Short Stories From the Life of a Blogger-Stories

Who Needs Fingers?

I am sure that the reader remembers that Gramps and his son moved in with my parents. What I have not mentioned is what he did to make a living. He worked in a machine shop where he cut metal into pieces with a bandsaw. If you were to spend any time with my grandfather you would realize two things, one was that he was impulsive and the second was that he was always in a hurry. I have no idea why he was in a hurry but he was. He was always going somewhere and he dragged his feet. He left wear marks in the carpet wherever he went. So if you were to study those marks for a little while you could pretty much tell what he did all day long. So now that I have established for the reader what type of personality he had, I will describe to you what happened to him in the machine shop. You probably can tell right off what happened.

Well, he was cutting those pieces of metal as fast as he could so he could take his smoke break. Metal shavings were flying all over the place, he was sweating profusely and his glasses and safety goggles were fogging up as well. The faster he would go the sweatier he became. His hands became “slipperier and slipperier”, and instead of stopping and drying himself off he kept on plowing ahead with his work. The next thing you know, his hand slipped and the tips of the fingers on his left hand were sliced off by the bandsaw. The blade was so sharp he barely felt a thing until he saw blood everywhere and the tips of his fingers lying in the metal shavings. Needless to say, his days were numbered at the machine shop. He always had fat fingers on his hands, now the fingers on his left hand resembled little sausages. He never let it slow him down. He still chain smoked like a chimney.

The Landry Clan Travels to Florida

My father loved pecans and he had talked incessantly about his desire to buy a pecan pie once he got into the Deep South. If you know anything about the south in the 70s, you will be familiar with Stuckey’s and gator farms and if you are a true connoisseur of southern life, you will have heard of the world famous Silver Springs. You can take Interstate 95 from New York all the way to Florida. By taking this route, you will come across a wonderful little gem known as “South of the Border”. It is a tourist trap located between North Carolina and South Carolina, hence the name. It is also where the first Stuckey’s appears. So, of course, we had to stop so Dad could get his pecan pie. This little trap has since become a must-do ritual on each of our trips going through this stretch of road. It doesn’t matter which direction you are going you have to stop at least once. If you don’t stop the travel gods will wreck havoc on your trip. Knowing my track record I don’t dare take any unnecessary risks. I have even spent the night there in one of their hotels to appease these ever hungry gods. It actually was a pretty nice hotel that had a really cool indoor pool.

Being the world travelers that we were, we also had to stop at a gator farm. Because nothing screams the Deep South more than alligators. If you have ever been to one of these farms, you will truly know the meaning of the term “cheesy”. But back in the 70s, they were a big deal and also a must-do item on any travel list that involved the Deep South. The final mandatory theme park that had to be visited was the aforementioned Silver Springs. They were known for their glass bottom boats. They also had gators and snakes and all sorts of exotic southern animals on display. In retrospect, most people would not even give this park the time of day, unless you are looking for hokey and cheesy entertainment. Well, I guess I haven’t outgrown my love of cheese as is evidenced by my most recent trip this summer where I went to visit Bearizona. After spending a delightful and albeit mandatory pit stop at Silver Springs, we were free to actually do what we came to Florida for in the first place and that was too spend way too much time in the sun at the beaches in Panama City. Because if we did not at least get third-degree burns, our Florida experience would not be complete. Peeling and blistering skin were worn like badges of glory when we arrived back home. Only our most worthy friends earned the right to peel a little bit of our skin off. Oh, to be awarded such an honor. We were like gods, how wonderful it was to be able to travel to Florida. Little did they know the absolute agony we suffered to bring back these badges of honor. Looking back, it is a wonder that we all did not get skin cancer. Because we made this sacred pilgrimage to the Deep South several years in a row, and each time we got sunburned.

There is More to Cape Cod than Lobsters

In the early 70s, Cape Cod was not all commercialized and you could find lots of areas that were only infrequently touched by human hands. There were also lots of sand dunes in Cape Cod. You had to traverse these dunes before you reached the water. It was a great deal of fun doing this because they were extremely steep and fun to roll down them. I would take a great deal of delight in losing my footing and rolling back down the steep dunes. This exasperated my brother to no end because for some reason he actually wanted to get to the water. I don’t know why because it was just too cold to swim, so it was more fun just playing in the sand. But we finally made it to the water where we did the ever famous “Chevy Chase” look and then we just turned around and walked back. Where is the fun in that? We also got to go on a ferry boat ride to Nantucket Island. This was really cool because cars could ride on the boat with us. I had never experienced this before. I remember the island being a little lame for kids because all we did was walk and go into shops. We did not have enough money to really buy cool things. But we all had to get little replica lobster traps. Though Robert had to get a real one which was a royal pain in the butt to get back to the motor home since we had to carry it back with us on the ferry boat. That damn lobster trap was bigger than me. One thing I do remember doing is eating lots of lobster because they were so cheap. I felt like royalty cracking the lobster claws and tails with my nutcracker and it was fun having the hot butter rolling off my face. It was really cool.

Where Did All the Water Come From?

This is a little sidenote that involved the trip we made to Alabama to visit my Sister Regina. As a special little treat, her and her husband thought it would be nice to go to Panama City and camp on the beach there. It was a short drive from where he was stationed in Alabama to the beaches in Panama City. Unfortunately, during our visit it was the rainy season as well. My sister’s husband Steve brought two tents and air mattresses and blankets for the four of us. They had one tent and Mom and I had the other tent. Everything was going along swimmingly, no pun intended, and I was having the time of my life sleeping on the air mattress. Our mother was not fairing quite as well. After tossing and turning for awhile she finally did fall asleep. However, our peaceful slumber was not to last because I woke up when my hand felt wet. I was also having a strange sensation that I was moving. When out-of-nowhere a loud crack of thunder jolted me wide awake and a bright streak of lightning illuminated the inside of our tent. We were actually floating in our tent, well, at least I was floating, Mom weighed a little too much to float. Her mattress for that matter was also quite a bit thicker so she had not gotten wet yet but she was now wide awake as well due to the loud clap of thunder. Well, the next thing you know the four of us were all crammed into my sisters little car, where we spent the rest of the night like four drenched rats because that deluge continued until daylight. Thank God, it finally did let up because I expect if it lasted much longer we would have needed an ark. Needless to say, our stay in Panama City was cut short and we “beat feet” back to Alabama once we were able to pack up our soggy gear. Of course, when we got back to their house Steve had to dry everything out on their front yard.

Mike Tyson, I am Not.

It was the last day of school of 2nd Grade and I was one of the more popular kids at that time. I had yet to experience the misery of ostracism that I would experience in my third year in elementary school. So, in other words, I was your typical brat and not a very empathetic one at that. Every class has a screw up and our 2nd grade class was no exception. This kid had no concept for the use of facial tissue. He had a chronic runny nose which he was always blowing. His constant inhaling of drippy, drooly snot was disgusting. In other words, he was not the chick magnet that I was. So, a group of us decided to pick on him after school. Nothing too bad. So I thought. When we finished ruining his life, we all went our separate ways. For some reason, he chose to follow me with the ultimate goal of exacting retribution on me. I was loaded down with all my school papers that my mother would almost immediately dispose of. So, needless to say, I was none too nimble. So outrunning him was not an option. So I did the next best thing. I went on offense. I put my prized possessions on the ground and I loaded up my right arm and gave him a good haymaker right in the face. I hit him so hard that he felt it in his toes. I basically knocked him to the ground, and I split his cheek for good measure. But the bad thing was that he was bigger than I and he was able to with some effort, shake it off. I knew I was in deep doodoo, so with a great deal of desperation I picked up all my treasures and hauled ass out of there. He, however, unburdened as he was easily caught up to me. He proceeded to beat the living tar out of me. I went one way and my papers went the other way. They were flying everywhere, it was quite a sight to see. So, after he finally got tired of using me as a punching bag, he left. But with all that, it was only my pride that was hurt. I was still the victor after all because I had drawn first blood.

Boy, you have a hard head.

My current wife says, I am either accident-prone or a shit magnet. I prefer to think of myself as an adventurer. But it can’t be denied that I do get banged up on a regular basis. In this particular event, I was playing in the playground at our elementary school. I was so engrossed in my fun that I misjudged the distance to the overhead steel bar on this slide. Well, as luck would have it, when I stood up my head hit the bar. After I stopped seeing stars, I resumed my play. When out-of-nowhere, one of my playmates informed me that my head was bleeding. So, I reached up and touched my head, lo and behold, my hand came back red with my blood. Well, of course, I got scared. So I made a beeline to the all too familiar school nurse’s office. It just so happened that good old Dr. Haber was at the school on business that day. He just seemed to be everywhere, he really was amazing. He took one look at me and just shook his head. He asked what had I been up to. Of course, I said “nothing much“. In order to put stitches in my head they needed to get a consent from my mother. So they had to make an ill-fated phone call to my mother. The resulting howl informed me that they were successful in contacting her and that she was aware of my status. So, he shaved part of my head and added three more stitches to my trophy collection. I was fast becoming a legend at my school. All I was missing was a scar on my cheek and an eye patch and maybe a peg leg for good measure. Nah, that would have been too much of a good thing.

Playing hot potato with a watermelon.

Have you ever played hot potato? Probably not, it is a stupid game where you toss a hot baked potato back and forth. You can’t hold it for long because it is too damn hot. Well, my braniac brother Robert decided to use a watermelon instead. We must have really been bored at good old Fish Creek campsite. Of course, I was the weak link in this game. My brother and his friends were at least twice my size, I don’t know how they thought I could handle a 20 -pound watermelon traveling at the speed of sound. Well, you guessed it, I valiantly tried to catch this green missile coming at me. It hit me so hard that it knocked me down and continued traveling totally unimpeded until it came to a dead standstill when it imploded on a very hard oak tree. I, of course, was covered in watermelon slime. If you have read my earlier memoirs you will remember mom’s flyswatter? I don’t know how she always had one handy? She must have bought the damn things by the gross. She must have had a holster around her waist were they hung from because they could come out in a moment’s notice. Well, Robert experienced the business end of it. After the blood letting ended, I was was summarily marched into the Winnebago where I was scrubbed clean with what felt like a steel wire brush. Needless to say, we had no dessert that night. Though I do think my brother was able to salvage a few small pieces from the debris field.

Randy gets even

My brother Robert was not only eleven years older than me, he lifted weights and was at least a 100 times stronger than me. Being a true bully, he always thought it was a lot of fun to wrestle with me. Well, needless to say, I was tossed around like a cotton ball in a tornado. That is, until I found out about fighting dirty. I didn’t even know that I was doing it until my brother was writhing around the floor in a fetal position. You all know from my previous stories, my punch was like a mule’s kick. When it contacted, it did some damage. All my readers, being really smart must have already guessed where I hit my brother. Come on, it’s really easy…I gave you enough hints. Yep, you guessed it, a roundhouse punch right smack dab into his testicles. Which resulted in an ice pack to Robert’s nether regions and a serious ear-bending from our mother to me. You may ask revenge for what? Winnie the Pooh, that’s who. You think I forgot the part he played in poor Pooh’s demise? Well, to be honest I had no idea my punch would have the effect that it did. But a win is a win. Paybacks are a bitch. Don’t worry, good old Robert is good for several more stories. For those not familiar with my Winnie the Pooh story, my father bought if for me one year when I was very sick. My brother being jealous of it was instrumental in his being taken away from me.

Thank God for Sudsy.

My aunt, in order to save money would buy all of her meat in Canada. I think Canada should have stayed out of the meat industry all together and just continued with Maple Syrup and Hockey. They had no business selling “meat”. I must tell you that calling what we’re eating meat was being too kind. To give you an idea, I think it could have been used for shoe leather. The meat was so tough and so full of fat that I would almost gag when I chewed it. I tried hiding the pieces under the edges of the plate. It worked until my aunt cleared the table. Guess what, she definitely was my mother’s sister because now I was eating it cold. With no exaggeration, I would chew so damn much that my jaw muscles actually hurt. My muscles got so strong that I think I could have bitten through a tire like a fighting dog. Well, enter Sudsy…their French poodle. He must have had Canadian blood in him because he loved that meat. So, my life was saved. We became the best of friends at dinner time. My aunt marveled at how I finished eating all my meat. She actually thought I liked it, so now she gave me a bigger portion. Something about me being a growing boy. You know, I just couldn’t catch a break. Even Sudsy couldn’t rescue me from the additional meat ration. He was only a poodle for Christ’s sakes, not Cujo.

Was it a chainsaw or my aunt snoring?

When my mother was dating my soon-to-be stepfather, she would stay at her sister’s house. You know, the “meat” woman. I don’t know how it always worked out this way, but I always got stuck sleeping with her. Why in the hell didn’t my mother sleep with her, I will never know? Oh, I know, she snored so damn loud the walls vibrated. I would lay there and just listen to this woman saw through one cord of wood after another. I tried using pillows to cover my ears. I even slept under the damn bed, all to no avail. I couldn’t even sleep on the couch in the living room because my mother had it staked out already. She thought she was being good to me, seeing how I was young and needed my sleep. Boy, parents can do and say the dumbest things. Well, I didn’t fall for it. She couldn’t sleep with the snoring either. There was a reason my aunt’s husband slept in the basement. Thank God, my mother finally got married and we got our own place.

Where’s Aunt Rita?

We finally got our own house…a ginormous rental house known by the locals as the West House. We really weren’t that creative there because it was his last name. So go figure.Well, with all the snow we got that year you would have thought that we lived in Siberia. Global warming, my ass. We had so many snow days, we had to extend our school year to make the days up. What a crock. As if anything we learned at “hell school” was worth the extra school time. They just wanted more time to torture me. So, as luck would have it, my mother’s sister had a snow mobile. So, her son would ride over to our house and pick us up one by one. The roads, of course, were closed. The snow plows just could not keep up. My aunt would always invite us over on these occasions. For some reason, she thought we enjoyed her company, it certainly wasn’t for her damn cooking. Thanks to her, I almost became a vegan even though, I didn’t know what one was. But if it meant I did not have to eat her Canadian beef, it was worth a go. So, he picked me up first. I, being an experienced snow mobile passenger, completed the journey with no mishap. Then he went back to pick up mom. Shortly afterwards, he arrives back at my aunt’s house. However, this time he is a passenger short. He, of course, did not realize this at first. I am sorry to admit he wasn’t the brightest of individuals. When he pulled up to his house he turned around to say “We’re here!” to my mother. It was only then that he realized she was missing. Well, my cousin was good at only three things… he could ride a unicycle, he was good at backgammon and thirdly, he could giggle. It was this skill that now came in handy. He could not stop laughing. It was so infectious that the three of us, my aunt, myself and he just about died laughing. It tickled his funny bone because he had realized immediately what happened. He had to save time, cut across an open field. When he hit a bump she must have fell off the back of the snow mobile. So, he turned around and went back to look for her. Sure enough, she was right where he thought she would be. She was stuck in a snowbank covered in the powdery substance. She was too pissed to be cold. When they finally got back to her sister’s house she was actually laughing. Because nobody could stay mad at my cousin for long. Especially, with his giggling superpower. She, however, was still upset about her stick of butter which was all mashed up. All things considered, it could have been worse. Eventually, after she put on some of my aunt’s dry clothes we all had another good laugh. My mother could be a good sport when she wanted to be. Unfortunately now that the hilarity was over we had to now suffer through another one of my aunt’s meals.

Basic Instinct Curtain Call

I mulled this one over for quite some time about whether to include it or not. I said “What the hell” and I finally decided to include it. I will, however, do my best to protect the identity of the individuals in this story. I won’t even mention how I am related to them nor will I mention what state they lived in. I used to stay overnight at this relatives house on a regular basis. She had two daughters, one approximately 13 years of age and the other, about 16 or so years old. I was in the third grade, so I was quite young and certainly not worldly in the way of women, to put it politely. These two young ladies were quite lovely and had fully blossomed into womanhood. They used to wear short cotton teddies that rose well above the knee. This was my first experience with a women’s delicate parts. I was soon to discover that undergarments were but an afterthought with the both of them. They also wore these outfits in the living room where there was a perfectly positioned coffee table that they both liked to rest their feet on. I was, of course, positioned opposite of them in the living room. All I was missing was the popcorn because both of them put on quite a show. Three things you should know. First, I had no idea what I was looking at. Second, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the site before me. I must have known I was seeing something really cool. Third, they knew I was looking. They were not bashful in the least. I just got little smiles and conspiratorial looks between them. It was great to be me. However, it all came to an abrupt end when their mother discovered what was going on. You would not believe how fast undergarments appeared in the picture. So, I had my own Basic Instinct moment. I was just too damn young to truly be aware what was going on.

Sporting Events Destined Not to Make It Into The Olympics

(1) Sliding down the banister. One of the most amazing things about the West House was the size of the rooms on the first floor. The kitchen was enormous and had an attached large walk-in pantry, replete with long counters. The living room had an enormous fireplace that could accommodate a 48-inch log. It had a huge mantel and red velvet padded benches on each side of it. It was truly an imposing site. Part of the rental agreement was that the owners could throw two parties a year in the house. Each party had about 200 guests. That gives you an idea how truly large the living room really was. There were, as I remember, eight couches and approximately 20 chairs in the living room. The dining room table could easily accommodate 20 people. That is how many chairs they had for the table. There was room for even more people to sit around it. The table was so wide that you could easily seat two people at each end. But the most amazing part of the house was the incredible staircase which also had a huge landing half-way up the staircase. The railing was at least 4 inches across, so it was incredibly sturdy. The ceilings on the first floor were all 10 feet high, so you had a really long run on the banister. My mother being extremely fastidious kept the railing well polished which allowed for some really fast rides down the railing. So needless to say, I almost never used the stairs unless I was carrying something. By the way, the stairs were at least eight feet wide. You have to say one thing that old man certainly had style. While sliding down the banister was fun and good for an elevated Heart Rate, it just wasn’t going to make it to the Olympics. The biggest problem is how to have a uniform way to judge the contest.

(2) Indian Leg Wrestling. One of my families favorite activities was a contest of both strength and speed. Two opposing individuals would lie on the floor with one of their legs in the air, positioned butt to butt, and their other leg lying flat on the ground along with their arms flat on the ground as well. On a count of three they would each swing their legs free and pump them 2 times, the third time they would lock them together. Then they would try with all their strength to flip the other person over. My brother Robert was the uncontested champion in our family, that is until my stepfather entered the picture. He flipped my brother over like he wasn’t even there. I never recalled my brother engaging in that activity again. The event was lots of fun, but it only appealed to the locals. Flatulence during the contest was definitely frowned upon, and resulted in immediate disqualification.

(3) Family Logrolling Contest. While this event is fun, it certainly will never make it into the Olympics. Most living rooms of the day could accommodate only two people lying end to end on the floor. Well, West House could accommodate 6 people with a good 30-foot run. So, we would all lay on the floor end to end. Having stinky feet earned you a handicap, and if bad enough it also resulted in an immediate disqualification. And then we would just roll as fast as you could down the track in the living room. Of course, to add interest we held the contest right after we ate a full meal. The anguish of the contestants just added to the hilarity of the event. To give credit where credit is due, nobody ever vomited during the race. Lots of fun but no international appeal.

Pie For Everyone

I am not sure what the occasion was but we had a lot of family over at the “West House”. I know we had a lot of people there, because the table was full of hungry and drooling guests. My mother could certainly whip some good grub. I had mentioned previously that my mother had two super powers, you probably guessed it the second one was cooking and baking. No matter who showed up, announced or not she always was able to whip up something tasty to eat. This time was no exception, She also would make up pie shells in advance, and would have dozens of them frozen in her freezer. So it made making pies quite easy. Or course she had all kinds of cans of pie fillings in her pantry and fresh baking apples were always hanging around. You could never tell when an emergent need for an apple pie might arise. There was nothing so bad as a good pie could not fix. If we were to get invaded, my Mom would fix the problem with a pie. So as mom is single handily whipping up this unplanned dinner for 20 people, she of course baked up six pies. My mother’s specialty was pies, she was not so good with cakes, but she reigned supreme in pies. So when it came time for the desert, the first person she served could not make up his mind, so he said he would like a sliver of all six pies. I don’t remember who the guest was, but Mom agreed to do it. This was a shocker, because this went against all pie eating etiquette. It turned out to be a mistake, because everyone wanted the same thing. Somehow she managed to cut all six pies into 20 slices. Everybody thought this was the greatest thing. Mom was in her glory that night. She was always at her happiest when she was feeding people. I am not sure why she didn’t open up a family oriented restaurant.

My Aunt and the Plumber’s Crack

While I have mentioned the campground Fish Creek Pond in my memoirs a few times, I have not mentioned Macomb Reservation State Park. This was my Aunt Barbara’s favorite campsite because not only was it close to her house, it was dirt cheap as well. Being that we lived close to the Canadian border, our families had several Canadian friends. One family in particular was a nice childless couple that for some reason enjoyed my Aunt Barbara’s company. I remember the man’s name was John but I, for the life of me, can’t remember his wife’s name. The only problem with John was that he was obese and he a had chronic plumber’s crack. Well, after camping with John and his wife on several occasions my aunt could not take it any longer. When the event took place he was bent over building a fire, showing his now all too famous trademark butt crack. This time my aunt being as clueless as a bag of rocks did not ignore it. So she snuck up behind him with an evil look on her face and took a stick lying on the ground and stuck it in his butt crack. You could have heard a pin drop. We were all speechless. None of the family could believe that she had done such a heinous thing. Well, good old John never said a word. He quietly stood up and took the branch out of his pants and proceeded to break camp. Him and his wife left without saying a word to any of us. They were never to be heard from again. So in my aunt’s typical fashion she tried to laugh it off and stated that he deserved it. Of course, she was in the wrong. If she would have had half a brain and common sense at all she would have talked to him in private about his butt. Instead she chose to embarrass him in public. It was a shame because they were really nice people and besides Aunt Barbara could ill afford to lose any friends, she just wasn’t that popular.

How My Boxing Career Got Started

After my mother married my new stepfather I was enrolled into “Peyton Place Elementary”. My mother was hated because everybody in town thought that she was wealthy. We after all were living in the largest house in the town, the West House which was located right on a lake. So this hatred was transferred to her closest living relation… ME. How fair was that?

You would think that a 7-year old boy would be off limits to the attentions of a rabid town like this. Well, you would be wrong! The kids at school made my life a living hell. Even the bus driver took a great deal of glee in driving by our house making me chase after the school bus till his next stop. Many times I would stand with the neighbor’s kids at their stop so that I wouldn’t miss the school bus. Remember I said we lived in a big house with a really big yard. Well, the whole neighborhood was like this. So the bus stops were spread out quite a bit. Many times my mother had to drive me to school. This is also a good time to remind you of the fact that my father had just bought his dream car before he died. Well, you can imagine what he bought. It was the damn biggest car in the world. The only car bigger was the Cadillac Seville. Our car was just one step below this, the Pontiac Bonneville. It was almost 20-feet long and was gold-colored. So, you can imagine my mother taking me to school in this car. She might as well have placed the bullseye on my back herself.

Well, one good thing came out of this experience, my pugilistic skills improved. It also helped that I was a fat little kid with a lot of padding from all my winter insulation. For I was going to need all of these things to survive our daily recess periods. Every day I would get set upon by at least 6 or more bullies and get a royal thumping. I managed to occasionally get in a few licks but I mostly ended up crawling into a ball and riding out the storm. Finally, the beating would stop when either they got tired or the school bell rang ending the break. Of course, it would take time for me to compose myself so that I could go back into class. Which meant that I was late getting back every time. This would result in some form of punishment by either the teacher or the principal. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one going in late, so I had company. If I was too late I would get paddled by the Principal. So, I guess it wasn’t enough that I got the shit kicked out of me by six or more kids daily, I needed an additional thumping from an angry adult as well. Let me tell you, he did not use his hand, he had a wooden paddle. This wonderful cycle went on for a few months. You may ask, why I never told my parents? I was just too proud and stubborn.

So how did it all stop, you may ask? My aunt’s older son Gary who was in the local junior high school heard of what was going on. That started the process rolling. The problem was now where do I go to school? So we had to say “Goodbye” to that magnificent house on the lake and we bought a small single wide trailer and put it closer to the school where my father was teaching. We basically moved to the next town over. So my boxing career went on hiatus until we moved to Florida.

Randy Gets High

When I was a young child, glue sniffing was not a thing. Our family, living a very sheltered life, of course, never heard of the effects that model glue could have on you. So, building models in my closet seemed like a good idea. What could go wrong, you ask? Initially, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary until I started having these crazy dreams where my wallpaper patterns became alive and started attacking me. I, being a young boy, absolutely loved dinosaurs and had dinosaur patterned wallpaper, too cool, huh? That is until I started hallucinating and I was being eaten alive by T-Rex. It became a real problem when my mother found me all rolled up in a cocoon of my blankets and wedged in between the wall and my bed. I was just lying there whimpering, quite a pitiful site. I had tried to get away from the dinosaurs and had fallen out of bed and was stuck fast there. So, my new father being a science teacher started investigating what could be causing the problem. He went through all my toys and eventually worked his way to my models. He took a one whiff of my model glue and knew immediately what must have caused the problem. They, afterwards made me use Elmer’s glue for the longest time until they could find a safe alternative. By the way, Elmer’s glue doesn’t work very well as my models always fell apart. So, being the trendsetter that I was, I started the whole glue sniffing craze in the 70s and 80s.

Randy Becomes an Opera Singer

Even though my mother had remarried, we continued doing family-oriented trips as long as we still lived in New York. On this particular trip, it was our first outing as a new family. Needless to say, thanks to his gregarious nature and personality, he was a hit with our extended family. He fit just like an old glove. The reason I mentioned this particular outing was twofold: firstly, I learned how to play horseshoes. Not only was it my first time playing this game, it was the last time I played it. Go figure. It was also the last time we did a big family camp outing for quite some time. This trip was also of note because it was the first time I had to pay for hot water in a shower, and I learned that I had a new found skill in singing. Well, let me give you a piece of advice never let your hot water get timed out in a mountain campground. So, of course, you guessed it, the water for both of us ran out at the same time. I think we could have both tried out for soprano in the local opera. To get one thing straight, while my new father hit some pretty high tones, I was the star here. My vocal cords were younger and I could hit much higher pitches. Holy crap… that water went from nice and warm to instant ice cubes in no time flat. Any and all dangling body parts were immediately absorbed by our bodies. Of course, it happened when were both lathered up with soap and shampoo and neither one of us had any more money to put in the coin dispenser. So we just had to tough it out and shiver our way through the rest of the shower. My goosebumps were at least a half inch high by the time I was fully rinsed off.

A joke about the Sahara Desert & Camels as told by my Sister Regina

An international adventurer decided that he wanted to cross the Sahara desert. So he traveled to Africa and visited one of the small towns that bordered the world’s largest desert. He had already decided that he wanted to travel across the desert in the traditional manner and that was by camel. So he went to a well-known keeper of camels that not only rents camels but sells them as well. Since the adventurer had no immediate plans to come back that way, he opted to purchase a camel. This adventurer was wordly and wise in the way of travel, so he knew what questions to ask the salesman. The most important question he asked him was if the camel could get him across the desert without water. The salesman said that he gave his word. He stated that all of his camels can and have made it across the desert many times. So on that note, he with a light heart bought the camel and the supplies that he would need to get across the desert. As a second thought he asked the salesman how many days would it take to cross the desert, unequivocally he stated his camels make it in 14 days. So our intrepid adventurer takes off the next day and everything is going as planned. He has plenty of supplies and is in no distress. The camel appears to be strong and healthy. However, as the 13th day began to come to a close, the camel collapsed and promptly died. There was no warning from the camel. Well the adventurer was perplexed and quite preturbed. He, however, being a serious adventurer was in no major distress because he knew that he had enough supplies and water to make it out of the desert since he only had one more day to go. But now he had no choice but to go back to that village and give the camel salesman a piece of his mind. So when his travels brought him back that way he looked up the salesman. He accused him of selling an inferior animal. The salesman asked him what happened? The adventurer told him that his camel died on the 13th day…one day shy of crossing the desert. The camel salesman asked him if he had bricked the camel? The adventurer said what the hell is that? The salesman said that when the camel is just about to finish up drinking all the water that he can hold you take two bricks and bash his testicles between the bricks. The adventurer was simply aghast by this abuse. The salesman did not seem to mind his outrage at all. The adventurer asked why he would do something like this. The salesman said it was quite simple as he is taking his very last drink, the extreme pain caused by the bricking makes the camel to take a deep inhalation and as a result takes in extra water that he would normaly not drink. This extra water gives him the ability to survive the 14th day. I never said it was a great joke. Just because you booed and hissed at that joke, I am going to make you suffer through one more of her jokes.

A joke about a prized pig as told by my sister Regina

This is about a pig farmer who year after year entered his best pig in the county fair only to get beat by his neighbor. Frankly, he was getting tired of losing. His neighbor’s pig was always just a little bigger and rosier in color. Finally he came up with an idea on how to make his pig grow in size. So he worked out his plan in secret. He went to the hardware store and bought a bag of assorted corks, afterall he had no idea on how big the cork would have to be to do the job. He also bought an awl to punch a hole through the cork and some string as well. So he went back to his farm and he went culling through all of his best pigs until he found one that was sure to win. He took all of his corks and prepared them with strings. He then went to his workshop and got a big rubber mallet. He then got his pig and grabbed his tail and gave his rectum a good looking over. He decided that he would have to use his biggest cork. He knew he was going to need some help, so he grabbed his son to hold the pig down. He then lifted his tail and pounded that cork right up that pig’s ass. The string dangled a little from the cork but it was not visible to anything but a very close examination. Besides who is going to look at a pig’s rectum. So two weeks later, he entered the contest and much to his joy he won the contest easily. The judges said they never saw such a pig in their lives.

Now the farmer was in a bit of a quandary. He knew that he had a real problem on his hands. He sure as hell did not want to be the one who pulled out that cork, and since he had not raised a simpleton, his son refused to pull it out as well. So he did some pondering and that is when he came up with an idea. He remembered that there was a panhandler at the fair who had a trained monkey. So he tracked down the performer and offered to hire his monkey for a couple of weeks since there were no fairs planned for that time, he readily agreed. So now he had to train the monkey to pull out the cork. So he drilled a couple of holes in the back of his barn and put his spare corks in the holes and he had the monkey practice pulling out the corks. Well, the monkey was already fairly intelligent, so it did not take him more than a couple of days to get it right.

So now he sets the time for the monkey to pull out the cork, he knows that he has to do it right away because the pig is starting to display some distress. So he whispers in the monkey’s ear giving him instructions and he sends him in to the barn with the pig and closes the barn door. He then goes around to the back of the barn where he has previously drilled the training holes and takes a peek to see if the monkey had did as instructed . All he could see was that poor monkey trying to put that cork back into the pig’s ass. Ok, I think I have made you suffer enough. That will teach you to make fun of my families jokes.

The Tiger By The Tail

You may recall that my sister had a little boy, who I named all too appropriately as Hellboy. They had just came back from their two years of stay in Europe and were living with us before they went to her husband’s next base out West. Her young devil spawn was still quite the hell raiser. Only he was soon to finally meet his match. We had a house cat named Princess who was mild mannered and loved to be petted and to cuddle. So, when the following events transpired, we were all caught off guard and quite speechless. Even now over 40 years later, her son now fully grown with grandchildren of his own can still laugh at it. He has turned into quite a successful man and our family is quite proud of him. Well, ever since they had gotten back to Florida, he had been teasing poor Princess. Nothing too overt, otherwise Mom would have stepped in and stopped it. Her cats were everything to her. Well, it appeared that Hellboy had pushed Princess’ last button. They were both under the kitchen table when we heard this loud hiss from Princess and a blood curdling howl from Hellboy. Of note, all our cats had their front paws declawed and were quite harmless. Princess, nonetheless had taken a swipe at him, and then proceeded to chase him around the table and all of the kitchen chairs. He was blubbering and bawling all at the same time. He truly was quite terrified. Princess would just not give up. Of course, our family being such a loving and caring family just started laughing and cheering on the cat. Finally, poor Princess got tired of chasing Hellboy and simply pranced off with her tail held high. As she walked off, she gave Hellboy who was now quaking in the arms of his mother, one last parting look and a hiss for good measure. Princess…one and Hellboy…zero.

Rocky and Apollo Creed Re-match

Being your typical kid, I enjoyed any opportunity that afforded us the chance to get out of the classroom and into the fresh air. On this particular trip, we went by bus. I don’t remember too much about where we went or what we did because I had this very irritating boy sitting behind me on both legs of the bus ride. We had assigned seats in the bus to make roll call more efficient and accurate, so I was stuck. He kept harassing me both rides by “thwapping” my ears with his fingers. By the end of the day, my ears nor I could not take it any longer. I am not sure why he thought I was a pushover or someone who could be trifled with. But needless to say, he had ruined my road trip completely. But as you should know by now, I always manage to get my pound of flesh. So, as the day finally came to an end and we pulled up to the school. I prepared to exact my revenge. Thank god, it was a Friday, so I did not have to see him the next day. So, when the bus pulled up to the school and as we all started standing up to leave, you did not stand up till it was your turn to walk out of the bus, all orderly-like. When I stood up, I turned around and without saying a word simply punched him in the mouth. I had 8 hours of pent up rage in me, so I hit him with everything I had. His head bounced against the back of the seat he was sitting in and his mouth immediately started bleeding. Without saying a word, I turned around and walked out of the bus and for a change, my mother was on time and was waiting for me. The kid ran up the front of the bus crying and yelling and spitting up blood. The teachers tried to stop me as I walked by. One of the chaperones said I was going to have to go and see the principal. I never did even when I went back to school on Monday. The whole matter was simply dropped. Even the parents did not cause a ruckus. While his two front teeth were loosened up some, they did not require any dental work. Apparently, after investigating the event, the school realized that while they did not condone my retribution, it was well-deserved. Chalk one up for the good guys. That bully never bothered me after that. When our paths would cross he simply went the other way. Needless to say, my reputation was enhanced for the rest of the year. Nobody messed with me. I was kind of like when Ralphie beat up the bully in “The Christmas Story.”

Run, Randy, Run!

At an early age I realized one thing, I was flat out faster than most of my classmates in running. You may ask what happened at the end of second grade? Well, that doesn’t count, I was loaded down with all my school treasures. You would be surprised how much you accumulated in one year of elementary school. Throughout my life, this ability would come in handy. It helped me chase down school buses in the third grade for one thing. I truly did not know empirically how fast I was or how I rated respectively until I went up against the fastest kid at a local elementary school. I believe everybody has a skill or superpower. My stepfather was finding people to put us up on trips. It seemed that we were always parking our Winnebago at some stranger’s house on our trips. This trip was certainly no exception. I don’t remember where we were except that I remember getting up at god awful times in the middle of the night to go out fishing on bridges and stuff. My father’s friends had a young man child that I became quite friendly with. One thing he liked to do was run. So we would run around his yard like a bunch of damn fools for what seemed like days on end. What I noticed was that I always beat him. His father said I must be fast because he was the fastest runner at his elementary school. So, joy of joys, I was finally good at something. I started this particular story this way for a reason. I wanted to explain why it always seemed like I was running in my stories. I guess the answer is I liked to run and apparently, I was pretty good at it. So this brings me to the reason for this story. I, being a catholic of sound mind and soul had to go to religious school. I remember that it was on Monday evenings and the school was about 2 miles from our house. On this particular night, the priest had to cut the class short because he had to go perform the last rites for some poor soul. So, as I mentioned everybody has at least one superpower. My mother had two powers, for brevity’s sake I will only mention one right now. She had a knack for always being late. As she had never worked at an organized job before, just housekeeping where she worked on her own schedule. She also never liked wearing a watch. Frankly, I don’t know how well she even told time. When she would pick me and my friends up after we watched a movie at the local theater, she was always at least an hour late. To make sure we did not miss the start of the movie we wanted to watch, I had to lie and tell her it started earlier than it did. So now, I was in a bit of a quandary, do I call my mother and ask her to pick me up early and risk not seeing her until sunrise the next day or do I just bite the bullet and run the 2 miles to our house?

You guessed it, I opted to run home. Well, what happened would have made Carl Lewis for my older readers and Usain Bolt for my younger readers proud. I was minding my own business and running at a nice relaxed pace on the edge of the road when out of the corner of my eye, I saw two silent black figures cutting across the yard. They were coming right for me. I felt like I was in a Magnum PI show, yep, they were Doberman Pinschers…fully grown ones to boot. Well, I let out a howl and I lit the afterburners. I swear, smoke was coming out of my ass. I think I looked like I was in a funny movie scene where everything is speeded up. I was going that fast. I was weaving in and out of traffic, and it did not matter if it was oncoming or not, those damn hell hounds followed my scrawny ass. After running for at least 20 miles, the dogs finally gave up and went home to look for easier pickings and maybe chew on the last victim. Thank god for all the running I had been doing. A lesser mortal would have been nothing but a Scooby snack for those demon dogs.

How much shit can one take?

Well, my brother Robert had finally moved out and started his family. While we had already moved to Florida by this time, Robert had not followed us there yet. Every summer, Mom and Dad would drag me up to visit our family in New York. We had this great motor home and all it ever saw was the back side of their houses. What would my wild and crazy parents do, you may ask? Play cards. They would drive 1,300 plus miles to play cards. So, I would sit in the motor home and read from sun up to sun set. Some summer vacation. The only fun I would have was when it was time to visit Robert. Well, if you could call it fun, he always put me to work. Well, this particular time, he wanted me to shovel pig shit into a wheelbarrow and roll it down this 45-degree hill and dump it into another pile. I have no idea why I was moving pig shit from a pile at the top of the hill to a pile at the bottom of the hill. But I did what I was told. I was just a stupid tall skinny kid. Hell, the empty wheelbarrow weighed more than I did. I don’t see anything wrong with this picture, do you? Nah, all I know was that something smelled really bad. So, I now have this wheelbarrow full of pig shit, and it weighed about 10,000 pounds. When I started moving the wheelbarrow down the hill it quickly picked up speed. You know how fast I was going down this hill? If there would have been a cop around, I would have got a speeding ticket. Well, my wheelbarrow started wobbling and going all over the damn place. The next thing I know was that I, and that damn wheelbarrow, are all tangled up and are rolling down the hill like a big brown snowball. Pig shit was flying all over the damn place. It was in my eyes, my nose and even my mouth. And it was all over that damn hill. The only place it was not was on that damn pile at the bottom of hill. So, after what seemed like an eternity, I finally came to a stop at the bottom. My brother finally came out to see what all the ruckus was and that was when he saw all the carnage. And after, he went back in and changed his drawers because he shit himself from laughing so much. He simply handed me a rake and said “Clean up the hill”. What the hell? I guess he remembered me punching him in the nuts.

Randy and newspapers don’t mix

So just when I stopped tasting shit whenever I saw something brown-colored, my brother Robert moved to Florida. As usual, he had some get rich scheme brewing. This one involved delivering newspapers. Well, in Florida with all the elderly citizens there, newspapers were big business. It seemed that all old people like to read newspapers. Being new on the delivery circuit, Robert got the shittiest route. The one where you had to hand deliver newspapers to condo’s. Thanks to store sales newspapers weighed the most on Thursdays and Sundays. So, of course that is when he needed my help. He was working two jobs, so he had to get the route finished quickly. So to make up as much time as possible we we ran the hand delivery part. We each had two big canvas bags full of papers slung crossway, so that they would balance each other. On Sunday, I think the two bags weighed more than I did. The stories I can tell you. You would be surprised on how many people were naked when they opened their doors to get their paper. Most of them just left me speechless. The contractor for these condos thought that drip chains were more attractive than drain spouts. The chains were painted black and were virtually invisible at night. Well, I was going 90 miles an hour carrying two bags full of Sunday papers when I cut the corner too tight and ran smack dab into the chain. Did I forget to tell that they were cemented into the ground? Well I went right through that chain like it wasn’t even there, and it pulled right out from the cement. I never stopped and just kept on motoring. Well, damned if my brother didn’t have to go back and re-cement that chain back into the ground. I give him credit he did not get mad. How could he, he barely paid me anything. Between helping him with his paper route and mowing lawns, I barely made a dollar an hour.

I should have ducked.

In all the years that my brother Robert had a driver’s license and owned a vehicle, there was something that either was broken or did not work properly on it. The blue station wagon he used for delivering papers was no different. On this car, the passenger door would not open without applying pressure on the outside door panel so it would open up. Try doing this when the vehicle was going 10 miles an hour. That was the speed he went when he ran his newspaper route. I sat on the passenger side and threw papers out on that side while he threw them on the driver’s side. This way he only had to go down each road once. He just drove down the middle of the residential neighborhood’s road this way. It was three o’clock in the morning, so we basically owned the road. Well, I didn’t know the route that well and every once in a while I would throw the paper to the wrong house or the paper would slide under a bush. So, the customer couldn’t see the paper. He only had a few extras so we had to make sure we did it right and so, I would have to get out of the car. My brother at least would stop to let me out, but he would immediately start driving again, so I would have to chase after his damn car. Well, it was a bitch to try and open the door. So, I thought I would be smart and simply dive through the window as the car is rolling down the road. Well, I jumped too high and hit the top of the door frame. The only noise I made was a moan as I crumpled into a ball and fell to the ground. Well, my brother being the loving and caring brother that he was, stopped about 50 feet down the road and finally backed up when I did not immediately get up, to see if I was alright. I, of course, had quite a knot on my forehead and was still seeing stars when I finally was able to get back in that damn car of his. He had a good laugh at my expense and continued delivering his papers. So much for brotherly love. He still could be pissed off about the punch to his nuts? Nah.

Bug spray tastes like shit.

Anybody living in Florida in the summer months can’t deny that we hade a mosquito issue. Well, in the 70s and 80s, they used to have bug spraying trucks drive around and spray residential areas to reduce this irritating problem. It was working so well that it pissed off the environmentalists. So, they first reduced the spraying and then finally stopped it all together. It has been 20 years since I lived in Florida, so I don’t know if they restarted it or not. But needless to say, it was still going full bore at the time my brother used to deliver newspapers. So one night, we are minding our own business and driving like maniacs trying to deliver 1,000 newspapers in 30 minutes. Of course, my brother’s car did not have a working A/C, are you seeing a pattern here? As a result, not only were the two front windows open for missile launching, the rest of the windows were open too. So, as we are making a right hand turn at an intersection on 2 wheels, and the bug spraying truck comes down another road and dumps about 500 gallons of bug spray right into our station wagon. You thought I was going to exaggerate, didn’t you? I know my brother’s car was a piece of shit but we weren’t infested, for God’s sake. We immediately drove onto a neighbor’s front yard and came to an abrupt stop after tearing up half the yard when we proceeded to cough up our lungs for about two hours. Once we finished expelling all the toxins from our respiratory tract, we started laughing so hard that we actually started having our eyes tear up, which seemingly helped to rinse our eyes out as well. By the way, men don’t cry…their eyes water due to irritants and pollutants in the air. FYI, if you are looking for a new perfume or mouth wash, bug spray is not suitable for either of these purposes. It tastes like shit and not yummy like pig shit.

Well, enough of my brother Robert’s and my experiences for a while. So, I will take a slight tangent and discuss one of my peculiar hobbies when I was a teenager.

Hornets Make Poor Pets

Did I tell you that my parents were poor? No, I think you are lying. I am sure I told you this little fact already. So, I had to come up with ways to entertain myself on the cheap. OK, guys get your mind out of the gutter, will you? I decided that it would be fun and all too appropriate to collect insects. Seeing how Florida had a greater biomass related to insects than it did to mammals and humans. And besides, we had our own private rainforest in our back yard. See, how everything ties in together? So, I made my own butterfly net and used jars, of course, were cheap. My father had turpentine, so I had the ingredients for a killing jar as well. My dad, being a science teacher also had access to a lot of extra junk that was suitable for displaying said insects. I would spend hours out there collecting insects. One thing I notice is that, it was hard to catch winged insects, except for butterflies…they were pretty slow at flying. A new product had just came out about this time called hornet spray. It could spray a deadly stream of bug toxins up to 15 feet. Too cool, I was the Steven Seagal of insect collecting. No insect was safe, neither was any bird or low flying plane as well. Damn, that shit was powerful. Well, being that this is my story, you must know there is going to be something bad happening soon. If you have been entranced by my memoirs, you will know that I wear glasses. So, I am out one hot and sultry afternoon decimating the flora and fauna in my rainforest, when out-of-nowhere I got hit by what felt like a baseball bat to my right temple. Not only did I get hit once, it was repeated several times. So, being any red blooded American boy I proceeded to act in an orderly fashion by running around in circles, swinging my arms and howling at the top of my lungs. Eventually, as you can well imagine I soon was blinded because my windmill routine dislodged my glasses and they went flying to god only knows where. Immediately, the pain stopped. Well, that damn hornet had gotten lodged between my glasses and my forehead and proceeded to sting the hell out of me. Well, being totally f–king blind I knew I would never be able to find my glasses. So, I stumbled out of my rainforest tripping and falling all the damn way back home. By the the time I got back to safety, I was a perfect Quasimodo stand-in for the local Hunchback of Notre Dame play. Since I did not have a pair of backup glasses, and to this day, I still do not have a backup pair…my only backup is my swim goggles. So, my poor father had to go out and look for my glasses. After searching for what seemed like an eternity and when I had all but given up any hope that he would be successful, I heard a loud “Eureka!”. I was so grateful that he had finally found them because I know I would be back to those black plastic nerd glasses again. But just as he said this, I heard this loud howl which was followed immediately by a loud thrashing that reminded me of an elephant stomping through a jungle but only faster and louder. The next thing I saw was my father flying through my forest with arms flailing all around him and with a look of absolute agony on his face. So, now the local play had two understudies for the role of Quasimodo. Apparently, he found the hornets nest because they had been holding my glasses for me. Needless to say, this ended my insect collecting days. Randy Zero – Insects One. Hornets definitely make poor pets and besides they have no sense of humor.

Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it is a good deal–story about my brother Robert

I have written several stories that involved my brother Robert in my memoirs, however, the next couple of stories will be predominantly about him and his unique form of adventures. Apparently I am not the only one in this family who has weird stuff happen to them. Hell, maybe my family is cursed or maybe they we are blessed depending on how you look at it. We did after all survive each one of these adventures with barely a scratch. This story is about my brother’s first car. He eventually bought and sold so many cars that the county where he lived in said that if he made any more purchases of cars that he would have to get a dealer’s license. My brother worked harder than any man alive so that he would not have to work for another person. He could not stand anyone telling him what to do. He finally did spend the later years of his life being self- employed.

My brother was not the studious type. While my eldest brother Ronald took Latin as an elective, Robert took shop. His first car was his shop project. It was not in the shop for motor repair but body work. Though after I finish this story you will wonder why he didn’t take advantage of the shop time to work on the motor. I remember that the car had more primer and Bondo resin than actual side panels. Well, he only paid a couple of hundred dollars for the car, so you get what you pay for. I know he spent more money on the tires and rims than he did on the car. Not only did it look like a clown car with all of its various colors, it sounded like a Mack truck and it spewed out smoke like a coal burning train. He never did finish the body work on the car or painting it a single color. This trend of not finishing what he started would follow him throughout his life. The rear tires were big wide mag tires and the car looked like a souped up race car though I don’t think the motor have enough power to barely turn the wheels. I expect the only reason my brother survived this particular incident was that its top speed was no more than 30 MPH.

My mother must have suspected that Robert’s car was a death trap because she would not let me ride in it. One thing you never had a problem telling when Robert was coming home or leaving because his car sounded like the car from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. So when Robert walked in the front door without the tell-tale smoke and raucous noise associated with his car we knew something was wrong. Not to mention he looked like he had just slept in a coal hopper. There wasn’t one square inch of skin that wasn’t either covered with grease or soot on his body. The only thing I can’t describe his condition was that of a chimney sweep. Of course, we all had to find out what the most recent Robert adventure was.

I found a car that looked like my brother’s car. Though this one is in better shape than his car.

There was a shortcut near our town that took us to a local Woolworth store which was a favorite haunt for the local teens. By the way, Woolworth is also where I had my first grilled cheese sandwich, Oh the Heaven! That’s when I first discovered the good life of gourmet food.

Back to my story…Unfortunately, many of the roads in the area were dirt and were full of potholes. It was one of these potholes that ended up being the death of Robert’s first car. When he hit a particularly deep pothole, the motor mounts on his car that were only held in place by rust gave out and the whole motor fell out of the car. Well, when a thousand pound object finds itself in front of a vehicle, that vehicle comes to a complete stop and it does so very quickly. It is a damn good thing that my brother’s car could not go very fast, or he would most likely have ended up pushing daisies. Of course, when the motor fell out of the car the fuel lines were severed and the whole thing caught on fire. So my brother’s car experienced a Viking funeral. Of course, he had no fire extinguisher so all he could do was watch his car turned into a charcoal briquet. Those big fat tires of his burned quite nicely. Too bad he did not have any marshmallows to roast. What a waste of a good fire.

Well, my brother never let any impediment stand in his way, went out and bought an even bigger piece of junk which will be the topic of the next story.

Don’t take a Volkswagen camper van on a windy causeway–story about my brother Robert

My oldest brother Ronald had recently bought a Volkswagen Bug which he dearly loved but a family car it was not. So he did not keep it for very long. Robert not wanting to be outdone by our big brother went out and bought a Volkswagen Bus which was not only the biggest piece of junk on the road, it was also probably the most dangerous one as well. It was powered by one of the smallest motors imaginable. The only reason that it could drive at all was that it was so light. I think four strong guys could pick one up.

Here is a Volkswagen Bus that closely resembles Robert’s bus.

You can still buy one today. You just can’t kill them. My brother thought that this bus would make a great camping vehicle. So he loaded it up with all kinds of cabinets and stuff which made it somewhat heavy. So now it might actually take a fifth person to pick it up. It, however, was still quite light and even more top heavy. With the increased weight the motor sounded like a gas weed eater revving up. Compared with my brother’s previous “dragster” it could actually “motor” and could hit 50 MPH going down hill.

After Robert finished fixing up the van he thought it would be nice to take Doreen, his new bride on its maiden voyage to camp on Lake Ontario. I am not sure exactly where he went but I know that he said that there was a causeway that he had to cross to get to where the camping was. Needless to say, they never made it to the campsite. For that matter, the Volkswagen never made it back to the house. I frankly don’t know where my brother gets his ideas to do things. He must have known that his bus was top heavy and light to begin with. He also must have known that the this causeway was known for its strong crosswinds. Knowing all these things, he decided to go on this road trip nonetheless. Well, I am sure you can tell what happened. Yep, he ended up in the ditch. A strong gust of wind hit his van and lifted it up right off the road and dumped it on its side. It is lucky that he did not make it a little further on the causeway because he could have ended up in the lake. He might not have survived that accident.

Well, even though they were able to salvage the bus, Doreen refused to ever ride in it again and they immediately traded it to some other knucklehead. I want you to know that this in no way ended my brother’s vehicular adventures. Unfortunately, I don’t have the details of them.

Don’t live at the end of a T in the road as told by Robert

You may ask how this story fits with the narrative, well I will tell you. The events as I will establish took place in my brother’s neighborhood, and he is the reason that we even have this story. On one of our outings and as we came to a stop at the stop sign at the end of the “T”, he recounted this story to me. Since it was told by my brother, the details may be somewhat suspect. I can testify to the fact that I am faithfully retelling this story as it was told to me. I further, apologize for the crude drawing. I am sure that you can get what I am trying to say with it though. This will be a brief telling because frankly, I am sure you can tell what happened without me even saying anything. First of all, the left side of the T is the road that my brother Robert lived on, so you know there is going to be some drama associated with the area. He just seems to attract all kinds of shit. The house at the end of the T was inhabited by a nice elderly couple, or at least it was. Frankly, I don’t know how they lived in that house as long as they did without any mishaps taking place.

This particular occurrence took place after 1:00 AM in the morning. A driver had just left the corner bar and was wending his way home. In his inebriated state, he plowed right through the stop sign and smashed into the bedroom where the elderly couple was sleeping. He hit the outside wall so hard that he went right on through the cinder block wall. The bed was positioned with its headboard against the front outside wall. So the car not only crashed through the wall, it hit the bed as well. Thank God, the momentum was reduced to a great extent by the outside wall, so all it did was push the queen-sized bed across the bedroom and into the opposite wall. The bed was not crushed and the sleepers were in no way harmed. It was a miracle that they were not killed. The driver only suffered a few scratches. However, the elderly couple moved out of the house the next day, never to return. Even though the county placed several cement barricades at the end of the T in the road, they just did not feel safe living there any more.

Things you shouldn’t do under a waterfall.

My family, besides being absolutely crazy were pretty normal and as a result, we liked family get- together’s. Since we liked the outdoors, our activities revolved on parks and local watering holes. This park was in Georgia and was a favorite haunt of, you guessed it, my brother Robert. It was a headsprings for one of the rivers near his house. It had a really cool waterfall and all kinds of cool little soaking areas with crystal clear water. In this particular event, Robert was there with his four kids and my Sister Regina was there with her spouse and two kids. I was also there with Mom and Dad. I believe Robert also had a couple of abused kids staying at his house as well. My brother while he had a small bank account, had a big heart and was always taking in strays…human and animal alike. I swear he was like Dr. Doolittle, he made pets out of all types of animals, from raccoons, woodchucks and even squirrels. But I digress, so back to my Sister. My sister thought it would be nice and refreshing to go and stand under the waterfall. I can hear my readers yelling right now, “No Regina, no Regina, not the damn waterfalls”. Did I mention to you that my sister was wearing a two piece bathing suit, and my brother-in-law was not wearing a proper bathing suit at all, just a loose fitting pair of running shorts with no draw string. He was very prime and proper and did not like how he looked in baggy swim trunks. So, you don’t have to be a brainiac to know that their plan was ill-fated from the start. First of all, the waterfall was only slightly smaller than the Niagara Falls. So, all was going well with them both standing under the falls. They must have instinctively knew that the water was coming down very hard, so they were holding up their suits. My sister had the bright idea that she wanted a photo of them standing under the falls. So, no sooner than she started shouting and waving her damn hands to get our attention, then shit started to hit the fan. Of course, she had done a wonderful job getting our attention, because we were now all turned towards her when the following events transpired. When she had raised her hands to wave to us not only did her top come off, her bottoms did as well. Her husband immediately saw the problem and jumped in front of her in an attempt to cover her up. Too late, the whole family got an eye full. But we are not done here. So, with her husband being preoccupied with maintaining my sister’s modesty, his hands were not where they were most desperately needed. You guessed it, down went his swim shorts. Well, after we all had a great big laugh, brother Robert grabbed two towels and went in and covered them both up. The children eventually found the swim attire in the pool. My sister and her husband though, good sports, were very embarrassed. So, ended one of our most memorable family outings.

Aunt Barbara in Mexico

My Aunt Barbara and her husband Uncle Clifford came to visit us. My aunt had never been to Mexico, so we all decided to go there. With our Florida schools being on a year-round schedule, we had three weeks off after every quarter, so I just happened to be off from school. So we packed up our trusty Winnebago…yep, we still had it and went to Mexico. Not only did it rain almost every day while we were in Mexico, our little motor home was broken into by Mexican criminals. All he managed to get from us was a really crappy portable radio that was maybe worth $5 and in return he left the heel of one of his shoes behind when he jumped out the back of the RV. Our early return surprised him because he was not finished riffling through our motor home. We had gotten lost looking for the local church. Well, my crazy ass Uncle Clifford tore off after him down the street hoping to accomplish what I know not. Well, my Aunt Barbara of the crappy meat and snoring fame, who was never at a loss for words started hollering at him to stop chasing the rapidly vanishing criminal. So he thankfully came to his senses and stopped chasing him and came back to our RV. Even though no real harm was done except for a cut screen in the back window and, of course, the loss of our nearly worthless radio, my Aunt refused to spend another minute in Mexico. So we had to immediately drive back out of the country. So we basically had just driven over a 1,000 miles for nothing. Needless to say, there was a great deal of frost in the old Winnebago on the way back to Florida. Not surprisingly, it so happens that Aunt Barbara and Uncle Clifford were never invited on another road trip. They did, however, come back to visit one more time when they helped take care of the paperwork necessary to place good old Gramps into a nursing home. My mother and Aunt Barbara, of course, were at odds on his being placed in one at all. She really had no right to criticize us because she never once offered to take care of him. This was the final straw, and as a result they never talked again. You should know by now, my mother could carry a grudge like nobody’s business. So it should come as no surprise to the reader that she never even went to my aunt’s funeral.

Gramps in a Tree

When Gramps first moved to Florida he stayed with us year round. This lasted for several years. Then Aunt Theolus volunteered to take care of him for the next several years. I remember our Mother asking her several times if she was sure, and Uncle Laverne chimed in that they were sure. So when my parents bought a new mobile home they only bought one with two bedrooms so that they could get one with a larger living area instead. Well, you bet that my mother was pissed beyond belief when he came back to live with us a few years later. Well, the next two stories occurred when Gramps was living up North with his daughter Theolus.

Gramps was not much of a drinker, however, when he’s with his son-in-law Laverne he would match him with his drinking. I actually think he liked to get him drunk on purpose. I am sure that you will recall that Gramps was impulsive and had quite the stubborn streak as well. Well, on one occasion, these two traits and his drinking almost ended in disaster. However, one thing is true about Gramps, he was always lucky when it came to really bad things that could happen, he just skated right through them. I think his deceased wife, Cecelia was his guardian angel. Uncle Laverne told him not to take his car home but he refused and went out anyway. Back then, there was no law to prevent drunk drivers from driving. Bartenders were not held responsible at that time either. I know one thing, his guardian angel must have been working overtime on this one. The road back to their house was a dangerous one with lots of windy turns and sheer drop-offs. Well, Gramps made it through several of the turns until he came to the only one on the route that had a massive tree jutting out on the side of the cliff. Well, guess where the emergency services and tow truck found my grandfather in the morning? You guessed it, his car was wedged in the branches of the tree with a fair amount of his car hanging off the cliff. He was sound asleep, sitting in the driver’s seat, not a scratch on him and the car was barely dinged up. The tree had saved his life.

Gramps and the Stool Softener

When Gramps moved back up north to live with Aunt Theolus and Lavern, our mother gave exacting instructions on his medication. He had quite a regimen of meds, some were daily, some for PRN or as needed only. The instructions described which ones he was supposed to get every day. My uncle said that he had this…no problem, Gramps was in good hands. Well, if you just read the previous story about the tree, you will know that this was a lie. We did not find out about this story until several years went by when we went up north to visit them and Gramps had long since moved back in with us. The story kind of came out in bits and pieces. As back words as they were, they never put two and two together as to why Gramps was having the problems that he was having. They told us about the event before they told us about the cause.


They lived in a typical farmhouse which had one bathroom and that was downstairs. There was only one bedroom downstairs and that was Aunt Theolus’s and Uncle Laverne’s room. Gramps slept upstairs. Certainly not the optimal place for him. Well, one night poor Gramps was taken with severe abdominal pain and what was soon to become uncontrollable diarrhea. Gramps slept in his boxer briefs and a white A-shirt which resembles a muscle shirt. Boxer briefs cover the anatomy but they do nothing to contain excrement or urine for that matter. Even though Gramps was racing like hell he stood no chance to make it down that very narrow and long stairwell. Gramps, let her rip about the third step down and continued all the way down the stairs into the living room. For some reason, Uncle Laverne was sleeping upstairs, I think some of his daughters were sleeping over and they were sleeping with their mother. So, he heard the commotion and for some reason did not turn on the light either. Gramps simply did not have the time. Uncle Laverne was simply too groggy with sleep. So, he started walking down the stairs when he hit a slick spot on the third step and down he went the rest of the stairs sliding in the poop all the way down those narrow stairs. When he finally came to a stop at the bottom and he was able to regain his footing and he finally managed to stand without slipping again, he turned on the light at the bottom of the stairway. Of course, by this time he was fully awake when he saw the “poonami” that was his stairway and living room and the fact that he was also covered in it. All the previous days half digested food came up in a volcanic eruption which easily put Mt St Helen’s eruption to shame. To top it off, he couldn’t even hop in the shower right off because Gramps was busy shitting out last year’s Christmas dinner. Of course, the hollering and yelling and commotion that went on was enough to wake up half of the people in the funeral home down the road.


While sitting playing cards together one night, Uncle Laverne started bragging about how well they were taking care of Gramps. We knew this was BS because he had already let slip the effect part of the story. Uncle goes in his deep throaty manner where his neck bulges out right along with his eyes and says that he was giving Gramps all of his meds every day without fail. Mom asked him to repeat himself. She said all of his meds and he goes “yes” all of his meds. Mom goes, “You know there was a stool softener in their as well, and he says :Yah so?” Mom said, “Never mind, it is nothing.” Even after she brought it up to him he did not know what he had done. He had absolutely no idea what any of the medications that he gave Gramps were for. I guess paybacks are a bitch. Poor Gramps, it is lucky that he did not die from dehydration and electrolyte imbalance

Help, I have Fallen Asleep And I Can’t Move My Arms!

This story was told to me by one of my nephew’s Marty. I can neither confirm or deny the factuality of the events that transpired. All I can say is that supernatural forces were at play along with a demonic possession taking place, how else can you explain the facts. In this telling of the story I will do my utmost to blow it all out of proportion and make it unrecognizable to the participants, all in an effort to protect them from….. hell if I know…from something. The events took place on Halloween night, the parents of Stephen rented the Amittyville House because there house was being painted. Not really but it sounded good. They were actually at their farmhouse. But it sounds more scary the other way. Marty and Rene were sharing a room that was separated by a rickety walkway from their parents. Apparently they were suffering from heat stroke because they were sleeping in the au naturel. Marty and Rene were both apprehensive about sleeping so close to the portal of doom. The baying of the hell hounds kept them awake for a brief moment before the sleeping draught given to them by their evil grandmother, overcame their defenses. Out of nowhere, Rene let out a blood curdling scream and started repeating “REDRUM” over and over and flopping her arms around like if she was possessed. Marty immediately leapt from the bed to see what was the matter. Seeing his sister floating in the air, he let out a scream as well. Meanwhile, Regina wrapped in her flowing cape came to the rescue. She leaped over the yawning void that divided the rooms to see what was amiss. Meanwhile, the grandma also came racing up the five flight of stairs on her broom to rescue her beloved grandchildren who she was secretly planning on sacrificing in the morning. Fatigued from her harrowing journey she collapsed at the entrance of the room. The next thing that was heard was a plaintive cry, “Gina, Gina!”. Poor Stephen had no cape to protect himself from the supernatural forces. Meanwhile, grandpa was sleeping soundly in the dungeon below.

What really transpired no one knows for sure, but it could really have gone this way. Renee fell asleep on both her arms, I’ve got nothing on that one. When she woke up she could not feel her arms because they were numb, she panicked and started screaming, Marty as any supporting brother would do started screaming as well. The more the merrier. Regina and Stephen really were sleeping in the nude. When she jumped up, she took the sheets with her. Their grandmother raced up the stairs and almost passed out from the exertion. Grandpa did in fact sleep through all of it. When the dust settled, they all had a good laugh and went back to sleep. The end.

Which story is more fun? I let my case rest.

Who Shot Dallas’ J.R. Ewing?

What question was the burning question in the late 1970s and the early 1980s? It was not, did Robert Blake kill his wife, not Did OJ Simpson kill his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her supposed lover waiter Ron Goldman, and not how or why did Princess Dianna die? Of all the events that occurred during these two decades, and plots in television, past or present , what captivated audiences the most was who shot J.R. This most hated villain in prime time TV was played by Larry Hagman . It just goes to show you where our priorities lay. It is no small wonder why it has taken until the 2020’s for our country to start failing. But that is a story for another time. It just so happens that I was in the hospital with pneumonia when the secret was finally divulged on prime time TV. It remained the most watched TV episode of all time until it was finally eclipsed by the series ending episode of M*A*S*H which was aired in February 28, 1983. Of course, it did not live up to its hype but it was great anyway. I, being young and not unattractive and it didn’t hurt that I was watching Dallas, had every young nurse on my floor in my room watching this episode with me. Boy, was I in hog heaven. Ah, the simple pleasures. Spoiler alert, his wife Ellen’s sister Kristin who J.R. previously gotten pregnant, ended up being the one who shot him. You had to know that they weren’t going to knock off a main character. So it was a bit of a let down. I don’t think she was on anybody’s radar, either. Of course there was a lot of booing and hissing every time JR appeared on the small screen. It was really a lot of fun.

Gramps and the Suwannee River

When Gramps moved to Florida, he had slowed down a step or two, but he still wanted to be involved in the family activities. He was afraid of missing out on anything. My sister Regina lived and still does live in Lake City, Florida. There are two rivers close to where she lives, one is the world’s famous Ichetucknetnee River and Springs known for it’s crystal clear water and inner tube rides down the river and the even more famous Suwannee River, known for its canoeing. Well, my sister planned a family outing for us to go canoeing down the river. Of course, Gramps wanted to go. On this particular weekend both Regina and I distinctly remember that Ronnie and his family tagged along. This was a rare occasion and was probably the reason that they planned on having this trip to commemorate the occasion. So, Stephen and Regina planned out the trip with just the right number of canoes needed. He rented a trailer and canoes and had them all ready for us. He had life jackets and special chairs so you sit in them in the canoe. To make Gramps comfortable, he strapped a seat in the middle of one canoe and they did the same for our Mother in a second one. Well, let me tell you two things…neither my mother nor Gramps could swim. I will also tell you that my mother was terrified the whole time we canoed down the river. I think she left fingerprint marks in the canoe gunwales. Stephen was the most experienced canoeist, so he always took Mom in his canoe. The only time she relaxed at all was when we circled the wagons or in this case, canoes to get the goodies that Mom would dole out. She was forever feeding us. It never failed, no matter what the problem, Mom thought food would fix it. Gramps, on the other hand did not have a care in the world. He took to it like a duck takes to the water. He was instructed not to move and he followed those instructions to the letter. As a matter of fact, we had to drag the canoe up onto the shore with him firmly ensconced in his throne chair before he would step out of the canoe. One other thing of note was that my step father had a proclivity to tip over his canoes just for the fun of it. So nobody but my sister was willing to canoe with him. We also knew better than to load any of the food or other gear in the canoe. Sure enough, he flipped it over and both him and my sister took a dunk. He just thought it was the greatest. I know my sister was a little miffed but she didn’t let him know it. Such things memories are made of. Sadly, five of those people are no longer with us. Gramps, Ronnie, Edward, Rita and Stephen have all left us, and they all will be sorely missed.

Gramps and Racquetball

As I stated before, Stephen was an avid racquetball player. On one of our trips to visit Regina, he though it would be fun if the whole family went and played at the courts. Of course, other than Regina, none of us had a clue how to play. Edward was the only one that had any experience with a racket and that was a tennis racket. Mom took a few swats at the ball with Regina but she was so funny playing that neither one could stop laughing while they played. The more they laughed the more they both peed, so eventually we had to call that match for rain. LOL! Gramps played with Stephen. The poor guy did everything but hand him the ball. Picture this, if you can. My grandfather was wearing a jacket with a hat and his patented bedroom slippers, with cigarette firmly clenched in his stubby fingered left hand, taking one swing after another and getting nothing but air. He never once hit the ball. You could tell that he was really trying his best to hit the ball because he started puffing on his cigarette even harder, eventually Stephen had to stop before poor Gramps stroked out.

Don’t refinance your house 10 times–story about my brother Robert

If you have read my memoirs you are aware that my mother, stepfather and I moved to Florida in the early 70s. My brother Robert and his family followed us a few years later. Robert just never could seem to make a go of it in Florida despite trying several different career paths. One was delivering newspapers, another was moving lawns. When he first moved to Florida, he was still a Catholic, however, he and his wife became involved with born again Christians. Their leader bought a large track of land in Georgia to start a small community of his followers. Robert and Doreen decided to follow him there. Robert had a nice two to three acre lot on the side of a mountain. He built a very nice log cabin with seconds for a virtual song. Not only was his land paid for but his house was paid for as well. The problem was that he could not find suitable work. He tried working in a grocery store among other things. The problem was that work was hard to come by in the town in northern Georgia. All the best jobs went to the long timers who were either born there or had lived most of their lives there.

So he started following his typical plan by refinancing his house to buy different businesses. While 10 times was an exaggeration, three times was not. Finally his payments were so big that he could no longer make the monthly mortgage. He subsequently was forced to sell this house. I think this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. While Doreen did not leave him then, you could sense that she had almost reached her breaking point. She loved that log cabin. It truly was a nice house. They had busted their asses building it and fixing it up. They even had a small pond stocked with fish on it. So the point of this story is live within your means. No place is perfect, it just doesn’t exist. He finally did start to fit in but by then his health was ruined right along with his marriage. His children wanted nothing to do with him at the end.

Summer Road Trip From Hell Part II: Ronnie’s Turn

In a previous chapter, I discussed our parent’s road trip out west. I stated that it was the first part, well, here is the second part. This involves of a new generation of Landry’s with only Ronnie being the repeater. You have to give my brother credit…he had this trip all planned out. He had a travel trailer with every amenity known to man. His SUV had plenty of power to do the job but that is not the only thing that a vehicle needs to have to do this type of work. My brother had an old Chevy Blazer that weighed over 5,000 lbs. The problem arose in that it had virtually no wheel base and this provided for an incredibly bumpy ride, one that even broke the hitch. The only thing that saved the trailer were the trailer chains. They were quite lucky also in the location that it broke because there was a trailer and hitch repair shop not too far away. After a few hours, they were able to get their hitch welded and straightened out. The rest of the first day went without a hitch…haha as did a few more days as well. Unfortunately, the good luck did not continue. After stopping for lunch on the side of the road and as luck would have it, they forgot to lock the trailer door. As they were gaining speed they hit a pothole in the road, no “biggy”, right? Well, thanks to dumb luck, if not for it, it could have been even worse. They had to quickly make a right hand turn after they hit the pothole, and it just so happened that Ann Marie looked out of her side window and saw a big dog running across the field. Ricky shouts, “That’s our dog.” So immediately Ronnie pulls off the road and the two boys go running after the dog. They finally catch him after crossing two county lines and bring him back to the trailer where they make sure to lock the trailer door this time.

They continued on their trip for a few more weeks but the thrill has long since faded with each bounce of the truck. So after a consensus was reached, they shortened the trip and returned home before they had reached their planned upon destination. When Ronnie got home he promptly put his trailer up for sale.

Randy is Infested With Fleas and Discovers the Swamp Thing.

Ronnie, in his infinite wisdom hired me to keep his pool clean for him while he was gone the summer on his road trip out west. Prior to this job, what I knew about pools and maintenance would fit on the back of a bubble gum wrapper. Ronnie gave me instructions which I dutifully wrote down. He told me how long the bleach cannister would last, so the first week went by with no problem. I was enjoying life, I would clean the pool once a week, cycle it through its whatever the hell it is called and watch HBO on his TV. By the second week, I was not able to even stay in the house because apparently all the fleas from their dogs decided to stay in Florida for the summer and they all had babies. You could see the damn fleas jumping on the floor, it was like a “friggin” flea circus. I had bites all over my damn legs. Well, so much for that perk. HBO was now off limits. On the third week, God rained fire and brimstone from the heavens, so I thought. When I went to the backyard and found to my dismay, the pool was a pea soup green color. Great, I killed their F–king pool. Ronnie apparently hated me and lied to me about the cannister’s life span, or the summer beat the shit out of it. I called my stepfather up and he came over to the house to see what he could do to help. The only thing we could think of doing was to shock the pool. So we went to Walmart and bought 10,000 gallons of bleach and poured it into the pool. Well, that did the trick besides the fumes were so strong that I shocked two of my neighbors pools by osmosis alone. Once all the algae and, of course, the swamp creature now living in the pool all had died, the filters were all clogged up. So I had to clean them out and vacuumed the pool till my arms fell off. When my brother called and told me that he was coming home early I about had a heart attack. Because as of now I was already in hyperdrive, I somehow found another gear and kicked it up a notch. I made one more spot check on the pool the day before they were to arrive and the pool was sparkling, it looked better than I had ever seen it before. Guess what my sister-in-law did? She shocked the f–king pool before she let the kids swim in it. I was so pissed.

How I met My First Girlfriend

During my high school years, I became seriously sick on two occasions. Both times required lengthy hospital stays. On both occasions I also became close to my primary nurses. I know I am such a sap. However, I only followed through with one of these friendships. I developed strong feelings for a young Korean nurse. We dated for several months and there is no telling where our relationship would have gone if she had not moved back to live with her family. She had originally come to the US to pursue her nursing career, however, she became lonely and eventually left our fair country. I remember quite clearly on how we met the first time. Our first meeting will probably go down as the least romantic meeting of all time. It was around midnight and I was very weak and sick. I was having problems with my gastrointestinal track. I had just totally emptied my bowels all over the bed and I was so weak that I frankly didn’t care. I am not sure why this had happened because I originally came in with a kidney infection. The only thing I can think of was that I went septic and the antibiotics caused my stool to be loose. It only lasted for one day, thank God. At that time nurses worked 8-hour shifts so she had just finished getting report and was doing her initial rounds when she found me in my embarrassing state. I hadn’t hit the call light because I was just too weak to do so. So here I am, a 17-year male being totally cleaned up by this absolutely gorgeous Asian nurse. I was also thankful that I was as weak as I was because my impressionable friend did not become happy. I remember how soft her voice was and she was so gentle. She immediately put me at ease.

Since this was her first shift of the week, I got to spend the next four nights with her as my night nurse. On my last day I asked her if I could have her personal phone number and she said “yes”. We spent the next several months together but we unfortunately did not consummate our relationship. She was very conservative in her beliefs. I am sure if she had remained living in the US, we would have become much more serious. Who knows what my life would have been like. I did not date another Asian woman until I was in my early fifties. I eventually married a Filipina. I am sure this story will not go down in history as the most romantic relationship but are you surprised that I would meet my first girlfriend this way?

Randy Peddles Produce.

My Florida story would not be complete without at least including my work experiences with my older brother Ronnie. After Ronnie lost his disability from his cardiac event he tried different career paths, he tried opening up his own deli. He could not seem to make ends “meat.” Sorry, it had to be done. Our mother would help out in the deli during the lunch time. Even with his son and wife working there for nothing he just wasn’t making any money. So he tried a produce delivery business where he made deliveries to restaurants. This is where I come in. I would help make deliveries to many of the restaurants. He actually made up a secondary route where I would use his smaller truck to make deliveries on this route. He paid me well for Florida wages anyway. I did this for one year. It was hard work and I think he expanded too far too fast. He thought if he could have his own warehouse he could buy in bulk when the prices were lower on certain items. I even helped him build two coolers. When his son graduated from high school he helped him some. Ricky had other plans though, he wanted to be a cop. I was also too busy with college to really work much with him. Besides my brother Ronnie was just too hard to work for, he expected total loyalty for $4.00 per hour. So I quit after a while. The final straw was when Ricky got admitted to the police academy. His health began to fail him as well, so he finally gave up on it, the work was just too hard. He finally chose real estate as a new career path. He did very well and was making big money. When he started getting too big for his britches he ended up divorcing his wife of over 20 years and started dating one of his assistants. It was then he got his 2nd DUI that things fell apart and he almost lost everything. He went back to his wife and they finally remarried. It was out of necessity because he had no drivers license. He scaled way back in real estate and was never truly able to build back his business. He was finally forced to sell his big house. He moved on to a large lot and put a single wide mobile home on the property. I would help him on his computer network in his new office. Unfortunately Ronnie’s health would continue to deteriorate over the years, and he would die just a month before my father did.

Don’t buy a pick-up truck if you have friends or a family

My parents always said never to by a pick-up truck because you will live to regret it. My mother said that your friends will always be asking for your help in moving either their stuff or their household. You know she was right. What what she failed to tell me was that she would abuse me even more. It seemed like I was making trips to Home Depot almost every week for her. Projects around the house just seemed to crop up out of nowhere. But the funny thing, she didn’t consider it as a form of abuse like it was going to be with my friends. I guess, the old saying “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” did not pertain to her and hers. It became even worse when I bought an enclosed trailer for my camping supplies. My first wife and I liked to go camping and do road trips. So we bought this used trailer and put storage shelves in it. We had it loaded up with our camping gear, golf clubs, fishing gear and mountain bikes. I built a rack on the roof for our canoe.

The fun started when our mother and father hired our oldest brother Ronald to build a two story shed in their backyard. Of course, they needed all kinds of lumber. I no longer had the pick up truck, I had an Isuzu Trooper II with a hitch to pull the trailer. So now I had to empty the damn trailer every time they wanted me to make a run to Home Depot. I tried to hint to them that they could just order everything at once and have them deliver it to their house. It was pretty reasonable. As a matter of fact, that is what I did when I put the addition on the back of my house.

What finally pushed me over the edge is that they wanted me to drive a 150-mile round trip to get building materials for them. Of course, they never offered to pay for the gas and to help me empty my trailer or put the stuff back in it after we were done. Imagine that I had bought this trailer to make it easier to take my road trips. The premise being that I would have everything ready for these trips, with the exception of food and clothes loaded already. Now I was constantly unpacking my trailer to help my parents. Besides that, my brother’s time was so valuable that he got compensated for it while my time was worth nothing. You know what…I refused to make the trip to get her building supplies. Apparently it was insulation. They had got a good deal on it. Imagine that. They saved money because they did not have to pay for the delivery fee. Simp that I was…was going to absorb the cost for them. Oh, did I fail to mention that I was working full time and going to nursing school during this time as well. It only gave me one day off a week which I desperately needed for my studies and my class projects.

I want you to know that I loved my parent but my mother could be a bit much on occasion. This is what she did…she refused to talk to me for months on end. Eventually I think my stepfather talked to her and she realized how wrong she was because she finally made the first overtures. She also bought me a drill press at “Big Lots” for financial restitution for all my supply runs. It cost $200.00 for the drill press. Do you want to know how much Home Depot charged me for my delivery which filled up three pallets? It cost me $100.00. That included cement, cinder blocks, sheetrock, lumber and roofing materials, everything that I needed to put up that addition. My mother’s whole thought process is that she wanted to involve the whole family in her project. She thought I would like to do it for her. Well, that was a big NO. I was just too damn busy. It was stuff like this that ended up driving me out of Florida.

Compound this with in-laws and a needy brother and I was getting crushed. My wife and I just did not have any free time. Oh, to top it off, when we moved to Las Vegas nobody offered to help us pack or move. Yes, I can still taste the “sour grapes.”

One more thing, I only had to help one friend move with my pick-up truck and I never had to use my trailer to help any of them. So who was my mother protecting me from with her parental advice?

Don’t marry an Agoraphiliac (Exhibitionist) if you are shy

I have mentioned my fiancee in several occasions in my memoirs. Now I am going to spend a little more time discussing her behavior. I have decided to break her behavior into two separate accounts mainly because they cover two radically different behavior patterns. I am sure that you can tell that I have pretty strong feelings about her since I use terms of endearment like “psycho bitch,” and “red-headed Sasquatch” when I discuss her. You may have also noticed that I use aliases for people that I treat in less than a kind manner. I do this so that they can’t come back and sue me for defamation of character. Sometimes I also use these aliases just for fun or to emphasize their behaviors, case in point, my sister’s son Marty AKA “Hellboy”. He was a bit of hellion when he was young but I still loved him and he has turned into quite a nice young man. But with my fiancee, there is no such sentiment. I still carry a grudge towards her, and when I think about her there is no fondness in my feelings.

To be honest with you, I did not even know that there was such a thing as people being addicted to sex in public places. Well, there is! There is even a term for it “Agoraphilia”. It is defined as sexuoeroticism that is contingent on being outdoors or on having sex in public places. In many of these cases, the individual with this affliction does not reach a climax or has less satisfying climaxes when they don’t occur in public places. I have to tell you this type of behavior can be quite exhilarating and yes, even a little scary. In the year that I was in this relation, we christened just about every state park within a 100-miles of our domicile. We also engaged in these erotic activities at public beaches, movie theaters, and other places of business. We also engaged in these activities at people’s houses. Amusement parks were particularly enticing places for her. I actually think that we spent less time at our apartment having sex than we did in public places. The closer we were to be discovered the more excited she became. This type of behavior is certainly not for the faint of heart or for those of us who are shy. You certainly have to be comfortable with your nude body and your sexuality.

It certainly made for a very highly charged erotic year. I might also add that this type of behavior is for young people who tend to perform more quickly, if you know what I mean. One thing of note, we never once got caught though there were a few close calls. I would like to make one caveat, sex in public places while fun is illegal, so you do so at your own risk. Sex in the water, salt or otherlike places looks better in the movies than it is in reality. Sunbathing in the nude can also be quite painful. You will certainly pay the price for no tan lines. Skin that is not used to getting exposed to the sunlight will also burn much more easily. Salt water and sand also finds its way into places that it was never meant to go. So while these activities may look glamorous, they really don’t live up to the hype.

Don’t marry a red-headed Sasquatch (aka psycho bitch)

My fiancee was not only a redhead, she was a six-foot tall one “to boot”. Redheads are typified as impulsive, quick-tempered, libidinous, and wild. The personalities of people with red hair are often believed to be imitative of their red hair, and they are seen as fiery, hot-tempered, hot-blooded, passionate, and angry. This was my fiancee in a nutshell. I already discussed her libido, now I am going to discuss her other assets. While I have to admit the sex was great and extremely exciting, the non-stop rollercoaster ride that our lives were was simply exhausting. You never knew what would set her off. She was very impulsive, if she got something in her head she did it, no matter what the repercussions were. She was very hot-tempered, and as a result we got into a lot of fights verbal and physical. I was always taught not to hit a woman, so I usually ended up paying the price when the fights turned physical. She even gave me a black eye one time. Though I must admit it was a very light one at that, not like the ones you see on TV. I don’t want you to get this wrong, I was not whipped or anything, it was just the way I was raised. I was very strong at this time, and I could easily have hurt her if I tried but that was not in my nature. I think this emboldened her as well because she knew I would not hit her back.

However, she did push me a little too far when she tried to claw my eyes out. I have already told you that she was six-feet tall. What I did not mention was that she weighed close to 200 pounds and was quite strong. But her size did not matter one bit. I simply picked her up off the floor and threw her across the room where she hit the wall with a resounding thud. This show of strength would have dissuaded any rational person, all it did to her was infuriate her even more. Now she came back at me with a growl and tried to rip my shirt off my back. I simply stiff-armed her in the chest and she dropped like a sack of potatoes. I promptly fell on top of her and held her in a tight bear hug with her arms pinned against her sides. I held her this way till she finally calmed down about five hours later. I was called every name under the sun during this cooling down process. While this altercation did not spell the end of our relationship, it certainly accelerated its demise. I finally came to my senses and broke off the relationship. Of course, that precipitated another big fight but at least it was our last one.

Alcohol and Volleyball don’t mix

Now on to my stories…it is about damn time. You may say to yourself he uses damn a lot! I think it is a great word, and I will continue to use it, so, stop trying to analyze everything. During my first serious relationship where I became engaged and lived with “Psycho Bitch” and son, we had two memorable parties. Since they are memorable I will, of course, bore you with both of them. Yes, I have a point to discussing both of them. I usually do have reasons for everything I do. Other times I just wing it. The first party story was memorable because it was the first party I organized. It was a typical party with friends, co-workers, family and neighbors. Yes, it was too big and too expensive. But it was great and my co-workers talked about the party for quite sometime afterwards, so it was worth it. It also showed my eldest brother that I wasn’t a loser, because I quit working for him. another story for another time. We ran out of all of our supplies and I had to go out an get more. We had steaks… I know steaks, what the hell was I thinking? My fiancee’s idea. We had all kinds of beverages including alcoholic stuff. One of my friends took over grilling and did a great job doing it. At the end of the party we were all drunk. So, full contact volleyball seemed like a good idea. I am sad to say that it will never be an event in the Olympics…though it should be. The Nelson ratings would certainly be higher. Rules, there were no real rules, it was just plain fun and so what if we got a few bumps and bruises. So, it was a resounding success, not too bad for my first party. The total guest’s count was over 30 people. To this day, I truly don’t know what the actual head count was. Who cares, I am not a statistician for Christ’s sakes.

We are all Going to Jail or Hell

The second party I went to was not of my own making, It was a typical southern apartment block party. After we had all eaten our fill, as happens in most parties, we broke up into groups based on age and sex. The pre-teens all usually play together, the teens break up into girl and boy groups. The girls talk about current heartthrobs and other girl stuff. The boys lie about all the girls they are banging. Basically, the adults do the same stuff, though we have more life experiences to discuss. The women now talk about their children, their husbands, their love lives and how big their husband’s penis is. The men don’t talk about their penis size because they figure the women have this covered. We don’t talk about kids because well, who cares this is a party. We end up talking about hunting, fishing, cars and sports. So, as usual, I found myself outside looking in. Well, this is where it started to get interesting. Well, it turns out that drinking is not conducive to keeping secrets… who would have “thunk” it? This is when it got down right scary and all the rest of us found that we were looking for ways to just get the hell out of this discussion. Well, our storyteller had a few drinks and was feeling no pain. I want you to know that prior to this conversation, he seemed like a nice enough guy. He was always friendly to us, well, I now know why he was so friendly to us in particular. Of this matter I will discuss just a little later. So, he launches out-of-nowhere into discussing about him and his buddy and how they preformed an armed hold-up. Well, his bad-boy score went right up with that bit of information. But it doesn’t end here. He went on to tell how his best friend and partner-in-crime turned state’s witness to get a reduced sentence. I guess, this happens all too often in our judicial system. However, this is where it gets scary because of not only what he said but how he said it. He spoke of the following with no more emotion than he would exhibit stepping on a bug. He said that while in prison he paid off a fellow prisoner to kill his partner. Then he proceeded to go on discussing sports. We, all silently said, “What the hell?”! What did we just hear? Are we all now complicit in a first-degree murder after the fact? Well, needless to say, the conversation kind of dried up for us and we went in search of our respective families. Now for the second part of the story. After I had been married to my first wife for a year, I came across a recording on the back side of our answering machine cassette, where Psycho Bitch and “the killer” discussed an ongoing affair that they had been having when we were living together. No wonder he was so friendly. Psycho Bitch was quite the lulu. So, my wife and I immediately went to the county health office and got tested for every sexually-transmitted disease known to man including HIV and AIDS. Thank God, we came back negative. This did not end my story with Psycho Bitch. I will discuss this a little later.

Can you eat Opossum? Don’t do it if you value your taste buds.

So, not to give you a distorted view of what parties were like in the Deep South, I will throw in a third party story free-of-charge. Most parties didn’t end up in drunken brawls or discussing previous felonies. They were wholesome get-togethers where people ate too much and yes, told lies of imagined past glories. Since my past was far from glorious, you can trust that I am not lying. We had this local hunting hero in the community who would throw these parties every year. He was as close to a professional hunter as you can get. If it had 4 legs, he killed it. But what is not so bad is that he ate everything he killed. So every year, he would share his food stock in the form of a party. He would have around 40 or so grilling stations organized in a large circle with all kinds of tables and chairs in the middle where you could relax and enjoy the fine cuisine. Since nobody has 40 grills, all the neighbors chipped in their grills and their grilling services. Of course, they were all supervised by our local hunter. This party was by word of mouth only but hundreds of people would show up for the spectacular assortment of grilled meats. I, of course, would try a small sample at every grilling station. Some meat was great, some was so nasty, you had to ask yourself, what the hell? Possum is one of these, it not only is an ugly animal, the meat is terrible as well. The meat tasted so bad, I immediately had to drink some beer to get rid of the bitter taste. After a while the taste went away and I was able to continue on with my food orgy. I ate so many different animals that I could no longer differentiate between them. There is one thing that I know, you would never find a party like this in the northern states, maybe in the West but not the North. I will always remember this party. It was done strictly for friendship and to introduce people into the world of hunting. I think it gets 5 out of 5 stars in the pretty cool meter.

Moving Mishaps

Have you ever heard of people picking up cars when they get a surge of adrenaline? Well, how about a couch? I know that is not the same thing. Still, it was impressive. I was moving a three- seater overstuffed couch on the top of my Isuzu Trooper II when one of the ropes came undone and the couch fell off the top and started dragging on the road. I quickly stopped my SUV, thank God nobody was behind me. I jumped out and with one heft picked the rather heavy and very very large couch over my head and threw it on the roof of my SUV. I quickly pulled off the road before a single car came by and tied it back to the roof rack… this time with two sets of ropes. Right then and there I should have cut my loses but I kept on trucking the next day on the same road, this time with a screen door on my roof. The wind must have been too much for the bungee cords I was using to tie it down because the next thing I know the door is airborne, like something right out of the Wizard of Oz. This is where I used up all the luck I had for at least ten years, the door landed the long way on its edge between two cars and managed to stay vertical until the cars had cleared it. I am watching this all taking place in my rear view mirror as I am crapping my pants. Again I quickly pulled off the road and ran and picked it up and shot putted it to the side of the road. It was totally destroyed but I did not care, nobody got hurt, that is all that mattered.

The Bataan Death March in North Carolina

In my memoirs I have previously mentioned the woman I was first engaged to, the flaming red head, or as I fondly call her Psycho Bitch AKA Red-Headed Sasquatch. I will bring her up this one final time because she was an integral part of my first adult trip. I was in charge of the itinerary on this trip. So guess what I did on this first excursion? I participated in a family gathering in North Carolina in the Smoky Mountains. This being my first adult trip, I had absolutely nothing. So I had to max out a credit card just to buy all the gear I would need on this camping trip. Of course, I had to buy all the best including a tent big enough for a family of 20 people. Because Psycho Bitch wanted to show off to the rest of my family, and being the whipped puppy that I was went right along with her nonsense. Despite this we still managed to have a great time. The park we were camping at butted up to a beautiful little stream on which you could inner tube right down to our camp sites. It also served as the gateway to the Appalachian Trail, so there were unlimited hiking trails. So Ricky and Rodney and I decided to go on an ill-prepared and ill-advised all day hike. We did not think it was going to be an all-day event because it was only supposed to be 10 miles. Well, let me tell you 10-miles of hiking where there isn’t 20 feet of level ground in a stretch is a hell of a long distance. So, a hike that we estimated would take a little over 5 hours ended up taking well over 10 hours. All we each had brought was a single chocolate bar and a small canteen of water. Of course, we had no filtration system or purifier tablets. Needless to say, we were really stupid and very lucky all at the same time. Of course, we were on everyone’s shit list when we got back. Everybody was worried because we were gone so long. I am also sure I was called quite a few choice words by Psycho Bitch. So, of course, we exchanged a few unkind words which we quickly resolved in our usual manner which was with wild monkey sex. See, I knew there was a reason why I stayed with her for a whole year.

Don’t date an alcoholic midget unless you have no choice

During the last few months of my relationship with the red-headed Sasquatch I picked up a second job at a local convenient store Super America. This where I met her replacement. What I did not know was that when I worked at the store, the woman working in the deli making sandwiches was giving me the old eyeball. I guess I never gave her much thought because I never really saw much of her. This was because she was not unattractive and had a very nice set of breasts, she only stood 4’11” tall. According to the definition to qualify as a midget you had to be 4’10” or less, so sue me, she wasn’t officially a midget but she was an alcoholic. In my defense first of all, I am a guy so that excuses pretty much anything I do when it regards to sex except for rape and incest, of which I do not abide. So, when Helen came up to me and asked me out, I could see nothing wrong with it. She was pretty, she ws warm, she was breathing, and she was not a minor and was not related to me and yes, she was very willing. So all of the boxes were checked off.

Now let’s discuss this drinking problem a little. She was recently divorced from a marriage of 10 years. Unfortunately it was not a very good marriage. Her husband was involved in an MVA just two years into their marriage. He was paraplegic and unfortunately it also affected his working parts. So he no longer could achieve an erection. So the last eight years of their relationship were sexless. As any red blood male would do under these circumstances did, he blamed his wife for the auto accident and his resulting disability. From the day he was discharged from the rehab he proceeded to make his wife’s life a nightmare. He treated her like shit, no matter what she did. So in order to deaden the pain she took up drinking. Finally when even the drinking did not deaden the pain, she filed for a divorce. When I finally came onto the scene, the divorce had been finalized for close to two months. During this time she had not dated anyone, so I was her first boyfriend.

She invited me to her house for our first date which meant to me that we were going to dispense with all the niceties and just get right into it. Which is precisely what happened. When she locked the front the door of her place, she immediately took my hand and brought me into her bed room. Just they way I liked my women back then, hot and ready. When she finally achieved her level of satisfaction, I think the earth actually did move. Not to be gross but we had to change the linen before we could go to sleep. She was that pent up. You would have thought I was a God or something. She immediately became clingy. Even though she was a few years older than me and since she never had any children, she was very firm and fit. Not to mention the whole time she had been watching me from the counter at Super America, she had been doing Kegel exercises. She had control like I have never seen before. I have to admit the sex with her just blew my previous relationship all to hell. So when she asked me to move to California with her, I seriously considered it.

However, there were two issues…she was really short and she was an alcoholic. I even had to go into work late one night because she called me up when when she was drunk. I went over there and spent a few hours talking to her. I am not sure what the problem was, I guess she was just depressed. But the thing was that I just did not want to deal with her issues. I could have dealt with her height but when taken with her drinking problems, it was just too much to deal with. So I broke it off. She even called me a year later and asked me if I was still interested in coming out to California to see her. She said that she was now sober and had not had a drink in over eight months. By that time I was already married to my first wife, who, wait for it…was an alcoholic. You just can’t make this shit up.

Give it a Break, Will Ya?

I wish to include one more story involving my fiancee. This time it wasn’t my ex that initiated the interaction but her ex-husband. It turns out that he was filing for custody of their child. He seemed to think that I could help his case. So, I had a debriefing with his lawyers where they discussed what they were looking for from me, and they went over a script of questions that they would ask me before the judge. Since I was subpoenaed I had no choice. This was my first experience with lawyers. They should, of course, be called liars. Because they totally blindsided me and treated my like a hostile witness. I was pissed as you can well imagine. But the one thing that I got out of this experience besides a new loathing for all lawyers, was that I got to see my ex. While she had always been a big girl and easily outweighed me, she had grown even larger. She could have easily been a strong girl in a circus. What the hell I had ever seen in her… I don’t know. Well, that is a lie. We all know what I was after. In my defense, I will only say one word, hormones. Yep, that about sums it up.

The More you Try, the Worse it Gets.

This is an interesting story. In retrospect, I don’t really know what I was thinking. I was installing my stereo system in my new wife’s house. This was just the initial stages and I had not decided to gut the house yet. The living room had carpet so I decided to run the speaker wires under the carpet instead of what any normal person would do and simply run them around the walls. Simple and easy. Well, I thought my way was better and besides my speaker wires were too short for plan B. The problem is how do you get the wire threaded under the carpet? I just happened to have this semi-rigid plumbers snake. I taped the wires to the end of the snake and threaded it under the carpet. It was going perfect until the padding got caught and started bunching up under the carpet. So, now I had the wire where I wanted it…I now had a rather obvious bunched up area in my carpet right in the middle of the living room. So, not wanting to give up and admit that I am an idiot, I pried up more of the carpet along the wall and proceeded to shimmy under the carpet to get to the area where the padding had bunched up. I was so far under the carpet that you could only see my feet. This is, of course, was when my wife got home from work. She said “Hi, honey, what’s up?”. That is the only thing she said. I guess she was already used to me. Well, I was able to mostly fix the padding, there was a slight bulge in the carpet in the middle of the room. It remained there until I finally finished up remodeling the house and I got rid of all the carpet in the house. The coffee table did an admirable job covering up the slight bulge. So no harm no foul. So that was when I was almost eaten by my carpet. I also found out that my wife has a pretty good sense of humor. You have to admit her reply was quite funny.

Honey, Where is the Wall?

One day during my remodeling escapades, I was working on the master bedroom. It originally had been an open patio, and the original home owner had done a crappy job closing the room off. There were sizable holes in the outside wall. Thusly I considered the outside walls to be a lost cause, so I tore both walls out. In the front, I put in a block wall with a bay window and thick glass that essentially soundproofed the room. I also put in a block wall on the main side wall with a small window on that side. Our neighbors were close, so it was simply for ambient light. So, now our master bedroom would be very quiet. It was also well-insulated, so it stayed cool in the summer months. On this particular day, it was demo day. I had just knocked out all the walls when my wife came home from work. She was obviously exhausted from her 12-hour shift, and all she wanted to do was get some sleep. So, in a zombie-like state she walked into our bedroom. When she saw me with a sledge hammer in my hands and our bedroom open to the outside, she immediately grabbed a blanket from the closet and went into the living room couch and went to sleep. She never said a word. I thought that was the damned funniest thing. Three days later, the room was totally finished, tile floor and all. I could really motor in those days.

Don’t trust a smoker when they say they will quit smoking

The only problem that I had with my first wife to be was that she smoked. She, however, promised me that she would quit smoking. So I agreed to give her two years to do so. After a whirlwind courtship of one month we got married in the oldest city in the country, St Augustine, Florida.

She owned her own house which was a plus but it was a shit hole. So, I spent the next year gutting it and remodeling it. The second year finally rolled around and she still had not quit smoking. It was really getting bad, she even smoked in bed. I can’t believe I had to put up with her shit for that long. But on our 2nd anniversary, being the ever romantic person that I was started packing my belongings. She did not initially say or do anything as I packed my truck up. It wasn’t until I said my goodbyes and was getting into my truck one last time that she realized how serious I was. So she started balling. We finally came to an agreement and she promised that she would not smoke in the house anymore nor smoke anywhere near me. She would always carried Febreze and mouth spray with her. She never kissed me until she had rinsed her mouth and sprayed herself. So I acquiesced to these concessions. What a wimp! But in my defense, I did care for her and I had after all, put a lot of work in our house. Besides I was actually happy there, at least for a while, anyways. Also I had been able to quit my second job once we had gotten married. So, I did not really relish the thought of having to work a second job just to survive. So shut your “cakehole” and don’t criticize me until you have “walked a mile in my shoes”.

Randy Goes To Sea

My one and only cruise was a 10-day jaunt to the Western Caribbean on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship. I took this voyage with my first wife Tammy. One of the absolute coolest things on these cruises was there amazing cuisine and there ever tasty daily tropical beverages. Every day they would have a different mixed tropical drink. They also had a two-story library on the ship as well as more fun things to do than you possibly could have time for. So what did my wife do, she spent most of her time in the cabin sleeping. The only time she would come out was for our meals and when we arrived at our port of calls. If you are new to cruises, let me give you one piece of advise even if you have time to schedule two excursions during your stay at the port, just do one. You will be much happier. We scheduled two excursions on both of our ports. As a result, we ran around like maniacs and frankly none of the excursions were worth the price of admission. Let me give you another piece of advice, don’t open up your refrigerator in your cabin unless you plan on taking out what you want. On our first day, my wife took out and looked at each bottle in the refrigerator. Each time you take a bottle out, you get billed for it. So we had to have our steward reset the whole refrigerator so we weren’t billed for stuff we did not want. Even with all the crazy shit that happened on our cruise, we still had a great time. One thing of note, the drivers in Jamaica are some of the worse drivers in the world. We did a raft cruise down the Martha Brae River. To get there, it is about an hour long drive each way. On the way there you have to go on these narrow, windy single-lane roads where when you arrive at a curve in the road instead of slowing down, you speed up and honk your horn. During each of these curves in the road you think you are going to die as your life flashes before your eyes. Frankly by the end of the trip I was bored with my life and I was begging to borrow someone else’s life for my flashbacks.

Honey I Lost My Snorkel

Just before I entered nursing school, my first wife and I went on a cruise to the Caribbean Islands. As part of our cruise experience, we signed up for a couple of snorkeling adventures. Since I had not used my snorkeling gear in a while, prior to the cruise I bought new fin straps and a mask strap. My wife had never went snorkeling before, so she was the proud recipient of new snorkel gear. In retrospect I am happy that this event took place on our first snorkeling adventure, where the water was only 10 to 15 feet deep. If it had happened on our second adventure, the water would have simply been too deep for me to retrieve our gear. Everything was going well, and we are having fun basically looking at nothing. What else can you expect from a cruise experience? When my wife tugs on my arm. I look over to her, and she points down to the bottom of the water where her snorkel is resting comfortably there. So I being a skilled snorkeler execute a perfect fin kick maneuver and off comes one of my fins. The extra stress created by the maneuver broke the already brittle fin strap. So now her snorkel had company, one of my fins. Ok no problem, I still after all have one fin. So I executed the maneuver again flawlessly as before, only to now have my other fin resting at the bottom with its partner. So Huston, now we have a problem. As part of the snorkel experience, we were required to wear snorkel vests. These vests always have trapped air left in them, so I had extra buoyancy as well as having no fins and I might add, I was not in the greatest of shape at this time. So I basically had to work my ass off to retrieve those fins and my wife’s snorkel. Finally I was successful, so now I had to swim back to shore so I could replace my fin straps. I had left the new straps in my gear bag on the beach. Well no sooner had I put on the new straps and was back to where my wife was snorkeling, then the cruise horn started blowing, signaling that we were out of time. What the hell? Needless to say I was none too happy.

Don’t piss off TSA agents; several accounts of sheer folly involving film, an over-sized bag and the wrong last name

I don’t know if it is because the job is tedious or because they have lots of power or being an asshole is a requirement to work as a TSA agent, but I have had a lot of run ins with TSA agents over the years. I know I am a real peach so the problem cannot be with me, LOL. I do know one thing…I really do try to make their jobs easy. The first major problem I had was when my first wife and I made a trip to Las Vegas. I love to take pictures and this was during the era when film still was king. Having taken hundreds of photos I had over 20 exposed rolls of film. I never shot with anything faster than 100 asa film. So I had taken all the rolls of film out of their canisters and had them in a clear ziplock bag. I handed them like I always do to the TSA agent for a visual inspection. The agent refused to do it and said that I had to have them scanned. He said because my film was not high speed it would be OK. I asked him politely if he could guarantee that they would not fog up, he said that he couldn’t. I asked him if he would have hand inspected them if they were high speed and he said yes. So I asked what the difference was to him. He could have been done ten minutes ago if he had just given them a look.

The next thing I know I was pulled off the line and sent to a room where they did a thorough inspection of my luggage and of me. They said that they could kick me off the plane and I would not be eligible for a refund. I firmly insisted that they visually inspect my film. I told them that their website stated that we could request a visual inspection for anything we felt could be damaged by the X-rays. So finally they acquiesced and hand inspected my film. Thank God we got there early.

In this particular case the TSA agent worked at the Oahu International Airport. So my questions is why was he such an asshole when he lived in paradise? I want you to think about this one for an instance, we were on our way back home and this particular carry-on suit case had already “passed muster” “at least three times on this trip. The person in front of me had a similar suitcase, only it was at least 1-2” bigger with all the dimensions and this agent let him pass with no problem. Apparently I had BO or bad breath because he singled me out and said my suit case was too big. I just gave him a look of incredulity and said OK. So I opened up the side pocket of the bag and took out a small item and re-zipped it back up. I put the item in my pant’s pocket. I looked at him and he simply waved me on with barely a nod. What an asshole, mind you the suitcase did not change in size one iota.

This account involved the TSA agent responsible for checking us in at the airport. I had made all the purchases at home and for some reason, I had put my second wife’s name down as her previous name. We had just gotten married and I had a momentary brain fart. This ticket was for an island to island flight in the Hawaiian islands from Kuai to Oahu. Thank God she had an old credit card with her old last name on it. In this case, the agent was only just doing her job but it did seem like that she was being overly zealous in her duties. Because of the delay we missed our flight and had to take a later one. Of course, we got charged extra for the flight change. It figures they would find some way to screw us over.

Stop the Damn Car!!

It took place on my first day of nursing school. I had just wrapped up my first day and my head was splitting from all of the new crap that had been pounded into my swollen cranium. I had just pulled out of the campus and was headed down Ridge Rd on my way home in Holiday, FL. I came up to a red light where I was patiently waiting when I noticed two things, first of all, I was parked behind Judge Rasmaussen who was fondly known as the “Hanging Judge.” His reputation was earned because of the hard line he took when presiding over DUI cases. His daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. He was driving a very large tan colored older model Ford Bronco. Of course, I was going “Oh ,Shit” what if something happens? My goose will surely be cooked by this judge. Second of all, I noticed a rapidly approaching black sports car with the driver talking on his cellphone and totally oblivious of the peril that awaited him.

I just sat there for what seemed like a week as all these thought flashed before me. What the hell do I do? Do I pull off the road, I did have a few feet to spare? No, that wouldn’t work, I would only get hit in the side and probably get killed in the process. I thought of honking my horn but that would have only pissed off Judge Rasmussen. So I did probably the dumbest thing I could do and that was to stomp on the break pedal, so I would not damage the judge’s Ford Bronco. I also tensed up which was another dumb thing to do. But how in the hell do you remain calm when a car is approaching you at the speed of sound. That is right, he still had not seen me stopped at the red light.

You know what was priceless? The look on his face when he did finally see me. What sweet revenge, that damn jackass. I could see the whole show unfold. He had a major Oh Shit moment, where he most likely crapped his pants, he then dropped his phone as if that was going to help. He jammed on the breaks but the 20 feet separating us did not give the car much time to slow down. I estimate that he hit me going at least 40 miles an hour which was verified by my insurance company when they evaluated the damage. The only thing that saved my van from being totalled was that I had a six point hitch with ball socket attached to the back of my van. It provided a great deal of rigidity to the frame. It also acted like a ramming object as it pierced the front of his sports car’s radiator. That was the second priceless moment I experienced when he got out of his car and saw all the damage that had been done to his car. The damn jackass, it served him right.

I am sure I lost a few brain cells as my bell got seriously rung. I was almost knocked out. When the judge jumped out of his Bronco and ran over to see me. Of course, he did so in manner that comported well with his majestic standing. I think I was more terrified of him than I was of any possible harm that my have befallen me. Much to my surprise, he turned out to be the warmest and kindest person that I have ever met. He asked how I was doing and he even called the police and the paramedics. He took all the information from the guilty driver and waited till the authorities arrived. All I did was basically drool and see stars.

When the paramedics arrived at the scene they put a ridged cervical collar on me and they strapped me down to a hard board and then to a gurney. I was still too out of it to even walk. Little did I know the worst was still to come. The ambulance that came to pick me up was the size of a damn tractor trailer. It had absolutely no suspension. The driver should have been competing in the demolition derby. He managed to hit every bump and pothole on the road to the hospital. If you have ever visited Florida, you will know about all the damn potholes. I think I had to get my van realigned every damn month, thanks to them. Not only did he hit every bump, the person attending to my every need in the back of the ambulance “NOT!!!” allowed me to slide up the hard board until the straps were up to my neck and were actually cutting off my ability to oxygenate the few remaining brain cells that I had left. He finally released the straps after I had turned an interesting shade of blue.

After what seemed like an eternity and had been riding on the road for at least a thousand miles, we arrived at the hospital. You would think the worst was over, again you would be wrong. Now I had to pee like I have never had to pee before, all thanks to my driver, Mario Andretti Jr. I was offered a urinal, but they would not release me from the board and straps, so that was useless. They said I needed a CT scan before they would release me from my shackles. I had also started to develop a real humdinger of a headache which resulted in me becoming very nauseated. They, of course, could not give me anything for my headache, but they did give me something for the nausea. Vomitting while flat on a board with a cervical collar would not be a good thing. Of course, being true masochists that they were they gave me IV Compazine. In the 20 years I have been a nurse, I have never administered the med. Well, I can tell you why. It was so damn strong that my nausea was immediately cleared up but know I thought my skin was going to crawl right off of me. I became so agitated that I thought I was going to go crazy. What a nice one-two punch. I not only had to still pee, I had a massive headache and now I was going absolutely crazy and don’t forget, I still could not move.

Now they bring me to get my CT of the neck. Of course, they wanted to make sure that I was OK, so they ordered it with contrast. Well, I have never had a CT with contrast before. Nobody told me that it would feel like I was going to pee when it was injected into me. Well, don’t that just burn your ass. Finally, I managed to get through the CT and was brought back to the hallway where I was unceremoniously left to suffer. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the ER doctor came and told me that my neck was not broken and my brain was as normal as it was going to get. When they finally released me from my restraints and straps, I virtually leaped to the bathroom. Where I want you to know that I had the most satisfying pee of my life. I think I had to flush twice because I almost overflowed the toilet bowl.

What a way to start my nursing career!!

After all was said and done, I needed two rounds of physical therapy for my neck, and I had two nerve block procedures done to my neck to alleviate the pain I was experiencing. In the long run nothing worked. Twenty years later, I am still in pain and I still have limited mobility in my neck. The pain management specialist provided little relief. They wanted to sever the affected nerves in my neck, at which I said hell no. So when my first wife got hooked with a pain management specialist in Las Vegas, I wasn’t very optimistic.

Randy Griswold

I like to set goals for my self, it makes life more interesting. After watching the movie Christmas Vacation, I decided that I could beat his 20,000 lights. My early attempts however, only involved a few thousands lights, but as the years progressed I needed to start taking time off from work to decorate. My final year, it took me 2-full weeks with a full time worker helping me the second week. I had even started renting a cherry picker. My light total had finally reached 50,000 lights. If I had not move to Nevada the next year, I would have been over the 60,000 mark. In order to have this many lights, we had to have a second breaker box and multiple sockets installed all around the house and around the yard as well. This greatly reduced the number of extension cords needed for my lights. I built a 12-foot tall lighthouse and I suspended Santa sled and reindeers between two trees. Our house was a ranch style house, so I had to raise the pitch of the roof so that my lights would show, I also built a fake chimney for Santa to enter the house. I built a ski lodge for Santa as well. The list just goes on. I basically turned our house into a gingerbread house with striped lights on all the walls. The effect was truly amazing. Well, being a Randy story it was replete with the odd mishaps. Like it’s really not a good idea to build a 20-foot stepladder with an extension ladder. So in retrospect, I don’t know why I didn’t just use a pole to string the lights in the tree. But I didn’t think of this method mainly because it was just too simple. Why do some thing easy and safe when you can do some thing that is more difficult and dangerous? Where is your sense of adventure? So, of course, my contraption breaks and now I am hanging by one hand 20-feet in the air from my tree. Meanwhile, my crazy-ass wife is trying to prop the ladder vertically so that I can get back on it. I don’t know how she thought she could hold the ladder steady enough for me to climb down it. Well, I made like Cheetah the Chimp and swung to another branch where I could get a second handhold on a large branch and proceeded to shimmy down the tree.

What almost was

This is a sad story, I always wondered what happened to this lovely young lady. By the time I entered nursing school my marriage was on the ropes. I actually changed my career path and went into nursing in an attempt to save my marriage. I would eventually make one more failed attempt to salvage the wreckage that was our marriage by moving out west. If you have read my first two books you well know that it did in fact fail.

When I started nursing school I was still working as a manager at Kash-n-Karry a Florida-based grocery chain. I was a customer service manager working a 45-hour week. So needless to say, I was quite busy. My nursing program was full-time and as a result I went to school five days a week. By the time I started my second year, I had quit my job and was working as a telemetry tech three nights a week at the same hospital my wife worked at full time as a charge nurse on a Telemetry floor. My marriage had still not improved any, frankly there was little time for us to work on it. I was starting to give up hope that we would ever recover what we once had. Even our Caribbean cruise didn’t help to rekindle our romance. We had just grown into a comfortable platonic relationship. Something that might happen after twenty or thirty years of marriage, certainly not one of less than seven years. Frankly I was getting discouraged because this had been going on for over four years now.

This is when I met a very lovely black nurse. Each floor had a dedicated telemetry unit with a telemetry technician. It was the responsibility of the nurses to check the cardiac status of their patients by taking a visit a couple times a night to our room to look at their patient’s cardiac rhythm. That is how I met this young lady who I will call June. Now you know the now, the how, the when and you will soon know the why. I want to stipulate that we never consummated our relationship. We just remained friends but there always was a certain tension and interest for something more. She knew I was married and as a result I was off limits. That is until I got a divorce. I seriously gave it a lot of consideration. I actually think that I made the wrong decision by moving to Las Vegas. Because not only did my first marriage fail, so did my second one as well. The only positive outcome has been my third wife. My relationship with her is the only thing that has kept me from seriously regretting that decision. If not for her, I might have gone back to Florida to look her up to see how she fared. You never know what might have been.

Don’t Let Your Cat Drive Your Cherry Picker

It is also not a good idea to let your cat drive your cherry picker. I blame my cat on this one. He really did like going up in that cherry picker. So now that I had a cherry picker, life was so much easier. Hanging the lights in the big tree in the front yard was no longer a job for the Flying Wallendas. My parents did not have to balance the ski lodge on their heads while I moved it onto my boxed utility trailer. I was also able to use it to hang my Santa and reindeer from the cable and I could use it to lift the top portion of the light house on the base. Life was great. So in retrospect, I should not have pushed it and used it to hang my lights from the TV antenna. I had 7,000 lights hanging from the antenna, one I just kept there for the lights since we had direct TV. So somehow, I managed to snake it between my house and the neighbor’s house. The lights went up quickly and with no fuss. So now I had to try and remember how I had got back there but in reverse. Fun fact, our particular cherry picker weighs 11,000 pounds. Maybe this would have been nice to know a little earlier. So I, of course, could not replicate my feat in reverse, and I soon become buried in the soft soil between our two houses. So, being just slightly smarter than an opossum, decided to pull out the cherry picker with my Isuzu Trooper. I, of course, got nowhere, so my neighbor who is more high than not, tied off his truck to the cheery picker as well. So now we had two vehicles doing wheelies in the front yard… that was so much better.

So my father-in-law who always seemed to show up at my times of greatest embarrassment shows up. Did I mention when we first got married he still had keys to the house? Before we got married he used to stop by when Tammy was at work and do odd jobs on the house. Apparently, he did not get the memo that she was now married. So, in he zooms into our house with his trustee little keys and I am right in the middle of having sex with his daughter on the bedroom dresser. With my white ass just a shining away. The next thing I hear is the door closing and being locked. Needless to say, he never came over without first calling or being at least expected. He also lost his keys to the house. So back to our debacle. He comes up with the idea to call a tow truck. Well, it was too heavy for even the tow truck. But the tow truck had a special weapon, a 15-thousand pound winch on the front of it. So, he secured the truck so it would not be pulled towards the cherry picker and that winch just pulled it right out of that mud. By the way, that was the last Christmas that I lived in that house, so I never had a replay. So the next day, I repaired my neighbors yard and we were all good. It was also the next day when the rental company came to pick up the cherry picker and that is when we found out how much it really weighed. I don’t know what the hell we thought we were doing with those two little underpowered trucks. While my stories are now less frequent they have not disappeared all together.

Now That Is Damned Weird!

You will probably say that I am making it up, well you would be wrong. It happened exactly like I am writing it. I was helping my soon to be ex-wife to move into a rental house. I was making the final trip of the night and all I left to drop off with my truck and utility trailer was a brand new elliptical trainer, that I had purchased at Sam’s Club for her. I had an elliptical trainer and she had to have one, even though she would never use it. I also had to give here some of my lower weight dumbbells and a pair of boxing gloves, because I had a pair. The shit she put me through was unbelievable. So I was by myself with this 500lb box delivering it to her house. As I made the final turn onto her street, all the street lights went out. I looked all around too. It was only on her street that this had happened. I was pissed, but I had a flashlight, so I said screw it. I pulled up to her house and went in and unlocked the front door so I could go into the garage and open up the door. The lights in the house went on, it was just the street lights that were out. Thank God, because I would have had to wrestle with the garage door. So I finally road the trainer down the trailer ramp on a furniture dolly. I finally got it in the garage, after pushing it and tugging it up the incline of the driveway. Of course her house couldn’t have been flat, that would have been too damn easy. So I finally finished my task, I was going to have to come back another time to put the damn trainer together, that of course will involve another story. Why can’t life be simple? So I am now in my truck driving back down the way I came, because the road was a dead end, and no sooner than I made a right hand turn off her road, the frigging street lights came back on. Now you tell me what the hell that was all about. Was her house cursed, or was I cursed, or was God getting back at me for getting a divorce? I don’t know. I have never had an experience like this since then. I know one thing, I was really creeped out.

Help I’m Seizing.

My first wife had just rented her house after she moved out. I had already delivered the elliptical trainer to her house, so I was over there to put it together, an help her with some unpacking. What a surprise I came back to her house, virtually nothing had been done since my last visit, and to top it off she had a fresh bruise on her face. She told me that she had taken 8 mg of Ativan two days earlier and had just woken up. When she did so she had fallen and hit her face on her dresser. Upon hearing this story, I just rolled my eyes. So I started putting together her new elliptical trainer. When I was about half done, I noticed that her speech started changing and she asked me if I saw a strange light? I immediately realized that she was going to seize. So I jump over the partially assembled trainer and caught her in my arms. If I hadn’t done it she would have fallen and cracked her head on the tiled kitchen floor. I yelled to her father who was smoking in the garage to come in and help. I told him to call EMS. Finally, she stopped seizing and I laid her down on the carpeted living room floor. I guess I did not realize how tightly I held her, because now she had fingerprints bruises appearing on both arms and to top it off she had that bruise on her face. So needless to say I was a little apprehensive when the paramedics showed up. But surprisingly enough they believed me and it didn’t hurt that my father-in law corroborated my story. So we both followed the ambulance to the hospital. I told the ER doctor the story involving the Ativan dose she had taken and requested that she be given a psychological evaluation. It was all I could do. When I finally left the hospital, I started thinking how fortunate I was to be getting out of that life. Little did I realize that it would be over ten years before my life would finally normalize.

Randy’s Party Extravaganzas

My dream house was remodeled and add-ons were built with entertaining in mind. I had a six burner stove with griddle in the kitchen with two commercial Beverage-Aire refrigeration units. Each unit had 47-cubic feet of storage space. On just part of one side of the freezer I could store 200-pounds of ice. My outdoor kitchen could seat 6 people at the bar alone. We had chairs and enough banquet tables to seat 100 guests. I had an outdoor cooking station where I had two commercial burners that each held a 100-quart kettle for our shrimp boils. They could bring 100-quarts of water to a boil in 10 minutes. Pretty amazing. I had three turkey fryers for my Christmas parties. My gas grill could cook a complete meal. I even had music piped to rock speakers placed all over my yard and I had tiki torches for ambience. I also had mister fans to keep the guests cool in the summer. By the time I left Sunrise Hospital, I had 5 annual shrimp boils with the final head count being over 90 guests. For this last party I had cooked 50lbs of shrimp, 20lbs of sausage, 50lbs of potatoes and 100 ears of corn. I had melted 5lbs of butter for the shrimp along with 2gals of cocktail sauce. When the food was dumped on the table it took up two 8-foot banquet tables alone. Needless to say, no guest left my party hungry. I had a screened enclosure to keep flies off of the food for the food laden banquet tables. Hot plates kept the butter melted. Normally these shrimp boils don’t use plates but because the food was not on the actual tables that people ate at, we had to include plates. All the banquet tables were covered first with plastic and then brown rolled paper and the guest just left all the shrimp shells and the corn cob carcasses on the table.

For our winter parties the temperatures were cooler. So the majority of our Christmas party guests ate indoors. For those willing to brave the cooler outdoor climate, I had two outdoor fireplaces and several heaters strategically placed to keep those hardier guests warm. In my Christmas party, I supplied three fried turkeys and one ham while the guests supplied the side dishes and the dessert. I also provided the punch which is a family secret. My parties over the years became quite popular and there was a mad scramble to get the days off when I posted the dates of the parties. So to make it easier for those that couldn’t get work off I started the parties early so that people could stop by for a couple of hours before going to work and I ran the parties late enough that people working the day shift had time to come by after they finished work. That is why I had two kettles, the second kettle was for the late comers. This way they could also have hot food. The same goes for the turkey fryers. I would have one ready to cook the last turkey for the late Christmas guests. But alas, you need a large house and you need a young body to have these parties. When I sold my house, the parties diminished radically in size. Now we keep the guests to under 10 people. You know what I have just as much fun with the smaller parties.

Don’t wait till the last minute to book a flight–My Bonaire Experience

Our trip to Bonaire was through our dive shop. Our dive shop owners/masters had been talking the trip up for quite some time, so my second wife really wanted to go. However, I really didn’t want to charge the trip to a credit card, so I waited a little later to buy the plane tickets. This extra time allowed me to save up enough money to pay for them cash. Prior to this trip the plane tickets had been part of the dive package, but due to some complaints by a few divers, the shop owners decided to stop including the plane fare. There always has to be someone that ruins it for everyone. I had been perfectly content with them doing all the leg work. We finally bought the tickets just in time for the trip. Nothing like doing something at the last minute to raise your dander up. I unfortunately did not realize that there was only one flight off the Island a week to get back to the US. This should not have been a problem if the airlines had a tendency to overbook their flights to ensure a full plane. What a bullshit practice. I guess they didn’t care about customer satisfaction scores. The problem arose for us because we were the last ones to buy tickets, so last one in, first ones getting the boot.

Our trip there had been great, the island had lived up to its reputation as being a dive paradise. I must have made 40 dives that week. The problem arouse on the last day of our trip, the day before we were scheduled to leave the island. The airlines called us to tell us that we were going to be put on standby because true to form they had overbooked, and nobody had canceled their flights yet. The problem was that we had to get back to work in a few days, we also did not have enough money to stay there another week. Thankfully, there were flights to Caracas, Venezuela, where we could then get back to the US. So we bought flights to Caracas for cheap. The problem now was that we could not get a connecting flight until the following day from Caracas to Tampa, Florida. Our airlines was going to allow us to make the changes in our travel planes to make up for their mistake.

So, now we had to make plans to stay somewhere in Caracas. We found a likely hotel called the Melia Caracas. The hotel did not come cheap, it was $300.00 a night. But it really was a nice hotel and I wanted to turn this debacle into something positive. However, the more I planned the more obstacles cropped up. Even back then, Venezuela was a corrupt country. The government was charging me an entrance and exit visa fees even though I was just staying over night. They said that if I stayed in the airport, I wouldn’t be charged the fees but who the hell wants to spend close to 24 hours in an airport. There were conveniently no hotels in the airport. The fees were going to be another $400.00. Oh, my f–king God. We had just committed to staying at the Melia Caracas and since it was within their 24-hour cancellation time, we would lose the entire $300.00 if we cancelled or stay. The final straw was the exorbitant cab fairs that were being charged to get from the airport to the hotel. They were charging another $100.00 each way. Just more government corruption at work. Have you been keeping track of the price so far? The flight from Bonaire to Caracas, was $100.00 each. The change for our tickets to the US were another $100.00 each. So our grand total for one day’s stay in Caracas was $1,100.00. This is what it cost one of us to stay at the Dive resort in Bonaire. This was getting out of control. Of course, we still had three more meals each that we had to pay for. That would be good for another $200.00.

We just could not afford these cost over runs. Bill Gates I am not. Thank God, I decided to make one more call to the airlines, and guess what they had two first class tickets available on our original flight back home. Why in the hell they did not tell us this to begin with, I will never know. Of course, we had to pay to change the tickets because first class was more expensive. They did not charge us any administration fees, so it only cost us $200.00 to bump up to first class. If I had known it was going to be so cheap, I would have flown first class both ways. Now the problem arose with Melia Caracas, when I canceled our reservations they charged us the $300.00. Well, that was a battle for another day. I just wanted to get back to the US.

Guess what, on the day of our flight back home our wonderful airline said that they were still overbooked by two more seats. Since our dive masters felt responsible and they had an open and flexible schedule volunteered to stay behind. Since they were such great customers with the airlines, they got an alternate flight to Aruba where they were put in a hotel for free and the airlines did not even charge them extra for the flight changes. Boy, it must be nice. Why didn’t the airlines offer me that option instead of going to Caracas? I would have gladly stayed there instead.

We finally got home without any more issues. Boy, it is good to be back home. So I guess I learned my lesson about waiting to the last minute to buy plane tickets. Now the fun began with Melia Caracas. Three hundred dollars was just too much money to throw away. Little did I know that on our next trip my wonderful wife would piss away $1,000.00 in roaming fees for her damn cell phone. I was quite surprised when I explained my circumstances to the Melia management that they were not only understanding but accomodating as well. They informed me that they had hotels all around the world including one in Cancun. So, of course, the wheels started turning in my head. Our dive shop had a trip planned to Cozumel in a few months, how wonderful for us. Since we now bought our own airline tickets we had some flexibility. I decided to extend our vacation by three more days so that we could dive in the Cenotes there, and explore some of the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula. And that is what we did, we turned our Bonaire fiasco into something positive. Melia Cancun turned out to be a wonderful hotel to stay at. We stayed there two nights and I was only charged $100.00 extra for the second night. I think they gave me a huge discount for the rooms due to my previous inconvenience. Boy, I am like a cat…always landing on my feet. Hee Hee.

Cancun and Cozumel

I have a tendency to cram a lot of shit into a single trip. After all you have to get your money’s worth, right?

This tendency was never more evident than in our second trip to Cozumel. We went with our dive group for six days of diving. So I seized the opportunity for additional sightseeing and decided to extend our trip by three more days. Our add-ons included a dive in the Cenotes or caverns in the Yucatan Peninsula and the exploration of several Mayan ruins including Chichen Itza, Tulum and Coba.

To do this, we rented a car in Cozumel and took the ferry over to the mainland. We did this so that not only we would have transportation while in Mexico, it would give us a place to keep our luggage and gear. The last dive for our group was on a Friday morning, so we hopped on the ferry and went to see Chichen Itza. Because we had paid for Friday night in Cozumel we took the ferry back that evening. Julie also wanted to enjoy our last meal as a group in Cozumel. Unfortunately, we were too late to eat with the group. So we just packed everything up and went to sleep. The next day we took the ferry back to the mainland. For the next two nights, we had hotel reservations in Cancun. We saw Tulum and Coba on the second day. While the pyramid was exceptional in Chichen Itza, you weren’t able to climb it. You can, however, climb the pyramid in Coba which is called Nohuch Mul. It is also the highest Mayan pyramid at 130 feet. Once you reached the top you were afforded an amazing view of all of Coba. Coba was also exceptional in that it is an active archeological site. So you got to see real archeologists excavating various sites. Our final day was a limited driving day for me, so I got a break from driving the entire day. We had purchased two Cenote dives and a meal as a package deal. I ended up diving without Julie because she whigged out when she saw the entrance to the Cenote. So we paid a $150 for a hamburger meal for her. What a waste. She could have enjoyed a spa day at the hotel instead.

When all was done we had one more ferry trip ride to make back to Cozumel so we could fly back to the states. Each time we went on the ferry boat it seemed like we were taking our lives into our own hands. We had to go up this crazy steep little ramp to the second tier on the ship. because the first deck was for semis and other large trucks. We also put 1,100 kilometers on our little car during our 3-day extension. It felt like our car was going a thousand miles an hour when were barely going 90 kilometers and hour. To think the risk we put ourselves in. Our car was full of expensive dive gear, dry and dive cameras and computers. For this trip, I also purchased an internet phone and a WiFi booster antenna. I did this so that I could make international calls on the cheap. Little did I know that my wife had been surfing the internet on her cell phone using roaming access. When we got home I had a $1,000 phone bill waiting for me. One of the many reasons she was destined to become my second ex-wife.

Too Much of a Good Thing in Hawaii

This next story is about my first trip to Hawaii.

This trip involved a couple we met on our certification trip in Cozumel. Their names were Billie and Gary. Gary’s parents just happened to own a timeshare in Kauai, the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and the one with the most established reef system in the chain of islands. The Hawaiian island chain is the most isolated island chain in the world at over 2,300 miles from the nearest land. The parents pay a $75.00 fee for staying at the house for their two week stay. So we split the $75.00 fee. Not too bad for a two week stay in paradise. Since we now only had plane tickets for our largest expense we had extra money for our adventures. With the money we saved in hotels, we were able to make two side trips, one to the Island of Hawaii where we got to do a night dive with manta rays that are indigenous to the island and the second trip to the island of O’ahu to see the Pearl Harbor memorial. While on the island of Kauai we did more diving, we also enjoyed zip lining, a helicopter ride around the island and several day trips exploring the island. The biggest perk was that we got to stay in a 3,000 square foot house replete with two master suites. Needless to say, we had a great time. But it would not be a Randy trip without a few mishaps. On two separate occasions, large amounts of my money were tied up with bad transactions. Of course, I had to wait 10 days for refunds even though it was the fault of the vendors and not mine. So thank god, we were able to limit our expenses. Since our timeshare had a full kitchen, so we were also able to save a lot of money on our eats.

Kauai is one of the most picturesque islands in the Hawaiian island chain. The island has the Grand Canyon of the Pacific named Waimea Canyon. It is absolutely beautiful. The first time I got to see it was in the John Wayne movie “Donovan’s Reef“. So it was a dream come true to finally see it in person. The second most beautiful part of the island is the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park. We got to see it from the air on our helicopter ride. You can also see it from the ocean by boat or you can hike to the park and see it up close and personal. Since there are no roads on that side of the island these are your only options to see it. On this trip Gary also brought his sister along. She was a large girl and weighed in about the same weight as Gary did which was over 250 pounds. This is important because when it came to the helicopter ride, we had to be balanced so that the pilot could control its flight. So as a result, I was placed in the middle on the back seat sandwiched between two overly large humans. I was not very happy since I was the only photographer in the helicopter and I had the worst possible seat. It made it very difficult to get great shots, it also pissed me off because I wanted to ride in a door-less chopper instead, but I was overruled by the majority. So I was already pissed off when I was soon to find out that Gary’s sister suffered from motion sickness. So here I am concentrating on getting my photos when the next thing I know I am hearing retching noises. Soon after that I see projectile vomit hurling through the helicopter. Of course, I was in the “wake zone” as was also the poor pilot. Since it happened so quickly, the barf bag was not really effective. Of course, she was quite embarrassed but that did not change what had happened. First of all, she should never have gone on the damn ride in the first place. Because if she had stayed at the house, I would have been spared “vomittess explosivess” and I would have also had a window seat. I know that is callous but I paid good money for these tickets and as it turned out they were one of the vendors that screwed up the billing, so I was double charged for the ride. Yes, I would eventually receive the refund but only after I got home, but that did not soften the hit to my already depleted resources.

Randy and His Little Diving Buddies

Until you have gone diving and got to see fish and other creatures in their elements, you will not understand what I am talking about. I actually feel bad about eating seafood now. On one particular dive I got to dive in a sea lion rookery. Young sea lions are the most playful animals. So playful in fact that they warn the divers not to wear a snorkel attached to your mask. You may ask why that is? The reason is that they like to pull on things with their front flippers, especially an easy and fun target is your snorkel. So if you don’t want your mask ripped of your face don’t where a snorkel when diving there. Instead the little buggers grabbed my swim fins. That is ok, the couldn’t hurt anything by doing that. One actually swam right up to me an opened his mouth in a playful attempt to scare me.

Most people don’t realize that even fish can have personalities. I have spent countless minutes playing with fish like Garibaldis. They actually will play hide and go seek with you.

How I almost got strip searched

 In this story I am going to narrate an entire dive weekend trip to California. I am doing this to help illustrate several of the points that I have made previously in this book.

At this time in my life I was heavily into scuba diving and I was making five to six road trips a year to go diving in the San Diego area. I usually just plan on diving one day which means I usually get 3 to 4 dives in. However, on this particular occasion I got a little greedy and scheduled day dives on two different boats. I figured that I had the time off I might as well dive two days and get in as many dives as I could.

My second wife did not really enjoy cold water diving even though she had all the gear. So I ended up making the trip by myself. Because I was diving on the same day of my road trip I had to leave my house at midnight. It definitely made for a long day. After the dive was over, my plan was to book a hotel as early as possible in San Diego so I could call it an early night. I made it to the dive boat with plenty of time to spare. I quickly loaded up all my gear and set my tank up with my BC and weights and strapped it in place along the gunwales. I stowed away my empty dive bag and went in the cabin to wait for the boat to pull out of the harbor.

I was really intrigued by my Saturday dive because we were planning on diving someplace I had not dived before. But due to the seas being a little heavy they changed their plans at the last minute and they opted to dive on the Yukon which I had already dove on several occasions. When we arrived at the wreck, conditions were far from optimal. However, they decided to go on with the dive anyway and tied onto to the last down line on the wreck. There are six downlines going to the wreck which means that six boats can drop divers off at a time. We were the only ones attached to the wreck that morning. So that has to tell you something about the conditions anyway mainly because even though the Yukon was a challenging dive it was very popular. There was always at least a couple of boats diving it at any time. When they were all ready, they gave us instructions to grab the down line immediately because the currents were a little strong.

They neglected to say how strong they really were. I, with no little trepidation, jumped into the water and immediately turned around to grab the line only to find I was 20 feet behind the boat already. Well, I swam my ass off to get back to the boat. The only thing that happened was that I got further and further away from the boat. I tried to swim out of the current by cutting crossways but this current was just too wide and I was unable to make any headway. It is here that I want to make a little comment on the gear I was wearing. Because my dive was fairly early in the spring, the water was pretty cold so I had opted to wear my dry suit. I also had my camera with two strobes attached to my BC. I was thusly far from being streamlined. I was like a brick floating in the water. I finally got the attention of the dive master on the boat. Of course, since this was a day dive the boat was on the smallish side, so they had no chase boat to pick me up with. They, therefore threw me a line with a buoy attached to it, however, the line was far too short. So a rescue swimmer jumped off the back of the boat to come and help me. When he got to the end of the line, he had to let go of it. I was thinking great, now at least, I will have company when I float to Alaska. But I, however, was pleasantly surprised since he was more streamlined than me. He was actually able to make some headway against the current and was able to get me back to the safety line trailing behind the boat. When we both had a secure grip on the line they started pulling us back in. I don’t know who was doing the pulling because we just seemed to hydroplane across the water.

By the time I got back to the boat, I was exhausted not too mention they had already cut the dive short because of the unsafe conditions. I guess, they didn’t want to pick up divers all over the Pacific. Because of all the time they lost by changing dive locations, they ended the diving for the day. Well, so much for my first day. Since a weather front was coming in, I decided to not risk diving Sunday so I decided to call off my diving plans. You may remember my dive instructor saying not to feel bad about calling a dive, well, that’s what I essentially was doing. So, now what do I do? Well, I always said to have a backup plan, right? Well, my backup plan was to visit the Salton Sea and to continue on through Joshua Tree NP and then back home. In retrospect, I am not sure why I opted to take Highway 8 instead of CA-78 but that is what I did. I spent the night in El Centro and took CA-86 up to the Salton Sea the next day.

There is a US Border Patrol Station on the CA-86. I, however, was not cognizant of this fact, so it was with some surprise that I came up to. I figured no problem, I have no drugs on board. The only reason that I think I had a problem because I used to buy salads at Costco that contained packets of poppy seed dressing. We had even had eaten those salads on picnics. You know what, those border guards can be real assholes and they have no sense of humor nor imagination either. I spent an hour at that station. I was driving my pickup truck with my topper. In the back of the truck I had all my scuba gear including two steel dive tanks. You would have thought that I was going to blow something up with all this gear or that they were packed with drugs, I don’t know which. I told them what had happened with my diving and, of course, they thought my story was unlikely. You could tell that they did not believe me even though all my gear was wet from Saturday’s aborted dive.

They even made me partially open the tank valves so that I could show them that there was indeed compressed air in them and not drugs. It didn’t matter that I told them I was a an ICU nurse and was totally against drugs. They were not interested in anything I had to say. I guess they could not understand why anyone would choose to visit the Salton Sea. They had the drug dog climb into the back of my truck and stomp all over everything in there. They even let him go through my cab in the front as well. What pissed me off the most is that his damn big paws crushed the Twinkies that I had left on my center console. Of course, they did not find any drugs in my truck. I actually think they were disappointed. Maybe they were bored? There wasn’t exactly a lot of people on this road.

They still were not done with me because I hadn’t been violated yet. I say this because I was now subjected to the most invasive pat down I have ever had in my life. You know what, I never did get any flowers. When they finally finished feeling me up they did finally give up. All they did was just look at me and say I could go. They never said why they were giving me such a hard time. I did not even have tattoos on my face. What the hell?! Like I mentioned earlier, I think it was that damn poppy seed dressing. On the way out of the station, I happened to notice a map showing the Salton Sea. It was only then that I realized how close I actually was to the Mexican border. That shouldn’t have mattered, I was still in the US and I had never even went into Mexico. Maybe they thought I had picked up the drugs from the Cartel or something? Who in the hells knows, I will never give them a second chance. My ass is just too cute.

Most people would just have beat feet and immediately drove home. Well, you know what…I am just too damn stubborn. I did not take the actions of the border guards personally. I know that they were just doing their jobs. Though they really did carry things a little too far. I thought for sure that they were going to do a cavity search. Though the woman border guard was kind of cute maybe I would have enjoyed it if she did it, LOL. Just joking.

While I was a little disappointed in the Salton Sea, I did get some cool pictures there. My photos weren’t too bad at Joshua Tree NP either, so it wasn’t a total wash. I actually really liked the park so I decided to go back with my wife to spend some more time there. I did, however, lose $200.00 for the two days of diving that I either did not enjoy or do at all.

So what lessons can you learn from my weekend trip? First, you need to know when to call a dive, always go with your gut. Second, never lose your temper when dealing with border guards no matter how obnoxious they are. Third, always have a back up plan because you never know when your original plans will turn to shit. Also make sure that you have enough money to cover the extra expenses required to cover your revised plans. One more thing, don’t take CA-86 along the Mexican border to the Salton Sea. If you want to see it which I really don’t know why you would, you should drive to it from the north and then go back out the way you came in. You really need to avoid the US Border Patrol Station. If you do like cavity searches and decide to take the southern route despite my warnings, for God’s sake hide your damn Twinkies!

Don’t take a thousand pound backpack on a summer hike in Havasuapi

My backpacking trip to Havasuapi Falls was my first backpacking trip. So I didn’t want to leave anything behind. Boy, did I pay for it! I am sure that my pack weighed in excess of a hundred pounds. I had three types of water purification. I even brought a stool to sit on. I brought more clothes than I would need for a week, let alone 2 nights and days. All my gear was good old Coleman products and they weighed a ton. I now have Jetboil which is a lot lighter. I only bring one water purification system now. While I have shaved off a lot of weight, I am still way too heavy. Another thing I learned is that hiking out west in the summer is not a good idea no matter how much gear you bring.

While a 10-mile hike in a day does not seem like a lot, it is when you have an elevation change of over 2,500 feet in less than a mile, and the temperature is closing in on a 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Thank God, at the end of the hike there was a nice cool river to soak in. It was the first time I came close to experiencing heat stroke, and it was not fun. You would think I would do my best to avoid experiencing that again but I have run into that specter more than once since then even though I do everything I can to avoid it.

On the way back from the falls, I paid to have a mule carry my pack back up to our car. I also left earlier in the morning to miss more of the mid-day heat. That last mile of switchbacks was still a bitch. The problem with having a mule bring your pack up the trail is that you had to wait several hours for the pack train to get to the trailhead. Oh well, you can’t have everything. I have since hiked down to the falls two more times. Each time got a little better. Unfortunately when it seemed like I had it all figured out new things happened.

Don’t do a thru hike in the Grand Canyon in the summer

This hike also took place in the Grand Canyon…only in a different location. My hiking buddy and I decided to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim. We parked our vehicle at a hotel on the North Rim and took a bus to the South Rim. The ride took several hours, so here we were again hiking in the summer and in the middle part of the day. The plan was to hike to the bottom of the canyon, cross the black suspension bridge and camp at a campsite on the floor of the Canyon. During the day it was almost a 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Trust me it felt hotter than that because the humidity got worse and worse as you got closer to the Colorado River. The further down to the canyon floor you got the air flow became less and less, so eventually there was no cooling breeze at all. The conditions did not improve much during the night either. I think the weather forecast said the temperature dropped down to the low 90s. So it was just bearable to sleep. To save weight we only brought a pad and a sheet to cover it. No sleeping bag was needed. I almost opted to forego the tent completely, but I am a mouth breather and did not relish the idea of an insect taking a nap in my mouth.

The night finally came to an end. However, we had a bit of an issue, my feet were in a deplorable condition. The constant downward hiking the day before caused my toes to start turning black and blue. So I ended up ditching my hiking boots at the campsite and replaced them with my river shoes. My feet were happier and since my pack was fairly light, my insoles were okay with the lighter support provided by the river shoes. So we started our second day of the hike which was the harder part because now we had to climb an additional 800 feet because the North Rim is higher than the South Rim. To top it off, some jackass decided to make the last leg extremely difficult by making the steps oversized. So when you are the absolute most exhausted the trail got even more difficult. In retrospect, if I were to do it all over, I would have started on the northern rim first. I also think the view would have been better as well. Even before we started our ascent, we started having issues with the extreme heat. Thank God the water seemed to follow us on the trail. Because on two occasions I thought we were going to die. Just when things looked the bleakest cool refreshing water appeared before us. The first time it was just a small stream which we sat in. The second time it was a nice waterfall where we enjoyed the company of two lovely nymphs while we cooled off. Unfortunately for us they were going in the opposite direction. So we soon parted ways. By the time we finally started our ascent the temperature had dropped a few degrees and we had finally found some shade from the relentless sun.

The ascent seemed to take forever even the view behind us became less and less appealing as our bodies became more and more exhausted. We had only brought nutrition bars for sustenance on the trails, and the energy that our breakfast had provided us had long since dissipated. So we were definitely feeling the second day of hiking not to mention that my feet were killing me. My toes were definitely taking on a unique color, one that did not entirely look too healthy. I was really looking forward to soaking my feet in a hot basin with Epsom salts followed by a nice hot shower. I knew my priority needed to be my feet because they had taken quite a beating.

We finally crawled out of the canyon a little after midnight. Now we had a two-hour drive to look forward to before we got back to my hiking buddies’ house. We should have stayed at a hotel that night but neither of us thought it would take so long to get out of the canyon. What an experience! It is one that I do not ever want to repeat. To think I have ultra runner friends who do the Rim2Rim back to back without stopping. They are absolutely insane. If I were to suffer from amnesia and do the hike again I would, of course, start at the North Rim first. Secondly, I would not do it in the MIDDLE OF THE DAMN SUMMER! What the hell were we thinking?!

Randy Gets Lost In Havasu Falls

You would think that this being my third time to these falls that I would have the route down pat? Well, you would be wrong. Since this was my third time there and I was getting a little bored I decided to leave early at night to miss the heat of the day. Besides I could not sleep. Unfortunately, we had had some rain the previous day and the trail looked different. It ended up causing me to make a right instead of a left hand turn at the bridge. Eventually like five hours later, I figure I had went the wrong way. I waited at what I thought was a busy intersection only to find that it was actually an area where cows congregated. I was getting tired so I slept on top of a stone wall for a few hours. Still not convinced that I had went the wrong way I went a little further, and when I finally saw dozens of eyes staring at me, I knew that I had in fact zigged when I was supposed to zag. So, I back tracked all the way to the bridge and stomped through the water and kept on going and lo and behold their was the town, and the rest was easy as pie, that is until I hit the area that involved the climbing. By that time I had hit a wall, I had been hiking for close to 10 hours and I had not eaten anything. So I stopped for a bite to eat and was able to finish the climb. No problem, 10 miles in 12 hours. Well, who really knows how far I actually hiked. Yep, I know the way now, for sure that is. Well maybe.

Randy buys a video

Ever since I was a wee lad I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes, both the movies and the books. I have probably seen just about every Sherlock Holmes movie made. One of my favorite series was by Jeremy Brett. So when a six VHS video collection of Brett’s videos came on sale in Ebay, I was all over it. It was with a great deal of excitement and anticipation that I received those videos in the mail. I feverishly ripped open the package and immediately inserted the video in my VCR, and guess what it did not work. It was all fuzzy and full of static. This is when I found out that not all videos are created equally. Videotapes made for England are in a different format than those made for the US. WHAT THE HELL! It turns out that there are at least six different international video formats; NTSC, PAL. M-PAL, N-PAL, SEACAM AND MESECAM. NTSC is in the US and PAL is the English format. That is just great! If I want to watch those videos, I will have to now buy a multiformat VCR. Of course, the easiest thing would be to just toss the videos out and call it a day. Well if you think that was ever an option you do not know me very well.

So Ebay to the rescue. Of course, they had new ones on the international product websites, I just did not want to spend $300.00 or more for a new VCR that I would only use for these videos. So I found a likely used model for well under a $100.00. So, I bought it. A week later the VCR arrived at our house. Oh boy, Sherlock Holmes here I come. I hooked it up to the TV and got ready to plug in the power plug to the wall socket, and what the hell?! There was no damn power cord. I angrily searched every part of the VCR to see where the plug would go and there was none. There was just a hole in the case. So I opened up the case and looked at what corresponded to the hole. There was nothing. Apparently there should have been a card that plugged into the main board where the power cord went. So now I had six video tapes I couldn’t watch, I also had a useless VCR. So now do I give up and run? OH TO THE HELL NO!

So now I said F–k-you Ebay! I did what I should have done in the first place and that is buy a new damn VCR. So that is what I did and two weeks later I got my $350.00 multiformat VCR and watched my six damned video tapes. After all that, you know what…the video quality sucked. You know what I did not care. There is one thing, I never watched those videos again and I have never used that VCR again. With DVDs there is almost no reason for it. But you know what I had the last laugh, Hah!

My Name is Jose

I have moved several times since I moved to Las Vegas. As a matter of fact, I have moved so many times that I have my own packing blankets. I have over 50 storage bins and my three large wooden storage racks have wheels. Even my workbench has wheels as well. I also have a large utility trailer with a drop down tailgate that allows me to roll my equipment and carts right up into the trailer. I usually, however, rent a large box truck with a hydraulic lift for the furniture in the house. It is easier and you are less likely to damage your furniture. I save all the heaviest stuff for the last day of moving and that is when I hire two day laborers.

Over the years, I have had pretty good luck in choosing these laborers from Home Depot or Lowe’s parking lot but it is always better if you can get someone that you know or was recommended to you. This is what happened on this particular occasion. One of my fellow nurses has been using this one particular Hispanic laborer named, of course, Jose. We coordinated the meeting time and place. He said he and his buddy would be at such and such street corner in front of a U-Haul building. Warning bells should have went off in my head but they didn’t. I left an hour early to pick up my rental truck. My wife then drove our car back home as I went on to get my helpers at the U-Haul.

Of course, there were at least 30 Hispanic males looking for work. When I pulled up and said I was looking for Jose, you would have thought I was giving away free stuff. I got swarmed by Jose’s. I tried to narrow it down some, so I ended up just picking the cleanest Jose’s I could find. They agreed to my terms and off to my house we went.

No sooner than I pulled up to my house I got a call. When I answered the phone all I could understand was the word Jose. I shrugged my shoulders and gave the phone to Jose. I couldn’t figure out how he knew Jose was working for me. I guess I was so focused on the task at hand that my brain wasn’t functioning too well because the next thing the phone was given back to me by the Jose imposter. He said that Jose was on the phone and he wanted to talk to me. That is when I found out that I had the wrong damn Jose.

I gave explicit instructions to the real Jose on what to do when he saw my truck pull up to the U-Haul building. I then took back the fake Jose’s to their corner and gave them $20.00 for their inconvenience. I finally hooked up with original Jose’s and finished moving my furniture to our new house.

Don’t cut backpacking weight in your food allowance

This was my first experience with hiking the Trans-Zion trail. It was a 50-mile trail that connected the east to the west sides of Zion National Park. I wanted to take four days to do the trail but my hiking partner insisted on doing it in three days. Since we were going to be hiking over fifteen miles a day, I decided on shaving as much weight off my backpack as possible. I decided on using an emergency shelter instead of my tent and saved two pounds there. I also opted to just bring meal bars for my nutrition. This saved me the weight of the jetboil and the fuel canisters. This saved an additional two more pounds. I cut several more corners and eventually I had my total backpack weight including my camera down to 46 pounds. Still too heavy but I didn’t know what else to cut out.

The first day went pretty well, except that we got a late start and we only managed to get ten miles in. Already we were behind. Water was also more scarce than we had anticipated. We thus had to spend more time looking for it. I was able to choke down my meal bars and surprisingly was not hungry. The next day is when I started not feeling so well. We met my partner’s wife and family at the midway because they wanted to hike part of the trail. When we started the hike there were four of us. One of the hikers only wanted to hike the Eastern rim, so he was going to stop halfway through the second day. I had every intention on pushing through and finishing the whole trail even though we were going to have to hike twenty miles the last day. Unfortunately I started feeling worse and worse. So I opted to stop the hike and ride back with other hiker.

I was still non-plussed as to why I felt so crappy. I was not overly tired, I just felt weird. Then it came to me that maybe I was getting salt depleted. I looked at the label on my nutrition bars and sure enough the salt content was very low. On all my previous hikes I had eaten hot meals which had lots of sodium. This, of course, was done intentionally to replace the hikers lost salt reserves. The bars did not do that. So when my new partner stopped at a convenient store to get gas, I picked up some very salty snacks. It was amazing on how quickly I started feeling better. So now I bring a bottle of salt tablets with me on all of my hikes now I no longer have that problem. Who would have thought that my decision to alter my source of nutrition would cause so many problems.

My Kingdom for a Dive Computer

In this particular case, my wife Dory and I were going to the Philippines. Of course, I wanted to go scuba diving there as well. So I packed up all my gear which filled a large duffle bag and weighed almost 50 pounds. However, much to my chagrin when I was sorting out the gear at the hotel as part of my predive routine, I discovered that I did not have my dive computer. Which meant that most of my gear was now useless. So I now had to rent the dive shop’s cheap crap. My dives were saved but now I had a 50- pound anchor to tote around. So, we opted to bring it back to the airport and rented a storage locker to hold my gear there until we’re ready to fly back home. Of all the dive trips I had been on, this was the first time I did that. What a knucklehead. To my defense, the dive computer was stored in a small padded pouch and was quite easy to miss, especially considering on how much stuff we brought on this trip. Well, it sounded good on paper anyway.

Who says it Doesn’t Rain in the Desert?

On this particular occasion, we were entertaining one of my wife’s friends on a road trip. She agreed to pay the expenses if we did all the grunt work. Her only request was that she wanted to see a lot of cool stuff. By that I mean beautiful scenery. By the second day, her voice grated on my nerves like fingernails being scratched on a chalkboard. By the third day, I was ready to leave her behind at a rest stop. By the fourth day, I was fantasizing about dismemberment. Thank God there wasn’t a fifth day because who knows what I would have done. Because she paid for the trip we were treated like vassals or servants. On this particular trip, we still had my pickup truck. We were camping in a campsite on Lake Powell. We had had just finished enjoying a miserable morning on a boat ride through Horseshoe Bend. It had been raining all day and we were cold and tired. We had camped at the site the previous night and had planned on staying at least one more night on the lake. My wife and her friend had slept in the back of the truck where I had built in a rather comfortable bed. I had slept in my small tent . When we arrived at the site, the tent was collapsed and under water. It had looked like a twister had gone through our campsite. So now her friend had to sleep on the back seat of my truck. It was a good thing that she was short and small. I slept now in the back with my wife. We finally finished the road trip. I learned my lesson and will never do something like that again. After spending several days on the road with a previous stranger, all of their irritating little quirks and nuances become evident. It is lucky that I wasn’t up for murder charges.

What Happened to the Roof Rack?

Now that we made it back home, Dory’s friend wasn’t through with us yet, she wanted to see Death Valley. On the roof rack, I had put two spare tires. I have never given it much thought in regards to the weight of the tires. So now it became an issue because we’re driving on uneven and bumpy roads in Death Valley. The road was a dirt road through Titus Canyon. It is prbably one of the most hair raising roads in all of Death Valley, and I should know becasue I have pretty much covered every square mile of the valley. It was then that I heard a scraping noise like metal on metal. So, I pulled off the road, oh yah, I forgot what road? I just stopped my truck. Well, guess what… the weight of the tires with the bouncing and vibrations had broken my roof rack. So the roof rack went into the ditch for the next round of desert scavengers and the tires went into the back of the truck. Dory’s friend was fast becoming a major bad luck talisman.

What Happened to the Damn Heater, Part One?

Well, I have this little heater for fall and winter camping. I have a 20-lb propane tank so that I would not run out of fuel in the middle of the night. It was winter and we were camping in Utah. Of course, I forgot one of the connectors for the heater. So, it was useless. So that night it had to be a 100 below zero. We both had a miserable night’s sleep. The next day I woke up and I could not move, I was in that much pain. My whole back had locked up and the spasms would not stop. Finally, Dory was able to massage my back enough so that I could actually walk around and take down our campsite. Of course, we had no choice but to cut our expedition short because I had no intention of spending another night like that.

What Happened to the Damn Heater, Part Two?

We were in Yosemite this time and I think it might have actually been colder here. But not to fear I remembered to bring everything for the heater. Yes, I now had all the damn parts that I would need. I even brought the small bottles to hook directly to the heater as a backup in case the connectors for the bigger tank did not work. Well, as always seems to be the case…shit happened. It doesn’t matter how many backup plans I have in place, when things go south, they really go south. This time, the heater would not work at all. No matter what I tried. So, the next day we woke up frozen stiff like two human popsicles. After spending half the day absorbing the sunlight like lizards we finally thawed out. So yet again we had to cut a trip short. When we finally made it home I tried the heater out in the garage when I really did not need it to work, it worked the first time I tried it. What the hell? Did I do something to piss off the travel Gods or what?

Don’t take a bike ride\hike around Lake Mead in the summer

There is a reason that there are different types of bicycles. Each type of bike was designed for a purpose. There is no bike that can do everything. This is where my wife and I made the mistake. One of many actually. I used to own a racing bike which I customized for Triathlons. The major problem with these bikes is that their tires went flat very easily. When my wife and I decided on buying bicycles for exercise, I kept this in mind. We also knew that we would not be doing any trail riding. So we opted to buy cross training bikes. Because these bikes have no specific purpose, they don’t excell at anything. They are slow on pavement and their tires are too narrow to be much good on any but the most hard packed of trails.

Now that I have that out of the way let’s discuss where I live a little. Las Vegas is arid and as a result our annual rain falls is somewhere around 2.5 inches. Unfortunately we have been way south of that figure. We, along with our neighbors have been hitting the Colorado River pretty hard. So the levels of Lake Powell and Lake Mead are now reaching critical numbers. There are parts of the basin that haven’t seen the light of day since both dams were built. There were a couple of towns that were flooded by these new reservoirs. There is one right near where we live in Las Vegas. There is a washed out road that leads to the newly exposed ghost town, so we decided to try out our bikes.

Unfortunately the sections that were washed out were much longer than I thought. The soil was the consistency of powder, so our cross training tires sunk too far and thusly we had to push the bikes across these long stretches of washed out road. The second problem is that it was a lot hotter than we expected mainly because we thought we could just zip there and back with our bikes. Now that we had to walk long stretches, it was getting a lot hotter. We were also going through our water quicker. We finally made it to the ghost town. To be honest it was a major waste of time. We maybe spent an hour checking it out.

Now we had the trip back to look forward to. By this time it was noon and the temperature was nearing 110-degree Fahrenheit. There was very little shade. We found ourselves crawling under bushes to rest and to get out of the relentless heat of the unforgiving sun. We ran out of water about half a mile from our vehicle. We were able to ride our bikes a little more on the way back because it was downhill most of the way. When we had to push the bikes we put our daypacks on the handlebars to save us from carrying the weight. Finally after what seemed like an eternity we made it back to our vehicle. Thank God we had more water there. I really think we came close to suffering from heat stroke.

We made several mistakes that day. First of all, just don’t hike around Lake Mead in the summer. Secondly, bring a lot more water than you think you will need. Also it wouldn’t have hurt to bring our water purification system with us. I also bring one of those collapsible car window shades in my pack now. This helps to provide a makeshift sun shade to protect you from the sun. No matter how well you think you are prepared, Mother Nature has a way of showing you who is the boss.

What Ants?

This particular incident involved our trip to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. I could actually write an entire book devoted to the mishaps that took place on this trip. I will just discuss one of our early mishaps. It was our first night and we were in Nebraska. Dory had chosen this spot initially only to change her mind. I was in no mood, however, and was extremely cranky after the day we already had with the car rental debacle. We now had a van and we had planned on having an SUV. We had actually bought a tent to attach to the SUV to make single-night camping easier. Of course, this plan had turned to shit, so either we had to now stay in motels for our single-night stays or set up the whole damn tent each night. So, I was frankly in a poor mood, so I said, “No, we are staying right here”. It was precisely at that moment when my entire body felt like it was on fire. Apparently, ants have heard of team work. They all decided to sneak up on my body and due to hormones were able to synchronize their stings. I told my wife that we had to go to get some Calamine lotion and that we would have to stay at a motel because I needed to take a hot shower. Luckily we were able to get a refund and we beat feet for a local town where we not only got the lotion and some other goodies but we found a likely motel where I was able to take my hot shower. What a first day. Just a typical one of my travel stories.

Cell Phones Don’t Float

Of all the things I wanted to photograph on this trip, Devils Tower was one of the most important ones. Thank God, I took a few pictures before we set up camp. Because that was the last time I was going to even see the damn monolith. Again, where in the hell did the rain come from? It was coming down in buckets the whole night. So in the morning it was no wonder that our tent was under water. Of course, Dory’s cell phone was now waterlogged as well. Water and cell phones just don’t go together very well. Can anything else go wrong? Well, yes it could and it did.

Where is the Road?

Ever since I got rid of my pontoon boat, I wanted some form of water craft. Even though I had not used the boat for years, go figure. As soon as you get rid of something that is when you miss it the most. So, we opted for two fishing kayaks. Of course, nothing goes smoothly with my plans. First of all, the damn kayaks are extremely heavy and bulky. So the racks I bought for my wife’s SUV were just too small to handle them. We also found out that they were just too heavy for me to lift up by myself and my wife was just too short to be able to help. So I, of course, had to come up with an extremely complicated plan involving our retired utility trailer. After several failed plans, I finally came up with a solution that is not only simple but eloquent as well. So now that is all taken care of, we decided to go to Lake Mead and camp overnight and kayak the next day. We had previously scoped out the area and had a place already chosen. Unfortunately things had changed…so terra firma was now muddy not so firma, since our drought had ended by a recent deluge. Everything now looked different and to top if off it was getting dark. I made a judgment call and decided to keep on going down a rather dicey road. The next thing we know we are stuck fast in mud. Despite the best efforts of some friendly campers, we were not successful in extricating ourselves from our quagmire. So, we spent the night in our hog wallow where we enjoyed the sweet aroma of decaying plant matter. The next day, we contacted a tow truck service, and you would have thought by the difficulty they had in finding us that we were on the dark side of the moon. But finally they found us and after 1 full-hour and multiple attempts we had finally were free. Having a trailer attached to our van definitely made things more difficult. I firmly believe that if it were just the van, we could have extricated ourselves. I have since bought a different jack and several tread plates designed to aid in getting out of difficult situations.

Round Two: Where is the Water?

So not to be daunted by our previous mishap, we decided to give it another go. So this time we tried another location, we also had purchased kayak carts so that we did not have to get so close to the water. What could go wrong? I thought we had all the bases covered. But Mother Nature is fickle. It decided to be windy on this particular day. I guess, if we had more experience with our kayaks we would have been alright. For some reason, my kayak decided to have a mind of its own. Dory seemed on the other hand, to be doing just fine. So after several frustrating attempts to control my kayak, I told Dory to follow me. That was a mistake. I had made it finally back to the other side of the inlet and I wanted her to come over so that we could work together to get the kayaks out of the water. Dory made a valiant attempt of following my instructions but the poor thing was simply making no headway against the wind and the currents. It was then that four retired special forces gentlemen came to the rescue. Two dove in the water and swam out to Dory’s kayak and pulled it back onto to shore. Another vet seeing that I was spent, paddled my kayak back to the original side of the inlet. Thanks to these wonderful men in green who wanted nothing but our thanks, rescued us in our time of need. Cooler weather will soon be upon us, so who knows what fresh mischief we will find ourselves getting into.

Don’t get a bariatric operation if you love to eat

I have written a whole book discussing dieting and my experiences with weight loss and gastric surgery, however, I forgot to mention or discuss this one particular topic. If I had not decided to write this book, I would have added it to my diet book. By doing it this way, those that have already purchased it would lose out on this new information.

I am fast reaching my third month post-op. During this time I have come to the conclusion that I know longer really enjoy eating food any more. Don’t even mention going to restaurants. After about five or so bites of food, I start getting my telltale filled up feeling. This is a feeling that I have become all too familiar with. It is not a nice feeling because my stomach starts aching and it takes typically about an hour or so for it to go away. I hope with time the severity of the pain will eventually subside and go away.

I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. That is not the reason that I am writing about these experiences. I am writing it because I believe that this surgery is very big step to take. Besides I have no vested interest in whether or not you get the procedure done. I believe that people like me provide the most reliable information. You need to start worrying about information that is provided by someone with a vested interest. Not everybody has your best interests at heart.

I am used to having a really good insurance policy through my job. Unfortunately the insurance provided by my new job is not very good. My gastric procedure was not covered at all, so I had to take out a personal loan to cover it. So this is another reason to give it a lot of thought because you may find yourselves in the same boat.

Like I said if you really enjoy eating and it is the center of your life, you may want to consider other alternatives. If you are Italian, food is most likely a major part of your life. I am sure there are other cultures where it is also a major concern, however, none comes so readily to mind.

I unfortunately did not have any other options. My health was suffering and I simply couldn’t lose any weight. Every time I stepped on the scale my weight had reached new maximum levels. If I had my choice I would not go to another restaurant. I only do so because of my wife. What we have started doing is getting one meal and paying a nominal fee for a second plate and silverware so that we can share a meal. So I figure if I live to be a 150, I will finally save enough money to pay for the surgery. So obviously you do not have this surgery for monetary gain or because it is easy, you do it so that you can get your health and life back.

A leopard can’t change its spots or can it?

There is a saying that leopard can’t change its spots but that is not entirely true. Those spots can be temporarily bleached. However, the true colors will eventually come back. This metaphor or maybe even allegory can pertain to people as well.

When one graduates from high school, well at least most of us map out a life we would like to live. Many of us may even have a couple of backups lined up as well. I can tell you that nobody plans on getting married and divorced twice, and hopelessly in debt several times and virtually bankrupt at least twice and finally make at least half a dozen career changes. If they say they want this kind of life have them locked up and then throw away the key. Because they would certainly be crazy if they wanted this life. Well, that has been my life plus more.

I have written five books covering my life so far and this is my sixth one and there is still plenty of material left. Unfortunately a lot of the things I have not discussed so far are things that I am not so proud of. I will only cover them briefly in these last two stories. Maybe, I will eventually write another book covering them more thoroughly.

My first wife had an addictive personality. I know this now, it was one of the reasons our marriage failed. People are not born with these issues. They are born as a clean slate. They can be molded into just about anything provided they are born healthy and with a normal IQ.

Most children are raised in a fairly healthy, nurturing and loving environment. However, my first wife was not so lucky. First of all, she was adopted. We know nothing of her birth parents. If her adopted parents knew who they were or what their history was it followed them both to the grave. My wife and I both had our suspicions but they were never corroborated. Her adopted parents have passed away several years ago and are therefore immune from any notoriety that may arise from this book, so I will use their real names. The adopted father was named Morris and the adopted mother was named Lucille.

Morris was a hardworking, dour individual who turned quite mean when inebriated. He was firm and set in his ways and there was just black and white in his life. The color gray simply did not exist for him. He followed every rule to the “T”. Just to give you an example…in the old days before synthetic oils, it was recommended that you change your oil and filter every 3,000 miles. Well, Morris carried oil, filter and a mechanic’s jumpsuit and all the appropriate tools to change the oil when he and his family went on a road trip. As soon as his car hit the 3,000 mile mark he immediately pulled off the road where it was appropriate and changed the oil. What the hell is that?

Lucille was spiteful, devious and cunning who had a bowel fixation. She ruined not only her gastrointestinal tract but her daughter’s as well. She was laxative dependent and her daughter was also dependent. Morris and Lucille prior to adopting my future wife were childless. This was not by design, it was due to the fact that Lucille was sterile. She was sterile because she was to put it politely a very popular girl in her town. She also had a problem with birth control and ended up having six abortions. The last one causing her to become sterile. She even corrupted a young priest in her town. These are not salacious rumors but are facts and were corroborated by her cousin after her death.

No wonder my wife’s moral compass was off kilter. After being mentally and physically abused hy her mother for years, my future wife ran away from home at the age of 16. She had become a teenage alcoholic with low self-esteem issues. She fell into a bad crowd and was eventually rescued from the streets by one of her customers. They eventually married and had one daughter. He treated her with contempt and mentally abused her and he held her past over head like the blade of a guillotine.

Eventually she filed for divorce. Her and her daughter moved back in with her adopted parents where they raised their granddaughter. In doing so, they took every opportunity to turn their granddaughter against her mother. To this day they do not have a normal relationship. It is amazing that she turned into such a successful individual, even though she is cold, aloft and has a flat affect. She had become a young version of her grandmother albeit with better morals.

This is the family that I unwittingly married into. No wonder our relationship failed. It was not only destined to fail it was preordained to do so. What is amazing is that it lasted as long as it did. I believe its longevity is a testament to my stubbornness and my catholic upbringing. Eventually I realized that you can’t ruin your life by remaining in a loveless marriage. We even moved out of Florida to try and save the marriage. Though when I look back, it was virtually over by the fifth year, all but the paperwork that is. By the fifth year, our relationship was one of convenience only with none of the typical benefits associated with married life. It was then that I engaged in a lifestyle I am not proud of. I carried on a relationship with another woman for well over two years almost right up to the time we decided to move to Las Vegas. If my wife knew or even cared she gave no inkling of it. I, to this day do not know why I did not get divorced at this time and why it took almost seven more years to do so.

Let’s do a little backtracking to establish a defense for my behavior. When we got married my new wife had been sober for a year and was working on reestablishing her relationship with her daughter. So it looked like she had turned the corner. We had really hit it off and I liked that she was a few years older and was more mature and was obviously done with the bar scene. Which was something that I never really enjoyed anyways. I was by no means perfect, so who was I to pass judgment on her. So we got married. While we may not have been madly in love, our relationship did strengthen with time. Unfortunately she just had way too much baggage. Her self esteem was basically destroyed. She just felt like she did not deserve to be happy. Of course, it took years of living together for me to figure this out.

One thing that I noticed when my wife slept was that she did not snore which was great. However, she did two other things. One is that she smoked in bed, and second of all, she had a severe case of restless leg syndrome. So, she went to the doctor and he prescribed Klonipin. Was that doctor an idiot? He prescribed an addictive drug to an alcoholic. Klonipin also gives you a buzz and requires larger doses with time to be effective. Why not just give her a gun, it would be quicker. At this time I knew the anatomy and physiology of the human. I was not wise as to types of medications, so I went along with it.

It turns out that restless leg syndrome is a form of seizure activity, so under normal circumstances it would have been appropriate. But this was not a normal circumstance. Here is a description of the drug’s uses: Klonipin is a prescription drug used to treat the symptoms of seizures and panic disorder. It may be used alone or with other medications. It belongs to a class of drugs called anti-anxiety agents, anxiolytics, benzodiazepines and anti-convulsants.. Warning these drugs may result in lower libido, delayed ejaculated and erectile dysfunction.

It keeps on getting better. Let’s give this drug to not only an alcoholic but a newlywed as well. How fast can we find a divorce attorney? Well, let me tell you something, “can” is not an appropriate word for depression of the sex drive, it puts an absolute damper on it. We went from having sex three to four times a week to once a month and eventually once a year whether I wanted it or not.

I wish I had the date when she got that prescription because that is the date that spelled the end of our marriage. Klonipin was just the start, she went to methadone and Ativan plus she soon needed large doses of Benadryl to help her get to sleep. I already mentioned how she slept most of the time on our one and only cruise. As I am writing this anecdotal history, more and more falls into place. I guess I had been in a state of denial and self-blame all this time. I really think that writing your memoirs can be truly kethartic.

So can a leopard change their spots? It appears they can only for the short term. Everything you do in or have done will eventually come back to haunt you or bite you in the ass. All of the things my poor wife suffered through as a child made her who she became. I almost think she would have been better if she had been raised in foster care.

There is always two sides to a story, so don’t judge without knowing all the facts.

My first wife said that I was a fixer. She said I looked for people that were broken and I tried to make them better. Who knows maybe she was right. If you looked at all of my girlfriends, my fiancee and my ex-wives, just about all of them had issues of some kind or other. What a list they would make. There is a saying that you should never get serious about someone that followed another serious relationship. They call this person a rebound person. Because it is destined to fail. Well, this relationship lasted 9.5 years. But it was virtually over a month after we got married. We lived together for three years before we got married. Our first two years covered my divorce. The third year was a probation period for us after I got divorced.

When I tell you what she said to me a month after we got married it will blow your f–king mind. You will say how unlucky can one be. You will then ask did I have money? When we first met, yes I had money. I had a nice house, our cars were paid for, and we had no credit card debts. Though I was in an absolute shit marriage, at least I was financially well off. So was my second wife a gold digger? I can safely say maybe. To be honest who in the hell knows. I guess only she knows for sure.

Before I tell you my secret and you hang her from the yard arm, let me give a little bit of a background on her.

First of all, she was a latch-key kid. From late elementary school to high school she virtually raised herself. She was diagnosed as a manic-depressive in high school. Her brother for fun used to lock her up in the closet for hours on end, so she became severely claustrophobic. While her mother didn’t physically abuse her, she was effectively abused related to neglect. The mother did the best she could and was a single mother with two young children. She finally married a good person when my second wife neared the end of her high school career.

Because she suffered from manic depression, she had poor impulse control. Because she was not raised in an appropriate setting she never learned effective social skills. In her first marriage, she suffered from verbal abuse by her husband. He ended up getting custody of their son, so this devastated her even though she knew her son was better off with his father and his new wife. So here I was right in the middle of a mess. I just cannot catch a break. Even though her childhood was a mess this still does not excuse her for what she did to me.

OK, here comes the whopper of the century. This took place one month after we got married. Mind you we had been living together for three years. We had been living a lie for three years. Are you ready? Drum roll, please. She told me that ever since she started taking her antisychotics in high school she had never had an orgasm and did not enjoy sex. She said that she had been faking her orgasms all this time. She also said that she since she got no joy from having sex with me or any guy, that as long as I did not make a spectacle of it, I could have flings on the side.

Of course, a couple years later she denied she ever said this. So do I get a what the hell?! So the sex pretty much dried up from there. It went from once a month to once or twice a year. The last time this happened I was in my late thirties hardly dead. Now I am in my mid-forties, again hardly dead. This went on for six years before I finally had enough. The clincher was that she treated me like shit in front of our friends and took every opportunity to belittle me. Not to mention she or her son were constantly doing dumb things that was costing me tons of money.

So yes, I found an accommodating female that wanted nothing more than to enjoy my company. Again I am not proud of the situation but the circumstances were beyond bizarre. The reason I did not immediately file for a divorce was that she had spent $30,000 refurbishing my house after my first wife finished raping me in our divorce. It took me several years before I could pay her back that money. Remember I had alimony I was paying from my first divorce. I was thusly terrified of having to pay alimony for a second ex-wife, so I had to be very careful. I did not want to end up living in a damn tent afterall.