|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
Jun. 19, 2004 - 5:22 p.m.
One of the things I like most about being a guy - other than that whole "getting paid 40% more than a woman for doing the same work" thing - is our ability to make a game out of practically anything. There is no activity so mundane, so petty, stupid, meaningless, or even stressful and potentially dangerous, that a fun and/or competitive pursuit can't be built around it.
I remember about 10 years ago I was driving cross country to see a girl I thought had a crush on me. Or at least thought she didn't despise me. It turns out I was wrong on both counts, but the point is I was motoring as fast as I could from New Jersey to Oregon to see her. She was spending the summer at her sister's, and I figured it would be a riot to show up completely unannounced, knock on her door, then say something like "I just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought I'd drop by....". She'd have been so taken by my charming impetuousness that she would have dropped to her knees right there.
Obviously I wanted to bring my delusional little scenario to life as rapidly as possible, so I decided to drive straight through, with stops only for gas. My aunt let me borrow her beat up '77 AMC Pacer, and I stacked up several dozen links of pepperoni like firewood on the passenger seat. Below them, filling the foot bay, was 5 cases of Jolt Cola (do they still make that?). The back held a 20 gallon cooler filled with coffee (black). It was wedged in tilted about 30 degrees, blocking the rear view mirror. The remaining space was haphazardly filled with my entire cd collection, which ended up being a random scattering of empty jewel cases and case-less cd's by the end of the trip.
Like I said, I only stopped for gas. For my other needs...I had empty Jolt Cola cans I could fill while driving.
That was how I developed Road Trip Game #1:
Object: See how well I could time it so that when I finished peeing, the can was *just* filled below the rim.
This proved to be harder than you might think, because really, that's not an awful lot of urine. At least it's not a lot of urine when you're living on coffee, soda, and salty meat sticks. By Wisconsin my kidneys were filtering a non-stop barrage of high octane liquid, and every 15 minutes it felt like the Hoover Dam had just burst inside my body cavity. Four soda cans an hour was pitifully inadequate.
So I devised Road Trip Game #2:
Object: Try to time it so that I ran dry just as the SECOND can threatened to overflow.
Again, this proved harder than first estimation. It only took a few attempts before being able to discern just how much bladder pressure equalled roughly 24 ounces of excretion. That came fairly easily. The hard part, the really devilishly tricky, nerve-wracking skill that needed to be mastered in order to win the game, was switching the cans fast enough. The switch had to be done on the fly, so to speak. Ideally one would turn off the spigot after the first can was filled, toss it out the window, grab the second can, aim, and fire.
But factor all these in:
1. By that point I'd had no sleep for two days. Muscle control was waning fast.
2. Peeing while sitting in a seat buzzing from road vibrations made for extra muscle relaxation.
3. I'd been embarassingly lax about keeping up with my Kegal exercises anyway. Contraction was weak, weak, weak.
4. My liquid-salt diet was forcing urine out of me at close to 40 psi. Even at my best it's damn hard to shut off a flow rate like that.
So as you can see, a quick break in the action to switch receptacles was out of the question. It was gonna have to be a fast - and hopefully accurate - changeover under full blast.
The first attempt was disasterous. First of all, small as I am I still cannot get the head of Little Elvis inside the top opening of a soda can. Even if I could, well...you thought paper cuts were bad. This meant that I had to precisely aim the stream with my one free hand - while driving along an interstate at 65 in the middle of traffic, steering with my knees because the OTHER hand was positioning the cans. Drifting off into the rumble strips was a nightmare I hope never to repeat.
Then there was the other side of the equation. Holding two soda cans in one hand steadily between the legs, with one can getting gradually heavier, then switching when the first fills - without tilting or quavering - would have defeated Hercules had it been one of his 12 Labors. Accordingly, my initial trial saw a spray of yellow douse the foot pedals and lower steering column before I could regain control and hit the mark again. I was sure glad I wasn't in my own car.
What a great game!
I took pride in mastering the skill, although it took a few hours before I could claim an absolutely drip-free transition. By the time I arrived at the girl's place in Oregon, I was filling 'em up and tossing 'em out without even taking my eyes off the road.
Speaking of the girl...I arrived just in time to interrupt a sweaty tryst she was enthusiastically participating in with a local mullet she'd picked up at a nearby McDonalds. She was not amused by my boyish impetuousness.
Two days later I checked out of the Motel-6 and started the drive home.
With a new game! Which I won't bore you with, since it didn't involve body fluids.
Another game I developed, which I will bore you with, has gone down in DangerFamily lore. Please don't think ill of me....
Five years ago my Mom died, after an excrutiating decade-long battle with cancer that was so painful to watch we were actually praying for her to go. We were almost jubilant when she finally passed - in fact, my mom had left plans for a festive party rather than a wake, and we honored her request with a rockin' shindig after the burial.
However AT the burial it was still rather somber. And I don't do well with "somber", even if it was my own mother's funeral.
Sitting there graveside in the hot sun, neck itching from the unaccustomed suit collar, listening to the droning of some priest who'd never even visited her when she was ill...well, my mind began to wander. A series of vases lined the hole under the suspended casket, and pebbles lay near my feet from the recent excavation. Studying those small rocks it struck me how round, smooth and reasonably flat most of them were. It reminded me of...
Slowly, surreptitiously, I started nudging some of these flat beauties towards my chair with my feet. After a few minutes I had a pretty respectable pile. Choosing one of the larger examples, I tamped it down into the dirt in front of me, then carefully positioned one of the smaller ones on top.
I was wearing stiff soled leather shoes purchased just for the occasion, and the inflexible toebox made the perfect...TIDDLYWINK!
It was awesome! The height and distance generated by a subtle press of my foot was impressive, and after only three tries I actually hit the vase.
The sound of rock on brass was quickly muffled by wind generated by both atmosphere and priest, and no one was any the wiser. What little attention I was paying to the ceremony evaporated completely at that point and I seriously started working on my technique.
I never actually managed to land a rock IN one of the vases, although I was frustratingly close on a few attempts. A few of them even hit the rim, but bounced out and ker-plunked onto the lid of my Mom's coffin. I wondered if I'd be able to bank it off her, like a basketball shot.
Before I could give that new plan a go, I became aware of my father sitting next to me. He had been sitting quietly, properly, the entire time, with head bowed and lips pursed while listening to the eulogy. But what made me notice him right then was that out of the corner of my eye I could see his left foot slooooowly inching towards my pile.
My dad was stealing my pebbles!
That sly bastard! He was trying to disarm me without causing a scene. He never moved his head, never changed expression, but I could see that he'd already purloined a sizeable number of my rocks before I'd noticed. I figured I was really in for it this time once we got home. Most fathers look rather askance at any frivolity surrounding the burial of their spouse.
Or so I assumed. While I was sweating over what my punishment would ultimately be, I noticed that my Dad had a flat rock of his own in front of his right foot, and was carefully lining up a smaller stone on top of it. Ten seconds later:
My Dad sank it on his first try! The bastard!
He never changed expression, never appeared to be doing anything other than praying for my Mom's soul while the priest mouthed benedictions. But every half minute or so his foot would move ever so slightly, and if the wind died down or the priest paused for breath, you could hear the unmistakable ring of granite on brass.
Later, at the After Death party, my Dad passed me holding a plate full of shrimp and just said "I won".
That is still one of my all-time favorite game memories.
(Dad, for all the seriousness of his profession, managed to keep a riotously off-beat sense of humor alive at home. When my Mom had her nose, tongue, hard palate, lower jaw, trachea and esophagus all removed in an effort to halt the malignancies, she was feeling a bit depressed for some reason. In an effort to cheer her up, my dad custom made a sort of flute that she could fit into the hole in her chest that she now had to breathe through. When she first saw it, my Mom just rolled her eyes. But she wrote on her pad that it was very funny, and indeed she did learn how to play it. After 30 years, she certainly wasn't suprised anymore by my Dad's antics.
Oh, and of course there was the incident where my Dad let the cow attack that lady. That was pretty damn funny too.)
This is not just a nostalgia entry, by the way, merely positing some idiotic point about guys needing to make a game of everything. Oh no. It's actually an entry about an idiotic game I played yesterday, and am trying to justify it now by arguing that it was a biological imperative that caused my actions. I hope you fall for it:
Yesterday I got home from work at around 10:30am and was just totally washed out. Work had been a bitch, with technical problems, producing problems, an unusually busy news morning and stations wanting extra reports. By the time I wheeled the Mighty WRX into our driveway, I would have stepped over NewWifey(tm)'s body to get to a Bourbon Sour.
Unfortunately, what greeted me a the door was neither NewWifey(tm) nor a beaker of Maker's Mark. It was Casey, the hobbled Corgi. And he needed to be walked.
Ever since Casey caught the Fed Ex truck and broke his leg, his "walks" have become excrutiating affairs. He has to be carried up and down flights of stairs, naturally. But he also has to be restrained from running, or from getting his cast wet. And restraining a hyperactive herding dog takes much more effort than I was able to call on that Friday morning. I just wanted to drink and watch cartoons.
But Casey had no sympathy. He barked, he whined, he dragged his leash to the door. And barked some more. And some more.
We have a little doggie door that Casey can use to get into and out of his pen from our back dining room. However with his front leg sticking out 45 degrees from the vertical, the door was now too narrow to allow him to pass through. Besides, he wasn't supposed to walk on his own, even in his own pen.
But...fuck it. My liver needed booze. Now.
Right next to the doggie door are the sliding glass doors which leads to our back porch. From the back porch there is a ramp that NewWifey(tm) built which Casey can use to descend to his pen. I decided to open the glass doors all the way so Casey could come and go as he pleased, and if he felt like chancing the ramp with one leg in a cast, more power to him. It worked. The dog was more than happy to show off his prowess at running up and down the ramp on three legs, and I was just as happy to pour myself a stiff one and hit the "Play" button.
Right about the time that Dexter was yelling at Dee Dee (again) for making a mess of his secret laboratory, my DVD started making a funny buzzing sound. It wasn't particularly bothersome at first, more just a gentle but insistant background hum. By the third episode though, it the buzzing started drowning out the dialogue.
I'm not really much of a handyman, especially when it comes to electronic things. After I checked to see if the machine's tires were low (they weren't), I was at a loss for what else might be the problem. I finally just shut off the machine.
And the buzzing continued.
Hmmmmm. That's odd.
I stuck my head right up against the speakers, but the noise was definitely not emanating from them. And I was only halfway through my first drink of the morning, still six shy from when I normally start hearing things.
I turned and headed back to the couch, and that's when I saw them.
Fucking FLIES! Hundreds of them, coating my bay windows like a living, writhing wall treatment. And buzzing in unison, drowning out all other sound. They had snuck in, by ones and twos, through the wide open sliding glass doors until after an hour there was a veritable sea of them plastered against the window in my living room. Anyone seen "The Amityville Horror"? Just like that.
I debated what to do. I decided against the rolled up magazine assault. There were just too many - after the first swipe, the survivors would scatter and I'd spend the rest of the day chasing down stragglers. Bug spray was out, since the ammount needed to kill that many flies in an enclosed and unventilated area would be the ammount needed to kill me also. I toyed briefly with the idea of grabbing the vacuum cleaner and hooking up the wand attachment, but like most married men I have no idea where my wife keeps the thing.
That's when I decided to make a game out of it.
I knew from past experience that ammonia makes a pretty good fly killer. In my youth I had gone through a period of trapping flies in jars, then playing Malevolent Dictator with my subjects. I would pronounce sentences ranging from "Death By Firecracker" to "Death By Hairspray" for the slightest infraction. Somewhere in between, "Death By Ammonia" was meted out to some tiny malefactor, and I recalled all these years later that it was a pretty effective dispatching.
I grabbed the Windex from under the sink and checked the label. Yup, still made with ammonia. Perfect.
Back to the living room, where I muscled the recliner around 180 degrees so it now faced the buzzing hordes. I reclined all the way back, raised the bottle, took careful aim...and...PSSSSHHHT! I nailed one!
Tom - 1
Flies - 0
The game was on. Over the course of an hour I emptied three full bottles of Windex, downed half a 750ml bottle of Maker's Mark Bourbon, and fragged probably 120 of the little shit eaters (figuring 2 flies per minute). Of course my accuracy waned a bit the deeper into the bottle I got and the more spaced out the targets became, but overall I'd say that's what my average worked out to be.
When it got down to the last 10 or so, I rolled up a copy of "Guns-n-Boobs" and finished the job by hand.
Then I passed out.
Sometime around 3 in the afternoon a gentle boot in my face nudged me awake. It was NewWifey(tm), home from work.
NewWifey(tm): "Honey, why are you sleeping on the floor? Why is the recliner facing backwards? And why is the rug soaked? And...why are my new tuille curtains streaked with blue?! And what the fuck is with all these dead flies all over everything??"
I staggered to my feet and looked around at the carnage. I had shot probably a gallon of bright blue ammonia halfway across our living room, most of it running down the window sill onto the rug, but a certain percentage also spraying deep into our white curtains. The flies lay where they dropped - most dead, but a few merely stunned and twitching spasmodically among the corpses of their friends. The recliner was askew, the dog was wandering outside unattended against doctor's orders, and an open half-empty bottle of Bourbon was competing with the ammonia in an attempt to overwhelm us with fumes.
It looked bad. It looked like Dexter's lab after Dee Dee had been given the keys, a soup tureen of espresso, and a Gatling gun.
I faced NewWifey(tm), held her gently by the shoulders and said -
Well, g'night kids. Play fair....