CHRISTMAS VACATION: CONFESSIONS OF A CONFUSED DOUCHE
SECTION THREE: NEW CASTLE, IN
Chapter XXV: G Soundtracks... Talking Snakes
And we now return to the G Rated section of the holiday travels.
I suppose I will always remember New Year’s Eve for it was the first time I had ever been to an NBA game. Admittedly, I like basketball and a fairly avid sports fan. For some reason, this shocks a lot of people. When I told people that I was in a Fantasy Football League they assumed I was lying, fell out of their chairs in disbelief, and some were rolling around on the floor clutching their chests. The most common reaction was: “I just can’t see you even liking football, let alone being in a fantasy league.” I had to display my team on the computer to provide evidence that I wasn’t lying.
They had a fantasy league in Asheville when I lived there. Apparently all 10 people who loved both noise punk and football had a league together. Thinking of this made me wonder how many bronies have their own fantasy football league. I suppose many of them just had to accept the fact that their team sucked.
The NBA tickets were supposed to be free, but one of them was accidentally forgotten. I opted to buy the extra ticket and found they were only $10. During this process, I was separated from the group, who went to the seats while I purchased the ticket. Have to say, after working as a bartender, and then cooped up in parents’ houses for the past nearly two weeks, the highlight of this game was the time I spent walking around the arena observing other people. Considering all of the circumstances that plague me in life, my love for people watching should be viewed with the same astonishment as playing Fantasy Football. I am a single male though, and there were surprisingly a fairly large amount of attractive women at the basketball game.
The NBA Game was OK I suppose. I significantly prefer College Basketball over NBA and wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of either team (Indiana Pacers vs. Memphis Grizzlies). But, it allowed me to concentrate on fulfilling another lifelong ambition of mine. There is a restaurant in Chicago where the servers purposely give awful service and say intentionally absurdly mean things to the customers (the routine is all in good fun, and I would love to work there). I’ve always wanted to be a sports announcer following this exact same premise, making ridiculously rude comments with commentaries laced with excessively foul language. In my head, I was announcing this game in this fashion… all the while; I was seated next to Ella where I would dare never utter a curse word. This was yet another fine example where I was juggling multiple perspectives simultaneously.
She informed me that she was petrified of mascots; I found this a bit odd for I have a borderline obsession with them and even featured an entire planet full of them for a story I wrote.
Even though I have to watch my language, I can at least moderately be myself around these kids. The entire trip back was spent with them asking me bizarre random questions and me simply making up absurd answers.
While this was great fun, I also had to assume the role of damage control. On the way to the stadium, Ella and Isaiah had fussed over a stuffed animal that was won playing the claw game at Steak and Shake. Sweet little Ella suddenly didn’t seem as adorable when she declared, “I would like to slap Isaiah right in the face.”
This was coupled with the notion that Caroline’s Dad had bought those plush huge pointy fingers for each of them to wear on their hands during the game (see above image—those things.)
Isaiah attempted to snatch Ella’s, and this was followed with Isaiah shouting from the very back, “Dad, Ella took my pointy finger” and Ella laughing now holding both of them; how she managed to not only defend hers from the unfair disadvantage of being constrained in a car seat while Isaiah came over the top from the back, and then proceed to apprehend his in the process is a complete mystery. (See below image: how I now picture Ella’s first boyfriend.)
Somewhere along the lines during the questioning process, Ella insisted that she was the only person on Earth capable of achieving what she considered a massive talent. She had the ability to say ess or hiss and expand the ssss sound while biting on her tongue. I honestly have clue how she was able to pull off such an unmanageable feat, but it was widely known throughout the region, every 20 minutes, that she was able to do this and I was completely incapable.
When she asked if I had ever heard of such a bizarre mystery unfolding during my mystical travels throughout The Universe, I informed them that snakes living in Connecticut could talk… and I knew this because they had several of them working at McDonald’s. There was one snake in particular I had a conversation with, Archie, who could not even hiss the way Ella could. He tried to while he was sweeping the dining room by means of being wrapped around a broom and scooting it across the floor.
Our discussion of snakes being able to speak in the state of Connecticut disrupted the conversation Tim and Don were having in the front seat as Isaiah kept asking them if snakes could really talk. What about the ones in Connecticut? I knew they hadn’t ever spent much time in Connecticut, so that’s why I chose that particular state.
Next, the subject turned to ice cream and I would say a flavor of ice cream and they had to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Every single flavor, Ella enthusiastically gave each one a minimum score of 10,000 with some of flavors being rated as infinity. Then, we decided to brainstorm and say gross flavors of ice cream just to find one that Ella didn’t like. Tomato ice cream received a score of 50,000, pizza ice cream received infinity, and Christmas tree ice cream received a 10,000.
“Eww,” Isaiah said in disgust, “you would eat pine needles?”
“It’s still ice cream. I love ice cream.”
After dropping off Caroline’s dad, we had to go to Caroline’s mom’s house to fetch Caroline and Alyssa who did not attend the game. After a brief visit with Caroline’s mom, walking back to the car, I slipped and fell in the snow. Generally speaking, the worst sling about slipping and falling in the snow is if somebody is there to witness it; and I had what I thought at the time was worst case scenario with Alyssa, Isaiah, and Ella as witnesses laughing at the horrendous tumble. Unfortunately, an even worst case scenario emerged from this. Caroline seemed genuinely concerned, asking me if I was OK, and declared that falling was not quite as fun when you get old. OK, I’m not that old.
En route to the New Year’s gathering we were attending, we stopped to order pizza at this place called Mancino’s in New Castle. When restaurants are faced with adverse conditions, I will always side with the workers over complaining customers. Here, I felt extreme remorse for these employees. There were four of them, 18-22 year old females, and it was moderately busy. It’s bad enough working on New Year’s Eve, especially at their age. However, there was something wrong with the oven and the food was not coming out fully cooked on the first run; everything needed to be run twice. It took over an hour for our order to be finished.
We understood; we’re cool about things because that’s how we roll. But, I just imagined that somebody, some New Castle resident, would complain and cause a scene. I hoped that never happened, because those types of confrontations can ruin people’s lives. Yes lives! All people who have ever worked in the service industry still hold a grudge on at least five assholes that angered them off several years ago. I've heard stories this month about people arranging assassinations on previous customers they dealt with back in 1996.
I am not one of these people. However, I still recollect an incident where some guy freaked out over a pineapple upside-down cake that I had no control over and the cake was unharmed. This was way back when I worked at Kroger. He came through my check out line with his groceries piled up in a mound in his cart with the pineapple upside-down cake wobbling on the top. After I pulled his cart closer, the pile tumbled and the cake slid down onto the conveyor belt where I scanned it and sent it down to the bagging station. While I was scanning it, he claimed that I ruined the cake, ruined his life, he cussed me out, and took several personal shots at me. I was tempted to then open the box containing the cake, cut myself off a generous chunk, and proceed to devour it right in front him.
It is my belief that whenever a person contemplates a decision, the alternate choice is carried out in a parallel plane of existence. Somewhere in sector #442-16A I did exactly that. I've always wondered how that version of me is doing since that time. Rumor has it he hung up on somebody who was asking too many annoying questions on the phone at The Cheese Mart.
Our New Year’s Eve party took place at Caroline’s cousin’s house. I haven’t seen her in a long time, but the two times we did meet we enjoyed ourselves—once hanging out at King’s Island, the other, we walked down the aisle together at Tim and Caroline’s wedding. She’s married now with a 12 year old son, and sadly I observed this kid to compare his development to Zach’s. Even sadder, this kid, in a few short hours, spoke to me significantly than Zach did the entire day. But then again, so did their dog.
We played euchre, and not to brag, but I am a pretty stellar card player. Generally, I play one game using my own strategies just to show the world what I’m made of, and then I usually tone down the skill level significantly for the rest of the time. Although the first game was sort of a blowout, I have to admit that the kid had some skills. The second game, we switched partners and he and Tim were now partners (game one featured Tim and I as partners). They won 10-9, and he was a key factor in the victory. The last game, we won, but he was the constant spoiler that kept the game close. Furthermore, he could engage in the conversation with the rest of the adults seated at the table; most would consider him a cool kid.
He represented what I had been hoping to see with Zach. Tim and I figured that Dad should have gone to the Pacer’s game and brought Zach along; I’m not sure why that never happened… it would have been nice though, assuming Zach maintained interest in his immediate surroundings and remained in his seat.
The party did feature some absolute craziness with people dancing like strippers, removing their shirts, and throwing them into the crowd. Nope, I was not the guilty culprit this time; it was Isaiah and two other kids.
Tim and I left to go to the store; we had to go to the liquor store to get beer plus whatever the ladies were drinking, and to a convenient store. Although we are commonly considered opposites, throughout our entire life, together, we have always been considered “charming” to people working at the stores. At the liquor store, he went through the line first and was so pleasant and friendly that it made the clerk feel all warm inside; then I followed with a series of humor and the entire store was laughing. I heard the lady in the back say, “I liked both of them!”
The convenient store was the same way. That clerk first talked to Tim and they were still talking when I joined the conversation. We were having fun and I bet her that I was older than her; the bet was the 50 cents change that I received from my order. She ended up being way older than me, and I somewhat suspected that she was going to win the bet…but not quite as lopsided of a victory as it was. We both saluted looking young, and she declared that I have to pick her up in the morning and take her to breakfast. It was an utmost pleasant experience—Tim and I both still have it.
One other must-see food related tourist attraction in New Castle is Jack’s Donuts. They are by far the best donuts on the planet Earth and we were received several freebies because they were getting ready to close. Although I’m not anywhere near a glutton, the donuts were among the highlights of the trip. Due to the fact that there were an excessive amount of them, I did eat like a fat blubbering gluttonous slob.
In some circles, it disturbs people seeing a scrawny boy eat five donuts; “How does he eat all that and stay so skinny?”
In other circles, people are delighted seeing skinny people eat excessively; “The poor guy must have been starved. He needs to eat more of them to put some meat on them bones.”
In my circle, I do not think my weight should ever be discussed. You do not see me openly telling people that they are fat. Or ask, “How do you stay so fat?” Or be like, “Damn, lardass, do you ever stop eating?” Or say, “Geezle, you fat miserable piece of shit, what size pants do you wear? Oh, you must be a hipster for wearing fat jeans?”
I frequently tell people that I am fat and that I have a muffin top. The purpose of this is for them to hopefully not think that I am skinny; that merely saying these words would convince them that I am not as skinny as they think. Instead, they conclude that if I truly believe that I have a muffin top, then I obviously have a psychological disorder and I am anorexic. Or, they request to see the muffin top.
Another New Year’s resolution: I have to devise a new technique to prevent people from discussing my weight. In actuality, I do have a bit of a muffin top and 69% of those who I’ve displayed it to will agree.
Tim informed me how he got into trouble with Caroline recently. First, it should be known that these two were married at a very young age—both were still teenagers. Many claim this is a common mistake, but with these two, it is the opposite. They were fortunate enough to find their soul mates at a young age, and still young, they have been married longer than most older couples with three beautiful children. Not only is their marriage strong, but it is even rare for them to have an argument, let alone anything considered a major disturbance.
He began the story with, “Yea, I made kind of a mistake,” NOTE MARRIAGE COUNSELORS: This did NOT begin with, “Caroline is being a bitch.” Tim went to his Class Reunion in New Castle (they now live in Johnson City, TN) without Caroline. In an ultra-rare occurrence, he had a little too much to drink and spent the night with a girl he knew from High School. This woman is now married, and she and her husband slept together in their bedroom… Tim was delegated to the guest room where he quickly passed out. He continued, “…I made a mistake. I spent the night with a girl I knew from High School and didn’t tell Caroline about it until the next morning.” She was not happy.
I’m a person Tim can confide in, and if anything more than that happened, he would have told me. Furthermore, he is not the type of person who would do anything worse than that… staying there and not telling her about it beforehand is about as disloyal as he gets… which is extremely admirable and why they are happily married. As a person still single, I consider far more prestigious to claim an everlasting relationship than somebody who has slept with hundreds of people. Since the invention of alcohol, anybody could sleep with hundreds of people every year; their stories are boring. Stating to have only slept with one person for the past 20 years is far more enticing… although some unreliable narrators have spread various propaganda pieces claiming that this banging a multitude of meaningless drunks is the path to dignity.
This was a crucial period for counseling and I had to embrace the role of the sympathetic supportive brother that I am. I responded, almost tearfully with an immense amount of deep sorrow, “HAHA! Tim got in trouble! Tim got in trouble! Tim had to sleep on the couch- HAHAHA!”
There was no extravagant New Year’s Eve celebration. A few other people joined us—people I had assumed I haven’t met, but apparently we met one time several years ago. Since I can no longer comfortably fall in the snow without causing worrisome grief, I should not be expected to remember everybody’s names. Furthermore, I have had conversations with well over a million people… and indulged in se… we’ll just leave this section rated G.
At first, I was playing on the floor with the kids and this tiny little dog. I was basically protecting the little dog from being stomped; this thing kept licking me in the face with total chaos surrounding us. The dog was either oblivious to her surroundings or had watched too many war movies.
When the battlefield temporarily calmed, I quickly arose and sat on the last open space on the couch. I think it was an accident, but the girl I was sitting next to put her arm me around and fidgeted with my hair for about ten seconds… then stopped abruptly. Whatever, I’m skilled at this—I simply pretended nothing was going on and went to my happy place, even though her husband was sitting in the recliner next to the sofa. It was a bit awkward, but I've heard of worst mistakes happening.
One of my best friends in Cincinnati (the same friend who posted the free Meat Loaf posters on Craigslist) came up behind my then-girlfriend, put his arms around her waist and almost kissed her on the neck while he was discussing his plans for the evening. He had accidentally mistaken my girlfriend for his then-wife who was also present watching the whole thing. I’m not the jealous type, but instead much more understanding. Rather than question that he was trying something on my girlfriend, I already knew what was happening, and I was hoping that he actually would kiss her to completely dig himself into a domestic disaster.
When my girlfriend turned around and he realized that it wasn’t his wife… the horrified look on his face was priceless… the scornful emphatic “I’m going to stab you in the face” look on my girlfriend’s face was equally priceless. He almost received a severe beating by both of them right there in the store. I thought about intervening with a few brash accusations to make this miracle happen, but I just pretended like I was a reading a magazine.
We stayed until midnight and then left shortly afterwards. That night, we stayed at Caroline’s Dad’s house and I was delegated to an air mattress—bed #4. And if we’re keeping track of numbers, they also have a little tiny ass dog, so we are up to #2 for little tiny ass dogs. I wouldn't consider the air mattress extremely comfortable, nor did I get much sleep that night either. However, the room was a bit chilly and there was a fire brewing in the fireplace. This was the first time in my life that I had slept next to a fireplace and that’s a soothing pleasure that I recommend all people experience at least once.
These people all had to be at work within the next couple of days, so that was the end of their vacation. I had requested to ride back with Tim and have him drop me off in Asheville, North Carolina… where I used to live and where I consider one of my top few favorite places in the world.
In the morning, just before leaving, was the only time during the visit that any of the kids cried. It was the result of a major catastrophe, and I partly blamed myself for it. Apparently, Alyssa gets car sick and has to sit in the back. Somewhere along the lines, it was determined that Isaiah would be allowed to sit in the back for the trip home. Since I was there, that meant that both Alyssa and Isaiah had to sit in the back… together. Alyssa sternly declared, “No! I can’t sit next to him for 7 hours.” There was some begging and pleading and I saw Alyssa wiping away her tears.
When Isaiah emerged, he declared that it was his turn to sit in the back. Caroline informed him that he would be sitting in the back… with Alyssa. He looked confused, “No. Can’t somebody else sit back there?” They bickered for a little bit and Isaiah finally declared that he didn’t even want to sit in the back, and that Ella should sit back there. His idea consisted of, “you and Dad sit up front, me and Tony will be in the middle, and Ella can sit in the back with Alyssa.” Caroline was stern with the seating arrangement, perhaps to just prove a point. Shortly afterwards, I saw Isaiah sitting at the table, wiping away his tears, begging his mom, “anybody but Alyssa.”
I recalled an incident that occurred while I lived in Asheville. I made the trip to Johnson City to visit to fill in for Tim at a school event with Alyssa. When we returned to the house, Isaiah and I were playing a game of some sort and he did something mean to Ella—don’t recall the exact details. I told him that he was mean to Ella and he should be nicer to his little sister. His justification for this: “Alyssa is meaner to me than I am to Ella.”
This otherwise long rainy drive did provide some adventure. We had stopped at a rest area and I went for a stroll while everybody else went to the bathroom and to the vending machines. While I was standing outside, a car drove up and over the curb, through the grass while knocking over the posts and chains, spinning out around in the yard, and then coming to a halt near a canopy. The rest area employees emerged onto the scene defensively wondering what sort of crazy drunken lunatic was negligently causing a disturbance in this fine ass rest area.
I rushed to vending station and told the kids to stay inside because something weird was happening. At the time, nobody knew what was going on, just a driver behaving erratically while driving in designated walking areas; an obviously threat to pedestrians. It could have been anything, and most people were preparing for some sort of terrorist activity.
An old man emerged from the passenger seat and shouted at the driver, “You could have got us all killed.” The driver of the vehicle was about 90 years old and required a walker. The employees rescinded their aggression and immediately inquired if they were hurt. It was actually comical, and once everybody saw the driver of the vehicle, they laughed uncontrollably—some of them coughing with tears. Suddenly the damages to the grass were no longer important, and people assisted pulling her car back into the lot. I am still not entirely sure how this happened.
I assumed that I would be taken to Asheville first and they would be on their way. However, Tim dropped everybody off at home first, and then we were to go to Asheville from there. We unloaded the 46,000 tons of luggage and confirmed by feminist beliefs in the process. One of the suitcases weighed approximately 85,000 pounds and Isaiah, the boy, could not even budge it. On the other hand, Alyssa, the girl, albeit the self-proclaimed extremely tough and physically fit gymnastics woman, took the suitcase from Isaiah and easily hauled it into the house.
|Alyssa: The strong gymnast girl!|
Index: Chapter List
Chapter 25 Soundtrack Listing:
1. Ennio Morricone
"Matto, Caldo, Soldi, Morto & Girotondo" 3:23
2. Amon Düül II
"Blue Grotto" 3:33
Made In Germany
3. Toots Thielemans & Elis Regina
"Honeysuckle Rose" 2:51
Aguarela Do Brasil
"Night & Day" 2:40
Other Worlds - Other Sounds
5. Dinah Shore
"Shoo Fly Pie And Apple Pan Dowdy" 2:56
Baby Its Cold Outside
6. John Barry & His Orchestra
"Florida Fantasy" 2:11
7. Penguin Cafe Orchestra
"The Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas" 4:01
Penguin Cafe Orchestra
8. Rose Royce
9. The Brothers Johnson
Look Out for #1
10. Isaac Hayes
"Cafe Regios" 6:00
11. Edu Lobo & Chico Buarque
"Valsa dos Clowns" 3:40
O Grande Circo Místico
12. The Sea and Cake
"The Runner" 4:36
13. Baden Powell
"A Chuva" 4:44
14. Knutsen & Ludvigsen
15. Erasmo Carlos
"Masculino, Feminino" 4:36
17. John Zorn
"The Sicilian Clan" 3:33
"How 'Bout Us" 4:36
How 'Bout Us
19. Tommy James & The Shondells
"Crystal Blue Persuation" 4:02
Crimson And Clover
20. Elis Regina & Tom Jobim
"So Tinha De Ser Com Voce" 3:46
Elis & Tom
21. Acid Casuals
22. Tim Buckley
"Buzzin' Fly" 6:04
23. Ali Farka Toure
24. White Denim
"Light Light Light" 4:20
Last Day Of Summer
25. Rip Rig & Panic
"Change Your Life" 3:06
"My Happiness (Is not Yours)" 6:05
27. Renaldo And The Loaf
"There's A Cap On The Lawn" 4:26
29. A Certain Ratio
"I'd Like To See You Again" 5:13
I'd Like To See You Again
30. Dumbo Gets Mad
"Marmelade Kids" 4:23
Elephants At The Door
31. The Sundays
"My Finest Hour" 3:57
Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic
32. The Muppets
"Rainbow Connection" 3:16
"I Decided to Fly" 6:36
34. Milton Nascimento
"Morro Velho" 4:37
35. Imitation Electric Piano
"Small Science" 4:40
36. The Kingsbury Manx
"Blue Eurasians" 6:59
The Kingsbury Manx
37. The Kingsbury Manx
"Hawaii In Ten Seconds" 1:43
The Kingsbury Manx
"Riding On The Equator" 8:55
Poem Of The River
All Sections Written, Designed, and Music Compiled by Tony J. Neal
Fingers Image by: The Anchor Plate
Ella's First Boyfriend from: Sodahead
Talking Snake from: Krafty Panda
Jack's Donuts from: Facebook (Not only are they the best Donuts, also owned by Caroline's cousin)
Little Ass Dog from: Affordable Pups
I don't know who took this picture of Alyssa or who the girl is that she is carrying.