The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

For The Fanboys…

Ang sent me this last night saying in the email “thought of you.”  I watched it this morning, and could clearly see why she got that impression.

If you’ve ever felt like you were ment for more, this one’s for you.  (Don’t mind the subtitles)

I’m just saying…

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March 27, 2009 Posted by | People I Love, Too Much Time, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Unmailed Letters!

While scouting around Jim’s desk we here at IJS came across more angry correspondence from Jim to various members of the community at large.  Before he could send them out, we decided to print them here.  We hope you enjoy!  -ed.

To:  Joaquin Phoenix

Hey Dick Bag,

I don’t know what your deal is lately, but you’re acting like a massive cunt.  Is it a publicity thing or did your neck throw up a giant hairball?.  In case you didn’t know, no one really buys this charade you’re putting on, this Howard Hughes-esque masquerade if you will.  You’re just an asshole with a chip on his shoulder.

You say you want to retire from acting and pursuit a career in hip-hop?  Wait, hold on, lemme get this straight:  a 40-something year old white guy with a beard and a love of wearing sunglasses indoors other than Rick Rubin wants to get into hip-hop?  You must be in some serious debt to whoever delivers whatever drugs you’re taking because that makes about as much sense as a guy who gets car sick deciding he wants to drive for NASCAR.

Retire already ass clown, you’re movies are pretty much useless.  I couldn’t stand you in “Gladiator” and you were one dimensional in that crap rag “Signs.”

And don’t get me started with the “The Village.”

Obviously your dead brother River still has more talent than you do.

Respectfully yours,
James.

To:  The Guy Working The Early Shift at The Hess Gas Station on North Street

Sir,

Let’s me and you get something straight right now:  You work at a gas station/convenience store on Cape Cod and you’re old enough to be virtually harmless.  Based on this, I don’t want to have to be forced to crack a baseball bat over your simple gray head because you constantly refuse to turn on the fucking pumps in the morning due to your blithering ineptitude.

Hey, life didn’t give you a million dollars to convert into change and allow you to swim through like Scrooge McDuck – I understand, it’s shitty.  But your station in life is to man the fucking little switches by the cash register and Massachusetts Lottery machine and display of Five Hour Energy Drink.  When it starts beeping, flip the goddamn switch so I can pump my gas and be on my way.

Maybe you don’t realize this but there are people who have to commute to work at ungodly hours because their office is more than an hour away.  It’s also fucking freezing outside, if you hadn’t noticed; so me standing at the pump, leaning against my truck, squeezing and squeezing the handle while I watch the little LED display read out say “Awaiting Pump Authorization” because you’re diddling cigarette packs out back or just plain taking a shit in the bathroom, is incredibly irksome to the point where I may put a size 9.5 Timberland boot up your paste-colored ass.

I have dainty feet, and believe me, they will fit up a motherfucker’s ass.

The next time I’m forced to wait for you to do your goddamn job, I’m going over the counter, switching the pump on by myself and then laying down a pool of gasoline in the parking lot and setting that bitch on fire.  Do you’re fucking job old man and we can avoid any unnecessary violence.

Sincerely,
The Guy With the Scarf and the Black F-150 that Hates Your Guts Twice a Week at 0530 in the Morning, and You Know It.

To:  The Guy With The Cottage For Rent.

Dude,

Seriously, I called you like four separate times, and emailed you twice, once from my work email and another from my gmail account.  I, rather, we were really interested in that cute cottage out in Eastham.  I saw the pictures online, I saw it had a little woodstove, and the price was right.

So why did it take you over a week to get back to me?

I don’t know how you do business; maybe this is status quo for you, but as far as I’ve figured, especially in this economy, you’d think realtors and landlords would be scrambling to get people to see their places for rent.  I mean, over a week bro, and when you called, you sounded like it was a huge hassle for you to show the place.

I quote:  “Well, I need to know if you want to see the place right now.  I have to drive all the way out from Hyannis to show it and uh, if you’re really interested, I need to know some stuff about you.”

So I answered your stupid questions, what I do for work, what my wife does, will I submit to a credit check, etc.  I told you I’d be there in an hour and you sighed and said something like “it’s not even that nice of a place.  Those photos were taken in the summer when there were flowers and stuff.”

Jesus buddy, are you planning on renting the place before the next coming of Christ or what?

But don’t worry about it, when we spoke I was actually on my way to see another place that I liked a whole lot more, that hopefully we’ll be moving into shortly.  I don’t feel bad one bit for not calling you back to cancel either.

I hope you enjoyed waiting for me as much as I did waiting for you.

Suck my dick,
James.

To:  The Host of Cash Cab

Dear Media Puppet,

There’s a lot to complain about your show, such as how easy the questions are, how you never leave the borough of Manhattan, how you seem to only pick up tourists on vacation, etc, but there’s one thing I’d like to complain about, and it’s you, sir.

First off, you’re a terrible host.  You try to play up the drama with your unsuspecting tits of fares by acting like they got a question wrong when everyone in the world knows they got it right.  You also try to act like some sort of sketchy old man when fares first enter your cab, which makes no sense at all, because I doubt that A) you’re readily recognizable to anyone and B) typically people entering cabs aren’t paying much attention to the driver, just so long as he’s not one of those weird black people that “probably have an accent.”

And back to the questions:  They are insanely easy and yet all over the place.  You’ll ask like twelve third grade-level geography questions and then slam the unsuspecting bastards with something obscure out of a college lit appreciation class.

Ugh, is Man Verses Wild on any time soon?

Taking The Next Cab,
James.

I’m just saying…

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Expectation of Privacy

I hold my cell phone number very near and dear to my heart.  The only people who I give my number out to are people I know won’t abuse the shit out of it, ie, text message the shit out of me with “chain texts” or silly ass photos that I don’t even bother to open, just simply delete as soon as they hit my inbox.

So I find it incredibly vexing when my mother takes it upon herself to hand out my personal cell phone number to any Tom, Dick or Harry that asks for it.

I don’t blame her, at least not 100%.  I can somewhat project the conversation and scenario that took place when my … ugh, Cousin Mike asked for my number.

A quick backstory:  When Memere died, everyone from my mom’s side of the family came out, except my Cousin Mike, who had to “work” and couldn’t make it to the Wake or Funeral or even reception after the fact.  His mother went on to explain to me that he was very interested in what I was doing and wanted to touch base, which to me, is a horrifying proposition considering Cousin Mike is one of the last people I would ever associate myself with.

Not to sound like a snob, but he’s not the type of person I would normally go and have a drink with I guess.  He’s a year or so younger than me, yet we were in the same graduating high school class, except he didn’t graduate, I think.  He was one of those kids who cut class and sold drugs at house parties and had a minor rap sheet by the time he was old enough to drink.  I’m sorry, but he’s not the type of person I want to run around with.  His idea of a good time consists of armed robbery and terrorizing high school girls from the open window of a moving Mercury Cougar.

So … Cousin Mike’s mother lives about two or three houses down from where my mom just moved into, and so naturally he decided to pay my mother a visit.  In the course of things, the conversation most likely turned towards me, and what I’m doing.  My mother loves to brag about the “wild things” my wife and I are up to, and naturally he saw this as an opportunity to get back in touch, most likely to ask if he can borrow money from me.

Mom really had no choice in the end; what could she tell him, that she didn’t have my number?  So she gave it to him thinking that either A) he wouldn’t call, or more likely B) I wouldn’t answer a call from a number that I didn’t recognize, which is 100% true.  It was the latter that happened around 7pm last night.

I was sitting on the couch with Ang, watching a doc called “Crazy Love” about a guy who paid some black guys to throw acid in the face of his ex girlfriend, who then turns around and marries him twenty years later, when my phone starts to pulse in my pocket.  I fished it out and looked at the display, seeing a 207 area code and pondering who it could be.

“Answer it,” quipped my wife, to which I shot down her suggestion with a look of skeptical paranoia.

“No, that’s why I have voice mail,” and I set the phone down on the little arm rest on the couch.  A minute later, the phone buzzed once to let me know there was a message.  I thumbed my ‘one’ button and put the phone to my ear and gave the message a listen.  My stomach sank when I heard who it was.

“Hey Jimm-eh,” came an aged version of the voice I detested in high school.  “Uhh, ya mutha gave me ya numbah, and uhh.. just kinda wanted to touch base with ya,” the message went on, and believe me, as tedious as it is for you to read that little bit, it was three times as bad to sit and listen to the whole thing.

Again, I feel like I have to apologize because I feel like a total scum bag for getting so bent out of shape about this, but my cell phone is my little barrier between people I want to interact with and people I want to keep at arm’s length.

If you get my cell number you’re in my inner circle.  I understand that creditors and bill collectors have my number as well, but as I stated I don’t answer numbers I don’t readily recognize, or come across as “blocked” or “unknown.”  Actually, I wish I could draw you a diagram of how my outer, mid, and inner circles work with methods of communication.  It’d probably work like this:

I Don’t Want to Talk to You/Don’t Know You (Outer Most Circle) you get: my defunct myspace.com page that was deleted months ago.

I Vaguely Know You Exist (Outer Circle) you get:  my yahoo account email where all my porn spam goes to, that I haven’t checked in over a year.

I Know You From Work But We Don’t Hang Out/I Know You Through My Wife and Find You Vapid (Inner-Outer Circle) you get: my “clean” Facebook page.

I Don’t Know You in Person, But You’re Ok by Me (Outer-Inner Circle) you get:  my blog, maybe my email.

I Know You in Person, We Hang Out/I Knew You Since, Like 6th Grade or Better (Inner Circle) you get:  my real Facebook page, my blog, my email, my cell number, my address and hell, maybe some of my beers.

My Wife (Inner-Inner Circle) you get:  Everything mentioned above, and my spare truck and gun safe keys, plus my undying love.

I’m just saying…

February 10, 2009 Posted by | Too Much Time | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing at Position Charlie Foxtrot: The Great American Culture Down-Suck

From the Wikitionary:

Charlie Foxtrot:
See clusterfuck

I remember reading in a history book back in like, fourth grade, about the Town Common.  The Town Common was a place that all the town’s people would gather and share news, purchase goods and services, and all around congregate en masse throughout the day, because that, as from going to church all day, was the thing to do.

Today, in 2009, the Town Common has been replaced by Wal Mart.

A trip home to Maine isn’t complete without at least one trip to the fringe of town to visit the giant gray box, amongst the other giant box stores, that is Wal Mart.  Ah yes, Wal Mart, you faceless monolith, jutting up from the surrounding 80 acre clusterfuck of a parking lot, with your mammoth-sized foot pressing down across the throats of the small local business owner.  Your prices are too good to pass up (190 dollars for a Vizio 19″ flatscreen tv, what?!) even with your human rights record comparable to that of Old Manchuria.

This is where I found myself a lot during the week I was home to watch my last grandparent die, walking through an enormous parking lot, littered with cars and debris that made me feel like one of the filthy wretches that walked out of the 9th Ward after Katrina hit it with a thousand pound shithammer.

All around me as I walk, there’s vestiges of direct deposit-less, paycheck-to-paycheck types, shuffling from their dirt-gray-black sedans adorn in tribal tattoo decals, with their rear bumpers either smashed in and up under their trunks, or being held together with some mal-placed screws.

People don’t park in the lines either, but I can’t fault them for that, because neither do I.  I do not know if this is a product of my upbringing or something greater, a harkening to my connection to my community – because no one in town can fucking park within the lines.  What compounds this further is that for some ridiculous reason, Wal Mart places its handicap spaces perpendicular to the regular spaces, but the poor old bastards with their poor eye sight, mixed with the fact that there’s a sheet of sand over everything, can’t tell that they should park their cars completly opposite from everyone else, even with the fact that there’s a giant fucking light post in the way of their front ends.  This causes their back end to stick WAY the fuck out into the traveling aisle, causing other drivers to apparently just say “fuck it” and leave their cars parked in the middle of the aisle, get out, and get themselves a cheap 19″ flatscreen tv before they’re all gone.

Walking inside, I half expect to run into some slob I went to high school with, either as an employee complete with a blue vest and name tag (I surmise that Wal Mart keeps their cattle dressed in blue vests, as so the snipers know who to shoot if one of them strays too far in the parking lot and is looking like a possible escapee), or just some other random dick that’s never moved away from home.  But I didn’t, and actually, I didn’t see anyone I recognized at all during all three or more trips to the gray bitch.

Unless those people I should’ve recognized had gained three hundred pounds, all in their asses or neck regions.

Biddeford, my old home town, has grown not in population, but overall waist size as a collective.  The same can be said for most of America, but it didn’t really hit me or my wife until we decided to have our first Date Night since getting married roughly a month ago.

We don’t get a chance to get out much, mostly due to finances, so given the fact that we were somewhat marooned in Maine for a week, and instead of dealing with my parents’ growing hatred for one another, we decided to skip out and see a movie.

Our first attempt was combated simply by the fact that everyone else in town had the same idea as we; to go out and see a film on a Saturday night.  I found this baffling, because typically this time of year, many Americans don’t like to go out and see films; we’re still all too strung out from the holidays to really want to spend money, hence why Hollywood releases such “winners” this time of year, as “Paul Blart, Mall Cop.”

But the line for the local Cinemagic (IMAX coming in May 09!) was out the door and spilling into the clusterfuck that was their parking lot (due to construction of the IMAX theatre extension, I imagine) so after navigating around the craters and cars, and not being the ones to want to stand outside all night in twenty-degree weather, I handed Ang my phone and had her look up the movie listings for the theatre back the other way across town.

I was reluctant to go to this theatre because it was one of those unfortunate theatres that attempts to serve you a whole meal while the film is playing on the screen.  If you’ve never had the … awe… of experiencing one of these establishments, allow me to illustrate for you what it’s like.  You can imagine it’s not hard, but let me tell you anyway:

Imagine sitting down to watch a feature length film, and just about every ten minutes, some oafish buffoon with a tray of hot wings that smell like OC spray stands right in front of you to set the food down for the other buffoons who ordered it.  Also, there’s no conventional theatre-style seating; everyone is made to sit at cafeteria-style oblong tables in high-backed leather chairs.  While sitting in this theatre, it was incredibly hard to hear what was being said in the film, over the sounds of everyone collectively getting fatter.

And that’s where I’m going with this:  Ang and I both sat, half watching the film about Bulgarian Jews hiding from the Nazis out in the woods, and half watching the local citizens of Biddeford and its surrounding towns, getting fatter and fatter.  After the film ended (it was “eh” on a scale of “zzzz” and “awesome!”) Ang and I both remarked about how the average movie goer’s stomach was over his/her waist.  I saw one gentleman struggle to “belly up” to his table to stuff his maw full of deep friend potato wedges.

It was a wake up call to be sure.

Afterwards we drove the short distance (and I don’t mean down the street, I mean, like two hundred feet.  Like I said, it was cold out.) to a Tim Horton’s that apparently sprouted up overnight while I’ve been away on The Cape.  We ordered coffee and treats, hers was a disgusting-looking-yet-tasty parfait, and mine was an apple fritter.

About ten minutes or less into our coffee and treats, Ang decided to unload all her fury and angst at the poor counter girls.  She stood up and deliberately poured her coffee out all over the floor, set her cup down, and marched into the bathroom, leaving her shocked husband sitting in his chair by the window, clueless as to what set her off.

But when she returned from the bathroom (apparently to get some of the coffee off of her Ugg boots) she seemed to have returned back to her normal self and I had cleaned up most of the mess from on the table. Neither of us mentioned the outburst, and we absconded with the ceramic mugs that they provided us our coffee in.

And on that subject, I must make note:  Places that serve you in actual dinnerware, such as ceramic mugs, giant, unwieldy twenty-two ounce glass steins, pint glasses, etc, must know their going to have these things ripped off.  I can’t tell you how many different pint glasses I’ve swiped from bars and restaurants over the years.  And it’s like you get extra points if it has the place’s name on it too.  Such was the case with our mugs from Timmy Hos.

But look, I’ve gotten way off point wit this whole article.  I never wanted to mention my wife’s insane bouts of public rage or America’s obesity problem.  I wanted to talk about Memere and all the bullshit that went on over the course of the week.

I’m just sayin…

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, People I Love, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fear and Loathing at Position Charlie Foxtrot: Two Days to Kill

We had two days to kill, because the only Catholic priest in town was up to his eyeballs in dead grandparents and his only opening was on Friday.  I called work to tell them that I was going to need a few days and they surprisingly accommodated me.  Then we sat around and waited.

We watched the Obama Inauguration with mild interest; those of us watching it in my Memere’s kitchen had wide smiles pasted to our faces with unshielded optimism (as G-Dub was boarding Marine One, my mother quipped “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!”) and we caught the news story about the guy landing the passenger jet in the Hudson.  On that, I can’t imagine anything more terrifying for everyone involved, even the poor bastards schlepping their way from Jersey into The City to go to work that morning, seeing a fucking 747 flying over the GWB at low enough altitude that you could see the tiny terrified and panic stricken faces of  the passengers in the bullet-resistant glass windows.

But the pilot pulled through, expertly landing the plane on a clear patch of Hudson River, conveniently next to passenger fairies and a fucking US Coast Guard station.   It’s almost as if Jerry Bruckheimer was piloting the damn thing.

Ang and I rented a few movies, “Pineapple Express” falling way below my expectations as an ultra violent stoner comedy helmed by Judd “Becoming-Less-Funnier-By-The-

Picture” Apatow, and starring Seth “This-Is-Supposed-To-Be-A-Leading-Man?” Rogen.  Though points were given out to James Franco’s lovably self conscience drug dealer role.

We also rented “Tropic Thunder” which was more a wink and a nudge at Hollywood than it was an action-comedy.  It surpassed my expectations overall, with laugh-out-loud performances from Robert Downey Jr and Tom Cruise.  Best line from the film:  “Who’s a Key Grip?  …Yeah?  Go over there, and punch that fucking asshole in his face, as hard as you can!”  If you haven’t seen the film, go see it.  Or maybe when it comes down to editing this … already 8 page, five thousand word monster of an article, I’ll just find the scene on youtube.com and link you to it.

So there was a lot of that, just mindless escapist entertainment that we used to just get us from being caught in the middle of the Israel v. Gaza-like war between my mother and father (who still hadn’t claimed any responsibility for not being there for my mother when she needed him most, nor apologized to anyone about being an incredibly huge asshole when the subject of my Memere came up.  And with that, any shred of non-biased reporting went right out the window), and the loss of my grandmother.

So mindless escapism, check, stuffing our faces full of food, check as well.  That’s all we did, when we weren’t going to see films or travel the mall to wander around and window shop.  We ate terrible foods because no one really wanted to cook, one and two, it was just easier to order Chinese food or sandwiches from D’Angelos or George’s or whatever.  It was also on some levels comfort food, like when you’re depressed and wind up eating a whole pint of fucking Haggen Daas on your couch amongst tear-and-snot-stained tissues, this month’s issue of Redbook, half-glass of ginger ale, and Lifetime’s movie of the week playing back on your Tivo.  There’s something about the greasy-goodness of fast food that lulls us into a false sense of living in a womb for a few hours.  And then there’s the inevitable crash, where you need to stuff your fat fucking face all over again to reach euphoria.

It’s not unlike Cocaine.  Or so I’m told.  Author Chuck Klosterman describes Cocaine use in his book “Killing Yourself to Live” as something akin to being at a party and receiving a compliment from someone you’re heavily attracted to.  You spend the rest of the night feeling that wonderful rush of joy, until it wears away and you’re left searching around the party for that person again.  If you’re not careful you turn into a real dickhead, ruining the party for everyone else.

Anyway, where was I?  Cocaine?  No.  Oh, fast food.  Yes, this is terribly addictive stuff, something that should only be enjoyed in heavy moderation, probably with a partner to spot you, if not outright drag you away from the Cici’s Pizza Buffet before you can heap on another slice of their rubbery, disgusting, vomit-looking pizza (Cici’s tagline is “it’s almost too good to be true!” which isn’t exactly false advertising.  They’re right when they say it’s “almost good.”  Though I’ve never had Cici’s before, because they’re not found around New England at all – closest one is in Whitehall, PA – they do for some reason advertise up here, and the commercials seem only to reinforce my idea that I will A) never take part in a ‘pizza buffet’ and B) wander into a Cici’s and confuse puke on the men’s room floor with the food on the service line, and probably have a slightly more enjoyable experience ingesting the vomit.)

What made matters worse was that every time I went to put something in my mouth to eat, whether it be a Riley’s bakery donut, or a slice of pizza, Ang was right there to tell anyone who would listen that I was “going on a diet as soon as we get back.”  And that was that.  I didn’t want to pull the “I’m grieving!” card at all, but by the end of the week I felt as though I would have to sneak around to enjoy eating anything that wasn’t full blown organic, mineral water rinsed, and grown by aged hippies in Napa Valley.

But that’s just the way Southern Maine is, En Toto.  We don’t do the whole “organic thing” unless you live up in Portland, and they only put that Whole Foods up there to satisfy the trendster kids on Warf St who demand farm raised Salmon paste on their whole wheat mult-grain crackers, the fucking snobs.  I’d gladly take a plank of wood with a jumble of nails sticking through one end to the whole lot of them.  I wouldn’t stop chasing them until we were out at the outer end of Forest Ave, and even then I’d probably chain whip the shit out of them until we crossed into Westbrook.

So we don’t do the whole “Organic Thing,” and I need to stay on task here.  Way too much deviation.  A testament to the whole anti-organic thing brings us full circle back to Wal Mart, where on one particular trip I managed to cajole Ang to come along with me.  She pissed and moaned about being “far above” walking into a Wal Mart, but relented none-the-less when the alternative appeared to be left alone in my truck to be ogled by the Natives who’ve obviously never seen a woman with so much class and sophistication.

We collected a few grocery items for my mother and in the small, feeble produce section, Ang quipped loudly “this place doesn’t even have an Organic Section!”  This got some of the nearby grazing Water Buffalo to lift their heads from the stacks of not-so-fresh-looking vegetables and give Ang what she called “The Bitch Face.”

Mind you, Ang made her comment while riding amongst our items in the carriage that I was pushing.

After purchasing our items and pissing off the natives, we both agreed while walking to the truck that from now on, when we both enter a Wal Mart, we would only speak in false accents to give the air that we’re sophisticated foreigners writing for an unnamed European periodical on the down-suck of American Culture.

If my faux-British accent is terrible, Ang’s faux-French accent makes babies’ ears bleed.

I’m just sayin…

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Love, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing at Position Charlie Foxtrot: Lessons Learned

It soon came time to get on with the inevitable burying of Memere and moving out of my mother.  It was decided, rather quickly, that my mom would take over Memere’s house, which is one street away from where her and dad lived for the last fifteen or so years.

The Wake was Thursday night, and we three on this committee to bury Memere decided that two showings would be too much, because in this day and age, no one goes to Wakes in the middle of the day.  It’d be a big waste of time for all the family to stand around waiting to see if anyone at all comes, and if they did, they’d probably only be old and confused.

“You mean this isn’t the Harding Wake?”

“No sir, that was two weeks ago.”

“Oh, my…”

So we settled on one evening Wake, between the hours of seven and nine.  I was genuinely surprised at all the people who showed up, from both sides of my family.  The neighborhood came out too, and then of course there were the awkward instances when I was shoe-horned into a conversation with people I didn’t know.

It was hard being the young center piece at this Wake because I’ve been somewhat out of touch with most of my extended family over the last year or so, more so on my mother’s side than anything else.  You have to understand, and without going into great detail, my mother’s side of the family is peppered with ne’er do-wellers and con artists.  Notably, my cousin Robert went to jail on aggravated assault charges when he stabbed a transvestite drug dealer when the deal went bad and the tranny tried to back out of it.

So you can understand why I haven’t been sending out Xmas cards to these people.

Anyway, being that everyone at this thing wanted to know what was going on with me (OMIGAWD YOU’RE MARRIED to So what’s it like working for ______?) I had to do a lot of diplomatic speaking, because I had no idea who I was talking to most of the time.  When I wasn’t being bogged down in an endless conversation about how great I am, and what wonderful things I was doing, and how lovely my wife is, I was being shown cell phone pictures of new borns, cousins I only vaguely remember that are apparently doing “big things” now and “Remember the Time”-stories.

“Remember the time I was coming out of that bar and I was like, ‘hey there’s Jimmy!  That cop right there, yeah that’s my cousin Jimmy!’  Hahahaha?  Remember that?”  And then a small part of my soul would die.

Dad finally showed up, about an hour into the two hour thing.  My mom’s chief concern was that he was going to hog the spotlight for some reason with his ridiculous beard and wild stories about whatever.  To his credit, dad was very well behaved and stayed towards the rear of the funeral parlor, idly chatting with his side of the family in the form of my two aunts, and my mother’s boss, which naturally mortified everyone who knew what was going on.

The next morning we were all up early to get ready for the High Mass at ten at the local Catholic Church which was directly behind my parent’s house.  Dad didn’t show up for this because he doesn’t “do churches” which crushed my mother and probably pushed her further away than anything else he’d done over the last week.  Ang was her rock in the stead of my father, for which we’re all grateful for.  I can’t tell you how much my mother bonded with Angela over the course of the week.  And this is in sharp contrast to their first meeting 6 months ago when Ang fiercely believed that my mother had it in for her.

“You’re mother doesn’t like me,” she whispered conspiratorially, one evening.  Over and over again I heard that phrase muttered in privacy, and now my mother was treating my wife like her best friend in the whole world.  Ang doesn’t feel like she did anything, but honestly, she did more than she’ll ever know, from the heart, to my mother.

I even openly and publicly thanked her in my Eulogy, which I delivered at the closing of the funeral.

The Eulogy is the toughest thing to write, any writer worth his salt will tell you that.  How do you sum up an entire life in five to ten minutes of speaking?  The night before the funeral I sat at my mother’s computer and stared long and hard at an old picture of my grandmother trying to embody her spirit, trying to tap into her psychic soul, trying to listen for her voice from beyond the grave, and nothing really came up.  There was the suggestion of using my old Parker Bros. Ouija Board, but being that the woman just died, I figured I’d give her a little time to get acclimated before making a collect call to the Other Side.

So I wrote a short speech with talking points based around historical facts that occurred during Memere’s eighty-eight years, focusing on how she inherited her strength from living through The Great Depression, how she saw The Civil Rights Movement at it’s lowest point with the assassination of MLK to it’s highest with President Obama being elected.  She lived through 16 presidencies, and the infancy of the Price is Right.

I talked for a short while, making sure at the top of the speech to thank all the appropriate people, such as Ang, Hospice, the local community church leaders, everyone who came out to the Wake and funeral, etc.  And when I was done, my cousin Tom, who was acting as a Deacon during the ceremony got up and said a few words.

I’m so glad I went first, because I would’ve hated to follow Tom.  If I beat up the place with my words, Tom killed it.  And I told him that, verbatim.  He stood at the podium, rubbing the bridge of his nose, pinching it to hold back tears as he spoke from the heart about his memories of Memere from when he was a kid.  He mentioned some sort of book, I don’t really recall what it was, but everything he said dripped with pain and loss, whereas mine dribbled my own style of awkward humor on to things (my mother begged me not to make any jokes in the Eulogy.  “You sometimes think you’re cute, and you say very inappropriate things at very inappropriate times,” she chastised.  I did have a bit about Memere’s detailed style of story telling and how it related to a tale about a colonoscopy, but I relented to my mother’s wishes and kept things very light.).

That night, with everything said and done, including helping my mother move her belongings in a hurried fashion from our house to her new digs at Memere’s, I had a long chat with my father.  He was buzzed, also probably stoned, and still unapologetic for all the hurt he’d caused.

“Honestly Jim, I moved away from your mother seven months ago,” he said at one point.  Followed by:  “I hope your grandmother gave you a hefty inheritance, because she could’ve been a lot better of a grandmother to you when she was alive…”  I sat in disbelief, sipping on a Budweiser, staring at motorcycle parts strewn about the room in a scattered fashion.

You have to understand something about my father before you sit down and talk to him:  there’s no sitting down and talking to him.  He runs the show, like a trial lawyer who’s taking up his own defense, he gestures about the room as if addressing a jury made up entirely of mes.  He pleads his case and then asks follow up questions that he then takes upon himself to answer.  And of course he’s a softball pitcher, giving himself big fat meatballs to swing at.

I gave up trying to get my point across due to his aggressive responses that would usually corner me.  At the time I wasn’t sure that I was going soft on him on purpose because he’s my dad and there’s some sort of hardwired rule inside of me that says he’s not to be challenged and he’s infallible.  It could’ve been the fact too that he won’t let you get a word in edgewise during his rants of self-pity and manipulations.

In other words, if you disagree with what he’s saying, he automatically casts you aside as “not being on [his] side” and being unsupportive.  While we… he spoke… I found many contradictions and flaws in his arguments; most of which perpetrated while also claiming to being the victim of.

Example:  He claims that he can’t get along with his best friend Gillis because Gillis is too stubborn to admit he’s wrong about something.

Or:  My mother got upset at him for a minor insult and held it over him for a “really long time,” when he felt the insult wasn’t that big of a deal and was “just a joke.”  See also:  Man of Leisure.

By the end of it my head was warbling with bullshit and I noticed the clock on the wall and new we had to get back to the Cape soon or we’d be stuck in Maine another night.  I explained this to dad and he understood, but wanted to hug things out anyway.  We hugged and my heart sagged a little.  No, it sagged a lot.  It sagged because I knew that my dad’s only friend in the world that night was his half case of Budweiser, half gallon of Canadian Club, and a bowl to be smoked later.

He had no one else.

My greatest fear is that my father is going to end up dead and alone in Mexico, a bloated carcass on some lonely stretch of beach that not even the gringo tourists go to.  Specifically I’m sure I’m the only one who has this fear, but in a general sense I’m sure it’s a fear shared by everyone in the family, and that stems from the fact that everyone knows my father is basically Peter Fonda from “Easy Rider”, a Captain America of sorts who doesn’t care where the road takes him to, as long as it doesn’t double back here.

For me, Papa really was a rolling stone.  During the twenty-seven years of my life his roll was rutted until the plates tectonic shifted and got him rolling along again.  Thinking about all of this as he clutched me tightly to his chest got me to well up a little and I sniffed loudly in his ear.

“Are you crying you fag?”  He asks me still in his death clutch.

“No,” I gasp.

“Do I gotta have the talk with you like you’re 12?  Me and your mother still love you, blah blah blah, all that Dr. Phil bullshit?”

Fucking bastard, indignant to the end.

We packed and stopped at mom’s house, the idea that it was “mom’s house” hit me flatly and I just kinda accepted it.  Ang’s purse went missing (we found it amongst all the shit we packed in the truck when we got back home), we got some sort of wall hanging that belonged to my Memere about the “Marriage Creed” that’s now hanging in our study over my desk, and we all hugged promising to call when we got back home.  We also forgot the two Tim Horton’s mugs we stole.  They were left in the dish washer.

Jesus Christ, I’m pushing 12 pages by this point, or just over eight thousand words.  I better wrap this up, or I might end up turning this into another unsuccessfully published book.

Dad doesn’t have a cell phone or a computer anymore, so there’s no way to get in touch with him that won’t require snail mail or carrier pigeon.  This is concerning.

Mom has her computer and cell phone and at this point it might be too much to ask her to go check on him to make sure he didn’t get drunk and die from carbon monoxide poisoning in his shop that night.

If I learned anything from all of this, this whole week was that I’m going to work extra hard on my marriage and the growth of my family down the line.  I never want to be stuck in a bitter marriage where the two people hate each other and don’t even bother to hide their loathing.  I’m not saying I want to shoot for the perfect marriage because that’s impossible.  That’s the same as trying to be the perfect person.  You can’t be the perfect person because then life becomes a dull waiting room visit at a dentist’s office.  Imperfections make the spice of life.

But I’m going to work on my flaws and communicate them to my wife so she knows where my heads at.  I’m going to look out for her and us together, as she’s going to look out for me and us at the same time.  We’re like Bubba and Forest in the middle of the jungles of Vietnam.  I’m going to rest against her back and she’s going to rest on mine, together, at the same time, so we’re both not stuck sleeping in cold mud.

I don’t want to be my parents.

I’m just sayin…

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment