Sunday, March 28, 2010

Old Enough To...

Raise your hand if you’re a grown up.

I am serious. If you feel like you’re a grown up, put your hand in the air. Ok, now when did you start feeling like that? Was it when you got engaged? Married? After the birth of your first child? What made you feel like a grown up and can you please tell me how I can feel like one too?

Growing up is taking a toll on my brain. Never mind the fact that I can barely function like a normal human (whatever that is), trying to figure out to behave while constantly adjusting that for the age that I am is becoming more and more difficult.

I always hear people talking about how they feel older than they are. And sometimes I get close to feeling that way. Really close… and then I have a night like I did this past Saturday where I eat 7 Entemann’s Chocolate Frosted Mini Donuts, and 3 Full sized crumb donuts. And I realize once again… I am not yet a man.

In the mental evolution spectrum I think I have JUST figured out how to act like a semi -confident 21 year-old. And that is great. But the catch is, of course, that this is coming about 5 years too late.

Plus I have absolutely no idea how old anybody else is.

I remember the first time I noticed this. I was at camp when I was 11, back when I looked like this:

Unfortunate I know.

Anyway. We went to beautiful Mount Airy Lodge in Pennsylvania for an overnight trip and had a dance party in their “club” with another camp that was there. For the first time in my life I actually walked across the dance floor to ask another 11 year old to dance. And do you know what she said?

She said, “You know I’m the counselor right? I’m 17.”

Pssha, of course.

Long awkward pause.

So um… you don’t want to dance?”

And that was the beginning of me pretending to know what the hell I was talking about when interacting with females. The trend has continued to this day.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 40, chances are I don’t know your age. If you are a woman that spectrum included all those between 16 and 45. I constantly wonder the ages of the people I talk to. I am shocked to find out people I think might be younger than me are in their late 30s with 2 kids. Or somebody who might be a great career mentor for me is really struggling with their sophomore year.

Of high school.

I think it’s genetic. When I was little and my dad would tell us a story about a kid in a store or something and I asked him how old the kid was my dad would say, “Oh you know, 7,8,9,10.”

I mean that’s a 40 percent fluctuation in possible age!

How old was she?
Oh you know, late 20s, early 40s.

Everybody looks the same age to me. Which makes me wonder, how old do I look?

I know I have a baby face, and I shave as infrequently as possible. I do this for several reasons. The main reason being that I am lazy. (This informs most of the decisions in my life) The second reason is that I don’t like scraping blades on myself, but also because I think having a few days scruff makes me look a little older.

When I am cleanly shaven like here I can’t even buy expired grape juice never mind a glass of wine.

Perhaps the intense stare is to confuse people into making them think I am older?

I’m sure I will get to a certain age where I will shave everyday to maintain my youthful exuberance. But how old do I look? At the bar I work at people regularly ask me if I am still in school.

But on the flip side, I have been noticing a strange trend recently. People have been calling me sir. Like, more than one person. Multiple people calling me sir, and one person called me mister.


Like I was buying a newspaper from him on the corner for a nickel.

Does this idiot look like a mister to you?


What do you mean what am I doing? I'm changing my socks obviously.


When I didn’t know a woman’s name I used to say, “Excuse me ma’am” until I kept getting yelled at. On more than one occasion I heard;

Do I look old to you?

At which point I froze because I know this is a trick question, and saying yes will probably get me slapped. The only logical response is to immediately fake your own death.

Or even worse they say something like, “How old do you think I am?”

At which point I say, “Old enough to vote?”

I really have no idea how old people are. I bartend, and have for 5 years. I might get into trouble on this but I never check I.D.s. Now I’m probably going to have busloads of 8th graders coming into the bar next week but I just take it for granted that anybody who orders a drink is of age.

I just don’t want to offend somebody when I ask to see their I.D. I have been to bars where sometimes I get carded and sometimes I don’t, by the same bouncer. I mean it’s not like I’m walking in there with a balloon and a box of animal crackers in my hand. I look pretty much the same most days. At least I think so.

I think going forward my best bet is to avoid all discussions about age. And I think I will stick to my regular regimen of not shaving.

And when it comes to the dance floor, as long as I avoid accidentally asking the campers to dance… I think I should be fine.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Magic Word

I was trying to buy Lady Gaga tickets last week (don’t judge me) and I noticed something.

The internet in confusing.

I’m not talking about how it is hard to keep up with your favorite Facebook and Twitter and YouTube videos and all that crap. No. I’m talking about how the internet is supposed to make things easier and yet I am spending more and more time doing one specific thing than I do anything else.

I am talking about verifying myself.

Back in the good old days of the internet (in like… 1996) everything was simple. There was AOL, there were websites, and there was chatting. Boom, end of story.

But most importantly, you could do anything and surf anywhere without verification. Now you need to verify that you are in fact a real live human and not some sort of droid or cyborg or… other bot type thing.

Even though it’s only a matter of time before scientists create a robot that can type in passwords they see on a screen. I mean just this week I saw a news blurb that scientists had built a robot that could balance a book on its head.

And it’s about damn time isn't it? For years I have been waiting for a robot to pass a posture class, and now, finally my dream has come true!

But I digress.

I appreciate websites beefing up protective measures for our safety; lord knows I am not looking to have my identity stolen. But the kinds of websites using this beefed up level of security doesn’t seem to make sense.

For example, I can go on my grocery delivery website, find all of my items, pick a delivery date, order, and confirm it, in less time than it takes me to actually figure out the security word on the ticket buying websites.

Before I even get the chance to purchase my tickets I have to figure this crap out.

What?! And also why? I’m not even sure the tickets you are going to show me are the ones I want. Just take me to the Lady Gaga tickets damn it. You are wasting valuable time! And yet you insist on making me try to figure out this nonsense to even have a chance at that.

Crayoned some? Crayoned? As in did you use your crayons today? Yes, I certainly crayoned today good sir.

Is this 600 or Goo? And one might think there would be a more rational pairing of words than goo and diaspora? Goo is more 5 year olds and diaspora is a bit more college diploma. So if I’m not a robot I’m either a toddler or an anthropologist.

It’s not jus the ticket buying websites, it’s also blogs. I might be opening a can of worms here but how come I can spend limitless amounts of money on my credit card without a verification word, but if I want to write “Ha, that was funny” on someone else’s blog I have to decode and rewrite a password. I feel like our prerogatives might be just the tiniest bit askew.

To me it’s like leaving the door to Fort Knox wide open while we have the Marines guard our Pogs.

I’m not sure how the people behind ticket vendors and blogs became the staunchest advocates of internet security but they are really taking their job seriously.

People talk about the “language of the internet” and I always thought it was ya know, a metaphor. Until I tried to buy these Lady Gaga (seriously, shut up) tickets.

At first I thought it was just another case of the internet being smarter than me. I thought these were words my average brain had not yet learned. But then I started looking them up and realized that wasn’t the case at all.

These words are MADE UP!

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve commented on this blog before you’ve noticed that the site gives you a word that you have to type in to make sure you are a real person.

I mean robots still must be getting through, because several weeks ago when I wrote about grooming myself I got this tasty comment.

Jimmy has left a new comment on your post "Second Puberty":

You have a nice blog. 
Nose hair clipper is in fact a personality grooming tool utilized to
trim down excess hairs in the ears and nostrils. You can get cheap 
nose hair clippers here

Chris - 
nose hair clipper 

Personality grooming tool you say? Hrmm, I never realized that.


But if the words aren’t made up than they must be words from somebody with poor knowledge of grammar or perhaps a speech impediment. And I guess by this knowledge, robots can’t have speech impediments so they can’t sound it out.

These words might not make sense to you. So I am trying to think of new ways to use them. What follows are actual words I have had to type in for verification purposes. And I have selected some of my favorite words and turned them into a glossary of sorts.

Abbeamin - As in when you walk out side and the sun is out and the sun is abbeamin!

Endazoo - As in when you want to go to the Aquarium endazoo.

Hydrove - As in when you are out of breath and you tell somebody, “Hoh my god! Hydrove all night to get here!

Inessect - As in you gotta meet me where da street inessect with da otha street.

Ovedder - As in whaddaya mean where do you get da free ice cream? It’s ovedder!

Pedder - As in this cat really gets nasty when you try and pedder.

Wadvi - As in wadvi going to do tonight? (This appears to be more of a Russian accident than poor grammar, but for our current purposes it will stay)

Who is coming up with these words? Logic would say they are randomly generated by a computer, but they are just a little too close to actual words to count. I mean, they wouldn’t win you any points in scrabble that is for sure.

I could try and win with a word like "blegemb" but I have a feeling some jerk with a dictionary would call me out.

I suppose I’m just mad because by the time I could finally figure out the passwords on the concert ticket website, Lady Gaga had already sold out.

Frigging internet.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dial 1 for Confusion

Cell phones have allowed us a tremendous amount of freedom. We can talk to our friends wherever we may be, make dinner plans, chat with our relatives, and yell at our cable provider from any place in the world. They have freed us from the bondage of land lines and the tyranny of the corded telephone. But there is something cell phones have not been able to free us from.

And that is the wrong number phone call.

I got my first cell phone in college. I was actually studying in Italy and it was more for emergency purposes than anything else. Nobody except a couple of friends back home and my parents knew I had one. I didn’t really get many wrong numbers. And if I did, they were in Italian and I couldn’t understand them anyway.

When I got back to the states I got my first brand spanking new cell American cell phone with what I thought was a pretty random Arizona cell phone number. Little did I know that number was 1 digit off from the Sunburst Resort.

People would call me and the conversation would go like this.

Hi I’d like to make a reservation.
I’d like to make a reservation for the 26 through the 30th of next month.
Um…. What?
Is this the Sunburst resort?
Oh. No.

And then they’d hang up on me all frustrated. Like I was the idiot. Like I’m running around town scratching the last digit off the phone number on the printed materials of hotels through the Phoenix metropolitan area. Some nerve I had, not taking their reservation over the phone for the hotel they didn’t call that I don’t work at.

It started happening so frequently that I thought about actually just taking the reservations and letting them fend for themselves. Hey, it’s not my fault they screwed up. But by the time I came to that resolution they stopped calling.

I also used to get calls for somebody whose nickname was “Golden Boy.” This would not have been nearly as confusing had his real first name not been Rich.

What’s up Golden boy?
Is this golden boy?
I don’t think so?
Is this Rich?
Rich Gulden?
Oh. No.

My dad’s cell phone number used to be 1 off from the towel department at Bed Bath and Beyond. People called him on more than one occasion to get a conversation that went like this.

Hi this is Fred.
Hi can I have towels please?
Can you transfer me to towels please?
You have the wrong number.
This isn’t Bed Bath and Beyond?

No you idiot face, I’m playing a prank on you. You know us folk in the bedding department, always screwing with the guys in towels. What the hell do you think?!

Did they think my dad misheard them?

Oh TOWELS. I thought you said trowels, and I was thinking to myself, man, we don’t sell any shovels.

You’d think the wrong number would result in more hilarity and less anger and frustration. People always end the calls so abruptly. As though I am going to keep them on the phone just to make fun of them.

Like my friend Julie who got a call from some guy freshman year looking to rectify problems with his girlfriend. Julie was not his girlfriend but after hanging up and trying to call his actual girlfriend only to get her voicemail, he called Julie back to ask for her advice.

Perhaps he was a womanizer of wrong misdials; perhaps he liked the sound of her voice. We all found it quite strange that he called her back for relationship advice. Perhaps he didn’t have any friends of his own. Maybe he really needed a (very) impartial third party to help solve his problem. Maybe he was really in a bind.

This must have been the thing because he called her back a third time to ask some follow up questions. And Julie, bless her heart, stayed on to chat with him to humor him and engage in a story. She really commits to the fun. And it was her thought process that I channeled recently when I had a similar scenario pop up in my own life.

Last week I was out with my good friends Josh and Marissa whose wedding I attended 2 years ago. After a dinner full of delicisiousness and more than our fair share of wine, we headed out to a pub to keep the night going. Well a couple drinks later Josh’s phone rang with an unknown number. He wasn’t going to answer it so I asked if I could. The following conversation is not exaggerated or made up.

“This is Ramon” I said as I picked up the phone.
“Oh I’m sorry I think I have the wrong number.
What number were you looking for?
(She gives some number that is not Josh’s)
Oh no that is not this number, who were you looking for?
Oh I was looking for my daughter.

It was at this point that I wondered about this woman. A. Why is she still talking to me? B. How much does she really care about her daughter if she can’t even take the time to put her on speed dial?

Where is your daughter?
She’s in her room.
Where are you?
I’m in my room.
Are you in the same house?
You are calling your daughter from inside the house?
Yes, her music is too loud and I was going to ask her to turn it down.

It was at this point that I realized this woman must really not like her daughter if she doesn’t even want to see her face to tell her to turn off her music! How far could she be away from her? Close enough to hear the music but not far enough away to need to call her?

Oh, do you usually call your daughter from inside the house?
Oh OK, well, I hope she turns down the music.
Yes me too.
Take care have a good night.
Thanks you too.

And that was it. We will never know if her daughter turned down the music. Perhaps I could have been more helpful, given her more guidance, suggested more solutions.

Or maybe I could have just transferred her to towels.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

M as in Monkey


If you are like most human beings on the planet you have no idea how to pronounce my last name. I understand. Trust me. Listening to people butcher my last name for the last 26 years has not been a pleasant experience.

I admit having 4 consonants in a row really isn’t the best way to make a word. Hmck. I don’t know how you would even tell someone to pronounce that by itself. Saying it aloud sounds like you are trying to dislodge a hot dog from your esophagus.



So let me be clear, it is pronounced Bem-Key. Not Bomk. Not Boeemick. Not Bombchek

Don’t try to interpret what the letters might say. Don’t try and figure it out. Just trust me; it is pronounced Bem-Key.

My whole life people trying to pronounce my last name have failed to do so successfully. I can count on 2 hands how many times a stranger got it right on the first try.

In fact I have come to expect people to misspell my last name as well. Like when I have to visit my corporate partners for work. I will have to show my I.D. at the front desk to get a visitor pass which will usually have a letter or two out of place. So you can imagine my surprise when I handed my license to the guy last week, my license that says RICHARD BOEHMCKE on it and got back this pass:

Really? I mean that’s kind of like running a whole marathon and then tripping over your own feet at the finish line. I actually had a flashback to another incident of being called Robert. Did this guy actually think Robert just sounded better?

If I hand people a business card or something with my last name on it, they ask me how it’s pronounced. And I will tell them. But I can only imagine what they are thinking as they try to reconcile what I’ve told them with the letters they see in front of their face.

Where the hell are the vowels?

It is like telling somebody to drive a car where turning the wheel right makes the car go left and stepping on the gas makes the car stop. People seem to want to believe me but they struggle to make it work.

Growing up in my house my family knew if the person calling the house for my Dad was a telemarketer,

Hi is Fred Bocheckey home.

Or even better

Hi is Fred Boe… Fred Bohe… Hi is Fred home?

For as long as I can remember, my mother spelled out our last name over the phone like this:

B as in boy, O-E-H, M as in Mary, C-K-E.

I repeated the same format when reciting my name over the phone to people collecting my information. But when I got out of college I realized I didn’t want people equating “M as in Mary” with myself. My personal emasculating misgivings aside I thought I could come up with a better word.

So at my last job with my 26 letter email address I started saying “M as in Monkey.”

I think its funny because ya know, who doesn’t like a Monkey? Who doesn’t like a Boehmcke?

Don’t answer that.

When I was in Kindergarten I remember thinking about marriage (I was a romantic 5 year old) and trying to figure out which girls’ first name would go well with Boehmcke. I didn’t think anything sounded good with Boehmcke.

Melissa Boehmcke? Nah.

Jessica Boehmcke? Don’t think so.

Finally my 5 year old self settled on the idea that I would have to take my wife’s last name. As far as I was concerned, no woman was going to want to take Boehmcke. It just wasn’t cool. And if I wanted to get married; I would have to change my last name.

These days, it has become a running joke amongst my friends that in order to have a woman take my last name upon marriage (assuming my fiancĂ© wants to marry me, assuming I find a fiancĂ©, assuming… well, you get the point) that this woman would have to have a last name way more challenging than mine, a name she really had to change. Somebody like

Ellen Poocrapskie


Katie Racist

I mean the only names that seem to work with Boehmcke are the ones of my mother, sister and aunt. So unless I find a Dana, Felice, or Grace who wants to marry me it’s going to be tough.

And there just aren’t very many girls named Fred.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like my last name as a kid, I liked it fine. I just knew it was a burden for some people. And hearing your “friends” refer to you as Bojaflemkey doesn’t necessarily make you feel good about yourself.

I thought it was just because at that age people weren’t worldly enough to learn how to pronounce my last name, or hadn’t yet perfected speaking English. I thought this would change later in life.

But no, people have really just given up entirely. Like the office visit I went on last year. I received this gem of a nametag.

Bighard? BIGHARD? What the heck is that? It sounds like the name of an adult film star. I understand I don’t talk about my job very much, but I think it’s unfair to just assume… well, ya know?

And as for Boemivigre I mean, I don’t know what to say. It sounds like it could mean a vigorous lifestyle of being bohemian maybe?

It almost looked like one of those instances when you start typing but you don’t realize all of your fingers are just one off to the right and you type a sentence that looks like this

O fpn’y yhink hr voulf hsbr

And then you spend the next 5 minutes trying to figure out how the hell you typed something so strange.

The guy probably just thought, ya know what, I can’t pronounce this, so it doesn’t matter what the hell it says.

But I learned at some point in high school that the German pronunciation of my last name sounded like Boomka. And so Boomka was born.

Some of my very close friends call me that, and had it not been taken, that was going to be the original name of my website.

So I’ve become resigned to the fact that nobody will say my name right. And it doesn’t bother me anymore because I love my name. And one day I plan to be so successful that people will equate the name Boehmcke with brilliance and hilarity instead of just, pale skin and poor decision making.

One day people will look at my name and say, “Now THAT is a man of charm and class. He is a man of the highest caliber. His name brings to mind the utopian ideals of a society we wish to achieve. His name represents all we aspire to and all that we love. His name is the name by which we all wish to be known. His name is truly fantastic!”

And if all that doesn’t happen? Well… I guess I’ll just keep my eye out for Katie Racist.