Saturday, March 29, 2008

Don't get old.

It's Official. Once I send them my $12.50, I'm a member of AARP. They wasted no time getting me my application right before my 50th birthday. It's like they knew.

I'm thinking this is impossible, but all the signs were there. My oldest is about to enter college, I've been out from work twice this year with a bad back and my hair is getting grayer every day.

I'm thinking "how is this possible?" but I'm sitting here listening to Bob Dylan sing Tangled up in Blue and I realize that he'll be 67 this May. Even Mick Jagger will be 65 this year but of course what ever deal he has worked out with Satan has him looking much younger. I can't say the same for the Keith Richards but then again he's been dead since sometime in 1972.

I guess the worst part is that I'm not actually retired. I still have to get my creaking back up everyday and go to work with no end in sight! It doesn't seem fair to be a member of a national retirement organization and still have to go to work.

Maybe it's time to dust off that retirement planning kit that my company gave me a few years ago. Maybe start taking better care of myself too.

"If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken a lot better care of myself"
- Mickey Mantle

I had an Aunt that used to say "Don't Get Old". Of course the alternatives aren't good either. We'll I've gotta go, Matlock is coming on.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Born to Hand Jive.

A few months ago I thought he was crazy.

Oldest son, on top of School, Jazz Band, Girlfriend, his Eagle Scout Project and deciding his future career and College, decided the best course of action was to join the school musical, Grease!

He had never been in any of the school plays before this, his senior year. We were giving him grief at tryout time, telling him he didn't have time blah blah blah. Were we ever wrong.

He didn't even tell us he got a small speaking and singing part until weeks after tryouts. He must have been angry with us. When we finally asked him, he told us he got the part of Johnny Casino. I had never heard of Johnny Casino.

This is Oldest Son as Johnny Casino. That's him on the stage above the stage singing.



The coat is mine from the Navy in 1976. It fit him like a glove. I guess it would since it last fit me when I was 18.

We actually saw two performances: Saturday a week ago and last Saturday. The last Saturday performance was special. They announced that one of the girls in the play had a father who was serving in Iraq and He couldn't see the play.

Next the teacher that directed the play stood up and told the audience that He was here in the audience that night as a surprise. He was a couple of rows behind us and it was amazing to watch him come down the aisle and go up on stage and hug his daughter. Everyone was keeping a brave face, barely holding back the tears. I was really special.

As proud as I was of Oldest Son, I couldn't have imagined what it would be like to have missed seeing him up there. It really hit home how much our Armed Forces give up.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Battlin' Hotel Maids, Chewing on Rolaids

I'm sitting in a McDonald's on Leesburg Pike in McLean, VA. It's 8:30 and I am waiting for my class to start. I've spent the week on the road living in a hotel. I had forgotten what that is like. After 3 days of Sundeep the Omelet Chef making me eggs made to order, I decided to ease back into real life with a breakfast at McDonald's. It's kind of a half way house for easing out of the wacky world of USA today delivered to your doorstep, big dinners and CNN.

This trip was a little unusual since I was 30 minutes from my brother and his family. I enjoyed two nights with them while taking one night to drive to the Lincoln memorial and visit a night.

I was staying in a hotel since staying with him would mean a 8 mile commute that could take an hour. I'm not making this up. I saw it myself. If you attempt prime-time commuting solo you are soooo dead. They have whole interstates that are HOV. That means if you are driving by yourself, you can't get on.

I had forgotten the extremes highs and lows of staying in a hotel for 4 days. For example: I have giant breakfast with eggs made to order, but getting my coffee is like dealing awkwardly with an men's room attendant. The first morning I thought I'd just get it myself a cup of coffee to go. You would have thought I had stolen something by the way both waiters were scurrying about asking me what I wanted. The second morning I thought I'd ask the wait staff to get my coffee but when they didn't, I decided to act. Same effect.

I also developed an aversion to using a new soap and shampoo every morning when I had a perfectly good one the day before. I decided to hide my opened soap and shampoo from the maid. I found a perfect spot on the bar holding the shower curtain up and reused the shampoo every day of the week. If I left it out the maid would throw it away.

This morning I left the empty shampoo container out as evidence that I had beat them at their own game. Ha.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Crisis at the Deli Counter

I arrived at the Deli counter at my new local Shoprite-that-replaced-the-stop-and-shop and picked an number from the dispenser.

61.

I looked up at the current number on the display behind the counter.

54.

I looked around. Two customers: me and an old lady from the over 55 community adjacent to us. She is already being helped by the one person behind the counter. The numbering system has been abandoned and we are adrift.

No good can come of this.

Another Deli worker comes up and asks "Can I help who's next?" I speak up and tell her I am 61, hoping she will set the numbers right. No doing.

"I'll have a half of Corned Beef sliced very thin."

While I am giving my order, a couple of other folks come up and grab tickets, a few more Deli counter workers show up and help them.

Then all hell breaks loose.

Pimple faced Ronald steps behind the counter with a ball cap and long hair tucked under it. He sizes up the crowd and starts rattling off numbers.

55! Bzzzz Click.
He Waits.
Four stony faces stare back at him from across the counter like Mount Rushmore. We are already being helped, thanks Ronald.

56! Bzzzz Click.
He waits again.

57! Bzzzz Click.
58! Bzzzz Click.
59! Bzzzz Click.

Now Ronald is picking up steam. But his only strategy for synchronization is to call off numbers. It's as if he is not allowed to ask us customers any sort of question to help him on his quest to find what number are we on? It would be so simple Ronald, just ask us.

60! Bzzzz Click.
61! Bzzzz Click.

At this point Mr 59 shows up. I am not sure where 59 has been but in the time since I showed up and now he could have been off getting a haircut. We were at 54 man, where were you?

He is an amateur. Only a non-pro would walk away from the Deli counter with one customer there. If there are 10 or more, yeah go pick up your cereal and Poptarts but 1? stick around.

"I'm 59, I'm 59!" as he walks in from the side.

Ronald shifts his eyes towards 59 but ignores him.

62! Bzzz Click. Mount Rushmore and now 59 stare back. 59 Speaks up. "I'm 59! I'm 59"

Ronald seems to ignore and is now ripping through the numbers nervously.

63! Bzzz, 64! Bzzz, 65! Bzzz click.
Ronald ignores him. "I'm 59!"

The tension mounts. What will 59 do? Plead his case? "But I had to get a few other things", "I had to get bread"....

66! Bzzz, 67! Bzzz, 68! Bzzzz click.

Ronald has blown through an unprecedented 14 numbers without slicing any deli meats or cheeses. How high will he go? Will he turn over the numbers to the "00"? Why is no one doing anything about this? Where is the manager in the white Chef's coat? Is he not aware that pimply faced Ronald is a crazed member of his staff who pressing the button that increments the numbers wildly?

Ronald reaches 69 and looks directly at 59. Here it comes. The Deli showdown. How will Ronald deal with Mr out of sequence 59?

Ronald asks 59 "Are you 69?" Ha! Ronald thought he was saying 69! and not 59!.
Now I'm not sure if Ronald is fool or a genius. He has successfully averted the hated Deli number crisis but now he has wrecked havoc on the order that is the deli ticketing system.

Ronald starts taking 59's order and we return to Deli-con 5.

Now Mr Chef's coat steps in to synchronize the numbers. I am thinking that he going to have to press the button like 100 times when he reveals a secret button that moves the numbers by 10. He still doesn't know what number we are on but he pressing buttons.

Now the Monk in me can't stand it. I tell him "we are on 63".

He says thanks and I tell him "That was quite a crisis".

He leans over the counter and tells me "It's only lunch meat"