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Inspirational Reads

100% Chance of It Happening When You Least Want It To

February 24, 2016

As I've confessed here many a time, I'm a tinkerer.  I tinker.  I fuck around with stuff I probably would be better served to just hire someone who knows what the hell they're doing to do.  But, I don't.  I do it.  AND THEN I hire someone else to do it for me.  At ten times the cost.  At least.

The water heater being a prime example of this.

A couple of years ago, I bought a car.  It was not a new car.  I did that once, and then the car proceeded to destroy not one but TWO engines--the first before I even paid the bastard off.  Ah, life as an adult.  For the record, I didn't tinker with either of those blown engines.  I trusted OnStar a little too much with the life and quality of my oil, to be honest.  Screw you, OnStar.  You owe me an engine.

I digress.  I bought a car.  Not a new car.  It was after the aforementioned car destroyed its second engine (on the way to church, no less).  I bought a Subaru Outback, so that I could impress all the hipsters and MILFs in Durham (trust me, it's a hot car here).  More impressively, I bought a 1998 Subaru Outback.  For reference, that's the same year the I graduated from college.

A Panty-Dropper if ever I've seen one!

The best part?  It had fewer miles on it than the car that destroyed two engines. 

Everything was fine for the first four or five months.  Then, one day, while waiting in line at a drive thru, the car suddenly lurched and the check engine light came on.  Great.  Not only was I getting punished for eating shitty fast food by clogging my arteries and sending my sodium count through the roof, but I also now had a lovely amber light glowing at me from the depths of my dashboard.  Not cool, man.  Not cool at all.

The light went off, though, later that same day.  And then came back on a few days later.  And then off again.  And on.  And off.  It was a lot like my last relationship--hi-yo!!!!

This off-and-on was a pattern for a couple of months until I finally went to my mechanic (for an oil change) and I asked him what the hell was up with the light coming on and going off.  He hooked a monitor up to the car and the computer told him it was a "knock sensor error."

Shhh...pretend we're not here.
He's probably trying to sell us something!
If you're like me, then you might have been clueless as to what a knock sensor was up until the very point that you heard it was in error.  The knock sensor is kind of like a tuning fork for the engine; it basically makes sure that the engine is running okay and that the pistons are all firing at the desired rate and tempo.  Thank you, Google, for teaching me that.  I also learned that day that changing a knock sensor was easy.  Any boob could do it.

Well, buddy, I'm just the boob to try that out on!

Last summer, I also picked up a slow leak in one of my rear tires.  Fantastic.  Oh, and all the coolant ran out of my air conditioner.  No biggie.  Except that it's a black car.  With leather seats.  And summers are hot here in North By God Carolina.

So, I did what any sane, rational human being would do:  I parked the car.  I did nothing with it.  It wasn't going to pass inspection, it was hot, it needed an oil change, and I couldn't afford to get the knock sensor replaced or the tire fixed.  Instead, I drove a tiny, beat down, dilapidated 2002 Saturn SL.  You can imagine the chick magnet that dream machine is.

This past weekend, I decided that I needed to step away from the Saturn and fix the Subaru.  In addition to the tire and the knock sensor, the battery was run down and I couldn't get it to jump.  Add that to the list of things to fix.  But, hell, I had some great weather for working on the car!  It was a lovely weekend.  Beautiful.  Warm, highs in the low 70s, and not a chance of rain at all.

Well...except maybe Sunday there could be some sprinkles.

Or, you know, a pretty intense downpour to start shortly after you lift the hood on your car and begin working with the electrical systems!
Mind sharing that umbrella, ma'am?

Which is precisely what happened. 

Oh, and when I went to put the spare on the car, I discovered that the spare was flat, as well.  It was a thing of beauty, really.

So, after removing the tires and the battery, I loaded them all up in my other car and went off to replace them.  Just as I was about to pull away, the sky opened up and I had to scramble to get my tools put away (inside the car), and close the hood.  By the time I got home, the rain had stopped, and things were dry enough that I could finish the repairs.  As one more "Fuck you" from the Universe, the car's alarm was activated with the new battery, and so I about pissed my pants when I hooked the positive lead to the battery and the alarm system started blaring in my right ear.

ABOUT pissed my pants.  This isn't TMI Thursdays anymore.

With the battery switched, I turned to the knock sensor.  For the record, yes, a knock sensor is easy to replace.  However, what they didn't tell me was that a knock sensor is a real bitch to get to, especially if you have big, meaty claws like I do.  Or sausage fingers or however you want to describe the size of my hands.  *tips cap*  Ladies.

However, when everything was settled and done, I fired the car up and, after a very sluggish start (I suspect I need to put a new starter in the Black Beast soon


), the car turned over and ran rather smoothly.  Most importantly:  no amber lights on the dash.

Despite the rain and all the other stupid stuff that went on, I believe this was a job well done, and it totally makes up for me not being to free that bottom element from the water heater.

Totally Blowing Stuff Up Tuesdays: We're Back!

February 23, 2016

If you have been a reader of this little slice of the Internet, you know that there are a couple of things that I like.  Well, boobs, yes, and they usually travel in a pair, so good job.  You aced the pop quiz.  Nicely done.

The other things I like are explosions and doing stuff around the house that makes me feel all handy and manly and rawr, I want to feel some boobs now.

This story begins on Valentine's Day. I was preparing to take a shower ere heading off to the grocery to get something to cook for dinner.  I turned the water on and left it run so that I could climb in and enjoy the warmth of the wet water running down my tortured and aching muscles.  However, when I stuck my hand in to check the temperature, it was like feeling ice pelting down on me. 

There's some kind of Eskimo fetish
going on out there...apparently
Huh.

So, I let it run for a little while longer.  Still cold.  Then I turned on the sink's hot water faucet.  Call Manny and Sid, cause we got another Ice Age on our hands.

At which point, I uttered many a swear word, almost all of them beginning with "fuck."

Fortunately, I have a brother who is a plumber and an electrician.  Unfortunately, my brother the plumber and electrician lives four states and approximately 13 hours away.  Fortunately, there is this website called Facebook, where you can stalk your old high school crushes AND ask your handyman siblings for assistance when needed. 

He told me to press the reset button.  Reset button?  I didn't know there was such a thing.

There is.  It's usually hidden under the top panel and it's big and bright red and you can't miss it, even if you think you can.  You will immediately hear the water heater switch on, too, upon pressing it.  Neat.  Sexy AND informative, this blog.

So, I crawled into the darkened depths of the crawlspace and pressed the reset button.  Everything was Jim Dandy, Hunky Dory...for about 36 hours.  On Tuesday, I had to reset the water heater four or five times.  All the mind-numbing cold water pouring out of the shower...numbed...my mind...and so I lost count.  But it was definitely a whole number and it was more than three and less than seventy five.

Anyway, I decided to act.  Coming home early on Wednesday afternoon, I drained the water heater and rushed off to buy a replacement kit for the water heater elements--those things which do the yeoman's work of heating the water in the tank.  It set me back about $40.  Not a problem.  The problem was, though, that I began to worry just a bit, because in order to heat all that water inside the tank, it requires electricity.  A LOT of electricity.  So, I was fearful of electrocuting myself under the house with no one around to notice that the lights went dim for a few moments and that the lovely smell coming from under the floorboards was not dinner, but it was, instead, roast Dad.

Precisely what I was trying
to avoid doing...
Spoilers:  I'm savvy enough to have found the correct switch to throw on the breaker box, AND I double-checked the flow of electricity through the machine.  Multiple times. There was none.  Cool.  Let's do this.

Switching out elements on a water heater is actually fairly easy.  I'm here to attest to this.  For real.  It took me all of fifteen minutes to get the top element switched out.  I was pretty proud of myself.  I was going to get this done in an hour and a half (an hour of the project being the draining and the shutting off of power) and we would have hot water by dinner time.

Eh, not so fast, my friend.

The bottom element...was a bitch.  To put it kindly.  I sliced the living hell out of my knuckles trying to get the beast to move.  I laid on the wrench, pushed, sprayed it with all manner of lubricant, tapped on it.  Nothing.  It would not move.

After two hours, I decided to call in professional help.  Enter Kevin, the friendly guy from Roto-Rooter some national chain who laid on the wrench, pushed, sprayed it with all manner of lubricant, tapped on it, nothing.  He even put a hex nut head on the element and stood on the wrench.  It. Would. Not. Budge.

Well, fuck me running. 

There's a little back story to fill in here, as well:  the water heater was easily 30 years old.  I'm shocked that it lasted this long.  It was not up to code, and since I'm looking to sell this money pit house in the near-ish future, I made the decision to get a new water heater installed.  Again, I relied on the professional.  Mostly because there was a SECOND fear lurking in the back of my mind while dealing with maintenance on a water heater.  Namely, that it would build up pressure and burst, shooting through my house like a rocket.

Seem far-fetched?  Again, not so fast, my friend.



I know I give Mythbusters some shit for their "scientific" claims for all their experiments, but there is some serious proof in the pudding here.  That video should set you up with another video to watch from Mythbusters where they destroy a small house by having a water heater shoot THROUGH the entire structure.  It's pretty impressive.  For real.  Watch it.

Science


Oh...the explanation.  Right!  When the pressure builds up inside the inner chamber of the water heater, the water begins to get really pissed off.  It wants to expand, to turn to steam, something--anything!--to relieve that pressure (which is why there is a pressure release valve on water heaters).  These water heaters are engineered to release out the bottom in just such a scenario (rather than rupturing and shooting shrapnel everywhere, which is actually a lot worse than what you just watched), which unfortunately turns them into rockets.  Rockets that fly 500 feet in the air, gushing superhot water, but rockets nonetheless.

Ah, science!

So, not only was I glad to not have electrocuted myself, but I also am glad that I had the professional install the water heater so that it was up to code AND installed correctly.  Even if my $40 fix-it-yourself project suddenly turned into something that cost over $1000.  I'm up to code, and there's nothing firing off through the two floors of my house and the roof.

Oh, and the showers?  Yeah, they're nice and hot now.  And I don't have to crawl under the house in order to press the reset button on the water heater.  Now I can save all that energy for pushing better, more sexy buttons.

Yeah, I'm not sure what that means, either.

Some Things Haven't Changed...

February 15, 2016

I was looking at my stats the other day, for giggles (and shits), now that I've decided to make a concerted effort toward blogging again.  I will probably never get back to the level of 2009, when I was writing something new nearly every single day...and sometimes two a day.  Wow.  That's something akin to actual effort.

*shudders*

I know the last few years have been...sparse...to say the least.  Some shit went down--some of it I'll talk about, some of it I was legally bound not to speak about.  Some of it, well, it's just better left unsaid.

However, there are things that don't change...such as the shitty weather forecasting around these parts.

This is not exactly what I was looking for, Google.


In North By God Carolina, the weather and--more specifically--the snow predictions have been right once over the past ten years.  Well, maybe twice--there was a ten inches plus forecast last year that ended up around 8, so I'll give them some leeway there.  Although my power was out for two days, which meant I couldn't make coffee, and I had a tremendous headache, which filled me with even more murderous rage, but I couldn't do anything about it because I had a terrible headache.  So, maybe I shouldn't give them a pass. 

Today was another one of those swing-and-a-miss forecasts.  We were supposed to have a weather system move in, but we were assured to worry not our pretty little heads about accumulations.  It wouldn't be an issue.

My son walked into the dining--or the room that serves as my office--and announced, "It's snowing!" last night right before he went to bed.  Sure enough, I looked out and we had an inch on the ground, easily.  It was dry, powdery stuff, because the air temperature was cold enough that the water droplets didn't have time to properly expand before they changed to ice.  How's that for science? (it's a little more complicated than that, but whatever).  Had it not been so dry, it might have been three or four or maybe six inches.

I stepped outside and it was that beautiful, heavy snow-falling kind of night.  There was a muffled quiet that had spread through the darkness, and the silence and solitude was magnificent.  I loved it.  It reminded me of so many snow events of my youth.  It was the kind of snow that reminded my why I like snow so much.

However, the forecast also didn't really call for snow.  Just freezing rain.  Or sleet.  But not a lot of snow.  Maybe some mixed in with the rain.  That's all.  Don't worry at all.  No accumulations, kids!

Or do worry...because they told us not to.

The only reason I'm complaining is because I had everything set up to work from home today, and it was going to be glorious.  It would be quiet.  There would be solitude.  I could drink coffee as often and as much as I wanted.  I didn't have to wear pants!!!
I guess it's boot season...

And then they cancelled school.

I don't blame them.  It's gross out there.  Cold and wet and snowy and icy.  It's all the reasons that I don't like snow, now that I'm an adult...or at least pretending to be one.

So, the quiet is out the window as every neighborhood kid screams while riding a sled down my frozen driveway.  And, since the children are home with me, I have to wear pants. 

*grumbles*

At least the coffee is still hot and flowing.  For now.  I don't want to say anything TOO loudly, else the Universe might decide to intercede.  Again.

I hear more screaming that might be slightly less than joyous.  I better go and make sure no one's body parts are mangled.  At least, not on my property.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol CXI

February 12, 2016

I swore that I wouldn't fall back into the same traps of rehashing ancient legends, tales and history when I fired this thing back up, but then I trotted out the falling down the stairs story that I had already told about Betsy Hagar.  I guess this is just lazy writing.  Welcome to the rest of the Internet, Jenks!

I know that today isn't Valentine's day, but it's this weekend and no one reads a this blog ever on the weekends, so I thought I'd also fall into the old habits of writing about saints on their feast day.  I mean, when it comes to lazy writing, go big or go home.

Or just don't write at all.  Looking at you, 2015!!!

Anyway, on Sunday, the calendar page flips over to a gigantic pink heart and a box of chocolates and a giant Vermont teddy bear--no, NOT Bernie Sanders.  We're talking about an ungodly huge stuffed bear that is sure to get your female counterpart to cross her legs at the knees forever while she stares icy daggers at you with every chance she gets.

Speaking of ungodly...

One of the symbols of Valentine's Day is Cupid, the Roman god of erotic love.  He is the son of Venus, and depending on who you ask in Rome, you will get a different answer as to his father's identity.  If we follow the Greek tradition, Eros (Cupid's "Greek counterpart) just sort of arose from the Chaos at the beginning of it all.  Some people will tell you that Mercury is the father (hence the wings), others insist Vulcan is the father because he was, after all, married to Venus.  Still others prefer to insist that Mars is the father, because there is a certain beauty in describing love as being both erotic and warlike.

Kinky.

In Roman traditions, Cupid is a beautiful youth with a quiver of arrows at his belt and a bow at his side.  He's deadly accurate with those arrows, too:  one shot of his golden-tipped arrow and you're doing things you never thought you would ever do.  Cupid's arrows are very much like tequila.

However, Cupid gives and Cupid taketh away.  In addition to his golden-tipped love darts, Cupid could also fire off lead-tipped projectiles that would turn you from being a wanton and love-filled youth and into Grumpy Cat, but with less personality and more bitterness.  Essentially, me.

Cupid's most famous myth is the one where he is sent to destroy the beautiful Psyche, but in a somewhat ironic twist, Cupid falls in love with the mortal and ends up not killing her.  Psyche is pretty fucking hot, and this makes Cupid's mom, Venus, upset and thus dispatches her son to do her dirty work.  Instead, once Cupid sees Psyche, he wants her immediately and we get, as is usually the case, a case of divine kidnapping. Nothing says love like stealing your girlfriend from her home and locking her in a dark room (no, seriously...don't do this).  According to the legend, Cupid spirits Psyche off to his palace where he keeps her in a dark room...no mention of whether he lured her into his chariot first with candy or went strait to the chloroform.  At night, he comes to her (and probably on her), telling her of his love for her, but she can't be allowed to see him (because then the jig will be up as she would instantly recognize him as Cupid).  Concerned--and here is where her sisters, jealous that Psyche is getting some godly dick--Psyche sneaks a lamp into the room while Cupid is asleep and she lights it, discovering that her lover is Cupid.  In her excitement, she spills some oil on him, burning him awake (I'm sure he would have preferred a blow job), and, seeing that Psyche now knows his godly identity, Cupid flees.

No. Psyche. With an 'e' on the end!
Psyche goes off to search the world in order to find Cupid, but she can't, so she implores his mother--the one who wanted her dead in the first place--to help.  Yeah.  This is going to end well.  Being that she's a psycho jealous bitch, Venus tortures Psyche, sending her on impossible tasks that she somehow manages to complete.  Finally fed up, Venus sends Psyche into the Underworld to retrieve some of Porserpina's beauty with the instructions not to look at it.  As Admiral Ackbar once said:  IT'S A TRAP!  Curious to see what this beauty is, and perhaps to use a little for herself, Psyche does not heed Ackbar's warning and instead peeks in the box and is condemned to eternal sleep.  Cupid "stumbles" on her in the wild while she is out cold and feels her up revives her, sealing the sleep back in the box.

Impressed by her perseverance, Jupiter decides to deify Psyche, that way she can wed Cupid as an equal and not have that whole immortal/mortal dynamic that plagues so many other couples in mythology and tragic literature.

Wait.  What?  Jupiter didn't just say, "Nice job, kid?  Here's my dick!"  Huh.  Will wonders never cease?

Anyway, this is a story about how love conquers all.  Or maybe it's a story about how we kind of lose our minds when we're faced with love.  Or just a nice set of boobs (you know who you are).

With that in mind, here's this week's Latin phrase:

Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur.

"Ah-mar-aye et sah-pair-aye wicks day-o con-kay-dee-tour."


Even a god finds it hard to love and be wise at the same time.

It wasn't until some time after Alexander the Great died and before the Roman Empire rose to power in the Mediterranean world that Cupid went from being a handsome youth to the chubby little spanker we know him as today.  As his symbolism for both Heavenly and Earthly love began to be translated over into Christian mythology, Cupid became more of a cherub type image, and that's how he persists today, morphing into a more cartoonish caricature of himself.  If that's possible.  Unfortunately, Psyche hasn't followed along with him, and so Cupid has become associated with a sort of cruel prankster who enjoys seeing people fall in love with the wrong partner.  His most famous modern namesake is the "dating" site OKCupid, whose abbreviation (OKC) always makes me think of the Thunder and Kevin Durant.

Wait a minute...Kevin Durant is deadly accurate shooting, as well.  Holy shit, guys!  Kevin Durant is Cupid!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!

An Even MORE Tragic Finale

February 9, 2016

I come to you, handful of blog readers, with hat in hand, ready to issue an apology for the oversight.  After writing last week's blog, I sat and thought on it (I have a lot of traffic to contend with on the daily commute) and I'm pretty sure that I had already told the story of falling-not-falling down Betsy's stairs.

Close enough to the image
I was trying to invoke

My shame, it is evident.  Do with me as you will. 

*ties blindfold around eyes* 

*lights cigarette*

But wait.  If you pull the triggers on that firing squad, you'll never get to hear the even more tragic tale of what happened after Betsy's graduation party!

Oh, I see I've earned myself a brief stay of execution.

Now, for this, you need to realize that I lived in a dingy little backwater town called Markle, which confidently strode the border of Huntington and Wells Counties in Indiana.  I lived on the western (read: far more cool and hip) side of town, so I went to Huntington North High School in Huntington, Indiana (don't ask where Huntington South is...).  Huntington was the county seat of Huntington County (amazing, I know), and as such was the largest city in the county.  Most of my friends lived in Huntington, not Markle.  It was a ten mile drive to Huntington--you know, all day trip type distance.

Betsy was one of those Huntington-residing friends.  Another was my good friend Matt Webb (it's almost like Matthew was a popular name for boys born in the middle of the 70s), and so it was that I made sure to go to Matt's graduation party.  I think it might have been the same weekend as Betsy's.  Don't ask for specifics; it was twenty a few years ago.  I've imbibed a few drinks and had mind-altering drugsblowing sex since then.  Details are a bit hazy.  Concentrate and ask again later.

Anyway, my friend Matt was a doctor's son, and a fairly successful doctor, at that.  As such, he could afford the finer things in life...such as a pool.  A pool which was fully engaged when I showed up at his party.  However, this was his "official" graduation party, and so all of his family--including ten thousand younger cousins--were at the party, and they were using the pool.

Like this, but with MORE purple
Unlike Betsy's party, I had no grand schemes or designs or speeches to deliver.  What I did have was a small bag of the ugliest fucking ties that the Seventies could have ever vomited up and called fashionable.  Matt was a big fan of retro fashion, and so I knew he would love these.  My dad didn't want them, so I folded them neatly and put them in a bag and took them to Matt's party. 

I was right.  He loved them.  He gushed over how happy they made him.  I felt pretty good.  Having a big slice of cake probably didn't hurt.  I spent probably an hour at Matt's house talking with him, his younger brother (he was a sophomore at HNHS), his mom (she worked at the school), and his dad (never met him before that day).  It was a great time.

After overstaying my welcome, I shook Matt's hand, congratulated him for graduating (I mean, why not?) and turned to go.  As I was leaving, Matt stopped me and said, "Hey, come back later tonight.  After dark.  A bunch of people are coming over.  It's going to be a pool party."  There was a hesitation, and then he added, "You can bring a suit...if you want..."

Now, the important thing here is that Matt and I ran in many of the same circles in high school.  This meant that, at this pool party, where bathing suits may or may not be needed, there was an excellent chance that several of the girls I had crushed upon over the course of the past four years would be in attendance, including Rachel, Amy, Elizabeth...and Betsy.

Holy shit.  I might get to swim naked.  With Betsy Motherfucking Hagar.

(This was not her middle name.  It was Anne.)

Ecstatic, I went and visited a couple of other friends, where they, too, were talking about Matt's graduation pool party.  Oh, the debauchery that the night promised.  It was almost too much for my 18-year-old mind to process.  I was almost literally aquiver with excitement. 

We'll just call it excitement and leave it at that.

Not Betsy...but another perfect blonde
I drove home, practically floating the whole way I was so happy.  I got home, parked the car, went inside and began preparing.  I got fresh clothes, grabbed the swim trunks (you know, to be gallant), and then hopped in the shower, scrubbed myself until I was pink and fresh-smelling, and then shaved and trimmed.

I was looking and feeling good.

I made myself some food and then sat down on the front porch with my parents to eat.  That's when my mother started in.

"Did you have a good time?"

"Yes, quite.  In fact--"

"Well, good.  You've been gone a lot over the past couple of weekends. I think it's about time to wrap up the graduation party circuit."

"Well, you see--"

"There aren't any other of your friends--your good friends, your close friends--parties to go to, right?  Good."

"Well Matt Webb--"

"You just went to Matt Webb's house.  You gave him all those old ties.  No need to go back."

Instead of arguing further, I just frowned down onto my plate and said, "Yeah, I guess not."  It's not like I could tell my mom that I had been invited to a pool party where I might see the nakeds.  Especially not ones that I had pined for for years, written erotica about, or developed pubescent carpal tunnel syndrome over.  Dejected--nay, defeated--I stayed home with my parents that night.

And yes, Matt had his pool party.

And yes, there was skinny dipping involved.

And yes, Betsy was there.

*peeks out from under blindfold*

Oh, what's that?  I've earned my freedom by spinning that tale?  Well, thanks, I'll just be going now.

*thinks back to what might have been on that fateful night at Matt Webb's house*

On second thought, just end it for me now...

Resuscitation

February 2, 2016

The other day, I was asked about breathing life back into this blog by a very attractive, very funny, very sexy young redheaded woman.  I pondered it for a few seconds days and, at her continued urging, decided that, yes, I guess I could maybe string a few words together in a manner somewhat pleasing for your senses.  Because, when have I ever been suggestible to the words of a hot woman?  Right?

Then I realized that it's Groundhog Day.  Groundhog Day!  The symbolism of rebirth, of being dragged unwillingly from a warm den and tunnel!  Oh, the symbolism is strong with this day.

Fear, anger, hatred?
A Groundhog knows not these things.

And once I began thinking about the symbolism of Groundhog Day, I remembered that it was the birthday of on Betsy Hagar, the Teutonic goddess on whom I crushed throughout high school, unrequited, silently, there in the corner...there in the spotlight.

*clears throat*

You get the idea.

At this point, I don't remember all the stories I told in the past, and frankly, I don't feel like going through all my past entries and reading everything that I've already written.  I mean, I like you guys; I just don't know if I like you that much.  Except you.  Yes, you.  You know why.

In movies, there's always the guy pining for the girl who is way out of his league, and he wants her from afar, but he never summons up the courage to tell her that he writes and masturbates to erotica about her that he has deep, deep feelings for her?  And then at the end of the movie, he finally grows a pair, and he walks up to the girl and he tells her that he loves her and then she always--always--falls into his arms and they go off and presumably live a happily ever after life filled with, presumably, lots of sex and blow jobs?

Well, that's what I decided to do with Betsy...from the safety of the other side of graduation.


What?
We were the Vikings.
After we shuffled of the educational coils of one Huntington North High School, I did the graduation party circuit.  I went to a lot of my friends' parties and did what I could with cards and gifts and stuff--it felt a lot like Squidward in that episode of SpongeBob where he's playing Santa Claus but is basically just giving away all his shit to make SpongeBob feel good?  Yeah, that was me with post-graduate gifts.

This is the situation in which I found myself at Betsy's graduation party, cheesy card and shitty gift in hand, my heart racing in my chest as I pondered the speech that would certainly win Betsy's heart and make her mine for that happily ever after story, complete with lots of sex and blow jobs.  I walked in, gave her the card, she gave me a hug, and...I got distracted talking to someone else.

Now, I don't know if you remember a lot of the graduation parties that YOU went to, but, well, they are thrown so that the graduate is the center of attention, so that the graduate is showered with undying adulation from their friends and family, so that the graduate is the center of the spotlight.

They're not thrown so that some other dork can have his teen romcom ending to his high school career.

And so it was at Casa de los Hagars.

The longer I stood in Betsy's living room, the more unnerved I became.  Eventually, I gave up, since she was ringed by a least a dozen other attractive high school girls (all fellow graduates of HNHS Class of 1994) serving as sort of a Midwestern Swiss Guard.  I approached Betsy, got another hug, and told her that I needed to be going.  She asked if I couldn't stay longer (I think I had another party to get to, honestly), and I made the polite small talk of telling her I wanted to, that I would miss hanging out with her, and that I hoped to see her again soon.  Not quite the romantic ending that I had built up in my mind, but it was still gallant.  Ish.

Spoilers:  I never saw her again.

Now, sure, in high school, I was an athlete.  I wouldn't describe myself as athletic, but I also wasn't a tub of lard that hurled himself forward by the mass of my gut sticking three feet out in front of the rest of me, either.  And while I had decent dexterity of foot (pedantry?), I, like everyone else, would still trip and fall slip and make a fool of myself.

As I was walking down the steps from Betsy's living room to the door, a framed photo collage that was propped on the back of the couch and leaning on the banister railing slipped and fell behind the couch.  It was loud, at it startled me a little bit.

Betsy, however, thought that I had keeled over and came running to help me.  There was a look of confusion on her face when I was standing there, quite upright, attempting to get the picture collage unwedged from behind the couch and back in its place of display.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"Yes, quite.  The picture just fell, that's all."

"Oh, I thought you had tripped and fallen."

There was a long moment where we stared at each other, and then I finally said, "Well, no.  However, I guess I shook this loose while walking down the stairs..."

We bid each other adieu once more, and then I walked out of her life, forever.   And the last thing she said to me was that she thought I was enough of a clumsy lummox that I had fallen down the stairs and done myself a grievous injury.

No.  Not the romantic ending I had envisioned for that particular relationship.  But at least I felt her boobs pressed against me.  Twice.

Small victories.