This Boy Is On Fiiiiyyyyyaaaaaa!

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After a long day on a solo work trip to Atlanta, Georgia, I checked into my hotel, unpacked my suitcase, grabbed a courtesy copy of The Wall Street Journal from the hotel lobby and headed out to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Nothing unusual about any of that; except for the selection of The Cheesecake Factory, that’s how just about every day is when I’m on a work trip.

The hostess seated me at a table for two in the middle of the fairly crowded restaurant and I ordered a beer as I browsed the incredibly lengthy, spiral-bound menu before settling on a Factory Burrito and placing my order. It was now officially “me time”. I sipped my beer and got lost in one of the mundane business articles in the Journal.

There is comfort in this routine for me. I am completely ok with going out to dine alone in a full-service restaurant after spending many years on the road doing it every night. It’s just a relaxing time where I don’t have to really think about much. I don’t have to be customer service guy, sales guy, operations guy or problem solver guy. I’m just Frank. I’m Frank with an empty hole in my abdomen who gets to fill that void with a nice meal on somebody else’s dime. I don’t have to carry a conversation or impress anyone. I’m free to be me and my job is to relax and eat until I hemorrhage if I want – all choices are mine after 5pm local time.

Anyway, back to my story. As I raised my mug to take a drink while reading the paper and waiting on my burrito, I barely noticed that a small drop of condensation fell from the mug to the newspaper. As that happened, a waitress walked by and made what I thought was a remark about that small drip. I nodded my head at her and half-smiled as if to be kind of nice but to non-verbally give her the idea that it was a small droplet of water and it really wasn’t a big deal, hoping she’d see that I really just wanted to be left alone. I noticed she looked a bit panic-stricken and she yelled, “NO! Your paper is on fire!!!”

I moved the paper to take a look and saw that the back page had dipped itself into the candle on the table and half the page was engulfed in flames. I quickly grabbed my napkin and patted-out the flames just before the use of a professional grade fire extinguisher would have been necessary. My white linen table cloth was now full of black ashes and all eyes were on me in the restaurant. (Probably the nightmare scenario of someone who has reservations about dining alone.)

Nobody was hurt and the restaurant sustained no notable damage so I did another one of my smirks and nods in a sweeping look around the restaurant to indicate there’s nothing more to see here and that everyone should go back to minding their own business and I read the rest of that freshly charred paper, finished my burrito and took a slice of cheesecake back to my hotel room.

This was kind of a long story but it’s of great significance to me. It was the time in my life where I truly confirmed that I genuinely no longer care if people stare at me and whisper things about how much of a putz I must be. I had become completely immune to all of that. “Folks, I’m just here to relax, have a beer and eat my burrito. You mind your business, I’ll mind mine, and we’ll all just move along after this and get on with our lives”, is what I should have said. Hopefully, my nod and smirk to all of the bystanders said just that, because that was, and still is, my message when I dine alone on a work trip…even if there’s a fire.

 

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If You’re Short On Interesting Facts About Yourself, Here’s One You Can Use…

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I hike. I’m a hiker. (I’m not really, but how would you know?)

The same as walking but sounds cooler and is usually done in a fall wardrobe and sometimes with a stick. Easy to use as a quick answer when someone asks you what hobbies you have when you don’t really have any (nobody can prove you don’t hike because if you can walk, you’re proficient at hiking). Makes you easily sound like a rugged outdoorsman or a conservationist but requires little to no experience and is the cause for very few follow up questions that you might not be able to handle.

Believability factor as a hiking enthusiast increases exponentially with untrimmed beard, hiking boots, plaid flannel shirt, Yeti coffee mug (often combined with matching Yeti baseball cap) and daily declarations to everyone you see that you’re a hiker and like to hike.

Comsider working this into your conversations as we approach autumn. People will think that you’re way more interesting than you actually are.

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I Don’t Know, I Just Think That Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts Would Make A Handsome Couple

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I feel validated. I have not been proud to admit that somewhere in my top 25 favorite movies list is the romantic comedy Notting Hill (it’s really the only romantic comedy to make the list).

Today, while shopping for Science Diet dog food which is, strangely enough, sold almost exclusively at Tractor Supply Company (a store for ranch hands, rodeo riders and burly men who raise barns and mend fences), I saw the Notting Hill DVD displayed among The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, some John Wayne movies and some Louis L’Amour western movies.

It seems that if it’s popular with the demographic that shops here, I’m not alone in being a man who really liked that movie. Unless, of course, it was displayed with the intention of having movies of interest to the farmer’s wife?

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I’m Not Always A Jerk, But Sometimes I Am.

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On the first of two flights today, the conversation that everyone within four rows was forced to hear was between a twenty-something, go-getter woman who has yet to figure out that putting too much of yourself into corporate America will quickly darken your soul and a young ham-and-egger-type-guy who this girl was trying to impress.

Despite bragging about the fact she’s “going for either an MBA or JD at Harvard or Yale,” she couldn’t close the deal. You could just see in his eyes and hear in his voice that he could not have cared less. It was great! Chalk one up for us Joe Schmo’s who don’t give a rat’s ass about strangers who boast about their unrealistic ambitions and unfulfilled goals.

Every once in a while it’s good to see a pretentious young lady eat a spoonful of humility by striking out with an unimpressed man. In fact, sometimes I derive a perverse pleasure from it. Schadenfreude at its finest.

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Where Are They Now?

IMG_1405I’m going to put on some ripped jeans, take my shirt off and walk into the Abercrombie store at the mall today (if I can bring myself to get through that impenetrable cologne barrier they spray around the entrance – a scent that I like to refer to as “Adult Repellent”).

It would be great if I could also get a camera crew to follow me around so we could pretend like we’re doing a ‘Where Are They Now?’ documentary on former Abercrombie models.

I’m sure that if I do this there will be people following me, but it won’t be a documentary film crew – more like the police and maybe a handful of chubby chasers. Look for me on the news tonight.

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My Super Power? I’m Able To Secrete Nearly Three Gallons of Sweat Just By Standing In Line At The Airport Security Checkpoint. What Can You Do?

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For as many flights as I’ve taken in the post-9/11 era, one might think that I’d be relatively comfortable with the TSA (which incidentally stands for Touching Scrotums Assiduously) process. You’d be wrong though.

My process usually begins with packing left to do the morning of my flight and a hasty drive to the airport so that I’m already in “rush” mode. That is where the dew on my brow begins – with the pace of getting there. Once I get in the TSA line, the slight dew on my melon gradually evolves into a sweat of medical emergency levels.

After much time to reflect on this unwelcome phenomenon, I have come to the conclusion that it is due to a series of irrational thoughts that plague me every time I get in line. Some of these thoughts – almost in order of the way that I think them – are as follows:

“This sweat on my brow is making me look suspicious.”

<sweat increases>

“If I know that I do this, why didn’t I bring a folded up piece of paper towel to deal with it?”

<sweat increases>

“What is wrong with me and does the guy behind me think I have an active case of malaria?”

<sweat increases>

“If not malaria or typhoid, do I look like I have sinister intentions and are people becoming nervous around me?”

<sweat increases>

“Is it unusually hot in here? SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TURN THE AIR ON UP IN HERE!”

<sweat is now at biblical proportions>

“I hope they don’t need to touch me because I’m a biohazard at this point.”

<sweat stabilizes at free flow/drip level>

“Exactly how detailed is the image of my private parts on that X-ray and exactly where is the guy/gal who is enjoying the show?”

<sweat begins to taper off as I exit the screening process>

On a positive note, few can tackle me when I’m on the Skins team in a Shirts vs. Skins football game; so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

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A Filthy Expression

 

IMG_1359I just took Our dog to the vet for his shots and a routine “juicing” of his anus.

The receipt showed $30 for “anal expression”. I wanted to say, “What kind of $30 expression did his anus make because every time I see it, it’s making this same face <makes face like I just ate a lemon>.”

Instead, I kept that thought to myself, bid them adieu, and went about my business.

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