Monday, December 01, 2008

Hunting For Buster

From halfway across the yard at TDC Uncle Buster hollered "we're headed out to hunt - do you want to go?" I responded in the only way one can in that situation (if one wants to be invited back) which is to look away like you don't really care, spit, scratch around the crotch-al region a bit, mumble "I reckon", then make sure you beat him to his house to load up your gear first so you don't get accidentally left.

There is also the question of funds to consider. LAST time I went hunting with him I was swaying in the breeze 15 feet up a tree half-in, half-out of a stand when, from the comfort of his four-wheel-drive golf cart Uncle Buster announced: "Ok, good luck. Oh - also - if you shoot something big its going to cost you $975."

Based on that new information - as soon as Uncle Buster was out of sight I unloaded my gun and left it on the ground to avoid temptation; then I spent the evening watching a monster 8-pt with a 20" inside spread gently hump the first 2 steps up to my stand. All I could think is: that's $121.87 per point.

After awhile I noticed through my binoculars that, at 8x, the coal black eye of a monster buck standing directly underneath you looks extremely malevolent. When the sun set that fact, compounded with my already profound fear of the dark, AND my recent viewing of Pet Sematery I made me extremely scared - enough so that someone eventually had to come find me with a flashlight and help me get down. In the process I managed to step on my favorite rifle which, in my excitement, I had forgotten was still on the ground.

After a great deal of introspection on the way home, what I ultimately realized is that my purpose on that occasion was not to hunt FOR ME or WITH Uncle Buster - it was to hunt FOR Uncle Buster. He wanted to sit on BOTH stands himself, but hadn't figured out an effective way to do that yet with current technology, so he was willing to settle for two pairs of eyes and just one gun (his). Either way he would get most of the benefit of having hunted both locations at once with very little downside at all. A brilliant plan.

Ever hopeful, this week I thought "perhaps this time I am hunting for ME!" and I hopped up into the truck. A short 30 minutes later we arrived at our location. Uncle Buster let me out on a dirt road, indicated a general direction, and said "go that way, then after dark - come back this way." I prepared to do so, but this time, with my prior experience firmly in mind, I first asked: "how much is this going to cost me?"

"Shut up" he said.

"Ok" I said.

When the cloud of dust from his 200 horsepower golf cart subsided - I unloaded my gun and checked to make sure my flashlight battery was dead. It was, so I left my gun on the ground and clambered up into my stand with my binoculars.

When you're deer hunting - two pairs of eyes are better than one.

A Strong Seat on the Matter

Thanksgiving, and the vast quantities of food it entails, exacts a heavy toll on my delicate psyche. At some point during the week I generally feel it necessary to escape the gluttonous fetters that keep me tethered within a 20ft striking range of the kitchen and actually DO something productive.

Ordinarily I’d run off to TDC for a few days of laying around in front of the fire while slowly weaning myself off of Thanksgiving leftovers, but this year the weather was so miserable I decided to remain at home. Instead of going hunting on Saturday I did the unthinkable and I actually went shopping. I, James G Ewing Jr., loaded myself into the truck, alone, and alone I essayed forth into the wilds of post-Thanksgiving shopper-zombie-hell.

Actually, I stopped off at my local federal firearms-licensed gun broker and bought a new rifle, THEN I went shopping. That’s not terribly important though; except to explain why there was a shiny new rifle laying across the front seat of my truck when I pulled up outside Joseph A. Banks (clothiers) a scant 30 minutes later. If you weren’t there you wouldn’t have noticed, but if you were: that’s why.

Now you know and you can quit interrupting.

I made myself a parking spot very near the front of that fine establishment, walked in the door, and immediately noticed two things that are salient to this conversation
1. EVERYTHING was on sale.
2. Two extremely well-dressed, extremely gay, gentlemen were making cooing sounds of delight while floating rapidly across the store in my direction.

I ended up spending roughly $351.97 more than I had originally intended ($99) in order to save approximately $898 off of quoted retail prices; a fact rapidly brought to my attention by the cheeky cashier whose smile quickly faded when I upended my empty wallet, shook it vigorously in his face, and asked him if he would “kindly bend over and pick up my $898”. Generally, I’ve found any retail conversation I start by suggesting that the other party “bend over” doesn’t go well by the standards of polite society, but this time it was worth a cool $898 if you ask me. I can’t help it if every cashier in North American thinks I’m The Un-funny.

I know certain of you can sympathize with my post-purchase cognitive dissonance; but this story really isn’t about shopping - it’s about appropriate personal interaction with strangers; to which end - please allow me to transport you to the fitting room….

It was brought to my attention recently by a certain female that “pleated-front pants” were somewhat out of vogue for men under 50 – a fact that had escaped my attention thus far; evidenced by the preponderance of pleated-front pants inhabiting my closet. So, in good faith I loaded up gay salesman #1 with a stack of high-quality wool plain-front pants, slipped a pair on in the dressing room, and marched back out for a viewing.

So, now I’m standing in the center of the store in thin wool dress pants, cowboy boots, a white t-shirt, and a camo hat; twirling around in front of a three-sided-mirror-thing surrounded by sales staff and one little Vietnamese guy who grew up out of the floor somewhere with a cloth tape wrapped around his neck and pins stuck in all his lapels; and I’m trying my best to get a good viewing angle on my backyard which, with that many people standing in my immediate personal space, ain’t easy. To make things even more difficult - the little Vietnamese clothing genii is unaccountably swiping at my crotch with a tiny bar of soap while spouting off clothing jokes in quick succession; so between slapping at his hands and twisting this-way-and-that; my natural good humor is rapidly wearing thin.

I finally managed to achieve line-of-sight on my rump and crotch at once only to conclude that what gay salesman #2 described as “a wee bit tight up front” actually looks more like a meatpacking accident during an executive tour of the plant.

Quick switch of trouser.

More plain-fronts (next size up) appear draped around the neck of gay salesman #1.

Everyone appears sweaty for some reason - which makes me sweaty - so now my plain-fronts are sticking to my plain-rump and - even worse - the backs of my knees (which makes me feel vaguely suicidal).

I power through a quick change-out and, finally, a pair fits in the waist. I can breathe again - so I’m happy.

Silence abounds.

Crickets chirp.

Then, in a very soothing voice, gay salesman #2 pipes up: “perhaps we should go to a pleated front….they’re better for someone with a strong seat and powerful thighs.”

All I’m saying is: you don’t have to hurt my feelings to sell me pleated pants.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Brief Lesson in Supply and Demand

I’m vaguely disturbed at the current discrepancy between actual demanded volume of gasoline in the metro Atlanta area and actual gasoline supply.

I say “vaguely” disturbed because, to be honest with you I hadn’t noticed it until today. I filled up in Macon on Sunday, and I haven’t thought about it since. Gasoline BELONGS to be inside gas station pumps – its where gasoline lives. The thought that I might go to a gasoline store intending to buy gasoline – and find NO GASOLINE never even crossed my mind. When I need gasoline – I drive to the pump, stick a little plastic thingy in a slot, type in my zip code, pump the gasoline, then I drive off.

I don’t even have to PAY for anything.

What in the world could make it so that I can’t do that anymore? I ask you!!?!?!

I ask you because: I don’t know.

I don’t read the paper or watch the news. I rely on other people to tell me important things and I do that on purpose for two main reasons:
1. I hate the news, newspapers, weather, weather people, reporters, special reports, breaking news stories, stories, and people on tv, in general.
2. By not watching the news; when something big DOES happen - the first person to tell me about it gets a wonderfully satisfying response. I go “WHAT?!!” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! And they feel satisfied all day long. It’s a little public service I provide. Have some news? Break it to ME – I promise I don’t already know.

When my work friends walked in yesterday complaining about not being able to find any gasoline I said “well, did you try the gas station?” Turns out: they had.

I ultimately have come to the following theoretical conclusion: someone ELSE bought up all the gas. They are sitting (right now) on a giant lake of my personal gasoline.

I want it back; and I want it at $0.79 per gallon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Price of Vanity

I like to linger luxuriously in the bathroom in the morning. Its true - I've come to terms with it. There aren't that many opportunities in life to hang around mostly nekkid, so I take advantage of it. Its a little "me" time, if you will.

Actually, its usually a little "Me AND Bud" time because ordinarily by the time I get to the bathroom he's already in there (nekkd) brushing his teeth. But hey, thats ok - we have two sinks, so nobody's nekkid space gets invaded.

I woke up this morning, yawned, stretched, and gently scratched my hairy chest. I relaxed for a second while I wondered where I was. I remembered the night before, then looked at the clock; it said time to get up, so I walked across the hotel room floor into the bathroom of my suite.

When I got to the bathroom I looked in the mirror and yawned; admired my collection of freckles for a second or two then, still looking at myself in the mirror, I reached my right hand up into my doc kit and rummadged around until I found my toothpaste tube

I craned my neck back to get a better look at my tonsils while I squeezed a very large glob of paste out on my toothbrush by feel - hey, its hotel toothpaste so I can be wasteful, right?

Satisfied with the paste quantity, I leaned back, cracked two of my toes, stretched again, then started to put my toothbrust in my mouth; but I realized something - I had forgotten to wet the boothbrush. So, I leaned around and cracekd my neck while I turned the faucet on and wet my toothbrush; then I opened both eyes wide to check for eye boogers while I began brushing my teeth.

About 15 seconds into my brushing routine I realized something was wrong.

At about 18 seconds I realized something was very, very wrong.

And at 20 seconds I knew exactly what was wrong: I was brushing my teeth with Preparation H.

Thats the price of vanity.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Brief Word on The Truth

Several years ago I became quite enamored of a lovely young woman. We met briefly at church (neither of us were drinking) and we hit it off.

Well, I hit it off - she found me mildly irritating enough to go out with (once).

Naturally, when I managed to determine her name I did the only thing a normal red-blooded American man could do: I “Googled” her; and I mean I really Googled her. I Googled so effectively that I hit the veritable pot of gold at the end of the Googlestalking rainbow: Yes, I located her online photo album.

That’s right gentlemen. Jackpot.

From then until our first date she was googled daily by me, my friends, family, the postman - anyone who would loiter by an internet connection long enough for me to dump in my Yahoo! password and pull up that glorious online album.

My friends and I analyzed angles, pieced together family ties, reviewed her friends, and generally memorized those photos as if they were our own.

I had done my homework. I was ready for that first date.

Mid-way through dinner (which was going swimmingly, I might add) she leaned in coquettishly and breathed: “Oh? You want to see my dog? Well, you should check out my Yahoo! Photo album!! Have you seen it?”

As I’m sure you guessed: NO, I didn’t want to see the dog at all; and YES, I HAD seen the photo album, but what to do?

Does the Bible REALLY mean “thou shalt not EVER lie?” EVER? Or is it more like “Thou shalt GENERALLY not lie unless she catches you?”

I sensed the trap, but the innocently furrowed brow shading sky blue eyes lulled me into a false sense of security in my own ingenuity.

In short: I underestimated my fierce opponent - feminine wiles; and gentlemen: I lied.

Had I known that Yahoo! tracks photo album login attempts, reporting them to the album owner daily; I may have been more circumspect in my pursuit of the truth.

Grandkid Trip 2008

Some weeks ago I initiated the Official 2008 Grandkid Trip Plan with the email below:


Dear Fellow Tier 1 and Tier 2 Grandkids, assorted Aunts and Uncles, and Tier 3 cousins:

As the President and CEO of Grandkid Trip Planning, Inc. it is my great pleasure to inform you that 08 Annual Grandkid Trip planning efforts are currently underway. Due to recent economic fluctuations, the overall state of the economy, rising oil prices, and the sad fact that I entirely depleted my own personal funds early in the year; Grandkid Trip ’07, though seriously considered, never came to fruition.

Please accept my sincerest apologies for such an embarrassing dereliction of duty and allow me to affirm my solemn vow that there shall never again be a year devoid of Grandkid Trip hilarity.


Grandkid Trip ’08 will take place on the glorious Island of Anegada in either Mid-December 2008, or early January 2009 – pending further investigation. See the links below for the two hotels on the island and general information:

Neptune’s Treasure Hotel

Anegada Reef Hotel

General Info

I estimate total travel, room, and board costs should top approximately $1,000 per person as follows:

Plane Tickets $500
Ferry $100
Hotel $400
Total $1,000

Food and beverage consumption will vary based on your personal consumption habits. Before you go bananas and respond with vicious cost-conscious emails, please read the “COST DISCLAIMER” below.

I am aware that this is slightly higher than previous Grandkid Trips, but as each of you are able-bodied enough to obtain a weekend job if necessary (and have nearly 6 months to obtain the required funds) I don’t want to hear your whining. You do NOT want to be like Daniel and Shannon (boooo hisssssss) and forever regret missing The First Annual Grandkid Trip - the sadness has marked them for eternity. I also recommend each of you take a moment to address a support letter to each of your parents and follow it, weekly, with a modicum of begging and pleading for funds.

This email will be followed by an official “Evite” containing further details, cost updates, and definite trip dates as soon as possible.


Baby Jimmy

President and CEO - Grandkid Trip Planning, Inc., Representing:

Tier 1 Grandkids
Seth Slocumb
Jimmy “Baby Jimmy” Ewing
Maggie Slocumb
Ashley Slocumb
Margaret “Spike” Ewing
Beau Slocumb

Tier 2 Grandkids
Shannon Slocumb
George Ewing
Daniel Slocumb
Natalie Slocumb
Rob Slocumb
Thomas Slocumb
Austin “Squishy” Slocumb

CC: Tier 3 Cousins and Other Interested Parties
Jim “Big Jimmy” Ewing, Sr.
John T. Slocumb, MD
Sherry Slocumb
Eric Floss
Weesie Floss
Sarah Dozier
Martin Dozier
Charlotte Jimmy Ewing
Beth Ewing
William Slocumb
Paige “Bahki” Slocumb
Emily A. Jones


So, that's my email, but my favorite part is the email I received from my Uncle Robert several days later when he realized I had (inadvertently) left him off the original email. Please see below:

Pot Pot Face:

Where in the HELL is MY name ? It’s too late now, but I should have been the first one in "Tier One"! I guess my wife is cooler and more hip than I am (even though she only made "Tier Three"). May the fleas of 1000 camels infest your nasty butt!!


Uncle (maybe ex-uncle) Robert


And THAT, my friends, is why you wish you could come with us.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Dating Regression

An email from my good friend Bobby popped up the other day around lunchtime with the subject line "hey tell me what you think about this" and a "fwd" header.

Intrigued, I opened it up and found a very brief explanation followed by a forwarded email from a woman (who I didn't know) preceeded by a (somewhat flowery) email from Tommy to the young woman. Below that, the question from Bobby directed at me (in bold) was: "Well, what do you think this means? I think I'm in good shape, don't you?"

I quickly read through the chain of correspondence and determined that he had attempted to "sling some game" in her general direction via email. She responded to a very polite and chivalrous dinner invitation with a terse, delayed, "lets meet for coffee" email and only a passing jab at an apology for the delay.

That. my friends, is the Shaft-O-Matic.

Naurally, I wanted to be the one to let him down easy; so I said (gently): "Bobby, she hates you" and followed with the comments below. I thought you, gentle reader, may appreciate the following show of depth and character:


I recommend the following general, non-specific advice to anyone in your position. Bear in mind some of this does not apply to you, but I went ahead and threw it all in for good measure:

Just meet the girl for coffee. Don't talk about anything serious, how you feel about her, dating, or anything like that. Keep it light and be funny. Don't talk politics, don't mention your shrink, don't share your thoughts on abortion, Obama, Osama, Hillary, Florida football, female softball players, ethnic groups, the NRA, liberals, or public pools. And please, please, PLEASE do NOT mention that buying feed for the cows you keep in your backyard is one of your highest monthly expenses.

Anytime you talk about YOU for more than 30 seconds you're already screwing up. You'll have to share stuff about you, but keep it brief. At the same time - don't pepper her with questions about HER; just follow whatever rabbit trail she lays down and be ready to suggest your own if she falters.

If you get in a jam, remember: everybody loves the Olympics, panda bears, great restaurants, funny stories, and John F. Kennedy. "Hey, did you hear about John F. Kennedy's pet Panda Bear choking to death on water chestnuts during the olympic opening ceremonies" is no good though; its too elaborate. If you must fabricate a news story to keep the ball rolling - mind the two rules of thumb: keep it simple and don't kill off any endangered species.

DO - open the door, pay, and MOST IMPORTANTLY: be the one to suggest you leave shortly after coffee is over.

DON'T loiter and give her the opportunity to say "hey ok....well.....I gotta go....."

If she starts playing with her her keys, fiddling with her phone, or looks around for her purse - shout "Oh MAN!!! I gotta meet so and so for such and such - so we better go!!!" as fast as you can blurt it out, then seek shelter.

DON'T hang by her car, park near her, or walk her to it. Let the door be the bifurcation in your parting.

Afterwards, a great thing to do is: DON'T email her! Then another great thing to do is.....DON'T DO ANYTHING INVOLVING THE INTERNET OR EMAILING HER. Instead: wait and see what happens.

If she later emails to say 'hey I had fun at coffee; we should do it again sometime!' say, "hey that's a great idea - when are you free next week?"

It is important you memorize that line. NEVER suggest a firm day immediately, because if she's NOT free that day you'll have to say "what about Friday" and it looks like you're a complete loser and have nothing to do.

If you blow it like a big dummy and follow with "what about Friday" like I just told you not to, and you get lucky and she says "yeah Friday works" you can recover with "NO, wait! I forgot I'm busy Friday" and then say "ok this is ridiculous!! What works for you other than Friday?"

If she says no to Friday you're in complete loser territory; thats two no's in a row - get out immediately.

If she says "thanks for coffee I had fun", or she says nothing at all; you're done - move on. Don't be the guy who can't take a hint.

In the even of a misfire (click! - no "boom!") - make sure youre always happy and smile alot anytime shes around. Talk to lots of people and be friendly, acknowledge her and be friendly to her, but let her see that you didn't care. You can still turn a "misfire" into a "hang-fire" (click!! POP!!! wait for it...wait for it.......BOOOMMMM!!!) if you're lucky.

If you do as I say - your kindness will be a splinter in her mind. She'll hate it, and despise you so efficiently that she might just come full circle. Remember - women are perverse. They only like you if you're not interested.

But like I said: you should definitely go to coffee.


Jimmy The Love Stallion

aka "LoveMonster"

aka "Lonesome Dove"

aka "Take what I can get"

aka "Please Don't Leave Me"

aka "Homeschool"

A Commitment to Good Health

I believe that paying for a gym membership on a monthly basis is the cornerstone of good health. I haven’t actually BEEN to the gym in several years, but just knowing that I could (if I wanted) go sweat my face off with 20 strangers is enough for me. I may not ever go, but I definitely pay for it once a month – and that’s inexpensive peace of mind if you ask me. I consider it part of my general life-long commitment to good health.

I have no excuse for avoiding it other than that I HATE working out; plus something inside me rebels against the idea of running in place. It makes me feel like a big sweaty, hairy, hamster on a giant mechanized hamster wheel – and I don’t like that. At no point in my life do I want to feel that I have something in common with a tailless rodent. I also hate running, in general. In fact, if you see me running down the street – shoot whoever is right behind me. I’m running FROM him, not WITH him.

I’m sure you see my dilemma.

It’s not like there are hungry lions lurking in the neighborhood. If I need to get in great shape in case I feel predatory eyes trained on me out by the garbage cans – I believe I’ll learn to love running. The fact is - I don’t need to be in great shape to do what I do. In fact, I could spend 90% of my day tethered to a mule and it wouldn’t seriously cramp my style.

Certain people in my life don’t understand that. These certain people seem to feel that gym membership alone isn’t enough. Apparently, there is a widely-held misconception in the world that suggests gym ATTENDANCE is the heart of the matter.

It’s a tough argument and honestly, I don’t have a great excuse. I JUST DON’T LIKE IT and, consistent with my habit of not doing things I don’t want to do - I don’t work out.

My roommate, Austin K. Lee, has a medical condition wherein his entire body breaks out into angry hives if his heart climbs 10% over its resting rate. The man is, literally, allergic to hard work. I wish I had that problem, but I don’t. “Hey I WOULD work out, but I blow up like a big, puffy, red, hairy balloon if I get sweaty” is a much more compelling argument than “nahhhh, I don’t like it.”

Much to my chagrin, my girlfriend, Jessica, compelled me to actually ATTEND a boot camp-type gym class on Monday morning.

I didn’t break into hives....but now I can’t walk.

I guess I showed her!

I woke up at 3am on Monday morning and I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I did what I normally do when I can’t sleep - I snuck into each of my roommates rooms and tiptoed around their beds once to see how sneaky I can be (very sneaky), then I sat on the edge of my bed and tried to fast forward through all my Tivo’d hunting shows. I can’t delete a show unless I watch a little bit of it, so I’m on a constant campaign to get my Tivo memory down to zero. Then, I lay on my back and watched my ceiling fan for a little while until I got dizzy. After that I got up, dressed in workout attire, and headed out.

I arrived early and stood around in the parking lot for a little while watching cars go by until burly women in weightlifting gloves started pulling up. I picked a particularly mannish patron, followed her in the door for protection from flying medicine balls, and started warming up.

My warm-up routine involves shooting the breeze with the gym owner for a few minutes, getting a cup of water, going to the bathroom and smelling the weird air freshener, then standing in a prominent position in front of the mirror sucking my gut in for a little while. I concentrate on looking tough (which is hard to do with so many freckles) - so I end up with a sort of snarling grimace on my face.

When my warm-up routine is over the “class” starts and we end up basically running around a lot with weights, laying around on the floor a lot with weights, and rolling around on a big rubber ball a lot…also with weights. Ordinarily someone sweats on me, someone else smells really weird and gets too close to me, someone else surpasses me at some feat of strength, and finally weird/smellly accidentally touches me and I'm halfway home before the trainer knows I'm gone: usually in that order.

So, we kick that process off at about 6:40. 9 minutes later I’m 50% of the way through 100 jumping-rope-jumps (I can’t get a streak of more than about 4 in a row so it takes a while) when our trainer walks over, looks at the gigantic woman next to me, then back at me, and says “hey you look like you’re in reasonable shape. I’ve got a challenge for you.”

Well, that already doesn’t sound good to me at all, but the big lady next to me was huffing like a blue whale and she looked so grateful at the chance to catch her breath that I figured I’d draw it out a little. So, I asked him what exactly he meant, and how much challenge did he think was appropriate for 6:42AM on a Monday? I meant it rhetorically as a conversation starter, but he promptly snatched away the 45lb barbell I had forgotten to take it down from over my head, pointed at an 10ft long PVC pipe, and said “give that bad boy a try.”

I immediately think slyly to myself: "This guy ain’t real sharp. Here I am holding 45lbs of steel over my head like a prison camp intern and he wants to 'challenge' me with 4lbs of PVC." Naturally, I’ll take him up on his offer – you know?

First – a little bit about the gym. It's not more than 22 feet across. A 225lb sweaty guy stumbling around in the middle of it with an 10ft 4” diameter PVC pipe over his shoulders is what some insurance companies might call “a hazardous situation”, but I figured if the TRAINER told me to do it – it was fine.

So, I lifted all 4lbs of PVC over my head…….and immediately fell over. He neglected to mention that it was 50% full of water "for balancing". He grins. I feel stupid from down on the floor, which is where I often feel stupid.

At exactly that point; as I'm struggling back to my feet holding 10 feet of white plastic-filled water-torture across my shoulders in a melee of huffing, jogging, early-morning workout-people: weird/smelly brushes against me and I'm out the door before that PVC hit the ground.

I would go back, but going to the gym makes me not able to walk.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daily Correspondence

I thought you might enjoy a brief glimpse into my daily correspondence. See below for a recent thread between me and my good friend and associate, Emily Jones, discussing a mutual friend of ours:

From: Emily Jones
Well, I'm not sure if she needs cheering up or not. I'm not sure what is happening. I'm trying to be patient and wait for her to call me back.

From: Ewing, James
Go over there and smack her with a broom handle. That'll put a smile on her face.

From: Emily Jones
You are just Mr. Helpful!

From: Ewing, James
I know.

From: Emily Jones
I don't know how i would get thru without you.

From: Ewing, James
You wouldn’t.

From: Ewing, James
I've left a box with my lawyer. If I die its going to get mailed to you the day before my funeral. Inside will be a gun and two bullets. At my funeral, right before they play "Free Bird," shoot at my coffin, holler something unintelligible, then kill yourself.

That way people will always wonder what in the hell was going on.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Say Uncle

George swung the boat around past the main lodge and we slid to a stop as the gravel drive gave way to our truck and boat trailer tires with a loud, sliding, "crunch." We hopped out, each with a small overnight bag and a toothbrush (we've learned to travel light) and walked into the old farmhouse.

"HOLY GAWD LOOK WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN" twanged a wiry gentleman, swarthy and brown, to my right. Then:

"Hello George" (looking at me)


"You must be Jimmy" (shaking George's hand).

"No I'm Jimmy; he's George" I laughed pointing to my brother as George responded in kind.

"WELL, I WONDER WHICH THE HELL ONE OF YOU IS JIMMY THEN, DAMMIT?" he mused aloud to himself, scratching his chest absentmindedly; but not to stress over it, he immediately followed with:

"GLAD TO SEE BOTH OF YOU; WHICHEVER ONES YOU ARE. YOU BOTH LOOK LIKE TROUBLE." while simultaneously pumping both our hands.

George (to me, under his breath): 'That's 'Uncle Carlos'."


I: "Glad to meet you then, Uncle Carlos".

A languid flutter of movement caught my eye from across the room and I noticed another gentleman waving gently towards us, grinning out from under a large straw hat. He tipped his hat back, waved again, and, mopping his face with a hankerchief, said "Well, I'm John" - and promptly went back to sleep.

Just then my (real) Uncle Wayne popped around the corner and, grinning, interjected:

"Well, you're here then. Good. The grease is getting hot and we should have dinner going by about 9, unless Carlos here gets too deep into that mason jar of his." "CARLOS! Let loose of that jar long enough to bring the fish out here."

We heard a mumbled curse and the muffled crash of crockery from Carlos back in the kitchen, which Wayne accepted as a positive response.

Then it was "Ok boys, Let me show you around" and we were off on a tour of the property.

We followed the snaking two-track dirt road through the center of the land and quickly noticed that someone had planted a substantial stand of corn every few hundred yards throughout the property. The truck slowed nearly to a halt at each rectangle of plowed ground and I noticed Uncle Wayne cut his eyes around and furrowed his brows at us, knowingly, as we passed each row. Guessing at the crop's origin I loudly exclaimed "MY, now THAT is a nice stand of corn somebody has planted there, Uncle Wayne."

He slammed on brakes and, grinning ear-to-ear, the boy who was my Uncle shouted "you know who's corn that is boys??? THATS UNCLE WAYNE'S CORN!!!" Been working on it all season! Figured it was high time I learn to plant something useful.

Here, let me show you where I broke the tractor."

We made our way slowly through the fields and timber and we talked, ever more softly, of streams and deer and the changing of seasons; and we made our plans for the coming year. We planned for autumn and winter and the ducks and the doves and the deer; the squirrel hunt that was more drinking than hunting; and the great v-shaped flights of geese that would pass over late at night, silhoutted, against the moon.

Then, as the sun folded its wings in the timber behind us, we pointed our faces towards the lodge. The wheels hummed on the packed clay keeping time with the cicadas and, for a moment, our talk faltered and the fields whispered for us.

The rich purple-brown of twilight had overtaken us as we rounded the final bend and were greeted by the smoky glow of the porch light; one naked bulb, dangling, wreathed in smoke from the gently hissing fryers arranged neatly on the porch. The door opened and Uncle Carlos came out, beckoning, and I heard him say: "Pass me that jar, John, the boys have come home."

Monday, June 23, 2008


So, I met this woman on the plane and we really hit it off. She was awesome. Great conversation, really deep talks, impressive character and charm. It was neat. Man, we had ball! Its so rare in life to come across another human being you truly connect with on a deep, personal level.

I walked off the plane enlivened with a sense of renewed faith in humanity, womankind, and my prospects for the future. As I rounded the corner and headed into baggage claim we shook hands, wished each other well and parted ways. I felt vaguely sad to see her go, and something inside me rebelled at the thought of being forever her 7 grandchildren in Arizona...

Then, I turned and saw the lovely blonde from 12B who drank the beer I offered, smiled politely at my sweaty-palmed witticisms, then collected her bags and hopped in a brand-new Lexus driven by a rich boyfriend.....who had just enough panache to catch a wheel as they blew past the cabstand where I hid.

I stood and pondered these things in my heart as I waited expectantly for a richly-scented Moroccan cabdriver to drive me around in circles before dropping me off at the airport hotel; and I realized:

I am doomed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nursing School

Lets talk briefly about nursing mothers.

I know everybody has a joke about public infant-feeding, nearly everyone has been in that uncomfortable situation, and nobody likes it.

Sure, yes, I know.

But here's the thing I think about - from the kid's perspective, what makes the miserable little midget think he has a right to 4-courses any time he feels a mite peckish? Thats pretty selfish, if you ask me. I think its just plain weird. If my mealtimes involved nudity of any sort I think I'd be a bit more discreet about it. Babies ought to get to eat when everybody else does - at mealtimes.

2:23PM in the afternoon is not an ok time, neither is 6:11PM during a wedding (for instance).

It just ain't right.

I'm going to start carrying around a ziplock bag containing a nice cut of filet in port wine sauce, some grilled asparagus, and one of those little flowers of mashed potatoes you squeeze out of a pastry tube. Whenever I see nursing going on in public I'm going to unfold some chinet, pull out my swiss army knife (with knife and fork included), plunk down right next to the offending parties and have a nice, loud, smacking, meal. That should get my point across - its called passive aggression and it works like a charm.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Everything'll Be Alright

So, I’m laying flat on my back in the crawl space under the Deer Camp floor; I’m covered in mastic compound and sheet-metal cuts from installing new HVAC ductwork, its 98 degrees outside, I’ve got that golfer-buttsweat thing going, and I’m red from basement dirt and fiberglass insulation particles (of which I have inhaled a good pound or so).

Now, typically, this is exactly the sort of situation wherein I do my best thinking (that and between the hours of 12AM and 4AM, or anywhere icecream is served) but in this instance all I could consider was – “why is the dirt so damp in this one spot where I’m lying?”

Then I heard a dripping sound; so I followed it up the floorjoist above me to a PVC connection and realized – everything is wet down here because a toilet is leaking and I’m lying in it.

…And then I heard a "flush"….So, generally, that’s “bad”, but what’s worse is – there really wasn’t anywhere else to go. That was the spot to be in order to install the new airhandler, so I had to keep laying there….for 7 more hours….

Sure, that would be “traumatic” to most people and I understand your revulsion, gentle reader, but a friend said he’d bring us KRYSTAL HAMBURGERS when we got done – and that made it worthwhile.

That is what I learned this weekend: everything is o.k. when you’ve got a Krystal on the way*.

Incidentally, a friend pointed out to me the other day that she couldn’t very well eat Krystal hamburgers as they violated her “anti-red-meat” diet; but that is a huge fallacy. Krystal hamburger “meat” is actually GRAY, not red at all – so you’re in the clear on that count.


*I’m a poet and don’t know it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Greetings From the War House

I awoke this morning to the sound of my bedroom door opening ever-so-softly. I immediately had the distinct feeling that someone had invaded the inner sanctum of The Duderanch, so I stealthily cut my eyes over towards the door and was surprised to see a very large black gentleman gently tiptoeing around my room. I must have rustled the covers a bit because he turned towards me, startled, with eyes as wide as saucers and announced in a shaky stage whisper “MR EWING! ITS ME, CLIFFORD! PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME MR. EWING!”

Then it all came rushing back to me. It was CLIFFORD - the pest control guy! I had told him the night before not to mind us – just to go on into every bedroom at 7AM and do all the spraying his heart desired. He initially balked at the idea based on his observation from his last quarterly visit that we “sure did have a lot of guns laying around” (I have a gigantic safe, but that particular morning we were gearing up for a hunting trip and armament was everywhere). I finally convinced him that my roommates actually trying to shoot him would probably guarantee his safety – I’ve seen them shoot (and it’s not pretty).

Clifford apologized again for waking me up, so I said “no worries Clifford!” And immediately drifted off to sleep to the gentle whooshing sound of Clifford spraying various carcinogens underneath my bed.

A short while later I heard a shout and some muffled commotion followed by Clifford’s loud, infectious, laughter, and a bear-like mumble from Austin Lee down the hall. Apparently a similar situation occurred when Clifford tiptoed into Austin’s room; but it seems Austin somehow startled Clifford a bit more than I did, because I heard him explaining to Austin the rationale for his intense nervousness. Then he said it – in loud Clifford-style I heard him announce “Man, I just gotta be careful you know? This place is The WAR HOUSE!”

Ahhh!!! I lay in bed gently ruffling my chest hair and beaming; confident and secure in the knowledge that yes: I am officially, 100%, MAN.

It was my proudest moment.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Growing Pains


I hollered at the pair of white Nikes tapping gently underneath my perch. The Nikes briefly paused their tapping and the disembodied voice floating up from somewhere behind me cheerfully announced “Well, I think that was about the worst of it!”


A gentle chuckle and a reassuring pat on the rump were my only response and the Nikes resumed their off-beat tapping. As this was not the sort of event you backed out on mid-way-through, I resigned myself to my fate and stared dully ahead at the square, vinyl floor tiles (there were 28), the only other thing in my field of view; and I tried not to hate Nike tennis shoes quite so much.

Actually, let me back up a bit: it all started at the beach (the pain, that is). It was dull at first – more of an aching “throb” than a true stabbing-pain. Naturally, I hoped it would go away. I have a high pain tolerance, so I decided to wait it out – outsmart the pain, if you will. I played my Ipod, ate some Twizzlers (my favorite), enjoyed a refreshing beverage on the beach, ate out, slept in, crunched Froot Loops out of a solo cup all afternoon, used too much sunscreen, and got sand all over me (all the normal things I would typically do at the beach), but the pain remained.

You might even say the pain continued to “grow”, until finally, I cornered my Uncle William and said: “William, listen - my butt really hurts.” His enigmatic response “I bet it does” was no help – neither was Uncle Robert’s suggestion that I “give Orajel a try” followed by the admonishment that I avoid using any kind of opened container of salves or creams at HIS house that “came with a nozzle on the end” because “there is no telling where its been.”

I briefly considered finding a local proctologist to take care of business, but I thought better of it. I have developed a strict, on-principal, avoidance policy concerning rural beach-town proctologists. I can’t imagine what going to one would be like, but I absolutely CANNOT imagine that it would be good. So, in short: I manfully stuck it out.

I made the trip home in just under 6hrs (slightly sweaty) and in intense, throbbing, pain. My decision to fish in a bass tournament the following morning at 5AM is a simple testament to sheer determination, gin & tonic, Goody’s Headache Powders, and the gigantic outdoorsman’s heart beating in my chest.

We weighed in 5 fish for 12.2lbs - garnering third place (a new record for my fishing efforts), but I had sweat on my upper lip the whole time and once or twice I thought I might cry.

So, by Monday morning we really had a problem and for the first time in my life I found myself enormously relieved to be walking IN to a proctologist’s office; normally I don’t feel that immense sense of joy and accomplishment until I’m limping slowly AWAY.

So, there I was – sprawled out on a cold steel table, facedown, when the door opens, and voice says “Hello Mr. Ewing lets take a look” and without so much as a “hi, how are you?” the table I’m on breaks in half like a drawbridge (highest in the middle) and there I am – facedown, dangling like a big, hairy, rag doll with my naked butt the highest point in the room.

And THEN the nurse walks in (At least, I think it was a nurse - she sounded female and she had small shoes – that’s all I could see). She was followed by a medical student…...and a secretary with a pressing question concerning the duration of her lunch break. (Don't mind me - you know? I'm just the throbbing, naked, butt in the center of the room, but let me continue).

“Hellooooo Mr. (pause as the student tries to read my chart)…Errrwings.”

I didn’t reply.

I just cut my eyes over at the nurse-shoes and loudly announced “listen here – if either of you give THAT guy THAT syringe I saw on the way in - you’re going to wake up and wonder where in the hell you are and why you’re bald” and that, my friends, THAT is just exactly when the blazing bolt of proctological lightning dead-centered my sensitive nether regions and I found myself furiously dog-paddling thin air and cold steel.

I didn’t get far though - they had me by the feet.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Preaching for Supper

"WELL BOY, COME PREACH ME A TEN MINUTE SERMON. I NEED TO BE WITNESSED TO" rang out across the den in Uncle Robert's trademark gravelly, smoke-cured voice; and I immediately regretted telling him that my cousin Jimmy is a licensed Presbyterian minister.

Jimmy, vaguely uncomfortable and new to the annual beach trip, stood in the den shifting his weight foot-to-foot; unsure how to respond.

He didn't have long to wait for the next salvo:



The beach is great, but we don't need the beach to have fun - we just need Uncle Robert and one unsuspecting guest and we're in business.

We ended up having a ball that night and no, cousin Jimmy didn't have to preach for his meals (much to Robert's chagrin), but we did hear a series of in-depth lectures on love and marriage compliments of Robert between the hours of 3 and 4AM that I'll treasure always. I think Cuz will too, so when he woke me up with "Pssstt..Jimmy. Are you asleep? Do you really think Robert did all that stuff? I can't quit thinking about it." I wasn't surprised. All I could say was "I don't know, but it sure did sound pretty great, didn't it?"

Its been fun having insane geniuses like Robert in the family. Even now I can hear Uncle John (thats John T. Slocumb, MD to you) in the kitchen behind me cooking low-country-boil and teaching the grandchildren gynecological terms. "Taint" was immediately accepted as purely clinical by virtue of John's hard-earned MD, but "Episiotomy" is their new favorite. Its medical explanation garnered a chorus of howls from grandkid middle-management (and one neighbor boy who slipped in under the radar) that startled Uncle William out of a deep slumber and widened John's trademark slow-spreading grin nearly to his ears.

Unfortunately, their howls startled William a bit too badly and he, in his fright, rolled over on the large box of Big Cheezit crackers and Nilla Wafer Cakester soft cakes he had fallen asleep cradling - crushing his Big Cheezits and mussing his Cakesters. A fountain of profanity and couch cushions soared for the heavens. After he collected himself and sent Daniel back out for more snack cakes he noticed me sitting nearby, glared from behind now-crooked polarized Vaurnet's and hollered "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT, NASTY?"

Hey, I'm just sitting here minding my own business.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Artistic Expression

I think it was about ¾ through the process of painting the windows of Jeremy Gray’s white Chevrolet Equinox in preparation for his honeymoon getaway that it dawned on me: “this may not have been my best idea ever.”

It was late at night – nobody was even able to witness the magnificent result of our handiwork, and certainly no one saw Jeremy and Kelley cruising down the rural highway just outside Santa Rosa Beach that evening in his well-painted post-wedding car. It was too dark for that, and probably not many travelers on the road - so I’m sure he wasn’t even the tiniest bit embarrassed.

I doubt if anybody even saw it but me.

Unfortunately, somewhere in the midst of all the wedding festivities I lost both my sense of propriety AND all recollection of my promise to return Jeremy’s car to the Atlanta airport. And THAT, my friends, is how I came to find myself at noon on Sunday driving the length of I-85, quite alone, in a car decorated entirely in a collage of gigantic stylized penises.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I just realized that I overpaid my waterbill last month by $491.00. I wanted you to know in case any of you had any sort of reservations about going on a date with someone WHO IS STUPID.

I (apparently) need to be shepherded around like a small child or my entire financial empire comes tumbling down. Don’t mind me - I’ll just be over here buying fishing lures and playing the fiddle while my financial Rome burns to a smoldering crust.

It’s not my fault, really. It’s the decimal point. Sure, I work in finance, but I can’t be expected to get the DECIMAL point right EVERY TIME. Correct? They're pretty stubborn.

It’s so tiny. Look at it : “.”. Easy mistake to make in online banking, if you ask me.

Unfortunately, YOU asked me; but the water authority DIDN’T. All they wanted to know was my account information so they could send me the money back… 3-6 months.

No kidding.

Based on the volume of my correspondence with “Martina” at the Water Authority over the last few years I’m guessing I’ll be getting a Christmas card from them again in 2008. I also suspect I may have been assigned my very own case-worker. That fact is comforting on some level I guess, because now if I have a problem I have someone specific to call about it. Unfortunately, now that someone has absolutely no faith in my cognitive abilities and no longer sees the humor in my constant water predicaments.

I don’t even understand them myself to be honest with you. I STILL don’t know where $681.59 worth of water went last summer, and why the entire DudeRanch hasn’t floated off its foundation on the 70ft column of water that dollar value represents. I swear to you - I don’t have it hidden in an underground lair or anything. Even if I DID have an underground lair, would I store 40,000 gallons of water in it? NO. I’d store guns and ancient artifacts in it and perhaps the ark of the covenant (which is currently in my attic); but certainly not 40,000 gallons of water.

Had I know earlier that stockpiling illegally-pirated water could bring the City of Atlanta to its very knees; I MIGHT have built myself an underground lair, hijacked all your water, and attempted to gain control of the city; but I did I see it coming in time?

NO - I can’t even get a decimal point right, much less focus on world domination.

We Have a Bleeder!

Generally I don’t like nosebleeds.

As a kid they were fairly entertaining; due at least in part to a general sense of amazement over the sheer volume of blood that could suddenly spout out of your snoot without a moment’s notice. But nowadays – they’re really not that great. I especially don’t like them in any sort of date-ish situation. Were I to pick a great first impression; it would not be “HI!!!!! GUESS WHAT?? I JUST GUTTED A DEER IN THE BATHROOM!!”

I think I’ll draw the curtain of good taste around the remainder of that story and say only this: practice good nasal health - your future progeny may depend on it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

You Have Meredith To Thank For This One

So, on the heels of my last blog post Meredith Quarrelitia Jollay, my fabulous ex-girlfriend, brought this fun little story to my attention. Check it out:

OLDSMAR, Florida — A Florida woman found an 8-foot long alligator prowling in her kitchen late Monday night, authorities said. Sandra Frosti, 69, said the alligator must have pushed through the screen door on the back porch and then walked through an open sliding glass door at her home in Oldsmar, just north of Tampa. The alligator apparently then strolled through the living room, down a hall and into the kitchen.

A trapper removed the alligator, which was cut by a plate that was knocked to the ground during the chaos. But no one inside the house was injured. (FOX News Online).

I can only assume Meredith was at work googling "alligators" and "pop tarts" and accidentally combined the two. Regardless, something strange is DEFINITELY afoot. I've got deer and zebras trying to kill me in Atlanta, THERE MIGHT BE LIONS IN MY BATHTUB, and this lady has an 8ft reptile perusing her pantry? Are you kidding me?

First of all: lets face it - the plate didn't just get "knocked to the ground." Sandra definitely broke it over that alligator's head; of that I am confident. She's scrappy....and old - a winning combination. That having been said: this story also indicates an alligator trapper somehow became involved too which, to me, indicates great presence of mind on the part of wily ol' Sandra.

I doubt I'd have the presence of mind to thumb the yellow pages for "alligator trapper" while an 8ft specimen makes free with my Fruit Loops. For roaches - sure, I'd immediately think "ok well - lets call Chemical Technologies. They'll send Clifford out to spray and he'll stay for a beer and watch some football on the couch like usual. No big deal."

Key difference: that roach isn't likely to eat my refridgerator.

The only way I'd get Clifford in there with an alligator is if he thought the beer in the fridge was in real danger. Otherwise - I promise you'd find us both standing in the front yard in our boxers. I dont know what it is with me and life-threatening situations, but somehow I nearly always end up standing around afterwards with no pants on.

Even speaking as an Outdoorsman I'm not really sure what I'd do in this situation. It definitely wouldn't involve the telephone up until the point where I made the "Uncle Buster, can you help me?" call; and normally that call doesn't get made until there is real potential for a Department of Fish & Wildlife violation.

THAT call is normally followed by the gradual accumulation of burly steel workers and crane-trucks at my location. For some reason Uncle Buster accesses crane-trucks like you or I use duct tape. He has an overly-elaborate way to fix nearly anything using three (3) steel workers, two (2) cherry pickers, and a megaphone. It works, but someone nearly always gets hurt.

Uncle Buster aside; the best way for you to know if there has ever been an 8ft alligator in my kitchen is to walk inside and look up. If there is a me-shaped hole in the kitchen ceiling, then yes, there was an alligator in the kitchen.

While you're in there: see if you can find my pants.

Ungulate Death Squad

I was headed down GA400 on my way to work this morning when I noticed a dead deer on the shoulder just south of the Lennox road exit. Now, before the chorus of “AWWWWWWW”s drowns out my thoughts here, let’s think a moment: what was that deer doing on Lennox road after midnight? Hmmmm? Are we really supposed to believe that was an innocent little deer out for a midnight stroll who just happened to sneak a bit too far out of its lane? NO. C’mon. Not me. I see what is really going on here.

Deer don’t shop at Phipps folks.

The truth is: that deer was on a mission of some sort, I’m certain of it. The only conclusion I can draw is simply this: the deer have finally found out where I live; and they are coming to kill me. I've feared this day since the early '80s.

Oh right, you laugh. Sure, but all this just on the heels of a gigantic news story in which a LIVE ZEBRA was found wandering around in the Atlanta interstate TWO DAYS AFTER I BOOK MY TRIP TO HUNT IN NAMIBIA FOR…ZEBRA (among other things)??!??!

What’s next? Lions in my bathroom? If I come home and there is a lion in my tub I can absolutely guarantee you I’ll never be right again. YOU spend the rest of your life wondering a full-grown male lion is going to come out of your shower drain and tell me how normal you feel.

Something ain’t right here, I don’t need a diagram to point that out for you. So, listen if you find me splayed out on the bathroom floor with little cloven hoofprint bruises all over my body – you know who to blame.

They’re not deer. They’re four-footed ungulate killers…and you could be next.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sometimes You're the Shar-Pei

I was standing in the line at Kroger some time ago when I noticed the lady in front of me was giving me the eyeball. You know – sneaking a quick peek now and again when she thought I wasn’t looking.

I love that.

As a guy - catching a woman looking is always a lot of fun because we automatically assume that, clearly, this person is eyeballing me because she would love to make out.

With me.

Right this second.

She’s not staring because I’ve just cut her off in the parking lot, accidentally knocked over the display of gefilte fish, I’m riding on the back of the buggy like it’s a skateboard, or because I’m pushing a cart full of nothing but dried meat snacks, Pringles, and toilet paper. None of those reasons are legitimate – it MUST be something else, and it MUST somehow directly relate to my innate virility.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m not apologizing. I’m single and it’s a fun thought – like winning the lottery or somebody giving me a Porsche.

I’m also not saying I’d engage in anything smooch-related right there in Kroger – or near the Kroger for that matter. In fact, I’d say the likelihood that I’d so much as brush cheeks with a checkout-line-companion is slim because (even beyond the obvious moral implications) what about cold sores? That’s enough incentive for me - I don’t want ‘em and maybe she’s got ‘em, but you don’t know until it’s too late because cold sores are the silent killer. Say what you will, but that’s an STD stuck right to your face – and everybody knows it. They’re like the creatures in that ALIEN movie with Sigourney Weaver; everything feels fine - then you wake up one morning and WHOA! WHAT IS THAT THING ON YOUR FACE!!??? Then you die.

So, I’m standing in line thinking about all this when the full import of the situation hits me: I’m staring blankly ahead into this woman’s checkout basket (as if carefully studying its contents), my lips are moving and I’m gently smiling to myself. When I come to my senses I realize: the only two items in her basket are the largest package of Maximum-Strength Midol Cramp Relief I have ever seen and a bottle of red wine.

She is looking at me quite firmly and it slowly dawns on me: I am one buggy-length away from the beating of my life. This woman does not want to make out with me...Ever...and I know of 96 blister-packed reasons why.

That changed my entire perspective on things.

I think a key part of the male maturation process is realizing early in life that, despite what your mother thinks: not everyone is going to want to go out with you. It’s just that simple and there are myriad reasons why that’s the case. Moreover - it's ok! If everybody DID want to go out with you – you’d never get anything done.

There are so many legitimate reasons why NOT to date someone, but everybody always gets so up-in-arms when they get cut for their looks. I just don’t get that at all. What bothers ME is when I get sent down the shaft for my PERSONALITY – think about THAT next time the door opens and there’s no elevator.

Looks you're born with, but personality was all YOUR fault.

Looks bias I can understand – I don’t like shar-peis, but maybe you do – you know? If you don’t like the way I look – fair enough. You drive an ugly car. So, you're stupid and I win.

This thought will probably ruin your life, but listen here - what gets me is: if its not how you look – it must be something much more sinister that you can’t comb-over.

Like cold sores, for instance.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Wrong Stuff

I realized tonight that my mind spins in so many directions at once; its a miracle I can successfully get the cap off a ball point pen without losing interest midway through.

I didn’t come to that realization until I was laid out underneath the remains of a solid oak table I initially intended to modify into a workbench, covered in woodchips and sweat (and sweaty woodchips), and realized: I bought THE WRONG BOLTS.

That wouldn’t be a huge deal, except that I just went to Lowe’s to get bolts – because I bought the wrong bolts the day before.

The same wrong bolts.

The Lowes metal fastener section may as well have a gigantic bin in it with a huge “GET THE WRONG BOLTS HERE” sign over it. That would help me a lot. I could just go straight to that bin, GET THE WRONG BOLTS, pay, and leave – and not have to go to the trouble of looking through every tiny drawer of bolts in the place to find THE WRONG BOLTS, buy them, go home, and realize they’re useless (and I don’t have the receipt).

From now on I’m just going to drive over there, walk in, walk right back out, drive home, get out, go inside, drive back to Lowe’s, go in and GET THE RIGHT BOLTS. I figure that’s the only way to outsmart myself – I average about 2-3 visits per successful, useful, item; and at least this way I don’t have to go through the checkout and return lane twice.

I think maybe I’m easily distracted.

I saw a very bright-colored new circular saw on the way in that I couldn’t quite get to because of how the entryway works – so I went straight to the bolts.

I came for bolts, but in all honesty the only question pressing on my mind at that moment was whether the green stripes on that circular saw contained a vibration-dampening gel substance. I don’t know why they would (and they don’t) – but they looked like maybe they COULD contain a gel-substance, and I figure anything with an unidentifiable gel squeezed into it has to be high-tech and necessary. So, I sort of skimmed my way through the bolt-selection process.

I rummaged around with my big ham-hands and dug up some bolts, then plodded on over to the saw section; drawn like a moth to a bug zapper. I’ve never seen a circular saw with gel baked into it – so, that’s worth a quick gander, right?

I was disappointed to find a lack of vibration-reducing gel. Fortunately, there was a dead-blow hammer with loose BBs built into it nearby and I thought I might need that sort of a hammer (for something). It also was very brightly-colored, so I worked my way on down past the drill bits (got one in 5/16” but I set it down someplace and can’t find it), and located a suitable dead-blow hammer.

In short: now I’ve got a big plastic hammer with BBs in it, 8 of THE WRONG BOLTS, 7 of THE RIGHT NUTS, and two different sizes of washers that fit neither THE RIGHT BOLTS nor THE WRONG BOLTS….and I can’t find my drill bits.

And now I’ve been thinking about how I think for so long, it’s time to go to bed.

I need some rest so I can get up and go to Lowes.....

For bolts..I think.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I was in the Deer Camp (TDC) bathroom studiously engaged in currycombing my (rapidly-spreading) pelt of chest hair with Dad’s favorite brush and, generally, I don’t appreciate being interrupted during this important evening man ritual. However, mid-way through the process I heard raucous laughter pealing out across the adjoining bedroom and, as there are few things I dislike more than missing the joke, I opened the door and stuck my head into the bunk room.

The door swung open to reveal Tommy Statham, clad only in his aging Fruit of the Looms, flopping, stranded, across the highest bar of a top bunk; just a smidge shy of making it into bed; George and Thomas Benton, literally, rolling on the floor in merriment.

Tommy, looking for all the world like a giant naked turtle, with big hound dog eyes soulfully locked in mine, bravely announced, “Jimmy you know I got cerebral palsy! I cain’t get up into this top bunk,” and immediately slid off onto the floor in a blinding flash of white, hairy, Statham.

What could I do? I said, “TOMMY! YOU BETTER GET YOUR BUTT UP THERE!!” and collapsed in an uncontrollable fit of laughter.

I haven’t laughed that hard in two years. Tommy howled so hard he cried, Thomas fell out of bed, and George convulsed for so long he had to brush his teeth again.

We gave Tommy the double bed.


Mom always said there are few things in this world worth more than a great friend. I say there are even fewer things in this world worth more than a great friend with a handicap sticker, which I’ve often told Tommy is the main reason we’re great friends: good parking.

He laughs.

Which, to me, is another reason we’re great friends: he thinks I’m funny; a sentiment often not shared by various members of the female set, a whole host of state troopers, and on, on occasion, Emily Jones after I’ve tripped her in public (which is funny, I don’t care what she says).

Tommy , my friend, weighed 2.2lbs at birth – that’s less than a “keeper” bass. Trust me – I know, because I’ve never caught a “keeper” bass in a tournament. He spent the first three months of a life hard-clung-to in an incubator at Grady Hospital. Typically he reminds me of that birth weight figure when there’s some question of sleeping arrangement (one bed, one couch), who drives (he doesn’t want to), or what time we meet for church (he likes the 11AM, I prefer the 6PM). It’s one of the few times in life when my high birth weight ( 8.11lbs) doesn’t stand me in good stead, but I’ve taken to suggesting that maybe when his Mom said “incubator” at “Grady Hospital” she really meant a “shoebox” in an “oven” set on “warm” for a few days.

It worked for Simon Birch.

Tommy does not appreciate that line of argument so, generally, I end up driving him to the 6PM and he sleeps in my bed while I take the couch.

As I write this Tommy is seated next to me on the couch in my Uncle John’s “little cabin” (mansion) overlooking Sky Valley, Georgia, as the fog rolls in on a cool April night. He’s sleeping in the master bedroom; I’m staying in the maid’s quarters downstairs.

Tommy is staring with rapt attention at some nameless basketball game on television. I don’t even know the score, but you could run a freight train through the living room and he’d just lean in a little closer to the neon glow. He likes that basketball stuff; so does Stewart Grace who is asleep in the adjoining brown leather chair and has been, off and on, since Friday afternoon.

Good times.

I see people on a daily basis that I would bet don’t have great friends like Tommy Statham. I feel very sorry for them. Well, sort of sorry. Mostly I just wish they’d get on through the drive-up window so Tommy and I can get our Krystal hamburgers (onions, pickle, mustard).

My favorite Tommy story goes something like this:

One day Tommy was in New York City. He hailed a cab and was approaching the vehicle when a spry young lady with two children sprung out of nowhere, slung her children into the backseat, turned to Tommy and triumphantly crowed “HA!!! I BEAT YOU!!!”

Tommy leaned back, smiled, and said, “That’s no big deal. I’m crippled.”

Tommy Wins Again!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sudden Realization

Have you ever realized you were naked?

And by "realized you were naked" I mean - it came as a bit of a shock?

Knowing you're naked is one thing, realizing it is something else altogether. Normally, when you realize you're naked - its because someone else pointed it out; generally because they weren't expecting it either, so they're like - whoa! There's a naked guy!

As I understand it - generally, if TWO or more people are naked (and near enough one another to converse) there's sort of a general understanding that "hey - we're all naked here and nobody's surprised." The understanding being: there is a reason for this nakedness - an implied covenant of nudity, if you will.

I'm talking about situations like locker rooms, Matt Dunn's house (any day), or Weekly Naked TV Day at the DudeRanch. Naked? Ok. Sure. No big deal and while you're up - get everybody a beer.

Nobody in the locker room points out "hey buddy, you aint got a stitch on." Why? Because they saw it coming.

BUT, when you REALIZE you're naked - you've got problems....and buddy, it happend to me.

In the not-so-distant past I was wakeboarding on the lake (first mistake). My second was not cinching up the 'ol board shorts tight enough.

The first wipe-out took my breath away and my shorts right along with it; and I quickly realized: Hey, wait. I'm naked....

At noon.

On the 4th of July.

In the middle of a crowded lake.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Accounting for Ricochets

So, I pulled up to the Deer Camp ("TDC") late on Friday night, (prior engagements kept me out later in Atlanta than anticipated), I walked in the front door, and plunked my bag down in its normal resting spot near the head of my bunk.

At this point, nothing particularly interesting had happend. I spotted a luna moth AND a tiger moth side-by-side on the lamppost, both of which allowed me to pick them up and look at them very closely without flying off - that was extremely cool; but other than that it was business as usual.

I made a couple of trips in and out, got myself situated, locked the truck, headed back inside AND GOT THAT FEELING.

You know that "something is eyeballing me" feeling? I'm extremely sensitive to that feeling on most occasions, but when I'm alone at TDC, or walking out of a swamp in the dark (for instance) - it gets out of control. The something-is-eyeballing-me-and-not-in-a-good-way feeling you might consider my 6th through 19th senses when I've got my antennas up. Its very similar to being quite afraid of the dark, EXCEPT that I am not at all afraid of the dark and I'll fight any man who says differently.

Fortunately, I didn't have to sit there and stew, paralyzed, for very long because I quickly noted that the furry figurine that I originally assumed was a new addition to our stuffed squirrel collection - was actually very much alive and looking me dead in the eye with malevolent fury.

Thats right dear friends. There was a flying squirrel loose in the house. Our eyes locked and he came at me with a blood-curdling shriek that momentarily turned my feet to stone. Before you laugh - listen - we're talking about a RODENT THAT FLIES. What could be more terrifying than that??? Unable to run, I immediately struck a defensive pose, threw myself on the floor and rolled up in a throw rug like a big, hairy, oriental-rug-wrapped hotdog.

In the ensuing melee I lost my hat, one flip flop, and somehow ended up with my Bass Pro Shops shirt around my face like a Berber desert camel herder, BUT I still had my pants on - which I consider a minor victory.

When the shrieking stopped, I peeked out of my rug-hide and surveyed the landscape for my sharp-toenailed, furry, assailant. I just managed to spot his devilish tail disappearing into the swampmoss adorning our largest bobcat mount (possibly the crowning insult to the soul of that great cat).

By this time I am not at all emotionally stable. So, I did what any other emotionally unstable person would do if attacked at home, late at night...and I went for a gun.

Now, its at this point that I suddenly realize - I'm at TDC (one of my favorite places on earth) and I'm hunting something - IN THE HOUSE. It was like the collision of my two greatest dreams - hunting something that wants to kill me, AND doing it INDOORS without having to go to Africa and get all sweaty. That was the turning point.

I bravely put my shirt back on, cocked the Red Ryder BB gun I always keep handy, hid under a barstool, and lobbed a shotgun shell up into the rafters towards the stuffed feline.

The hail of BBs that followed was nothing short of spectacular. I'm proud to say that I went down in a blazing, furious, rain of copper-coated steel.

What I DID NOT account for was: ricochets. That squirrel paid dearly for his misdeeds, but it ended up costing me quite a bit more.

I have since reached an agreement with our groundskeeper concerning such terms as "responsible behavior", "me", "gun safety", "capacity for rational thought", and "exaggeration", but I'm pleased to tell you: I'd do it all over again just to hear those BBs whizzing off the sides of that TV set on more time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I’m about to head down to the DMV. So, basically there is no telling when (or IF) you’ll ever see me again. However, should I return; I’m almost certain there’s going to be a story.

I also have a few other stories as-yet untold. Such as: the Fishing with Tommy Statham story, and the Lake Hartwell Swampbass Bass Championships Team Jimmy & George Story – that’s a good one because it winds up with a half-eaten Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie (opened) somehow getting into my dryer.

As long as I’ve gone ahead and told you the end – let me just say that you WOULD NOT BELIEVE what a 2.5hr dryer cycle does to half an oatmeal cream pie and a load of clothes. I’m not lying - it took me two days to figure out what the brown patties of smeared gunk stuck to all my favorite shirts were – and then the only way I figured it out was to chip a bit off my favorite fishing shirt (“the shirt of broken dreams”) and taste it….So, let no man question my bravery.

And now that you know it exists: please STAY OUT of my oatmeal cream pie stash – the reason they’re hidden is because I don’t want YOU to eat them.


Monday, March 24, 2008

In Case of Emergency

It was all my fault, really, because apparently when your driver’s license expires like mine did (Saturday) – you’re automatically a criminal in the eyes of Hartsfield Int’l. I tried to explain to the airport checkpoint lady this morning that I was turkey hunting on my birthday, hence – unable to make it to the DMV. I’m not sure I was able to convey to her exactly what that meant, but I think I left her with the fuzzy idea that wild turkeys somehow prevented me from getting a drivers license. I’m glad I was able to connect with another human being on that level, but ultimately it did me little good.

I made what I would consider my first "serious mistake" in the situation when, upon being asked for "alternate identification" I cheerfully produced my nicely-laminated firearms license. I said, "well, no I don't really have anything else - how about my concealed carry license? Will that work?"

Without further ado she immediately scribbled all over my boarding pass in orange highlighter and handed me off to somebody else for “extra screening” which, I now know, means “gloved man-on-man rubdown.”

Don’t get me wrong – everybody should experience the healing power of a little physical touch now and again, right?

Well, I certainly think so……and since I have no internal monologue - I said so - out the big airport security guard just as he wrapped up the first "leg" (no pun intended) of the highly scientific groping process TSA calls “patting down."

Based on the thin-lipped expression that settled like a dark cloud across his face at 5:42AM this morning, I’d say he did not want to be my source of healing.

It was early, so I figured, “well – that didn’t work, but I’ve still got time to cheer him up!” Which I believe is consistent with my habit of repeating a joke louder, and longer, when it doesn’t float over well the first time. Somewhere deep in my head I assume that if you’re not laughing - you must not have heard me well.

It is probably no surprise to you, then, that my next attempts: “whoa, just a little to the left there, buddy!!” and “Don’t touch me there ‘less you mean it!!” were also not well-received.

Some people can’t take a joke. Fortunately I can – and I had plenty of time to think of my next one because Mr. Security Guard, Sir, left me an extra 10 minutes in that big glass frisking box where they keep all sorts of terrible people including criminals, bad people, terrorists, farmers, and nursing mothers.

Having never actually been inside a hamster cage myself, I never thought much about how it must feel to be a glass-enclosed rodent, and buddy, it ain’t a great feeling. There is something about being enclosed in 4-sides glass in the middle of a crowded room that just makes one a tiny bit self-conscious. I don’t really know why - the only real difference is that, instead of standing alone in the center of a room, you’re suddenly find yourself standing alone in the center of a room surrounded by a thin, clear barrier. But in case you’re wondering – its incredibly weird; and people definitely stare. I mean straight at you – from inches away. I guess they figure there aren’t that many opportunities in life to really, seriously, commit yourself to stare at somebody straight in the face from inches away in a crowded room AND not have to worry much about consequences. I guess I can see that; a stare-for-free opportunity is like money in the dryer.

One little chubby lady held up the security line a full 30 seconds while she committed my form to memory. She looked so satisfied, that when they let me out – I decided to hang around for a second and see what the next person looked like under glass myself.

I missed the window though because security asked me to “take my bags and move along.” I noticed the designated patter-downer was eyeballing me and snapping his gloves, so I took their advice (and my bags) and immediately tripped over one of those little rubber floor mats, got up, and headed for the train.

The underground train ride at Hartsfield is always exciting for me because, as soon as I set foot onboard, I immediately start to wonder about underground-train-related deaths. Whenever I say that; people look at me like I just bit the head off a live pidgeon or something. So hey – listen, I’m not crazy. YOU are crazy! Have YOU ever seen an actual DRIVER on one of those trains? ME NEITHER, but I’m the nutty one for thinking, "hey – we’re hopping on back of the headless horseman here at 50mph and I’m a little nervous about it???"

All I’m saying is – who’s driving? It ain’t me and I know for sure it ain’t you, but somebody’s in charge and for all you know - HE got off at Concourse T. That thing doesn’t just “wind up” like a watch and even if it did – I’m not riding a windup watch at 55mph UNDERGROUND for you or anybody. While we’re talking about it - if you think that leather handle thong thingy hanging off the ceiling is going to help you – you’re out of your element.

So, that’s what I’m thinking about. That’s also why, when that door opens at my destination, you’d do well to stand clear.

I made it through the headless train ride (this time) but it made me really hungry. Fortunately, there was a Krystal handy – and coffee, which; 2.5 hrs later (30,000ft over Texas) I realize may have been a key strategic error on my part because, friend, if any of that bizarre blue water in the lavatory gets anywhere on my person – there’s going to be a me-shaped hole in the side of this plane. They wouldn’t be nearly as worried about the smoke detectors if they knew the speed at which I can get that emergency door open.

Don’t bother to tell me about the flotation cushions; thats not what I'm worried about. I just need to know how to get away from that blue stuff.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Short on Talent

This year my compatriot, George M. Ewing, and I decided to make our initial foray into the wilds of competitive bass fishing. George bought the boat, I bought several thousand dollars worth of rods, reels, and stuff we don’t need (mostly plastic tool-like devices that DO NOT FLOAT); and off we went.

We joined the a prominent local Bass Club (40 two-man teams fishing one tournament per month) and I attended the first Bass Club meeting; held in a small employee meeting room in the back of Bass Pro Shops. I initially didn’t go in because the sign on the door clearly said “employees only.” I stopped with my hand on the knob and thought to myself:

“Wait. Am I an employee? No. I am not an employee. Then this sign is for me. If this sign is for me, then how did those other people get in? Are they employees? They must be. I do not see a Bass Club sign anywhere. I suddenly find that I do not know what to do or where to go. I also am not sure I can go through this door with all this un-purchased merchandise in my hands.”

Doubtless my evening would have ended differently had a voice belonging to the man behind me not said, “son, are you going to go in or not?” as he gently nudged me into the room.

The first thing I noticed as I entered the rear of the room is that the meeting room smelled strongly of smoke and dude, but nobody was actually smoking. This lead me to believe that various members of our esteemed club have not read the recent literature on tobacco use. I also noted a proliferation of blue jeans, boots, spit cups, carhartt logos, and beards. As I took note of these things it came to my attention that the registration table was at the front of the room, whereas I was standing at the back… my business suit, tie, and little tassel loafers.

There was nothing for it but to go so, resigned to my fate, I trudged (tassels flopping) down the center isle to the front of the room. Clippity, clop.

After the twitter in the audience diminished to indoor levels, the man at the tournament registration table said “Can I help you?”

Yes. I want to register for a bass tournament. My team name is ‘Swamp Bass’.

Had I pranced through there naked in a coon skin cap I doubt anyone would have been more surprised.

“Well alright” he said, “but we don’t really do team names here. Just your first names go right here on the board.”

Then we’re Team Jimmy and George, but can’t we just be ‘Swamp Bass’? We came up with it today.


Well, I guess ‘Team Jimmy and George" is fine.

“It’s just going to read ‘Jimmy and George Ewing.’”

Not “Team Jimmy and George?”


Ok then.

Our first tournament was this past weekend. We took stock of our gear and found that we had dual sonar, swimbaits, trolling motors, crankbaits, worms, jigs, jigheads, line, bags, culling bags, culling markers, motor oil, and various motor fluids, fuses, lights, vests, raingear, and crawfish scent spray. Anything a reasonable person might need to catch a fish, we have, and its brand new.

What we’re short on is: talent.

After 9 straight hours of fishing we weighed in exactly: zero fish. We’d have been every bit as successful fishing in the bathtub.

But have no fear! The Swamp Bass will ride again.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I’m taking this opportunity to thank all the attendees of the Tripp Maddux and James G. Ewing, Jr Memorial Deer Camp Squirrel Hunting Championship of the World Invitational Tournament* for their patronage and to congratulate the Winner (Dad), First Loser (Seth), and Losingest Loser (Thomas Benton) on their new titles for 2008.

Subcommittee Estimator, Reid Maddux, through his exhaustive review of tournament results has estimated for us the following:

1. Rounds fired: 2,000
2. Squirrels killed: 42
3. Collateral damage (chipmunks and birds): 6
4. Alcohol consumption per person: lots, mostly by Tripp
5. Tenderloin consumed: 25lbs
6. Rounds required to sight in Mark Stephen’s 1942-vintage rifle: 300
7. Profanity: average
8. Food: excellent

In all, I deem it a “huge success”.

I’d also like to congratulate the winners of the Telling of the Lie Ceremony (which we forgot to hold). Had we not been so consumed with tallying the scores we’d have recognized Buster Slocumb and Bryan Nix for their fine, upstanding, RSVP card responses. Here they are:

My rifle’s name is: JEANNE (incidentally also his wife's name)
The worst thing I have ever done is: FELL ON a 2’ LONG PIECE OF BAMBOO, ANAL TRACT FIRST.
The money buried on my property is located: IN THE BARN.

Please address me as: WORLD CHAMPION, SIR.
My Rifle’s Name is: SUZANNE
The money buried on my property is located: 3’ SOUTHWEST FROM THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF MY SEPTIC TANK.

Among my favorite non-winning responses were Seth’s response to both questions which was “BEND OVER AND I'LL SHOW YOU” and Uncle Robert’s rifle’s name: “SPARKY” as well as the worst thing Uncle Robert ever did which he succinctly stated as: "A FELONY" (which he was completely unable to explain in mixed company).

I named my rifle Betty (a.k.a. Thor the Destroyer) – in honor of my friend at work who does not appreciate hunting…at all. She also does not appreciate that I now tell people “Betty killed lots of squirrels this weekend”, so I sort of win twice like that; and you know I like to win.

Despite suffering from an intense amount of depression due to the full month of zero hunting activity between now and turkey season - I’m happy to report that I’ve begun mentally planning the next BIG EVENT for this summer, as well as mulling over details of the next annual Squirrel World Championship in 2009.

So, please raise your glasses and join me in a toast: TO THE WICKED SQUIRREL!



*Celebrating the Dance of the Wicked Squirrel since 2008.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Financial Obligations

In response to my well-intended invitation to the Tripp Maddux & James G. Ewing, Jr. Memorial Deer Camp Squirrel Hunting Championship of the World Invitational Tournament I received the following email from the spunky wife of one of my favorite invitees:

"Let me warn you VERY STERNLY that I have a child growing in my belly. My husband is NOT to get shot on this little trip. I need his money."

Ahhh. Honesty. Its so refreshing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Normal Year

So, despite 2008 cranking up to an inauspicious start on many levels (and my generalized angst over kicking off a round-number year to a rough start): I have a great amount of faith - faith that in 2008 at least one or more of the following will happen:

1. I will make money.
2. I will eat something when I am hungry.
3. I will make sure the thing eaten in #2 will under no circumstances be "dog".
4. I will go to the beach
5. I will not inentionally burn down my own house
6. I will not increase my love of cubicles
7. I will either gain or lose weight, but likely will not stay the same.
8. I will go to another country
9. I will watch tv and read books
10. I will build something in the workshop that takes me 12 times as long to do as it would a professional.
11. I will unsuccessfully pursue some sort of wild game animal
12. I will successfully pursue some sort of wild game animal
13. I will continue to invest in happy, successful, exciting relationships with all sorts of people.
14. I will be overappreciated and underappreciated. Both will lead to drama.
15. I will wish I could be a fly on the wall.
16. I will realize someone else was a fly on MY wall
17. I will avoid prescription drugs (including tylenol) on principle
18. I will love at least one new movie. It will most likely involve guns.
19. I will laugh until I hurt myself.
20. I will go to a superbowl party and I will not watch the superbowl.
21. I will complain significantly out-of-proportion to my illness in the event I get sick.
21. I will constantly wish someone else washed my clothes.
22. I will constantly remind myself that nobody else is going to wash my clothes.
23. I will avoid malls.
24. I will shop online.
25. I will forget to take my vitamins.
26. I will lose the pill organizer I bought to make sure I didn't forget to take my vitamins.
27. I will shoot at squirrels on my neighbor's birdfeeder when he is not home.
28. I will spend entirely too much money and wonder where it went. When I wonder where it went it will remind me of Granddad who squandered his
money on me.
29. I will pay taxes.
30. I will not gripe about paying taxes. I will make sure I get a refund every year so it feels like THEY are actually paying ME to live here.
31. I will squander the tax refund in #29 on trips, stuff that I ultimately lose, and people who don't realize I'm squandering my money on them.
32. I will, as always, appreciate it if you squander YOUR money on ME.

See, it could still be a normal year after all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I made a quick run down to the Woodruff the other night to see "Sophisticated Ladies" at the Alliance. Naturally, I didn't bother to look at the program, read up on the performance, or otherwise educate myself ahead of time. I had a general, fuzzy, sort of idea that I was going to see "a play," and I knew exactly how to get there, and where my seats were - so I decided not to stress too much over it. I've learned to give myself some leeway on the tiny details. It’s the little surprises in life, you know.

So, first of all its miserably cold out. We're talking nose-hair-crackling, eyeball-watering, meat-storage kind of cold. I don't mind the cold really, except when it makes ME cold. This time: I was cold, but I get there and manage to guide my lovely, charming, unspecified-non-date-accompaniement-person into the theater without taking any significant down-stair tumbles (quite a feat in the monstrous black buffalo robe she was wearing). Breathless, we plunk down, Nanuk of the North arranges her many robes about her, and we begin to take stock of our situation.

I quickly realize: we're in a nursing home. My generic-unspecified-non-date-individual and I have become literally, the single youngest people in the room. I'd estimate Becca at roughly 32 or 36 and I'm a light, flavorful, 27. Our seat neighbors (Norton and Donna) were in their late 70s and the rest of the crowd would have seated them at the children's table.

The "show" starts and, in a moment of shining clarity I realize: "oh, THAT Duke Ellington." We're quickly listening to jazz music and we're surrounded by geriatrics. Norton, to his credit, is sitting ramrod-straight and, literally, dead asleep before the first dancer skips out. I'm busy checking out the crowd when I hear non-specific-un-date beginning to cackle under hear breath. Upon directing my attention at the stage I realize the dancers are jumping around on stage clawing at each other lasciviously in skirts of fake bananas.

I am, to put it mildly: surprised.

The third banana-shaking pelvic thrust sent poor Norton's eyebrows nearly through the roof and he started furiously unwrapping candies and popping them into his mouth.

I leaned in and said "hey, can I get one of those?" He arched a bushy eyebrow in my direction and said "you want a nitroglycerine tablet?"

Yeah, why not.