Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

The Imposter

On about the first few years of the nineteen nineties, I happened to be employed at my college town’s local newspaper the Davis Enterprise.  I worked in the Circulation Department where my main responsibility was making sure that our thirty or forty middle school aged newspaper carriers received a paycheck every month.  I balanced this full-time job with a full course load at UC Davis as well as a jam-packed social agenda that included Grateful Dead shows, band practices with my rock group Film at 11, and frequent visits to the botany lab.

Our department was populated by a half dozen twenty to twenty-five year olds so you could imagine that the work environment was fairly light-hearted and jovial most days of the week.  For example, whenever there was occasion to fire a carrier for racking up too many customer complaints or for forgetting to do his route too many days in a row, those of us gathered in the office would sing the chorus of that song that goes, “Na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, good bye.”  Now before you go and get all  Judge Wapner on me, please keep in mind that we never sang that infectious little ditty in front of any kids and we were young, stupid, and extremely immature.  But I must admit, it was pretty funny at the time. Maybe a bit mean, but funny.

Speaking of funny, have you ever heard of imposter colognes?  You know, the kind that allegedly smells exactly the same as the real thing but for a fraction of the price?  Well, back in the days before these scent merchants set up shop in your neighborhood mall, they had to go door-to-door in order to peddle their wares.  One morning, this guy enters the office with a suitcase full of faux colognes and he is not taking no for an answer.  This dude is beyond pushy and his act is getting more and more obnoxious with each passing minute.

Our quick-witted receptionist named Patrick offered up the following ultimatum to the pesky salesman: “If you have this one cologne I’m looking for, I’ll buy everything you’ve got.  If you don’t have it, you’re outta here with nothing.  Deal?”

“Deal!” was his response as he flipped open the latch on his suitcase the moment it landed on the three foot tall front desk countertop.

There was a pause that seemed to last for an hour but in reality was only about five seconds when the self-titled Phone Boy uttered these now classic words: “Do you have Eau Dah Dew Dah Day?”

The salesman didn’t even bother to look in his case.  Knowing he had been bested, he quickly and quietly exited the building as those of us who remained are still laughing today.


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PST and Y2K

In anticipation of the impending November 7, 2010 change back to Pacific Standard Time, I am reminded of a former co-worker of mine back in the days before I became a public servant in the field of middle school mathematics education.  This guy, whose name was Steve, used to prepare weeks in advance of the time switch back in the fall of every year by waking up an hour earlier than was necessary in order to acclimate his body and mind to the upcoming one day loss of an hour of sleep.  That was just the kind of person he was.  He also bought in to the whole civilization is going to come to an end at midnight on New Year’s Eve 2000 scare so much so that he stockpiled water, batteries, food, along with a frightening quantity of guns and ammunition in his backyard bunker.  Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

The only thing that I knew of that didn’t survive into the 21st century was my family’s beloved pet parrot Columbus.  He lived to the age of 25 when we decided to have him euthanized on January 1, 2000.  I guess he wasn’t Y2K compatible.

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Pining for PIN

Parent Information Night — PIN for short — is an annual tradition at La Entrada School.   PIN takes place one evening during the first week of classes and it is the same exact concept as Back to School Night except PIN is a way cooler sounding acronym than BtSN.

I used to enjoy PIN a whole lot more than I probably should have.  We teachers were given twenty minutes to sell our entire program — from curriculum to grading policy and every conceivable detail in between — in the front of a jam-packed classroom filled with upwards of 150 parents.   I could stand and talk for days on end to a room full of students but the second you put me before a bunch of adults,  I turn into a bundle of nerves.

Typically,  once I began my presentation the anxiety subsided to such a degree that the rate of my speech resembled that of a master debater.   When all was said and done,  not only had I survived,  I felt better than awesome.  Invigorated.

By far,  my favorite part of PIN was trying to take my friend and colleague Diane off her game mere minutes before her presentation.   It all started my first year when I wandered next-door to see how she was doing and we got to talking about this and that.   As it got closer and closer to showtime,  a joke that I had recently heard came to mind.

So this guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office wearing nothing but Saran Wrap.   The doctor looks him over and says,  “Sir,  I can clearly see your(e) nuts.”

Diane laughed hysterically as the bell rang and the parents began to file into her room.

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There we were,  a few friends sitting together,  shooting the breeze,  and watching a movie on a premium cable channel when friend #2 silently excused himself.   A good ten minutes passed before he emerged from the room down the hall immediately engaging in a hushed dialogue with my dad.   The off-duty Italian-American Man Servant shook his head and headed towards the garage.   The now on-duty IAMS returned momentarily with the always reliable toilet auger and accompanied a red-faced friend #2 into the breach.

We have all lived through embarrassing moments that never seemed to end, myself especially.   I have already discussed The Piss Chaps Incident on this site.  But the gaffes don’t end there.   Who could ever forget the day that I blew out the crotch of my favorite pair of 501s when I attempted to replicate a David Lee Roth scissor-kick?   Or how about the time I spilled an entire 64-ounce Coca-Cola on a co-worker in the first inning of a company sponsored Giants game?   I will never forget that night in college when I had the most vivid dream that I was taking the most real feeling piss ever only to wake up thirty seconds later completely soaked in urine.   The most difficult part was figuring out a good way to tell my girlfriend who was sleeping next to me that I needed her help with changing the soiled sheets.

But probably the most embarrassing moment of my life occurred during a wedding that my band was playing.   Our guitarist tried to teach me how to play the Chicken Dance during a set break (For the record,  I had never even heard the song before).   As fate would have it,  the sheet music I was using had a measure missing so when we played it a half-hour later,  the song sounded like absolute crap.   For the rest of the reception,  folks avoided the dance floor as if it was made of lava.   I never played that song again.

Now that I’ve shared some of my more memorable mishaps with you,  I would love to hear some of yours.

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92 Flashback Special

It was an age of smoking Marlboros and getting loaded before watching Star Trek: The Next Generation every night at 11:00 with friends.   Unfortunately for the cumulative college GPA, reading for personal pleasure and intellectual enlightenment was the order of the day every day.   Books like Generation X, The Basketball Diaries,  A Confederacy of Dunces,  and Siddhartha were consumed with an appetite both voracious and insatiable.

A different aesthetic played big in those days.   Earning the degree meant tons but not selling out to the man after getting that piece of paper meant more.   Doing important work without going all corporate was what it was all about for anyone who was tuned in to the countercultural zeitgeist du jour of the times.

Of course,  abject idealism doesn’t pay the bills in the real world.

At least they didn’t in my case.   Not without a haircut.

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Call Him Pasta

Once upon a time in the Fall of 1987, a young college freshman pledging a fraternity offered up his connections for free spaghetti in order to feed the masses at an all you can eat fundraising event.   From that day forward,  he became known hither and yon as Pasta.

Although not much is remembered from those hazy crazy daze, Brother Brad was able to unearth a few pictures circa 1992.

Brian, Pasta, and RJ

Eric, RJ, Pasta, and Brad

At this point in time, the room technically belonged to Brad but when it was mine the year before I hired a couple of middle school skaters to draw on my walls.

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At some point during our latest and not-so-greatest adventure,  I got to thinking about the number of times I have been to Disneyland.   By my own fairly reliable count,  I mark my tally at seven times.   And as I was reflecting back on those experiences,  certain memories supplanted others to become the top dog as far as remembered moments are concerned.

Here are those magical memories:

The first time my parents and I visited,  I vividly recall crying my eyes out in our motel room when they informed me that we were leaving in an hour.

The next time we went I remember being whisked out of some greasy spoon diner in the valley with my cousins because no one was serving our party in the forty-five minutes we sat at our table.

And who could forget the time in high school when the first girl I tried to talk to didn’t speak English.   Or how about later that night at the Tomorrowland Disco when the girl I tried to dance with rejected me by turning her back to me on the dance floor.   Ouch.

Then there was the time with my fraternity brother and his wife when we did our best Cheech and Chong impression in the parking lot and when we entered the park,  we couldn’t figure out why we were the only ones walking down the middle of the street.   I believe the answer nearly marched over us in the form of the Main Street parade that was just beginning.

Things turned around for me the next time I went because Fehmeen and I rung in New Year’s Eve 2005 with three consecutive rides on the Teacups at midnight as we watched the fireworks explode overhead.

Last year was Emma’s first time and that trip has been well-chronicled on this blog in August 2009.

And that brings us to this year’s vacation and the less said about it the better.

Now that I’ve shared my Disneyland number and associated memories with all of you,  I would be beyond excited to hear about your experiences.  Even if that means you have to comment for the first time.   I promise to thank you personally for doing so,  too.

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Working for the Weekend

Now that I am living fat and happy courtesy of my monthly disability check, I figure that this is the opportune time to show you all my resume of the various jobs that I have done over my adult lifetime.  I will list the company name, the tasks for which I was responsible, and my reason for leaving.

Micro Bio-Medics: I was a warehouse boy for two consecutive summers after my senior year in high school.  Besides picking and packing orders, I got to experience the Pavlovian Response to the horn of my first ever Roach Coach. I was a asked not to return the next summer due to my propensity to get my fellow co-workers to play war with our medical supplies. Care to elaborate, Dan?

Census Enumerator: My job was to walk around the neighborhood knocking on people’s doors who had not yet sent in their forms.  After having one too many front doors slammed in my face I decided to hang up my clipboard.

Roadway Packing Systems: In a job procured by my fraternity brother it was my happy task each day during this summer to empty a garage full of UPS-style vans of their boxes and load them onto a  trailer.  When that was done I got to clean the bathrooms.  Why did I leave?   Hot trucks, toilets, and the summer heat of Sacramento, wouldn’t you quit?

Hotel El Rancho: I went from a banquet waiter with no experience to one of four head banquet waiters in about three months.  I loved this job especially the time that I dropped the last steak in the house on the floor of the holding kitchen.  The general manager of the hotel picked it up and the head chef  wiped it off and told me to serve it. I retired my apron in order to spend more time with my new girlfriend.  Sorry, Fehmeen.

The Davis Enterprise: In this job I was responsible for making sure that all of our newspaper carriers got paid each month.  My boss was a major Deadhead and we went to about a dozen shows together.  I left that job and that town because I graduated.

Healthsouth: My first post-college employment opportunity, I was a patient account rep at a physical therapy clinic.  My boss was Stan Conti (the trainer for the Giants and now with the Dodgers) and I got to meet several high profile athletes. The coolest was the time I came back from lunch with a pack of baseball cards and Indian’s catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. looked at them with me and told me some funny stories about each guy.  I got fired the day before Thanksgiving because I was slacking on collecting a tall stack of uncollected account balances.

Continental Glass: Hired as a lowly phone boy, I climbed the “corporate”  step-stool (it was a family business) to become the company’s bookkeeper.  It was the seven years I spent here where I developed a strong work ethic.  I gave my two month notice in order to focus on my next career move.

Math Teacher at La Entrada: From my first day in room 9 with eleven of Ms. Campbell’s “finest” where I told them that I was going to treat them like adults and then spent the next three months trying to regain control to hugging every one of my graduating eighth graders after my last commencement ceremony in June 2008, this was THE job that I was born to do.

Blogger/ALS Boy: The pay most definitely sucks but I get to make my own hours and I get to work with the coolest peeps in the whole wide world.

pecked by The Hen

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Moving Violation

Over the years, I managed to earn five tickets for various moving violations. Two of them were for speeding in the Sacramento/Davis area. I remember singing along to a tape at the top of my lungs as I pushed the needle north of 80 mph and then seeing the black and white flash the blue and red. I was more annoyed at having to stop singing because my voice was in excellent form that day than actually getting the ticket. The other three were for rolling though red lights and stop signs. The stop sign one was on my bicycle in college and it was especially aggravating when I found out an hour later that this girl I knew got stopped for the same thing and she got out of it because she looked better in a tight t-shirt than I did.

By far the worst experience in getting pulled over happened when I was about nine years old. My mom blew through a stop sign in her VW Bug at the entrance of San Bruno Park. It must have been a slow morning for crime in the city of my youth because the cop that pulled us over was joined by no less than four of his police officer friends. It was the height of embarrassment for a kid of that particular age. Ask my mom about it someday, I am sure she remembers it as well.

Typing and Gagazi by Lhito

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An Ode

Fehmeen asked me to write a little poem for her open house at school tonight. I wrote it before and after my Eye Max training session yesterday. The Eye Max btw is friggin’ fabulous. I want to drive it around the neighborhood for a while before I turn it loose on Al Gore’s information super highway. I just thought that you’d want to know.

Now, on to the ode.

An Ode to Old LE

Do you remember middle school

Was it scary or was it fun?

Were you a straight A student

Or did you like to play in the sun?

For me it was a combo

Of frightening and nice

I guess I really liked it

Because I attended twice.

Once as a student in the 80’s

When I wanted to be Erik Estrada

And then as a teacher

At good old La Entrada.

I recall my first day teaching

Sixth and seventh grade math

It was as if I’d found my way

I’d finally found my path.

Parents, teachers, bosses

Support staff and the rest

Everyone was more than great

But I liked the kids the best.

We laughed a lot as we learned

We had an amazing time

Years flew by in minutes

The biggest smile was mine.

Without a doubt the hugest

Highlight of my life

Was that here I met a teacher

Who soon became my wife.

Every lesson planned

And delivered to a T

Paled in comparison

To the arrival of EZP.

If you were to ask me

What my proudest moment will be

I would have to say

The day that Emma goes to old LE.

Typed  in Tandem by Italian Man Servant and Bobble Mom

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