Saturday, April 11, 2015

Off-Season Post: Put Your Balls on the Table

Hello, Readers.  Welcome to my first off-season post after a couple of weeks away.  I trust the onslaught of speculation being spoon fed to us via grocery store periodicals since the big Bachelor finale has been enough to tide you over.  Some Guy, as always, has been engaged in the tug-o-war called law practice and, if I’m completely honest, it’s been a struggle to keep the flag on my side of the mud pit lately.  Let’s escape for a bit, shall we? 

It’s been a while since I shared one of my many folly of youth stories.  This one is one of my favorites.  It takes place in a bar located at the corner of 12th Street and Lamar Blvd. in Austin called The Tavern.  I used to frequent it in my college days.  It holds the distinction of being the first air-conditioned place in Austin.  It was also once a house of ill repute and it’s alleged that a prostitute who was murdered there still haunts the upper floors to this day.  

You're Never Too Far from 12th and Lamar

Sadly, today it’s been turned into a shell of its former self.  Giant flat screen televisions have replaced neon beer signs and fancy, top shelf vodkas and craft beers have edged out the stuff they used to sell for a dollar a pitcher.  I’ll do my best to paint it the way I remember it.

For those of you who have been reading me for a while, you’ll recall that Some Guy has a twin, a best friend we call “Ted”, and a college roommate we call “Lenny.”  On the idiot scale between the four of us, it’s a dead heat.  To refresh your collective memory, you’ll recall me writing about the time Ted and I talked our friend into emptying his bowels into the neighborhood pool so Ted could get a day off his life guarding job to drive us to the beach.  

You’ll also recall the story about Lenny, dressed as Batman and with a full keg of beer seat belted into the back seat of his convertible, told an Austin Police officer with a straight face that he did, in fact, blow through a blinking red light but it was fine because the light was “between blinks.” 

The list goes on. 

Every Monday (yes, Monday) night at The Tavern was “industry night.”   That meant that if you worked in the restaurant industry you got cheap drinks.  It was also a good place to partake in a pastime Ted and I developed into a bit of an art:  shooting pool for pitchers of beer against cocky frat boys whose dads were paying the bill anyway.  My brother and Lenny weren’t much for pool but usually came along for the buzz-inducing conversation and the cheap beer. 

At that time, the upstairs nook in The Tavern where the two pool tables resided side by side was a tight fit.  In fact, it was impossible for two people on opposite tables to simultaneously shoot. The area was surrounded by folks milling around or sitting anxiously in the corner watching their stack of quarters placed in sequence on the table signifying “next” when one team emerged victorious.  Bets (always 1 pitcher of beer) were immediately paid upon a loss and it was not uncommon to sit out a game in order to ingest excess winnings in the midst of a mean win streak.  An etiquette, a certain tact, was a requirement for those of us who played there regularly and it was easy to spot a rookie who didn’t know (or respect) the rules.

On this particular night, we arrived early.  As a result, Ted and I had our pick of a table and my brother and Lenny got prime bench seating real estate in the nook rather than being relegated to a far away table on the opposite side of the jukebox.  The real estate was prime but it also came with the rare exception that a guy was not required to stand and give up his seat to any girl who showed up.  Those were competition seats and the girls knew the drill. 

That may sound foolish, but that’s the way it works here.  My friend recently returned from a two week business trip to Minnesota and smiled ear to ear at the sight of 3 men standing like she was a judge entering the courtroom when she approached our table at a local bar.  “It’s so nice to be back in Austin,” she observed.  Of course, the definition of a real gentleman is a man who gets out of the shower to pee.  Indeed. 

Back to our story. 

Ted and I started out playing each other but were quickly interrupted by a couple of guys anxious to take our money.  A crowd also gathered around the other table as a game started there as well.  Handshakes were exchanged, the standard wager was agreed upon, and the ever-important stick selection commenced.  We were there first so they paid for the game, racked the balls, and we got first break. 

The other table began almost simultaneously.  Two fraternity guys—easily recognizable by the standard issue jeans, Red Wing Boots, Polo shirt, and backward ball cap that every single guy in the Greek community was required to wear—perish the thought of not conforming—in order to enter the filthy confines of his frat house, matched up against a couple of geeky looking engineering student types.  

SGIA’s brother and Lenny took their spot on the bench.  After dispatching the competition in the first game with a solid combination of teamwork and then a quick win on a scratched 8 ball on the double or nothing bet, Ted and I found each other with three full pitchers of beer and a red hot winning streak to pick between.   As the room started to fill, Ted and I kept playing as SGIA’s brother and Lenny spent time enjoying the fruits of our labor. 

After the 4th or 5th win, the cocktail table was replete with 4 empty pitchers and two full ones.  Ted and I were focused on the pool game and failed to recognize the most obvious truth in the bar:  Lenny and my brother were hammered. 

This is where it gets good.

A few shots into the next game it was clear that our competition was getting tired of losing.  Now before you accuse me of bragging, I’ll submit to you that there was a method to our madness.  Ted, my brother, and I grew up together playing pool on Ted’s parent’s game room pool table from the age of 9.  Couple that with the fact that the “competition” at The Tavern was non-existent, and you get the picture.  We went there to win beer and we inevitably did.  

Spoiled frat boys eventually get tired of losing their dad’s money and it was not uncommon for things to get a tad heated.  However, remember that unspoken etiquette I mentioned earlier?  It was that etiquette that kept the place free from cheaters, sore losers, and brawls.  It sucks to lose, but most folks got over it right away. 

After the third shot, Ted missed and one of the frat boys stepped up to shoot.  He was immediately bumped by the guy at the next table and became agitated.  The other guy apologized and stepped back to let him shoot.  He called the pocket, hit the cue ball, and proceeded, yet again, to scratch the 8 ball.  Frustrated, he slapped his stick onto the table.  Simultaneously, Ted began laughing and said, “now go get us another pitcher.” 

As if in slow motion, I looked from the opposite side of the table as the guy picked up the pool cue and made a b-line for Ted.  Before I could get over to help, the other guy grabbed me by the collar, forcing me to deal with him.  He threw a drunken punch, which I dodged before grabbing him by the arm and pulling him off-balance in my direction.   “Be cool.  This isn’t between us,” I said as we made eye contact.  He seemed to agree as we nodded and turned to see what his buddy was doing with Ted.

As we looked, I saw Ted purposely take the swinging pool cue to the ribs, fold his right arm over it trapping it in his underarm, and then pull it away from him while simultaneously taking two steps back in Lenny and my brother’s direction.  “That’s that,” I said to myself.  Ted and I had been in this situation before and it was what we’d characterize as a “flare up.” 

What WOULD have happened next is that both guys would have seen our refusal to fight but would have known that we weren’t going to back down.  Ted and I would have graciously shaken their hands and let them off the hook for the pitcher they owed us.  That would have warranted an apology and a gentlemen’s refusal to welch on a bet.  We would have ended up laughing and splitting pitchers with them the rest of the night.  Like I said, etiquette. 

Here’s what DID happen. 

As Ted disarmed the angry frat boy and we all started to relax, a drunken Lenny lurched off the bench, pushed past Ted, and grabbed the frat boy in a bear hug around the waist.  Lenny, from the Midwest, was an all-state wrestler in high school.  He lifted the guy up, threw him on the pool table, and got him in his famous submission hold—the dreaded Minnesota Face Lock.  That, of course, is the next most painful submission hold next to the Purple Hooter, but that’s a different blog post altogether.     

His friend, rather than coming to his rescue, threw another punch at me, forcing me, yet again, to deal with him.  As we wrestled in the close confines of the room, I could hear screams, scuffling, and glasses breaking.  I pictured 18 guys in the same outfit with the same Greek letters on their hats coming to the aid of their brothers.  I looked over and Lenny still had the other guy on the pool table in the face lock.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a large streak pass by and as I was being pushed into a video game I saw someone jump on Lenny’s back and begin swinging. 

Trying to get loose so I could help him, I threw my opponent into the pool table and reluctantly took a swing, connecting with his right eye.  As he let go, I saw my heretofore absent brother, who had been sitting on the bench like a wooden Indian watching the carnage, stand and calmly stagger over in a drunken haze to help Lenny.

Now, I’ll let you know that my brother and I are both what our high school basketball coach used to refer to as “wiry.”  Tall and thin, we were both deceptively strong; however, my brother was exceptionally so.  At 6’3” and about 190 pounds, to this day, while I now opt for running and biking as opposed to weights, he still bench presses well over 300 pounds. In our early 20’s when this story takes place, my brother was especially fit.  Again, I tell you this not to brag, but because of what was about to happen. 

As glasses were breaking and girls were screaming around us, my brother took one big step, put his left hand on the pool table and pushed himself up into the air.  He simultaneously cocked his right hand and proceeded to come down with his fist into the kidney of Lenny’s attacker with such force that a loud “THUMP” could be heard over all of the noise.  That “THUMP” was quickly followed by the overwhelming sound of all of the air in the lungs of the victim spontaneously emptying over tight vocal chords.  That was followed by a second thump when that person hit the floor. 

Surprised by the sound of what sounded like a dying animal grunting and then hitting the floor, the entire bar became silent as if the record needle scratched over the record.  We all stopped fighting and looked over at the sight of my brother standing there like Ali over Liston except the punch he had delivered had been far from a phantom punch. 

As Lenny released the face lock and his prisoner stood up, I walked around the pool table to survey the damage.  We all looked down at the crumpled mess on the floor at his feet.  Victorious, we were prepared to mock the fraternity brother who made the mistake of attacking our friend.  As my eyes began to process what I was seeing, the guy who started the whole mess looked incredulously at my drunken, swaying brother and said, “Dude, you hit my sister.” 

Upon closer inspection, lying at my brother’s feet wincing pain, was, in fact, a girl.  It was a large girl, but a girl nonetheless.  She had apparently been brave enough to attempt what none of the guy’s friends were brave enough to attempt:  jump into the fracas in a desperate effort to free her brother from the Minnesota Face Lock.  She paid the price. 

To this day, we still laugh at that story, but the part we laugh at is not just the punch.  The funniest part (to me anyway) came several seconds after we realized what had happened.  After realizing he’d hit a woman with the biggest kidney punch in the history of kidney punches, my brother reached down, helped her to her feet and then offered her his coveted bench seat.  He then walked to the bar, got an empty beer glass from the bartender, and proceeded to pour her a glass of the beer that Ted and I won off her brother in the first place.  Oddly enough, we all shook hands and apologized to each other. 

“Who’s up next?” asked Ted as he picked up the pool cue and began to chalk the end of it.  “We are,” said a voice from the corner as another set of frat boys stepped forward. 

As we stepped out of the bar that night on our way back to our cars, Lenny looked over at my brother and said sarcastically, “thanks for the help with that guy’s big sister.”  Without skipping a beat, my brother responded, “you’re welcome.  She’ll be peeing blood for a week.” 

Well, there it is.  Another one of my folly of youth stories.   To this day, I cannot drive by the intersection of 12th and Lamar in Austin, Texas without thinking about that punch and smiling from ear to ear.  I hope you did the same when you read this.  Enjoy the rest of the off-season and check in for a post every now and then.  Take care of yourselves.  In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be shooting pool for beer. 




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bachelor Chris Episode 11: Will You (Maybe) Marry Me?

Hello, Readers.  Welcome to this season’s final installment.  As always, I appreciate the patience.   It’s been almost 48 hours since our forlorn farmer sent a much preferred but overly equivocal virgin away from the frozen corn fields of Iowa back to sunny San Diego in favor of a less desired fertility nurse anxious have her own heretofore barren field fertilized.  If Becca was the Dust Bowl then Whitney was the Fertile Crescent. 

Hi, I'm Becca.  I don't love you. 

Hi, I'm Whitney.  Impregnate me.  

Speaking of Fertile Crescents, I was shocked to see that we didn’t get an update on Ashley and J.P.’s syncretic bundle of joy on the After the Final Rose show.  I suppose this season had enough excitement to fill the generously allotted 3 hours of prime time programming we were given to see how the last 10 weeks shook out.  I’m happy they spared us the hazy view of Ashley’s uterus.    

Before we get to the big recap, let me say congratulations to Whitney and Chris (in that order).  I say it every season.  I believe that moment—whether its on a hastily constructed platform on a lush tropical island or in a dirty barn in Iowa—is a moment when the two people involved truly feel as if they’ve reached their destination. 

Granted, reality will soon present them both with a swift kick to the groin, but for that moment, things must seem perfect.  Cynicism aside, we ought to recognize that.  Very few moments in life hold within them that level of promise and optimism.  Every season I wish the newly minted couple well and every season I mean it.  I hope Whitney and Chris double the population of Arlington, Iowa. 

Let’s get to it. 

Let’s start by reviewing my December 2014 predictions for both ladies.  I wrote:   

Becca, 26, Chiropractic Assistant.  Great bio.  Attractive.  No bling and an understated Coral shirt that hides the shoulders and is tastefully unbuttoned.  Real boobs, subtle makeup, and she's not bleach blond.  That's how you do a headshot, ladies.  Based on looks and bio alone, Top 4.

Not bad, Some Guy.  Not bad. 

Whitney, 29, Fertility Nurse.  She can't go anywhere without her razor, will try anything once, and likes to pursue men.  Sounds like a hell of a night in the Fantasy Suite to me.  Then again, having a razor wielding fertility nurse who's desperate to get married chase after me is not very enticing.  

I suppose that one proved to be accurate as well.  I had a reader send me a nasty comment earlier in the season accusing me of secretly reading Reality Stan and then doctoring my picks to make myself seem wise.  Frankly, this season was one of my worst in the way of predictions.  I picked Jade and Tracy the school teacher as finalists.  Frankly, I never saw Whitney coming until about 3 weeks ago.  For the record, the only Bachelor blog I read besides my own is

Yes, it’s time for our farmer to pick his favorite hoe.  Keeping our Tour De Midwest in tact we begin with our confused Bachelor roaming the hoary (or is it whorey?) cornfields of Arlington, Iowa in search of clarity.  By “confused” I am, of course, referring to the selection of the skinny jeans and peacoat combination rather than his inability to decide between Whitney and Becca. 

I’m pretty certain he didn’t pick that outfit up at the local general store.  He should have shucked off that entire getup in favor of clothes he can throw a hay bale while wearing.  Farming isn’t for everyone, but hay, it’s in his jeans.

This is what real farmers wear. 

Another great pun:

It’s time to meet the whole fam damily on their own turf.  Whitney is first up after a refreshing stay at the local Arlington Inn—Free TV, Clean Beds, Vacancy.  I can just see her blow dryer dimming the entire Arlington power grid as she struggled to find enough counter space amongst the chipped linoleum single vanity to accommodate her tackle box filled with assorted creams, gels, and powders.

Not surprisingly, Whitney continues to push the ball down the field into the red zone by closing, closing, and closing again.  She closed in her one-on-one time, closed with mom, closed with dad, closed at the dinner table, closed with Wilson Phillips in the living room, and probably closed with the sheep in the barn when the cameras weren’t rolling.  By the time she left the only things more closed than that family were Becca’s legs.  I’ll give Whitney credit for the sales pitch.  Hell, I have to admit that I believed it.   

Signed, The Soules Family

Speaking of Becca.  She arrives, the ying to Whitney’s yang, after Chris has an opportunity to pow wow with the dudes in the sheet metal version of the Lair of Seclusion about the ups and downs of both women.  I knew that was set up.  Breast size was never discussed.  Trust me, breast size is always a factor.  And before you male-bash me, I just want to make a couple of points. 

First, allow me to point out the double standard.  Every single woman who senses an impending wedding proposal will at some point loudly profess to whomever is within ear shot something like, “I really don’t care what the ring looks like or how big the diamond is, I just want to know that he loves me and wants to marry me.” 


95% of women care what the ring looks like and how big the diamond is and the other 5% are lying about it.  Proof?  The first thing a group of engagement hungry women will do upon hearing the announcement that their friend is engaged will be to feign excitement while simultaneously grabbing her left hand in order to inspect the ring.  What’s my point?  Boobs are men’s diamond engagement rings.  They count.  Deal with it. 

Final point, all shapes and sizes of boobs are in play.  Unlike the diamond, bigger is not necessarily better but every man wants some peace of mind in that category.  Hell, if I had a pair of boobs I’d never leave the house.  Wouldn’t it be great if men were allowed to grab a buddy’s fiancé and inspect her boobs upon hearing about the engagement like women inspect the engagement ring? 

Yes, it would.  Back to the recap.

Becca makes the mistake(?) of being honest with Chris’ family.  What Whitney was to closing the deal Becca was to avoiding any commitment whatsoever to picking up her 72 degree, sunny skies, beach-within-10-minutes life and moving to Iowa to get engaged to a man she’s dated collectively with 25 other women for a month.  Crazy, I know.  She was like modus ponens personified.  I was stricken by just how much the sheer rationality and logical thinking stood out when juxtaposed next to what we’ve grown to expect as the norm on this show.  

Who said a Philosophy degree was worthless?  

After an excruciating talk with Chris’ mom, Becca refuses to drink the Arlington Punch.  Prior to the show I wasn’t sure how many ways a person could communicate she wasn’t ready to get married to a stranger and move across the country but Becca came close to hitting them all.  Ironically, she was as strong in her resolve as Whitney was in hers.  Unfortunately for Chris, she made it clear she was resolved not to jump into a bad decision.  He tried selling.  She just wasn’t buying. 

Chris resigns himself to being nagged by Whitney’s high-pitched voice instead of Becca’s inability to commit and has the ABC intern write Whitney’s name in calligraphy on the envelope containing the generic invitation for the winner to ride heavy farm equipment with him the morning before the rose ceremony.

Dear Honey,

I’ve decided I love you and I’d like you to ride farm equipment with me in my flannel shirt and vest before the rose ceremony. 

Love, Chris

P.S. (dress like Jackie Kennedy).

I was relieved to see Chris retire the pseudo farmer attire carefully selected for him by a couple of Los Angeles residents who had never been to Iowa in exchange for his regular jeans and trusty vest.  I think vests are all about protection.  You know, like a life vests protect people from drowning and bulletproof vests protect people from getting shot, and sweater vests protect people from getting laid.

We all knew what direction he was leaning.  It’s too bad he talked himself into going the other direction. 

Rose Ceremony

Becca looked incredible.  I cannot recall another rose ceremony where any other contestant looked as good.  Yes, that includes Emily Maynard.  I’m sure that made letting her go far more difficult than risking frostbite in the barn.  It was also impossible not to wonder what would have happened had a staffer accidentally knocked over one of those candles into the bone dry hay scattered all over the place.  If you discount the time that Roberto almost sweated to death, this was clearly the most dangerous rose ceremony in Bachelor history. 

Whitney shows up looking alright (I’ve told you she doesn’t do it for me) and Chris drops to one knee to pull out the Neil Lane hardware and pop the big question after Whitney finally shut up.  Note to women:  Proposing to you is a nerve-racking ordeal, no matter how sure a man is.  If you even remotely sense that it’s going to happen, please give your man a lot of leeway and please be quiet.  If a guy has gone through the trouble to get the ring, he’s sure about asking you.  

Shakespeare wrote “the course of true love never did run smooth,” in a Midsummer Night’s Dream. I found that quote appropriate in light of the fact that Shakespeare wrote that comedy about the wedding of two people surrounded by a group of actors who are manipulated and controlled by a group of mischievous fairies in the forest.  That reminds me of a certain show.  Substitute midsummer for midwinter and 86 the forest for a cornfield and it makes a bit more sense.    

Indeed the course of love is not often smooth.   Chris and Whitney seem to have a lot on their newly unified plates before life slows down and a real move to Iowa becomes a possibility.  Dancing with the Stars, the press caravan, and a whole host of red carpets to walk stand firmly between them and the corn field.  

Let’s hope that when the red carpet gets rolled up and they make the 3 hour drive from the Des Moines airport back to Arlington they’ve had some time to figure things out.  Let’s also hope that Whitney doesn’t let the boredom of the farm talk her into dusting off this season’s DVD and watching Chris suck face with all 25 women.  Not watching was the best decision she's made in months.  

Well, there it is.  Another season in the bag.  I hope y’all enjoyed it as much as I did.  This was a good one and it was fun to write about.  I’m not naïve (or conceited) enough to think that all of you will stick around in the off season, but for those of you who do, check in regularly.  I’m committed to posting.  For those of you who will forget about me until our double Bachelorette experiment (that’s a horrible idea) next season, please take care of yourselves and I hope you’ll check in again when the show starts.  

Spring is approaching and, as always, it signals a time of renewal.  Lord knows we can all use a dose of that once a year.  I’ll be here when you’re ready to log on.  In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be reading Harrison’s novel.  DP