Friday, April 30, 2010

The Most Beautiful Thing I've Ever Seen

This was a reply to Sarah Perrich's most recent blog. It was too long to post as a reply so I posted it here as I thought I should

I should probably post this on my own blog, but reading this made me re-realize something.
Probably the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life was a boxing match.
In 2002, I was lucky enough to witness firsthand (on HBO) "Irish" Micky Ward fight Arturo "Thunder" Gatti. After Ward's "Fight of the Year" with Emmanuel Burton in 2001 and Gatti's "Fight of the Year" with Ivan Robinson in 1998, this was a fight boxing fans were waiting for.
They met in Uncasville, Connecticut in 2002 with neither fighter having a title on the line. But HBO knew this bout's potential for greatness and made it their "Boxing After Dark" main event.
Both fighters had brawler instincts. Gatti was a better boxer and his left hook and his late-round, come from behind capacity was widely discussed, but Ward was also well known for his left hook to the body which knocked out more than a few opponents. Neither was a highly touted candidate for junior welterweight champion, but neither cared.
The drama took place in the ring.
Gatti started strong, out-boxing Ward, sticking and moving at his will beating Ward until Ward began to close the distance in the 3rd round, catching Gatti with a few of his renowned body shots.
After being awarded a point for a Gatti low blow in the 4th, assaulted Gatti in the 5th with devastating combinations at the end of the round. It was a nearly 10 punch combination that made you wonder where Ward came up with that kind of a combination, and how in the hell did Gatti not fall down. This was one of the many times in the fight this thought crossed my mind.
Gatti miraculously came back in the 6th and 7th to re-assert himself as the consummate boxer, but at the end of the 8th round, Ward nearly knocked Gatti out as a result of a body punch and a brutal combination that the Hoover Dam would have had a difficult time withstanding.
Gatti had trouble shaking that combination off. The announcers were having trouble describing what had just happened in the 8th when the bell for the 9th round began.
Both men were battered and bruised. But each showed the true meaning of "heart." Ward smelled blood and assaulted Gatti, putting him to the canvas with one of his wicked body shots. Gatti narrowly beat the count, and clamping his right arm to his ribcage, for the next 60 seconds absorbed Ward's artillary bombs to his face and refused to go down. Midway through the round, Ward had grown so weary of punching that Gatti began to throw punches back, rocking Ward and stunning the audience with his tenacity and granite chin. By the end of the round, however, Ward regained himself, forced Gatti into the corner, held him at arms length and blasted him to the chin with one of the hardest punches I've ever seen from a 140 pound man.
This punch prompted the announcers to yell to the referee, Frank Cappucino, to stop the fight. But as Gatti refused to fall, the ref refused to stop the fight. God bless Frank Cappucino.
Gatti came back and swung, like a drunken cuckold at Ward's midsection and connected several times. Ward swung back like a man who couldn't believe he'd lost a fight with a brick wall and missed. The bell rang. Both men were still, beyond all belief, standing.
Ward's right eye was gushing blood and had been since the first round. Both of Gatti's eyes were swollen so bad he could hardly see out of either of them. Gatti's corner tried to throw in the towel, but was too late, and referee, Frank Cappucino made the two men fight the 10th and final round.
Gatti assaulted Ward. He boxed like a man who had just begun the fight, not like one who nearly quit. Punished with combinations from Gatti, Ward had no choice to abandon all defense and launch his own animalistic, yet inefficient barrage. Gatti clearly won the round, though the fight ended with both men throwing hay-makers and allowing the other to land punches at will.
The score was essentially meaningless, but Ward won a majority decision. They would go on to finish one of the greatest boxing trilogies in history, with Gatti winning the next two fights, even though he broke his right hand in each.
But the will, the determination and every other sports cliche worth repeating was on display that night and it would be a fool who found otherwise in Uncasville, Connecticut that night.
Color me a barbarian, but that was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

My lips to yours.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heavyweight (yawn) Boxing

I recently watched a heavyweight boxing match on HBO featuring IBF International champion, Tomasz Adamek from Poland, and U.S. challenger, Chris Arreola. A quick look at these "fighters" made me yearn for the days when names like Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield were names to be feared and respected. And it's not just that Adamek and Arreola are relative unknowns. Adamek doesn't fit the part of a heavyweight boxer. He's small. He's essentially a beefed-up super middleweight. He sticks and moves pretty well (he's quick, though his footwork is awkward and he often crosses his feet in range of his opponent) but has zero power in his punches. He's in no danger of knocking out a heavyweight opponent, but here he is, an IBF heavyweight champion. Granted, it's not THE heavyweight title, but still...

Arreola, on the other hand, is a big guy, but he's totally out of shape. He's the IBF's number one international contender, yet comes into a title fight with rolls of fat on his sides, and where he should have menacing pectoral muscles, he instead sports drooping breasts. Yes, he has power in his punches, but that power is meaningless being that he can't catch an opponent who is light on his feet (as a boxer should be) and can't throw punches in combinations. On the occasions where he was able to catch Adamek and actually hurt him, Adamek was able to easly slip away or duck in and clinch him and give himself enough time to clear his head. Arreola looked like a clumsy bear who couldn't catch a wounded rabbit.

I know that the Klitschko brothers are the real champions. They are huge (Vitali is 6'7" and Wlad 6'5"), they are smart (both have a Ph.D.) and they are talented. Wladimir Klitschko holds both the IBF and WBO world titles and Vitaly holds the WBC title. But neither of these guys have ever really defeated a decent opponent. Wladimir's record sports wins over guys like Eddie Chambers, Tony Thompson and Ray Austin. Who the hell are these guys?

The "big name" fighters he's faced have been Hassim "The Lucky Punch" Rahman, Ruslan Chagaev, Sultan Ibragimov and Lamon Brewster. Not exactly the kind of fighters who have made a name for themselves in the sport and not exactly names to be feared. Well perhaps Klitschko should have been afraid of Brewster after Brewster knocked him out in 2004. But the fact remains that Klitschko hasn't had any stiff competition.

Vitali boasts victories over Arreola, Kevin Johnson, and a stubborn Corrie Sanders who knocked out Wladimir in 2003. Sanders had a tough chin and a wicked left hook, but by the time he fought Vitali he was 38 years old and had more gray hair than my father. Again these are not guys who ever really established themselves in the sport of boxing.

The only big name fighter that Vitali faced was the last great heavyweight boxing had to offer, Lennox Lewis. Both men are humongous and very skilled. Vitali nearly pulled out the win, rocking Lewis with some viscious right hands, but Lewis had opened up a cut above Klitschko's eye and was able to aggravate it to the point where the doctors stepped in and ruled Klitschko unable to continue, so Klitschko's best validation for being a supreme heavyweight champion comes from a loss. Not exactly convincing.

Boxing needs a great heavyweight rivalry once again. It needs Ali-Foreman, Ali-Frazier, Frazier-Foreman, Holyfield-Tyson. The best boxing fans could hope for these days is a Klitschko-Klitschko bout that will never take place. The brothers have promised that they'll never fight one another as it would put their mother through too much strain.

So it seems as though boxing fans will have to pretend to get excited to see one of the Klitschko brothers fight WBA champ David Haye who recently retired one of the biggest disgraces to heavyweight boxing, John Ruiz. And we will yawn as another non-champion gives up his belt to a Klitschko.

To whomever steps up and gives the Klitschkos a decent fight...

My lips to yours.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hot Tub-ites

[Originally posted at]

Though the Health Club was technically a secular institution, there were many regulars who were fairly religious when it came to their routines. The Intense How Do You Do probably feared Hell in the face of not entering the pool area at blistering pace at 6:45 am sharp, staring and pointing at the lifeguard and shouting with utmost vigor, “How are YOU doing this morning?” at which point, he could not break eye contact until he received an obligatory response. Then and only then could he “relax” in the hot tub. Neither of the Bald Foot Dippers (there were two, and we'll get into both of them later) ever deviated from their course from the door to the 3.5 foot section of the pool to dip their toes in the water, only to ignore the temperature report from their respective tootsies and get into the hot tub instead. Hat Man, despite repeated warnings and reprimands, always and without fail would shave his face (with his hat on) in the hot tub.

There was something magical about that hot tub. It wasn't attractive (the bromine sanitizer it used oxidized the copper pipes, giving the water a puke green hue), often stunk of too many bodies sweating in it at once, and had paint chips and chunks of plaster missing from it in rather uncomfortable places for one's feet and derrier. Yet for whatever reason, the hot tub brought out the zealots at the Health Club.

Twice a week, we were required to drain and re-fill the hot tub in order to maintain basic sanitation. The hot tub-ites, however, prevented us from doing so, insisting that we drain it only once a week, preferably when they weren't there. We decided that since Sundays were our slowest days we'd drain it then. The only safe days to use the hot tub were Mondays and Tuesdays. On Wednesdays, the hot tub would start to get slightly more than questionably cloudy. Thursdays and Fridays, you couldn't see the bottom of it and the acrid, chemical and body fluid smell would begin to permeate the Health Club. On Saturdays, the thing looked like a bubbling cauldron of vomit with 5 morons pretending not to notice while sitting in its hideous belly.

On Sundays it was closed to be drained, cleaned and re-filled. Naturally, our Sunday hot tub fanatics were up in arms. They'd refuse to believe that their precious hot tub could possibly be closed. They'd see their deity half-empty, surrounded by orange cones and believe that it was a test of their enduring faith. They'd rush to its side, move the orange cones and climb in, the water barely covering their kneecaps.

“The Hot Tub is closed.”

This statement was always followed by a look of bewilderment.

“I don't see no sign saying it's closed!”

“The hot tub is green and half-empty. The murky water your feet are dangling in isn't even hot. There are orange cones all around it to alert you to its closure.”

“It don't say nowhere in the rules that I can't be in here.” The rules did say just that.

“It's closed. I work here and I'm telling you it's closed. Please exit the hot tub. It will be open tomorrow. Come back and enjoy it when it's clean.”

“Man, your mother never taught you manners. You need some home training, that's what you need.”

The above was a loose transcript of an actual conversation I had with an actual hot tub-ite. I distinctly remember him talking about my mother and the “home training” remark. I'd have a similar conversation once a week, though they usually did not insult Mom's ability to raise me.

The hot tub's supernatural powers attracted some wacky ones. When Drunken Master wasn't doing the Evan Williams two-step (question: who the hell comes to a Health Club plastered?) he'd be in the hot tub, loudly moaning. I could never tell if he really enjoyed it or if he was in pain. Either way, I was pretty sure he could have used some intravenous fluids.

One of the most memorable hot tub-ites was Jamaican Hot Lady Who Does the Jets. A crude name, yes, but befitting. She had a terrific, curvy figure and loved to show it off. She'd wear something skimpy and lay on a chaise lounge, adopting inappropriate position after inappropriate position. Spreading her legs, arching her back, she'd draw the attention of the male Health Club patrons. When they came by to chat her up, though, she never responded. She was only there for the hot tub, and apparently put on that ridiculous show just for him. She just kept on going with her routine until the call of her lover was to great to bear.

With the hot tub singing her favorite love song, she would come to him. She'd enter the water slowly, standing for a few minutes, basking in his warm embrace until eventually she would find one of the stronger jets and sit down. There she would silently and sensuously gyrate until the hot tub fulfilled her needs. She would then return to her chaise lounge and gratuitously run through her poses for him again.
I wonder if the hot tub ever took pictures?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Another Old One

This is another piece I wrote in 2005 and it made me giggle five years later so I thought I'd share it. When I have a new, original thought, I'll post it, but for now you can deal with my Golden Oldies.

My Israeli friend recently referenced a girl she met
at a Tribunal that the two of them had taken part in
in The Hague.

Tribunal? At first I found this a bit strange, but
she's Israeli and it seems to me that if anyone should
go to Tribunals it's the Israelis. I'm not sure why
think this is. I must confess a certain level of
ignorance as to the exact function of a Tribunal,
however, what with the wars and bombings and genocides
and sling-shot fights with giants that those people
have been through, it seems like they'd be valuable
assets to any Tribunal.

But all this thinking about tribunals made me realize
something. There will NEVER in my life be a time when
I can refer to anyone that I was "friends with at the
Tribunal." This is sad. Why don't I get to go to
Tribunals? I don't even know what a Tribunal
is! Who's fault is this? The Catholic education
system? My utter fear of encyclopedias? I think I
should write a very strongly-worded letter to Funk and
Wagnal and the Archbishop of Baltimore.

At this point I don't even want to know what they DO
at Tribunals, I just know it sounds important,
OR... I don't care, just let me in.

Then I think I could feel like I've done something
with my life. Just to be able to casually drop into
conversation "Oh, yes my friend from the Tribunal
makes the worlds greatest cous cous!" would make me a
happy man. Not to mention the fact that I would have,
by now, made some sort of local or international
decision far beyond my capacity to understand. There
would be repercussions and I'm a man who loves

I imagine a Tribunal being a large semi-circular room,
with multiple tiers, filled with very somber looking
people in dark robes and sashes that tell everyone
which country they're from. And they sit around and
talk about "nation-building" and "fragile
infrastructures" and other things I could pretend to
understand and frown at, knowingly. Then, when whoever
was leading the Tribunal said something that all the
other people liked, I could join in with hearty shouts
of "here, here" or "by all means" or something else
affirming the majority opinion. Whatever it is, I'd
say it with utter conviction and feel extremely

I think I've taken a good first step to taking part in
a Tribunal. I've grown a beard. Now I know, women and
the clean-shaven are perfectly capable of taking part
in Tribunals, but in my own imagination, a beard would
go wonderfully well with the long robes and
the sashes, almost harkening back to the Roman Empire,
with the Senate meeting in togas with long, flowing
beards, deciding the fate of the world right before
they went to the midnight orgy.

So why not me? Why can't I have a say in the fate of
the world? Dammit, I should be there, at the Fate of
the World Tribunal, deciding who's a criminal and who's
a saint and not really caring about either. I'm not
very politcal, after all. I just want to feel like my
opinion counts more than yours.

And by the way, what the hell is a Hague?

My lips to yours.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More Ghosts

[Originally posted at]

I also feel the need to weigh in on ghosts.

My favorite part of the ghosting experience was the sound it made. You didn't have to actually see it happen to enjoy it (though it certainly helped. It wasn't uncommon for us to watch someone head outside and start leaning to one side, hoping that patron would hit the glass, like a bowler praying he picks up a spare). It sounded like a quick drum fill on a deep tom tom, and you could hear three parts of the ghost hitting the glass in rapid succession: foot, knee, face. You'd turn around and there would be the ghost who met her match, rubbing her forehead and trying to look like it never really happened as she scurried through the actual door.

One of the great things about ghosting was how humbling it was for the Health Club types. You know the kind of people I'm talking about. Type-A personality, go-getters... these are the people who speedwalk wherever they go, who take life by the HORNS, goddammit, and when they want to relax, they WILL RELAX, and they'll FINISH the book they brought because they DO what they set out to do and nothing, NOTHING will get in their way (bumpbumpthud!) except a nice thick sheet of freshly cleaned glass. Ahh... it'll make your day.

My award for Top Ghost goes to a prospective member touring the facility with one of the Health Club's salesmen. This added a wonderful new twist to the inelegant hilarity of the situation, because there were two rather stunned reactions to enjoy when she foot-knee-faced the glass wall. She was dressed to the nines, too. She had a nice skirt and blouse, high heeled shoes, lots of jewlery and LOADS of makeup. I hope you can see where this is going.

The salesmen led her through the indoor pool area to the outdoor pool, where he stepped through the open door and the ghost attempted to engage her superpowers and tried to walk through the glass door. Bumpbumpthud!

Damon unfortunately wasn't there that day, but my co-worker, Mario, instantly jumped up and left the pool area at a full sprint so he could laugh at her as whole-heartedly as the situation deserved. The salesman was obviously more than a tad bit befuddled, and tried to see if she was okay. She was, and it didn't take long for her to collect herself and for the salesman to awkwardly finish his tour.

She left a monument, however, and a warning to all would-be ghosts from then on. There was a four inch streak of light brown foundation running horizontally on the glass about 5'7" from the floor. Directly underneath was a vertical strip, about nose width, followed by a perfect kiss print in light pink.



[This post was originally written by Damon Costantini, the co-author of the blog at]

Our health club pool had an indoor pool and an outdoor pool that was only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

When the outdoor pool was open, we had members who gravitated between the indoor and outdoor pools. What separated the two pools was a wall of paned glass with a glass doorway that was usually propped open during the hotter days.

Some people, apparently, thought they had magical powers as ghosts, because they liked to try to walk through the glass wall to get in or outside.

Never mind the fact that the propped open doorway was right there to use to walk in between pools, these people would rather walk through the wall. Sort of like when someone says "Ahh, I'll take the stairs instead of the elevator", we almost imagined that these people said "Ahh, I'll take the wall instead of the doorway."

I have to say, there's nothing quite like seeing someone walk smack dab into a wall to lift your spirits. But the real funniness of this was the frequency that this happened. One time, maybe I can see. You're not paying attention and mistake a glass wall for an opening. You laugh it off and would be on your way. But this happened often. It sucks for them, but is ferociously funny to anyone else watching. I used to feel embarrassed for them, but still have a laugh at their expense. Honestly, who wouldn't?

That probably sounds mean, but I always felt sorry for the person, asked them if they were okay, and got them through the proper doorway in one piece. My sympathy usually went out the window though when instead of the person laughing at themselves with humility, they found some way to blame us.

"Those walls shouldn't be here, it's a safety hazard!"

Yes it's our fault you chose the wall instead of the door like one of the ghosts in 'A Christmas Carol'. What were the construction people thinking, putting a glass wall there, and that blasted glass door right next to it?

We never had a case of broken glass though. Thank goodness no one ever walked through with that kind of force. But I think that would have even been funnier, after the scrapes and cuts were cleaned up of course.

But never underestimate the supernatural powers at hand at your local health club pool.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Army of the Oblivious

[Originally posted at]

It seemed like every day at the pool, someone had to ask, "Are you the lifeguard?" It would take nearly every ounce of my being to restrain myself from responding, "No. I just really love the apparel, and this floating safety tube is kind of like a stuffed animal to me. I bring it everywhere I go. Especially to swimming pools.  However, I'm not the lifeguard here. If I find him, I'll let you know." With a shirt emblazoned with the word, LIFEGUARD, red shorts and a large red tube stating the same, what the hell else could I possibly be?

I suppose I could be mistaken for one of the regular freaks that came into the Health Club. After seeing a guy bring FULL SCUBA GEAR AND A SAMURAI SWORD (I wish I was making that up), to a health club's 50 foot long indoor swimming pool, pretty much anything is possible. I could just be a guy who likes to pretend to lifeguard. Heck, Pointy-Breasted Karate Guy thought, despite his rotund figure, that he was a kung fu master. Why couldn't I just be another poser? So they had to ask the obvious.

It didn't end there. They'd point to the clearly labled steam room and say, "Steam room?" No, Mr. Tumnus, it's the doorway to Narnia. Be sure to grab a winter coat before you go in there.

Then they'd stand there looking at you like a dumb barnyard animal until you verbally satisfied their curiosity by saying, "Yes. Steam room." But that wasn't enough. It was never enough. They had to go and open the door and see the steam in the room. This was the only thing that could have slaked their inability to read or comprehend English and it was this that made me loathe and despise the entire human race; why the hell did you need to ask me your inane little question if you weren't going to believe me no matter what I said? You knew damned well what that little room was! And you knew damned well you were going to look anyway! I know damned well that I hate you for making me think less of myself for being the same species as you.

The Army of the Oblivious are a stubborn bunch and they are everywhere. They refuse to engage their brains in any given situation, dismissing the possibility of figuring things out on their own, preferring instead to be told where they are, what objects are nearby and whether or not they can eat those objects.

Please note that I'm not talking about STUPID people. We had our share of those at the Health Club. One such moronic patron, a bearded gentleman pushing fifty years of age, came down to swim in a collared polo shirt and his tighty-whities. When informed he needed to wear a bathing suit, he responded, "I have to wear something?" He trudged back up to the locker room dejected but determined, and the following day he came to the pool in khaki shorts which was close enough for me. Not knowing how to swim but really wanting to, he experimented with different kinds of helpful floatation devices until he finally settled on the neckbrace for the backboard. It was an odd choice being that the neckbrace itself did not float, but he tried tying it to his head to keep his nose and mouth above water and nearly drowned. I didn't see him much after that.

But the Army of the Oblivious are not stupid people. They are capable of figuring things out for themselves but choose not to. They are so lazy that they make everyone else do their thinking for them and as such, they should have most of their privileges taken away. They are a burden on society. They shouldn't drive, go out unaccompanied by a social worker or feed themselves. Asking questions as easy to self-answer as they do, The Army of the Oblivious should be in a home for their ilk and stay there, leaving the rest of us to go about our business unencumbered by their defiance of basic cognition.

If you know a card-carrying soldier in the Army of the Oblivious we'd love to hear about it. Post a comment with your story, and please feel free to subscribe to this blog if you like what you read.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

An Oldie but a Goodie

I found an old bit I wrote maybe 6 or 7 years ago as I was digging through some old emails. It discusses a topic I've often wondered if other people know about me. I'm a chronic nose-picker. In my car, in my home, in other people's homes, I dig. I do it so often with little to no regard whether or not other people are around, but as few people have actually called me on it, I dont' know if anyone has really noticed. Is this a faux pas that people discreetly overlook? Is it so heinous that no one will talk about it? Is it no big deal? Has no one even seen me do it? Am I paranoid?
I don't know.
Let me know what you think about nose picking and/or other socially acceptable/unacceptable vices. And until then, enjoy my old nose-picking piece, unedited from its original form.

I was 18 and working at Bally's right out of high
school. It was a slow morning and pretty soon I was
alone in the pool area when I felt some large, alien
obstruction in the depths of my right nostril. I
figured I was alone so I could take care of this beast
without embarrassment, but, just in case, I
double-checked and the coast was still clear.
This monster was so deep, that I had to go in with the
pinkie-- the only digit thin enough to reach back
where this thing had taken up residence. However this
was too big a job for the pinkie alone. But with the
pinkie I was able to partially dislodge it and move
the asteroid down to a more palpable level. I then
brought out the big gun, my right thumb, for the
ultimate removal.
What came out of my nose, I had never seen the likes
of before. I have still to this day failed to find
it's equal, and I assure you it's not for a lack of
looking. It was like there was a softball on the end
of my thumb.
Anyway, I had just pulled this monstrosity out of my
nasal cavity and had just begun to contemplate the
international repercussions that this thing may have
caused when out of nowhere, a woman in her 40's is
idea how long she had been there, but I really wasn't
concerned with that at the moment.
What concerned me was the watermelon attached to my
thumb, and what exactly I was going to do with it in
front of some woman that wanted to discuss something
with me. Flicking it off or whiping it on the table or
wall was right out of the question. Not only would it
have been disgusting to do so, but this booger
belonged in the Smithsonian, not the underside of some
dirty deck furniture in Catonsville.
But at the same time, I could not in sound mind leave
this historic occasion strapped to my thumb and have a
conversation with a total stranger. So I did the only
thing I could at the time. I folded my thumb, historic
occasion and all, into my palm. I felt the
stomach-churning "squish" and said in a wavering
(damned near whimpering) voice, "Can I help you?"
It turns out this woman was recruiting for some
pyramid-scheme company and wanted me to buy into it or
something. She had papers and charts (the pages of
which I was sure to turn with my left hand) and talked
to me for a good 20 minutes, with my award-winner
still oozing around in my right hand. I really can't
elaborate more on what she talked to me about, but
considering the circumstances I think I remember more
than most would.
After she left, it felt as if I was allowed to breathe
for the first time in my life. I looked in my hand and
felt a strange mixture of relief (at the woman
leaving), regret (at not being granted the recognition
and esteem that I felt I deserved for this discovery
of intergalactic proportions) and disgust (at the
devastation these intergalactic proportions had just
left on my right hand).
It took almost 5 full minutes of washing to finally be
free of my burden, and now, 6 1/2 years later I am
finally beginning to be free of the psychological
burden this incident (if that is indeed a strong
enough word) left me with. I'm glad I was able to come
clean about this whole thing. I feel so much better.
But at the same time, I have dredged up old feelings,
particularly of loss, that I haven't felt in a long
"Farewell, oh Prince of Coagulated Mucous, wherever
you fare. Don't look back! Be brave! I hope you find
happiness in all of your adventures!"
I suppose that a booger of that magnitude didn't
deserve to be in a museum after all. A free spirit
like his, he needs to be out there in the wild,
roaming, roving and wandering, picking up chick
boogers; loving them and leaving them, hopping on his
Harley and flying down Route 66, heat waves rising on
the road ahead.

Thanks for reading and subscribing and as always...

My lips to yours.

New Blog

Phil and Damon recount their experiences at a Health Club swimming pool.

Please read, enjoy and subscribe!

My lips to yours!

An Introduction

[Originally posted at]
Welcome, friends, to a new literary effort inspired by the absurd behavior exhibited by those who frequent health club swimming pools. We understand that health club swimming pool patrons are not often recognized for their behavior, absurd or otherwise, but as seasoned lifeguarding veterans, we feel it's time for their comeuppance.
I'm Phil. I worked as a lifeguard in the pool area of a Health Club in Catonsville, Maryland for most of my late teens and early twenties. Most of those years were spent working with the co-author of this blog, Damon. You can read my personal blog at and Damon's fitness blog at
As I mentioned on my other blog, as lifeguards at a Health Club, Damon and I kept rather meticulous records. This is odd for two people who were attracted to a job that required little more than a pulse and slight positive bouyancy, but we did.
We realized early on that we knew all of the same lunatic patrons and, as Damon put it, we figured we needed a way to keep track of these oddballs and if one of us didn't know the reference, we could look them up on the list. Sort of like a nutjob card catalog. And thus was born The Directory.
The Directory contained a detailed list of our regulars and a brief description of what made them stand out. A few of them (whom we referred to as The Heroes) were the people we liked to hang out with (Ray), were wacky and fun (Carlos) or had interesting stories to tell despite their proclivity for random acts of public nudity (Big Al). Each entry had a paragraph outlining their basic personalities and those qualities which made them memorable.
Most of The Directory, however, discussed The Heels: those people who drove us near the point of madness. These included anyone who perplexed, angered or irritated us, especially those with bizarre appearance or apparell (Wash Cloth Bathing Suit Lady), those with over-the-top personalities (The Intense How-Do-You-Do) or particulary whiny individuals (Most Obnoxious Woman on the Face of the Planet Who Deserves to Die 100,000 Horrible Deaths). Some of the Heels simply confounded us with their incorrigible regularity (The Bald Foot Dipper), others with their pointy man-boobs (Pointy-Breasted Karate Guy).
Often, instead of an individual with a particular charicter flaw, we'd lump together groups of perturbingly like-minded folks who, for whatever reason, could not resist performing the same aggravating maneuvers as their equally oblivious bretheren (Chair Re-Locators, Loogie Hockers Incorporated).
These stories, the story of that time when Ghetto Fabulous ate my pizza, and more when we return. Stay tuned, dear readers. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ahh... Bally's!

I started this blog to get back into the swing of writing again. I haven't been making much use of my English degree, so this seemed like a good way to practice. But I often have trouble with thinking of topics and finding inspiration. When I was a child, when my parents tucked me into bed, they would give me "things to think about" so I wouldn't have bad dreams. There is no one these days to give me "things to write about."
But as luck would have it, my friend Sarah wrote a blog about romantic foibles and lame pick-up attempts. While romantic foibles and I are familiar bedfellows, what she reminded me of was a time when every day of my life I witnessed some of the most bizarre behavior imagineable: the years I spent lifeguarding at Bally Total Fitness. My co-worker, Damon, and I chronicled in an extensive 140-some entry directory of some of the weirdest, meanest, and dumbest people you could possibly scrape together, every one of them a new bechmark in awkward, indignant buffoonery. We would have contests to see how many of them would show up during a single shift.
Ah those were the days!

Well here is my first blurb in what will hopefully be a series of stories (with Damon's help) about being trapped in a room with a pool, a hot tub and some very strange people.

I must have been about 20 or so and I was lifeguarding at Bally Total Fitness on Rt. 40 in Catonsville. I had my little table with the records log, the chemical kit for testing the chlorine, the first aid kit etc. While there were two chairs on either side of my table and only one of me, it was fairly apparent that this was "my area" and I liked to keep it that way. This never really stopped anyone from choosing to sit there when there were plenty of open seats and this one fella in particular decided that was the right spot for him.
So he sits down and I furrow my brow deeper into the book I was reading but he undauntedly ignores my body language and begins chatting idly, not getting much more than a word out of me. He was rough-looking, fifty-ish, gnarled teeth and faded tattoos. His pleasantries ended abruptly when he asked me a question that caught me off guard.
"Do you drink?"
Just an odd question to ask a stranger. "Sometimes," I replied before springing his little trap.
"Do you drink," I stupidly, stupidly asked?
"Oh I'll do anything that pleases me." He proceeded to discuss some sordid details I can't quite remember about what he and his partner enjoy doing in the bedroom. I put down my book and got up.
"What are your plans this evening," he continued.
"Don't really have any, Mack."
"Why don't you call your friends and have a threeway or a fourway?"
I left the pool unattended.

Thanks for reading and as always,

My lips to yours!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Lousy Relationship

It's the top of the 8th inning at Camden Yards. The Tampa Bay Rays are winning 3-1. Wait, make that 4-1. Literally as I was writing the previous sentence, Carl Crawford hit a solo home run off of Orioles reliever, Mark Hendrickson. They were locked in a 1-1 tie a few innings ago, but starter Jeremy Guthrie gave up two a few innings back. We had a nice little two-out rally going last inning but due to some ridiculous base running by Luke Scott and Ty Wigginton, the Rays got out of the inning unscathed.
Why am I watching this? What am I doing, year after year (ooh, a strikeout for an Orioles relief pitcher!) rooting for a team that hasn't won more games than it lost in 13 years? Why do I continue to cheer at the ballpark, only to see blown saves, runners left on base and starters who can't make it through the third inning? (Hendrickson just struck another batter out to end the inning, thank the Good Lord above).
The answer, I suppose is that I love Baltimore. I do. For better or for worse, the Orioles represent my hometown and because there is no better option, I must love them and root for them and give them my all.
There's no divorce in baseball. I can't suddenly start rooting for a different team because the O's suck. I can't cheat on them, leave them or have a trial separation from them. I'm in an "until death or Peter Angelos do us part" marriage to a team who just can't seem to get their act together year after year. Sure we had the good times: 1983, 1989, those "wild '90s"... but for over a decade now we've had some really rough times.

And the promises they make! "Don't worry, baby, we've got Matt Wieters now! We've got a talented, young outfield! We'll have a big house on 2110 Eutaw Street! Just wait until our pitchers in the minor leagues get here, that'll fix everything! Look at Koji Uehara! We can do exotic too! Koji? Koji?"
But it's the same story as last year. At least last year they held my attention for a few months. They got back into shape, lost those extra winter pounds and started dressing nice. They wined me and dined me and gave me a glimmer of hope for improvement until the All-Star break where they fell back into their old routines.
And now here we are at 1-5, in the cellar again, going into the ninth inning of what will likely be another losing effort.
What a loveless relationship this has turned out to be.
But to you, the Orioles, I will still designate my signature tagline (ok, so I stole it from a movie, sue me) in the hopes that tomorrow, you'll be the Sportspouse I've always hoped you could be.
O's... my lips to yours.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

If I Owned a Jiffy Lube...

It's been three months now that I've been "lubing it," as it were. I never thought in a million years that I could possibly enjoy working at Jiffy Lube but as it turns out, it's been a pretty enjoyable experience. My job is easy (I'm a Customer Service Advisor, or as we call it in the biz, I'm the "This is your air filter" Guy) and I get to talk to people all day which is nice. My co-workers are friendly and quirky enough to provide plenty of laughs throughout my workday and I get to practice my two Spanish sentences with several diminutive Guatamalan co-lubers who have heard me inform them time and time again (in Spanish) that "I do not like the fireman" and "the clown is dead." In English, I try to slip in inappropriate yet harmless phrases to customers like, "we'll get you all lubed up and out of here in ten minutes" and "we'll make sure you have fresh lubrication back there" as many times as possible which makes my day go by that much faster.

So, so far so good, minus the lousy pay, but I'm employed so I won't complain too much.

I still know next to nothing about cars. I've learned a few things, like why it's a good idea to change your transmission fluid and that using words like "torque converter" and "heater coil" helps sell ancillary products. I don't know what these things mean, but I can sometimes say them and sound like I know what I'm talking about and occasionally it will net me a few more sales on cabin air filters and radiator flushes and the like.

And though I'm still new to the industry, I do have a few ideas for what I would do if I owned a Jiffy Lube. The first thing that would have to go would be the uniform. My Jiffy Lube employees would not wear uniforms; they would wear costumes.Look at the pictures I provided here! Which of these people would you NOT want working on your car? That's right, the Jiffy Lube employee. At my Jiffy Lube, Darth Vader would greet you behind the bay, give you the price list for the different types of oil and escort you to the customer lounge. All of the hood techs would be dressed as Steve Urkel and even though the customers couldn't see them, the guys in the pit would be in full Mr. Belvedere regalia. I realize that costumed pit techs wouldn't really bring in extra revenue, but I really would like my Steve Urkels to say things to them like, "clear to add oil on bay 2, Mr. Belvedere?" I really think that would brighten my day. Moving on, my "This is your air filter" guys would have to do a ventriloquist act with a puppet while giving you their service reviews and the manufacturer's reccommendations. It's the only way to make those presentations more believeable.

Finally, my cashiers would have to be in costume as well. I'm pretty sure that a manager would have to dress as a Sgt. Pepper's era Beatle, but I'm not sure who would ring you out. Pirates, drag queens and Elvis are too cliche. I'll take suggestions for this one. Who would you like the person who informs you of all the services that were just performed on your vehicle ("changed your oil and oil filter, checked your air filter and wiper blades, vaccuumed the floors, washed the windows, set your tires to 32 psi, added washer fluid..." etc.) to be dressed as at my Jiffy Lube? I'm expecting great ideas from you, my gentle readers.

Don't let me down.

My lips to yours!