Monday, March 31, 2014

How I Met "How I Met Your Mother"

The television series “How I Met Your Mother” ends after nine seasons tonight. This was my personal experience with that show:


Well this is just a simple song
To say what you've done
I told you about all those fears
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
And you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun


- Interning at the “Late Show with David Letterman" in the spring of 2001, I met two young staff writers, Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. On the side, they had a band, The Solids, and they would play dive bars in the city on the weekends. The interns would go listen to their shows because Carter and Craig were cool and we were not. One night, a bouncer didn't believe my Virginia ID was real (it was) but Carter talked him into letting me into the bar. I worshipped them. I was an intern in the production department but because of Carter and Craig, I got to sit in the writers’ room and watch comedy crafted by professionals.



- Four years later, in the late summer of 2005, I was reading the annual “Entertainment Weekly” TV preview issue and saw that Carter and Craig had a new sitcom called, "How I Met Your Mother" premiering on CBS. I will randomly never forget where I was when I read that either: I was riding home from one of my cousin's college football games with my parents. That’s how excited I was. It felt like a big moment even then. I don’t know if I would have tuned in that first night if I hadn't seen Carter and Craig's names. But because I did, I have seen every episode on every Monday night for nine solid years.


When I was just nine years old
I swear that I dreamt
Your face on a football field
And a kiss that I kept
Under my vest
Apart from everything, but the heart in my chest



- The first episode was amazing. A story told from the future presented so many possibilities. Felt fresh. Felt vibrantly creative. I was immediately hooked. As the show progressed, they only mastered the time traveling element. They would set something up in one episode and then come back to it a few episodes later or even a few seasons later. The story telling was so crisp and tight.


- I started dating my eventual wife, Summer, at the beginning of Season 2 - just as Ted and Robin started dating. Sum was instantly hooked. It became the first of OUR shows together. It will forever hold that distinction.


- Got my buddy Paul hooked during Season 2 and I remember that we stayed constantly incredulous that no one else was watching and that the series was always on the verge of getting cancelled. If you remember - they even wrote the Season 2 finale as a potential series finale in case they didn't get picked up over the summer. Fortunately they did.


- By this point, we finally had enough friends watching that we all got together at Paul’s house for every episode of Season 3 in what became the greatest TV Group I will ever experience. The show was at the height of its powers and we gasped and screamed in delight week to week. That season contained the March Madness episode, the goat fakeout, Barney and Robin kissing for the first time (which made our group stand up, scream, and run around Paul’s house), among so many other classics.


- Season 3 also featured The Two Minute Date. I wrote this about it then.


- It's been six years but I still miss Chris, Michelle, Gray, Paul, and Emily (among others that dropped in from time to time) every single Monday night.


I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone
Don't go thinking you gotta be tough, and play like a stone
Could be there's nothing else in our lives, so critical
As this little home



- I moved to Denver midway through Season 4. I was very alone those first few months, but texting the guys from the TV Group after a HIMYM episode kept me grounded and connected. It also launched lengthy week episode recap text convos between Paul and I that still happen to this day.


- That’s when something very good happened for the show. Thanks to a brilliant syndication strategy – the show sold reruns to FX to attract more males AND to Lifetime to attract more females – new episodes started gaining ratings on Monday nights. Instead of wondering when the show would get cancelled, we started watching a runaway hit.


My life in an upturned boat
Marooned on a cliff
You brought me a great big flood
And you gave me a lift
Girl, what a gift
When you tell me with your tongue
And your breath goes in my lungs
And we float over the rift



- And then that’s when something very bad happened for the show. The show started to lose its way with more and more filler episodes in Seasons 4 and 5 and then it derailed completely from Seasons 6-9. You could feel the poor writers stretching and stalling more and more to meet the increased episode demands. The awesome macro premise of the series all of a sudden became a massive micro burden week to week. Fans were insatiable, wanting to meet the mother and we became more indignant with every Zoe, Quinn, and the back and forth incestuous love triangle between Barney, Robin, and Ted. My weekly text sessions with Paul quickly turned into bitch sessions about how terrible things had gotten (seriously though –Ted CAN NOT STILL BE FRIENDS with Barney and Robin after everything they’ve been through. Wow. That was the last time I will complain about that. Sad day.).


- No matter how many times we all threatened to quit the show, we just couldn’t. I don’t know if we were just pot committed or we just naively believed it would somehow turnaround (other than a few goosebump inducing moments, it hasn’t with one episode left to go), but we kept soldiering through. We kept watching.


Well this would be a simple song
To say what you done
I told you about all those fears
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
When you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun



- And while the show’s storylines might be ending on a somewhat frustrating/negative note, my experience with the entire series is not. This was OUR show. Not just for me and my wife, not just for me and my friends, but for our generation. I didn’t start watching “Friends” until Season 5. I claim that “Frasier” is my all time favorite sitcom, but I only started watching that live and weekly in Season 6. I was there for the “How I Met Your Mother” ride on Day 1. Through the good and bad, it was MY bandwagon. The little series that only my friends and I were watching somehow became a cultural “thing.” You hear out-of-context references to “Haaaaave you met…”, “It’s going to be legend – wait for it – dary”, "Suit Up!" and “slap bet” (among others) all the time now. That’s pretty cool.


- Paul texted the other day that HIMYM had “it”… whatever “it” is. I couldn’t agree more. There was something magical about this show. It nailed big moments better than any other series ever. It used great music in key spots better than any show since “Scrubs” (the lyrics I’ve included in the post are from The Shins “Simple Song” which was used for the moment we saw the mother’s face for the first time). It fought for survival and will wind up leaving a legacy. There’s no way to know yet if I’m going to miss the weekly antics of Ted and the gang after tonight. But I can promise you I’m always going to feel the void of TV group on Monday nights. I am going to miss rehashing all the mother clues with my wife from season to season. I am going to miss recapping the episode from the night before with Paul on my way to work. And I’m going to miss that awesome feeling that I got every Monday afternoon around 2pm when I remembered there was a new episode on that night. No other show has ever done that for me. I doubt any other show ever will.


Turn off your cell phones, beepers, and sense of shame, baby dolls. One way or another, we’re saying goodbye to one of the all time great television experiences tonight.


Remember walking a mile to your house
Aglow in the dark
I made a fumbling play for your heart
And the act struck the spark
You wore a charm on the chain that I stole
Especial for you
Love's such a delicate thing that we do
With nothing to prove
Which I never knew

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Remembering "The Office"

"The Office" series finale airs tonight and I'm starting to get nostalgic.

Sure the past two seasons have been an embarrassing nightmare (I gave up early in Season 8 and haven't watched most of Season 9 until the last few eps), but we can't forget that for a few minutes in time, it was the best show on television and one of the all-time greats.

I caught on to "Friends" and "Frasier" later in their runs, but "The Office" was the first of my favorite shows that I watched the first episode live.

I just sat there thinking, "They made this for ME."

It was so quiet. So subtle. So painful. So awkward.

It was... an office.

How zany and cartoony it got over the years was my biggest problem with the decline of the series because it was the antithesis of why - and I'm guessing, so many other people - fell in love with it in the first place.

Before they lost their collective minds, the co-workers were stranded on this deserted corporate island, just trying to survive together and that's what made it work... then again, in hindsight, maybe it's why they all lost their minds.

I also appreciated the show because it served as a connecting point for me and my dad. Our tastes in entertainment have changed over the years but "The Office" always brought us together on Thursday nights. Pops visited us over the weekend and we got to watch last week's ep together (which I had recorded on the DVR) and it took me back to a special place. Made me realize how much I missed that time. And him. And what that show had meant to us.

To remember the good times, here are my personal Top 10 favorite episodes of the series. It was a legit difficult task to get down to just 10, but at the end of the day, these were all no-brainers for me.

What about you? What were your favorite eps?

10. The Convict (Season 3) – Prison Mike. Andy singing The Rainbow Connection (in Pig Latin, no less) to Pam on his banjo.

9. Goodbye Toby (Season 4) – Michael’s unbridled happiness at Toby leaving (He gives Toby a rock with the words “Suck on this” written on a Post-It note strapped around it). The trainwreck that was Ryan working for corporate was finally mercy killed. Michael meets Holly.


8. Dinner Party (Season 4) – This was the return ep after the 5 month writer’s strike back in 2007-08. It was almost as if they had been saving up all the uncomfortable crazy they could and it eventually exploded in the form of this episode.

7. Christmas Party (Season 2) – This episode gave us one of the greatest punch lines ever uttered on any sitcom of all time: “So what line of work are you in, Bob?”
 
6. Michael’s Last Dundies (Season 7) – “Nine million nine hundred eighty six thousand minutes. That’s how many minutes you’ve worked here.”

5. Niagra (Season 6) – Before Parks & Rec, The Office was the first great show at handling typical sitcom clichĂ©d disasters like weddings. I remember thinking in the moment that this episode could have been the series finale and I would have been ok with it.

4. Casino Night (Season 2) – This ep established The Office as masters of the season finale. Jim professed his love to Pam and they finally kissed.

3. The Job (Season 3) – The greatest season finale of any show ever and also closed out one of the best seasons in network television history. The stakes were high and I remember having NO idea who was going to get the job at corporate. Jim finally asked Pam out on a date and Ryan takes the gig in the closing tag. My jaw was on the floor all summer.


2. Diversity Day (Season 1) – Maybe the best episode on a technical level of the whole series. The Chris Rock routine, “Oh man, am I woman??”, and “Diversity Tomorrow, because today is almost over.”

1. Sexual Harassment (Season 2) – The 2nd episode of the 2nd season and the episode I will always remember as the moment "The Office" really started firing on all cylinders every week. The episode featured
my favorite moment from the entire run of the series. Regardless of content, the moment is perfectly played by Michael (Carrell), Jim (Krasinksi), and Todd Packer (Koechner). Here are the ingredients: 1. Michael’s over the top, petulant retirement from “comedy”, 2. Jim baiting him, 3. Michael’s mind boiling at the opportunity, 4. Packer nudging him with a wry smile, 5. Michael’s explosion of “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID”, 6. Jim's satisfaction. 7. Michael’s genuine pride with himself.  

 

Monday, April 29, 2013

How Mad Men Will End

Haven't been able to stop thinking about last night's episode of Mad Men all day today (minor spoilers ahead). Been almost a full day and can't stop thinking about it.

Some random thoughts, I just had to get out:

1. Starting to really realize the show really isn't "about" anything that's going on in the actual story we are watching. Don's marriages, Peggy's career path, Pete's jerkiness, etc. Doesn't really matter (more on this at the bottom).

The whole episode I was going nuts trying to realize the significance of Bobby ripping off the wallpaper in his bedroom. So mundane. But then I realized that he had to get grounded by Betty for something so that he couldn't watch TV so that Don had to take him to the movies so that Bobby would say one of the most profound things ever so that Don would have the biggest catharsis he's ever had on the show.

Jon Hamm's performance sitting on the bed talking about faking it as a dad was (A) an acting CLINIC and (B) so comforting to someone like me that is freaked out about faking it as a dad. If you don't inherently love children then you just have to wait for these little people to have a profound moment for you to respect them and feel proud that you influenced them. I completely get that. I'm on board with kids now. Actually feel a little relieved.

2. I love how they didn't even acknowledge that Megan won the award, other than a throwaway shot of the award sitting lopsided on the couch. I know that MLK's assassination was of greater import, but it also jumped out to me that Megan's just good at everything she does. Copywriter? Awesome. Actress? Awesome. Winning awards? Awesome. Wife to a crappy husband? Awesome. Mother to crappy husband's kids? Awesome. Sexy singer and lap dancer for crappy husband in front of his friends? Awesome.

Megan Draper is LeBron James-level otherworldly right now.
 
She is just good at everything. Crazy Betty may not have deserved Don but now Don doesn't deserve Megan. Love that we have gotten to experience this dichotomy.

3. MLK's assassination must have been WEIRD to live through. Joan's awkward hug of Dawn summed it all up. Joan felt like she needed to do something but Dawn was like "Uhhh... thanks?" And brilliantly played by both actresses. Pretending to be awkward doesn't always work. Awkward is such a pure state of being, it can be hard to replicate. But they nailed it. Strange times for sure.

4. Biggest point I can't stop thinking through: now that we are in Season 6, everyone is talking about how the show is going to end/what's going to happen at the end. Based on last night's ep, I am now convinced that NOTHING is going to happen in the end. Do we really think Weiner is going to tie loose ends up in a tidy little bow after refusing to do that kind of nonsense for 6 full seasons? That would be completely contrary to the spirit of the entire series.

I can't even tell you any other specific events that transpired last night (other than the character's experiencing the news of MLK) but I have spent an entire day thinking about being a dad and what it would have been like to navigate race relations in the 60s.

Isn't that what Mad Men's always been "about"?

In that regard, it's the most "what's life all about" show of all time. Our real lives don't happen all at once in dramatic season/series finale fashion.

It just happens.

That's what Mad Men does. Sure, Don went from creative director at Sterling Cooper to founding partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce but it didn't happen in grand guest-star-sweeps-week style.

It just happened.
 
So I don't care what "happens" to Don or Peggy or Roger or Pete, etc. to me anymore. I'm just enjoying watching the camera roll the footage of these people's lives during this era. I essentially consider it to be a documentary at this point.

Don will cheat on whoever he is with at the time. Some major cultural even will be taking place that will affect the characters. He will step outside and smoke a cigarette and take a confident sip from a tumbler. We will see the back of Don's head. There will be no answers because there were no questions to begin with.

The end.
 
I will almost be disappointed with anything else.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

LIVING LIFE: Sports Time Zoneology

*Pulled this one out of the archives from March of 2009

I knew that when I decided to move to Colorado from the East Coast a few months ago that my life would be changed and affected, I just didn't know how much my life as a sports fan would be changed and affected.

I got excited the other day when I saw a commercial for all the college basketball conference tournament coverage, so I planned out my week accordingly to make sure I was home in time to watch the games I really wanted to see.

One of those particular games was scheduled for this past Thursday at 7 p.m., so I raced home from work that evening, heated up a cardboard pizza, poured myself a cold beverage, lounged back in my recliner and was ready to enjoy the Madness of March.

As I turned on the television at seven o’clock on the dot, I was confused as to what I found playing out before me on the screen.

Not only was the game already on, it was almost over.

Suddenly, a wave of reality crashed over me as I realized that they game had indeed started at 7 p.m... Eastern Standard Time.

What a Rocky Mountain rookie mistake.

Spending my entire life by the Atlantic Ocean, I had always heard of an “East Coast Bias” but never knew what the fuss was all about; mainly, I suppose, because I had never been affected by it. I always thought it just had something to do with Heisman voting or college football polls or everyone’s misguided fascination with Derek Jeter. But now that I realize that the national sports networks only promote games to one time zone, I can understand why everyone west of the Mississippi hates the East Coast.

I'm still trying to get this straight: we are so technologically advanced as a species that there are scientists who are currently developing contact lenses that will transmit your favorite TV programs and sporting events into your eye, but we can’t come up with a way to run regionally specific commercials for those events?

Just unreal.

And it’s not just the TV ads, either. After the college basketball debacle, I began noticing other forms of skewed East Coast bias in the sporting universe. I have a fantasy NBA basketball team through a national sports website and in our league you have to have your lineup set by 7 p.m. – again – Eastern Standard Time.

On more than one occasion, I have logged on to set up my nightly lineup around 6:30 p.m. only to find that games are already in progress and my team is locked. It’s always fun to watch Carmelo Anthony put up 31 points or Chris Paul dish out 14 assists… on my bench.

Good times.

But despite any bias by the national media, I have to admit that there are some bonuses to everything starting two hours earlier than what I am used to.

It's nice to have Major League Baseball games start at five in the afternoon from the East Coast and there aren't any more annoying “late games” listed in the paper the following day. I can’t wait for football season to roll around and have the luxury of waking up to college football starting as early as 10 a.m. on a Saturday. It will also be the greatest getting home from church on a Sunday and not having to sit through those obnoxious pre-game shows anymore because the early games kickoff at 11.

And with Monday Night Football starting at 6:30 p.m. instead of 8:30, I will actually be able to watch an entire game without having to down a case of Red Bull and stumble through work like a zombie the following day.

I guess those perks will make the sacrifice of having to get my degree in Sports Time Zoneology a little more tolerable.

All I know is that I can promise you that my little scheduling faux pas from last week won’t ever happen again while I'm out here. When I heat up my cardboard pizza, pour myself a cold beverage and lay back in my recliner for the rest of the NCAA basketball tourney, I’m going to be on time this time.

Case in point: I just saw a commercial for the game I want to see this weekend and the television coverage starts at noon in the east and it’s being played in Indianapolis and that’s in the Central time zone, so I need to subtract one, divide by eight, carry the three… oh, wait… no, I need to divide by five and multiply by the square root of 47 and then…

Ok, can somebody help me?


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

LIVING LIFE: The Sports Wedding Calendar


I don't think my love of sports – OK, obsession with sports– is any big secret to anyone that really knows me; however, here lately I'm beginning to believe that the rest of the world isn’t sharing in my passion.

One of my best buddies, Paulie, just got engaged. He and his fiancé decided to have to have their wedding next month.

In November.

During one of the best annual sports stretches of the year.

“I know, I know,” Paul said. “Don’t even start with me.”

“I just want to make sure that you realize that you will be getting married during a college football Saturday,” I responded.

“Yes,” he said, becoming more dejected. “I'm well aware of the situation.”

“Then you will be leaving on your honeymoon and missing the NFL on Sunday, Monday Night Football on Monday, and a whole week of NBA games during the week,” I added.

“Just tell me where to turn in my Man Card," he said, now sulking.

Paul’s wedding will be just one more instance in what’s becoming a disturbing trend as of late. Within the past two years, I have missed a lot of March Madness basketball, tons of college football, almost missed Game 3 of the World Series featuring my favorite team, and the PGA Championship all because of weddings.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I did miss the PGA Championship because of my own wedding, but still… you get the point)

The problem isn’t that my friends are maliciously scheduling their nuptials during prime time sporting events on purpose, it’s just that we haven't been better informed as to when all of the prime time sporting events are being played. So, that’s what I’m here to do.

You’re welcome, world.

At the most recent wedding that my w
ife and I attended that was scheduled during an important game, I started to get a little chirpy. I began to pontificate profusely about how if you do get married during a huge sporting event, then you should have to be required to take into consideration all the men that have no desire to even be there in the first place (I lost it during that eternity between the ceremony and the reception, when you have to wait for the wedding party to finish taking pictures. Gets me every time).

I added that it should be mandated to have televisions strategically placed throughout the reception area because there will always be some big game on somewhere throughout the year.

Not wanting to force brides into having to deal with installing extra television sets, my wife wanted to know when the best times of the year are to have a wedding based on the annual sports calendar to make everyone happy.

And to shut me up.

After careful consideration and extended research, I have come to the rescue and have compiled a very helpful calendar that everyone can now use to schedule their future weddings around major sports events.

Men, I would suggest printing this out immediately and keeping it in your wallet because information this revolutionary tends to “disappear” quickly.

DATES YOU CAN'T HAVE A WEDDING BECAUSE OF CONFLICT WITH SPORTS:

- January 1 (NHL Outdoor Winter Classic)
- The rest of January (NFL Playoffs)
- First weekend in February (Super Bowl)

- Second weekend in February (NBA All-Star Weekend)
- March (March Madness)
- The first weekend in April (the Final Four and MLB opening weekend)
- The second weekend in April (The Masters)
- The last weekend of April (NFL Draft)
- May (NBA playoffs)
- June (NBA Finals)
- September (College and NFL football return)
- October (MLB playoffs, NHL returns, football every weekend)
- November (NBA returns, glorious football)
- December (NBA, NFL, NHL in full swing, college football bowl season)

DATES YOU CAN HAVE A WEDDING THAT WON'T CONFLICT WITH SPORTS:

- Last two weekends of February
- July
- August
- The third weekend in April*


*July and August are always the safest because baseball is the only sport being played at the time and no one actively wants to get married at the end of February. Besides, even if you do dodge a bullet with scheduling your wedding on that open weekend of April this year, your subsequent anniversaries will inevitably come back to haunt you for the rest of your life.

No need to be a hero, pal. As you can clearly see, there are pleeeeenty of other acceptable dates.

Here's my ultimate point: guys know that when we are in relationships, situations are going to come up where we are not going to get to watch every minute of every sporting event during the calendar year. But we just want women to understand that before you came along, this is all we did.

There's no grand mystery to solve about us.

My answer to every one of my wife’s questions pertaining to my life before her is always some variation of, "I was at my buddy's house watching the game."

How about a compromise? For every regular season game that we miss because we were at the mall with you, can we just please stop scheduling our weddings during MAJOR sporting events like March Madness or the World Series or the PGA Championship? And not just for us, but for every man that will be forced against his will to come be a part of our special day.

Is that really too much to ask?



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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LIVING LIFE: Giving Me the Business

Our one year of marriage is the longest my Wife has been without a dog in her house since she was in elementary school and it’s starting to get to her. Everywhere we go, she oooh’s and ahhh’s at every dog we see. She even has a “Puppy of the Day” feature on her iGoogle homepage that I’m forced to suffer through looking at every evening.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want a dog. I love dogs. I can’t wait to have a dog. But I keep trying to explain to my darling bride that the only issue keeping us from having a dog is that we can barely afford to take care of the two of us right now. Let alone one of man’s best friends.

Fortunately, I have found a decent alternative to keep her temporarily happy while we wait on getting our own canine companion. Our friend, Laura, lets us occasionally puppy-sit her Lhasa-Poodle mix, Millie, whenever she has to go out of town or if my Wife just desperately needs a doggy fix.

We have watched Millie a hundred times in the past and Laura asked if we could watch her last weekend because she had a lot of things to do and didn’t want to leave Millie alone for an extended period of time. Normally, this wouldn’t have been an issue, except for the fact that this particular weekend, my Wife was ALSO going to be out of town for a friend’s wedding.

Not wanting to leave Laura – or her dog – in a jam, I offered to take care of Millie by myself for the weekend.

Much to the surprise of My Wife.

“What’s the big deal?” I said to her. “I used to take care of my parents’ dog all the time by myself.”

“I know,” she said. “But this is someone else’s dog. What if something goes wrong?”

“What could possibly go wrong?” I responded defensively.

I should really start reading my own columns.

Laura dropped Millie off at our apartment on Friday night and we had a great evening. We played with her toys. We went out for walks. We watched the baseball playoffs (that reminds me, I still owe Mils money on the bet we had).

And as I drifted off to sleep that night with Millie cuddled up next to me, I was hooked. When my Wife got back in town, we were going to get our own dog. No matter the cost.

Saturday morning started off as pleasant as Friday had ended. I took Millie for a long walk and it’s important to note that she… um… took care of her business while we were out. We came back in the apartment and I jumped in the shower, only to find another nice little surprise when I got out.

She took care of business on our carpet.

Not a big deal, dogs do that kind of stuff all the time. Quick clean up and we were good to go.

Or so I thought.

About an hour later, I took her out for another walk and she took care of business three more times. I was getting a little concerned because, while I’m not expert, this seemed like a lot for a small dog in one morning.

We weren’t back in the house 10 minutes after the walk before she handled her business on the carpet again.

At this point, I didn’t know what to do. Part of me wanted to call Laura just in case something was medically wrong with Millie but my pride stepped in and convinced me there was no way I was going to fail at dog sitting.

I decided to have a little pep talk with Millie.

“Hey Mils,” I started. “Any chance we can tone down the business inside the house?”

Millie looked directly into my soul and I could instantly tell what she was thinking.

“You’re mine, buddy. I own you. I’m going to do whatever I want and you’re going to like it.”

Uh, oh.

After business was conducted on two more walks in the afternoon, I thought we were done for the night. Millie snuggled up next to me on the couch while I was watching television and I was starting to nod off when I noticed her getting up off the couch.

In what could have only been maybe a full minute, Millie did her business in three different places on our carpet.

Naturally the shock and smell caused me throw up on the carpet too.

Realizing something must be really wrong, I finally had to call Laura to come pick up Millie and spent the rest of the night cleaning the business filled war zone that had become our living room.

When my Wife got back home the next day, she couldn’t resist.

“How did it go?” She chuckled.

“Great,” I snapped. “Guess who is NEVER getting a dog?”

“Oh, come on,” she said. “Just consider it good diaper changing practice for when we have a baby.”

“BABY?!”


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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LIVING LIFE: Pretty Fly for a White Guy


Now that I’ve gotten a little bit older and have a little bit more money, airline travel has become one of my new favorite past times (and let’s remember to keep the emphasis on “little” in both of those cases).

I've always loved traveling in general, but driving back and forth across this great country of ours four times already has burnt me out on long road trips for a while. In the meantime, I'm appreciating being able to travel more conveniently through the friendly skies.

The only problem is that every aspect of flying goes against every aspect of my nature.

There’s too much waiting that goes into flying. You have to wait in line to check any bags. Then you have to wait to disrobe in the security line. Then you have to wait at the gate to board the plane. Then you have to wait for the plane to take off.

Then there’s the worst wait of all: when you’ve landed and you’re dying to get off the plane but you have to wait for the flight attendants to help the one idiot dislodge his slightly too large bag from the overhead compartment.

Considering how I flip out if I have to wait at a stoplight longer than a minute and a half, this is not a doctor recommended list of activities for me.

Oh, and then there’s the actual flying.

I know it is all science and physics but if I can’t even comprehend how it’s possible for me to program my DVR at home from my computer at work, I’m never going to get past a man-made aircraft lifting off the ground and flying through the air.

At the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of people climbing into a metal tube and hoping for the best.

But when my Wife and I decided to move almost 2,000 miles away from most of our family and friends, flying suddenly became a necessary evil.

I’m proud to admit that almost two years in, I’m finally starting to calm down, relax, and borderline enjoy it. During take-offs and touch-downs, I no longer have to cling on for dear life to my Wife or, worse yet, the absolute stranger sitting next to me.

Baby steps.

What’s really strange, though, is that when I went to meet a buddy in Missouri last weekend, I realized that I am slowly starting to take on somewhat of a Clive Bixby alter ego when I fly.

First, I noticed that during that aforementioned wait at the gate, I always buy the most recent issue of Esquire magazine. I know that’s that not ridiculously abnormal; Esquire is a well-known, widely read publication. But it is kind of abnormal when you take into account the fact that after buying the magazine a few times at airports last year, I even subscribed to receive it at our house... only to never read it… unless I was on an airplane.

We finally had to plan random flights just to unload the stack of unread issues that were piling up on our coffee table.

Then I observed something unusual when the attendants come by mid-flight for my drink order. I always order tomato juice. In my everyday life, I NEVER drink tomato juice. It’s basically thinned out ketchup. Once again, after ordering it a few times on flights last year, I picked up some tomato juice to keep at our house... only to never drink it… unless I was on an airplane.

Is there some kind of clinical diagnosis for this kind of alternative behavior?

I mean, other than just being a weirdo?

Finally, I have become increasingly aware that I spend money like a drunken sailor whenever I fly. At home, I am militant when it comes to our finances, but when I get out of town I spend it like we got it. I also become a very generous tipper and will tip anyone for doing anything for me.

It’s no coincidence that every city I visit experiences a temporary economic spike. I’ve actually received a few “Thank You” cards from town officials.

I genuinely like who I am as a person, but my alter-ego seems to be having more fun than I ever do. So the truly bizarre question then becomes that if this world traveling-Esquire reading-tomato drinking-free spending son of a gun is fundamentally 36% cooler than I am, why can’t I be him all the time?

Maybe it’s because when you get bogged down in the routine of everyday life, you just need something different – or someone different – to look forward to when climbing into a metal tube and hoping for the best.


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