Valium Vickie

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dredge the Driver: Part 2

"Dredge here. Out front."

That was the text I received at 5:48 am the morning I was scheduled to fly back home from Dallas. Dredge and I had exchanged numbers during our last interaction, and I was happy to see he had remembered his promise to drive me back to the airport.

I was flying back with a co-worker, and I wanted him to experience the power of Dredge's stories firsthand. But for the first leg of our trip, Dredge was reluctant to talk.

I tried to steer the conversation in a direction that would naturally lend itself to one of Dredge's stories, but the guy didn't seem to want to bite.

"Ran into some crazy people down here," I said as an icebreaker. "Bet you've driven some real psychos around, huh?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Dredge responded, but he didn't bother to elaborate. Instead, he just laughed to himself and stared at the road ahead.

I tried a different tact.
"Dredge, tell my friend about the little old Chinese guy, he'll love that story."
"I don't want to get into that again, but ..." Dredge paused for a good 10 seconds or so before he asked that curious question:
"You consider yourself liberal or conservative?"

Crooks, robbers and petty thieves

After some convincing, Dredge launched into his most ridiculously unbelievable story yet.
"I used to be a cop, but I didn't like how I was being treated by the higher ups," was how the story began. According to Dredge, Dredge was a great cop with an uncanny ability for catching crooks -- real crooks, like robbers, not small-time petty thieves. When it came to catching bad guys, Dredge just seemed to know where to be and when to be there. Problem was, his talents weren't recognized because of all of the "bureaucratic bullshit" within the department.

So Dredge decided to take matters into his own hands. First, he quit the force. Then, he teamed up with this other former cop, somebody most of the other cops couldn't really stand and would never associate with Dredge. Together, these two robbed a total of eight banks using Dredge's master plan. Once they stockpiled enough cash, they headed down to the Dominican Republic to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

But the good times didn't last long. The way Dredge tells it, his "dumbass" partner made the mistake of trying to pass of a traveler's check at a strip club. The owner got suspicious, tried calling American Express to verify the check, and Dredge and his partner made a break for it. But the two were eventually tracked down by the strip club's bodyguards and taken to a local prison. Dredge described the prison as a "medieval dungeon," and he wound up spending several days in that dungeon.

During his stay, Dredge said he was beaten and threatened. He was sure he was going to be killed. Dredge described run-ins with two actual generals in the Dominican army who were also wardens at the prison: The good general and the bad general. The bad general came into Dredge's cell, which he was sharing with his partner and several other local criminals, looked him in the eye, said something in Spanish and walked away. One of Dredge's cellmates translated what was said, which amounted to: "I'm coming back later tonight and, when I do, I'm going to kill you." Later that night, the bad general did return. But right when he got to Dredge's cell, the good general came storming in and screamed something in Spanish at the man who had come to kill Dredge. Then, just like that, the bad general left.

Not only did this good general save Dredge from his impending death, he also offered his American prisoner some good old-fashioned Dominican Republic hospitality. After the standoff between the two generals, Dredge and his dumbass partner were taken to another room. The room was filled with women, and there was a TV showing porn. Here, the good general invited Dredge and his partner to watch while he took turns having sex with the various women in the room. I thought the move was a bit odd, but Dredge was grateful for the general's generosity.

After the good general finished servicing all of the women, Dredge and his partner were returned to their dungeon cell. Once he was back, the bad general returned and screamed some more unintelligible Spanish at Dredge. Once again, the Spanish was translated and, once again, it essentially amounted to a warning that the bad general would return to kill the American prisoners. But again, Dredge was granted a reprieve. Only this time Dredge wasn't saved by the good general, he was rescued by the FBI.

Although Dredge's Dominican Republic ordeal was over, his American one had just begun. According to Dredge, he was sentenced to 15 years but released early because of some events that took place in prison. Since that time, he'd started the cab company because "work was hard to come by." The next step in Dredge's Odyssey is deciding on a cover and getting his book published. Should this ever happen, he's guaranteed to sell at least one copy.

Afterward: Look, I know everything about Dredge's cop-turned-robber tale sounds like complete bullshit, and that's exactly what I thought initially. But right before Dredge dropped us off at the airport, he said, "I know you probably don't believe me, but you can look it up. There's a newspaper article, and it's all right there ... everything I just told you." The moment Dredge left and headed back to wherever it is that he goes on Wednesday mornings, I did a Google search with the words "Dredge (actual name)," "Cop," "Robbers" and "Dallas (actual city)." Just like the man said, there was three-page newspaper article dating back to the early 90s It confirmed everything that Dredge just told me. The only thing missing were the details on the good and bad generals down in the Dominican Republic dungeon.

Is it possible that this struggling cab driver took some obscure robbery story from two decades ago and memorized the details so he good pass it off to customers as his own? Sure, I guess that's a possibility. But I really don't think Dredge did that. I honestly believe that Dredge was just a bored cab driver who, in another life, had done some crazy shit and was dying to share those stories with anybody who would listen. From the moment I sat down in his cab, Dredge realized he'd found that person.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Dredge the Driver: Part 1

Photo courtesy of

“You consider yourself liberal or conservative?”
That’s the question Dredge*, my cab driver, asked as we -- my co-worker and I -- drove toward the Dallas** airport on the morning I was scheduled to fly back home.
“Liberal, I guess,” I answered.
“You wanna hear a story?” Dredge asked and then immediately reconsidered. “No, no. I shouldn’t tell you that. If I tell you that story, you’re gonna think badly of me. No, no, no. I don’t want to do that; I want you to come back.”
“You have to tell me the story now,” I said. And with that, Mike launched into the most amazingly unbelievable story of the many amazingly unbelievable stories he’d told me during my three-day Dallas work trip.

* As you've probably guessed by now, Dredge isn't the drivers real name. I changed it because, well, if you read this whole thing, you'll find out why I changed it.
** Dallas isn't the city where this actually took place, either.
Dredge became my regular means of transportation after he’d driven me to an open mic in the downtown area and back to my hotel – a good 15 miles away – for about a third of the cost I’d been quoted by other drivers. Dredge even watched my set at open mic, positioning himself in the back other room and smoking one of his many tiny cigars while I told a bunch of strangers my thoughts on middle-age, my recent marriage and nurses touching old mens' tips.

It wasn’t until we headed back to the hotel that I really got to experience Dredge’s penchant for storytelling. I was only half paying attention when Dredge said something along the lines of, “And she said, ‘No, I don’t want you to park the car and give us some privacy. You’re my driver, and I want you to drive around while I have sex with this man in the back of your car.’” From there, I was all ears, and Dredge regaled with tales ranging from his first date at age 17 (his friend set him up and didn’t tell him the girl had no nose until the last moment, which forced Dredge to spend an awkward day at Bush Gardens) to his many trips to Thailand (I used to go three times a year ...).

Dredge started the trip by talking about some of his regular customers: "I have this medical professional comes down a few times every year, and I always get him cocaine because I know some people. This guy goes off in the woods ... in these cabins somewhere and teaches these ... these holistic wellness retreats. The whole thing he's coked out of his f$cking mind. You believe that shit?" I'm wasn't sure if I did or not, but the stories were more entertaining than anything that had happened in Dallas up to that point, so I urged him to continue.

"I pick up these swingers one week; a married couple and one of their friends. The thing about these swingers is, they don't mind sharing, but they have rules, too. You can't do anything without any of them there," Dredge said as a lead-in to another story. "So one night I get a call to pick up these swingers, only it's just the girls -- not the husband. The wife says, 'Dredge, we're going to f$ck some men tonight,and I want you to tell my husband we're out shopping.' Well, they stay out shopping until one ... two in the morning and the husband's calling me every ten minutes wondering where they are."

"You should write a book about all this," I tell Dredge.
"I did. I'm just trying to pick out the right cover for it."
He's right. If the majority of people didn't judge a book by its cover, then publishers would be perfectly comfortable with nothing but the carefully thought-out title printed on the cover, beckoning prospective readers to trust their instincts. But we're visual creatures, even those of us who prefer the printed page to the television. I suggest a cover that shows Dredge standing proudly outside of the driver's side of his cab, arms crossed, while a pair of legs leading to high-heeled feet dangle out of the back-seat window. He says the cover needs to focus on panties somehow.

After a few stories about his passengers, Dredge started opening up about himself.
"I used to go to Thailand five time a year. I love Asian woman, but you gotta be careful where you go out there."
"Yeah, people always wind up picking up prostitutes that they think are women only to find out they're actually guys when it's too late, right?" I asked Dredge.
"That kinda shit only happens to at the tourist spots. I don't go to those places. No, where I go, you don't have to worry about all that. But the women where I go will only blow you. It's a cultural thing. They say American men are too big, and it stretches them out too much ... decreases the value of the product or something like that, you know?" Dredge says.
I didn't, but I urged Dredge to go on anyway.

Talk of Dredge's Thai conquests continues for a while but, at some point, I got a text, and I'm wasn't listening as close as I should've been to Dredge. But then something he says made me forget all about my phone.
"So now me and my buddy are surrounded by these guys that look like Chinese bikers ..."
"Chinese bikers?" I asked.
"Yeah, like the Sons of Anarchy, guys covered in tattoos and shit, but they're Chinese, you know?"
"Yeah, I'm listening," and I was.
"Well, these Chinese have me and my buddy surrounded. He's this short fat, little son of a bitch." Dredge himself is tall and lean, but he's got a bit of paunch, like most men his age who aren't marathon runners or cocaine aficionados.
"They were getting ready to attack us, and I thought we were goners."

Dredge went on to tell me about this little old Chinese man in a nice suit who was brandishing a cane. According to Dredge, this old man appeared out of no where and Dredge off all of the Chinese bikers before they could get to Dredge and his fat, little son of a bitch fried.
As Dredge put it: "Right before these thugs make their move, this guy jumps in the middle and starts doing all this Kung-Fu shit ... like, umm, like what's his name?"
"Like Jackie Chan?" I asked.
"Like Jackie Chan, exactly. He starts fighting these guys off just like it's a Jackie Chan movie. Then when he chased them all away, he comes up and starts screaming at us, 'You not supposed be here! You not supposed be here!' We spent the rest of our time buying this old guy drinks and thanking him for what he'd done ... and every single day we saw him, he was wearing the same suit."

I never got a chance to find out why the Chinese bikers were after Dredge in the first place, because he got so involved in telling the story that he overshot my exit by around five miles. We were en route to Houston by the time Dredge realized his mistake.
"Oh shit, man. I can't believe I did that. I got so into that exit, I completely missed you're exit. You're getting a flat rate, so you don't have to worry about this costing you any extra," Dredge said. I wasn't worried because this was a work trip, and they were the ones that had to pay for Dredge's mistakes.
"Shit man, if I hadn't of told you that story, I would've never missed your exit. Now, you're probably never going to use me again."

But it was specifically because of Dredge's story that I decided to use him to give me a ride back to the airport the next day. I figured the 45-minute cab ride would be the perfect opportunity for Dredge to showcase more of the stories that were slated to appear in his upcoming book -- the one that needs to have a picture of panties on the cover.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Best Way To Start A Marriage Is By Not Actually Getting Married ... Legally Speaking

My favorite part of the wedding process was getting the marriage license itself. Everything about a wedding is supposed to be beautiful and romantic, but when it comes to getting the actual marriage license, the one thing that actually means something, it's the exact opposite.

You have to go to an ugly government building, get through metal detectors (at least in Montgomery County) and answer the same types of questions -- questions about your family history and the types of sexually transmitted diseases you're bringing into the marriage -- you'd answer if you were donating blood.

With straight face during our interrogation process, the marriage-license lady asked us: "Are you two related in any way?"

"Of course we're not related. But like all normal couples, we role-play like we are from time to time. It's the same boring fantasy everybody reenacts: I'm the creepy uncle, and she's precocious niece, physically blossoming into a woman, a very sexual woman, before my very blood-shot, alcoholic eyes. She's always had a thing for her Uncle Pedro, and I am just a man, so society's disapproval is no match for our carnal desires. You know, that sort of thing."

I didn't say all that, but I did giggle enough during the questioning process that I'm sure the woman asking the questions had some concerns about how serious I was taking the whole marriage thing. But like most things, the joke wound up being on me because I lost our marriage license before I even had a chance to get our ministers to sign it.

Whaddaya wan a piece o' dis cake? Howabouta piece o' DEZ NUTs?!

If you're wondering what happens if you lose a marriage license before you get a chance to mail it out and get it validated, the process is pretty simple. All you have to is go back to the ugly government building where you got the initial license, pay another $50 and try to hang on to the document long enough to get it signed and mailed out before the expiration date, generally 60 days from the date the first document was issued.

On the day I chose to do this, I just happened to have my nine-week-old Boston Terrier, Judith Weiland, with me, and I didn't feel comfortable leaving her in the car while I ran this particular errand. So I decided to bring her with me to the Register of Wills. Judith hasn't really gotten the hang of the leash just yet, so her main method of transportation is this little black carrier bag that sits on my shoulder and looks like, well, it looks like a purse.

I didn't think it would be a big deal to stroll into the Register of Wills with a little dog sleeping peacefully in my little black purse. But I forgot all about the metal detector and the machine women have to put their purses through, the same machine airports use to inspect the contents of travelers' carry-on bags.

"Just go ahead and put your bag through the machine over there, sir." That's what the old, leathery Telly-Savalas-looking security guard told me to do when I stood before the checkpoint, unsure of how to proceed.
"But there's a dog in the bag," I said.
"What the hell do you have a dog in here for?" Telly asked, which wasn't an unreasonable question.
"Shes like a service dog ... like a dog that's in training to be a service dog ... like a dog that's going to be in training to be a service dog soon," I told him.
Telly paused for a moment before ordering me to "open up the bag."
Judith really came through for me here. As soon as I unzipped the bag, her undersized head popped up, and she licked Telly's nicotine-stained fingers until falling asleep mid-lick.
"That's just a goddamn puppy!" Again, Mr. Savalas was right on the money with his assessment, but he wasn't mad because his next words were "Just go on through."

I was pretty excited when I strolled into the marriage-licensing department. The only thought running through my mind was: "I can't believe I got away with that! I can't believe I got away with that! I can't believe ..." I may have even been skipping a little bit, too. So between the hitch in my gait and the purse on my shoulder, it would be easy for the people sitting in the marriage-licensing place to make a few assumptions about me.

The place was pretty empty at the time. There were two workers and a couple of men who were trying to get themselves a marriage license before Pennsylvania changed its mind. I went over to the unoccupied worker and explained my situation. While I was waiting, the gentlemen were presented with their marriage license, so I casually leaned over in their direction and said: "Just be careful not to lose that thing fellas. Cause if you do, you'll be in the same situation as me."

Both men -- a tall, older white man and a short, middle-aged Asian man -- laughed, and the white guy said, "Is that what happened to you ..." Then there was a brief pause, and I caught the man looking from me to my purse then back to me again. "You and your ... spouse?" was how he opted to word the question. Clearly this guy thought I was gay, too. And how could you blame him? Here I was skipping around the marriage-licensing center with my tiny dog and my big ole purse acting gayer than, well, gayer than a couple of gay dudes who just officially got gay married.

What I did next was completely unnecessary. Instead of just saying, "Yep, we just lost the damn thing," I went out of my way to make sure this guy knew the "spouse" in question wasn't of the same sex as me. "Actually, my W-I-F-E is the one who lost it. My W-I-F-E is always losing things. Crazy how bad my W-I-F-E is with this stuff. I love my W-I-F-E, but that's the one thing about my W-I-F-E ..." I'm pretty sure he tuned out around the third wife reference, but I kept going for good measure, and when I finally finished my heterosexual manifesto, there wasn't much left to say. So he went back to enjoying the special life moment with his spouse, and I went back to petting my purse.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Transcript of My Talk with a Comcast Rep: Volume 3 ('Footprints in the Sand')

Here is the is the true story of how the popular religious poem "Footprints in the Sand" came to be, as told to a Comcast rep:

Photo courtesy of

analyst Comcast Rep (CR) has entered room
CR: Hello Jared, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is CR. Please give me one moment to review your information.
Jared: My Issue: I cannot remember my wireless password, and I can't figure out how to reset it.
CR: I am glad to have you on chat today. How's your day, Jared?
Jared: Hello CR. It is a pleasure to converse with you.
CR: Amazing!
Jared: I arrived in Cape May at 3:30.

The admission ...

Jared: Thank you CR. One last question:
CR: It is done by by pushing the reset hole at the back of your modem using a tip of a pen or paperclip for more than 15 seconds.
CR: The default password is listed on the sticker of the modem/router labeled as Network Key.
CR: Sure, go ahead for your question.
Jared: Do you believe in God?
CR: Perfectly and 100%, yes.
Jared: Good to hear. Did you ever hear the story about Jesus walking along the beach with a man ... and the two sets of footprints
Jared: ?
CR: Yes, I have heared of that story.
CR: Why are you asking?
Jared: That story is based on my life experience, CR. In a way, I was that man on the beach ...
Jared: I rarely tell anyone this, because it makes me seem like a crazy old man but ...
CR: Amazing! Each one of us has our downfall but however we deny God like Peter did, He won't care as His love for us is unconditional, Jared.
Jared: back when I was young, I suffered from Tuberculosis and during a feverish period where the doctor's feared they would lose me, I had that dream ....
Jared: So I went to the Church with my story ...
Jared: Of course, they asked if I'd like to be recognized, but I declined. You see, I love my anonymity
CR: I am so overwhelmed that I have encountered you today as my customer with my same belief and faith.
Jared: Now, every so often, I share the origin's of the Jesus beach walk with a random stranger because these are not just stories that we tell ourselves to stay strong, they are real events that actually happened
CR: And those stories encourages us all.
Jared: Now I must rest, CR. For I am very old and tired. Thank you for helping me, my child
CR: Thank you for sharing it with me.
CR: You're most welcome! I am so much happy and grateful to have your issue resolved today! I hope I made you a very satisfied customer today. Have I completely resolved your issues today?
Jared: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Good day
Jared: Yes you have, CR. Yes, you have.
Type Here: 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Flying Coach Is For First-Class Losers

I got to sit in the First Class section during my last flight. I'm still not sure exactly why or how it happened, because I didn't pay any extra money to upgrade. One minute, I'm sitting in Coach arguing with a man who claims I'm sitting in his seat, the middle one. The next minute, the flight attendant is saying to me that "It would help if you looked at the right ticket." I had been looking at the ticket for my connecting flight. See, that's how far removed I was from flying First Class. I was willing to board multiple planes and tack on several hours to my trip just to get a cheaper flight.

When the flight attendant looked at my correct ticket and registered where my seat was located, her eyes got really big, then she squinted to make sure she was reading it correctly. Finally, in a cold, condescending tone she said, "You're in First Class, sir. Of course, you don't have to sit in First Class. If you'd prefer ..." But I was on my feet before she could finish. I gave a wave to the common folk in Coach and made my to the front of the plan, temporarily cured of the terrible hangover that was settling in after my three-day bender in New Orleans.

I wish I'd taken a picture of my seatmate's reaction when I maneuvered around his knees (he didn't have to reposition his body a single inch) and took my spacious window seat.

"What the hell is he doing up here? I pay an exorbitant amount of money so I don't have to sit with these types of people," his look said. He was justified in being upset about having to sit next to me. Out of all the people in flying First Class that day, I can virtually guarantee I smelled the worst. The last time I'd showered was Thursday, the night before I'd left for Louisiana. I was wearing the same clothes I'd worn the night before, which happened to be the same clothes I'd worn the entire previous day.

On the contrary, my seatmate was smartly dressed in a elegant yet sporty navy blue suit. Throughout the flight, he alternated between shifting around uncomfortably and shaking his head.

In Coach, you wait anxiously all flight for that drink cart to make its way to your seat. In First Class, there a continuous stream of amenities the valued passengers are presented with right up until wheel-down time. Before I even had a chance to buckle my diamond-encrusted safety belt, I had a drink in my hand. I made it a point to take advantage of every perk that came my way ... even if I didn't know what it was. Throughout the course of a two-hour flight, I enjoyed several drinks, a healthy yet satisfying complimentary snack box and a piping hot washcloth that was delivered via a pair of metal tongs.

I wasn't sure what the washcloth was for so I let my instincts take over and started wiping my greasy, unwashed face with the wet cloth. That's when my seatmate spoke for the first time.
"You know, you're supposed to use that for your hands," sporty suit said in a nasally voice.
"I didn't end up in First Class by doing things the way you're supposed to them, Pal," I shot back, and rubbed my face again for emphasis.
"Touché," the man responded and began laughing in manner that was eerily similar to the laugh that followed Dr. Evil's request for One MILLION DOLLARS in Austin Powers.
For the remainder of the flight, sporty suit gave me investment advice he usually reserved for "his closest confidants."

OK, that last part didn't happen. Throughout the duration of the flight, my seatmate only communicated via grunts, eye rolls and head shakes. But the rest of this post is 100% accurate, and I even have this photo of my complimentary First-Class Snack Box to prove it:

My girlfriend tried several times to dispose of the evidence, but I kept pulling it out of the trash until I snapped this photo.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How To Start A Bar Fight In Frederick, Maryland Without Getting Hurt

According to Wikipedia, Frederick, Maryland, has a population of 66,382 people, and I'd say about 66,363 of those people are prepared to fight at any given moment.

At least that's been my experience in Frederick.

Photo courtesy of

Generally, it's not OK to make assumptions about an entire town based on a single experience ... but in this case, I think it's warranted, and I hope you do too.

One weekend, my friend Justin took me and a bunch of other friends down to Frederick so we could see firsthand how great his hometown really was. On our first night in Frederick, we went to a place called the Old Town Tavern. It seemed like a pretty standard bar to me, but online reviewer Jimbo Morrison IV, a prolific reviewer of Frederick hot spots and a man whose Google+ photo shows him brandishing a shotgun, had these disparaging comments about the establishment: "worst wings ever.... filthy establishment... always packed with underage children, mostly girls looking for a free drink. constantly there are patrons looking for a fight. i would give it 1 star but the staff is really friendly. good place to go pick up loose women..."

Had I read Morrison IV's review, I may have acted differently. But I didn't. So after a few beers, I came up with an idea on how to make the night more interesting. My plan was simple: We were going to get into a fight, but not with the other patrons of the Old Town Tavern. We were going to get into a fight with each other. More specifically, my friend Dan was going to punch me in the face, and I was going to go down hard.

Because my friends were also drinking the way 23-year-old white males tend to drink, they thought the plan was great. I knew the success of this stunt rested entirely on our commitment to following through with everything; we couldn't afford to half-ass this one. I sensed Dan, the main player, seemed a bit apprehensive about the plan, so I offered a little pep talk: "Look, you've got to hit me here. You can't hold back, either," I told Dan. "There had to be a few times you felt like punching me before, just draw on that and hit me like you f#cking mean it."

To his credit, Dan actually hit me. The moment Dan's right hand connected squarely with the left side of my face, I threw my body backward in the direction of the empty chairs behind me with complete abandon. There was a lot of noise, and a bunch of things got knocked over, so we definitely got everyone's attention. But the patrons of the Old Town Tavern didn't react quite the way I expected. Like most of my ideas, I hadn't really thought about what would happen after the fact.

When Morrison IV said "constantly there are patrons looking for a fight," he wasn't exaggerating. The moment Dan's fist connected with my face, virtually every guy in the place followed suit.
Our fake fight was the catalyst for a chain reaction, and almost instantly everyone in the entire bar was throwing punches.

It was just like what happens when you're at a place where there's lots of people and there's loud music, and you just know people want to dance but, for some reason, people aren't dancing. Then, one brave couple heads out to the dance floor, and the next thing you know the place is dancing. It was just like that only violent and dangerous and not fun at all.

In a matter of seconds, the entire bar was fighting; it was the epitome of a bar fight. The only thing I can compare it to is a fight scene in "Roadhouse." I didn't stick around to try and clear up the misunderstanding and let the rest of the participants know what really happened. While the rest of the Old Town Tavern beat the shit out of each other, my friends and I went out the front door unnoticed. You'd think at least one person would see Dan and me sneaking out together and think, "Wait a minute ... why are the two guys who started this wonderful bar fight leaving together ... and why are they laughing like a bunch of schoolgirls?" But no one did.

Once we made it out of there, we found a nice spot that a was safe distance from the action and watched the surreal scene -- a scene we were responsible for creating -- play out. Eventually, order was restored to the Old Town Tavern when a bunch of cop cars showed up, placed the individuals who they felt were most responsible in cuffs and drove away. Little did Frederick's finest know, the real instigators were less than 100 yards away watching the whole thing.

Looking back on the Frederick Fight, I'm not sure what I expected to happen. Dan would punch me in the face, the bouncers would rush over to toss us out and I'd yell out "It was an act! We staged the whole thing; we're actually friends" the moment before they got their burly arms around our necks. The bouncers would stop, there would be a tense moment where I wouldn't know how things would got, then the bouncers would burst out laughing. "That was hilarious," one of the bouncers would say. "You should be a comedian!" the other would add. Then, they'd would usher my friends and me off to some makeshift VIP section where we'd drink free the rest of the night.

Well, maybe not exactly like that. But I did expect to be able to talk my way out of the situation, and I certainly didn't expect Dan's punch to lead to the arrest of several Frederick residents. Do I feel bad people wound up being taken away in cop cars? Absolutely not. Look, if you're the kind of person who starts throwing punches just because you see other people doing it, chances are you're going to spend a lot of time in the back of a cop car or in an octagon or both.

I do feel bad for anyone who was simply looking to "pick up some loose women" and wound up getting slugged in the process. But even if Dan and I didn't start a fake fight, chance are something would've eventually happened because, as Morrison IV put it, "constantly there are patrons looking for a fight." And if based on his detailed reviews of everything in the town from Old Town to Arby's, that man knows Frederick.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Obligatory Proposal Story: Part 1

"How did you do it?"

More often than not, that's the question my girlfriend* and I are asked after we let someone know that we're getting married. People want to know how the proposal went down because they're expecting this big, elaborate story. If that's what a proposal's supposed to be, then I failed miserably.

Here's the short(er) version: After living together for five-plus years (dating for six), Liz and I discussed the possibility of getting married in a very pragmatic way. On the drive back from a week's stay in Atlantic City, I remember broaching the subject with: "So, we should probably look into getting married at some point, huh?"
"I guess we could do that," was Liz's overjoyed response.

The ring purchase

That was in August of 2012. Following the mutual declaration of our deep-seated desire to express our undying love for one another through the institution of marriage, I set about getting a ring. I got the circle part or, as those in the jewelry industry call it, the setting, from this hippie place in Seattle that makes custom-made jewelry (Liz had bookmarked the website). But the diamond was purchased from a family friend, a man I'll call "Vito the Bear" (I wouldn't do a Google Search with those terms).

Vito is this adorable little elderly Italian man. His face has the type of orang-ish hue that's only ever achieved with the help of a spray-tan bottle. It made me wonder if Vito tanned his entire body for consistency or if he simply sprayed the face to exude a healthy and youthful appearance for sales purposes.

Vito the Bear, a couple of moms, a life-saving aunt and me.

By the time I'd gotten the setting made, taken several trips up to New York to check out Vito the Bear's diamonds and picked out the right one, it was March. All I had left to do was get Vito to put his beautiful diamond in the hippie setting. So one Friday night I told Liz I had a show somewhere in the Poconos and I'd be staying the night at the hotel the booker had offered. Instead, I stayed at my friend Shawn's in the Bronx, shot over to Manhattan to meet Vito in the morning and was home by two in the afternoon.

The carefully orchestrated proposal

I didn't plan on proposing right away; I actually had a semi-formed plan set for later that week involving a Scott Weiland concert and fondue. But as soon as I got home, I felt like I needed to get rid of the ring. Plus, due to my carelessness, Liz had found out about Vito the Bear and knew I'd been working on getting a ring. I figured any type of scheduled plans I made would be a dead giveaway that the proposal was coming, so I scrapped the idea of the Scott Weiland concert cover-up. Instead, I opted to go with what I thought was the element of surprise.

On some random Saturday afternoon in March, I took the ring out of its fancy box and tied it around my dog Luna's collar with the chocolate ribbon that had been wrapped around everything. I remember sitting in my car, tying the ribbon and saying out loud to Luna: "I really need you to step up here. This is big ... this is really big." Luna responded by licking my nose repeatedly, which I took as her way of letting me know she understood the importance of our mission.

She thought the mission was curling up in the bed.

With my heart beating rapidly and Luna in my arms, I marched up the stairs and headed toward our bedroom. Liz had called me several times on my way home, and she sounded good and pissed about the fact that I wasn't home yet. She'd also worked the previous night and gotten around four hours of sleep. The best way to tame an angry, sleep-deprived girlfriend was with an engagement ring ... or so I thought.

When I walked into our room, Liz was getting ready for her cousin's surprise birthday party, a party we were both going to later that night. I handed her the dog and said something like, "Luna has something she wants to show you." Liz immediately put Luna down on the bed and went back to getting ready.
Unfazed, I picked the dog back up and handed her back to Liz, insisting, "Luna really has something she needed to show you."
"What is it Jar.." she started, but then she saw the ring. Liz's first words were: "Really? You're doing this now?"

That sounds bad, but the involuntary noise she made prior to that question was even worse.
"Ohhh" is a sound that means vastly different things depending on the pitch of the person making the noise. If the person's voice goes up when the "Ohhh" sound is emitted, it generally means that person is surprised, excited and even possibly overjoyed. But if the person's voice drops down an octave, then it's normally meant to convey annoyance or outright disappointment. Liz's voice sounded like it dropped several octaves when she made that initial "Ohhh" noise.

She did agree to marry me -- on the condition that I didn't tell anyone about the engagement during her cousin's party. To be fair, Liz knew all along that I'd been at Vito's picking up the ring. She'd checked out all of the firehouses in the area where I was supposedly performing and discovered there were no comedy shows even remotely close to that area. So she was annoyed that my lies weren't more carefully planned out and exhausted from working a 12-hour shift and dealing with needy patients. On top of all that, because of the party, she didn't have the proper amount to enjoy the moment and call up every person she's ever had contact with since she was seven, which I believe is a requirement of the engagement process.

She did love the ring, though. And because the company that made it encourages customers to share their proposal stories, I felt like I needed to contribute something. But the actual proposal story just wouldn't do.


* I've been avoiding the word fiance at all costs for a number of reasons, many of which I discuss in detail here in this video.