Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Looking back, part deux

A couple of weeks ago the circus was in town and my kids were pumped! They love the circus. They love it so much that their grandmother bought front row seats for everyone. It was sick, we were actually part of the show and everything. Crazy experience.

But that is not what I am writing about today, well not being in that circus. My wife jokingly made the statement that I was in a circus once so I had to tell the story.

One year when I was a young child, some crappy half ass circus came to my home town. My parents took my brother and I to go see it, which was great of them to do that but it just sparked a memory that still gives me nightmares. You see I am several years younger than my brother so I was more or less his entertainment until I was a little older.

After we got home from this festival of freaks my brother thought it was a good idea to play circus. What part of the circus you ask? No, not the lion tamers, although that would have been funny. Nope, not the high wire walkers. Not even the clowns. He wanted to be the acrobats. Yeah, the flying Sweezey brothers, or should I say brother, as in singular, as in one, as in me!

So acrobats fly through the air, and they need something to “launch” them. What do they use? They use a see saw. So we are of to make a see saw, against my will. Sadly all we can find is a 10 foot 2x12 and a cinder block. Oh darn, can’t make the see saw right? WRONG! We used the damn cinder block and 2x12. A CINDER BLOCK! As in a square! As in flat on four sides! As in this is going to hurt.

So the plan is I am going to stand on the board and he is going to jump on the other end propelling me skyward where I am instructed to do a back flip and land on my feet. You’re kidding me right? He was far from kidding. I ask him how come I have to be the one to do the back-flip. Wanna guess what the answer was? Yeah, “because I said so”.

So we set up what I like to call the cardiac arrest starter kit. Fortunately for me, the end I was not standing on was way too high in the air for my oh so loving brother to jump on. Dang, well we tried, right? Wrong. Now we are on a mission to find some sort of a platform for him to jump from. This is not looking good for the home team at all at this point.

So I hear him call for me and he says he has found something. Please god, let it be a bucket or something like that. Well it was something like that, sort of. He found a 55 gallon drum that my grandmother had. Do I at least get a final request?

So he rolls the barrel over to the area where the future caulk outline will be. And it is way taller than the end of the board, plenty of room for him to hit terminal velocity before I am hurled towards the clouds.

In a last ditch effort to try to keep all of my body parts as they should be I tell him that we are way to close to the concrete and that we should probably at least move the set up. He tells me that if I do it right I wont even come close to the concrete. No pressure there.

The zero hour has arrived and the Governor didn’t call with my stay of execution so I guess I have to face the music. There I am standing on this board which is laying over a cinder block with my older brother standing on the other end atop a 55 gallon drum ready to put my ass into orbit. I must have looked like Greg Louganis but I just remember seeing his feet leap off of the drum and then I just remember having a really bad head ache and my brother telling me “You didn’t do it right, get up and lets do it again”. I beleve that was the first time I ever told someone FUCK YOU!

Looking back…

You know, I was telling some stories with some friends the other night and I got to realizing that it really is amazing that I turned out as well as I did and that I am still alive for that matter. Not that I lived in a war zone or anything like that, that would be understandable. I am just talking about the dumb shit me and my friends have done through the years.

We go to talking about things that we did as children that we would never let our children do and I had so many stories that I started to write them down. I don’t know how many of them I will get to tonight but there could be a series of stories to follow.

One of the first dumb things I can remember is making the slip and slide almighty. We, like just about every kid, had a slip and slide growing up. But we had a pretty good sized yard and we lived on a hill. It did not take long to realize that this store bought slip and slide was not going to cut it. Being either adventurous, or creative, or maybe we were just fucking stupid, my brother and I remembered seeing a large roll of plastic sheeting that my father had in the basement for god only knows what reason. Slip and slide is a sheet of plastic, we got a whole roll of that stuff, lets make a better one! Yeah, first mistake. So we roll this plastic sheeting just about the length of the front yard, get out the water hose and let the good times roll. After several runs it soon came to our attention that this was no where near fast enough. When it hit me, I remember washing the car with some laundry detergent, it is really slippery. Mistake numero dos. At that age I had know idea what the words “use sparingly” meant. Hell, I am pretty sure I didn’t know “sparingly” was a word. So we COVERED the plastic with powered tide laundry detergent. Crash Test Dummy #1 is up and will be at full speed in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Here we go! Oh man this is much better. Oh hell, that fence is coming up fas… BAM! Shit, that hurt. We need to move the slip and slide back. Only problem is that we cut the plastic sheeting to length and if we move it back, it will go over the driveway that splits the front yard. Well, it’s not like we are going to land on the drive way we will simply be sliding OVER it. Ewww, strike three. We strategically place the slip and slide of death in the middle of the yard. Equal running and stopping room. Seems that we have drawn a crowd of neighborhood kids by this time. Never letting an audience get in the way of progress my brother decided that we have worked enough of the kinks out and he wanted to see if he could hit mach 1 himself. He starts to haul ass down the hill and just about the time he is going to dive on the slip and slide one of the neighbor kids start to try to jump over it. Public Safety Announcement, if you are running at full speed onto a piece of wet, soapy sheet of plastic, don’t try to stop. Once you have committed to the act, just follow it through to the end no matter what. In an effort to avoid doing his best impression of Cornelius Bennett hitting Steve Beuerlein, my brother tried to stop. Remember that part about sliding over the drive way? Yeah, that didn’t even come close to happening. He started to slide, tried to stop, ended up off the slip and slide, onto the drive way and catching traction and breaking his ankle. The funny part of the story is, he told me not to tell mom. Like she’s not going to thing something is up when you are crawling around the house with your ankle looking like a purple and black watermelon? Pretty sure she wont have to be Columbo to figure that one out. But what in the hell were we thinking? This isn’t dangerous enough! We need more trips to the ER. Nothing says summer like plaster of paris.

More stories to follow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Memphis the conclusion (long)

The next morning we rally the troops and get together for breakfast, after which we head out to Graceland. I think it was all of 6 degrees that day. It was so freaking cold, but that's ok. The liquid heat (bloody marys) with breakfast made it a little easier to deal with. So we get to Graceland and check out the planes, car museum and gift shops while we are waiting for our tour time. Elvis was a pimp, home boy had a queen sized bed with a seat belt in one of his planes. Can you say Superfreak? He also had a gold sink, to each his own. After meandering around we made our way to the line where the little bus takes you from the gift shop to the actual house. Even though it was outside they had some massive heaters hanging over head so that wasn't so bad. The little bus comes and people get off and we get on. We make the way to the front door and get off the bus. Ok, this sucks, now I am shivering like a Chihuahua trying to shit out a peach seed. They don't let you in the house until the tour begins. So we are still waiting outside. After several minutes they let the group in the house and we have to all cram into the entry way. Must have been 60 of us in a 12 x 12 entry way. Here we have to wait for our tour guide to get there and tell us about the place, where we can and can't go and so on. It is about this time that my eyes started to burn and water and my arms started to frail around uncontrollably. OH MY GOD, what is that smell? Oh hell no, some one farted. Apparently they must have been eating boiled eggs for weeks. As I try to control my convulsion, people are starting to notice what I notice. But I am doing everything I can to keep from having a seizer. I am damn near in the middle of this packed entry and trying like hell to get to the door. At which point I notice my buddy with the biggest shit eating grin on his face. I also notice that people are looking at ME. Hey wait a minute, I didn't just shit on myself and I don't want them to think I did. Sorry homes but your about to get dimed out big time. I look at my friend and ask him if he needs to wipe. He got pissed! Dude, you're the one who is rotting from the inside out. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, START THE FUCKING TOUR I NEED FRESH AIR!!! Well my pleas must have been heard because the group begins to move. After a bit my buddy pulls me aside and asked me why I did that. Why did I dime you out? Because I was struggling to breathe and we had been out side for at least a half hour, you could not have deflated out there? Some guys like to look at girls, some guys like to play sports, some guys like to go fast, my friend gets off on polluting buildings with his ass. It's like his thing, the thinks it's funny. He does this kind of shit all the time, baggage claim, in cabs, waiting for our table at dinner. Any where that is confined. How does this happen to me? So anyway, we begin the tour and we are going through various parts of the house and let me tell you, that is one tacky place. As Vic Henley said, even Purto Ricans were coming out of there saying "Dere is sum tacky stuff in dere man". Just as an FYI, they don't let you upstairs to see the King's "throne" where he died. No idea why, just thought it would be neat to see the final resting place, so to speak. So we are checking out all memorabilia that is around from movies, famous concerts, and his hobbies. After this it leads up to the pool where Elvis is supposedly buried. Granted it is sad, and I can see how someone, oh say my parents age would be upset (maybe) but for these mid thirties people to be so upset they are crying like they are going to need counseling after this is unreal. It would be different if they, I dunno, actually knew or ever even met the guy. But these people were upset and PISSED OFF, like I killed him or something. About this time the bus to take us back, all the way across the street *whatever* was there and I think we were all pretty much ready to go. Hop back on the bus, head to the car and bid one final farewell to Graceland.
We are now on the prowl for something that is not deep fried with peanut butter and bananas on it. We end up back on Beale Street and ironically end up at a club called "Elvis Presleys". To my amazement I had some of the best seafood gumbo that I have ever had there… in Memphis… TENNEESSEE. No where near the ocean. But it was good. So the group eats and does some shopping, and makes our way back to our respective hotels to get prepared for that night life. On this particular night we went to B.B. Kings, which I freaking love that club, to watch Preston Shannon play. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you this man is quite possibly one of the most talented blues artists I have ever seen. Amazing voice, incredible guitarist and has one hell of a band. They were tight the whole night. And you could just tell that his songs where written from the heart. Plus he would take request at the end of the night and play blues versions of some songs. They played a rendition of Prince's "Purple Rain" that was AMAZING. He also did a version of Rick James' "Mary Jane" that was simply incredible. Do a Google search for him and buy his CDs if you like the blues. He is not called "Mr. Beale St." for nothing. So that night was spent with wine (more like tequila), women and song. It was just a really good evening out with some quality entertainment.
New Years Eve morning, ok more like middle of the day. We wake up and make/receive various calls from people in the group and decide to get together for something to eat and pretty much lay low in anticipation of the upcoming evening. We make our way to the Blues City Café for some food and entertainment of various sorts. Side note again, if you are in Memphis this place has pretty good ribs. As we were leaving the café, I noticed that my foot was cold. Not my feet, just one foot, my right one. That's kind of odd. Look down and see that my shoe has decided to come apart. Lovely, it's not like I pack a tons of shoes when I travel. We go back to the hotel and find out where a mall is in the area and make our way to it. Since it is New Years Eve most of the places are closing early so we got to haul. We end up taking the VERY scenic route. Get to a store find a pair of shoes that I like in my size literally as the store was closing. Actually I think they were closing when we walked in but they were cool about it. Crisis averted. Back to the hotel we go to get ready for the party at the Hard Rock Café.
So it is late in the afternoon/early evening and I get the strange sensation to look out the window of our hotel room. Well, well, well, looks what we have here, nope not snow, sleet and a lot of it. Great, I guess the cabbie was right, it don't snow in Memphis but it sure as hell gets sleet. So we go down stairs and get something to eat and strike up conversations with various members of the hotel staff. Basically I was trying to find out if they would salt the roads or what. I get a mixture of responses and figure one way or another we will make it. Back up to our rooms, shower and get dressed for the evening. We make our way down to the lobby and there is a cabbie hanging out and shooting the shit with one of the guys at the front desk. We ask him if he is waiting on someone of if he is available. He tells us that he is available but he is probably the only one available because of the weather. Now it has started to snow, really snow not some light dusting. He ask us how many, and we told him. He looks at us and says "twenty-five buck", to which I replied "for what?!" He says to take us to the Hard Rock, are you fucking high? Twenty-five dollars to go roughly five miles? Fuck you very much. Fortunately we made friends with a cab driver there who gave us his card with his person cell number on it and said he would be our driver anywhere/anytime. We call him and he does not answer so we leave a message and ask him to call us back at the hotel. Ten minutes passes, no call, fifteen minutes, no call, twenty minutes … "oh fuck him, where is the phone book" so we call a handful of companies hoping that at least one would show up and make our way back to the lobby, just so happens that the first guy has left so I guess some sucker fell for it. About this time another cab pulls up and says he can take us, good deal. We all pile our happy asses into the cab and make our way to Beale. This guy was talkative and to be honest a little to interested in what we had going on, none the less. We tell him what the first cabbie said about not snowing and he made a joke about it and then we told him what the other guy wanted to charge and he said he just didn't want to get out in the cold and so on. Maybe this guy isn't so bad after all. About this time we are coming to an intersection of two four-lane roads. There is a car stopped in both of the lanes going in our direction. A couple of us see this coming, brace ourselves and say "Hey man, watch out!! Those cars are stopped!" This guy drove right between them, without slowing down, on ICE. I knew I was going to meet my maker that night. "Relax" he says, "no one else is out tonight" well hello captain oblivious, didn't you just drive between two nobodies who were out on the road tonight? About this time I see the trolley and nudge to my buddy and say to him "That's how we are getting back to the hotel", he nods in agreement. I would rather be a little cold for a few minutes than to take the hell express one more time. So we get to the Hard Rock with just about perfect timing. They just opened the doors and we didn't have to wait out in the ice and snow. We get with the rest of our group, get seated and get ready to have a good time. The night starts off with a few announcements of give-aways and thing like that. Shortly after a band starts to play some top 40 hits and things are looking pretty good. Where we were seated was near this good size plate glass window so we could see up Beale St. and it was kind of cool looking with the snow coming down in the street lights. We start off with a few rounds of drinks, he we aren't driving and on vacation, why not right? And then some more drinks. Well we started to mingle with some of the other party goes and met people from all over the country and some that were local too. I don't know how to ease into this part so I will come out and say it. During one of the contest this guy nudges me and says "So what do you think about my wife's tits, she just got them." What do I think about them? What the hell do you think I think about them? I think they look like a great big pair of tits. Nothing wrong with that, right? So he changes the subject and we shoot the breeze for a while. So later they come up to our table and ask if we are having a good time and how long are we going to be in Memphis and stuff like that. I am thinking this guy must own this Hard Rock or something. Which would be cool, but I was wrong. They were swingers. Later on he asked me and a couple of the other guys if our "girls" would be interested in swapping for a couple of hours. Yeah homes, that's going to go over real well. "Hey honey, you and some of the girls wont to go get nasty with this old man while me and the boys do the wild monkey dance with his trophy wife?" I don't think so. So we all make up some BS and tell him that it isn't going to happen. Some time later he did tell us that we missed out because they are going to hook up with this other couple and "get wild", more power to you buddy. He nods over to this other couple and I about spit my drink out. Remember Tammy Faye Baker? Picture her if she was sickly skinny. Yeah, home boy was getting hot and bothered over that. About this time they are starting to serve dinner, I make my way back to our table and get seated. The meal was good and the band took the stage again, this time with more mellow sounds. Tammy Faye and Jim decided that they should slow dance to dinner music, what ever. So we finish eating and the band invites every one to the dance floor. I am guessing it is around 9:30 or so now. So for a couple of hours they are playing dance music. During this time, I see this guy in a flame job Hawaiian shirt rocking the skullet (pretty much bald on top with a mullet) and pot belly, just kind of hanging around. Kind of like he was trying to be noticed but seemed to be all by himself. I guess I had enough booze in me that I felt sorry for him, so I make my way over to him and asked him if he wanted to party with us and that he could come join us at our table. He says "no thanks!" I didn't know how to take it, he was just there, like he was happy being alone. So I shrug it off and go back to the table. This guy ends up being the "Special Guest". Apparently, he was in the band Black Oak Arkansas at some point and was donating a guitar to the Hard Rock that night. I don't know if you know who Black Oak Arkansas is but their biggest hit was "Jim Dandy (to the rescue)". So skulletman gets asked to come up on stage by the manager, they have some sort of ceremony for the donating of the guitar and he mumbles some crap about how rocking the party was and whatnot. Then the band asked him to join them on stage for a couple of songs. One song actually, you guessed it "Jim Dandy" the freaking half hour version. Like they were in Phish or the Dead or something. They just kept playing the song. They played it so long that I went to the bar, got a drink, came back to the table, drank the drink, went to the bathroom, did my business, came back to the table, went outside, made friends with a cop, talked him into letting me ride his horse around Beale Street, took a nap, came back and they were still playing it. Ok, maybe the last couple of things didn't happen but they played that damn song forever. Finally they stop playing and begin the count down to New Years. You know the rest, Champaign toast, kisses, party favors, and so on. I guess we were parting a little harder than I thought because when we left it was almost 3:00 am. We make out way up to the trolley stop and hang out waiting for the trolley to take us close enough that we can walk to our hotel. After several minutes have passed one of the cities finest rolls up and ask us if we are ok. We tell him that other than being a little cold we are fine and we are just waiting on the trolley. He tells us that we are going to be waiting a long time because the trolley has quit running for the night. Well isn't that nice. You would think someone would have said something or posted it somewhere, but noooooo, I got to freeze my ass off for no reason. Well he calls a cab on their rotation and hangs out with us until the cab gets there. We all pile in this big van and head back to our hotels.
Since I knew I was going to be drinking and really didn't want someone bugging me the whole flight back I bought us first class tickets round trip. Who wants to be on a plane for several hours with someone you don't know talking your head off while you're nursing a hang over of epic proportions? This was so worth the extra cash, nice big seat, got to board first, good meal but my seat… there was something wrong with it. Why the hell does it keep leaning back, I am not touching the button? The damn seat is broken. So I get dirty looks and comments from people while they are boarding and in flight. Like my tacky ass needs a catalyst to go off on someone. But one of the funniest things happened on the flight. It was almost like an "I'll show you, I will take a crap up there!" kind of thing. Who cares? Well we happen to hit some turbulence and the bathroom door flies open with his pastey naked white ass falling out into the isle for all to see since he didn't close the curtain. The whole plane was laughing at him, too funny.
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