Truck Drivers or: how I learned that everyone, or no one, hates them all

trucks

I recently saw a semi with a sign on the back that said ‘Don’t like trucks? Stop buying stuff. Problem solved.’ My first thought was, who the fuck is that sign for? Is there a contingent of people constantly complaining about semi trucks out there? Like anyone that drives a car, I occasionally get annoyed with trucks that will try to pass another truck going uphill on the highway because it usually takes three miles for them to actually be able to make the pass. And there are times when a truck will veer into my lane and freak me the fuck out because they are huge, but I’ve never thought of trucks as unnecessary or something in general not to like.

I suppose we all need an enemy of sorts. I’m sure truck drivers see people do some of the dumbest shit imaginable because, lets face it, most people at one time or another are bad at driving. We often make bad decisions and then back them up with even worse decisions and while behind the wheel that can make things dangerous. There are people that will fly down the highway and zig in and out of traffic. Unless you are in the midst of explosive diarrhea or there’s a family emergency, if you drive like that you’re a fucking asshole. And seriously, even if there is a family emergency, try to not drive like a maniac. It doesn’t do your family any good if you wreck on the way to an emergency.

But back to the point, where does the idea that everyone hates trucks come from? Of course I want trucks on the road. I want my local grocery store to have fresh fruits and veggies, I want my mail to make it to wherever it needs to go, I want to be able to buy a 36 pack of toilet paper from Target. For all that to happen we need trucks, at least until drones becomes sentient and take over the world, but that’s another issue for another day.

There seems to be a defiant attitude for a lot of the country much like Cartman on South Park;

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which is coooool, maybe, I think, actually, maybe not. A society of Cartmans sounds terrible. He’s the character you love to cheer against, a lot like our president. A constantly defiant society accomplishes nothing but arguing. And that’s why we have a congress. And boy do they do a great job of accomplishing virtually nothing.

While it can be a good thing to be proud and defiant, if you’re fighting an evil force that may not even be there, what are you really defying? So truck drivers, I can’t speak for everyone else, but I don’t look at you as a nuisance on the road, or even a necessary evil, I look at you with some understanding that you see the worst in people, have to log a lot of hours on the road and sometimes have to put up with people’s bullshit. Well, so do the rest of us. I think that’s the Merriam-Webster definition of work. Please don’t be quick to judge that those of us in normal sized vehicles on the road wish anything bad upon you, or even don’t understand your value to our society, but if you take three miles to pass another truck going two miles per hour slower than you, you might see me singing “get the fuck out of the way” from my driver’s seat. It’s nothing personal, it might be low key road rage, but at least it will be from the heart because I love you trucks. And we sometimes hate the ones we love, but please, put the fucking signs away. There’s enough defiant bullshit in our world as it is.

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Life’s mysteries and the Poop that goes with them

mr-hankey

I was reading Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs on the toilet today when the idea of this story hit me; it’s all about poop. Life, dreams, existence, all of it.  My goal this week was to the write the comprehensive ideology of how after such a vitriolic election we can still get along and learn from one another, but my thoughts, as usual, eventually turned to poop. I blame this, only slightly, on Burroughs insanely entertaining way of describing his anxieties and inner monologue.

I’m a 35 year old man that still looks forward to a quality dump, laughs at poop jokes and believes butthole is one of the funniest ten words of all time. I’m not ashamed of it. In fact, I think it may be why I get along with kids so well. Some of this came about because of a podcast called Stuff You Should Know. If you haven’t heard it, it’s great. And it’s not all about poop. Honest. Anyway, one episode they did was about poop and it was much more interesting than you may think. They talked about color, consistency, the importance of going when you feel like you need to, constipation and much more. It got me thinking. Sometimes I know I have to go and I do, sometimes I’ve been farting for a while and I want to squeeze one out just to get rid of said farts and nothing comes, sometimes I think I might have to go and sit down and I lose four pounds. We can describe the feeling of needing to go, but it’s likely a different sensation for everyone of our body saying, “hey buddy(or lady), you should really go pop a squat.”

I work in food service and a lot of times you just have to hold it. There’s not much of an option. And it suuuuuuuucks. Anyone that has done customer service or been a server or bartender has dealt with this at some point. It’s terrible for your body, like a lot of things food service employees endure, but it’s part of the job. So you clench and pucker and squinch your toes and hope it passes without a loud fart explaining what you are going through. It can be a tricky prospect.

And different foods react differently for each of us, although spicy food will likely make your butthole angry the next day no matter who you are. We’re all creatures of getting out what you put in. Especially in the service industry, you’re often eating very quickly, often food you’re not hungry for and eating so fast you can barely taste it. Eventually your body catches up and the old b-hole decides that it’s time to shine is now.

Pooping can be a wonderful thing. Occasionally it’s terrible, but when it is it reminds you of the good times. Much like life. And poop jokes are still funny. I hope I don’t reach the age where I take life so seriously that I don’t find humor in them. And still, butthole, try and say it without smiling. Okay, you cheated, but it still makes me laugh. I’m not ashamed of it. And I hope I never will be.

The Appendix: Our bodies weird dangly organ that sometimes likes to burst

appendix

I woke up one morning to incredible pain. Now, I can’t speak for anyone else, but this is not typical for me, so I was a little worried. My stomach had felt wonky for a few days, but I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t have insurance so a random doctor’s visit was out, I just hoped it wasn’t anything serious. I knew my wishful thinking was for naught when I awoke at 3:00 in the AM with a clamp wrenching my insides. I squirmed, rolled side to side and sweat profusely until I felt a pop and passed out. The next time I woke I was happy to be alive and not feel that kind of pain anymore, but I knew a trip to the hospital was likely. I called off work, called mom and then dad, brushed my teeth and took a shower. If I was going to be in the hospital for a few day I wanted to at least go in clean.

I got to the hospital emergency room, parked my car and sauntered my way inside. Sauntering was about the only way I was getting around in my condition. I wasn’t in much pain by this point, but I definitely didn’t feel right. So I waited in the waiting room with all the other waiters until I got a chance to wait in a split room with a guy with a broken arm. We chatted in between nurse and doctor visits until we finally went our separate ways. You get a lot of questions in an emergency room, especially when you don’t have insurance. After most of the questions, a big gulp of barium and a CT scan it was determined that my appendix decided it no longer wanted to be inside my body so it exploded. The doctor told me he was surprised because I wasn’t in much pain, but after feeling an organ inside your body pop, there’s not much that hurts after that.

I went though surgery, got super drugged up, talked about having to poop into the hospital piss jug to my roommate and a couple other friends that were checking up on me and settled in to my hospital bed for the night. Aside from being woken up and checked on at random times of the night, I slept pretty well. The next day I felt okay, but the morphine was wearing off and some pain was settling in. There wasn’t much to do besides watch TV, read and talk to the doctor and nurses making their rounds. That night was the worst since my appendix actually burst. I had a headache and a fever and I woke up every thirty minutes or so. Besides the moment my appendix burst, it was the only time I actually thought I might die. I kept asking for more morphine and the nurse finally relented, giving me enough to let me fall asleep. When I awoke I felt considerably better, but still not great. I was getting tired of being in the hospital, coming off a shitty night of sleep and feeling helpless to my current condition.

This was more or less the exact time when an attractive doctor, making her rounds with a shadow, who was also an attractive lady, came in to check up on me. Appendix scars, for those who don’t know or had their appendix out before the surgery became less invasive, are small incisions around the abdomen. The two attractive ladies pulled back my hospital gown to check the scars and, naturally, my penis flopped out. Flopped is a bit of grandiose term because after two days of pain, surgery, medication, a fever and more medication I was not representing myself as well as I would’ve liked to. The ladies were nothing but professional as they checked on me, but I felt like George Costanza, wanting to yell “I was in the pool, I was in the pool.” Well, surgery, but you know what I mean.

After they left I comforted myself with the thought that it wasn’t the first time that has happened to them and they would likely see much worse, probably that day. Still, you always want to represent yourself in the best possible light and I didn’t and couldn’t that day. The moments of pain were by far the worst parts of the entire experience, but the one moment that has really stuck with me was that one. There’s nothing quite like coming a little too close to death only to get embarrassed about an overly medicated, floppy weiner.

Later that day I was up walking and the next day I went home and eventually healed up fine, not being able to take a normal, adult male sized shit for a while aside. My scars are barely noticeable and the hospital wrote off the surgery bill (thank god) because I made so little money at the time. Overall it was very much preferable to dying. But damn if I couldn’t go back and represent myself a little better to two nurses that I never saw again. I could’ve cracked a few jokes or given my dang dang a little pep talk. But that’s my neurosis. I’m no George Costanza or Larry David, but I’m not as far away from them as I would like to think. We all need the occasional pep talk. And so do our penises. (And maybe vaginas for the penis-less.)

The Hangover Beer

Pint Beer Glass on White

The first beer takes a while. It doesn’t taste good. It’s not at all what your body wants, but it’s what it needs. It’s not the flavor, or the carbonation, the malt, the hops, the bitterness; it’s the dehydration. It’s you body saying, “seriously, dude? Seriously?” Last night was a rough one and the body is all too aware of it. It doesn’t matter that you drank as much water as your stomach could hold. It helps, but it’s not a cure. No, you’re paying the price today and that’s why beer is the only option.

It may take some time, but once the first beer is down, ideally with something fatty and greasy, the real game begins. That first one begins the road back to normalcy. The second goes down much easier and puts the world back together. By then the hangover feels like a thing of the past and life feels like it normally does, albeit with a slightly hazy gloss. It’s possible to smile again, at least without grunting first. That buzz in the head has mellowed into a satisfying hum. Once the second one is down is when the real game begins.

By this point if you haven’t taken a quality dump yet, you will, especially if you’ve eaten. Think of it like your body dispersing all the toxins you put in there last night, it’s a comfort where there is little when you’re agonizing on toilet seat. Now it’s time to cut the snake off at the head. A third beer means a new party begins and the whole damn thing will be waiting for you tomorrow. It will be a fun day, but the price goes up each day evading the fallout.

It’s not a perfect system. It’s really not even a good system, but sometimes it’s enough to get you through and in our instant gratification society, sometimes two beers is all anyone needs.

A False History of Nashville

catapult

If you’ve ever walked or driven around Nashville for any substantial amount of time you’ve likely smelled what smells like a city-wide collective fart. Nashville stinks some of the time and in some neighborhoods, depending on the time of year, most of the time. Many cities have this issue to varying degrees, but Nashville’s history offers some insight to why it stinks so often.

In 1864 the Battle of Nashville took place and during a two week break in the fighting, with rations dwindling and temperatures plummeting Union soldiers were unable to bury their feces as was the norm. As the feces piled up Union army commander General George Thomas had an idea to end the battle with a controversial strategy; they would collect the feces into a cannonball and fire it at the Confederate Army. “I cannot get that stench out of my mustache,” he said. “We shall fire it unto our foes.”

And fire they did. As the poop ball sailed from a catapult, across the Cumberland River, a scent was laid that would haunt the region from that point on. It was the turning point in a decisive victory for the Union, but the loss of dignity and incomparable scent would change Nashville from that point on.

So if you’re ever driving across the Cumberland River with your windows down and wonder if the river actually shit itself, the answer, in a way, is yes. But at least you’re not the guy the cannonball of poop landed on. What a way to go.

Clickity-Clacks

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It was bound to happen one day. He knew he’d get old, he just thought it would take a little longer. The time just went by too goddamn fast and he was on the wrong side of the hill. Nothing ran quite as smoothly as it used to, the gears would slip occasionally, the seat would settle, the clickity-clacks wouldn’t click or clack much anymore, the tires were worn with a racing stripe down the center and the paint just didn’t sparkle in the sunshine like it once did. Huff knew he was slipping. He could feel it deep inside, the knowledge was still there and the memories of being able to pull off impossible feats lingered, but it was a young bike’s game and he was no longer a young bike.

Huff, the teal colored Huffy with worn white tires was depressed. When everyone was asleep he would sneak out of the garage and attempt wheelies and bunny hops and sliding stops that just wouldn’t stick like they used to, but every night he was out there, giving it his all. It didn’t help that the neighbor kid got a new bright yellow Schwinn that made him look and feel even older. That Schwinn would meet old Huff out at night once or twice a week and hot dog circles around him, making it all look so easy. Huff remembered those days and that was why he was out there every night putting in work.

“Hey old timer,” the Schwinn said one night, confident going on arrogant.

“Hey Schwinn.”

“Why are you out here every night?” he said, popping a wheelie. “What’s the point? You’re old.”

“I feel lucky that I made it this long and I’m not ready to put my kick stand down for good just yet.” Huff, always serious, always honest.

“Whatever dude.”

“You’ll understand some day,” Huff said, although Schwinn couldn’t hear him as he flew down the street at top speed.

The next night Huff was back out there, riding out a wheelie that lasted longer than they usually did these days, when he heard a tire screech and the sound of a chain slipping off it’s gears, a sound no bicycle wanted to hear. As Huff turned the corner he saw Schwinn barreling down a hill towards him, out of control and scared.

“Help Huff.”

“I’m coming,” Huff said, turning down the hill in front of Schwinn.

Schwinn was gaining fast, but Huff was pushing as hard as he could, gears warming, tires wobbling, clickity-clacks sticking to the edges of the rims. Schwinn was pulling even with him as they reached the bottom of the hill where a sharp turn awaited them. Huff stuck his tire into the front of the frame of Schwinn, pushing him gently into the turn.

“Ahh,” Schwinn yelled as he gained control of himself and made the turn, just missing the curb. He felt relief as he took a sweeping turn back toward the bottom of the hill when he saw Huff on the ground. Huff had saved Schwinn from certain danger, but couldn’t save himself from the large oak tree at the foot of the hill.

“Why? Why did you save me?” Schwinn asked, pulling up to Huff.

“You’ve got your whole life ahead of you kid,” Huff coughed out.

“You’re a hero.”

“Not a hero, just an old bike.”

And with that, Huff grew silent. Schwinn looked down at the bruised and broken bike at his tires for a long while before pulling up his kick stand and lying down beside him.

When he awoke hours later his boy was pushing him back to his home in the garage and away from the scene. He knew he wouldn’t see old Huff again, but he wouldn’t forget any time soon as the sound of a solitary clickity-clack played the sound track to an otherwise quiet glide home.

Spaced, a Review

For a while I was writing reviews on movies, book and albums. Some of it was just a writing exercise and some of it was to put media that I consumed into a better perspective. Reading back through I found a few mistakes, but also a few memories that gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling, so I thought I’d share at least one of these. So, without further ado, one of the greatest television shows of all time:

spaced-dvd-poster

Spaced starring Simon Pegg as Tim, Jessica Hynes as Daisy, Katy Carmichael as Twist, Mark Heap as Brian, Julia Deakin as Marsha and Nick Frost as Mike.

Where to start… I guess the easiest place to start is by saying this is one the best television series of all time. That’s right. Of. All. Time. It’s quirky and funny and quite British, but we American fans don’t hold that against them. Spaced originally aired on the BBC and is only two seasons long equaling fourteen episodes, yet is still one of my favorite all time television shows. Why, you may ask. Well, let’s start.

I think one of the biggest draws for me about Spaced is that it’s a show that would never get aired on American television because it is too good. Executives wouldn’t see the underlying intelligence and humor in the show, only that it would be hard to market. Maybe HBO. That, in itself, is reason to take a peek. They also say fuck, tits and twat (which really only sounds good with an English accent) and reference marijuana, speed and ecstasy. At the time you could really get away with that on American TV beyond late night Comedy Central shows.

Part of the charm is that Spaced is based on two regular twenty-somethings, eking their way through their 20’s and their interactions with their strange friends and flat neighbors. Now, to be honest, season one is good, but not knock your balls off good. That’s expected for a show considering there are characters, sexual tensions and plot lines to develop. That’s not to say it’s not worth watching because there are some very good episodes. My favorites are Battles, Chaos and Epiphanies which is probably my favorite of the season.

Now season two is where it truly takes off. There are spoofs of The Matrix, Fight Club and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Tim’s discontent with George Lucas and the all important final two episodes where everything is on the brink of destruction. My personal favorite is an episode called Gone. I think what I enjoy about this episode the most is how guys act around each other demonstrated by fake gun fight stand offs. It is a remarkably funny and true episode.

The DVD series also comes with a fantastic documentary about the series with an interesting little twist at the very end. If you enjoy the show, especially if you really, really love the show it is something you definitely need to watch. It gives a quality wrap up to a show that seemed to stop before it’s time.

This brings me to my next point. The documentary talks a lot about why the show didn’t continue and how much fans wanted to see more. As a fan I can buzz through the two seasons quickly and feel like I need more. As much as I would love to see more I think one the most endearing parts of Spaced is that it leaves you wanting more. What more could you ask of a television show?

Whether it’s the avant garde sensitive artist Brian, the drunken landlady Marsha, the best friend military freak Mike or the shallow quick to quip Twist, there is plenty to like about the characters. That doesn’t even include the lovable Tim and Daisy as the main characters. All of the eccentricities, the acting performances and the dialogue make a great group and some great episodes.

This is already getting too long, but, as you can tell, I really love Spaced. There’s really not much more to say other than go watch it already to you sodding bummer.