Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Aftermath and Consequences

Our old friend Leño used to joke that Frankie’s e-mail address was igotgame@buticantclose.com, because on several occasions over the years, Frankie has talked to a girl to the point where she basically threw herself at him, but he hasn’t closed the deal. Friday night, Melissa’s friend Jenna was just the latest in a long line of girls that Frankie didn’t close under eerily similar circumstances. Our friends have already joked about how the old Frankie is making a comeback. I have to say, Frankie’s got much more control over his libido than I do, but that’s not a bad thing. Just because one can do something doesn’t mean one should do something. Truth be told, I don’t know that I would have shown the same restraint that he did.

I spoke with Missy on Sunday, and she told me that Jenna had been distraught, and had broken down in a drunken-crying “why didn’t he want me” episode after we dropped them off at Missy’s house. After Melissa consoled her, Jenna promptly drove home, and Missy let her . . . leading me to question both their judgment in general, but that’s another story. Melissa also told me that Frankie actually made “the right decision,” since Jenna had a tendency to be “clingy.” And then she told me that Jenna was also trying to get over the guy from the Tropi-Christmas party that she hooked up with (stealing him away from our good friend Samantha in the process). Evidently he never called Jenna after that night. Now, ladies, here’s a lesson that they must have left out of the book they gave you in middle school, but I’m happy to impart: the random guy that you blow in the spare bedroom of your friend’s house while the party’s going on after having met him about a half-hour before is probably not going to call you, and you shouldn’t be expecting any sort of love connection out of the encounter. I’m not saying don’t blow the guy at the party – all I’m saying is that you should know what you’re getting into. At 35, Jenna’s still not gotten the hang of that principle, I guess.

Light Blogging (I think)

So I'm off to Sacramento for work today through Thursday, then I'm flying home to see the folks for Christmas on Friday, though I will return on the 25th, and will likely have a wholesome entry or two reflecting on the season or something like that. At any rate, I won't have the internet access that I typically have for the next week or so.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life is very long.

Upon hearing of my Friday night ignominy (blogged at length at Frankie’s place), Meno made me feel better with the following words:

The way I see it, sooner or later everyone’s the grenade at sometime in their life.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Jack Gordon's Official Christmas Special

For the most part I don't do the whole "meme" thing, since they're usually too time consuming, but I couldn't help answering the questions to this one in my head as I read them over on Andi's blog. Plus, as I said in an earlier post, I try not to be a complete grinch. So, in the spirit of Christmas, I broke down and took the time to answer the following twenty questions:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Neither. I’m lactose intolerant and both make me ill. I stick to the hot cider, or better yet some mulled wine or hot buttered rum.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
This is a real chicken or egg question, and I've never pondered it. I expect he has the Chinese kids in the sweatshops where the presents are made wrap them for him.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
I had several traumatic experiences with Christmas trees as a kid, and my annoying neighbors have driven me to boycott decorating my house. If anything I’d go with a Festivus pole.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
I've never done it, mostly since I live alone, but I’m not opposed to anything that might help me score.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Objection. Assumes facts not in evidence.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Going to deliver presents to friends and family with my dad.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I was born a cynic, and my parents didn't really believe in lying to me, so I don’t really remember. I don’t know that I ever actually bought into the whole Santa thing. I was more of a “happy birthday, Jesus” kind of kid. Santa creeps me out: an old dude dressed in red velvet that watches me sleep and wants me to sit in his lap? Ewww.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Yup. I’m an impatient mofo so Christmas Eve is when I open most of them.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
See answer to Question 3, above.

11. Snow: love it or hate it?
For the most part, I hate the cold and snow. I used to make an exception for snow on Christmas eve, until my uncle slipped, fell, and dislocated his shoulder during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve in 1997 and I had to take him to the emergency room. Strangely, Christmas Eve is about the best time to ever go to the emergency room, as it turns out. But I can do without snow now.

12. Can you ice skate?
I've done it twice in my life, and was OK at it.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Yes. My mom gave me a very nice dopp kit when I was in high school, and I loved it. In December 2002 a baggage-claim belt at Chicago's Midway airport mangled my garment bag and destroyed the dopp kit. I was very sad. In fact, I secretly suspect that I broke-up with my girlfriend at the time in large part because she wasn't thoughtful enough to have bought me a replacement for Christmas – especially since she knew how much I loved that dopp kit and that I thought it was the greatest Christmas gift anyone had ever given me.

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Spending time with my folks.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Hickory Farms' summer sausage. I know it’s not a dessert, but I just I love it so much that I'm sticking with it.

16. What tops your tree?
See answer to Question 3, above.

17. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Giving. I don’t really need or want anything, but I enjoy buying shit for people.

18. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I fucking hate Christmas carols. I especially hate that I’m forced to hear them every day starting after Halloween these days. I wish someone would come up with new ones.

19. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Probably Trading Places.

20. What would be the best gift you could receive this year?
A bottle of premium booze always warms my heart. I'm easy.

I'm pretty sure I only have like six readers these days, and Andi's already tagged me, but for the rest of you, have at it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Mad Shoeshiner Moment

I ran “shoeshiner” through YouTube today, and came across this bizarre commercial. No detail on it, no country of origin indicated, but it looks like there are a whole series of “Kiwi Express” commercials featuring these strange little stick figure cartoons. The Boss’ reaction in this one captures my first reaction, as well. A little on-line research led me to adsoftheworld.com, which informs us that this little gem came from Hong Kong, and that:

A SHOE SHINER is urban slang for a brown-noser. Since Kiwi Express is a ridiculously fast shoe shiner, this humorous campaign shows a brown-nosing employee shamelessly sucks up to his boss – in no time whatsoever.

Clearly not American urban slang. Great. Now I’m going to be insecure about the title of my blog every time I see some random foreigner on sitemeter. For the record, there is a real Mad Shoeshiner. He used to work in the lobby of La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Perhaps he still does. He shined my shoes once many years ago and was clearly insane. He did, however, drop several pearls of wisdom that stuck with me to this very day, and I still quote the guy on occasion. Among his observations:
You buy an electric toothbrush and then you have to buy a house that has electricity.
Think about that one for a while. There was a definite method to his madness. As an aside, if you ever get shoe polish on your clothes or upholstery, your first order of business should be a spray-down with WD-40.

Fifty First Dates

As a follow-up to my last post, another piece of clothing that the other ten percent have completely hijacked and that I think kicks ass is the striped boat-neck shirt: totally not historically gay. I don’t own one, but only because I’ve never found one in my size that I like. Picasso made the style famous, and I’d wager that he crushed more ass than Sinatra in his day.

So Frankie and I went to the Fulbright scholar’s cocktail party last night. She was still a little cold – despite the fact that she invited us to the party. It wasn’t like we crashed it or anything, even though that’s not beyond us at all. In fact, we brought a bottle of Junipero gin as a gift, and shook up a couple of killer martinis. For the first hour or so following our arrival, there were only two other guests there. They were, however, a completely cool husband and wife who were totally interesting and engaging and a pleasure to talk to. In fact, if I were to have a party at my place, I’d track them down and extend an invitation, though, I’m ambivalent about whether or not I’d invite the Fulbright scholar at this point. I probably wouldn’t.

I had pre-soaked with two vodka sodas before we arrived, and was three Dos Equis lagers into the party by the time the other guests began showing up. The highlight of the night hit early, as the fifth guest to arrive was a woman that Frankie had made-out with for a while at Melissa’s Tropi-Christmas bash. We realized this immediately before she did, and called an audible: feign complete ignorance of who she was. It helped that when she approached Frankie, she said something to the effect of “Don’t I know you? Isn’t your name Bert?” Of course, Frankie’s name is not Bert, and he had proof of that, so when we both told her that we’d never met her before she had to believe us. She was looking pretty good, and we talked with her for a while. Whoever said you never get a second chance to make a first impression never plugged alcohol into the equation.

By the end of the evening, around 11:00, there weren’t many people left at the party. Some engineering type who was talking about – I am not making this up – how the elements on the periodic table got their names ended up cornering our new friend out on the patio. We thought about running the cock-block on him, which would have been easy, but decided, instead, to just slip away into the night . . . . we had succeeded in being good, interesting (I think), and memorable guests at the party, and we had made our positive impression on the crowd. Like the gambler, Frankie and I have learned that the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep – ‘cause every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser, and the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Winter wardrobe

I guess I haven’t mentioned that the Fulbright scholar invited me and Frankie to a little cocktail party at her house this evening. Which is funny for many reasons, including the fact that we met her at Melissa’s party and Melissa didn’t get invited. Melissa’s thoughts on that:

I don't know who this beeotch is, but tell her thanks for coming over to my house and drinking my liquor and enjoying the outside heaters and pleasant company. Then tell her to write the check out to: Melissa "I invite people to my parties" Sorensen. I'm not bitter.

Further excerpts from the e-mail chain among me, Frankie, and Melissa yesterday afternoon and this morning:

Frankie: Jack’s masculinity is always an easy target....can you convince him not to wear turtlenecks?
Melissa: The turtleneck is a key part of the gay uniform. Frankie, apparently, you’re the other part. Have fun at the party I wasn’t invited to!!

Jack: The turtleneck is one of the most flattering things a man can wear. Seriously, it puts your head on a pedestal. Just to spite you, I'm wearing one tomorrow. Cashmere.

Frankie: People already think you are my gay lover, so just don’t wear the turtleneck . . .

Fuck him; I’m wearing a black cable-knit turtleneck today. A note to heterosexual men everywhere: I think it’s time to take back the turtleneck. Since when did it become "a key part of the gay uniform"? Seriously, some of the straightest men to ever walk this Earth were fans of the turtleneck. Two words for you: Steve Fucking McQueen. Just look at the stills from Bullit, and tell me he looks like he’s light in the loafers in his black turtleneck. Or how about this picture of Ernest Hemingway, the man who single-handedly defined the paradigmatic American male for most of the twentieth century? Nobody would ever have called Hem a poof for wearing his turtleneck and gotten away with it. It’s a damned shame that our cultural notions of masculinity have ebbed so much in the last half-century. I yearn to somehow reclaim the core and code of manhood that men like Hemingway so carefully described and tried to obey (but certainly did not invent). Dressing like a man should not be solely the province of the homosexual because they have more fashion sense. That’s all I’m saying.

Friday, December 7, 2007

'Tis the Season

Wine is fine, but liquor is quicker.” If you read deep enough into this blog, you’ll find a bit of drinking going on, and you may note that I’m quite the liquor snob. I really enjoy a martini made with quality gin, for instance, and I don’t shy away from a premium vodka on the rocks when I really have to take the edge off. I’ve been known to spend good money on bottles of whiskeys from around the world (if the world consisted of Canada, Kentucky, and Ireland), and if I were stranded on deserted island, I’d be OK, so long as I had a never-ending supply of cold beer. But wine . . . I’ve never been able to get into wine, much to my chagrin. I’ve tried. Really I have. For what it’s worth, I tried to get into opera once, too. Some things just never “took” in the Jack Gordon repertoire. The finer points of wine appreciation are completely lost on me, and I have to say that my favorite bottle of wine, if I’m going to be cracking one open at home to share with a lady friend, is a Chilean Merlot called Casillero Del Diablo that I can pick up for under $10.00 at Cost Plus. When all is said and done, though, I typically won’t drink wine if there are alternatives available.

One thing that I do like to drink around the holiday season, however, is a good mulled wine. I keep a tin of mulling spices in my pantry, and at least once each December, I’ll buy a bottle of the cheapest burgundy I can find at the supermarket, fire up the stove, and make a batch. I may not have a Christmas tree or a Festivus pole up, and my house may look pathetic next to the Clark Griswold-esque decorating efforts that my neighbors make, but nobody will ever be able to label me a complete grinch.

in memoriam

My fifth grade teacher's daughter was born on December 7th. He named her Pearl, in memory of Pearl harbor. A pretty cool gesture, I think . . . . One of my oldest childhood friends is engaged to her now, which is sort of strange to wrap my head around, because when we were in fifth grade, she was just a goofy five year old that we'd see now and again. I saw them not long ago, and it's weird to see her in her as a woman in her twenties. But there's no denying we're all grown-ups now.
December 7, 1941 did become a day that lives on in infamy, and as I try to do on Veteran's Day, I want to take this opportunity to thank those vets that served so that I could enjoy my freedoms as an American.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Frankie keeps pressing me to e-mail the Fulbright scholar from Saturday’s party. He’s always been an overeager type – to a fault sometimes. I’ll do it, I just need to hold off a little, given her initial coldness. Apropos of Frankie’s haste, however, I shared this classic anecdote with him:

Two bulls are standing on a hill. Off in the distance, they see a group of cows. The young bull excitedly nudges the old bull and says, “Hey! Hey! I know! Let’s run over there and fuck one of those cows!” The old bull looks at the young bull, then turns and takes a long look at the cows. He turns back to the young bull and says, “I’ve got a better idea, son, let’s walk over there and fuck ‘em all.”
I know the games we have to play suck. Hell, you think I like those games? But I’ve blown more opportunities than a lot of guys will ever have by trying to pretend that there weren’t a set of “rules” that women play by. As I’ve said before, I have a sneaking suspicion that in middle school, when they separate the boys from the girls for sex-ed, they give the girls a little book (complete with concordance and FAQ section) that explains exactly how to deal with and respond to men. What do guys have? Bawdy anecdotes passed via oral tradition. It’s just not fair.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Season's Greetings

I went to the first holiday party of the season last night – the annual “Tropi-Christmas” extravaganza at Melissa’s house, complete with Tiki shot luge, beer bong, and an officiated beer pong tournament (yes, we are in our thirties). Around 11:00 there was an infusion of about fifteen new people to the party, all of whom were dressed in suits and cocktail dresses. They had all just left a corporate holiday party of some sort and were keeping their festivities rolling at Melissa’s. I spotted one of the hotter women immediately and approached her to break the ice, with Frankie as my wingman. She was a little stand-offish, and that didn’t really change much as we interacted. She expressed an inordinate amount of interest in the fact that Frankie’s parents immigrated to this country from Sardinia (yes, sardines are named after the country, and yes, it has four Moor’s heads on its flag). She also quoted Thomas Mann twice. During our conversation, I learned that she had been a Fulbright scholar in Mexico with the sister of one of my college buddies – a girl who, incidentally was also Laz’s sister’s college roommate. Small world, no?

Another highlight of the Tropi-Christmas bash was when a woman approached us to chat. I recognized her from last year’s party, at which she had been totally uncool with me for no reason whatsoever, but she clearly did not remember me at all this year.

She: “Hi, I’m Katie.”

Me: “Yeah. I remember you from last year. You’re originally from Montana. I called it a ‘big square state’ and you corrected me, saying it was a rectangle, not a square. Are you going to be a bitch again this year, or do you wanna start with a clean slate?”

She (visibly stunned): “ . . . . I am from Montana . . . . . . . . . . and it is a rectangle”

Me: “Move along.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Curse you, Nancy Reagan!

So Andi has a post over at her place featuring what appears to be an Australian public service announcement that reminded me of this chestnut from my middle school years. It cracked me up then, and Laz and I still use the line: “You, all right, I learned it by watching you!” for comedic effect on occasion. This has got to be one of the least effective PSA’s ever conceived, and I actually think that some teens in the eighties may have smoked a bowl or two out of spite for the idiots that came up with this.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The history of cool.

[T]he wise man should always follow the roads that have been trodden by the great, and imitate those who have most excelled, so that if he cannot reach their perfection, he may at least acquire something of its savour. Acting in this like the skillful archer, who seeing that the object he would hit is distant, and knowing the range of his bow, takes aim much above the destined mark; not designing that his arrow should strike so high, but that flying high it may alight at the point intended.
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter VI

For a while now, I’ve wanted to write a new blog series: “Famous International Playboys,” to pay an homage to those historical figures whom I have sought to emulate at various points in my life – whose works or lifestyles have inspired me somehow – and who have positively impacted my outlook in some way.

Apologies to Morrissey, “Famous International Playboy” is just a verbose way of saying “Byronic.” How badass do you have to have been when your name went on to become an adjective for “cool motherfucker”? For that reason, I have to make Lord Byron the focus of my inaugural column. Byron was famously described by Lady Caroline Lamb as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” And not only that; he was a pretty good writer. His poetry is pretty good to plagiarize if you need to write an epic love letter. Throughout my twenties, I secretly wanted to be described by someone as “Byronic” – ideally by a girl that was in love with me. Alas, I don’t think that’s ever happened. And now that I’m pretty jaded, I don’t really care how I’m described anymore. According to Wiki:

The Byronic hero presents an idealised but flawed character whose attributes include:

  • having great talent
  • exhibiting great passion
  • having a distaste for society and social institutions
  • expressing a lack of respect for rank and privilege
  • thwarted in love by social constraint or death
  • rebelling
  • suffering exile
  • hiding an unsavoury past
  • arrogance, overconfidence or lack of foresight
  • ultimately, acting in a self-destructive manner

Jaded or not, my hat tips to Lord Byron, the consummate Famous International Playboy who set the stage for countless many more to follow and aspire.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Reflections upon a Bust of Mao

Back when I was still in school, my buddy Laz went on vacation to China with his family. When he came back, he brought me a little alabaster bust of Mao Zedong as a souvenir. It was a little dirty, about two inches tall, and had a real quaint “Red China” aura to it. I was still living in a dorm at the time, and I put the little stone bust on my bookshelf. I had a small menagerie of communist paraphernalia from a trip to Cuba that I had made, and the Chairman fit right in among it. I lived on the 9th floor of a high-rise dormatory, and shortly after acquiring the bust, I was at a function at the bar and grill on the second floor of the dorm. I was enjoying my drink, and I found myself talking to an attractive med student. Her name escapes me now, but I recall that she was very involved in that “doctors without borders” bringing medicine to the third-world scene. And somehow we ended up talking about communism. And I said to her: “You know, I’ve got a Bust of Mao in my room.” And she said she’d like to see it. And I said OK, and we went up to my room, and from Mao, the conversation drifted to my CD collection, and I put on some music, yada yada, and we ended up hooking up. It all happened so fast, and was so serendipitous; I thought something like that would never happen again. And then it did. A couple of more times. And it got so that the “Bust of Mao” achieved talismanic status in my head. At the time, I didn’t understand why it worked – in fact, I sort of thought it might be a lot like Dumbo’s Magic Feather, and maybe I could do the same thing without the reference to the dead Chinese Chairman. I was only partly right.

Once I got out of school, and got my own place, the “Bust of Mao” reference never helped again. I still have the little statue, but by and large women in their thirties don’t talk about communism and idealism and crap like that.

In 2001, right after September 11th, my friend Webster was visiting me from out of town, and we were at the tavern next door to my apartment complex at the time. We were drinking at the bar and we noticed two passably-cute girls at a booth eating dinner. We wanted to send them a drink, and debated doing so, made eye contact with them two or three times, and finally approached. Web is smoother than I am, I guess, because after a couple of minutes of chit-chat he tells the two girls that I have a bottle of absinthe at my place and asks would they like to try it. That night merits a whole blog entry, but both girls – complete strangers to us before that night – came back to my apartment with us.

In September 2003, I flew to Vegas for Frankie’s birthday party. On the flight I sat next to a pretty girl, and we ended up exchanging numbers. About three weeks later, we met up at an Applebee’s for drinks on a Monday night. In passing I mentioned that the day before I had made a candle out of an old stone inkpot and some liquid paraffin. She said that sounded interesting, and I said I lived less than half a mile away if she wanted to see it, and she came over, and literally, within 15 minutes of walking into my place she was topless on my couch. Life is good sometimes.

It wasn’t until I was nearly thirty years old that it dawned on me how the Bust of Mao principle worked, and I realized that my Bust of Mao was no more magical than a bottle of exotic liquor or a homemade candle. The magic in all three was in what wasn’t said during the discussion about them.

In March of 2006, I was in Puerto Vallarta for a conference at the Westin resort there. The last night of the conference, I found myself drinking and talking with a pretty young lady from Chicago who was there to check folks in and oversee logistics, etc. We were drinking mai tai after mai tai, and were both drunk enough to make some bad decisions when the bar closed. There was definitely a spark, and sufficient nonverbal communication to signal the green light. But when they announced last call, and it was clearly the end of the night, I wished I had brought my Bust of Mao with me. Asking her straight to my room seemed so gauche, and we bade each other an awkward good night, as our rooms were in different directions from the bar. As I lay awake in my bed that night alone in such a romantic locale, with the sound of the ocean in the background, I kicked myself for being such a fumbling fool. On the flight back, I had one of those “What I should have said” moments, and it all made sense to me.

The magic of the Bust of Mao is that it gives an excuse for cutting away from the herd, so to speak. I’ve never met a woman who would respond positively to “Hey, do you want to go back to my place and fuck?” I’m sure she exists out there, but even if she does, she is definitely in a very small minority of women. Society just frowns too much on that sort of openness and honesty. Likewise, pretty much anybody, male or female, would follow you home if you said: “Hey, I’ve got two lottery tickets at my place, and one is guaranteed to win a million dollars; I’ll let you have your choice of the two if you want.” The Bust of Mao passes the “laugh out loud” test for why you’d be coming back to someone’s place, but is just banal enough to convey the message that “I’ve got a bit more than a stupid little statue there.” I remember my friend Jacob asking a girl in our dorm (now his wife) “do you want to come listen to me play my harmonica?” In reality, nobody wants to hear a dude play a harmonica, and a homemade candle is interesting for like one minute, maybe.

That night in Puerto Vallarta, I didn’t need the Bust of Mao; I needed a Bust of Mao: “the night view out my window is spectacular; you’ve got to come see it,” or something like that. I live and learn.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day Drinking Ahead

At precicely 10:49 a.m. today, I jumped on an office grenade and volunteered to take an emergency project that will require some work over the weekend (probably most of the day Friday). My only request was that I get to bug out early and have all day tomorrow off. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of my favorite drinking days of the year, and I was able to recruit a few crew members to join me this afternoon. We're priming the liver at 2:00. In preparation I should probably stop by an ATM and hide a $20 bill in my boot for cab fare later.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Greatest Misses - 2007

I was just reading through my entries from the past month or so, and realized that my life’s been pretty uneventful lately. Peter Piper Pizza? A story about my parents? Beef stew and Brylcreem? Reading Frankie’s first entry made me nostalgic for the days when I couldn’t blog fast enough to keep up with our stories. The majority of them remain in the ether, and eventually I’ll get to telling them, but there are no current “good” stories being generated. After Frankie’s waitress experience and my ubersaga, we both sort of self-imposed celibacy on ourselves to gather our thoughts. So I haven’t woken up next to a crazy chick since early October. I was going to put one of those “sobriety counter” widgets up here, but instead of sobriety, it would count days of chastity, but I think in the long run that would be depressing if I were to hit a real dry spell. Instead, I’ve spent the last month in introspection. When all is said and done, all I really want is a woman who’s faithful and kind at suppertime. Who would think that’s so hard to find?

I was at the mall on Sunday, killing time before a movie, and I ran into the girl from my very first entry. She was friendly and we chatted. She’s cute, and fun, but she shot me down at a time when rejection hurt more than usual. Whatever. I recalled the Milan Kundera line: “Love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory,” and I wondered what happens at the point when a woman receives a blog entry dedicated to her? And I thought about the “misses” of 2007. I was sure, after the breakup, that I would find someone else, and when I applied myself, it wasn’t really that hard to find a warm body. But there were a number of women that I thought of as “good leads” in that I really did find them cool, and could have seen myself dating for a while, if only to see where the pursuit took me, but for various reasons, things did not pan out. In no real order, Jack Gordon’s Five Greatest Misses – 2007:

  1. Allie Roth – An attractive, successful divorcee who also happens to have dated my friend Dan seriously, and Frankie not so seriously, along with a couple of acquaintances of mine. One Sunday I ran into her at the local mall and she invited me to join her at a wine bar across the street. That was around 2:00 in the afternoon, and we drank and talked and ended up at a sushi bar for dinner around 7:30. We made out first at the sushi bar, then in her Acura like adolescents. I didn’t try to take it any further assuming that there would be a second “date.” There wasn’t.
  2. Sandy Quinn – A stunning flight attendant, with whom I had a series of long phone conversations that were smooth and enjoyable. I had high hopes until we went on our first date and I learned that (a) she was an evangelical born-again Christian who had just gotten back from a three day Christian rock festival; and (b) she did not consume alcohol. I can’t handle bible thumpers or teetotalers. I suspect that “functioning alcoholic papist” was not high on the list of what she was looking for, either.
  3. The headshop girl – Weird choice, I know, but I was really, really drawn to her. I can’t imagine what we’d have had in common, but she just made me happy for the 20 minutes or so that we spoke. She was clearly more of a realist than I.
  4. Teresa Lindstrom – I was in Baltimore for a conference, and we met first at a happy hour following the conference, then ran into each other later in the hotel bar. We had an awesome conversation, and I thought she was beautiful. My line on her was “I have a lot of Neil Young on my iPod, if you want to come up and listen to it.” She did. I knew things would never work out with us due to the distance between us, and that, more than anything, made my heart ache the next day.
  5. The neo-pagan elf – When you expect nothing, and you get something, that’s destiny. When that something disappears as easy as it came, well, that’s just God having a sense of humor. My buddy Jason makes amateur films as a hobby, and he was picking up some props from one of his actresses at a bar across the street from where I work. He called and invited me to join in a drink, and I ended up hitting it off with the actress. She is a sculptor by trade, but an aspiring actress/writer the remainder of the time. We closed down the bar, and then relocated to a local resort designed by one of her favorite architects. We fooled around on the resort lawn like teenagers. We made plans to go on an actual date that coming Saturday. Saturday morning I called her and went straight to voicemail. I got a text from her later that day saying “sorry jack i am not interested in u in that way. i am in love with someone.” So it goes.

And so, like Gatsby, I beat on, boat against the current . . . or better yet, like Sam from Quantum Leap, I find myself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that my next leap . . . will be the leap home.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Youth is wasted on the young.

I just got back from a birthday party at Peter Piper Pizza. They serve beer there. Genius . . . sheer genius to serve beer at a place full of screaming children. I was through a pitcher before the Spider Man cake came out. I also won 240 redemption tickets from a machine that I swear was made to entertain mongoloids. With the same number of tokens, my friend Ray got like 15 tickets from playing skee ball, so I got the last laugh there. Unfortunately, you can't redeem the tickets for beer. So we got his 18 month-old daughter -- my goddaughter -- a stuffed soccer ball, because I was pretty sure all the other toys either contained lead-based paint or were laced with roofies.

Two blind men and an elephant

Frankie started a blog. Check it out here. I expect he'll relay a few stories you've read herein from his perspective. Don't believe him if his story contradicts mine. Also, keep in mind that he likes to take all the credit, but I taught him everything he knows. Either way, he's a good friend, and I'm glad to see he's going to start documenting his vida loca.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dieu est toujours pour les gros bataillons.

On November 16, 1532, Francisco Pizarro and company totally kicked the shit out of the Incas at the Battle of Cajamarca. 168 Spaniards versus 80,000 men, including 4,000 soldiers of Atahualpa's personal army. I've always found the story of the conquest of the New World frickin' fascinating. Regardless of history's judgement, there's no denying the Conquistadores had some real balls on them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Culture war casualty

I was in Arkansas last week, so couldn't write for a few days there. . . then I had a buddy from the home-town come in over the weekend, so I played tour-guide for a couple of days after I got back. So busy with work and company, the blogging's been scarce, but I'm pretty sure I'm back.

My folks were in town week before last, and stayed through the weekend as well. I love them dearly, and they are both pretty cool, albeit getting to the "old" point where they go to bed at 9:00 and wake up at like 5:00 a.m., which puts a little crimp on the "sleeping in" on the weekend.

My parents have always been pretty square, but I mean that in a very good way. My dad got drafted into the Army in 1965 and got out in '67. He had a good time of it, and he always spoke of his Army days fondly. When he was in, it was before Vietnam started getting too unpopular, and he did his patriotic duty with pride, so when he came out and enrolled in college in Northern California, I think it was a bit of a culture shock for him. He married my mom in 1969, and like him, she was from rural-America, and had pretty conservative values.

What's funny now, in cultural hindsight, is that the lefties won the culture war of the 60's. It's pretty hip to say "my parents were hippies," and tons of folks (like the ex's dad) claim to have been at Woodstock, etc. But that wasn't my experience at all. My folks disliked hippies, and were of the "better dead than red" mentality during the Cold War. A whole lot of Americans had to be like them, but apparently they didn't admit it. And my folks were total Democrats -- it's not even like they were hawks or anything. They just didn't suffer fools gladly.

I was reminded of all this when they were here last week, and my dad told me that he recalled being in the Army and Barry Sadler's "Ballad of the Green Berets" was the most popular song at the USO club. I chalked that up to it being a USO, but looked it up in Wikipedia, and the friggin' song was number one for five weeks in 1966, and the number twenty-one song of the 1960's, proving that there must have been a ton of "squares" out there besides my parents. The song hung around our household through the vinyl era, and I still get shivers down my spine when I hear it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Impressing even myself

cash advance

There you go, dear readers (all four of you) . . . at least it looks like I may be educational somehow, despite all the drinking, smoking, and screwing that goes on around here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Paging Tyler Durden . . .

I'm typing this as I sit in my room at a Sleep Inn in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Business, not pleasure, in case you were wondering. Posting will be light this week due to my unfortunate situation. Just had some ribs for dinner at the Chili's across the street. It was one of those travel days -- got stuck at DFW Airport for four hours because American decided to cancel my flight from there to here without advanced notice. Then when I got here, it turns out I made reservations via Hertz for a car in Fayetteville, North Carolina, not Fayetteville Arkansas, and every motherfucking last rental shop in town was closed or out of cars. This isn't exactly a pedestrian town. Got a smoker's room, and it smells like the Pub used to before they made smoking in bars illegal. I may have to wrap up the few loose ends I have for work, and head back to the Chili's about 9:00 to drink away the boredom. Or maybe I'll just go to sleep early.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


You know what always makes me laugh? When you finally read the lyrics to a song that you’ve heard for a long-ass time, and sometimes particularly liked, and the subject matter of the song is not at all what you thought it was about – and sometimes it is quite sinister. I remember that happened to me with the Kinks’ “Lola.” Most recently, I had it happen to me with Beck’s “Girl.” I know I’m not the only one. It makes me laugh even harder when a band covers a song without knowing what the original was about. Like when lame Christian rockers Sixpence None the Richer covered the Las’ “There She Goes,” evidently without knowing that it was a song about heroin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Taco Time

Going on right now, people . . . I'm off for mine right now.

Just like the prodigal son

This past Friday all my friends went lame on me, and nobody wanted to go out. After a happy hour with the Kaiser, I was home by 7:00, and entertained myself by watching Go, which was on one of the movie channels, and reminiscing about how weird the ‘90s were in hindsight. At about 9:30, I decided I wasn’t going to completely waste the night, so I put my shoes on and headed down to the Pub.

Frankie’s waitress was not working that particular evening, and I had forgotten how truly cool that place is and why I used to look forward to going there. The place was packed, but Marti, one of the waitresses there – a bigger girl that I would totally do if given the opportunity – saw me walk in and produced a barstool out of nowhere so that I’d have a place to sit by the bar. I ended up next to the servers’ station, so I got to talk to all the waitresses that were working that evening: Misty, the super-sweet petite platinum-blonde ditz with the painted on eyebrows, who told me she was planning to be roller-girl for Halloween; Rosa, the Romanian who has the Eastern-European thing going, and is therefore harsh on the outside but totally kind once you get to know her; and Natalie, the machine, who is not the friendliest, but definitely the waitress you hope for on a crowded night due to her efficiency. Because I was at the bar, I dealt with Geoff, the bartender who was gruff with me for the longest time until I gave a $125 donation to Friends of Sinn Féin, whereupon he treated me like the regular I always aspired to be somewhere.

Anyway, the place was packed, and the people watching was spectacular. The Irish band they had playing did a bunch of very good covers, and the patrons were festive. I went outside to smoke, and found several of the regulars there, including “Drunk Josh” who moved in behind the Pub this year so that he wouldn’t have to risk any DUI liability. A beer later, I found myself talking with Diane, one of the regulars, who had shown up randomly at 11:30 and was completely sober. I asked her why she was sober and offered to buy her a beer. She told me she had just gotten off of work. I asked where she worked, and she told me that she had recently lost her job as an instructor at a local cooking school, so in the meantime, she was dancing at a local strip club to make ends meet. Strippers are to guys what firemen are to women: there’s an implied “hotness” and a presumption of “interesting” regardless of reality. That said, Diane is pretty good looking, pretty interesting to talk with, and she’s the first stripper whose real name I’ve known (rather than stage name: hers is “Jaime” – not very stripper-like, but whatever). We talked for a while before I headed home, and mused about how the night had turned out alright after all. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Restless thoughts

Back at what turned out to be the low point of the breakup with the ex, when she called me specifically to tell me that she was seeing someone else – a doctor – my pal Meno gave me what turned out to be a mantra. I repeated it to myself without believing at the time: “She’s someone else’s problem now . . . she’s someone else’s problem now . . . she’s someone else’s problem now.” Last night I suffered from a bout of insomnia, and of course, my thoughts turned to her and to us, and I thought about certain things that she had done, and lies she had told me, and remembered a talk that we had at a sushi bar one time and all the bullshit she said which turned out to be bullshit, but I bought into it. Like plans for the future and crap like that. And I started to get all pissed off, even though I haven’t spoken to her for close to two months now. And then I thought: “She’s someone else’s problem now,” and I looked forward rather than backward, and I was able to put her out of my mind for the moment.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Best of luck, y'all!

It's kind of interesting to me how many people make it to this blog by googling "prusik handcuffs" or some variation thereof. The out-click is invariably wikipedia.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This coming Tuesday, October 30th:

I love Nip/Tuck. Let’s hope that it hasn’t jumped the shark with their move . . .

As an aside, and inspired by these promos, I downloaded Giant Drag’s cover of “Wicked Game.” I now have three versions of the song on my iPod: Chris Isaak’s, HIM’s, and Giant Drag’s, and I’m fully convinced it’s one of the sexiest songs ever. I distinctly remember getting it on with the ex to the HIM version in the cab of my buddy Meno’s truck back in February, 2005, and the experience was all the more visceral and erotic because of the “soundtrack.”

Something I remember pondering one year ago

Here's a pearl for you, dear reader:

The dog that chases two rabbits will catch neither.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Guilty Pleasure

Last night I was watching the Red Sox kick the crap out of the Rockies and I realized that I had forgotten to eat dinner. I didn't feel like ordering a pizza, and I'd had Chinese for lunch. My refrigerator is a typical bachelor 'fridge, with more condiments and beverages than actual food in it. So I opened my pantry and began to go through the cans. Tuna was too depressing, and beans/chili would wreak havoc on my stomach. My eyes alighted on the perfect meal in a can: Dinty Moore Beef Stew. I love this stuff. With a slice of white bread to mop up the gravy, it is truly sublime. I washed it down with a cream soda, and was eminently satisfied at the end of my meal.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Vice Report

I more than make up my membership fees at the warehouse clubs on booze and smokes. Today's damage at Sam's Club:

Bottle of Woodford Reserve bourbon: $24.12
Carton of Marlboro Reds: $44.25
Tax man: $5.54
Total: $73.91

The bourbon, in particular, was a pretty good deal, even if I didn't really need another bottle of bourbon in my cabinet. Now I've got four varieties of bourbon in there, to go with all the different rums I've collected over the years (Cuban, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, spiced) as libations primarily for the guests.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Feeling October

I actually really like the feel of October as a month. It's not quite winter, but the weather's cooled down and you get to break out the long sleeved casual-wear. Right now, I'm listening to Type O Negative's "Bloody Kisses" album, not because it's particularly good, but because it feels very Octoberish. For the past couple of days, I've been watching, off and on, one of my favorite October movies: Donnie Darko. This is like the sixth time that I've seen this flick, and I think I'm finally starting to understand what it's about. As cryptic as it is, it's got a real earnest appeal to it, and I have loved it since the first time I ever watched it. Among the best parts of the movie is its awesome soundtrack.

Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," is on the soundtrack, and I hadn't listened to it in a while, but it's on a mixtape t
hat a girl made for me like seven years ago. I started thinking about how cool it used to be to make and give a mixtape to someone back in the day. Or what it felt like when somebody gave one to you. I mean, making a mixtape took thought, and effort, and planning. To quote Nick Hornby's High Fidelity:

To me, making a tape is like writing a letter — there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind," but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules.

I used to go all out with the mixes that I'd make, with ornate liner notes, and everything. I compiled my last for a girlfriend back in January of 2003. I had a truck back then, and she had a car, and both still had tape decks in them. I don't think they even make vehicles with tape decks anymore. Women of my generation will someday have collections of mixtapes that boys made for them in high school and college and they won't be able to listen to them because technology will have forsaken us.

I sort of mourn the passing of the mixtape, even though I would never give up my iPod, or the playlists on it. I was inspired to find the aforementioned mixtape and to download those songs that I didn't already have on the 'pod, in order to make a playlist of the songs on the tape. Took me about fifteen minutes to do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Goodbye Art"

A couple of weeks ago, when all the monks in Myanmar were protesting, I told a couple of people: “I’m not going to be impressed until one of those motherfuckers immolates himself.” Because one of the most powerful pictures that I remember seeing as a kid was the one of the monk in Vietnam that had burned himself in protest. The balls on this guy. Particularly when you read the account of it. The incident was witnessed by David Halberstam, a New York Times reporter, who wrote:

I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think.... As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.

Which brings me to the whole point of my post. In my e-mail inbox this morning, Robb sent me the following video, which is pretty frickin’ awesome. Ladies and gentlemen, the “goodbye art” of Phil Hansen:

Monday, October 15, 2007

Femme Fatales

Today in history, October 15, 1917, the Frogs executed Mata Hari by firing squad for spying for Germany. According to Wiki: "The idea of an exotic dancer working as a lethal double agent, using her powers of seduction to extract military secrets from her many lovers fired popular imagination, set the legend and made Mata Hari an enduring archetype of the femme fatale."

Just last week, I was e-mailing back and forth with my former co-worker, Robb, and we were discussing of all things, the Middle East, and I remembered the story of Mordechai Vanunu, back in the '80s. Most people have forgotten about him by now, but the Mossad totally caught his ass by sending an operative named "Cindy" to convince the guy to fly to Rome with her for the weekend. Poor dude got to Rome and "Once in Rome, Mossad agents captured him, drugged him and smuggled him to Israel on a freighter, beginning what was to be more than a decade of solitary confinement in Israeli prisons."

So I asked Robb: "I wonder if 'Cindy' was hot or if Vanunu was just hard-up?"

And he answered: "I'm guessing she was not hot by today's standards, but she was probably the best looking woman who had ever paid attention to Vanunu. Poor guy. That's freaking dirty pool."

And you look at Mata Hari, and she's not all that hot by today's standards. Probably wasn't all that hot by 1917 standards either. . . But that's the thing: most guys are pretty much retarded when femenine wiles are properly used. Tale as old as time. Which is why the Circe story fascinates me so.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The part where Frankie starts to worry

Ask any guy, and he’ll inevitably tell you that “all women are crazy.” And I have to agree, although there’s a definite difference in the types of “crazy” that afflicts the gender. The first, unavoidable, and generally tolerable, is the estrogenical craziness that punctuates even the most rational, healthy relationships. By and large, we men can deal with that craziness.

More than a few women out there, though, are of the “make little race-cars out of their feces” crazy persuasion. I won’t describe the type – you know the ones I’m talking about. Ubermom likely falls into this category; time will tell. By and large, I seem to be in touch with the circadian rhythms of the type, and my dating history bears a series of hilarious stories as a result.

Here’s the thing, though: as guys, we too often can’t distinguish between the two types of craziness until it’s too late. Especially when the woman in question is attractive. Case in point: around 5:00 a.m. yesterday, Frankie got a series of cryptic text messages from his Waitress. Then, as he left his complex to go to the gym at 6:00 a.m., he noticed a car that looked suspiciously like hers parked across the street. She lives nowhere near his neighborhood. As he drove past the car, he saw her sitting in the driver’s seat. He did a double take, and then called her cell phone.

Was that you, parked on [his street]?”



“I got tired of driving back and forth.”

“No, I mean why are you even in this neighborhood?”

“Because I had insomnia.”

He called me to ask my opinion. I really didn’t know what to tell him about the whole situation – aside from that he should cut off all contact with her. And maybe keep alert. Our friend Samantha had an awesome suggestion: “Nothing says we're done like a TRO.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Old school.

My dad wore Brylcreem when he courted my mom. Brylcreem and Aqua Velva. Life was simpler back then. I'd get nowhere with either nowadays, I suspect.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Funny e-mail of the day

From a guy that we met at a mutual friend's happy hour a few weeks back that we ran into at the Pub on Friday night:

Hey dude,

I don't remember precisely how things went down Friday, as I was a real mess by the time I saw you and Frankie, but it was good to see you guys.

I had some drink called a Kentucky sidecar early in the night, and I'm never having another drink that sounds like it belongs in a sex-position email forward again. It's like playing cards with somebody with the first name of a city. Bad idea. I think I actually cried on Saturday morning I was so hung-over. anyway, good to see you guys again.

Never having heard of this particular cocktail, I Googled it, and here share my findings with you, dear readers: the Kentucky Sidecar is made with bourbon, Cointreau, sweet & sour, and a sugared rim, with a twist. Some recipes seem to substitute Frangelico for Cointreau, which is weird since oranges don't taste remotely like hazelnuts. Either way, I don't believe in diluting a good bourbon with crap like lemonade, so I'll avoid the cocktail altogether and give this post a rest.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Rye report

So last night, I finally got around to trying out the bottle of rye that I bought last week. Let me put it this way, if whiskies were hair products, then rye would be Brylcreem. Gets the job done, but I can see why the market has pretty much relegated it to obscurity and it's associated with geriatrics. I may give it a second run in the near future, but I suspect it will become an "orphan" in my liquor cabinet waiting for the inevitable party at my place where the booze runs low, and somebody finds the inspiration to drink it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A morning of disappointment

Bringing an end to a promising evening turned mediocre, I stayed out way too late last night, and consequently overslept this morning, and missed mass, which gave me a good dose of the old Catholic guilt as I greeted the day. Hungover, and conscious of the fact that I needed to be at work by noon (on a Sunday, no less), I showered, and while getting ready, I developed a fierce craving for a pork chop. . . and eggs . . . with some hash-browns and white toast. That would set me straight for the day; I knew it.

I could think of only one place where I could get a pork chop: fucking IHOP. I hate IHOP and have pretty much boycotted it for the past five years or so since (a) they don't carry Heinz 57 sauce; (b) they count both hash-browns and toast as a side, so you're forced to order one or the other in addition to your breakfast; and (c) they have shit on their menu that sounds so silly (Rooty Tooty Fresh & Fruity Breakfast, anyone?), that I hate them on general principle. But they were always good for a pork chop and egg breakfast, even if they didn't have Heinz 57 to eat the pork chop with. So I went there this morning, and had to wait for twenty minutes while apparently all the huddled masses and their unwashed children waited for a table along with me. And then, I finally sit down, and I order some coffee, and I'm ready to order AND THEY DON'T HAVE PORK CHOPS AND EGGS ON THE FUCKING MENU ANYMORE, AND DON'T SERVE IT AS A BREAKFAST SELECTION! Talk about a real downer. I had to settle for a chicken-fried steak and eggs, which was quite inferior, and if that's what I had wanted for breakfast, I wouldn't have gone to IHOP. The waitress, Wendy, was very nice and understanding. She gave me Friday's USA Today to read while I waited for my meal. . . . I left and drove straight to the office from there, and the hits just keep on rolling.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

Unintended dating advice

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. "
T.S. Eliot

Or as I like to put it, it's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. After all, he who risks nothing, gets nothing, right?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Conspicuous Consumption 101

Every type of alcohol that I have encountered in my years of drinking has had a unique effect on me. Tequila makes me aggressive and fearless, and shows me a good time before it takes me out back and sodomizes me; sake makes me stupid; vodka and gin are good for the long nights on the town and are relatively forgiving the next morning; and beer -- sweet, beautiful, refreshing beer -- has been there from the beginning and has never let me down.

My favorite distilled spirit, however, has got to be whiskey. Crown Royal, to be precise. While I enjoy a quality bourbon, and some nights a Bushmills Irish whiskey hits the spot, for me it was love at first sip with the regal Canadian in her purple bag when I was 19. I drink my Crown on the rocks, and refuse to dilute her with anything more than the water melting from the ice keeping her cool. Colas insult her royal majesty. My friends know my tastes, and on my last birthday, one buddy gave me a 1.5L bottle of Crown, and my former boss, who still loves me, gave me a 1.5L bottle of Crown Special Reserve. I keep a 375 mL bottle of Crown in my office . . . just in case. When I stood best man in a wedding back in 2005, I had a half-pint of Crown in my inside tuxedo pocket in case the groom got nervous. Instead of the groom, I got the maid of honor, the bride’s brother, who was also standing in the wedding, and two of the bridesmaids soused. Because a swig of Crown takes the edge off like nothing else. Before I walked into the interview for my current job, I pounded a miniature bottle of Crown and popped a breath-mint. Gave the best interview of my life. Yes, Crown and I go back a long, long way. My dream girl is like a bottle of Crown Royal: elegant on the outside, smooth and refreshing, and a damned good time when you get to know her. If you take that metaphor a step further, there’s not many ladies out there as comfortable at a NASCAR race as in a five-star restaurant.

On Sunday, I happened to hear Things to do in Denver when you’re dead, by Warren Zevon. There’s a line in the song: “Dressed in black, tossing back a shot of rye . . .” and it occured to me that to my recollection, I’d never had rye whiskey. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any bar where I’ve heard anybody order rye, and it’s never been at any party I’ve attended. And I thought about Don McLean’s American Pie, with its “good ole boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye” line. And so I determined that I needed to give the rye a try. (As an aside, I’m pretty sure it’s in these songs because it’s so easy to rhyme, rather than anything else). I went to the “fancy” liquor store to pick up a bottle, since I figured they’d have the best selection. Turns out there are a few brands out there. Distillers you’ve actually heard of make rye whiskeys, though, again, I’ve never seen these bottles outside of the liquor shelves. I recognized the yellow-labeled Jim Beam, for instance. I settled on a bottle of Wild Turkey rye, since it proudly set forth its 101 proof strength on the label, and it was a nice, round $20 for the bottle. I believe in doing things right, but dropping the ducat on “premium” rye whiskey seemed a little excessive, given my dearth of rye knowledge.

I was at the counter ringing up the dirty bird, when I looked at the shelf behind the cashier . . . the shelf with the super-premium alcohols (Johnnie Walker Blue Label, etc.). Sitting in all her majestic beauty was a bottle of Crown Royal XR (extra rare). I didn’t even know such a libation existed. I asked the sales guy about it. He wasn’t a very good salesman, but I did get this out of him (and the box the bottle was in after I asked to see it): XR is a limited-release blend of Crown Royal sold in serial-numbered bottles, and is made from the last batch of whiskey distilled at the Waterloo distillery, and there would be no further whiskies of that blend, since the distillery burned down. I’m a total sucker for marketing, and how could I resist the lovely lady to whom I owed so much? I cringed at the price tag when I first looked at it. I called the Kaiser so that he could talk me into it. It didn’t take much. I decided to buy the bottle and save it for a special occasion, to be determined. I passed the cashier my Discover card, since nobody takes Discover anymore, and I’ve had that card since I was 18, and it symbolically linked me to my drinking past. I’ve come a long way, and yet I haven’t. I hope I have something worth celebrating soon!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

After a three week lull . . .

I came home last night (this morning?) at 1:35 a.m., and found an Ulta Salon menu stuck to my door. It had been torn in half and scrawled on it in red lip liner (or maybe even lip stick), was the following message:
Lost your #. Call me.
Of course, it was signed by Ubermom. She'd gone radio silent the first week of September, after I did something sort of inconsiderate and I was convinced she hated me. I called her today, and she responded with complete nonchalance. Asked if I wanted to see her. I told her I'd call her later, as I was at work. How bizarre. Thing is, I have a complete "out" here . . . I don't have to call her. In the long run, I'm probably best served by not calling. There are a couple of more promising irons in the fire, truth be told. And by "more promising" I mean far less crazy.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.

I started off yesterday evening at a 4:30 spontaneous happy hour with two guys that I work with. I’ve been on a vodka-soda kick lately, and was experimenting with flavored vodkas (Absolut raspberry and soda for instance), when around 6:00 I got a call from the Kaiser that he was at the Pub and I should come join him, so I did. The Pub was packed and I remembered why I used to like it so much. Frankie’s waitress was there, but she was busy and we were not in her section. All the other servers there are still great with me and the Kaiser. We had two beers. He had to go pick up Marie, but said they’d call me and we could meet up. I said OK, and we left the pub a little before 7:00. I had no plan for the evening, but I love hanging out with the Kaiser and Marie.

No later than I had gotten home, I got a call from the Kaiser. We’ve had a long standing boys’ night out planned for tonight (Saturday), and Marie wanted to know if they could make last night a “date night” instead. I love Marie and totally understood where she was coming from, so I told the Kaiser there was no apology necessary when he said he was sorry, and told him to enjoy his evening with his lady, and to give her a kiss on the cheek from me. Thing is, now it was 7:30, and I had no plan for the night, and worse, I was a bit buzzed – certainly enough to get myself in trouble if I did much driving.

Who doesn’t believe in serendipity? My phone rang shortly thereafter, and it was my co-worker Samantha. Sam is demographically very similar to me – in that she’s in her early thirties and single – and really a fun girl to hang out with outside of work. A long time ago, I thought she may make a good match for Frankie, and I made the introduction. Although there were no romantic sparks, they got along really well too, so now we all hang out on occasion, and she gives him all kinds of shit about things like the waitress from the Pub, whom Sam christened “the Knuckle.” Anyway, Sam had gotten a call from her friend Heather, whom I met last month. Heather’s sister was in town from Minneapolis and they were out at an outdoor country bar in BFE. Did I want to go? I was intrigued. But I certainly couldn’t drive there, and I told Sam that. She wasn’t far from my house and volunteered to stop by and be my ride. Suddenly I had a Friday night plan.

The drive to Tumbleweed Flats was about a half hour, and when we got there, it was packed. A wedding party had a rehearsal dinner going on, and the place was chock-full of shit kickers. A bunch of picnic tables and bonfires surrounded a concrete dance area, and an overweight troubadour alternated between the Eagles and Willie Nelson for the crowd. Beers were $2.50, and hamburgers and chili were the bill of fare. All in all, a very cool place. We found Sam’s friend Heather, her sister, and an entourage of folks, all of whom fit in at the place. Somebody had brought a bag of marshmallows and they were roasting them on the bonfire. I bought a bowl of chili, with cheese and onions, and sat to eat it. The folks at our table were all exceedingly nice. Most of them were school teachers, it turned out, and one guy was a state representative with aspirations to run for Corporation Commissioner (huh?). He asked me for a contribution. I told him I was registered to vote in another state (truth), and he said he couldn’t accept my contribution, then. I offered him $20, knowing he couldn’t take it - $15 more than I’d have actually cared enough to give him if he could have taken it.

Here’s a little known fact about Jack Gordon: the fucker can country & western dance. He took two semesters of it back in college. It’s particularly impressive because most people never see that skill coming at all, given his musical tastes. He will stop referring to himself in the third person now, and get back to the story. I started dancing with the ladies in the group. Sam got a kick out of it, since around the office you’d never even suspect I knew a two-step dance from a twelve-step program. As I said, all the people there were very nice, and I think I even caught a couple of the ladies checking me out at one point.

As the night progressed, and I ate my chili, a group of four girls in the group were talking among themselves, I don’t know about what, though I heard Jesus come up once or twice. One of them – the cutest one – started to tear up. Then she sobbed. And then the tears came down. It was the sort of crying that comes from a sad/moving/emotional story – not from anger or insult. Another little known fact about me: I carry a clean handkerchief with me at all times. I have since I was a kid and I wanted to be like my dad. I’ve drawn a lot of shit for carrying a handkerchief (and a comb) in my life, but these moments justify the practice. I passed the crying girl, whose name I never learned, my hankie. She took it and cried into it for a while. Heather’s sister gave me a hug and said “You’re great.” It was a highlight of my evening – and a wholesome highlight at that.

Around 11:00, Sam asked if I was ready to go, so I bid farewell to the crowd. I was in bed before midnight, and got a great night’s rest. As far as the night went, I only wish I had taken the opportunity to introduce myself to the crying girl. As I said, she was cute, and she had no ring and was not there with any apparent guy. Working against me was the fact that I was a complete stranger to the group, the girl was crying, and Sam was my ride. Neither obstacle was insurmountable, especially given my dancing skills and handkerchief chivalry. In such foreign situations, I can never figure things out fast enough, though. But you know what? So it goes. For all I know, the girl will track me down to give me back my handkerchief. And if she doesn’t, that’s all right too. I had a good night and still have a baker’s dozen of clean handkerchiefs in my dresser drawer waiting for further adventures.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Faith versus Reason

As of late, I’ve been thinking about something that Meno e-mailed me a while back. It was after I complained to him about things that the ex did that drove me crazy, and yet, I couldn’t bring myself to cut her loose. He said:

In love, we are afraid to be rational. For when we are rational, we lie in the tumultuous domain of logic. And logic is a terrible thing, for if we were logical with our love, at one time or another, we would most certainly walk away.

It was only via rational thought that I was able to make it through the break-up, but in the end, sometimes I feel like a lesser person for having put my faith in reason.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Trying to eat where your friend has shat . . .

I’ve got to get the whole Frankie’s waitress story blogged, so stay tuned. It involves a “magic knuckle,” if that’s any sort of teaser. In the mean-time, here’s a nugget from last night. I went to the Pub around 9:30 to have a quick beer after a satisfying rib dinner at the local mayate barbeque joint. I pulled up a seat at the bar, and ordered a pint of Newcastle. It was pretty slow in the place – Monday night and all. Frankie’s waitress was there, and she came over. I really wanted some alone time with my beer, but I was nice at first. As is her tendency, she talked and I didn’t say much. After a while, though, I got bored. Sometimes I think I have ADD, though I think really I just have a low tolerance for people that babble in general. After I’d drank about half my beer and she was still there prattling about things like – I’m not making this up – how she found a pair of shoes, boy’s size five, with wheels in the heel that she had bought herself because she wears a boy’s size five in shoes and she wanted to learn “heeling” – which I understood to mean “healing” but I was wrong and she corrected me – and she didn’t know where she could go “heel” and could I suggest a place? I got tired of listening to her. I don’t want to seem unduly cold, but seriously, it’s always been Frankie that was into this chick, not me. In fact, I was even annoyed by her back when he was in hot pursuit. In what I thought was a tactful way to bring an end to the palaver, I told her that I had a lot to think about and really I just needed to be alone for a while. She got visibly hurt about this, and sulked away to a back booth where she proceeded to play solitaire. I actually felt kind of bad about having shooed her away.

I finished my beer, went home, flossed, and went to bed. At 3:00 a.m. (2:59 to be exact) I heard the text message chime on my phone. I couldn’t imagine who would be texting me at 3:00 in the morning – either the ex or Ubermom, I thought. Curiosity got the best of me, so I checked. It was the waitress:

As i was mentally reviewing my day i thaught [sic] of you. I’m not sure i apologized for making you uncomfortable. I am sorry. Let me know if i can help.
Very strange message. I didn’t respond, since I don’t think anybody’s obligated to return a text after 12:30.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Don't shit where you eat.

Frankie has been trying to avoid his waitress for going on three weeks now. Mainly because she's insane. From what he tells me, and what I’ve observed, she’s incapable of getting the hint. Problem is that this makes going to the Pub awkward for me. Damned inconsiderate of him, if you ask me. Especially since I really liked the Pub. He never really did.

I went to Vegas with a cocktail waitress (from a whole different bar) on a whim back in 2004. It wasn’t until I was on the plane sitting next to her that I noticed the scars on her wrists. When she saw me do the double-take, she told me it was from the “last time she slashed her wrists.” The “last time” implication wasn’t lost on me. She clarified that it wasn’t the first time. When we were in our room at the MGM, before we went out on the town, as she took a bottle of ephedrine out and popped a handful before offering me some, I decided to heed Kris Kristofferson's advice: Never sleep with a woman who's crazier than you are. He also said “you’ll break that rule and regret it.” And that’s true, and I have, but I didn’t do so on that trip, and I was able to drink contently at that particular bar for two years thereafter.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dénouement: Ubersaga Chapter IV

As she pulled her dress over her head and removed her bra, I recalled the last few lines of an anonymous 17th Century madrigal that I had long ago memorized:

No beauty she doth miss
When all her robes are on:
But Beauty's self she is
When all her robes are gone.

The room was hot because she made me light the four decorative candles that I had in there, and it was July, after all. We’d left “Mezzanine” playing in the living room at high volume.

The “boundaries” agreed upon earlier in the evening were soon forgotten.

At exactly 8:00 a.m. I was jolted awake by an obnoxiously loud musical ring tone. It was her mobile phone. She had apparently set the alarm on it to wake her. Before I could take stock of the situation, she was up and dressing. I couldn’t register it all at once, but by 8:10 a.m. she had come around my bed, kissed me good morning and good bye, and had scampered out of my room.

I heard her talking to Frankie, so I got up and put my boxers and a tee-shirt on. I walked out of my room and bumped into Frankie in the hallway, as I heard my front door shut. As I greeted him, he went into the guestroom, and I could see that he had made the bed and that his waitress was no longer there.

“Where’s the waitress?”

“She took off.”

“Didn’t you drive her?”

“No, she followed me in her car.”

He had peeked out the blinds in the guestroom and I joined him. We could see the STS pulling out of my driveway. We caught a glimpse of the vanity plate on the Cadillac as it drove away: “UBERMOM.”

Frankie was the first to laugh about it: “Didn’t ubermom offer to give you a ride back to your car?”

“I didn’t ask.”

“So I guess you’ll be needing that ride, then?”

“Let me jump in the shower real quick. Do you mind?”


“Cool. Hey, any interest in catching a 9:00 mass?”


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In another, less jaded era . . .

If you had asked me my favorite book ten years ago, I would have told you that it was Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I remember the first time that I read it, I found it so lyrical that I tried to savor every word of it, even though I knew I was reading it in translation. I went so far as to purchase the book in the original Spanish, and read through my favorite passages with a Spanish/English dictionary for reference. I think the opening line to the book is still one of the greatest openers I've come across: "It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love."

Anyway, I haven't read LITTOC in probably five years. Mostly because at its core it's a book about hope, and its musings about love are a bit much to bear when faced with the realities of multiple unrequited loves.

Remember how Bill Clinton gave Monica Lewinski a copy of Leaves of Grass? Word is that he had given Hillary a copy of the same book at some point in their courtship. What can I say? The guy's a man and men are lazy and stick to formulas that work. I seriously doubt giving it to her meant anything to him. Call me a cynic. After I gave my third "love" in succession a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera, I think I dropped the sense of actually believing in them -- the girl, the book, and the concept of love as Marquez would have us buy into.

At any rate, it appears that they've turned the book into a movie. And you know what? I'm actually sort of excited about it. Nevermind the fact that I can't imagine that the movie will do any justice to the book. I saw this movie poster, and some of my old feelings stirred within me. Between this movie and another trailer I saw lately: Manolete, I may have to break out the old Spanish/English dictionary again.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cocktail tip #23

With special thanks to Dr. Del, who introduced me to this pearl of wisdom at a wedding reception last night: You can mask the taste of inferior gin in your gin and tonic with a dash or two of bitters.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Seven Hours Later: Ubersaga Chapter III

The STS pulled into the spot in my driveway normally occupied by my car, which, you’ll recall, I left behind. As we entered my house, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was in store for me there . . . given that heretofore the night had been going so smoothly. I turned on the light as we walked in and she made a bee-line for the stereo and my music collection.

“What are you drinking?” I asked.

“Surprise me,” she answered.

I opened my liquor cabinet and stared at it for a moment. I settled on one of my favorites for the fairer gender: a shot of vodka and a shot of Pama pomegranate liqueur, topped off with tonic water in a rocks glass filled with ice. No garnish. Because I’m lazy that way. I poured myself a glass of Crown Royal, and walked into my living room, where she had put the Cure’s "Disintegration" album on and was busy dancing to "Fascination Street." I sat and watched her dance for most of the song.

I had forgotten he was on the way by the time Frankie showed up with his waitress. The waitress brought a cooler full of Beck’s beer with her. My girl paid no mind to Frankie and his lady friend, but kept on dancing in a sort of preternatural fugue.

“We’re gonna hit the hot-tub,” Frankie announced triumphantly. His waitress said nothing, but it was evident she regarded my lady much as one regards the average cockroach. Frankie found the towels in the linen closet in my hallway, and he and the waitress popped into my guest room, emerging in the towels a couple of minutes later. They went out my back door, leaving me alone with the dancing blonde.

The chick sat to drink her drink, and lit a cigarette as she did so. We sort of talked, but there wasn’t really much to talk about. After drinking about half of her drink, she asked if I had Kahlúa. I said I did, and she asked if I’d mix her a White Russian. I got up and did so, and she changed the CD to Depeche Mode’s "Violator" album. I brought the White Russian back to the couch. Even though I'm in my third decade of life, I never seem to remember the formula for doing this, which I've been using since adolescence, but somehow I made my move, and we started making out. We kissed for a while, and when she came up for air, she spoke:

“Do you have any weed?”

I don’t smoke weed. I have no weed at my house. Maybe I should, for just these sorts of moments. I don’t know. I don’t even know that I would know where to get any weed if I wanted to anymore. And even if I had some, I don’t know that I’d smoke it, even if a hot chick wanted to smoke out with me. I’ve never been a big fan of psychoactives. All in all, I love my booze. It occurred to me that back in October of 2004 I bought a case of whippets as party favors for a bachelor party and I had sort of forgotten about it. Also, my buddy Laz’s ex-girlfriend was Czech, and on one of her trips to Prague, she had brought me back a bottle of absinthe.

“I don’t have any weed, but I do have whippets if you want. . .” Don't think that the juvenile nature of the suggestion was lost on me. I may as well have suggested that that we huff some Liquid Paper out of a paper bag.

“You do???” I dug my cracker out of a junk drawer, and brought the box of whipped-cream chargers over to my coffee table. I filled a balloon full of N2O for her and passed it over. As she fazed out, I did a whippet myself. Then I refilled the balloon for her and she did a second whippet. As she was blowing in and out of the balloon, Frankie walked in and looked at us in what I can only describe as confusion. He said nothing, fished a couple of beers out of the cooler his waitress had brought over, and went back outside. I resumed my make out session, which we punctuated by cigarettes, whippets, and more drinks. That went on for a while.

“Look, we need to establish some boundaries,” she interrupted, “because I don’t usually do this sort of thing.” I love the inevitable disclaimer that every woman seems to give in this situation. I call it the I’m not usually this slutty speech. I let her talk, anticipating her ground rules as if she had read the same guidebook that they must distribute to girls in middle school: in summary, everything short of actual intercourse would be OK, but she wasn’t going to have sexual relations of the Clinton variety with me. I agreed. Eventually, we went through all of the whipped cream chargers.

“Have you ever tried absinthe?” I asked her.

“You have absinthe? Really? I’ve wanted to try it since I read Oscar Wilde.” That comment surprised me. I should note that throughout the night, she’d shown some idiot savant tendencies, like when she referenced Cyrus the Great in a conversation back at Carpe. It sort of fascinated me, given the overwhelming vacuousness of the rest of her conversation. I nodded, got up from the couch, and changed the CD to Massive Attack’s "Mezzanine" album.

I had the bottle of absinthe, but none of the requisite accoutrements. I brought the bottle over, along with a liter bottle of Voss water and a sugar shaker. Czech absinthe tastes like Windex – very chemical like, as opposed to say, Spanish absinthe. You need to cut it with quite a bit of sugar and water to make it palatable. I poured the absinthe over a tablespoon of sugar in a highball glass and lit it on fire. The lights were very dim in the living room and the burning absinthe cast an eerie blue light on the scene. I poured the water into the glass, extinguishing the flame. I thought she’d complain, but the taste didn’t seem to bother the chick as she slammed the absinthe like she would have a shot of tequila. She asked for another, and I looked at her impressed. As I poured her a second glass of absinthe, Frankie and his waitress walked in. They were speechless at the sight of the chargers strewn about my hardwood floor and the bottle of absinthe prominently in the middle of my coffee table. I looked at them and shrugged. They shuffled into the guest room. I looked at the clock on my cable box, and was surprised to see that it was 3:30 a.m. She sipped through her second glass of absinthe, and I finished the last of my Crown Royal. I’d been drinking non-stop for seven hours.

“Let’s go to bed,” I suggested.