Friday, June 27, 2008
I've tried to map out the scene for reference -- I hope it is clear enough for my writing to make sense.
I was headed West on the street, turned right into the driveway entrance.
I had to swing right (east) around a group of (3) shady-looking characters standing near the entrance, near the words "ATM Machine" on my map. (#1) had a bicycle -- obviously a drunkard with no license. The other (2) of them -- #2 and #3 -- looked at me really, very hard as I passed, enough so that I became concerned.
I parked at a 45-degree angle, between the lines, pointing straight at the ATM machine. There was a 4th man at the machine so I hit the button to kill my headlights and go to just parking lights -- simple, common courtesy. The guy fiddled with the machine a bit, but I never saw cash, receipt or card come out before he walked over to join the group.
Something about this situation really bothered me, so I pulled my Seecamp in its wallet-style holster from my right-rear pocket where it usually lives and put it in my right-front pant pocket. I was careful to hide the pistol, anyone seeing (though I cant imagine how in my dark car) would only have seen a wallet move from one pocket to another.
I got out of my car and hit the remote button to lock the door, and walked to the ATM machine. As I did, the group broke up. My "alert" went up a notch, so I put my right hand into my pocket and grasped my pistol's grip, trigger-finger still outside the holster.
(#1, #2) headed East, out of sight down the sidewalk.
(#4) Headed north (I think, generally) toward the back of the lot.
The last one ("#3") headed North-west, toward the north-east corner of the bank building.
I'd been watching them in my peripheral vision, but as this one crossed behind me into my "blind spot" I made a point of turning toward him, sorta obviously keeping him in view. Our eyes met, he knew I was looking at him. I gave him a "nod" and noticed he had what looked like a plastic bottle of Pepsi in his hand. He diverted more to the north-north-west, thus coming "less" toward me than he had been and disappeared, headed into the north-west part of the lot. As he meandered, the partition-wall blocked my view of him.
I don't know why -- none of them had done anything threatening, but the whole thing just had my instincts on a knife-edge. I stood sideways, facing mostly North, and operated the ATM with my left hand, my right still grasping my pistol in my pocket as I scanned the area as much as I could..
I got my "balance check" slip and looked at it, then began punching in the numbers for my cash withdrawal. At this point I was on full-alert, tingling between my shoulder-blades, adrenaline kicking in... Something in me was screaming "Danger!" but I couldn't figure out why I was feeling so paranoid. I learned long ago to listen to my sub-conscious, while simultaneously willing myself to "calm down" to maintain self-control.
For some reason I still can't explain, I stopped and took a few fast steps to the East so I could see on the other side of the little partition-wall. Standing in the shadows, with his back to the bank wall and his right-shoulder touching the partition was #3!!
I'd last seen him heading toward the back of the lot, as if he was going to the bar on the other side of the fence, the only way he could have gotten where was is if he snuck back along the bank-wall. If the brick partition hadn't been there, our shoulders would have been less than one-foot apart!
When I saw him, and he saw me see him, he REALLY looked nervous for a second.
I turned in about a 45-degree angle to him, instinctively taking my "fighting" stance, facing roughly north-west. I pushed the holster loose from my pistol and made sure it wouldn't hang up on my pocket if I needed to draw, and in my most agressive manner said "can I HELP you??!!"
Honestly -- if he'd made a move at all in my direction at that moment I'd have shot him.
He stuttered a bit, said "naaah -- I'm cool..." and began side-stepping along the wall then scurried off in a near-run to the North before disappearing around the back of the bank. He may have gone to the bar through the opening in the fence.
I quickly got my cash -- stepping back so I could see all around and listening for the "ATM-spitting-out-cash" noise before grabbing my cash and stuffing it in my pocket then hitting the "get my card back" button and grabbing it and my receipt then heading for my car, unlocking the door with the clicker just before grabbing the handle. As soon as I was in I locked the doors again, fired it up and got out of there.
When I heard the "ATM-spitting-out-cash" noise, I realized what had almost happened.
ATM's make a "whifwhifwhifwhifwhif" noise as they count the cash, then a very distinct whirring as the stack of bills is ejected. I am about 100% sure that this mutt was listening for that noise.
When he heard it, he'd have stepped around the partition and knocked me in the head, grabbed my cash sticking out of the machine, and ran. I found him before the cash-noise happened, before I'd actually hit "OK" for the withdrawal.
Further, the more I think about it, I think the pepsi may have been a prop, filled with something solid and heavy like concrete, otherwise I didn't see anything that he could have used as a weapon, though I suppose a blind-side sucker-punch might have been enough. I'm pretty sure it was black, though that could have been black sand or... Who knows. Maybe it was just a 20ounce pepsi though that would probably knock a guy out if you hit him in the base of the skull with it in a surprise-attack from behind.
I'm still a bit shaken -- I don't think I'll be using that machine at night any more -- but after I've thought about it a lot and written this, I'm pretty happy with how I handled the whole thing.
I listened to my instincts which were screaming like hell, and steadily escalating from the moment I pulled in. I was totally aware of who and what was around, and the directions they scattered into. I checked my "blind spot" on the other side of the partition wall before pulling cash, prepared for whatever I might find. I stood my ground and challenged him, but resisted the urge to draw...
My only real regret is that he was well inside my "21-foot" zone at the time, but I can't see how I could have done that differently without risking exposure to other unseen dangers between the cars. Any of the others could have crept up below the door/trunk/hood level and I wouldn't have been able to see them.
The biggest lesson here is "LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS" -- ESPECIALLY when they "don't make sense" with your conscious assessment of the situation. Your higher-mind is telling you what you've failed to consciously notice.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I’ve told this story a few times, it always cracks up the people who know us, but I just wasn’t sure it would translate into “print” although I guess it must have done ok…
Thanks for the positive feedback -- looks like now I have to get back to work.
You'll never hear Paul Harvey tell this one, but...
And now... The Rest of The Story...
So, as I pointed out in Part 1, I'd really (REALLY !!) hoped that a good case of wankus-interruptus would teach The Boy the necessary lesson.
As I opined when I left off, "Alas, this was not to be..."
On the following Sunday evening, BB and I went to take The Girls back to their mom's at the end of the weekend. His sister was off with their Dad and The Boy was (again) left at home, alone.
Dealing with The Ex was never pleasant, and my worry for The Girls, my heartbreak at having to leave them there... Sundays SUCKED around my house. It usually took me a couple of hours at home to get into a sociable mood, until then I just wanted to be alone.
We arrived at home and I collapsed on the couch, hoping to be able to escape from my thoughts, into some mindless TV. I reached for the remote, and RIGHT THERE -- right on the coffee table this time -- was another nudie-book.
“Oh, Jesus…” I thought. “Welcome HOME…"
"Might as well get this over with…” I sighed, snatched up the mag, and headed down the hall to The Boy's room.I walked in without knocking, turned on the light and shut the door behind me before turning off his TV.
He wasn’t too happy at the intrusion, he tried to blink the bright-light out of his eyes, then saw what was in my hand and instantly kicked into defensive mode.
"Look, man... I'm sorry…"
"Sorry ain't really cutting it, Boy. Not this time. I tried -- G*d knows I tried, but..."
"Really, it's not going to happen again. I understand, I really don'..."
"Nope. Too late." I said. "We HAVE to do this now -- don't you see? YOU made this mess, damnit, and now I have no choice. I REALLY hope this conversation sucks as much for you as it does for me."
I paused to take a deep breath, gather my thoughts, and settle my nerves a bit before getting started. I really didn't have any speech prepared, but had a general idea of what lessons needed to be imparted... I was tired, and a bit angry, (not to mention more than a bit skeeved out by the whole thing), but... I'm a man, and men do what we have to do, so...
"First, I need to be sure that you know that what you're doing is perfectly normal and natural."
"I--AM--NOT!!" he shouted, highly indignant at the mere suggestion...
I stifled the urge to laugh, took another deep breath and said "Well... That pretty much proves that you ARE, especially since I didn't say exactly what, but...
"I'm NOT!!" he shouted again. "I know what you mean. That's DISGUSTING."
"Well... it can be, I suppose, in fact that's pretty much why I'm here. Let's start again…”.
“All boys, when they reach a certain age, discover... well... They begin to..."
"I TOLD YOU, *I* *AM* **NOT!!**" he yelled again, pounding his fist on his bed for effect.
"OK. Look... This conversation is going to take all night if we don't get past this..."
"But I'm NOT!!" he protested one more time
"OK, Look -- I'm willing to stipulate that you're the first young Knight in the history of The Realm who hasn't spent a majority of his free time polishing his lance, if that's what it takes for us to move past this..."
"But I'm NOT!!"
"**OK** -- I GET it -- YOU'RE NOT!! -- but IF YOU WERE..."
"But I'm NOT!!"
Steam-roller time... Any parent knows that point at which you stop arguing and just talk over them... This was it.
"...But IF YOU WERE, it would be perfectly natural. Heck, when I was your age I had like a 10, 12-times-a-day habit myself... It’s kind of a miracle I didn’t wear it out, really…"
Finally, I'd managed to shut him up. The horror on his face was ... well... PRICELESS.
“… what’s NOT natural is… well…” I’d been so focused on just getting past his denials, that I was about out of steam.
A peek at the boy (I suddenly realized I was talking to the wall, not looking at him) told me he wasn’t really playing along, but I needed to get this over with. I stood up, and paced around the room a bit while I was talking…
“… Mom and I sat on the deck and watched the sunset, had a few glasses of wine…
“I got a little Barry White playing on the stereo…”
(singing) “…’never gonna give you up, Baby…’ ” as I closed my eyes and danced a little bit, beginning to find my groove now…
“…ol’ Barry’s the MAN, by the way, I gotta tell you, dude – something about his voice just makes women get… Mmmm....”
(Pause to insert leering grin here…) Yup, he's with me. It's like a car-wreck - -he really doesn't want to look, but he can't help himself...
“…Sorry… like I was saying, we had some wine, one thing led to another…”
“…We made it into the kitchen, getting’ a bit carried away… I lifted her up and set her on the table…”
“…Things are getting all hot-n-heavy. Man – she’s laid back on the table
– right about where you usually sit, come to think of it –
... she’s got her legs throwed up over my shoulders and I’m (fists clenched at waist level as my hips thrust in vulgar manner) REALLY (thrust) GOING (thrust) to (thrust) TOWN (thrust) I (thrust) mean (thrust) I’m (thrust) really (thrust) slappin’…”
At this point, he looked sorta like a goldfish -- his chin was gulping up and down as he made little retching noises…
“STOOOOO—oooooooP!!” he yelled, cringing in disgust, hands flying up over his face in the classic defensive pose…
“Duude – that’s my MOM!!” – still retching…
For a moment I thought he was actually going to heave, then I realized my mission was accomplished!
“THERE!!” I yelled “That feeling RIGHT THERE!!”
“GRAB IT!! HOLD ON TO IT!! YEAH! THAT FEELING!!”
I’ve never been able to look at this picture without cracking up – even finding it to post right now has left me in stitches, as it TOTALLY captures the expression on The Boy’s face at that moment:
Yup – That’s it all right.
“Oh, G*D…” he croaked. “… WHYYY??” lapsing into stunned silence.
“Because THAT’S how the rest of us feel when we find your masturbation materials laying around all over the place.
Like I said, it’s perfectly natural, but what’s NOT natural is for you to force the rest of us to feel like you’re feeling right now.
We know you’re going to do it, but … well… NOONE wants to have to think about you, sprawled out on the sofa, being your own best friend…”
I actually paused for a second, I guess his earlier protestations had conditioned me to expect another round of “No I’m not/yes you are/no I’m…” but he just sat, stunned into silence.
“Look, “ I said “here’s the deal. Get yourself some paper towels, some hand sanitizer, -- be sure you wash your hands -- I mean … – I shouldn’t have to be afraid to touch the doorknobs in my own house, right?”
Still stunned, but he managed a nod.
“The next time I find your porno collection, I’m going to show you MINE. Well, I guess I should probably call it ‘ours’ since … well, … “ Again, I lapsed off into silence, letting it finish my thought for me…
The Boy let out a little groan of disgust and I decided I’d better not push my luck. He still looks like he might heave.
I HATE puke, so I’d better back off…
“Keep ‘em out of sight, OK?”
“HOW?” He cried... “Mom’s ALWAYS all up in my stuff.”
“’Your stuff’ has been all up OUT -- in the dang LIVING ROOM!…” I said,
“…but I know what you mean… USE YOUR HEAD, man! You’re a smart guy!! Tip your night-stand back…” (I did, showing him the space underneath) “…there’s room for a coupla phone books under there… Take your drawers out of the dresser…” I paused to pull one out “… there’s room to put 4 or 6 of them on either side of the slide!!
.. but for f***s sake, PLEASE stop leaving them laying around the HOUSE!!…”
He was beginning to recover by this point, he nodded weakly, letting me know he understood.
“… I’m trying like hell to be the cool Dad, here. My Dad would have just beat me senseless... I don't know what to do, but you really have to understand – if The Girls were to find one of these, and their mom found out about it, it could really mess up their lives in ways you just can’t understand right now…”
I've always tried to protect the kids -- all of them -- from the Court battles and all, but he was older, home all the time, and aware of some of the ugliness, some of the awful mess I’d been going through trying to do what was best for my kids. He really liked my Girls, and made a fantastic Big Brother to them, and I knew he at least heard that point as well.
“Gotcha…” he said.
“Good. I’ll talk to Mom – it’s about time you started doing your own laundry, especially since… Well… I’ll show you how, OK?”
He nodded again, still struggling with his horror…
I stood, and put my hand out for a shake. Just as he started to shake it, I suddenly made my “YUCK!” face and pulled my hand back quickly, nose still wrinkled for effect.
“Umm… OK” I said, as it dawned on The Boy why I’d had second thoughts about shaking his hand. I patted him on the shoulder instead.
I picked up the magazine, started to roll it up, then thought better of it. I wasn’t quite done yanking The Boy’s chain yet.
I paused for a moment, almost to the door, flipping through the magazine a bit until I found a slim brunette (BB is a slim brunette)…
“Niiice!!” I said, pointing at her and tossing the boy a wink as I headed for the door.
He made a yuck-face of his own…
I made a point of reaching for the doorknob, then pulling my hand back and carefully using the magazine to open the door without touching the knob, then slowly made my exit, singing “AAaannd I'i'i'mm... never gonna give you up, Bay-beeee” and dancing a little as I looked at the brunette a bit more.
I stopped in the hallway, still singing quietly and dancing just a little as I pulled the door shut, catching his eye just for a second as the door closed.
“I hate you” he whispered just as the door clicked shut, his throat still struggling a bit with the urge to gag, but the half-smile on his face belied his words...
I knew this was a story he’ll tell his friends some day, probably half-drunk, once he’d matured enough to get over the embarrassment. He’s never actually mentioned it in my presence, but I know I was right…
We've had some unpleasant times -- I was his step-dad, and much more old-school than he was used to, which made for some conflicts, but he's grown to be my Bud. He calls me when he needs advice... I'm damn proud of him.
Years later, we were all at dinner, celebrating his college graduation and Commissioning (he’s a Lt. in the Navy now) when Barry White came on the speakers. I couldn’t help smirking at him as ol’ Barry crooned “never gonna give you up, Bay-baaay”…
What surprised me was that all of his “Buds” looked at me -- all at once -- did a spit-take and joined him in cracking the heck up… Obviously they'd heard the story...
Of course, when they started, I lost it as well, and we all sat there laughing hysterically…
Mom looked around, puzzled, trying to figure out how she’d missed the joke as I, The Boy, and all his Buds just rolled – we laughed until the tears ran down our faces -- all of us -- while everyone else sort of looked at each other and shrugged, not sure what was so funny.
It was one of those times when you’d manage to get yourself together and stop laughing, then make the mistake of making eye-contact with someone else which would cause you to lose it again.
We ROLLED while Mom, the girls and the other parents exchanged glances, trying to figure out what was going on. ROLLED till I was almost crying, gasping for air.
We’d finally managed to get ourselves together when BB, apparently a bit miffed at being left out of the hilarity, looked at my oldest daughter, rolled her eyes and said
Which just set us off again…
The Boy has become The Man, but he’ll always be The Boy in this house otherwise full of girls. Even the dog, both cats and the guinea pig are all female. I'm drowning in a frigging estrogen ocean around here, moreso now that The Girls have matured...
There’s a gazillion more great stories of our exploits, I’ll have to write some of them up I guess since this one seemed to go over so well…
The “Condom story” would have been better in response to LL’s post, but just wouldn’t have made as much sense without this one as history.
Thanks again for the positive feedback!!
Monday, June 23, 2008
AD's link to LL's post about her embarrassing conversation with her daughter, and his link to one of his stories about his Mom made me finally hit the switch. Believe it or not, I think I can compete with both of them for pure hilarity, ickiness, embarassment and self-humiliation.
Yeah, that's a tall order, and some stiff competition. The story rocks, but I'm not so sure of my ability to tell it... In any case, here goes.
I need to set the stage with a bit of background.
I'd been through a bad marriage and a horrible divorce, and was still fighting an even uglier battle over the custody of my two daughters. I'd sworn I'd never again consider marriage, when life -- defined by a wise person as "what happens to us when we make other plans" -- intervened.
I met BB at work. She was everything I'd want my daughters to grow up to be. Beautiful, educated, hard-working, accomplished... The total package. I was smitten. Time passed, and we ended up together. I'll no doubt elaborate on HOW that happened some other time -- it's another pretty cool story -- but there it is. We'd eventually moved in together.
BB had 2 kids also -- a boy and a girl -- each several years older than mine. The Boy was in the 8th grade -- a difficult time at best -- and suffering from all the ills of any other adolescent boy. This story occurred a few short months after we'd combined our households -- we were still figuring things out, but The Boy and I got along surprisingly well, all things considered.
BB on the other hand was having a bit of a crisis of her own, as most women will at this difficult time. Seeing her offspring mature often leads women to fear their own maturation, and add to this that she'd recently found her first gray hair and... well... Let's just say things were a bit sensitive. My mission was to not allow her to fall off that precipice, as I was rather fond of the passionate woman with whom I'd been blessed and didn't want to screw that up.
So we come home one night, having gone out for a while to watch a friend's band play. I always ended up sitting in and singing for a set or so with them, this night was no different. The Boy had been home, alone, and I'd eventually realized that it was time to get BB home before she turned into a pumpkin. Home we went, to find Boy had already headed off to dreamland.
As I went through the living room, on my way to the hall and our bedroom, I noticed a magazine laying on the floor next to the sofa. Something led me to check it out, as we weren't really "magazine folk". I'd never actually seen one in our house before. When I saw what it was, I quickly "stashed" it -- the last thing I needed at that point was for BB to find The Boy's Playboy -- THAT would have thrown a monkey-wrench into MY plans for the evening, to say the least...
Later, when I had the opportunity, I buried it in the trash can outside, thinking The Boy's panic and frantic attempts to locate it would teach him a valuable lesson, then did my best to forget about it.
The next morning, he was TRYING to be slick while looking for it. I could see the beads of sweat on his forehead as he meandered through the house, trying to appear nonchalant as he frantically tried to locate his missing stash. I was fighting back a laugh, watching him try to look under furniture while pretending he wasn't looking at all.
Unable to resist yanking his chain a bit, I stirred the pot...
"Did'ja LOSE SOMETHING Boy? Hmm??"
Those with kids of any age know that little spasm that goes through them when they're busted. It's an involuntary full-body twitch that most parents would recognize, and probably think it's just their kid. It's not. It hit him hard, like a spasm.
(Twitch) "Huh?... " He stammered...
"I didn't... "
"I'm not... "
"Are you SURE? You seem like you're looking for something..." Yeah, I'm a sadist.
"Nah. I'm just -- ... you know... Chillin'.... (shrug) Whatever..." He began to redden, fiercely.
"OK. Well look, if you ever DID lose something, just tell me what it is and I'll help you look for it, OK?" I said, unable to completely bury the smirk I felt. He was too panicked, and too busy trying to hide it, to notice. His ears were by this time red as a tomato, but I pretended not to notice THAT.
I had no way at all to know what to do, as my Father's solution to most problems was the back of his hand or a thick leather belt. I shudder to think what he'd have done in this situation, so I was on my own.
Bear in mind that I'm trying real hard to be "the cool Dad" here -- no point in TOTALLY embarrassing the kid, but I need to send the message that I know what he's missing, hopefully he'll figure out I found it, and this will solve the problem without any oogy confrontation.
Alas, this was not to be.
A few days later, I found another one in the same EXACT place, on the floor, right next to the sofa. This one I buried too, saying nothing and hoping the worry would teach the lesson. I'm an optimist, or a coward. I prefer optimist, if it's all the same to you.
It's important, for context, to understand: I was fighting for custody of my daughters -- then aged 5 and 3 -- who spent every weekend with us at this time. The LAST thing I needed was for one of them to find one of his magazines and for the story to get back to their Mom. O-M-F-G: I can only imagine the uproar that would have caused. While this was fun, in a twisted sort of way, it was also important. Critically so.
Further, delaying BB's awareness of her son's budding sexuality was likewise in my best interest -- if she saw his... er... materials ... well -- let's just say it wasn't likely to be good for MY sex life,
So I buried them.
A few days later, BB went into The Boy's room to put away some laundry.
I hadn't really noticed, but I couldn't miss the mourning wail that shattered the quiet morning stillness in my love-nest.
I'd only heard similar vocalizations at funerals up to this point in my life -- the sound was pure pain and grief.
I ran down the hall, heart pounding, wondering "who died?", to find BB holding yet another Playboy magazine.
"My BAAAAAY-BEEEEeee's been looking at POOOOOOOOOR-NOOOOOOoooo!!!" She cried, as huge, painful sobs wracked her body.
"Why you stupid little...." is what I thought, finally awakening to the realization that The Boy really WAS that stupid, and "that which I feared" has come upon me.
What I SAID was "Where'd you find THAT?" -- knowing like most men that feigning ignorance was MY only hope at this point.
"It was laying on his beeeeeeeed" she wailed. "Whatta we gonna DOOooooooo??!!"
I admit -- I thought she was sorta overreacting, but then I did have some grasp of the psychological harm this revelation would cause, as I pointed out before. Women never make sense to me, but sometimes I know how they'll react ...
Time to take charge.
"WE aren't going to do anything. YOU are going to let ME handle this."
"But.... But... But... " She snuffled, and started crying again.
I tossed the evidence on his bed, pulled her out of the room and into my arms and let her cry it out.
"Hey -- look on the bright side -- at least it's GIRLS,..." I said -- "...you can at least be happy about THAT, right?"
Apparently I'd just found yet another difference between Mars and Venus, as this kicked off another crop of wails and tears. Guess not...
Eventually she got it all out of her system, and I was able to get down to business.
I needed to teach him a lesson, but again -- I didn't want to TOTALLY wreck the kid, and had never had to deal with anything like this before.
I confess that cowardice, a desire for revenge, the aforementioned fear of one of The Girls finding them, and a REAL need to handle the situation all did battle in my head.
How can I send the message that needs to be sent, in a way he'll never forget, and solve this problem without a confrontation?
*I* don't want to have to do this... I mean... YUCK!!
Then I spotted the pad of big Post-It notes next to the phone in the kitchen -- you know the ones that are about 5" x 7" and look like a mini yellow legal pad? -- and knew what I had to do.
I grabbed one of these, and a sharpie, and made a note that looked something like this:
I then pasted it right in the middle of his magazine, where the arrow was pointing to an appropriate subject, and put the magazine right back where Mom had found it. Grinning like a maniac, I exited his room and closed his door.
I admit - I can be a bit of a sadist. I'm sure my male readers -- if they've put themselves in the boy's position -- can imagine how it must have ruined his ... er... rhythm (yeah, that's it... rhythm...) when he found it. I sort of imagine the soundtrack to his little fantasy coming to a screeching halt, with the painful noise of a needle being dragged across a record.
I must confess that even now I'm pretty proud of this solution. At least I'd like to be... Sorta...
A couple of days later I noticed the wadded-up Post-It note in the kitchen can. I just knew then that my mission was accomplished. Surely THIS will fix this -- right?
Alas... it was not to be.
To be continued...
EDIT: PART 2 IS HERE...