Category: Humor


All I Really Need to Know I Learned Surfing

– Take the first decent wave. The search for the BBD (bigger better deal) means you’re scared or caught up in perfection. Don’t waste your time in the water floating.


– You will wipe out, you will get water up your nose, your hair will look stupid, you will pick the wrong major, rack up credit card debt or marry the wrong person. It’s ok, there’s another wave right behind this one. Paddle back out and try again.


– Someone else will always be better than you and for a long time everyone else will be better than you. That’s ok, surf your own wave.


– Find a good teacher like Mary of Girl in the Curl, learn the basics, then go play. You don’t need an expert at your side all the time. You’ve got this.


– Try every day, even when it’s windy, cold, small, your friends can’t go, you’re tired, it’s crowded, there’s a shark – wait, I take that back. If there’s a shark, take a day off.


– If you show up in a sailor hat or mohawk, you better be good. When you call that much attention to yourself, be sure there’s something there to back it up.


– Share your waves. Every wave can be a party wave. There’s always room for one more. If you don’t share, people will give you unflattering nicknames and hate you forever.


– If Miniature George Hamilton is a total jerk, flip him off in your mind and move on. Do not under any circumstances say the F-word in front of your children because they will ask you every single day for the rest of your life if you’re going to stay it again.


– Do hard things. Surf big waves. Surf with people better than you and someday you’ll be those people.


– Wear flip-flops and get a pedicure even if you have man feet. Wear sunscreen to avoid matching your man feet with a face like a leather satchel.


– Carry waterproof paper and a pen in your wetsuit because all your best ideas will happen on the water.


– Find mentors in the water and watch them. Watch where they line up, watch which waves they take and which ones they pass. Watch how they ride the wave and how they end it. Hint: they are Hawaiian and never wearing a sailor hat.


– A sunset on the water will cure almost anything.


Red Harley Sportster Pic

Taking My Place at the Bottom of the Food Chain

Visions of Vespas and front row parking danced in my head as I signed up for a motorcycle class at the local community college. The vintage green scooter with the surf rack must have obscured my better judgment when I picked a weekend in August, in California, on asphalt, and in boots, jeans, gloves and a long sleeved shirt. I blame everything that happened next on my heat stroke addled brain.


The first evening of the class was held in a comfortably air conditioned room and started innocuously with introductions. Reasons for taking the course ranged from learning to ride on the freeway to clearing a violation for not having a motorcycle license. Our teacher, Doc, spent three hours teaching us motorcycle safety, but all I heard is 257 ways to get killed riding a motorcycle. Doc’s gems included, “whether the ball hits the window or the window hits the ball, the window pays the price” and “humans are at the top of the food chain, and bikers are at the bottom.”


My favorite question came from the Jersey boy, Jared, in the row behind me sporting a gold necklace and two diamond earrings. He asked, “what if I’m just running up to the store to get a pack of cigarettes in the middle of the night? Do I need to wear boots?”  Leave it to Jared put the old axiom ‘there is no stupid question’ to bed for all time.  To his credit, Doc fielded the question like a pro. The rule is, “all the gear all the time or take the car.” He went on to paint a picture of Jared hopping on his motorcycle in the middle of the night to get his fix wearing flip-flops. Going 40 miles an hour, Jared hits a rock and lays over his bike. The result is a meat sandwich – the asphalt and bike are the bread and Jared’s ankle is the smoked turkey. A compelling visual. I felt like we should also break out the slides of cancerous lungs, but one step at a time.


Among other protective riding gear Doc talked about armor – pieces of metal placed at strategic bony points on the body like knees, ankles and knuckles. Doc told a story of getting the freeway and the car in front of him kicking up a rock that hit him on his index finger knuckle. It felt like a shot and if Doc had not been wearing armored gloves, he was sure his finger would’ve been taken off. It was about this time that I began to seriously reconsider my Vespa decision. Even the lure of endless parking may not be enough.


We then went out to the lava pit for the riding portion – ten hours on pavement so hot it melted the glue in my classmate’s boots – not Jared’s of course because he didn’t show up. The fancy hand and footwork required to ride a motorcycle includes a clutch, gearshift, throttle, front and rear brakes and is a lot like dancing the samba with a robot. We didn’t have to deal with mirrors – all the previous crashes took them all off.


We spend hours weaving through cones, practicing swerves and fast stops. For a beginner like me who was still trying to figure out how to stay upright, it was fantastic and when we hit 15 MPH it required my full concentration.

We spent 10 total hours at speeds approaching 20 MHP riding in circles, shifting, stalling, and turning and not one person – even the total newbies dropped their bike. We did, however, spend a lot of time honking at each other while trying to signal a left-hand turn. Those buttons are really close together.


Then the clipboards came out and we took our driver’s test. I passed with non-failing colors after wiping out a few cones that apparently didn’t represent pedestrians. The whole class passed and celebrated with an ice cold water under a pop-up tent. At the graduation ceremony the instructor, Dan, said something that changed my life forever. “These are perishable skills. If you don’t practice them, you’ll lose them.”


The next day I swung by the Harley dealership and made it official. I bought at red Sportster and enough gear to break up a prison riot. But I had tell my mother about it via text because I’m not THAT brave.






Maybe I Should Have Started Freebasing Heroin Instead

The kids and 10,000 YouTube videos wore me down and made promises my carpet wouldn’t see kept. We got a puppy. It’s surprisingly difficult to actually get your hands on an actual puppy in Southern California. The shelter waiting period is longer than one for a handgun—they clearly think you’re starting a dog fighting ring. In the end, we found an ad in the furniture section of Craigslist that was entirely in Spanish except for the word “beagle,” and our fate was sealed.


I sent an email in Spanish to which the family responded by having their English-speaking father call me. Clearly, I can’t pass for a Spanish speaker even in writing.


Here are the good things about having a puppy:

  • Extreme cuteness
  • Shiny black nose
  • Saintly sleeping


Here are the bad things about having a puppy:

  • Every other thing on the face of the earth


You know when you buy a 1982 Mitsubishi Eclipse and add the $500 rims and now you need an LED underbody kit and a horn that plays “La Bamba”? No? Me neither, but when you get a puppy, now you need a collar, tag, shots, deworming, crate, playpen, and a horn that plays “La Bamba.” A dog picked up full of fleas and worms from inner- city Oakland racks up enough expense to outfit an Eclipse pretty quickly. It’s like a baby without the shower gifts.


I work at home, so now I have a companion. She’s like every annoying office colleague I’ve ever had rolled into one. Ashley who eats your yogurt—the puppy eats your furniture. Melissa who won’t stop talking—puppies have seventy-five different ways of getting your attention, all of which include copious quantities of noise. And Elaine’s messy files have nothing on a pile of crap under the dining room table.


Like babies, God tricks you into a puppy with cuteness and takes away your better judgment with sleep deprivation or the streets would be filled with Moses in the bulrushes baskets of puppies. Take the dog and the money’s yours. You can even resell them on Craigslist, but try the pet section this time.


I’m Three Neck Tattoos Short

My dad cruises all the time. According to him, it’s the only way to travel, but as I waited in line to check in, I couldn’t imagine him there. I was having trouble imagining me in this line. I’ve got a strong WT streak in me (white trash for the uninitiated). I’ll stay at Motel 6, and a Denny’s grilled cheese always hits the spot, but I don’t camp out at The Dollar Tree for four days. It appeared the rock-bottom fare on the cruise line I’ll call Circus was a siren song to the loud, scantily clad, heavily rouged, blowing through their unemployment benefits crowd—a booze cruise for the 40-oz. set.


The ship, let’s call it the Inventiveness, runs 3- and 4-day cruises from Southern California to Mexico. She sails up and down the coast of California and Mexico . . . never anywhere else. She doesn’t peel off and head to Europe or even the Bahamas. She just ferries boatload after boatload of drunk fast-food workers in for a good time Fresno with décor lifted from the Vegas Tropicana.


My good friend Kate and I have been traveling together since we found a snake in the pit toilet at church camp. She’d been on this cruise before, years before, and was designated a VIP, entitling her to one free 33-oz. bottle of water. You connoisseurs may recognize this size as “the more than you can drink in one sitting.” We didn’t let the snake stop us in 1979, and we weren’t going to let the unwashed masses stop us this time.


Cruise we did. We got the fruity drink in the cup shaped like a fish whose colors exactly matched my cruisewear top I lovingly call my Boca Raton wear. We played the heck out of bingo and sang along at the piano bar, which involved a great many keys in each and every song. We did skip the “art” sale. I was afraid that after a few days on board a Velvet Elvis above my fireplace would seem just the ticket. A narrow miss.


But on our last day aboard, Kate went prospecting and stumbled on the Serenity deck—so serene that at first we feared it was only for VIPs—read Kate. But no. It was for all of us. Complete with special yellow towels and situated at the back of the boat, we scored front row seats with only our toes between us and a view of the wide-open water. There we camped, outlasting three rounds of bachelorette parties until our stomachs called us to dinner and the Kathy Lee Gifford wine, Gifft. If you didn’t know that existed, you’ve been hanging out at all the right places.


The Gifft was flowing at the Illusions Lounge that last night. If you’re a fan of people watching, a night at the Illusions Lounge will require your prescription to be adjusted. It starts out as dancin’ to the oldies and at 10 p.m. moves into “I can twerk better than you in an outfit that would get me arrested in thirty-seven states” club. Our evening culminated in listening to a lover’s quarrel coming from the stateroom across the hall in between the slamming door and unique combinations of the seven dirty words, which I desperately tried to drown out with a rerun of The Love Boat but to no avail.


It was a cruise for the ages. A hearty thank-you to Circus Cruise Line for opening my eyes to a great many things I once believed only existed on TV—or maybe on Hollywood & Vine. I do want to be clear, though, I’m not saying don’t go on a Circus cruise. Just make sure you have all your shots. The Inventiveness in all her tarted-up glory is waiting for you.