Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Repairs

I am having a new door and transom installed at my house, and in doing so have totally handed the reins of this project to some "real men" that know how to operate tools. This is in the best interests of all parties. My long and checkered past with home improvement has been well documented. The kitchen sink that suddenly became an electrical hazard (despite having no electric lines anywhere near it). The poorly painted hallway. The slightly off kilter door jam. I could go on, but you get the idea.

When the door sales guy said, "We'll have our installer take care of this in a week. You'll just have to put the door knob on.", I nodded my head in agreement. "Of course I will install the door knob" my nodding head said. "This will be just one of the many insignificant little projects I knock out in around an hour around the old homestead. I'll probably do that door knob right after I come upstairs from my workshop." I appeared to be just one of the guys, talking about guy stuff. In reality, it's like he said to me, "We're going to drop off some timber, and we'll need you to build a clipper ship in your backyard. Make it about 70 feet long, two masts, with about six cannons on either side, OK?".

It's not like I haven't tried. It's just that I have no aptitude for this sort of thing, and I realize it. It first became apparent when I was around 13 years old. My friend Robert had a broken bike, and when you are 13 that's a real crisis. It was like having your car stolen with your wallet and ID inside. You were effectively out of the game with no bike. Yet, this wasn't Robert's only issue. The real issue was Robert was one of six kids in a family that could only afford two bikes. As the bikes were "everyone's", they were cared for by "no one". If the brakes gave out on Scott, he sure as hell wasn't going to fix it. Let Richard find out about it tomorrow as he screamed down Walnut Creek hill. Assuming Richard doesn't get completely maimed, maybe he'll fix them before good old Robert tries to peddle away from the garage. In a way, it mirrored why communism failed in the USSR, but let's not get too heavy handed here.

Robert's bike was getting a complete overhaul by myself and a mutual friend of mine. We were much, much older, so we could be trusted with such a delicate repair. Our experience and savvy would carry us through this project. (I think we were in 7th grade, and Robert was in 6th.) We probably spent 2 hours taking everything off his bike, and then putting it back on. At the end, Robert's bike appeared to be once again in perfect working order. There was plenty of back slapping going on all around. That's when Robert noticed a few parts still laying on the garage floor. "What are those?", he asked. "Useless parts!", my friend replied. We were all so intoxicated in the moment, why would we question why some totally inept kids put together a bike more efficiently than those slackers at Schwinn?

It became evident what one of those useless parts was for when Robert popped a wheelie as we headed down a small hill on our celebratory ride. I recall with a vivid clarity the look on Robert's face when he realized his front wheel had fallen off and rolled into the drainage ditch, leaving him with just his front forks in the air. Another bad turn of luck for Robert was they had just days ago "tar and chipped" the neighborhood. This was a practice used where a giant truck sprayed tar down the road, and a dump truck followed behind dumping small pieces of gravel as a way of cheaply resurfacing a road. The road became like the worst dirt road you could imagine, with a surface of tiny sharp rocks. It was an unforgiving surface, one that had claimed many knees and elbows amongst our peers.

I don't know if Robert thought about how horrible that surface was, or if he just couldn't control his bike anymore. One second he was riding next to me, and the next he disappeared screaming into the drainage ditch. The sound of the accident was impressive, as was seeing the aftermath. He handled it like any little man that age would have; he ran home screaming in pain and shock. As we fished the horribly twisted wreckage from the ditch, it was maybe the first time I faced the reality that my "fix it skills" were limited at best. I became gun shy around tools, and later manufactured maybe the worst hurricane lamp in Fairview High School shop class history. My "chest of drawers" later that semester made me a laughingstock amongst the cigarette smoking shop burnouts. I had to cut my losses and get out.

While it may take some creativity to explain why I need to have the installer put that doorknob on, I feel up to the task. Maybe I'll just leave the doorknob conspicuously by the project area. "Do you want me to out this on for you?", he might say. "Why sure! That would save me a couple minutes, and since you're already there, why don't you just knock it out.", I might say. I'll use my tone of voice to convey how much I wish I could be involved in the project, but Gosh Darn It, I have to sit here on my computer and do pesky spread sheets. He will understand my dilemma, and maybe even feel a little sorry for me, unable to get down to it and work with my hands. Perhaps I may even walk over when he's almost done and inspect his work, keening my eye looking at details I don't even slightly understand.

While this is clearly no way to live, it's the life I am destined for. To follow another path would be untrue, and probably just flat out risky. You don't believe me? Ask Robert. He knows.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Week 2

I am headed to the Browns home opener today for no good reason. It seemed like a good idea when tickets became available this week, the sun was shining, and I was more interested in watching a 5-11 team play a winnable game. Now it's 9:14 in the morning, and I am trying to find whatever terrible looking Browns gear I own to try and fit in with the drunken mob. I'm sitting in the end zone, and I already know the following people will be sitting near me.

"Stand Up and Cheer Guy": This is the scrawny guy with a mustache that will stand up on a second and nine in the first quarter, turn around to face the crowd seated behind him, and madly wave his arms around screaming "Let's go! Let's make some noise! Let's go!". Why he is the self appointed crowd noise monitor, I don't know. He will become more and more angry that everyone else isn't as serious about the game as he is, and he will get in a fight with someone behind him that asks him to sit down. You will find this guy in every section of the stadium.

"Profane Guy"
: This is the guy that makes all his friends uncomfortable as he completely loses control of himself over the course of the game. He will get angrier if the Browns have a defensive holding call than if someone keyed his car in the parking lot. It's all about the game, it's serious business, and that's all there is to it. When anything negative happens, he will unleash a torrent of obscenities so shocking even Dice Clay would wince. There will probably be a seven year old seated within four seats of Profane Guy as well. This is not always as bad as it sounds, as this can be an educational experience. You will pick up exciting new curse words and phrases like "cunt squirrel", "bitch ass fucks" and "ass pirate fuck shits" whenever there is a turnover.

"Really Really Drunk Guy": What happens to those guys that are doing shots at 5:30am in the parking lot? They come to the stadium and have the following experience. First quarter: Unsteadily find their seats while spilling giant draft beers on everyone else on the row at about the eight minute mark. Second quarter: Begin to openly leer at any women seated in the general area, occasionally will be engaged by on the field action, and being continually told to "sit the fuck down" by the people behind him. Halftime: Pissing in the sink in the men's room, and smoking in the small concrete grid that has been deemed the "smoking area". Buying two beers at "last call". Third quarter: Head bobs start back at the seat. Perhaps a lengthy nap. Fourth quarter: Saliva production has increased, and is now openly spitting on the ground. The people seated around him are now concerned about being barfed on before the final gun. Will barf at seats or leaning against the wall in the stadium lower deck hallway.

My Sunday will clearly be a bust. It doesn't mean yours has to be. After a tough week last week, I will come out swinging again. I don't really have any idea about who is actually good and who isn't yet, but the good news is that neither do the guys making the lines. Here are my plays this week...

New York Giants +5... The Giants defensive line was hurt all last season, but is allegedly healthy now. I seem to recall those guys destroying everything in their path when healthy. The Colts don't appear to have any defense whatsoever. Bob Sanders must be the only guy on that defense that can do anything, because when he plays they win. He is, of course, hurt again like he has been since 1987. He suffered one of those injuries that must feel pretty good, a torn bicep. See you next year Bob. That being said, I'll take a team with defense and getting 5 points. The Giants are probably one of the best teams in the NFC, and the window is finally closing on the Colts.

Chicago +9... Yes, Jay Cutler may have already thrown an interception in this one. But Dallas is a funny team. They have a kazillion offensive weapons, but no real idea of how to use them. They have four legit pass catchers, three legit running backs, and a good quarterback, but they haven't been able to score since training camp. The Bears should be able to move the ball enough to avoid getting blown out, right? Nine points is too many in this one. I'll take Chicago.

Carolina -3.5... There is no way Tampa is going to be able to run the ball against Carolina. Interestingly enough, there is also no way that they will be able to throw it either. This will be a problem in winning the football game for Tampa. Carolina completely shut down Tampa twice last year. They should do that again today. The under may be a good idea here too as Carolina come into the game with a 1973 Ohio State game plan of handoff, handoff, handoff, repeat. With the clock consistently running, this game could be over by 2:30.

Season record 1-2-1

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Gym

I work out at the Cleveland State Rec Center. I am not under the impression I am in anything approaching good physical condition, but I am being vigilant to try and at least not lose any further ground. One of my greatest fears is becoming the “soft in the middle sweater vest guy” you see walking around Bed, Bath, and Beyond on a Saturday afternoon. I don't want to be that guy holding a new shower curtain and being browbeaten by his wife. He is usually wearing big plastic glasses, comfortable Buster Brown style brown shoes, and jeans that may or may not have pleats. There is also a certain defeated slouch in his posture. If I work out every now and then, at least I won’t have the slouch, right? I can’t make any promises on those pleated jeans, but theoretically my back will be strong enough to stop my head from hanging like a whipped dog.

The CSU Rec Center is primarily filled with guys playing bad basketball and speaking worse English. (Last week I actually heard an alleged college student say regarding Phoenix Sun Steve Nash, “He are the point guard.” Cleveland State, while an accredited school, is not Dartmouth. ) The next group in the gym are the ubiquitous “girls on cardio machines”. They are all wearing tight shorts, large t shirts, and have their hair pulled back in ponytails. Their eyes usually scan the peripheral to either side to see if they are about to be stalked by any sleazy guy. I am fairly certain that all of these women look at me and say “creep” under their breath whenever I walk by. I never give them the "Up, Down, Up" look that guys like to give girls at dance clubs, but I think I am guilty by association. I am always wearing my iPod and never speaking, but still I always get the vibe that they think I am about to make a sexually suggestive comment at any moment. I would like to point out I have made three or four innocent attempts at conversation in a gym with a woman in the last 10 years, and each of these has ended poorly. Example:

Me noticing a sudden storm: Wow, look how hard it’s snowing out there!

Woman: No, I don’t want to fuck you! Get lost creep!

The men's locker room is especially brutal. At any one time there are two (2) guys shitting something out of their systems that I would think would make them seek immediate medical attention. Usually one of these guys is barefoot and grunting, his feet on the damp tile floor. Seriously, if I was having that kind of gastrointestinal crisis, I would want to keep it very private. Like, "Fly to Switzerland" private... It's a giant room, yet a stench of human waste always hangs in the air like an evil fog.

Meanwhile, the shower will have one guy that is loudly snorting up whatever mucous there is in his sinuses and expelling it onto the shower floor with great ceremony. Unperturbed in the stall next door, another guy will be whistling off key to Lynryd Skynyrd's "Ramblin' Man" playing on the intercom above our heads. As far as I know, the last stall has a guy furiously jacking off like a jackrabbit. At various places around the locker room are wet paper towels bunched up and discarded underneath benches or by the sinks. Why they are on the floor, I don't know. There must be 22 different trash cans available in the general area. Still, there they fester on the floor. I feel bad for whoever has to clean these up. I would only touch one of these paper towel clumps with a long stick, or maybe with an industrial arm length rubber glove.

I always walk around the entire locker room with my toes curled slightly upward, as if this will protect me from the various scary discolorations on the tile floor. This appears to be effective so far as I have yet to contract the Ebola virus or a tapeworm. Yet, how much longer can my luck possibly hold?

I can't imagine the women's locker room is this bad. In my mind, the entrance to the women's locker room has an angelic blonde playing a harp while a slight breeze that smells of wild flowers wafts past. Women in thick robes sashay past, while an attendant hands long tall glasses of ice water with cucumber twists to those leaving the rich marble shower area. Crisp fresh towels sit on a stack by the showers, which are silently fetched after use by yet another attendant in a crisp white uniform. The floors are spotless, there are no bad tattoos, and there are no toilets as no one ever has to deal with something as unsavory as human waste product.

At a certain point I will have to completely give up. When that day comes, I will cancel my membership, drive out to Kohls, and buy some pleated jeans with an expandable waistband. I will take that monthly membership money and head on out to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy myself a new shower curtain. I may be soft in the middle then, but you'll be pretty jealous of my shower. The curtain will smell new, and there won't be any slick shiny blobs on the shower floor that I don't know the origin of...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Week One

It's time to once again chase the impossible, the winning year in gambling on the NFL. Each year I enjoy throwing my baseball winnings away on the NFL, convinced somehow that I know something more than the 62 million pundits all chattering away. I would like to start this season off with the disclaimer that I don't know anything. More importantly, neither do you.

Had I either had access to a computer yesterday, or had the patience to type the tiny Blackberry keys with my stubby fingers, I could have given you Michigan +3.5 as a nice little winner. This did offset a horrific loss Friday by my taking West Virginia -12.5 against Marshall. I should have known better than to trust "inside" information from a true West Virginia homer on that one. Yet, I wanted to believe... West Virginia fans are a lot like OSU fans, but are a bit more enthusiastic to set furniture on fire. This is due to the fact that most of the West Virginia fan base's furniture was acquired by taking it off someone else's tree lawn, thus minimizing the actual property loss. I am advising all my clients on adopting a "sell" position on West Virginia this season, as I will be looking for an opportunity to fade the Mountaineers as soon as possible.

Today I like the Browns +3. This is not about being excited about Cleveland's season, but more excited about how bad Tampa should be today. It is my understanding that Tampa is starting a QB with a broken finger, a feature running back coming off yet another knee surgery, and a tight end that had his sixth knee surgery. There is also an unsubstantiated rumor that the right half of their offensive line drove an SUV into the left side of the line after practice on Thursday, leaving the quarterback's blindside protected by three men that are currently urinating blood into small pouches placed discreetly in their trousers. It must be pointed out that this is only a rumor circulating in the seedy gambling underground however. Regardless, I'm on the Browns.

I think the Oakland Raiders may have taken the turn from "unwatchably bad" to "kinda terrible" this season. This is no doubt due to the fact that they have finally pulled the plug on the JaMarcus Russell fiasco, a quarterback so bad that Ryan Leaf probably took potshots at him from whatever condo he's laying around in on a leather couch in wind pants. Do I think the Raiders beat Tennessee today? No, of course not. But I do think they stay within six. Take Oakland +6.

Current Season Record Vs The Spread: 1-1

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Midlife Crisis

I have begun to make the transition that all men eventually do, that of becoming their fathers. I really became aware of this truth just recently. My father had no idea how to operate the cable TV remote, and for a period of two months once relegated himself to static as he couldn't figure out how to change the actual TV to channel 3 to make the cable available. Keep in mind he was in charge of a far flung sales staff that generated millions in revenues for Hammermill Papers, but yet he couldn't watch an NCAA football game due to the chinese algebra of figuring out that the "power" button meant "on".

I thought this was really funny until a couple weeks ago when faced with the new Droid phone. I quickly realized I couldn't even effectively answer a phone call, much less do the cool things all the 15 year olds in the store seemed to be doing with genuine glee. Sheepishly, I returned the phone days later, coming up with some half muttered excuse that I had trouble using the touch screen while driving in the sun. The sales guy knew I was, in fact, incompetent when it came to the new technology. He may as well have handed me the directions to create a Wankel Rotary Engine from toothpicks. It was over my head. I am fairly confident they laughed at me after I left the store.

Beyond my inability to embrace new technology, is a genuine lack of caring. If anyone at work truly knew what computer programs I couldn't run, I would be placed in some sort of remedial class at a local community college with burnouts, cosmetology school dropouts, and mentally challenged adults. I would bring cigarettes to discreetly share during class breaks to get in with the fellow students, much like one would in prison. I may not know technology, but I am not stupid. Perhaps I would go to a Coheed and Cambria show with the tough kids in the back. Who knows? Maybe it would turn out OK.

The most chilling aspect of becoming my father was the brutal realization that I don't really have any close friends. Sure, I have a couple guys that would bail me out of jail at 3 a.m. They wouldn't be happy about it, but they'd do it. Most people don't even have that, so I count myself as lucky. The fact is that I, like most men my age, don't really have anyone they are really that close to, maybe save their love interest. It's a timing issue. I am at that strange social transition men go through when most of their peer group has coupled off into Soccer Camp Nuclear Families. If I want to talk about the best 2nd grade teacher, or best local babysitter, I have a staggering number of ways to go. If I want to throw out a seemingly alarming idea of heading to Mexico with a cocktail waitress, I don't really have a good sounding board out there. Sure, I could talk to the guys in the band, but they'd just tell me to do it and send for them when I had found a good apartment near the beach. Fun guys, but not really solid long term advice...

The Nuclear Family slowly replaces the loose tribes of young adulthood and college. The guys I used to turn to to discuss whatever big issues I was dealing with have all quietly faded away into khaki pants and monthly SUV payments. I think the last time I could really throw out a crazy idea I was considering and have anyone seriously weigh in on it without facing Harsh Societal Judgement was when I was in my midtwenties and talking shit on my porch after college. In that tribe, everyone banded together for the common good of pizza, 12 packs of beer, and being your buddies' wingman (even if his new gal was a little annoying or unattractive). It was a good life, but to be honest, I don't ever need to share a bathroom with some dude again or go to a 25 cent wing night. I saw it coming, and I am fine with it.

I think it was like that for my father too, as when he was my current age now, I seem to recall him voluntarily mowing the lawn or offering to drive my friends and I to the go-kart track at the drop of a hat. There were never any neighbor guys swinging over for a cold can of brew, and shooting the bull about The Game. There was certainly never any hushed talk after the sun went down, when the beer consumption made dangerous hopes and dreams slip out in conversation. Nope. My father's life was primarily work every Monday through Friday, chores on Saturday, and church on Sunday morning. Repeat. But I don't remember him having any really close friends around. There were a couple guys from work I heard vague reports of, and maybe even saw them face to face at a company picnic where I was forced to enter a potato sack race for a shitty prize. (I lost, finishing a distant 5th and had to look on as the Lite Brite went to another lucky lad. The potato sack race, yet another thing that appears more fun than it actually is. Childhood illusion lost...)

The key is now that I have realized this transition into my father, I am able to (in theory) take a fork in the road and miss some of the more dismal and draining aspects of that life. No go-kart track duty for me. I have a better plan. My father never fully embraced the true midlife crisis, and that's where he may have made a wrong turn. I have test driven used Porsches, but now I need to buy, buy, buy. I need to get a small depressing condo by a small man made lake. It will be there where I will trailer my power boat in the winter, a parking nuisance for all the other residents. I will dock it in the summer time in a place where I will wander shirtless and tan, my Italian horn necklace shimmering in my oily sweaty chest hair. Girls from the local haircutting salon will whittle away at my meager savings by insisting on bottle service while I take their bikini clad plastic soulless bodies to the overpriced waterfront nightclubs. They will argue, unbeknownst to me, over who will have to provide me with emotionless efficient oral sex to continue the Summertime Fun For All in my boat. It will be perfect. But it all starts with a first step. My first step is getting that Droid phone back, and figuring out how it works.