Sunday, November 29, 2009

Winners Don't Use Drugs

Up until fairly recently, the greatest aspiration of my life had been: To be cool. Throughout elementary school, high school, and college, my goal had been to not only feel cool, but to also appear as such to my peers.

I put great effort into this by engaging in such activities as hanging around cool people, and wearing brand name clothing that others would recognize as "cool."

But it was a house of cards. And my coolness was always, at best, fleeting. It was almost as though the universe knew this and was going to make its best efforts to point this out to me. And on two very specific occasions, my ability to appear cool was squashed by an almost clairvoyant ability of others to point out deficiencies I wasn't even aware I had.

I was and still am, a scrawny white kid from the suburbs. My world awareness and cosmopolitan nature did not come along until much later in my life. As a kid, my music knowledge was limited to the radio station Z100 which played the top 20 pop songs in the country ad nauseum. I knew vaguely of the blazing Hip Hop and R&B of Hot 97.1, but I did not listen to it, nor did I understand it.

My childhood best friend however, was much more urban conscious than I ever was. He knew that radio station and its songs very well. It was his forte. He was much tougher than I was. And even though he lived but 2 miles from me, he was over the border and into Queens. Things were different there. He was hardened steel and I had all the street toughness as a bowl of wet spaghetti.

So one night my best bud and I went to the movies by ourselves. We didn't meet girls or get into any shenanigans, but in terms of independence and growing up, it was kind of a big deal. And I was feeling like I was really something.

So suffice to say when we got picked up from the movies by his mother, sister, and brother, all of us crammed in the car like a gang of teen sardines, and the Hot 97 came on, the coolness I had been feeling started to quiver a little bit.

And before I knew it, everyone (minus myself) was singing along to a Mary J. Blige song. And my best friend's sister, a very gregarious girl, turned to me out of the blue and in an accusatory manner that made my soul drop through my butt, said;

"Don't you know the words to this song?"

Of course I didn't. And admitting so was like admitting my status as a second class citizen. And all I could do was stare and make a constipated face. My coolness cover was blown.

But as I would find out, not knowing something, was way better than thinking you did.

Back before the D.A.R.E. program taught all of us prepubescent lumps of clay what drugs were, and exactly how to use them, we were limited to second hand knowledge from friends and older siblings.

Unfortunately, I did not pay close enough attention.

That became blatantly obvious when my sister and I were at a pool party of our parents' family friends one summer. At this party there were a lot of kids of outgoing personalities and considerable privilege. Kids who had done the coolest things, had the coolest toys, and clothing. Kids that I, of course, wanted to impress.

I was trying so hard to fit in that I was wearing my prized #9 Dan Majerle Olympic Dream Team basketball jersey. It was the crown jewel of my wardrobe.

We were sitting at the table eating hamburgers and hot dogs and pasta salad and dinner rolls. We ran the gamut from pre-pubescent to post, and we were all engaged in one large conversation of multiple topics.

The conversation shifted and the topic of drugs came up. Marijuana and smoking weed was mentioned. Somebody mentioned being stoned. And out of the blue, for no obvious reason, and like she had been clued into a major gap in my knowledge, one of the older girls turned to me and said, "You do know what being stoned means don't you?"

Of course I did. And I told them.

"It means to have rocks thrown at you."

I am hard pressed to find a time in my life when people laughed harder at me than they did that day.

My catholic upbringing had betrayed me. Never once did I think Jesus might have been a pothead. My knowledge was way too literal.

Everyone laughed and my poor sister was so embarrassed that I was essentially useless when it came to being cool. Especially since she too probably wanted acceptance from these kids. One particular boy that I did not like really pissed me off with his laughing and general existence.

I was so embarrassed from being made fun of, and in poor control of my emotions that I, in fact, stoned that boy.

I took a dinner roll from my plate and threw it at the boy's head.

Direct hit.

I believe that the boy I pelted with a carb grenade, responded in kind by throwing a limited amount of sprite on my jersey.

And me being completely embarrassed, and wanting to escape, I ran into the house to change my jersey. Not so much worried about the quality of my jersey, but that my own ignorance had turned into an assault on my most favorite article of clothing. Perhaps I was really throwing that bread at my own embarrassment.

Either way, I learned a lot about being cool that day. I learned I wasn't. No matter how hard I try, no matter who I think I am, some things never change. And I learned another lesson. Whether it is right or not...

Sometimes it feels good to throw bread at people.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Dentist

Let me be honest with you. There are few places I hate more than the dentist's office. Unlike the DMV or the library where the pain you experience is more of a general anguish. You just leave those places hating the entire human species. But when you leave the dentist's office you are often in an actual physical pain and you direct your hate at one specific person.

It is weird because up until college I actually really liked the dentist.


The dentist of my youth was quite a character. He'd squirt people with his little water tool, he'd make fun of you, he'd play little games. He was a person that really actually liked his customers whereas some of the dentists I've had since then, may or may not have done their dental training at Guantanamo Bay.

Also contributing to my early love of the dentist was his choice of dental hygienists. Oh man were they beautiful. The closer I got to puberty the more acutely aware I became of the various assortments of hot blondes and brunettes circling the office like a bunch of hot sharks.

They could have told me anything and I would listened.

OK hunny you need to start brushing your teeth with a used toilet brush OK?

Sounds great!

Then things changed. After I got back from college I had to get a new dentist that I instantly did not like.

While she had a pleasant demeanor and good intentions, she also had a hand like a foot. She told me that I now had a cavity in every single tooth and would be visiting her weekly for the remainder of my summer.

Here is the worst question ever:

Have you been flossing?

If you really don't know the answer to that question then you have got to be about the most awful dentist on the planet. I know you know the answer to that question. You know I know you know I haven't been flossing. So this is a power play isn't it dentist? You don't need to make me feel bad about being a horrible father to my teeth.

Kind of like asking a kid covered in mud if he has been playing in the mud. We both know the answer so just cut the crap. You just want me to admit I was wrong you sycophantic sadist with your sharp tools with their awful noises.

Who flosses? I flossed exactly 0 times a week until I got my first cavities at which point I continued to not floss. The only times I had ever flossed I am pretty sure it was the direct result of having eaten corn on the cob. I continued not flossing until I got home from college and had a cavity in every single frigging tooth.

So why can't we just skip the theatrics, you give me your 2 minute shpiel on how I should only floss if I want to "keep my teeth." And then you can send me home with a new toothbrush, some sample floss, and a tiny toothpaste and we can call it a day.

I started going in weekly, WEEKLY, to have cavities filled. I think it was something like 5 weeks in a row. Not that it wasn't a blast to go have cavities filled after my full day job at a summer camp - it really was. Sitting in the pain chair after 10 hours with sweaty, stinky, suntan lotiony 7 year-olds, so I could get a shot of Novocain into my face really is my idea of a good time.

The assistant would ask me if I wanted to watch TV and I would say yes and they would put on the news. Homicide, poverty and political scandal? Yes please. Don't mind if I do. That seems like a great appetizer before you drill the shit out of the bones in my face. Nothing puts me in a dentisty mood like the news.

I would sit or "lie" in the dentist chair the same way someone lays on the top of a 50 foot water slide, or perhaps, waiting to be shot out of a cannon.

I cross one ankle over the other, my toes crossed and curled inside my shoes, and my hands folded over my belt. I do this so that I can white knuckle (or white toe, as it were) my time in the dentist chair without too much of a violent twitch during the awfulness thereby causing the dentist to jab a sharpened instrument through my cheek.

And when I was having cavities filled back in my time of not flossing, let me tell you it was not a pretty site. The dentist was using picks, flosses, whips, chains, rotary saws, belt sanders... all kinds of tools. All the while I bled like a hemophiliac.

Which by the way, the sound of the drill... is there really nothing we can do about that? I mean you have to be some kind of sadist to enjoy using that. It sounds like the universe is being ripped in half. That sound makes me want to throw a bag full of kittens off a cliff.

My dentist would hit a nerve with her pokey tool and then ask

Did that hurt?

Oh no dentist that actually felt quite good. I was just testing your steady hand. Very impressive. Please, continue to stab me.

Or she'd start working before the Novocain started to work and then stab me again to which I would respond, "AWOOWAH."

Oh does that hurt?


Oh well... it shouldn't.

Well I'm glad it shouldn't but unfortunately, my mouth's nerves don't work in shouldn't, they work in do's. And they do hurt when you do stab me.

Every week we worked on a different part of my mouth, so every week for the 2 hours after my appointment, a different half of my face would be frozen in what I like to call "The many expressions of Rocky Balboa."

I would go to the gym with a quadrant of my face completely numbed so that any attempt to talk or smile would result in instant drool.

But things are better now. I floss regularly and I have a dentist who is much more intelligent, kind, and friendly. I can think of few people I'd rather be stabbed by.

Now, if he could just get some hotter hygienists.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm F'n Sorry

Dear Riders of the New York City Subway,

I would like to apologize. I have been totally inappropriate. Or as the kids these days are saying, "totes inapropes." I really must beg your forgiveness for my behavior as of late. It has been unkind, impolite, and generally rude. There are several people in particular I would like to apologize to, certain individuals who have been on the receiving end of the gravest of my transgressions. I feel it necessary to direct my apologizes to you.

To the woman with the kids on the E train 3 weeks ago:

You probably don't remember me. I was sitting on the the other end of the train but my rudeness was affecting you even from there. I was staring. I can't really justify it. It is in fact, unjustifiable. If I remember correctly, you were yelling (justifiably) at the top of your lungs at your 3 year old child who was behaving poorly and flailing herself all over the floor of the train. I admit I didn't really stare at first. I noticed the scenario, I observed it, but I certainly didn't stare.

However eventually I did start to stare. I recall it being somewhere around the time you yelled at your 3 year old to "Get the f*ck up off the f*cking floor."

This is nothing out of the ordinary, and I know most people were told that as a child. In fact, just because I was raised by parents who didn't care enough about me to use language like that, does not mean I should have sought that kind of mentorship from you.

So again, it was completely rational after mildly scolding your child for you to look up at the populous of the train car and scream (even louder), "WHAT THE F*CK ARE Y'ALL LOOKING AT?"

I mean, if I were you I would have done the exact same thing. What the f*ck was I looking at indeed? I should not seek parenting mentors in pubic places. Damn it Rich Boehmcke you are so needy! You should just consult a manual. So, I apologize.

To the gentleman with the face full of piercings and the booming voice sitting across from me on the F train last Sunday morning at 2 am:

I want to apologize for praying to god that you would explode in a fiery inferno of flaming fire. I know that wasn't kind of me. I know we didn't speak or even interact for the 25 minutes during which you used the word hypothesize 29 times while "wooing" those 2 girls sitting next to you whom you did not know.

Excellent courage by the way. It takes a lot of chutzpah to generate the type of classy conversation you did with perfect strangers.

I know every single person in the train and I were in agreement in believing that those 2 women were not into you, and it was silly of us to think that you talking about the girth of your member would be an unsuccessful tactic. While I am sure that you regularly bed women of the highest caliber, forgive me for thinking that you could better serve our society by bursting into flames than reproducing. That was not nice of me to think. I take it back. Again, I am sorry.

And finally, to the man standing next to me on the 6 train on Tuesday morning of last week:

Do you remember me? Perhaps you remember myself and 87 other individuals getting on the already packed train at the peak of rush hour. You might recall how I barely got on the train and had to stand against the door between you and another man. I believe it was after about 4 minutes of my standing completely still with our shoulders touching while I read GQ that I really started to piss you off.

I apologize. It was at that point in time that I commanded my presence to really annoy you. So it is totally understandable that you screamed at me, "My man, can I get some space? CAN I GET SOME SPACE?!"

I apologize for looking around baffled like I didn't know what was going on. I realized that I should have instantly folded myself into a toaster like a transformer instead of looking around the completely packed train for someone to corroborate my obviously irrational existence.

I also should have looked harder to find an empty spot that was not near a rail or wall so that at the first bump, with nothing to hang onto, I would have fallen into you like I had forgotten to bring my knees with me when I left the house. Even that would have been better than standing perfectly motionless next to you.

I also apologize that I did not invent some space to exist in and instead just stood there shrugging my shoulder like I didn't have a solution. So I take full responsibility for your explosion. And frankly I completely understand why you screamed "F*CKING FAGGOTS" at me.

I mean it makes sense, I deserved it. People can't just be expected to dress in something aside from sneakers and a sweatshirt and read about colorful socks at 9 am in the morning. I was asking for that one. I apologize.

So fellow riders, please accept my apologies. I will make sure my behavior in the future is way more "appropes."



Sunday, November 8, 2009

The S Word

There is a masochistic part of me that enjoys going through airport security. Not because it is fun to do. Hell no. It is awful. Taking off half of your clothes and taking half of your items out of your luggage is not fun.

I actually have an idea to speed it up though. I propose we have a security check in for nudists. I know, I know. Multiple posts on this very blog have seen me detailing my issues with those who feel it necessary to take off their clothes at every possible moment.

But when it comes to airport security, they already rifle through your toiletries, make you take off your clothes, and practically cop a feel on you as you try and get past them. So it really can't get much worse than it already is.

So let's set up a lane for people who don't mind walking through a metal detector naked. Nothing will beep. And you are free to go. Hurray. I feel like we could scan a lot more people at a much quicker pace.

If you feel comfortable enough to do it, more power to you. You would have to continue to go through the metal detector just to make sure you weren't hiding things in your... mouth.

Overall, I kind of doubt the effectiveness of the security check in. Mainly because to get into a bar in New York City the bouncer has to run my ID through an electronic validation scanner. But to get on an airplane they just... look at it.

The reason I enjoy the security line is because it takes people way out of their comfort zone. Everybody is in a rush and everybody is stressing. And that is hilarious to watch.

Shoes come off, laptops come out, coats, keys, and of course liquids all get removed. Everything gets its own bin. And passengers run back and forth along the the table trying to make sure everything gets into the scanner. It looks like that episode of I Love Lucy at the assembly line of the chocolate factory, hurrying to beat the pace of the rapidly running conveyor belt.

By the time you actually get to the other side of security it looks like a scene out of a 1st grade classroom at cleanup time. Everybody's stuff is all over the floor, nobody is wearing shoes, and nobody has a belt to hold their pants up.

After a recent trip where I only had 1 piece of carry on luggage, I was able to compile a list of things that won't arise suspicion with airport security in New York, but WILL in Denver.

1. Big plastic sword
2. Kenneth Cole Signature cologne
3. Hair Taffy

When the TSA woman in Denver asked to do a manual check of my bag I readily complied. I figured the pirate sword might raise some eyebrows, but I did not expect her to spend a full minute checking the "blade" and handle of the sword like it was a container for smuggling drugs.

Like I was Pablo Escobar trying to smuggle my cocaine out of Denver which everyone knows is the cocaine capital of Colorado.

Even if I was trying to smuggle drugs, do you really think a plastic pirate sword is the best option? I mean shouldn't it be something that doesn't look suspicious?

I would like to point out at this point that I do not regularly travel with a plastic sword. While I consider it to be a fantastic accessory to any outfit, I was traveling with it on this particular occasion because it was part of my Halloween costume that weekend.

When she gave up hope of finding contraband in my swashbuckling accessory, she put it down, gave me a sly smile and said, "Let's just put that here, we don't want to the police over here do we?"

Well, I mean, no. But why would the police come over? You realize the sword is not real right?


First of all, you already have x-rayed my sword (I never imagined writing that sentence) so why are you examining it by hand? Unless of course you don't trust the x-ray machine, and you yourself have a type of incredible vision that can see through plastic.

When I fly out of New York I don't do the plastic bag thing for my liquids because most of the time they don't care. It's when I am in the smaller cities that I find myself having to explain the things in my dopp kit.

Then as she checked out the bottom of my cologne and discovered it was the appropriate ounce amount, she put it down, with a "Let's put that away, it looks expensive."

Damn skippy.

And then she came to my hair taffy. I feel the need to explain that I do not purposely search out and purchase hair taffy. I used to work for a magazine that sold off all their reviewed cosmetics at the end of the year for a dollar each. The male products were few and far between so I snagged what I could.

It just so happened there was some expensive hair taffy ($44 bucks, what a deal!) which I came across, and it smells good!

So she picks it up, looks at it, reads the label aloud and follows with, "Taffy? I've never even heard of that."

Alright lady, no need to make feel like an outcast in your city.

While I have loved every visit I have had to the Denver airport and will probably return many times, I question the excitement level where the most exciting thing seen by 3 pm in the airport is a plastic pirate sword.

I know this was the most exciting thing the TSA woman has seen all day because she told me so.

She then proceeded to explain the process for putting liquids into a plastic bag. And then she demonstrated by putting liquids into a plastic bag. I nodded along emphatically because in all fairness I broke the rules, and she was so dang nice. It was kind of sweet.

In fact she made my experience so pleasant that I almost feel bad writing about it now. Maybe I should send her a gift as a thank you.

I wonder if she'd like some hair taffy?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Potty Time

I thought I had said all there was to say about restrooms and the etiquette therein, but like many things in this life, as soon as I thought I was out of things to go crazy about, I discovered several more. I am reminded on a daily basis about the incredibly strange, gross, and bizarre bathroom behavior that exists everywhere.

The fear of Swine Flu has helped drill this home for me.

We are at a point in our societal history where we have used up all excuses for not washing our hands. If you have an elementary school diploma and you did not grow up in the jungle, you should be aware of the fact that hand washing involves soap, water, and some vigorous scrubbing.

Not, as some people seem to think, water and some weak shaking of the hands.

People pretty much fit into 1 of the following 3 categories.

1. The Scrubber. This should be everybody, but unfortunately it is not. This individual uses soap and water to cleanse their hands of the filth that has been accumulated between the last hand washing and the present one because the bathroom is not the only place you can pick up germs.

2. The Faker. This person is either too lazy to really wash their hands and wants you to believe they did, or they honestly believe that a quick rinse under the faucet is enough to get rid of the germs. This is also probably the same individual who uses the 35 second rule for dropped food and believes you can get 2 uses out of a pair of underwear between washes.

3. The Balls Out Villain. No soap, no faking, no cares. This human has no need to make anyone believe anything. They ignore germs. They also intentionally park in handicapped spots and most likely punch pandas.

I have also noticed that many people see nothing wrong with bringing a food item into the restroom. I am so completely baffled by this that I can barely bring myself to write about it. I find this to be a grave sin.

The bathroom is a place of leaving behind. There is nothing in the bathroom that you should take with you. Even those fancy bathrooms that offer up candy and Tic Tacs are suspect. I am not a proponent of buying a pack of Juicy Fruit that spent a half a day sitting in a room full of toilets.

Nor should you bring anything out that you have put down in the bathroom. If it touches the counter, or really anything in that room, you should either throw it out or immediately light it on fire. No questions asked.

I mean seriously people, you bring your tuna sandwich or whatever it is into the grossroom (its original name but changed to restroom in 1847) and then place it on the sink. THE SINK! Of all the places the sink is where people rinse the germs off their hands without soap and then shake them around like a cootie sprinkler so those germs are everywhere and not washed safely down the drain like they should be.

Next are those individuals who feel the need to flush the urinal before peeing. Flushing a toilet before going number 2 I can understand. If the previous train has not left the station before yours is about to pull in, that makes sense.

But the urinal? Why are you flushing? Do you have issues with peeing in dirty water? Do you find it offensive sir? Do you require a receptacle full of clean water to pee in? If this is the case, then I am going to insist you stay the hell away from the water cooler.

It does make me laugh though, the urgency which people actually go into the restroom. If I am washing my hands and someone practically jogs into the restroom, I kind of chuckle to myself and think, yea, I've been there before friend.

But if I am in a stall, and I hear somebody stride briskly into the bathroom towards my direction, I feel like they are going to kick in the door like I am running a meth lab on an episode of COPS.

Again, somebody hustled into the bathroom while I was in the stall recently and I braced myself for impact. But he veered into the stall next to me. Even though he could have been one stall down, he chose the one directly next to me.

He then proceeded to pull toilet paper frantically from the roll for no less than 15 seconds. To the best of my knowledge (and you can hear everything when you are that close) he had not commenced his primary activity yet. So I could only assume he was either building himself a formidable nest, or perhaps mummifying a dead Egyptian.

This would have been less stressful for me had this person just put a buffer stall between us.

Hey here's a question. How come no public restroom I have ever been in has a window? Are they afraid that because the smell is so bad that it will make people want to jump? If you put that window in it wouldn't smell so bad to begin with.

There are no secrets in bathrooms. I can always tell when someone in my office is having a bad day by the smell of the bathroom. Some days I walk in and it is so unbearable I contemplate just turning right around.

On a recent visit the stench was so unbearable I gagged. As soon as I opened the door the smell hit me in the face like a hurricane of hot stink.

This past weekend I came across a first. This particular establishment had installed a fan in the corner of the ceiling. How brilliant is that? A fan to blow away the bad. How come this was the first time I had witnessed this?

There is so much good that can be done to improve the quality of public restrooms. The power is in your hands. Literally. That is some change I can believe in.

Or we can just keep peeing in a meth lab full of dead Egyptians.

Your choice.