Halloween Is Dumb. Yeah, I Said It.

I hate Halloween. There, I said it.  And I won’t apologize for it.  I’ve accepted it, I’m prepared for the ridicule, and you won’t change my mind.  I have heard all of the “but it’s so fun” and “you can be anything you want” and “dogs dressed as cats are cute” excuses I can take.  Because frankly, it’s not fun for everyone, I can be anything I want anytime I want, and my dog has no desire to be dressed as a cat.  It’s why he is a dog.  And after years of asking myself why it is I’ve become a Halloween hater, I think it’s time for me to admit to myself why.  When I was 12 years old, in a fit of Hallow’s Eve desperation, I dressed as a girl for a Halloween party.

I’ve always been a bit of a procrastinator. And this particular year, I had put exactly zero thought into what I’d be for the neighborhood Halloween party.  The day arrived, time was becoming a factor, and I was trying to scrounge something up for the candy fueled sugar-rager. My parents were helping me out, but nothing we had in the house was able to cross that costume threshold, the one you need to strike a balance between comfort and looking like you made an effort.

As I scrambled throughout the house, somewhere in the other room my older brother said in a snarky tone-the only language 14-year-old boys speak-that I should dress up as a girl.  Truthfully, I can’t confirm if it was my brother or not, but looking back it he’s the most likely culprit.

What happened next was a bit of a blur, but having a sister two years older meant that the pieces needed for the costume were more readily available.  And with that, before I even had time to object, there was an eyeliner pencil in my face, and somehow mascara and lipstick became part of the equation.  Being the youngest of three also lends itself to being told what to do without the ability to object, and this was no exception.  In my head I was wallowing in anxiety but I was powerless. I was being transformed from Andrew to Andrea and it was too late.

Being 12 years old is the pinnacle of the awkward pre-teen years.  Being a 12-year-old boy dressed as a girl for Halloween brings with it a whole new level of awkwardness.  Walking into the party, I was brimming with anxiety, but as I looked around the room, it became clear to me that no one really recognized me.  Whether that was a compliment or not, I wasn’t sure.  But as the night went on, I was just some kid dressed as a girl. There was still a lingering fear as I saw kids I knew from school that I’d be called out.  The jig would be up.  But as the party wrapped up, I was in the clear. My parents were on the way to pick me up, and I’d managed to navigate the absurd bobbing for apples, the ridiculous cake walk, and all the other games and activities in complete anonymity.  Until I saw Kenny.  Kenny lived down the street from me and as we walked out to wait for our rides, he looked at me, completely confused.

“Andrew?”

I froze.  I wasn’t sure if I should own up to it or not.  And in a split second, I panicked, and blew the top off the whole thing.

“Hey Kenny,” I said.  He looked at me perplexed again, and the confusion shifted to hysterical laughter.  Here. It. Comes.  They are all gonna laugh at me.  But it never came. I was saved by my mother, who for the first time ever, was right on time to pick me up. (That’s a whole different blog, trust me.) I’d made it through a night as a 12-year-old drag queen intact. (That’s a sentence I never imagined I would write.)  And the next day at school, not a word was spoken.  Kenny was in a different class, so I managed to side step his inevitable cruelty.  And all the other kids had been to hyped up on sugar to even notice.

Halloween hasn’t been the same since.  That was pretty much the last year I ever dressed in a costume, save for the occasional college Halloween party where I had costumes that were 90 percent convenience and 10 percent creativity.  And it isn’t just the year i dressed as a girl that forever poisoned Halloween for me.  It’s the ungrateful kids who ask for more candy, or when the kid who has a mask and a grocery bag and is clearly too old to be trick or treating.  Or my absolute favorite, the parent who says his kid is in the car and she’s getting his candy for him. So you can take Halloween,  I’ll eat myself stupid on Thanksgiving.  Comfortably. In my own clothes.

Watch This Kid, He’ll Teach You Something

Since the age of the internet arrived, and more specifically, the YouTube generation, it seems as if every day there is another star that’s been seen by millions of people after he was recorded by an unassuming cellphone.  The boom-goes-the-dynamite guy, the sneezing panda, star wars kid, and a host of others have, for better or worse, become etched in our web-saturated minds because of their hilarity or awkwardness.  And inevitably, we’ve all fired off a link to someone or tweeted the latest clip we found that left us rolling in the aisles laughing.  I’m guilty of it myself.  And truth be told, this entire entry is essentially just that.  And with that, I present to you, bike riding boy.  If you haven’t seen it yet (where have you been?) then take a look, and enjoy all the greatness of this kid.

I’m 30 years old, and I don’t recall, in all my time on this earth, ever being that excited or proud of myself for anything.  I didn’t even get that amped up when I received my college diploma, or learned I’d gotten my first job out of college.  This kid, at the age of-and I’m guessing here-6, has officially felt a level of euphoria most adults have never come close to.  For that I say, rock on brother.

With his dad getting it all on his cellphone, it’s given us all a little shot of what it really was like to be a kid.  Sure, one day he will have to worry about paying the rent, and whether he has enough in his 401K, but for just a moment, we’re able to see happiness in it’s truest form.  I’ve probably watched this clip 10 times, and it’s still just as awesome now as it was the first time I saw it.

There’s something to be learned from this boy, considering we all lose focus on things once Monday morning rolls around, the alarm goes off, and real life begins all over again. So do yourself a favor and watch this video just once today as the week fires up.  Thumbs up, everybody……..For rock and roll!

Crazy Eyes And The Fight That Never Was

I’m not hot tempered.  Never have been.  In fact, looking back over my years, I think I can say with absolute certainty that I have never once been in a fight.  My fists have never been used, and truth be told, I loathe confrontation.  I’ll go miles out of my way, taking the long way around to avoid confrontation.  That is, until I see something like I saw this past weekend.

I stood in line for a beer at a local festival here in town, and understanding the normal human trait of courtesy, I got to the back of the line, and waited my turn.  As I approached the table, and my number was up, a large, shirtless guy-who probably shouldn’t have been shirtless but that’s a whole other entry-walked right up to me at full speed, stepped in front of me, and ordered his beer.  Or beers.  I got the feeling he was doubling up, based on his walk.

Before I get too far-the picture of this guy needs to be painted accurately.  Sweating profusely, and clearly walking a little wobbly, this wasn’t his first trip to the beer line. And while there is no real way to describe how he actually looked, he was carrying a handful of crazy.  His eyes were wide, and it was obvious he wasn’t all there. The guy had a look of being just a shade unhinged.  And I probably should have taken that into consideration before I opened my mouth.

Failure to understand common courtesy and blatant disregard for others in social and public settings irks me.  It REALLY irks me.  Not wanting to cause a scene, but also wanting this guy to know he had irked me and probably the 30 or so people behind me, I merely opened my mouth and uttered two words: “Really guy?”  Apparently, when dealing with the unhinged and incredibly intoxicated, it was the spark needed to light the fuse.

He turned around, and looked me up and down with his crazy eyes, and unleashed a torrent of profanity that truth be told, I lost track of somewhere along the lines of “try to regulate” and “what you gonna do.” I turned to my fiancée, who stood next to me, in an attempt to ignore him, and she, as well as the guy behind me both looked a bit dumbstruck at what had just happened.  I kept an eye on the guy out of the corner of my eye. I was ready for a random uppercut to the eye, as I assumed his stellar upbringing probably told him such actions were acceptable in this scenario.

He stood there for what seemed like hours, waiting for his beers to be served, because naturally, that’s what he needed.  More beer.  And surely he was in a hurry to get back-you know, to the Cro-Magnon men he was with who were likely high-fiving over chugging beers and yelling at the women who may or may not have been standing around them.  Just as I thought the whole charade was over, he turned to me again.  And again, he unleashed another tirade on me as he walked away, calling me any number of names, questioning my manhood, and generally mocking the fact I did nothing to stop him from jumping in front of me.  I turned to the guy behind me, who was half smiling at the absurdity of the whole situation now, and he simply uttered, “stupid inbred.”  Indeed.

I’ve never been in a fight, and for my streak of 31 years of non-violence to end over something that trivial, well, it would have disappointed me to say the least. And sure, maybe I should have kept my mouth shut, and let the idiot go about his idiotic ways.  But no, I had to say something.  As he walked away, a small part of me felt victorious, as I’d called the guy out on his behavior and his reaction was nothing more than his deep seeded feeling of embarrassment over his actions.  At least that’s what I like to think.  I’m sure he wandered off into the sunset, leaving a long trail of idiocy in his wake.

I wasn’t out to pick a fight, I swear. I certainly wasn’t trying to get into a fight with someone larger and probably a little more experienced in the fisticuffs department than I.  Yet, sometimes, when you see something that’s wrong, you have to say something. And judging by the reaction of the people behind me on this day, there would have been a host of folks willing to jump into the fray.  So maybe it’s a good thing crazy eyes walked away, because I’ve never fought in my life.  But HE doesn’t know that, right?

No, I Don’t Have Kids. And Yes, Yours Are Being Brats.

I’ve said since the start that this blog has no theme, and has no central focus, and I’ll write whatever strikes me.  Well earlier this week, I was struck. Awestruck in fact, by the complete disrespect and lack of attention a woman was giving her two sons who had made a local coffee shop their own playground.  I know it’s a hot button issue being told how to parent. No, I don’t have kids.  Maybe I don’t understand. And yes, I will tell you when your kids are being a pain in the ass.  I’ll just do it via an open letter in a blog post you are likely to never see. Showed you.

 Excuse me, mam?

I hope that contract you are trying to get processed by next week makes it through, I really do, but I’d like to remind you that this coffee shop, while yes, it is a public place, probably isn’t the best spot for your two sons to engage in a light sabre fight.  Yeah, I mean, most of the people around here have work they are clearly doing, not unlike yourself of course, but I am going to venture a guess that they would probably be able to focus just a bit if little Tommy hadn’t just smacked that guys’ briefcase with his light sabre.  Just a thought.

Also, I really appreciate you are trying to get the boys out of the house, I really do, but wouldn’t they be a bit better served if they did this outside, you know, in the park that sits right outside the coffee shop? Besides, I mean, it’s a beautiful day, and they could probably use some time in the sunshine.  Ohhh….that was a stroller Tommy just hit.

Ok, mam, we’ve tried.  And I know that contract you are on the phone about is really important, but this is a place of business, and clearly everyone in this room has been giving you and your two hellion sons the evil eyes since you walked in, and they began to reek havoc all over this place, you know, a COFFEE shop, where there are hot liquids being carried in and out of the doorway.  I’m sure when your son is severely scolded with coffee, you’ll be the first to jump up and proclaim that the establishment fork over thousands of dollars in medical bills.  But you were so oblivious to your little Luke Skywalker that you never saw it coming.  Great. 

No, mam, I don’t have kids.  And yes, you are right, I don’t understand what it’s like to be a mother.  Whether or not I have kids certainly doesn’t limit my ability to judge what is incredibly rude and disrespectful.  THAT is what you don’t understand. But what I do know, is that growing up, my mother never once would have allowed me to act this way.  And truth be told, I turned out A-ok. So if you would please put down the telephone, pay attention to your children, have some respect for the other folks who are here also working, I, as well as all the other people here on a Wednesday morning would probably appreciate it.

 –Angry because now my coffee is cold

Just as an aside, let me be the first to say, that of course parenting is difficult.  And I get that taking your children out in public is certainly something that is permissible-But regardless, your duty as a parent is that if your children begin to become a menace to the environment and the people around them, they need to be eliminated from the establishment. So get off the phone and pay attention to your kids. Because they just knocked over another cup of hot coffee.

Please Counselor, Pick Me

Let me start by saying, I’m all for doing my civic duty. So when I was served with a jury summons a month ago, I understood the need.  But, at the end of the day, I didn’t really want to do it.  It was inconvenient, it meant I had to miss a day of work, which while not a bad thing, just isn’t easy to do.  So when I called the number listed on the summons the night before, and heard the automated message that said yes, in fact, I still needed to report, I was a little annoyed.  Not to mention, apparently jury duty begins promptly at 8 am, which meant that with traffic, I’d have to be up much earlier than normal.

When I arrived at the courthouse, was searched, patted down and ran all my worldly possessions through the security screener, I headed towards the jury room which had no less than 150 people.  Great.  150 people, all clearly annoyed, someone was bound to get on my nerves.  Hey there guy in the corner, speaking loudly on your cell phone, right next to the sign that says “talking on cell phones is prohibited in this room”-you are the big winner, you’re annoying me.  That didn’t take long.

When I was given my juror badge, white with black lettering, I wondered why some other people were wearing red badges with white letters.  Then I found out, that the white badge signifies superior court jury duty.  Which, in turn, led me to believe I was a little more important than others.  No wrongful termination or speeding ticket trials for me, this was major stuff.  Murders, assaults, drug convictions.  This was the good stuff.

Just when I was getting to the peak level of annoyance with just about everyone in the room (let’s be honest, it doesn’t take much to be annoyed by people in public) the city of Atlanta played an informational video about the merits of jury duty.  I get it.  It’s important. Once the video played, and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was explaining the importance of jury selection, I shaped up.  She’s a pretty big deal, and as someone I’ve always admired, I started to get a little more serious about my job.  This of course, was all before I had even set foot in a courtroom for the day.   Justice O’Connor had turned me around.

As the woman who was running the process approached the front of the room, and announced a list of 50 names, I was pretty jazzed about the possibility of serving at trial. And as the names were called, it was clear that somehow, they had forgotten me.  No no, this had to be a mistake. As I watched the 50 people file out of the courtroom and go down to jury selection, I was like a jealous third grader who wanted to go with the cool kids.  I’d been left behind.

After about 10 minutes, Superior Court Judge Jackson Bedford came in to the jury room to give a pep talk to us potential jurors.  A silver haired man, with a security guard by his side, he demands attention.  And he’s a judge.  So he’s getting my attention, but the woman seated in front of him didn’t seem to care.  Cosmo had another article about 50 ways to please your lover, which clearly was more interesting to her.

After his talk, I was really beginning to sweat whether or not I’d be picked.  And as the woman who was running the room approached the podium again, and began calling names, I knew this would be it.  I’d be in a jury box in no time, and channeling scenes from 12 Angry Men.  And when she called my name, the last name on the list, I was ready to join the masses in jury-selection; confident I’d be selected.  I am a fair and just person, and can weigh both sides of an argument evenly. Right?  I was on the way. Until the woman at the front of the room crushed my world with two simple words:  you’re dismissed. I had been cut.  I had been shown the door, and had not even gotten a chance to show my talents. The lawyers didn’t need me, the court didn’t want me, and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sit in a jury box taking notes on the arguments.  This was, after all my ill-placed frustration at the process, a bit of a crushing blow.  I had gone from mild annoyance to downright excitement at being on a jury, and now they didn’t want me.

Walking out of the courthouse, a little dejected, I began to understand that while I hadn’t been picked, what I had done was still important.  I’d served when my community called. Whether or not I was going to actually be serving wasn’t the important thing, I thought.  The county needed me, and asked for me, and I responded.  But seriously, I could have been great, if they had just picked me.