Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm With Stupid

When I was 16 years old a pretty girl in my choir class named Sara Stevenson picked me up for an afternoon of snowmobiling on her family ranch. In the midst of our winter festivities/semi-flirtatious extravaganza, I saw a pair of kids who were sledding down the hill on her property. “Let’s go give them a drive-by snowballing.” I said as we packed our gloves for a winter version of violence. Staring down the ten-year olds holding toboggans, we threw our snowballs at them, and then I revved the engine of our Polaris stallion a little too much, which in turn bucked us both off the back. From that point the snowmobile made its trek down the slopes at a breakneck speed, only to hit a jump at the base of the hill and launch itself into a 15-foot pine tree. Needless to say, Sara Stevenson and I never had a second date.

Flash forward four years to when I was ripping holes down the buttseam of my pants and gorging my belly on deep-fried southern Twinkies, which in turn had me a solid 50 pounds chunkier than any of my clothes would fit. I walked into a Wal-Mart in Mechanicsville, Virginia and laid my eyes on a tummy tucker belt buddy wrap that was basically a custom cut piece of saran wrap that would package the belly blubber around your midsection and automatically make you lose/hide those pesky pounds. I saw, I ogled, and I forked over $39.99 for essentially the absolute worst purchase of my young adult life.

Lets move ahead two years in this story to when I was in college and I once caught myself trying to reenact some type of funky gyrations with my body in sync to a one-hit wonder. I tried, I danced, and I looked like Elaine Benes at a Christmas party. Part of me wonders if the fact that I was male, Caucasian, taller than six feet in height, and that I preferred heterosexual relationships had something to do with the fact that I could not get my body movement to match up with the musical beats of “Crank That” by Soulja Boy (which you can play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post if you want to have a more dramatic effect). I was a dancing fool, I imagined myself as an above average imitation of Patrick Swayze. I felt like the king of the campus as I jiggled my body around that night. And I looked like an absolute dumbass.

Cut to three years later and see me just pulling in to my girlfriend’s house from a four-and-a-half hour, 335-mile drive from St. George to Ogden to break up with someone who I had shared my life with for the previous six months. I prayed, I wept, and I debated in my head and with God if this was the right decision to make. As I sat in my car and waited for her to get home from church I responded to a text message my buddy sent me asking what I was up to that afternoon. “Just sitting here waiting to break up with Jo.” I replied. “You sent that text to the wrong person.” Jo, my soon to be ex-girlfriend, said in return. In retrospect I never thought I would have looked worse than trying to impersonate Soulja Boy on the dance floor. This social media malfunctioning moment of my life certainly proved that to be wrong.

Flash forward four years from that mishap to one summer night in Seattle where I paid $14.75 to watch Michael Bay’s fourth installment of the Transformers franchise. I don’t think I have ever sunk lower in stupidity.

The list can go on and on and I can probably dissect a dozen moronic things that I have done in the last 48 hours at least, but those five I have recounted are some of the most foolish bloopers that catch me shaking my head over through the years. Yes, I wanted to impress a pretty girl on a snowmobile, and I wanted to lose weight by being a lazy saran-wrapped, deep-fried bum, and I wanted to electrify the ladies with my uncoordinated dance moves, and I wanted to have a meaningful breakup with a girl that couldn't be confused as a plotline for a sitcom, and yes sad to say, I wanted to be entertained by Michael Bay that night in Seattle. But none of those things went according to my plan, and because of my miscalculations, some of the biggest blunders of my human existence were forged.

But those blunders, like every single other idiotic decision we all make in our histories, will go down in hysterical infamy and be heralded as some of the best stories we ever have the privilege of telling.   

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Who Knows?

There are moments in our life that will shape our character and alter the road we will take. I know that sounds like single Mother poetry in a Starbucks or some kind of Ray Bradbury/Robert Frost concoction doused in brandy, but I don't care. We have moments in life that change who we are, moments that mold the role we have undertaken for this crazy existence we all checked ourselves in to playing. 

In some of those moments we feel great. Marriages, births, Junior Prom doorstep scenes with our pretty dates in lacy yellow dresses. Walking on stages wearing a cap and gown and hearing an audience cheer on the announcement of our name while we're handed a paper symbol of our education. Those are the moments we L-word. That we adore. That make us feel great about what lies ahead.  

Some of the moments we hate. Divorces, deaths, breakups over text messages. Going to meet up with an old college chum and finding out about his addiction to pornography and meth. These are the moments that scare us in to changing our ways, hashing out old habits, and adjusting our character so we can hopefully learn from the woes that have befallen us. 

And then there are moments that we just don't know. New jobs, new homes, new relationships with people we are unsure about. These are the moments that leave us tortured for days. That provoke us to keep our eyes open at three in the morning wondering if the choices that we did or did not make were the correct ones. These are the moments that haunt us, that intimidate us, that make us question the validity and certainty of the role we have previously undertaken. These are the moments where we can't help but wonder about for days on end. 

Today I had one of those moments. 

And who knows where it will take me.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Confessions On A Plane

747 flights to Seattle are held in the same category as a confessional booth in a Catholic church. We tell anything and everything to total and complete strangers in the dark.

For full effect, download “Leaving On A Jet Plane” by John Denver and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

I sit back in my chair and stare out the window watching what could be Idaho, or Wyoming, or some place in Eastern Canada for all I know. This pilot could be hijacking us to some random facility in Nebraska and no one has a clue.
                 
“She’s from Bellevue, at least that’s where her family is from.” The Gunslinger in the seat behind me says.
                 
“Oh, okay. Bellevue is nice. I’ve had a couple of conferences over there. It’s got a beautiful view of Lake Washington.” His female co-stranger suffering from minor obesity says.
                 
“I’ve never been there.” He says.
                 
“To Bellevue?”
                 
“Anywhere up there. This is my first time traveling to the Pacific Northwest.”
                 
Uh yes Miss, I’ll have a ginger ale on the rocks, with a slight dose of amphetamines please. And don’t take your time, this will be a long flight.
                 
“Well that’s nice of you to fly up and see her like this. Has she been down to see you in Texas before?”
                 
“Nope.” He says.
                 
“No?”
                 
“Nope. Not at all.”
                 
On any given flight there are a number of secrets that are unraveled from our hidden selves and tossed out in the open to total and complete strangers. We trust people that we have never met. We expose our lives to them about the innermost workings of our heart and our soul. We tell them things we normally wouldn’t tell anyone else in the entire world. And we do it because we will never see them again. They will vanish. Disappear. Dissolve into nothing with our shadows in their grips, and they will never be able to hold us accountable.
                 
This is a judge-free zone you senile hand puppet on a pilgrimage to meet your one and only. Please, don’t hold back.
                 
“So did you just meet at like a conference or something and then stayed in touch?” The falafel asks.
                 
He laughs, “No, we met online. We’ve just kept in touch via Skype.”
                 
No, it’s okay Miss, you can cancel my $5 purchase of already broken headphones to enrich myself on the in-flight entertainment of Mr. Popper's Penguins. I’ve got this retired swan song to keep me laughing the remainder of the trip.
                 
“I know it sounds crazy, but we just connected with Skype.” He says.
                 
“Skype?”
                 
“Yes, when I would get home from work at five, I would run some errands, eat my dinner, and then Skype her at 8, which would be 6:00 her time. From there we would talk for hours, anywhere from one, to two, to four, sometimes all night. I could never stop talking to her. And she couldn’t stop talking to me. That was the connection we had.”
                 
“That’s so pretty.” The falafel says. 
                 
Excuse me, I might need an extra bag to hold my inner projectile vomit, I can feel this coming up fast.
                 
“Technology is amazing. You can just sit there and talk all night long, almost as if they’re sitting right in front of you.” The cowboy says.
                 
“I know, isn’t it crazy what we can do these days?”
                 
“In the time that we talked I was able to see a side of her I never would have seen anywhere else.”
                 
Give me rubbish.
                 
Give me naivety.
                 
Give me a foolish old bastard on cloud nine getting stood up by a catfish.
                 
“So you’re going up to meet her then for the first time?”
                 
“Yep, the first time.”
                 
“That’s so beautiful.” The falafel says. “See, these are the stories that make people realize that love can happen anytime, anywhere, to absolutely anyone.”
                 
“They really are.”
                 
These are the stories that are the birth of the acronym SMH.
                 
“So how long are you going to be up here for, just the weekend?”
                 
I hear the old man smile. “Well, I don’t know how long I’m going to be up here.” He says.
                 
“You don’t know?”
                 
“Well, we talked about it plenty of times. All my family is gone. I have no kids, my family is all back east. She has three kids with their families all around the Bellevue area. I’ve got a real estate agent I’m going to be meeting with tomorrow to see what is available up there. And I think I’m in the early stages of moving up there for her.”
                 
Yes, I’ll take a cold towel that I can use to slap this geriatric has-been upside the head and bring him back to real life. Please, get it here as soon as you can.
                 
They say love makes you do crazy things. Lunatic things. Things that pull your hair out and cement feelings of regret for decades to come. Love is the instigator of suicidal teenagers longing to be with one another in an uncharted afterlife condemned by a family’s uniform hatred.
                 
Love is madness.
                 
Love is lunacy.
                 
Love is a 68-year old farmer selling his legacy in Texas and moving up to be with a woman that he physically has not witnessed.
                 
“Well I wish you both the best of luck. And I hope that things work out for the two of you.” The falafel says.
                 
“Thank you. I really think this woman, I think she is the one.”
                 
“The one?”
                 
“Yep, the one. I’ve had many women in my life. But I think after 68 years of living on God’s green Earth, I’ve finally found the one I’m supposed to be with. And it’s all thanks to Skype.”
                 
Where the curse word is that barf bag?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'm Not Listening

You love giving me advice on how to get married. Every last one of you. And I in turn love to take it all in, nod my head like I'm in agreement, and then store it all away for an epic blogpost two years later.

For full effect, download chapter 8 of "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. I suggest that text because it is the chapter that has been keeping me awake for the last, oh I don't know 45 minutes as I return from my journey out into the middle of nowhere, Utah and back.

Estranged family friend: "The thing is Brock, there are three ways to fall in love with someone. Physically, temporally, and spiritually. Once you have all three, then things will work out just fine. That's what I would counsel you to do.”

Thank you random stranger working on your fourth marriage. I appreciate you passing on such benevolent words of wisdom that you're obviously not taking into consideration yourself. How are things going with your current soon to be ex-fourth spouse born two decades later than you? Why, the fact that you’re abusive, 30K in debt, and haven’t been a member of any organized religion for the past 15 years really shows how well you listen to yourself.  

Passerby in Harmon’s three weeks ago: “See, your issue is that you aren't willing to accept the baggage that someone brings to a relationship. You think you're all perfect and you can handle anything, but when someone brings something tough to a relationship you back out like a sissy.”

I completely agree that everyone has baggage, myself included, and a key to a successful relationship is loving someone despite the leftover debris they bring to the table. But it's hard to take you serious when you won't love the stepson your wife brought into the fold when you two hooked up. I know he's not your own blood, but I think you're a bit of a hypocrite for calling me out when you've got a piece of luggage sitting on your own table that you’re refusing to claim, buddy.

Ball-hog in Gold’s Gym: “The best advice I can give you is that no matter who you settle down with, you need to treat her like a queen. Period. The End. She is your one and only priority. Your everything. Never look down at her ever.”

Valid point sir, valid point. I admire your words and your actions. Especially when you roll your eyes and shake your head when your phone goes off in the middle of a pickup game and you pause to say, “Sorry boys, it's the old ball and chain.” Even better when you send me text messages asking me to take you to dinner because you just have to get away from “this old hag next to me who’s stuck on Pinterest.” I applaud your efforts.

Middle-aged critic who I see on Thursdays: “Brock, I think your issue is that you pay too much attention to physical attraction. Looks are great and all, but when it comes down to it, being physically attracted to someone doesn't really mean anything and it isn't a valuable part of a good marriage. Those shouldn’t be a factor in deciding who you want to date or marry.”

If being physically attracted to a woman plays no part in a successful relationship, then why do you have a closet addiction to pornography that you're keeping ever so hidden from the woman you care and love so much? Is that just a side hobby like collecting stamps or golfing, or are you living out your carnal life online, confirming the law that everyone always wants what they cannot have?

I've heard just about everything. From promptings to proverbs, to chastisement and critiques. Some of it I believe, some of it I laugh and stow away for blogposts later on in life. I thought I had heard it all until last night over Thai food I heard some of the most memorable keys to a successful relationship  of all time.

Thai Savant: “Brock, the best thing I can tell you is to find someone as equally gross as you are. Not to say that you yourself are disgusting, but I think the best relationships are found when both sides don't gross each other out. When they're content with each other's bowel movements, ya know?”

I must say, more pure words have never before been spoken.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I Wish That I Could Be Like The Cool Kids

A recent study from that one school that shall not be named linked an increase in Facebook usage to a decrease in your own satisfaction and a higher likelihood of personal depression.

 Homer Simpson: “To Social Media! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

For full effect, download “Cool Kids” by Echosmith, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. Seriously, if there were one song that fits a blog post more than any I have ever suggested, it would be this. You need to download this to trigger an emotional rush while you’re reading my words.

We care about other people’s lives more than we care about our own, plain and simple. And Facebook is the number one way to prove we are insignificant wastes of space living in some screwed up form of life that no one else has dragged themselves down to. We stare at our phones, and our tablets, and our laptops, ogling over the life that other people have and wish we could have a taste of their glory. If only we had what they had, if only our lives were as ‘cool’ as theirs were, only then would we be happy. Because everyone else plastered on social media is in a constant state of euphoria with no troubles at all. Why can’t we be like them?

Why can’t we have the freedom to travel wherever we want to like Kait Brinkerhoff and take an endless amount of snapshots in awesome faraway places like Korea, or Minnesota, or Toquerville? Why can’t we have picture perfect family photos taken like Benji Woahn did at Longhorn Stadium with all of his siblings in Cougar Blue supporting a blowout win? Why can’t we have adorable looking kids like Scott and Meg Bingham who are all content with one another and have absolutely no problems whatsoever and undoubtedly never fight over things like who got more ice cream in their bowl or whatever “normal” kids fight over these days? Heck, their Facebook wall suggests they never fight or argue or have any #firstworldproblems like the rest of us, so that has to be true, right?

We compare our own lives to the lives of former friends and acquaintances and think we are steaming piles of cow dung with no hope whatsoever. We overanalyze our character and rip our self-esteem to shreds because in our eyes we aren’t as “cool” as they are. We think they are complete, that they have no flaws. We think that they are without fault. And we on the contrary, have plenty of garbage to tote around. We hold them to an elevation that is unattainable in our own eyes, something that we will never taste. If only our lives were as perfect as theirs then oh boy, then we would be okay.

But the thing is, they are not perfect. Spoiler alert, nobody is.

Everyone has problems. Big ones, little ones, and everything else in between. Of course you’re not going to broadcast your calamities to the rest of Facebook looking for sympathy, you’re only going to put your best foot forward on the worldwide web. But the truth of the matter is that these people who we see as perfect, as untouchable, people whose barrage of pictures leads us down the road to depression because we think they have no problems whatsoever and live the perfect life that we want more than anything else in this world, well, I’m just going to go out on a limb here, but they sure as sin aren’t as perfect as we think.

Now I’m not dragging Benji, or Kait, or Scott and Meg Bingham under the bus, because in all reality they are incredible people who I undoubtedly admire and respect. But why do we look at figures like these on the digital walls of our internet lives and want what they have, thinking that we are worthless, that we have no value, that we aren’t going anywhere in our lives, and if only we had pictures of BYU football games, or Korean dress parties, or children plucked from a Sears catalog decked out in J.Crew fashion blowing on dandelions, only then would we finally have value?

The study concludes stating it is obvious that “Facebook usage had a significant negative relationship with self esteem. In other words, the results indicated that users who spend more time on Facebook have lower self-esteem. It causes depression as well as what’s known as the ‘fear of missing out’.” We feel like part of our life is absent. We sink to the scum of depression because we are missing certain things in our own worlds. Our self-esteem takes a swift kick to the groin because we scroll down an endless page of harmony that isn’t ours.

Turn it off people, just turn it off. Quit comparing yourself to someone else. Quit thinking you have no value just because your life isn’t photoshopped to the nines like you think everyone else’s is. This is a screwed up, messed up, blacklist world where everyone out there has baggage. You are amazing. Remember that. Keep calm, and carry on. You’re gonna be just fine. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014