Stories, Thoughts, and Evacuations

…just a place to call my own.

Caption Contest Winner!

with 7 comments

Woo Hoo! You are in the presence of GREATNESS! Or, maybe I was just lucky enough to have put some words together in a sort of order to have promoted a laugh or two.

Either way, a fun time was had at TheGoodGreatsby.com competing in Paul’s weekly caption contest.

The Phi Beta Micros finally realized their invitation to the toga party was a cruel joke due to the event’s elaborate secret password knocker combo.

Behold the rich tokens of grandeur that arrived on this fine day:

1. The ability to convincingly fake the recognition of a friend across the room to help him escape boring conversation, even if the room is empty.

This is great! I can always use more… “ability to convincingly fake the recognition of a friend across the room to help escape boring conversation, even if the room is empty” power points. This unique skill does come in handy quite often, so I do appreciate the added surplus and will use them wisely.

2. The talent to convince neighbors that an unkempt junk-filled yard was all part of a yearlong Halloween decoration strategy.

It just so happens we did have a yard sale this Sat. so the “unkempt junk-filled yard” worked as a great subterfuge once we completed our sale and left the various remains of “unique and extremely collectible” items… ahem… right where they lay. I can report the rusted out car on blocks did sell to a local artist (junk dealer) looking to house a wayward family of possums.

3. The ability to whip up a crackin’ cheese omelet when the police question you about a string of Halloween eggings and notice a carton of eggs hidden behind your back.

With my trusty cheese holster at the ready, a cheddary egg surprise is just the ticket to appease the local fuzz; serving and presenting the fluffy goodness atop a box of Krispy Kreme donuts doesn’t hurt either.

Thanks to all of Paul’s readers who voted for my caption and a special thanks to the 157 phone operators at the male enhancement supplement and crocheted Statue of Liberty pot holders call center that I might have directed to the caption contest link. Let’s just say, there’ll be plenty of “cooking” in our household in the coming weeks.

Written by REscarcega

October 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm

My Sunday Morning…

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I thought I’d write about my morning today since it was a bit out of the usual. Sundays are nondescript laundry days consisting of rest, food, and charging of batteries to deal with the upcoming work week. But today had a weird vibe and contemplative nature attached to it.

7:00am – I awoke to the usual leaves and branches motioning outside my window; some reaching over to flick the pane (later I realized it was actually raining – I do love the cold and rain and hoped it would last throughout the day).

Yesterday I told myself I was going to wake up by 5:30am to get an early bird start and hopefully an empty Laundromat (I enjoy being the only one there – people bug me up close but I do love them… from afar, really I do… if from afar). No such luck on the early rising. A full belly and some late television viewing the night before put that idea to rest.

7:15am – Sorting through the clothes while watching cable TV, I come across a Liam Neeson movie – “Before and After”. While watching a scene with Meryl Streep and Liam, instead of marveling at her greatness, all I could think of was Liam Neeson’s Cock!

Thanks Kevin Smith…(long story)

7:45am – The wife leaves to get morning breakfast donuts for the kids. I load up the car with the laundry and I realize I need bleach (color & white). So, I head over to the store, grab what I need, and high tail it to the checkout line. Here, I come across the better-half in line?! (Instead of buying chocolate milk for the kids at the donut shop, she was buying chocolate syrup for making at home.)

So, the wheels come alive and clank about in my head… I sneak up to *My Lala*, bump into her with the bleach bottles, and in my best Marlee Matlin voice…

[Yeah, yeah, yeah… I’m going straight to hell – I’ve accumulated enough frequent flyer miles to get there and back, twofold – I’ve even sat for the framed portrait, and helped design my own wing complete with cordoned off red velvet rope for the dedication ceremony.]

So… so, I says, “Pweetty Wady! Con yue buy my bleesh foo mee???”

My kingdom for a camera crew to catch her expression. I truly enjoyed the taken aback, shocked, priceless look on her face as she said, “Oh of course you can… wait… what?!”

Love it.🙂

8:00am – So, we say our goodbyes; I realized I should have taken out $20 for laundry while I was there but didn’t. So, I’m off to 7-Eleven for some cash.

Wait… why is the parking lot entrance blocked off with what looks like yellow police crime scene tape? Why are the windows boarded up? Why does it look like I’m in South Central LA after the Rodney King Riots?

Wow … my trusty local neighborhood 7-Eleven is no more. Just like the corner Mobile gas station…the Big-O-Tires… the Lazyboy furniture store… the Long John Silver’s fish place. All bulldozed clear and clean. Strange… something is up ‘round these parts. Only time will tell. Stay tuned.

We *did* add an In-N-Out Burger recently so I guess we can call it even.

8:15am – I drive back to the market shopping center (where I should have taken money out in the first place) and go to the ATM in the same said shopping center (yep, I could have gone there earlier, too)… I blame it on still reveling at putting it on the wife.

OK, I get the cash… I drive-thru McDonald’s for a quick breakfast… homeless guy taps my window and asks for a quarter. I feel bad because I know my car is empty of change. I get my food and rush over to the laundry to break my $20… rush back to Micky Dees and find the homeless guy and hand him a palm full of quarters. With a genuine smile, he thanks me warmly and wishes me a Happy Holidays. Huh? Because, that’s right, homeless people don’t carry calendars.

(Quick side note on the homeless: Our area is big on homeless people. We live by a major 8 lane highway with miles of fast food joints, stores, restaurants, car dealerships, and strangely… quite a few cheap (price & quality), old motels that cater to the down and out. I use to come across a young homeless guy that for whatever reason at the time pulled at my heart strings. Maybe because he carried a guitar case and had a musician look about him… disheveled as it was. Something compelled me to hand over all the bills I had in my pocket. And, no it wasn’t a knife that he held to my throat. Luckily, for one of the few times, I had bills in my pocket. I rarely carry cash and strictly use cards for purchases. I must’ve handed over around $18 or so that day. This went on for about 3-4 weeks for a total of around $80 until he no longer was around. I genuinely hoped he had made his way out… whatever *out* may have been.)

8:30am – OK, I load up the clothes in the washers… back to the car to eat my food… I think of my $600 iPhone in my pocket … the $150 cell phone bill… the $150 cable bill… the short 10 day pay period at work (less money to spend).

I looked up to the swaying palms out front of the Laundromat. The majestic blue sky and busy clouds (yes, the rain disappeared as quickly as it had materialize).

I look over to the right at the cemetery… off in the distance I see the Veterans Memorial with flags a flutter (I later walked over for a closer look). All the aged tombstones… All the people who came before (some that unfortunately came after)… All… no longer of this earth.

I look over to the left at the homeless guy sitting on the sidewalk drinking his hot cup of Joe; his backpack and meager belongings close by.

This is our living. This is our *out*.

9:00am – I transfer the wash into the dryers. 35 minutes to kill on my $600 iPhone. I open the Notes app and start to write.

My Sunday Morning…

.

Written by REscarcega

May 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Back in the (Tennis) Swing of Things…

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I made my foray back into the wonderful wide world of competitive tennis last week with an entry into the Nellie Gail Ranch Tennis Club Tournament in Laguna Hills, CA.

This was a USTA sanctioned doubles tourney. My buddy Ian wanted to play more tournaments this year so he enlisted my court talents as his partner in the 4.5 division.

Now, we are solid 4.0 singles players but my friend decided he wanted to play at the higher 4.5 level. You would think the difference wouldn’t be much – the mastery of strokes is pretty similar but the aggressive nature of the battle is slightly higher.

As we lunched at the club prior to our match I warned him in my best Oscar Goldman impression, “We’re going to come across bionic tennis men. Their names will be Steve Austin I & II. They will be younger, stronger, faster…” My eyes glazed over as I dozed off and wondered… “Did I leave my car keys in the trunk?”

My attempt to inform my companion of the elevated level of play we would more than likely come across was to no avail. All my confused partner could muster was, “Hey… hey! Snap out of it… who the hell is the Six Million Dollar Man? Uhh… you have some mustard on your chin.”

I downed the last of my Chicago Dog and gulped what remained of my 2nd mug of Miller Lite. I know, I know… beer you ask? Well, I did have the strategic wherewithal to pass on the Guinness for the airier, nimbler light beer. I. Was. (ahem) Ready.

The main reason for this post was to supply the following pictures of the beautiful tennis club:

The skies were clear and the temperature was in the high 80’s. The courts were surrounded by majestic full-size trees and not only ranch “style” but actual true to form ranch houses. The club’s homey country nuance was made complete with multitudes of horses neighing and galloping about while we played. Or should I say – had our collective asses handed to ourselves!

Yes, we proceeded to lose 6-2, 6-2 in the round of 16 to a… wait for it… younger, stronger, faster team of recently transplanted Aussies. Oi Oi Oi!!!

Hmmm… if only someone would have known… that we were going to be in over our heads… hmmm. Ok, I’m done.

After a heated could’ve, would’ve, should’ve session over cocktails (yes, more alcohol – we’re old farts, not Olympians) my buddy Ian and I parted ways and planned to enter more tournaments in the coming summer months. I actually played 4 times this week for the first time in a long time in my attempt to get back into tennis shape.

Here’s hoping for some winning fuzzy balls in all of our futures! Yellow or not…

🙂

Written by REscarcega

April 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

April 10th – Happy Birthday Lala!

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To the most beautiful woman in the world… my Lala.

The Love of my life.

The last person I want to see when I go to bed…

The first person I want to kiss when I wake up.

To the woman who gave me two kids who look like me, but thank goodness are copies of her.

To the sweet kiss I will give her this morning… that will mirror and feel like the first kiss I gave her on our first date.

That knowing magical tingle… I look forward to each day.

I love you, Laura.

And… YES!… you can buy another pair of shoes!

 

🙂

 

Written by REscarcega

April 10, 2011 at 5:42 am

Posted in Thoughts

Abuelita and the Poopy Ball

with 15 comments

No… that’s not the title of a new TBS sitcom premiering this upcoming fall season. My mom’s mom… my “abuelita”… sat me down on her knee one day a long, long time ago and told me of a particular time when she placed a little round piece of “brownness” in her mouth thinking it was a piece of candy.

My grandma was a great woman who birthed quite the brood of 12 kids; my mom being the youngest girl. I have a couple of distinctive memories of her:

One was the time she took me to Catholic Church. She was your typical God-fearing church going elder. I recall the orchestrated sit, stand, sit, kneel, sit, curtsy, sit, limbo, and finally the lying down and making of snow angel shenanigans… pretty much cementing my dislike and pointlessness of worship, mass, and religion.

The other memory I recall was “very funny” to my grandma (her words) as she re-told it to me. I looked on with great excitement and wonder! She was cleaning her living room carpet and picking up odds and ends from the floor when she came upon a little brown ball of “something” resembling a chocolate ball treat.

Was it a Milk Dud?

Could it be a Raisinet?

Perhaps a Goober?

All were positively viable assumptions.

She said to me, “I didn’t know what it was… it looked like a little ball of chocolate so I put it in my mouth.” I leaned forward and gazed in amazement at this and asked, “What did it taste like?” And she said, “It tasted like caca (poop)!”

She laughed and laughed at this… and thinking back now, I don’t know if she ever relayed this story to anyone else. You know, sometimes you have to tell someone something just to get it out of your system and maybe this was the time for this particular story. Maybe I was the chosen beneficiary of this grand “nugget” of a tale!

I was very young at the time but even then it struck me as an oddity to be hearing of such mindless doings. I mean, who would pick up something *resembling* a delectable delicacy from the floor and simply pop it in their mouth… no further critique needed… really?

How about looking closely at it or feeling the texture or maybe even smelling it? Nope, my granny’s decision was to put it straight into her mouth and enjoy what was to come… wow! …a taste explosion no one *ever* needs to experience.

Very funny, indeed.

Written by REscarcega

April 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

70’s Childhood Mischief: A Brother Who Died

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When I was 6 years old, my brother Daniel (who was 9 at the time) accidentally died. When I think back about my childhood and specifically my introduction into the life of excruciating shyness and my embarrassing involvement in “The Great Clown Incident of ‘69”, I also think and wonder to what extent the emotional strain my brother’s death had on me. I’m not saying it’s something I think about all the time or fault these events in my life for what I’ve become. It’s just the opposite; I rarely if ever think or talk about these episodes.

Its bizarre having more of a memory of the pain of standing in a room full of kids and being the only one dressed in a Halloween costume than that of losing a brother. My brother’s death left as much of an emotional wound as such an event could; but being so young (as shallow and callous as it sounds) the actual internal ache I felt – fully clad inappropriately as a circus performer – hurt more than the emotional catharsis I must have released after my brother was taken.

I was about the same age at the time of both happenings: late October for the Halloween clown affair, and on or around July 4th of the following year when I witnessed my brother’s misfortune. I pin-point it around that time since the accident was partly due to the celebratory nature of the holiday.

There were 5 of us playing with fireworks in my father’s lumber yard. My dad’s side of the family owns a large city block of land in Ensenada, Mexico which includes a corner store, the main house, 3 apartments, and the large lumber yard.

This being the lovely third world country of Mexico… “un-safe” & “un-sane” fireworks run rampant and were sold on every dirt street corner at the time as I’m sure they still are. I can also recall them being passed out with every third taco sold at the local taqueria. Really… it’s true. I read it in a blog somewhere.

My 2 older brothers, accompanied by our 2 cousins, (all of us within 4 years of age from each other) were lighting fire crackers in an open area of the lumber yard. We were having a good old honest to goodness unsupervised fun time like all kids should have been doing and *were* doing in the 70’s.

Unfortunately my brother Daniel decided to drop a lit firecracker into the open spout of a large metal trash-can like container full of highly flammable paint. The ensuing explosion rung my ears like a sonic boom and shook the ground with the intensity and force of an 8.0 earthquake. The top lid of the giant can was later found over a block away.

I have a very selective memory and only hold specific past recollections. I’m sure I could hold more, but by my preference I retain or choose to hold on to very little.

But, even to this day, I clearly remember at 6 yrs old turning around after the explosion and seeing my 9 yr old brother on fire running and screaming out of a giant 50 ft mushroom cloud of flames. From that point I’m pretty sure I was in deep shock as I again do not recall much. My older brother was far enough away and was unhurt. The younger of my cousins was also spared but the older one sustained deep scaring burns on one of his legs.

Daniel took the brunt of the fiery blow and had burns covering most of his body. I have a basic recollection of some or all of us rolling him around on the dirt trying to extinguish the flames as best we could.

You hear of people dying quickly and unexpectedly and you hope to go this way, too (a long way down the road obviously). This was quite the opposite. My brother held on for about a month enduring ice baths, painful bandage changes and cleanings, and excruciating pain that I don’t know of any adult let alone a child could ever endure. Until finally… his 9 yr old mutilated body and soul could no longer take the suffering.

Here are my only memories of my brother Daniel after this tragic accident:

  • That knowing burn smell and charred sight of his green sweater after it was cut and peeled off his smoldering torso. You would recognize and know the smell if you cut a tiny piece of your hair and placed it over an open flame… now multiply that odor by 100.
  • His 3rd grade elementary school picture with the same green sweater on; his short light brown hair and innocent childlike smile intact.
  • The horrific screams from down the hall of the burn ward of the Los Angeles General Hospital. I knew they came from Daniel because I was told of the ice baths he was being put through for whatever God awful reason. This *was* the 70’s but to think that form of treatment could have ever helped… I don’t know.
  • And finally, hearing the dreaded phone ring in my parent’s bedroom that fateful night. This time the screams I heard from down the hall were from my mom as she was told her little boy was no longer alive. Losing complete control; showing and releasing the feelings only a mother could; her cries confirmed a piece of her was now forever gone and lost.

I don’t remember the funeral and I don’t remember ever talking about the situation with anyone. I don’t remember a whole lot about my childhood life afterwards except for tiny bits of memories that regrettably don’t include my brother Daniel.

There were 4 of us kids in my family back then: My oldest brother (Pelon); next came Daniel (Nenito); then my sister (Bebita); and finally me (Bebito).

Let me tell you something about Mexican families – no matter what your given name is, guaranteed, you will be called by another name. My older brother was nicknamed “Pelon” for a lack of hair when he was born. My brother Daniel was labeled with “Nenito” or “Nenny” because my older brother couldn’t pronounce Danny. Or maybe it sounded like “Nenny” coming from the mouths of my Spanish-speaking parents. My sister was “Bebita” because she was the youngest girl and I was “Bebito” because I was the youngest boy.

Not long after my brother’s passing my parents decided to have another child. I say *have* instead of *try* because, come on, we’re Mexican and having babies is as easy as going down to your local super market and plucking one right off the shelf. (Just look for the aisle marker that reads: Baby food, Diapers, & Infants. You’ll also notice the condom aisle is all the way at the opposite end of the store.) Lets be real – I just have to *look* at my wife and she gets pregnant. “Shooting blanks” is a non-existent expression in the Mexican culture.

No longer the “Bebito” of the family, my younger brother came along (Pachie – nickname of course) and replaced me as the youngest child. No doubt his arrival was a planned immense help in filling a void my mom must have felt.

My family doesn’t speak about what happened back then. To this day I’ve never spoken to any of my family members about what took place and I don’t think I ever will, or at least I won’t be the one who brings it up. It’s an unfortunate happening that we’ve kept to ourselves.

I know in writing this, it’s a form of therapy… but actually speaking of such things? I have no interest in retrieving painful memories in the physical sense. That’s just me…

I think of Daniel from time to time and wonder… what if?

Written by REscarcega

April 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Stories

Tagged with , , , ,

Hey Druzhok… put your tongue back in your mouth!

with 5 comments

My co-worker is a queer little man. Very strange, annoying, and predictable all rolled up into a tight little ball. You can say he’s very set in his ways. He’ll subconsciously say or do the same things over and over again. He’ll recite the same joke time and time again. He’s pretty much a walking cliché.

I’m very good at ignoring and or forgetting a number of his “Juan-isms” but here are a few that stand out:

He’ll say, “Oh, are you OK? I heard you sigh and thought there might be something wrong?” He’ll do this each and every time someone sighs knowingly or unknowingly. You could be bored, stressed out, or just breathing with a purpose and it will trigger this quirky rant. He’ll be so happy with himself about this.

If he says, “Hello, how are you?” to someone and they pay no attention to him or maybe they didn’t hear him… it will mean the end of the world and he will treat it as such: “They did not say anything to me, they ignored me… I will never say hello to them ever again!” This has occurred more than once and has crushed the very being that is my little friend.

Once, he jokingly commented to a nearby co-worker who came to work sick, “Why are you here? You should really be at home with that cough because, you know, you might get me sick, too.” And, he continued to hint and remark directly to that person until finally his target went back home to tend to their sickness. But, the thing is, he did it unconsciously; knowing it was logical but unknowing that his persistent, maddening approach would finally make the individual so annoyed with him; they finally had no choice but to leave. (This one’s actually a good thing. If you’re sick, then yes you need to be home tending to your *black plague* and not a walking communal Petri dish for all to unwittingly snack from.)

OK, back to my point of naming him after one of Pavlov’s dogs… of course that’s where you thought I was going with this, right? I have him trained to when I eat snacks or lunch at my desk, the sounds of wrappers ripping, containers opening, or bags bursting makes his animated head pop up like a toy from the Island of Misfit Toys…

…accompanied by a Scooby-Doo like “Huh?” echoing from his mouth.

He will instantly have to raid the vending machine or go to lunch. But not before he offers up this tired discourse, “You know… when you open that bag of chips or I hear those wrappers, I get so hungry and I feel like I need to have some, too. I don’t know what it is?”

After this last time he needed to tell me about his ravenous ways… I immediately Google’d for the name of Pavlov’s dog.

Question: What was Pavlov’s dog’s name?

Answer:  There were four dogs… their names were: Druzhok, Sultan, Zhuchko and Tsygan.

So Druzhok (meaning “little friend”)… please try to refrain from eating paint chips, and… please stop pooping on your neighbor’s lawn… and, for the love of Christ, please stop annoying people so much, will you?

(Side note: My “little friend” is from Spain, speaks English with a thick accent, and is most of the time very hard to understand. So, it’s possible we could all be losing something in the translation. Or, weird behaviors are universal and transcend continents, large bodies of water, and small office spaces.)

Written by REscarcega

March 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Evacuations

Tagged with , ,