I go to an old-school barber shop. It's three guys in a shotgun of a room tucked in between a Dominoes Pizza and a discount camping store set within a shitty strip mall. It oozes high class. I go to Tom. I used to just take whoever was open, but after my first barber died ("Where's Jerry?" "Dead.") and the next guy I tried only talked about literally getting stabbed in the heart by an old girlfriend. Telling me all this while gripping his scissors tighter and tighter, I decided then and there that this guy was off my fucking list of choices.
That left Tom, the quietest and most normal looking of the crew. My other two options exhausted, I made the decision from now on to "request" Tom, even if Stabby McStabb or the rotating third guy in for the deceased was available.
Tom and I've bonded. We talk about golf, drinking, and broads. In that order. He smokes the entire time he cuts my hair, but I let that slide. At least he doens't eat a sandwich like the guy at my old place. So Tom and I are golden. He knows my order, "Tight on the back and sides, fade up, trim the top" and while that glorious description could leave me with a plethora of looks, he gets it right.
I noticed I was getting moppy earlier this week so I stopped in around 4:45 last night for a shear - Bonanza on the 13" TV as it always seems to be. I walked up to the barber shop through the parking lot and noticed Tom had someone in the chair and rotating third guy was sitting in his, waiting for business. Fuck. I walked past the shop and in the camping store. Maybe I could waste five minutes and hope someone would come in and go to third guy, then I'd sit down, read some "Guns and Ammo" and wait for my man. I gave it 3 minutes and said Fuck It, I wanna get home. I went back in but no luck, Number 3 was still open. So I nodded to Tom and sat down for 3. This is gonna suck.
I give him my order, worrying that he was gonna fuck it up. But it's a 12 dollar haircut, what was I expecting. He starts, we chat, everythings fine. We talk Westerns, "Shane" he says "is the greatest Western of all time." I agree to rent it sometime. Then it happened. Right there. Against my arm.
He pushed his old man cock against me. It had to be. I think he had a rod, pointing to 12 o'clock high, the position we shift our dicks to when an impromptu boner hits us - the most easily concealed of the erection positions. And I felt it. Had to be. I started to sweat.
I sat there for what seemed like 20 minutes. First trying to isolate all the sensory power to those very nerve endings along my right tricep where his old man cock was presently residing. For some reason I felt the need to first identify if this indeed was, cock. Astutely, I recorded the possibilities of this infraction - was that the crown? did it move? is it just his jeans?
Whoa! What the fuck am I doing? I switched from scientist mode back to grossed out patron mode and weighed my options:
"OK. Snippy here could be grinding my arm right now, but I don't have enough evidence. He isn't like 11th grade prom date grinding, he's more like 'oops, bumped into ya, sorry' grinding.
Option 1 is the confrontation - but that's no good due to lack of proof. And that he has scissors. Option 2 is to somehow rush him to get outta here - but I'm too narcissistic. Gotta look good. Option 3 - reposition the arm and elbow him in the fucking meat pipe. Then run outta here yelling '¡Viva El Revolucíon!', you know, to make it political. Yes. That's it. I'm doing #3. OK, ready the arm and..."
"All done, how's she look?"
I'm stunned. My plan thwarted, he's holding the mirror in front of me. And not only is he done, he's given me the best damn fucking 12 dollar cut I've ever had. Good christ I'm handsome!
I completely forgot about the penile infraction. Fuck, he can hump my leg next time if he gives me this cut again. He can sit on my lap. I don't care. I'll even bring him flowers.
I tip him 2 bucks, say Bye to Tom, and walk out smiling. And that, in a nutshell, is pretty much me. I'm a gloriously shallow fuck. But I got a sweetass haircut.
For housing a group of primarily old and out-of-shape white folk, my office has somehow sped up the process of human evolution and created an amazing breed of skilled and highly trained ninjas within our very walls: the free food ninjas.
You cross over the threshold of our building - your stubby legs aching, your hypertension building - and you see a tray of free sandwiches left out for a meeting being held in an adjacent conference room. All of sudden you're healed. Not just healed, but immediately blessed with cat-like reflexes, the power of invisibility, the agility of a lemur, and you're wearing a sweet-ass black jumpsuit. And you have numchucks. You are a food ninja and you can steal food like a motherfucker.
That has to be the only option. That has to the be the reason that folks have to put out signs over bland and warming chicken salad sandwich trays, "For Section 11 Finance Meeting Attendees ONLY".
Are you kidding? We need to protect these sandwiches that taste like they came from a gas station? Wow. I never knew the ninja clan got this outta hand, got this powerful. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
I've gone beyond disgust at this act of head shaking disgrace - nothing in the workplace surprises me anyone - and instead grown a healthy respect for the ninjas. I've never seen one, never heard one speak, never even heard another acknowledge their presence - all signs of a successful secret clan. I sometimes imagine that I've heard their calls to one another: "John, there's cookies in the Atrium," they'll say in a mock-humor tone.
'But are they part of the ninja clan?' I ask myself. 'Is this the first step in a successful shitty food apprehension mission? No, John's like 60 and huge. He couldn't get to the goods undetected. He's no ninja. Or are John and Carl just toying with me, trying to throw me off? Do they know I'm on to them? Do they know I've got my eyes open? Do they know I'm not wearing any underwear today?'
There's gotta be a ringleader and a headquarters - vats of stolen goods, a training center, a high ropes course. I picture a secret handshake, an oath, and a logo. Do they steal for the leader? Do they steal for themselves? Is there a code, an order?
I want in. That's all there is to it. I'm no longer of the opinion that I'm somehow above this place. If that was the case, I couldn't work anywhere because you, me, and every one of us is above our work identity. We're not about 9 to 5. We're about 5 to 9.
Nope. I want to have fun with this. I want a jumpsuit. I want to get fed.
But I think it goes beyond this place. I think the ninjas are global, organized in a hierarchy - with districts and various orders with their own techniques and bylaws. Maybe you're a food stealing ninja. Maybe you've got an in. If so, set me up. Put me through the training, the hazing, the nude initiation ceremony. I'm with you my brother. I'm ninjaworthy.
Seeing your dad punch someone out is usually grounds for a social service intervention, or a reason for rehab, or because that fucking beer vendor just couldn't get his jelly ass up to our section quick enough. But it my case it occurred in the one situation that seemed OK, even cool, to see your old man throw down. I saw my pops slug one of his brothers.
I must paint a pretty trailer park/moon pie/fat sisters in mini-skirts kinda picture about my family and friends, and really... well, it's a pretty accurate scenario. (Mom pulls out will, pencil, and ruler, and slowly and deliberately crosses "Matthew C." off the document...) But when you grow up in a Catholic household of 6 boys like my father did, and was ruled over by a matriarch with an iron fist and mean chocolate/peanut butter fudge bar recipe, skirmishes are bound to break out among the rank and file. Be it 1961 or 1987.
I think the punch was in '87. I was around twelve and enjoying dinner with my mom, dad, and sister in our screened porch on a humid southern Minnesota August night. We lived on the southwest side of town, the "doctor" quadrant. With the Mayo Clinic (aka, "the company") being more or less the sole employer in our town of Rochester (aka, "the Crotch"), residential areas seemed to be spilt up by job classification. We had just moved in earlier that summer and Dennis, the oldest of the Wilson Bros. lived just 3 blocks away.
Dennis had several blurry years under his belt from too much boozin and was seemingly on the wagon and working on straightening shit out. A skilled carpenter, Dennis had lined up some good work, bought a nice house and was quiet and trying. The wagon must've tipped over that afternoon and Denny tied one on tight. I remember hearing something from up our alley as we ate, a Twins baseball game on the radio fuzzing out the rest. 2 or 3 minutes passed between the alley noise and my next memory of my mom rushing my sister and I into the house, dad already at his feet and leaving the porch for the backyard.
Confused with the sudden commotion of leaving our dinner and our mom trying to suddenly occupy us with something else, I broke away to the backdoor to the porch to see what the hell was going on. I remember seeing Dennis stumble up the back walk, screaming/yelling/slurring something I couldn't remember. He was angry and I remember seeing my dad become angry. His oldest brother had some beef with him and barging in on his family was no way to handle it. Pops was pissed.
More blurry memories from the next few scenes, but when it was over, Dennis had taken a swing and my Dad - and Dad would have none of that. I saw my dad, my soccer coach, my driver to the movies, suddenly be a Man. Not that I ever had any reason not to think of him in that way, I just didn't have any reason to think of him that way. He was Dad. That's it.
I saw Denny stumble back - ass, kicked - and felt scared and proud. It seemed like a perfect scenario to witness your father doing something manlike, and not worrying about ramifications. This wasn't your Dad punching your hockey coach, or a guy in a restaurant - something that would get him in trouble or bring shame onto the family. No, this was blood, a brother. It was in the family. And that's how you handle that kind of stuff. If you can, you talk it out. If that's not option and your brothers crossing a line, you fucking blast him. I think Dennis would agree. I think any brothers would agree.
But this wasn't a seminal moment between a father and a son. I'm so much more proud of him and of my mother for other things they've done: how my sister and I never had to worry about food, a roof, clothes, how I was in any sport I ever wanted to try (and there were a fucking lot of 'em). No, this was more a moment of acknowledgement: my dad can get thrown into shitty situations too and if he can't talk it out, if he can't diffuse the flame, he'll stand up and draw a line. He spoke to us later about what happened and explained that what I saw was not how he wanted this situation to unfold, but he felt, at the moment, that he had no other choice.
I've never hit anyone in my life and I don't plan to. Maybe, for some reason, seeing my dad do it quenched any fightlust my Y chromosome may have produced. But I wonder what the moment will be between my child and myself when they see a situation that I didn't script and am forced to improvise within - a situation where I'm just a man and have to make a decision based on experience and gut. I just hope it's with as much poetry and class as my dad showed me.
It's D-Day for my friend Glenn. The editing of chapter 23 gets wrapped up today and with that, he's done with his first book. He's 26. This continues to amaze me.
Glenn left his home of Sarasota, FL a few months ago at the conclusion of the writing stage and has been hitting points across the US since where various friends have helped him edit. He's been staying with Kris and I for about 3 weeks now and it's been a blast.
Having one of your best friends stay with you and your wife is a pretty fucking great combination - if your spouse likes said friend. If not, then it's just an episode of a sitcom starring a fat white guy and his buddy who eats all the sandwich meat. Luckily Kris loves Glenn, so each night has been a combination of cooking bigass meals and sitting around and bullshitting. Later, Kris'll hit the sack and Glenn and I stay up for a few more hours fucking around. I'm beat from staying up too late for 20+ days, but it's been like I'm 7 and at one long sleepover where you keep making up dumbass games in an effort to stay up later.
Ever play the Starship game where you fold a piece of paper in half, then you each draw 8 spaceships (4 large, 4 small) and take turns making dots on your half, folding the paper over and seeing if your dot "hit" one of his ships? Or the Robot game? I come up with a task his robot had to do and he has to draw it and vice versa. He drew a pretty shitty bull castrator (he'll disagree) while I think my dog fart containment unit was visionary.
So the next stage of that game begins - getting that fucking book published. I'm excited as hell to see what happens. I wanna see my friend become a big fucking author rock star with groupies and a Dolorian. I wanna see him with hookers and hot tubs and guys in pinky rings. I wanna pass out at his celebratory party with his publisher picking up the tab. I wanna see people at airports reading his book. I wanna know there's one less sale for a cubicle distributor.
That's freedom, baby - a published book and desire to write more. I'll keep you updated.
Maybe it was when I realized that I shouldn't have had that last drink. Maybe it was when I realized I should've found a way out of this weekend-long work retreat. Maybe it was when I peed all over the front of my pants.
My first job after we moved to Minnesota was shit. Pure horseshit. Me, of no marketable skills ("But I wrote the playlist for Rick Dee's 'Hot AC Top 40' Show...") was offered a job in advertising. I always thought that phrase sounded glamourous. But I learned. It ain't. Not by a long shot.
I remember getting out of my first interview, calling my wife, then storming over to the guys house to brag about this "awesome" job I was up for. Free tickets to games, wineing and dining clients, all that shit. Of course that gag was on me when I showed up for work in my expensive new suit and was guided to my new desk complete with Edison-era phone, two phonebooks, and that's it. "OK Matt, start cold calling." (Blood drains from face.)
I can't say that I didn't see any of the shitty side of advertising sales coming - I was just too blinded by the bullshit facade of tickets and expense accounts that is the world of "sales". Shittiest six months of my life. And it all pretty much culminated at (doing that thing with my fingers meaning quotes) the work retreat.
Of course it was damn apropos that our "get down and get to business" sales retreat was at a casino. 2 1/2 days in a shitty, smokey, old people spending their medicare money in a pole barn - with requisite "tribal heritage" displays. In Minnesota, only Native American's can operate casinos and on their own land, and every one I've ever been to has the token mural of stoic Indians in canoes - living off the land, finding a balance of spirit and nature, and giggling maniacally at whitey as they paddle away with his money.
So it's Night One at the retreat and everyone's shitfaced. "When in Rome," I say, even though I hated all these people merely because I associated them with our jobs. Sitting at the "Firewater Lounge" I get up and stumble to the can. I remember peeing. I remember staggering a step backwards. I remember a really warm sensation in my lap. Look down, "ohhhh shit." My entire office is directly outside the bathroom door - no time to stumble upstairs and change. And it was a good ol' Texas League pee spot - pocket to pocket and the entire height of the zipper. I musta opened up the levee to 11 on that one.
Think Wilson. Think, think, think. "Yes!" - the broken sink excuse. It's gotta work. I shook, zipped up, and waddled over to the sink area where I started wilding splashing the crotch and pelvic area of my pants. Oh, and Dear Jesus, if there's any way, any way at all... can I get a video of that someday?
But are they gonna buy it? Is anyone gonna notice? Banking on the fact that most we're drunker than I was, I straightened up, added an extra drop here, dabbed with a paper towel there, and said "fuck it, let's go".
Luckily, my pants were gray and it was pretty dark, so I made it to the bank of tables without anyone noticing - until I pulled back my chair to make my final approach. Allison, a coworker of approximately the same age who I got along with great, spotted my urinary infraction, and saw through my scheme immediately.
In a drunk girl whisper (which is therefore about normal volume...)
"Yoooooou peeeeeeed on yourself!!!"
"No, no - the sink was broken - sprayed all over me."
15 second pause as she continued to stare at me - piercing my head as she searched for one of the 7 signs of a liar
"Noooo... Yoooooou peeeeeeed on yourself!!!!!!"
I thought "fuck it" and I caved. "Shhhhhhh!" I said to her, "it was an accident" (insert big flirty smile) then added the requisite giggle and didn't get up from the table until my water/piss mixture had adequately dried into the tablecloth I had pulled down to use as a sponge.
It wasn't 3 weeks after my "intensive sales seminar" that I left that world forever. But standing in the bathroom of a neighborhood restaurant over the weekend, staring down at a dribble in my shorts from a premature penile resheath, and shaking my head in disgust (sober this time), somehow made me happier than shit that I was outta that world. And then I cussed the hell outta this restaurant for not having tablecloths.
I fumbled for my camera.
"Shit, shit, Shit!"
"Hurry up moron!"
Shitty camera unsheathed, I pushed my way through the cute little kids surrounding the zebra viewing area - stiff arm here, chop block there. Five feet from the beast and I saw the meat pipe receding. "No! Keep chanting kids... keep chanting!"
Steady the footing... aim... fire.
"Got it!" I yelled back to my equally retarded friends, all of us missing the gay/Freudian/beastiality stares we were getting from the rest of the families at the zebra display, just there enjoying the zoo on a Sunday.
But how would it turn out? I got to the drug store the following Tuesday to pick up my film, anticipation building
like a big fat zebra cock (hold on, ruining the story) like a big, pusy zit (muuuuch better, Wilson).
Skinny behind the counter rings me up... and there they were. Sealed in the yellow packaging. Waiting to show me either a blurred black and white horse with the tops of little kids' heads blurring the focii - or the celluloid masterpiece of a man who finds animal dicks funny.
I'd fucking say it was the latter. And this was on the downswing, baby. Good god.
Thankfully, my wife has conceded the fact that whenever someone goes through our pictures from our 6 months in Washington, DC, I'm gonna jump in and bypass the monuments and shit and hit'em with this as an intro.
"Oh, is that the Holocaust Memorial?"
"Yeah, but check out the dong on this zebra!"
mecawilson is matt wilson,
a 25 year old from Minneapolis, MN, USA.
it's all about the communication, baby