Friday, July 30, 2010


The topic of public restrooms seems to resurface here often. I think that's because the public restroom is a basic fact of working life, yet it's such a profoundly flawed experience that its gross inadequacies just fly all in my face. It BOTHERS me that the public restroom experience has pretty much stagnated since 1945. Everybody uses them, yet somehow nobody is paying attention to their design and function. How has technology managed to completely bypass something that everyone utilizes? I just don't get it.

I don't want this to be a journal of my public bathroom experiences. That's not what we here at One Brick Shy are about. That having been said, let me draw your attention to del banyo for une momento.

See this thing here? Look familiar?

What in the H E Double L is the deal with this thing?

Do you have any idea how many times I've had to crawl all the way up into the dark, forbidding recesses of this cavernous monster to fumble my way to the end of the roll? To operate this thing properly you need a socket wrench, a drill motor, and an endoscope. Please, allow me to illustrate:

Hey America - know what I've noticed? You're so damn greedy you've made the damn paper so damn thin that Helen Keller her-damn-self couldn't work her highly-trained, nimble fingers around that roll to find the .001 nanometer-thick change in depth that indicates the end! It's impossible. By the time I get out of there - the floor under the dispenser looks like a family of wombats moved in and spent the last week shredding paper. I've literally used a pocket knife on this contraption and ripped the face off the thing and I still can't make it work right. It's torture.

To recap: we, as a society, can put a man on the moon where he has absolutely no business being, but we can't figure out a way to dispense toilet paper without making me want to KILL MYSELF?

Is this the path to enlightenment?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Die Smiling

"Are raw oysters really dangerous?"

Having never been attacked by one, I couldn't tell you, but I do know one thing: they're delicious. Every now and again you snag one that smells like your sisters jelly shoes in 4th grade. That one might kill you.

My solution?

Don't eat it! Instead - pick another one!

Even in spite of my advanced sniff test abilities, some still say your average oyster may be a lurking killer. I don't know that for sure, but I do know one kind of oyster that's beating the system:

It might still kill you, but you'll die smiling.

Just a Quick Game of Squash

Despite my recent truculence and my not-so-subtle desperate plea for help regarding a certain rehearsal dinner; there IS light at the end of the tunnel. Two nights ago my lovely Aunt Greer called to inquire as to my progress and recommend the Capital City Club as a suitable venue (lamb chop lollipops, thank you) and more importantly: offer her assistance.

Dad, always a peach, piped up in the background with "Hey is that my sister? Tell her she sure is nosy! Why is she asking? Is she offering to pay for it?"; an unhelpful salvo which, fortunately, she completely ignored. He than wandered off clutching a framing hammer mumbling something about "financial straits." Greer asked a few more pertinent questions concerning menu and drink offerings and suggested I call her later in the week.

This morning I got an email from Capital City with a menu and prices all laid out followed by an email from Uncle Milton (Greer dictates, but refrains from addressing the computer directly) with a few additional ideas.

Shortly afterwards I received another email; this time from my friend Strib Stribling with an attached menu from the Piedmont Driving Club. Strib suggested we stop in there together tomorrow because he would be on-campus "playing a game of squash."

My experience indicates that, among unacquainted men, awkward conversations are the norm, but I can imagine few conversations more awkward than the one required to arrange a pick-up game of squash, live, at the Piedmont Driving Club.

"Hey man. Can I. Err. I mean can you. Well, first off: I'm Strib. Ahem. Do you want to play with me? No! I mean not play with me. Squash me. I mean eh, can you come out and play? What I mean is - will you squash with me? Lets us two squash. Sound good?"

It sounds suspiciously like a Man-Date to me, but if that's what you're into Strib - squash away.

As I'm sure you know, I generally don't befriend squash players, but I'm making an exception for Strib due to his other sterling qualities and generally good nature. After all - I need all the support I can muster. All I've got going for me these days is an Aunt with Cold-War-quality negotiation skills and a guy with a name that sounds like a bodypart; but I think we're going to be a-ok.

Help, they say, is where you find it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

License to Steal

I'm going to be funny again after I get married - I'm certain of it, but right now the stress of planning a rehearsal dinner is making all my chest hair fall out.

Choosing a rehearsal dinner location is alot of responsiblity for someone who still has linoleum in his kitchen, but after great travail; I finally found a place I like. I even managed to meet with the convicted felon they had masquerading as a party planner. Do you know what this extortionist quoted me, total, for the event? Bear in mind - we're talking about a seated dinner. Dinner. Where you get together and eat with other people. Just dinner - not a talking dog and pony show followed by lion-taming. No magic tricks or murder mystery theater. We're talking food, drink and possibly a slide show of all my conquered animal heads, but basically - just dinner.


That's TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. TEN THOUSAND. When the chirpy idiot who quoted me the price dropped that piano on me - I immediately felt simultaneously hot and cold all over. Then, I got furious.

If you so much as gently breathe the words "wedding" or "rehearsal dinner" towards these greedy, twisted, evil, party planning thieves; it's like a license to steal.

It boggles my mind.

I immediately thought of so many terrible things to say to her that it created a mental logjam right at the front of my brain and all that came out was "eeeeeek!!". I wanted to say "You, madame, are smelly and shaped like a walrus", but I literally couldn't get a word out.

Tyler, who happened to see my eyes bug out and my nostrils flare, managed to pipe up with "well, thanks! we'll be in touch" just in time, then steered my catatonic, lumbering frame gently towards the car.

If you pay $100-a-plate for hotplate food prepared in advance and cheap beer - you better be eating sauteed Passenger Pigeon served with a light Tazmanian Devil compote and it better be beer brewed by Benjamin Frankline himself and dredged up from the wreck of the Titanic or you're just plain getting screwed.

You know what they wanted $100-a-plate for? Grilled chicken or an 8oz filet. Not BOTH, mind you - either /or.

Seriously, I am in the wrong industry. I need to figure out a way to capitalize on someone else's joyous occasion and if I can potentially ruin it by piling on financial worries - I'll just consider it a bonus.

So, to the ASS who tried to stick me for a $10,000 dinner with a grin on her face like I'm a full-grown newborn with a wallet - even though YOUwere going to charge ME for EVERYTHING (linens, candlesticks, chairs, trash, servers, lighting, parking) I left you something for FREE's smeared all over your door handle.

Monday, July 19, 2010

For the Sake of Production

Whenever I feel a bit stymied in life I tend to throw myself into an activity. This is especially true when I feel stymied because I know I should be pursuing a certain task, but I don’t really want to. Strictly speaking: I prefer for the substitute activity to appear productive without actually providing value to anyone. I can keep myself happy doing nonproductive, but energy-absorbing tasks for an obscenely long time.

When I have something to do that I must do, but I don’t WANT to do – I throw myself instead into something I really WANT to do, that I haven’t had time to attack yet.

At the moment I need very badly to paint my house.

Instead, I spent all day yesterday reorganizing my workshop. Today, I’m going to go home and re-upholster something, or possibly find a bunch of things to throw away that don’t really need to be thrown away urgently – like shoes.

I love throwing away old shoes.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll probably re-stack some wood, pressure-wash my boat, clean a few fishing reels, and mount a scope on my favorite deer rifle. Later, I’ll probably get the ladder out and survey my roof, then spray some bug killer around my gutters and sweep the workshop again.

Wednesday I’m going to clean the tires on my boat trailer, burn some cardboard boxes, and organize my reloading bench. I’m saving the best for last though.

On Friday I’m going to collect a load of Home Depot and Lowes purchases I’ve made in the last 12 months (still in shopping bags), but not used; and return them. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where I can’t extract money out of Home Depot and Lowes.

The returns department is amazing. You get the intense gratification of making the purchase, THEN get to feel like they’re giving you money when you take it back.


Sometimes, if I’ve had a really bad week I’ll pretend like I don’t have a receipt. Then, when the customer service person smells blood in the water and tries to offer me a gift card instead of cash back (dirty trick); I’ll whip out a stack of receipts and grin at them. “Must’ve been right here in my pocket all along!”

They hate that.

This trend of frantic, unnecessary activity will continue until I can find nothing else to do around the house and then, because I must remain in constant motion, I’ll be forced to finally paint the house.

The result is - I end up doing a million things I don't need to do just to avoid completing one very necessary task, THEN I end up going the necessary task anyway.

I don’t know why I do this to myself.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I’ve noticed a few inequities in life that I feel are desperately underrepresented. The latest serious injustice I’ve been forced to consider is this: If Taco Bell is required to display their 100-point health rating and reasons for any failures in each of their restaurants; why aren’t proctologists and ladydoctors required to have a plaque prominently displayed in their offices that lists their primary reasons for going into those medical fields?

Thank you, YES - I DO want to know why my local Taco Bell only scored an 80 / 100 on its health inspection, but more importantly – why do you want to look at my naughty parts?

I don’t want to be unreasonable. I firmly believe we all deserve to know what’s going on behind the counter at Taco Bell. Similarly, when my naked butt is the focal point of a complete stranger in a professional setting – I want to know a little bit about motivation.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m fine with someone (or groups of someones) wanting to see me in the altogether. In fact – thanks! I appreciate you! But how about some disclosure so I can make the decision to don the paper prom dress in peace?

Is that asking too much?

I just don’t understand why in the world I have to strip to my Batman Fruit-of-the-Looms just to get my teeth cleaned.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

AAA Meetings

I've felt generally non-funny lately.

I think I'm in a slump.

I need some good material, but all I can think to tell you is that I managed to incorrectly install a wheel on the hub of my boat trailer a few weeks ago.

You would think it would take alot of effort to get "match these two round objects" wrong. It didn't though. Putting it on wrong was super easy. All you have to do is grab a socket wrench, focus on being a complete idiot and, voila! you're all set.

The problem was brought to my attention mid-way through a hairpin turn above Lake Blue Ridge by a snaggle-toothed gentleman who slowed me to a crawl and drawled "Hey there buddy. You got you a wheel thats done nearbout come off'n the trailer" before tossing his flowing mullet behind him and passing me on the curve.

I stopped in the middle of the road, walked around the truck, and, sure enough - the wheel done nearbout come off'n the trailer. More specifically - it was hanging on for dear life by the barest of lugnut connections and no amount of effort on Tyler's part could get them off. I finally told her to knock off with the tire iron and we just called AAA for a tow.

Tyler and I spent the next hour-and-a-half throwing rocks at a road sign and making various wild, unfounded claims to each other concerning our pitching arms before AAA was kind enough to come by and tell us the trailer was too big to tow.

Clearly someone at AAA has studied psychology; because I do prefer to get very bad news in person and from a complete stranger.

Fortunately, "Billy" was kind enough to follow me down the mountain with wobbling trailer in tow and we managed to find our way to a repair shop.

When I finally got my boat back I asked the mechanic how the repair went and he said "Buddy, it was the worst looking thing I ever had to fix and it nearly killed me getting those lug nuts off." I felt terrible because obviously the stress of the repair had made all his side, top, and rear teeth fall out. To me, that's hardly a worthwhile exchange for a wheel repair, but he cheerfully gummed his four front lower teeth a bit and said "sure was glad to get 'er done."

Sudeenly, I felt a renewed sense of purpose in life. If there weren't people like me around - there'd be nobody to help make sure things stay broken!

Then where would we be?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Adopt a 17-yr Old

Having had very little experience with "lactation" in the past (other than a few, brief, unpleasant encounters with those weird little alien newborn things all you moms seem to dote on); you'll all be pleased to know that my life-long dedication to remaining lactation-ignorant came to a screeching halt recently through the presence of a family member's newborn at a recent long weekend vacation.

It's pretty weird.

So weird, in fact; that I'm surprised women (at least those of you who have ever toured a dairy) will actually go through with it. Your average newly-born basically turns new mom into something of a cross between a human battery and a very sensitive Holstein. Its dehumanizing. It is. I watched it happen.

I know NOW it sounds exaggerated, but just you wait a few years. Every two hours when your new little Bartholemew or Bertha cries - you too will be scurrying about for a clandestine corner in which to partially disrobe...or perhaps not. Perhaps you'll join the bold contingent of Militant Nursers who insist on bareing lumenous expanses of never-before-daylit skin to the horrified gaze of mankind. Sure, it could be you! Nobody matures into adulthood thinking "I want to grow up and have my coworkers see me partially nude"; but some among you will one day fill that role.

I digress. My point is - you're not a nutritious fire hydrant. You're a person. Don't let the little leeches drain you of hard-won calories, sleep, and peace of mind. Instead, I vote that we tack a rider on the next health care bill that mandates all children be left in the care of the hospital until they're ready for first grade.

How much nicer would it be if little Wanda came home from the hospital to see her new room for the first time; and instead of spending the next 3 years learning to talk (only to become an ungrateful 3yr-old); could instead turn to you and say "Thanks for the new digs. I promise I'll take care of you when you're old."?

It's just an idea.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I Have Failed

Gentle Readers:
I regret to inform you that my fall from manhood is complete. I assented to the creation of a "wedding website" in which I have documented the details of our engagement.

I apologize, but you'll be happy to know that when Tyler asked me to marry her - I didn't mean to say "yes" and throw away my bachelor freedom. I MEANT to say "I'll think on it" but I choked on a boiled peanut and it came out all garbled as "Yeah".

I just didn't have the heart to take it back.


Ex-Bachelor Ewing

Friday, July 02, 2010

Epic On The Cape

After a (far too brief) 4-day trip to the gulf this weekend the topic on everyone's mind seems to be oil and oil booms. "Were we able to get out into the gulf through Port St. Joe?" The answer is: Yes. We were.

I understand Barack Obama has some kind of half-ass orange contraption all buoyed-up around the mouth of the bay, but I think it is more for panache than anything else - just so Port St. Joe can get in on the oily action. A blind manatee (or "aquatic speed bump" as we like to call them) could get through, over, or around said oil boom with ease.

From what I was able to tell they've set buoys strategically and have the yellow booms on stand-by - ready to stretch across; but they're definitely not set so as to block traffic or actually do anything constructive.

When we headed out into the wild blue I tried to convince Fred B. Hand, IV (Captain, Friend, Patriot) we should troll alongside the floating booms at the mouth of the bay for billfish, oil globs and kayaks, but he disregarded my advice.

There you have my basic oil report.

As to the Annual Crash-The-Hand-Family-Vacation vacation I'm pleased to announce that it was a rousing success. Attendees: Me, Twylerpants, Fred B. Hand, IV; Fred B. Hand, III; Kelly Logan (IV's girlfriend), Frances Hand, and finally - Fred B. Hand, Jr. Thats right - this year Fred's granddad came down.

We had a ball. We had a bit of boat trouble, but perhaps you should read about it as reported earlier this week. Please, do read on....

Last year when Fred broke the throttle cable (on the 20' Mako offshore boat) they took the boat to Indian Pass Marine. Indian Pass Marine had (written) instructions to take the Mako BACK to dry storage when it was fixed. Instead, Indian Pass Marine set the boat in their backyard and left it outside in the weather all year. ALL year - August to July. When we got there on Saturday, the poor Mako was an absolute wreck. Mildew all over everything. It was rough.

So, Fred took my fiancee and drove off and left me with his Dad in the parking lot of Indian Pass Marine with a wrecked and mildewed Mako somehow hooked to MY truck.

Mr. Hand was absolutely beside himself. It was like watching a well-educated Yosemite Sam lift off into orbit. I mean he was foaming at the mouth over paying for dry storage for 12 months while the boat sat outside. I'm serious - the man was almost unable to speak.


We got in my truck and took it to the washdown place where I proceeded to wreck my good clothes with "pressurized foam spray" and Clorox whilst washing down the Mako under the very detailed tutelage of Mr. Hand. Thank God he finally ran out of quarters. It took 60 before we were through. I'd hear the alarm beeping and think "maybe we're done now," then I'd hear him furiously cramming quarters into it again and swearing violently to himself.

Once we finished attacking the baked-on mildew as best we could; we went to the gas station...then to Autozone....and the place to get yamalube.....then back to autozone....then to Bluewater Outfitters for bait....then back to the yamalube place again....and finally back to Autozone...again.

So, I finally made it home to the beach house around 4pm with a truckload of petroleum products, dry goods, hardware, a semi-wrecked-looking boat in tow, and a distinguished looking gentleman in his mid-50's furiously gesticulating at every car that got in front of us.

We pulled up and Mr. Hand said completely serious (to sodden, soapy me shivering in the arctic air of my truck AC) "Oh good. Thank God the girls have already unpacked everything so we dont have to. Now arent you glad we missed all that mess!??"

I looked at him through soap-blurred vision and shivered my assent.

The next morning we took the Mako out and I said "Hey did y'all put fuel stabilizer in this thing last year?" and I got blank looks. So inside my brain I went "Oh boy. I wonder how today is going to turn out?"

We crank it up and it immediately starts surging and sputtering. I would have turned back. Fred dropped the hammer and let it surge, sputter, and cough us 7 miles offshore towards a storm front.

We surged and sputtered around for a few hours, caught a few spanish mackerel and sharks, then headed back surging and sputtering (hammer down). It sounded like a completely screwed fuel system to me. I was just waiting to hear a rod go through the top of the motor. "KAAAWWWAAACCCKKAAA!!! Call the Coast Guard!"

By dint of sheer Hand-Family-Luck we barely limped back in, put $72 worth of assorted fuel additives in it at Mr. Hand's direction (octane boost, stabil, seafoam, Lucas Miracle Oil, Lever 2000 - whatever would fit in the tank) and took it back to Indian Pass Marine. Mr. Hand handled it from there, gleefully, I might add.

Basically, the fuel was ruined as you can guess; which filled up the water separator filter with water and lawd knows what else....Which plugged all the filters and ruined the spark plugs and shot h20 all into the cylinder heads doing who knows what kind of damage. I'm sure it shot the 02 sensor too. When that ethanol stuff separates (which it does in about 3 months - or sooner in that kind of heat) it grows all kinds of algae and crap in the water at the bottom of the fuel tank which immediately gets into everyplace you don't want it.

Fred remained extremely upbeat, even "sunny and cheerful", through the whole thing; he was even heard to whistle a few bars of "I've Got Sunshine" on the way back and I couldn't figure it out. Then I realized - A. We're on a "major adventure" so, naturally he and I felt pretty good right off; but B. He knows if he can figure out a way to blow this motor - he's going to figure out a way to get Mr. Hand to rebuild it and put on his other boat, then put a fresh Yamaha on the Mako or something. So - it was a win/win for him. In fact, he may be leaning a bit harder towards "stranded" just to get the new motor.

Anyway, Fred was happy as a clam so I didnt worry about it.

Indian Pass Marine finally fixed all that and who knows what else. Mr. Hand said alot of words to me with boat terms mixed in when I asked him what was wrong with it - but I dont think he really knew what they did. I suspect when Indian Pass Marine told him; he was thinking too hard about the next thing he was going to say to blast them to really pay attention to the diagnosis. Anyway, Mr. Hand bore down on them so hard they had the whole boat fixed and looking brand new in two days - in the middle of high season.

To top it off Indian Pass Marine then said they needed to replace both throttle cables - which they did. That REALLY pissed The Freds off (Fred Jr got in on the action at Indian Pass Marine too - they took his big Cadillac over there and parked it out front for intimidation).

All I know is we had a ball. Fred's Dad was positively overjoyed to have somebody to bear down on, Fred Jr was tickled to get to critique Fred III in action ("I'd have been a whole lot harder on those idiots Fred, why did you go so easy on them are you getting soft?"), Fred IV got a little less heat on him because the heat was all on Indian Pass Marine, Mrs. Hand managed to slip away and fish with us whilst all the heat was getting poured on Indian Pass Marine, I got to watch it all happen, and the Mako ended up a-ok.

Hilarity ensued. It was a giant win/win/win/win/win.

In between all the hooplah we managed to cook a bunch of stuff that was entirely too complex for the venue, stay fairly sodden, hide beer cans all over the house and deck for Fred III to find, get in big trouble with the rental agency for having a dog over to visit, and do a bunch of scalloping around.

My favorite was when I overheard Fred III on the phone invite 5 extra people to dinner on Tuesday night and tell them I was cooking.
I panicked and looked at Tyler, my sous-chef, who mouthed back "WHAT DID HE SAY??!?!!"

The trip was, to quote Fred B. Hand III "Epic".

My apologies to the Hand Family - you'll never get rid of us now.