Friday, April 21, 2017

What A Coinky Dink

So the other night I was reading lurking through the posts of some of my Facebook friends and I spied a pic my friend Wayne took of a book. Turns out, it's a just published memoir by his cousin David Leite recalling the ups and downs of everything from his southeastern Massachusetts ethnic-household upbringing to his adolescent and then adult struggles with bipolar disorder, sexual identity struggles and his ever-fluctuating waistline. David is a successful food writer, cookbook and cooking website creator and now, non-fiction author.

Here's the coincidental part though: The Smashing Glass Incident, which I touched on in the last post, and disclosed fully here, took place about a week and a half after Wayne and I stayed with David at his Brooklyn Heights brownstone rental for a long weekend. And events that occurred during that trip were a big part of the build up towards the Smashing Glass Incident. All this, exactly 25 years ago this month.

The last link above will bring up the FLASHBACK post (aw, remember them?) I wrote back in 2009 about this New York visit. I detail quite a few activities we enjoyed while there. (And, a little unsettling, a few of those details I don't recall anymore now that eight years have passed from that post. Thank goodness for this blog!) But I do remember a couple of the not so enjoyable incidents that happened on that trip as well. And, I frankly have only myself (and my habit) to blame.

On one of the nights that weekend, we had dined at a cozy, neighborhood restaurant near David's apartment in Brooklyn. I think it was Indian? Not really clear on that. But I do remember it was a place where alcohol was strictly BYOB. I remember feeling secretly pissed that I couldn't order a drink with my meal. "I was on vacation, dammit!" I was overcome, quietly, with irritation and anxiety at being "forced" to get through a nice dinner without booze. This reaction was quite a bit unusual.

Back home, I'd been slowly getting into sneak drinking, as I mentioned in past posts, but I wasn't a bar hopper at all. So my intense craving in a public establishment was a bit of a surprise. I think David and Wayne sensed something was off with me but I managed to fluff it off and get through our meal without revealing my inner irrational rage.

As we were leaving, I noticed another table, which had just cleared out minutes before us, had on it a half empty (or was it half full?) bottle of wine that the patrons had abandoned. I knew it'd soon be dumped away in the trash once the table got bussed so I told Wayne and David I was going to get it and drink it. The look of horror and revulsion that they simultaneously beamed at me was truly unexpected. I really thought that I was being rational (and even ecological...waste not, want not).

But, of course, they saw it for what it was: a seriously troubled and desperate grab at someone's garbage for a drink. Though I didn't see it that way then, I must have spilled the beans in that one expression of depraved lust for alcohol that likely put up a shitload of red flags.

Wayne knew I was an alchy, but I think, at that time, he thought I had it under control. I usually was able to cover up the true depth of my disease pretty well. I don't know if Wayne had shared the story of my addiction with David, but he surely knew about it now. Naturally, I turned away from the discarded bottle and it was an awkward walk back to David's.

But this wasn't all.

The next morning as Wayne and I were getting ready to leave for the train station to go back home, David, looking a little concerned to say the least, asked Wayne aside to talk with him privately. It turns out, one of his roommates had discovered that a bottle of vodka they had on a kitchen counter had been used up and the vodka had been sneakily replaced with water.

Yup. Being deprived of my table-scrap vino, I opted to chug the vodka down. And, figuring it wouldn't have been noticed 'till Wayne and I were gone, I filled the empty bottle up with water. Not the first and not the last time I'd pull idiotic shenanigans like this.

How Wayne actually continued to still be my roommate after that I don't really know. It could have been that I, like a lot of alcoholics, talked the "good talk." I don't remember what I said to make the stain of that go away.

But, as we know, Wayne would be tested once again less than two weeks later, having to sweep up the broken shards of glass off our kitchen floor and pry open his heart to once again forgive this sorry soul.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Happy Anniversary?

Well, I think many people would think it weird that somebody would "celebrate" flinging a crystal goblet at their roommate's door, but I guess I do. Not the specific action, but I think back with awe and envy at how that action was the spark that got the engine started down the road to redemption with a huge rev.

Hitting Bottom is what the AAer's would call it. The point where I could continue no more since I wasn't able to fathom going further down into the abyss.

Of course, as we know, the redemption was, when looked at through 25-years-older glasses, rather temporary; that's true. Only four solid years (if you look the other way for a couple minor transgressions). But they were a good four years.

I never emblazoned the date of the Smashing Glass Incident into my memory, despite its importance, but I recently tried to work it out with what I remembered of my usual schedule back then on a calendar from that year. I figure it was around the third week in April 1992 so I'm picking the 20th. And that makes today the 25th anniversary of that date.

So I raise my (oddly enough) glass goblet of Diet Coke (that's right, we're gonna try this yet again) and salute my fridge pic of 28-year-old me.

I'll forgo the drama of throwing it though.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Flop Sweat Vultures

Warning: The following opinions may crinkle some feathers, especially if you yourself are a flop sweat vulture.

In the past week, two big headlines stirred the hearts of a lot of people. But not in a good way. In a bitter and judgmental way. I'm talking about the United Airlines CEO response to accusations of violating the civil rights of one airline passenger and the Sean Spicer flub where he said Hitler didn't use chemical weapons on his people.

I'm sure everyone's Facebook feed was chock full of countless comments about these incidents. And, it seems, the general consensus appears to favor a highly critical stance against both white men persons' handling of their issues.

I'm not defending what they said or their actions after being attacked by the media in general. But I just want to point out what seems to be a growing trend among, really, all of us. And it points to an emergence of a Culture of Blame.

Remember a few months ago when I spoke of this invasive attitude that looms over my workplace like an evil and malevolent smog? Well I see now it's just a microcosm of a greater trend that's enveloped the nation...if not the world.

The hyper-scrutiny of pitchfork and torch bearers to root out the sinister Frankenstein monster among them has made for a natural phenomenon to inevitably occur in the statements and actions of the victims of their ire. Flop sweat. Like an actor who gets so nervous on stage in front of an intimidating audience that they break out in a visibly glossy, and unfortunately, uncontrollable flop sweat, which, in turn, makes the actor MORE nervous since he/she knows the crowd can see their fear and makes them even MORE likely to make the error they're praying they don't make like fuck up or forget lines, freeze, or, probably worse of all, run off stage.

I think this is what happened in the case of both gentlemen spoken of above. And, frankly, I feel sorry for them. The mistakes they made were, in my opinion, only made because there was such intense negative attitude directed toward them that they simply got flop sweat and fumbled it. Then the flop sweat vultures pounced. And never let up.

I've had my own experience with flop sweat vultures this week and let me tell you, it ain't fun. I armed myself each day with an attitude that I'd best the enemies I apparently have in droves at work and I'd shine triumphantly above it all. But the vultures don't just wait for you to present their carcass to them, they hasten your death in any way they can.

Suffice it to say, I haven't committed any transgression as bad as the United CEO or the president's press secretary, but I feel I gushed a couple of gallons of flop sweat out of my pores the past few days because I'm trying too fuckin' hard to be a good boy and subsequently made a few boneheaded screw-ups.

We'll see if these fuck-ups come to any fruition as the week bears down on me. This anxiety and stress is freakin' NOT what I bargained for from this place.

These fucking flop sweat vultures are fierce scavengers and I think before long they're gonna try to pick every speck of flesh from every fuckin' one of my old, brittle bones.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Day 5....SCREECH!

That's right! Pull that stylus off the record. We're not gonna treat this Phen-aided "initiative" like the other ones.* I'll let you know when it's all said and done how I did with my weight loss goals when I'm good and ready.

But for now...I need to rant!

*(BTW, just to break my own rule a little bit here, the count is now at 4 pounds lost.)

I may be getting too paranoid here, but, at my workplace, that's actually the norm, not the exception. Unfortunately I'm talking about between staff members, not including the residents. I feel like I'm being targeted.

Charmaine popped in unexpectedly this morning before 6:00 am and asked me to come into her office. She asked me about the accusation a new team member had that paints me as a dismissive and rude coworker. Once again, I'm having to defend myself against this shit!

In truth, the coworker in question was a temporary fill-in on the nightshift and, seeing she was having difficulty staying alert and awake since she wasn't used to staying up and working all night, I let her know that most of the tasks assigned to us are a little complicated to initially learn and I'd cut her a break and just do them myself since it'd be easier than having to train her how to do them. I thought I was doing a favor for her. Basically, I was saying..."I know you're just helping out and filling in so you might be tired. No problem. I can do everything myself. You can just relax."

But maybe she perceived this as dismissive of her abilities or me being lazy, not wanting to teach her things...I don't know. You think you're doing someone a wink-wink-nod-nod favor and they take it the wrong way. Cognitive dissonance? Inter-cultural miscommunication? Wait a minute, what race was this staff member? Yup. You know it. Black.

Again, let me defend my apparent racism. It's not that I'm condescending to her or projecting the impression that because she's black she wouldn't be able to be trained's her thinking that I'm thinking that and that she both wants to join the rumor mill-initiated Anti-Michael Gang for street cred as well as pounce on an opportunity to make a white devil entitled prick pay for his peoples' sins.

A white chick or guy being told by me they could chill and get paid to sit on their ass and watch YouTube all night would think it sweet. And, to clarify this position, if I were a black dude and told a black chick or dude to chill and do nothing, they'd be all for it. But because I'm white, they think I'm trying to trick them into getting caught doing something they shouldn't. Or, perhaps to supply myself with some kind of leverage in a blackmail situation in the future. Either way, they think I shouldn't be trusted.

It all comes down to trust.

Is Charmaine able to discern these delicate aspects of inter-staff behavior? Is she able to put aside any potential anti-white feelings she may herself harbor? Is she even intelligent enough to know that one plus one equals two? I don't know. My gut says she's a total tool and is as dumb as bug so trying to predict an outcome on intellectual probabilities might be challenging.

With her obviously inferior skillset, witchy-twitchy roaming eyeball and her faux-Pollyanna affect, she may well opt to get rid of a smart, observant and boisterous employee like me who might expose her for the sham she really is.

If so....well, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Birthday Bash!

This has been one of the best birthday celebrations I've ever had! Perfect weather, great activities, awesome food and drinks and multiple venues. Combine that with an amicable Ric, clearing lungs and, of course, the fabulous Rainbow Magic and, well, you can see why I had such a great time.

I thought about doing the SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival for my birthday weekend over a month ago and when I texted Ric about it, he was all for it and even offered to spring for an overnight stay at a nice SeaWorld area hotel.

We set out around noon yesterday and since I was coming off work at 7:15am, I had the choice to either take a nap for only a few hours or just push through it. With the help of that special blue and white pill, I picked pushing through. And push through I did.

After a frantic Ricky Roadrage ride on the mess that is I-4, we got to our hotel, the Hampton Inn Suites at SeaWorld, and checked in. Since, due to traffic, and Ric missing an exit, we arrived at around 1:30, we'd already missed the several shuttle rides to the park, so we chose to walk. It really wasn't that far at all.

Quick note about the room: Hampton Inn is owned by Hilton and though this brand is supposedly less prestigious than the Hilton named properties, this particular hotel and accommodations was worlds better, IMHO. than the Atlanta Hilton from a couple weekends ago. Of course, this is Orlando and the stiff competition along with a traveler's expectation of a magical family experience keeps hoteliers on their feet. Plus, it was more than double the cost of my Atlanta room's daily rate.

Like Epcot's annual Food and Wine Festival, this was SeaWorld's take on a similar seasonal guest event. We got pre-paid lanyards which allowed us 15 food or drink items ($55) from any of the nearly one dozen food vendor booths. Despite our best efforts, we weren't able to fully complete our card. I, for instance, have eight more items to go. Luckily, we can bring it back to a future scheduling of the event through late May.

The food kiosk lines were not bad
In order, I had:

Mexican: Braised Chicken Adobo with Mole Sauce, Cheese and Mexican rice.
Caribbean: Cinnamon Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Sweet Plantain Mash & a Red Wine Reduction
Florida: Coconut Shrimp atop Swamp Cabbage Slaw with Mango Horseradish Sauce
Mediterranean: Sea Scallops Proven├žal served with Wild Mushroom Risotto
Grilled Lamb Chop Marinated with Rosemary Mint and Served with Roasted Potatoes and Greek Tzatziki Sauce
Pacific Coast: Braised Pork Cheeks with Savory Apple Polenta & a Red Wine Reduction
Brazilian: Brazilian Churrasco Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri & Garbanzo Frito
North Atlantic: Bacon & Cheddar Hushpuppies Cornmeal Fritters Served with Honey Butter

Example of food and beer sizes
Ric enjoyed pretty much the same as me but he stayed away from the scallop dish, had an additional item or two and he focused more heavily on some of the dessert items.

Festival Funtime!
Though Ric outpaced me, I had my fair share of beer as well, opting for the 20 oz. souvenir cup at $9.46 and subsequent refills, of any beer you chose, at $7.99.

My beer selections:

Kona Fire Rock
Dogfish 60 Minute
Mahou Cinco Estrellas
(Wow, just four? I don't remember getting any others.)

Free Hugs!
There were several live bands playing throughout the park but the headliners were none other than the Village People who performed at the Bayside Stage at 4:00 pm.

"Young Man!" (Err, more like old man, actually LOL)
We rode Journey to Atlantis and Ric also rode Mako and Kracken...but only once each, the park was decidedly more packed than that Monday a few weeks ago.

The lines for the rides were not great
After closing down the park at 9:00, we took an Uber to Point Orlando on I-Drive and stumbled upon Maggiano's Little Italy. This was a somewhat upscale Italian restaurant and, like any popular place on I-Drive on a Saturday night, we had a 45-minute wait to be seated. This was totally fine as it gave us a chance to have a few drinks at the bar and to get to know the two bartenders on shift, Justin and Nicole.

Barside Buddy Shot!
Once in the dining room, the waitstaff, like the bartenders before them, were top notch in enthusiastic engagement. Like the best of Orlando, this place truly provided a wonderfully crafted guest experience. Ric ordered Sausage and Cheese Gnocchi and I had the Veal Parmigiana. But the real star of the meal was the phenomenal Risotto Balls with Marinara appetizer. We both agreed we'd be happy to just have these for the entire meal! So flavorful.

Justin the bartender had taken note during our conversation with him that it was my birthday eve and surprisingly had our servers deliver a small plate of decadent chocolate truffles to me after our meal. It was emblazoned with a candle and the words "Happy Birthday" spelled out in caramel sauce on the plate rim and, of course, they sang Happy Birthday to me. Totally awesome!

By now it was heading towards midnight so we took an Uber back to the hotel to drop off our doggie bags (the portions were huge and, understandably, we had limited space in our stomachs) freshen up and head on out to yet another bar. For once, I was the instigator of keeping the party flame alive. Ric was pooping out, so after I took one myself, I gave him one of my Phentermines. He says it didn't give him pep and in fact he thinks he got more tired from it, but we trod on nevertheless and Ubered once again over to Howl at the Moon, an I-Drive bar which reminded me a lot of venues on Bourbon Street in New Orleans with a lively, loud (and drunk) tourist clientele and live audience-request music.

Perhaps requested by another patron who'd also attended the afternoons show at SeaWorld, the bar entertainers were tasked to perform none other than Y.M.C.A. How meta!

We Ubered back to the hotel after closing the car down and, both of us thoroughly wiped out, we collapsed into our super comfy beds and were soon out like two lights.

This morning, I made my way down to the hotel dining room for their free hot breakfast buffet around 8:30 am and we both checked out around 10:30.

I-4 Ricky Roadrage, the Morning Version on the way back home.

We capped off my birthday celebration with a lunch of wings and a couple of pitchers of beer at Hooter's near Sanford Mall and caught the matinee showing of Kong: Skull Island at the nearby Regal cinema.

A real nice time I must say with my good buddy Ric.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Guess What's Back?

Wait for it...