May, 2012 Archives

If Only I Were A Poet

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May 23rd, 2012

Watering the bare patches of lawn, dug up by dogs or withered by neglect, a hummingbird drops by. If only I were a poet, I could describe the feeling, the sense. Old, busted nozzle, constantly turned to ON, barely useful years ago. Spraying water every which way, some even onto the intended grass. The main […]

Watering the bare patches of lawn, dug up by dogs or withered by neglect, a hummingbird drops by.

If only I were a poet, I could describe the feeling, the sense.

Old, busted nozzle, constantly turned to ON, barely useful years ago. Spraying water every which way, some even onto the intended grass.

The main arc — the most relevant stream — attracts a large flapping bug. First glances deceive; it’s a feisty Rufous bird, if my color vision isn’t fooling me like always.

Oh if only.

Several sorties, in and out, back and fro. He She It even comes to inspect me. The water stream, though, is far more interesting than a middle aged suburban man on the brink of awareness.

There’s learning to be had, epiphanies to be shocked with. Why a hummingbird? Why me?

“Shut up,” it hums, “I’m just thirsty.”

If only I were a hummingbird.

Subway Subterfuge And Other Fast Food Falsehoods

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May 16th, 2012

When the injustices pile up so high that you can’t see over them, it’s time to act. If you’ve been wronged again and again, to stay silent and not speak is untenable. Where others have fallen, you must stand up and march forth. I’m referring, of course, to Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut and its tyrannical […]

When the injustices pile up so high that you can’t see over them, it’s time to act. If you’ve been wronged again and again, to stay silent and not speak is untenable. Where others have fallen, you must stand up and march forth.

I’m referring, of course, to Pizza Hut.

Pizza Hut and its tyrannical brothers Subway and Little Caesars. Oh the challenges that we in the suburbs in our middle ages must endure.

It all comes down to marketing. And I am man enough to admit I fell into their heinous trap. The first time was when I saw the commercial from Pizza Hut saying, “Any Pizza, Any Size, Any Crust, Any Topping for only $10.”

Naturally, being a wide-eyed, unsuspecting consumer, I ordered a large, one-topping, stuffed crust pizza and drove my smug self down Livernois to my local red roofed establishment. What could be better? Life was grand. This is why America rules the Universe.

“That’ll be $12.72,” said the sullen cashier.

“Oh no, no, no. You must be mistaken,” I said. “Everything is ten dollars. I could purchase one of those naugahyde banquettes in the dining room and maybe that autographed copy of Champ Summers hanging on the wall and still only owe a measly ten spot.”

“That’ll be $12.72,” said the sullen cashier.

“But, the commercial… the promotion,” I stammered.

“Certain pizzas don’t count. Stuffed crust is extra. That’ll be $12.72,” said the sullen cashier.

Not being one to storm out of a restaurant in a tirade and — this is key — being hungry, I shelled out the extra couple bucks. But boy did I let them have it. I’m not proud of my outburst, but as I was leaving, I shook my head a few times and let a noticeable grimace cross my face. Man, they’ll be talking about that display for years to come.

I thought the malfeasance was an aberration (my English Concentration at Alma College helped me with that last sentence). But lo and behold, during a long distance drive to the wilds of Kentucky I stumbled onto yet another example of wanton corporate abuse, Subway.

We’ve all heard the Five Dollar Foot Long jingle. Actually, to call it a jingle is an insult to Christmas songs everywhere. It’s more of a two note Gregorian Chant without all the excitement normally associated with such. They extended their promotion to include any sandwich at any time during certain months. Hopefully the advertising geniuses who came up with ANYtober or FebruANY were sent to the bread lines (but with a choice of wheat, parmesan or honey oat.)

Yes, I fell victim once again to their lying lies. When I walked my tired, aching traveller’s butt into the store and ordered a sub, I was asked to pay seven something. But wait, any, any, any, right?

“That’ll be seven something,” said the sullen cashier.

I knew better than to start something I couldn’t finish in Kentucky. So it was with great politeness and a ya’ll or two that I inquired about the price. I was informed with perfect diction and eloquent speech that my particular sub didn’t qualify as “any.” All cashiers at every Kentucky restaurant are models of decency and charm (and that officially ends my probationary period, handed down by the judge just outside of Big Bone Lick State Park).

Yes, it’s a real place. No, I didn’t run afoul of the law. It’s comedy, kidz!

I thought my travails would have ended there. What could be worse than getting stiffed at Big Bone Lick? (sorry Judge). But last night I slammed headfirst into a hometown hot-n-ready heartbreaker.

Watching the Tigers game, I was lured by advertising once again. Little Caesars told us (again and again and again) that they have Hot-N-Ready pizzas available all the time. One lovely young girl explained that her father hates to waste time, so life is much better in her household now that dear old domineering dad doesn’t have to wait five extra minutes to pick up his pizza. “I like pizza,” I said to the couch “and I don’t like waiting around,” I explained to my remote.

So off I drove off to our nearby Little Seizures. I ran into Gary from next door along the way and asked if he wanted anything. Heck, I’d pick up pizzas for the whole neighborhood if they were hot and they were “n-ready.”

Gary knew the story. “Are you going to get one of those 3 Meat Treats?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” I said. “What could be better?”

I can’t over-emphasize how great life felt at that point. My neighbor and I singing the praises of a locally owned pizza chain, driving with the top down in a car that wasn’t even a convertible and the Tigers coming from behind in late innings.

Then I screeched to a halt.

When I placed my order, ready to dance out of the store like they do on television, the sullen clerk said, “We don’t have any of those.”

“Wait … but … your sign says ‘All Day, Every Day’ are they not hot and not ready?”

“We don’t have any of those,” said the sullen clerk.

I felt like somebody had taken my precious, kitten-like emotions, toyed diabolically with them and then dumped ucky, cold tomato sauce all over me. I was Carrie at the prom. I was Mark Wahlberg drowning at the end of The Perfect Storm. I was the other kid in Sophie’s Choice.

It was then and there that I resolved to never fall prey to seductive, misleading ad campaigns again, at least until something else really cool sounding comes along. I waited my five minutes, just like the older French lady in line behind me and we had a good little discussion about Sarkozy, the Euro Zone and 3 Meat Treat pizzas (that’s totally true).

If French ex-pats are eating our pizza, who am I to get all hot-n-sweaty by false advertising? Still, I can’t help but wonder, If those of us on the front lines don’t stand up to tyranny, who will?

Mayor McCheese?

There’s An App For That

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May 6th, 2012

This photo of Rodney’s arm was taken by a doctor who wishes to remain anonymous, even though he did a smart thing with a smart phone.When I reluctantly arrived at the Emergency Room over the weekend, I was convinced my stay would last forever and cost thousands of dollars. I grumbled as I drove down […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rcswollenarm.jpgThis photo of Rodney’s arm was taken by a doctor who wishes to remain anonymous, even though he did a smart thing with a smart phone.When I reluctantly arrived at the Emergency Room over the weekend, I was convinced my stay would last forever and cost thousands of dollars. I grumbled as I drove down to the ER across from Costco; these visits have cost me so much in the past — time and money.

And it was for a ridiculous reason. When they swap out your bone marrow for someone else’s, you have to get all your newborn baby shots again. Damn, those babies have it rough. The inoculations hurt and can leave you with flu-like symptoms for days. And they can swell your arm up something fierce.

I was fine with just letting nature take its course, but when my bicep got bigger without me pumping iron, my doctors told me to go have it checked out. Ergh, grumble, moan … okay.

It turns out, I was the only patient they had and I drew a funny, laid back doc. He said I was fine and let me know it was a natural reaction. After spending a few minutes chatting he said, “Let me get some pictures.”

Okay, a few X-rays and maybe some antihistamines, right? No. Instead, he grabbed my iPhone and snapped some photos using the camera app.

He said, “I’m probably not supposed to do that, but if your arm gets any worse, at least you’ll have a record of how it looked before.”

I thought that was really smart. A few more questions, a check of my pulse and temperature and I was outta there quicker than a Costco excursion across the street.

I chuckled all the way home. Much more fun than grumbling.

These Moments

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May 5th, 2012

I want to remember these moments. These subtle, daily moments that have come to represent my not-totally-healed self. I fear forgetting them on my onward march toward wholeness. Being shy of my baldness, the myriad stacks of caps that sprout around the house serve as my one consolation to suburban sprawl. When my wife or […]

http://www.readthespirit.com/rodney-curtis/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2013/03/wpid-rchatrack.jpgI want to remember these moments. These subtle, daily moments that have come to represent my not-totally-healed self. I fear forgetting them on my onward march toward wholeness.

Being shy of my baldness, the myriad stacks of caps that sprout around the house serve as my one consolation to suburban sprawl. When my wife or daughters leave things out and about in the common areas of the house I’m offended. When I do, it’s purpose-driven. Of all the things I hope to remember, I’d like to forget that double standard.

I’d like to remember my pill pile that I visit every morning and evening. Several of them I take because I’m taking several others of them.

I met the lovely Hope yesterday and realized I need to be thankful for littler things. The lovely young Amal (“Hope” in Arabic) hasn’t found a bone marrow match and fears the return of her cancer, which it’s done once already. Her hijab is a constant companion, just like my baseball hats.

I understood, vaguely and briefly, that I am sometimes too busy rushing toward my ideal self and avoiding the inevitable learning curve that comes from being slowed down by illness beyond my control. Just like losing my job or all the ridiculous things that have jumped in front of me, I want to learn and grow and change from having dealt with them. But in so many ways, I feel like I’m the same old crusty Rodney.

On good days I tell myself that that Rodney guy was pretty cool and ask why I’d want to change him. At bad times I wonder how I’ve gone through so much without so much as an upward tick on my self actualization meter. In pushing toward finding a new career and total health, I sometimes seem to forget the now. And now is loaded with learning.

Moments form steps. One step at a time.