Valium Vickie

Thursday, October 16, 2014

13 Things I Saw At The 2014 Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon

As part of my ongoing effort to keep my aging body from completely going to shit, I ran another half-marathon. The half-marathon or, more specifically the almost 21K, is a unique run in that it's long enough to be challenging and make people think you're an idiot for doing it, but not quite long enough to really impress anybody.

This marks the second time I willingly paid money to wake up ridiculously early on a weekend (4 a.m.), take a shuttle to some remote location and run 13 miles with several thousand strangers. If you remember, last year I ran the Philadelphia Rock 'N' Roll Half-Marathon -- and bitched about the signs spectators held. The fine folks over at Philly Sports Live were even kind enough to post my musings on their website. In keeping with the tradition of overanalyzing what I witnessed while running a bunch of miles, here are 13 things I noticed at this year's Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half-Marathon (one for each mile, get it?).

Four losers who were drunk by 10 a.m.

There were these things ...

1. A pair of women in giant, neon-yellow tutus. These two gals ran the race together, but it was by choice -- not because they were attached to one another via some strange tether device. The tutus were loud and obnoxious, the type of outfit you'd expect to see a six year old wearing. But these ladies really owned the 80s ballerina look (a look that was a lot more aesthetically pleasing than the middle-aged male runners in the Hooters' waitress shorts). Lucky for me, I saw these girls before the race started and again, much later, as they were crossing the finish line. The stark contrast between these two pre- and post-race reminded me of the difference between the festive ladies you see at the start of bar-crawl events like the Erin Express -- and the ones you saw after a full day of drinking. Before the half marathon, these two quirky dames were brimming over with excitement, but by the time they made it to the finish line, they were sweat-covered and disoriented, their tutus were askew, and they were desperately looking for a spot to puke or piss or both.

2. A couple with matching tattoos who were tethered together. The tattoos, which were located on the back left shoulder-blade of both members of this power couple, seemed to be some type of Celtic knotwork. As for the tether, it looked like a two-sided lasso, and it was made of some type of super-strong rubbery material. A lasso loop encircled each person's waist, and there was about four feet of slack between the couple.

Just to clarify, the tethered couple wasn't a blind person and his/her guide. There were a number of people with vision impairments who ran the race connected to a guide. The "disabled" runners started the race several minutes before the rest of pack. This couple, on the other hand, were directly in front of me when the race started. They weren't impaired or disabled, they were simply annoying. Life for these two must be like some type of extended version of a three-legged race. They probably even go to the bathroom in pairs; while one member excretes, the other offers words of encouragement, "You can do it, baby! Keep pushing!" I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn these two winners had their pubic hair shaved into matching designs.

3. A woman in jean shorts and a gypsy-looking shirt. To be fair, I didn't see whether this woman was actually wearing a bib. For all I know, she could've just been somebody under the influence of various mind-altering substances who confused the group of people running an organized road race with a panicked mob running to avoid some unspeakable fate. But chances are, she was just a runner whose only clean clothes come race day were the jean shorts and the gypsy shirt. I also imagine the chafing from running 13 miles in jean shorts must've been quite painful.

4. A grizzled, older man in jean shorts and a plain, worn-in Tee-shirt (the kind with single pocket over the left breast). I wasn't worried about this guy's chafing issues because he looked like the type of guy who doesn't feel pain or, if he does, he doesn't dare show it because that's what men do. This guy looked like he'd been working construction since he was 8 years old, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ran right past the finish line and right to his job site where he proceeded to put in a 10-hour shift.

And these things ...

5. A clever use of trash bags. Because the race started so early (7 a.m. official start time), dressing correctly posed a bit of a problem. If you didn't wear a few layers, you'd spend that interminable period before the race starts freezing your ass off and cursing yourself for wasting a perfectly good Sunday. If, however, you overdressed, you'd be forced to either discard your extra clothing along the streets of Alexandria* or sweat through the multiple layers like a boxer trying to make weight. I did the latter. But a bunch of folks came up with a very effective workaround to the clothing dilema. Instead of piling on extra layers of their own clothing, a number of people wore heavy trash bags (think Hefty industrial strength) to keep warm before the run -- and simply peeled the bags off and tossed them in the street when their blood was pumping and they were warm enough to run in normal running gear. And get this: It wasn't littering. During a race, it's perfectly reasonable for people to throw random shit -- from trash bags to empty water cups to soiled underwear -- right in the middle of the course because there's a whole crop of big-hearted volunteers who clean everything up when the race is over.

6. Annoyed rich people. According to the infallible website Wikipedia, Alexandria is the highest income independent city in Virginia. So it's safe to say there are a lot of rich people in Alexandria. And if there's one thing I know about rich people, it's this: Rich people hate being inconvenienced. When wealthy folks have stuff to do, they better damn well be able to those things exactly how they'd like. So when a major artery (even if it is only a small part of that major artery) of the highest income independent city in Virginia is shut down so people can jog, you're bound to get some pushback from the noble aristocrats who run the place. During the run, I noticed plenty of head shaking from elegantly dressed individuals in luxury automobiles.

At one point, I actually saw a woman in a fur coat gesturing wildly to a policeman. She kept pointing to the other side of the street -- a street she couldn't cross because of the race. Here's what I imagine she was saying: "What's the meaning of all this? A race. Surely, you must be joking. My dear boy, I just haven't the time for this today. I'm to meet Miranda for coffee, and I've only a small window to discuss ... I beg your pardon? Do you realize with whom your are speaking? I pay your salary you insipid little ... Is that so? Perhaps you know Bernard Davenport, a very prominent attorney who just happens to be my husband. You don't? Well, my dear boy, you'll know him soon enough." (A sweat-covered trash bag suddenly lands on top of the woman's head.)

7. The most polite, non-annoying signs I've ever seen at a race. Thankfully, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon crowd had no desire to stand around holding up the clever, cutesy, "look-at-me-dear-Christ-please-look-at-me type of signs the folks at the Philadelphia half-marathon were so fond of. Unless I missed it, there wasn't one "Worst Parade Ever" sign along the 13-mile course. Instead, the few signs I did say things like, "You Can Do It Mommy!" or "We're Proud Of You Pop-Pop!" Although it would've been nice to have seen just one "Run To Save Your Feet, Diabetic Karen!" even a cynical prick like me couldn't find a way to get annoyed with the innocuous motivational messages on display.

8. A healthy disregard for Porta-potties. Most of the races I've done are littered with Porta-potties along the course route, and there are always deep lines of desperate runners waiting to use these makeshift toilets. But that wasn't the case at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. Throughout the race, there was a steady stream (pun intended) of people ducking off to or returning from some secluded private bathroom. Generally, these people would take cover off in the many patches of woods or bushes along the way. Some, however, simply stepped a few places away from the main path and relieved themselves in plain sight. I blame the race organizers for encouraging public urination. See, at the starting line, there were a total of three Porta-potties set up to accommodate the bathroom needs of the nearly three thousand bladders that were filled with water, Gatorade, Vitamin water, coffee and whatever other fluids people typically consume to hydrate for a 13-mile run.

9. Dogs, lots and lots of dogs. There were shepherds and huskies and poodles and Labs, and lots and lots of mutts. Unfortunately, I didn't spot any Boston Terriers. (My Boston, Judith Weiland Bilski, was in Alexandria, but she had to spend the race in our hotel room.) If I had to guess, I put the human to dog ratio at around five to one. Overall, Alexandria seems like a very dog-friendly city. In fact, it was easier to find a dog accessory store than an authentic Italian restaurant in the Old Town section of Alexandria.

Just a couple of buds in a hotel room watching dog porn together ...

And these things

10. A life-size Robert Pattison cutout with a phrase like 'Run Like You Sparkle' printed on it. For those who don't know him, Robert Pattison is an actor best-known for his role in the 2007 TV Movie "The Bad Mother's Handbook," where he plays the "lovable, yet nerdy" teenager Daniel Gale.

Photo courtesy of Cinemablend

11. An enormous blow-up of cutout of some dude's head -- a head that bore a striking resemblance to Patton Oswalt's. This horrific thing popped up right around the 8-mile mark. Most of the time, when I see a picture of myself I'm like, "Jesus, is that how I look?" I generally have some type of picture in my mind of how I think I look, and photographic evidence generally does little to support that image. So after running eight miles, the last thing I'd want to see is a giant, magnified image of my stupid face with all my blotches and pores and wrinkles fully exposed. But who knows, maybe the giant head gave the Patton lookalike the boost he needed to win his age group.

12. The return of the fanny pack. Most serious runners don't care much about their appearance. In fact, an alarming number of male runners in this run wore outfits that closely resembled the uniform of a Hooters' waitress. So it's no surprise many runners had no problem donning a fanny pack/utility belt during the race. The simple version of this accessory gives people a main compartment for valuables (IDs, cash and/or credit cards, keys, etc.) and a few holders for water bottles or human growth hormone cocktails. The more elaborate packs, however, seemed to hold enough supplies to sustain a person for several weeks if that person ever found himself lost and alone in the wilderness.

13. A breathtaking sunrise. The start of the race coincided perfectly with the start of the day. The sunrise really was spectacular, and I wasn't the only who felt this way. There were plenty of runners who stopped running and stepped off the course to snap a photo with their phones -- and this sunrise took place at the very start of the race. Rather than trying to use my limited command of the language to describe the mist rising up from the Potomac or the apocalyptic orange sky, here's a picture from a blog about the race.

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Eats Treats

*At the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, the discarded clothing is donated to the city's homeless. This doesn't happen at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon because, according to the rich woman in No. 6, there are zero homeless people in Alexandria, VA.

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.