Category Archives: True Life Misadventure

Various People Looking Dumb at the Worthington Farmer’s Market.

A nice older woman speaking to the owner of a obviously mixed breed dog.

“So what kind of dog is he?”

“Brown.”

#

The author walks into a coffee house/art gallery the size of a supply closet. The name is redacted out of a sense of fair play. It sits directly off of the main drag of charming Downtown Worthington, a spot the pentagenarian passes twice a week. The pleasantly vague man with the black hat and the mustache says:

“So, you’re new here!”

“No,” says the very young cafeinnista, “we’ve been open a year and a half.”

The man with the black hat is feeling more vague and less pleasant.

#

The author dissembles by examining the art work on the walls: paisleys and polkadots painted on plywood planks. Rothko has nothing to worry about here. Considering how long he has been dead, Rothko has nothing to worry about.

Hoping to redeem some of his lost coolness in the eyes of totally uncaring strangers, the author orders a coffee. Not the usual ‘Murican coffee that he drinks night and day, that comes from a can you can use to store fishing weights afterwards. No, he orders something he’s never tried before, something experimental and cool that won’t make him look like somebody’s disreputable uncle who’s wandered off before morning medication.

It sounded like “Marquisdesado”.

As the caffeinista falls to her task with the focus and energy others might mistake for hatred of all Mankind, the author pays at the iPad and looks over the snacks left to snag the attention of customers that must wait while the Ritual of the Coffee is performed with stainless steel spoons, chalices, and foam. There are cupcakes in sealed plastic containers. Each treat is covered with hand-piped polychrome flowers and leaves, all very pretty and realistic. Almost a shame to eat them.

The day-glo orange labels on the  containers read: Mom’s Vintage Treats.

“Vintage,” says the vague man in a hat. “Does that mean they’re all really old?”

“No,” says the check-out person, “they’re just… just…”

“Vintage style?” the author suggests.

“Yeah. Yeah, inspired by vintage snacks.”

“So, they’re only supposed to taste really old?”

The checkout person stops talking.

#

“Marquisdesado up!” the caffeinista calls out as if the customer is not less than two meters away. Everything in this establishment is less than two meters away.

The vague man in the hat and mustache takes up his paper to-go cup, noting that he has received doses of Nyquil in larger cups. He politely thanks one and all and leaves while he is still allowed. He suspects there is a crawlspace filled with uncool customers below his feet.

The author waits until he is down the sidewalk and out of the line of sight before he takes his first sip. He has never been a member of frou-frou coffee society, and this will probably not be his membership ticket.

Marquisdesado tastes like burnt insoles and leaves the author with the same emotional hangover as binge-watching nun porn. If it hadn’t cost nearly as much as a pound of generic coffee, he would have thrown it out.

Instead, he continues to sip the bitter draft until it is gone and can harm nobody else. His nipples feel like they are slowly turning inside out.

#

The author wrote an entire blog post referring to himself in the third person. He wound up looking pretentious and dumb.

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Cliques

I don’t do well with people, as a rule. I don’t have social anxiety, per se, but my tolerance for pettiness and ego approaches zero pretty damn quickly, especially when there is no talent to back it up.

Cliques are the worst of it. In theater, publishing, gaming, and reenacting, cliques are the engines that drive the world. Fannish cliques are perhaps the most galling, cliques of misfits which say “We all like each other because we don’t fit in, but you don’t fit in in entirely the wrong way.”

Good thing I have my wife, my cat, my son and three and a  half jobs.

The truly annoying thing is that all the interactions follow the same blueprint and I keep going through it over and over a gain in hopes that something will change. Here’s the step by step:

1: Friendly overture towards group.

2: Snub, snipe, or incompetent behavior that has to be ascribed to malevolence because “really, how could these people actually be this dumb and run a ()?”

3: I, feeling miffed, point out they are acting in a cliquish/moronic fashion.

4: The group’s representative responds with outrage and sincere hurt that I should think so little of them and their inclusiveness.

5: I apologize for my boorish behavior and promise to make an effort to fit in and be all friendly-like in the future.

6: Second friendly overture.

7: Continued snubbing and incompetence, just to prove I wasn’t hallucinating things the first time.

8: I take up heavy drinking.

I could give you some examples of this, but even with changing names to protect the guilty, it would get back to them. That would be me returning to Step 3, and you see how far that got me on the flow chart.

 

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I haven’t had much to say lately.

SOMETIMES copySo, I’m leaving this:

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Run-ins with Rodents

Over the last few months, I have been having problems with wild rodents. My neighbor’s cat, generally a feline defective, caught a mouse. The cat had no idea what to do with a live mouse and ended up releasing it into the walls. We realized it had worked its way over to our side of the building when it started leaving little presents in the pantry that definitely were not capers.

My wife, being as adverse to vermin as she is, immediately pulled all the food and utensils out of the cabinets, scrubbed all surfaces with antiseptics, and then sealing anything edible in plastic. I was given the task of the interloper’s capture and execution.

I have never been fond of the old -style mouse traps since my teenage years. After a long evening of watching horrible horror movies, I was awakened in the early morning by a metallic crash in the kitchen.  A quick search showed nothing out of place and no rational cause for the noise. When I went to my parents’ room, to voice what I thought were normal concerns, my father taunted me with remarks about “The Curse of the Devil’s Kitchen” Mwha-ha-ha-ha!

I didn’t get any apologies later when I opened one of the cabinets and was bombarded by a stack of  Revere Ware. It seemed a mouse had gone after the cheese in a trap and  received its Eternal Reward instead. The torsion of the trap catapulted both wooden base and cooling cadaver into a stack of pots and pans which fell against cabinet door.

So, no spring traps to avoid re-living past family trauma.

I picked a few of the new “spin traps.” Little plastic death chambers the size of a hockey puck, they were reputed to quickly and humanely snap a mouse’s neck. Either that, or overwhelm it with vertigo, forcing it to run outside and throw up its cotton candy just like at King’s Island.

Several days passed without dead bodies or pink mouse vomit, so I moved on to the classic glue trap. We caught him in less two days, a single hind foot adhered to the bottom of his cardboard abattoir. I normally would have put him out my misery, but Kit was feeling compassionate. I put the whole trap into the trash and assured her that the rodent would be able pull itself free and have an enjoyable ride to the city dump where it would be able to start a new and loving family.

*

Shortly after that, a squirrel went sky-diving behind our garage. My son found it splayed out like the letter “X” flat on the pavement. Having seen me take in all sorts orphans and wounded critters, he tried to make it comfortable in a towel-lined shoe box with food and water close by. I came home a few hours later to find it a rigid ex-squirrel. I tucked him into his box. My son wanted to bury it in the garden once the weather cleared.

When I checked the box the next day, there was a rather large hole chewed in the top of the box. There was no squirrel inside.

I know that I made no mistake about it’s being dead; I could have driven nails with its little head.

My Arcanum Faire books are hip-deep in undead rodents, roadkill and sacrifices possessed by ancient demons bent on bringing about the end of the world. As amused as I am about tiny quadraped zombies, I refused to believe it was happening in my garage.

I checked the box more carefully, then. The tooth marks were on the outside, and  from the needle-like canines of a cat. My neighbor’s cat had gotten into the garage and made its own disposal arrangements.

God, I hate that cat more than the rodents.

 

 

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Housekeeping

There are some less-than-pleasant things one needs to do, even when all you really want is to lie on the couch to watch Firefly and massage your sinuses.

One part of that is the harrowing of the basement. It has been filled with fabric, costume pieces, and vintage garb for quite some. Those items sitting down there does us no good, so now we have a half-dozen bins strewn around the living room. Eventually they will be sorted, sewn, cleaned, and sold.

I also discovered that the other pages of this blog don’t include my author specific email address, nor any official link to my second novel. That too, has been corrected.

I live such an exciting life.

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Filed under True Life Misadventure, Writer stuff

Scary Man in Black Failure

The storm winds blew rough and ice-cold rains slanted across what should have been a festive celebration of arts and wine. The tents flapped in the breeze as the artisans hunkered down for the duration. The Man in Black strode through the mess like Death itself. The rain rolled off the leather on his back and shoulders even as it soaked into the wool felt of his hat.

He stopped when he saw the fledgling bird. Soaked to the skin, it laid on his back, claws to Jesus. The Man in Black scooped it up in his hands, felt how close to ice it was. He looked down upon it and murmured:

“Awww, the poor little thing.”

Okay, when it comes to looking scary, I can pull off the dour Man in Black thing, but when it comes to baby birds I am a cream puff. The Grove City Arts & Wine Festival was an ignominious wash-out, cold and wet and unpleasant. I found a fledgling sparrow at the base of a tree behind one of the tents. It was pretty much a sopping mass of down and naked feet.

I took the little darling back to bookseller’s tent where I was huckstering with a handful of other Central Ohio writers. As we waited for the weather to break, I built the bird a nest of paper napkins and secured it behind the display racks.

Eventually, the little twit warmed up enough to get rambunctious. Then, he jumped out of his nest, off the table and into the stream of ice-cold water that flowed through the gutter. I re-captured the bird, dried it off and set it to nest again. We went through the same cycle of warm, rinse, repeat a few times before I ultimately folded my tents and slipped away. I went to bed by six that evening, a shivering mess. I built the bird a nest in a super-size drink cup lined with toilet paper.

The next morning, my wife and I delivered the fledgling to the local wildlife rescue. The bird recovered but my reputation as the scary Man in Black never did.

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No Wicked Vintage Parties

It all started with our son and the cat. Convinced that Kestrel had a secret life of catnip and carousing, my son would admonish the cat when we left the house with: “You’re in charge, Kestrel, but no wicked cat parties.”

The we opened The Alley, a vintage clothing store. At the end of each day, my wife would shut off the lights, set the alarm, and rush for the door. As she locked the doors, she would call out to the dark room filled with dresses, hats, and furs: “Good night, Alley. You did great today. No wicked vintage parties.” Usually nothing happens overnight, except for that one morning she came in to find the front window mannequins wearing just dickies.

One night this week, we got a call from the alarm company. After a mad dash to the store, we found nothing amiss. All the windows were intact, the doors were all locked. There was nothing dislodged from the walls or moving in the air currents to set off the motion sensors. It was a complete false alarm, and a mystery.

Our son began checking through the security camera footage. Our system, which is not connected to the alarms, had night vision cameras that are motion activated after hours. He found that DOZENS of times in the last few months, the cameras kicked on to record for a few minutes in the middle of the night. Nothing is visibly moving, nothing is out of place as if it had fallen and set off the motion sensors. Lots of nothing, over and over again.

Now, it could be air currents from the HVAC doing something funky in the IR range we’re just not seeing. Maybe, its movements of our rambunctious neighbors from the nail salon or the massage parlor on either side of us. The nail techs have knocked things off our walls during business hours.

Or perhaps, with our store filled to the gunwales with clothing and accessories of the deceased, there’s some residual spiritual energy attached to them that needs to bust out every now and then. Think “Heart-shaped Box.”

Whatever the rational or irrational explanation, as we looked over the multiple incidents I told my wife: “Gee honey, I think we’ve got the documentation of those Wicked Vintage Parties you’re always talking about.”

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I Win the Commute…

AS anyone who’s read my blog knows, many of my greatest real-life misadventures happen behind the wheel of a car. I have spent the last eighteen years taking, processing, or consulting on insurance claims. Any time I make it out of a mall parking unscathed I give thanks to whatever gods hold sway. But still, this week I had my weirdest morning commute yet.

I was zipping along my city’s outer loop on my way to work when traffic slowed suddenly to accommodate construction a few hundred yards ahead. I was in the passing lane when I decelerated from sixty-five miles an hour to roughly ten. A little white car in the center lane did the same.

Unfortunately, it nosed down, almost scraping the pavement with its front bumper. Then, its driver’s side front wheel snapped clean off. The errant wheel rolled on at speed, crossing in front of me without contact. It then passed the car in front of me on the left side and continue into the distance along the shoulder.

The white car was not so lucky. It continued in its original Newtonian path, throwing up sparks as it went. I switched on my hazards and pulled back to give the driver a clear path to the shoulder. Looking like a Fourth of July sparkler, the white car crossed in front of me as its wheel had done to come to a safe stop ahead of me and to the left.

I snuck a glance at the driver as I passed. A heavy, harried-looking man of late middle age, I could tell he was thinking three things as he bowed his head over the steering wheel.

“I don’t believe that this just happened.”

“I don’t believe I survived what just happened.”

“I’m really glad I wore dark pants.”

Though another co-worker passed a three car chain reaction accident at roughly the same spot later that day, it was generally accepted at the office that I had won the morning commute.

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The Curse of the Electronic Keyfob

If someone were a writer of paranormal stories, you would think there was at least a little something paranormal about them. However, I stopped seeing ghosts at eight or nine, like most people. I dabbled in herbalism for a while, but nowadays that has devolved into a membership to the Teavana tea of the month club.

The most supernatural thing about my life anymore is that I stop watches.

My mother did this, too. With our overactive magnetic fields, we were the people that anti-magnetic watches were designed for. Or disposable digital watches, which we could wear until the display started permanently blinking “5:45”. I’ve randomized video games in arcades and fried the mother board on my laptop when I’ve become over-excited. My influence also effects the electronic keyfobs for our cars.

My car now randomly locks and unlocks itself, honking at me like a cat wanting to be let in from the cold. There are times when it will relock itself as I reach for the door handling. I’ve learned to be smarter than it and always leave the door wide open while the keys are in the ignition.

Unfortunately, the keyfob to my wife’s Charger also acts up. Occasionally, it will lock and unlock when I am in range, flashing its lights like the angry black, beast it is. Also, the automatic trunk release will sometimes go off. “In range” from her spot in the garage happens to be our kitchen or the back bedroom upstairs. If you can’t hear the plaintive beep of the horn, you can still see its lights blink through the side window of the detached garage.

Earlier this week, I evidently set off the trunk release early in the evening. The car sat in the frigid garage with its trunk light on throughout the night. By the next morning, the battery was dead.

Yes, I discharged my wife’s Charger.

Much pushing and jumping and battery-purchasing later, she was back on the road to The Alley, but she was not happy with me or life.

I’ve started leaving my keys in a bowl by the door, away from aura. We’ll see how that works out for us.

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The Black James Bond

Appropos of nothing, my random thought on Indris Elba as James Bond. I have always congregated with the oddballs and the underdogs, one of the reasons I like Post Mortem Press so much. My early teen years were spent in Sacramento, which is not really California, but Columbus Ohio with palm trees and camellias. It was a vast sea of unrelenting whiteness with only a bit of Latino and Asian flavoring back in the early seventies.There were only two black kids in my school so we hung together for lunch. One of the two guys, I kid you not, was James Bond.

So, for me, James Bond can be any color he wants to be, as long as he has the fast car and the Walther.

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