Saturday, June 26, 2004

Crimes & McDemeanors

I was just reminded of the time I knocked Dave Thomas down some stairs. And I don't mean the Strange Brew guy. It's God's honest truth, and that's saying something at my house.

I had dropped into Davis-Kidd, probably to see if they had any copies of Hustler left. It looked like everyone & his mistress was there. There was one of those long fake-wood-Formica tables with foldout legs right in the middle of the store. Lots of anxious people in a line holding books like footballs & rocking onto the balls of their feet every few seconds or so.

As I tried to weasel my way around the mob & right through a huddle of professional types, someone I presumed was an intern franticly said to another while holding up a Sharpie, "Dave likes the fat Magic Markers; not these pointy ones! What are we going to do?!" I thought to myself, "I'm glad I'm me. I'm glad I'm me."

Being the stupid naïve wretch that I was at that time (I'm told now I'm over that), it hadn't occurred to me what was going on. I had no idea I was intruding on a book signing. I had no idea what a book signing was. I had no books. I must have been there for a gift. Either that or I had mistaken the place for the day-old Nutter Butter shop.

And there, among the elite literary aficionados trying to get their copy of Dave's Way autographed, was this oblivious heathen. I most likely had been attempting to get to the 'Humor' section to pick up the newest Jim Unger book of Herman cartoons or something of that sort.

Once I realized that even if I did find what I had come in for, I wouldn't be able to get to the check out. This herd had barricaded entirely the row of counters that held the registers & was completely blocking out the sun in 'Self Help'. Since I had come in from the rear parking garage, I didn't realize that this line of Wendy's patrons stretched out into the front parking lot past the last Winnebago. I was done for. There was no way of recovering from this misstep other than just giving up.

So that's what I did. I turned, plowed right back through the congregation & past the hysterical intern & made my way back to the stairwell where this nonsense began. I can't say that I remember being angry but I'm sure I was frustrated. And given that, I would have been mumbling & cursing under my breath while unaware of everyone around me. (It's good to know yourself.)

As I flung the stairwell door open I had already started my usual stair-descending rhythm I like to do. You see, when climbing or descending stairs, I sometimes pretend I'm being filmed for a big cop movie where I'm chasing some criminal. In all those scenes where the cop is chasing the bad guy on foot, I'm frequently yelling at the screen, "Come on! Pick up your feet! You run like my grandmother!" So when I'm barreling down a flight of stairs, the game is to show off for my imaginary director who'd be saying, "Are you sure? We can get a stunt guy for this."

This day was no different. Each time I cornered to go down the next flight, I gripped the heavily painted steel rail & twisted my palms around it almost to the point of blistering. I'd turn, slinging myself around the rail so fast that my hair would go horizontal for a moment. It was like a figure skating routine. I was something to behold.

At the top of the last flight I hadn't heard the other people in the stairwell. The theme song from 'The Rookies' was bouncing around in my head. I was still at top speed when I saw the suits. There were three of them. I never really saw their faces, just ties & American flag lapel pins. Stopping was out of the question. It was too late. I slammed into the guy in the middle. He fell about 5 or 6 steps backward before the guy behind him was knocked into the wall & left bracing the two of them there halfway up the steps.

I didn't fall or anything. I just sort of wound down my little quickstep jog until I stopped for a moment on the step above them. So wrapped up in my little movie I hadn't really put my 'reality' brain back in yet. I didn't help either of them up. I don't know why. Maybe I was considering continuing my chase scene, but this time with me playing the role of the fleeing criminal. Instead I stood there for a second, looked down at the frightened white man I had just borderline battered & said, "Hey. You're Dave Thomas!"

He exhaled & decided not to look me in the face. As his two publicists helped him to his feet, he just kept his eyes to the floor as if to be looking for his front teeth & said, "Yeah."

They slowly started up the stairs again never looking back as though I was a gust of wind that had just peppered their eyes with sand while they were looking for a rest area sign. And without another beat I just snapped back into my rhythm for the remaining eight steps & out the steel door I went.

A few minutes later I was clear of the crime. And that's when I started thinking. I could picture him upstairs at his makeshift podium/desk. Every minute or so he'd be looking across the table at yet another pair of black socks rising just below a set of milk-white knees belonging to the umpteenth guy named 'Wilford.' Trying to write real big with this crappy needlepoint marker that some slack-ass intern had given him. Every autograph looking as if John Hancock had just been picked up by Penguin Publishing.

All the while he'd be thinking about me. Not knowing me, mind you, but pondering the incident. Did he for a moment think I had just robbed the place & had he not had his wits knocked to the floor he could have saved the day? Did he just survive a failed assassination attempt from the Long John Silver's people? Or was it just some rude jackass too caught up in the fast paced world that we all live in to pay what is now considered uncommon courtesy? He'd be thinking, "Hope he can work in some wholesome fast food time while he's out thrashing & flogging innocents."

Only then did I realize what I had just done. I had just mauled the man who brought the Frosty & the Triple With Cheese to my hometown. The man who burned a childhood dining image into my adult mind forever - the newspaper ad laminated tabletop. The man who, for a time, earned drug-dealer status among broke students when he imported into college towns all over the Mid-West the holiest of holies, the All-You-Can-Eat Super Bar.

I never apologized. I never tried to write him through his publisher; not even through the Wendy's website. Perhaps the trauma could have led to his heart surgery not long after & possibly even his death. And me, too small of a man to acknowledge & face my own mistakes. What kind of person does that make me? Not knowing has been a heavy load. I want to think I'm now a better man than that. Because what shock & injury might he have suffered? I can't now get my mind off of the pain he may have endured. It makes me somber sometimes.

Not to mention the miserable herniated bastard he fell on.


Jared Fogle

Thursday, June 24, 2004

It's OK. He doesn't know I'm talking about him.

Since I'm the new guy & don't really have experience in exposing myself in this manner (important distinction), it's probably a good idea to take my sister's advice. She said that in writing in a journal that everyone can see, it's easier if you pretend you're writing to someone specifically. I've expanded that to include imaginary people. Getting started is difficult but I think it helped. So here's my attempt in that method.

Dear Ndugu,

My dog smells like oatmeal. (Pretty good start if you ask me.)

B.B. is an overweight, oversexed, needy black lab - everything I aspire to be. His size & color go about as well with Nashville heat & humidity as those Canadians I used to see at Cedar Point in mid-August. I'd watch them, full of energy & anticipation, bound into the park over a wet paved thoroughfare already steamy at 9am. Then around 2pm I'd notice them, one by one, being ferried out on a golf-cart-ambulance with heat stroke, singing 'I Feel Pretty.' Sometimes I could hear myself sarcastically whisper, "Amateur." But I'd always be happy to know that's one less person somewhere ahead of me in line for the Demon-Drop.

So to prevent the sun from cooking B.B.'s brain, I've been bathing him more often. And doing so with oatmeal shampoo. But if it's rained sometime in the last week & he's been outside, he just smells like a wet dog that's had a better breakfast than me. And that's a disturbing smell. I'd say it's immeasurably worse than just 'wet-dog.' It's distracting. It's the kind of pungency that could make you forget your own social security number. So genius here decides to bathe him more & more often thinking, "Volume, baby. Volume! Maybe some ammonia..."

No help.

Well B.B. has been walking me in the park more frequently lately. Many times he finds a way into the creeks & ditches & just lies down. Up to his neck in water, he'd be quite happy to remain there until a Milkbone truck goes by. This also sets off the smell. But when he does this there's something I've been noticing. Despite his oatmeal/hippo-house odor, he's got this spooky ability to attract beautiful women. They're mesmerized by him. They say things like, "Isn't he the most darling thing?" And, "Look, he knows we're talking about him." And, "You love being scratched there, don't ya boy? Hey, put that away. Nobody wants to see that."

He's got it made. And, by proxy, so do I. I swear to you, I could be walking him in July wearing moon-boots & a Jim Jones sweatshirt & they'd still want to talk to me & rub his belly. Therefore, I've decided that I won't be trading him in on a newer model this year. His tenure has been granted, you could say. And not only to offset the aroma but also to emulate his appeal, I've changed out all the bottles of Suave on my shower-shelf with Gee-Your-Hair-Smells-Like-Grits.

Hope you are well.


Max Von Poteet

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Is that door unlocked?

Not sure what my brain might do with this power so let's all keep our heads. OK?