Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I can feel this guy's pain.

(Yes, I know it's almost four minutes long, but it's FULL of laughs.)


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

He's got a roommate, too.


The other night I was watching TV when I fell asleep on the couch. (Nothing new, I do it often.)

It was a little after 2:00 AM when I woke up. Before I went upstairs to bed, I decided that I'd take a look outside. I opened the front door and immediately heard, "Hey, Paul what's up?"

The Younger Brother (TYB) and some girl were sitting on his front steps, each smoking a cigarette. "You want a cigarette?"

"No thanks, I don't smoke," I said as I walked over to see what was going on.

"Hey, thanks for the donuts. How about a beer?"

"No thanks, I think it's a little late for that." (I don't drink beer either, but I didn't tell him that.)

We all made small-talk for a few minutes, when I noticed another guy walking down the sidewalk on the other side of the street.

"Ah, here comes my roommate," TYB said. "He's been out at the bars."

After the guy crossed the street, I stuck out my hand and said, "Hi. I'm Paul."

He didn't introduce himself, but said, "Are you the dude that lives next door?"


Then without a pause in his questions he said, "Do you ever eat at that restaurant across the street. What about those bars down the street, ever been to any of 'em? Have you ever talked to a guy in a bar about buying a new car? Maybe for some girl just out of college?"

My mind started racing. I remembered having that conversation. This guy must be "the other guy that ordered martinis for everyone in the group plus for four ladies sitting at the bar."

I glanced at TYB. He had a huge shit-eating grin on his face.

While -- one night a year ago -- I played pool and hung out with TYB probably for a few hours. I was only around "the other guy that ordered martinis for everyone in the group plus for four ladies sitting at the bar" (TOG) for about fifteen minutes at the most. There's no way I would have recognized him a year later, and I highly doubt that he'd recognize me if he ran into me on the street.

How did he remember me?

I figured that the only way that TOG would have recognized me and brought up our conversation from a year ago was if he and TYB had been talking about me.

Stunned, all I could say was, "Goodnight. You guys take care." Then I turned around and walked to my own front door.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Introductions not necessary.


When I took a box of donuts to my new neighbor a week ago, I immediately recognized him as "the younger brother." However, I had no idea if he recognized me.

Apparently he did.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Any regrets?


I recently saw a promotional announcement for this book which is to be published in October. I'm not exactly sure what it's about, and I doubt that I'll buy it and find out.

However, I was struck by the subtitle.
Coping with Unrealized Dreams and
Fulfilling Your Purpose in the Second Half of Life

Even though I know that I'm blessed -- I have a loving family and good health; I'm relatively well-educated; for a number of years I made a lot of money; I've been fortunate to travel almost everywhere I ever wanted to go -- I'm continually paralyzed with the realization that there's a lot that I thought I would do and/or accomplish that's just not likely to happen.

At what point can you no longer wonder about what you want to do when you grow up?

* * *

I've always been a fan of Harry Chapin and his music. Why? I'm not sure. His songs are almost always about unrealized dreams.

One of my favorites is Mail Order Annie. Unlike many of his songs this one has a happy ending. It's an incredible testament to accepting what you've been given and being grateful for it.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

I have a new neighbor.

I live in a row of townhouses, downtown in the city. This week a new neighbor moved in next door. The first thing I noticed is that the movers were moving in one of those BIG TV sets. Later in the day I realized that the BIG TV, complete with a BIG audio system, had been installed along the wall that backs up to my living room. I realized this as I was sitting on my couch watching my TV and all of a sudden I could "feel" what my new neighbor was watching ... and it wasn't the same program.

* * *

One Friday night about a year ago I was at a neighborhood bar, sitting by myself, planning to have just one drink during happy hour. After I was there about ten minutes or so, two young -- VGL -- guys walked in, sat across from me at the bar, and ordered Red Bull and vodkas. We exchanged the obligatory head-nods and smiles, and then one of the guys asked if I wanted to join them in a game of billiards. I said, "Sure, I'd love to," even though I thought, "why in the hell are they asking me; I'm clearly old enough to be these guys' father."

It turned out that the two were brothers. The older brother, about 30, was newly married; the younger brother, about 25, had just recently graduated from college. After playing pool for about an hour -- accompanied by several shots of peppermint schnapps -- they said that they were planning to go meet some of the younger brother's friends at another bar and asked if I wanted to come along. "Sure, I'd love to!" I replied.

We made our way to the trendy part of town, home to all the bars for the twenty-something’s looking for a good time. We meet up with a group of about five guys outside a bar I’d never heard of. One guy paid the cover charge for the whole group. (I was clearly old enough to be the bouncer’s father, but I got carded anyway.) We went in and another guy orders martinis for everyone in the group plus for four ladies sitting at the bar. (I was clearly the oldest guy in the bar.)

We were there only about five minutes when the older brother asked me if I wanted to go to a gay bar with him.

I thought, “What the heck does this just-married guy want to go to a gay bar with me for?”

I said, “Sure.”

We left the rest of the group and headed out.

It was a drag bar. I’d never been there before. I really just don’t understand the whole concept of men in drag, however we pulled up two stools at the bar and became friends with the bartender. After several rounds of the bartender's special, my new friend said, “I know another bar we can go to.”

I said, “Let’s go.”

It was another gay bar and it was jeans and leather night. The place was packed, wall-to-wall bodies. I made my way up to the bar, ordered two drinks, and turned around to hand one to my friend. Somehow in the crowd I lost him.

Coming to my senses, I realized that 1) I was very, very drunk and 2) I had no idea why I was barhopping in gay bars with a just-married guy a lot younger than I was. The situation "felt strange to me.” It surely must have “looked extremely strange to everyone else.” I was uncomfortable, even embarrassed, by the whole situation. I decided to put the drinks back on the bar and head home.

The next morning I woke up on the kitchen floor.

* * *

Yesterday, I decided that I should be friendly and introduce myself to the new neighbor. Plus, I figured that if some night I couldn’t sleep because the BIG TV and stereo system were vibrating the whole block, it would be nice if I at least knew the neighbor’s name before I complained.

After a trip to Dunkin Donuts, I went next-door and rang the doorbell, armed with a box of dozen donuts.

I met the new neighbor. It’s the younger brother.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Being good is important;

being trusted
is essential.

- Richard A. Moran

Never Confuse a Memo with Reality


Monday, August 13, 2007

Always have an answer to the question,

What would I do
if I lost my job tomorrow?

I've lost two jobs. Neither time did I know what I was going to do next.

Right now I do volunteer work at a soup kitchen for the hungry and homeless. We serve breakfast four days a week and lunch two days a week, totaling approximately 18,000 meals a year. Most of our guests are individuals that you'd consider "unemployable" due to issues with mental illness, physical disabilities or substance abuse. A good number are elderly. A few are families where the parents can't work because there's no one else to take care of the children.

For the most part, I'm always surprised how gracious and thankful our guests are. Plus there's a strange sense of contentment when you see one of the homeless on the street and you 1) know them personally and 2) know they've recently had something to eat.

One good thing for me, there's pretty good job security when you don't get paid in the first place.

Tant pis.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Don't cry because it's over,

smile because it happened.

* * *

I've kept a Post-it® note with this saying on my desk for the last five years. Many times it's helped me keep a positive attitude.

I have no idea who the man in the photograph is. But if he can smile, I can too.


Thursday, August 02, 2007


If that don't take the rag
off the bush.

- attributed to James Butler Hickok

I recently read this quote in a post-Civil War historical novel written by a friend that I was in Boy Scouts with. It made me laugh. I'm trying to figure out how to work it into my own conversation sometime.