Chasing the Fly

I’d noticed the fly buzzing around as we sat in the living room, my wife and I, watching some show on Netflix that I thought was stupid and boring at first, but is actually starting to grow on me. I had just finished eating the fettuccine alfredo pasta with grilled chicken that my wife had cooked, and didn’t much feel like chasing down a fly, or doing much of anything else for that matter. An hour or so went by and I had forgotten about the minuscule nuisance that was living rent free in my apartment, but as I walked down the hall to the restroom, I saw the little black dot on the wall out of the corner of my eye, and knew this was my chance to end the madness. I looked around me, shifting my eyes rather than my head, not wanting to risk scaring the fly away from its perch, looking for something, anything I might use to end the life of this creature. The closest object I could see was the latest issue of Sports Illustrated lying on our dining room table about ten steps away.

I crept back down the hallway, my movements as slow and precise as possible, making as little noise as I could not to scare the fly. I reached the table and picked up the magazine, and quietly walked back, stopping just to the right of my target. I considered rolling up the magazine, to use it as a bat, but thought that if I left it flat I would have a better chance of making contact with the elusive insect, plus it would make me immensely happy to have a dead fly splattered across Kevin Durant’s face. I raised my arm slowly, then when I felt the moment was right, I hit the wall with such force that it caused my dogs to commence one of their barking fits. I somehow missed the fly, but the vibrations of my hit against the wall caused it to fall, hitting me on the nose before flying away unharmed.

My wife called out from the living room that it had flown into the kitchen, so I stealthily stepped onto the linoleum floor and scanned the area, looking for it. I was never really good at those I Spy or Where’s Waldo books as a child, finding it difficult and frustrating searching for a single object among many others, so in my cluttered kitchen, I didn’t have any luck spotting the fly. I stood still for a few minutes, waiting for the insect to make its whereabouts known, but it did not, so finally I gave up, concluding that I would eventually see it again and get my revenge. The night passed without another trace of finding it, and this morning before work there was still no sign of the fly. I’d hoped maybe it had flown out the door at some point, maybe when the dogs went out to use the bathroom, or when me or my wife left for work, but when I returned home just a few minutes ago, there it was waiting for me at the door, like a housewife from the old television shows, ready to greet me after a long day. I went for the magazine but when I turned around it was gone again. Maybe tonight will be the night that this insect’s life comes to an end, but in all honesty, I’m not too confident in my ability to make that happen.

The Thoughts of a Lion

IMG_3250I wonder if there are any lions out there in the wild that are strict vegetarians. It would be pretty tough finding the crisp lettuce and vegetables that are so easy to come by at the local grocery store out on the hot and desolate plains of Africa. Maybe the lion vegetarians only eat dead grass, which sounds terrible, but when your a lion with principles, what other choice is there? I wonder if there are any lions that like have aspirations of traveling the world, to see what else is out there. I imagine that it would not be too easy for those lions to follow their dreams, because as soon as they get to the airport people will start to panic and there is virtually no chance that they would be allowed to board a plane, even if they were somehow resourceful enough to come up with the funds to purchase a ticket. This seems like discrimination, but sadly there is nothing being done for lions travel rights in the world today. The best hope these lions have of seeing a different part of the world is if they are shipped in a container to a zoo somewhere, where they will likely spend the rest of their lives.

I also wonder if lions who are sent to zoos ever feel homesick. Perhaps they left with the high hopes of a better life, but immediately regretted it upon finding out that they would be confined to a much smaller home behind the fence of their exhibits. Maybe the lions we see in the zoos have all committed heinous crimes out in the wild, and being locked up is the life sentence they are serving, and we shouldn’t feel bad for them at all. Maybe justice is being served, but I have my doubts. I wonder if any of the lions we see have killed a human before, and perhaps the family of the deceased will visit the zoo from time to time, on the anniversary of their loved one’s death, and take a little comfort in knowing that this lion won’t be able to harm anyone ever again. Do they hurl insults at the killer or stand quietly weeping for their loss? Are there any lions that are sentenced to a life in the zoo there unfairly? Maybe it’s just a case of mistaken identity, and the prosecutor was a much better lawyer than the public defender assigned to the lion’s case.

I wonder if any lions suffer heartbreak, the way you or I might in our lifetime. Maybe they fell in love back in Africa, but lost their significant other to a stronger member of the pack. In this case perhaps they feel that putting space between them will help them to heal and find closure, and welcome the opportunity to be shipped thousands of miles away from their home, to live out the remainder of their lives in a local zoo. Maybe they fall in love with the other lion occupying the enclosed habitat at the zoo, an arranged marriage with a happy ending, or perhaps they feel none of these things or think any of these thoughts, because after all they are animals and have no way of telling us one way or another. These are just some things I wonder about from time to time.

Stealing Cars & Groceries: Nobody Cares

Car alarms are useless. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you own, whether it’s a Lexus or a Hyundai, there is no real protection offered to you in the case of auto theft. I’ve never been the victim of this sort of crime in my life, but if it happens to me, I can’t say that I would be surprised. Just today I heard a car alarm going off in a grocery store parking lot, and neither me nor any of the people in the area cared enough to see what was going on. That’s just the way it is. An alarm is seen as more of an annoyance rather than an alert that something bad is going on, which is why I find car alarms completely useless and ridiculous. I click the button on the remote a couple times, first for the initial lock and the second to make sure the alarm is set, but that doesn’t really matter at all because nobody cares. Unless you are within eyesight of your car being broken into, the thieves will get away with whatever they want, and unfortunately this doesn’t just apply to automobiles.

As I left the grocery store today, I was behind a woman who set off the stores alarm when leaving, and and she didn’t even stop, not that it mattered because an employee was quick to offer her an apology for the “malfunction” and send her on her way. For all anyone knew this person could have stolen every item in her cart, but because nobody cared, she left the store free of any suspicion that any wrongdoing had taken place. The popular phrase, “the customer is always right” seems to take away any responsibility of the customers that shop at a particular store, one that is much more interested in having said customer return than the potential loss that is taken if a non trustworthy person decides to walk out the door with more groceries than they have paid for. I just don’t get it, and I wonder why stores let people get away from the flashing lights and beeping sounds of the security sensors as if the store is the one at fault.

I don’t plan to steal a car or anything from a grocery store but I have to say that it seems pretty easy to do so. When was the last time you heard a car alarm in the parking lot and actually went to investigate what was going on. That is somebody else’s problem, just like when a teenage employee doesn’t think twice about the person leaving the store while alarms go off all around them. I don’t condone stealing, but if other people are getting away with it then why should I continue to pay my weekly grocery bill at full cost? Don’t people care enough about what they own to step in and put an end to this madness? The evidence clearly says no, and that is why I won’t be surprised if either of my cars are stolen at some point in the near future.

Amerigo: An Italian Father’s Day Dinner

IMG_3703Well today is father’s day and I didn’t see my dad at all, but before you go casting stones at the ungrateful son, let me clarify that I did take him to dinner last night as our way of celebration. Why didn’t I take my dad to dinner on the actual father’s day? He had planned to take his father out to dinner that night, and there are only so many meals to go around, so I told my dad to pick wherever he wanted to go and my wife and I would meet him for dinner the night before. We settled on Amerigo, one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Memphis, and said we would meet him there at seven. I showed up right at seven o’clock, my wife left behind at home with her sore back not feeling up to dining out, and my dad was already there for standing in the dimly lit waiting area. We told the hostess I had arrived, and like a celebrity seated immediately upon arrival, we were ushered directly to our seats without a wait.

We quickly looked over the menu, deciding what we wanted before the waiter even arrived to introduce himself and take the drink orders, so by the time he showed up, we were prepared. My dad got the goat cheese and walnut salad with smoked salmon, while I got the goat cheese penne pasta with grilled shrimp. We talked for a little while, the only interruption being the loud family at the table behind us who had taken it upon themselves to do some sort of happy birthday chant, paired with rhythmic clapping that echoed against the walls throughout the restaurant, completely unprovoked by an employee, the first time I can ever remember seeing this take place. It was annoying but over soon enough, and before long the food arrived. The first thing I thought as I looked down at the plate before me was “that looks like a lot of tomatoes”, and it really was. With each bite of pasta I tried to get one or two tomato pieces on the fork with it so that I wouldn’t be left with an excess of tomato scraps at the end of the meal, but that is exactly what ended up happening, about a third of my plate completely covered once everything else was eaten.

The pasta itself was pretty bland, which would account for the excess tomatoes and goat cheese trying to hide that obvious and glaring flaw. The star of the dish were the grilled shrimp, four perfectly cooked and seasoned crustaceans at the corners of my plate. I cut each of them up into little pieces, trying to get as many bites with a piece of shrimp as possible, but I certainly would have opted for more. The service was fantastic, my water glass never less than half full before the waiter would arrive with a refill, and it was a nice dinner with my dad, despite my food being altogether disappointing. The important thing about last night was taking time to appreciate and honor my wonderful father, and everything else, including the food, didn’t really matter all that much.

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My Regrettable Decision

I’m not above admitting when I’ve made a mistake, which is exactly what I did, earlier this week, on a Tuesday. Since I had to work on Saturday, I only had to work from eleven to two on Tuesday, so I spent the morning writing and drinking coffee, and then perusing my bookshelf for the next book I would read, since I just finished Lust and Wonder, by Augusten Burroughs the day before. When browsing a bookstore, I wait for the spine of one of the books to interest me, then I pull it out to read the back to see if I’m interested, and only then do I make the purchase, and that is the same way I choose what to read at home, looking at my bookshelves until something jumps out at me. I’m not sure why, perhaps I liked the style of the font on the spine of the book, or something about the author’s last name, Navarro, spoke to me, but for whatever reason, I decided to start reading Story of a Sociopath, and now I regret it immensely.

Don’t get me wrong, the book so far has been fantastic, but my timing couldn’t have been worse. A week from today, my wife and I leave for a weeklong vacation on the Gulf of Mexico, along with my brothers, my mom, and grandmother, and I’m not at all confident that I will finish this book before that time comes. It may seem insignificant that I finish the book before vacation, and perhaps I’m a total nut job in the way that I think, but I absolutely don’t want to take Story of a Sociopath on this trip, and it has nothing to do with what the book is about. I grew up going to the beach every summer, and one of my favorite things was picking out the books I would take, interesting books that I had restrained myself from reading, reserving them especially for week where I had nothing to do, and could lose the day, sitting in the sun and reading them.

For me there is something special about the books I read on vacation, picking them up years later and being transported back in time to those wonderful days of summer spent at the beach, and for some reason, taking a book that I’ve already started before vacation just doesn’t have the same effect for me. I have 708 pages left in this monstrous book I’m reading, so now it’s a race against the clock, to see if I can finish it in the next six days, which given that I have to work forty hours, write six more blog posts and ten thousand words in my book, and somehow find time to get the sleep necessary to have the energy to perform all of these tasks, it’s seeming more unlikely by the minute. I’ve consulted my wife, the resident expert on all of my personal problems, and she suggested putting it aside, and resuming it when I return home from vacation, but that too doesn’t appeal to me. I’m too invested in the story now to put it aside, while reading something else, my mind will likely wander back to Thomas Spencer and what is happening in his world, so it seems that I have no choice but to read on, trying my best to finish the book before we leave next Saturday. Wish me luck.

How to Fix Bad Driving

There are few things that I hate in life more than bad drivers. I hate them because their actions directly impact the lives of innocent people who just happen to be within close proximity of them, and it’s not fair to anybody that actually follows the rules of the road. The two most common types of bad drivers I encounter on a daily basis, are people on their phones and people driving too slow. There are already steps being taken and laws being passed to keep people off their phones, but when it comes to people driving too slow, there is a lot more that needs to be done. The other day I was on the interstate, the speed limit sixty-five miles an hour, and I was behind a car that wasn’t even going fifty, and this isn’t a rare occasion for me, often the victim of being stuck behind someone driving well below the speed limit. When I was finally able to switch lanes and pass the offending car, I looked over to see an elderly woman, hunched over the steering wheel, squinting to see out of the windshield ahead of them, and I thought to myself that this person should not be driving.

I get that it’s tough getting older, when things that used to be so easy for someone become increasingly more difficult, but it’s just irresponsible to let bad drivers, regardless of their age or experience operating a vehicle, drive among us. That is why I think that a driving test should be required every couple of years, to ensure that drivers continue to operate at acceptable levels. It’s a pain to renew your drivers license, standing in long lines, but I’m of the opinion that this should be done every two years along with having to pass a written and road driving test. I would be more than willing to spend a few hours of my day every couple of years renewing my license, if it meant that our roads were safer. I’m not just saying that elderly people are the only bad drivers out there, because they are not. I’m amazed at how many people don’t know how a four way stop is supposed to work, or what to do if a stoplight isn’t operating, and a written test would ensure that drivers kept up with the laws rather than cramming the information into their heads to pass the test at fifteen, then forgetting the bulk of what was learned.

In addition to the written test, the driving portion would also help solve the issue of keeping people off the roads, who are no longer able to drive safely. I would say that most people pick up bad driving habits over the years, and that is direct result of not having to prove one’s driving ability after the initial test. If I were president, this would be a top priority for me, because in 2015 more than 35,000 people died in a car accident, and I would bet that most of those were caused by an irresponsible or bad driver. Driving is a part of every day life, and unfortunately it claims way too many innocent lives, which could easily be avoided if there was something in place to keep more bad drivers off the road. Maybe necessary changes will take place in the coming years, but until that time, I will continue to drive defensively with my head on a swivel, trying to avoid any potential danger brought about by bad drivers.

The Continuing Saga of my Wife’s Hurt Back

It had been a week since my wife’s first visit to the doctor for her back pain. After a surprisingly short time in the clinic, the doctor had concluded without a shred of evidence that my wife had a muscle strain, causing the unbearable pain in her back and her legs to go numb. She prescribed two medications, a steroid and a muscle relaxer, convinced that they would both relieve her pain, and heal her body, but they did neither, which is why I found myself crossing three lanes of traffic at the last second to get into the turn lane for this chiropractic clinic that my wife had found online. We opened the door to the clinic, the lobby was dark and empty, and the girl behind the desk said welcome to “The Joint.” That’s right, the fate of my wife’s back lies in the hands of a place named something that sounds more like a hip new restaurant or a local bar than a doctor’s office, but without many other options, we continued on inside and my wife filled out the seven pages of paperwork, which turned out to take longer than the actual time spent with the chiropractor.

While she was filling out the forms, a man in his mid twenties walked in and scanned a keychain at the front desk, as if he had security clearance at a top secret government facility. The scanner beeped its recognition and he took his seat. A few minutes later a doctor summoned him to the back, where loud noises ensued. It sounded like someone was picking a heavy table off of the ground from one end, then slamming down against a marble floor as hard as they possibly could. I feared for the man’s life back there, sure that he was being beaten to death, not that I made any attempt to help or avert my eyes from the book I was reading, but after a couple minutes of the mayhem, he walked back out into the lobby like nothing had happened. After a few minutes, my wife was told to go into the back to meet the doctor and the receptionist asked if I would be joining my wife, to which I politely declined, opting to sit in the lobby and strain my eyes reading “Story of a Sociopath” by Julia Navarro. Perhaps the story is about me, the man who refused to join his wife when she went to consult with the chiropractor, but I haven’t read that far yet.

After only about ten minutes, and some more of the crashing sounds, my wife returned, feeling better than she had in more than a week. The chiropractor told her that her alignment was off, that one leg was an inch longer than the other due to some sort of shift that had moved her spine slightly out of place, but not too worry, after a few more sessions, she was sure my wife would be healed. I have my doubts about the legitimacy of the practice, likening the chiropractor to the new age healer that turns George’s face purple in Seinfeld, but after two sessions my wife seems to be getting better and the pain has subsided drastically, so whatever the chiropractor is doing, seems to be working for the moment, and hopefully my wife will continue along this trajectory until she’s good as new, or at the very least, comfortable getting out of bed in the morning.