Monday, April 30, 2012

Unlikely Women I Could Potentially Marry - Part 1

While I haven't always done well with all women, there are certain groups of women I have always seemed to be popular with. These women are almost always considerably older than me, and often... Married themselves.

Like mothers of my friends for instance. Even from a very young age I was able to turn on the charm (whatever charm a 10 year old can have) to make mothers like me.

But as I got older, I started noticing what some might call a trend. Different groups of seemingly very different women would take a strange liking to me. It was something that came out of nowhere, and at this point, I think it has happened enough to call it a phenomenon.

The first time I noticed a strange interaction with a new female audience was when I started donating blood in college. Blood donation vans would regularly be parked on different sites around campus. My friend and I would go a couple of times a year because we wanted to do a good deed. And also, it was college... We didn't really have anything else to do.

We would climb into the cramped bus full of overworked nurses who were exhausted from the ridiculous questions kids would ask. Such as the one we heard a kid ask once:

Hypothetically, if somebody did drugs, like, recently, like… can they still donate blood?

I believe the answer ended up being yes since that kid stayed on the bus. Which was interesting because I am almost positive what he meant by ‘recent’ was ‘immediately before getting onto a blood donation bus.’

My friend and I would make jokes with the nurses who largely ignored what we said, not paying attention enough to realize we were much funnier than the other silly and squeamish college kids who distracted them from their needle wielding responsibilities.

I will talk to pretty much anybody, and if I am going to be lying in a chair for an hour while vital nutrients are sucked from my body, I like to strike up a bit of a rapport with the person who is initiating and implementing that process. Most of the time said nurse was a woman.

I would joke and ask questions, receiving one-word responses, not really breaking through. Nobody would really refer to what I was having as a conversation.

That is of course, until the nurse told me to roll up my sleeve.

At which point the response would almost go something like this:


And suddenly I was in. It was like I had been flirting with her unsuccessfully until I accidentally let it slide that I was a billionaire. Except by billionaire I mean, I had good veins. Suddenly the nurse was all about me, awake and alert as to what I was saying, telling me how most people's veins were hard to find, and often they would have to prick somebody three or four times.

I tried to ignore that terrifying image and instead focus on the newfound attention the nurse was lavishing on me.

Before disinfecting my arm for 30 seconds with an iodine soaked scrubber that felt like punishment by exfoliation, the nurse would push on my vein several times making little noises to herself saying things like,

Ohhh what a juicy vein!

In fact several DIFFERENT nurses have used that same phrase on different occasions while examining the middle part of my arm.

I didn't even know this was a compliment you could receive! In fact, it’s probably a compliment you really shouldn’t even give as in any other setting it would make you sound like a vampire.

My veins had never received this much attention. There was one time in Junior High when a girl I had known a couple of years saw my arm hanging over the desk in 8th period Italian and suddenly said:

Oh my god you have such good veins, I love that.

I was completely baffled and excited at the same time. I looked at my arm.


Here I was, three years into picking out my own clothes, cultivating a humorous personality, and using near record setting amounts of hair gel to attract the attention of the opposite sex, and the thing that finally garnered me the attention of an attractive female was... My veins?

I tried to figure out new ways to show off this sexy feature of mine but there are very few ways to showcase one’s veins without deliberately and very obviously flexing one's forearm directly in front of someone else's face.

And the opportunities for such a performance continue to be quite rare.

I was left with few options outside of just... Not wearing sleeves.

That aspect of my life retreated to become once again unknown until the blood donation nurses brought it back to my attention.

It isn't just blood donation nurses; it is any nurse responsible for taking my blood. I go from a nobody to someone of great gravitas the minute my sleeve rises above my elbow.

This left me thinking that if I ever fell on hard times, or had trouble meeting somebody, I could always try and meet a blood donation nurse.

So… do you extract blood from strangers here often?

I thought it was just a freak occurrence that an entire group of people would find me so desirable. That is of course, until I started working full time and met another group of ladies I apparently could do well with...

Middle aged women who work in Finance.

To be continued...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Unaffected Pie Eating

Where I grew up, the Junior High and High School were in the same building. There was really nothing that differentiated being in 8th grade versus being in 9th.

My school had plenty of events to generate spirit; pep rallies, dances and such. There was one event that was held just for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. It was a class war of sorts put on by the upper classmen.

I remember the one we had my first year, when I was in 7th grade.

It happened one evening in the fall after school in the gym. The events were all absurdly fun things that required no actual skills, unless you were the kind of person to pack a suitcase full of clothes, run down the block, put on all of those clothes and run back home on a regular basis.

There were hula-hoops and traffic cones, jump ropes, balls and many other fun elements.

The evening capped off, however, with a pie eating contest. A representative from each grade was chosen (or more likely volunteered) to consume as much of a pudding filled pie as possible in the allotted time.

The selected volunteers were given garbage bag ponchos and were lined up in front of a table, one pie per person. An upper-class girl, somebody who was already in her Senior year, instructed all participants were instructed to put their hands behind their back. All eating was to be done by thrusting your face into the pie. There would be no cheating tolerated.

The senior girl counted down 3…2… and the pie eating began.

As was expected it was a sloppy ridiculous hilarious mess of people making fools of themselves for… class pride? Whatever it was, we all loved it.

The competition ended and everybody was told to step away from his or her pies, or what was left of them.

One of the kids still had a mouth full of pie and didn’t know what to do with it. He looked around frantically for a garbage can, which, of course, was not to be found. He looked panicked.

And then the senior girl walked over to him, put her cupped hand in front of his face and said as sweetly as one could imagine saying such a thing to a person with a mouth full of pie:

Spit it out

The boy shook his head, embarrassed, but the senior persisted.

Just spit it out, it’s fine.

Eventually he did. Releasing a clump of pudding and crust into her hand, which she then left with, in search of a trashcan.

I remember being amazed, kind of confused, but for one reason or another, I just remember feeling impressed, though I wasn’t really sure why. In fact it took me a while of mulling it over in my brain to get to a point where I could understand why I was so connected to that moment. Why I… why I loved it so much.

I realize it was that senior girl’s complete lack of concern, her inability to be grossed out, and her sincere concern for this other kid. It does make sense, as a death from choking would have put a serious damper on the pie-eating contest.

But it wasn’t until later in my life, having seen similar moments, or experienced them myself that I started to tie them back to that pie eating contest.

As I have grown up (kind of) and evolved (barely) I have become fascinated by people who are unconcerned with trivial matters. I am so interested in the people who manage to see through nonsense to the core of the matter, like they’ve been through it before.

I think it’s the opposite of blowing things out of proportion. I see the same things in mothers of young children. They are so used to spitup and snot, that the appearance of it doesn’t make them freak out, it’s just another grouping of seconds in an otherwise normal day.

I have seen that same quality in my friends who completely keep their cool when I seem incapable of regaining mine. I have seen it in the people around me who seem nearly oblivious to the things that seem to constantly embarrass me. When they have questioned me as to why I was embarrassed, I have blanked.

I don’t know really, I guess just… because I always have been?

It is perhaps, in time, easier to distill the significance of moments, or lack thereof. But when in that actual moment it is far more challenging. At least it has been for me. And I will constantly be impressed by those people around me who are able to accept the passing events of life as completely expected and normal, even when others may not.

The pie-eating contest happened over 15 years ago, but the moment is still as clear in my mind as it was when I watched it happen.

I think about it a lot. It’s not a tremendously impressive story, especially since I watched it from the sidelines, but in many of ways, it is my favorite story.

I tell it to people once in a while, trying to get them to see the series of events the way I see them, the things that I love about that moment. Many times though I fall short in this endeavor. For whatever reason, the people I tell this story to just don’t see it the way I do.

And that’s probably fine, since sometimes my storytelling is devoid of crucial elements, like my understanding of why the story should be interesting in the first place.

But that silly moment, where a seventh grader spit pie into the hands of a 12th grader on a random Friday night in October, sits in the middle of my memory as both history and guide. It is a moment that might never mean anything to anybody else.

But it’s something that will stick in my memory the way my favorite parts of my life do. And I will always revel in how I loved that moment before I understood it, and for a long time after I did.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Chevrons

The game was called F-Zero. I didn't own it myself since I didn't have Super Nintendo but my next-door neighbor had it, and I would go over his house and play it once in a while.

It was a racing game. Except it took place in the future so you didn’t drive a car, you drove a hovercraft. You would race around these futuristic tracks competing for who could finish fastest and take first place.

I probably played it a handful of times, and while I don't remember a lot about it I do remember these little chevron signs on the ground that, when u hovered over them, gave your hovercraft a boost forward allowing u to pick up speed.


I have been thinking about those chevrons lately.

Earlier this year I declared this to be the year of incredible focus. Usually I set resolutions or tell myself I’m going to achieve something big yet incredibly hard to define like ‘commercial success.’

However, the exhaustion of the past year left we without desire to replicate that New Year strategy. I didn't know exactly what this year was going to be. What I did know, was I was going to try hard to understand my life and my passions and pursue the life that wanted to live in me.

January was spent on thinking. What was this year actually going to be? What was I going to do? How would I approach? What did I actually want?

February was spent on planning. OK maybe I will buy a plane ticket here and take a vacation there and invest some time in doing this.

March became the month I clicked purchase, hit send, and set the unstoppable wheels in motion.

And all was good.

Then April happened.

And I had two thoughts, one was: Holy shit it’s April! I can't believe a third of the year is gone. Is this the year I wanted to he having?

And the second was: OK... What now?

With summer looming I worried I was going to become quickly swept up in that vortex of "Ya know what I really want to do this summer…" that quickly spits you out on the other end of "I can't believe we didn't end up....

I began to worry that my year of incredible focus had somehow slipped into a year of seemingly deep thought but familiar (in)action.

I have been spending some time with an incredible group of go-getters who just go, do, make, be and live beautifully. One of them is my new friend Julie.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Julie and I were having drinks after our yoga class and Julie was telling me about how she just bought a bunch of concert tickets for this year in batches of two.

She knew she wanted to go to the shows; she didn't necessarily know who would go, so she just bought the tickets and figured she would find somebody later.

I thought it was such an excellent idea. And she asked me to join her for one of them.
Well kind of.

I sort of just impose myself on awesome opportunities and people. Like a friend barnacle. I tend to put myself in scenarios where I become the only viable option. Like joining a dating site where for some reason all the guys happen to be "lizard enthusiasts."

Julie and I went to that concert last weekend. We spent the afternoon working on a video project for her new book. And then went and grabbed some dinner and drinks before the concert.

The whole time, we talked about our lives, our friends, past loves and our spirit animals. (Trust me, it’s a thing) According to Julie mine is some sort of playful monkey/hybrid.

I still insist mine should be a pterodactyl.

After our spirit debate we arrived at the concert and immediately my heart vibrated with the base from the band. It caught me a little off guard. I was kind of shocked to feel so surprised at the sensation.

It had been a frighteningly long time since I had felt that sensation. It's a beautiful feeling.

I used to go to concerts a lot when I first got to the city. Maybe it was because I worked at a music magazine, or maybe it was because I had nothing else to do. Either way, I realized it had been a while.

Which was a shame but a wonderful wake up call. Because I am always, always looking for things that move me, that stir my soul, that make me dance, that make me so thirsty for more that I pursue those things wildly. Blindly. Freely.

And that’s when I thought about F-Zero, about those chevron signs on the track, and how I didn’t even realize I had them in my own life. They weren't under me. They were my friends, my experiences, concerts, and art, and connection. They were in front of me, next to me, and all around me.

As the night went on my love for this city and the life I lead expanded in the exponential way it tends to do when someone has managed to be present in a magnificent moment.

My mind filled up with up with realization, remembering how great I feel after I spend time with my close friends, with the people whose best characteristics I strive to emulate, and how watered the plant of my soul feels walking away from those moments.

How had I gone so long without noticing?

I started thinking about those people and things not so much as things I might happen across while on the track, but rather, things I would aim for, plan for, to make sure they were in fact always coming up soon.

And while its not a race to see who finishes first, having those people places and things that propel me forward, that get me to the next check point, rest stop, or finish line, is completely invaluable.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

People I Don't Look Like

I am in 10th grade sitting in my “Health” class, perhaps the most generically titled of all my high school classes. I am sitting in the first row, second seat from the back when the kid who sits across from me and one seat ahead turns around to look at me and say "You look like Dan the gay model from The Real World."

I am not quite sure how to respond. I am pretty sure this isn’t a compliment. I am almost positive I should say something to combat his statement yet "Thanks?" is all I am able to say.

My high school arsenal of witty and cutting comebacks was pretty limited.

Everybody sitting around us starting laughing, as they tend to do at high school buffoons who say outlandish things without prompting or logic. I panicked. If I laughed too would they think I was gay? I had only seen a couple of episodes of The Real World so I couldn't even really formulate a solid opinion on the matter.

The moment eventually passed and I never heard that comparison again. It as easily the worst comparison I had ever received.

Well, that and the time a coworker told me I looked like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years. In addition to being completely wrong, it was also pretty awful.

The comparisons I have heard haven’t always been bad though. In fact, earlier in my life they were quite good.

When I was about 10 years old a movie called Rookie of the Year came out. It was about a kid my age who ends up on a major league baseball team.

I looked exactly like him. People would tell me so all the time. It was the first time I had ever been compared to somebody famous. I was on a local television show at the time, and the cast got to go see the movie and meet the star.

Naturally I was sick that day.

But they brought me back a signed picture

To Richie

All the best. God bless.

Thomas Ian Nicholas

I don’t think I have that picture anymore.

Eventually I grew out of the resemblance and into the one I still get to this day.

Ferris Bueller.

Perhaps it is my penchant for dancing in parades and giving shower monologues to cameras that shouldn’t exist, regardless, I readily embraced this one. Ferris Bueller has always been cooler than I will ever be.

Sometimes people just skip over the character and just tell me I look like the Matthew Broderick. Though I hope they still mean in his earlier years, as being compared to somebody 21 years older than you doesn’t necessarily make one feel good.

Once a mother of a friend of mine told me I reminded her of a young Alan Alda. She is the only person who ever told me that. I am almost positive it was a compliment.

Once in a while I will meet somebody new who after a while will say to me:

You remind me of my friend. He is hilarious!

I like hearing that but I would kind of rather hear them tell me that they have never met anybody like me and I am far an away the most iconoclastic individual in the free world.

I am still waiting on that one.

However I do hear from people:

You remind me of this kid I used to know, he was such an asshole...
But I like you though!"

But at that point it’s too late. I am already fuming about the a-hole out there benefitting from his similarities to me.

I also have a hard time understanding why anybody would tell a completely normal friendly complete stranger that they bare resemblance to a crap human.

Apparently insults are the new complements.

I have also been compared to Ben Affleck by no less than 3 people over the course of my life.

Stop laughing. I am not finished.

It started when I was 14 and while it doesn't happen often it did happen again recently. A friend send me a text that said:

You look like Ben Affleck. Maybe it’s the hair.

Two days later the same friend texted me again.

You remind me of Lumière from Beauty and the Beast!

Lumière, for those of you without a solid background in Disney film, looks like this.

I had gone from Oscar winning writer/director actor, to.... flaming French candlestick.

Oh how the mighty fall.

I was outraged. A cartoon? And not even a normal cartoon, a table decoration. My friend tried to rectify the damage done by explaining to me why I resembled Lumière. She tried to make it seem like it was a compliment, that it was a good thing. That many men would be happy to be compared to a singing dancing table decoration.

None of this helped.

It was at this point I realized I probably don't look like Ben Affleck. And also... I no longer trust my friends.

While I’d like to believe I’m evolving, apparently I’m just evolving into different characters.

Through all of this I have learned that everybody reminds somebody of somebody else. I am guilty of this too, comparing people I’ve met to other people. But I’ve realized just because it might be true, it does not mean it is worth verbalizing.

It is far better to believe that we are all original unique snowflakes than risk being compared to somebody we may not like.

I imagine one day down the line somebody will say to somebody else "you look like Rich Boehmcke" and that person will laugh it off, having a ball with everybody else while in their head they think to themselves:


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I don’t do well with ‘spooky.’ I never have. My gut tells me I never will.

My unfortunate relationship with Halloween has been well documented on this blog. But it’s not just that holiday, it’s all things scary, and haunted. I don’t have a desire to be scared. The idea of it actually scares me.

I’m sure we can trace this one all the way back to my childhood.

When I was really little, the most deliberately scary experience I can remember was going on was Mister Toad’s Wild Ride in Disney.

That wasn’t scary as much as it was just a tiny acid trip for children. That I remember enjoying. Lots of black lights and fluorescent lights and frogs. Pretty easy to handle.

As I got older there were these annual carnivals that would come in to my town. The kind that show up for weeks complete with scary looking dudes trying to get you to go on a ride that spins around upside down that they assembled that morning out of what looked to be bobby pins and erector set pieces.

These carnivals inevitably had a haunted house. And since the haunted house had to be packed up and thrown on the back of a trailer every other week, they didn’t have the most tremendous special effects. So they hired local teenagers to put on masks and jump out and grab you while in the dark.

In retrospect this probably could have been called Mr. Toad’s Lawsuit Ride. I don’t think I would have ever willingly volunteered to go on such a ride. But I remember one year my next-door neighbor and I went together.

My next-door neighbor was an interesting kid two years older than me who had moved into the neighborhood late in elementary school. He was from the city, from tougher parts. His parents called the street ‘the gutta.’ I knew this because they were always telling us:

Get outta the gutta!

We willingly obliged until they went back in the house.

My neighbor also taught me the phrase ‘flat leaver.’ As in, if you were hanging out with somebody, and then left to hang out with somebody else, you were a flat leaver.

It was about the worst thing you could call somebody.

One year my neighbor and I went to one of those carnivals, and either because neither wanted to admit the other was scared or because we convinced each other it was a good idea, we went in the haunted house. Certainly I must have feared being called a flat leaver for not joining in the experience.

Shortly into the 60 second “ride” my neighbor was grabbed too hard by one of the volunteers.

When the ride was over we complained to the…  well, carnie, running the ride about what had happened. He promised us he had never heard any complaints like that before.

Regardless, it was the last haunted house I ever entered at a carnival.

Several years later my parents, my sister and I went up to Salem, Massachusetts. Home of the famed Witch Trials and a noted haunted place.

Back in those days I was so blissfully unaware and was more excited about the whole vacation then any specific haunting in particular. Whereas today I would probably stress out so far in advance that I would have an ulcer before I could leave my apartment.

There are all kinds of wonderfully kitchy things to do in Salem. There are walking tours, and reenactments, and of course, haunted houses.

We were there for a long Labor Day weekend. It was a distinctly cold and dreary weekend, seemingly apt for such a vacation. We did all of the family type stuff that the city had to offer, and when my father proposed a haunted house that you walked through, we all thought it would be hilarious to do as a family.

In hindsight I realize that if I ever end up in a haunted house again, I don’t want to be near anybody I know. Because, well, basically after they see how I behave the will lose any and all respect they might have had for me based on how I behave.

It is, in a word, embarrassing.

Into the haunted house we go. We have to walk down a flight of steps into what is essentially a set path through basement hallways dressed up elaborately in a variety of themes. It was really quite something. In a matter of minutes my mood shifted from excitement, to amazement, to concern, to all out paranoia.

We weren’t just walking through narrow halls with sloped ceilings looking at spooky stuff. There were actors in full costume, corpses come to life, ghosts, zombies, and all other manner of undead.

They would walk up behind you, jump out in front of you, all in very very close quarters.

As we made our way through the house my heart rate quickly became unbearable. I had experienced enough. I couldn’t handle the anxiety of the upcoming scare. I didn’t want to be scared anymore. I had no idea how many more ‘boos’ lay ahead.

So, after we passed a corpse on a table and a man with a knife jumped out at us, I had decided that was enough and faked hitting my head on the corner of one of the arched doorways.

I did this by kicking the wall as I gently bumped my head.

Cowardice makes one wildly creative.

Immediately, Frankenstein came out of nowhere to make sure I was OK. My parents fawned over me. I said I was OK it was just an accident. But by that point the majority of the scaring was over and I think we passed through the rest of the haunted house rather unscathed.

We emerged into the sunlight, which quickly solidified the guilt in my chest I felt from having to fake an injury to get out of being scared.

A guilt I never felt from my time with Mr. Toad.