Friday, July 24, 2009

I have learned my first joke in another language.

My friend, Edison, told me that in Spanish speaking countries Arnold Schwarzenegger is known as "Chocha-negger".

I took Spanish I three times in high school and college almost 30 years ago and I GOT THE JOKE!

For the uninitiated "chocha" is Spanish slang for vagina; less delicately put, it is the Spanish version of the word "pussy". It doesn't make sense if you actually translate it but it works. It was a simple and prefect pun and I got the joke in the other language.

I had never thought before that puns would work in other languages. I guess that's simple ignorance and a certain Anglo superiority. I have listen to and written jokes all my life. My father brought me a love of humor and my mother brought me love of the English language. I cut my comedic teeth on George Carlin as he turned words and phrases on their ear into some of the funniest things I had ever heard.

Now, to not only hear a joke in another language but a joke actually told in another language is like watching the Marx Brothers again for the first time.

Thanks, Edison!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Julie bonded out of jail. I'm not sure how but she called late Tuesday night after she got out. Yes! She actually had the nerve to call. My phone was turned down so I didn't hear the call come in just a voice mail message. I do want to talk to her; it won't be the most pleasant conversation of m,y life, but I do want to eventually talk to her.

I had the opportunity Monday evening to take the girls out to get something to eat. They are not living under the best of conditions right now; they are staying with their paternal grandmother in a house with no running water and no electricity. The Department for Children and Families has been called in and has interviewed the whole family and are working on a resolution.

After we got dinner we made a run through Wally World to get some much needed supplies before returning to their grandmother's. Before I left I had a discussion with the 7 year old, Nicky. She told me how, on the night when I last loaned money to her mother that they left where we were and what her mother actually did with the money.

You have to picture this adorable 7 year old girl standing there telling me this; she was so embarrassed and mortified by her mother that she couldn't actually say the words but had to spell it out, "She went to buy P-I-L-L-S".

I can understand a person having a habit. I am slapping myself in the head for seeing but not acknowledging some of the signs. What I do not forgive is her using her children as she has. I've seen all the shows on TV about addicts and the lengths they go to but it pales in comparison to being a part of that person's life and realizing how you had been used.

So, in honor of that self realization I offer this tribute.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Today, my son is a man!

John turned 18 today. I could go all Hallmark on what that means to me but, if you're a regular reader, you know all the "I never had this experience with my father" rants I could start.

To my surprise, his mother did not have a master plan for the day or any big blow out in the works. So, I got there in time to take him out to lunch. To cement my place in his life as the parent who gives the cool presents I gave him something completely useless considering he is going into the Navy in a few months; a full sized, hand made Captain America shield replica.


The we brought it inside and showed it off to his mother. She rolled her eyes. I got the exact reactions out of the both of them I for which I had hoped. I have always had the philosophy that you can buy clothes and essential things any day of the week; Christmas and birthdays are for FUN gifts.

We then headed out to a local Army/Navy surplus store so I could give him a gift of a gesture on my part. I had gone in looking for the Blue Service Star lapel pin but the dolts who worked there had no idea what I was talking about even tough hanging right beside all the ribbons and medals they had on display was a bumper sticker version.

For those who might be as ignorant an the orangutans running the cash register, the Service Star Banner first came into use during World War I; each blue signifies an immediate family member who is serving in the military during a time of armed conflict. A gold star signifies a family member who had died in the line of duty.

My son has never really been sure how much I support his decision to join the military and I wanted to use the occasion of his becoming an adult to present an outward sign that I love and respect him very much. I also gave him the history lesson and warned him that in his job of Ordinance Technician not to drop any of the ordinance because I wanted to keep my banner a blue banner.

We then went out to lunch for his favorite food; hot wings. We sat an talked and as we did he did seem to become an adult right in front of me. A realization came over me as well; this was not only my son but my friend. He is a funny, witty, intelligent and damned good looking guy that I enjoy hanging out with. I could have been sitting in that wing joint with any number of the bums I hang out with and it would have been the same scene. But I was here with my son and it was one of the best moments in my life.

With this being his 18th birthday, let me commit to record his and my favorite story about the moment of his birth. It was at the exact moment of his birth. He had just slid his way into this world, he took his first breath, he cried, the doctor cleaned him off, I cut the cord, the doctor took him from me and with hands under each little arm held him up for his mother to see...


After leaving the humid warmth of the womb the cold conditioned hospital air slapped into his little body shocking the kidneys and sending a perfect stream aimed directly at his mother's mid-torso.

I don't think I've ever been more proud of my son; he came into the world doing a sight gag!

Happy Birthday, son!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I really thought I was done blogging about Julie. I really thought it was over.

Then the phone rang and it was a collect call from the Martin County Jail.

I almost stumbled over myself to get to my computer to look her up and sure enough; there she was in the glare of the booking flood lights resplendent in her jail jumpsuit and the vacant and dazed look of someone who had spent the past two hurs being shuffled from cruiser to holding cell.

It's not often when the universe turns in my favor but in those rare occasions when it does happen; its a glorious thing.

Four forgery charges, improper use of identification and credit card fraud.

The phone continued to ring and I continued to refuse the call. I found out later than I can't take collect calls on my cell phone but it didn't matter; there was no way in hell I was going to accept her call. She wants money for bail. The ironic part is that the amount she needed was exactly how much I had blown on her in our first year of dating.

Can she be so stupid that she would think she could come to me again? Could she think I was so stupid that I would fall for her bullshit again? How many times did she think she could trample on me and be able to come back for more?

I am not the kind of person who holds a grudge; I've even mended fences with my ex-wife for crying out loud, but I am reveling in the anger I am feeling. While I still refuse each call from the jail I am looking forward to actually confronting her face to face some day. She lied to me to my face. She used her children as pawns to get what she wanted. I sit and rethink everything we did together and everything said to each other since first meeting in the summer of 2007 and I wonder which ones were legitimate and which ones were a grift.

So I continue to sit and listen to the phone ring. Each call goes to voice mail and I eventually listen to them. Each one starts off with the automated collect call system announcing the call and then a three second audio snippet of her in jail. I can hear the echo o her voice on the linoleum, cinder block and glass; an echo which never stops and they never get right on TV. Some are plaintive, some are pleading, some are stern and some are tear-filled.

With each call I get a little more of my self respect back.

And it feels good for a change.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I have recently gotten a Facebook account and through all of the silly little quizzes there was one on "The 5 Things Which Scare Me The Most". Mine were; roller coasters, heights, Alzheimer's, death and dragonflies.

When I was little I had a child's fear of roller coasters. At around the age of 12 my brother in law, who had taken a psychology course, and instantly thought himself Freud, decided he would "cure" me of my fear. He offered to take me to a local kiddie amusement park where he would go with me on the little bunny hop roller coaster there.

"I'll be right with you. I'll show you how safe it is and that there's nothing to be afraid of".

I trusted him and went along.

We sat side by side on the car waiting for it to start. "See, no problem, right?"

"Sure", I said, white knuckled holding onto the safety bar for dear life.. Adrenalin pumping through my veins as the anticipation grew.

Then the car shook as the chain underneath began to tug at the car. The car was also shaking because just at that moment my brother in law was climbing out leaving me alone to face my fear. As the car pulled away I looked back incrediously at him waving from the safe and stable platform.

I started screaming and didn't stop until halfway back to the parking lot. I don't know what I yelled at him; if I said I hated him or actually called him a son of a bitch. I do know all he said was, "Oh, grow up!"

Through my adolescence, summers which should have been spent on trill rides at Rocky Point Park were now limited to the Merry Go Round, kiddie car rides and the most daring ride I would venture, the Tile A Whirl. To this day I can not even watch the shows about roller coasters on the Discovery Channel without hyperventilating.

The only time I got on a roller coaster recently was on a trip to Disney with friends. My son was growing and I knew he would soon be asking me to go on these rides. I figured I could trust Disney and we chose Space Mountain.

Thanks to years of watching "The Wonderful World of Disney" I knew what to expect. However, the universe decided to screw with me a little. As I was making my way through the staging area there was a problem with the ride and they shut it down for a few minutes. Whenever they do that they turn on these flood lights with make a usually obscured ride completely visible. I did not need to see all of the scaffolding and the actual size of the entire ride.

All was fine and we got into our cars. As the car made it to the top of the first hill I knew what was coming and clamped my eyes shut tightly. I didn't want to see a thing. And, just like my ride on the bunny hop coaster, I started screaming. This was 20 years later and I now had a louder voice and much larger vocabulary. As we got off the ride I was horse from all my yelling and my friend came up to me and said, "You know, they usually don't allow that kind of language at Disney!" We quickly exited the ride before any of the other guests could complain about my sailor-like soliloquy.

Since then, I have gone on many virtual reality ride which give me the same scare as a roller coaster. However, I keep having to remind myself of the mechanics and special effects that are actually holding me only a few feet off the ground and that there is no reason to scream like a school girl. I also lve the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney; although I still clamp my eyes shut at the very end during the drop.

A fear of heights is something I actually talked myself into. I had no problem with heights as a youngster until I can clearly remember acting out one time in the back seat of my parents car as we were driving over the Jamestown Bridge which straddled Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. The original bridge has a center span with an open grate section about halfway across. As your car sped across ypu could look down and see the water underneath. I threw myself into the part of a scared little kid to either entertain my parents or get their attention. Each time we drove across the bridge I went into the same over-dramatized fit of fear. Eventually I forgot that it was play acting and I began ot actually get scared as we drove across. Any time I got into a high building my adrenalin would race as I imagined falling the same way I did as I pictured myself falling through the steel grate of the bridge.

Alzheimer's and death itself seem to go hand in hand. I fear the loss of control and memory that comes with Alzheimer's. My only hope is that continued research with lessen its affects by the time I reach my "golden years". The thing I fear most about death is the moment itself. I have a very low tolerance for pain and there are very few ways of dying that don't involve some major aspect of discomfort.


When I was a youngster, maybe around 9 or 10, I was swimming at the city pond with my cousins; amongst them my cousin, Tommy. As we walked around the pond we came across a swarm of dragonflies. I couldn't remember ever seeing them before and was leery of the over sized insects. Tommy saw this and offered this tidbit of information; that dragonflies were also known as "sewing needles, not just because they looked like sewing needles but because when they stung you the would do it over and over again like a needle on a sewing machine". To drive home the point he poked into his forearm over and over again with a maniacal grin on his face. Needless to say, I was horrified and did everything I could to stay away from dragonflies.

Flash forward to 1994 when I was working at the local newspaper. I was in the break room with my supervisor when a dragonfly made its way inside the building. As we stood there talking this gigantic demon bug slapped itself over and over again into the low hanging florescent light fixture a mere foot above our heads. As it banged into the light and swung back again I would duck over and over to avoid coming into contact fearing the never ending attack of the Sewing Needle.

"What the hell are you doing?" My supervisor asked as she stood motionless in the direct flight path of this dangerous bug with a look on her face as if she was watching some addled mental patient.

"That dragonfly!" I gasped as I ducked from another kamikaze flight dove towards me. "Watch out for it!" I warned her.

"Think about it, Jack", she said as if she were explaining the wheel to primitive man. "Dragon house FLY. It's a harmless bug. It won't hurt you." She sighed, shook her head and walked away. Well,at least she didn't laugh.

Since then I have done research and know, on an intellectual level, that they are completely harmless, I still have to stop myself from diving for cover when ever I see one and I almost bit my tongue off to stop myself from screaming outloud during the opening credits of "Men In Black".

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To continue the Julie Saga....

I thought things were finally over and done. She had made her choices and I didn't wait for any phone calls; I moved on. But, just like always, just after a few weeks; just when I finally stopped thinking about her, she called me.

I stared down at the caller ID on my phone and froze. Part of me longed for this call and another part of me dreaded it. But, I took it. She wanted to get together to talk. I knew I had a big enough emotional scab and that I wouldn't be completely vulnerable and might actually stand up for myself for once.

We ended up at a park along the river and she had brought along one of her daughter; my favorite. We started talking and I didn't give her much slack. I told her exactly how much she had hurt me.

I also let her know exactly how I felt that time I had gone to her house and confronted the Knuckledragger. I asked her if I caused them to have a less than friendly night. She said it had led to a big fight that night. I answered, "Aw, too bad".

But of course, the entire reason for meeting was her asking me for money. Honestly, I fought it for a while.My budget was tight that week and I really couldn't afford to load even $5. I even pointed out that she had picked the worst possible day to ask as it was the day when I would have been headed to Shore Leave and that SHE was the reason I had not been able to afford to go over the past two years.

But she said it was because she had no electricity and she had the 4 girls. Like a bad card table, I folded. As I rolled the possibility around in me head I also asked THE question. I didn't want to and could see all of my friends lined up in front of me yelling, "DON'T SAY IT!" But I asked if her meeting with me was about more than the money; if it was also about us. She said yes. She said she had made a mistake with the Knuckledragger; that he was abusive and hit her and that he was out of the picture and had been gone from the house for weeks.

I gave her the money and sat back waiting. To my surprise and relief she did try calling me on the day she told me she would have the money to repay me. All the time in that park by the river we talked about trust. We talked about how damaged the trust was between us. I told her how much of a limb I was being put on my loaning the money. I was in a meeting when she called and didn't get to call her back right away. Since the Knuckledragger was gone I figured I would simply drive up to her place and see her and the girls.

I knocked on the door and waited as I hears scrambling around inside. Suddenly, one of the girls called out, "Mom! Dad! There's someone at the door!"


OK, I thought, he ex-had finally grown a pair and came down to help out since things had gotten so bad. That made sense. Well, you probably have already guessed that it wasn't her ex but the Knuckledragger who walked out of the bedroom.

I think I felt blood vessels in my head burst.

She rambled on about him "only stopping by" and some excuse about the money. I really didn't hear it. I didn't even bother to get into it with her. I mostly did that because of the girls. I have always believed that you don't fight in front of children and this would be a doozey. SO, I excused myself and simply walked away saying, "Call when you know what's happening".

As I drove home I cried and screamed. I was angry at her and I was angry at myself. How could I be so god damned stupid? When I got home I mixed an ample amount of rum with Coke Zero and proceeded to get smashed. My head couldn't process any more and my emotions were burned to a crisp; the rum seemed to sooth all of that and was probably the only way I was able to sleep that night.

I guess I can look on this as a learning experience. I hope I can move on from this without too much damage. I hope I can be open hearted enough to the next woman without second guessing every move she makes or looking for double meaning behind each word she says.

I guess I just have to be sure the next one isn't a heartless and manipulative bitch.

Oh, wait...does that mean I haven't exactly gotten over it all yet?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ok; so, Julie. What about an update on her. Well, I guess the universe was waiting for the final chapter on that one to play itself out before I got around to updating you here. And, boy, what a final chapter. I think the fact that I didn't post before now says a lot about who I felt deep down. On some level I must have known that the relationship was wrong but didn't want to admit it to myself while everyone else around me could see all the warning signs.

But...I'm getting ahead of myself.

When I last mentioned her on here in January she was on her way back from Michigan. I don't recall now our first discussions but she did admit that she had done wrong in the way she handled things and felt very sorry. She said that as soon as she got there she knew she had made a mistake and took this long to see it. We talked for some time and both agreed that we should take it slow.

Most of my point of vew on that had come from one of my sisters. When Julie had called me from the road I called my sister who had been through two abusive relationships. I figured she would have the insight I needed to know where Julie was coming from emotionally and what I could do to make things work the best. My sister advised me to simply remain friends; nothing more than holding hands, in anything, for the first year. She also said, and these words would come back to haunt me, that she is not going to "feel as if she deserves the kind of relationship you are willing to give her". All of it wonderful advice. The only problem is I didn't listen to her.

We did take things slow. I held back more than I usually do; letting her make the first move on a number of fronts and never once used the "L" word. My approach, as it turned out was only half right and would eventually bite me in the ass.

Things were going fine through the spring and I was getting all kinds of unsolicited positive reinforcement of how our relationship was working. Out of the blue she would say how happy she was and how committed to the relationship she was. Her 4 year old, as toddlers will do, started hyphenating my name to "Jack-Daddy" and we both smiled at this. Things were going well.

Or so it seemed.

On one Saturday we attended my company cookout as a family unit and everything was sunny and beautiful. We were both a little tired out on Sunday, so we didn't get together. On that Monday I texted her and she said she was in bed with a bad migraine and that her mother was coming up to help with the girls and there was no need for me to make the trip. Sensible, I thought; and, knowing how bad migraines can be, I let her have her rest. Tuesday, no word. I figured she still needed rest. When I heard nothing on Wednesday, I called her mother to see what she had heard.

"We think you should know what is going on", is how her mother began the conversation.

Apparently, she had met this guy, the son of a neighbor, who had just gotten out of jail and had moved in and been staying there since Monday. I stammered a few words and thanked her for letting me know. I had to see this for myself so as soon as I was done with work I headed to her place. I had no idea what I was getting myself in for and kept trying to talk myself out of it.

"Guy just got out of jail", I thought to myself. "He's her age and probably built. What the fuck am I thinking?! I'm going to confront someone like him? I've never been in a his shoulders....if he's going to throw a punch he'll pivot his shoulders ahead of a punch....then DUCK! At least I'd miss the first punch!" All of this rolled through my head as I drove through the rain to get there. Yeah, just for dramatic affect, it was storming!

I pull up and the girls are in the yard playing and one of them says.,"We're getting ready to go out to dinner with mommy's new friend!" Lovely...confirmation.

But, wait!

I walk in and there is a guy sitting on the couch just glaring up at me. Julie come in and pushes me out the door so we can talk. She proceeds to tell me it is the girls' father; he came down unexpectedly for an upcoming birthdays. I asked her why one of the girls said "mommy's friend", to which she responded incredulously and said she'd have to talk to her about that. I stepped back, believing what she was saying and told her to let the dust settle and let me know what was happening about the party the coming weekend.

I kept getting text messages saying how confusing things were and that we would talk soon. Then came the day of the party. They showed up at the park and the entire family and this guy pile out of the van. I immediately notice that Julie has hickeys all over her neck.

The fog begins to lift.

As she is unloading the van she says, "Maybe I should introduce you two."

To hold on to the benefit of the doubt and also give her some rope to hang herself, I say, "Oh, we met at the last Christmas party."

She averts her eyes, "Not really."

We had to get the party set up and as soon as I could I pulled her aside to talk. "I don't know where to start", she said.

"Maybe you can start with that skin condition on your neck!"

That's how most of the conversation went. She would say, "I guess I really fucked up this time" and I would simply respond, "Ya' think?!" She said that we seemed to be settling down too fast. I asked her what part about living to seperate houses two counties apart constituted settling down. I told her how,against all advice from friends, that I was holding out all hope for our relationship. Then she repeated the same words my sister had said months earlier; "I didn't think I deserve the relationship you were giving me". I guess I owe my sister a BIG apology!

The kids were circling and it got more difficult to talk. She then told me that she may be going to jail for 30 days due to some bad checks. I told her that would certainly give her some time to think things out and decide what she wanted. As it grew more and more difficult to talk we agreed to get together later, afte rthe girls had gone to bed. Of course, she blew that off later and, again, I didn't hear from her for days.

In the mean time I decided to do some fact checking. I called the county clerk and found there was no record of her appearing in court. I called the sheriff's office and found there was no current bad check case involving her. So, I finally decided to go to her house to see what was going on.

When I got there she again herded me outside to talk. As we started to talk the Knuckledragger, as I like to call her "new friend", came walking over and stood there glaring at me.

I stopped in mid-sentence with Julie and looked at him, "Excuse us, please, we're talking."

He rolled his shoulders back, set his jaw and deepened his stare, "Excuse you?"

"Yeah, this is between her and me".

"Well, she's with me now".

"Fine, but this is a private conversation between her and me".

"Oh, really",I was watching his shoulders VERY closely, "At the party did you say she was the whore you always knew she was. That she should be with you because your paycheck is bigger than mine. That I just got out of jail and am no good. That she only reason she is with me is because I'm better built than you? Didn't you call her a whore?"

Each statement hit me like a sock in the gut. I'd been in situations in my life when someone had stepped in and took control, set things in motion around me and spread gossip and lies all to have the upper hand. I took a deep breath and decided, not this time.

"Look, pal; first off, I would never call her anything like that. My paycheck ain't all that big. I have no idea why you were and jail, and while I haven't been in for anywhere near as long as you, I was in jail three times; so, I have no place to talk about anyone else ever being in jail. Do I have some issues with my body image? Yes. Do I wish I was built like you? Yes. Most important of all; on the graves of my dead parents, on the souls of these four children and," holding out my hand, "my hand to yours, I would never, ever say any of those things."

As I said each of these truths I watched him melt. The animal rage left his eyes, his shoulders slumped and he took my hand in his. Then, in an almost comical moment, at the exact same synchronized movement we both turned and looked at Julie. She stood there, silent, like a deer in headlights. Before she could stammer an answer a car plowed into the parking lot and she herded the girls inside. The Knuckledragger followed and they stayed inside for a few minuets. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall.

She finally came out and said, "My mother said those things to him after you left."

"Oh, wait!" I said, still keeping a hold on my control of this moment of my life, "That would be your mother, the one who told me the truth about what was going on here?"

"I just know that's what she said."

"Can you ever tell the truth?!"

In righteous indignation she spun around and said, "Of course I can tell the truth!"

That was enough for me for one night. "Look", I said turning for my car, "You have lots of stuff to figure out with him and you have lots of stuff to figure out for yourself. If you ever think you have it all figured out, give me a call".

And I left.

Oh, but wait! While that should be the end of the story there is more! However, my hands are getting tired writing all of this at once. The final installment of Final Chapter:Walking Tall next time.