Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Weekend at Pukle's: The Woes of Irony

Tom had the extra bone in his giant man foot removed last week. Now he's in the "toes-above-nose" phase of the recovery timeline. He spends his days either on the couch lobbing grenades onto his tiny menacing iShoot enemies, or careening around on his sweet little knee-scooter. I set up a playdate for him.

In a fantastic coincidence of both timing and anatomical involvement, two weeks ago my Dad smashed up his ankle pulling an over-cocky down a double black diamond trail. He got what looks like a rack and pinion steering system installed in his new bionic foot. He is also in the Lie-About and Infrequent Bathing portion of the recuperation regimen.

On Saturday, exactly according to plan, Tom and the D-mon hunkered down for a weekend movie marathon. Meanwhile, I was sort of counting on my wonderful mother of extremely tasty cooking to just double up the portions of her meals on wheels. I mean, the extra workload for one more patient is incremental at most. Plus I was hoping to, you know, leave.

It was an ingenious scheme all the way around.

That is, until my cute Momster came down with a catastrophic viral infestation and spent all night and all day puking into a wastepaper basket in the spare bedroom. Thus increasing my patient load from a mild-mannered one to a really demanding three. Now I know why the nurses wear those hideously comfortable shoes.

All day it was ice for nibbling upstairs and ice for sutures downstairs. Trips to the store for ginger-ale and saltines and Febreeze to spray on the two never-nudes' stank feet. I constructed a really efficient methodology for dumping vomit.

Everybody owes me one. That's the good news.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Further Analysis on Conversation: A Research Project

Upon reflection, I realized that some people can tell absolutely hilarious work stories. Work stories!

What is the difference between the exceptional stories that make you choke on your tongue from laughing (or crying) so hard... and the interminable ones? I think I figured it out.

Maybe, you start out with a short version. Very short. Heavy on the plot. Then you wait for a question. You answer the question. Then you wait for another question. Which you answer. The story becomes a group effort. When there are no more questions, the story is over.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

You are an Egg. Get a Timer: A Research Project

Good conversation engages both mind and heart. I realize I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don’t care. An article in the Times mentioned that a vital ingredient of convivial talk is that nobody pops off for longer than three minutes at a clip. After three minutes, it’s not a conversation, it’s a lecture.

I have been surreptitiously timing certain parties engaged in a lengthy yada-yada. Including myself, although I solemnly vow that it won’t happen again, because I’m now championing a three-minute smackdown rule.

A good conversation purveys an exchange of ideas, camaraderie… a connection to other human beings. My hopes for the evening shatter when it becomes clear I’ve unwittingly conscripted myself into a live studio hostage situation for somebody’s All about Me amateur hour. So-called Conversation Vampires suck the life out of a pleasant evening. You can pick them out by the glazed look that comes over them when discussion wanders away from themselves.

Here’s something else that I’ve uncovered in my research, from the standpoint of an avid and frequent listener who occasionally even takes notes. A good story is about the story, not about the star(s) of the story. Unless you’re Brangelina. Of course.

I mean, it’s a conversation, not Masterpiece Theatre. In conversational talk, the plot is more important than the character development; I’ve come to understand. You’ll see what I mean when somebody starts narrating a dramatic encounter with people you have never met. The plot may be salacious enough or could have the potential to be funny. Or something. Except it is sandwiched inside twenty minutes of biographical information and in-depth character studies. Don’t forget the characters under discussion are normally people for whom crazy means breaking out a holiday-themed tie. How long can you take listening to a dictation of their resumé, favorite food groups and most famous quotable quotes? I’m writing a letter to the CIA because I have a good alternative to waterboarding.

I also think a good story needs to be about something other people, namely me, enjoy hearing about. For example, you need to be a really high-level advanced chatmaster to take on the challenge of a work story. I’m not your manager, so unless you’re going to pay me a consulting slash psychoanalysis fee or you are willing to subsequently endure MY equally impressive tales of woe, for the love of god keep a lid on your unruly customer and your slacker employee. I suspect that myself, like practically everybody else including even the most radically OCD Type A's, leave work everyday hoping to leave work.

"It's all right to hold a conversation, but you should let go of it now and then."
Richard Willard Armour (1906-89)

"It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much."
Yogi Berra

"A good quartet is like a good conversation among friends interacting to each other's ideas."
Stan Getz

"True over-worders are not looking for your feedback. Short of you falling on the floor and gagging or something, I doubt they'd even notice if you threw in a comment about a rubber hand."
Fred Richter

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Andrew Gets his Watch: The Untold Story

March 6 on the island of St. Lucia, two sources independently revealed that Tracie, Bride, told Michael, Best Man, that Lynn, Senior Stylist, had something important to tell him in twenty minutes. Not just then, but in twenty minutes. Michael harbored a trustingly low level of suspicion in regard to the suspenseful 20-minute stay-put directive. Especially given the tropical preposterousness of standard delay-makers such as traffic, long lines at the deli, or a spellbinding episode of House Hunters.

***Twenty Minutes Later***

Upon questioning, Lynn informed Michael that a blue bag had been stashed in his closet. Michael was to present the blue bag to Andrew, Groom, at a poignant moment prior to the vows ceremony. On a sidebar, Lynn also relayed that Tracie had asserted Andrew would recognize the blue bag and know what it contained.

Micheal hustled back to Plantation House and located the blue bag secreted in his closet, right next to his gumshoes. A cursory inspection revealed a smaller bag inside the larger blue bag. Michael placed the smaller bag in his room safe, assuming by the fancy packaging that the contents were of some value. He took the larger bag and placed inside his dirty laundry, which he subsequently toted back to Santa Clara, California.

At approximately 4pm, just prior to the Cocktail Demi-Hour, Kully, Wedding Planner, whispered to Michael that the poignant moment was Now, and to deliver the package. Apparently, Lynn, or perhaps Tracie herself, had congealed a foolproof Back Up Plan. Poignant moment package instructions were also dispatched to Kully.

Andrew did not recognize the packaging initially, but he did in fact recognize the gift, an oblong watch with two dials on it. He had admired it weeks earlier in Ivette's jewelry store. The watch also featured a black leather wrist band with an ornery, unrelenting clasp. Kully had to put the watch on the bedazzled and woozy groom.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Uncle Ronnie's Childhood Memories

"Your father licked my eyeballs. That’s why I turned out this way. I was on track to be a surgeon. Destined for John Hopkins. Your father would hold me down and lick my eyeballs. He was chasing me one time and I tripped and knocked myself out. After I woke up I spoke only Spanish and thought my name was Victor Valentino."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bubby R Recognizes Exellent Cross-Dressing

"You went to a 60's party? One time I went to a party where all the women dressed up as men and all the men dressed up as women. One man was gorgeous. I mean, he was a good-looking man, but as a woman? Wow. What a stunner."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Synchronized Swimming in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia.

The synchronized swim in Marigot Bay spontaneously generated. This lack of rehearsal proved dangerous when Andrew was kicked several times on and about the head.

Kully did not participate. He floated like a cadaver nearby.

Warren also did not participate. He was unaware of the goings on until it was all over. He waxed mildly enthusiastic about the possibility that the synchronized swim had been executed in secret, which is why he did not know about it.

Heather also did not engage in any synchronization of swim. She stayed in the boat because she was cold. Allegedly.

The Gift of the Flower

Just before sunset, during Jeannie and Ray’s reading celebrating the vows of love, José sat quietly beside his wife Patti, his hands in his lap.

Suddenly, a glossy pink flower drifted out of the sky and settled in his fingers. He gave it to Patti under the shadow of the Pitons and the light of the setting sun.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Terrible Idea

The exit poll bar-chart resembled two Piton mountains. Disregarding statistical outliers and those too drunk to speak coherently, most guests attending the week-long celebration of Tracie and Andrew stated for the record that they most enjoyed either the Catamaran excursion on Monday or alternately, the 60’s Party on Tuesday. Both events were terrible ideas.

“I told Tracie the Catamaran reservation had been stolen by a one-armed man,” possibly confessed Kully, Senior Party Planner. Kully had spent a week last summer trying to talk the headstrong bride out of the terrible Catamaran idea. He locked in on three key downsides of marine pleasure crafts:
  1. Being stuck on a boat all day baking in the sun with the same people,
  2. It is impossible to dance at sea without looking like you have an inner ear infection, and
  3. 10% of people suffer from seasickness, and said seasickness lasts approximately 3 days after disembarking. This would knock out 3-4 people and severely disrupt the seating chart for the reception.
Plus, the whole concept of boat excursions is completely taboo amongst the SPF 40 set. Undeterred, the strength of Tracie’s conviction filled the air with the faint odor of two-stroke oil. The trip was a go. And this was a good thing.

“We all bonded in a I’m-drunk-and-retarded-and-so-are-you” fashion. When you’ve all had too much beer, this makes a lot of sense,” Jenny explained.

Kully himself reconsidered his terrible idea stance less than an hour off the coast of the island. “I very much enjoyed lying in the netting talking with Tracie. We need to do more of that.”

On the other hand, Kully's 60's Party was a terrible idea according to the bride, who probably immediately reversed her viewpoint at the first sight of grand-prize winner Warren in a diaper. Which is what he wore in the 60's.

Or maybe the turning point came as she lipsynched Proud Mary backed up by Heather and Michael and featuring some synchronized money maker shakin.’ Although it could have come later when somehow boots seemed like a logical choice for swimwear.

In any event, Sharon’s favorite moment, besides Michael’s Best Man speech, was jumping into the pool after the party including the “keep the wig/lose the wig” conversation with Lynn.

José and Patti were of course an oft-mentioned highlight, as were Kully’s pants.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Crafty Upstate New Yorker Selects Stalker to Pet Sit

Warren, born in 1965 and currently residing in Albany, three hours from anything good, left his beloved dog in the care of his stalker. “She was sitting in her car near my driveway as I was preparing to leave for the airport. It was a very convenient option.”

Upon questioning, Warren revealed that Savoy, a St. Bernard, had been named prior to coming into his possession and that he usually refers to her affectionately as “Poo Head.” Originally, Warren had envisioned strapping a small barrel of spiced rum to Savoy’s collar for a safety-first take on the possibility of hypothermic emergency. Subsequent to looking into it, Warren discovered that dog-ready small barrels cost in the overpriced neighborhood of $85. It was time to get his craft on, revealed undisclosed sources on the same side of the dinner table at the Mango Tree restaurant on 3/4/09.

“I completely disregarded the most logical suggestion to epoxy the barrel to the dog’s neck hair, despite the obvious advantages of enabling the hypothermic victim to simply clip off the small barrel with any ordinary scissor,” recounted Warren. Instead, Warren firmly espoused gluing the barrel directly to clean-shaven dog skin, a plan fraught with an asymotic number of serious flaws. For example, the hypothermic victim would need to drink the rum with the dog lying on top of him.

“I do not see any problem in drinking rum with a St. Bernard lying on top of you while in the throes of hypothermia,” declared Warren.

A panel of experts subsequently talked amongst themself and ultimately agreed the best answer would probably be to just give the small barrel to the stalker.