Category Archives: Willy

A Great Saturday

Many great things happened on Saturday.

Iowa State beat Kansas State
I got to take my nephew Johnathan to his first ever Cyclone football game.
I got to tailgate with the Fausts, Willy, Jay, and Derrick.

Then just to put icing on the Great Day Cake:

Kansas put up over 70 points on Nebraska< Navy beat Notre Dame for the first time in 43 years. Don't just glide over that last sentence. Think about that for a second. Notre Dame had beaten Navy 43 straight times. It is hard to fathom losing anything 43 straight times. To put it in perspective, the last time that Navy beat Notre Dame, Kennedy was still President. I do have the pictures from the ISU victory posted. All you have to do is click on the picture of the link below:


ISU vs. Kansas State

Johnny Consumer

I’d like to think that I had a better than average week this week. It started out poorly as the Padres lost to the Rockies in a play in game and despite the fact that the umpire blew the call that gave the Rockies the win, I accept the loss because the umpires also blew a call that would have given the Rockies another run and ended the game in their favor after 9 innings.

Tuesday night I got the pleasure of changing the spark plugs in my car. So now when I’m cruising up the entrance ramp on my way home from work the engine doesn’t misfire or hesitate. Then on Wednesday night I changed out both front wheel bearings on the car, so now instead of listening to an intense grinding noise where ever I go, I hear only the sweet hum of my engine and whatever tune is currently emanating from the iPod.

In all honesty (I worry that I’m pointing out my honesty too much lately, which might make me seem like a less than honest person. Truth be known, I’m an honest person face to face. It is only in these blogs that I tell half truths [such as there is no Book of Maximum Overdrive – at least one that isn’t a prophetic text] to slightly skew the perspective of these tales.) it is my brother-in-law Jason that actually changed the spark plugs and the wheel bearings, but I did stay in the garage to provide enlightening and engaging conversation, in addition to moral support.

On Thursday night I got myself a haircut from Monica. During that time I learned that Monica had briefly dated a guy that played the bagpipes. I couldn’t believe that she had broken up with a piper. I know the strong spell that the sound of bagpipes put on the women folk, even though this “fact” was called into question by some women folk on Saturday night, I stand by my assertion.

After the haircut, I attended an Ames Jaycees meeting with Shannon. It is the contention of Shannon that if I were to join the Jaycees, I could take pictures of “ground zero” at next year’s Independence Day fireworks display.

The meeting took place at the Jaycees haunted house which is just north of the Halloween “Bootique” in North Grand Mall. The meeting began with a tour of the haunted house. This year they are having a pirate themed haunted house that is sure to scare the “ship” out of you. Don’t blame me if you didn’t like that play on words. I’m just reporting the facts.

After the tour everybody was guided back to an extremely large bathroom where the meeting was held. I think that Shannon thought that this aspect would be my favorite part of the meeting. This aspect was amusing, but it wasn’t my favorite part of the meeting.

A little while back I (at least I believe) mildly offended Shannon by calling her hyper-organized. She confessed (yes I’m acting like being organized is a crime) to be organized, but not to an insane degree that one would need to use or even manufacture a label such as “hyper-organized” and apply it to her.

Shannon is a Jaycees bigwig. Although I don’t believe that I’m revealing any Jaycees secrets by letting you know that in fact the bigwigs do no wear big wigs, to indicate the amount of power within their grasp. They just sit at the front of the room.

There were times when the meeting would seem to lose its focus. I would describe the meeting as having gone off on a tangent because of my love for mathematics. Others in the room would describe such a set of circumstances as “chasing rabbits” based on their love for Jefferson Airplane. Regardless of what euphemism you would use to describe the situation, on at least three occasions Shannon had to redirect the meeting to bring it back to its agenda prescribed focus or to point out some error the meeting had made in parliamentary procedure. Each time, despite a game effort to conceal it, she clearly displayed an amount of irritation. These moments were my favorite aspect of the meeting. But she isn’t hyper-organized.

After the meeting I went out to supper with Monica and Suzie. It was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the piper. However, it was slightly disappointing as it turns out the piper never once fired up the bagpipes for Monica. Although he did once show her is rather large and extensive collection of bagpipe CDs.

FNSC met at Dublin Bay. There is not a tremendous amount to report from those proceedings. Just the usual. Trying to get Willy to sign off on one of us wearing a bear suit and jumping out and surprising the people he hikes with on Saturdays so that he could look like a hero in front of them when he wrestles the bear and wins.

On Saturday night I was spared listening to the Cyclones thrashing by Tech by going out to eat with Russell, Andree, Jason and Janelle to celebrate Janelle’s emancipation from Dasher Mismanagement.

This was a good time as I learned that Jay “Mr. Secret” Janson has been keeping a secret from me, again. You have to keep an eye on that guy and that Janelle is actually more over insured than I am.

It is always an enjoyable night with those guys as I get to listen to Russell reveal one crackpot sports opinion after another. (Texas Tech is a top 25 team, Nebraska is going to be good this year, Bill Calahan is a good coach, Terrell Davis isn’t a Hall of Famer, the Celtics are winning the East next year) Then Jason gets to try to defend the Chiefs and Andree provides the only other voice of reason. Janelle is a Cubs and Bears fan, so it is was a good time watching the Diamondbacks eliminate the Cubs. The highlight of the night being when the Cubs loaded the bases with one out and some Cub grounded into a double play to end the inning. As for the Bears? Just discussing the NFL in front of a Bears fan is usually punishment enough for them. Some of them actually thought the Bears were going to be good this year.

After the Emancipation Celebration, I hopped into my quiet smooth running car for the trip down to Beaverdale for Sara’s birthday party. I had been charged with the task of inviting her Boone County friends to the party. Although I was diligent in my duty, I was also derelict in my execution.

I spread the word, but I spread the wrong time. In fact, it wasn’t until late Saturday afternoon that I learned that I had spread misinformation. Due to a new set of signs(indicating the need for quiet to facilitate or respect the “world class support” going on in our midst) at the computer mine, I now have my phone on vibrate all the time and now I never get my calls.

I missed a call from Jen. She called to tell me that the party was at 8, which was super since I told everybody 7, and asked if I would like to carpool with them down to the social event of October. However, I would not be able to reach her at home because she was going shopping. I would not be able to reach her on her cell phone because the battery was dead. Furthermore, I would not be able to reach Derrick on his cell phone because he had left it at home. Therefore I was to call Derrick at work and reveal my answer.

Sara’s party was yet another stunning success. I can’t lie. Sara goes through a dizzying array of Des Moines friends. They usually range from intolerable to “how has this person not been choked to death?” Sara’s party last year was a quick adventure for me. I made it 5 minutes before it was time for me to leave.

However, the current crop of Des Moines friends are keepers. I look forward to seeing them at social engagements in the future. I even learned their names for future reference. Something I’ve never done in the past.

Also, I got to discuss the movie “Once” with Derrick. That was another win for me, because at this time, I really enjoy discussing this movie.

Now might be a good time to discuss the future. Not the important future. Just the future of where some of my money is going to go.

As everybody knows, Tuesday is the day that new movies, CDs, and books get released. This coming Tuesday might be the greatest Tuesday of 2007.

Why?

Two great things are being released on Tuesday. First is Stephen Colbert’s new book “I Am America (And So Can You!)”. Secondly, a new Post Secret book is being released. I can’t wait.

I’m so excited I just think I might embed a video about Post Secret.



Clans

I wrote recently that the Herrick family was always intertwined with the destiny of the Bennetts. There is another family that also has always been side by side with the Bennetts. That clan is the Maddux clan.

I don’t think that I had seen a single Maddux this year until Saturday at Amy’s wedding. I took the opportunity to get my picture with Scott and Mike. Logan took the picture.



After the picture was recorded Mike wanted to know if we should go to the backyard and play some baseball. I was game, but it did raise a question for me. Do they still make Nerf baseballs?

After that picture was taken we added Earl and Curt to the picture. Teresa took the next picture.


September - Misc.

If you are wondering, yes Curt has won a few mustache contests in his day.

I learned how some of my family’s and friend’s family’s histories are more intertwined than I had known.

Willy’s grandma passed away on Thursday. For the last couple of months my mom has been a volunteer visiting people in the nursing home. One of the people that she has been visiting is Willy’s grandma.

I thought it was kind of a strange quirk of destiny that my mom would be visiting one of my best friend’s grandma’s, but they had a connection that actually dates back further than my friendship with Willy.

Willy’s grandma used to run the high school cafeteria kitchen. My mom worked for her for one year.

Sunday was the visitation. I was looking at the pictures of Willy’s grandma’s 1933 softball team with Willy when Curt walked in. It was strange because I haven’t see any member of the Maddux clan for over a year and now I have seen them on consecutive days.

It turns out that Willy’s grandma was Curt’s aunt. One of those “small world” things.

Brush with Fame

I don’t have the pictures from Saturday’s butt whooping that UNI put on us put together yet, but there was one story that occurred on Saturday that I wanted to share right away.

I didn’t do my normal tailgating on Saturday. Instead I went to see 3:10 to Yuma with Russell. After we had spent the appropriate amount of time discussing the movie, I made my way to my normal tailgating party. The kickoff for the game was at 6 pm. I made it to the tailgate at about 4:45.

By this time Corey and Willy had moved their tailgate closer to the stadium by combining their tailgate with the tailgate of Corey’s friend Chief. No sooner had I tracked them down when B-Ross from SoundOff! walked by. I didn’t see him, but one of the other people in our group yelled his name as he walked by.

B-Ross came back and shook my hand and asked us who we were. I introduced him to Corey and Willy. Then I told him that he needed more airtime. When Andy left for Kansas City I knew it was going to be a major blow to the show, but the week that B-Ross co-hosted he showed that he was the best person to replace Andy.

For whatever reason, they decided to give the co-host job to Heather Burnside who is actually quite wretched and the show has suffered.

B-Ross told me that I should tell that to Keith Murphy.

I told him if I ever see him I’ll let him know.

B-Ross said, “Let’s go.”

So the Willy, Corey, and I followed B-Ross down to another tailgate where Keith Murphy was hanging out with his family.

B-Ross told him that we had something to tell him, so Keith Murphy got up and walked over and shook our hands.

I told him that B-Ross needed more airtime.

Keith looked at B-Ross and asked him, “How much did you pay these guys?”

I told him that he didn’t need to pay us anything and if I was ever lucky enough to win the Chili’s gift certificate (for answering the weekly trivia question) I would be honored to take B-Ross with me.

Keith said, “Nobody has ever done that.”

Then Keith saw my camera and asked if we wanted our picture taken with B-Ross.

We all wanted to. So Keith Murphy took the picture below:


Iowa State vs. UNI

After the picture, we talked about how years ago, Keith Murphy had compared Willy to Chewbacca after he and Jesse were interviewed before the Iowa/Iowa State game. Keith and Willy laughed over this story and he told me that with my beard I would have to be our Chewbacca now.

Then we bid them a fond adieu and Willy and I headed into the stadium. This awesome story helped take some of the pain of the loss away.

A Crossroads

Last night we had FNSC at The Colorado Grill. My mind began to wander towards the next day. I was considering going to see “Resurrecting the Champ” but I did not want to go alone. I turned to Willy and asked him about his plans for the next day.

Willy usually looks at his imaginary scheduler if he has nothing planned, but if he has something planned he immediately tells you what is on his docket. Willy did neither of these things. He fumbled around for something to say and then mumbled something about going running with one of his co-workers.

I wasn’t to be denied so quickly, so I asked him about the time of his social engagement and what he might have planned afterwards. He just mumbled something quietly about being “busy” and then he turned quickly to Jay and asked him what he thought about Hillary Clinton. Did he think the rumors were true that she could give a person a kiss that would remove their soul?

I drifted out of the conversation because I already knew the answer to this debate. You can’t steal other people’s souls if you don’t have a soul of your own. That’s just science.

I decided not to pursue the movie this weekend and settle on going to see “Superbad” with Jay on Sunday.

Ames was on my docket for Saturday. I needed to buy a new 55mm UV filter for one of my lenses. In a freak bag ripping accident I had broken such a filter at the State Fair. I was also in need of foam board.

This trip went without event, until I reached the intersection of Highway 17 and Old 30. I thought I recognized a guy standing at the intersection. As I looked closer I realized it was Willy. I now know why he couldn’t commit to a social engagement with me. He was “working”, in a manner of speaking. I stopped just long enough to take the pictures below and then I went on my merry way.


08-25-07

08-25-07

Time to Come Clean

Over the last week I have had to face a couple of hard truths. The first truth is that the Pope isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Or perhaps I’m wrong and during this time of religious bickering, it was a smart thing to piss off Jews and Protestants and unify them against him and the Catholic Church.

The second truth I’ve had to face is that I’m not going to finish my 14 part blog. Or at least not any time soon. So I’m going to break the silence on the things of done since May 19th. So these are the things I’ve done since that day, in no particular order:

I’ve went to the following movies:

Pirates 3 – Very disappointing ending.
Oceans 13 – Better than Oceans 12, but what wasn’t?
Ratatouille – Easily the best movie of the year thus far.
A Mighty Heart – Not as good as I had hoped.
Waitress – Also not as good as I had hoped and the doctor gets off way too easily.
Transformers – Easily one of the worst movies I have ever seen. What passes for wit in this loserfest is the racial stereotype transformer tells Megatron “You want a piece of me?” Megatron rips the racial stereotype Autobot in half and says “No, I want two pieces.” This movie is even bad by Michael Bay standards.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – A lot more fulfilling if you have read the book, other wise many sequences are just confusing.
I talked to and shook hands with Barack Obama and told him about my job.
I helped set a sales record for Little White Lye Soap.
Walked a few laps with Willy at Relay for Life. He walked 31 miles.
Went to the 2nd oldest restaurant in Iowa (Stone’s) with Jay.

Had lunch with Faust in Mankato.
Visited the National Hobo Museum.
Took pictures of flowers.
Saw Buddy Guy in concert with Derrick and Jen.
Turned in my photo entries for the State Fair.
Attended a birthday party for Jen.
Took the Henning family picture.
Watched K-Dawg’s team get smoked by Jefferson in the Little League tournament one day and come back to do the smoking a few days later to advance to the state tournament.
Took Jesse to the emergency room.
Bought a sweet new monitor for my home computer. (I’m not normally one to brag about my consumer tendencies, but I really love this monitor.)
Watched Killdeer lay on eggs and the eggs hatch a few days later.
Went to the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Beavers.
Saw the world’s largest strawberry.
Saw the world’s largest bullhead.
Saw the Jolly Green Giant.
Despite have to walk a half mile due to a guy’s gastronomical difficulties, watched Willy complete the 5K at Midnight Madness.
Had lunch with Mark before he returns to Taiwan.
Went to Backbone State Park with Shannon.
Helped Stephanie pick out a camera for work.
Went to the State Center Rose Garden with Jay.
Attempted and failed to make Mentos/Diet Coke rockets with Eric.
Took pictures of the “844”.
Enjoyed several Friday Night Supper Clubs with Jay and Willy.
Enjoyed several New Taste Tuesdays with Frank, Jesse, and Steve.
Went to the Company picnic. Seemed like people were actually excited to see me.
Drove to Minnesota to see Nate and watch Harry Potter.
Watched a slide show of pictures from Willy’s trip to Spain.
Attended a pretty sweet Memorial Day barbecue.
Set up a new squirrel feeder and two new bird feeders.
Changed the oil in my car. (personal reminder, change oil again at 161,000 miles)
Helped make soap.
It is most likely I did more than that, but that is all that comed to my head at this time, with one exception. One major exception.
I went to the Des Moines Arts Festival with Rebecca and Jay. I would have to say first and foremost, what a dog that was. What a major disappointment.

However, it did inspire me to put together the blog that I will hopefully post on the morrow. I can’t say that it is a good blog. In fact, it is probably the type of blog that makes one lose friends and gain enemies. It is the type of blog that may make people stop returning my e-mails or phone calls. The type of blog that may make people move to the other side of the street if they see me walking down the street. It frankly might be a subject that will make some people uncomfortable. Yet, that is for tomorrow.

Hugin

At the conclusion of Supper Club tonight, I convinced Willy and Jay to throw around a frisbee so I could play with a freeware program known as Hugin. This program will stitch several images together for you to make a panorama. What lies below isn’t great art, but I think it is kind of cool. I might end up being the only one. This starts with the original 4 images and ends with panoramic image.











Minutia – Chapter 8: False Sense of Entitlement

Chapter 8: False Sense of Entitlement

Friday Night Supper Club has been in existence for over a year now. Since its existence, there have been three members. We are just like the three musketeers, without the intrigue, sword fighting and problems with the Cardinal Guards. Willy is Porthos. Jay is Athos. I am Aramis. Auxiliary member Jesse is our d’Artagnan. There have also been a few Planchets, Man from Meungs, and Constance Bonacieuxs that have graced FNSC as well.

Since its inception one cold March night at Tic-Toc, it has met without fail. True, on some occasions, Willy has skipped out to roof or watch steroid jockeys talk about God. Jay has missed on occasion to clean his apartment for Symposium. On occasion, actually I don’t think I’ve ever missed a FNSC. In my world, FNSC is sacred.

However, it was looking like our streak was going to come to an end. There was a Friday looming on the calendar that looked like trouble. Porthos was going to hop on a plane and go to Spain. Aramis had birthday dinner plans. This left Athos to hold down the fort and keep the streak going. It wasn’t promising though. d’Artagnan was at Safeco Field in Seattle, watching Chris Young dominate.

The three musketeers weren’t about to give up though. A plan was hatched. Friday Night Supper Club was going to have its first ever Thursday night meeting. It would work perfectly. Porthos would be able to get to his plane on Friday. Aramis would be able to get to his birthday dinner. Most importantly, the streak would continue.

+++

Jay called me at work in the afternoon and wanted to know where I wanted to go for dinner and asked if this was going to be for my birthday.

“No. We can’t go out for my birthday without Jesse. That will have to wait until he gets back from Seattle and Willy gets back from Spain.”

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I’d prefer to eat in Ames because I have some errands I need to run in Ames. How about the House of Chen?”

>We agreed on the House of Chen, but we weren’t sure if Willy was going to make it. He was leaving for Spain the next day and probably still had ducks to get into the row. Jay agreed to meet me at the computer mine. The plan was set.

I did not tell Jay what my errands were. Some people view me as being hyper-secretive. I don’t think of myself this way. I think that I am a builder (not just because that is my unofficial job title at the mine). I build suspense and let things play out in a superior way, rather than just giving up the goods at the beginning.

Plus I’ve learned that when I tell people my plans, they feel like they need to give me their “ideas”. I prefer to work on my thing and unveil it when the time is right.

The night’s errands consisted of going to Hobby Lobby and buying a frame for Rebecca’s graduation signature thing, going to Lake Laverne to feed some swans (and get rid of some old bread that was stinking up my bench at work), go to Wal-Mart to pick up the 2 Disc Special Edition of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and square my 14 buck debt with Monica.

+++

When Jay met me at the computer mine he had the look of a man that wanted to drive. I don’t think I’m giving up a major male secret that there are just times when a man needs to drive. If you can read people, you can usually tell when a man has that need. I emphasized with Jay. I had often had the need that I knew he was having, but I really needed to drive. Not in the visceral, instinctual way that Jay needed it. I needed to drive because I didn’t want to transfer stuff back and forth between cars.

“You want to drive, don’t you?” I asked but already knew the answer.

“Oh yeah!”

“I really need to drive.”

He was slightly deflated.

“Why?”

“Because of all the errands I have to run. It will be a lot easier if I don’t have to move all of this stuff from my car to you car and then back to my car.”

He seemed slightly defeated.

“Alright.” He offered, “But we have to be back by 8:30. I’m having electrical problems with my car.”

As I reached for the door to my car the riff from “Mannish Boy” blasted out of my cell phone. Only two people have that ring tone and one of them was standing about 5 feet from me and he believes with religious fervor that the cell phone is an evil invention. This could only mean that it was Porthos.

I looked down at my phone and saw Willy’s smiling face staring back at me from the Caller ID window.

I answered my phone, “Lone Wolf.” I’m not a nickname enthusiast like Jay, but I felt like playing to the crowd.

“HOWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLLLLL.” Willy responded.

“You joining us?”

“I left work early; I got everything taken care of. I’m in. Where we eating?”

“House of Chen.”

“I have heard of such a place, but I don’t know its location.”

“I have to run a couple of errands before we eat. Just meet us at Lake Laverne.”

“Will do! Wolf out!”

I shut my phone and got into the car. Jay was already in the passenger seat. He looked at me and asked, “What is this about Lake Laverne?”

“One of my errands is taking an acceptable swan picture.”

I started the car, turned on the iPod and we headed towards Hobby Lobby.

+++

I have been a long time sufferer of HobbyLobbyphobia. The anxiety caused by this condition does not keep me from entering Hobby Lobby. This anxiety only keeps me from looking a Hobby Lobby employee in the eyes or asking one for help. If the unthinkable happened and a Hobby Lobby employee actually asked me if I needed help, this anxiety would prevent me from accepting any assistance from them.

My HobbyLobbyphobia does not prevent me from pulling things down off their shelves and taking them to the checkout line. I’m quite willing to do this despite the fact I usually have to go through about 5 or 6 frames, candle holders, or whatever before I find one that isn’t scratched, dented, or otherwise damaged. I have no problem doing this if I don’t have to see any Hobby Lobby employees. It is when I’m in the line my anxiety usually turns to frustration.

This trip to Hobby Lobby was one of the rare times that I can say the experience was painless. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a 24×36 frame that was silver. I had already scoped out the frame I wanted. It had a metallic finish. I waited until this week to pick the frame up because one of the good things about Hobby Lobby is the fact that if something you wanted isn’t on sale, wait 1 week and it will be. At least this rule has always served me well when it comes to frames and mat boards. This rule served me well again. 50% off. I was a winner.

I found a frame that looked like it hadn’t been dropped from a high place. I grabbed it and headed for the dreaded line.

The strangest thing happened. I was the 2nd person in line AND the person ahead of me wasn’t buying 40 glass bowls that all needed to be individually wrapped. I was through the line in no time. I was back to the car in no time. We were heading to Lake Laverne in no time. My HobbyLobbyphobia did not ruin this evening.

+++

I parked at Lake Laverne. We had beaten Willy there. This seemed weird to me at first, but then I recalled that despite his love for his sports car, he rarely exceeded the state prescribed speed limits.

I looked around the lake. I looked for the swans. Earlier trips had resulted in swan photos that I considered to be unsatisfactory. I was hoping to entice them with some of my old bread and get in good and close for the picture I wanted.

The swans were on the south bank of the lake. This was where I usually found them. It was going to work out well because they were in fairly deep shadows. I wouldn’t have to worry about small bits of light fighting through the foliage and creating awkward bits of contrast in the images that I didn’t want.

I began making the walk around the lake to the swans. Even though there is a side walk that encircles the lake, I walked close to the water. I was hoping to catch a picture of a frog on my way to the swans. I had no such luck.

Willy showed up while I was doing this activity. He, Jay, and the loaf of bread caught up to me.

“What are we doing?” Jay asked. He was always the inquisitive one. Willy was always the one just able to go with the flow.

“I want a satisfactory swan picture. I want you guys to feed the swans, while I take pictures of it.”

“We’re doing this because?” Jay still wasn’t satisfied.

“So I can get a satisfactory swan picture.”

We finished the walk and approached the swans. They seemed receptive to the idea of having their pictures taken. Jay opened up the bread and started throwing bread at them. I took a couple of pictures.

Then out of nowhere, two geese swam in on us. They moved quickly. In an instant they were on the bank. The beautiful swans were spooked. They plopped into the lake and floated away.

My plan had been foiled by these two honking geese.

Jay looked at me, “Now what?”

“Well, I have to get rid of the bread either way. Give it to the geese.”

Jay and Willy threw some bread at them. In an instant, the geese were on them. They were begging for the bread, but not in the way a dog begs for food. They were moving in on my fellow musketeers demanding the bread. They were hissing at Jay and Willy. They didn’t just want the bread. They felt that they were entitled to the bread. In all my years, I’ve only seen one other creature with such a false sense of entitlement and that was a human.

These birds weren’t thankful for this handout. They felt that they deserved the bread. I still can’t fathom why.

Willy and Jay looked at each other. They stopped giving bread to the geese.

“We can find some creatures out there that will be thankful for a free meal.” Willy said and closed the bag of bread. The gravy train was over.

“Go get a job!” Jay said to the goose nearest to him. Only he didn’t say it out loud. He said it with a look.

They pushed their way through the geese. We walked along the lake for a few hundred feet. We stopped by a bench. Willy and Jay started throwing hunks of bread into the lake at some perch.

It was a melee. 9 or 10 perch all came to the surface and fought for a hunk of bread. This was good entertainment. Plus the perch that got the bread had earned it. They weren’t just sitting around hissing about what they thought they deserved.

“We’re the only Canadian Geese on this lake; we deserve to be given this bread. It is our right!”

These perch were busting their humps for a little taste of bread.

I moved slightly away from my fellow musketeers. I wanted to get a picture of them feeding the fish. Unfortunately as soon as I got into a good position to take a picture, I realized that there was a silver sandwich wrapper on the ground next to Jay’s feet. This trash, this pollution ruined the purity of my shot. I silently thought about how much I hate people that litter in parks. Absolutely the dregs of society.

I was denied my first satisfactory swan shot, but at least I could do something about this picture. I walked back towards Jay and Willy to pick up the piece of pollution. When I was within 15 feet I heard this sound:

“Ooohhhh!”

It came from both their mouths. Something relatively cool had happened.

“What happened?” I asked.

Willy answered. “A catfish just showed up.”

I checked out the lake and there was a catfish mixed in with the perch. It was fighting for its hunk of the bread.

“That thing is so nasty.” Jay said.

Jay is afraid of fish. He always has been. Despite his biased perspective, I do have to agree with him. Everything in the catfish family is a pretty nasty fish. They look nasty and they spend their whole lives in mud. Pretty tasty though.

The catfish made Jay and Willy throw larger and larger hunks of bread into the lake. A second catfish showed up. Then a third. Watching the catfish fight for bread was better than watching the perch. They began throwing full pieces of bread.

I picked up the piece of pollution and moved back to my position.

“Save me a piece of bread.” I called out.

I took a couple of pictures.

When there was only one piece of bread left, we continued on. I wanted one piece of bread left in case we encountered any more geese. I have never been a fan of the goose, but I wanted to see if it was just these two birds that were filled with this false sense of entitlement, or if it was the whole species.

I was not to find out. We finished the loop around the lake without spying another goose. I threw the last piece of bread into the lake. Nothing happened. Willy grabbed a stick and pushed the bread farther out into the water.

A catfish hit it. Then another. Then another. Then it was a catfish feeding frenzy. At least 6 catfish hit that piece of bread. After the first hit it was gone in seconds.

“That was disgusting.” Jay offered.

“Yet cool.” I countered.

“I don’t feel like eating fish for sure now.” Willy offered.

+++

Willy followed us to the House of Chen. We walked into the restaurant and were seated. We sat for a while. Then our waitress came and took our drink orders. It may have become apparent that I’m not real big into physical appearances. I haven’t described the physical appearance of a single character in this tome. There are a few reasons why I haven’t included any physical descriptions of anybody.

The main reason is that I’m not a physical appearance person. Anybody that has seen how poorly I put myself together knows this fact. Another reason for the absence of physical descriptions is that I’m not very good at making them. I can tell you the color of somebody’s hair. I can tell if you if they were short or tall. I can tell you if they were slender, plump, or fat or some degree elsewhere. Sometimes I can compare what a person looks like to somebody else I know. That is really the limit of my skill in this department.

The final reason is that I have yet to come up to a point in this story where somebody’s physical characteristics added a dimension to the story. There hasn’t been a point where somebody was so short they couldn’t do something. The color of somebody’s eyes hasn’t changed the course of any event. The degree to which somebody plucks their eyebrows has not been important to me. Somebody hasn’t been so fat that something else happened.

This is about to change. I will make a vague physical description of a person and it will only happen again one other time in this tome.

I’m not very good with physical descriptions of other humans. So I’ll just say this about our waitress, she met the benchmark for being physically attractive in about every category on the average male’s checklist.

Why is this important? It isn’t terribly important, but it does lead to a minor episode that occurred at dinner.

Perhaps I should give a little bit of background on where this episode was spawned.

I work with a guy by the name of Steve. I lunch with Steve several times a month. Steve is a terrible rubbernecker.

I’d like to say that Steve is an admirer of the beautiful form of woman, but I can’t make this case without knowing that it is a lie. You see whenever we are at lunch; Steve suffers from a decided inability to make eye contact with the waitress. Steve is a straight to eye to mammary contact man.

In the past I have tried to defend such behavior. I point out that when the human eye looks at a photograph or a painting the eye instinctively always looks at the point of greatest contrast. This can not be controlled. It is instinctual.

When a man looks at a woman, he instantly looks at the cleavage because cleavage is the point of greatest contrast. The fair skin contrasts with the shadow that the cleavage gives off. Inevitably the eye is lead into the complete darkness of the cleavage valley.

This does not mean that the man is “checking out” any chick because he looks at her breasts first. The man’s eyes are just drawn to the point of greatest contrast and then his eyes move out from there. It is the same as looking at any other piece of art. That’s just science.

However, it is hard to make this argument for Steve. Not when most waitresses where polos (which hide the mammaries) and most restaurants are poorly lit. This just isn’t the proper environment to create high contrast. It could be that the way women are composed (the lines of a woman also draw the eyes to their breasts like the way the lines in a picture draw the eyes to a subject) that makes Steve so powerless, but I think the truth of the matter is that Steve likes what Steve likes and he doesn’t have the societal training to stop him from making eye to mammary contact for minutes at a time.

Jesse also lunches with us. Jesse is always giving Steve a rough time for his uncouth behavior. Steve deserves the derision, but it comes from a man who is standing squarely on the San Andreas Fault of moral ground.

Before I met Steve, Jesse was the most notorious rubbernecker I ever laid my eyes upon. Jay often recounts tales where Jesse was driving down the street and would almost rear end the car in front of them because rather than watching the road, Jesse was admiring some buxom lady on the sidewalk.

The times when our d’Artagnan would join us for FNSC, he would be on the prowl. Not for himself though. He would be on the prowl for Porthos and Athos. Any restaurant we eat at, he is constantly nudging one those two gents and pointing out the physical qualities of any girls within our table’s sphere of influence. This nudge is usually accompanied by a finger point and a visceral half grunt half “huh, huh?”

It is as if rather than dining with a normal human being, we are dining with the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more” character from Monty Python. It is uncomfortable for everybody at the table, except for King Rubbernecker.

I wasn’t thinking about Steve or Jesse at this time though. I was just thinking about what I wanted to eat. Feeding the wildlife at Lake Laverne had built me a mighty appetite.

The Waitress came back to the table. She took Jay’s order. She asked me for my order. I ordered pepper beef.

The Waitress stopped before she took Willy’s order.

“I really like your shirt.” She said to me.

It is rare that anybody ever compliments a shirt I am wearing. The exception is the shiny pink dress shirt I bought for the Oscar party earlier this year. Other than that, (and the occasional backhanded ‘you clean up nice’) I don’t get very many compliments for the way I dress. That is fair though. I don’t deserve many compliments. I don’t have a discernible style. My style consists of “what was clean and what musician/movie/cause/plaid I like today”. That is all the thought that goes into how I dress myself every morning.

I get out of the shower and think, “this is clean and I like Dang! root beer.” I throw those on and I’m ready to take on the world.

On this day, I didn’t remember what I had decided I liked. Was it red plaid? Was it Shannon Curfman? Was it saving Darfur?

I looked down at my shirt. Rocky Balboa was staring back at me. This morning, my “Rocky” shirt was clean.

“Thanks.” I said.

“It is really cool.”

“It is a great movie.”

Then she moved on to take Willy’s order and then she was gone. It was a simple comment. Nothing was meant by it other than that she liked my shirt. The only other thing one could deduce from this comment was that perhaps she was also a fan of “Rocky”. You could just as easily deduce that she liked the monochrome color scheme of the shirt.

Whatever her intent, the dye had been cast.

I looked at Willy. His elbow was out and he was moving it in a rubbing motion. If we were not so far apart, I assure you that his elbow would have been grinding into my side. Then he pointed in the direction that the Waitress had left.

“Huh, huh!” Willy stammered out a visceral half grunt.

Jay laughed and spit out some water.

It was indeed rich. I had never been the victim of Howard’s vicarious rubbernecking. It was always Willy and Jay. Now Willy was using this opportunity to mock Jesse. Jay was enjoying the moment as well.

I knew that mocking Jesse was funny, but I only laughed, took a sip of RC Cola, and said, “What? She likes Rocky.”

+++

We stood outside of the House of Chen. We wished Willy the best of luck in Spain. Willy accepted our good tidings, got in his Stealth and drove off.

Jay was ready to get a move on.

“Let’s go.” He said. “I got to get back to Boone.”

“I need to make 1 more stop. Maybe a second stop.”

I really wanted to make 2 more stops. I wanted to stop at the Ames Wal-Mart and see if they had a copy of the 2 Disc Special Edition of “Pan’s Labyrinth”, but that was going to have to wait, unless we made record time at Monica’s Salon.

“We don’t have time.”

“We have plenty of time.”

The sun was quickly fading in the western sky. I had to make at least 1 stop. I owed Monica 14 dollars and I was going to square that debt. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a welcher. I make good on my debts.

+++

Monica’s salon is located in the mall. We were right next door. We barely drove a block. We still had plenty of time.

I parked the car and Jay asked, “Should I come in?”

“I guess that depends on whether or not you want to see Monica?”

He decided that he wanted to see Monica. We ascended the stairs to her Salon and saw her working on somebody’s hair.

“Benndawg. Jay.” She said excitedly. Monica is one of the last people that still calls me Benndawg. “What are you guys doing here?”

“I came to settle a debt.”

She looked kind of worried. Her look made me think she thought we were in some mindless action film. I was going to explain how she had wronged me. Then Jay and I would shoot the place up. We would miss her with the thousand some bullets that we would fire, and the debt would finally be settled in an extensive martial arts battle that involved hair supplies, shears, and people running up walls and doing flips.

This wasn’t an action movie though.

“I owe you 14 dollars.”

She shot back a blank stare. I would swear she was wondering if she threw some Griptight in our eyes if it would blind us long enough for her to make her escape.

“For what?”

“For taking care of my HobbyLobbyphobia.”

“The matboard.”

“You had forgotten.”

She laughed.

“I had.”

I reached for my wallet and pulled out a twenty. “Can you make change?” I asked.

“As soon as I’m done with this client.”

Jay became agitated. The sun was fading away. He only had one headlight. He was blaming me for the situation.

“What do you mean you need change?”

“I only have a twenty.”

“We don’t have time to wait.”

“I’m not a welcher.”

Jay pulled out his wallet and started handing me cash.

“Take this; pay her so we can go.”

I then realized that I had money in one of my front pockets. I reached in my hand and pulled out exactly fourteen dollars.

“What do you know about that?” I said wondrously.

I put the 14 dollars on her cash register.

“There you go Monica. We have to go. Jay is having electrical problems.”

Before the last words had escaped my mouth, Jay was down the stairs. He was in a hurry. There would be no stop at Wal-Mart. That was the bad news.

What I didn’t know then was that my quest for “Pan’s Labyrinth” would end at the Boone Wal-Mart in less than an hour. That would be good news.

When I got home that night, there was a 20×30 picture of Rebecca waiting for me in my mailbox. That was great news.



Jay Giving the Handout


Swan Floating Away

05-19-07
Goose Throwing a Hissy Fit

05-19-07
Willy Feeding Perch


Jay Watching Willy


Catfish

05-19-07
Jay and Willy Feeding Fish