The Adventures of the Incredible Elastic Mummy and Captain Compression Sock

Thursday, November 21, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

When you're little kid and you bruise yourself, only a parent's kiss has the magical ability to heal such a serious injury.  As you grow into toddlerhood, the bruises give way to actual cuts and scrapes that require more than a simple touch of the lips.  So, mom or dad goes to the medicine drawer and pulls out the big guns: Band-Aids.  If you're a real lucky son of a bitch, you get a Band-Aid with cartoons or rainbows on them.  Considering that a 5-year old equates this procedure with spinal surgery, Band-Aids go on to fix the vast majority of childhood aches and pains.

This was true for me as well until age 11, when during the final moments of soccer practice, I sprained my ankle.  Oh the humanity.  To me, it felt as if my leg had been stung by a horde of poisonous wasps, hell-bent on recreating Macaulay Culkin's final scene in My Girl. My mom could clearly see the extent of my injury as the subtle limp I entered the house with had now been upgraded to a full on pirate swagger.  I sat there wondering if my mother was having the same sneaking suspicion that I was: They might have to chop off the leg.

Turns out my mother was not at all worried about the perils of having a pre-teen with a prosthetic.  While a charley horse might feel like the furthest extent of the pain index to an 11-year-old, it is one of the very few medical conditions that you actually can "walk off".  Of course to insinuate such a notion to me would be parental suicide.  I mean, what 11-year-old doesn't love his greatest physical pain being minimized by his closest attachment figure.  And so, the end all be all in parental home medical care is taken down from the top shelf of the medicine cabinet and unveiled.  Inside my mother's palm rests a real, professional grade, Ace bandage with two metal butterfly fasteners.  It was just like the basketball players wear!!!

I lay down on the bed as my mother began wrapping the "affected area" in concentric circles of elastic beige. As she weaved around my ankle and up from under my foot, I could already feel the power of the bandage begin soothing my achey-non-breaky ankle.  Doctor mom said that after a few more days of fake limping around the house I should feel as good as new.  And wouldn't you know it, she was right.

As you might expect, I used that particular Ace bandage for a number of different maladies that I succumbed to over the years.  I wore it on my elbow, thigh, wrist, forearm, and I believe I once even used it to keep an bag of ice in place atop my head.   Perhaps the reason that I only broke my nose (3 times), and never an extremity, was due to the fact that my schnoz was the only piece of me never to be hugged in the ever-loving protection of an Ace bandage.

If as a child I had created a superhero alter-ego a la Quail Man, it would definitely have been "The Incredible Elastic Mummy".  I would wrap my entire body in as many Ace bandages as I could horde without my parents finding out, and then run around town fighting crime and saving communities with my powers of binding unrelated objects together and virtual invincibility.  Maybe I would even cruise around with a my sidekick "Captain Compression Sock".  He gives great hugs.
This kid knows what I'm talking about
Of course, eventually even the Ace bandage becomes as ineffective as its Band Aid and mother's kiss predecessors. Notably, when my spinal disk slipped out of place and onto my sciatic nerve, my arm convulsed toward the pain killers and muscle relaxants well before I thought to squeeze myself into an elastic girdle (though on second thought, perhaps that may have helped quell some of the miserable pain).  I also went with the eye patch during my corneal troubles over the more obvious fix of wrapping half of my face in beige gauze.  That one was probably a good call.

Frankly, I miss the simpler days when Ace bandages were the chemo to all of my life's cancers.  I miss the days when my ails could all be fixed externally and compressing problems could make them go away.  Hell, I'd settle for one of those modern compression sleeves if it  cured nagging maladies like asthma or eczema.   But seriously, I remember the days of my exaggerated limping as some of the best of my childhood.   I mean, those days really were ace.

I'd Wear My Sunglasses at Night if They Weren't Broken Already

Monday, November 18, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

I'm pissed off at you sunglasses.  I've been pissed at you for years.  But recently, it's gone to another level. 

It used to be, like so many unhealthy relationships, that I was really angry at myself. Specifically, I bemoaned my inability to hold continuous ownership of a pair of sun-blocking spectacles for over 3 weeks.  I lost them everywhere; on the subway, in the car seat, and off to places unknown.  And when I wasn't losing glasses, I was breaking them.  I would sit on them or casually throw them in my backpack until I found them with a lens or temple missing.  I hated how disposable I made them.

But I adapted.  I started only buying sunglasses that cost less than 10 dollars.  Every once and awhile I would splurge at get the really cool neon green shades for $12.99.  I will tell you that the kid's section at CVS is a treasure trove for sunglass pearl seekers such as myself.  And if the new pair didn't sit perfectly straight or rubbed my nose a bit – who cares – they'd been gone in a few weeks.

And that's how things remained until about 3 years ago when we took a family trip to my parents' and cousin's alma mater: Michigan University.  For whatever reason, my father had the impulse to buy me a superb pair of Michigan-themed (aka. yellow framed) sport shades.  While they were a little more "frattish" than my usual fare, I am always inclined to give my parents' presents the benefit of the doubt.  And so I set upon the Sysiphisian task of retaining a pair of sunglasses from their dawn until dusk.

I kept those suckers in their case.  They had a specific place in my car.  And if I brought them into my house, they were put right next to my car keys.  And those glasses lasted.  Despite their somewhat douchey exterior (sorry dad), they were excellent glasses.  At some point their quality outweighed their yellowness on my face, and I had them on pretty consistently.

You'll notice that I'm using the past tense. 

The Michigan glasses are not, in fact, lost.  I can tell you that at the time of this writing, those yellow shades rest atop the cabinet by the front door.  However, they are no longer in the regular rotation.  Recently one of the of temples snapped in the middle, but that particular section is encased in the flexible plastic of the ear pieces.  So, the combined effect makes the glasses wearable, but wonky.  One side doesn't have any grasp or cling to the face, so the front is always a bit tilted.  I still wear them when driving long distances because the lenses are so sweet.

But my new glasses, my regular glasses, are back to being from the CVS Originals collection; Pseudo-aviator goodness that keeps the sun out and the eyeballs in.  I've been rolling strong with them for about a month now.  But yesterday they got their first real test of any sort, a jostle from an unattended arm.  The smack came to the left temple, and at first, I thought all crisis had been averted.  Upon further inspection, however, I realized the nosepiece now felt as if it were burrowing a den inside the bridge of my nose.

Turns out I was completely wrong.  The nosepiece was, in fact, completely missing.  Something about the sudden lateral movement caused the plastic nose-pad to spring free of its wire restraint.  And this is where I get uber livid. 

There is no good reason why you can't find a way to fuse a nosepiece to the glasses they are built to support.  The current "tightly wound wire around a plastic nub" solution is simply not the extent of our architectural technology.  And I shouldn't have to add another casualty to my sunglass graveyard simply because the glasses-making industry relies upon it's products being consistently shoddy to the extent that they fuel more sales.   This one is on you cheap sunglass makers.  Your sunglasses are not only inexpensive, but they reflect that low cost.  And I hate it. And I hate that I still don't have confidence in my ability to not lose or destroy sunglasses enough that I buy 3 pairs of these shitboxes to ever one I would need otherwise.  I hate that I have a enough ex-sunglasses with one lens missing to start my own collection.  

But until they start implanting light correcting corneas, most of all, I hate that can't seem to find any way to stop this desperate sunglass merry-go-round.

A Family Affair

Thursday, November 14, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

Every wedding has its own series of unfortunate events.  Every. Single. Wedding.  If you are getting married today, and many people are because it is 11/12/13 at the time of this writing, more than one thing is about to go haywire. My advice, you just gotta roll with it.  Enjoy the beauty and wonder of not trying to predict the unpredictable.   You have to embrace that whatever minor catastrophe is about to befall you, it is your moment of unplanned mayhem, and you and your significant other will get to laugh about it for many years to come . . . eventually.

The worst thing you can possibly do is to believe that by dotting every "i" and crossing every "t", that you will somehow be the first couple ever to have an entire ceremony and party go off without a hitch.  If you truly get this idea into your head, the chances of you balling your eyes out at some point during the evening increases dramatically.  The only perfect wedding is the wedding where everyone laughs together when something goes awry.

Not even the Prince & Princess were without their wedding disasters!
My wedding was no exception.  I split my pants an unwearable amount early on during the dance portion of the program.  Like a caterpillar emerging from a butterfly-print chrysalis (see wedding suit), my boxers made a brief (pun!) but memorable appearance on stage.  Also, our DJ didn't get to play his full set.  Being that the DJ is a good friend of ours, his limited air-time could have been a tiny catastrophe.  But, cause it's a wedding, and because we were prepared for much much worse (chuppah collapse, missing wedding party participants, or even rain), everyone took the negligible slight caused by time's flight while having fun, and let the good times roll on.

MY boy band is better than your boy band.  And yes, that is my wedding suit.
Maybe your wedding had a best man speech that clocked in at 21 minutes.  Perhaps you attended that wedding where all the toilets got clogged and began overflowing with vomit.  Or was it your friend's wedding where everyone got naked and started taking a myriad of photo booth shots?  Regardless, every wedding has it's crowning glory of horror, and barring real tragedy, it always becomes the most hilarious memory of the day.  

I recently went to Savannah for my friends' wedding.  I had, unequivocally, a kick ass time.  That said, this is the story of that wedding's two moments of glory.  And by glory, I mean hilariousness. Posted with permission of the bride (cause I don't want to get cut).

The ceremonial first dances at a wedding are both a crowd pleaser and a personal favorite.  I know that I'm biased due to my love of dance, but the couple's first dance and the bride's dance with her father have always seemed like particularly important touchstone moments during the course of the wedding.  I have no particular vendetta against the groom dancing with his mother (did it!) of course, but something about the gender roles that were shot-gunned into my consciousness long ago makes me think the father/daughter dance is more emotionally laden with intrinsic meaningfulness. 

At the wedding in question, after the couple's first dance and a touching twirl between the bride and her father, the groom and his mother stepped to the front of the queue.  As Sly and the Family Stone came over the speakers the matriarch and son began spinning together in and sassy and slightly suggestive dance duet.  Now, the song that was play was A Family Affair, and while I have since looked up the origin of the song to realize that it was performed by a brother sister duo, I didn't know that at the time.  So when Oedipus and his mom are getting their groove on, the guests are hearing:

Mom loves the both of them
You see it's in the blood
Both kids are good to mom
Blood's thicker than mud

It's a family affair, it's a family affair
Newlywed a year ago
But you're still checking each other out
Nobody wants to blow, nobody wants to be left out

My friend leaned over to me and remarked perfectly, "this feels exactly like when Michael and Maeby Bluth sang "Afternoon Delight" together."  And she was utterly correct.  The actual benign nature of the event aside, the overall effect created by the pairing of a suggestive song with a well stepped boogie, was a new jam I like to call, "The Rumba Incestuana."

Giggles all around.  Ok, maybe a little laughter.  I snorted once, but respectfully.  By the time food hit the table, this brief vignette of southern family values had completely passed out of our heads. 

Until a few hours later . . . when we transitioned to the Karaoke portion of the late night entertainment.  Then things took a turn for the gut-bustingly real.   Karaoke is always a Russian Roulette of an activity.  Is the microphone a "anything goes" arena for the tonally challenged, or the esteemed property of those already blessed with a sanctioned singing voice.   Amazingly, our karaoke journey began with a dynamic 8-10 year-old girl belting out Firework by Katie Perry.  It was amazing.  Not Star Search amazing, but well above my expectations for a girl that age.  Extroverted would be an understatement. 

And as we are all standing there listening to her untrained voice belt out explosive affirmation, I hear "This song suckkkkksss!!!!" coming from a male voice behind me.  It took a second to register.  Someone was heckling this girl!!!!!  You know that moment when something so unfathomably horrific is going down around you, but is in no way your fault, which makes said instance the funniest thing of all time.  Yah, that was this. We are bent over laughing as the guys around this drunken guest contort into a simultaneous shush and shun.  Ye ol' shush and shun.  (I admit to being on the receiving end of just such a reaction more than once.)  The drunk guy's handlers then informed him of the age of the current vocalist.  Thankfully, he was just sober enough to understand the boundary he had just crossed. (In my mind's eye I watch him exclaim, "I don't care if she's 8!" as he escalates his onslaught.) Unfortunately, his first instinct was to supremely overcompensate by going right up to where this little girl was singing starting to shake dance (which is essentially rattling your body back and forth with utmost force) while clapping off-beat.  It was Farley-esc physical comedy. 

Just as this whole sideshow was being shutdown, the DJ announced a quick break in the instrumentally accompanied singing for a live a cappella treat.  And then, the uncle of the groom took the mic, put his arm around his sister, and began serenading her with Frank Sinatra's I've Got A Crush On You.  And he crooned.  His voice was smooth and low, really giving the words their full measure.  Except that the particular words in question were yet another incestuous insinuation, and with as much alcohol as we all had in our blood streams by hour 9 of partying, this fraternal expression of romantic affection sent our cackling bodies gyrating, gesticulating, and finally genuflecting.  

While on the ground, we caught our breathes.  Wait. Was it only me on the ground?  I'm gonna say we were all down there.  Yah, totally.  We were all down there.  From our prostrate perspective, we watched the party, almost in slow motion, jump the shark for the evening.  Not bad for 1 a.m.  
Shortly thereafter the open bar closed.

A few photo booth snaps and countless big hugs later, and we boarded the bus back to our hotel.  Flights were leaving early the next morning, but the wedding would remain in the record books. 

Let's Get Together and Talk about the Weather

Thursday, November 7, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

I understand that it gets cold in the winter in the Northeast.  Yes, I know. Not just cold, frigid cold.  'Please don't make me get out of bed today' cold.   And yes, I have to shovel all that the snow, not to mention negotiating those icy streets.  With the hours of sunlight decreasing, I don't hold it against anyone who says winters in the Northeast are depressing. I partially disagree, but I get it.

But hear me out on this one.  This past weekend as I took the free and convenient shuttle from the Savannah Georgia airport to the city proper, I looked out of my oversized window and onto the Georgian turnpike.  As the scenery flew past my field of vision, all I could see was green tree after beautiful green tree, and it disgusted me.

If you want to poop all over our snow encrusted diamond of a winter season, then allow me to briefly enlighten you as to how putrid I find this Kermit-approved flora factory.  Fall in New England is a celebration of difference. A dance party of diversity.  We begin with the deciduous.  The party trees.  These barkers just cant wait to strip off their green pea-coats in favor of an orange and red mini.  If you are lucky enough to bump into a group of these party people, the cumulative effect is one of nature throwing an open-to-the-public rave.  All you have to do is pay the turn-pike toll.

But we don't only invite the teenaged molly-droppers.  There are always the stalwart evergreens, who refuse to participate in this juvenile display of chromatic immaturity.  Their emerald badge mollifying onlookers with the notion that this party does have a few chaperones.

Not to mention the out of towners.  You know, those trees that show up waaaaaay too early to the party, all decked out in their finest yellows and ambers, only to discover that they're the first one's to arrive by 3 hours.  By the time the preverbal dance floor is jumping with rainbow ravers, these clock-watching parent trees have already burned through their weekend energy and turn a crumpled brown as they try to get home before the babysitter needs to be releaved (sic pun dude!).

Altogether, this inclusive party scene becomes a free menagerie of all those colors I can usually only find hiding inside the black hole of hipster skinny jeans and gloomy grey sport-coats.  And this injection of color in my life is meaningful. Because inside me, all seasons are multi-colored; but autumn is the only time that the rest of the world seems to understand that.  And so when I drive by your monochromic warm-weather Pleasantville, instead of mild temperatures and unendingly sunny skies, I see the whitewashing of nuance and imagination.

From Stockbridge to Boston

So fear the glistening icicles of our winters as they stab at tourists with their ever-growing points.  Take shelter from the inhospitable nature of our nature. But don't expect company.  We'll be dancing in the refracted light emanating from those ice-spike prisms hanging off our houses like a surrey with the fringe on top.  Jumping with our children into the pools of color raked into our yards like unopened watercolor sets.  And while we may miss the obvious glory of sunbeams soaking our skin come January, we refuse to sacrifice any part of our technicolor souls for a few more degrees of comfort.

Green trees in Autumn
Make for a happy South.
To me, they're chilling.

But New York's Not My Home

Monday, November 4, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

As I have said previously on this blog, as unbelievable as it may seem, music does not play an integral role in my life.  I do realize that for many this sentiment is utter sacrilege.  When someone feels the need to express their personal horror to me regarding this statement, I usually follow it up with the additional truth that I also don't really enjoy going to concerts, seeing bands play live.  If I say it with the correct inflection, I can watch as the part of their brain that copes with hardship pops in exasperation.  If they have the right look, I'll add, "And Phish sucks," just to kick them when they're down.

But all rules have their exception.  And I was reminded earlier this week that music has produced at least one moment of clarity across the duration of my opaque life's journey.  That accomplishment falls squarely on the long-deceased shoulders of Jim Croce.  

Living in New York City from 2001-2003 was a minor culture shock.  Coming from the overtly friendly confines of my liberal arts university, New York was a contrast in look, style, and attitude.  It also contained a few extra million people than I was accustomed to cohabiting around.   But I love a challenge, and I worked hard to inject myself and my existential footprint onto my community.   At a few places: the shawarma restaurant, beer garden, and corner store, specifically -- I was unarguably successful. 

But overall, the social ocean always felt too vast for this stalwart sailor.  No matter how hard I rowed my boat towards the bright lights, the destination was always an optical allusion shining from just over the horizon and perpetually out of reach.  I went to some shows.  "Shows," I learned, were what you called hip or indie versions of traditional performances like concerts or theater. 

The words, "Come to my show!" were 2001's version of Facebook in NYC.

Even when autumn came to the city, and the leaves in the park turned the familiar New England flame reds and crumbling oranges, it never felt right.  I couldn't lay in the park and pretend to be alone in a world of colors.  A speck of nature in a landscape whose vast enormity resides smack dab on the boundary of human conceptualization.  

Even meeting up with friends began to feel like an out-of-body experience where we were all simply placed in these various ultra-chic settings until the clock struck midnight and we  all retreated back underground to seek solace in the recesses of our distinctly unglamorous mouse-infested lofts.  Sure I had moments of calm and girlfriends of distinction, but each experience felt more impermanent surrounded by towering concrete and a speed-dating social scene. 

But I couldn't put my finger on what, exactly, was off.  I would tell people that New York just didn't seem like the place for me long term, but when questioned further on the subject, I had no satisfying answer to give.  And then one day, cleaning my room, Jim Croce's voice began:

Well things were spinnin' round me/
And all my thoughts were cloudy/
And I had begun to doubt all the things that were me . . .

And then, over the next 3 minutes, he sung the words that I'd been keeping inside the past 9 months. 

His expression of my sentiment was startling enough to stop me in my tracks.  I put the song on repeat and sat there listening to it on a loop for 40 minutes.  I was touched by the honesty of his music and the clarity with which he expressed a complex emotion that had been eluded me.  I certainly didn't waste any time pondering why music had chosen this moment to exert its sizable force in order to move me.  Cause music doesn't care about me or you or anyone.  But in the best cases, like this one, music can reach through time to tell you that it was there before you, and it went through the very same thing you're going through.  And when you hear your emotions being sung from the speaker across the room,  you can't help but feel a little less alone in the world.