Monday, February 23, 2009

Riding the Tracks...

After ironing a few things out in addition to our clothes, the Lovely Jules came to pick me up to ride recently activated Phoenix Light Rail. We had spoken of riding the giant railroad approach to inner city transportation and were both looking forward to it. First we checked to see where we could started our excursion and found that 19th Ave and Bethany Home Road was the starting point. We drove to the Park and Ride lot and parked our car. Walking towards the giant train station was an experience in and of itself, with very few instructions. We found a machine that issued passes for our ride and LJ decided that an all day pass would best serve our need, although it's strictly on an honor basis. We didn't HAVE to buy the passes, but didn't want to do anything illegal, so we did. I could see where if you just rode the train for free, it would be quite easy. ALL ABOARD!!!

We took off on schedule, although I didn't know what the schedule was. The first thing I noticed that I was impressed with, was the ability to take your bicycle on board and they offered bike racks, that doubled as seats. The spot immediately across from us was occupied by a mother and her 2 sons, about 12 and 14. The 12 year old wore a bandanna around his head and of course I acted as if it were a bandage and asked how he hurt his head. After Julie poked me in the side pretty hard, I was forced to sit back and watch the 14 year old do pull ups on the bar above our heads, designed for holding on to. That triggered memories in my own youth and how it felt to have all of that energy in your body just trying to be used.

That family exited and a new group got on. This time it was a teenage girl that mostly interested in text messaging her friends. She also brought on Chicken McNuggets that she was eating from her bag and had obviously just visited the Golden Arches. Suddenly her phone rang and I blurted out, "Is that a personal call" generating yet another poke in the side from the Lovely Jules. I decided to quiet down or suffer a broken rib. All the while LJ was whining about being hungry and threatening to get off the train to eat. I comforted her with a red and white candy that seemed to do the trick, as she quieted down nicely.

It was interesting because with each stop we exchanged riding audiences and as we passed downtown, we got the Phoenix Suns enthusiasts and quickly learned of their defeat to the Celtics. By the time we got to Tempe, we were pretty much through with the jerking ride and the multiple stops for both stations and red lights. This means of transportation takes forever and also upsets your stomach, not to mention some of the less than savory co-passengers. At one point 3 little girls were sitting next to me, farting and giggling. I was pretty pleased when they reached their stop!

We exited at Tempe, near Mill Avenue and ASU and who do you suppose we run into? Brad Klein, my former office next-door-neighbor and friend. I hadn't seen him in years. He was entertaining his 4 year old daughter for the day, as he took her for a ride on the Light Rail. It turned out that we were in front of Monti's Steak House and dipped inside for a quick appetiser and a beer, after saying goodbye to Brad. Above is a picture, compliments of our waitress who told us to kiss when she snapped the picture. Proving we are still on the same page, as Julie yelled "He's my father, I yelled we're brother and sister" while the young waitress threw up a little in her mouth. In the picture, Julie is NOT stoned, according to popular belief, but just enjoying a quick blink.

The highlight of our day was unequivocally the "Can't Stop Talking Guy" who we met at the Tempe Station, where he smiled and said, I'm from Albuquerque and never stopped until he was getting off the train at his stop in Phoenix, where he offered, "I like Phoenix better than Tempe, don't you?" WHEW!!!

All in all it was a great day, but neither of us feel compelled to ride that train again for a long time and I certainly missed the CHOO-CHOOO....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Dating Guy... Another One Bites the Dust

After going through the routine of writing and getting a rapport going and talking endless hours on the telephone, I thought I had a little something going with the above pictured lady, but alas not. Here's how it fell apart.

There is a free dating service that in spite of it's price or lack of one, attracts a few attractive women. I must say that I'm pretty impressed with it for quality of appearance, but at the same time, very few of the women are college educated. Just one man's observation. One of the hotter ladies on this website contacted me and explained that she doesn't like to email, but offered her home phone number, something uncommon. Usually, if a phone number is offered, it's a cell number that a man cannot attach to an address, if only for the woman's safety and I understand it.

I called Betsy and we chatted. My first clue of backwardness was a lack of a cell phone in this year of 2009. She didn't own a cell phone and didn't see why she should. OMG! What about the car breaking down at night on a lonely stretch of I-17? The next thing I noticed about Betsy was her George W. Bush, Texas accent and her ability to stumble on words and and the sing-song way she spoke. Then when we met on our interview date, she was a little overweight and showed me her bulging stomach by grabbing it with both hands and holding her belly out for me to see. THAT was a turn off. The hair. It wasn't until after our date that I realized there was something about her hair that didn't appeal to me and it was the 1970's hairstyle. It was piled up on top of her head and it wasn't clean. It had that wash me once a week look and was caked on with hairspray.

I actually thought I could get past all of that if she were a sweet nice person and the jury was still out on that. On our first date, I walked her to her car and she gave me a hug and told me that she'd like to see me again. I agreed that it might be a good idea and drove off. The following night I had to force myself to call her and did. We chatted for a time and she told me she just came from taking her little dog for a long walk and that her neighborhood was all "Cloversacks" and she and Skippy walked down each and every one of those Cloversacks" and they were damned tired. Readers, she said it 3 or 4 different times and she said Cloversacks, I was certain of it. She was trying to use the word Cul-de-sac and abused it to the point where I knew I couldn't go on. I'm no genius. My two years of high school were a waste on me, but since then, I've acquired a real respect for the English language and it's grammar that goes along with it. Listening to her abuse it and butcher it was a true travesty and I knew at that moment that I couldn't have her in my life. Sadly, Betsy and I won't be seeing or even worse, listening to each other again. Between Cloversacks and her use of double negatives in every fourth or fifth paragraph, I just couldn't go on.

Suddenly our conversation went dead and I was reduced to a dial tone. I called her back, but the call went straight to her answering machine. A few minutes late I got an email from her saying that her battery went dead and the other phone died a few days ago and she never charged it. TERMINAL!

Back to the dating website to try to cut another one out of the herd...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Just Brooklyn Rude...

Zoie and I just left the park, but not because we wanted to. We were asked to leave. It's a beautiful day here in sunny Arizona with the noon temperature somewhere in the low 70's and a clear picturesque sky. Zoie and I were enjoying a few stolen minutes sucking up the rays, after the nice folks with a Standard Poodle left. The big old Poodle chased his Frisbee and Zoie loved chasing the Poodle, although she still hasn't figured out why he chases Frisbees. It was a gorgeous day. As we were just drifting across the open space, a Ford Contour pulled up and frankly I was hoping she would stop and get out and exercise her dog or dogs. We wandered. After about 3 or 4 minutes, this extremely heavyset woman gets out and with the most pronounced Brooklyn accent screams across the park, "Are you leaving"? I walked closer, within yelling range, and replied, "I don't know, why"? Because she wanted to let her dogs out and one of her dogs is iffy, when it comes to other dogs and that she just left a park where there were 6 dogs and her dog got into all kinds of trouble, attacking the others". Overwhelmed, I just answered that we could leave... We'd been there about 20 minutes and was thinking of leaving anyway, but it did occur to me that this is an attitude that just shouldn't have accommodated. Can you imagine asking someone to leave the park so her aggressive dog can play, without her worrying about a lawsuit? Bogie, my best friend in the world, couldn't be counted on to play nicely with other dogs, so I kept him sequestered his entire life, because that was the right thing to do. As I write this, I can still hear her Brooklyn accent yelling after me, "Thanks for leaving"!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Sell-a-thon...

I'm not sure if the stars were aligned just right or if someone thought it was my birthday, or if it was just my turn for some good fortune, but this past weekend I sold 3 cars. I sold both of my Kia vans and the Volvo that almost put me in the poor house several months ago, when I first started putting the new engine in it.

The sell-a-thon started on Thursday night when Ramon woke me with his phone call inquiring about my Volvo for sale. I was surprised to say the least, as it wasn't even advertised. He told me he found the ad in Vehix, a new online advertising website and it's FREE! He said he was at work, but wanted to come right over and view the Volvo. I splashed some water on my face and went out to the garage to see if it would start. It had been just parked there for months and I was extremely please to see that it fired right up. I let it run for awhile, to insure a quick start when Ramon got here. About an hour later Ramon pulled up in his rental car, as he had just bought a Volvo on the previous Friday, but totalled it on Monday. Bad for Ramon, but GOOD for me! After going through the ritual of talking and listening and a long test drive, Ramon told me he had $4500 from the insurance company and offered it to me. The only problem was, I was asking $7500 and actually had $7000 invested in the car. I think even a disinterested reader would agree that $4500 is a pretty weak offer. I didn't laugh at him, as I really kind of took a liking to Ramon. He was a 40 year old single father, raising his 2 teenage daughters, 16 and 19. Slowly, Ramon raised his offer to $5000, but really didn't know where he was going to find the extra $500. He left defeated and I didn't sell the car, but couldn't really entertain that kind of a loss, just yet. About 20 minutes later, my cell phone rang out and it was Ramon calling to give me the good news. He spoke with his brother and he's willing to lend him $1000, raising his offer to $5500. I explained he was headed in the right direction, but if he could raise another $500, I'd sell it to him. He hung up sounding deflated.

Friday morning, while still sipping coffee, a gentleman named Michael called and came over to see one of my Kia vans and promptly bought it for full price. With cash in hand, he drove off and I thought, with the profit on the Kia, I could almost afford to lose the money on my Volvo with Ramon. Friday night, rather late, I got an email from a man named Rafael interested in my Kia Van. Remember, I had 2 of them. I simply wrote him back that I still have it and to call me tomorrow. The following morning there was a phone message that Rafael was coming in my direction and would be at my house around 11:30. At 12:30, he still hadn't shown up and there were probably a lot of Kia vans between my house and his, after all, he was coming from Chandler, AZ. almost an hour away. About 1 PM, Zoie lurched into action to answer the front door, it was Raphael and his mother. Raphael was a 37 year old man that was the same size as my doorway, but moved back pretty fast when Zoie greeted him. I met him outside and he promptly bought the second Kia van for full price and turned out to be a true gentleman. He has spent his life caring for his elderly mother and they need a new van to drive 60 miles to church, 3 times a week. When they came to pick up the van Tuesday morning, Raphael brought his younger brother that made Raphael look like a midget, yikes!

Saturday afternoon, right after Raphael left, my phone rang again and it was my old buddy Ramon. Without me saying a word, he told me the insurance company gave him an extra $500 on his check and if I'd take a post dated check for $1000, he'd buy my Volvo for the $6000. I cheerfully agreed to everything and actually drove to Southwest Phoenix to pick him up. As I was walking out the door, my cell phone rang again and it was a gentleman calling about my Buick for sale. All I did was look up towards the sky where "you know who" lives and winked. Thank you!

An Evening Out

I wouldn't even have been in that restaurant if I hadn't been interviewing for a new girlfriend. As we sat in the upscale North Phoenix eatery, merrily discussing the ins and outs of computer dating, this utterly charming lady motions towards the front door and mentioned something about the beautiful baby that was standing there with her parents. Naturally, I turned to see what she was referring to and there stood an adorable African-American light skinned baby, about a year old, doing her best to stand and walk. She was cute and we both commented upon it and nothing else. Since the child was behind me, I returned my attention to my applicant that was still commenting on the baby's antics. Then she said, the father of the baby was staring back at her and gave her a dirty look. I didn't feel it was worthy of comment and returned our conversation to us. The young family was then seated and we thought nothing of it. About 3 or 4 minutes later, the rather large African-American father was at our table wanting to know why we were staring at him. My friend and I looked at each other totally confused as we were really not staring at the father, but the child. I calmly explained that we were enjoying his baby and had commented to one another about how adorable she was. The father said he thought we were staring at him because of his color. Flabbergasted is the only word I can think of to explain my surprise. I guess I've never been a black man in a white world and never thought about how rude it was to stare. The gentleman then introduced himself to us and we all agreed there was no problem. I was particularly pleased with the outcome of things, he was a big one!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Stress Test...

When Dr. Loli scheduled this test, some 6 months ago, I thought that it was so far into the future that it didn't matter, as who ever dreamed of living that long? This past Friday, while out doing things, I came home to a message on my answering machine which is a real rarity. I guess with emails and cell phones, I'm one of the most available people on the planet, but there it was "1" flashing. I pressed the proper button after a few tries and there was a voice of a clearly homosexual gentleman giving me instructions for my Monday AM scheduled "Stress Test". The voice was heavy with a lisping effect and I always wonder if the guy is gay because he has a lisp or if he was gay first and decided to use a lisp to convey that message to his peers. Once again, the chicken before the egg theory. My first reaction was "no fucking way", I'm not doing that test again, not this soon. After all, it is up to me, even though these guys act like they're ORDERING you. Then I remember that little tickle in my chest last week and think maybe I should get it checked? So I go ahead and follow through like the little puppet I am. The instructions are not to drink ANY coffee for 24 hours prior to testing, along with anything that may be caffeine, chocolate, colas, etc... Then, the day of the Stress test, don't eat or drink ANY-FUCKING-THING! I go to bed early and set my alarm clock, something that I seldom touch, and go off to sleep. At 7 AM, and that's early for me, some bitch is chattering away next to my bed and my first thought is that I fell asleep in public, one of my most dreaded fears, as I'm a snorer. I once fell asleep on a plane and was awakened to 40 or 50 people complaining, or was that a nightmare too? It's barely light out here at 7 AM and somehow I manage to get up instead of going back to sleep. I turn on the heat and realize I'm freezing my ass off, as it's about 58 degrees in my bedroom, because I forgot to turn on the thermostat. I do that and run back to the warmth of my covers and wait, repeatedly testing myself to see if I'm asleep? About 7:10, I suspect it's warm enough to try it again and run to the shower and turn it up high and wait for the hot water, that doesn't disappoint me. I strip and hop in and make sure my entire body is getting an equal amount of water, so as to not risk a chill. Shower, shave, wash my remaining hair and get out. I currently have a mustache and goatee, so I have to detail it out in the mirror and make sure I haven't eliminated 1/2 of it in the shower shave. I'm good, the heat is starting to work and I realize it's getting too hot in there. I shut off the heater and dry my 12 hairs, dress and go downstairs, with Zoie doing her impression of WTF? By now it's light outside and I realize it's a rainy day again and I'm sure I'm doomed.

Guess what? When you're dressed and showered and shaved at 7:30 AM and you can't drink coffee or eat and you're told to get there a little early, there's not much left to do around the house, so I leave after giving Zoie toast and water that she proceeds to make into paper mashe' and smearing all over the floor and platform that she eats on, but I digress. I climb into my Expedition, that I have reactivated since gas prices have dropped temporarily and join traffic that is evidently still pretty enthusiastic about getting to what is left of their jobs.

I was told to arrive early if I could and did. I'm greeted by the same receptionist that greeted me my first time and this time she says, "my, you've lost a ton of weight, haven't you?" I tell her no, she's probably thinking of someone else and she insists that she's not. I look into the mirror to see if I look too gaunt. This is the same bimbo that the last time I was there, asked me if I go by another name besides my real name and of course I replied, "Yes, Madonna"! Bimbo checks me in and I sit down to wait. About 5 minutes later, another lady calls me up there and tries to check me in, but Bimbo insists that she already did and they get into a disagreement that I suspect didn't just start. Once again I'm referred to my seat. I look around the room and try to observed the shy group that sits there, you can tell which of them are here for the stress test because they're the ones wearing sneakers, like me. No one says a word to one another and we all sit quietly, waiting to be called. I was there 30 minutes early and I still don't know why. Finally, a gay gentleman calls my name with his familiar lisp and I am greeted and told he is Adam. I'm just hoping he doesn't think I'm Eve!

I'm lead to the inner sanctum of the giant complex and told to sit while Adam starts an IV. I ask if Adam has a preference to which arm, but Adam goes both ways and I offer my right arm. He jabs me with a needle and I do my Homer Simpson impression, Dohhh... Adam doesn't laugh. He sends me to a room where there are all of the people that were called before me and there they sit with the same red elastic bandage around their arms and one sleeve rolled up. What a crew? In the corner is a water dispenser and Adam tells me to drink all I want. What was the deal with no water the morning of the test? Now I'm even pister.

I sit there drinking water and waiting for President Obama to give his speech, but remember that the water and the water pill are taking affect and I need to use a bathroom soon. I venture out to the hall and immediately find one, but it's locked. I go back to my seat and wait and pretty soon someone comes out. I go in and pee and realize the flusher won't work. I can't just leave it! I remove the top of the back of the toilet and see that the flapper is disconnected from the little chain and lift the flapper by hand. Hey, I had to wash my hands anyway. I leave the john and decide to let the next person think THEY broke it.

Very slowly, but one by one, they're calling us in to be photographed by a machine that circles you while you lay very still for 15 minutes, not even breathing deeply. I am called and get on the machine and immediately fall asleep and am awakened to a "ding". I get off the table and go back to the water room and drink some more and wait some more. Twenty or thirty minutes go by and I'm finally called and go to the testing room. I'm wired and hooked up and the fat pacer guy is called to adjust my pacemaker for some damned reason. Let the testing begin. The last time I did this, I couldn't get my heart rate up high enough, so they had to give me the old lady approach, which is an injection in your arm that simulates exercise and it makes you very dizzy. I tell this to my young tech, also gay, and he tells me that this time we'll do better, oh shit! He starts me going pretty slow and I'm watching my heart rate go from 65 beats on up to about 95, then he increases the speed and incline and I watch my heart rate go to 115 or so. I'm kept at that rate for a time then he advises me that he's about to increase me again. I hear the roar of the belt on the treadmill and there is an extreme increase of incline and now I'm practically running. My heart rate, although ready to explode, is at an amazing 135 and rising. He tells me, just a few more minutes and I'm too winded to be the smart ass that I want to be. I'm at 140 and gasping for air and my legs are aching and trying to keep up and he says, can you give me another minute? I'm trying to say, NOOOOO, but he says, you can do it and I watch my heart rate go up to 145 when a nurse comes running up from who knows where and shoots something into my IV and my arm swells up into a serum pocket. I gasp out the words, "is that normal" and she's already gone. Slowly the incline comes down and the speed is reduced and I feel like I'm going to survive this experience. With wobbly legs I walk to the corner where Adam detaches me from some 30 wires and I rest, spent and exhausted and sent back to the water room to be parked again.

With all of that water and time, I once again have to relieve myself and head to the "head". While I was doing the treadmill, someone repaired the broken chain and the john was flushing just fine, whew! After about 20 more minutes, I was again taken to the napping room for more pictures on the table where I once again fell asleep. "Ding" and I got up and got the hell out of there, a runner!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Kleptomania seems to be running rampant in my life. Ever since I made the acquaintance of the "Lovely Jules", things have been disappearing from my house and my life. It started with a simple refrigerator magnet that read "Mel's Diner" and has escalated to more noticeable things, like my 2004 Toyota. Last week I found myself borrowing it from LJ just to change the oil and give it a general cleaning. She had the nerve to ask me to try to buff out the door dings she got on the driver's door, as she hates looking at those things.

A couple of weeks ago, LJ came over for something and after she left, she warned me that something was missing again from my house and she would be sending me a clue by text in the near future, but the clue NEVER came. That's when her game of stealing things and texting me clues was a ploy to get my attention off of the fact that she's robbed me. Tonight, after thinking about it, I called her and reminded her that she never sent me a text for my clue. She just laughed and I realized she got me again! We hung up the phone and about 10 minutes later my clue came by way of text message. It read, "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Immediately, I responded that she had my dinger. I was in Sedona about 25 years ago and I was renting a motel room and the teenaged desk clerk kept ringing this silly dinger for the bell boy, a kid about 6 months younger than the desk clerk. When the desk clerk wasn't looking, I grabbed the dinger and put it in my pocket, making my date laugh hysterically and ever since it had been sitting around my house. Although it had memories, it didn't mean a whole lot to me and if Jules was going to get some pleasure by taking it, then good for her. As soon as I guessed what it was that she had swiped from my house by text message, she called me laughing her ass off. I told her the story of how I got it and again we laughed. As we chatted, I realized while looking in the place where the dinger used to live and there it was, right before my very eyes! I said, you didn't get my dinger, it's right here. Slowly she reiterated that she had my good luck bell that was on the bottom of the railing that goes up my staircase. Whoa, that was my good luck piece that I placed there 16 years ago when I first bought this house. After a long silence, Julie asked how much good luck it had brought me since then and again we both laughed out asses off.

We talked joking for awhile and when I hung up I asked her to do me a favor. Would she mind stealing bigger items, that way by the time I move, I won't have to pack?