Thursday, November 23, 2006


Happy Thanksgiving!
Just a short note to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. Here's hoping this finds you either full of turkey or preparing to to get there soon!

The wife, kids and I are currently in Florida until Saturday, spending the holiday with Michelle's parents. It's been a kind of different experience, this little mini-trip. I really don't have time to go into it now, but it all sort of melds with the current circumstance I find myself in that I hinted about in my last post. So although I still can't get into it yet, I will when I continue things in a few days.

Suffice it to say, these next couple of months will be an important period for me. I'm really not trying to be melodramatic, withholding the details as I have since my rather cryptic post of a few days ago, but I just figured I'd try to at least get something out there today, if nothing more than to wish everyone a Happy Turkey Day. Given my recent history of weeks and months between posts, I really am tryin' to do better here.

And of course I would be remiss to let this hollowed day of thanks pass without saying how truly grateful I am to have all that God has so richly blessed me with, regardless of the potential difficulties that lie ahead for me. I'm thankful for this ability I have to communicate with and share in the lives of the friends I've gained through this little corner of cyberspace (and forgive me for using that insufferably trite little euphemism again; being more creative is gonna be my New Year's resolution ).

So here's hoping you all are having a fantastic day. Give someone a hug and tell them how glad you are to have them in your life if you can. Good friends, family, even the problems that teach us how to live our lives more completely and successfully than before — these are what Thanksgiving is all about. Be sure to ponder all that you've been blessed with, and give a little back if you can sometime soon.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bumped Off

Waxing Seinfeldian
So what’s the deal with this fist bump thing, anyway?

Just when I thought I had the “you’re the man” finger-point down, somebody decides to change the rules again? Did somebody send out a memo that I missed? I mean, who decides these things?

Oy…the plight of the tragically unhip. Once again, yours truly has met with yet another humbling affirmation that time is passing him by faster than a cheetah on roller-skates. It happened earlier this week at my place of employment.

I’m not exactly sure whether Paris Hilton designed this office building I work in or it’s regular practice to build them this way, but most of the hallways in the place are pretty darned narrow. We’re talking like, wide enough to fit one and a quarter bubbas standing shoulder-to-shoulder — and no more. In fact, it’s standard practice for one to have to turn ever-so-slightly askew when passing someone else in these claustrophobic corridors to avoid bumping shoulders; and that’s especially necessary when some people decide to take their half down the middle, which happens more often than common courtesy should allow.

Anyway, the other day I was heading back to my cubical when I looked up to see two other guys approaching from the opposite direction. One of them was a man I recognized as a guy I don’t know well but see fairly often in the building. We’ll call him Harry.

This past summer, Harry was briefly a part of my regular workout group on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the fitness center we have here onsite. We’ve had a few friendly conversations since and he now always makes it a point to acknowledge me whenever I see him. Nice guy; around my age, but not anyone you’d mistake for a hipster or pop culture maven on any level. He’s always seemed to me to be a pretty middle-of-the-road, regular Joe.

As we approached each other and our eyes met, we simultaneously extended the universal Southern guy-greet (which thankfully has never gone out of fashion): the quick, upward head-flick/eyebrow-raise, followed by a brief, semi-enthusiastic, “Hey.”

If it had ended there it would have been no problem. However this time my opposite number decided to throw a new wrinkle into the playbook.

Harry was on the outside, furthest to my left of the two men. He was walking alongside another guy I didn’t recognize. Just as the three of us were about to pass each other, I had to turn my shoulders slightly to make room for all of us to squeeze by. As I did, my head turned also — to the right (quite unintentionally) — away from the two men. At the very same moment, Harry reached across his body toward me with the right hand in a closed fist, palm down. As it turned out, his gesture was somewhat exaggerated, given that it required extending his arm in front of the other man as well in order to reach me. Problem was, having looked away I didn’t notice until I was already a half step beyond them, catching his movement out of the corner of my eye.

Then it dawned on me. I thought to myself (in my best internal George Costanza voice) “Oh crap! He was trying to bump me! What a dope! I missed the bump!”

I immediately turned and called out nervously, “Oh…sorry! I didn’t see it until it was too late…my bad…” As my voice trailed off in utter mortification, my fellow man-greeter returned my apology with a nervous smile of his own, as his hand — still in a fist — slowly returned to his right side.


If you’ve ever whiffed on a handshake (i.e.: extended your hand only to have the other person, either accidentally or purposely, not return the favor) then you know how he was feeling right about then.

Nonetheless, I seriously doubt that he could have been a whole lot more embarrassed than I was at that point.

The scene reminded me of the recent Taco Bell commercial in which the girl, flanked by her two nerdy-looking lunchmates, is too out-of-step to participate in an around-the-horn fist bump, in celebration of nerd #1’s creation of his taco superlative, “crunch-oo-eesy.” The difference here, of course, was that at least the chick in the commercial got paid for looking like an idiot.

The sad thing is that this tragedy could have so easily been avoided. If only we didn’t so insist on keeping up with the Coolios. What is it about we men that drives us to keep reinventing the “secret handshake” of our childhood? Why do we insist on continuing to modify such a time-honored institution as the good ol’ standard grip of affirmation?

The Handshake had remained basically unchanged for a hundred years until the 1960s when my wonderful generation conspired to transform this stalwart symbol of trust and friendship into a fashion statement to be morphed and mutated without warning. Its various new incarnations have been a staple of the Hip and Famous for the past 40 years.

Knowing the proper and/or hip handshake–of-the-moment isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for one’s being accepted in modern pop culture, but it certainly does separate the hacks from the made-men — and I purposely emphasize men over women in this particular equation.

Its interesting to notice how little women seem to be affected by the shifting winds of handshake fashion. As in so many other instances, the ladies just seem to remain above it all. They appear to have no need for these elaborate demonstrations of hipness. As always, they seem to exist on a plane of maturity and practicality far beyond the reach of their male counterparts; funny how things work like that.

Boys will be boys, I suppose.

Perhaps if I’d paid better attention, I could list more of the dozens of handshake permutations that have slipped in and out of fashion in my adult lifetime, but seriously, I just can’t keep up.

Just when I thought I possessed the confidence to properly ask my brother to slide Me some skin, we all started high-fivin’ each other silly. Then when I got that timing down, they upped the ante again, and started doin’ all that combo shit.

Gawd knows what the current routine is, but there was one I particularly found amusing, which was actually administered to me — in all seriousness — by a complete stranger I happened to meet several years ago.

He started off with what I like to call the Man-Shake, a.k.a. the Brother, upright cross-palm handshake, and then slid directly into a conventional handshake, which in turn slid into a four-finger fist-clasp, finally culminating in a one-for-one, single, top-to-bottom, hammer fist bump.

Whew! Freakin’ wears me out just to type it…

Needless to say, the only thing that surprised me more than the barrage of MAN-ual dexterity itself, was the fact that I instinctively went with the flow and followed the progression, missing nary a beat.

Hmmm…maybe this white boy has some rhythm after all…

Nah…doubt it.

However since that momentous occasion, I really haven’t followed handshake fashion all that much, and only within the past year or so have really been aware of the fist bump’s ascendance to its position as the high five of the moment.

And now that The Bump is the Greeting O’ the Day, can we finally dispense with the often-awkward “Man Hug?” That one always did sorta creep me out. But on second thought, my ego sure could’a used a hug that day, when Harry met Silly.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Beside Myself

BA: Hey, man. What's up?

AJ: Meh…n'much...

BA: Not much? Really? Geeze…could’a fooled me!

AJ: Yeah? And what’s that supposed to mean?

BA: Oh, I think you know.

AJ: Okay, alright. I guess you could say I’ve been pretty busy. No, make that really busy.

BA: And…?

AJ: “And” what?

BA: And, lots has been going on in your life, your job, your kids’ lives, your relationship with your wife…need I say more?

AJ: Yeah…okay. So what’s your point?

BA: My point is, you’ve been keeping it all to yourself, Doofus! What about the Blog? The writing, it was how we communicated; working it all out together. It was our outlet…our means to help process it all. I know you think about it all the time, but what happened? Why’d we stop talking?

AJ: Aw, c’mon, don’t be like that; we still talk…a little...don’t we?

BA: Man, you really ARE out of it! I guess you haven’t you read any of Michael’s comments lately, have you?

AJ: Yeah, yeah…I saw ‘em. He was just bustin’ my balls is all. He’s rather good at that, y’know…

BA: So you just ignore it…without so much as a snappy comeback? My Gawd! What’s happened to you, AJ?!

AJ: Life, Dude. Life.

BA: Talk to me, Boss...

AJ: *sigh* Oh you know. Hell, you know what I’ve been going through at work. Sure, I came through that initial period of uncertainty with the new boss okay, but things are so much different now. There are so many new things that I have to deal with. I battle with so much uncertainty about what I’m really capable of; whether my presence is truly appreciated or merely tolerated. Sometimes I really wonder.

Before, well…things were easier — maybe too easy, I guess. My job was more or less automatic. Nobody else in the whole company could do what I did. But things are different now. Hell, everything’s different. I have so much to learn, so many new procedures to follow. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve lost at least a little confidence that I can deal with it all. It’s all I think about lately.

BA: Um…Hello! Am I talkin’ Chinese here?! Do ya not remember what you always used to say — that your Blog was that which allowed you to get rid of the stuff rattling around in your head, so you wouldn’t have to think about it anymore? So what, that doesn’t work now?

AJ: Yeah, I know, I know, but it’s harder now. I mean…anymore I just want to come home at night and veg, y’know?. I just don’t seem to have the inspiration to write like I used to. I get bored with my own stories; I spin off into tangents and struggle to get back on point…

BA: So what else is new? That never seemed to stop you before…

AJ: Yeah, but before it was different; it seemed as though I always had something to say; it didn’t matter how long I drew it out. I always felt it would be something that others would be interested to hear. Now I’m not so sure. I don’t know that even I would be interested in my babbling these days.

BA: Oh, so now it’s about what “others” think? Well here’s MY opinion. It wasn’t supposed to be about what anyone else thinks, it’s about YOU. It’s supposed to be about expressing your life, your memories, your opinions. It’s supposed to be about building a library of experiences that you yourself can return to again and again; a library built for an audience of one, but that can be enjoyed by all.

And who cares if you fell off the horse? Get back on that beast for chrissakes! What are you afraid of? They already know you talk to yourself, ‘ya freakin’ nutcake! Everybody knows you’re a weirdo, so whadaya got to lose?

G’ahead. Take it slow. Get your groove back on. You’ll feel better, I promise.

AJ: Yeah…maybe you’re right.

BA: ‘Course I’m right! I AM the better angel of your nature, aren’t I?

AJ: Yeah, and you’ve really been buggin’ the HELL out of me lately…

BA: Deal with it, Doofus. You’ll find a way. I gots confidence in ya.

AJ: Sh’yeah…I guess. Besides, I just noticed that Gooch is back, so I reckon I really have no excuses now…

BA: Ya got that right, Homeboy, not a one. Now get busy...