Head Over Heels About the Ocean: A Tale of a Broken Neck

By Ike Andrews

Hello, fans of Grizzly Chadams.  My name is Ike, and I’m Zack’s dad, guest posting on his notorious blog.  I’m 40 years and 20 years and 4 years old.  That adds up to 64 years in terms of the number of orbits I’ve made around the fat, old sun (H/T:  Pink Floyd), but it means something a little more than that. Within me is the wisdom one achieves at the age of 40, the youthful spirit of adventure that develops in your 20’s, and the wide-eyed wonder of a child of 4.  The significance of this, you ask?  These three parts of my personality are what got me falling head over heels in the ocean, the titular offender for this month’s C6 lamina fracture, plus the misery to follow.

Translation: I broke my freaking neck!

Or, if you want the original (and naughty) version, truer to the rugby player in me: I think I broke his F*#%!@%# Neck!

It all started at a little place called Topsail Beach, located on a 26-mile long barrier island just off the coast of southern North Carolina.  But first, a little background on how I got there.

***

During grad school, I met a chemist named Phil from Ohio and a rugby player named Jerome from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  We got to be friends, as did our wives, and managed to keep up to varying degrees after we graduated.  The wives were good about meeting up about every five years, but the men, being busy with careers in the paper industry, not so much.  But now that we’ve all finally reached retirement, we got our opportunity to join in these roughly quinquennial reunions. 

If you’re married, and your spouse has friends who are also married, you’ll notice that they often plan events for the women folk requiring the men to accompany them.  Of course, the women have already hit it off, but the men are relegated to sitting around drinking beer or whatnot, trying to act like friends when no common interests or experiences have yet to be established. I’m not being critical of these situations, it’s just the way they are.  Sometimes friendships do form, but often it’s just something you politely endure until it’s over.

A fitting artifact from the trip

But with Phil, Jerome, and myself with our wives LeAnn, Corrine, and Debbie, respectfully, it was as if no time had passed between us.  So, it was with much excitement and anticipation to reunite with the gang at Phil and LeeAnn’s house in New Bern, NC, during a long weekend in May.  Phil had planned a lot of activities for the men, and the same for LeeAnn and the women, but we all united each evening around the dinner table, enjoying the five home-brews that Phil crafted in his spare time (what a way to leverage a knowledge of chemistry!).

Naturally Gifted!

Friday’s activity for the men involved kayaking on the Trent River, a short tributary of the Neuse River, which empties into Pamlico Sound where it finally becomes one with the Atlantic Ocean (you know the place!).  If I had any sense of reading signs, I should have figured out that this expedition was a harbinger of more water troubles to come.  Phil already had a kayak and had borrowed two more from his neighbor.  While most of the kayaks I’d ever used had broad, flat hulls and were very stable in the water, these were narrow-bodied and felt tipsy, like I was trying to ride a bicycle for the first time.

My legs, built up over the years of doing squats, felt packed into the kayak like two large sardines. I began to rehearse how I would escape from these tight confines in the event I tipped over, as I wasn’t skilled enough to upright the kayak by using a hip motion, let alone deal with the trouble of getting my legs to slide out.  But after 5 minutes of paddling, a steady ache building in my lower back eclipsed my safety planning.

“Something’s not right,” I said to Phil.  “My lower back is hurting.”

“Are you pushing against the foot pegs?”  he asked.

There was just the slightest pressure against the foam of my flip-flops.  “The tips of my toes are barely touching them.”

“Ummm.  We should have adjusted them before you got in.  Let’s paddle over there to the shore and fix them.”

I went as far as I could before the front of the hull bottomed out, and as I tried to raise myself from the seat, I lost my balance.  Phil outstretched his oar to me, but couldn’t prevent the inevitable. I flipped upside down, nearly pulling him in with me.

To my surprise, my legs came out smoothly and I surfaced without being submerged too long, but as I climbed onto shore, my right flip-flop got caught in the mud and came off my foot.  Jerome eventually retrieved it, but not before I stepped on a rough rock that took off a quarter-sized flap of skin.  Then, stumbling from the step, I scraped my left shin against another rock, resulting in an ooze of bright red blood.

The geese that were on the shore flashed away in a noisy gaggle, but their clumps of poo were everywhere.  While I pulled the kayak on shore, all I could think about was getting some kind of bacteria in my wound, so I kept a close watch on where I was stepping. With careful maneuvering, we managed to navigate through the minefield with little casualties, and after about ten minutes of peg adjustments, I managed to get back into the kayak free of any back pain.

We kayaked for another hour and a half before we could get back to Phil’s house to tend to the wounds. I used hot, soapy water and a brush to scrub them both, then liberally applied antibiotic ointment.  Secretly, I wished I could have gotten a tetanus shot, but hoped the scrub and daub treatment would be good enough.

More water adventures followed, this time for everybody.  LeeAnn had a friend she’d met through her career as a nurse named Joanie, who had a beach house about an hour away from New Bern, and I couldn’t have been more excited.  I’ve always been in love with the beach, ever since I was a kid, and I couldn’t wait to hit the surf that Saturday.  By the time we got there, the surf roiling and inviting, with only a slight overcast. I wasted no time in taking a plunge, letting the waves wash over until I could dive beneath the first big breaker. The water wasn’t so bad once you got thoroughly submersed, and I spent the next 20 minutes playing with the waves, trying to catch one perfectly so I could body surf to the shore.  It felt so good to be out in the ocean again!

As I was about to head back to shore, it occurred to me that the salt water was good for my kayaking wounds, so I stayed knee deep in the water for an additional 10 minutes, walking up and down the beach.  At last, I got out and lathered up with some Banana Boat SPF 15 so I could relax in the sun. When lunch came around LeeAnn and I went to a New York style deli to pick up sandwiches for everyone, then stopped at a convenience store for drinks and chips.  Joanie showed up and Jerome and I lazed around her hammock and swinging chairs and chit-chatted while the rest of the party went back to the beach.

When the three of us retuned to the beach, everybody was snoozing, but our appearance caused them to stir awake.  Debbie and I went for a walk, and when we got back I got the sense that folks were tiring of being in the sun and would want to be heading back soon.  Since going to the beach is a rare occurrence for someone living in Spokane, Washington, the four-year old within me said I just had to take one more tip to take advantage of the glorious combination of wind, sand, sun and surf.   

The day so far had been filled with an overabundance of normalcy.  That was all about to change.  The surf hadn’t settled at all since the morning, still rough and roiling, but not intimidating, at least not to the 4 year old in me, with the 20 year old telling me I had to conquer those waves and body surf one all the way to the shore.  I went out just past the breakers and bobbed around a bit, then swam swiftly toward the shore trying to catch the first swell I saw, rising like it would soon spill over. I missed it, so I regained my bearings and went out again.  The second wave came and the crests were breaking on either side of me.  I started swimming forward and caught the middle part just as it was breaking, and the next thing I knew I was planed-out and soaring. A sense of exhilaration settled in, but only for about 2 seconds.

In the blackest darkness I could imagine, the wave hydraulics changed viciously and slammed the front part of my head against the seabed.  I was aware of what happened—too aware—and instantly realized that I had never, ever been hit in the head so hard in my life.  My body still swirling in the cataclysm of violent water, my second thought was just as clear as the first:  Why am I still conscious?

Fortunately, I was. Otherwise, the undertow might have swept me back out to sea, never to be found. I felt around for something solid to stand on, and my feet landed on the sand. As the wave receded, I felt a tingling up and down my left arm. “This isn’t right,” said the 40 year old in me. No way was I going to try to brush this off with bravado and act like nothing happened. Immediately, I staggered over to LeeAnn and Joanie, two nurses who would know exactly what to do in a situation like this.

“What happened to your head?” LeeAnn asked before I could ever say what happened.  I felt around at the top of my head until I found the answer. A silver-dollar sized chunk of my hair was missing, replaced by a bright red spot dotted with blood specks. “You’ve been scalped!”

“That wave slammed me into the ocean floor,” I explained.  “My left arm is tingling.” 

“That’s not good,” she replied.  “Let’s get you to urgent care right away.”

The three of us hastily left the beach, and at least the tingling in my arm stopped before we could cross the road back to the beach house.  We got into Joanie’s car and took off toward the nearest urgent care facility, but a quick phone call revealed it was closed for the weekend (an aside: the benefit of being with two nurses is that they both knew the medical landscape of the area very well).  After a brief debate, we shot towards New Hannover Regional Urgent Care Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.

LeeAnn plugged the destination into her phone and Joanie took off—well, sort of.  We got stuck behind a pickup moving slow and erratically. Not only did we suspect that he was texting, or drunk, or both, but they didn’t even know how to get out into the intersection to make a left turn!  Joanie, having lived in Chicago where she put up a lot with that traffic, suddenly lost her patience due the untimely impedance of our makeshift ambulance excursion.  I have to admit, it was reassuring to see her acquired southern charm evaporate in the face of a slow-ass driver.  After all, she was doing it because she was acting in the best interests of her patient, me.

Fortunately, the slow-ass driver turned into a nearby WalMart, giving us unobstructed access to the road from thereon out.  At one point Joanie got on the phone and called a nurse who specialized in neuro injuries and asked her what symptoms we should be looking out for.  She relayed a bunch of questions and had me do a few head movements before concluding I wasn’t too badly off, although in retrospect some of the head movements ended up becoming verboten after the doctor reviewed my x-rays.  At any rate, she quickly got me to an emergency room, that was to our luck empty, allowing me to reach the admittance desk right away.  “Good afternoon.  I would like an x-ray, a tetanus shot, and this scalp wound cleaned up, please,” I said.

“Would you like fries with that?” you think she would have responded.  Instead, she asked all the normal prerequisites—insurance, driver’s license, social security number, etc., and soon I was escorted into a private room in the main examination area.  A nurse came in and introduced herself, believing she was there to immediately treat my scalp. Instead she took blood pressure, temperature and pulse readings and said the examining doctor would be there shortly. Yeah, but my scalp… I wanted to say, but she left… too quickly.

Next, a thirty-something year old man in scrubs showed up and extended his hand.  “Hi, I’m Steven Crawford.  I’m the attending physician this afternoon.”

Right away I was impressed that he didn’t flaunt his credentials by insisting I call him, “Dr. Crawford.”  I explained what happened as he looked me over.  He checked me out for a concussion and then said he was going to order x-rays and we’d go from there. 

But what about my scalp wound…, I started to stay, but he left before I could utter the first word.

The x-rays showed I had a fractured C6 lamina, a serious place to get injured, as that region of the spinal cord controls the mobility functions from the neck down.  In other words, I was lucky I wasn’t paralyzed, as several nurses told me over the course of the next 24 hours.  Still, there was concern that the soft tissue inside the vertebrae might have been compromised, and the only way to find out was through an MRI.  Next stop, New Hannover Central Hospital in downtown, Wilmington, transportation curtesy of the ambulance. In the meantime, I got to wear what felt like a series of concentric Ubangi neck rings.

Well, That Escalated Quickly…

I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in my life.

Finally, just before the ambulance came to whisk me away, the attending nurse showed up to treat my scalp wound.  It must not have been too bad, I thought to myself, since it took them so long to attend to it.  You can judge for yourself.

Not a good look…

The ambulance ride was interesting.  One of the paramedics used to work for the movie studio in Wilmington as a location manager, but got tired of the travel and long days associated with film making. I remembered living in Wilmington at the time the studio came in, which led to extra work in “The Year of the Dragon” and an encounter with Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Gold’s Gym, a story for another time.  As I exchanged stories with the paramedic, I told her about how my son was born in Wilmington and that I was now going to be admitted into the same hospital that he was born in.  Come to find out, that wasn’t exactly true.   Zack was born in Cape Fear Memorial Hospital, not New Hannover Regional Medical Center, but it’s not the first time one of the Andrews men had gotten confused about birth stories regarding the city of Wilmington (see So it turns out, Michael Jordan Wasn’t Born in North Carolina…).

What can be said about spending a night in a hospital room that doesn’t evoke misery and dolefulness? At least the nurses were top notch and gave me a more comfortable fitting neck brace (plus the tetanus booster shot I’d been wanting since the kayak mishap), but the quality of sleep left a lot to be desired, especially given the hallway noise and the number of interruptions to take your vital signs, plus emptying waste containers (which maybe had one piece of trash in them, making me wonder what was the sense of doing it).  I didn’t get cleared to move out of bed until morning, but that didn’t stop me from getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, which involved a bit of advanced planning considering I was hooked up to an IV whose power cords were tangled into a giant ball that didn’t quite reach to the toilet on the first go around. 

A staff neuro surgeon stopped by early the next morning and did all kinds of tests involving pushing and pulling with my hands and feet, plus answering a series of rapid fired questions about basic personal knowledge and current events.  He then gave me the ok to move about the room and have some food, which was great, since I hadn’t had anything since lunch the day before. And I have to hand it to the hospital, the food actually wasn’t that bad, although the coffee tasted like somebody had dipped a stool sample in a cup of tepid water (I drank it nevertheless, indicative of how badly I needed caffeine).

So, the remainder of the morning and most of the afternoon was spent in waiting my turn for an MRI. I mostly watch back to back episodes of Animal Planet’s North Woods Law, astonished at how seriously fish and wildlife statute enforcement is taken.  Once Debbie and LeeAnn showed up, I turned off the TV and chatted with them. Turns out, they were more impatient about the MRI than I was.  When they slipped away to get a late lunch at the Au Bon Pain, I pinged the nurse to see what she could find out. Consequently, she fussed at the MRI scheduler to get his ass in gear to get me in.

Eventually, it happened, but not without a little Valium and a towel over my eyes, as the little bit of anxiety I got when getting encased for just a few minutes for a CT scan the day before was only going to worsen given the 25 minute procedure of the MRI. The results seemed good, but the neuro surgeon didn’t get to them until 7 pm and was afraid he couldn’t get all the diagnostic reports together in time for me to take home.  Therefore, he asked that I stay another night in the hospital.

That didn’t make sense—to incur an additional cost on account of their tardiness.  Fortunately, the nurses must have been on to the ploy, because they kept telling me they were compiling all the reports at the nurses’ station so they would be ready in the event I got released that evening. So, with the info the nurses had provided, I pushed back on the neuro surgeon.  Honestly, I think he was tired of being at the hospital all day and wanted to go home and relax over a beer with his family.  Anyway, he said he would try, but couldn’t make any promises. An hour later, he called back and said I was good to go.

It’s hard being injured in a strange place, but Phil and LeeAnn intuitively understood and made the best of it for me.  I slept on their couch the first night, propped up, and in their recliner the second night (part of an on-going experiment that continued when I got back to Spokane to find the ideal sleeping environment).   The plane ride back was painful, even though I’d paid the additional fare to fly first class.  I hate to think what flying in coach would’ve felt like.

Luckily, there’s a neuro-surgeon who lives in our neighborhood and my neighbor Todd, a physical therapist, had already spoken to him about the accident, clearing the way for an appointment two days after I got back.  He looked at the images and declared the fracture stable, and said I could forego the neck brace so long as I was at home, except for when I slept. Driving was optional, if I felt comfortable doing it.  So far, I’ve ventured out a couple of times, but am purposely avoiding the freeway until I feel like I can better turn my head.

The neuro surgeon, a former competitive power lifter (now in his 70’s—he blew out a disc trying to squat 600 pound when he was in his 60’s) cleared me to start lifting again, so long as it was light weight, high reps, and no squats or deadlifts.  While I’m eager to get back into the gym, I’m sticking to cardio for now and giving it another week before I lift again.

The worst part now is the pain, which is unnoticeable during the day, but creeps up as bedtime rolls around and goes full board once I lay down to sleep. I held off as long as I could, but finally broke down and started taking 5 mg of Oxycodone before bedtime (prescribed, of course), which ensures a good 5 hours of solid sleep. Getting up and applying a heating pad to the sore areas gets me through the 2-3 remaining hours. The upside of this is I get to spend more time now reading and writing (something I’ve been meaning to do), and once I get more active, I can find a good balance between all the activities.

So, while I’ve always been head over heels about the ocean, I’m really down on being heels over head there. Sure, it could have been a lot worse, and I am thankful to God for not letting it be, but it indicates to me that His work for me is not finished.  So, I’m also spending a lot of time in His Word and in prayer trying to discern what that work is.  

If I were to give any advice as a result of this accident, I would encourage everyone to keep themselves fit and strong.  I’ve been doing a lot of powerlifting over the past year, and the week before Zack got married, I set an all-time 1-rep PR in the deadlift at 505 pounds.  I had two doctors and three nurses comment that the musculature in my back and neck helped absorb the blow and likely saved me from getting my neck broken in two, with death or permanent paralysis being the consequence.  So, take care of yourself, both spiritually and physically, so that if and when life hits you with a tumultuous wave, you are well-prepared to take it on.

Chorizo Mac and Cheese: A Secret to Everybody!

***Warning, apparently, there’s a “spoiler” in this blog. So if you just want the recipe, just scroll down until you see “Chorizo Mac and Cheese.” However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I didn’t spoil anything that bad***

Ok, so I messed up.  Pretty bad. I mean, I don’t think it’s a big deal, but apparently some people are pretty butt hurt about it.

So, there’s this movie that’s out, called “The Avenger’s End Game” or something dumb like that. Personally, I don’t even like those movies, but everybody can’t shut up about it. It’s pretty much the same crap they saw last time, just take the next superhero in line and cut and paste a new bad guy with some lame end of the world scenario.  Gee, how original!

More like Avengers: Turd Game. Who Cares???

Then, I have this friend named Shaun Walters, one of those among the obsessed. Don’t get me wrong, I like the dude fine and all, at least most days.  After all, he can be known to throw a good meme on Facebook every now and then.

I hate to admit it, but that’s funny.

But the guy can be a real ball breaker sometimes.  I mean, he’s totally ruined Game of Thrones for everybody on multiple occasions.  Just because he’s read the stupid books, he thinks he has the right to spoil everything for me.  Forget that!  Go ahead, waste your own time with all that sucky reading, but don’t drag the rest of us along!

The worst part is, he thinks he can out drink me (Chapter 2: I Call it a Brass Monkey).  No respect.

His last spoiler, though… that was the final straw.

And look, he’s just rubbing it in!

Something had to be done, for these nefarious deeds had gone on for much too long.  I had to get him…  I just had to.  And I had the perfect plan…

I was going to ruin the new Avenger’s movie for him… but not really.

Right before the movie was to come out in theatres, I’d casually make a Facebook post and get him all psyched out, acting like I had just revealed a major spoiler.  It would come off as innocent, without any warning whatsoever, and he wouldn’t expect it, not from me.  Oh man, I was going to get him good!

Haha, he has the nerve to call me a jerk?? Spare me the righteous indignation.

The thing is, I hadn’t even seen the stupid movie!  I just made the whole thing up just to punk him!  I could see it, him getting all worked up, like I had ruined his entire summer.  Then, when he finds out the truth, he’d be all, “Gosh darn it Grizzly Chadams, you scared me!  Heheh.”   Nothing major, just something to make him think twice about posting Game of Thrones spoilers in the future.…Well, turns out, the Iron Dude actually does die.  Everything I posted ended up happening.  …Whoops!

Suddenly, I had become most hated man on the internet, and the threats started rolling in, one after another.

Even my best friend since the third grade was sending them direct!

That certainly wasn’t a fun text string to wake up too…

I mean, how the heck was I supposed to know that actually happened? The good guys never die!  And now, everybody’s out for blood!

The backlash was totally unjust.  No man should ever receive this type of punishment for such a simple mistake. Yet, I’m willing to take the fall.  To make things right, I’m going above and beyond the call of duty, as long as it brings peace of mind to those troubled souls going after my livelihood.

I’m giving away my million-dollar discovery.  I call it, Chorizo Mac and Cheese:

I remember the exact moment it hit me, like Doc Brown when he came up with the idea of the flux capacitor.

“Oh, look, they have mac and cheese on sale,” said my wife during a casual stroll through the grocery store a Sunday or two ago.  Having just departed the meat and dairy sections to appease our penchant for chorizo and eggs, the next sequence of thoughts could only be described as natural. “…What if I mix chorizo with… mac and cheese…” To be honest, a revelation of this magnitude is quite frightening.  We’re talking about a world changing event right here!  And what if I fail?  I had dabbled with the concept of macaroni bologna years before, which ended up being a 4-dollar disaster.

Ughz, what a travesty!

And now, the stakes were even higher.  If I screw this up, how could I ever be trusted? What about my future kids—the future of our country!?!?

But then again… think of the possibilities…

My mind was set.  There was no turning back now.

***

I took a deep breath as I stared at my creation, a fully cooked tube of chorizo fully mixed into a bowl of Safeway select white cheddar macaroni and cheese.  Might heart pounded as I lifted a spoon full to my mouth for a taste test.  “Well, here goes nothing…”

Trust me, it’s way better than it looks!

My mouth collapsed over the savory mixture: pure ecstasy.  The rave of the tongue only escalated as it further seeped through my taste buds.  It was like Disneyland and Coachella had combined forces to bring forth the ultimate pleasure experience.  No joke, I had literally stumbled upon the greatest merger since Peanut Butter and Jelly.  Chorizo and Mac and Cheese…  I’ll never have to work another day in my life.

The recipe is simple.  Cook one box of store bought macaroni and cheese.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Kraft, the fancy stuff, or whatever.  Heck, you could probably even get something from that used food store, the “Grocery Outlet” I think they call it.  Any ol’ box of mac and cheese will do.

Personally, I prefer the white cheddar, but do as you please!

And I don’t remember the exact details, but usually, you put the dried macaroni into a pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes, then drain.  A little milk and butter is usually involved, plus that weird cheesy powder, but I mean, it’s mac and cheese.  If you’re a grown adult and don’t know how to cook that, then there’s essentially no hope for you.  Sorry!

Next, slap a tube of chorizo on the skillet and cook on medium to medium high heat for about 7 to 10 minutes, and make sure you stir it around every minute or so.  Just an FYI though, chorizo is sort of hard to know when it’s fully cooked.  When it’s done, you sort of… know?

Also, don’t bother getting the Jimmy Dean chorizo or any other type that’s 4 or 5 bucks at the grocery store.  Total waste of money.  The “Cacique” stuff will do, of which you can get for no more than 2 bucks at the grocery store ($1.50 on a good day).  Not only is it the cheapest, but it’s the best.

The last type of chorizo you’ll ever have to buy.

Now for the most important part.  After you’ve cooked both, mix the chorizo in with the macaroni.  Stir, then viola!  A most excellent party in your mouth for under 3 dollars!

And for your health, it also pairs well with one of these!

The moment I tasted this contraption, I knew I could’ve retired off it. However, as Kanye gave us “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” after ruining Taylor Swift’s night at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, consider this my gift to the world.  A most generous gift indeed, yet, one too important to keep to myself.

So, for all y’all that are still pissed off over the Avengers, quit your crying.  I just gave up early retirement for you!  And trust me, you’ll be thanking me once you taste my chorizo mac and cheese.

And Moody, I’d say this makes us even from here on out.

The Jiu Jitsu Blues

Some do martial arts to build confidence.  Others are in the business to make sure their love ones are protected, in case the situation arises.  All are noble reasons, of course.  For me, there’s only been one goal since I joined the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club at work…

I see it in his countenance.  The arrogant look he throws around, that stupid grin.  It’s been stuck on his face, ever since he pounded on that poor kid in that MMA match.  Now, he walks around like he can beat anybody up.  The worst part is, it’s true.

His older brothers have trouble sleeping at night, fearing they’ll wake up in the middle of the night to a severe beating after years of torture and teasing from his childhood. You think Ulrich will go toe-to-toe with him?  Ha, fat chance.  Heck, even Gibson’s scared of him!

Ben Woodward had the gall to talk crap to him once over the phone.  I pray to God their paths never cross.

Something has to be done.  Somebody has to stand up to him, this… this bully.  It’s been on my mind every day for the past 10 years, and I’m going to do it.  It may not be this week.  It may not be this month.  Heck, it may not even be this year.  But someday, somehow, I’m going to do it.

I’m going to kick Danny Dahl’s ass.

angry-jiu-jitsu-face-1-e1555457156845.jpg

***

April 2nd, 2019.  It was a solid class, drilling the variations of the Kamara and Americana submissions, followed by nearly 45 minutes of intense rolling.  Before we knew it, 6:00 was right around the corner, the end of class for the day.  It’s been like this every week for the past 6 months, and slowly but surely, my skills have improved.

“It’s your time,” our instructor Noam told us, as he usually does.  “Anybody up for another roll?”  Honestly, if someone had asked me, I would’ve gone one last time.  But let’s face it, we were wiped, and by all the nods of approval floating about, it was safe to say that we were satisfied with the progress made during this week’s session.

I conceded to the groups wishes, unable to conceal the smirk growing across my face.  “Man, I think I’m starting to get the hang of this Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stuff…”

Noam caught on.  “Zack?” he asked, peering into me with a growing smirk of his own.

Suddenly, mine disappeared.  The hairs on my arms rose, my face snarled, and I won’t lie, I even felt a spike of anger rise within me.  Something didn’t sit right.  I could see him through Noam’s stare, laughing, egging me on, cracking one of his stupid jokes, and getting away with it.  …Danny…

“Hey,” I said, pointing to Noam, my eyes beaming—my face stern.  Time was precious, and like it or not, I made a vow to the world.  I would train, I would study, I would do everything in my power, day and night to defeat him.  “Noam, we’re rollin’.  Right here, right now.”

Now, to this day, I swear, the moment I said those words, a strong strain of fear filled the room.  I could smell it, permeating off each person’s gi.  But he accepted, begrudgingly, knowing full well as the master, he couldn’t back down.  The rest of the class gathered in anticipation, wondering if they were about to witness the biggest upset since Brock Lesner over The Undertaker in Wrestlemania XXX.  We slapped hands and got down to business.

He sat back, looking to break me with his spider guard. The Zack of old would’ve fallen for his Jedi mind tricks.  But not now.  I had come too far in my training, and I evaded every one of his attempts to pull me into his guard.  And now, it was my time.  I made my move.

I swiped past his leg, in prime position to take control of the match.  “Man, think of the possibilities,” I thought to myself.  “I can go from side control, to mount, set him up for an arm bar, the world is literally at my fingertips!”

I broke his spider guard and posted up, one swift maneuver away from side control.  “Alright, just a quick juke, then a bit of a psych out, break the legs away, twist, and—“

“POP!”

“Ahh!!!” I screamed as I dropped to the ground, flopping about like Hogan in the clutches of Ric Flair’s Figure Four, circa 1991.

“Are you ok,” asked Noam, staring at a useless specimen lying on the mat, no better than dead.

“…I think I just dislocated my knee!”

And that was it.  It was all over.

***

The anxiety only grew as the paramedics arrived.  Not a single one of them were thrilled about carrying my fat ass down 3 flights of stairs.  At least the rest of the class stuck around to see me out ok, providing the necessary resolve for the journey down.

***NOTE: My butt may be big, but I happened think it’s shaped nicely, just like a Kardashian (just to set the record straight)***

“Did you have to get hurt on the 3rd floor?” the paramedics complained.  They can take that up with the Moral, Welfare and Recreation department at the Navy Yard as far as I’m concerned.  It’s a travesty—the lack of respect us Jiu Jitsu enthusiasts receive.  Besides, it’s not my fault they have poor cardio.  Derrick Lewis can tell you all about that!

The sweat poured off their brows, and by the time we made it to the bottom, two of the paramedics had curled over in a constant pant for oxygen, but after a couple of rough patches and a near drop or two, they managed to get me onto the stretcher.  Noam, to his credit, grabbed my gym bag and sought me to the ambulance, ensuring I was in good hands before leaving the scene.

With limited mobility and the roof as my only source of scenery for the entire ride, I had much to ponder.

“Man, he knew all along that was going to happen, didn’t he?  Doing all that trash talking and setting me up for defeat, that cheeky bastard.  But, I’m gonna get him.  Ohh, just you wait, Danny.  I’m gonna come back, stronger than before.  I’m going to train harder than before.  Then before you know it, I’m gonna sneak up on you and whoop the living—“

“CLUNK!”

“AHH!  MOTHER F—“

…Damn those DC potholes.

A few more bumps and several swears later and we were at the hospital, waiting for admittance.  It was the strangest thing, but every nurse that passed me seemed to give me a thorough inspection.  “Well, they seem to really care for their customers.  That’s a good sign, I suppose.”  But things started to get weird—real quick.  They were eying me hard now, really taking the time to check me out.  “What’s so intriguing?  Sure, I’m a hunk and all, but I’m no John Stamos…”

Lying next to me was my gym bag.  I had removed my gi top and stuffed inside moments before, leaving nothing but my super sleek rash guard exposed.  I always admired the way it conformed to my Adonis like figure.  And now, it seemed that the rest of the world admired it as well.  “No wonder Noam encouraged me to get one of these, heheh.”

One of the docs came over to examine my condition, also taking a short moment to take notice of my rash guard.  “Ok Mr. Andrews, I’m just going to get a feel of where the pain is,” he said to me in a sinister voice.  Something wasn’t right about this situation.  My fears were further exacerbated by the excessive touching of the leg and thigh areas.  “Does this hurt,” he asked.  “What about this… And this?”

“YES!  YES, IT ALL HURTS FOR CHRIST SAKE!  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN YOU PLEASE STOP FINGER BLASTING MY LEG?!?!”

“Ok, ok, hold your horses,” he responded with a wink.  “I’ll be back in a little bit to check on you.”  Not if I have anything to do with it!

I had to get out of there.  In an attempt to remove myself from the situation, I lifted my leg. “AHH C—!”  Whoops, a little loud, hehe.  “…Crap…”  I resettled into a comfortable position as best I could.  Damn my busted knee…

But wait, I had an ace up my sleeve.  Realizing I had taken it off prior to class, I rummaged through my gym bag and pulled out a gold, shiny ring.  “Time to put an end to this nonsense, once and for all!”

He came back for more fun, only to find disappointment. I’m no mind reader, but if I had to guess, it was the wedding ring that delivered the final blow. “Send him to get x-rays,” he scoffed, walking away in disgust.  Sorry guys, this one’s officially off the market.

The x-rays were a pain in the butt—or leg if you want to get technical.  And it didn’t help that the x-ray tech didn’t understand the concept of April Fools—damn the cultural barrier.  Not impressed by the funny meme I had just shown him with a man crying because it was April 2ndand he realized his girl was still pregnant, he wheeled me out to a subpar location at the end of the hallway, all by my lonesome. Judging by my surroundings, they were having a pretty busy night.

Maybe it was a little too close to home, heheh.

Luckily, the wife showed up shortly after and waited it out with me, fending off the rest of the nurses on the prowl.  In the room to my right sat—or perhaps “paced” is a more fitting verb, an elderly woman, insistent on cruisin’ around in a hospital gown with her undies fully exposed, no matter how many times the nurses pleaded with her to stay in her bed.  In front of me was another elder, this one a man diagnosed with pneumonia, and apparently a bad case of flatulence on top of it.  Between the dusty old bird ripping bombs and the granny in the panties, there was little shame amongst us—shame that further diminishing as we waited… and waited… then waited a little more.

“Alright, the results are in,” said the nurse after about an hour and a half of waiting.  “The good news is there are no broken bones.”  Gee, I could’ve told you that one.  “So, we’re going to discharge you with a pair of crutches and get you out of here.”  Hold the front phone just a minute here.  Discharge me? I can’t even move my stinkin’ leg!  What do you mean discharge me?  I prepared myself, ready to express my deepest concerns.

“Excuse me, mam?  I’d like to consult with the doctor about my inability to move my—“

“Are you kidding me!” the wife busted in.  “You’re just going to discharge him, in this state?  He can’t get in the car, he can’t go to the bathroom, he can’t move, period!”

“Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  Man, the benefits of marriage just keep comin’!”

You could tell she meant business, and she was not to be messed with—not on this day.

The nurse turned pail, her breaths deep and heavy. All she could do was look back, unable to shake the petrified look from her face.

Then, a deluge of brooding thoughts poured into my head. Look at the intensity in her eyes.  Her menacing stature, the integrity to take action.  She knows what she’s doing, has the intelligence to read her opponents every move… intensity, integrity, intelligence—holy crap, she already has the 3 I’s stressed by Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle!  Oh no…  What if she starts to take Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?  Oh, my God, she’ll destroy us all!  Me, Danny, Joe Rogan—everyone!

I took a deep breath, my final plea to the nurse.  “Listen, you gotta do something.  My knee won’t budge, no matter how hard I try—“

It was a miracle.  My knee lifted from off the bed, no pain.  Then, I bent it, slowly kicking it back in forth in motion.  “I… I don’t believe it.”

Turns out, the old knee settled itself back into place, no butt kicking necessary.  The nurse shot me a look like she had just dodged the draft.  “Man oh man, did you guys dodge a bullet there!”

Who CARES?!?!

In the end, I received a hefty ambulance bill, 8-weeks of physical therapy, and a pair of crutches upon my release.  Just a small price to pay for the ultimate prize though. I’ll get there, and I’ll be back, better than ever.  And you know what, say I don’t quite make it.  Maybe I don’t get strong enough to beat him up.  At the end of the day, I’m not sure I need to.

I got a wife.  And she’s got my back.

Take that Danny Dahl!

 

How to Plan a Wedding, Part 3: Beware of the Pervy Ghosts!

News flash: Getting married is pretty awesome.

Take it from me.  I’ve married for two weeks now, so I know what I’m talking about. 

Think about it.  I get to wear this cool ring, I don’t have to work out as much or impress babes with funny jokes anymore, and I get to play video games all I want.  And get this, she still has to love me afterwards!

Seriously though, my Final Fantasy game has been on point lately.

The best part of it all though?  The wedding, hands down.  And not to brag or anything, but my wedding was pretty much the best one I’d ever been to, and you know how much I love weddings (That Time I became Jedi Knight for a Wedding…)!

All the heavy hitters were there.  We’re talkin’ Moody, Masters, Gibson, Bill, Alex, Walker—an all-star cast in itself, not to mention the superstars on the bride’s side.  And I’m not going to lie, there may have been a disparity of looks between the bridesmaids and the groomsmen, but you can be the judge on that.

Bridesmaids. Classy.
Groomsmen. Woof!
That’s better.

First, we had Moody, the best man.  I’ll never forget the first time I ever saw him.  I was a recent 1st Grade transfer student from Northeast Grade School in Meridian Mississippi trying to feel out the waters of Area 1 playground life, when there he was, waddling around the swing set atop the gravel with his arms bent at 90 degrees, legs pointed outward and his sweatshirt tied around his waist.  “Yep!  I just found my new best friend!”

Right then and there, I knew he was the man for the job.

Then there was Alex, another OG from Asotin Grade/Junior/High School (yes, they were all in the same building).  We’ve been through thick and thin, but I almost had to kick him out of the wedding party for bringing his Super Nintendo.  Who does he think he is, beating me in Ken Griffey Jr. on my wedding day?  Dick move if you ask me.

Screw that Ken Griffey Jr. game.

But, he made up for it by providing the pre-wedding beverages, so I let the whole Ken Griffey Jr. thing slide… this time.

#truly’s

You already know about Bill, provided I wrote about a book about him and I, going to a wedding of all things (See the links for Out of the Vein to the left)!  And here’s a little secret between you and me.  Maybe… just maybe, there’s another book in the works.  Stay tuned folks!

And of course, I couldn’t leave Masters out, since he helped me find the venue in the first place (How to Plan a Wedding, Part 1).  Besides, we had to have somebody with an awesome hair cut on my side to balance out the looks a little bit.

Then my buddy Walker was walkin’ around (as he’s been known to do) with this particular beverage called “brown wine.”  Apparently, it’s a delicacy in Canada—fancy stuff, something from the Crown that only the Royals drink, or something like that.  Who knows how he got his hands on it, but holy crap did it make everybody loopy!

Actually, it looks sort of like this stuff…

And sweet Jesus, you should’ve heard Gibson speak.  I was a little worried what he would say after the Fantasy Football Fiasco of 2015, but man, did he deliver like a Billy Graham reincarnate.  The charisma in his voice, the personable tone, the stirring words that came out of his mouth—I was blown away!

Even Gretch and Josh Ulrich were on their best behavior!  I wish I could say the same for Gretch’s mom and KCM, but since they’re my number one fans, I let them knock back the Coors Lights without reservation.

Heck, I was in such a good mood that I even invited Ben Woodward!  And of course he got all foolish on the dance floor with the Stanky Legg, probably the best wedding gift a guy could ever receive!

But wait, save the best for last.  Now, I’m going to be straight with ya, my wife is smokin’ hot!  And when I saw her walk down the aisle for the first time, my heart stopped, my jaw dropped, and I was like, “…whoa.”

And yes, I may have choked up a little bit when I said my vows, which kinda sucks, because I did it in front of Ulrich, and you know he’s not going to let that one go!  I couldn’t help it though.  It was in the name of love.

You could say that it was almost a perfect wedding.  Except for one problem…

There was a stupid ghost creepin’ in our room.

My wife had warned me of such a haunting a day before the wedding, recalling how the room turned mysteriously cold at night, and how she even felt a few taps on the shoulder when she was in the bathroom.  Admittedly, I dismissed the claims, for I had other things on my mind. What did I care?  I was getting married for heaven’s sake!  I wasn’t about to let some silly ghost get in the way of that!

Then came the big day.  Boy, was I excited!

Then anxious, then pissed off (Queue Alex and the Super Nintendo.  Thanks a lot buddy!) but in the end, I settled my nerves, and pulled it off.  We said our I do’s, smooched in front of everybody, and began celebration shortly after!

Wait, who’s Mary Swanson and the Aspen Preservation Society??

The night was full.  We ate cake, danced, drank brown wine and photoboothed (quite a dangerous combination), and smiled and conversed with old friends and family, just the way I had imagined it.  Nearly the perfect end to a perfect day.

And just like that, it was over. So we did what any logical couple would do and went back to the honeymoon suite.

So there we were, alone for the first time as husband and wife.  My mind ran with a deluge of emotions as I gazed into her eyes.  I sensed a strange presence among us, but once again, I dismissed the warning signs.  “It’s probably love, right?

“I love you,” I told her, believing it was the right thing to say as she stood in her wedding dress, looking absolutely stunning.  She said the same and held me close.  I couldn’t believe how lucky I was, here with the woman of my dreams.  Just her and I—

*Click.*

“Wait… What the hell was that?” I turned to the bed.  The bed lamp had turned on by itself.  “Are you freaking kidding me???”

It was the damn ghost.  I know it was.

I mean, honestly, who pulls this type of crap?  Here I am with my newly wedded wife, about to have the most special moment of our lives, and this jerk comes in and flicks on the light! Like seriously pal, buzz off!

And I don’t buy the “oh, I didn’t know you were married” excuse. Bull crap.  He saw the wedding dress, not to mention everybody getting ready that entire day in the room.  Oh yea, you were in there while the bridesmaids are getting ready?  Now I’m double pissed off, you creep!

And sure, you’re probably a little butt hurt over the fact that something terrible happened to you that turned you into a ghost, I get that.  But hell, it was like 100 years ago!  Get over it for Christ’s sake!  And on top of that, it’s our wedding night!  Is a little privacy too much to ask?  How about you show some respect!

But no, this perv decides to hang out, uninvited like it’s no big deal and get his creep on.  It’s too bad I couldn’t see him, or I would’ve popped him right in the kisser, right then and there!

Now, this clown is lucky I’m good with the lord and that there’s a good chance I’m going to heaven.  But granted the slight possibility I slip up down the line and don’t quite make it right away, this guy better watch his back, cause this is what’s going to happen.  Right before I croak, I’m buying my ass a one-way ticket to Victoria, Canada and booking myself in room 811 at the Delta Victoria to live out the rest of my days, Tesla style, Pigeons and everything.

I’m going to walk back into that room, old and frail, look that piece of crap right in the eye and face down the little pansy.  “Hey, remember me A-hole?”

And mark my words.  The minute I die, I’m going to go up to that ghost and beat the living crap out of him…

For the rest of eternity.

Now, I understand that forgiveness is a big part of the Christian tenants, and that you should learn to let go.  But I’m also a believer in justice for all, and this guy committed a serious offense in the name of common decency that need not go unpunished. And if I don’t do anything about it, nobody ever will!

And trust me, this isn’t just for me.  This is for my wife, this is for the bridesmaids, and this is all the other couples who had to deal with his crap.  I say, “no more!”  It’s up to me to set things right, to make legends of this day, so at night, when the guests hear screaming and crying, they’ll say, “oh, there’s Old Grizzly Chadams putting that perv in a head lock and wailing on him again,” and be able to rest in peace.

But you know what?  I’m not about to let some celestial bastard ruin my party.  Sure, having a ghost watching us in the room put a damper on things, and don’t worry, I still plan on whooping his ass in the afterlife, but when it’s all said and done, that wedding was one of the best weekends of my life!  All my boys were there, there was a little partying, a little barfing, I mean, what else could a guy want?  And on top of that, I bagged one of the best babes ever!

And to be honest, I wouldn’t mind doing it all over again someday, except for the fact I know better.  It’s like in college when you tried to recreate the awesome rager you had the week before, only to have it fall flat on its face.  Sorry guys, this type of stuff just has to happen organically.  Besides, I think I’m gonna keep this one for good!

But guess what?  I do know plenty of others in serious marriage contention!  Just think about the parties we have in store!  I’m talking about you Moody!  I’ve met your babe, and if you don’t put a ring on that finger, then you’re crazy.

That’s right, I’m calling you people out, Ric Flair style!  Josh Ulrich, I know you’re in love with your girl, so it’s only a matter of time.  Might as well make it sooner rather than later.  And Bill, let me tell ya something.  Nothing would make me happier than to see you say the words to PL Dubman. I know, I’m putting the pressure on, but trust me, like I said earlier, I know a thing or two about getting married!

And once you do, you know I’ll be there front row center, kit stealin’ and wheelin’ dealin’ like a jet ridin’, limousine ridin’ son of a gun!  And as soon as I see you guys walk down the aisle, you know I’m gonna have a hard time holdin’ my alligators down!

Look, I get it, it’s a big step and all, committing to somebody for the rest of your life.  And I’m fully aware of all the stress that’s involved with planning a wedding.  And don’t get me started with the amount of money I blew on this thing, sheesh!

But the moment I saw everybody gathered around for the first time, friends celebrating with new friends, all the joy in the room from fresh faces to people who have been in my life since I was peein’ in my pants, I knew it was worth it.  Every hour and penny spent.  It’s a moment nobody can ever take from you, not even some stupid-ass creep of a ghost.

It’s a moment I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Discount Holiday Candy – The Only Good Thing About New Year’s.

New Year’s… what a drag.  Sorry, but somebody had to say it.

Think about it from the very beginning.  Fall comes around, and it’s all “Oh cool, at least we got football to keep our minds off the end of summer,” something I can definitely live with.  It’s also the emergence of sweater weather, and maybe it’s just me, but there’s something sexy about a woman bundled up in warm clothes.

And around the corner we got Halloween, the beginning of the great string of holidays, and the one time of year where you’re allowed to dress inappropriately and where kids get away with demanding candy from adults.  I love Halloween.

But wait, it gets better. Thanksgiving shows up, and it’s good vibes all around, which makes complete sense.  Hardly anybody’s upset when they’re surrounded by a plethora of food and family—quite the opposite, actually.  And everybody’s grateful for what we have, taking the time to thank the good lord for the blessings all around us.

Then there’s the granddaddy of them all.  Christmas. The minute Thanksgiving is over, it’s like Mariah Carey emerges, crying out “All I want for Christmas, is yooooouuuu”, demanding everybody get in the Christmas spirit that very second.

And we do as we are told.  It becomes a solid month of Christmas Parties, Christmas Movies, Christmas Candy, Christmas Cookies, Christmas Miracles, Christmas Trees, Christmas Presents, Christmas, Christmas, CHRISTMAS!!!  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Ah, Christmas is over? No need to fret, cause there’s one last holiday.  Oh boy, here it comes!  New Year’s.  And get this.  We’re going to stay up really late, drink a lot of alcohol, say Happy New Year, then celebrate… we celebrate…

Three months of darkness, crappy weather, and a killer hangover.  Ughz…

And let’s face it, this year was worse than others.  The Times Square coverage was atrocious, from washed up celebrities trying to reclaim a hint of the spotlight, to news anchors sinking to new lows with beer bongs on live TV.

I couldn’t take it anymore!  Even Steve Harvey’s coverage, a man I admire, and respect, was lackluster at best.  It was like he had a permanent “Good God, just kill me now,” face, like the one he makes whenever someone gives a stupid answer on Family Feud.

screen shot 2019-01-12 at 8.56.33 pm

You can’t blame him, though.  Nothing could’ve saved the country from the disaster marked as New Year’s 2019.

I mean, what the heck’s so sanctimonious about New Year’s anyway?  Absolutely nothing if you ask me; just an excuse to take the day off because you got too hammered the night before.  “Hey guys, check out this hangover!  What a great way to start the New Year!”

Thankfully, I learned my lesson years ago.  I skipped most of that crap and took advantage of all the slackers that decided to sleep in. My plan was simple.  Go to bed early.  Get to Costco, first thing.  Next, the thrift store to pick out an outfit for my bachelor party.  Then, to the coffee shop to do some writing.  And after it’s all said and done, maybe I’ll even get a run in.

Well, guess what.  Costco: closed.  Goodwill: “Sorry guys, we’re too lazy to come into work.  Coffee Shop?  Closing early for the holidayI mean, what they hell?  Why is the coffee shop closing early?  If anything, people will be rolling in late to quench their hangovers.  It makes no sense, whatsoever!

Turns out, everything is closed on New Year’s.  And to add insult to injury, I was constantly reminded that the Chicago Bears are making playoffs and not the Packers.  Apparently, all the Bears fans remembered they liked football and are showing up all over the place.

The Bears winning the NFC North… What a travesty.

Screw New Years.

***

I stumbled into work the next day barely motivated, not sure how I’d make it through the day, let alone 2019.  Something had to give.  I needed a boost.  I snuck out of the office to the local convenient store, looking for coffee, a second Rockstar energy drink—anything to get me through the day.

A wall of candy stood at the entrance.  My eyes gravitated towards it, if only for a moment to temper my natural instincts.  “Hmm… Trying to get rid of all their excess holiday candy, I see.  Fat chance they’re dumping any of that on me.  It’s probably all old and crusty and—wait a minute, what’s this?  75% off?”

img_4790

Enticed, but not yet committed, I gave the candy stand another gander.  “75 cents for a king size candy bar?”  From the looks of it, management had gotten a bit paranoid over their excess stock of holiday candy. “Must be worried about cutting their losses.  Sounds like a couple ofsuckers if you ask me.”  I took immediate action.

Now, it wasn’t my intention to load up on all the sugar.  All those Christmas cookies added a few unnecessary pounds to my body, but you never pass up a good deal—that’s my motto.  So, I took my handful of items to the cashier and checked out.

Mountain Dew: $1.79.  Man, back in the day those used to be 75 cents.  What’s going on with this country?  And here we go, Hershey’s white chocolate peppermint bar, 37 cents.  Wait a minute… 37 CENTS?!

img_4787

Yep, this baby was only 37 cents!  (Sorry for the open package, but I just couldn’t wait to eat it!)

I couldn’t believe my eyes!  Half-off from what was displayed—practically asteal!  But wait, I wasn’t finished.

Full size bag of Reece’s peanut butter trees: 95 cents.  Again, half-off thedisplay price, and discounted by at least 2 or 3 bucks just for the factthat it’s a Reece’s peanut butter cup in the shape of a Christmas tree.  Heck, I don’tcare what they look like.  It all looks the same once it’s in my belly.  Tastes the same too!

Bag of Dove chocolate holiday nuggets: $1.00.  You’re lucky if you find those at the CVS for 3 bucks a bag, and you usually have to buy two of them! I eat those all the time, and believe me, they’re delicious.

The best part was, most of this candy wasn’t even expired yet!  Too good to be true?  I got the receipt to prove it.

I headed back to the office, already devising a plan for my return.  Gotta keep this under wraps. Sure, there may be certain individuals with a need to know, but with an office full of chocolate lovers, once the cat’s out of the bag, it’ll be Black Friday all over again!

I made it back to the office in a conspicuous manner to finish out the day, aided by the lack of employees still out on Christmas vacation.  Some would call it luck.  I’d say my New Year’s sacrifice was starting to pay off…

***

“Hey, babe, how was your day,” asked my fiancé as I walked into the door after work.

“You’ll never guess what happened,” I started.  Today, while at work, and I went to the store, and then I…”  I stalled.  Keep your mouth shut, stupid.  You can’t tell anybody, not even your future wife… It’s too risky.  “I… learned how to play craps.”

“…craps,” she shot back, her face cringing with perplexity.  “At work?”

“Sure… It was a slow day, after all, with everybody still gone…  Besides, me and Mike Masters have to learn.  You know, for my bachelor party!  Gotta win big in Vegas!”

“Umm, ok…”  She replied, turning towards the kitchen, still befuddled.

Phew!  Close call,” I thought to myself.  “Survived that one… barely.”

***

The next day, I got into the office early—no time to waste.  However, my nerves jolted, my muscles fought the urge to run as I turned into the store.  The candy shelf had been ransacked, with less than half the supply remaining in less than a day.

img_4789

Looks like the word got out.  The good news, there was still time, but this was certainly no time to panic.  “Remember the plan.”

I took a deep breath and started loading up.  Those King Size Hershey’s peppermint bars were good. I’ll take another one of those. Better yet, make that three.  A handful of Christmas Tree Snickers bars?  Don’t mind if I do!  And what do we have here?  Twix Santas?  Quite alright with me.

My hands were getting full—only enough room for one last item.  Near the bottom was a green tin container in the shape of a Christmas tree with a bow tied around it and a name tag—the ultimate Christmas present.  My mind began working overtime.

“Get this.  I come home with a surprise Christmas present.  She sees it and goes nuts, thinking it cost like 20 bucks!  I act like it’s no big deal, when in reality, I only spent $2.25 on the thing.  The best part is, I bet she’ll even share!  It’s a win-win if you ask me!

img_4792

I brought my handful of goodies to the counter and plopped them in front of the cashier as if I were splattering a pile of gruel onto Oliver Twist’s plate.  The cashier shot me a look of annoyance.  I stood, undeterred.  What?  No shame on this side of the counter…

“That will be 6 dollars and 87 cents,” she said to me after ringing me up.  $6.87 for 20 pieces of candy, is that all, heheh?

I left that day with two grocery bags full of candy.  “Mission accomplished,” I said to myself, George W. Bush style.

***

“Hey Babe, how was your day?” I asked as I walked through the door.

“Oh, it was ok. Nothing too exciting,” she replied.

“Just ok?”  I asked as I reached inside my bag.  “Well, I was just thinking about you today and how much I love you, and wanted to get you a little something.”  I pulled out the Christmas Tree tin of Dove chocolates, bow wrapped and everything and handed it to her.

“Oh my gosh babe, you are so sweet,” she said, her face becoming the light the tin Christmas Tree was missing.  “But you know I can’t eat all of those chocolates.  How about you have a couple.”

“Wow!  I mean, they’re yours, but if you insist, I guess I’ll have a couple.”  I kept my composure throughout, but man, I couldn’t believe the luck I was having.  “Premium candy for the low low price of $2.25, and it turns out I get to eat it all and still reap the benefits of being a good fiancé.  Not bad for a day’s work!”

Maybe 2019 won’t be so bad after all.

2019.  Let’s think about that for a second.I get to go to Las Vegas in a week with some of the best buds in the world!  I’m talkin’ Moody, Bill, Mike Masters, heck, the Notorious Ben Woodward might even make an appearance.  I know what you’re thinking, “what about Mike Gibson?”  Well, let’s just say the Fantasy Football season was a little stressful on all of us.  See for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry, we’ll get over it, eventually.  Besides, I’ve got it all figured out.  I’m going to take my 2nd place earnings from the Fantasy Football championship, bet it all on double 0’s on the Roulette Table and make a killing, just like they do in the movies!  Totally worth it in the end, and it’ll pay for the wedding!

Holy crimeny, I’m almost forgot.  I’m going to get married in February!  How cool is that?  All my friends and family will be there and everything!  And trust me, even Gibson will show up for that party!

And I’ll save the best for last.  The last Season of Game of thrones is coming out!  Who will rule the Iron Throne after it’s all said and done?  Hopefully not Cersei.  We’ll find out soon, but I’m rooting for my boy John Snow!  And the best part is that none of those turds who think they’re all cooler than everybody else cause they read the books can spoil the season for me (I’m talking about you Shaun Walters!).  Man, imagine having to read through all that crap for nothing?  Suckers!

And that’s all before the summer!  Maybe Kanye West will surprise us with another album like he did last year.  And since I’m getting married, maybe there’ll be a little Zack on the way!  Ah dude, think about that, an army of Zack’s raisin’ hell all over our nation’s capital. Trump would be proud!

So maybe between the months of crappy weather shrouded in darkness, there’s a little something to look forward to after all…  Just remember to load up on your months supply of discount holiday candy.  You’re gonna need it.

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Happy New Year, from Grizzly Chadams!

Top 5 skate video parts of all time

There are things that are good.  A movie that made you laugh or action-packed, or maybe a song that has a good solid beat to jam to; something that keeps you entertained for a solid period of time.

Then, there are things that are great.  Something that has an impact on your life.  A song that instantaneously triggers the senses captured in a particular memory.  That scene in a movie that leaves you with goosebumps, provokes a heavy emotion, and challenges your normal process of thinking.  It’s the urge to escape, trying to navigate life in your mid-twenties, staring at a beautiful spring sunset across the Cascade Mountains in Seattle’s Central District as the piano riff of Kanye West’s “Runaway,” plays in the background, or how I subconsciously throw out Forrest Gump quotes years after the movie was released, something I imagine I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

And as any avid skateboarder will tell you, nothing gets you stoked for a day of skating like a good skate video.  A respectable video part gets the juices flowing, warms you up before you even get to the skate park, and makes you nod your head in approval.  But there are a few parts out there of which I can tell you the exact time and place I was when I first saw it, where not just the skating was great, but the music, style and personality of the skater/video all meshed to create something special.  A part that would inspire me to go bigger, harder and faster than I did the day before.  A part that made you and your friends jump up and down uncontrollably, screaming “Ohhhhhhhh” when the final hammer was stuck.

Something I would watch over and over again, each time with the thought, “someday, that could be me.”

So, in honor of Go Skateboarding Day, I’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the top 5 video parts of all time.  Understanding that this list is very subjective, and that the reasons for including these parts are very personal to me, there may be some debate as to which parts are actually the best.  However, putting that aside, and keeping the time periods and skill levels in perspective, low and behold, are my top 5 skateboarding video parts of all time.

5. Heath Kirchart and Jeremy Klein, The End. Birdhouse Skateboards, circa 1997.

“Oh man, I popped the fattest ollie going down that hill, I was going so fast…” said Austin Moody as he described his mad dash back to his house.  It was the first day we had hung out since his return from a summer in Louisiana, and already we were finding ourselves in a heap of trouble.

Austin and I had spent a considerable amount of time at Mary Carter’s house that afternoon, chatting away and trying to impress her with our terrible jokes and foolish, teenage ways.  Mary Carter was, in all respects, a huge babe, stealing the hearts of nearly every teenage boy in Asotin High School’s Freshman class, and while we were busy drooling over Mary, I had totally spaced the fact that I was supposed to attend Jim Stuck’s Eagle Scout Ceremony.  Having received the message from my sister, Moody immediately skipped town to avoid an unpleasant confrontation with my parents.

On and on he went, telling me how I was going to be in “So much trouble,”and how sorry he was.  The sympathy only lasted a day, blaming me for the whole thing afterwards.  However, as a consolation for my potential grounding, or maybe the fact that he simply forgot to take it with him in his flurry, he lent me his VHS copy of, “The End,” my very first skate video experience.

And what an eye-opening experience it was!  There were goofs, pranks, and most importantly, skateboarding—lots of it.  Monumental for its time and filmed entirely on 16mm film when most skateboarders barely had the funds for Sony Handycam quality, it was my first real exposure to skateboard culture.

Andrew Reynolds’ part blew my mind with his frontside flip over a 13-stair handrail (more on him later).  Tony Hawk, arguably the most famous/influential skateboarder of all time rounded the video off with an epic vert ramp session in the middle of a bull ring that included “The Loop.”  But to me, the stand out part in that video was Heath Kirchart and Jeremy Klein’s skate excursion through the streets of LA in Gucci suits.

Starting with them living out the many negative stereotype associated with skateboarders and bearing no apologies, the two drive a van from spot to spot like a couple of hooligans, crashing into things along the way with total disregard to the law (my favorite is when they drive the van down the El Toro stair set), until the van blows up and they “die.”  From there, it takes them into a heavenly dream sequence, living the high life surrounded by babes in a giant mansion and playing Goldeneye until they decide to go an epic skate adventure.  With David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure” as their song of choice, they take to the streets, dressed to impress and using a giant ramp to skate over obstacles that would normally seem unfathomable.

The two meet their untimely end however when they negligently light themselves on fire with a cigar and a bottle of booze and are forced to skate off a long dock into the ocean to relieve themselves.

Though the part can be seen as promoting anarchy, I see it as a blend of wit, creativity, and gnarly skating, and will always be one of those parts I remember from my early days of skateboarding.

4. Daewon Song, Round 3. Almost Skateboards, circa 2005.

As far as influential skateboarders go, Rodney Mullen is among the top of the list.  He is credited with inventing almost every flip trick seen in street skating.  During his prime (and arguably to this day), his abilities on a board were on whole other level when compared to the rest of the field.  Nobody could touch him, but Daewon Song was always around to give it the ol’ college try.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Mullen and Song came up with a string of videos, cleverly titled “Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song,” rounds 1 through 3.  Although Daewon Song was an accomplished skater with a creative style, it seemed as though he could never quite keep up with Rodney.  His tricks were quality, and his effort was well and good, but each time they’d face off, the consensus among the skate community (at least among me and my friends) was that Rodney Mullen would always be the greater skater.

In Round 3, that all changed.  Daewon beat Rodney, hands down.

In Round 3, Daewon solidified himself as one of the most creative, technically adept skaters of all time.  His combination of flip to grinds to manuals and his willingness to huck himself between roofs and other dangerous gaps put him on top once and for all.  And using one of the best songs from the 2000’s, the spirit of the times really shines as the music pushes the intensity of each trick combination up into the song’s climax.  At the very end, you’re left wondering what else can be accomplished on a skateboard.

Today at over 40 years old, Daewon continues to discover new ways to advance skateboarding with new trick combinations and ways of interpreting the sport.  Every time I watch this part, I’m reminded of the potential skateboarding has, and that there’s always some other aspect that nobody has looked at, waiting to be unlocked.

I’m reminded that the possibilities are endless.

3. Mike Mo Capaldi, Fully Flared. Lakai Shoes, circa 2007.

It blows my mind to think how fast time has passed, that 10 years ago, I was finishing up my final semester of college, ready to face a world full of opportunity, a place ready to be explored and conquered.  Some might say it was the cliché indoctrination thrust upon college graduates skewing my optimism.  But if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say it had more to do with Mike Mo’s part from Fully Flared.

From what I consider as possibly the best skate video of all time (although it would have to duke it out with Chomp on This), it’s hard to actually pick a single part from Fully Flared that stands out above the rest. Having been instrumental in the evolution of the modern skate videos by combining the highest quality of skateboarding and video production, Fully Flared was Spike Jonze’s masterpiece, starting with the most epic intro to a skate video that will ever be made (as in, nothing will top it… ever).

Each part seems to complement each other with its unique perspective on the sport, making it that much harder to declare a part as truly the best. Though my personal favorite may be Brandon Beibel’s part with his gangsta steez and huge muscles (starting around the 47:40 mark), looking at the video from an overall standpoint, Mike Mo skating behind the Arcade Fire’s “No Cars Go” ultimately takes the cake.  His style and skill level backed behind the energetic beat really captured the attitude of the skate scene in the late 2000’s—representing a changing of the guard you might say.  It set the tone for a new era of skateboarding, with Mike Mo at the forefront.

At a minimum, I encourage you to watch the intro that transitions into Mike Mo’s part, right after he does a switch flip over an exploding set of stairs (no joke, you need to watch if you’ve never seen it).  But if you have a chance, take the time to sit down watch the video in its entirety.  At over 10 years old, it is still the standard of how great skate video are made.

Andrew Reynolds, Stay Gold. Emerica Shoes, Circa 2010.

Andrew Reynolds—one of the legends of the sport.  Known as “The Boss” and the king of the frontside flip, his style is distinct, incorporating flips and technical tricks down large gaps and stair sets, all the while making them look basic.  Tricks simply become twice as incredible when he’s performing them.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw him skate, pulling a cabilariel over a rail and down a 12 stair drop in “The End,” and continuing his onslaught of flip tricks down stair sets and in and out of slides.  Instantaneously, he became my favorite skater.

For these reasons, he has enjoyed a long and storied career in an industry where success is often fleeting.  After a breakout video part, the pressure is on for amateurs and pros alike to step up their game.  The audience, for better or worse, expects harder tricks down bigger gaps and rails—a tall order for any skater new to the industry.  Reynolds had no problem delivering for most of his career, but like any athlete, the window of success can be short, and age quickly becomes a factor in your ability to perform, especially north of 30.

Thus, even with his proven track record, questions inevitably began to surface with Reynold’s skill level and whether he could maintain it or not. It’s not uncommon for a popular skater to get the coveted final part in a video, regardless of whether he deserves it or not.  Even I asked myself a similar question when his name flashed across the screen the first time I watch Emerica’s “Stay Gold.”  New talent was emerging, and the trends suggested they were quickly surpassing the veterans.

“Will he get the last part in the video just because of his name recognition?”  The answer—a resounding “no.”  He deserved it, and then some.

The calming musical selection in his intro nearly tells the entire story. It was known that Reynolds’ career would begin to wind down.  Sure, he’d still be a pro, and he could sell plenty of boards, but you can only keep up with the fresh legs for so long.  After a career full of fame, partying, drugs, and turmoil, here was a man, clean, mature, and wise, giving it his all one last time before passing the torch.

Nearly half of the tricks performed could be considered enders for any ordinary part.  He revisits the legendary spots of his past video parts and takes it a step further. Each trick is crisp and carefully selected, taking thought, time and care to ensure that not only the trick was landed, but that it was well thought out and performed cleanly.  It was as if he knew the significance of this part and how important it was not only for him, but to the entire skateboard community.

What we were left with was exactly everything we needed, and absolutely nothing we didn’t—truly a memorable experience from start to finish. This was Andrew Reynold’s Magnum Opus, a showcase of his gift to the world.

It’s quite possibly the closest thing we’ll ever get to a perfect part.

Honorable Mentions:

A couple more parts that didn’t quite make the list, but are still worth mentioning and checking out if you have the chance.

Rodney Mullen – Second Hand Smoke

PJ Ladd – PJ Ladd’s Wonderful Horrible Life

Xeno Miller – Enrolling in the Middle Class

Arto Saari – Sorry or Menikmati… or Minefield (or pretty much anything Arto Saari)

 

 

1. Jamie Thomas, Misled Youth. Zero Skateboards, Circa 1998.

“Jess… Jess!  Mute Grab!” It was the last thing I remember saying. A day later, I awoke, laying in a hospital bed with no knowledge of the events that had succeeded the infamous line…

I had tried my hardest to convince him, but the prospect of a killer mute grab into the Snake River up past Buffalo Eddy just wasn’t enough to break his attention from his girlfriend (of which to this day I still can’t understand, but oh well).  So, I tried harder, and harder, and… apparently, I tried too hard, for as Shaun Walters described it, I slipped and fell head first, landing on a pile of rocks 15 feet below before sliding into the river.

What ensued were lots of tears, lots of payers, and a two-week hospital stay. After it was all said and done, Thor had jumped in after me to pull me out, an off-duty nurse, who just happened to be at the same beach as us, took care of me until the ambulance came, and Jon Shaw was forced to drive my squirrely, 85 Buick Regal back to my house.

Oh, and the whole thing could be blamed on Jess.

The good news was, I recovered with only minor long-term effects (I mean, there’s probably a little memory loss or brain damage here or there, but I’m not sure which memories they are, so I’m not going to ever worry about it!). The bad news, I couldn’t skateboard, for over a month.  And for an avid 18-year-old skater, it was absolute torture.

So, every night, I’d sit in my basement and watch Jamie Thomas’s part from Misled Youth.

Hearing the opening keyboard loop of Baba O’Riley fade in still gives me chills to this day.  It was the sound of hope; the sound of inspiration.  My heart would pound as I’d watch Thomas walk up the Hollywood High stair set holding his busted head with the greatest rock song of all time playing in the background.  In a way, it was like he was subtly telling me, “Don’t worry, we’re going to make it through this.  It’s going to be good.  Real good…”

What ensued was an onslaught hammers, trick after trick down the biggest stair sets and baddest rails of the day.  Not only did he go big, but he had the technical variety to back up his style. The lipslide down the blue Rincon rails that led to a six-foot drop, the benihana down the long double set, kickflip down the Macba 4 block… tricks nobody in their right mind would consider even attempting at the time.  In under 5 minutes, Jamie Thomas opened our eyes to a new style of skating.

And then came the slow-mo section.  Just when we thought our minds couldn’t be any more blown, The Doors “The End” fades in and Thomas proceeds to execute another round of bangers, bigger and crazier than the one’s before.  The nosegrind down the 14-stair that he bailed on earlier with a raised fist to the giant backside 180 over the rail and down the Rincon drop, the smith down the 18-stair, backside lipslide down Hollywood High… my jaw would lock in the open position as I’d watch him perform each feat, my body completely frozen as if I had peered into the eyes of Medusa.  And the perfect 5-0 down the huge white rail, only for Thomas to shake his head in disappointment and lift his finger so he could go back and do it, “one more time?” Classic.  A textbook example of how to put together a bangers section.

Nowadays, there are plethora of skaters who “go big,” but 20 years ago, that number was slim.  Nobody went big, at least not like Jamie Thomas.  He was the pioneer, starting with the infamous Leap of Faith and taking it a step further in Misled Youth.  When others had only a handful of tricks they could do down big gaps and rails, Jamie had all the bases covered, and for years, his part in Misled Youth was the standard for final video parts.

To this day, his part has stood the test of time, cementing Jamie Thomas as one of the GOAT’s of the sport.  It’s a part I will never forget… a part that inspired a battered and broken teenager to get back on his board; one that gave him so much hope 15 years ago.

***

Maybe I’m becoming a bit of a curmudgeon in my older years, but I can’t help but think of the rise the digital age and how a skater’s newest part can be viewed with a few clicks at your computer.  Though beneficial beyond a doubt, I often wonder if young skaters these days understand the significance of the skate video, if they’ll ever have the same appreciation me and my friends did when videos were harder to come by.

At the same time, I occasionally go back to watch these old videos online, recalling the days when my life revolved around a board.  “I’ll be a skater for the rest of my life,” I’d say in total confidence, back when the world was a much simpler place.  Now, I admittedly find myself scoffing when I see a group of skaters at a spot, even going as far as to sympathize with those kicking them out. “Am I this out of touch with the scene?” I ask myself.  Perhaps it’s just a part of growing up.

However, with all that has changed in the nearly 20 years since I picked up a board, the memories I have while skating, some of the best of my entire life, will forever remain, even if I don’t get out and skate like I used to. The youthful spirit captured in skateboarding has always been constant.

Whenever I revisit these old videos, I’m reminded of that.

How to Plan a Wedding, Part 2: Let Her Buy the Purse!!!

Sometimes, you don’t realize what you’re missing until it slaps you in the face.  And these days, with our lives so convoluted with wedding planning and the rest, we tend to lose track of the small things.  My mom says Kanye West’s fault.  I tend to disagree, though his new album has been taking up a lot of my time lately…

Mom Kanye Text

That West dude?  C’mon mom, a little respect is all I ask…

The point is, when the workloads are stressin’ you out, it’s easy to get distracted.  We forget to take a moment to breath in the fresh air.

Thus, it was one of those weeks.  Hours were long, demands were high, and I had this strong hunch that Casual Friday was about to turn into Casual Saturday, even carrying over into a “What the Flip?” Sunday.  But since I’m no longer on the West Coast, the wife beater and track pants weren’t going to cut it.

Wife beater

Yep… those were the days…

I had to step up my game.

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I walked into the office, strutting around in my finest Sunday attire, Gucci sneakers and all.  “Hey… what’s going on guys?” I asked, stretching out and getting comfortable.  “Yep… yep yep yep yep yep… Fine day to be in the office, wouldn’t you say?  Ahh, sort of, just threw on whatever I could find, you know what I mean?  Gee, Matt.  Looks like you did the same, heheh.  Didn’t even take the time to put on any socks—“ I stalled, my eyes locked on his feet.  “Wait a minute.  What are those??”

“Oh these things?  Just, my loafers.  I only wear them whenever I feel casual.  30 bucks at JC Penny’s…” On and on he went, as if they were just no big deal… on purpose, I presume.  I couldn’t blame him.  A total Gibson move, I know, trying to make me jealous and all.  I’d have done the same if I were in his shoes (no pun intended).

Before setting my priorities for the day, I hopped on the net—time to research the perfect loafer.  I needed a shoe I could easily slip on, something that didn’t draw too much attention; you know, the type of shoe you could walk into the local McDonalds without shame.  But most importantly, I needed something I could rub in Matt’s face, for the right price too.  “Ok, what do we have here.  J Crew?  Talk about boring…  Michael Kors? I swear I saw a pair of those at Payless.  Hmm… at least these Alligators look pretty cool.  What else do they have—Whoa.  Wha… what are these?”

My eyes lit up like a kid’s feasting his eyes on the Nintendo 64 on Christmas morning, or the smokin’ hot lifeguard with the sun outlining her silhouette, or Val Kilmer whenever he sees a cheeseburger.

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Somebody’s gone down hill lately.  Sheesh!

They were… perhaps the most beautiful article of clothing I had ever seen in my entire life.  The way the snake skin mellifluously scaled across the vamp, the attention to detail, from the tassels on the tongue to the little tiger roars on the heel…

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My mind became consumed with illusions of grandeur.  Walkin’ down the street, rocking the bleach blonde locks with a fine pair of shades, wheelin’ and dealin’ like a high flyin’, limousine ridin’ son of a gun!  I was almost there.

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And once I had these bad boys in my possession, I was honestly going to have a hard time holdin’ those alligators down!

It was the pair of shoes I was meant to wear.

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And for a price of only 1,850 dollars, these puppies could all be mine! Nothing a paycheck or two couldn’t handle.

I scurried home from work that Sunday, barely able to contain my excitement. “Wait till the babe see’s what I have in store!”  I knew she was going to love them, and she couldn’t wait for me to walk around the town, stylin’ and profilin’, makin’ all the heads turn!  I’m talkin’ Jared Kushner, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, anybody who’s anybody in DC!  All those turkeys were going to shoot me a look of awe, mixed with a hint of jealousy!

I thought about it the entire way home.  And when I say the entire way, I’m talkin’ the walk to the metro, the ride home, into the condo complex, up the elevator, through the door…

“Hey babe, how was your day?” I casually asked, anticipating a reactionary, “good, how are you?”  All a setup for my grand scheme.  That’s right, keep it cool.  Don’t draw too much attention to yourself…

“Hey hun, we need to talk…” she said to me, in a somewhat somber tone.  Ok. There better be good reason, like somebody dyin’ or something.  I sat next to her on the couch and took a deep breath, awaiting the bad news.

“So, there are a few purses on sale, and they’re really nice.”

Purses?  You sat me down for purses?  Don’t you see that I have something more important on my mind?! A lesser man would’ve say it. However, as for me, I kept my composure and listened.

“So, this one is a Chanel…”

My mind suddenly became scattered.  Chanel??? What the hell’s a “Chanel?”

“It’s a very rare purse, and it’s one that I’ve been keeping my eye on for a really long time.  Now it’s on sale, for a really good price too.  And to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever see this for this price ever again.  But the best part is, I have credit on this site, so it’s only going to cost me around 200 dollars!  Isn’t that great?”

I took a moment to gather my thoughts.  “But babe, you already have tons of purses.  Do you really think buying another purse is the wisest choice right now?”

…Look, I’m a little new to this whole “getting married” thing.  It’s my first time, and heck, there’s a good chance it’s going to be my last!  So, there may be a few things I need to learn about relationships, or whatever.

And apparently, it’s a really bad idea to tell your babe that she shouldn’t buy a Chanel purse.

But really, what’s the big deal?  I loved her before the purse, and it wasn’t like I fell in love with her because she had a couple fancy ones before.  To be brutally honest, I never really paid that much attention to her purses in the first place.  And every time I tried to explain all that to her, the situation just got worse and worse!

I just couldn’t understand it!  I mean, am I wrong?  Is another purse really all that necessary?  We have to save for a wedding for heaven’s sake, and we’re talkin’ bout purses?

Nope!  Not worth it.  Plenty of other ways to spend our money.  And the worst part was, by the end of the night, we got so worked up, that I didn’t even have a chance to bring up the pyth—

…Ohhh crap.  The pythons…

I couldn’t sleep.  Couldn’t concentrate the next morning.  A cloud of guilt followed me around work the next day, lasting long into the evening. How could I seriously look her in the eye and tell her I’m going to buy an $1,850 pair of pythons?

Yes… Howwas the burning question of the moment.  I had absolutely every intention of informing her of my pending purchase.  I just needed a little help crafting my pitch.  I needed a little advice from my friend Jack.

A veteran of the military, you could count on finding Jack at the local bar after work, sending you a friendly hello while you walk past on any given day.  Every now and then, I’d stop by for a drink and a little BBQ, and each time, I’d be greeted with a handshake, smile, and a swath of knowledge on hand.  Jack was a man—distinguished, wise, and most importantly, gay.  If there was anybody who I could trust with such a sensitive topic, it was him.

I walked into Willies that afternoon, and as predicted, there was Jack, as if he already knew I was on my way, having prescient knowledge of the situation at hand.  “Hello, young Zack,” he said to me, sticking out his hand for a hearty shake.

“Hello, Jack,” I replied, honoring my half of the shake before getting down to business.  “I need some advice.”  He leaned in, ready for me to pour my heart out.  “My girl and I got in a fight yesterday.  She wants to buy this purse, but I told her I thought it was a little expensive—“

“Oh, let her buy the purse!” He shot back, wasting no time with his response. “Don’t be such a prude!”

“But Jack—“

“If it makes her happy, then give it to her!  You can’t be such a drag about that type of stuff…”  He shook his head, lifting his cocktail towards his mouth and taking a sip.  “I like you, but you have a lot to learn, young Zack… a lot to learn…”

The admonishing continued, but his word was final.  So, I accepted the chastisement, and began crafting a new message. I now knew what I needed to say.

“Hi babe, I’ve given it some thought, and I want you to buy the purse.  In fact, I’m going to send you some money to help pay for it.”  I pressed send on the messenger app and awaited the response.  There was no way she could say no to the pythons now.  Man, I can almost feel them gripping my feet…

“Oh babe, you’re so sweet,” She messaged back.  Alright.  So far, so good…  “But I’ve really been thinking about what you said, and now that we’re getting married, we really should be thinking about our finances.  So, I’m not going to get the purse any longer.”

Wait, what?  No!  This is not how it’s supposed to go!  I scurried up a new text.  “But babe, you deserve a new purse!  I want you to have it.  I was actually thinking about how I needed to get a new pair of shoes myself, so you should get the purse.”

“Oh, that’s great hun!  I’ll tell you what.  We can go to the mall next week and find you a pair.  I have a few stores in mind.”

“Actually, I was thinking about getting a pair online.  I can show you when I get home.”

“No need.  I want to take you to the Galleria at Tyson’s corner anyways. It’s amazing.  They have so many stores.  And the food court is really fancy…”

I stared helplessly into my phone, as if were watching my dreams fade away with each passing text.  I’ll never get my pythons at this pace…

A week later, we found ourselves at the Galleria.  Sure, they had a few good picks that were up my alley, and on most days, I would’ve easily splurged on a flashy pair of sneakers, but I just couldn’t get the Pythons out of my head.  Nothing I saw seemed right.

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At the end of the day, I settled for a bland pair of loafers, big whoop. Nothing fancy, even for $120 bones. But they’ll have to do.  We’re on a budget after all…

Allen Edwards Loafers

Meh, they’ll do…

I at least got my old pair of Gucci’s fixed up.  They served me well these last few years, and I guess they’ll have to get me through at least one more season.

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Lookin’ Good!

 

 

This isn’t the end however.  Far from it.  The dream of Ric Flair lives on.  And one day, I’ll have my Python Tassel Loafers.  And when that day comes, look out.  Cause I’m going to have a hard time keeping those pythons down!

Woo!

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