Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In desparate need of a haircut.

On Saturday after the car inspection, I went for a haircut. Now normally I would not consider this exactly "blogworthy" and after I tell the whole story you'll see why I think it might be.

I've long since given up any hopes of being a Movie Star or the World's sexiest man like Hugh Jackman but occasionally I need to get my haircut like everyone else. Otherwise I look like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

I've also given up all hope of finding a regular barber or stylist. Besides when the "bay has met the ocean" you really have very little need for "styling" per se.

I have settled into a very standardized haircut. I simply ask for a number 2 on the sides and blend it in with what ever is left on top and because I've standardized on this, I can pretty much go to any Hair Cuttery or Mastercuts in the country and get the same haircut over and over in not think a thing of it.

I went to the Mall for a Haircut. Now thirty years ago using the words Mall and Haircut in the same sentence would have frightened me but given the current state of affairs, it works out just fine. It's fast and if I need to pick something up at the Mall, that's just a bonus. Usually.

Because I consider myself an easy haircut, this also allows me to take the next "stylist" available at the Master Cuts in the Mall instead of asking for someone. On Saturday, fate cycled me around to "Jenna". Jenna had never cut my hair before so I gave her the speech "Number two on the sides, blend it in with what's left".

Jenna was young, as most of the girls in the place are, and I usually don't have much to say to my stylist. This time, I thought I would take things a little differently and basically chatted up a storm with Jenna. Jenna is the process of moving to Mount Holly. Mount Holly has a 3% sales tax while the rest of New Jersey has 7% Mount Holly has an Art Museum yada yada and the haircut is done.

The haircut is $16.95 and I leave Jenna a 20.

I really have no idea that I have just received the worst haircut evvvha. In fact I have no idea until someone at work tells me ON MONDAY.

Yes, that's right. I went to work on Monday looking like this.

Notice the slight Kid'n Play action going on near the top in the circles. Jenna obviously had a difficult time with the whole "blend it in" thing and I think I could have gotten a better haircut at Rikers Island. For free.

So I come home from work on Monday about as self conscience as I can be for 50 year old bald guy. I'm looking in the rear view mirror the whole time and thinking "you are an idiot".

Then I come home to my lovely wife.

I point out that I have received the worst haircut known to man and I get very little response. In fact we just head on downstairs to make dinner without saying much of anything about the haircut except "you can fix that".

After dinner, yes, after sitting at the dinner table, eating and talking for nearly an hour, I'm standing by the kitchen counter and she nearly falls on the floor paralyzed in laughter, pointing at my head, doubled over.

You... Look.... Like.... A Rooster.

Yes, that's right. This is what 19.5 years of marriage is all about. 51 hours after I came home looking like I got my hair caught in a lawnmower, she noticed.

She offered to fix my hair, but that just sounded like something that would end badly so I decided to go back to the Mall and to Mastercuts.

On the way over there it occurs to my that I have no idea what I am going to say. How does one "return" a haircut? It's not like they can put back the way it was and besides I don't even have a receipt. (Mental note: in the future, always pay for a haircut with a credit card). I don't know, maybe they can fix it.

I arrive at the Mastercuts and of course none of the people that worked Saturday are there now. If fact there are no actual customers. (Mental note 2: Go for a haircut on Monday night)(But maybe a different place). I go right up to the counter and ask for the manager.

Right away, Monday's 18 year old "stylist" is defensive. "The Manager isn't here" I'm told. So I go right into my little story. "I was here on Saturday and I'm really not happy with this" I say, point to the place where the bowl should have gone so that Jenna could cut around it.

Just then, an oriental male stylist volunteered, stepped up and said "Come sit down". He explains that there isn't much he can do except take the number 2 all over my hair and basically to a razor cut. I tell him it's fine and better than the rooster look. He also trims my eyebrows.

IMG_0757:A really bad haircut

So oriental barber finishes up and I'm vacillating between "do I tip him?" and "I'll never ever be back". Meanwhile, the girls in the back of the shop are just whispering to each other. Of course they want to know who did this to me since it is the most hideous haircut they have ever seen. One asks me my name and gets the sign in sheet book from Saturday. Now it's not like my full name is there and so I'm thinking "how can they find it" since all I wrote done was "Mike" at 3:45 PM. They don't even ask me the time that I was in on Saturday.

In the end I decide not to tip oriental barber, I thank him politely and leave.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

21 days on the lam

I told myself that this year would be different. I was not going to go on the lam, hiding from the police and spending as little time as possible on the road. No, this year I was going to be an upright citizen.

I was not going to go around feeling guilty.

And yet, for 21 days that is exactly what happened. Worse than that, this year I dragged my family into it.

And what exactly did I do that lead to scurrying from place to place under the cover of darkness and overwhelming feelings of guilt?

I let my automobile inspection expire.

Every state is different but here in New Jersey we are required to have our registered automobiles be inspected by the state every two years. My 12 year old Honda Civic was due by January 31, 2009. Yet by time that fateful deadline came around, I found I had no registration card, no insurance card and my car would never pass with the muffler making the car sound like power boat. Three strikes.

I tend to procrastinate a bit but this was the worst shape I had ever found myself around inspection time. I had stuffed the registration information in my briefcase in November, thinking I would register online during lunch one day but had completely forgotten. I never seemed to have the time to get the muffler fixed in almost 2 months and I honestly had no idea that I had misplaced the insurance card until, of course, I was ready to get the car inspected.

This is not the first time this has happened. In fact I'd venture to say that my Civic has never-ever been inspected on time. The same holds true for the Accord I had before that.

It's not that my cars are unsafe and I'm running around on bald tires and such. I generally take care of the cars. Well, except for the muffler thing. It's just such a time sink to sit and wait in that line. I know I have to get it done, I just hate doing it and never get around to doing it.

And so I go into stealth mode. I go undercover. I drive a little better, being careful to observe the speed limit. I use my turn signals, don't talk on the phone and am generally courteous. I leave a little earlier for work so I'm driving in the dark. If it snows, I make darn sure the snow makes a great big pile over the expired sticker and keep the defroster low.

I know all the tricks. I lay low.

I'm pretty sure that at least part of the reason I get away with it is because I'm a January inspection. At least that's what I tell myself. In New Jersey, a colored sticker is placed on the windshield in the bottom corner when you pass inspection. Ever year the color is changed and for 2008 expiration's this color is yellow but for 2009's it is green. I think that having a green one is better that having a yellow one.

This of course is a lie. Both yellow and green, the damn stickers are expired and I would get a very expensive ticket.

2010 is an orange sticker. Last week I caught myself thinking "is there a color I could tint the windshield to make green into orange?" Luckily, I couldn't think of one.

I see you others out there too. I see you Mr. October 2008 and August 2008 with your brazen yellow stickers. I know who you are. If you look there are a lot of us out there.

Sometimes I really have no idea the inspection is expired. Last summer while we were both outside by the car, youngest son asked "what are those colored numbers for on the windshield?" I explained, with great civic pride, that those are automobile inspection stickers and the numbers are when the sticker expires. This one for example is ..... well .... ummm.... this one actually expired six months ago. And so I had to get the minivan inspected right away but of course it had a tail light out. I had to fix the tail light. But I digress.

So I needed to get righteous. First I sent away for my registration on February 3rd. Yes, Somehow I procrastinated two days before applying for my registration over the Internet, a process that takes 20 minutes at the most. Then I got my muffler fixed. When I picked up my car, the muffler technician told me "and now you can get you car inspected". Busted. Damn, he could see the inspection was expired! My green cloak of invisibility didn't work. I better hurry right over there since they have Saturday hours and get this done.

I searched my glove box for the new registration and most current insurance card. I found 4 years worth of battered insurance cards, none of them current. I went home and searched until the inspection station closed at 12 PM. Then I got on the web to see if I could just print a temporary at home. No such luck. Ancient Car Insurance company was lucky to have computers, let alone let you print things out over the Interweb. They did have a online request form for a temp card and so I did that. I honestly didn't have much hope of it working but I was pleasantly surprised when the card came in on Wednesday.

The Saturday I got the muffler fixed but was unsuccessful at inspection, Oldest son was home and wanted to use the car.

I told him the deal. I told him lay low.

I feel awful. Now I'm raising a new generation of inspections scofflaws.

Yesterday, I got my car inspected. I'm good until 2011 when I promise to get my inspection done on time. I really, really mean it this time. If not, I'm open to suggestions to make purple into some other color.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


It's 7 PM and my wife is asleep. The hospital she worked for cut back here regular hours and she's had to hustle to get hours in other hospitals at off hours. Last night she worked a 12-8 and tonight (tomorrow?) she doing the same.

It's disruptive but not something we can't handle. Dinner was postponed. I'll live, I had Fogo deChao for lunch. Men brought me steaks on sticks. I may not again until next week.

In the mean time it's just youngest son and I sneaking around the house, trying to keep quite until Lost comes on at 9.

Maybe I get a snack and read a little more of Water for Elephants.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stuck in hell.

I'm sitting in a Dunkin Donuts in Cherry Hill waiting on my car to get fixed. Like I've said in the past I am just the worst with cars so here I am paying penance.

I need a muffler. I've needed a muffler since sometime in 2008. To be fair it was late in 08 but still, I've been driving around with a bad muffler for a long time. I did take it to my regular mechanic back in December and he said I didn't need a muffler. I think he might be deaf.

My penance involves listening to Headline News with the same 4 stories every 10 minutes.

1. Plan crash in buffalo. Their new twist on the story: Some lady got out of line for the flight to get something to eat. She lived.

2. A drunk couple waked into a police station asking for a ride. He had weed in his shoe. It's really a sweet Valentines day "how I met your mother story".

3. It was windy in Minneapolis. Wind blew the roof off a school.

4. The Congress passed the stimulus. Obama flew a senator back from his Mother's wake to make the vote.

Over and Over and Over again.

At least I have my laptop.

My other observation is that Dunkin Donuts is a happen' place. The traffic is constant. Sometimes the line is 6 deep. All for coffee and donuts.

There is no recession at Dunkin Donuts.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

25 Random Things about me, Abraham Lincoln

To: Ulysses S. Grant, Mary Todd Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln, John T. Stuart, Henry Clay, Zachary Taylor, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, General McClellan, General Sherman, Andrew Johnson, Hannibal Hamlin, Edwin M. Stanton

Rules: Once you've been tagged, write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

1. You know the expression the ladies whisper about men with big hats? It's true.

2. I never really felt like Illinois was my home. I just kinda moved there like Hillary moved to New York to get on the ballot . I was a Kentucky boy and as far as I am concerned, you can call it the "Land of Bogdanovich".

3. I like saying "Bogdanovich". "Bogdanovich". "Bogdanovich". "Bogdanovich".

4. My Father-in-law is a slave owner. You can just imagine how every Thanksgiving went. "Abe, you have any idea how much that Emancipation thing cost me? You're killing me!"

5. I have never owned or sat in a big James T Kirk chair like one at the Memorial.

6. I can do a mean Stephen Foster impression.

7. I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice, and have received a great deal of kindness not quite free from ridicule. Just kidding.

8. Beside the obvious colloquial meaning about being with the ladies, I have no idea what a "score" is either. I think it's like a fortnight, only longer.

9. I enjoy tennis, snorkeling and moonlit walks on the beach.

10. I really don't get the TV show "Lost". A tropical island with Polar Bears? Come on.

11. When ever Mathew Brady takes my photograph He tries to make me laugh with his fashion photographer impression: "OK Now you are a leopard, A jungle leopard, stalking your prey, let me hear you ROOOOOAR ABE!". It takes everything I have to keep a straight face.

12. I collect snow globes.

13. I am deathly afraid of spiders and clowns. I can't go to the circus and Mary Todd has to catch and release spiders I find in the White House.

14. I was almost in a dual.

15. When I was 7 I shot a turkey. This swore me off hunting game for life.

16. Me and the boys in the Cabinet have a tight Franz Listz cover band.

17. Millard Fillmore's story about the fish and the mango cracks me up. He is much funnier that he looks.

18. Me? Not honest. When I was 10 I chopped down my father's cherry tree. True story. When he asked me if I did it, I lied. Washington is a dope.

19. Speaking of Washington, do you have any idea what it's like to be in his shadow all the time? I lived in WASHINGTON DC, He's on the dollar, the Quarter. He's like everywhere.

20. If Al Gore invented the Internet, I invented TV.

21. I have no idea what the Whig party is about either. I think Henry Clay was the only one that knew and he isn't talking.

22. I've never been on a ship or out of the US.

23. I was a US President and never spent the night in New Jersey. Couldn't stand the place. Mary Todd loved the shore but I actually hated New Jersey.

24. I can cook like a madman. My favorite is Italian. When Mary Todd is out of town I cook massive amounts of food.

25. I'm a hugger.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Family that IMs together....

This semester Oldest son is coming home more frequently than he did in the first semester. I'm thinking the frequent trips are due to his girlfriend taking an internship here in Philly. His is a generation of unplanners. They honestly have no idea what their plans are until hours before they dream them up and then they text, facebook and call each other like crazy to force their will upon time.

It's like that when he comes home or goes back to school.

Yesterday I got a text at 3 PM asking if I could pick him up at 7 at the Hamilton train station and then in a rare occurrence of near planning, drive him back Saturday afternoon.

Last week I made amazing time up to Seton Hall when I drove up during the greatest Superbowl of all time. Honestly, because Eagles weren't in it and should have been, I wasn't that interested.

He seems to be doing well this semester and has completely lucked out on his dorm arrangements. At the end of last semester both his room mates decided to move over to the crazier of the two freshmen dorms and this left two vacancies in his triple. The vacancies remain today.

I'm confident the room is just as messy as it was when there were three of them.

Youngest son continues with his High School education and thinks that every weekend is an opportunity to sleep over at a friends. We text each other a lot.

Where r u?
When r u coming home?
Can I stay?

etc etc.

He also purchased a wireless keyboard and mouse for the PC in his room. He can now operate the PC, TV, Xbox360 and Wii without leaving the bed when he is home.

Throw in a pair of silk pajamas and I think he would have the Hugh Hefner lifestyle complete.

In January my wife lost all her hours at CT scan as a per-diem employee and is now grabbing hours when she can. There are some nights she's working 4-11 PM instead of the nice cushy day hours she had previously. Thank goodness for Facebook so that we can continue to have a deep and personal relationship along with 137 "friends".

They say that losing the hours was due to budget cutbacks. I just can't understand people cutting back on having a CT scan though. "You know, I bumped my head at home but things are tight so I'll just hope everything is OK because I can't afford the dedicutable" - just doesn't make sense to me.

I have to go now to IM my wife on Facebook and tell her the laundry is done.