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Tales from a small town

Short stories about life in a small town. Non-fiction. Great reading.

Monday, January 09, 2006

New astrological signs

This is in honor of the guy who used to live across the street from me.

I was thinking of him the other day when some guy from the front office at work gave me a picture taken at the skating rink. Our company sponsored an employee skate recently, and they had this guy on hand with a digital camera to take pictures that'll be posted on the closed circuit TV we have for employee communications.

The picture he gave me was framed with the company logo neatly printed in the upper left-hand corner. The picture had me, my wife, my daughters, my son, and Drunk-Boy's daughter. Drunk-Boy's daughter is friends with my daughters.

Who is Drunk-Boy? He's part of my new astrological sign theory. Drunk-Boy the Idiot. That's a sign you can be born under. He was. With this new astrological system, it doesn't matter when you were born, it just matters what circumstances you were born under. That determines your sign under my theory.

For example, in order to be born under "Drunk-Boy the Idiot," you've got to be born to a "Shrew the Wench" or Dick-head the Bastard," or either one of your parents could be born under "Drunk-Boy the Idiot," see? It's simple really.

Why was he deemed Drunk-Boy the Idiot to begin with, you might ask? Well, ever since we moved into this house, he kept trying to convince us (my wife and I) that he had a fledgling construction business going on the side with one of his friends. I knew better, cause the guy was drunk, like 24/7. He's an independant insurance agent in dire need of direction. Who knows what line this guy sells, but he's never at work. He's always at home, pounding beers.

He is smarmy - at best - and I could see where people might actually think he's charming. The drunker he gets, the funnier he is - and not in a tragic way where you're actually laughing at him, either. He is charming, and funny, but I've been around guys like this pretty much my whole life, and my wife's life has been relatively sheltered, so she didn't see what was coming.

Why do I say that? Because he crawled inside my wife's head one day, and got her to admit that I'm the one who was against having us hire him to redo our roof. (It was about 30 years according to the previous owner, since the roof had been redone.) He then proceeds to convince my wife, that my reservations about him and his buddy were misplaced, and as a result, she'd be a fool not to hire them to do our roof, since they were charging about half, what the next-lowest contractor bid.

So she gives Drunk-Boy the Idiot ALL the money upfront! I get home right after the transaction, and she's in this really good mood. "Why are you in such a good mood?" I ask. She tells me what just happened, not thinking I'd go through the roof - no pun intended. (OK, it really was intended.) I ask her, "What are you doing? Fucking this guy, or what?" Probably not the brightest thing I could've asked from the standpoint of attempting to maintain good marital relations, but an honest question, straight from the heart, nonetheless.

She gets angry, hurt, starts to cry while attempting to maintain her composure, realizing that the question I just asked was probably a good one, just not well phrased. She explains that she has some romantic weekend get-away planned for us with the money she just saved us. She takes me upstairs to the computer to pull up the favorites folder on the internet for proof that she's been planning something for us all along.

I tell her: you just made a big mistake hiring that idiot to do our roof. This was on a Thursday. It was cold and misting that late October day. Friday's forecast called for the same. But Saturday... Saturday's forecast called for sunny skies, temperatures in the low 70's and virtually no wind. Friday night rolls along, and I'm just coming in from my car. I notice Drunk-Boy the Idiot and his merry band of Losers and Mama's Boys in his driveway, trying to figure out which vehicles they're taking to the Moose Lodge. I yell across the street: "Gettin' plowed tonight?"

Drunk-Boy the Idiot: "Oh! Uh uh huh. Yeah, I know how this looks and all, but me and Glen'll be over in the morning, first thing. Haven't had a drink all day, and I'm keeping it that way, because I know I've got a big job in the morning, Big Guy!"

Me (thinking): "Fuckin' loser!"

The next morning, sure enough, the Weather Channel was right: clear, blue skies, unseasonably warm temperatures, and virtually no wind. Where was Drunk-Boy the Idiot and his buddy Glen? Drunk Boy's daughter provided the answer to that:

Drunk-Boy the Idiot's daughter: "Oh, my dad wanted you to know that he's got a real bad case of the flu, and he said that Glen is in Indiana. They won't be working on the roof today."

Well, to make a long story short (which I know, is impossible by now) Drunk-Boy the Idiot and his Drunk-Boy the Idiot friend Glen, tore our roof off, only after I practically begged them to work, and being subjected to the cool-guy, "You're a pain in the ass" routine. (Like I was supposed to feel guilty that I'm somehow cramping their Playboy lifestyle by practically telling them how to live their lives, while one good day after another, of good weather in late autumn slips by.)

They get the roof torn off, and a few days go by. Sure the days are quiet, but the nights... the nights are filled with the sounds of women giggling into all hours of the night in Drunk-Boy the Idiot's driveway, glass occassionally shattering, and cars moving in and out of the driveway, every two seconds. Oh, I'm sure, if you needed a deal on some weed or some crack, someone over there sure knew where to get it. Meanwhile, back at my place:

Me: "When's Douche Bag Jr. and Douche Bag Sr. coming over to finish the job?"

My wife: "OK, OK, I major-ly fucked up, alright? You don't have to rub it in!"

Me: "Yes I do. So, when's Douch Bag and Douch Bag coming over? Can you go over to Party Central and spread an unsubstantiated rumor about some STDs or something, to clear the place out, so they can get a good night's sleep for once?"

My wife: "Fuck you."

Why is it that when I'm right, I'm the bad guy, and when I'm wrong, I'm still the bad guy?

I'm checking out the Weather Channel, and I see three winter storms, all about the width of the state of Iowa, coming our way, one right after the other. This really sucks, because we live in an old Victorian whose walls are plaster. We have no shingles on the roof, three storms on the way, and I'm imagining our staircase looking like the Niagra Falls of plaster.

I make a call to this Mexican guy I know, and we cut a deal - man, it was seriously lucky of me that he would step in on another "contractor's" job like that on such short notice, and agree to finish things up for us.

So, Mike comes over, but in an amazing stroke of "luck," Douch Bag Jr., and Douch Bag Sr. are hard at work on the jobsite. This is going to be awkward. I decide to take the approach of management where I work. Keep it cool, level-headed, and couch everything negative in the form of a compliment:

Me: "I've decided to bring someone in to help close this roof up. Not that you guys need the help, but there are 3 winter storms approaching, and Mike here has been gracious enough to give this project a helping hand."

Douch Bag and Douche Bag: "We don't need the help! We've got this all under control."

Me: "You need the help, and you can help him finish this, or he can finish this on his own, which I'm sure he would prefer."

Why, I don't know, but they decided to help Mike finish the roof. But, all the white hairs I got, worrying about how this would turn out, made me realize that the current system of astrological signs is out-dated. We need more contemporary ones, based more in reality: like Drunk-Boy the Idiot.

I know this sounds like a "poison-pen" post, and it probably is, but I'm not totally out of line. Drunk-Boy just lost his wife and his house. Now, we've got an empty house across the street. Great.

Baptism by fire

There's this guy I used to work with who was very humble, almost to the point of being mousey. His wife bosses him around; she spends all of his overtime money on buiding materials for their home improvement projects and jewelery for her. She used to work there too, so we know how she is. She retired early, moving his retirement date back by almost 10 years.

Their house is beautiful, though. They're probably the only blue-collar couple on the "Better Homes Tour," in our community. (The Better Homes Tour is the best of the best homes in our community. They have a house that would make Bob Vila jealous.)

They should have a home that nice. This guy will work on his vacation days, as a way to manuipulate the system so he can get more overtime than he should. (The company will ask if you want to work overtime, in order of overtime hours-asked: people with low hours-asked first. You're charged for the hours that you're asked to work, not the hours you actually work; therefore, if you're technically on vacation, you can't be charged for hours asked. That's how desperate this guy is for overtime!) This way, he's getting vacation pay, his normal hourly pay for working, plus he's guaranteed to be low hours for the next day's overtime - and since he's getting double-pay on his vacation day, he considers that a vacation!

That's how smart this guy is, but you'd never know it working next to him, because he doesn't talk alot unless you get to know him first. Now, I know why.

I worked next to him enough for him to start opening up to me. One day, we were talking, and he was telling me for the first time about his Viet Nam experiences. Whew! No wonder this guy doesn't talk much!

He said his "introduction" to Viet Nam was a one-of-a-kind experience. They were flying into Da Nang at night, fresh out of boot camp. When they got close to their runway, they noticed quite a few white flashes, far away on the ground. The ground under them was exploding in bright shades of white and orange. The intercom on the plane came on: "The base we were taking you to is under rocket attack; since the runway has been shot out, we'll be diverting to a nearby base." They're flying a little longer, and the same thing: white flashes off in the distance, massive turbulance, and white and orange flashes on the ground below. The intercom comes on with the same exact message.

They're flying a little while longer, and they notice the same thing. The entire area was under a rocket attack. The intercom comes on, this time with a different story: "The base we're taking you to is under rocket attack. We're running dangerously low on fuel. Please make sure your seatbelts are fastened, and tighten them up. We'll be cutting all power to the aircraft so the heat-seeking missiles will hopefully avoid us. All electric will be cut so the enemy can't see any of our lights to avoid any ground fire. We'll go into a freefall over the runway, then turn everything on right before contact with the ground. Welcome to Viet Nam."

He said the captain cut all power, and the feeling of freefall was violent, everybody puked, all at the same time. They did just what the captain said. When the plane came to a stop, they were told to do a "duck-and-roll," when exiting the plane, as there were enemy troops all around the area, hosing it down with machine gun fire.

That was Tom's introduction to Viet Nam. You'd never expect such experiences from such a pussy-whipped, hen-pecked man. I guess that goes to show you, you never know!