:Chloroform in Print
I want to go to the top of a really tall building, take a leak, finish, zip up, and then have my pee hit the ground. I want my entire pee to be airborne. Man I love beer.
Monday, June 12, 2006
I share a birthday with Machiavelli. As near as I can tell, the only other thing I share with the creepy uncle of modern politics is an innate ability to, shall we say, get away with things. Given the volume of illicit / immoral / mischievous activities I'm typically involved in, the number of times I've been caught in the act is surprisingly few. The following incidents are the exceptions to the rule.

One summer in college, I worked for a large professional landscaping outfit, along with my friends The Blazer and Vasky. (Luckily for the company, we were not placed together on the same crew.) This was most definitely a job whose main function was to illustrate exactly why you were attending college - i.e. so you didn't get stuck doing shitty work with a bunch of dumbass motherfuckers for the rest of your life.

They didn't get much worse than my crew 'leader,' Jim, who I would describe as functionally retarded if the comparison wasn't so insulting to the handicapable population at large. To add to his monumental stupidity, Jim was a lazy asshole who labored under the misconception that his crew was somehow unaware that he cherry-picked all the easy jobs and left the shit work to us.

Needless to say, the combination of having to spend 40 hours a week with Jim, completely non-challenging work, and ready access to weed via several ex- (or soon-to-be-) con coworkers meant that I was pretty much perpetually stoned on the job. The one good point about having a moron like Jim as my supervisor was that concealing my drug use required almost no effort whatsoever. Then again, had I been on a different crew I could have done so openly, but whatever.

[All this is just an aside to set up the story. Well, that and an opportunity to slag on Jim, which is probably bad manners since he is undoubtedly still doing the same kind of work for the same kind of pay, more than 10 years later. Then again, I worked with plenty of other guys in the same situation who managed not to be assholes, so there you go.]

Anyway, one day after work The Blazer and I had plans to do something or other, but first we stopped at my folks' place so I could grab a change of clothes. One of us had just purchased a fresh sack after a bit of a dry spell, and the temptation to sample the wares ASAP proved impossible to fight so we drove around passing the pipe for a while. (A bit ironic since I lived within walking distance.)

When we arrived at my folks' place, I was dismayed to see both of them were already home from work. I had been stoned around my parents many times, but not usually so freshly baked, and I expect I probably didn't have any eyedrops handy that day either. Oh well, into the breach.

My mother is a bit of the nosy, suspicious type, which is a nice way of saying that in a different time and place she would have made a fantastic SS officer. Growing up, her sisters called her "The Accountant," as she could always be counted upon to notice any and all transgressions. As an adult, she chose the profession of junior high secretary, chiefly because of the amount of community information it put at her disposal. In her spare time, she monitors a police scanner, just to keep her skills sharp. I am not making any of this up.

To be honest, she is largely responsible for my abilities in sneakery - there's nothing like the knowledge that you're under constant and (mostly) warrantless surveillance to spur the development of evasive tactics regarding one's private life. My habits were no secret, but neither were they discussed; like many middle class parents, mine preferred to pretend they didn't know what they knew, and I usually confined my activities to off-hours, so there was an uneasy truce in that regard.

Today was that rare exception. The Blazer and I entered the house with the idea of getting out as soon as possible. Of course, Mom wanted to talk for a few minutes, and I did a pretty good job of playing it casual for a while. But when I got into the fridge to get a glass of lemonade, suddenly there she was, peering suspiciously at me over the top of the door and asking some kind of pointed question that I could not evade.

I turned to answer, and our eyes met. Instantly, hers narrowed with scandalized German disapproval as she noticed my glazed, bloodshot stare. I could practically watch the lights go on, connecting the various clues (bloodshot eyes, evasive behavior, rooting about in the fridge). Not a word was said - it didn't need to be. We both knew I was busted.

There was a tense, uncomfortable pause, then she turned quickly to train her beady-eyed scrutiny on The Blazer, who fidgeted in his seat uncomfortably and pretended to be preoccupied by something else. It was clear the gig was up. There would be no jury trial - we had been tried and convicted already.

We managed to make our escape shortly thereafter, but the damage had been done. For years afterward, every time The Blazer's name came up Mom would scowl and mutter something disapproving about his character. The irony is that every one of my friends, save one, was up to exactly the same shenanigans, but he got singled out as The Bad Influence simply because he'd been caught in flagrante delicto.*

The truth, of course, is that the wrong person was being fingered as The Bad Influence, which brings me to the other incident. It did not involve being caught in the act, exactly, and I must admit I'm rather proud of it in a way. My friend Dave's mom shares some similarities with my own mother, especially the sharp wit and keen bullshit detector, but without the pinched Teutonic overtones. We've always gotten along rather well - I suspect the naughtiness of other children is more charming when it's not your kid. But that doesn't mean she has blinders on.

One summer - it might have even been the same summer - she confronted Dave.

"I know you've been doing pot," she informed him.

"How'd you find out?" Dave asked, abandoning any pretense of innocence.

"I smelled it on your clothes," she said.

"Yeah, OK," he shrugged, knowing that it wasn't a big deal with her. "So?"

"Who have you been doing it with?" she asked.

"I'm not going to tell you that," he said. There was a pause.

"Well, if I had a guess," she said, "I'd guess it was Jake Brake."

It's good to know you have a reputation, especially a Bad one.

* Etymology: Medieval Latin, literally, while the crime is blazing. How very appropriate.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006
"Honey, we need to go to the emergency room"
News story this weekend about a bear mauling in Homer, Alaska. The maulee, Mike Mungoven, was a great interview:
  • "I really think the bear actually showed quite a bit of kindness in the way she mauled me," Mungoven said.

  • After hearing the bear disappear into the woods, Mungoven said he called after his dogs several times. "They were at the road, waiting for me to come out of the woods," he said. "They were just sitting there like, 'OK, when you're done playing with the bear, we'll be right here waiting for you.'"

  • "It's not the first time I've walked in the door and said, 'Honey, we need to go to the emergency room,'" he said.

I have to admit I kind of identify with the last quote.


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