Friday, November 30, 2007
Place Atlanta, GA
I heard this story from a co-worker who I will call Dan. His sister who I will call Jolene and her second husband who I will call Jimbo were having trouble with Jolene’s teenaged daughter who I will call Tiffany.
Tiffany had gone plumb wild. She was dating a biker who I will call Scar. Tiffany skipped school and didn’t come home for days at a time. Tiffany ignored anything Jolene and Jimbo told her to do.
“Fuck you,” was Tiffany’s typical response, followed by, “You don’t own me, bitch.”
One day, Jimbo came home from work. He thought he was in the house alone. Jolene was still at work and Tiffany hadn’t been seen for days. Jimbo walked into his bedroom and there in his bed, naked and screwing like crazed weasels, was Tiffany and Scar.
“What the hell is going on here?” shouted Jimbo.
While Tiffany quickly covered herself with a bed sheet, Scar reached over to his jeans on the floor, pulled a large pistol out of the front pocket, and pointed the weapon in Jimbo’s face.
“Get the fuck out of here, motherfucker,” Scar growled. “How dare you walk in on me and my girl.”
“But, but, but,” Jimbo stammered, “this is my bedroom. In my house.”
“Don’t argue with me, shithead,” said Scar. “Now get out before I blow your fool head off.”
Jimbo vacated the bedroom. In fact, he vacated the house. He drove to the nearest bar and had a shot of Bourbon to settle his nerves. His nerves were still unsettled, so he had four more. Jimbo didn’t go back home until he was sure Scar had left.
The next day, Jolene was about to confront Tiffany about what happened, Tiffany beat her to the punch.
“That was very rude of Jimbo to walk in on me and Scar like that,” Tiffany said. “He was a real asshole.”
“Tiffany!” Jolene said. “For God sakes, you were in our bedroom. What is wrong with you?”
After some cross accusations, Jolene grounded Tiffany, who then stormed out of the house and didn’t return for four days.
“I just don’t know what to do with that child,” Jolene told Dan on the phone. “Maybe I should have shown her more discipline when she was younger?”
“You think?” Dan said.
Dan shook his head in dismay when he told me the story.
“I just don’t get it,” Dan told me. “I grew up knowing better than to act like Tiffany. My sister grew up knowing better. My kids are growing up knowing better. How Tiffany ended like this is a complete mystery. Nobody can believe she’s a member of our family.”
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Place London, England
I was on vacation in London with my wife and mother-in-law. We had rented a flat in Notting Hill. We were on our way to dinner one late afternoon when we passed a young couple standing next to a phone booth. The man was thin, had a hip haircut, and wore a black leather jacket. The woman was dark-skinned with long black hair and wore a red turtleneck sweater. She was stunning.
The man looked annoyed and impatient. The woman draped her arm over his shoulder in a languid motion and said in a deep honey voice, “You are such a clever boy.” I have no idea why she said it. I have no idea why the man didn’t melt into a pool of water right there on the sidewalk. I know I did.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Do you have a short anecdote you'd like to share? Respond to the comments section of this posting with your story. If your anecdote inspires me or looks easy to illustrate, I will post it with an illustration. I will credit the story with the name you use to sign your comment, unless you indicate otherwise.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Place: Chattanooga, TN
When I was a teenager, my friends and I loved going to Eastgate Theater’s Saturday Midnight Movie. We saw great non-mainstream films like “Vanishing Point,” “Night of the Living Dead,” and “Easy Rider.”
One Saturday night, there were so many of us going to the movie, we had to take two cars. Jeff drove his Plymouth Satellite and Bobby drove his Dodge Monaco. The cars were similar in that they were both dark blue, four door sedans that were favored by law enforcement agencies as cop cruisers. The cars could haul ass in a hurry.
The midnight movie was “Two-Lane Blacktop” starring James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, and Warren Oates. Since Taylor and Wilson were musicians, their acting sucked, and considering the movie was about cross country car racing, the story moved like a dead bee floating to the bottom of a jar of honey.
The film finally ended and our group headed for the parking lot. On the way, Jeff and Bobby got into a playful argument about which car was faster, the Plymouth or the Dodge, and maybe they should have a race to find out. Well, it was after midnight and the streets were empty. Why not have a race?
At the first stoplight on Brainerd Road, the two cars lined up next to each other. After some menacing revving of car engines, the light turned green, and the race began. Jeff’s Plymouth had a slight advantage on Bobby’s Dodge, but Bobby was gaining fast when we saw the flashing lights and heard the police siren behind us. Bobby immediately pulled over. Jeff never slowed down and soon disappeared down a side street.
I was in the front seat with Bobby and helped him answer the cop’s questions. Yes sir, we knew that we really shouldn’t be drag racing. Yes officer, we understood it was a very dangerous and irresponsible thing to do. No sir, we wouldn’t want our parents to know that we were drag racing in the middle of the night. No officer, we had no idea who was driving the other car. He just showed up at the traffic light back there and challenged us to a race. Really, it was all his fault and we have no idea who he was. Honest officer, we really don’t know who was driving the other car.
The cop let us off with a warning. We drove very slowly to Jeff’s house, coming to a complete stop at every stop sign. When we arrived, the teens in Jeff’s car wanted to know all the details about our encounter with the cop. The excitement put everybody in a good mood. Everybody but Jeff.
“What’s your problem?” I asked him. “The cop didn’t catch you.”
“It’s not that,” Jeff said. “I lost my bag of pot.”
During the race, Jeff drove with one hand on the wheel and with his other hand, he was rolling a joint from the clear plastic baggie filled with marijuana he had in his lap. Leave it to Jeff to try and do a one-handed roll, the most difficult joint rolling maneuver, while drag racing. He was almost done when he saw the cop’s flashing light in his rear-view mirror.
Jeff was a victim of jointus interruptus. He did what any seasoned dope smoker would have done in that situation- he tossed the baggie out the car window.
“Don’t worry,” I told Jeff. “I have close to a full quarter bag left. That should hold us and I’ll leave you a couple of joints to tide you over.”
The party stumbled to an end and everyone headed home. I was spending the night with Jeff, so soon we were alone on his back porch, passing a joint between us.
“Are you hungry?” Jeff asked.
“I could eat,” I said.
Whenever Jeff had a late night buzz going, he loved visiting Krystal’s 24 hour drive through. It must have been close to four in the morning when we arrived and put in our order. As we sat in the idling car, waiting for our bite-sized cheeseburgers, large fries and large sodas, Jeff continued lamenting the loss of his bag of pot.
“If only that stupid cop hadn’t showed up,” Jeff said. “I’d be smoking my own weed right now.”
“Jeff, there will be other bags of pot,” I said. “What was so special about that particular bag of pot.”
“It was damn good weed,” he said.
Our food arrived and Jeff steered his Plymouth Satellite onto Brainerd Road. We had the four-lane road completely to ourselves. Jeff cruised at a leisurely pace as we took turns digging hot fries out the Krystal’s bag.
“You know what?” Jeff said. “It was right about here that I threw my bag of pot out the window.”
Suddenly, Jeff slammed on the brakes, coming to a complete stop in the middle of the road, and opened his car door. In what can only be described as a very minor miracle, Jeff had managed to stop exactly where his bag of pot had landed. He leaned over, picked the bag off the center line, and placed it in his lap. Even though the baggie was open when Jeff tossed it out the window, none of his pot or the half-rolled joint had spilled out of the bag. Jeff closed his door and resumed the drive home. As he drove, he finished rolling the joint he had started earlier that evening, and handed it to me.
“Light that for me,” Jeff said.
I lit the joint and took a deep drag before passing it over to Jeff.
“That’s damn good weed,” I said, exhaling.
“Damn right,” Jeff said.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Place: Atlanta, GA
I worked at a printing company run by a man named Ludlie. His father’s name was Ludlie, so he was Ludlie Jr. His son’s name was also Ludlie, or rather Ludlie the third. Ludlie the third hated the name Ludlie and often referred to himself as Ludlie the Turd.
Like Ludlie Jr., Ludlie the Turd was in the printing business, though not at his father’s company because the two didn’t get along. Ludlie the Turd did all right for himself until he fell in with a group of unscrupulous printers.
If you work in the printing business for any length of time, sooner or later you will hear a story about a printer who tried to counterfeit money, got caught, and went to jail. I suppose the lure is too strong. You’re standing there printing stuff all day long and you get to thinking, hey fuck this working my ass off, I’m gonna print me some money.
The problem is, just as counterfeiters have gotten pretty good at copying money, the federal government has gotten even better at catching people who do. To make paper money, you need a special color ink and a special brand of paper. The minute you buy either, the government sends someone to watch you and you get busted before the first bills are dry.
Ludlie the Turd and his buddies thought they could fool the feds, because they all worked for different printing companies. One guy ordered the paper at his printing company; another guy ordered the ink at his place. The ink was mixed at yet another company, and the plates were made at still another company. They were all set to start printing at yet still another printing company when the feds came busting through the door and arrested them all.
Ludlie Jr. was devastated by Ludlie the Turd’s arrest. Not only had his son committed a printing related crime, the Turd had personally mixed the ink for the counterfeit money late at night at his father’s printing company.
But the counterfeit job in itself is not the most amazing thing about this story. It’s what Ludlie and his buddies had planned to do with the money that is truly astounding. Their plan was to first, print a shitload of money. Second, take the money to Columbia and use it to buy a shitload of cocaine. Third, bring the cocaine back to the United States, sell it, and split the profits.
What part of that plan did these guys really believe would work? First, few get away with printing their own money. Ludlie and his buddies were proof of that. Second, did they really think the Columbian drug dealers wouldn’t cut their balls off for trying to use fake money to buy real drugs? Third, let’s say they managed to buy the coke. What chance did they have to get such a large amount of blow into the United States? Their scheme was hatched before 911, but not before the War on Drugs. And finally, could they really sell that much cocaine without getting busted, ripped off, or snorting most of their profits? Honestly, the feds did these guys a favor by busting them before they even got started.
Last I heard, Ludlie the Turd had served his jail time, had settled down and gotten married, and his wife had given birth to a son. I can’t remember what he named his boy, but I do know it wasn’t Ludlie.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Place: Atlanta, GA
I lived next door to a weekend stripper. During the week, Christie worked as a graphic designer and on the weekends, she took her clothes off at a strip club.
“I make more money on the weekend than I do all week,” Christie told me.
I never considered going to see Christie perform. It seemed inappropriate since I knew her as my neighbor. I was out drinking with my good buddy, Ted, when I made the mistake of telling him about Christie’s weekend job.
“Let’s go see her,” Ted said. “Let’s go see her tonight. Let’s go see her right now!”
“I don’t know, Ted,” I said. “She lives next door. I’d feel really weird seeing her stripping.”
Ted kept arguing and we kept drinking and some time after too much booze and too much of Ted badgering me, I finally caved in. I had to admit, I was curious to see what Christie looked like naked. Then again, I wanted to know what ninety percent of the woman on the planet looked like naked.
We drove to the strip club, paid the admission, and squeezed into an empty two top table. Though the place was packed, a waitress in a tight t-shirt and short shorts pulled up to reveal plenty of camel toe arrived shortly after we sat down.
After we ordered our drinks I asked the waitress, “Is Christie around?”
I was hoping the waitress would say Christie had decided to take the night off, but instead she said, “I send her right over, honey.”
Christie arrived at our table the same time as our drink order. Christie was medium height, slim with long curly brown hair. She had firm breasts and a nice ass. She was wearing blood red lingerie and spiked heels. Dollar bills hung from her garter belt like green confetti.
“Howdy neighbor,” Christie said, giving me a hug. “Who’s your friend?”
Christie smiled seductively at Ted. He looked like he was about to drool. After a minute or two of polite chit chat, Christie asked if we wanted a table dance.
“Why sure,” Ted said, reaching for his wallet.
“I like this song,” Christie said. “Let’s do it now.”
I thought “table dance” was a generic term and that Christie would dance in front of our table, but no, she borrowed my chair and used it as a ladder to climb on top of our table. In rhythm with the music, Christie whisked off her bra and panties and draped each item over Ted’s shoulders. Ted and I were sitting across from each other, so as Christie danced, she faced Ted for awhile and then turned to face me. As she danced, she talked, and what she said to Ted was completely different from what she said to me.
To Ted, Christie said, “Mickey never told me he had such a handsome friend. That mustache makes you look so sexy. Do you like my breasts? Can you tell how hard my nipples are getting?”
Then she turned and said to me, “Have you done your laundry lately?”
“I tried,” I said, “but the washer was busted.”
Our apartment building had a small dingy laundry room with an ancient washer and dryer.
“The same thing happened to me,” Christie said. “What the fuck is the deal?”
“You tell me,” I said. “I’ve already called the landlord three times and the lazy bastard still hasn’t fixed it.”
Christie turned back to Ted and said, “You must work out. A guy doesn’t get muscles like yours if he didn’t work out. Do you like the way I trimmed my pubic hair?”
Christie turned to me and said, “I’m going to call the landlord first thing in the morning and bitch him out. I pay my rent on time. The least he can do is keep the place up properly.”
Christie kept up these two separate conversations throughout the table dance. When the song she was dancing to ended, she put her lingerie back on and climbed down off our table.
“I hope to see you again real soon,” Christie said to Ted, trailing a finger down the side of his jaw.
“I’ll call you tomorrow and let you know what the landlord tells me,” she said to me.
Ted and I watched Christie’s well-formed rump as she walked away.
“You happy now?” I asked.
“Maybe we could have her do another table dance a little later?” Ted said.
“Why?” I said. “So she and I can discuss the problems we’re having with garbage pickup?”
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Place: Chattanooga, TN
I had my bar mitzvah in September, three months after my thirteenth birthday. The summer before, I had weekly bar mitzvah lessons at our cantor’s house. He lived about half a mile away from my house; close enough for me to ride my bike there and back.
Cantor Louis Rothman was a short man with a round belly and large fishlike eyes. He was a concentration camp survivor. During the summer, you could always find Cantor Rothman and his wife napping in lounge chairs next to the Jewish Community Center’s Olympic-sized swimming pool. Wearing only black swim trunks and a black yarmulke on his balding head, you could clearly see Cantor Rothman’s black numbers on his forearm. He never tried to cover them up.
The first time I went to Cantor Rothman’s house for a bar mitzvah lesson, I took our family dog, Prince, with me. Prince accompained me on all my bike rides. When Cantor Rothman saw Prince, he was furious.
"Your dog,” the Cantor rumbled, “he is a German Shepherd!"
"Yeah,” I replied, because he was.
"I don't like that kind of dog," said the Cantor.
If I had been clever enough, I would have explained to Cantor Rothman that Prince was an American German Shepherd. They're nice and friendly. They lick your hand and roll over on their backs to get their stomachs scratched. Prince wasn't anything like the German German Shepherds that Cantor Rothman knew, the ones that growled and barked as they helped the Nazis herd Jews into cattle cars headed for concentration camps.
Instead, I explained that to take Prince home and then come back would blow that day's lesson. I'm not sure if it was Prince's wagging tail and big goofy dog grin or the idea of missing the first day's lesson that convinced the Cantor, but he relented and let Prince stay.
It was a warm June day, so we had the lesson outside, sitting on cheap lounge chairs on the Cantor's back porch. While I mangled my Haftorah portion, Prince napped at my feet. His good behavior must have impressed the Cantor, because at the end of the lesson he told me that it was okay for Prince to come back.
Once a week, I rode my bike back to Cantor Rothman’s house and sat with him on his back porch for my bar mitzvah lesson. Prince came with me every time. The Cantor’s wife always brought us glasses of iced tea, and a bowl of water for Prince. Gradually, the Cantor became more comfortable with the dog’s presence. One day, as Prince and I were about to leave, the Cantor patted Prince’s head. I could tell from the Cantor’s smile that he was mighty pleased with himself for his small act of bravery. Prince wagged his tail.
As a teacher, Cantor Rothman was a real hard ass. He loved to point out how incompetent I was.
"Perhaps the dog should have the bar mitzvah instead of you,” the Cantor would say, “He knows it so much better."
I caught myself glaring jealously at Prince every time the Cantor made that joke. I swear he was looking at the Cantor with complete devotion and love. Stupid dog thinks he’s so smart.
When my bar mitzvah day came, I managed to recite my Haftorah without making a complete fool of myself. During the reception after the service, I was standing with Dad when Cantor Rothman came over to congratulate me.
Cantor Rothman put his hand on my shoulder and said to Dad, “He did all right, but now maybe it’s time you brought in the dog so he can have his bar mitzvah. The dog knew the Haftorah so much better than the boy.”
The Cantor laughed and walked away. Every time I saw Cantor Rothman, he repeated his joke about Prince’s bar mitzvah. The way the Cantor kept insisting that Prince have his own day on the bimah. I began to wonder if maybe the Cantor wasn’t joking.
I tried to imagine what Prince’s bar mitzvah would have been like. Prince would wear a doggie yarmulke between his ears and a doggie tallis around his neck. He would bark out the Shema Yisrael and howl the Mourner’s Kaddish. Most bar mitzvah speeches began with the words, “Today I am a man.” Prince’s bar mitzvah speech would begin with the words, “Today, I am a dog.”