jimagain

Rants & ramblings of the disaffected

Archive for the tag “gatlinburg”

My Boring Life: a prelude to insanity

The reason why I normally don’t post a journal of my day-to-day affairs is simple; my life is boring. Basically, I’m a boring person. And pretty much, everything I do is, well, boring. And since I don’t jump out of planes with a parachute or scuba dive in shark-infested waters or engage in any other pulse-pounding, on-the-edge-of-your-seat ventures, you the reader would be predictably bored. The closest I come to death-defying is forgetting to remember her birthday or our anniversary but that’s a harrowing experience in of  itself which I will save for another blog.

I have nothing to tell unless I make something up or exaggerate reality beyond the point of absurdity. Since I am not a journalist, I am therefore bound by the constraints of integrity and am subsequently not allowed to arbitrarily invent or exaggerate events in a mere ploy to increase readership. But on the downside, how can I win a Pulitzer if I don’t prevaricate or engage in predatory journalism that feeds on salacious minutia? So if along the way say we are attacked by a rogue dinosaur or maybe followed by aliens or perhaps discover our cabin is an inter-dimensional portal; I am merely exercising journalistic integrity.

Tomorrow after the morning service 3 vans full of noisy teenagers will load up and head to Gatlinburg for a week-long endurance test consisting of a seven-day, six night marathon of survival skills. Being a homebody (boring Exhibit A) my enthusiasm for packing up and leaving the comforts of home is blunted at best. These ladies have meticulously been plotting this out for some time so there is no escape for me short of throwing myself at the mercy of a foreign embassy and declaring asylum. Plus, I would hate to disappoint the kids who have been eagerly awaiting the trip and honing their skills to annoy, agitate, and push adults over the brink of insanity by practicing all summer long on their parents. Traveling with teenagers for an entire week will be similar to an episode somewhere between The X-Files and an Orson Welles movie. Seriously though, all kidding aside; who says I was kidding?

My role in this affair is to show up on time and attempt to not totally botch things up for everyone else. This is facilitated by me keeping my mouth shut as much as possible which is nothing short of an unrealistic expectation. This is also why I will be accompanied by my personal 24 hour, seven-day a week censor. I have been given explicit instructions to speak only when spoken to, occasionally interject a disinterested but polite greeting such as, “how are you doing”, and above all not to share my opinion on anything. A veritable gag order has been declared. Our kids are remarkably tolerant of my ability for making utterly stupid and random retorts since I practice on them all year-long.

In retrospect, when I contemplate the ladies pre-trip planning process to that of the guys I suddenly realized that Lewis & Clark would never have successfully completed their transcontinental expedition to the Pacific coast without Sacagawea.

The reason I’m not in charge of the planning is I tend to procrastinate. My pre-trip execution list consists of jump in the van on the day of the trip  and as we pull out of the drive ask where it is we’re going. Worrying about the rest of what could possibly go wrong just lends itself to the romance and chaos. It’s a process not unlike reconstructing a crime scene.

In my repertoire of quirkiness, procrastination is a finely honed skill I deftly wield with as much reckless relish as a maniacal sociopath. Sadly, spontaneity is becoming a lost art. If you really want a once-in-a-lifetime adventure instead of a foregone conclusion, I’m your guy. I’m basically a ‘wing-it’ kind of guy, making stuff up as I go. But to ladies, this may as well have been a precision planned military operation, no less  than the invasion of Grenada. The girls take this seriously. Vacation is not for fun.

We leave tomorrow which means today we took  our aptly named Great Dane, Cletus, to the kennel to board for a week. When my wife found out how cheap it was to board him, I saw a suspicious gleam in her eye. But when she asked about the group rate and I heard whispering, I knew something was up. Fortunately one of us managed to slip the collar. Since my dog doesn’t have internet access you can probably guess which one of us escaped.

When we got home something seemed conspicuously missing. When a hundred and twenty pound dog is not hovering around, it’s hard not to notice. The rest of the afternoon I  was cautiously unshackling myself from the vestiges of pet ownership. I began a slow descent into reckless and irresponsible behavior even to the point of leaving the door open to that carefully guarded private repository of hapless rolls of toilet paper we call the bathroom. A few hours earlier tis would have been an impending disaster for innocent rolls that would otherwise be shredded by that malicious, miscreant mongrel of mangled paper products.

To start with, there is nothing about living with a Great Dane falls under the category of normalcy. First there is the nose; when you wake up in the morning it is hovering over head as you lay there in semi-comatose state on the bed. I think he is intuitively acting as a cadaver dog checking to see if I’m still alive. When I come home, I’m greeted by a dog standing on its back legs with his paws on my shoulders and his head above mine. I get an obligatory hug. Then I get frisked with the nose.  When you fix a sandwich for yourself, expect to see the nose circling the counter like a shark. I’m not talking about a nose ‘snorkeling’ along below normal counter height; I’m talking about the nose surfing above the counter. The sandwich, at any point, is only a sniff and a gulp away from being devoured.

We don’t leave until tomorrow and I’m already experiencing withdrawal symptoms however my wife who randomly announces she hates my dog, hasn’t stopped celebrating yet.  When I came home to an empty house later this day, I was not greeted with a hug from Cletus.

Back to the impending trek. Somewhere in the critical thinking process, a rational person would question themself; what was I thinking??? Am I not too old for this kind of abuse? And, is waterboarding considered an acceptable means of interrogating teenagers when they refuse to go to bed at normal hours of the night? I’m still waiting to hear from legal counsel on that. The thing about growing old is it sneaks up on you. My wife and I are much too old to be trapped inside of what amounts to be a padded cell on wheels with unfettered wall-to-wall teenaged adolescence running amok.

About this growing old thing; not only did I wake up one day to discover that I was now ‘old’, suddenly I too was married to – gasp – an ‘old’ woman. I confess I did not see that coming when we married twenty-nine years ago. After age forty she began the process of transcending from a middle-aged plauged Thelma from ‘Thelma and Louise’ fame to Thelma Harper of Mamma’s Family;  support hose and all the geriatric baggage.  I have since then discovered that I am now married to a mutated form of Lucy Ricardo on Geritol.

What’s that? Wait a moment folks. I’ve just been handed a news bulletin from the producer. We now interrupt this blog with a late-breaking news release. I have now been informed by certain sources that the party of the second part has notified the party of the first part, otherwise known as myself, that he does not have to remain in said state of matrimonial bliss with said ‘old’ woman. Well, folks. You heard it here. Another blogging first; late breaking news bulletins have now been added to our bold new blogging frontiers. Stay tuned for further details.

Fortunately for me, my wife has no interest in my blogging so I am pretty much free to write whatever I please with no fear of repercussion thanks to the complete anonymity I enjoy as a blogger.

Tomorrow my boring life is about to be interrupted.  I sure could use a hug from Cletus about now.

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Bears & Fools

It’s about 2:30 A.M. and I’ve got a headache. Headaches love to pop in unannounced around late night or early morning hours. So I get up and leave my motel room to trudge off to the lobby, up the hill in another building. Hopefully they have aspirin or something. They don’t.

Here I am, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In the tourist attraction of the region, highlighted by  perpetual glow of neon lights; I find it ironic that I can’t get an aspirin at 2:30 A.M. In a local economy built entirely on spending; frequented by endless crowds of cash & card-carrying consumers spending tourist dollars on everything from the bizarre to the mundane, from food to souvenirs. Stores. Walgreens. Aspirin! What do you mean?!! Closed? Are you kidding me?!!

So I traipse my weary body and pounding headache back to my room in the middle of the night ( morning, night…whatever ) surrounded by hotels and mountains. Outside our hotel is a large creek bubbling and gurgling noisily in the night as the water cascades along, splashing and colliding wildly from rock to rock in a turbulent thrashing and clashing of water, sort of like inside my head.

And suddenly I think, here I am in the dark in the Smoky Mountains wandering around in…bear country. Didn’t they warned us about the bears when we checked in. A couple of cubs have been seen in our area with one aggressive, protective momma bear. Forget that mental picture you may be harboring of a loveable but somewhat dopey giant-sized Teddy-bear. Forget Yogi snatching another picnic basket right from under Ranger Smith’s nose. Think again. Wrap your brain instead around 400 pounds of fur-covered fury; a monster-sized brute of paw and claw and a very bad disposition should she feel her cubs are threatened.

Bears like to frequent places where people are since we tend to leave hordes of wasted food wherever we go. You may have noticed that bears don’t often go out to eat at restaurants since very few have credit cards; this is why you rarely see one dining out at say, a Denny’s or a Cracker Barrel. But they do eat out. To you and I it may be an ignominious garbage can; to a foraging raccoon or hungry omnivorous bear – a five-star smorgasbord.

That would be just my luck to stumble on two too-cute cubs with an estrogen-enraged brute in my path in the dark of night ( morning, night…whatever ). I could get mauled while everyone else is asleep in their beds. All they’d find the next day would just be a tennis shoe with a few teeth marks. Then I had a strange and morbid thought; I don’t even have my video camera. If I’m going to get mauled I may as well video it!  With this new smart phone & video technology, I could even upload it on Facebook or You-Tube while I’m bleeding out on the ground after the attack. My ten minutes of fame – I’d probably wind up as a paragraph in some insignificant article that ends up lining the bottom of a bird-cage of some parakeet with a bowel problem. Or maybe a headline…

IDIOT GETS MAULED BY BEAR Stupid tourist on late-night stroll walks up on two cub when things got nasty…

One moment I’m thinking about a bear attack, the next I’m contemplating how this would impact the local tourism industry. Some would-be tourists would stay home for fear of similar attacks; others would flock to town in hopes of witnessing a gory incident firsthand. I myself would hate to think my indiscretion may have disrupted the local economy but not getting mauled by a bear is perhaps depriving EMT’s and morticians of gainful employment, especially in this time of economic downturn. So much for me. How would they punish a bear? Fine it? Maybe suspend its membership in the local Woodland Furry Creatures Guild, Local Chapter 101?

The end of the story is that I made it back safe to the room. But I suspect what some of you are thinking; some of you were hoping I did get mauled! You dastardly gore-loving freaks! What is it with this innate morbid pre-occupation with death and disaster? Well. At least it’d fix my headache!

On the way back to my room, I’m reminded of another hazard, similar yet different. Proverbs 17:12 says, “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man rather than a fool in his folly.” That may sound extreme but a bear can only do physical harm – bad enough in itself. But a ‘fool in his folly’ can inflict irreparable harm on so many more levels; emotional harm, caustic attitudes, destructive philosophies, embarking on a path of a perpetual cycle of sardanapalian excess, to name a few. Many would instantly recognize and avoid the former only to wander headfirst into the latter.

Beware of bears and fools! And I sure hope that poor guy staggering outside in the middle of the night doesn’t get mauled by a bear.

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