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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vitaminenergy Colon Cleansing

A few weekends ago, Father's Day to be exact, I attended a 3-on-3 soccer tournament that my 8-year-old son played in.

This was one of those full scale tourneys with all kinds of sponsorship tents dotting the landscape.

As is par for the course in these situations, free swag was to be had just about anywhere and everywhere and I decided that since I was up at the crack of dawn and had to work later in the day, that I would try a Vitaminenergy drink.

I'm no stranger to energy drinks.

Years ago when they first entered the market one of my newspaper colleagues and I decided we'd do a little "research" and sample these new beverages for a possible story.

At the time, none of them really grabbed a hold of me but if I had no access to coffee and needed a eye-opening jolt, I'd probably reach for a Red Bull.

Anyway, I'd had the vitaminwaters before - and although I wouldn't recommend them to anybody - I figured since I was in the middle of nowhere that their version of the energy drink would suffice in the pinch that I was in.


Remember that word.

When my wife saw that I had a cold beverage she asked for a sip and then asked where I got it. I told her they were free and pointed her to the company's tent. We both downed our drinks while waiting for my son's team to collect their medals.

They had won the tournament in a shootout with my son making the winning goal.

Talk about feeling some serious dad pride... or maybe it was the drink I just consumed.

At some point during the 45 minute ride home my bowels started to alert themselves to me that they needed attention. But unlike coffee and its shit-conducing factor, this wave quickly appeared to be one that I wasn't going to be able to hold back for very long (but I did make it home).

Once we arrived home I dashed in the door and made a bee line to the bathroom. As soon as I got my shorts down and relaxed did the stream of shit start. Actually, calling it "shit" would be a mistake as this was more like I turned on the faucet that my anus does indeed NOT have and listened to myself pee out my ass.

That's about the only way to explain it: I was peeing out my ass.


Glad that that was over, I made my way to the couch to recover only to hear my wife go into the bathroom.

I spent the next several hours peeing out my ass much to my dismay, each time thinking, "I can't possible have any more in there can I?" and then proved wrong by my bowel-spitting butt.

I was about two shakes of a fig tree away from calling off work but I needed the money (because of that damn car thing) and decided to be a trooper and head off to work.

It probably was a good thing because it forced me to not think about my pissing anus as well as being a good exercise in butt clenching.

Not only could I not think about even touching food, just looking at water conjured up memories of peeing out my ass. Yet it was almost one hundred degrees and I was working outside with visions of dehydration dancing in my head.

Alas, I made it out of my shift alive and without having to spray my colon into some stranger's tiolet and I did choke down some carbs as we cleaned up.

The next day my wife said she had the same problem and we both deducted that it had to have been a result of those drinks.

Vitaminenergy... don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

When You Can Truly Be Self-Referential

So I went back through my archives and found that in the summers of '05 and '06 I barely had the time, energy or inclination to post what with having to deal with the two boys 24/7.

Last year around this time, I was still in recovery mode from having hernia surgery. I remember I watched a lot of movies, mostly in the middle of the night after the pain meds wore off and I found myself wide awake in a silent, somber house with nothing else to do.

I would lay on the couch, sit the lap top on my chest, plug in some headphones and satisfy my film watching desires. But one thing that was increasingly obvious was that I was beginning to go completely bat shit crazy from being tethered to the house.

Then, much like now, the family vacation is on the horizon and I can smell the ocean air already.

This year we are switching it up a bit and taking the kids to the beaches of our youth.

Maybe we'll find the mighty conch again.

Or maybe some shark's teeth.

But despite my enthusiasm to show the kids what beach life was like for me or what it was like for my wife, I will undoubtedly miss North Topsail this year...

Thursday, July 17, 2008


How come nobody told me about this movie?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Squirrels: Friend Or Foe?

I was turning into my neighborhood the other day when a squirrel ran across the street in front of my car so I stomped on the brakes to let the little fella get passed.

As I was about to push down on the accelerator, another squirrel appeared from the brush and made the dash across the street only he was followed by another one , two, three, four, five, six... SEVEN... EIGHT!

That's right eight friggin' squirrels all ran across the street in one lot.

I feared they might be copycat rodents trying to take a page out of the book these Russians wrote.

But then I remembered Charlie from last summer and I can't imagine that guy wilding about the 'hood.

I find the things a mild nuisance, especially when they are looting the bird seed from my feeders or trying to burrow into my attic's crawl space, but for the most part I feel I have a harmonious relationship with those guys.

But I have found that most people either love them or hate them.

How about you?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chlorine, Sunscreen and Steve Miller

The smell of those three combined will always and forever conjure up memories of my days as a pool boy.

No shit.

I was a pool boy at the Beverly Hilton back in the early '90s.

At the time, I sort of hated my job.

You see I moved to Los Angeles to get into the film business but after a short foray doing p.a. work I landed a gig being a gopher-turned-copywriter. The office was full of characters but this isn't a post about working at Davis*Glick.

After I left that job I bounce around doing more p.a. work and even had a stint working as a fact checker and proofreader at Sassy's little bro publication Dirt before finding myself as a bicycle messenger in downtown Los Angeles - which quite possibly could have been the most interestingly shitty job I've ever worked.

Looking to get out of the messenger racket, I skipped work one day and applied for a job as a valet parking attendant at the Beverly Hilton. I had spent semester breaks and summer vacations as a car courier in the Metro DC area driving various makes of cars along the way. After I filled out my application I sat in the Human Resources office for an interview in which I was politely declined that position because of my inexperience driving Bentleys and Rolls Royces.

The next day when I got home from 10 hours in the saddle, there was a message on my answering machine which asked if I wanted to be a pool attendant.

I said yes.

My first day on the job I found out the hotel was the place Heidi Fleiss got busted.

I soon would discover that the place was ground zero for a lot of things.

The hotel was owned and operated by Merv Griffin and I was told, in no uncertain terms, that Merv liked to eat pool side everyday and that he had a batch of CDs that you were required to put in rotation on a daily basis. Two that I remember were Steve Miller's Greatest Hits 1974-1978 and Elton John's Greatest Hits 1976-1986. And if you didn't have these CDs in rotation or had switched them out for something else (I once brought in Dinosaur Jr.), you would get a visit from management.

Management hated me because they thought I had the best job in the world because all I did was hang around the pool all day. That's because they weren't there in the early morning to see me take the better part of two hours to clean the tiles, sweep the deck and vacuum the Olympic-sized pool.

I also had to clean the fountain.

And of course service the need of every douchebag who stayed at the pool from celebrities and wanna-be celebrities to contestants on one of the many shows Merv created or produced.

Oh and toss in some soccer hooligans.

A few months into the job it was obvious why I had gotten hired: I was white... and Merv liked boys. But there was a hitch at the onset - I had a tattoo on my calf. I'll never forget the hilarity at having to bandage up my calf every morning for two weeks before I finally convinced the assistant managed that a sore that doesn't heal is far more offensive than a tattoo on the calf of a young man working at a pool in Beverly Hills.

One day while I was sweeping the deck of the ever present flower pedals, I heard the sound of a band coming from the ballroom. The hotel is the host for the Golden Globes and several other industry events so it wasn't unusual to see celebs walking around or hearing noise coming from the ballroom as it readied itself for some monstrous event. But on this day I had to draw myself closer because I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The band was sound checking with Spinal Tap's Big Bottom.

The next day I read in one of the trade magazines that AFI honored director Rob Reiner the night before and that - yes - it indeed was Spinal Tap that performed.

There are many stories, too numerous to tell in one blog post.

I wrote about the Christmas tree fiasco last summer after Merv passed away.

And there was the time Dr. Ruth demanded I get her an LA Times which found me running all over the hotel trying to find a copy (it was late afternoon and most of the comp issues had disappeared) only to return to find Dr. Ruth asleep and shortly thereafter, the LA Times in the deep end of the pool.

In 1994, California - and its Rose Bowl in Pasadena - hosted the World Cup. This was a nightmare for me. During that World Cup I would come to work to find the entire contents of some one's fruit platter floating in the pool (thrown from the balcony I assumed), ejaculate in the gym bathroom, or broken glass at the bottom of the pool.

Good times.

Although Argentinian women were a sight to behold.

The Germans were rude and poor tippers.

And the Columbians all wore mock afros like Carlos Valderrama. But they soon would morn another teammate who was murdered for having scored a goal on his home team. Legend has it that the gunman hollered "Goooooooooooooooooooooooooool!" for each of the 21 bullets he shot into Escobar's body.

Another time I had a visit from la mafioso, the mafia, when one guy paid me handsomely to make sure his wife never stayed into the sun too long while he was handling some business throughout the day and then there was the Saudi-American kid George - a liaison for some sheik who was pissing away his oil money at the hotel - who approached my fellow pool boys and I and asked if we would be male strippers for the ladies in the sheik's entourage. It seemed the ladies had grown tired of the men and their strippers and wanted to do something as payback. The hilarious thing was that we didn't even have to get naked, rather just show some skin that was deemed inappropriate to be seen by their beliefs.

I passed on that one, as well as the numerous propositions I got from old men(most "straight" men from the Midwest or deep South) for "massages" and by the Costa Rican hairdresser who worked at the salon on-site who wanted to know how big my "pee pee" was on a almost daily basis.

My colleagues and I had develop a certain pool boy speak that would allow us to openly comment on guests without them having a clue as to what we were talking about. One of the others guys would routinely order room service out by the pool and sign the number of the suite of one of the guests. Unlike my recent gas station attendant confession, these will remain secret only to be reveal within the pages of a book or through the courier font of a screenplay.

Looking back, it wasn't all that bad of a job. I made close to 30k, had health insurance and great benefits, two free meals a day and could stay at any Hilton for free if not really cheap. I also used my job to set up a complimentary dinner at Trader Vic's the night I proposed to my wife although since she suspected I would propose during that dinner, I gave the double-pump fake and waited until we drove out to the beach at Malibu after dinner to get on my knee.

But it was the tediousness of fighting boredom that got to me. During the non-summer months, there'd be a string of days upon days where you wouldn't see a single person to give a towel to, place a cushion on the lounge or sell overpriced Coppertone to yet you we confined to your post lest some guest did miraculously appear and expect to find some 90210 cast-off waiting to serve them hand and foot.

I've been told recently that the hotel is slanted to be razed and subsequently erased from history so that they can erect something else in its place.

Because that's how Hollywood sends its loved ones out to pasture...

Saturday, July 12, 2008


This time last year I was talking about Christmas In July and prepping for hernia surgery.

But I still managed to be a soldier of rock and roll.

I have to say, in retrospect, that having a vasectomy was much more pleasurable than having a hernia and the subsequent bruising that followed.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Welcome To The Peloton

One summer tradition I have adopted since becoming a stay-at-home- dad is the watching of the Tour De France.

My fascination with cycling goes way back to when I was a little grasshopper. But while BMX and mountain biking has figured prominently in my life over the years, ever since I saw the move Breaking Away in the late '70s I have had a soft spot for road racing.

By the '80s, I was a full-on fan of Greg LeMond who was the first American to win the Tour. I remember reading a story in Sports Illustrated (?) about how LeMond would put his body through Herculean demands, one time riding while in the throes of a diarrheea attack.

I've also been intrigued by the story of Marco Pantani so much so that I wrote a song about the guy.

Then there was Lance Armstrong and his amazing story that if you don't know at least part of then you'd been living under a rock for the last decade. He's the only man to win the race seven times... in a row. Calling that one of sport's greatest achievements is an understatement at best.

In recent years the Tour has been plagued by a host of controversies but yet I still find it to be a joy to watch.

This year I'm pulling for Cadel Evans as well as George Hincapie and Christian Vandevelde and hope to see the coveted yellow jersey on one of them.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Thunder & Lightning

We had some crazy storm roll in Friday night which put a damper on everyone's jonze for a fireworks display.

The storm came on with a vengeance and with little warning: one minute we were out back grilling at my brother-in-law's watching the kids in a water balloon fight (which escalated into a hose fight that I may have gotten the worst of) and then next minute we were dodging thunder clouds and lightning while trying to light off some fireworks.

I was determined to use up my left over bottle rockets from last year but the wind kept blowing out my lighter.

When I saw a bolt of lightning and heard the loud clap of thunder I threw in the towel and retreated to the comforts of their house.

The next day when we came home after spending night, we had no TV, no phone and no internet service.

Some of our tomato plants got whacked as well as sunflower or two by the storm.

And that's when my wife yelled, "Holy shit!"

As you can see by the looks of these pictures, it appears the tree house got hit by lightning when we were gone.

Check out the zipper-like strip that goes up the bark of the pine tree... or the hole in the roof... or the shredded plywood?

Fucking nuts, eh?

Not The Car Of My Dreams But...

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We finally got a new car to replace the one that was destroy by some crook during a crime spree.

While the Ford Taurus Wagon isn't the vehicle I would have bought had I been able to by any car, sometimes you make do when you have little in the way of funding and time is of the essence.

It's got the space, decent mileage, has doors, roof, windshield and was less than $10,000.

Plus it can double as a camper or band van...


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Last summer I wrote about a new beer that I discovered.

Despite the fact that the hops crisis is driving up the price of beer to ridiculous amounts (first gas, now beer, what's next?) I have not made good on my claim to switch over to wine.

While the Two Hearted is mighty tasty, it packs a wallop on the alcohol content meter, so I when I wondered into my local beer store and saw my friend J-ME from NC metal gods Tooth behind the counter I asked him if he could recommend a beer- a good tasty summer brew that would quench my thirst but not pickle you too bad if you tackled a six'er.

Without even blinking, he walked over to one of the many beer coolers, picked up a six pack and handed it to me.

I don't know what's better about this equation: walking into a beer store with thrash metal blaring out of the boom box or having counter help that knows exactly what you want to drink.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Because Nothing Is Better Than Reality TV... Except Reality!

A few years ago I got a call that a local catering company was in dire need of holiday help. There was a week-long event down at the coast and they needed as much wait staff as they could get their hands on. The selling point was that they were going to put you up for a few days in a hotel and you wouldn't be required to work before 4pm so you could enjoy the mornings. Plus it was over the Fourth Of July so you got holiday pay: 3 and a half days at the beach and getting paid double-time? Sign me up!

Of course, as you can see below, it was quite the adventure...

On Saturday July 1, I met up with a crew of fellow caterers (none of which I had known as I was new to working with this company) in Raleigh around 2pm and drove in a 15-passenger van to Beaufort, NC, to work for a few days at the massively disorganized Tall Ships festival.

Upon arrival roughly three hours later, I was immediately thrown into the madness of a 700-person seated, served dinner. All hell broke loose shortly after it was discovered that the punch we were drinking to hydrate ourselves was spiked. I thought it tasted weird but weird in a “someone made lemonade in the sweet tea cooler” kind of way. An older Southern woman started hollerin’ “there’s firewater in da juice!” until one of the managers heard it and moved the “rum punch” out to one of the bars. They were less concerned at that moment of having tipsy wait staff on their hands and more concerned with having enough punch to serve the VIP guests. In attendance was Bernie Reeves - the former publisher of Spectator (my old boss) and current publisher of Metro Magazine. Of course he didn't remember me and was still as self-absorbed as I remember talking about himself until our encounter was broken up by his wife.

The whole event was sponsored by Pepsi yet during a speech given after the dinner by Lt. Governor Bev Perdue, she asked everybody to raise their glass of beer, wine or Coke for a toast.

The crowd went silent.

We ended up serving 700 entrees in 25 minutes, which was a feat in and of it self. The tent was the size of a football field and I can't tell you how many times I crossed it; it’s times like this I wish I was wearing a pedometer. A good half-dozen people broke during the event, some walking off in tears mid-shift regardless of the fact that they were hundreds of miles from home. The event ended – and after a scramble to get the beverage truck unstuck from the sand - every body headed back to the hotel where I found out I was going to share a room with five guys and that since I was the new guy (the other dudes had been there since Thursday) I would be sleeping on the floor. But the floor wasn’t all mine: while the two white guys didn’t mind sharing a bed, the two black guys refused to sleep together and would alternate as to who had the bed from day to day so essentially two people had to share floor space.


And I had no room key so I was tethered to one of them named Kenji* - a Jamaican dude - for the evening. Everyone ended up drinking and smoking pot down at the pool. Someone procured minis of Crown Royal that where on the tables during dinner and they were drunk as well. At one point these two white trash girls come down to join the party but one blonde girl in our group - who was clearly drunk and cock hungry - would have none of it. Suddenly she was “double dawg dared” to throw one of the redneck girls in the pool which she did. Quite convincingly I might add.

She told me that I reminded her of "dude" from the Big Lebowski but I'd never seen the movie (despite being a big Coen Brothers fan). I soon found that all my roomies had wondered off so I retired to the room around 4:30am narrowly missing sleeping on the floor in the hallway when one of my roomies woke up to pee and fortunately heard me knocking on the room’s door.

About and hour later one of my roommates – a college guy named Conner* - came in with the same girl from the pool who liked the Coen Brothers. They drank in the bathroom for a spell, their silence broken by giggling, before leaving.

Sometime around 6am I heard them come back into the room with a clutter of noise. I overheard talk of fire ants and the hospital. Later I came to find out they were fucking on the sound behind the hotel and he got bitten by the ants and turned out he was allergic to fire ants causing him to swell up and break out in hives. So they ended their tryst with a trip to the emergency room. She left him her myspace page URL on the night stand as a means to get in contact with her – a sign of the times indeed.

It was like a bad episode of The Real World.

I called my wife in the morning to debrief her and she asked if I wanted then to drive down and rescue me.
"It can't get any weirder," I said.
"Besides, the pay is too good to pass up."

Around noon we got a call that said we needed to be at work at 2pm instead of 5pm surely do to the fact that several people wouldn’t be returning from the night before. I was dead dog tired. I got to work and ended up scheduled at a tent party sponsored by a yacht company that was right next to the stage where Anna Nalick and Train play. She was good and had more rock sensibilities than I expected.

Train totally sucked.

Breakdown was a bitch but we end up riding back to the hotel in the beverage van full of Red Stripe and liquor. Me, my two roommates and a guy named Jack* drank beer mostly because it was cold and we were thirsty. Two guys proceeded to pinch some for the poolside after party. On the way to my room to change I saw through the crack of an open door that someone was smoking pot out of a apple – you could smell the pungent aroma of marijuana throughout the hallway.

The hotel - by the way - was also ground zero for security for the ship event and was crawling with SBI, FBI and state troopers. Oh the irony. You’d see them in the hallways and in the elevators with their 9s strapped to their hips, earplugs in and fully-engaged in two-way radio conversations. But there's was a war on terror not on drugs. Paging Hunter S. Thompson!

Jack bugged out about the possibility of being caught with the beer he stole so he put it in his trunk and said he'd leave it open for us but to keep it on the down low.

He ended up shutting the trunk in a panic when a supposed tattle tale approached and subsequently locked his keys in the car. He was afraid to call AAA because his car smelled like dope and apparently his stash of dope was in there with his keys. Some lesbian chef jumped in to help out and it turned out she was an ex-con and when some Sorority-girl type told her to give it up with the coat hanger technique she turned and said something to the effect of “I fuck girls like you for breakfast. Shut up before I tattoo my name on your ass and make you my bitch!”

I took that as a sign to retreat back to the pool and avoid the car at all costs.

Drinking ensued well past "being late into the night" and clear on into sunrise wherein every body ended up raiding the continental breakfast. At one point the early morning clerk showed up, an older woman, and the big screen TV in the lobby started showing porn. By now the hooks-ups were obvious and at least three couples had paired up or were well into the process. One of the gay guys asked some dude who all the girls thought was cute and had been working in the tent earlier in the day to come “party by the pool.” But he also wanted to fuck him so there was this juggle to find out if he was gay or not. One of the SBI guys came down and said he heard a complaint about us over his radio and that we should heed his warning, clean up the place and go to sleep.

I go to bed at god knows what time.

But the floor had never felt more comfortable.

I woke up the next morning tired as all get out. My Jamaican roommate rolled up a blunt and smoked it in the room. Mixing a cigar’s tobacco leaf wrapper with pot could quite possibly result – when burning – in one of the most putrid smells ever.

I left the room for obvious reasons and walked to a gas station to get some Gatorade but when I walked the couple of blocks it turned out it wasn’t a mini-mart but rather a straight-up gas station. I cursed myself for even thinking about walking as tired as I was and with each step my legs reminded me so. I went to the Taco Bell by the hotel, got a burrito and ate it by the pool where several girls in the group were trying to piece together the actions of the this so-call slut who went back to a room knowing there were 5 guys in there.

I told them that was my room they were talking about and that nothing happened in the room but that there was some sort of fiasco with fire ants and emergency rooms.

That night I worked a party for 600 that turned out to be less than 300 which was a total blessing and the shift went off without a hitch save for the fact that everybody had that crazed look on their faces. Most people planned to leave the next day so it was a full-scale party at the pool after breakdown was finished. Then it started to thunder. One guy said, “no way is the party going to my room” since his floor had all the cops. Although he quite possibly could have been the apple smoker. We ended up sitting in the outdoor section of a bistro across from the hotel with a fireplace and steel chairs.

People lit the candles.

Delirium set in and I went to bed at god knows what time again but the sun was already up and bringing the heat.

I was told to meet at 11am to catch my shuttle back to Raleigh. Not wanting to get fucked, I walked over to the makeshift office about an hour before I was scheduled because I feared, the way things had gone, that is would be possible to somehow miss the shuttle back to Raleigh. But just like the days before, I spent two hours doing miscellaneous shit. By 1pm the van got the okay to leave. I ate a hot dog and did two double shots of Don Julio tequila (I had been "marrying" the booze with some other guys) for the ride home.

Several stops and hours later, I got home at about 6pm, bought a 12 pack and went see the fireworks at Kenan Stadium on the campus of UNC.

I came home and passed out from exhaustion.


And Happy Fourth Of July!

*yeah i changed the names of all involved...

Gas Station Attendant

Inspired in part by Cynical Dad's post about working at a gas station and also by the fact that I've been aggressively looking for work to help defray the cost of getting my car jacked, I've been scanning the classifieds and job web sites like a desperate girl on

Cynical Dad stirred up a long lost memory I had of working at a gas station as a full-service attendant. I did not then - and still don't today - know jack shit about cars but I could clean a mean windshield and fill your tank with wicked ease.

The station in question was in Kensington, Maryland - a Shell station nestled right by the DC/Maryland line on main thoroughfare Connecticut Ave.

The night shifters always had weird stories about what they saw after dawn from the confines of their bullet proof box but then again most of the night shifters liked their hard drugs so I was always skeptical about their talk of werewolves and vampires and sexy ladies wearing nothing but trench coats.

One of the oddest things I saw involved an elderly couple.

They pulled up in their Cadillac right by one of the open bay doors and parked it. They had New York tags and were quite clearly the kind of bluebirds who drove from NYC to Florida to winter. The nagging wife got out and asked where the bathroom was and my boss pointed her to the key on the wall and told her the door was around the side.

Someone came up to a pump, called my name several times [see below] before I assisted them with refueling and window cleansing.

When I finished I noticed that the husband had popped the trunk and was getting out some luggage and placing it on the sidewalk next to the office. He was selective in his choices of luggage and for a moment I thought he was trying to locate the spare tire or something.

Then he closed the trunk and drove off leaving the luggage behind. I assumed the old timer was having one of those "senior moments" I'd heard my parents talk about and stepped into the office to inform my boss. Just then I saw the woman return from the bathroom and hand my boss the key.

He turned and hung it up on the hook.

And at the precise moment the key met the hook the woman launched into a tirade.

"Where the hell is my husband?" she screamed.
"Where did he go that bastard?"

I remember being perplexed by it all and unable to fill in the blanks at the said time. My boss spent the next few hours bearing the brunt of this woman's expletives and offering her the use of the phone from time to time to call someone to come pick her up.

I don't remember how it resolved itself but what I do remember was the words my boss told me the next day when I asked him what all of it was about: "Sometimes you just have had enough," he said.

"You mean the guy just drove off and left her here?" I asked.
"Yep," he said.
"Happens every so often," he said. "Sometimes those long drives get to you."

My tenure working at a gas station also led me to the conclusion to never ask for directions at a gas station. I don't think anybody I worked with gave people the right directions including myself. It was a way to entertain yourself on the job. Someone would come in and ask me where the White House was or how to get to the Mormon Tabernacle and I would tell them to ask the guy in the booth. The booth guy would then send them in the complete opposite direction. Usually directions would involved something like "go about three miles until you see a steep grade in the road and right about the time you feel you've gone too far and missed the turn, turn right. Then drive past the mall and the car dealership and go left. You can't miss it."

So there you have it: I have just explained why men don't like to ask for directions at gas stations. It is not that we are too proud to ask for help, it is that most of us have worked at - or known someone who work at - a gas station and know the secret of giving the wrong directions on purpose when asked for them.

To all the GSAs out there, much apologies for breaking the code, I've kept it for over 20 years and besides cars now come equipped with GPS.

And no, you are not getting my GSA shirt back. And not because it was hip and cool to wear such a thing a decade ago, nope it is because I never got to get my own personalized shirt because I told my boss I'd only be there temporarily.

For six months I wore a shirt that said "John."

I bet people thought I was dumb as a rock because it would take them three or four times calling my "name" before I would reply.