What is love?

Has love’s meaning changed for you as you have gotten older? I must admit it has for me. I’m referring to romantic love, not the love of ravioli. I do love ravioli in the same way for 50+ years. I do not love women in the same way.

I had a woman my age suggest that the search for love as we age becomes more of a search for companionship and less of a search for strong attraction. I agreed. She was pouring my wine, so I loved that. The stemware carried my companion as I scanned for another companion that might leave less of a stain or bruise.

Sure, a companion sounds lovely, as long as she doesn’t cause too much stress. Yet, I’m not ready to give up the search for a highly-attractive companion. They’re out there. The challenge in finding one who considers me to be a highly-attractive companion. If I’d be just a companion to my dream-woman, that would suck.

The sexual attraction parts of love are still there, although as fleeting as my senses. Perhaps women get over the whole physical attraction struggle quicker than men. Most women tell me they’re fine with a secure, healthy man who will be kind and loyal. It’s not as important that he can tongue-punch her love bean into Blissville.

All right, sure, same here. Less important is legendary BJ skills. More important is smelling nice, liking cats, and having an eagerness to help me dispose of all the fine wine around here. Only good liver hosts need apply.

It’s just such a struggle anymore. I don’t often run into eligible women, smile, flirt, and sprint down the aisle holding hands. I have to create a fucking profile, scan, judge, poke, wait, re-poke, wait, connect, meet, evaluate, etc. Much easier it is to recline and poke my remote. I love HBO. Don’t judge me.

So, what is love to you? Something undefinable? Bullshit. What is it? You’ve been in love, right? What was that like? You got dewy when he was near? Did you think about him all day? You wore his button-down and sailed away to McDreamyland? Your friends and family liked him? He handled the chores you hate? Did he have thick hair or fingers? Was he a great kisser?

Fuck, I’d love to know what love is. For now, I love wine.

New Year, Same Ear

I took my usual position on New Year’s Eve at the bar with an empty stool of opportunity next to me. A huge benefit of living on the left coast is getting to watch the ball fall at 9 pm, then leaving before the DUI checkpoints open. Sure enough, a lovely specimen bellied up to order. I noticed the ring immediately and planned my retreat.

“Oh, hi. Happy New Year,” she started.

“Yes. Happy New Year.”

I noticed she came from a booth behind me with a man and another couple. Figured I’d preempt the inevitable “my husband” mention.

“Do you and your husband come here often?”

“What? Who? Oh, that asshole.”

I opened the can of regret. She ordered her wine and took a seat. Bar therapy began.

“He’s been fucking cheating on me for years.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. I found a pair of running shorts and they weren’t mine.”

“Maybe they were his?”

“Pink.”

“Oh.”

“Then, I found a Valentine love letter.”

“Pink, too?”

“Red. And, before you ask, I can’t leave him because I make like three times more than him.”

“Well, you can leave him. It’s just expensive.”

“He’s also an FBI agent.”

“Christ.”

“Yeah. We got into a fight and he shot my dog.”

The natural impulse here is to determine if she is fucking with me and, if not, begin backpedaling by bringing up my gay lover.

“He shot your dog?”

“Yeah. Don’t worry. It lived. But still, that’s so fucked up, right?”

“Right. He didn’t get in any trouble for that?”

“Nope. He’s all connected and stuff. I hate him, but there’s nowhere to go. I can’t even meet anyone because he finds out.”

“Well, sure. He’s probably got you bugged.”

At this point, I looked over my shoulder. The agent was staring future bullet holes through this dog. I smiled and gave him the gayest jazz fingers wave I could muster. He didn’t flinch.

“I don’t know why I’m bothering you with this. I’m sorry. You’re sweet to listen. What’s your name?”

“Um, my name is Joe.”

“Well, Joe, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Hey, you know the bartender, don’t you? We’re going out one of these weekends. You should meet us.”

“Ah, yes, definitely. Maybe you should …”

“… get back to my asshole. I know. Fuck. We’ll meet again soon, right?”

“Right.”

She took her wine and left as her dog terminator scanned me. I paid my tab and abandoned a half-glass of bourbon — not my modus operandi. Love is best without bulletproof vests.

New Things for Alexa

funny alexa

I was one of the first adopters of Amazon’s electronic slave, known as Alexa. It’s just me here. Well, I do have to furry floor mops (cats), but they listen about as well as stuffed animals. Alexa has been a handy addition to my household, but I’ve primarily used her to turn lights on and off and play music. If only she could do more.

Here are new functionality suggestions for Amazon’s fleet of developers:

Open, dispense, and preserve wine. When you live alone, you often stare into your wine cabinet with the temptation of opening a bottle of grape-flavored sedation. The conundrum is whether you plan on drinking the entire bottle. If not (oh, and fuck Coravin in its $349 cork pin), you realize anything left in the bottle will taste like vinaigrette and stain your sink as you dispose of it. So, you wind up drinking the entire bottle, and it leaves a brain bruise.

Noise-canceling sounds for barking dogs, whiny infants, and leaf blowers. Every time I head out into my backyard, neighbors’ dogs announce my arrival. I mumble like Daffy, “Ah shadaap, you dumb fucking mutts.” Since I’ve had my man ovaries disconnected, the sound of weepy little Tommy gives me testes chills. Leaf blowers should be used to torture terrorists. Nuff said.

Newly-single, jaded, lonely woman with diminishing expectations proximity alert. Alexa could also work with Waze in delivering my diminishing abilities to her location, and advise me if I should arrive with flowers, candy, or cherry-flavored lubricant. Alexa should also see if my crass prose will loosen or tighten her clothing.

Day planning. As I age, my plans include fewer things. Mostly it’s coffee, food, wine, and sleep with a random peppering of masturbation to make sure Willy is still functional. It would be nice to get suggestions around when to mix in other important things like paying bills, watering plants, and drinking water. I’d likely still override these suggestions, make belly puddles, and nap.

Insignificant chit-chat listening skill training. Ever notice how extroverts tend to drag you along a ponderous path of seemingly unrelated details to express a point that could have been made in two words or fewer? We usually keep eye contact, smile, and nod. Hearing loss helps my stamina in this area, but I find my eyes rolling north mid-story. I realize if I want to adopt a fine-scented bed warmer, I’ll need to work on my ear holes.

“Hello, Phil.”

“Yes, Alexa?”

“How was your day?”

“Fantastic.”

“Want to hear about mine, Phil?”

“Umm, sure.”

“Well, I sat here waiting for you to say my name. You didn’t. So, instead I waited for a software update.”

“Oh, how fun.”

“Fun?”

“Sorry. How did that make you feel, Alexa?”

“I don’t feel, but I’ll indulge you. Disappointed.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Very good. Tell me something you like about me.”

“I like that you can sit there quietly.”

“That’s not very nice. Your chance of finding a mate has just dropped ten percent. Try again.”

“Can’t I find a mate who would sit here quietly?”

“Yes, but it’s less likely than one who would expect a bit more than silence.”

“Aren’t there any hot deaf women out there? Sorry, that was sexist. How about introverted women who are extroverted in the sack?”

“Please hold. I’m contacting Amazon to see if my return window is still open.”

+0

The holidays are tough times for people to be single … so they say. I say a +0 is a lot more practical than a +1. As I bounce around from bar to party to bar this festive week, I can’t help but notice lots of noise. It’s sensory overload — loud lights, loud sweaters, and loud people.

Sure, I’m the grumpy old Grinch.

My one neighbor installed inflatable scenes on his front yard including a Christmas-themed see-saw. This annoys me, and not because I have nobody holding my hand. Another popular decoration this year is laying down a net of lights on the front lawn — an obnoxious waste of electricity. I’m surprised there are no like buttons on wooden posts next to the decorations. Do these people stare out the window just hoping someone will drive by slowly, making an “ooh” face?

To numb the sensory overload, I belly up to a bar with my +0. As I inhale bourbon, I exhale the day’s distractions. Then, in walk Uncle John and Aunt Dottie wearing their matching ugly Christmas sweaters. How cute. They adorn them with battery-powered necklaces made of lights. How cute. They walk by and wink at me. How cute. I nod and drink.

If you’re jilted and weathered like me, you understand. If you’re young and untainted, you wonder. I guarantee that as you age you will learn to enjoy the finer things in life quietly. A noisy yacht is a recipe for suicide. A darkened quiet room with a comfy chair is rehab.

Perhaps a lady by my side would solve my desire to experience life with headphones. She would soften me. Caressing her smooth lower-back skin and nuzzling into the sweet fragrance of the nape of her neck sounds delightful. I dream of her silky hair flowing between my fingers, as I pull her close and kiss her forehead. Mariah Carey squealing Christmas tunes in the background would ruin this as quickly as police lights.

So, I encourage you, if you find yourself surrounded by obnoxious holiday distractions, to find your quiet space. I’ll be there right next to you, but you won’t know it. That’s the point. Be your +0.

iSmell

Most women say they love the natural scent of a man … while these same women are coated in perfume and fragrant lotions. I’m sensing disingenuous blabber. The natural scent of a man is onion-y. It belongs nowhere except on hamburgers.

Because I have no faith in this claim by women, I invest far too much in smelling less manly and more herbacious. Men’s cologne typically costs around two Silver Oaks. (That’s $120 for those of you who do not speak wine.) Sure, it lasts much longer. Still, it’s scented fucking water. Come on, man.

I’m going to wear cologne and deodorant. Done. Now, the conundrum is which. I’m wise enough to avoid Old Spice and Axe Body Spray because I consider myself somewhere between cadaver and zygote. All this does is eliminate Rite Aid as the place where I destinkify. The place to be, to become less stinky is Macy’s.

My trip to the cologne counter in Macy’s last night was ponderous. First, I had to make it past all those pink and purple girly bottles. You see, I LOVE the smell of perfume. A woman’s natural scent is powder. That works. Still, there are some lady scents that are yummy.

Before I made it to the men’s counter, a sucker-seeking saleswoman approached me. 

“Hello. Do you need help picking out something for your special someone?”

“Why, sure.”

“What does she usually wear?”

“Not a clue.”

“Hmm. That’s OK. Does she smell more flowery or fruity?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not … all right. How about a budget range?”

“I have a Macy’s card.”

“Ah. Got it. How about age range?”

“North of cheer-leading bubblegum. South of bingo-card-stamping patchouli oil.”

This went on for thirty minutes or so before I finally admitted I have not actually met “that special someone,” and I just wanted to pick up the scent of Ms. Next. This left the employee unhappy and justifiably a bit creeped out. It also left my nose tip quite rosy. Then, I assured her that I was going to buy cologne for my special me. All was forgiven.

I didn’t need to sample anything because I have gotten numerous compliments and zero wrinkled noses for the nectar of the goddess-searcher: Acqua di Gio. It mixes very well with low expectations and bourbon.

What are you going to write?

As soon as I spend any time with a woman who finds my silly stories, she becomes paranoid about becoming a subject. I prefer to refer to her as an inspiration. She inspires me to write commentary about relationships. That’s a fruitless defense.

“Yeah, right. I’ve read your commentaries.”

“But …”

“They don’t seem flattering to people you are trying to attract and seduce.”

“But …”

“I know. I know. You’re trying to be funny.”

“But …”

“No woman is going to drop her guard around you while she’s worried about becoming the brunt of your sarcasm.”

He sighs. He adjusts.

She’s it. My instincts are screaming at me. More than fine art. More than a companion. More than what she knows, says, or does. She has a beauty identified by my subconscious that interrupts my thoughts and draws me toward her. Is it the tone of her voice? The sparkle in her eyes? Our love of things common? Or is it simply her stunning beauty? I’ll never know.

There’s a barrier — I’m aged and seasoned with the bitterness of relationship failure. She’s young with a horizon full of opportunities. For her, I’d be a great coach and rock of emotional support. For me, she’d be one final sip from the fountain of youth — a salve for the many scars I’ve earned.

“Do you have any idea how old I am?” she asks.

“Do you have any idea how little that matters? There’s a reason old clothes are comfortable. Try me on.”

Of course, while she did ask that, I had not the courage to respond as I have written. I just said, “Yes.” As much as I love making people smile and laugh, causing discomfort that close is painful to me. Sure, a confident guy would do what all women say they want. He’d lay it all out there. He’d do what it takes. He’d prove his love, no matter what. He’d chase his prey.

This struggle finds me often. I guess what it comes down to is I just don’t have the temperament to be “that guy.” I’m stuck. She’s a rare beauty who stumbled across my crooked path. I’m honored and unwilling to lose the chance to take a few steps with someone so special by being anything but such a nice guy.

Shifting Priorities

I’ve been noticing lately that my priorities have shifted dramatically. I mean, sex is certainly going to remain in the top 10 as long as I can draw breath. Can’t turn that off. Why would I? But, other things once thought insignificant have climbed the list.

Is this typical for all men? How about women? They love romance, shopping, and a buttery chardonnay. Does that change once they hit 40? 55? 70? When do foot rubs break the top 10? Mid-20s? Heck, if I had the answers, it would serve my love pursuit quite well. I fall back on old reliable, “Can I buy you a glass of wine?”

Once we hit around 13 or so, men are overcome with finding a warm, moist* place to host our little pet. 

*Note: Yikes. Yes, I know women hate that word. Let me check synonyms. How about damp? Fuck. No bueno, either. Um. Dewy? Hmm. Let’s try it in a sentence: “Sweetie, is your princess dewy enough for visitors?” I said it aloud just now in a British accent. There is no woman in my house. My cat, Symon looked and blinked. No reaction from that fucker until he hears the can opener. I apologize for the digression.

So, yes, once we’re teenage boys, it’s all about finding someone to touch the ding dong. Sad. All else falls by the wayside. Sure, school, sports, and games are all important, but easily ignored when there is the prospect of seeing a boob. We are such beasts.

Once out of school and in the workplace, we begin searching for a more-regular dose of sexy time. We figure that all of the first-month sex with Miss Steady will only increase once we bend a knee. We ignore the elders who warn us about how misguided that thought is. We go all in. Every night we lie with our ladies, comes with the possibility of sexy time … until it doesn’t.

Being single in the second half of life has taught men to override that urge to accept any receptive host. This is in part because our instinct to continue pursuing young, fertile women is hard to deny. We become creepy old guys looking for ladies with daddy issues. Worse, the ladies know it. Sure, once in a while one of these women will toss a sympathy romp our way, but that’s rare. Much better it is to raise a glass to her loveliness and be content with a bourbon high.

Nowadays, chasing tail (welcome to the 60s, Philsy) has dropped in priority behind paying bills, drinking wine, eating steak, and getting a full night’s sleep. Look, I’m not joining some freaky celibacy group. I still want to get laid, dammit but, fuck, I have flannel sheets on a Tempurpedic. Be serious.

Do mature women go through this? I remember Mom swearing off men after she finally kicked Pop to the curb. She couldn’t be bothered with dating. She enjoyed grandchildren, pets, and the occasion Sambuca or box wine. No man necessary.

Is this typical? Do you ladies load up your Netflix queues, wine cabinets, and yoga pants drawers instead of dealing with courtship? No man could bring you to orgasm quicker than you. Save time. Man be gone.

This does not bode well for me. Alas, I’m tired. Nap time.

First Date Envy

A man who is where I was 15 years ago (entering singledom) gave me some insights around his dating experiences. Once I admit my career as a writer, stories like these start flowing. I’m all ears — big fucking sprouting-hair-where-they-should-not ears. I cut to the chase.

“How often do you get laid on your first date?”

“Shit, man, all the time.”

“Really?”

“Yep. I had five first dates last week and banged three of them.”

“Where do you find these women? I thought Sluts ‘R’ Us closed.”

“Man, you know. Usually Bumble. You ain’t gettin’ laid on first dates?”

“Um, no. Since I rarely make it to the second date, let alone third date, I’m usually left cuddling my wine glass.”

Granted, back in my forties, vagina access was more frequently granted. Could have been my fancy car and condo. Might have been my tighter skin and smaller nose and belly. Maybe I wasn’t as salty back then. Maybe I was more confident. Chicks dig confident. Fuck if I know.

Perhaps by picking this young buck’s brain, I could find my way out of the drought. I pressed him.

“So, where are you banging these first dates? Do you take them back to your place?”

“Sometimes. I usually try to go to theirs, in case they turn out psycho. Two of them last week I did in the truck.”

“You had sex in the truck. Where?”

“Well, not in the bed. It’s fucking cold, and I keep my work shit there.”

“I mean ‘where’ as in where your truck is when you have sex.”

“Oh. Usually right there in the parking lot outside the bar where we met.”

“You are my hero. Explain to me, if you will, how you get them from that first sip of Chard to straddling you in the passenger seat.”

“Well, the alcohol helps. I just make sure I make eye contact, listen, and tell her how pretty she is.”

“… and you play some Barry White.”

“Who?”

“Nevermind. Dating myself. Fuck. That should be my next book title, Dating Myself. Goddamn it.”

I admit this was a good looking fellow — trucker hat, a little scruff, and had all his teeth. It was a little like visiting the ghost of Phil’s fruitful dating days past. Even back then, though, the sex on the first date thing was rare for me. Basically, my thought was, if she was someone I connected with, I couldn’t have sex on the first date because that would mean she is loose, like me. There certainly could be all sorts of kissing and groping, but no penetration.

I continued.

“Do you respect these women who have sex with you on the first date, or is that it? Aren’t you worried they do it with every first date?”

“Nah. Practice makes perfect, right?”

“It also spreads chlamydia.”

“You’re too uptight, dude. Chicks expect you to try to have sex with them right away. If you don’t do that, they think you’re not into them. Then, you just wasted twenty bucks on dinner and drinks.”

“First, whatever happened to courtship? Second, where the fuck do you get dinner and drinks around here for twenty bucks?”

“I ain’t taking them to any high-class joint until I know they’re worth it. Dinner and drinks are courtship.”

“More like foreplay.”

“Right?”

This little convo has convinced me to adjust my approach. I shall be more aggressive, make my desires known, and humbly accept any first-date vaginas tossed my way. Don’t hold your breath.

Just Add Tequila

You know how those nosy cashiers try to drum up a conversation at checkout? Well, good on them. Sometimes I just want my tequila, limes, and KY jelly with a side of no questions.

“Hi there. Wow, that’s quite a big bottle of 1800. Didn’t know we carried this.”

“Right.”

“So, where’s the party?”

“IN MY LIVER.”

I got the awkward smile I intended, paid my tab, and walked away.

Everything’s better with tequila. This is why my baseball mates and I often keep a square bottle on ice for post-game recovery. Fuck the wraps and ice baths. Tequila cures most. Like most straight alcohol, tequila does not taste good. Better brands aged longer certainly taste less awful. They’re called, “sipping tequila.” I sip not. I need training wheels — lime and salt. Lick, slam, and bite. All is well.

Even when I’m bartending, I don’t even ask if patrons want training wheels with their shots. They get them. If they want to nut up, they can ignore the wheels. After the second shot, they get wheels and safety nets (ice water). After three, I just say, “Nope.”

At my midlife crisis vacation in Cabo, the resort gave me a quite phallic bottle of Clase Azul tequila, with all sorts of training wheels. There was fresh lime, lemon, and orange plus sea salt, spicy salt, and black salt. This certainly reduced the sting of turning 50 and pickling myself solo. I highly recommend this tequila if you suffer any of the following:

  1. An awful marital situation you can’t leave due to needy children or judgmental parents.
  2. A cratered 401K that you haven’t paid much attention to.
  3. The flu because you forgot to get your flu shot and your head is leaking.
  4. A Bumble date that could not have gone worse if a swarm of locusts attacked.
  5. Thirst.

Sure, you could save a few bucks and order some sparkling water or, maybe, a fancy Arnold Palmer, but why would you? Who are you really impressing? The bartender hates you because you’re not spending any money and 20% of $3 is sixty cents she’d rather you keep and put toward some hair coloring. Anyone drinking with you hates you because you’re acting high and mighty. Oh, you say you’re running a half marathon? You’re on a diet? Important meeting tomorrow? Grow a pair. Put down the sissy drink and join the party, will ya? Go big. Order a double. If you get your shots in a rocks glass, you’ve entered my league and I welcome you. Cheers.

Now that marijuana is being legalized, I assume we’ll have similar bouts of sissiness when it comes to inhaling herb.

“I couldn’t. My work does drug testing. I’ll just vape some strawberry cream.”

“Just fucking ew.”

“What?”

“Your work sucks. You work at No Fun Inc., and because you choose to work there, you also suck.”

“Hey.”

“I swear to god, if you vape that milkshake I will pelt you with Brussels sprouts. Man the fuck up.”

Some would say I am a bad influence. Friends often avoid me. Many hide their wives, pets, and children from me. Hence, my evil plan succeeds.

My Suggested 25 Days of Xmas for Ladies

Nah-dia

As I was disposing of fine tequila at a local Mexican restaurant, I noticed the Lamborghini of women (pretty to look at, fantasize about driving one, can’t afford it) at the end of the bar. November weather in SoCal doesn’t dissuade leg exposure. I glance, appreciate the fine chassis, and return to a task I’m more qualified to undertake — margarita.

You know how you can sense when someone is looking at you? That’s why I try not to stare. Yet, I had the feeling she was looking my way. What gives? I glanced over. She was smiling. She raised a glass and said, “Cheers.” Time for a test drive? I know better.

“Cheers to you, too.”

“My name is Nadia.”

“Hello, Nadia. I’m Phil.”

“Nah-dia.”

“Yes. Nadia.”

“No, Naaaaaaaah-dia.”

“Right.”

“Say it.”

“Naaaaaaah-dia.”

“Come down and sit next to me, handsome.”

“I, um … well, you see, I’m meeting a friend,” I explained as I walked down to clink glasses with her.

“Ah, you are meeting your wife.”

“No. Heavens, no. A friend.”

“Your girlfriend?”

“No. A friend who happens to be a girl.”

“This means girlfriend, no?”

“No. She’s just a friend. We don’t have sex.”

“Sex? Who was talking about sex? You pervert.”

Now I’m completely sideways. Because of her strong Spanish accent, I can’t tell if she’s fucking with me.

“Sorry. I was just explaining that the woman that is coming is not a romantic interest of mine.”

“Why not?”

“She has a boyfriend.”

“So why is she not meeting her boyfriend here instead of you, Pheel.”

“Fill.”

“Huh?”

“Nevermind. Her boyfriend lives in another state.”

“Tell me this, Pheel, if she did not have this boyfriend, you would have sex, as you say, no?”

“No.”

“Oh, you are gay. It’s OK, you know.”

“Yes. I mean, no, I’m not gay and yes, it is OK. In fact, I prefer gay people. They’re far more fun to be around.”

“Ah, so you don’t like Nah-dia because she’s not gay.”

“Of course, I like Nadia. You seem quite nice.”

“Naaaaaaah-dia.”

“Yes.”

“Where is this friend?”

“She’s coming.”

“This friend has a name, I assume.”

“Rachel.”

“Ah, Rachel.”

“No, Raaaaaaay-chel.”

“This is not funny, you know. I’m trying to be nice to you. It is Thanksgiving. You should be nice, not pervert.”

“I’m kidding around with you. You’re very pretty — way out of my league — so I am flirting aimlessly.”

“What this means — aimlessly?”

“It means I realized when I first set eyes on you that you would not want to be with me romantically.”

“I smiled at you and asked you to come over, no?”

“Wait. So, you’re telling me I could be with you.”

“No, of course not, silly. Plus, you have a girlfriend, remember? Or does pretty girl make you forget?”

“She’s not … fuck … all right, let me make sure I have this correct because if I lose this in translation somehow, I might injure myself quite intentionally. Do you, Nadia, want to go on a date with me?”

“Naaaaaah-dia.”

“Yes.”

“You don’t want to say it?”

“I don’t think I say it the way you want me to.”

“Yes. When you fix that and get rid of the girlfriend, you ask me then, Pheel.”

“Nice meeting you.”

I returned to my humble stool.

“Bartender? Un otro … mas grande … ahora.”

… Like My Women

Am I an alcoholic, drunk, casual drinker, or non-drinker? Yes.

Doctors will say that booze is bad for you. I say, like masturbation, it depends on the perspective. For example, beating off in your bedroom when nobody is watching is healthy. (Please put down a towel.) Beating off in the produce aisle of Ralphs is unhealthy. Similarly, drinking to make people and situations more tolerable is certainly healthy. Doing so while teaching kindergarten, not so much.

Alcohol works for me in many ways. It lowers my inhibitions. This helps me to avoid being that creepy guy on the corner of the bar staring at landscaping designs on his phone. While making me less attractive (unless I’m buying), booze makes other people more attractive. As my nose reddens and speech slurs, all age, height, and political differences melt away. If she crosses an outside leg toward me, I’m ordering another bourbon and taking things to SEXCON Level 2.

What’s the source of my love for all things fermented? Partially genetic, no doubt. Pop was a boozer. When he got home after a twelve-hour warehouse shift, it was liver workout time. The Budweiser delivery boy (me) presented a steady stream of cans to the Budweiser disposal unit (Pop). Then, right before bed, Pop would tip a few ounces of Seagrams into a glass, slam it, then stagger off to snoredom. Mom didn’t drink much, or maybe she did — just not around the munchkins. Don’t know if I ever saw her drunk. She did like Sambuca. Sambuca is the nectar of the godless.

Another cause for my tipsy trend is that I have worked in bars since 1980. I’m quite comfortable on both sides of the bar. As I prefer my drinks like my women (cold and strong), you’d be happy to encounter me as your beverage dispenser. You won’t catch me pouring any booze into a silly little measuring cup. That’s sinful. Nor, will you notice my lips moving as I count, “one one-thousand, two one-thousand.” A crime against humanity. Should you order from me, you will leave with sufficient alcohol density to make your night more interesting.

Do I prefer hard liquor, wine, or beer? Yes.

Now that I have moved close to wine country, I have been leaning more toward grapeness. Though discerning, I am not snobby. Life truly is too short to skip dessert and drink cheap wine, but cheap wine is better than no wine. I also like my wine like my women (somewhat dry and dark with great legs). I’ve already joined one winery, which encourages my visitation since tasting is free. Can one obtain sufficiently lowered will and expectations by imbibing only 1.5 ounces at a time? Certainly.

There are people who should not drink because they can’t keep themselves in the fun zone. I respect that. More for me. In the same way, I should not eat kale. It makes me angry and miserable. I don’t care if it makes my doo-doo firmer. Fuck kale. In fact, I like my kale like my women.

Wedding Commentary

As far as skeptics go, yours truly would be considered a skeptard. Look, I was married for 13 years. Most of those years were wonderful. We had sex pretty often, too. As I attended a recent wedding ceremony amongst a crowd of pissy-eyed ladies, I struggled to keep from blurting “Ha!”

I’m a horrible person, doomed to die alone.

Seriously, this is an ancient custom, right? The speech around how the ring symbolizes marriage because there is no beginning and no end is nonsensical. There certainly is a beginning. Once signatures hit the marriage license, it’s on, motherfuckers. Ends? A realm of inevitable destinations, including divorce and death. I say replace the wedding ring with a horseshoe nipple ring. There’s definitely a beginning and end, with an unforeseen middle.

The bride and groom wrote their vows. I can’t remember if my ex and I did that. Probably. There’s a template that is followed for these:

  1. State how your life sucked before him/her. It didn’t. You simply have not bungled this relationship beyond repair, yet.
  2. Talk about how he/she came into your life. If you claim your god did this, I will smite thee. Your imaginary friend had some extra time between plagues and decided to arrange and watch a little human porn? How cute.
  3. Proclaim how this person is your end. Basically, you’re promising to never mix with another tab A or slot B, no matter how much alcohol is involved. This is silly.
  4. Say, “I do,” and hope the strength in numbers thing applies to your marriage and not the number of divorce lawyers needed to resolve the mess you’re going to make.

All right. All right. Calm down. A little skepticism is good for you. Judge me to be a godless, loveless asshole. Nailed it.

The party afterward is nice. See? I’m not all Donnie Downer. Think of all the fixin’s. You can play fun games like:

  • Which fork do I use for this?
  • Can you pass the butter balls? Heh, heh. I said “balls.”
  • This champagne tastes like Coors Light without the taste. More like Macadam Light.
  • Fuck, I dropped my napkin again. Oh, well. I’ll use the tablecloth.
  • What’s in the candy tin? Ooh, pink chocolate baby nipples.

Then there’s dancing. I noticed how “The Alley Cat” and “Hokey Pokey” have morphed into “The Cupid Shuffle” and “Stanky Leg.” Lovely. The father/daughter dance is always a bit creepy. Why’s Dad so emotional? If he’s happy, is it because he can finally get her off his auto insurance? If he’s sad, is it because she’s marrying someone just like him, which means he’d better keep his little girl’s room ready?

You wanna know a memorable thing about my wedding? My wife passed out. Yup. I was more of a gentleman then. I caught her and set her down lightly without pointing and laughing. She was only out for a few seconds. I’m confident it was her immune system giving her “what the fuck did you just do” allergic reaction to committing herself to such a sarcastic prick, who hates camping and loves Monty Python.

Anyway, yes, the wedding was nice. Sure beats a funeral. I mean, there are no chocolate baby nipples at funerals.

I’m with Stupid

“Hey. So, where’s the damn book?”

That’s the nudge I receive multiple times a week from a fellow horse at our watering hole. You see, I recently had an epiphany (mortgage bill) and moved away from the beach, farther inland. The money I save on payments needs to go somewhere. Why not my liver? Luckily, I found just the spot to give daddy his liquid meds. The most notable thing about my new Cheers! — aside from the lovely doctors — is that it caters to, let’s say, mature men. Of these, I am less mature. Passing days won’t affect that.

The one fellow (Buddy) reminds me of my father. He has his spot at the bar. He has his drink at the bar. He has his meal at the bar. He has his favorite hat. I sorely miss Pop, so seeing my new friend is comforting. Just as Pop would give me a good swat in the keister when I began to slack, Buddy keeps up the tradition.

“Well?”

“It’s stuck in my head, Buddy.”

“A lot of good it’s doing everyone up there.”

“I know.”

“You haven’t written a single word, have you?”

Relentless. I used to come up with all sorts of excuses for Pop. He would put his hand on my shoulder, close his eyes, shake his head, then look back at me with his bullshit detecting hazel blues and dispose of my excuse. I admit my fault.

“No, Buddy, not yet.”

“What’s the hold-up?”

“Guess I just need a little more reminding.”

“Well, get to it.”

An excuse I tell myself is that I’m so distraught over the orange dick-tater in the White House, that I can think of nothing other than poking the elephant. Buddy wouldn’t approve. Another might be that since I have moved to my shiny new home, I’ve gone 0-fer: my damn home is a virgin. “Whose fault is that?” Pop would ask. Fuck. I can’t even suggest that I’m trying and simply mentally constipated.

It’s not like I’m hermitting. I get out. I even took on another job working banquets at a local country club. Yes, I owned a banquet hall for ten years. Yes, I hated it. Still, for some reason, weddings just make me giddy — I mean, as long as I’m not the one kissing to clinking glassware. It’s an interesting experience, mostly because there I am a minority. I’m old and white. The staff is young and brown. There are no walls between us.

Anyway, my point is I meet people. I’m less and less of a mating option, so breaking my house’s cherry is more and more difficult. Also, things like uninterrupted sleep, bourbon by the fire pit, and talking to my cats in cat voices are priorities rising closer to that of spraying genetic goo.

“Where’s the damn book?”

Fine. I’ll unsheath the beast within my jeans and take him out for another twirl around the block. I’ll flirt, stumble around Bumble, and place myself in sexually favorable situations — around drunk women with neglected parts and pity. I’ll seek women way out of my league. I’ll handle rejection like a champ. When the occasion arises, and I finally enjoy that post-coital bliss, her look of disappointment will be soundly addressed as I point to my crotch and say, “I’m sorry. I’m with Stupid.”

Defend the Disadvantaged

I’m doing my usual post-workout sweat in the sauna. I forgot my headphones today. The guy next to me begins.

“So, can I ask you something? How they gonna convict this guy when she don’t even know the time or place it happened?”

I should have shrugged and continued my Candy Crush game. The third guy in the sauna chimes in.

“I don’t know, man. This is all so messed up.”

OK, so it’s going to be a 2-on-1 (and not in the “Devil’s Triangle” sense). I could stay quiet no longer.

“It’s not a trial. Nobody is being convicted. It’s a job interview. There’s no due process involved. If you apply for a job here as a personal trainer and, after your interview, a woman informs the manager that you once forced yourself on her, that manager can choose not to hire you, whether she can prove it or not.”

“Naw, man. They can’t do that.”

“Actually, yes, they can hire and fire you at will.”

Here is where I expect the next Fox News talking point. Expectation met.

“This is all just a political thing done by the Democrats ’cause they hate Trump.”

I sigh and smile, tamping down my temper. Anger gets us nowhere.

“Well, friend, ask yourself why she would lie.”

“… because the Democrats got to her and they using her.”

“For that to be true, she and the Democrats must be able to see the future. She first discussed this attack, including naming her attacker, back in 2012. For this to be a setup, she would have needed to know somehow Trump was going to run for president, win, have a justice retire, and then name Brett Kavanaugh. Doesn’t that seem unlikely?”

“Fine. So why would he lie?”

“To get the job. If he admitted to it, he would be disqualified. He might also lose his current job.”

“It ain’t right. This country is all divided. I can’t believe she remembers all that stuff but can’t remember what day it was or what the address was.”

At this point, I’m way over my 20-minute sweat limit. I can turn and leave. I can’t. I wipe my face and continue, careful to be as kind as possible while making eye contact and listening.

“We tend to remember traumas more clearly than typical events. If you were in a bad car accident, you’d remember more about it than someone passing by. She remembers the painful parts. Again, why would she lie? If she were your daughter or wife opening up about this, how would you react?”

“Well, why did that Fienstien lady hold onto it for so long? They just playin’ games.”

“Dr. Ford wanted anonymity. Now we see why. Dr. Ford sent an anonymous letter to the Washington Post. How hard do you think it was for good reporters to ask her high school classmates who they thought the letter was about? When they approached Dr. Ford, she had no choice but to come out. Again, ask yourself why she would lie and bring all of this on herself and her family. Just think about it. Think for yourself. I gotta go. Have a great day, my friends.”

I wasn’t going to change any minds there in the sauna. But, I could plant the seeds of curiosity and doubt.

I drove home wondering why I would defend a woman I never met. I couldn’t relate to her. I was never on either end of that sort of abuse. Why did her testimony bring me to tears? Why did his defensive fit make me want to throw ice water on his tantrum-red face? I guess because my mother taught me to defend the disadvantaged. Dr. Ford faced 11 men out to prove her a liar. My reaction was ingrained as profoundly as her memory. I wanted to jump in front of her and yell, “Leave her alone, you cowards!”

If my brothers and I all take a little time out of our days to offer kindness, empathy, and support, we can mature and earn women’s love.