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Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

Hit By A Truck

Okay the title is a little misleading.  My friend Richard drove into a truck.  With his bicycle, the truck was not moving.  He didn’t really even hit the truck.  In fact he drove up the ramp and right into the back of a moving van.  No, he did not do this on purpose.  We were riding down the street side by side talking about whatever we happened to be talking about.  Parked on the side of the road was a large moving van.  Rich, did. not. see. it.  All I am saying is good thing there was a ramp otherwise he would have smashed right into the back-end of the truck and the outcome probably would have been a trip to the hospital.

I’m not sure why this is a pick on Rich post, but it is.

Rich, Steve, (Richards brother) and I spent a lot of time riding around on our bicycles.  Often times we experienced technical issues.  I was hit by a car, (nothing serious), Steve lost his front wheel, it just kind of rolled on ahead of us.  On this particular excursion we were headed to Mt. Royal.  Before the journey even began Richard proclaimed; “He who gets a flat tire walks!’  Richard got a flat half way down the mountain.  Steve and I were the ones that ended up walking.

Richard and I survived high school together, I honestly don’t think I ever would have survived if he wasn’t there.  People would look at us in an odd sense of wonder as we would argue and bitch at each other most of the day, yet we always walked home together.  We were in a lot of ways opposite. Richard is a blue-eyed blond german.  His father is direct from ‘The Mother Land’  he was not a nazi, not even close but he did fight in the regular army.  If I remember correctly Richards grandmother was pretty close to Hitler possibly a secretary.  I don’t know it was never really talked about.  Richard will correct me if I am wrong.

I on the other hand am Jewish,  not hard-core, but jewish enough. My great-aunt had the numbers tattooed on her arm.  I don’t like to think about the holocaust I don’t like to think about that particular war.  I’ve never seen Schindler’s List.  It is a sore subject with me and I can’t honestly say why, enough said. Regardless Rich and I were/are very close.  But we had our moments. 

Richard: “Bri, let’s go to McDonalds”

“Okay”  We would get there, order the food.

Richard: “I forgot my wallet, I’ll pay you back”

Richard currently owes me $2,723.36.  I’m starting to think he left his wallet at home on purpose.  I also have come to the realization that I’ll never see that money again.  I did get even.  Richard and I built an HO scale railroad in his garage.  While Rich would work on a particular part I would plug the track in at the exact right moment.  It is amazing how much electricity runs through a model railroad track.  It was kind of fun to watch the sparks fly from his fillings.

Richard built a model rocket, okay we both built model rockets.  The difference is Richard launched his INSIDE his basement.  His reasoning?  He didn’t think it would fly.  Man was his father pissed when he saw the ceiling.  Of course we do have Steve to thank as he sat there staring at the ceiling until his father looked up.

Richard and I purchased some lumber for a deck we were building onto his folks house, (it is a great deck) we strapped the wood to the roof of the car.  How does one secure wood to the roof of a car?  Why rope of course!  The employees at the lumber yard had a good laugh as we looped the rope through the windows and over the roof (and the wood) in the process we tied the doors to the frame of the car.  Of course we only realized this when we tried to get into the car.  Eventually we did the dukes of hazard thing and went through the windows.  unfortunately there was no Daisy Mae waiting for us when we got home.

I think that ends my little walk down memory lane.  Rich we will have to do the Skype thing one of these days.

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Seeing as Bullying is once again the hot topic I thought I would share my bullying experience.

Brody was in grade seven, for the second time around.  That in itself would not be bad, but he also spent two years in grade six.  He also tried to jump out of the second floor library window.  They should not have stopped him. 

I had known about Brody for a year or two before we came face to face.  Due to my dyslexia it was decided rather than repeating a grade  I would take remedial classes to make up for the classes I had missed while dealing with the dyslexia.  It was not a great idea, first, going to the remedial classes forced me to miss yet more classes.  Secondly, Brody was taking remedial classes, and that is how I became a large blip on his radar.

It wasn’t too bad a first.  I’d leave school and waiting for me at my bicycle would be Brody who would want to ‘borrow’ my bicycle. 

“Brian, unlock your bike I need to borrow it”

“Brody I can’t let you borrow it I need to go home”  At which point Brody would try to pick the lock and failing that he would threaten me, perhaps shove me around but eventually he would ‘give up’ and leave.   I fell for that once, he really didn’t leave, he hid in the bushes around the block and at the last second he would jump out from behind the bushes and throw me and my bicycle to the ground.  I soon learned that I could leave out the back door and go to my friend Roberts house for an hour or so, then go back to the school get my bike and head home.  For awhile I simply stopped bringing my bike to school, Shane, (another friend) was Brody’s other target.  Shane and I lived two houses apart, and we would walk about a mile out of our way so Brody could not follow us home. 

Andrew and I had identical bikes, Brody did not know the difference and would lay in wait near the bike thinking it was mine.  When he realized it was Andrew’s Brody would be so upset he would shove Andrew around.  Andrew also stopped bringing his bike to school.

Often times I would walk home with Brahm.  Brahm was rewarded for his friendship with me by getting a kick in the shin by Brody. Sorry Brahm, and thanks for sticking with me.

Eventually I told my mother about the situation.  She had my brother, (who was in high school) talk with Brody.  My brother spoke to the wrong guy.  That guy told Brody and my life became even more difficult.  I wish there was something I could type here that would help parents help their kids.  But I have no answers.  Thanks for trying mom, and Mike.  But seriously the situation only got worse. 

The odd thing about the situation is that Gail, Brody’s sister and I were pretty good friends, and my life may have been made easier if I had dissolved that friendship.  But I was far to stubborn for that kind of nonsense.  Gail and I had been in the same class and friends for three years before Brody started to target me, and until that time I didn’t even know they were brother and sister.

So, you may be wondering, how did it end?  Before I answer that I want to point out that the way it ended will not work for everyone. In fact I can’t really recommend it as a solution, but sometimes…

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a sports guy.  Sure I’ll watch the occasional hockey game on TV.  I used to play pool and darts.  Living next to Penn State you pretty much have to have at least a partial interest in football, or at least Penn State football.  But if it all went away tomorrow, it wouldn’t bother me in the least.

At lunch and recess we used to play hit the bat.  One person would be at bat and hit the ball,  if you catch the ball, the batter places the bat on the ground and the person who caught the ball would roll the ball towards the bat, if you hit the bat you became the batter.  (Naturally I played to lose seeing it wasn’t until high school when I could actually make a connection between the bat and the ball, it would have been a very long, dull game).  My father who was a terrific ball player and played on some sort of league had purchased a new glove and allowed me to borrow his old one.  In truth I think he gave me the glove, only I didn’t know it at the time, we will have to wait to see if he comments, I do know that later he did give me that glove, and I kept it for a very long time.  There is a part of me that wishes I still had it.

So what does all this have to do with Brody?  Be patient, I’m just waiting for the words to be typed.

Peter is at bat.  I am trying to look like I want to catch the ball along with a bunch of other guys.  Out of the corner of my eye I see Brody heading towards me.

“Brian!  Brian I want to play, give my your glove”  I knew if he got my glove, I would never get it back.

“I can’t it is my fathers, I can’t lend it out”

“Give me the glove now!”  In my 45 years I have only been absolutely sure of three or four things in life.  At that moment I knew one thing, Brody was not going to get that baseball glove.  “Brody, please, I can’t.”  At this point I was quickly scanning for a teacher, I knew this was not going well, a crowd of kids was starting to form.  Peter stepped in to try to resolve the situation,   “Brody…”  Brody punched Peter in the face and Peter went down like a sack of potatoes.  Remember, Brody was at least two years ahead of us.

“Give me the glove!”

“Brody, I can’t”

Brody came at me, and suddenly everything slowed down.  It was very surreal, he raised his fists and kept coming at me full tilt.  But for me it was like watching a movie in slow motion, I was aware of the crowd but in a very limited way.  I also saw the flaw in Brody’s approach,  as he came at me I ducked low, my shoulder caught him just below his ribs and he went up and over me and landed hard on his back behind me.  As I turned he started to get up, his eyes bulging, his face red.  He was saying things I couldn’t quite hear and he came at me again. The exact same way.  Again I ducked down, again he flipped over me, again he landed on his back, again I turned and again he started to yell things at me, but I looked in his eyes and I knew he was done, I also knew he just couldn’t give up but I prayed he would stay down of course he didn’t.  He almost made it to his feet but my knee got him in the chest, hard! Now Brody stayed down and he wasn’t yelling anymore, he was too busy gasping for breath.

I sat in the principals office.  Mr. Russell just peered at me from over the top of his glasses.  I don’t know how long we sat that way. I thought he had phoned my folks, I thought that is what we were waiting for.  I wondered how much trouble I was in.  Eventually in a very quiet calm voice Mr. Russell spoke to me.  “Brian” he said, “I’m sorry, you are not in trouble, go back to class”.

I didn’t see Brody for a few months.  In fact I never saw him again in school.  One winter day I was walking home with Anna who lived not far from me and Brody appeared from behind a snow bank.  Anna started to run but she was safe, Brody was after me.  He tackled me to the ground yanked off my hat and started pulling my hair.  “Now who is stronger?”  I clasped my hands above my head and then thrust my fists forward when my fists hit his head he let go of my hair, I hit him again making contact with his chest.  He flipped onto his side.  I rolled him onto his back and landed with my knees in his chest.  He was still lying there when Anna and I walked away. 

A few weeks later Gail told me that Brody was going to another school and was no longer living at home.   Spring eventually came.  School ended for the summer and I never saw Gail or Brody again.

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My wife and I have had a really rough few months.  We both have had a lot of job stress, we are re-decorating our bedroom, my folks, sister and nephew are coming to visit at the end of this week,   We are having health issues with a cat and the dog is on a new medication with some interesting side effects, trying to trap some kittens, (which I think mom has relocated so I don’t think its going to happen).  Lots of little things that we hope to get done by the end of the summer.  In short we have not had a lot of time to sit down and take it easy. 

This morning as we were getting to ready to work my beautiful wife asks me. “Is our anniversary today or Wednesday?”  My reaction must have been pretty close to a dear caught in the headlights.  Being a guy I knew this was a trap.  I had a 50/50 chance of getting this right.   Lucky for me there was something in my wife’s look and the sound of her voice, she really didn’t know.  I figured if she was being honest, so would I.  “Today or Wednesday?  Heck I didn’t even realize it was this month!” At which point we both just laughed.  I suggested that we try to figure out which day our anniversary lands on.  My wife’s response was, “Why? What difference does it make?”

Wednesday it will be our 9 year anniversary and the actual day doesn’t matter.  What matters is we found one another, we are in love, we are best friends, we are happily and solidly married.  Every morning we wake up beside each other is an anniversary. The time we spend together, that is what matters.

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The players:

Farmer Bob. 

First, he is not a farmer, farmer Bob is a consultant for farmers in Tennessee. Here is a very brief and simplistic explanation of what farmer Bob does.

If farmer John’s crop is not quite right  he calls farmer Bob and sends him a plant or soil sample, farmer Bob can then possibly  tell Farmer John what he needs to do to grow a healthier crop.

Secondly, his name is not Bob.

Lab technician Clarice.

Who is  really the Assistant supervisor in an environmental testing lab.  In brief, Clarice tests plants (and water) for a variety of chemicals for a variety of reasons mostly for the betterment of growers and researchers to produce better products.

Her name is not really Clarice, (but she is my wife).

So what in blue blazes is this post about?  It is about small worlds. 

Farmer John in Tennessee is having problems, so he calls farmer Bob, who gets plant samples which he sends to the lab (here in Pennsylvania) where my wife works.  There is a slight glitch and Bob calls Clarice, and as always happens with my wife, they get to talking.

Before Bob went to Tennessee he was in California.  My wife lived in California until she was 19.  Bob used to do consultant work in California one of his clients was a poinsettia farmer.  My wife used ride her horse on the same poinsettia farmers land.    Bob raced motorcycles, my wife was also involved in motorcycle racing, (see where this is going?) it turns out not only were they part of the same SCORE (International Off Road Racing) for the famous Baja races in mexico, they also raced at the same raceways in California. They clearly didn’t know each other back then, but chances are pretty good that they crossed paths, probably more than once.  Here they are 30 yrs later in different parts of the country doing business and sharing shared memories together they didn’t know they had. 

Kind of makes you wonder how the moron driver you flipped off on your way to work this morning is going to fit into your life 3o years from now.

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During my stay in the hospital I shared a room with MR. B. who happened to be the grandfather of one of my brother’s childhood friends.  Despite the difference in our age (about 40 years) we ended up having a great deal of fun.  We were both hospitalized for stomach issues, (although he had a few other things going on at the time) and we would cheer each other on every time one of us would pass gas because that is a sure sign that things were on the mend.  The passing gas that is, the cheering had nothing to do with getting better.

There was a period of two days that we had a burned out light bulb in our bathroom.  Why did it take two days?  That’s exactly what we wanted to know.  Turns out that the nurses were not allowed to change a light bulb so they referred the issue to maintenance who claimed that because it was a regular light bulb and not an incandescent bulb that it was an orderly’s responsibility, of course the orderly’s didn’t think that was correct and would refer it back to maintenance.  Mr. B and I wanted to see how long it would actually take so we were not about to change it ourselves, besides who needs a stinkin’ bathroom when you have a bedpan?  Mr. B’s grandson couldn’t let it go and stole a light bulb from somewhere and put it in our bathroom.  Otherwise I am sure 30 plus years later that bathroom would still be dark.  This is ironic when you understand that it was Mr. B’s grandson who used to steal street signs and decorate his room with them. 

Seeing the opportunity for something to amuse himself Mr. B would throw a ball of tissue on the floor to see how long it would stay there till somebody picked it up.  I couldn’t understand why he would always make sure and throw it directly across from his bed.  To be fair the tissue would only be on the floor a few hours before somebody picked it up, once it took three days because it was a long weekend.  Finally I had to ask:

 “Mr. B. why do you always throw the tissue to that particular spot?”

“Because I like to watch the nurse bend over and pick it up. I’m old, not dead”

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for this post to make sense, you may want to read this one first.

My wife was in the kitchen, her back to the TV I was in the living room and I happened to see the commercial for the new Robin Hood movie.  The first thing I noticed is that Robin Hood is being played by an Australian.  I suppose that could be accurate, after all Robin Hood was a thief and Australia was a penal colony.

But what prompted this post was the conversation that followed the comercial of which my wife had not seen:

Me: “Hey it looks like that guy is going to play Friar Tuck”

Wife: “What in blue blazes are you talking about?”

Me: “You know that guy from the comedy”

Wife: (The Look)

Me: “You know that new movie, I think Friar Tuck is going to be played by that guy in the comedy we liked”

Wife: “You mean Still Standing?, and he was in A Knights Tale?”

Me: “Yes”.

Oh my God!

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Dorian

In my twentieth post I said I couldn’t write about anything I was unable/unwilling to part with.  I’ve thought about posting this when I first contemplated blogging, forty-seven posts later, it has finally arrived.  If I have to be honest, I’m still not sure about how I feel about sharing this, and I don’t know why.

I can’t quite remember when or how Dorian entered our lives but my wife and I won’t forget him.  Dorian was a big grey monster of a cat.  My wife thought he was ugly, I thought of him more as a bruiser. He never came inside, he would allow you to pet him, but picking him up was out of the question. He would disappear for weeks at a time and just when you thought he was gone for good he would show up on the doorstep waiting for his plate of food.  We suspected (and years later confirmed) he belonged to a neighbor, but except for forcing him to come indoors we considered him one of ours.

Dorian had no front claws, but despite this disadvantage he was king of the roost.  Truth be told, the world belonged to Dorian, the rest of us just live here.  Sequoia, our 60 pound prey driven, animal hating husky treated Dorian with all due respect.  Often Sequoia would be on our porch (secured by her zipline) ‘asleep’ in her chair and Dorian would saunter up the porch.  Normally if a bird so much as lands on the rail Sequoia would be trying to snap at it.  Slow chipmunks/squirrels don’t survive Sequoia, other dogs, cats, possums, skunks, raccoons, turkeys (you name it) that tread on land that Sequoia thinks is hers (any property within her line of sight belongs to Sequoia) will suffer her wrath.  Dorian however was a slightly different matter.  Sequoia would pretend to be asleep as Dorian sashayed within easy reach but once he reached the door which just happens to be out of Sequoia’s zipline range, Sequoia would leap into action, fur standing on end, ears back, teeth bared, growling, snarling, straining at the end of her leash.  This happened too many times for it to be coincidence and more than once I caught Sequoia feigning sleep (one eye open watching Dorian) only to leap into action once the cat was out of range. Dorian on his part would look at Sequoia without a care in the world.

When Dorian showed up one evening limping, with an open wound on his leg we risked life and limb and shoved him snarling into a carrier and took him to the vet.  After we described the problem and the cat, the vet and vet tech put on the Kevlar gloves subdued Dorian and secured a muzzle in place which Dorian promptly bit through.  

Dorian supervised a great deal of our animal releases.  He would follow us into the woods, sit well back while we released our charges and then walked back to the house with us.  Dorian, secure in his position as King of the world was at heart, a gentle soul.

One day my wife was standing in front of the house watching Dorian walk away, when he reached the top of the driveway he stopped looked back at my wife and then moved on.  My wife told me that this was the last time we were going to see Dorian.  At the time I didn’t think much about it, of course we never saw him again.  We later learned that he did indeed live across the street.  His name was actually Smokey and he came home one day and for the first time stuck around the owner said Smokey was obviously ‘feeling his age’ then one day he left home and never came back.

I choose to believe that Dorian found a quiet spot in the woods, went to sleep peacefully and never woke up.  It would be just like him, making his own decisions in his own time and in his own way.  Whatever his finals days were I certainly miss that big ole’ bruiser.

Dorian EatingRelaxing

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