Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pure gold

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported the case of a Houston-area woman who, in what I presume was a matter more of revenge than hunger, fried the estranged couple's seven goldfish. She ate three. Police arrived just as the woman was about to tuck into the fourth fillet.

I just love picturing the confrontation: "Police! Freeze! Drop the fork and lemon wedge; now, step away from the goldfish!" All this as a vibrant tail slowly disappears between her lips.

"Mwhatph Goldfith?"

I looked online for goldfish recipes and found nothing involving actual fish, just those crackers my children love and I abhor. I presume a simple Panko breading/egg wash combo, along with a simple tartar sauce (don't forget the capers) would work just fine. Or, just for irony, perhaps a dusting of Goldfish cracker crumbs? Sadly, the article offered nothing about preparation.

Honey, if things don't work out, let's try to talk things through. Please don't eat any of my stuff.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Misery and loved company

On Saturday night, a group of us watched Misery, the second-most horrifying movie starring Kathy Bates.

Number one is of course About Schmidt, which forever proved that full-frontal nudity isn't always a good thing. I'd be willing to bet the director settled on one take for that hot-tub scene. "And...cut. It's a wrap! Quickly...get Kathy her robe. QUICKLY!!!"

All through Misery, I kept thinking to myself, "I would go through all of this happily--being drugged, hit with a ream of paper, called 'Mr. Man' and hobbled--if everything I ever wrote became a bitchly, cocka-doodie bestseller."

I then noticed a hangnail and whimpered, so perhaps not.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Of guys' guys

In my upcoming book are two stories in particular that speak volumes about my recent life. One relates an unfortunate incident involving my brother-in-law Neil and our backyard (think Second Great Chicago Fire); another talks about how, try as I might, I've never been one of those "guys' guys." Memories of both of those stories came back last night.

Last night, Neil and I found ourselves again in the backyard. We had started a fire (a sensible one). Cocktails were flowing, as always. Life was good.

Out of nowhere, a giant insect, roughly the size of a small-but-pissed sparrow, flew at the two of us. I did what, at the time, seemed the best solution: I mewled ("Eeeeehhhnnnhhh") and turned to run. I planned to run as far as my legs would take me, to some place where massive flying bugs aren't indigenous.

Unfortunately, I couldn't run. I couldn't run because Neil had grabbed my shoulders and employed me as a human shield. I was the filling of a sandwich where Neil was one slice of bread and ThunderBug was the other. I wasn't happy.

Only when Neil had dragged me back to the patio door and escaped inside did he release me.

It would seem he's no guys' guy, either.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Results may vary

Recently, I was flipping through a local newspaper when I happened upon a quarter-page ad for a medical group that promised its clients what sounded like a complete sexual tune-up. I normally don't pay much attention to these ads. Sure, I may squirm when I'm watching TV with the kids and a spot airs about four-hour erections, convenient finger vibrators or inconvenient genital itching (yuck)--but, for the most part, I think I've become immune to most of these advertisers' grandiose claims.

So it came as some surprise when this ad caught my eye. I wasn't moved by the photo of a young woman reclining in her barely-there underwear; I suppose I became desensitized years ago by the veritable library of adult magazines of which my brother was the proudest of curators. Besides, I've tried and failed countless times to convince my wife to adopt just such a pose, so this seemed little more than a cruel tease.

The question, "Want stronger and longer lasting erections?" seemed too obvious. Who wouldn't want a length of organic steel pipe at the ready twenty-four-seven, especially with the specter of "erectile dysfunction" looming in the not-too-distant future? As they say on Law & Order, asked and answered.

The statement, "See results during the first visit" made me wonder just what would happen during such a first visit. Would a naughty nurse spilling out of a tiny frock greet me at the door with a huge bottle of lube and a pair of ribbed latex gloves? I doubted it.

What really drew me in was the advertiser's claim, in bold text, "Last 30-60 minutes." Given that my typical performance spans, at best, a long commercial break, I was intrigued. I imagined the joy that would accompany a 28-and-a-half to 58-minute extension of my quality amour time.

I tore the ad out of the newspaper and tucked it into my pocket. I started making plans for some future evening. We'd drink a bottle of wine and eat oysters while watching Titanic, the most potent aphrodisiac known to man. At the right moment, we'd have an unveiling, and then 30-60 minutes of pure, unadulterated marital bliss.

When I dug out the ad at home, and prepared to dial the medical group's number, my hopes, dreams and fantasies went the way of the dodo. At the bottom of the page was a microscopic asterisked footer, a hard slap in the face of the hour-of-power claim:

"*Results may vary."



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I speak drunkese

This past Sunday afternoon, one of my neighbors joined me for the second half of the Bears-Steelers game (the weather was unstable, so his satellite reception was shot.) I was drinking my third Hard Pomegranate Punch, my hair-of-the-dog favorite; he had polished off a bottle of Canadian Whisky at home, and was now slowly working his way through my liquor cabinet. In a good neighborhood, alcoholic beverages are a community resource, like butter, eggs and garden shears.

"Catch-up" drinking has never been a favored pastime of mine, but I did switch to a Black Russian just to avoid being mocked for nursing a "girl drink." My neighbor agreed with my choice, enough so that he asked me to fix him one as well. Presumably, he wanted to keep his whisky-and-Coke from feeling lonely. Clearly, even had I wanted to catch up, it wasn't happening--I had neither the hours nor the stomach for it.

When the game ended, we sat outside on the front porch, and watched the rain alternate between cats-and-dogs and a steady sprinkle. When I next turned to my neighbor, I noticed a pair of spiders working their way down the wall toward his head. I despise spiders.

"Look out. You're about to have a head full of bugs."

He tilted his head back against the edge of the spider web. It puckered; I squirmed. It took everything in my power not to shriek, "Eew...eew..." and go running into the house.


"They're right above you. Move, or they'll be sitting on your forehead." They were no more than three inches away--and closing.

He looked up at the descending arachnids with great warmth, as though they were his first born, both sons.

"Oh, I love you, spiders!"

Oh brother. If spiders had chins, I'm sure he'd have shucked them.

He then mentioned he'd seen a great many spiders the previous weekend when he, his wife and his sister had gone boating on a local river. I pictured myself in this scene. At the first sign of creepy crawlies, I'd have launched myself overboard and flailed vainly toward shore, looking back only long enough to make sure they weren't dog-paddling behind me.

Hoping to free my mind and our conversation of spiders (the pair here had started to climb back up, much to my relief), I asked if he'd done any fishing. Apparently, he'd brought along his Pocket Fisherman, but nothing was biting. He then adopted a serious, thoughtful look, a homegrown Clint Eastwood casting a line off one of those bridges in Madison County.

"Lakes are for fishing, Brian." He exhaled a stream of smoke, and looked me right in the eye. "Rivers are for knowing."


"Come on, Brian. You know!"

Huh? I know?

"Ha, ha, ha...I'm just kidding."

I still wasn't sure what he was getting at; I may well have been nursing a hangover during Barstool Philosophy 101 in college. Nor did I really understand what my neighbor meant, later on, when he asked me to pause our game of Trivial Pursuit on our PS3. We waited for him to collect his thoughts. He'd found that Clint look again.

"I shot a squirrel from my bedroom window the other day."

"You did? And?"

"Well, that's the thing. You guys play this game on your TV. I shoot squirrels from my upstairs window. It's practically the same thing."

Patty this time: "Huh?"

Of course, I've been altered (a nicer way of saying trashed) before. I'm sure many stories make the rounds of insights I've offered under the influence that seemed brilliant, but only to me.

Just a few weeks ago, I was standing at a urinal at our local watering hole when my cell phone rang. Thinking I was being deliciously funny, I said, "Well, I can't get that. I need both hands down here, if you know what I mean!" The unfortunate fellow to my left looked at me as though I was riddled with oozing sores. He muttered, "Heh...uh...good for you," before quickly zipping up and getting as far from me as possible.

So, as for being a master at alcohol-speak, my friend is not alone. There's me. And there's another friend who, after a night of drinking, fell asleep for an hour. She woke with a start to ask, with some urgency, "Hey, do you have any more of that fishy red gel?" I didn't recall serving any form of gel that evening; if we did, we were fresh out.

Our neighbor left our home a few moments later. I poured myself another Black Russian, hoping that with inebriation would come greater understanding. Before I settled into the rest of my evening, I stepped outside and, without hesitation, soaked both spiders with a half-can of Raid. I waited patiently for them to finish their death throes and fall, and then I stomped on both at once.

Favorite sons or not, I didn't want them crashing my party anymore.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Drones of the world unite!

Just a quick rundown of the writing history that brought me to this point:

June 1977

Brian O'Mara-Croft (then just Croft) writes to a number of large publishers to pitch his idea for a book he believes will have great appeal. The hook? Unlike other books for the younger set, this one will stand out because it will be written not by an adult, but by a 10-year-old. Brian's enthusiasm, sadly, is not shared.

June 2008
After a 31-year hiatus, Brian writes a book. Much to the delight of his wife Patty, he writes about her...and about their five kids, houseflies, pets, cleaning, gardening, feet, immigration, masturbation, sports and camping. Patty threatens divorce and/or violence; Brian sells the book.

September 2009
Brian realizes that if he wants everyone to read about his fetishes and foibles (again, to Patty's delight), he needs to "self-promote" (or, in publishing lingo, to build a "platform".) He promises himself to finally learn what the hell Twitter's all about. He starts writing a blog, the first entry in which focuses on how it took so freaking long to finally write the book.

June 2010
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Brian's first book, Lost in the Hive: Confessions of a Reluctant Drone, will hit the shelves. He'll have ridiculously high hopes. He won't quit his day job.

July 2010
Fearing for his life, Brian will go into hiding, never to be heard from again.

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