Monday, May 31, 2010

The End of the War

I have a friend who has a theory about olives and couples. Her is theory is that one person in the relationship always loves olives and the other person always hates them. When I first learned of this theory, I did find it to be true in my own coupling, and I will have to admit that when I gave it some thought, it did ring true in many of the couples that I have known.
I am a person who loves food in all its glory. I love fancy food, I love simple food. I love sophisticated entrees, and I love simple dishes. I love to talk about food with others. I love to watch it being discussed, prepared, or even eaten. I love to shop for it. There isn't a day that goes by that food does not play a very real, important role in my life. I am most certainly a "foodie," if not a plain ol' "addict." So, imagine my very real surprise and amazement when I realized this evening that Andy was NOT a foodie. In fact, he is actually quite picky about what he likes and does not like to eat. The only question that I could ask myself after realizing this is, "How have I ended up here?!"
I had this epiphany on the way home from a very lovely Memorial Day cookout. Our friend Donna had put a twist on the traditional cookout by having a Greek theme this year. Her husband Greg manned the grill, but instead of the same boring hamburgers, he grilled Greek chicken burgers for everyone except himself. For Greg, Donna had made just a regular hamburger. You see, Donna is faced with a finicky eater herself. For years I have known this about Greg, and have always feel a pang of pity for Donna, knowing that she will never freely get to go the great Indian restaurant that I love or the vegetarian grill that is so great, or anywhere that doesn't serve a steak. All this time, I never realized I have a closeted finicky eater right under my nose in Andy just waiting to burst out.
I think I have been very diligent in my denial of what I will have to call Andy's handicap. I have known for years he does not like certain foods. I just simply have chosen not to accept it. He hates raw tomatoes, yet likes them cooked. This makes absolutely no since to me. I can not fathom that a person would not like a raw tomato. In my book, a garden fresh tomato is one of the best things you can ever eat. Instead of accepting that he doesn't like raw tomatoes, I will occasionally insist on him trying a bite of one. My insistence usually leads to a minor argument with Andy saying that he is an adult and knows if he likes a food or not, and me telling him that he must be wrong and that he will like it this time if he would just try it. Eventually, he gives in and tastes the raw tomato and hates it. I then move on, silently stewing over this obvious brain malfunction in him.
He is the same way about celery. He does not like it raw, but will eat it cooked. Knowing this, I will still, occasionally, cut up a celery stalk and put it into a salad, thinking that he will not notice it and eat it. I will then be able to do the big "AHA! GOTCHA!" moment on him. But every time I try this, he eats his salad, and I notice when he is finished there is a pile of raw celery left in his plate. I know then that he is silently thinking that he won another round of our food war, which until this weekend only made me want to fight harder.
We were invited to two cookouts this weekend, and both had food items that Mr. Andy would not eat. At our friends Glenn and Doug's on Saturday, Glenn had made homemade salsa that was fabulous. Andy couldn't eat it because it had raw tomatoes and cilantro in it. We already know about his tomato problem, but cilantro tastes like dish soap he says. Tonight, Donna served olive tapenade as one of the appetizers, along with hummus, and roasted tomatoes. Andy could eat the tomatoes because they were roasted, not raw, but does not like olives, so no tapenade. For dinner, a Greek salad was served. It had raw tomatoes, olives, onions, feta cheese, and dressing. Andy would not have touched it with a 10-foot pole. See how confusing it gets?! I had three helpings of the Greek salad, by the way.
For dessert, I had brought a cherry pie that we had purchased frozen for a fund-raiser a few months ago. It was great, and very traditional for Memorial Day. To my shock and surprise, Andy said he did not like cherry pie. Who doesn't like cherry pie?! Apparently, in this food situation, Andy likes raw cherries, but not cooked cherries. It is a texture thing, he says. I was just dumbfounded. I, of course, immediately thought that he must be mistaken, and that he probably was confusing cooked cherries with something else. I kept insisting at the table until he took a bite. He tried it and confirmed his original position of not liking it. Donna and Greg's soon to be 3-year-old, Jackson, also tried the pie. His reaction was much more honest than Andy's. He looked like a cartoon character who had eaten a hot pepper. His face contorted and moved in various ways while he tried to eat the small bite. Donna asked if he liked it, and he simply said, "No," and I believed him.
On the way home, I thought to myself that if I can accept the fact that a 3-year-old does not like a particular food, then why should I not trust Andy when he says he does not like something? That was the moment of my epiphany. Andy had not been participating in a food war with me. He didn't even know there was food war going on. He simply does not like certain foods under particular conditions. As foreign a concept as this is to me, I finally decided to accept it. I raised my white flag in defeat to end the one-person-food-war.
I am part of a couple. I am the olive lover and Andy is the olive hater. How I ended up here is any one's guess. I will try to muddle through with this new found knowledge, and try not to force feed him every food item that he says he does not like in hopes of changing his mind. I will no longer sneak forbidden ingredients into dishes hoping he will not notice. But I warn you, fly your Finicky Eater Flag now, Andy, because I have 7 tomato plants out back in the garden, and when they bear fruit, all bets could be off, and a salad of fresh tomatoes and olives from this olive branch I am extending could be your dinner.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Job Interviews and Car Covers

Sorry about the delay in posts, my friends. I have been fighting a losing battle with my allergies this week. I finally gave up and took to my bed, and that, along with a likely toxic cocktail of over-the-counter medications finally allowed me to rejoin the land of the living. Although I still look like I have been crying for days, I am able to function again. This past week was also a big week for my job search. I had an interview on Wednesday, and I think it went pretty well. I did discover, to my extreme dismay, that two months of sitting on my butt playing online bingo has not been very kind to my already out of control waistline. After receiving a call on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. that I was needed for an interview at 4:00 p.m. the same day, I ran to my closet to prepare my outfit. That is when I discovered that I had no suits that fit me. I had no suits that even came close to fitting me. Not even the suit that I bought and labeled as my "fattest of all fat suits" came close to fitting. I, of course, immediately ran to the mall with my credit card, hoping that the sales clerk would not cut the card in pieces with scissors and throw it back in my face when I used it for the purchase. What I ended up buying was the largest suit that I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, it can also be used as a car cover. Thankfully, there was no time to muddle in self-loathing as I had to prepare myself for the interview, which was not easy. Now, if any of you have ever been unemployed in your adult life for an extended period of time, you may understand what a big project getting ready for an interview can be. If you have always maintained a job as an adult, then aren't you the responsible one and kudos to you, but trust me when I say that when you don't HAVE to get yourself together on a daily basis, you often don't. In my case, I have been going days without shaving and only showering semi-regularly. Keeping up with things like dying the gray out of my hair or keeping my dress shoes polished, pulleeeaasseee. I had a lot to do in a short time. I pulled it off, and arrived at the business office for my interview looking shiny and new. My car cover/blue business suit fit well enough with no alterations, my shoes were shiny, and my hair only had a few splotches of grey, which I thought would be a plus in this situation. My confidence level was high and I flashed my pearly whites and went inside to wow the interviewers into a hiring frenzy. As I settled into the conference room and began talking to the two men in charge, I lifted my arms up in some sort of arm gesture when I noticed that I had forgotten to take the tags off my the new suit/car cover. Not only did it have the cheap suit brand, but also, the cheap price, and the enormous size in dark letters on brilliant white paper that ran from my wrist halfway up my arm. When I noticed this, I only slightly gasped and immediately pulled my arm down under the table. The rest of the interview was spent with me forcing my right arm to not function at all. All of my gesturing was done with my left arm and hand. My right appendage was dead to me. It hung to my side tucked away, label facing the wall. I am not sure if the men noticed, but I think I saw them looking at the tags when they shook my hand good bye. I am sure they thought that the man who looked as if he had been crying all day and only had use of his left arm would be a great candidate. The good news, I suppose, is that I could just go ahead and return the suit since it still has all the tags on it. Having to buy this massive amount of fabric to cover me, I am considering some sort of weight-loss surgery, but I think I will keep the suit so I can prove to myself that I had left myself go to this horrible size. Plus, everyone can always use a nice wool-blend car cover.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Dog Ate Your Homework

Let's face it. I am probably not going to have any children. I am not really sure that I am cut out for parenthood. The thought of having someone other than myself as the center of my world is a thought I am not sure I could ever wrap my head around. When it comes down to it, I really want to look out for #1. Me. Myself. I. Sure, that makes me narcissistic and shallow. You can even give me that speech saying that you used to feel the same way before you had children, and now you can't imagine your life without them. I get it. People like having children. They like to procreate. Don't get me wrong, the process of procreation is totally fine with me. In fact, I am all for it. I just want to stop short of producing any offspring. I have two fabulous nieces,a wonderful nephew, and a little buddy I think of as a nephew. I enjoy hanging out with them, and being able to spend time with them. It is also nice to come back to my adult home and do adult "stuff"; although, my conversations and activities usually consist of things that my older niece and nephew enjoy doing as well, such as downloading music on iTunes, talking about celebrities, and watching stupid videos on YouTube. I have always wanted to be one of those people who had bohemian dinner parties where the guests sat around and drank wine, ate exotic food and debated politics, literature, and history. My friends and I, however, usually drink whatever is available at the time, eat whatever is available at the time, and talk about the latest issue of People magazine. Not exactly what I dreamed of, but it will do. Another reason I am not looking for offspring is that I am fairly certain that the odds are on my side when it comes to long-term care. Out of two nieces, a nephew, and a near-nephew, surely one of them will be able and willing to care for their old, broken-down uncle when age and time collide and I need support in my golden years, and really, isn't this one of the main reasons people have children, so they will have someone to take care of them in their old age? See why not having children is a good idea for me? I do, however, have dogs. Two of them. Duke and Dudley. Duke is a chocolate lab who weighs 125 pounds and thinks that he is a lap dog. Dudley is a 70 pound mix, rescued from the pound when just a puppy. Duke was actually rescued as well, just not from a pound, but from my sister. The dogs being our only link to offspring, I suppose that we do spoil them. I would, for instance, allow them to sleep in my bed with me if given a choice. This idea was nixed as apparently a queen-sized bed is not big enough for two adults and two large animals. But my love for the boys is so great, I am right on the borderline of being a pet owner that buys his dogs t-shirts and outfits to wear. I have a friend who I make fun for dressing her dog in hats, but truth be told, if Duke and Dudley could wear regular dog clothes, I would buy them. D & D, however, are too big, and I can't afford to buy adult sized clothes for them, except perhaps a University of Kentucky jersey. How awesome would that be for game day?! I am also guilty of buying dog sunglasses, but that was back when I had a convertible. There isn't as much of a need for them now that we have an SUV. One advantage that dogs have over children, and there are many, is that their puppy-stage lasts only a year or two, whereas children remain puppy-like for years. In fact, most human males remain puppy-like until their mid 20's, which is a long time, and I am not sure I want to invest that much into a relationship. Plus, dogs can be crated when you leave your house, or want to take a nap, or have company. Try crating your children and see what kind of backlash you get. Duke, however, who is just coming out of puppy-dome, almost did not make it. When he was only a year old, Andy and I had a Saturday of tailgating and football-watching planned at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, home of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. As any good college football fan will tell you, you can not just show up around game time for the game. You must go early and stay late. Tents, lawn chairs, cornhole games, grills, and drinks are needed. Occasionally, the 10ft. inflatable wildcat is also needed. This particular Saturday was perfect for football. The sky was sunny, the temperature was 70, a slight breeze was in the air. This would be an all-day affair. We felt guilty crating Duke and Dudley for the entire day and most of the evening, so we decided that we would leave them in our sunroom with access to the back yard for the day. It was their first time being left alone unattended and uncrated. We told Dudley he was in charge (he is the older of the two) and instructed them what they could and could not do (no pay-per-view movies, no other dogs invited over). I was teaching various accounting classes at Sullivan University at the time, and the term was almost over. I had just collected semester projects from two classes the previous week, and had the stack of papers, reports, and printed spreadsheets all nicely stacked and bound in the sunroom. Mistake #1. I did not tell Duke that he was not allowed to look at them. Mistake #2. When we came home from the game later that night, I walked to the sunroom to see my babies. What I saw, though, was what appeared to be snow in the sunroom. Small bits of something white was covering the floor, the chair, the couch, the table, and trailing out into the back yard. As I walked into the room I realized that the white stuff was not snow at all, but tiny shards of two classes' semester projects. Duke had gotten bored with his 100 allowable toys in the room and yard, and had not only unbound the papers, but also had shred them and spread them from one end of the room to the other. I started hyperventilating while Andy ushered the dogs out of the room, scolding them both. The pieces were ripped into such small pieces there was absolutely no way to discern one person's work from another. I was forced to call my boss the following Monday and tell him what had happened. He told me that I was the only professor he had ever heard of whose own dog ate the student's homework. We decided that I could either give each student an "A" or I could tell them what happened and not count the project. Since this was a semester-long project and my students had been working on the report for weeks, I was afraid of option #2. I went ahead and gave them all an "A" and hoped none of them asked for their project back after the semester. Duke's punishment was severe. I hardly talked to him at all for the rest of the evening, and made sure he slept in his crate that night. I think my point was made. I could see it in his big, brown eyes. I hated to get that rough, but it was needed. Ok, so maybe my reasoning for not having a kid is that I am sure I would be a total pushover, and my child would be completely spoiled rotten. I would probably be the parent who makes scenes at ballgames or bake sales if little Keithy didn't win (can you win a bake sale?). If Duke and Dudley can bend my will by their puppy dog eyes, imagine what a child would do to me! Yes, I think I will just continue to work on having a bohemian dinner party. Maybe I will serve Indian food and Brazilian wine. I wonder who is on the cover of People Magazine this week?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Golden Girl Winner :-)

Thanks for voting in the recent poll! The winner of the favorite Golden Girl was the one and only Blanche Devereaux! To honor the winner, here is an appropriate clip featuring Blanche after she stayed up all night writing her novel. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Next Generation of Appalachian Women

Appalachian women are known for their gritty determination. They have always been known for overcoming the extreme conditions that the harsh mountain terrain and the often repressive Appalachian culture placed in their way. In my own family, there is a long line of mountaineers who blazed the trail for women in Leslie County. My great-grandmother was one of the first women in the county to get herself a divorce. She then owned and operated the Blue Bird Hotel in downtown Hyden on her own at a time that women just did not do such things. My grandmother was the co-owner of the Leslie County Telephone Company, and as such, worked long hours daily, and was successful in bringing telephone service to the people of Leslie County. My mother took over where her mother left off, and worked endlessly to continue to build and expand the telephone company, as well as opening and operating various other businesses in Hyden.
These three incredible women, like most all other women in the hills, did their jobs, then went home and worked in gardens, cooked full dinners, cared for the children, and in their spare time canned food, cleaned house, and made certain they and their families attended church. They knew all the Appalachian traditions, songs, and culture. They cooked soup beans, cornbread, poke sallet, and fried chicken, without recipes, of course. They may have been trail blazers, but they also knew where they came from.
I have often wondered in these modern times of internet and laptops, of cell phones and texting, of 145 cable television channels if the up-and-coming Appalachian women would lose some of that gritty, raw tenacity that their foremothers claimed. Have the girls of Appalachian become so homogenized that they are now no different than the girls from Lexington, Louisville, or Cincinnati?
My question was definitively answered by watching my niece play AAU basketball this past weekend. Her team, the Leslie County Bigg Dawgz, showed me that the next generation of Appalachian women will have the same determination and fiery spirit as all the mountain women who came before them.
Oh sure, by looking at them, you would never be able to pick them out of a crowd. With their brand name clothes, popular hair styles, and cell phones attached to their hands, the Bigg Dawgz look like every other 12 year old girl in America. But, when they get on the basketball court something comes over these girls. They turn into woman warriors. They are unafraid. They are rough and tough. They have no fear and they have no mercy. It is as if the power of generations of strong mountain women, coupled with the power of a mighty river cutting its way through the hills flows into the blood of these 12 year-old girls.
It can be a frightening thing to watch, especially if you are from Lexington, Louisville, or some other town in the flatlands. The Bigg Dawgz are very physical and aggressive. They scream, grab at the ball, set screens and take charges. Most games, there are multiple Big Dawgz in foul trouble, if not completely fouled out. Often, the players from the other team are left crying, and their fans are left stunned in the bleachers. Of course, dealing with the crowd is not a concern for these girls. They are in such a zone when they play, the only thing they hear are each other's primal sounds and the orders from their coach. That is, unless the coach, a strong Appalachian woman herself, has not been thrown out of the gym for too many technicals as was the case this previous weekend, but that is a story for her blog (the fact she is an attorney has nothing to do with me not telling that story).
The lives of these Bigg Dawgz girls will be much different from the lives of the Appalachian women who came before them. They may not ever learn to cook traditional mountain food, preferring instead to eat from restaurants or, better yet, have their husbands cook for them. They may never plant or work a garden, working late as doctors, lawyers, and engineers instead. One thing that they will have, however, is a deep-rooted, generations-old spirit of never giving in and never giving up, no matter what the situation. For that, I am deeply proud.

Mother's Day and Ambien

I am late for everything. Sometimes, I am late just for the sake of being late, there is no other real reason. I had intended to dedicate a blog entry to my lovely mother for Mother's Day, but alas, I didn't get around to doing it. For those of you who are now reading this in disgust at my lack of attention to my mom, let me assure you she can take care of herself. Once, when I was in college, I did not come home for Mother's Day, and I also forgot to mail a gift, let alone a card. Mom never said anything at all about it. She did, however, go to the local Dawhares department store, pick herself up a nice bottle of perfume, and charge it to me. I found out about it when the bill arrived in a few weeks. At that point, I learned not mess around with Mother's Day. So, instead of writing a blog entry, I spent the weekend with my best gal here in Lexington.
My mother and I have always been extremely close. I am most certainly a mama's boy, as God intended for good southern men. I look a lot like her, and there was a period of time, when I was around 12, that we were exactly the same height. People would often mistaken me for my mother, which if you are a 12-year-old boy is about the worst thing that can ever happen to you. As the years have gone by, though, our relationship has evolved into a close friendship. I am sure at some point, as she inevitably ages, and I, through the magic of science, botox, and extra money from not having children, will remain young. She will, perhaps, need more help, and I will be there to offer it.
I thought the beginning of this "need to help period" was happening a couple of summer's ago, which was much sooner than I had anticipated. I mean, I haven't even had my first shot of botox for heaven's sake! My parents had gone on vacation with my sister and her family. They were staying in a condo in Florida, and I would get daily pictures, texts, and phone calls telling me what a great time they were having. Both of my parent's are on several different daily medications, and to keep up with their schedule, they both have those daily pill organizers labeled with each day of the week and slots for your morning, afternoon, and evening pills. These are very handy, and it comforts me to see them using them, ensuring me that neither will forget a crucial dose. My sister and I both suspect, hope really, that they both have a pill in their organizers that help them hold on to the bits of sanity that they have left. So we both watch to make sure that they take the medication as prescribed.
One evening while I was busily working in my windowless office in Lexington, my mom called and asked me to get online and look up symptoms of different types of strokes. She said that she was numb, a little blind, disoriented, and something just wasn't "right." She was sure it was a stroke. I told her that I thought she should probably just go to the emergency room at Fish Memorial Hospital. She didn't want to ruin everyone's vacation, so she decided the best thing to do would be for me to confirm her stroke via the internet. Knowing that once my mother made her mind up about something there was no turning back, I went ahead and spent the rest of the afternoon reading about strokes and taking notes. I called Mom later that night to go over her symptoms, and none matched any of the stroke symptoms, so she decided that all's well that ends well, and went to bed.
I called my sister to tell her what had been going on with mom, since apparently staying in the same condo was not conducive to actually talking or spending time with each other. She said to ignore it, that mom was just overreacting. She had probably just been in the sun too long that day.
The next evening we went through the exact same scenario. This time my parents and my sister and her family had all gone out to dinner at Blackbeard's Seafood (Aye, matey). My mother started having her daily stroke and had to excuse herself and go to the car to lie down. Now, in most families, when mom is so sick she has to get up from the restaurant table and go to the car, the rest of the family would probably say something like "Hey, we had better go." Or, "Gee, let's order our food to go, and take mom to the hospital." Not my family. They just let mom go to the car to continue having her stroke while they ordered clam strips and the pirate's combo. Mom called me from the car to tell me she was having another stroke and that I really needed to get online and find out what was wrong with her. I said ok, and immediately hung up and called my sister, then my father. They agreed they would see how she was after dinner. At least that is what I thought they said, their mouths were full of oysters and grouper.
As I am now in complete panic mode, and looking for the cheapest last minute flight to Daytona Beach, I get another call from my mother. She sounds much more relieved than before, so I am hoping the stroke has passed. She then explains that she had somehow gotten her afternoon pills and night pills confused, and had been taking her bedtime pills at 4:00. This included Ambien. So for two days now, she had popped her Ambien sleeping pill and then headed out to dinner and shopping with the family. She hadn't had a stroke at all, but was just jacked up on the Ambien. My sister called to tell me that she told me so, and I just shook my head. Thankfully, I had not yet purchased my ticket to Florida for the sole purpose of taking mom the hospital.
Earlier this year when the Tiger Woods scandal broke, there was talk about Ambien having an effect on people that would allow for a more fun adulterous experience. I am hoping that it isn't the same effect that my mom had, because having a stroke is not what I picture as having a good time, but that may just be the difference in Tiger Woods and Ronnie Carol Stewart.
Mom has since started paying closer attention to her daily pill allotment, and we have had no issues since. I am grateful that she is not in need of any help just yet, other than help from doing crazy things, and we all know that I can not help prevent that in any way. So, Happy Mother's Day, Mom, you lovable nut!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hitting the Technological Wall

Online. 3G. Wireless. Iphone. Ipod. YouTube. Facebook. Twitter. Skype. Email. I admit it, I love it all. I love being connected to everyone in the world in real time, all the time, 24/7. If you can post it, tweet it, blog it, or digg it I am all over it. I don't always know what I am doing, but I sure enjoy trying it. Once I do get the hang of things, watch out, because I am a true high-tech redneck.
I am never, ever without my iPhone. With it, I feel like I can rule the world. There really is an app for everything on every subject, although I will have to admit, most of mine are games and applications that are usually bought by 14-year-old boys. For instance, the newest game on my iPhone is called "Ow, My Balls," and is so fun (and free) that is overtaking the "Atomic Fart" app (also free) as my favorite. Sure, I have some news and nutrition apps, but really, who doesn't enjoy a little potty humor? Admit it, you do. If you have a Y chromosome, it is genetic, you have no choice in the matter.
I do not ever remember a time when texting was not part of my life. I text all the time. I probably prefer texting to talking. I hate when you text someone and as soon as they see the text,they immediately call you. I didn't want to talk to you, or I would have called you. I just wanted to say "'Sup?", nothing more. Now that you have called, I have to stop whatever I am doing and actually speak words. I text so much you would think I would be better at it, but, alas, I was not born with nimble fingers. So, most of my texts take several tries before I say the correct thing. My iPhone tries to help me out, by changing the words I am misspelling into what it thinks I want to say. However, it also changes one of my most common sayings, "Oy," to "It." I don't bother to correct this anymore. Those who receive a lot of texts from me know that a single text reading "It" means "Oy." Now, all the rest of you know it as well, so there is no need to keep correcting it.
Until today, there was only one bit of new technology that I have not embraced, and that was the invention of electronic books. There are several hot brands of these new e-readers, and you can download any book that you want in an instant. I understand the convenience this provides, but I am an old-school reader. I like the way real books feel and smell. I particularly love the smell of library books. It does not matter which library you check a book from, they all have that great, musty smell. I love the feel of the book in my hands. Heck, I even love bookmarks!
Today, I am sad to report, I added a new item to my list of non-embraceable technological advances. The culprit: personal video blogs used for commercials. I enjoy video blogs used as they were intended, but what I ran across today was just wrong. Activia brand yogurt is asking people to keep a two-week video diary log, no pun intended, chronicling a person's road to regularity by eating Activia yogurt. Are you flipping kidding me?! The sad thing is that people will actually do this!
For those of you who do not know what Activia is, it is a yogurt that has added cultures that help to "regulate your digestive system." In other words, it makes you go #2. Imagine all the video diaries that will be submitted in hopes of being on a commercial. I would think that 99% would have the same plot: Day 1 the person is really cranky, crabby, and red-faced. Then by Day 14, the person is so relieved and just as happy and free as you please.
If you have these digestive issues, I implore you to just eat your yogurt in the privacy of your own home, and leave me be. I do not need to know about it. I do not want to know that you finally had a bowel movement on Day 4, and by Day 13 you were as regular as a Swiss watch. I can imagine right now, in southeastern Kentucky, some lady turning her video camera on for her Day 1 testimonial. She is standing in front of the open bathroom door, saying, "I used to be so familiar with this room, but not any more. I have tried everything: laxatives, castor oil, soup beans. Nothing works. I need your help, Activia." Then she opens a container, toasts Jamie Lee Curtis, the Activia spokesperson, and downs the container. Her Day 14 video testimonial will begin with the bathroom door closed. She will open the door and step out of the room, looking flushed and happy. "Whew! Do NOT go in there. Activia, you are the best!" she will say. Then forgetting to stop filming she will yell to someone off camera, "Frank, honey, get yer shotgun out! I have shit a wildcat in there! WHOOO!"
Now, I ask you, is this anything we need to see on television? I think not. Even though I am as linked in to the Internet Age as anyone else, I do have my limits: non-paper books and watching someone shit a wildcat. Potty humor needs to be contained to your iPhone games only.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

He Works Hard For The Money

While checking out the online job boards today, I started thinking about my past work experience. I have met so many great people in the workplace, many of whom I still call friends. The job that I have gotten the most real-world experience and met the biggest variety of people, however, would be, hands down, be my years working at the Subway of Hyden. I was a fresh-faced, 23-year-old college graduate when I boldly went to the bank and asked for a loan to open my own Subway restaurant. I did have a degree in Hotel, Restaurant, & Tourism Administration, but had very little experience in the food service industry. In fact, the first real work I performed in the restaurant-related world was forced upon me, and by that, I mean that my parents forced me to work the snack bar at the family arcade and laundromat (yes, a strange combination). I was given no choice in the matter, and was not paid anywhere close to minimum wage, minimum wage being something that neither my sister or myself had even heard of until we learned about it in school. Every Saturday of my life, starting at about age 10, my sister and I would have to wake up and WALK to the store, open the business, and dish out change for either the clothes washers and dryers or the Pac-Man and Asteroids machines, depending on the customer's particular needs. We also served microwave-heated Landshire sandwiches, Little Debby Snack Cakes, those huge pickles, and Coca-Cola. To add insult to injury, my parent's didn't even wake up to drive us to work on Saturdays. Those pictures I saw on television of the family all gathered together in the kitchen on Saturday morning while Mom and Dad made pancakes or cinnamon rolls and the kids laughed and licked icing from their fingers while cartoons played in the background? Not at my house. Mom and Dad were tucked away asleep in bed, and my sister and I were walking to work and nuking ourselves a Landshire polish sausage sandwich for our breakfast. My only other foray into the food service industry was my brief summer employment at the local Dairy Queen Brazier. This was where I learned the phrase, "If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean," a mantra that would carry through to my Subway days. When I say that I worked at Dairy Queen, I very loosely use the word "work," as I was not the best DQ employee in the world. I did a lot of leaning, which is probably why I kept hearing that phrase over and over again, "Keith, if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean." I always tried to get my DQ schedule to match that of my friend Kendall's so we could be at work at the same time. This was never a good idea, but we seemed to manage to make it happen a lot. Kendall and I usually spent our shifts sitting in the drive-thru window and writing country songs. To this day, I still think "There Is A Tan Line 'Round My Ring Finger Where Your Band of Gold Used To Be" could be a hit if just picked up by Wynonna or Miranda Lambert. The Dairy Queen management tried in vain to put me in a position at the restaurant where I could successfully manage the tasks involved, but when they put me in the Dairy line, I would always forget to put the bananas in the banana splits, the soft-serve always fell into the hot fudge when I made dip-cones, and I could never turn the Blizzards upside down to show the customer how thick they were. Mine would always plop out onto the counter in front of the angry customer. When moved to the fast-food line, I would get orders confused and always giggled and laughed when someone ordered a pork loin fritter. These were not kept pre-made at DQ, and to be specially prepared. So, when someone ordered it, I would have to yell back to the cooks, "Holdin' on a fritter!" I could never do this without laughing, and Kendall would make it worse by usually yelling out "Holdin' on my fritter!!" The cooks would then yell back, "Fritter working!" which would cause me to laugh harder. I was finally placed on the breakfast shift, where the least amount of customers came in and hardly anyone wanted ice cream or fritters. In spite of all this experience, the bank somehow approved the loan for Subway, and suddenly I was a business owner in the food industry. I have had so many great employees over the years, and I have also had some really, let's say, trying one's as well. After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, one employee told me that she was really afraid something like that would happen in our country some day. Another employee who I had fired after watching her smoke a marijuana joint in her car before coming into the store asked if she could keep her Subway shirt and use me as a reference. Of all the characters that have worked at Subway over the years, there is one lady who just stands out from all others. We had only been open a few months when I hired her to work the closing shift. I was working with her during her first week, and we were in the store alone. The phone rang, and she excitedly said, "Ooh! Let me get it!" She then ran over to the phone, picked up the receiver, and said in her most friendly voice, "Pizza Hut!" I just stared at her. I could tell she was listening to the person who had called, and then she said, "Oh, yes, this is Subway." She then wrote down the take-out order, hung up the phone, and merrily started making the sandwich. I walked over to her and said, "So, did you used to work at Pizza Hut?" Her reply, "No, nope, why?" I said, "Well, you just answered the phone 'Pizza Hut' and I just assumed you had worked there." "Oh yeah, that," she said,"I don't know why I did that. It just came out." And that was it, that was the only reason she ever gave. That was her explanation. The entire time she worked at Subway, she occasionally answered the phone, "Pizza Hut!" never knowing why or how it happened. So, my next job has a lot to live up to. I can't just accept any, regular run-of-the-mill job. I need some co-workers with some pizazz. Some people who will help me write country music songs or at the very least will give me something to work with here on my blog! I can't imagine working with a bunch of every day, boring people! Or, perhaps, whatever job I end up in, I will just answer the phone with "Pizza Hut!" and see happens.

Key West is the Winner!

Thanks for the suggestions on where to go for the big 4-0! The winner was Key West, and who could argue with that?! I will keep you posted on the final decision, and will more than likely have another poll or two as to where to stay, etc. (I am terrible with decision making!).
Now, who is going to go with me? I want as many people as possible there!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Crazy Cousins

Left to my own devices, I seem to get myself into trouble, but pair me up with one of my Crazy Cousins, and there is no hope. This was evident yesterday, when an innocent phone call came through on my cell phone at 11:00 am. I was diligently multi-tasking some accounting work, job hunting, and an intense game of online bingo when the song "We Are Family" began singing from my phone. This is the ring tone that I have assigned to the Crazy Cousins. It is similar to the Bat Signal that Gothem City uses to contact Batman. When they call, it is usually to plan something fun or to talk about someone else in our family, which is fun in itself. Today's Crazy Cousin call was from a cuz on her way to Lexington. She asked if I wanted to join her for lunch. It was a beautiful day, perfect for lunch on a restaurant patio, and I probably needed a break as I had not won a single game of Bingo all morning, while my online Bingo arch-nemesis MyrtleMadnezz had won several.
You would think that I, and my Crazy Cousins, would know what happens when we get together. It rarely ever resembles what the original plan had been. These encounters have ended with tickets/warnings from police, tattoos, being thrown-out of restaurants, leading entire bars in our Family Dance (yes, we have a family dance), and most often, hangovers.

Crazy Cousin, Andy, and I had a nice lunch outside, and since we hadn't seen each other in a while and needed to catch up, we decided to go to another outdoor patio and talk some more. At some point in the afternoon, Andy gave up on us ever leaving and went home without me. One thing lead to another, and 10 hours later, I found myself at the Hyatt Regency bar in downtown Lexington, among the attendees of the 2010 National Child Support Enforcement Conference. They were a lively group, and I made friends with several of them. I did first ask if they were for or against child support, as I did not want to befriend a bunch of people who were meeting to explore ways to avoid paying support, and you never know, that sort of group very well could exist.

Thinking we could kick up the party a notch, my Crazy Cousin and I decided we would lead the group in a cheer, as nothing brings a party to a full roar faster than a crowd-participatory cheer. So, Crazy Cousin went to one side of the group and I went to the other side. Then I yelled, "OOOOHHHH, I SAY CHILD AND YOU SAY SUPPORT.....CHILD," then Crazy Cousin yelled, 'SUPPORT.'' We tried this several times, as it sometimes takes a few times for cheers to catch on, like blowing on a fire to get it to start burning. A few of those rascally child support enforcement people finally started participating, so we thought the cheer an overall success, although they were probably just doing it so we would stop.
Last night, however, was mild compared to the evening that this same Crazy Cousin and I, along with a group of friends, spent out on the town in Hazard, Kentucky. We ended up at an establishment called The Hillbilly Palace. I know you are probably thinking, "Wow, sounds fancy. A Palace for the people of the hills." Ok, maybe you weren't thinking that, and you would have been soooo wrong if you had. There was, though, a live band, a large dance floor, and several bars in this Palace.

This was the evening that my Crazy Cousin introduced me to a liquor named Jagermeister. If you have not had the chance to sample this liquor, count your blessings and please never do it. It tastes bad, and makes you do crazy, crazy things. I, for example, after several drinks of Jagermeister, ended the night singing the lead in the Hillbilly Palace Band. That's right, on stage, belting out "Friends In Low Places," which I now see was a very appropriate song.

I was then carried out of the Palace by my Crazy Cousin who somehow convinced our friend Angie to drive me home. The Jagermeister decided it had spent enough time inside my body on the way home, and by the time Angie and I arrived in Hyden, she needed a new car. To this day, I still owe Angie so much that I could never refuse any request she made of me!
Keep in mind that Hazard, Kentucky, is located in one of the only "wet" counties in Southeastern Kentucky. If you happen to live in Hyden, or any neighboring towns, and you want to go out and about, then you do it in Hazard.

This was evident to me a few months later, when checking out my groceries at the Food Fair in Hyden. I was unloading my things on the belt for "Sissy Mae" to ring up and I noticed that my dear, ol' third grade teacher was in line behind me. I immediately hugged her and we talked. She asked if I was being a good boy and told me how proud of me she was, that I had just turned into such a nice young man. At that point "Sissy Mae" wanted in on the conversation, and said, "Are you still singing over at the Hillbilly Palace in Hazard?" I immediately looked at my most prim and proper third teacher who had suddenly become very interested in the candy bars and was pretending to ignore me. I just said "No, it was a one-time thing," to "Sissy Mae" and left Food Fair in shame.

So, I do know that there are many consequences to hanging out with my Crazy Cousins, such as complete humiliation at a local grocery store or failing to get the child support enforcement officers to participate in a great cheer. My Crazy Cousins and I also know that all of our mother's are appalled and embarrassed by our behavior, but we have come to the conclusion that our action's are just something that can't be controlled or helped. It is genetic, and the effects become multiplied when there is more than one of us together.
Either way, I sure can't wait to hear "We Are Family" playing from cell phone again!