Archive for October, 2007

Supernatural Intervention?

October 31st, 2007 at 7:42 pm by Mark
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This isn’t a Halloween prank.  It’s absolutely true.

So, first off, let’s get one big-ass presumtion outta the way: I don’t believe in ghosts.  I generally think they’re a nutjob’s way of attempting to give order to a chaotic life.

In fact, I’m an extremely logical person, with a stranglehold on reality.  Truth is stranger — and, generally, funnier — than fiction, so I don’t bother with the latter…
…even though I’ve had a couple of really weird experiences which’ve made me question my own sanity.

So this?  This is a weird one.  It’s one of those borderline, “Oh, yeah, he’s nuts, look!  There’s the proof!” kinda posts.  But honestly, I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.  Fortunately, there were other people with me, witnessing the same things, and saying, “Oh crap!” right along with me.  Or words to that effect…

Earlier this year, the twenty-first of February to be exact, the Pirates and I lost a close friend.  The reactions were mixed.  Some were angry about the way she went, some were distraught that she was gone, and some were nostalgic.
A very tiny minority of us remembered the way she was, laughed along with our memories,  and kept right on laughing and smiling.  Our attitudes helped us be there for the others who weren’t doing so well.

On February 25th, after a brief meeting with some of the aforementioned, Zacque and I decided to head off somewhere other than the usual hangout to have a drink.
That’s crucial to this story, see, because neither of us had been drinking yet.

So I’m driving down I-75 when all of a sudden, my telephone rings.  I always look at the Caller ID, and was shocked to “Susan” appear.  I decided, logically, that her daughter was calling from her phone.
“What’s up?” I answered.
“Nothing much,” the voice on the other end replied.
That voice… “Susan?”
“Oh, HA-HA!  You don’t say!” she laughed.
“Uhhh, what the Hell?  This isn’t funny!” I yelled.
“Oh, Hey, hey, hey!” she yelled, still laughing.  “You know what you should do?”
“What?” I snapped.  It was her… but I knew it couldn’t be her.
“You should take Zacque out for a drink!” she said.
“That’s what we’re doing…”
“Yeah, I figured.  Well, you two be careful, ok?” she mothered.
“Always,” I monotoned.
“Love ya, bye!” she said.  Same as she ever was.
She hung up.

I was about to tell Zacque what was going on as the tears welled in my eyes, but the phone rang again — again from Susan.

“Oh, hey!” she yelled when I answered.  “Mark, listen to me — this is very important!”
I was pulling into the parking space at the bar.  “What’s up?”
“You have to check your right, rear wheel.  It’s really important!”
“Uhhh, what?” I asked, confused.
“Just do it, ok?  Promise me!”
“Okay, I promise,” I said.
“Oh, and fix your speaker!” she added.  “Love ya, bye!”
I turned the car off.  The tears began to stream.  Was I losing my mind?

I looked at Zacque.  “Look at the Caller ID,” I said as I handed him the phone.
“What’d she say?”
“To check my rear passenger wheel and fix my speaker…”
We sat in the parking lot for a few minutes, finally deciding to head to my place instead of hanging out drinking.  Zacque was visibly shaken, nervous.
“Ok,” I said.  “Guess I’ll drive so I can check my wheel tomorrow…”
As I started the car, the right rear speaker blasted out nothing but loud static.
I turned the car off.
“On second thought, Zacque,” I started.  “You drive.”
I lost it… Crying. Scared.

The next day, with great hangovers, we drove back to my car to inspect this mysterious “right rear wheel.”
As we laid down on the concrete, we simultaneously saw a quarter-inch off-brand wrench hanging precariously from the brake’s bleeder valve inside.  It was close to falling off by itself, and most probably would have locked the wheel, if only temporarily… but certainly enough to cause major damage to the car, and maybe even to me if I hadn’t found and corrected the situation.

Saved by a phone call from a dead friend?

Oh, there was more over the next few months.  Sporadic phone calls, voice mails, and miscellaneous other forms of “contact” which were witnessed by others.

In April, I was going through a bit of a legal mess.  One night, while sitting around with a group of friends, I got another of her strange phone calls.
“Well, hey!  Well, hey!  Well, hey, hey, hey!  Do you know what you should do?” she said.
“Well. goddamn!  What happened to you?” she said with concern.  “You have to remember one thing.”
“I’m rat-cheer,” she said in her best Southern drawl.
“Right here?”
“No… You’re not.”
“But if you need me to testify for you, you know I will.”
“I’m rat-cheer.  See ya!”
I turned off my phone that night.
As for the court case I was involved in, I wished Susan could’ve been there.  She witnessed a lot of what I was testifying about, as well.  In court, I attempted to get another witness to repeat what Susan had said about the incidents, but the testimony was kicked out as hearsay (which it wasn’t).
Still, I won my case.  Her call made me get my ducks in a row.

The last fully verifiable contact I received from her was on May 19th, 2007 at 9:26AM EDT.  Here it is:

On June 29th, a girl I know told me she had late night conversation with Susan when calling my telephone.  I was verifiably passed out at the time, having taken a tumble through a glass tabletop.  Others who were around that night swear that no one talked to the girl in question, either.
At the time, I chalked it up to nonsense.  But in retrospect, perhaps it was her way of keeping me safe again…

Unfortunate Names

October 26th, 2007 at 5:33 pm by Mark
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     Every once in a while, I run across some crazy names — things which are innocent, but could certainly sound like a prank phone call if you didn’t know any better.  These are all true:

  • I once knew a girl named Sunshine Beam.  I knew another named Sunny Rae Dawn.  Someone said their parents did drugs.
  • I have a friend named Anita Brown-Dixon.  Of course, I don’t think she’s ever had one, and certainly wouldn’t tell her son anything of the sort.
  • I met a woman in Nashville named Anita Boner.  She really loves her husband… A lot.
  • I have another friend, a Pirate Chick no less, named Robyn Cox.
  • A friend of a friend called to ask me for help with something.  “Mark?  This is Dick Sells.”  I asked him who was buying.  
  • I once knew a guy named John Ope.  His middle initial was L, and he usually went by Jack…  “Hello, Mr. Jackalope!”
  • I met Ira Fuson a few months ago…
  • …and imagine my surprise to meet the real Benjamin Dover.
  • Everyone knows at least one John Turner.
  • There’s a huge family of Fags just south of here.  Poor Richard… and some of them married Johnsons.
  • There actually was a guy in a local high school named Mike Hunt.  He lives in Oak Ridge.
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Day 1 – Round 3 – The Frozen Yogurt Adventure

October 26th, 2007 at 10:25 am by Diva
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As if hunting for a smoking area wasn’t fun enough to occupy our 4-hour layover at O’Hare International Airport, mom decided that she needed airport food. Now, it wasn’t that she was hungry. No, this wasn’t the case.

“It’s almost like tradition,” she says beaming that smile of hers.

“Yogurt is somehow a tradition? Do tell,” I ask.

“Not really yogurt, but eating in the airport,” she quips back.

“Oh hell, now I’ve heard it all. That’s like me running right to Manchu Wok for Lo-mein everytime I hit the ground. It ain’t tradition, Mama. It’s a matter of eating from being bored. Pure and simple,” I lecture.

“Well, whatever you want to call it, Missy. I want a frozen yogurt and we’re gonna walk until we find one,” she commands. “Did you see anyplace to get one?”

“I saw a fat guy up by the security check thing, but I think it was ice cream, not yogurt,” I tell her.

“I want fat-free-frozen vanilla yogurt…” she says dreamily thinking about diggin’ in.

Not ice cream. Not chocolate. Not full of fat…. No.

With that I pick up my 50 pound carry-on bag at Gate K-5 and we start walking. We see a sign for frozen yogurt and head that way.

I have to say this should have been an extremely simple and painless task as right there in the “K” terminal are TWO, not just one, but TWO TCBY’s!!! Easy right?

Well, not so much. Off we go…

The lil dude at the first TCBY didn’t have any vanilla, SO, he pointed us to the other food court way the hell down the way at gate K-15.

We get there, and sure enough, TCBY. We walk up smiling, only to see that the lady has the frozen yogurt machine torn down for cleaning. The sparkle immediately left my eyes.

So, we decided to take another walk and ended up in the “L” terminal. Only one TCBY and no vanilla. So we follow back out of “L” and wander over to “G”, only to find out after walking 2.5 miles to get there, that it’s a commuter terminal and they have no TCBY at all. Figures.

Defeated and depressed, we turn around with our heads hung low. The pep in our step was lost long ago as we shuffled along. All of a sudden, my mom happened to see a hidden food court area that we had somehow walked right past at least 3 times.

And in the very bad end of that little hidden jewel sat a TCBY. We walk up, skeptical that anything will come of the visit.

“Vanilla?” Mom asks the girl with that desperate tone in her voice.

“Sure. What size?” The girl says with an angelic smile on her face.

“Large!” Mom says completely satisfied.

It was as if the clouds parted, the heaven’s opened and a choir of angels started to sing Halleluja in unison.

“Want one?” Mom asked me.

“Nope. I wanna bagel.”

All I Did was Hold a Door

October 25th, 2007 at 12:27 pm by Mark
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     There’s something that’s bothered me for a long, long time, and it’s changed my behavior a little.

     If I walk up to a door to open it, I glance around to see if anyone else is close.  If they are, I hold it open for them.  It’s a simple thing, that most people don’t do at all any more.

     Some people are semi-thankful, but can’t really be bothered to do much more than nod or half-grunt a, “Thanks,” before continuing to walk blindly around not paying attention to anyone else around them.

     Occasionally, you get one of the uber-Feminists who will rip you a new butt for holding her door open.  She’s perfectly capable of doing it herself, and what a chauvanistic piece of — *BONK!* — as the door hits her in the face, because she’s too busy complaining to note that you let it go and walked away… at which point, you’re demoted to misogynist, and… *rolls eyes* 
     I always wonder how those types react when they see me hold the door for the guy at the next door…

     Unfortunately, most people these days are asshats and don’t care that I hold the door for them, at all.  Why, no!  I should be privileged for having held their door!  I’m not antisocial (I’m really not), but stuff like that is exactly why I think the vast majority of people should get bent.

     Needless to say, it is due to the above three classes of people that I don’t stop, hold the door, and wait for people to go through ahead of me.  Bloody hell, half of the population are so brash and rude that they will jump right on through while I’m holding open for my lady, who I really wanted to walk in with…
     Thus, I’m very good about holding it behind me.  And, if I accidentally drop it as someone’s coming, I even go so far as to apologize to them.
     Weird, eh?

     But today, as I walked up to the door to a store, I noticed an elderly woman with a very young teenager approaching.  Ignoring my usual instincts, I stopped, grabbed the door, held it open, and said, “After you!” as I ushered them inside.
     The two looked me right in the eyes, and with large, genuine smiles, said, “Oh, thank you!” in unison.
     Genuine thanks?!  That’s so rare!  I couldn’t help but say something, and when I opened my mouth, “My pleasure!” came tumbling out.
     Again, more smiles.  As they walked on into the store arm-in-arm, they leaned and whispered to one another, patted the others’ arms as they went.

     Simply amazing.

     Nostalgic, even, remember how people used to act when you did some random act of kindness…?

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Day 1 – Round 2 – Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

October 25th, 2007 at 11:38 am by Diva
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Smoking in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is proving to be quite the challenge.  There are no longer smoking rooms in the airport, a fact I was unaware of.  It is 85 degrees and smoggy as hell outside where they bannish all nicotine addicts to wither away for their sin.

We had just walked off the plane for our long ass lay-over when I decided it was time to fing the smoking area.  Mom decides to walk with me to find a smoking area out of her need to walk and stretch her legs.

After 30 minutes of searching, I just happened upon a friendly airport employee.  We’ll call him Pedro.  Pedro, a kind worker of the facility, not the airlines, said to me “We don’t have smoking rooms anymore. I would encourage you to slip into a stall in the ladies room and smoke(star wars smoking pipes). It should be okay.”  He smiled.

“Um… yah.  Let me tell ya something, buddy,” I said obviously annoyed already. “It is clearly marked all over this God forsaken place that anyone busted puffing a satan stick in the bathroom will be promptly and stiffly fined.  Not to mention that they would most likely imprison me in the bowels of the airport in some make-shift jail until I confess my sin.  Now why would you tell me to do that.”

“I was just trying to help, Miss.  You can always go outside,”  He said, rolling his eyes and walking away.

Yah, I think Pedro gets kickbacks. I can just see him watching me slip into the bathroom.  Eyes crazed with anticipation. It would go something like this:

“This is Pedro.  There’s a crazy white chick with pink Nike shoes and a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt about to enter stall three to light up.”

Needless to say, I decided to go outside for a smoke. Once.

In order to have this simple pleasure, I had to stand outside, 15 feet from any human activity.  This is pretty much in the path of the fumes from the never ending parade of buses and trams. Eh, mixed with the heat and the smog, I decided to deal with it.  It wasn’t so bad.

What prompted me to hold off my intake of required nicotine level until landing in Deutschland tomorrow was the hassle of going through security over and over and over and over.  Once was enough.

I refused to go through having to remove my shoes, waiting in line to pass them and my purse through the x-ray machine.  Putting my shoes back on and walking a mile back to the gate we were assigned to.   Seriously, I’ll pass.  Got any Nicorette?

What ever happened to designated smoking areas in the dang airport?  You know the glass cubicle of death that even though it was ventilated it resemebled the great town of Los Angeles with a smog bank at bay?