Sunday, November 29, 2009

The 1-900 Number, my introduction

I was watching football when an old memory came to me. My introduction to the 1-900 number.

I was in 8th grade and my interests were coming into focus. There was something on the other end of the line that I strongly desired, a little harmless fun. And going without it wasn’t doing anybody any good. No, I’m not talking about the sexy 900 numbers. I’m talking the football 900 number.


1980

On any Sunday during the Fall when football games abound. Yet the scores were announced with a maddening infrequency. This was before the advent of the former ground-breaking 10-minute ticker where game scores were given every ten minutes during the Sunday football game broadcasts. But wait, the new 1-900 number had the NFL scores on Sunday and they were constantly updated. Call the number, listen to the recording and get scores. Then call back again soon for further updates.


Present day football watching comes with the opposite problem. Scores are almost too annoyingly updated constantly streaming across the bottom of the screen.

Too annoying versus too infrequent? I choose the too annoying constantly streaming. I try to avert my eyes, but this takes excruciating discipline. I sometimes fail myself, but I grant immediate forgiveness.
-klem

Friday, November 27, 2009

Eater’s Remorse

‘Buyer’s remorse’. It’s a term with which we’re all familiar. The buyer thought they liked it, bought it, and later conclude that they regret the purchase. Several times each year I am afflicted with eater’s remorse. Not that I regret having eaten something or how much, but rather that I did not eat enough of it. In the face of a prime opportunity for gluttonous consumption I regret not being able to eat more.

Example: Thanksgiving. First there is the giving of thanks. There is then the grand style feasting to serve as the culmination to top off the giving of thanks. Turkey, ham, potatoes, cranberry sauce, biscuits, stuffing, yams, corn, and abundant desserts.

As the eating commences I load my plate the first time. I feel already overwhelmed because there is so much deliciousness before me. A second generous serving is engaged and places me on the cusp of an uncomfortable engorging. Yet, I try valiantly to jam more tasty grub down my gullet but discomfort has set in necessitating that I stop. I’ve stretched out my belly to capacity and taken down as much as is possible. Couldn’t eat another bite, not even if it were wafer thin. And this is just dinner! Dessert is on the horizon and is bountiful. I will somehow find the courage to proceed, discomfort be damned.

Eater’s remorse sets in the day after the feasting. As stuffed as I had been I am beset with the illusion that I could have, and should have, feasted more the day before.

I diagnosed myself with eater’s remorse several years ago and discussed it with my eldest brother. He was amused, but cared enough to ask a few questions to better understand my affliction. I am currently aware of my mental state and I approach the ‘eating holidays’ with the appropriate frame of mind to temper the feelings of remorse that will soon be upon me.

I stand 5’11” and 160 lbs., plus two temporary pounds around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
-klem

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Robbed!!

I got robbed last night. Unauthorized personnel penetrated my vehicle and made off with less than $2 in change. I think I forgot to lock the car yesterday. There were no signs of forced entry.


November 25, 2009

I park my car in the driveway. This morning I found my glove box opened with contents spilled out onto the passenger seat, the console was open, and the driver’s side car door was ajar.

‘What gives,’ thought I. Then it donned on me. I got robbed! Oh, boy, that’s a creepy feeling. Somebody was in my car right where I’m sitting scouring around for something good to steal.

The thief took only a small plastic film canister which contains coins, parking tokens as I call them. I had probably less than $2 in coins. Nothing else was taken. They didn’t want the $8 sunglasses from Target. My cell phone charger and hands-free ear bud were also unmolested. If they’da popped the trunk they could have basked in the riches of a Thomas Guide map book, jumper cables, and my emergency gear - hiking shoes, sweatshirt, and a wind breaker ‘cause you never know.


Oh, well. Lock your doors.
-klem

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Way to a Man’s Heart . . .

. . . is through his stomach. I remember hearing this as a youngster and thinking what rubbish. Yet I wonder presently if I have become an embodiment of this very statement.

As we approach Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking of things for which I’m thankful. After quickly rolling through the most important items such as family, friends, dogs, and video games, the subsequent items have made me face that remark from years back.

So I continued working through the mental list of thankful things and food dominated. Maybe I was hungry, but these items are worthy of my thanks: Wife Klem’s Apricot Scones, lasagna, mango salsa, and her crock pot creations. Omi’s lasagna, spaetzla, chili - I’m smitten by those carrots, and split pea soup. Mom Klem’s angel food cake, chili, pineapple-marshmallow-sweet potatoes [honest, pineapple and marshmallows are key ingredients on that dish and a single serving is insufficient to sate this fella], and the mashed potato dish with the crushed cereal on top - really, it’s got crushed Corn Flakes. Grandma Tedesco’s lasagna, gnocchi, and pineapple upside down cake. Grandpa Tedesco’s extra-hot pasta sauce of which he’d boasted many times, “I made it with dirty hands, extra flavor” [I’m pretty sure, and hopeful, that Gramps was just joking]. Opa’s world famous two layered vanilla over chocolate pudding - ‘world famous’, he declared, and my pleased taste buds made me hesitant to question its veracity. Grampa’s butterfly shrimp and egg muffins also hold a position of high standing. And, of course, the vegetarian ‘Jackie Pie’ - a real-life vegetarian entree, but not to be denigrated by the lack of animal flesh.

It appears that I have become the embodiment of the very slogan to which I formerly scoffed. Oh, yes, I’m also thankful for non-edibles such as football and YouTube footage of monkeys, but wait, there’s more food.

These are the general delectables that are not host-specific: sweet potato french fries, peanut brittle, marshmallows - exclude the seasonal pastel variety, fig Newtons, Captain Crunch with the Crunchberries despite the cereal’s ability to ruggedly tear up the roof of one’s mouth due to the harsh texture [the cereal’s worth the pain to endure a second bowl, but it makes a third bowl out of the question], Nestle Crunch ice cream in the carton - not the bars, those pink and white frosted circus cookies with the sprinkles, candy NECCO wafers - a head nod here to a certain Mr. At A Slower Pace, hot chocolate, hamburgers - no mayo, burritos, pizza pie - just don’t make it either cheese-only or anchovies [sorry Dad Klem about the anti-anchovy remark], black olives, and milkshakes.

Food, as it has become newly apparent to me, plays a larger role in my happiness as I have gotten older than I was ever previously aware. As I age will this longing for food become further pronounced? If so, I’ve got some very tasty years ahead of me. I’ll have to put ‘trousers with adjustable waist’ on my Christmas wish list and don them for special ‘eating’ holidays.

A peaceful Thanksgiving to all.
-klem

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hot Wheels. My Guy Makes a Commercial.

I’ve made it abundantly clear on this blog that our guy’s a big Hot Wheeler. Supporting evidence takes the form of cars, tracks, and notebooks that contain drawings of own track designs.

When he builds, his Hot Wheels tracks often begin with modest ideas and plot plans. But like a government program, it quickly expands well beyond its intended design and constraints until its out of control and resources have been depleted. The growth ends only when he runs out of tracks or space. The spatial constraint often encompasses his entire room to the point where it’s not possible to walk from the door to his bed. An attempt to do so will render you the role of Godzilla to his Tokyo where you’re accidentally knocking down pieces of track that hang precariously on the edge of a chair or taped ever so loosely to a table or his dresser.

The creativity is to be encouraged, though the track typically deteriorates to a cleanup brouhaha after a week or so. The scuffle gets underway with Wife Klem or me suggesting that it’s time for him to put his tracks away and then him bellyaching saying that all his cars haven’t yet done the track.

His Hot Wheels interest ebbs and flows like a gentle tide with occasional flashes of supercharged focus. It is under these piqued conditions where he requests, “Dad, can we record my Hot Wheels commercial?”

video
[the stunt track]

video
[the 7-foot drop]

video
[the predecessor, the video that started it all]

His room is currently clean with no track occupying his room. This wide open floor space, however, is listed as day to day.
-klem

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Year-End Goals and Checklists

As 2009 winds down, it’s time to make one last review of the year’s goals and checklists and try to get a few more items crossed off the list.

I’m well off pace in a few areas, but with a valiant final burst I can still check off a couple spots in the completion column. For example, another 1,600 push ups and 2,100 sit ups to go - sure it might be better to measure one’s physical fitness on a more balanced scale such as two hours per week or what have you, but I can’t stick to that kind of regiment what with getting distracted by parenting or work duties and vacations. So I pursue a specific number spread out over a year.

My completion column is not empty at present, though. I’ve already got ‘Know all the capital cities in the European continent’ occupying that column along with ‘Watch 3 Foreign movies.’

I present this photo of the back gate as an example of a final push:



I’ve spent a number of weekends this fall painting the trim in several areas along the roof line, a couple window frames, and, completed this last weekend, the back gate.

I’ll have to assess my final tally for 2009 as I look ahead to the goals and checklist I’ll set for 2010. A number of things are merely basic maintenance issues (i.e., drain the hot water heater for 15 minutes twice per year, review the 401K and reallocate as needed, get free credit report for myself and the kids to peruse for irregularities) to projects that I hope will not have to be revisited for many years after (i.e., paint the garage - I’ll fall short on this one in 2009 and will try again for 2010). Then there’s also the personal challenges (i.e., make 200 blog entries in 2009 - 19 to go, read 14 books - two more to go).

A pal of mine got me started on written goals several years ago. We’ll call him McGettigan the Elder. I started as a courtesy to him thinking maybe he needed another person to join in for moral support. We share quarterly progress reports. At this point, I’m hooked.
-klem

Monday, November 16, 2009

Klem’s Book of Observations, excerpt ix

Dogs. They’re like perpetual infants what with their stuffed dolls and squeaky toys.

‘Expect the unexpected’. Such meaningless blather is to be ridiculed.

Note to gum chewers: Close your mouth.

Vegetarian chili. What’s the use? Why not just eat salsa or beans? This vegetarian concoction is not chili.

I prefer snails to slugs. Easier to pick up and hurl.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Coraline

I’ve probably mentioned already the Team Klem snack and video proceedings for the kids before bed. The choice of video alternates with our daughter choosing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the boy taking Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with Sunday available as my wild card.

Both kids have recently taken a striking interest in Coraline, an animated film from 2009. My daughter really enjoys a certain short scene where the ‘button-eyed-father’ sings to Coraline. The song is admittedly very catchy and my girl is rather smitten with it.

Seeing as you can find anything on YouTube, I looked for this one scene. I found it and then played it for my daughter. The following video documents what ensued:

video

I could watch that thing all day what with my giddy chuckling Boogie laughing and singing along!
-klem

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The U.S. Air Drink Recovery Program

How sweet a gift is retribution? A retribution that aims to make right a preceding wrong? That would depend on how purposefully the wrong had been issued. This is my tale.


December 1994

A friend and I were en route to vacation. [We’ll call him McGettigan the Younger.] We were tired and the time of the flight’s departure was late into the night. Once in our seats we slept with uncanny determination as evidenced by the screaming child at lift off that could not prevent the slumber from taking place. Unfortunately, we lapsed out before the beverage service and meal. Hours passed. I awakened feeling famished and parched.

“May I have a Coke and one for my friend, please,” I asked the stewardess.

“We’re about to land,” was the curt retort issued with a smile.

I thought it was just jokes. I smiled and awaited the soda. But we were denied and landed absent of drink or snack.


One Week Later

My chum and I returned to the airport for the homebound trip. This refreshed our bitter sentiments surrounding the drink and snack denial from the front end of our sojourn.

We recounted our miserly tale to our new stewardesses. They were rightfully horrified by what they heard and offered unlimited beverages for the flight trying to undo the damage disseminated by their harsh colleague. It was under these favorable circumstances the U.S. Air Drink Recovery Program was off to a bountiful start.

Charged with that top notch support we both imbibed pull after pull failing to consider that our innards may have a limit as to how much juice and soda could be safely processed in a short time span. We were blindly buoyed by this commitment to remedial action and were helpless to stop ourselves. Like goldfish eating until their insides capitulate, we drank more.

It was well shy of our destination when it became clear that our plan had backfired. Our digestive systems had become significantly honked up. It became difficult to sit still. We needed relief. Sadly, very sadly, the seat belt sign was illuminated well prior to descent and the powder room had to wait until the airport.


We easily made up for the beverage denial from the initial leg of the trip, but personal agony was the counterweight.

The U.S. Air Drink Recovery Program. Success? Let the record reflect, it didn’t feel like it.
-klem

Monday, November 9, 2009

Compiled Quotes, xi

“Being master of one’s moods is the privilege of the larger animals.” Albert Camus [Algerian-French author, 1913 - 1960] in his book The Fall


“Restlessness is a sign you’re hungry for meaning in your life.” forgotten


“Joe, you’ve never heard such cheering,” Joe DiMaggio’s then wife, Marilyn Monroe, told him in 1954 returning from entertaining troops overseas. “Yes,” said Joe, “I have.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Esquire Magazine Fiction Writing Contest

Esquire magazine had a fiction writing contest this past August. The rules were few:

-Choose from three titles:
An Insurrection
Twenty-Ten
Never, Ever Bring This Up Again
-Entry can be no more than 4,000 words
-Entries were due Aug. 1, 2009


I entered the imbroglio, but didn’t win. My non-victorious entry follows. I apologize in advance to Mom Klem for the upcoming offending language and one risqué scene:



An Insurrection
by Klem


“You jackasses aren’t gonna believe who I saw today,” exclaimed Woodward enthusiastically upon entering the apartment without knocking.

Two disheveled jackasses in their mid-30s donning dirty shorts and undershirts sat on separate couches watching TV, reruns of old game shows from the ‘70s. They were roommates. Neither was proud of it.

“Who you calling jackasses,” replied Cassidy not looking up from the television.

“You bastards. I’m calling you bastards jackasses, bastards. I saw Emmett,” continued Woodward losing some of his initial zest.

“Emmett?! From high school?! Where were you? Prison,” asked Cassidy.

“No! Not prison. Why’d you say such a thing,” said Woodward with a disgusted look on his face.

“Seemed he had a high incidence of theft,” added Cassidy still not looking away from the TV.

“Thefts? Emmett? What’re you talking about,” said Woodward irritably.

“The liquor store,” Mondo chimed in.

“The liquor store from over a decade ago? He didn’t get the correct change. He got upset,” defended Woodward.

“He bought Tic-Tacs, was short changed a nickel, so he grabbed the hot dog rotisserie machine off the counter, including dogs, and ran,” Cassidy recounted calmly.

“He didn’t get the Tic-Tacs, though,” said Woodward as if that negated the act from constituting theft.

“What about the hot dog cart,” added Mondo.

“Come on, you bring that up from high school? That thing during summer break? He was really hungry. You remember his appetite,” said Woodward trying to stick up for his buddy.

“The whole cart, though,” was Cassidy’s retort unswayed by Woodward’s feeble defense.

“Will you guys stop? Something happened to him,” said Woodward in a more serious tone hoping to get back on topic.

“What’d you mean,” asked Cassidy looking at Woodward for the first time.

“I saw him at the grocery store,” replied Woodward taking a seat on Mondo’s sagging couch staring at him so he’d sit up and move over.

“What’d he have to say,” Cassidy asked.

“What was he stealing,” Mondo wondered out loud.

“He wasn’t stealing anything,” blurted a near exasperated Woodward. “I didn’t talk to him. He just had this great big man-purse over his shoulder. I was too horrified to approach.”

“Man-purse? You mean like a purse? Or was it a grocery bag? He was in a grocery store, right,” asked Cassidy in an effort to clarify the foggy picture Woodward was painting.

“I didn’t ask him about the contents. I didn’t want to embarrass him. A buddy sees you with a purse, you want him to nail you for it and ask a battery of awkward questions? Wouldn’t you rather he ignore you like the whole thing, including the man-purse, never happened,” asserted Woodward.

“Man purse? Sure it’s not a diaper bag? Didn’t your cousin say he’s got two small kids,” asked Mondo.

“Call it what you want, if you saw him you’d say ‘Look at that guy with the man-purse.’ I’m telling you, he’s fallen a long way from the stud we knew years ago. Remember that football game in high school where he practically single-handedly beat the San Dimas Wild Stallions? He was a ferocious beast, Emmett. It was beautiful,” regaled Woodward losing himself momentarily in the past glory of his friend.

“It’s true. He was a beast,” uttered Mondo trying to contribute.

“How about that rock concert years ago. There was a fight in the mosh pit, naturally he was at the center of it. He emerged triumphant, climbed on stage, and then dove back down into the pit! A maniac, that guy,” said Cassidy smiling in pride for his buddy.

- - -

A month went by with no further mention of Emmett, until a lazy Saturday afternoon. The three guys visited the local department store. Each held a single item with intent to purchase. Mondo was holding a package of shoe sole inserts to help beat back that troublesome malodorous emanation. He was unaware that the smell was actually coming from his mouth resulting from his sub par dental hygiene. Cassidy had a new toothbrush. Mondo had scrubbed his old toothbrush in the toilet after an argument over whose turn it was to do the dishes. Woodward carried a six pack of beer. He had substituted a cheaper sticker price forgetting that it’s the UPC code that the scanner would read, there would be no manual entry.

The three guys were looking at Hot Wheels; they never entirely outgrew their interest, though Woodward stubbornly held fast to his preference for the Matchbox brand.

From down the aisle came a guy with a man-purse over his shoulder. He had a double stroller with two adorable moppets, a boy and a girl, and was accompanied by a beautiful woman. They looked happy and content. The three fellas, a fine contrast, looked slovenly and in need of a thorough scrubbing.

“See anything good, you punks,” Emmett asked also approaching the Hot Wheels rack. He was smiling and sincerely happy to see his buddies after a gap of at least five years.

“Yes, a dude with a man-purse,” said Woodward pointing at Emmett’s shoulder.

“Diaper bag. These two are real factories in that regard,” advised Emmett tossing a thumb at the stroller.

“You still Hot Wheeling, too,” asked Woodward too energetically.

“No, but I sometimes look when we come here. I give them to my two year old,” replied Emmett.

“Oh,” said Woodward dejectedly having to face the thinly veiled charade that, while appearing a full grown man, he remained but a child.

“Hey, I want you to meet my wife, Kira,” introduced Emmett. “Honey, this is Woodward, Cassidy, and Mondo. We hung out together back in high school.”

Kira, almost overjoyed at actually meeting friends of Emmett took to the three goofballs and looked past their obvious deficiencies. Her husband had many acquaintances and people with whom he was friendly when they crossed paths in town, but he was largely a lone ranger. His social schedule was almost bare beyond family outings. He seemed to take on the perspective that extracurricular socializing wasn’t a matter of overstepping his reach, it was just that it was an inconvenience. She knew this chance passing would not come to anything unless she took action. The boys had been speaking for a few minutes and it was winding down.

“Hey, why don’t you guys come over tomorrow. You can play bocce ball in the back yard or watch football. I’ll make a few sandwiches and watch the kids,” she offered.

“What do you say, fellas? We’ll have cheese puffs on hand,” Emmett said picking up a bag from the back of the stroller and waving it.

- - -

It was early Sunday afternoon. The football game was just underway on the television when the doorbell rang.

“Hi, guys. It’s nice to see you again,” said Kira in fine spirits. “Emmett’ll be out in a minute. He’s changing both diapers. A simultaneous double whammy.”

“So, you’re friends from high school,” making conversation.

“Oh, yeah, we chummed around quite a lot,” confirmed Cassidy while Mondo nodded affirmative.

“We played on the high school football and baseball teams. You know, Emmett used to be quite the athlete. Usually the best player on the team,” continued Woodward.

“Usually, the best on the field,” Cassidy upgraded without embellishing.

“Well, you can see it’s just the four of us. He’s never really had many friends over or done anything with other guy friends. He did have a softball team through work several years ago, but he stopped playing after our son was born,” said Kira. “He never goes out. I thought it was flattering when we first started dating. I never had to compete with anyone to get his time. But I’d like him to go out once in a while. I don’t want him to think he can’t go out because he feels I expect him home all the time.”

“Not compete for his time? We did. Looks like we’re face to face with the reason we lost,” mentioned Cassidy graciously acknowledging the victor in that battle. “Justifiably so, I must say.”

“How old are these things,” asked Mondo pointing at a picture of their children hanging on the wall.

“Our son is almost two years and our daughter is six months. He’s so good with them, Em. Do any of you have children,” Kira asked.

“No biological children, but we kind of look out for Mondo,” answered Woodward not aware of how silly this sounded.

“Hey, how’d you and Emmett meet,” asked Cassidy.

“The batting cages. I was in the fast pitch softball cage and he was in the fast-pitch baseball cage,” explained Kira shyly.

“Batting cages,” Woodward asked quizzically.

“I played softball in college. We were pretty good, went to the College Softball World Series tournament two years in a row. Anyway, we had a game and played poorly. It was embarrassing. I mean we couldn’t hit anything. After the game me and five other girls decided to hit the cages. It was a post game cleansing routine. Well, during the game I slid into second base to break up a double play. Ripped my pants. So, we’re hitting at the cages after the game and you could see my underwear through the rip. He walked by and said, ‘Nice swinging, pink lilies,’ referring to the lilies visible through the rip. I was surprised he knew the name of the flowers,” smiling as she recalled the episode. “They were lilies. He really got my attention. Anyway, I countered with ‘You think you got game, elbow guard,’” visibly pleased with the recounting of her retort.

“He had the elbow guard going back to high school,” remembered Cassidy.

“He asked me out that night. We still go to the cages on our anniversary,” she said.

“It sure would be good to get him out of the house once in a while. Heck, if you can get him out I’ll even buy the first two rounds of beer,” she offered.

Emmett emerged just then from the hallway with a child in each arm. After the handoff to Kira, bocce was engaged.

Emmett dominated as they all expected, even Mondo. He excelled at everything, it didn’t matter what the challenge. Basketball, chess, Gnip-Gnop, or hangman. He was a fierce competitor and usually found a successful strategy whether it was his natural ability or his opponents lack thereof. In face to face competition he was tough to equal.

At one point Mondo managed to cut his finger with a bocce ball.

“Mondo, what the hell did you do? You’re holding round balls. How’d you cut yourself,” Woodward pressed.

Nobody saw what he did to get cut and Mondo was virtually blank in trying to explain what happened. Emmett went into the house and returned presenting a choice of two bandages.

“You prefer a Hello Kitty or a Hot Wheels Band-Aid,” Emmett asked him.

“Come on, you got no real Band-Aids,” yakked Woodward mocking him.

“We haven’t had regular Band-Aids since the first baby was born,” Emmett advised.

Mondo grabbed the Hello Kitty but Woodward quickly slapped it away. Cassidy opened the Hot Wheels bandage and applied it to Mondo’s finger. First Aid concluded, they went inside and ate sandwiches in front of the TV.

“Hey, Emmett, may I please have a glass of milk,” asked Mondo politely.

“Help yourself. It’s in the refrigerator door,” Emmett authorized.

“No glass for you, remember? Use a plastic cup,” advised Woodward curtly looking at him with raised eye brows.

He found the milk, but it was beyond the expiration by two days. Mondo abided strictly by these dates on account of a bum experience as a child. It was suspected that expired milk adversely affected him on that fateful day resulting in an embarrassing public self guano incident that only Woodward continued to bring up, and reveled in so doing. He reached for an 8-oz. milk box, chocolate, and then saw the stash of juice boxes. Picked one and rejoined the living room.

“A juice box. Look at this guy. Nice find, Mondo,” said Cassidy with a playful lilt in his voice.

“What happened to your milk hankering,” Woodward asked suspiciously.

“It expired, the milk carton. Then I saw the small milk boxes, but I didn’t want to take one of them. I figured Em’s kids probably drink those,” said Mondo explaining his thought process.

“Who do you think drinks the juice boxes,” Woodward asked pointedly.

“Guys, Mondo’s cool. Actually, Kira and I often deploy the juice boxes for mixing drinks. We don’t always have a lot of large juice containers. We just don’t drink it that often. But those individual servings will last for months. Probably a year or more, even,” asserted Emmett.

The afternoon passed. The football game concluded and the previously flaunted bag of cheese puffs were zeroed out. The three boys set a follow up play date and said goodbye.

- - -

They returned to Cassidy and Mondo’s as they did most evenings. Woodward still lived at home and his weekday routine had him wolfing down supper with his parents before excusing himself to his friends’.

“Poor, Emmett. He’s a broken man! He’s totally defeated,” blathered Woodward getting himself riled up. He lived under the illusion that he lived a life that other men envied, Emmett included. In his own mind he was a man to emulate.

“He looked pretty happy to me,” Cassidy countered.

“He’s changed. Really. He uses his kids’ juice boxes to mix drinks,” continued Woodward irately. “Instead of measuring out drinks by tablespoons, ounces, jiggers, or shots, he now mixes by number of juice boxes.”

“Sounds like logical reasoning,” replied Cassidy again defending his friend.

“Logical reasoning? A grown man using Hot Wheels and Hello Kitty Band-Aids,” said Woodward upgrading his complaint.

“Dude, you have a problem with Hot Wheels Band-Aids? Meanwhile your entire Hot Wheels collection remains intact after age appropriateness is 20 years past,” challenged Cassidy. “Besides, he’s got kids, man. One can reasonably justify they’re for his kids. What’s your excuse?”

“We must break him out of this fettered domestication. He’s locked in like he knows no better,” continued Woodward not having any of what Cassidy was pushing.

“What do you mean break him out? Like an insurrection,” Mondo blurted.

They both looked at Mondo, but he’d already turned away not paying attention.

“An insurrection. Yes, good. Impressive range, Mondo,” answered Woodward surprised at the use of his pal’s fancy word. “You accidentally been watching the History Channel again?”

“What do you mean an insurrection? From who,” asked Mondo having already forgotten that it was his idea.

“From whom,” schooled Cassidy.

“OK. From whom? His family,” pursued a confused Mondo.

“Hey, look smart guy,” announced Woodward to Cassidy with an air of self importance. “We’re fighting for our buddy here. Let’s find a way to save Emmett. You can play smart guy with someone else. So an insurrection’s been proposed.”

“But his wife wants us to take him out. Heck, she’s offered to buy the beer if we just take him out. Doesn’t seem like a revolt to me,” Cassidy retorted.

“Stop clowning around you two. I’d like to find a way to save our friend. Can you do this with me,” asked Woodward. “OK, so his wife offered to buy beers. Good. There’s our seed money for the movement.”

- - -

After much bickering, the boys convinced Emmett, guilt-tripped, more accurately, into entering the dark confines of the exotic dance club. Emmett was a decent man, but not impeccable. They ordered their draft beers, the first of their two minimum drink purchase as required with entry fee, approached the main dance floor, and spied several available seats. Three ladies were sharing center stage with two smaller stages along the perimeter at the back of the club, each smaller stage hosting a single dancer. Woodward, Cassidy, and Mondo, mouths slightly agape, head tilted slightly aloft to view the dancers at their performance elevation. Each man reaching for his wallet in a non-thinking action. With a stack of singles pre-folded they set the bills at the edge of the stage resembling small green pyramids when viewed from the side. These three were lost in their debaucherous desires as the commendably physiqued fancy nubiles shook their junk on stage. To the credit of the boys, they were not yet drooling on themselves.

Emmett, though, kept himself together. There was no ogling. He had not given himself up to the vile environment in which he was relegated. The dancers were not the focus of his attention. He had not descended to the existence of non-thinking inanimate objects, as had his chums. He sipped his draft beer. It didn’t matter what brand. His enemy here was time, the sipping of a beer would be his prop in accomplishing this task. Burn off those few hours that must be killed so that he may retire back to his homestead and his people. But first, he must endure.

As the three full grown delinquents turned themselves over to this voluntary debasing, Emmett fell prey to his own. Over the robust ambient cacophonous racket that passed for music, he heard, so he thought, a faint noise indicating a delight beyond his expectations.

He parted from the three without a word or gesture and went in hunt. He walked in the direction of one of the smaller stages and passed without so much as a courtesy glance at the sweaty undulating body wearing little more than body glitter. It would be through the doorway dead ahead if his instincts were correct, instincts that had been honed over very many hours from the incessant video gaming of his youth. He stepped in. Bliss. Video games. Full standing cabinet arcade style games. Vintage games. Classics. He felt like a teenager again. The exhilaration. He could feel the forthcoming action in his fingers from so many hours of playing, training, those years ago. Five games, one stool, no other patrons. Like his pals reaching for their folded singles, he reached for a stash of quarters in a pocket of his wallet. Setting his beer down and moving the stool into position, he got things underway.

- - -

Two hours passed. One by one they all went broke. Mondo was first as he accidentally tossed out a few tens on stage while lost in his trance. Cassidy, taking an avuncular approach to Mondo, kept him in the game by floating him a few singles and another beer. Woodward, lost to the world, couldn’t hardly tear his eyeballs away. And when he did, the adjustment to darkness after staring at center stage caused a nearly painful squint. The three of them sitting up front with no money left. That lasted almost two minutes before a bouncer forcibly asked them to vacate the seats so that paying customers may occupy them. They stood up without complaint and moved into the shadows away from the lights of center stage. They noticed now for the first time that Emmett was absent.

When they found him, he was a sweaty mess. His shirt soaked through and his hair matted down on the sides and back with wetness. He was still gaming and had been doing so nonstop, taking only short breaks to move the stool from one game to the next. His beer was sitting on top of the Galaxian arcade game where he’s set it down over two hours ago. Mondo, without asking, grabbed it, drank it with relish, and put it back where he got it.

“Emmett, have you been in here the whole time,” asked Woodward almost sympathetically.

“Not now, I’ve almost got the high score in Joust,” exclaimed Emmett lightly agitated at the distraction. He wasn’t angry, just laden with adrenaline.

“Look at this. He’s got all the high scores,” announced Cassidy, pleased with his friend’s skillful craft.

“Dude, give it a rest. You’re getting all worked up,” said an irritated Woodward.

“You’re one to talk. You were pretty worked up watching the dancers,” responded Cassidy keeping Woodward from unduly elevating himself.

The video game ended. Emmett entered hs initials. Another high score. He grabbed his empty pint glass and walked away with no words. The four made for the exit and he placed his glass on the end of the bar without breaking stride.

- - -

They drove to Emmett’s, nearly silent except for the radio. With the motor idling Emmett exited the vehicle.

“Thanks for the time, guys,” Emmett offered. With a wave to the three in the car he walked to the front door and reached for his key. The three yelled their final denigrating remarks.

They drove away in silence for a few blocks. Pals, they were, and would continue to be for years. But socially it was over. There would be very little intersecting, if at all, from this point forward. They shared a common beginning, but are different today. They all knew it, even Mondo.

“He’s damaged goods. He can’t be fixed,” Woodward said seeing that Emmett was beyond them now.

“He can be fixed. Wasn’t he vasectomized last year,” Mondo said proud of his clever comment.

“That’s not what I meant,” Woodward said wrestling with the realization that it was not Emmett who was the damaged goods. They were perpetual adolescents with such trademark maneuvers as short changing the part-time fast food cashier with a flurry of questions while they were counting change or trying to tilt a vending machine looking to score free junk food.

Emmett was lost to them. Yet he was happy. Somehow whole. The three had extended their best effort, and were defeated. Emmett had seemingly evolved, while the three remained in flux. There would be no successful intervention. Nor an insurrection.

END
7/2009


The winner, if you’d like to give it a whiff, can be read by clicking here.
-klem

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Wake Time!"

I don’t know about you, but when I wake up in the morning I could easily lie about in bed for an extra few minutes slowly joining the day. No need to immediately bounce out of bed and commence the day with a flurry of activity just because the sun has poked up above the horizon shining its inviting glow outside the bedroom window. Children, however, seem to have no gray area in this regard. They’re either awake or asleep.


2003

When our boy was three years old he’d wake up with the sun and, because he was awake, expect the same of his fellow residents.

The boy would consistently wake up at or around 6:00 am and announced his awakened state in this manner. Standing in his crib yelling, “Wake time! Wake time!”

Wife Klem and I advised him a number of times, ‘It’s OK if mommy and daddy sleep. You can play with your dinosaurs or read your books. There’s no need to wake us up too.’


He eventually got it and stopped yelling out to announce the beginning of each new day. I regret, however, not recording the audio of his morning wake up calls. Especially when he banged on the wall with his hand for added effect while issuing his ‘Wake time’ shout out.
-klem

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Things They Say

Kids say the silliest things. Sure, sometimes they’re just talking nonsense, but it’s a treat when the nonsensical remark is an unintended treasure.


July 2007

Team Klem was in an airport waiting to catch our flight at the front end of vacation. I was reading a magazine when an advertisement with a bicyclist and a bull caught my eye. I showed the advertisement to my daughter, three years old then, and asked her if she was faster than the bull. Confused possibly with my line of questioning, she said that she’d ride the bike. I countered that she didn’t know yet how to ride but would she be faster than a bull if she rode her scooter.

She paused as if trying to grasp what daddy was asking her, then responded “[her big brother’s name] a mammal.”

“Yes, he is a mammal, you smart girl,” I said overjoyed at the creative response and hoped that additional gems would flow. But she cooly remained silent after that and returned to her coloring book seemingly content with her conversational contribution.


She must’ve been stumped by the question, but I prefer her answer to one I could have anticipated. ‘Mammal,’ I thought to myself. Possibly a byproduct of a Discovery channel program?
-klem

Monday, November 2, 2009

Daylight Savings. A Sneaky Move.

Daylight savings. Certainly we can discuss its origin and whether or not it remains applicable to today’s society. But instead, I’d like to show off how Wife Klem and I used it to our advantage.


Sunday night

8:00 is bed time for our kids. At this time they’re sent scampering upstairs to bed for their toileteering, reading, and tucking them in. Now then, what did we do when the daylight savings clock shows 6:30 pm, but the kids’ internal clocks were still locked in at 7:30 pm? We took advantage of clocking differences and sent them to bed early, did Wife Klem and I.

Sunday evening we started snack and a video at 6:30 and got them upstairs by 7:00 pm instead of the normal 8:00! Yes, put them down an hour early and gained ourselves an extra hour of free time. The kids were none the wiser.

What's the worst that could happen, we thought? They’ll get up an hour early in the morning. No biggie, heck tomorrow’s a school day. Success again was ours! They both got up early and came down for breakfast without us having to negotiate them out of bed.


Daylight savings. Is it necessary in today’s day and age? Probably not. Can it still be wielded effectively for someone’s advantage? Yes, as evidenced above.
-klem