, red, and yellow kaleidoscope that illuminated the Oklahoma sky on that late March evening.

I never saw Lily again.

But I’ve thought of her.


Often.