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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daddy is a pain... Worse than the rain...

Well it happens to be a delightful Saturday morning here in the Keys and there are but a few scattered clouds in the sky. A cold front has made its way down this way and a pleasant cool breeze has blown the prior days' muggy weather away.

In any event I've tired of reading through a Continuing Education Course that I have to take in order to renew my CPA license and don't care to scrape barnacles off the hull of the boat at the moment and instead find myself once again messing around with my laptop.

While mindlessly checking a few files in my laptop I came across a writing of mine describing a family moment some ten years ago and am reminded of how living aboard a sailboat certainly isn't any better than those kind of moments.

So... I've included that writing in my blog for your amusement and it goes as follows:

While driving home with my wife and two young daughters one weekend morning a few summers ago, my youngest cheerfully thought up a few chants to pass the time away and poke a good measure of fun at her dear 'ol Dad at the same time.

It didn't take long for the wife and older daughter to soon join in with a few amusing yet disparaging chants of their own at my expense.

Soon enough I was subjected to hearing a chorus of goofy chants directed my way.

While some chants rhymed and others didn't they all nevertheless concluded with "Boooo Daddy!!... Boooo Daddy!!" followed by a collective outburst of boisturous laughter.

It wasn't long before my youngest proceeded to exclaim, "Daddy is a Pain!! Worse than the Rain!! Boooo Daddy!!! Boooo.. Daddy!!! followed once again by uncontained merriment at my predicament.

It soon became readily apparent to all that if I were to salvage a bit of my dignity that I'd then have to think up a chant of my own real quick.

No sooner had we cruised on past a distant cow pasture alongside the interstate highway when a burst of inspiration suddenly struck me. I proceeded to loudly intone, "Mommy is a Sow!! Worse than a Cow!! Booo... Mommy!! Booo... Mommy!!"

After the immediate outburst of uncontained laughter by all I was swiftly slugged in the arm by the wife, nevermind whether or not the chant had any validity to it.

For the rest of the drive home all I heard from the kids seated in the back was, "Ooohhh Daddy... You're In Trouble!!... Ooohhh Daddy, You're in Trouble!!"

We continued laughing all the way home.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Actual cooking going on inside the galley...

Check it out... I've got some actual cooking going on inside the galley. I've invited my dear friend Hannibal Lector on over for some sauteed liver with fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti.

Bathroom mural at Jack's Lookout on Marco Island... do be sure the read the quote written on the wall.

Jack's Lookout is a quaint open-aired dockside bar on Marco Island. It overlooks the Rose Marco Island Marina and is frequented by the same usual suspects. Even the same snowbirds come here year after year to spend the winter months before heading back up north to wherever that might be.

I'll admit to having enjoyed more than just a few cold beverages at that dockside bar but I can assure you that it doesn't even come close to being described as a "secluded, hedonistic, dockside bar".

The mural in the mens room can be said to depict the typical bar patron at Jack's Lookout... pale, fat, old, disgruntled, and on a fixed income. In other words... your typical male FOX Fabrication News Network viewer.

I'll just have to keep on looking for that elusive dockside bar while the regular bar patrons at Jack's keep on looking to make sure that "it is still there".

Inexpensive accomodations at the Dallas Downtown YMCA...

Well I'm now back on the boat after a good four days of loitering at my friend's house on Marco Island... or "the rock" as she would often refer to it... and it goes without saying once again that her swimming pool was just as inviting this time around as it was on the previous occasions that I had visited.

Though my boat may feel confining at times, it is nevertheless my own personal space where I can sprawl out and not feel that I may perhaps be imposing in anyway. Besides, there is the little matter of adhering to the second tenant of booty-call protocol as explained in a previous blog entry.

In any event a narrative of the happenings of my four days of loitering on Marco Island will simply have to wait for a later date... if only because I wish to conclude my narrative of events in my prior blog entry that last found me seated alongside an empty revolving baggage carousel at DFW airport some three decades ago.

While apprehensively staring at that empty baggage carousel go around in circles, I kept wondering where I might stay that evening. It was now early evening around eight pm or so and I had already made a number of phone calls to inquire about lodgings for the evening without any success.

I had made use of a telephone receiver mounted alongside a huge visual display of a map outlining the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. All one had to do was note the number on the map corresponding to the hotel one wished to call and simply press a button for direct dial.

Incidentally, direct-dial telephones were a novelty for me at the time. I had never seen one before. The only phones I had ever previously come across were black, rotary-dial telephones with an occasional dial-tone from back in the day when I lived in Puerto Rico.

But I digress... One number after another had been called and each time I had gasped upon the front desk clerk informing me of their hotel room rates. In my pocket were some two-thousand dollars in American Express cashiers checks which most assuredly would have vaporized in a matter of days if I were to stay at one of those fancy hotels.

You see... I was literally off the boat after having grown up in Puerto Rico and totally clueless about affordable lodgings such as Motel 6 and the like and so there I sat staring at that revolving empty baggage carousel when a song performed by the Village People happened to suddenly pop into my head.

YMCA...ymca.... YMCA....

I spring up out of my chair... find a pay phone along with the ubiquitous yellow pages... make note of the various YMCA phone numbers and call to inquire about whether they have any rooms available for the night and of their room rates.

I'm in luck... the Downtown Dallas YMCA has one room left but I'd better hurry to claim it. I plead my case and explain my situation and assure the desk clerk that I'll be there before midnight to check in and to please hold the room for me. The desk clerk is a real sweetie and assures me that she will.

I collect my bags and head for the terminal curbside area to hale a cab when once again I'm in luck. A Trailways bus is soon scheduled to depart for the thirty mile trip to downtown Dallas.

I board that bus after loading my bags into the baggage compartment and upon the bus driver giving me instructions to sit in the back and to keep my eyes glued to his rearview mirror. I am to wait for his signal when we reach my stop.

That African-American bus driver has the demeanor and physique of a no-nonsense drill sergeant so I readily comply with all of his instructions. The bus later makes a number of stops in downtown Dallas after the long drive from the airport.

Well groomed and coiffured passengers can later be seen stepping off the bus at the various luxury hotels with hotel bellmen eagerly awaiting curbside to collect their bags. These hotels were undoubtedly the same ones that I had called earlier that evening to inquire about their room rates.

The last stop is at the Fairmont Hotel. It has a worn look about it in comparison to the other hotels. Sure enough, upon stopping and upon the remaining passengers disembarking, the bus driver peers up into his mirror and we make eye contact. A quick nod of his head tells me that I'm at my stop and it's now my turn to step off the bus.

I'm the last passenger to be attended to and I'm given concise and deliberate instructions on where to find the Downtown Dallas YMCA. I am to walk one block over and two blocks down. I am to look for an old brick building in front of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas.

It's late August and I was to later find out that the 104 degree Fahrenheit temperature earlier that day was to be the hottest that year in Dallas. I'm lugging two heavy bags while trekking those couple of blocks to the Y. Everything is bigger in Texas or so it seems and those street blocks each seemed to measure at least a quarter of a mile in length.

I eventually find the YMCA right where that driver said it would be. The place has a seedy look about it but I'm exhausted and only too happy to finally have a place to crash for the evening. My room is located on the fifth floor of that six story dilapidated building and so I ride on up in an equally dilapidated Otis elevator.

The elevator finally creeks its way on up to the fifth floor but not before giving me a few scares. I get off that elevator and look around one last time to check and see whether its cables are still holding it in suspension. The elevator does not crash on down to the ground floor so I continue on to find my room. I unlock the door, flip a light bulb on, toss my bags inside and lock the door securely behind me.

It's stifling hot inside that room and there is no air-conditioning, not that I ever had any while growing up in Puerto Rico. It does take some effort to finally open the window to circulate some equally hot air in from the outside. I'm in for a most uncomfortable evening to say the least.

It's past eleven pm or so and I take a cold shower, never mind that hot water was nowhere to be found in that building. I don't bother to unpack my bags and I'll worry about finding better accommodations in the morning. I am nevertheless relieved to have finally arrived in Dallas after having read that Newsweek cover story weeks earlier that I previously mentioned in a blog entry... besides, I certainly can't complain about the very modest room rate that I paid.

Hey... you get what you pay for.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clueless while seated at the DFW baggage claim area...

I got another invitation from my friend on Marco Island to drive on up from the Keys and visit for a day or two or four... and I can assure you that living on a sailboat can feel quite confining after awhile, especially if it happens to be tied up to a mooring ball for weeks on end.

So no... it didn't take a lot of convincing for me to batten down the forward hatch to the v-berth and slide in the slats to close up the companionway of that boat and drive myself on up to Marco for a few days of loitering.

So yeah... I'm definitely only too happy to make the four hour drive back up through the Keys and then on through the Everglades and on to Marco Island. It goes without saying that I'm once again most certainly looking forward to dipping my toes in her swimming pool and watching tv at all hours of the evening.

It's a four hour drive and there's not much on the radio that holds my interest so I turn the thing off. I find myself absorbed in my own thoughts and thinking back to when I seemed to be but a kid and completely clueless as to what to do with the rest of my life... kind of like now for that matter.

In any event, some dates are forever imbedded in one's mind and August 24th is one such date that I never fail to reflect upon when it rolls around. I well remember that date because it happened to be on that date when I first arrived in Dallas, Texas some three decades ago.

I had previously been living in Puerto Rico and working my first job after finally graduating from college with a degree in accounting. I had grown restless of the daily grind of working every day and of still living with my parents and of not quite being able to afford a place of my own.

In the back of my mind I kept yearning to venture out and see the world as in move to the United States and make a life for myself. The only question was... but where? It wasn't like I had any close relatives or family friends that might briefly take me in until I got situated and the like.

I had visited New York some years earlier and had assumed that it was a logical destination since every Puertorrican I'd ever previously known that had relocated from the island had moved to that big city.

However, I also recalled being completely intimidated by how complicated and busy that place could be and was certain that I would be completely lost and clueless if I were to move there.

There was little doubt in my mind that I'd somehow find myself inadvertently roaming the Bronx projects late one night without any idea of where I was only to later incur a mishap of some sorts. No thanks... New York wasn't gonna work out for me and wasn't ever a viable option.

So... New York was summarily scratched off my list of places to go to which left option B. Only problem was that there was no option B. I was simply clueless as to where to relocate to in the good 'ol US of A. That is until one day I happened to come across an issue of Newseek magazine. It's cover story was of a massive migration underway at the time of job seekers relocating to Houston, Texas.

I recall the cover story describing in some detail how both the steel and automotive industries were hurting and how whole families from Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania were relocating in droves to Houston, Texas in search of jobs within the oil industry which at that time happened to be booming.

The article did however go on to explain that not all job seekers arriving in Houston had been successful in finding gainful employment and that the job market in the oil industry had started to become saturated. The last two or three paragraphs of that article did however describe Dallas as having a more diversified economy were job opportunities could still be found.

Four weeks later after purchasing a one way airline ticket, I found myself seated inside the baggage claim area at DFW airport with my bags by my side. I sat on a hard chair there all by myself wondering for the longest time where I'd be spending the night let alone the next coming weeks.

You see... there was no one coming to pick me up and I had no idea of where to go and Dallas was a much bigger city than I had ever imagined. I simply just sat on that chair all the while watching the empty baggage carousel continuosly spin around in circles long after all the other passengers had collected their bags and driven off somewhere.

Incidentally, I believe that I may have seen my first alligator as I drove on past a rest stop along the Tamiami Trail. I happened to notice a number of tourists peering down from their safe perch on a boardwalk that hovered above the swamp.

Down below appeared to be a submerged scaly log the length of a F-350 Ford pickup truck. Then yet again it could have been but a fake model of
an alligator purposely placed in the water to make tourist actually believe that they'd seen a real alligator.