A World of Jerks


There are a lot of jerks out there people, something that I’m sure isn’t exactly a news flash to anybody.

I didn’t call them that, used much more colorful language last night as I sat in line on the highway, paving having consolidated traffic into a single lane. Traffic that should have been moving, even if at a slower pace, if not for those that deemed themselves too important to merge sometime in the last mile and a half since the well lit sign informing us of the upcoming closure. Those that decided that instead of leaving that lane, they would wait until the last minute and just move on ahead of those of us that had already made the adjustment. I’ll run us both of the road before I let those people in.

On most nights the profanity directed their way may have been a bit more subdued, muttered instead of yelled out my window, but I actually was in a bit of a hurry. I was on my way to pick up the teenager from her new job, clearing tables and filling water glasses at a restaurant not overly close to where I was coming from. It was 9:20, the restaurant closed at 9:00, and I assumed she would be just about ready to be driven home.

I could have taken my time. On this particular night the restaurant was full of patrons in no hurry to leave, ordering food and drinks that weren’t fully consumed until after 10:00. Cleanup keeping the staff there until close to 11:00, a full hour after they should have been headed home.

It was a day full of frustration, a day of witnessing countless moments of discourtesy and selfishness.

There was the older women entering the bank, rummaging through her purse as she walked in and getting a face full of door as the young guy in front of her quickly closed the door behind him.

The guy at the market who dropped a jar of pickles as he was loading up his cart and simply wheeled away with the rest of his purchases, no offer made to help the poor cashier that had to clean up his mess before returning to the rest of us in line.

Whatever monster decided to leave their cart in the space directly in front of my truck instead of walking the five feet they would have had to travel to put it away correctly.  


a world of jerks
who does this?


I could go on, as I’m sure each and every one of you could. People with seemingly no thought whatsoever to anybody besides themselves becoming increasingly prevalent.

I’m not a saint by any means, don’t mean to come across as a sanctimonious old man. It just seems that with very little extra effort we could all be just a little bit nicer.

My daughter is nice, for now. She says please and thank you, smiles at strangers. She’ll hold a door open for hours if there are still people coming into a building. One of our most important jobs as parents is raising kids that don’t turn out to be jerks.  Is just trying to set a good example enough? How do I keep her this way?



Revenge of The Sleep Walker


It’s getting to be that time of year again. The Halloween decorations have been brought up from the basement, I’m halfway through Steven King’s latest short story collection and there is a new season of American Horror Story on television. Scary movies have been in regular rotation and I introduced the teenager to The Evil Dead films. Last week my wife and I attended Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, a very cool experience for those that enjoy that type of thing, and I’m back to annoying my family by hiding this spider in various areas of the house.


I actually do this year round


The joke’s been on me, however.  None of these attempts at frightening myself or others have come close to the creepiness of a sleepwalking six year old suddenly discovered late at night when you think you are the only person awake, a glace across the couch finding a sitting figure long since thought to be asleep, empty eyes glazed over and vacant.


Sleep walking
no idea how long she was sitting next to me


It’s a condition called somnambulism, one that I’d heard of but had no idea was actually a pretty rare disorder, had no idea that it was actually considered a disorder. Affecting 1-15% of the population, but more common in children ages 3-8, sleepwalkers do exactly what the name says, usually within an hour or two of falling asleep, eyes open and creepy looking, no memory after the fact of their wanderings.

Sleepwalking seems to be hereditary, though nobody else in either of our families does it. There is a higher instance in bed wetters and those that experience night terrors but neither of those apply. She doesn’t appear stressed or anxious, isn’t on any medications or suffering chronic fevers. I smell her breath before bed to make sure that her teeth have been brushed so I’m fairly confident she isn’t going to bed intoxicated.

It just seems to be a weird little quirk, something that we make people aware of now when she sleeps elsewhere. Apologies to those that got a bit freaked out by her before we realized how often it was happening.

Like me, she’s a big fan of the season, her “traps” and “tricks” growing more sophisticated each Halloween. It’s almost a shame that her most successful frights, the times when I nearly do jump out of my skin, happen when she doesn’t remember them.


the sleepwalker cometh
ghostly visitor


Reluctant Lessons for Darkened Sidewalks


I had no idea what to expect on my first visit to Las Vegas, a trip my pool team had earned as State Champions. I’d spent plenty of time in Atlantic City, the smaller, East Coast den of iniquity that I knew to be a wretched hive of scum and villainy.  Surely it’s big sister, nicknamed Sin City, would be much worse, bags of cocaine replacing bowls of mints in hotel lobbies, prostitutes lined up outside of every bar and casino.

It’s nothing like that of course, modern day Las Vegas desperately trying to court families and escape the more notorious aspects of it’s past. There are still Elvis impersonators on every corner, but if any of them were secretly pimps I was unaware.

Like any big city, however, it’s not a place where one should wander drunkenly by yourself in the early hours of the morning, a lesson I learned when my credit card, seemingly safely tucked into the front pocket of my jeans was lifted by what I can only assume was an evil little fairy. A fairy that bought $500.00 worth of CVS makeup in the twenty minutes that it took me to notice it’s absence.

The reason for my solo hike down the Strip wasn’t stupidity (this time) but chivalry. On our last stop of the night my group and a group of Polish women were the only patrons left dancing, a lobby bar somewhere small where a cover band was playing passable renditions of ’80s hair bands. When it was time for us to leave, probably past time for us to leave, we discovered that somehow one of the women had been left behind by her friends. We spent some time searching the area but it became apparent that she had been abandoned.

She was distraught, spoke little English, didn’t have a room key, and wasn’t even sure which hotel they were staying in. Her first night in Vegas was going very badly.

So I walked with her, a relatively short distance to where she was staying, a longer conversation to convince security to let her into her room and produce something inside with a name matching her ID, and I was on my way. Good karma that was rewarded with a few hours on the phone with my credit card company.

I tell this story, now over a decade old, because I was presented with a similar situation this past weekend in Fort Lauderdale.

My wife safely tucked into bed I wandered the half mile to the nearest late night liquor store to stock up on tailgating supplies for the Miami Dolphins football game we were attending the next day. A short walk but a dark one, all streetlights turned off for the month of October while turtles nested or some such business. A significant stretch of road without tacky beachfront souvenir shops or Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley songs played on acoustic guitars for raised decks full of intoxicated party goers.


a darkened road


About halfway down I encountered another damsel, seemingly in distress. Arms raised I approached slowly, willing myself to look nonthreatening as I asked her if she was OK.

She blew a whistle and started running.

I wasn’t mad, wasn’t upset or defensive, offended that my maleness immediately labeled me as a potential predator.

It made me sad, more so because if it had been one of my girls walking that darkened pavement I’d want them to do the same. I want to teach them that there are good guys out there, guys that will walk a stranger home without expectation. Guys that they don’t have to run away from just because they are guys and nobody else is around.

I want to teach them that, but not as much as I want to teach them to be safe. I’ll teach them to avoid circumstances where they are drunk and alone in a strange place, a dark road. I’ll teach them never to abandon their friends, never to leave a drink unattended, not to let a seemingly nice guy into your Vegas hotel room to use the bathroom before he begins the long walk back to his friends.

I’ll teach them that and I’ll fucking hate it. I’ll fucking hate it because shouldn’t we instead be teaching our boys to keep their goddamn hands to themselves?




We’re Just “Organized”


I make no secret about some of my “quirks.” What I call “organized” others may describe as “crazy” or “controlling.” Most days I consider these positive attributes, the habits of a man with his shit together. Every once in a while, however, there comes a day when I look at my lists, my hourly schedules, and I wonder if maybe I take things a step further than necessary.

Today was one of those days.

Tomorrow my wife and I leave for vacation, a trip that any would-be burglars should note that we will have returned from by the time this post is published. (Nice try burglars.)  It’s a trip that by necessity needed to be planned pretty meticulously. Four different hotels in three different cities over a five night period. A flight into one airport and a departure from another for the return home. An entire folder full of printed confirmations.

It wasn’t these plans that gave me pause, rather the ones that I had left behind. Detailed descriptions of my daughter’s morning, after school and before bed routines. Lunches and snacks packed and labeled, dinners prepared. School and soccer practice outfits chosen and laid out according to weather predictions.


a detailed plan


One might think that this was the first time I had left her in anybody else’s care but it’s not. There also might be the assumption that I don’t trust grammy to handle what is needed, also not true.

The truth is that my daughter is a bit like me. She likes things to go a certain way and can be a pain in the ass when they don’t. Bedtime can be a challenging time, mornings double so, and she comes home from school with seven hours of contained energy waiting to be released. Tactics proven successful deserve to be shared.

Thankfully my mother doesn’t take any of this personally. I’m not sure if she’ll have his clothes laid out, but I’d be willing to bet that my father already has his next few meals prepared and a list of instructions of his own. Not because he’s incapable, just because we’re “organized.”



Life Love and Dirty Dishes

The Legacy of The Grandfather of Porn


On an impulse I pulled into a bar on the way home from work a few nights ago. The family was already in bed, it had been a long day at work, and unseasonably warm weather had me regretting an empty beer refrigerator in my garage.

The beer wasn’t as cold as I would have liked, the Red Sox were losing on TV and I didn’t know anybody there. Seeing no reason to stay I soon left, walking out behind a group of younger guys that had been playing pool and complaining about the lack of women that they’d found anyplace else that they had stopped that evening.

Frustrated with their failings at finding female companionship the guys decided that there was only one more place that they needed to go that night. It was time to head across the border to the nudie bar.

I smiled to myself, remembering a time when I would have done the same, frowned when I realized that this group might not have been born yet. There was a time when the closest bar to my apartment was an establishment of this type, a place where I was a frequent enough customer that when I was asked to cover the door for a month while the regular bouncer recovered from a broken hand, we didn’t have to do much more than switch seats.

I thought of those nights, countless others spent in other places of varying degrees of sleeziness, and realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I had ordered a drink and asked for my change in singles.


The King of Porn


The fact that these places are able to operate and advertise so openly, the reason that I can make these admissions with only a small amount of shame, is largely due to the efforts of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, dead this week of natural causes at the age of 91. Since it’s first issue in 1953, Hefner and his magazine’s celebration of the female body transformed the previously taboo subject of sexuality into a revolution against traditional puritanical attitudes.

He was also a gross old man, one who considered women disposable assets to be collected and used, replaced when necessary. He offered wealth and career boosting exposure that only a small percentage of his Playmates ever achieved, trading sex for fancy clothes and parties with celebrities. A serial exploiter of young women who became a millionaire and cultural icon by building a global brand based on their objectification.


The King of Porn


Much has been written by people much smarter than me about the societal costs that this proliferation of pornography have come with, now available to anyone at anytime, requiring only an Internet connection and a smart phone. About it’s contributions to rape culture, “locker room talk”, and a generation of Brock Turners. The subscription to Mature Kingdom magazine that I bought my father as a gag gift on his fiftieth birthday and the bag of DVDs still hidden away somewhere in my closet an invitation to charges of hypocrisy if I tried.

It’s been just as long since those movies have been watched, parodies of Batman, The Munsters and The Dukes of Hazzard among others, all collecting dust under old Halloween costumes and clothes that I might one day fit into again.

There are many different reasons why this is, but to be honest, I think it’s mostly about my girls, especially the oldest, now eighteen. Whether on a stage or a screen, I can’t watch and not wonder about their story, the choices made that brought them down this road. I can’t separate the person from the body in front of me and I don’t understand how easy that used to be, how effortlessly I was able to dismiss them as anything other than dolls, mannequins dressed or undressed for my viewing pleasure.

It’s easy to explain why I can’t help but look at these women, these girls in most cases, and see somebody’s daughter, to explain why that group of young men might not. It’s harder to explain why it so often seems so difficult to look at them and just see that they are somebody, not just some body, and why everyone seems so quick to want to make a hero of a man who lived his life like that.




My Random Musings

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms