Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bowling Adventures

Back in my college days, I was in a bowling league on Thursday nights. I loved this league. It provided a fun activity to build camaraderie. It helped me make social connections. It allowed me to improve my bowling skills. It also gave us a socially acceptable reason to be drunk at 8 o'clock on a Thursday night.

See, our league started at 5 PM. There are 5 people on a team in this particular league and you bowl against a different team every week. My team wasn't all that great at bowling. In fact, aside from one guy who had about a 190 average, we all pretty much sucked. We had one goal for this activity: put down 10 pitchers before the games were done.

That's right, our sole purpose was to have everyone on the team drink the equivalent of two pitchers of beer per person in around 3 hours. This resulted in some great memories (and many lost memories). Also a lot of eyewitness accounts the next morning. It was a ton of fun and looking back on it, my liver starts to hurt.

The infamous night I will be speaking about now occurred on a 13 pitcher night (not our record, but a good night nonetheless). I broke away from my bowling team to meet some friends out for a birthday celebration. I met the group at a bar that is famous for serving fishbowls full of booze (cleverly named "Fishbowls"). As I ascended the stairs to the second floor of the bar, I was greeted with about 6 tables of people, each with a Fishbowl on it. There were 4-6 people at each table except for one with my friends Eli and Jim sitting there. It was a Fishbowl race, with each team consisting of 2 more people than ours did. I shrugged and drunkenly psyched myself up for the race (which involved drinking more). The sprint was won by the three of us, much to the chagrin of the other teams. After the feat of strength, our crowd was restless. We polished off the other drinks that were ordered (I finished a friend's whiskey and coke) and we decided to trek on to a new location.

Well, after that many drinks, anyone is going to be affected. My motor skills were lacking, speech center impeded, and my stomach uneasy from the mixture of beer and liquor (and extraordinarily sweet Fishbowl drink). As we came into our new libation station, my memory fails me. From here on out is all eyewitness account, but has been confirmed by several people as the truth. The bar we were at, it should be noted, is famous for two things: it has a goddamn tree in it and smells of puke, even after having all the carpet replaced. To a lesser extent, it is also known for having really bad customer service unless the bartenders know you. But that's neither here nor there.

As I came into the bar I should not have been let into in the first place (apparently I can appear sober if need be), I was offered drinks. I wisely refused, saying I should take it easy. At this point, I realized I needed to throw up, but instead of going somewhere more private, I stealthily threw up in the middle of the bar. Realizing that I should try to cover up the fact I regurgitated in public, I came up with a plan. Like a ninja, I disguised my transgression... by standing in a puddle of my own vomit. A bartender saw through my clever rouse and came around to inform me that I needed to leave. But first, I was handed a towel and told to clean up what I had done.

Before I tell you what happened next, I would like to say that having worked in bars after this occurrence makes me feel bad for what happened to the bartender. My work experience also makes me have less sympathy as it was a stupid, short-sighted act the bartender should never have done. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and I can't change what happened.

I took the towel and drunkenly bent over to clean up the puke. I lost my balance a bit, and almost fell into the puddle. However, I did manage to paw at the pile of bile enough to get a handful of it contained in the bar rag. I then managed to hurl the pukey mess into the face of the bartender who told me to clean it up.

Let this be a lesson to all you bartenders out there: just kick the person who threw up out. Suck it up, clean the mess up yourself. They may throw up again if they stay, or maybe the will pull one of the all-time douchiest moves and hurl a bar rag back at you.

In any event, the bartender wasn't happy and thanks to my amazing (drunk) people reading skills, I was able to deduce this. I ran out the door as my friends distracted the bouncer. Apparently no one gave chase, but I do vaguely recall running most of the 2 miles home (and I think throwing up several more times). I don't know exactly what happened, but I do know that no fewer than 10 people posted comments on my Facebook wall the next day to congratulate me on a job well done.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Things About Japan You Aren't Told

I was in Japan for the last couple of weeks visiting my girlfriend, in case you didn't know. It was an amazing trip, I must say. I saw Mt Fuji, downtown Tokyo, and all kinds of temples. But, I saw a few things that you won't be warned about, so I figured I would tell you so you won't be surprised when you visit the Land of the Rising Sun.

At some point, you will have to crap in a hole in the ground: For the most technologically advanced country in the world, Japan has a lot of toilets that are merely holes in the concrete that you squat over. It's moderately disconcerting at first, but after a while it feels like camping in a smelly concrete bunker. It just sort of happens, I guess. On the subject of toilets...

For every hole in the ground, there is a toilet with crazy technology on it: They have heated seats (amazing), a bidet (not as amazing), and automatically raising seats (pretty freaky at first). The best part is that the bidet water pressure is adjustable. I should warn you if it goes up to five, don't go beyond three unless you want water shot directly into your ass. And I don't mean your crack, I mean up your rectum. Also, some toilets have a little symbol on them like the third one from the left on this picture. Those are exactly what you would expect: a button to make the ladies feel a bit more fresh. Out of curiosity, I pressed it once. I must say, don't do that unless you feel your taint and scrotum need a thorough cleansing.

Japanese people make all kinds of strange noises: Every single Japanese person, from the oldest man to the youngest girl will make a noise of surprise that sounds roughly like a Tim the Toolman Taylor grunt. It's sort of their "Oh really?" noise, but far stranger. Also, they will constantly be making grunts on the train, while listening to you talk, and when they are in the stall next to you (possibly after getting a nice little taint washing).

They have vending machines everywhere: I know it's pretty well advertised that you can find most anything in vending machines there: from umbrellas to beer to panties, there's a vending machine that will have what you need (I saw all of those things in machines there, by the way). But what they won't tell you that even in the suburbs, there's a vending machine on every corner, often times more than one. And on those machines, you will notice that...

Tommy Lee Jones is fucking everywhere, staring at you like an omniscient God: Case in point:

The Japanese people as a whole don't know who he is except that he's the Boss Coffee spokesman.

Everyone has a charm on their cell phone: Much like this, everyone has crap hanging from their cell phones. Teenagers will have so much stuff on their phone that it can't be physically contained in the bags. The charms hang out of their pockets or bags like medals and stripes on a general's uniform. They have more mass than the phone itself often times. And even the most stern salary man will pull out his phone to reveal a little monkey dangling from it.

Japanese men's fashion has two categories: Business suit and gay. That's it, there's very little in between. Imagine a country full of indie/emo/scenester guys that decided to make their fashion gayer by a factor of 10 and you have Japanese guys. Their hair takes longer and is more stylish than most fashion models'. Their jeans are designer with more holes than fabric in them. Their shoes are pointier than elf shoes. They wear shirts that are tighter than their pants. Their belts look like everyone of them got a bedazzler for a gift. And they wear bigger sunglasses than your average Brooklyn Jewish Princess. It's disturbing.

And that's really about it for now. Enjoy your travels!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fake IDs I've Seen (part 1)

While I was going to college, I (like so many other college students) worked in bars for a few years for some income. While I did bartend for a short amount of time, I was mostly a bouncer for around 4 years of experience (a little over 2 years at one bar and a little over 1.5 years at another, though some of that I was working at both). Considering one of those bars was a pretty well established underage bar, I saw a lot of fakes. While most of them were pretty forgettable, there are a few incidents that definitely stick out in my memory. I will recount one of these tales for you right now, with more to come.

I was at the bar (I won't say the name to protect the bar), guarding the door like a good bouncer should. Now, the general rule of thumb for the bar was if it was busy and we didn't need the numbers, get hard on IDs; if it was sort of dead, be a little more lax. Well, the bar wasn't very full on a Saturday night, so I was trying to get our numbers up by being more lenient with my checking. A group of four girls came up to the door, all of which were pretty clearly underage. I braced myself for the onslaught of bad fakes, and ended up with something I could never have braced myself for.

Now, most girls will try to flirt with the bouncer in order to get into a bar. While this will work sometimes, it didn't with me. That doesn't mean I wouldn't let you in if you flirted with me, but it wasn't because you flirted with me you got in. Most of the time I was trying to make more money (we got a share of the tips, you see) or I just didn't care that much. Another thing that people will try to do (and this is a good bit of advice for underagers) is put a legitimate ID at the front and lump the fakes in the middle, bookending with another legit person in the back of the group. This works pretty well too, but if you have an entire group of less than 21 year olds, you can't bookend very well.

Back to the group of girls: the first three handed me pretty obviously fake IDs. They were all out of state and weren't plausible, either because of the bad picture or just terrible fake qualities of the ID itself. I rolled my eyes at the cards, even asked a couple where they got them and how much they payed. I was going to let all of them in until I got to the fourth girl. She handed me her ID and I looked at it. I then had the following conversation with her:

Me: I can't let you in with this.

Girl: (looking confusedly at her friends) Why? It's me! [standard response]

Me: No, it's not. I can't let you in.

Girl: It's actually me! I have a second form. (pulls out a student ID matching the license)

Me: I know this isn't you and that means I can't let you in.

(Now her friends are really confused because a second ago I made fun of their fakes)

Girl: But it's actually me! See I have this second form! Why do you think it isn't me?

Me: (a bit annoyed now) Because if this is you (holding up the ID), that means I dated you four years ago, and I don't seem to remember that!

Girl: (stunned) Uh, wha-... What?

Me: Tanya Fay Risley (named changed to protect the innocent) from Edina, MN (also not true). She goes to grad school in South Dakota now for Physical Therapy (grad school true, nothing else). I've been to her house and met her parents.

Girl: (stunned silence)

Me: I can let a lot of things slide, but this isn't one of them. Bye.

(Girl and her friends walk out of the bar with weird looks on their faces.)

That's right, she handed me an ID of an ex-girlfriend from my sophomore year of college. I'm okay with most fakes, but that I just couldn't let through. The looks on the girls' faces after letting in three fakes and then stopping the fourth were pretty priceless. Sometimes I really liked that job.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trebuchet Fun

This one's pretty self explanatory. We built a trebuchet. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

When I grow up, I wanna be a wookie.

So, back to Robyn and Skeeter's house for another tale of my youth. At this house in the nether reaches of the great Blue Mounds, my family would gather for the Fourth of July yearly. This resulted in about 20 grandkids running around and playing with each other to varying degrees: some actually played together, some just sort of talked, and some just picked on the younger ones. I was one of the younger ones (not to mention the fact I was skinny with a rather freakishly large head), so I was picked on incessantly. Paired with my equally skinny and top heavy cousin Christopher, we were the butt end of all older grandkids' jokes. But sometimes, just sometimes, they would actually play with us! Lo, what grand days those were!

I think every kid around our age had one thing in common: at some point in their youth, they played out the Star Wars saga. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and Darth made an appearance regularly at our Fourth of July picnics, as I'm sure they did for most people. When the older cousins would say they were going to play Star Wars, it rang like incredibly nerdy music in my cavernous cabeza. Christopher and I would immediately run over to join the passel of kiddies, eagerly awaiting our assignment from the older cousins. Were we going to get to be Luke? Nah, that was for the older kids. Oooh, maybe because of our size, we could be Yoda? Ah, nope, there were older cousins of smaller stature that would play him too. Wait, we could be loyal legions to Darth as Stormtroopers! At least then we could have guns (sticks). Sure, we might die, but there's always a need for more Stormtroopers! We could respawn and have more fun and...

Oh, we're Ewoks? Again? Well, I guess that's okay. We get to carry sticks that represent, well, sticks. And we can throw rocks that are clever metaphors for, uh, rocks. But those rocks in the movie were a metaphor for, hmmm, something I'm sure. So, in a completely metaphorical way, we were metaphors for a simile that was representing something... I got nothing. We were fucking Ewoks. We were the background extras of the Star Wars universe: indecipherable from one another and even when we got the top billing, no one cared. We were a side note that happened to get a bit of glory killing inept henchmen. And then we sang fake words. Awesome.

But at least we were included! We got to play with the big kids. It was amazing. Well, amazing for about 10 minutes. It was then we learned where the Ewoks were to reside. "Why, it must have been the magical forest moon of Endor," you're probably saying incredulously. "It must have been amazing."

I assure you, it was not amazing.

It's worth mentioning now that my aunt and uncle were obsessed with their Burmese Mountain Dogs. For those of you that don't know what they are, here's there Wikipedia page. Basically, they're St. Bernards that have a slightly different coloration. They're big, lovable, and terribly expensive if pure bred because of genetic problems. They also require a lot of space, and if you're going to have them in a kennel, it has to be a rather large kennel. You also need to make sure if you have a kennel that the handle for the kennel is high so your dog can't trip it. And did I mention these dogs, being as huge as they are, will produce an inordinately large amount of waste? Well, they do, and their kennel definitely reflected that fact with its smell. How do I know what that dog kennel smelled like, you ask?

Because that was the magical forest moon of Endor. Yep, the Ewoks were based out of a dog kennel. The dogs were usually out running around at this point, so at least we weren't getting mauled by these huge, bloodthirsty mongrels (a quick note: these dogs were not bloodthirsty at all, instead they were rather docile and even-tempered). But it did smell like large dog and large dog bodily functions. What a wonderful moon we Ewoks resided upon. But at least we were being included and we got to play Star Wars!

Not exactly. The big kids basically locked us in because we were too short to reach the high latch on the gate (at least we know it worked for keeping something in). So my cousin and I would play Ewoks (hey, if were playing Star Wars, then we weren't going to waste that opportunity) while the older cousins ran around on Endor and Tatooine, fighting Rancors and Wampas, while they rode on their Banthas and Tauntauns (I'm a nerd, so sue me). All Christopher and I wanted to was be included as we loved Star Wars so much. To an extent, we were included, but stupid Ewoks never got to do anything. My older cousins were lame (but still so cool!).

All I know is that if my kids wanna play Star Wars, I will gladly play with them. They won't have to be Ewoks, they can be whatever they want.

So long as it's not Han. That role is taken.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Softball and my family

I love my family. They are a bunch of weird, loud people, all of whom I have something in common with (besides DNA), even if it's only a small thing. My father's side of the family happens to be a rather large family (Dad being number 8 of 10 kids), which nowadays doesn't usually get together all at once. Because of the sheer size of the family and the fact most of the grandkids have started their own families, it gets harder and harder to get everyone in the same place at once. But when I was younger, we had regular meetings of the entire Buehl clan, with upwards of 50 of us at once at the same place. Some of my favorite memories came from my Aunt Robyn and Uncle Skeeter's (his real name is Kent, but he's Skeeter or Skippy to the majority of our family) house near Blue Mounds, WI.

Now, I'm not surprised if you've never really heard of Blue Mounds. It has under 1,000 people in it. It's not a particularly popular tourist destination (but then again, neither is Wisconsin as a whole). But it is actually quite pretty, as it's the tallest point in Wisconsin. It's a village surrounded by a state park. My Aunt and Uncle lived outside of this place, in one of the many valleys surrounded by towering peaks (towering for the Midwest, anyway). And of course, as you would suspect, they had a couple of very large hills on their farmette.

It was on one of these hills my story for today happened. My uncle Kerry was at the bottom of the hill, hitting a softball to some of the older grandkids that were spread out on the hill face. I was about 4 or 5 at the time, so I was not participating in the game, though I was watching intently with my cousin Christopher (who is a week younger than I am). Now, I don't remember this as vividly as others do, so this is a mish mash of what I can recall and eyewitness accounts, but what I can tell you for sure is 1) this did happen and 2) it was hilarious.

So, my uncle Kerry is about 6'2" and over 200 lbs. He's not a small guy, by any means. And he could hit a ball very hard. In fact, he didn't really have a soft touch for anything; he was all about power. This was the guy who would throw a Nerf football at you (god help you if it was an actual football) and it would hiss as it came at you, a dull thud resonating from your chest as you tried to catch it but couldn't react fast enough to close your hands. And that was when he was throwing right handed. He would then get tired with that arm, switch to his left arm (which was his natural throwing arm), and bruise your chest even worse until you had a bruised rib or collapsed lung, which ever came first (often they came simultaneously). He was an ambidextrous merchant of death. Now apply that to him hitting a softball, and you understand why at 5 years old, I chose to stay out of the game.

Well, by all accounts, my cousin Jeremy (who would have been around 7 or 8) was trying to keep out of the game as well. Of course, he was trying to keep out of the game by playing on the same hillside, just not in the direct line of the ball. Of course, Kerry got a hold of a ball pretty well (as he did rather often) and the kids scrambled to catch the ball. The only problem was that this wasn't so much a pop fly; it was more a heat seeking line drive of unconsciousness. And try as Kerry may, he couldn't get any words out as the ball veered towards Jeremy's head like a smart bomb.

Bear in mind that we Buehl's are famous for two things: our senses of humor and our enormous heads. Both of those came into play as the softball struck my cousin's mondo melon and knocked him out of his Chuck Taylor's. According to some people there he was out like a light for a good minute or so, but others say that he began wailing immediately like a hydrocephalic banshee. In either case, he was hurt and my uncle Kerry was laughing while trying to show concern for what he had done. He didn't come off as particularly concerned when he started recanting the story almost immediately, complete with sound effects and hand motions, but eventually Jeremy was fine (as fine as you can be in our family) and everyone was fine with laughing at the story (that took approximately 20 minutes). And to this day, Jeremy still swears he can't remember it happening (probably because of massive head trauma), but everyone else in our family sure as hell can.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

State Tournaments

This past weekend here in Madison was one of my least favorite weekends of the year: State Wrestling Tournament weekend. It's my on my shit list for several reasons: it means that it's the start of all the state tournaments (basketball after this), it means that the spring thaw is coming (I like warmer weather, but mud and flooding run rampant), and most disturbingly, it means that the streets are flooded with mouth breathing troglodytes that have never seen a building more than 30 feet tall (unless you include silos). I mean, don't get me wrong, I grew up on a farm, but Madison was 30 minutes away. We spent every moment we could up there, getting away from our small town. But these people are looking at Potbelly's and Noodles & Co like they are restaurants they would "treat" themselves to (whereas they are a weekly staple for us here).

I don't care that these people come to Madison per se, nor am I trying to be condescending (but I am being condescending), it's just that they all flock here on the same damn weekend. And I see the same thing every time: the parents try to relive their "glory days" by bringing their kids here, watching their one match, then heading to the bars at 11 am to start their day and be drunk by 5 pm. And every year when I was working at a bar, I would have to ask a group of 45 year old males to get out because they were either too drunk or were creeping the college girls out. As they would look at me and call me a punk or say I was on a power trip kicking them out, I would remind them they were old enough to be my father. Maybe they should take a long hard look at their life and realize that someone that could be a result of a high school one night stand is kicking them out of a bar. I just can't stand it.

And to make matters worse, you have packs of slack-jawed teens walking around in their letter jackets, thinking they might be able to pass for college kids. No person ever wearing a letter jacket on a day besides Halloween got in to a bar in Madison (unless it's The Pub). So you have to kick them out with their bad fakes. But this leads me to an entertaining story that happened a couple years ago on one of these state tourney weekends...

As a friend and I walked down State Street (the main thoroughfare in downtown Madison), we were confronted by a passel of teens. They asked my friend and I, "Are you guys 21?" We informed them we were indeed of that magical age, so they asked us what every 21 year old loves to hear: "Can you buy us beer?"

What any good law abiding citizen would have said was no, but we decided to say yes. They looked at us with glee and admiration. Someone was going to buy them booze illegally! And strangers off the street no less! What fortune they had. We explained to them that it was of course going to cost them a little extra, which they said was fine (it had better be), and asked what they would like. They told us a "30 pack of cheap beer and a bottle of cheap vodka". We said that would be about $30 bucks with our carrying fees, and they said that was acceptable. We told them to wait just off State Street for us because it would be a little obvious if just handed it to them in the parking lot of the liquor store. We showed them where to wait, gave them a phone number to call if we were taking a little longer than normal, and took their money and went off to the liquor store. On that day, those high schoolers learned a valuable lesson:

Never, EVER, trust random college kids you meet on the street. We of course, walked towards the liquor store with their money and turned and went home. It was the perfect crime. The students didn't know where we lived, so they couldn't track us down. We had never given our names. We gave them a bogus phone number to call. They couldn't go to the cops because they were trying to illegally procure booze. And they probably felt pretty stupid anyway. My friend and I walked to my apartment (which was a 20 minute walk from State Street), went to a liquor store over in that area, bought ourselves some decent booze with the $30 bucks we had just made, and sat contentedly in my living while enjoying the fruits of our labor. I love naive high school kids.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh, Ash Wednesday

Well, seeing as how it is that time of the year, I feel I need to share my very favorite (read: dumbest) story that involves me and Ash Wednesday. It started about 6 years ago, when I began college...

Well, I grew up in rural Wisconsin, as I have mentioned before. My area of the state happens to be rather Protestant (with, of course, the ever present Catholics as well), so I didn't have much exposure to Catholicism. To make my ignorance worse, I was never baptized, confirmed, or involved in any church services (weddings and funerals excluded) since I was 5 years old. You see, growing up on a farm, Sunday mornings meant chores for my parents (and sometimes me), so they didn't take me to church. My mom decided to give my sister and I the choice of going to Sunday School or staying home, so we chose to stay home. Thus began my general ignorance of religious traditions, especially ones that weren't learned in the first 2 years of Sunday school (which was mostly coloring anyway).

Well, my first year in college, I began to notice there were a bunch of people walking around with black smudges on their foreheads. I thought the first couple of people just didn't realize they were there, but upon closer inspection, noticed they mostly resembled crosses. I had no idea what that meant, so I stared perplexedly at most people sporting such markings. This must have made many people uncomfortable, but I was confused and curious (and naive), so I kept right on staring.

I finally finished classes for the day and made my way back to my dorm. I lived on the 10th floor, so I made my way to the elevators. I was joined there by a young lady who lived somewhere high up as well. And, as luck would have it, she had the marks on her face! I finally had my opportunity to corner and confront of those fabled creatures I had been staring at all day! I got in the elevator, hit my button, watcher her hit hers (she was on the 12th floor), and as the doors closed, asked her the burning question on my mind:

"So, what the hell is up with the weird cross on everyone's heads today?"

I was very pleased with myself, but she seemed rather offended at the question. I was confused when she responded with, "It's Ash Wednesday, a Catholic holiday. It represents *something I don't recall and don't want to look up* about Christ." I responded with a meek "oh" and looked at the light telling me what floor we were on. It read 3.

Needless to say, it was a long seven additional floors.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Dangers of Sledding

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, you basically try to keep yourself from going crazy as a kid by doing all kinds of stupid shit. We played with fireworks (oh, there are stories about that), shot each other with BB guns (and later, paintball guns), shot arrows straight up in the air and tried to dodge them (before it was popularized by Garden State), threw rocks at bulls, and tried to pee on electric fences. While this was a lot of fun, these were stupid summer activities, and seeing as how summer lasts approximately 10 minutes in Wisconsin, you really had to find some alternatives to those sorts of things to keep your time occupied. Sure, during the really cold days, you would play video games, but having no console at my house growing up put me at a great disadvantage when playing against my friends. I can only take getting my ass kicked at Street Fighter 2 so many times before I need to do something else. Board (bored) games were okay, but we weren't sophisticated enough at the time to do long, drawn out games like Risk, so most of those were done with in about 20 minutes. Eventually we realized we had to brave the elements and try to find something to do outside. This, of course, led to snowball fights, snow fort building, and best of all, sledding.

Living in the middle of nowhere definitely had its perks when it came to sledding: you had untouched hills that only you knew about/could get to, you had snowmobiles and other devices to act as sled lifts back up the hill, you always had proper winter clothing from having to do chores, and no one around to hear you scream like a little girl all the way down the hill. My friend Nick and I lived right next to each other growing up ("right next to each other" being a quarter mile away from each other in the country), so we always hung out and went sledding at Nick's house. He had a great sledding hill on his property that was a ton of fun to sled on. I can remember one of the first times going on that hill, I was uninformed of the layout of the hill. I have taken the time to draw you, the reader, a diagram of the hill so you can follow my story from here:

Well, you started at the top and you were supposed to follow the red path shown on the right of the image (click on the image to see it in a bigger view). As you can see by the blue path, I didn't make the "recommended" path.

Now, I call it a "recommended" path, but really, it was the only path you could take because of the junk pile with cinder blocks and the briar patch behind it. And you may ask yourself how we managed to navigate such a treacherous path at all. We had sleds like this to guide us. Sure, they look sturdy and steerable, but when you are zooming down the hill at roughly the speed of sound, the front ski has a tendency to skip off the ground with the smallest bump. This causes a temporary loss of steering ability, thus making the rider go off-course if they aren't aware of such things.

I was not aware of such things.

As we stood at the top of the hill, my friend Nick and his older brother Dan began advising me on how to lean into the corners and take the "gentle" curves on the hill. They told me about how I needed to look beyond the first turn to make sure I didn't oversteer and miss the second curve. If you missed the second curve, you would go off into the powdery snow and lose momentum, abruptly ending the fun. Also, there was a ramp they had built towards the bottom of the hill, so if I wanted to avoid that, I had to take the second turn high and stay to the left side of the trail. I felt like I was getting insider stock trading options. I was going to know every in and out of the hill on my first run down! Well, on my fateful first run, I set off down the initial part of the hill. The first run before you have to turn is the steepest and where you gain the most speed. As I came to the first turn in the path, I glanced ahead to make sure I could ease into the second turn and not miss the path.

I did not make it to the second turn.

As I saw the path and came right into the first turn, I whipped the steering wheel to the left, careening down the hill at breakneck speed. Remember how I said if you hit a bump the front ski would lift off the ground? Well, there was a rather large bump/drop off right before the first curve, causing my front ski to leave the ground. So, instead of turning, my sled went straight off the path towards the junk pile and briars with all the control of Evel Knievel after a botched motorcycle jump. My ski came down and made a futile last attempt to listen to my steering command as it met with a cinder block that was frozen to the ground. Inertia, being the harsh mistress it is, stopped my sled, but allowed me to pass through her barriers uninhibited. The briars, on the other hand, did not let me pass. Luckily for me, they were dried from the harsh winter and weren't particularly thick, but that didn't stop them from hurting. As I lay on the ground struggling to get out of my predicament, I heard Nick and Dan say something I will never forget:

Dan: "Watch out for the junk pile!"

Nick: "You gotta turn early!"

Thanks for the timely advice, guys.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

First date story number one

Well, as you will discover with this blog, I am world renowned (okay, in my world at least) for my abilities to never succeed on a date, especially the first date. I am exceptionally thick with women, as every man is (or at least claims to be to not have to listen to them), but pretty receptive to at least trying to get along with them. This particular story is about a girl and a foreign film she wanted to see.

I happened to meet a girl in a bar one night and struck up a pretty decent conversation with her. Now bear in mind, this was during my college time, so for me a "pretty decent conversation" probably meant that I didn't fall asleep or throw up on her. That's a feat in and of itself, because I was generally highly intoxicated at bars and would have to have been to be talking to a girl (you see, in addition to being terrible with women, I am terrified of them). Well, we exchanged phone numbers and I actually followed up and called her a couple days later. Eager to go out with this girl, I suggested a pretty standard first date: dinner and a movie. I let her pick the restaurant and movie as I am nothing if not a consummate gentleman. She chose the restaurant (nothing too fancy, but a decent little sit down place) and I asked what movie she would like to see. This is where my woman skills start to shine through.

It's no secret to those who know me that I am a huge horror movie fan. In fact, I've started a horror blog in addition to this one here. So, there happens to be a great Japanese director named Takashi Miike who is pretty well known for being the reason people say "Japanese people are fucked up". His movies are generally very violent and often strange, but well shot and interesting. He had a little movie called Audition that came out in Japan in 1999. Well, a few years later (ie. when I was on a date with this girl), it had finally started making an appearance in the states. The movie is about a man who holds fake auditions to meet women after his wife dies. He meets one and really likes her, but finds out that she is batshit insane, to the point of keeping a man in her apartment in a burlap sack and feeding that guy puke. She ends up torturing the guy in a pretty gruesome scene. Now, it's an unsettling movie at best, hard to watch, but incredibly well done and very tense. It's a movie I greatly admire and still find it enthralling, but hard to watch. Miike has also made some other great movies like Ichi the Killer, Visitor Q, Imprints, and my recent favorite, Sukiyaki Western Django.

So, this girl mentions that she heard there was a great foreign film playing at the student union that night. Well, I bet you can see where this is going. She said it was called Audition and she had heard it was a bit of a thriller. Now, I have already seen this movie at this point, so what I should have said was, "Hmmm, I've already seen that and I don't know if it's a good date movie," or at least warned her about the graphic torture scenes and the overall theme of the movie. Instead, what I said was, "I would gladly see that movie again. Let's go!" Yup, dating mastermind.

The dinner was quite good and we headed to movie theater in a fairly pleasant mood with full bellies. The conversation over dinner wasn't quite as enticing as I had remembered from the night before, but then again nothing is when you aren't drinking. She also managed to say a couple of things during the date that struck me as a bit shallow, like asking me to admire her Prada purse her sister had given to her. When I asked what Prada was, I was met with a stare of contempt and amazement (at the time, The Devil Wears Prada was just a book I hadn't read, not a movie I hadn't seen). Oh well, she was still okay, even if she did mention to me that I didn't really match what she had worn. Well, I apologized for not coordinating outfits with her, which got a bit of a chuckle, but I had the sense that she really wasn't kidding about that comment. On the way to the movie I was planning on warning her a bit about the content when she said something to the effect of thinking farmers were selfish and taking up government grants (I don't remember how the topic came up). Now, I am a farm boy, born and raised. I paid my way through college by milking cows, so I know that farmers don't make that much money and quite frankly could use the grants. But hey, that's just me.

So at this point, she's made it pretty abundantly clear we aren't working out as a couple. I decided not to tell her the content of the movie. Well, at the peak of the torture scene, I happened to exchange glances with her and if there were a way to say "I'm never going on another date with you" with your eyes, hers said that to me right then. We walked out of the movie and she just laid into me about how I should have said something to her to warn her about that and how she couldn't believe that I had agreed to see that with a girl. I shrugged, said I still liked the movie. She said she was going to go home and responded by walking away and saying "O.k."

Needless to say, there wasn't a second date.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We'll See what happens

Well, it's been a while since I was a blogger, but I think I need to get back on this. I thought about starting a website, but I hate web editing. So I decided to go back to blogging (to get a little writing out there). The question: what do I write about?

Well, I've had some interesting life experiences over the course of my life and I have been known to spin an entertaining yarn every now and then, so I've decided to write some of my life stories down. I don't know how long this will last nor how often it will get updated, but I'll try to keep it up for a while. They won't be in any particular order, just however the stories come to me. We'll see just how raunchy/personal I will get with the stories, but I'll try to keep them entertaining. Without further ado, I'll get to the first story...

Last night I happened to be watching a comedian who wasn't particularly funny, but he brought up hitting a deer with his car. This reminded me of the two times a deer has connected with my car in the past. Both times were a few years ago now, but I felt like it would be a good starting point for this blog. The first encounter was pretty standard: it ran in front of me, I swerved, it kept running like a deaf kid chasing a bouncing ball in the street, I ran it over, it died, I swore, etc. The second encounter however, went something like this...

I used to work on a farm for about 7 years on and off. It was a summer day and I was off work early (I had to be at work at 5 am and it was about 5 pm). A nice, short, 12-hour day was a welcome thing to me, so I buggered off and didn't let my boss find anything else for me to do. As I rounded the last corner to get back to my parents' house (I was back home for the summer to save and make money), I noticed a large plume of smoke coming from the side of the road ahead of me. It was a car on fire and the guy who owned the car was along the road trying to flag me down. I asked if everything was okay (a dumb question to someone who's car is on fire), and he asked if I could give him a ride to his friend's house in town. Being the good Samaritan I am, I said sure. I asked him if he wanted me to call 9-1-1, but he said that was okay, he would from his friend's house.

I drive him back into town (about a mile back in the direction of the farm) and as I pull into his buddy's driveway he says to me, "Thanks for the ride man. I've had a couple drinks so I didn't want to be there when the cops got there." He then got out of my car and ran into the house. At this point, a couple of questions arose in my head: why was he drinking before 5 pm on a weekday? Did someone else call the cops before I got there? Did I really just inadvertently aid and abet a drunk driver?

Well, as it turns out, someone did call the cops as a police car and two fire trucks zoomed past me. Knowing they would block the road off to get to my parents' house, I decided to take an alternate route home. I drove on a couple back roads to get around the scene and as I came down a hill, something out of the corner of my eye moved and caught my attention. That something, as it turns out, was a deer, deciding the best path to the other side of the road was through the passenger side of my car. Why the deer decided to be out in the daylight and try to go through my bright red car, I don't really know, but I do know that I did not hit that animal; it hit me. The head hit right at my passenger side rearview mirror and the backside of the animal (I managed to spin it around) hit somewhere on the back fender of my car. I swore rather loudly, slowed down, and got out to assess the damages. Well, the mirror was still attached by a thread, the door handle was broken in half for that door, and there was a large dent in the rear fender caused by its ass. The reason I know it was the deer's ass that hit my rear fender was because at the back of that dent was a large splatter of crap spreading over the back of my car. Yes, I literally hit the shit out of that deer. What made me angriest though was watching the damn thing get up and limp away. I hadn't even gotten the satisfaction of killing the deer.

Well, as it turns out, when it hit the door handle, it dented it in so much that when you rolled down that window, the door would pop open. This was helpful for when I wanted to open the door up for someone from the inside without touching it, but sucked otherwise. Apparently my relatives saw a deer a couple days later in that same area limping quite badly, so I figured he just had it out for my family. I don't know, but it still angers me to this day. And that's why I enjoy eating venison so much.