Good morning, gentle reader. The sun is shining, the past-days’ breeze has dissipated, and the birds are friggin’ chirping. All that said, it’s only nine o’clock and I have something to write about. Nice.
I bounced out of bed at like 7:30 this morning. Getting older blows. Back in the day (meaning when I was a child, because that’s when it was, in actuality, the day) I used to get up so early on Saturday mornings. Cartoons and sugary cereal—that’s how we kids of the 70s and 80s were raised. Our parents slept in while we got jacked up on some random grains and high fructose corn syrup. I’d be up so early, there was this show called The Candy Apple News Company that I’d watch. Came on at 6:30. It was some low-production-value, semi-educational program that took place in Canada (I think?), just good enough to pass the time until the real shows came on. Ahhh, cheese.
Anyway, Saturday morning was as much about ritual as anything else. I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point in my life sleeping in past 9:00 on a Saturday became accepted behavior. The transition phase was rough. Remember waking up at like 8:15, the rest of the house still asleep, and you think:
8:15? C’mon! I’m missing everything!
Then you’d fly down the stairs, turn on the set, but can only find something like Strawberry Shortcake or some other shit. You missed your shows.
Not good. Not even baseball will fix today.
Suddenly, you’re a teenager, or some other age-abomination through which we all must pass to become such fun yet productive adults. Honestly, if I ever see teenage Rob, he’s getting dropped. But there you are, nonetheless, all grown up and not watching Satuday morning cartoons.
I was up plenty early today. Know what was on? News. On all the major local networks. Fucking news? Rather than watching some colorful, imagined creatures zip across my screen on a wild adventure that can be completed in 8 minutes, I have Walter Perez’s fat head staring back at me telling me about an organ transplant recipient. All well and good for her family, but where the fuck are the Smurfs. Shit, can a n**** get a Snork up in this bitch? Somethin’…
Now I have a dilemma: What do real adults do on a Saturday morning. Hmmm… I coach. That’s it. Oh, wait. Our game’s not until 1:00. Hmmm… The gym. I could go get all ripped up to the point I can’t pick my nose properly with my left arm. (Have you ever tried getting one of those deep boogies out with a stub? Not as easy as it sounds.) Coffee! Starbucks will save me. Before I ran to get my caffeine fix, which is a very adult thing to do, I tossed a load of laundry into the machine.
Have I ever mentioned the people-watching value of my local Starbucks? Ad nauseum, you say? Well, suck it up. Here it comes again:
The line this morning when I arrived wasn’t too bad. I was standing behind a guy with a young girl (daughter?) and two ladies who were not there together. I’m standing there and quite a commotion ensued to my right. Nothing major. Two families apparently ran into each other and were catching up; one belonged to a lady in line with me. That’s when I heard Mother A (who’s not in line) say to Mother B (in line),
“My God, your baby is adorable. Yum! He’s delicious!”
Delicious? Um, lady, perhaps you’re unfamiliar with how babies work, but you’re really not supposed to taste them. Society tends to frown upon such a thing. (Well, except Pepsi. After reading this, google ‘Soylent Pepsi’ and thank me later.) I resisted the urge to ask Woman B “Did she just call your baby delicious?” Anyone who lets someone like that hold her baby deserves whatever fate may come.
I ordered my beverage and stepped over by the sugar and creamer bar thing they have. A logjam was beginning to form, as the rush was on and the poor baristas couldn’t keep up. Meanwhile, Mother B was collecting her drinks when a child, a young girl of maybe four, came walking over carrying an enormous baby. No lie, had the thing been able to stand on its own, it would have been taller than the child holding it. I thought:
Is that the delicious baby? That thing looks hungry.
What made matters worse is that the child was losing her grip on the baby boy. It kinda looked like she was trying to get her drunk friend into a cab. Dead weight. And slipping. Mother A couldn’t seem to be bothered, as she stuffed her drinks into a cardboard drink holder. Again, I fought the urge to vocalize my thoughts:
Hey, lady. While you’re securing those hot beverages, maybe you should ask if they have a baby holder back there. Wouldn’t want to get that all over the floor.
Rather than saying that, I simply said,
“Am I the only one that has the urge to follow that baby with my hand just behind its head, just in case?”
My comment got a few chuckles. But I was serious. I know. It happens rarely, but I did not want to see baby brains all over Starbucks’ linoleum. Mother B mustered a
“Thanks,” to which I smartassedly replied,
“Yeah, I’m a great guy. I’ll keep your baby’s head from smacking the concrete.”
One of the other waiting patrons spoke.
“Then you’ll get sued for touching her baby.”
This guy was feeling the vibe.
“Yeah, especially if I pull a soccer move and catch the baby’s head with my foot. The mom will be all ‘He kicked my baby!'”
The two of us shared a laugh, joined by a cute young lady who was awaiting her skinny something. Falling babies: Bringing folks together since 1977. Then it happened. Guess…
The dude turns and asks “So, how’d you lose your arm?”
This has been happening an awful lot lately. The other day, a rather large woman, with breasts, down below her knees, who was walking on a treadmill, watched me as I hit the butterfly press and the shoulder pulldown. And laughed. The bitch was all smiles and laughing. Now, there’s a slight chance that she was laughing in awe at the power of the human spirit. The ability to overcome in the face of overwhelming odds. Or she just thought it was funny to see a dude with one arm lift weights. Either way, a day or two later, another person made notice. I was on the stationary bike and a guy jumped on the one to my right. He had front-row seats. He wasted no time.
“Man, I hate coming to the gym. But I have no excuse. You here. You got one arm. All those fat people who don’t come here, they got no excuse. You here.”
I tried to pedal faster, away. Alas, my bicycle would not go. So I engaged the man, who clearly meant well.
“Yeah, I hear ya,” I mustered through labored breath.
“I seen you here before. It’s good. You don’t use no excuses.”
“Nah, I just gotta lose a couple pounds.”
“I’m taking my Mom out for Mothers Day tonight.”
“Oh.” Huh? I guess that’s what we’re talking about now. “That’s cool.”
“Things to do with the kids all weekend, so wur goin’ out tonight.”
I faked a cramp to get down from the bike. OK, that’s not true. But I was trying to get my sweat on. But I’m nice, so I talked with the guy for a bit. When I say he meant no harm, I’m telling you. He was just a dude asking another dude how he lost his hand, giving him props for exercising, and letting him know his plans for Mothers Day. All very amicable. I’m telling you, yes YOU, that I am a freak and weirdo magnet. All my life…
So this morning, rather than watching cartoons and eating cookies for breakfast, I was now engaged in yet another conversation about my arm, this time at Starbucks.
“I was hit by a train when I was a kid.”
“I make prosthetics, that’s why I ask.”
“No kidding, I used to wear them when I was a boy. You know, the hooks. I went to Shriners.”
“I can still remember the smell of the plastic where they made them.”
“Yeah. Things are a lot different now. Have you tried one lately?”
“Nah, I get along without. Besides, it’s cost-prohibitive, if you know what I mean.”
“Do you have insurance?”
“Nah, I’m outta work, going to school.”
“There’s Medicare, Medicaid. They pay for it.”
“Eh, I never want a handout, milk the system. “
“That’s what it’s there for.”
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right. But I’m stubborn.”
“I can tell. Irish?” I was wearing my plaid jeff and a shirt that reads “Ireland.”
“What do you do?”
“School, trying to be a writer.”
“What do you write?
“I blog, of course. Gonna write about this Starbucks trip. Freelance stuff for a few places.”
“How do you decide your rates?”
“Well, I took what the first place gave me per hour and added a few bucks to that.”
“Any web stuff?”
“I don’t do web design or development.”
“We have a website that needs to be updated. The kid who built it put it together then got a real job.”
He handed me his card and told me to check out the website and give him a call. Fucking sweet, right? I will blog for a company that makes bad-ass fake arms and legs. Then I will build myself into a terminator and wreak havoc. Well, maybe not that last part, but you get the drift, no?
We said see ya later and turned to exit. That’s when I heard another voice call to me,
A hand extended to shake mine.
“I’m…” It was an unexpected albeit inevitable meeting.
Ah, Starbucks. Exquisite people-watching, indeed.
Have a great Saturday, youse guys.
Read. Comment. Subscribe.
My apologies. Things have been a little hard to swallow lately. I mean no one ill will. In fact, my feelings haven’t changed a bit. I’m just wearing a thicker armor now. The last thing I want is to hurt someone who means a great deal to me—more than she will ever know. Thank you.