Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why I Hate Gas Dryers

A lifetime ago, I was 22 and about to become a father. We had only gotten married about 9 months prior and this young man was wasting no time making his presence known. My wife and I, newlyweds, lived in a one bedroom apartment on Chicago's North side. Realizing our little family was about to grow by one, we needed an extra bedroom in a big hurry. We rented another apartment in an apartment building in a third floor walk-up. Included in making that apartment baby-friendly was to buy a washer and dryer. Our old apartment had a laundry room equipped with coin operated machines. Using my head, I contacted a washing machine manufacturer that supplied washing machines to laundromats and bought one of their reconditioned machines for $50 for both washer and dryer. The dryer was a gas dryer and it would be placed in the basement of our apartment building that was own by an elderly lady, who was our landlord. After getting her permission to install the dryer, I realized the gas line needed to be moved to accommodate our needs.

Step one was buying the washer and dryer, step 2 was to find someone who could move the gas supply line. One day at a friend of mine's bar, I was discussing my problem of getting the gas line moved and another of the patrons overheard us talking and volunteered that he did that type of work and he could easily handle that small job. Let's call the volunteer Bruce. I didn't really know Bruce, but he frequented the saloon that I occasionally went to to watch a ball game or to just get out for a few beers. I did notice that Bruce always seemed to have a black eye or a split lip and I just assumed he was a brawler when he got too much to drink. We arranged for Bruce to come over the following day, a Sunday to do the installation. I asked how much he would charge me and he just replied that it would be reasonable. Remember, I was young and that answer seemed okay to me.

Bruce showed up right on time at about 2 PM that Sunday and got right to work, telling me that it wouldn't take more than an hour to complete. I asked him if he'd need help and he told me to go upstairs, it would probably go just as fast without me there. I went upstairs and waited for about 30 minutes and then went back downstairs and watched him complete the job, as we chatted and made small talk. He finished and did a nice clean successful job and I asked him how much I owed him. Remember, we were alone in a poorly lit basement. With a twisted looking smile on his face he took a step towards me and said, "How about a little kiss"? In shock and almost frozen in place, I stood still as he took another step towards me and made his move. Petrified, my only reaction was to draw back and punch him in the eye and run up that stairs yelling get out! He did. So that's why he almost always had a black eye!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Day at the Mall...

Shopping is something that I don't really enjoy. Being a man, that's probably not unusual. Today I reaffirmed my position on shopping, although we did have a lot of fun while trying to understand the new attitude towards shoppers from the extremely desperate retail operations.

The Lovely Jules intruded into my morning by using her key to penetrate our fortress of solitude. The dogs and I were outside picking up poop when the Dynamic Duo alerted me to an intruder. I sent the dogs into the house to attack the intruder, while I used the side gate to go out in front to greet our guest with a baseball bat. To my surprise, Jules had already gone inside and locked me out!!! So, there I am ringing my own bell and being denied access. By the time she finally agreed to let me inside, she had showered the dogs with cookies and they could have cared less if I was locked outside or not.

My goal was to buy new underwear. It's not the sort of thing men ever talk about or remember to buy without coaxing. I've been single for about 7 years now and my underwear was telling the story. Underwear is one of the things that seem to appear in my drawer without me having to think about it, but lately whenever I see a pair with a hole or looking weathered, I toss them out. Honestly, it's one of the items that I never know where to throw. Are holy underwear recyclable? So we headed to the mall.

Our first stop was the fragrance department where Julie popped for a large bottle of cologne. I tried to talk her into just buying the small bottle, but she insisted on getting me the large economy size of Ralph Lauren's, Safari. I'm going to smell pretty good for well over a year. I was shocked as hell that she wanted to purchase it, as she has just joined the ranks of the unemployed. I don't think we owned the bottle of cologne for more than 5 minutes when we went into a discount place that had the same bottle for $5 less, oh well.

She shopped around looking at a lot of things we didn't buy, when I reminded us that we were there for underwear for me. First it was Dillards that was so proud of their men's underwear, at $20 a pair for underwear without a fly. I can't tell you how many questions that created, but Julie was kind enough to demonstrate how to perform sans a fly. Humph, who knew she knew? All of the underwear had legs too, something I'm going to have to get used to. Here's the deal. I didn't want tighty whiteys, but I wanted briefs in colors. I knew they had them. We finally found a few pair at J. C. Pennys, at about $7.50 a pair. I'm good for a week now. I decided that underwear might just be a Costco item.

At some point we wandered into a wig shop and I asked the proprietor if Julie could try on a wig to see how she might look with long hair. With her Guatemalan accent, she tried to explain that it would cost $5 to try on a wig, but if she decided we were serious, she would waive the $5 charge. Julie and I just looked at each other and burst out laughing and told her to just keep the wig and left. How will that store survive with an attitude like that towards their customers.

Another thing on my list was to get a battery for my Movado watch. I wandered into the same place I had gotten it the last time and told the gentleman behind the counter that my watch read 10:30 all of the time, can he fix it. They all seemed to like my way of telling them I needed a battery and laughed. I asked how much and how long a wait it would be, remembering last time it was about 30 minutes. He said it was $40 and he could do it right away. Whoa, I said. Then I asked if this is the same place I got it replaced last time for about 5 or 7 dollars and he said yes. Why is it so much now, I asked? He started telling me it was an expensive watch, blah, blah, blah... as I took the watch back and walked away telling him I'd get it replaced where I bought it. I headed to Zales, about 20 yards away. I told the lady there that I bought this watch here and could I please get a battery for it? She said, sure. It would take about 6 weeks and it would cost $75, that they would have to send it to the factory to make sure it hasn't been violated by a discount jeweler, ruining the warranty. I said it has been though. That didn't seem to bother her and she was ready to take my $75 anyway. By this time Jules was pissed at me for not just doing it. I told her I'd rather not wear a watch than give someone $75 for a battery for a 10 year old watch. These are tough times!

We headed home to my house and Julie left a short time after that. Poor thing, I think I wore her out. I can't wait to try on my new underwear!


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Rat Turned Out to be a Bunny...

The very first thing I did this morning was to check to see that the $3100 deposited in my account by the people that bought my 93 Buick was still in there.

Friday when I awakened, I checked my balance and sure enough the people that I thought we con artists had followed through and deposited money into my account. Then I called my bank and was eventually connected to April, the wire transfer expert from my bank. She assured me that once a wire has been deposited into my account it cannot be reversed without my written consent, unless a civil lawsuit indicated otherwise. In other words the money was mine, to do with whatever I pleased and could not be taken back after I refunded cash and gave a car and title to the customer, that frankly did not instill a lot of confidence in me. Once again the old adage, "Better safe than sorry" came to mind.

It must be my age that make me more cautious than usual or it could be the fractured economy that makes me so leery, but I don't recall ever feeling so weak about a customer. I'm happy to say that I was wrong about the whole far!



Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Smell a RAT!!!

"I smell a rat" is an old expression used to indicate something is wrong with a transaction. Later it was referred to as a "scam". Well remember the sweet little old lady from my last post? The one that I was doing all of the mechanical work for to make sure the old Buick is safe and solid for her? Things are starting to fall apart, to a degree. In a perfect scenario, the out of state husband would wire money to his wife, or she would be privy to his assets and just draw the money from their joint account, like in real life. Our maiden is a bit eccentric though and is on ACCESS, state funding, welfare, if you will and will not accept a large amount of money to go into her meager account, thus creating questions for ACCESS. She has arranged for her poor blind husband that is allegedly in Arkansas to wire the funds directly to my account here in AZ, plus a little extra for me to give to his wife for spending money. I asked Nelwyn how much she was talking about and she said about a hundred dollars. I relaxed. She also is wanting a receipt for a lesser amount of money so she won't have to pay taxes in Arkansas when she arrives there with the Buick.

The first thing I did this morning, after pouring my first cup of coffee, was to check my bank balance online to see if the wire had arrived yet. There were 2 direct deposits made to my account from Bank of America, one for 45 cents and the second for 35 cents, leaving me a tad confused. I called Tony, the gentlemen in Arkansas and he returned my call with me being the third party on that call, as I heard Nelwyn's voice as I picked up the phone, but they didn't acknowledge her being on the line. For all I know, they're both here in AZ with Tony using an out of state number on his cell phone. He told me to ignore those deposits, it's B of A's way of checking my account for legitimacy. Huh??? Frankly, that's the same thing my bank told me when I called to inquire. He then told me that B of A is giving him a hard time about the money transfer, saying it would take a full 2 weeks. That tells me his funds are uncollected at their end. He tells me to watch for the money to show up from yet another back in Arkansas. He also told me that he's sending some extra money for me to give to Nelwyn, about $500. Hmm....... It seems the plot is thickening. If this deal flies, it's going to be a frickin' miracle. If any of my 3 readers have any suggestions on how to approach this, it would be appreciated. One thing I know for sure, she's not getting the car until the money is in hand. Sweet old lady or not!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good Karma...

1993 Buick Le Sabre (sold)

Just in case anyone has been following my plight, I've been trying to sell my 93 Buick, Le Sabre. Although it's a 15 year old car, it looks and runs good and has only 89,000 miles on it and would make someone a pretty good transportation car. I was asking $2995 and getting offers of $2000 and $2200 and although that seems like a fair price for an average car, this one commands a little more respect. After 3 weeks, my ad with the Auto Trader ran out, so I called and renewed it and because they didn't get back to me in a timely way (according to them), they offered to renew my ad for 4 weeks for free. I accepted that price as fair and prudent.

The first call I received was from a girl that needed a car and her father was going to buy it for her. She argued about everything imaginable and finally I told her I couldn't sell the car to her, because life was just too short and hung up. The following day her father called and made an appointment to see the car and tried to trick me into thinking he was someone else, but accidentally divulged it was for his impatient daughter. A ha, busted! Although he was nice enough and apologized for his daughter's rude behavior, he still didn't buy my Buick Le Sabre.

About 2 hours later on Saturday, I received a call from the 870 area code. It was an older gentleman inquiring about my Buick. I asked if he were calling from out of state and he replied yes, but his wife lives in Scottsdale and her car was stolen. I didn't feel I was entitled to any more information than that, although I did have questions. He told me his wife's name was Nelwyn and she'd be calling me soon. About 15 minutes into my nap, my cell phone went off again. It was an elderly woman about my age, telling me that she spoke with her husband and wanted to see my car. She didn't have transportation, so she would be taking the bus to a mutually agreed location to meet me. Thinking of myself as a gentleman, and since I was going to be driving anyway, I offered to come to where she was and show her the car. It really wasn't that much farther. I sensed her apprehension and agreed to whatever was most convenient for her. Then she said, as long as she's taking the bus anyway, she'll take it to as close to my house as possible. I told her that I'd be as accommodating as possible and follow her wishes. That was at 3:15 PM. At 5 PM, I was thinking of calling her cell phone to see if she were really coming, but before I could dial her number, my phone rang and it was Nelwyn calling from my corner. Wow, she got pretty close! I said I'd be there in a minute to pick her up and headed out.

When I arrived at the Circle K, Nelwyn waved to me and I waved back. She hopped in and said it was beautiful and just like she had hoped. She was legitimately thrilled. We drove to my house where Nelwyn switched places with me and drove it for about a mile and said she's like to buy it, but only has $300 today and will be getting the balance wired from her husband in Arkansas.

Here is Nel's story. Her husband is blind and they have been married for 28 years. They have adopted 5 handicapped children and she is in Phoenix, hopefully saving the life of her 22 year old daughter that is at Barrows Institute and has been for 5 years. The daughter is Epileptic and has multiple seizures everyday and has had several brain surgeries. At this point they are just trying to keep her alive. Nel and I went to the ATM and she gave me $300 and mentioned that this is probably the easiest sale I've ever made. We both laughed. Then I told her that I would replace the cracked windshield for her and take it to my mechanic and have him check it out thoroughly. She thanked me and I drove her home. Yesterday I spent the day doing just what I said I would and the bill came to much more than she gave me for a deposit, but I feel good about her taking the car, even as far as Arkansas. Good things happen to good people...


Friday, November 7, 2008

A Member of the Klan...

My Third Wife's Family

I've got a story to tell that probably needs telling.

In 1996 I married a woman that was a Klan member. Not the KKK that we all know and despise, but a Klan of her own. The other members of the Klan were her 2 sisters and her mother who was the matriarch of the Klan. The KKK pretty much only hates Blacks and Jews, but the Family Klan hated Blacks, Jews, all men, but particularly men that were not blue collar workers, anyone that was not a practicing Catholic and the descendants of all of those groups. Unfortunately, I was all of those things except Black! I didn't have an ice cube's chance in hell of surviving this group.

Marrying this woman was a clear case of not being able to see the forest through the trees. I looked for a common denominator that kept these 3 sisters together and unmarried, but never thought it was the hatred of men that caused it. Let me describe this trio. My wife Lulu (not her real name) , for 5 years anyway, was a rather attractive 42 year old that had never been married before and for argument's sake, had never even had a real relationship. I thought that odd, but understandable as she was career oriented, or so she said. Next in line was sister Kathryn, a 40 year old, cute, petite lesbian that had yet to come out of the closet, but insisted that her live-in girlfriends were merely roommates. She was a little on the "butch" side and the family protector. She and I got into it more than once. Last but not least, was Doris the baby of the family, age 39. Doris was a tad on the hefty side and a true slob. You never saw her without a cigarette in her hand and it was always pointed towards an open door, as she knew she was not allowed to smoke in the house, due to everyones asthma. She was a classless creation that later married Marc, a redneck with a tattoo of a panther on his chest and a Mullet. Marc fit in beautifully as he was a security guard wearing an actual "blue collar" and of course they shared their love for cigarettes and Marc specialized in drinking at least 24 Silver bullets a day, before taking the kids on motorcycle rides. Quite a crew.

Last and of course least likable was the mother, Mary. Mary was about 78 years old when I knew her and has recently passed away, or so I hear. She was of German descent. Mary was the one that created these 3 personalities and took responsibility for them. Mary HATED men! It was only after I married into the family that I realized it, by the way her former poor deceased husband was always ignored. At some point I asked what happened to her dad and I was told he died of a brain tumor 20 years ago. I asked if they ever went to his grave and the answer was, yes Mom does on Easter.

Well, it turned out that Louis, her father was a VW repairman and owned his own repair shop here in town, but Mary was the bread winner with her job at Motorola and the pension she received. In the 5 years I was married to Lulu, she never spoke of her Dad. One day, I asked where her father was buried and to my surprise, the cemetery was about 5 miles from where we lived. I suggested we go for a visit and say hello. Lulu kept looking at me as if to say, why? I insisted on going to at least give him the respect I'm sure he deserved, for even putting up with this hateful family. It was a Sunday and we didn't have any plans, so why not?

We got dressed and headed over to the cemetery. Lulu had no idea where to find the grave of her poor deceased father. It was pretty interesting though, as this was where they buried the soldiers. Some of the graves were over a hundred years old. Finally we happened upon the grave of her father, purely by chance. Lulu said hello and started telling her father things that she had been doing for the past 20 years and she was really letting him know all the details. That's when I nudged her with my arm a few times and when she stopped and looked up at me to see what I wanted, I whispered to her, "introduce me". With a puzzled look on her face, she said Dad, there's something I haven't told you, I got married and this is my husband Mel. I said, how do you do? He didn't answer.

I never found out what this man had done to these 4 unhappy women to make them hate men the way they did, but our marriage didn't last too much longer after that. One day, out of the blue, Lulu announced that she wasn't happy and was moving out. Within 10 days she was gone and I never heard from her again, other than the delivery of divorce papers that I signed and sent back. My guess is that Mary handed down the decision and after that, all we needed was the paperwork!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Reversal of Fortune...

It was a warm and dark Halloween night, as I drove West on the all too familiar 101 West. Tonight's plan was avoid the trick or treaters by spending the night out enjoying good company and perhaps some entertainment and a good meal. I had already gotten the call from the Lovely Jules saying to get my ass in the car, I'm late! She's always so much the lady.

I arrived shortly after 7 and used my key to enter, only to be surprised my LJ opening the door yelling, it's Halloween, you're supposed to ring the bell and say trick or treat! I said trick or treat and she whipped out a surprise from behind her back. It was a Halloween box of Godiva Chocolate and here I was empty handed. I told her I was thinking about renting a mailman costume, but gave up on that idea. She punched me in the shoulder..............hard!

Jules was hungry and dressed up. I got the idea she wanted to leave for dinner and accommodated. We headed to AJ's, the upscale grocery store as they were supposed to have a jazz concert. When we got there, there was a fat woman singing show tunes to a crowd of old people. LJ told me I fit right in. I was proud to be the youngest guy there. We left and I was able to talk the Lovely Jules into going to Tutti Santi's, we hadn't been there in months. The place on the West side, their newest and nicest restaurant was empty, indicating the summer exodus from our hot city, in spite of the fact that it's almost November. Matao, the owner's son greeted us and made us feel right at home. Then he sent Debbie, his half sister over to say hi. That's the part that's left over from the old country, how the kids respect the friends of the father.

A new young waiter came over and was very friendly, very efficient and businesslike. I could tell he had been coached by Matao, that we were valued customers, as he inquired how we knew the owner. Time to order. After LJ mentioning to everyone within earshot that I didn't have my glasses, she read the menu to me, not realizing that I'd had it memorized many years before I'd met her. We decided on buttered dead snails for LJ and one of their world famous pizza's for me. It was their special, including anchovy, Italian olives and capers. Very delicious. LJ LOVES oysters, but I reminded her of how sick she got the last time she had oysters and she agreed it wasn't a good idea to eat oysters in the desert. We enjoyed our meals and partook of a strawberry cheesecake for dessert, sharing it nicely.

When the check came, Julie grabbed it and wouldn't give it up to me. She opened her little purse and had actually brought cash indicating she had planned to buy dinner all along. There was a time in my life when I'd have fought tooth and nail to pay that check, needing to prove my masculinity. Thank heaven those days are gone! She threw down her usual obnoxious tip of over $20 and we left.

Summing up. The service was great, the food was even better and the company was ideal. In the future, every time I eat or even smell anchovies, I'm going to think of the Lovely Jules!