Friday, May 6, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Following My Dreams Part 3

Reggie McKenzie
Oakland Raiders
1220 Harbor Bay Parkway
Alameda, CA 94502

Dear Reggie,

  I have recently decided to pursue my dream of becoming a punt returner, and your organization is of great interest to me.  As you may be aware, I had essentially become the LSU Tigers punt returner for the upcoming season until the NCAA got involved and enforced their rule of being ineligible five years after first entering college.  (see attached)  This was very disappointing to me.  I had assumed I had retained all of my eligibility.  I had last put on pads in 1981 as a reserve split end during an inglorious stint at Fairview High School, but did not play at Kent State as an undergraduate.  Frankly, I spent most of my time there drinking beer and listening to punk rock records.  Football was an afterthought.  I am in the midst of a campaign to overturn this ridiculous rule, but it appears the NCAA is going to be inflexible. 

  The reason I have written to you today is to “put my toe in the water” (if you will) to look at my options of returning punts professionally.  While I will truly miss the college experience and atmosphere amongst my football family at LSU, I am eager to get on the field.  I would appreciate your discretion as I had earlier indicated to Coach Les Miles at LSU that I would not go pro early and would play a full four years as a Tiger, but I have been cautioned that as a man in his fifties, I might appear too old to be considered good draft stock much less invited to the NFL combine.  

  Though I have been nursing a torn meniscus in my right knee, my trainer says I’m “in crazy good shape for a middle aged man”.  He has been rather pessimistic about my ability to succeed professionally though.  It seems fair to let you know that the last time I took contact in pads was when I was 15 years old.  I am not a traditional punt return specialist.  I don’t let that faze me.  While doubters may suggest I have a lack of quickness, I think my speed can be more accurately described as “deceptive”.  I haven’t actually timed myself, but I easily outran my basset hound Montgomery last weekend.  I am 100% focused.  I will continue to train three (3) times a week for at least one (1) hour per session to get ready for the season.  This is a guarantee and a testament to my commitment.  At this point, I just don’t know if I will be pursuing glory at LSU or as a Raider.

  Let me know if you have an opening.  The fact that your team plays in the vicinity to where I am pursuing an advanced wine degree is ideal for me.  My thoughts are I can practice during the day with you guys and then shoot over for my wine classes afterwards.  I’m no stranger to multitasking, which I say at the risk of sounding boastful.  I just want you to know I can handle the task at hand.  Good luck to you and the guys over there with the new coach.  It’s an exciting new chapter.  I look forward to helping you deliver a Super Bowl victory to the Raiders in 2016.


  Greg Miller

P.S.  Do you know anyone at the Oakland A’s?  My trainer wouldn’t mind playing outfield for them and I thought we could share an apartment.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Nurse the Hate: First Communion

I attended a Catholic mass for the first time in years this weekend.  It was a full house as suburbia came out in full force to see a bunch of seven year olds get their first communion.  The same rituals which had been drilled into me as a kid kicked in easily.  Sit stand kneel.  The Catholic Church is built on tradition, and they never fail to deliver the product exactly in the way in which it was anticipated.  Solemn parishioners strode up to the altar to provide readings, a sense of privilege wafting from them as they flatly read Bible passages.  I found myself feeling almost envious at them with their concrete belief in the face value of what they read.  Even as child I had the lightning bolt of understanding that as the Bible was written by men, it had to be filled with the agendas of the authors.  I recall being the child that was made to stay after class due to asking questions that made the nuns “uncomfortable”.  I stopped asking questions after that.

As I watched the seven year olds become indoctrinated in the rituals that have extended back in time for centuries, I remembered my own first communion and confessions.  The first confession was especially memorable.  For weeks our CCD teacher drilled into us the idea of sin and redemption.  Here’s the Ten Commandments kid.  These are the rules.  Don’t break them.  If you do…  If you do…  Well, you will need to speak to the priest who will provide you with prayers you don’t understand to chant to wipe the slate clean.  Frankly, it made no sense but everyone else seemed to be on board so I went with it. 

We were told to assess our lives up to this point and catalogue our sins.  Now, I don’t know how I stacked up against the other seven year olds but I had not killed anyone and had no idea what “coveting thy neighbor’s wife” entailed.  As I went down the big list of ten I didn’t have any apparent demerits.   Meanwhile I was expected to trot into church wearing some uncomfortable dress-up clothes and pour out a well-documented list of improper behavior.  This had presented quite a quandary.  I was in a tight spot.

A priest came into our class the week prior to The Big Day.  “Children… Have you prepared yourself to cleanse your sins?”  For the past several years we had heard Bible stories of murders, slaughter of babies, theft, and men “laying with other’s wives” (whatever that meant).  These were undeniable fuck ups and major lapses of judgement.  I was seven.  I had literally done nothing.  The only possible area was maybe “honoring thy mother and father” but I wasn’t even sure what that meant.  I knew for sure I had placed no false Gods before him as I had never made a golden goat idol or cavorted with others who had.  The priest came over to my desk.  “Are you ready to make your confession my son?”

I meekly spoke to the fairly terrifying priest and asked him what to do as I had not committed any sins that neatly fit into The Ten Commandments.  “You must think of your past acts.  Jesus will know what sins you have committed.  Think of what you have done.”  This was no help whatsoever.  I’m seven dude.  I am looking for a little guidance into what “bearing false witness” meant and how it might apply to a seven year old boy.  I didn’t need more vague guilt and sense that Jesus was a cosmic government informant.

The big day came and I marched into the church single file with my other classmates.  I had on some terrible outfit that had been purchased earlier that week and was very uncomfortable.  I was nervous at all the attention strangers were bearing on me.  We sat in the pews in the front.  The priest droned on.  The ceiling fans flapped away.  Eventually we walked up to the front of the church and knelt in front of one of three priests that had been placed at the front of the altar.  I had been hoping for a bit more privacy.    

I had the first lines memorized but still had no idea what to do when I was supposed to regurgitate a list of various murders and pagan rituals I had been a part of in the last seven years.  Bless me father for I have sinned.  This is my first confession.  Then there was an awkward silence.  To my right a kid in my class named Peter seemed to be moving through it as scheduled.  Everyone looked pleased.  “Ah… Ah… Father… I don’t know if I did anything wrong.  I didn’t murder anyone.  I don’t know what covet means.”  The priest made a frown.  He smelled like Aqua Velva.  “Have you ever lied?”  Yes father.  This struck me as a surprise as though I knew lying to be wrong it clearly wasn’t part of what we were doing here.  “Have you ever spoken back to your parents or not done what they told you to do?”  Yes.  “Five Hail Marys and an Act of Contrition”.  He looked at me with his eyes saying “hit the bricks kid”.  It was over.  I walked back to the pew more confused than I had walked in.

I sat in the pew heavy with the weight of five Hail Marys and an Act of Contrition on my small shoulders.  I had to get home and knock these out or risk going to Hell with my stained soul, this despite the fact that I didn’t even know what a noteworthy sin was anymore.  The service ended.  We went home.  My Uncle had sent me a Children’s Bible.  There was a small cake after lunch.  I felt embarrassed about the whole thing.  Thus my unsatisfying relationship with the Catholic Church continued.

On Sunday the service made me feel like I did when I was seven, completely disconnected as if it was a corporate accounting procedures seminar.  A little girl behind me coughed like she had typhus.  The “peace be with you” part was coming up.  There was no way I was getting consumption from touching that kid.  I shuffled out of the pew and walked outside.  I immediately felt better.  I stood in the cold breeze.  A kid walked out in his Sunday suit looking for his parents.  He looked happy too.  Maybe because he was out of that church, or maybe because he had just knocked out five Hail Mary’s to wash clean the sin of that golden goat idol he had been praying towards all week.  Who knew?  We’re all on our own trip.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nurse the Hate: The Doctor Star Pony Incident

I was reminded of an incident which happened a couple of years ago at Leo’s old rental house.  While things in his household are usually “nontraditional”, things had careened to an out of control place when he took in an old neighbor.  Leo’s old neighbor was a woman that found herself out of options when her current roommate took to sleeping with a pistol by his bed, which as days marched on actually seemed like a reasonable course of action in sharing a household with her.  However, at this time we didn’t know this.  She just seemed very off.  Oh, why sugar coat it…  She was at best “mentally imbalanced” and at worst suffered from a wide array of mental health and dependency issues that had left her committed to institutions.  

The decision to move a mentally ill woman with a prescription drug issue into your house is a terrible one.  Looking back it would have been a better decision if Leo had decided to move a Lowland Gorilla into his home.  It would have been much less of a fuss.  Leo’s intentions were all good.  I believe that Leo thought he was acting in a Christian fashion, his thought being to help get this woman back on her feet and bank some good kharma.  Unfortunately he did not factor in the challenges of living with a shut in that lurched between angry confrontations with him and manic unpredictable behavior.  

The real down side for the band was this is where we practiced.  On a weekly basis one could never be sure what was waiting upon arrival.  Sometimes it was pleasant chit chat.  Sometimes full on bad craziness was in full swing.  The incident in question involved was when I walked in to the house to see this woman screaming at Leo.  Leo stood in the dining room with his arms extended in the “what?  I mean no harm” pose.  Sugar stood between Leo and the woman with an uncomprehending expression, as if she couldn’t quite get her arms around the nature of the argument.  It had something to do with Leo revealing in conversation the name of one of her friends.

Leo’s roommate:  “You are so fucking high!  You don’t even know what you are doing!  Don’t say his name!  He is the biggest drug dealer in Akron and he is my friend!”  

Leo:  “Who?  Doctor Star Pony?”

Leo’s roommate:  “DON’T SAY HIS NAME!!!!!”

Leo:  “Doctor Star Pony?”


Leo:  “With Doctor Star Pony?”

Leo’s roommate:  “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  DON’T SAY HIS NAME!!!!!”

Sugar:  “Leo!  For God’s sake!  Stop saying that!”

Leo:  “Doctor Star Pony?”

Leo’s roommate and Sugar:  “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

It is important to note a few facts.  Leo was under the impression that “Doctor Star Pony” was the name of her friend, the alleged “biggest drug dealer in Akron”.  In fact, his name was something like Dennis Scallopini, and he was a harmless working class guy that sometimes slipped Leo’s roommate extra painkillers he received from a workman’s comp injury.  Leo had somehow misheard “Dennis Scallopini” as “Doctor Star Pony”.  While you and I would immediately think “Doctor Star Pony?  I must not have heard correctly.  No one could possibly be named Doctor Star Pony.”, Leo just rolled with it.  I can’t imagine what Dennis thought when he heard Leo introduce him to others as “Doctor Star Pony”, but things in that house moved in a direction of their own accord, and he probably had picked up on that (being a doctor and all).

Now, imagine walking into a house with this going on.  It’s not easy to get your head wrapped around.  On the one side of the room is a woman that is convinced that her friend is some sort of El Chapo figure and to even speak his name out loud courted imminent danger.  On the other side of the room is a guy that is positive that a man named “Doctor Star Pony” comes over to visit his mentally ill roommate and is unaware that he cannot say his name under any circumstance.  It took some time to get sorted out.  Finally we went down to the basement to practice and she went back to putting up Christmas decorations in the September evening.

That’s what Whiskey Daredevils practice was like in 2014.