So I Told This Joke Once…

We should’ve just stayed outside the Irish Pub after last call. It would have made everything easier. I wouldn’t be standing in front of these two girls and their six guy friends, trying to calm down this race war. The tension was like a reverse Native Son situation. Last time I share a joke about a skirt on McKinney ave.

I should’ve seen it coming though. I’m part of the most disposable group of humans. A born Lex Luther everyone loves to hate. According to Rastafarians, I’m the definition of evil. If I was a cop they would riot against me. Apparently I should just accept the societal definition that I’m a raping racist who’s tries to buy his way out of everything. It’s fucked up when you don’t even feel like you fit in where everyone says you should.

But look, I get it. It’s wasn’t the best way to start a conversation, and I should’ve done a better job of reading the room. Lesson learned. It doesn’t matter the original joke I wanted to share was about a privileged BMW princess. This girl just heard what she wanted to hear. She took out all the words of the sentence and just heard “Trash” and flexed her southern muscle.

A couple years back, I would have tried to plead. I’d tell her how my girl is Black, or how I was one of five blonde hair, blue eyed, people living in Miami. But that shit is stupid. The reality is that I’m not arguing with facts. I’m fighting with old memories of high school of thinking you’re not enough. I’m fighting with jealousy of not getting into college you wanted. I’m fighting with the anger of not getting bothered by police officers on a more frequent places. I’m fighting with the constant media stream that reinforces every type of negative stereotype.

Never mind that I grew up in a trailer park and have cigarette scars from my dad. Never mind I grew up in a small town where I had regular run in with the law because my hair was cut in a blue mohawk. Never mind I got picked on for wearing pants that didn’t fit me because they were my brothers. Never mind the media tells me I need to move completely out of the way for everyone else now that I worked hard to barely make the middle class. All that shit is irrelevant.

Trust me, I’m aware. I understand it better than most. The whole world is fucked up. It’s a random chaotic sting of events and most people only care about the shit that directly effects them. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about you, or any of those things that happened to you in your childhood. I just wanted the opportunity to share my humor and try to brighten your day. It’s not just your point of view out there. We’re all scared. We’re all insecure. Everyone is a lot more alike than different. We all feel the same emotions, but justify them differently because the situation is unique to us. It’s kind of funny when you think about it.

All I’m trying to say is, next time hear the whole fucking joke before you crucify me.

The Networking Event

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A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to a Networking Event with her.

A Networking Event.

I don’t mind meet and greets, nor do I mind conventions. But a Networking Event? These words alone make my testicles shrivel up. Leave it to the Millennial Generation to design some bullshit ritual like this. We’re so busy that we have to designate a time and place for us to ask the simple question “What do you do for a living?” We can’t just be polite at the train stop or airport bar. No.

We have to go to some hotel lounge to brag about what we do for 10 hours of the day and hand out business cards, so they don’t collect dust on the shelf. It’s like a High School reunion for successful people, except you didn’t go to school with any of them. What the hell? One night every ten years isn’t good enough for these people? They chase success like a junkie because the feeling of owning an E class Benz is better than a C class. Fucking Millennials.

This thing sounds awful. I have to pay 15 bucks to get a name tag that has my name and my company on it. I also get a complementary free drink in which I have to wait in a Black Friday sized line for a small Dixie cup of Mohawk Vodka and Cranberry Juice. During the line, Dan Scott from a Pharmaceutical company, will try to impress my friend Erin by telling her he just won the March Salesman contest, while he sneaks mental shots of her cleavage. I guess I can’t blame him, she is quiet endowed in that category.

I heard back in the 70’s the Grateful Dead got invited to a party at the Playboy Mansion, they didn’t want to go to. Jerry, Phil, and the rest played bartender and spiked the cups with Acid. All the Bunnies were tripping their skimpy skirts off. Even though I hate psychedelics, it still sounds like my kind of party. I want to see how these people act when something they didn’t plan for happens. That’s when you really find out if someone worth being in your network.

Anyways, I’m going to go because she said the place had good burgers, so there’s that.

 

 

The Dead Man

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This is a story about a dead man, although he’s not dead yet. That part happens later.

No, at the beginning he was driving his new Porsche down the Florida Turnpike and I was sitting next to him. We’re really getting after it. I mean we were weaving in and out of cars like Dominic Toretto. We were going so fast, I could barely hear Journey over the sound of the wind. The palm trees dropped out the rear view mirror like Paul Bunyan was working. That fast!

Now, I’m from Idaho. We don’t drive like this. Even when I lived in Miami, I didn’t drive like this. I fit in with all the other snow birds going 65 in the middle lane. So here I am in the passenger’s seat, just clutching the ‘Oh Shit Handle’-begging the Dead Man to slow down. But he laughed and kept on cruising. Hey, that’s the Dead Man for you.

We met years back at a car show when I lived here. I held an unlit cigarette in my hand while I scoped out this GTO. It was a gorgeous machine. The dead man came up to admire and asked me if I have a light. We talk about the car for a few hours, and the next thing I know, we’re meeting up for drinks once a week. I meet his family, and he gets invited to my wedding. Sometimes you just click with people.

Anyways that day in the Porsche, I was just visiting. The dead man really wanted me to come down. He said he had to see in me in person for this one. Needless to say, I was shocked when he showed up in the 911 Porsche at the airport. That was his dream car! I couldn’t believe he bought it! I jumped in and we took off down the Highway.

“So you hungry Jeff?” the Dead Man said.

“Yea, I’m starving,” I said.

We exited the highway and I finally let go of the roof handle. I guess I felt safe with the slower pace of traffic or something. We drove around looking for a good spot when I saw a Halal Guys. I couldn’t wait anymore. We had to stop. At that point, I was way past the stomach growls. The Dead Man just shook his head and we pulled over.

Now at the restaurant he started acting a little funny. It’s like he’s got something to say but there’s a clog going on upstairs. His blue eyes start shifting around and he starts using his hands a lot to talk. Finally I say something.

“You doing okay man?”

“Not really, I got something to tell you.” He took a deep breath.

“I have stage three lung cancer.”

Wow. I mean talk about out of left field. The Dead Man and I talk a couple times a month. This never came up once. It’s like I didn’t even know the man, and he gave the toast at my wedding! I wanted to ask him all the usual worry questions, but what came out wasn’t anything close.

“So, is that why you bought the Porsche?”

He laughed. He had that kind of laugh that made it okay not to answer the question. We finished our lunch but it was quiet. I don’t even think the fans in restaurant were on anymore. We got back in the 911 and took off down the highway. Hauling ass of coarse.

This time on the Turnpike was different . I didn’t grab the overhead handle like before. The speed was just an afterthought. I didn’t even flinch when a little custom Civic tried to play with us. I mean I should’ve. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t say anything. It’s completely unlike me. Maybe if I did, the scene would’ve been different. But then again, maybe not.

The Civic pulled up to our left and honked. The driver flipped us off and juiced it.  The dead man just smiled and the 911 chased after him. I flew back in the seat. I’m pretty sure my eyes were glued open. As we caught up to him, the Dead Man started flipping him off. And that’s the last thing I remember before the crash.

After that, I woke up in hospital bed wearing a gown and covered in stitches. My wife was beside me. She grabbed my hand and told me everything. How the semi truck in the left lane next to us blew a tire. How it fishtailed into our lane. How the custom Civic driver saw the whole thing and called 911. And finally, she told me how Jerry was thrown from the driver side window,

and was pronounced dead.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

 

I was six beers deep on that Sunday, a common site after my break up. I’d get off my short morning shift at the restaurant, and drink until my head stopped pounding from the night before. The process was simple, just one bud light at a time. The amount it took never mattered since I road a twelve speed Schwinn everywhere.

The new server worked that morning too. She was recently divorced with two boys. I pegged her age at 46 -double mine at the time- but I never clarified with her. She got the job as a waitress after the separation. Before that she was a stay at home mom, so it’s only fitting that she fell into this industry. On that morning, she told me her husband got the seven year itch, which was term I never heard before. That’s why she got short when I asked what it meant.

The Cubs got their ass kicked by Cincinnati that day. I’ll never forget because she wore a Reds T-shirt instead of her uniform. She sat down after her shift and pretended to ask the score. Even though I was already four beers deep, I resisted the urge to punch her in the tits.

She was very handsy, and always had to touch you when she spoke. You know, a hand on the back for a secret, or an arm grab when she got excited about something. Everyone hated it, except me. I think, I just enjoyed anyone who enjoyed me. But that’s typical during a break up.

After her first drink, she told me she had to pick up her kids. She also said that she had plans with her new boyfriend, a tall, dark, and handsome type with a motorcycle. Yet she still ordered another Vodka Sprite. And another after that one. It’s funny how quick plans change when drinks and good conversation is involved.

On the 8th inning, we stopped watching the massacre and quizzed each other over the bar music. I was good. Within the first guitar riff, I knew the answer. She didn’t stand a chance until I finally got stumped. It was that one famous 80’s song, I know you’ve heard it before. It says something about mother nature and ruling the world. I couldn’t think of the name, but I knew the song because my Ex played it all the time.

Anyways, she was shocked that I couldn’t answer, and punched me in the arm. I smacked my bud light and it flew into the air. The bottle shattered against the mirror behind the bar. I don’t remember who the bartender was but she kicked us out right after. Some bullshit right? I mean, we made a mistake sure, but we worked there. I made a joke that I’d been kicked out of nicer shit holes than this. She grabbed my arm and walked out.

We stood by the side of the building and I lit up a cigarette. I’m not sure if she smoked but she accepted it when I passed it over. She took a drag and started talking about her new Boyfriend. She said he was great, and told me she liked him, but paused. I blew out smoke and she went on.

“I don’t know, I just don’t think I’m ready yet.” She said.

“Ready for what?” I said.

“You know. He just gives me this look, like he knows his future or something. And, I don’t know, I guess I’m somehow apart of it.” She said.

“Sounds kind of heavy” I said.

“It is. But at the same time, it’s not. I know none of that make sense but maybe you’ll understand when you get older.” She said.

“Nope, I’m staying 23 forever.” I said, smiling before I continued.

“But I get it. You just had your plan just get rocked by life. Sounds like you kind of want to hang out a bit. Maybe just take it slow, smell the roses, get lost in an adventure of the day. Have a drink with a cook and get your ass kicked in song trivia.” I said.

“You didn’t even know that last song.” She said.

I was going to take the joke further but she kissed me. I didn’t see it coming. I was so drunk I don’t think I close my eyes. I was going to ask if she wanted to get another drink but there was an interruption.

A guy pulled up in a Suburban and started yelling. He ran out and left his door open. He was a shorter guy, about my height and he just kept screaming at her. She tried to play it off like she had to stay late, but her words slurred at every vowel. I couldn’t tell you what was said, but I remembered him pointing to the two boys in the back of the SUV. Tears rolled down her face and she ran to her car. The guy flipped me off as he got into the Suburban and drove off.

I took a step back until I hit the building. My back slid down the wood until I hit my ass on the cement. I dug in my pocket until I found another Camel. I sat there quiet and kept my eyes down on the white parking lot.

The next day she put her notice in, but it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I saw her again. She popped in on a Sunday for her last check. I was at the end of the bar, nursing a Bud Light by myself. I said hello, but the conversation didn’t go far. She has a motorcycle helmet in her hand and said her fiance was waiting outside.

She left and I ordered another Bud Light. I looked in the cracked mirror behind the bar and gave myself a toast.

She was finally ready.