The Amateur Traffic Cop

Sometimes even people with the best of intentions can end up looking like idiots. Take for instance the girl I saw get into a car accident the other day. Okay so I didn’t actually see the accident take place, but I did witness the aftermath, which is really the whole point of the story anyway, so let’s not get caught up in semantics. The wreck happened at a stoplight, and I’m hesitant to use the word “accident” because after seeing the idiocy displayed by the girl, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was trying to hit her intentionally, just to keep her off the road for at least a little while, because she was clearly a danger to herself and others. I saw her from the drive through of McDonald’s, where my wife and I were waiting on her iced coffee to be ready, and we sat in both fascination and horror as the seen played out before us, this young girl, probably in her early twenties, trying to direct traffic around the wreck while coincidentally not trying all that hard not to get run over. She looked like a severely depressed girl who finally snapped and left her car parked in the middle of traffic, standing behind it just waiting for the right moment to jump into oncoming traffic, but she seemed oblivious to the danger of the situation, the innocence of her young age completely apparent, as was her stupidity.
 
    It was about eight thirty at night, too late for an iced coffee in my opinion, and also too late for someone to be standing in the middle of a dark street, attempting to direct traffic. She was standing behind a van, which wasn’t her car by the way, but the car of the person who had hit her, so I’m still not even completely sure why she was so worried about nobody hitting that van in the first place. Whatever her intentions, they were completely unnecessary because of the bright red emergency lights flashing on the back of the van, signaling to anyone within view that there was a stopped car in the middle of the road. Given the time of day, the girl was barely visible from where we sat about twenty yards away in a lit up parking lot, so I can only imagine how hard she was to see. At first it was unclear to me what she was doing, waving her arms like one of those gigantic inflatable things at car dealerships that seem to be moving of their own accord in the wind, falling forwards and then backwards then sided to side then repeated in a different order, the randomness of it all very entertaining to watch. The girl’s arms were raised, moving them from side to side, crossing over her face as she did so, and that’s when I realized she was attempting to direct people around the car that was clearly stopped in the middle of the road with emergency lights making that abundantly evident to everyone, whereas the amateur traffic director was causing confusion. When they finally saw her, drivers pulled up beside her thinking she was waving down some help, wherein reality she was making a bad situation (the car wreck) even worse by backing up traffic even more than it should have been with her ridiculous, though well intentioned, antics. I don’t know what happened to her, whether the police officer who finally arrived on the scene lectured her on why what she was doing was completely stupid, but I hope she’s okay, that she didn’t get hit by a car, so that maybe she will learn from this mistake, and pass it on to others, so I don’t have to see any more idiots standing in the middle of a dark road at night.

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Crap: A Review

IMG_4100I went to Wendy’s for dinner last night, not because I like Wendy’s, in fact among popular fast food restaurants they are near the bottom on my list of favorites if they aren’t my absolute least favorite, but because it’s that one time of year when corporate realizes they have way too much extra cheese and bacon that is going to go bad soon so they roll out a new product that features these two ingredients. I don’t know why I keep going back time and time again, thinking that maybe I’ll be blown away by the combination of flavors that remain the same despite the changing the name of the product they are selling. This year is the bacon and queso family of products which includes a burger, a chicken sandwich, and of course French fries, all topped with the disgustingly delicious amounts of the stuff, so naturally, I had to try it.

I got the chicken sandwich, because the burger just looked a heart attack waiting to happen, and since I don’t know where I really stand karmically, I figured it was best not to tempt fate with an easy way to get rid of me.  Over the speaker a question was directed at me, “do you want the chicken sandwich regular or spicy?” and since I knew that this meal would likely end with me on the toilet regretting my decision to eat there in the first place, I decided to just go for it, so I confidently replied spicy. I got the fries too, because again, if the canon is going to blow either way, you might as well stuff it full of as much gun powder as you can cram inside.  It was 9.59 for the sandwich and fries, a little more expensive than a regular meal, but I pulled around and gladly paid it, thinking the increased price would translate to more enjoyment of the food, but I’ve been wrong before, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was wrong again.

Let’s start with the positives, because at my core, that is what I am truly about, always looking for positivity in negative situations and never complaining because it won’t do any good anyway. The chicken sandwich was great. As I’m not a frequent visitor of Wendy’s I’d forgotten how much I liked their chicken sandwich but it was actually really juicy, with just the right amount of spice, topped with a queso cheese sauce that was also somewhat spicy, and a couple strips of crispy bacon. I was pleasantly surprised by the queso, that it actually tasted like something you might actually find at a low quality Mexican restaurant which was a step up from what I was expecting. If I were just basing my recommendation on the sandwich alone I would definitely encourage you to try it because it actually was surprisingly good, but we haven’t even discussed the fries yet, so buckle up, we’re just getting started.

You might be thinking to yourself, I wonder why Kendall doesn’t go to Wendy’s more because he clearly likes their chicken sandwich, and let me set the record straight, I do, but the main reason I don’t go there is because of the fries, which in my humblest of opinions are the worst fast food fries that exist within the vast tapestry of American fast food chains. They are the most flavorless pieces of sadness that I’ve ever had alongside a burger, but I thought, add queso and bacon and perhaps they will be better. I’ve fallen into this trip before, going to Wendy’s to try the chili cheese fries, the ghost pepper fries, and even the baconator fries that are a mainstay of the menu, none of which couldn’t overpower the underwhelming quality of these horrible fries, but I thought that perhaps this time might be different. I was wrong. While the queso cheese sauce and the bacon pieces were delicious, it wasn’t enough to make the Wendy’s fries edible, so the queso bacon fries can be considered nothing but a colossal failure. So next time you’re thinking about picking up some fast food, I would highly recommend going to an establishment with a more well rounded menu, where the fries and sandwiches are both good, because with all of the options out there today, there really isn’t any reason to limit yourself by sacrificing half of your meal on a mediocre side dish. Maybe Wendy’s will step up their game sometime in the future, but until that time I’m going to be staying far away, until of course they need to get rid of some more bacon and cheese again next year.

What I Didn’t Know About the Solar Eclipse

I don’t normally watch the news, mostly because the anchors tend to annoy me with their over dramatized reporting of insignificant things like “Find out who’s been going through your trash. Is your identity safe? Find out next.” When the commercial break ends it’s a story about raccoons caught on camera digging through a dumpster, so that’s why I prefer to read my news so I’m able to draw my own conclusions on the seriousness of the story rather than having a talking head trying to worry me, but Monday afternoon when I got home from work the news just happened to be on. We keep the TV on during the day for the benefit of the dogs, using it to stifle any noise outside the apartment which would drive them into fits of frightened barking which would in turn make the neighbors hate us, so when I sat down in my chair I heard something that was actually important information for me to find out and it literally saved me from doing something really stupid that would change my life forever. 
    Did you hear about the solar eclipse coming up next week? I don’t know how you couldn’t have heard, because it seems like everyday I hear something about it, but until Monday I wasn’t really paying much attention to it other than the date thinking it would be pretty cool to see when it happens since it’s apparently a once in a lifetime thing. I figured I would just show up to work and when it got unusually dark outside I would rush out to the parking lot to behold the miraculous event. I’m an idiot, which I know is probably a shock to a lot of you since I normally come across as one of the most intelligent people to ever stumble through life, but sadly my complete self confidence was shattered the moment I heard the news report. I don’t remember who was reporting the story about the solar eclipse being a week away, but whomever it was I owe a great deal of gratitude for saving my eyesight. Apparently if you look at the eclipse directly you will become blind, a fact that apparently everyone but myself knows because trust me, I’ve asked around since then, and every person I ask about it looks at me like I’m a complete moron, which I obviously can’t argue against.

 

    There was a news story on my USA Today app a week or so ago with a headline that said something about a company selling solar eclipse glasses and without actually clicking to read the story I just assumed it was a scam or a joke used by some company to cash in out the latest fad that’s taking the world by storm, but now I know that it was an actual legitimate thing and it was I who was being scammed by my idiotic mind. I’m not going to buy a pair of eclipse viewing glasses, so I suppose I’ll miss out on this once in a lifetime experience, but at least I’ll keep my eyesight, which seems like a fair enough trade.

Losing a Good Friend

    At some point during my senior year of high school I thought it was a good idea to get a pet fish. I can’t quite explain what drove me to that conclusion, because since that time I never again felt the desire to get one, even though our time together, albeit brief, was filled with fun memories. I bought it at PetsMart in Little Rock, along with all of the necessities that a goldfish should have, including a home, a plastic container with a handle so that it could be a traveling goldfish, not confined to a countertop like most of his relatives. He would go with me on adventures, see the world, maybe even write a book about it, which is why I gave appropriately named him John Grisham, after one of my favorite authors at the time, thinking that perhaps the name would instill in him the confidence needed to achieve the goals I had set forth for him. Also in an attempt to start the relationship off on the right foot I bought him some plastic foliage and some oval shaped see through stones to bring some life to an otherwise boring environment, and he seemed to really like it all, swimming around carefree and looking at the big wide world through the glass, imagining all of the adventures he would have.
 
    After I got the little guy also situated and he had a good night’s sleep, we both awoke the next morning refreshed and ready for the day ahead. It was a big day for John Grisham, he was going to school for the first time in his young life, so it would have been understandable if he had been nervous but he was completely cool and unworried whatsoever. We strolled into my high school like the two most awesome beings in the universe, which we were, and as you can imagine, John Grisham was instantly popular. Everybody wanted to look at him and I even passed him around class so that my classmates could use his magical wish granting powers that I had imagined him to have by dropping donations into the portable container with him. He was now John “the wish fish” Grisham and everybody was eager to drop some of their dirty change into his formerly clean bowl of water for the chance to make dreams come true. In hindsight, that’s probably what killed him a few days later, but goldfish don’t really have really long lifespans to begin with so it’s completely plausible that it happened from natural causes. Or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t buy the special goldfish water that the PetSmart people told me I needed, but rather saved my money and opted for tap water that I had survived on for the entirety of my life. If it was good enough to keep me alive then surely it would be good enough for John Grisham, but then again, maybe it was not. Maybe there were some chemicals used for cleaning the bathtub that hadn’t completely been washed away that he came into contact with the time when I filled up the tub and let him swim free of the confines of his much smaller container, but probably it was the dirty coins. It was a short life but we cherished the time we had together and I wouldn’t trade those memories that we shared for anything.
 
    We had a nice funeral service for John Grisham, held in the teachers lunchroom, a small walled off portion of the cafeteria and it was filled with old friends of mine and new friends of his. Elton John’s voice filled the little room as Candle in the Wind gave the little guy a proper sendoff. I thought I’d gotten permission to use the room, or maybe in my grief stricken state I had neglected to do so, believing that anyone with a heart would want John Grisham to have the exclusive room for his funeral and had just taken it upon myself to use the room without asking. Whatever events led up to me hosting the funeral of my beloved best friend, but the end result was the funeral ending early after the school principal yelled at me and kicked everyone out of the teacher’s lunch room, so all in all it was a pretty tough day on all  fronts. Nine years later and the loss still stings, but at least he’s in a better place now, floating somewhere in the sewers below Central Arkansas Christian school, as peaceful as can be.

Proof That I’m Going to be Dying Soon

You know how if you die in your dreams that’s a sign that you’re going to die in real life? I’ve been shot stabbed, fallen from unbelievable heights, been bitten by snakes, been trapped in a burning house, and many more other things that could have killed me in a dream, but somehow I always managed to survive, so I wasn’t too concerned about it, but yesterday I took a nap, over the course of which I had a very vivid dream, and at the end, I died, so forgive me if I’m not that optimistic today, just think about how you’d feel upon finding out that you were going to be dying soon. That’s me, plus five hundred percent more losing it right now because in the face of bad news or any difficult situation, I react in the complete opposite way of how an adult my age should, but then again that’s how I’ve always been, and now that my life is certainly coming to an end, it would seem inconsequential to worry about changing it now. That would be like renaming your dog on his twelfth birthday, something that would be completely useless and a waste of time for all parties involved. Ok, so I guess you want to hear about the dream then don’t you, you inconsiderate, good for nothing, nosy leeches? Come to think of it, death will be a welcome respite if it means not having to put up with you people anymore.
 
    So I was in a bedroom, a bedroom I had never been in before so speculating to whom it belonged would be as difficult as speculating how many rats live below my bathtub, something I’m not keen on doing out of sheer fright. The interesting thing about dreams is that you are dropped in the middle of a situation with no reference to how you ended up there. I like to think of it like being an elderly person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s where you find yourself in a certain place or situation and have no idea how you got there, so perhaps that’s really the benefit of dreams, preparing us for the future when that becomes our reality. So my wife was in the other room with somebody else whom I did not know, but I was leaning against the adjoining door trying to hear what was being said, desperately trying to figure out what was going on. I wasn’t able to hear anything but the conversation ended in a matter of seconds, which became apparent to me as the door was thrown open and I was pushed against the wall. Surely it was a mistake, somebody just opened the door a little too enthusiastically and didn’t realize that I was behind it and any second now they would realize that I was trapped and would let me out from where I was currently trapped between the wall and the door, but that didn’t happen. More weight was applied and harder I was pushed against the wall as I struggled to fight my way out of there. It was so tight that I started having difficulty breathing and I thought that perhaps this was it, but the unidentified person on the other side of the door showed mercy, either that or they got distracted and I was able to wiggle my way free, but the happy feeling I got as I gulped in big mouthfuls of oxygen didn’t last long, because I was then pushed face forward onto the bed, only it didn’t hurt at all.
 
    Somebody grabbed the back of my hair which really did hurt as they shoved me onto the bed, but when my body hit the mattress it was the most comfortable I had ever been. The comforter seemed to be fitted just for me, perfectly conformed to my body as my I desperately tried to hold onto that feeling. Unfortunately that didn’t last either. My attacker jumped on top of me seemingly weighing as much as a small automobile with a body like that too, so strong and hard that no matter how much I fought and struggled they were unbreakable, losing no ground whatsoever in completely dominating me. I was flipped over and that is when I got the biggest shot of the whole experience; my wife was the one attacking me. She wouldn’t even meet my eyes, intent on finishing the job without being swayed emotionally, something I highly doubt would happen anyway given the determination and quickness which she had initiated the attack with in the first place. She grabbed my throat before I could say anything and started squeezing my neck relentlessly as I flopped around on the bed like a fish out of water, struggling for air. It was at that moment that I realized it was a dream, however I didn’t wake up. I told myself that all I needed to do was to scream and that would wake me up, but like I said, I was being suffocated and I was struggling to breathe. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make any sound come out of my mouth. I knew this was going to be it for me, that I was too weak to fight back any longer, that I could not summon up a single syllable to scream and rouse me from my nightmare. I was no longer trying to even scream but rather just get a couple of good breaths. Everything was going blurry around me, the end was near, and then black. Everything was black. I was dead and then I woke up, terrified of what this means for me going forward because once you die in a dream, it’s only a matter of time before you die in real life. I guess the only wisdom I have to impart on you before I’m gone is this; if my death seems suspicious, look closely at my wife, because if my dream has taught me anything, it’s that she’s not to be trusted.

Winning a Marital Disagreement

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For all of the people out there in relationships that are full of disagreements and conflicting opinions, who believe that no matter what, your significant other will never come around to feeling the way you do on certain issues, there is hope. Until today I never would have believed it and have given up on even trying to sway my wife’s opinion, but rejoice my friends because today it actually happened. Over the course of our relationship, my wife and I have had many disagreements over things, some small, like where to go for dinner or how to load the dishwasher, and some big, like whether Lord of the Rings is the greatest movie trilogy of all time, or if we should get dogs or not. Well we’ve never sat down and watched Lord of the Rings together and we now have two chihuahuas so it’s safe to say that I lose a lot more than I win, but today I won, and it feels fantastic.

The biggest fundamental difference of opinion that we have is far bigger than dogs or movies or how to load a dishwasher to make sure that everything gets clean (Seriously why does it matter how you put a spoon in? They’re not that expensive we could just buy more spoons), but rather where the ideal place to live is based on the weather. My wife was born in California and lived there for nine years before moving to Florida where she lived the rest of her life before we moved to Memphis last year, so her opinion was completely biased based on the surroundings she grew up with. She loves hot weather, so between Florida and Southern California that are two of the consistently warm climates in the country, she didn’t think it could get any better. I on the other hand like the cold. I absolutely loved living in Minnesota during the winter of my freshman year of college where snow stayed on the ground for the better part of three months, whereas the four years spent in Florida were some of the most miserable of my life, so we had to come up with a compromise, find a place where we could both get what we wanted, so we moved to Memphis.

We moved here in July, which was perfect for her so she could go from one hellishly hot place to another, but then fall rolled around and the heat relented and I was suddenly a much happier man, my first taste of cool fall air in four years. Last winter was a pretty mild one save for the week where it was consistently in the upper 20’s, but it was nice to have the cold for at least a little while, and to my wife’s surprise, she survived it. Now that it’s miserably hot again she was really enjoying it for a little while, but lately hasn’t been as happy about it, and today she texted me from work telling me that she can’t wait for winter and said she actually appreciates the changing seasons now, so take that Florida and California, Memphis wins (at least in that respect)! That just goes to show you that changes of opinions or preferences can change over the course of a relationship, so don’t give up hope and maybe, just maybe, you will be as happy as I am today.

A Forgotten Song Bringing Up Old Memories

Music has the power to bring back memories that have long been forgotten, taking you back to the exact moment and bringing back feelings in an instant that were first experienced more than a decade before, which is why I found myself about to break down crying when a random song came on my car radio. The other day I was headed to the grocery store with my wife. it was after work and I was feeling good as we cruised down the road listening to the music playing on one of the local alternative stations, and then the song switched, a light strumming of a guitar and a rush of emotion coming back to me. Before any words were even sung I felt my eyes began to tear up. It had been more than ten years since I’d heard this song, but I was immediately taken back to that dark movie theater in Little Rock where I received the bad news. It was a Sunday afternoon and my dad was visiting me from Memphis. I was in the tenth grade, sixteen years old at the time and we were at a movie that I’d already seen, “Stranger than Fiction”, and I had enjoyed it so much the first time that I was more than happy to see it again. Truth be told, it might very well be in my top ten favorite movies of all time, but since that day I think I’ve only watched it on one or two other occasions, unable and unwilling to bring back the sad memories that this particular movie conjures up for me.

There’s a scene in the movie when Will Farrell first kisses Maggie Gyllenhaal on the couch in her apartment, a turning point, the optimistic beginning of a relationship between the lonely IRS agent and the local bakery owner. A song starts playing by Reckless Eric called “Whole Wide World” and it’s a beautiful moment set to the tune of a perfect song. It was in this moment, during the kiss while the song was playing that I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket and I pulled it out in the dark movie theater to check the message. It was from my mom and contained some of the most devastating news that I have received to this day; Coach Brady was dead.

Coach Brady was without question one of the greatest teachers that I ever had, teaching me math both my eighth and ninth grade years, a subject that was my least favorite throughout my entire scholarly career, but for those two years it was my favorite class, solely because of the teacher. He had a knack for storytelling and on those lucky days he would breeze through the lessons, imparting the necessary knowledge that the job required then for the rest of the class would tell us stories from his life that would oftentimes make me laugh so hard that it hurt. It didn’t matter what particular story he would tell us, he would make the classroom shake with laughter as naturally as another teacher might assign homework, which is why I relished the fact that I could make him laugh too and would do so as often as I got the chance. Coach Brady was the first teacher that I ever felt really thought I was funny and appreciated that fact, which gave me the confidence and courage to be more outspoken. He made me want to share my sense of humor with others, which is something to this day that I consider one of my best attributes, and for that I will be forever grateful. I wish things would have happened differently, that he would have gotten better and I never would have received that horrible news, but things don’t always turn out the way that we would like. Although I only knew him for a couple of short years, Coach Brady left me something that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life, and even though he is gone, he will never be forgotten.