Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Old Fogeys Hit the Town

One spring evening I went with a bunch of friends to the “new” (but not improved) Hammerjacks, a large dance club / bar in Baltimore. Several of us used to frequent the old Hammerjacks a decade and a half earlier, so we decided to check out the new location in order to 1) satisfy our curiosity, and 2) see just how much we had aged.

We started out with pizza and homebrew: the pizza in order to lay down a base for the booze that would eventually follow, and the homebrew because it would be the only good-tasting beer available all night.

We pulled up to the new Hammerjacks location in three vehicles, one of which was a minivan, accentuating how much we had all aged since being at the old location. Most of us were in a 1969 Volkswagen bus, which might as well have been the Partridge Family bus.

Arriving at 8:00 PM - another sign of our chronological enhancement - our group constituted about 30 percent of the clientele; most of the other 1100 people were still sleeping off the previous night’s chemicals and wouldn’t arrive until we were ready to leave. Even so, it was surprising that so few people got there for the booze, which was free until 9:00. Well, it was sort of free. Our unfriendly bartender, whose arms were bigger than my skull, got so bold as to actually demand tips (“Hey, gimme a %@#*& tip or I’ll rip your @#*%$ head off and #&^% down your neck!”) Apparently he had gone to the Mike Tyson School of Etiquette.

There was a wide selection of spirits, including whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila, shooters, and Dog Piss Ale. Some company gave away free samples of their ethyl product and even let us keep the cute little parrot shot glasses. They also took people’s pictures and made postcards out of them, although the caption under our picture said “Before” and everyone else’s caption said “After”.

The music was ... well, you couldn’t really call it music. You know that old saying, that if you had an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters, they’d eventually type all the great books? Well, apparently someone got hold of those monkeys and gave them drums and synthesizers and microphones, and we got to listen to their first attempts. We had no idea that so much bad “music” existed. If you’re lucky you can find the compilation CD entitled, “You Drunken, Drugged Morons Will Dance to Anything”, produced by the National Endowment for the Arts. It’s so bad that even Yoko Ono refused to do a commercial for it. As if that weren’t bad enough, the noise was played at approximately 3175 decibels, necessitating our screaming at each other in order to be heard and causing some of us to become so hoarse that Marlon Brando is now suing us for copyright infringement.

At one point I wiped the blood out of my ears and went to request anything good. “How about Highway to Hell?” I asked, thinking that any male with a gram of testosterone or rhythm or taste would play it. The DJ - a fat, bald man of about 45 – looked disdainfully at my ACDC T-shirt, then smirked at me as though I were the world’s largest booger and smugly proclaimed, “Check your calendar, dude. We don’t play that stuff anymore. If it don’t go ‘boom boom’, we don’t play it.” For a brief second I thought about knocking him out and taking over the controls, but it occurred to me that probably none of his CDs even had Highway to Hell on it. That’s okay, I didn’t need to hear it – it was the theme song at my wedding. As for the DJ, the best thing for me to do was to simply let him go on living his pathetic excuse for a life: spinning discs for people half his age having twice as much fun as he was, then going back to his rent-controlled apartment to spank it while talking to a phone sex girl at 3 a.m.

Despite the dearth of good music, we managed to dance quite a bit, stopping frequently to rest. Hell, even climbing the stairs to visit Cue Ball the Wonder DJ got me out of breath. But getting so easily tired out enabled us to purge our excess energy and have a satisfying evening. On another good note, for the first time in my life I did not get rejected a single time at a bar! That’s right - due to being with several women whom I already knew, I had a number of potential dance partners, and not one of them told me that she’d rather have Jesse Jackson’s baby than dance with me.

There were plenty of young lovelies there, turning my head and causing my eyes to bulge almost as much as my pants. It didn’t bother me that they probably had a combined total of three brain cells; they were eye candy and that’s all that mattered. I asked myself, “Where were they when the old Hammerjacks was around?” Then I thought, “Oh, right - they were six.”

Several of us capped off the evening at a local diner, where we threw grease and salt at our alcohol-soaked livers. A few locals at a nearby table had apparently just come from their prom, bringing back memories of my own prom, which I never went to because I was about as desirable to women then as I am now. It was a sobering thought that when I was in high school, these folks hadn’t even been born. It made me squirm in my Depends.

I think we should have this kind of outing again, say, after the next election - we’ll need that long to recover. We held up pretty well considering that some of us have underwear that’s older than many of the Hammerjacks regulars. It’s nice to know that we’ve still got it.

Just not as often.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Naked News

I hate watching the news. So I don’t. It’s always who killed who and which special interest group is making a shameless power grab and how simply dreadful everything is. I’ve often thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if they had a news program that wasn’t so disturbing? And wouldn’t it be even better if the newscasters were naked?”

My prayers have been answered.

I recently found out about Naked News, “the program with nothing to hide”. It’s news delivered by beautiful, naked women. As they talk, they undress until they’re completely naked.

Talk about broad-casting.

Of course, such a great concept isn’t free. Free stuff tends to be crappy. This blog, for instance. But they do offer a free preview to entice you to subscribe. Check it out at

“What a sexist, chauvinist concept!” I hear some people whine. “This is yet another example of men’s diminishing women to mere sex objects. If there were really any equality in the world, there would be a news program featuring naked men.”

There is. Go to

Now that’s what I call talking heads.

Granted, the male version is geared more toward gay men than straight women, but it shows that while men are disgraceful, horny perverts, they do not discriminate according to gender: they want to see anyone they find sexually attractive naked, whether or not it’s a woman. I’m sure that right now someone’s developing a program called

So if you’re into both the news and nudity, one of these programs could be for you. Sure, nudity doesn’t make the world’s problems go away, but it might help you “bare” them better.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Married Life

As an ex-confirmed bachelor who is now married with two stepchildren, I’d like to share some insights into married life that I hope will help those who are on the fence about starting or acquiring a family. Keep in mind, however, that I will present these anecdotes in a favorable light, inasmuch as my wife might read this someday.

When my bitter half and I were dating, I was your typical commitmentphobe. You see, I was always of the mind that marriage is nothing more than a legal contract in which the person of lesser means takes the person of greater means hostage. My fear was that ten minutes after the wedding ceremony, my new wife would tell me, “If we get divorced, we split everything, and guess who will make out better on the deal.” Guys, don’t worry. Most women wait at least until the honeymoon is over before they say that.

Our marriage was a foregone conclusion before I even considered proposing to her. I should have seen it coming, but I ignored the signs, such as her spending three hours a day watching the Wedding Channel.

We go through the stereotypical foibles of married life. For example, when she’s “ready” to go out, what that means is that all she has to do is get dressed, brush her hair, and bake a turkey. For some reason, I never learn. I always fall for her claim that she’s “ready”: I stand by the door with my jacket on and keys in hand, while she makes herself ready. As I wait for her, aging, I actually feel guilty about being impatient, as though I’m some sort of criminal. When I finally give up and turn on a ball game, she’ll come down the stairs and proclaim, “I thought you said you were ready.” At this point I begin to see some validity in how Taliban men keep their women in line. You will testify for me in court, right?

Many times she has asked me whether a particular piece of clothing makes her look fat. Well, I was already hip to that Catch-22 even before I met her, but every time I told her she looked great, she told me that I was just being nice and that I should be honest. Finally I fell for it. One time I said that perhaps there was the tiniest chance that she might have an extra lipid molecule on her.

Neighborhood birds stopped in mid-song.

She proceeded to vent her frustration about my flagrant, deliberate insult, and after seven minutes she had convinced me that I was responsible for everything that’s wrong in the world, including global warming.

Now before you men run off and become priests, there is a good side to women’s sensitivity. While they magnify our faults, they also magnify our good points. This makes it easy to be a hero, especially since in our modern world we no longer have to fend off Visigoth hordes. In my wife’s eyes I am Atlas merely because I opened her bottle of Diet Pepsi.

My wife has lots of plants in the house. How many? I once counted, so this is no exaggeration: 3,429. Okay, I might be off by a few thousand, but the point is that our home is the Little Shop of Horrors. But this is a good thing, because those creepy vines that grab me as I scurry past ensure that our house never runs out of oxygen. Or bugs.

She loves yard sales. She also loves dragging me along at 6 in the morning so we can enjoy “togetherness” and I can share in the ecstatic pleasure of paying only $2 for a garden hoe. It’s so much better than, say, sleeping in, or breakfast in bed. But at least when she’s shopping at a yard sale, it means that she’s not shopping at a department store, where she has had many out-of-money experiences. The biggest yard sale in our area is held twice a year at the local church. There are always five times more people at this event than normally attend worship services, which just goes to show what consumers we Americans are: we would rather acquire old clothes and dishware than be saved from Hell.

Being married has made me a better person. I am not bragging when I say this, because it has all been against my will. If it were up to me I would still be a selfish bachelor who has deprived some deserving woman of a divorce. Being stuck -- I mean, involved -- in a marriage has forced me to be patient with my partner when she maxes out a credit card, or her period causes her to retain more water than Lake Michigan.

My wife, like all other women, is capable of seeing colors outside the humanly visible spectrum. These colors have mutant names like chartreuse and mauve. I thought mauve was a sitcom starring Bea Arthur. Anyway, when we painted our sunroom, she insisted that the French doors be painted Swiss coffee and the walls be painted Georgia peach. Or was it the other way around? Well, it doesn’t matter because they’re both white. To me, anyway. My wife swears that there’s a difference, but I think this is just a ruse to get even with me for calling her robin’s egg skirt “blue”. Anyway, one time the wall got scratched, so I grabbed a random can of paint and touched it up. This home improvement project made me feel manly and productive. That is, until she came home.

“What happened here?” she queried indignantly. Being the completely honest person that I am, I told her the whole story. In Farsi. No, really, this is exactly how our conversation went:

Me: “I touched up a scratch.”
She: “This is supposed to be Georgia peach. You used Swiss coffee, didn’t you?”
Me: “No.”
She: “Oh really? Which color did you use?”
Me: “Uh ... white.”