Fuckin’ dog in the house diagonally behind us last night – he would bark ~5 times/hour, so when he stopped, all you could focus on was – Is he gonna bark again? If so, WHEN is he gonna bark again? Maybe he WON’T bark again. He barked again – is he gonna bark AGAIN? If so, WHEN is he gonna bark again? Maybe he WON’T bark again… Finally put my earplugs in; slept pretty good, then I took ’em out at 4:30, ’cause I figgered he MUST be done barking; mother-fucker BARKED again, so I just got up…
If you’ve suffered through my rantings/ravings SO far, you already know about Mr. Mxyzptlk – The Being From Another World. Just to recap – I first met Mr. Mxyzptlk when I was a mere 9 years old, when he was known simply as “Boy Mxyzptlk” – and boy oh BOY did he make an impression on EVERYONE even back then!
Shit, I think he started shaving around FOURTH grade; in third grade when I first met him, he had to limp along with a pair of exquisite “pork chop” sideburns that would have made Elvis green with envy!
Superhuman strength even then, did ZERO homework/studying, smart-mouthed and man-handled his Mom, Dad and ever’ OTHER adult like Bugs Bunny; did-all said-all knew-all. Owned ALL the cool shit – monster models, a 60mph mini-bike with a chainsaw engine, switchblade knives, a real Nazi Iron Cross medal, an Eisenhower jacket (insert requisite Google Search here); in short, he was “The King Of Cool”…
So – senior year of high school – me & Mr. Mxyzptlk are sitting in a walk-up bar in Newark NJ – I won’t EVEN be getting into what we were doing in Newark NJ on THAT day, but as a reminder – “never CONVICTED”.
It’s ~4PM, and we’re just about to head back out to civilization in Mr. Mxyzptlk’s 1965 Buick Wildcat. We’d been sitting there for maybe 90 minutes (~89 minutes too LONG, as it turned out), watching & listening to a “domestic altercation” that was slowly but steadily percolating between some skinny white dude and his bar skank lady friend.
Now, this was before the era of a bartender “cutting you off” when he determined that maybe you had too much to drink; this was when bartenders minded their own bidness, no matter WHAT! Add to it that this was in a REALLY bad part of town (not that there was any “good part of town” in Newark NJ back in the ’70’s!), and this dude looked like some wild-eyed, whacked-out Vietnam Vet. He was ripping into his lady friend INCESSANTLY about where she was the night before – over & over & OVER – each subsequent beer he drank only made him louder and more insistent/incessant.
It was a little comical at first, as his “animation level” ramped up; in fact, most of the patrons in the bar found it pretty amusing too, which only seemed to fuel this dude’s fervor. But then it got old, most of his “audience” found other things to pay attention to, so Skinny Dude ramped it up a notch by getting physical.
Now Mr. Mxyzptlk was the all-time CHAMPEEN at minding his own bidness, except and until it involved a woman being man-handled by a drunken whackadoo. He slid off his barstool, walked over to the other side of the bar, and quietly “advised” the skinny dude to maybe call it a day; I bet he even offered to buy the guy a drink.
Whackadoo said “O.K. – you’re right” – Mr. Mxyzptlk turned around to head back to his stool, and as soon as he turned around, the dude grabbed a beer bottle off of the bar and hit Mr. Mxyzptlk in the back of the neck with it! Error #2 committed! Bottle didn’t break, Mr. Mxyzptlk didn’t go down; in fact, he seemed to barely notice it at ALL! He turned around, looked the guy in the eyes as if to say “Is that all ya’ GOT, Tiny Dancer?” – then, as quick as a FLASH, he grabbed this cat by the scruff of his neck and the sack of his balls, ran him battering-ram style to and through the double swing-door entrance to the bar, and threw him DOWN the stairs – God Damnedest thing I’d ever seen short of a Yosemite Sam cartoon! For his troubles, Mr. Mxyzptlk received a round of applause from the entire bar and a free beer from the beer-tender. He sat back down next to me without a word; meanwhile, I tried to process what happened…
Well, we didn’t wait long – maybe ten minutes; back in the bar for Round Two comes our “You’re not done kicking MY ass quite YET!” antagonist. He comes RIGHT up to Mr. Mxyzptlk, who is seated to my left, looks him dead in the eyes, draws a vintage German Luger from behind his back, points it right at Mr. Mxyzptlk’s forehead, and pulls the trigger!
Holy Bowel-Voiding, Batman! This happened SO quickly that all we SHOULD have heard was an echoing gunshot, followed by the sounds of Mr. Mxyzptlk flopping around on the hardwood floor like a mackerel; instead, all we heard was an audible “click” – the gun failed to fire, and the bullet was sticking up out of top of the pistol like the nose of a salmon! Mr. Mxyzptlk sized all this up in ~1/10th of a second, noticed the absence of a ventilation hole in his gulliver – then, as quick as a mongoose striking a cobra-snake, he reached out, grabbed that pistol out of Whackadoo’s right hand with his left hand, reached around to the nape of the skinny dude’s neck with his right, then proceeded to “holster the weapon” in the guy’s still-gaping maw.
I really thought he was gonna get the entire pistol up in there, but a bunch of the dude’s busted teeth got in the way I guess. Then, once again – we got a replay of this retard’s “exit” from the bar – Mr. Mxyzptlk’s left hand grabbing the scruff of his neck, right hand grabbing the sack of his balls, and another ram-rod trip through the doors (after Mr. Mxyzptlk first “excusing himself” as he hastened his “parcel” by some wide-eyed entering patrons) – along with what seemed like a little extra “boost” of velocity applied right at the end, maybe to help Whackadoo to perhaps make it ALL the way down to the downstairs entrance/exit WITHOUT hitting any of the stairs. Mr. Mxyzptlk walked back to the barstool in cadence with another THUNDERING encore round of applause – “Drinks ALL around!” says the bartender…
After a few minutes’ processing what would be indelibly inscribed in my memory banks for-EVER, I suggested to my Alien Friend that may-HAPS he might be getting close to “running out of his 9 lives”. As you will learn in upcoming entries, this was NOT to be the case; pretty fuckin’ FAR from it, in point of fact…
When Peggy and I moved back to SoCal from our single year of self-exile in the Seventh Level Of Hell called “Phoenix”, I of course had to get my (then) 12 year old SUV smog-tested/re-certified again here in SoCal; I went to my “usual place” from years past. They’ve always been a bit “lenient” when I’ve had a “borderline vehicle” (which I usually DO, since I drive old shite); this time I had to wait a bit due to the now ONEROUS process that smogging a vehicle in SoCal has become.
This was my first time of not being able to “hang” with the mechanics in the back while they’re doing their thing; as a guy that’s been wrenching on his own vehicles since I took apart my first tricycle, I like being able to get some face-time w/the wrench-twisters. The owner, a late 60-something ex-World famous surfer dude, is your typical automotive shop owner — he’s pretty much seen it all, heard it all, done it all, and FORGOTTEN most of it all; in other words, he’s a crusty old curmudgeon.
I told a couple jokes that brought a seldom-summoned smile to his face, and then I turned the conversation to a particularly “painful” vehicle sales transaction that I had just consummated of a 2004 Jeep Wrangler that I sold before we left Phoenix. I described how the buyer took advantage of my good graces by making me “hold” the vehicle for him “for two weeks” while he raised up the funds to finish paying for it; those two weeks turned into TWELVE WEEKS, forcing me to put the vehicle in temporary storage for three months (and $300 out of MY pocket), then drive 5.5 hours BACK to Phoenix from SoCal to get the thing OUT of storage, go to DMV with him, then sweep out the storage unit to get my deposit $ back, spend the night in a hotel, then drive the 5.5 hours BACK to SoCal; in other words, an extra $600 off MY hip — Grrrr!! He listened to my tale of woe, then looked me dead in the eye and said — “Never buy anything, never sell anything…”
At the time, I shrugged it off as just the words of another “old curmudgeon”, but I (obviously) never forgot his prophetic words. Did I say “prophetic”? Yeah, I did; now YOU look ME dead in the eye and tell me I’m WRONG!
Since the day he uttered those words, Peggy and I have bought two homes here in SoCal, and are trying to sell one of those homes right now; I’ve also bought and sold a classic muscle car.
The house purchases involved a fucking UNBELIEVABLE amount of paperwork — I’m talking ~4 inches of paperwork on each one; I’m not kidding! The second home fell out of escrow THREE TIMES before we bought it — I won’t get into the lurid details, but unless & until you try to buy or sell a house here in SoCal, you can not EVEN imagine what’s involved; most of this paperwork is couched under the guise of being “for the buyer’s protection” — read: “For the protection of the bank accounts of the attorneys that dreamed UP this paperwork” and somehow convinced the parties-that-be that it was a good idear to “protect” those morons (that *I* refer to as “The Genital Public”) who buy shit without reading what they’re signing.
And the car deal? A friend of mine w/more $ than I’ve SPENT in my entire 58.5 years here on this Ball O’ Shite verbally “committed” to the car six months ago, but he “had to sell two of HIS collector cars FIRST”. Meanwhile, this “verbal commitment” (with not ONE dollar’s worth of a fiduciary commitment) kept me ham-strung from selling it to anyone ELSE.
Finally, after my 152nd request to “Nut up or shut up”, I took it on my own to list it on FleaBay; now the REAL fun began!
“I’ll give you (insert ridiculously low $ offer here) in CASH for your car!” My response: “Yeah, that sounds good; now when can you give me the REST?!”
Or: “I’ll give you (insert even MORE ridiculously low $ amount here) and my 1958 Edsel that my mother committed suicide in by sitting in it in the garage with the motor running; the urine stains are ALMOST gone!”
If I had a buffalo nickel for every one of those two types of “offers” that I received, I could have pushed the car into the Pacific and pocketed my asking price in nickels! Finally, I got what APPEARED to be a not-too-horrible offer for the car, albeit from a buyer in another country — my “drop dead dollar amount” payable in 10 days, then the shipper to pick the car up in another 10 days; I took the car off FleaBay.
TEN DAYS LATER, after hearing NOTHING from the “buyer”, I get a bank draught (see what I did there?) for TWO THIRDS of the agreed-upon amount, and a promise to pay the balance in ONE WEEK. I deposit the cheque (see what I did there?) and it MIRACULOUSLY doesn’t bounce…
You ALREADY see where this is going, doncha? Here it is, exactly THIRTY DAYS later, and I’m still sitting here w/my dick in my watch pocket, waiting for the other 1/3; meanwhile, I’m STORING the car at MY expense, I’m continuing to insure the car at MY expense, and I’m sitting here with a chit from the Post Office that I have SOMETHING from the “buyer” sitting at the Post Office waiting for me to pick up TOMORROW (since today is a mail holiday).
Is it for the full amount? MAY-be. How long before the transport company picks it up? Lemme consult my Magic 8 Ball; answer: “Better keep your cock in your watch pocket, Dick” (I got the New Jersey version of the Magic 8 Ball).
In retrospect, I just should have had a “fire” and collected the insurance money on the car — “Geez Dick — sorry to hear about your car fire!” “Sssshhhh; that’s NEXT week!”…
“Never buy anything, never sell anything” — Hmmmm; maybe that burnt-out old surfer dude was right. But wait — dere’s MORE!
Remember my buddy — the one that had to sell HIS two collector cars before he bought mine? Well, the hits just keep on COMING, Boys & Girls! He shipped both cars at HIS expense to a friend of his in Michigan who verbally committed to them, complete w/signed titles.
Understand — his “friend” was a guy that used to WORK for him, O.K.? That dude has received the cars, put them up for sale on HIS collector car website as being in HIS inventory (not “on consignment”), and my buddy hasn’t gotten ONE RED CENT! So now HE is going through the legal process of trying to either get paid, or get his cars/titles back. “Never buy anything, never sell anything” — convinced yet?
Specifically — 1 One Hundred Dollar bill, 1 Fifty Dollar bill, 1 Twenty Dollar bill, 1 Ten Dollar bill, 1 Five Dollar bill, and 1 One Dollar bill.
What’s the significance, you ask? Well, ‘long about when I was around 14 years old, I happened to notice two things (other than the budding breasticles on my female classmates, that is); to wit: 1). In the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia metropolitan areas where I grew up, not a week went by when you didn’t read about, hear about, or see on television a story about someone mugged/shot/robbed/killed for some measley sum of money — “Man killed for five dollars”; “Man severely beaten and robbed of $11.00 & change”, etc.
I’ll get to #2 in a minute, but after 6 months or so of “noticing” this particular trend, it occurred to me to ALWAYS carry a decent sum of money on me at all times; here was my logic — these people weren’t mugged/assaulted/killed FOR some paltry sum of money, they were mugged/assaulted/killed BECAUSE they only had a paltry sum of money on them, as in: “Gimme all your money, chump.” “O.K., but I only gots six dollars on me.” “SIX DOLLARS?! I squatted in this briar patch for two hours to rob someone, and you only got six dollars?! I KEEL YOU!”
So, as soon as I was able, I began putting money in my wallet (I’ve always been one of those guys that carries his money in his pocket — my “wallet” has always been for carrying credit cards, license, I.D., etc.). I obviously started “from the bottom up” — a single & a fiver right off, then a tener, then a twenty.
A few months later, I made the quantum leap when I got me a fiddy dollar bill; finally, at X-Mas time, when one of the Zamboni brothers tipped me a hunnert for my paper route duty for the year, I had the “complete set”. I promised myself not to even THINK about that money in my wallet — it was truly “emergency $ — in case of robbery, break glass.”
But a few months later, (of course!) I started “dipping” into those funds on an “as need” basis — lose a bet, pay up; just GOTS to have some “thing”, dip n’ pay. But I ALWAYS “paid myself back ASAP”, remembering what those funds were REALLY for: to keep me from getting KILLED by some drug-crazed robber. Granted, it was a bit melodramatic, but it worked!
And this led me to revelation #2 — One Hundred Eighty-Six Dollars will pretty much get you out of a WHOLE LOT of “trouble” on any given day. Hell, you could buy a bus ticket cross country for $69 bucks on the Grey Dog, should you need to get outta town; it was good “pay the man” $ if you got pulled over by one of the Boys In Blue; it was decent “bail money” as long as you didn’t KILL anyone — yep, One Hundred Eighty Six Dollars j’es makes good sense all ’round, Boys & Girls; “go and do likewise”, is Dick Jones advice du jour…
First off — Dick Jones is BACK! Sorry for the hiatus — and I MEAN that! Peggy & I have been in the throes of moving — in this case, from 2,729 squares to 1,250 squares — can you say “Daily Fresh Hell”? But that’s a whole ‘Nuther Oprah for another Blog Entry or five…
So, as a reminder, while being a “Simple Shite”, as are many of my middle-aged brethren, I ain’t stew-pit; having said that, am I the ONLY retart that always always ALL-WAYS has SOME kind of “trouble” when opting for the Self-Service Checkout line in ANY retail establishment? I mean — What the FUCK?!
Now, I will admit to being “1 strike behind” at the very prospect of interacting with a machine, versus a semi-live body. The second pitch that I TRY to not be bothered with is the “English or Spanish” choice that I’m greeted with — REALLY?! And just HOW long is it gonna be before THAT “order of choices” is reversed, I wanna know? “Soldier On, Jones!”, so I do.
“Bring Your Own Bag?” “Yeah, I DID — she’s sitting out in the car — now can I BUY this shit and get on my way?” Why no, you CAN’T — but thanks for asking; meanwhile, I got 30 more nebulous and meaningless questions to ask you first, and about a dozen OTHER tricks up my sleeve to put you on the road to a detour to the nearest “liquor-serving establishment” directly after I’m finished having my way with you!
Aside: How’s come there is ALWAYS a scuzzy film on BOTH bar code scanner windows of EVERY self-serve kiosk? Hell, it’s bad enough trying to get your item to actually scan properly when those windows are as clean as the Queen of England’s skivvies, let ALONE when they look like they ALWAYS do — covered with what looks like Ebola Biohazard! Wipe ’em down with your hand? Uh — YOU go first!
So — I begin sliding the item over the bar-code scanner, OVER & OVER & OVER AGAIN — right up to the time that that “fingers-on-a-chalkboard” female voice tells me: “Please wait for an attendant.” In other words, the “Self Service Portion Of The Program” has just been removed from the equation.
Now I gotta WAIT while the “attendant”, who has the look of a zombie with a lobotomy, lifts his/her ass off the stool and waddles over to my kiosk, where he/she tries the VERY SAME thing that *I* did — runs the item OVER & OVER & OVER AGAIN past each of the two scuzzy-windowed bar code scanners — did you not see ME doing the very same fucking thing?! Is YOUR hand movement somehow BETTER than MINE, I wanna know? No, it’s NOT — so now LZ (Lobotomized Zombie) waddles back over to his/her “Master Of The Self-Serve Kiosks Station” to get a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels — Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
On his/her way back with Windex & towels in tote, some OTHER pilgrim grabs him/her for help with THEIR respective Self Service Checkout Fresh Hell, which OF COURSE has IMMEDIATE priority over MY Self Service Checkout Fresh Hell — Fuck ME all to pieces! At this point, my alter-ego is reminding me of the LAST Self-Service Checkout experience, where I tole’ myself that I would NEVER EVER try Self Service Checkout AGAIN — “Remember, Retart?” Yeah, I remember — now go back in your cage!
10 minutes later, after the other pilgrim is taken care of — “I’ll meet you at the bar, Pilgrim!” — LZ makes his/her way back to my situation, cleans the glasses on the scanners, and FINALLY gets success scanning my FIRST item. Aside: Woe is you or me if there are MULTIPLES of the same item! Scan-Fail Scan-Fail Scan-Fail Scan-Fail — SUCCEED; now repeat this sequence for as many multiples as you have — Aneurysm yet? But wait — dere’s MORE! “Item Too Big For Bagging Area.” “Check Bagging Area For Item.” “Remove Item From Bagging Area.” “Shove Item Up Your Ass And Rotate Three Times…”
Think you’re done yet? Nope — MORE fucking questions! “Do you want to enter your phone number to help with returns?” No — I want to enter my phone number so you’ll call me for a date — Jesus Henry Christ! FINALLY — “Thank You For Shopping At The Chinese-Manufactured Goods Emporium — Now Get Out!” Gladly — is 9AM too early to commence to drinking?