Author Archives: Joey

About Joey

Doggie nurse, baby daddy.

The Birds

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Cameron was having a bad day.

Slumped in a chair in Tony’s basement, he laid it all out: he got fussed out at work, was short of funds, and had just had a terrible fight with his girlfriend. To close his day, he decided to take a drive in his Jeep. Driving his Jeep, he said, made him happy. But then…

“’Bam! Bam, bam, bam!’ They were pelting the front and the side of my Jeep like little Kamikazes,” Cameron said as I entered the basement for a night of story-swapping and trip-planning.

“Cameron, what are you talking about?” I asked with great interest.

“It was terrible, Joey: I was out driving, and I saw this massive flock of birds walking around on the ground in someone’s yard off to the left,” he told me. “I thought, ‘man, that’s a lot of birds,’ and, right then, they all at once just took off like a big gray cloud. I thought they were going to fly away, but they didn’t; the whole flock just flew right out into the road.”

“Well, what’d you do?”  I asked.

“I couldn’t do anything. They were everywhere,” he said. “I just kept cringing and driving until I got through it. And then I looked in my rearview mirror and saw all these birds laying in the road. A lot of them were dead, and some were almost dead and were flopping about like fish out of water.”

Cameron with Jeep

Cameron, with his Jeep, during happier days.

“Oh that’s awful!” I said.

“Yeah, I felt really bad,” he confessed. “I still feel really bad, but there was nothing I could do. It was like they were all on a suicide mission.”

The Jeep itself was a mess of feather and smeared bird… I don’t know, bird something. Cameron described in grim detail how he heard them desperately beating against the plastic windows of the Jeep, how they’d hit with such force that he’d had to stop shortly thereafter to squeegee off his windshield and readjust the side-view mirrors.

We had all seen birds fly into a closed window, or a pet parakeet fly into a mirror because of the reflection, but we’d never heard of anything the likes of what Cameron had experienced. If I didn’t know him better I would have sworn he was making it up. The thing about Cameron, though is that he never had to make this stuff up.

Despite Cameron’s unintentional bird massacre, we had convened at Tony’s with a mission to plan our trip to Florida in two weeks, so after getting over the shock of Cameron’s incident we got down to business. We left Tony’s basement that night with the satisfaction that another quick weekend vacation had been planned and the knowledge that at least one flock of birds had been infiltrated by a featherbrained cult leader and led into mass suicide.

A few days passed and by the middle of the week Cameron and I once again found ourselves hanging out at Tony’s. As we entered the door, Tony, who was sitting at his computer to the right of us, turned to face us with a look of contained excitement on his face.

“Cameron,” he began, “what day was it that you hit that flock of birds?” He was almost giddy. And Tony’s not a man who gets giddy. It was a little creepy.

Cedar Waxwing

A cedar waxwing, during happier days.

“Saturday,” Cameron said.

“And what road were you driving on when you hit them?” Tony asked.

“Banks Mill. Why?” a concerned Cameron asked.

“Funny thing happened to me at the office the other day,” Tony said. Tony was working as a reporter for the local daily paper, the Sentinel. “I had just got in for the day, and one of the photographers started talking to one of the other reporters about a ‘bird story.’ So, I asked them about this bird story. Seems someone found a massive collection of dead birds along Banks Mill Road on Saturday. The health department is investigating.”

“Really?” I said, not too surprised. This was at the time that the danger of the West Nile Virus to elderly people was a popular news story in Georgia, because the disease is spread by mosquitoes and if there’s two things Georgia has, it’s peaches and mosquitoes.

“Yeah, well, you know one sign that West Nile may be present in an area is finding birds that have died from being bitten by infected mosquitoes,” Tony said.

“Yeah I’ve heard of that,” Cameron said.  “What about it?”

“Well, you see, when you find a dead bird, you’re supposed to report it to the health department, so that they can check it out to see if the bird died of West Nile or not,” Tony said.  “So, you might could imagine the sheer terror one might face upon finding a total of 19 dead birds in one’s yard.”

“Are you saying that…,” I started before Tony interrupted me.

“I’m saying that when I was at the office today, one of our reporters was checking out a story about someone finding 19 dead cedar waxwings on Banks Mill Road,” Tony said.

We all started laughing.  “It can’t be,” I said.

“When did they find them?” Cameron asked.

“Saturday,” Tony chuckled. “I just searched on the Internet for a picture of a cedar waxwing. Is this the bird that flew into your Jeep, Cameron?”

“Yeah, that’s them.” Cameron started giggling.

“Like I said, when you find one dead bird it’s a scare, but 19 is a crisis,” Tony said. “Someone probably came outside and saw all those dead birds and just freaked the hell out. They’re urging old people and children to stay inside if they live near the area where those birds were found.”

“Did you tell your co-worker that those birds committed suicide into the side of your friend’s vehicle?” I asked, knowing that as mischievous as Tony was that he definitely didn’t tell his coworker.

“I thought about it, but the guy said that the workers had already sent the birds off to the University of Georgia to determine the cause of death,” Tony said with a sadistic grin. “They held a press conference. I guess the autopsy results will come back with blunt force trauma as the cause of death?”

The thought of professional public health workers carefully collecting the massacre in little plastic baggies, marking them and sending them to a laboratory made me smile. The likely reaction of the biologist who would determine that all 19 of these birds sent in from Douglas County had been simply hit by a car made me smile wider.

“So, I killed 19 of those little birds, huh?” Cameron said sadly.

Always the optimist, Tony knew just how to cheer Cameron up. “Yeah, but look on the bright side: you single-handedly caused the largest West Nile virus scare this county has ever seen.”

 

Prologue

Driving to Panama City Beach for our weekend away, stopping for one of the many fill-ups the glorified tractor that is a Jeep requires, we spied something peculiar in the springs inside the front wheel well of Cameron’s vehicle. The three of us knelt beside the Jeep, peering at the grayish mash jammed between the coils.

“No way,” Cameron said.

“Awesome,” I said.

“Heh,” said Tony. “That means it was an even 20.”

 

Note:  While searching online for pictures of cedar waxwings to give an accurate description of the birds for this story, I came across a great many articles depicting the habits of the little gray birds. Cedar waxwings are renowned for their voracious appetite and a tendency to eat fermented fruit and berries. When a bird weighing only a few ounces gets a belly full of fermented berries, well, they have trouble flying in a straight line — or just flying at all. 

According to the state of Georgia’s health department on West Nile testing of birds in 2005: “Cedar waxwings, which are never positive, were the third most frequently submitted bird. This bird usually dies from drunken flying into windows or is found dead from alcohol poisoning from eating fermented berries.”

Maybe Cameron won’t feel so bad when he finds out that the birds were FUI (flying under the influence).

A Toast to Cameron — And to Crazytime

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Recently, one of our own joined the ranks of the wed. The courtship was brief, the shotgun was loaded for bear and the wedding was attended by as many people as we could fit on the back porch.

In his sermon/eulogy, Rev. Tony—ordained by the Universal Life Church of Modesto, Calif.—spoke on the subject of insanity, or rather, not pursuing the rational (and safe) path.

Cameron's Wedding

Cameron and his bride, Chesera. With Cameron, it's always crazytime.

“Had we always made the wise and safe decision,” Rev. Tony said, “what stories would we have to tell? We’ve always made the choice to play it close to our vest, to take the option no one in their right mind would take. We even have a name for it: crazytime. Choosing the crazy option defines us; it’s who we are.

“So,” he said, concluding his remarks and taking Cameron and his betrothed by the arm, “let’s get crazy.”

In illustration of Cameron’s propensity for craziness, I prepared before the wedding a list of all the crazy stuff that I could think of that Cameron has done. Easily, my encouragement accounts for somewhere on the order of 98 to 99 percent of this list, which Rev. Tony pulled from his pocket and read aloud prior to the happy couple reciting their vows.

It was a good list. I thought it deserved sharing.

So, in tribute to our dear Cameron and his new missus, we present but a brief, unordered and uncategorized list of Cameron’s craziness:

  • Threw darts at his butt
  • Ate a potentially fatal quantity of off-brand hotdogs
  • Went streaking
  • Catapulted himself across an empty parking lot on a wooden pallet
  • Attempted to drink a gallon of milk in under an hour
  • Smoked concentrated Country Time Lemonade
  • Participated in a contest of self gratification
  • Snorted a line of wasabi
  • Went streaking again
  • Drank a bottle of Karo corn syrup, then vomited foam
  • Participated in another hotdog eating contest
  • Shocked his testicles with an electric flyswatter
  • Tried to drink another gallon of milk in under an hour
  • Participated in another contest of self gratification (but this time for speed and volume)
  • Participated in a green bean eating contest
  • Allowed roman candles to be fired at his bare butt
  • Lit his farts
  • Tried to drink yet another gallon of milk in under an hour
  • Lit my farts on fire, subsequently almost burning down an apartment building
  • Participated in a catfish eating contest
  • Shot bottle rockets out of his butt crack
  • Went streaking—again
  • Ate a gallon of pickles while driving back home from Panama City Beach, which led to him soiling his pants (the first time)
  • Convinced him that, by using a brown eyeliner pencil, no one could tell that one of his sideburns has a one-inch bald patch in it
  • Drank until he passed out and awoke with his pants soiled—again
  • Picked up three underage girls and drove them around Panama City Beach while they stood in his Jeep, without seatbelts, while he was on probation
  • Blew through $500 on strippers and hookers between Tijuana, Long Beach, Calif., and Las Vegas
  • Got wasted in Long Beach, Calif., and wandered off into the ghetto wearing nothing but a pair of bright yellow swim trunks
  • Tried to pace Rev. Tony gulp-by-gulp with a bottle of bourbon—while underage—and ended up crawling into his parents’ room that night (he has no recollection of this)

I hope you will continue to return to squad-blog.com and search through our archives to learn more about the stories behind these terrible mistakes/good times.

It’s always crazytime somewhere.

9/11: The New 4th of July

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I walked into my World Geography class shortly before 9:30 a.m. on 9-11-01 with no knowledge of what had happened 1,500 miles north of me in New York City. I remember a couple of students asking the teacher about the incident, but he had a “wait and see” attitude much like myself so we continued on with our daily lesson. An hour and 15 minutes later I left class and walked over to the student center where the television was replaying scene after scene of the second plane flying into the World Trade Center. The student center was packed with people and I could not get close enough to the TV to see what was going on (I had, and still have very poor eyesight). I walked to my red ’89 Camaro and turned on the radio and drove home listening to the news for my entire 30-minute commute. I came home and turned on the TV, which I sat very close to, and watched CNN.

Within a few minutes I absorbed what had happened a few hours earlier and put my mind to work. The events were catastrophic and unprecedented.  That much I knew. But other than that, the news was not giving me anything useful. They were repeating the same information, the same videos, the same on scene reports every 15 minutes just like they do with every big event until more information comes in. I have no use for hearsay or conjecture. I want my facts unbiased and backed up by evidence. Those who know me know that I don’t get too upset when things go wrong and I don’t get too excited when things are going well. I do not worry about situations that I cannot control. Something happens, I absorb the information, think about it, and form an opinion.

As upset and afraid as I was at the events on 9/11, there was nothing I could immediately do about it and I wasn’t learning any more from the news broadcasts. So I did what I do in most situations of importance: I slept on it. I took a nap to wait for more accurate information and reports to be presented my way. In the days and weeks following the tragedy, I read news reports and watched CNN to see what new information had popped up.

I’ve had 10 years to absorb information and think about the situation and after talking to a friend that lives in New York I have come to a conclusion. She said something to the effect of “New York has already grieved and moved on. It’s the rest of the nation that’s still grieving.” I know that 3,000 innocent people died that day and it is probably the worst tragedy we’ve ever experienced in America. I also know that we should be proud of how New York has recovered and we’ve recovered as a nation. I think instead of being sad on this day every year we should make it a celebration. Let’s celebrate the firemen that went into those buildings. Let’s celebrate the passengers that crashed that plane in Pennsylvania. Let’s celebrate the way New York has rebounded from that day. There is no need to be sad anymore. One day I’m going to die, or kick the bucket as I like to say, and after a short period of grief I want everyone to remember the good times and be happy that we had them. I think that’s what we should do with 9/11. We’ve grieved and now let’s remember the good times and celebrate the heroes and the lives of the people who died. Start the day off with a moment of silence to remember everyone and then get the party started.

There should be parades and festivals surrounding this day. It should be a holiday where people don’t have to go to work and they can grill hot dogs and hamburgers and kids get out of school.  What better way to prove to the rest of the world that we’re OK and that we’re going to be OK, no matter what they try to do to us? You think al Qaeda wants to see the U.S. crying every year over their one great feat of terrorism? Of course they do. If they get what they want, then they win. I don’t think the people on Flight 93 wanted those terrorists to win. In fact, they might appreciate a holiday in their honor.

So fire up the grill, crack open a beer and extend a great big red white and blue middle finger to the terrorists who tried to bring down our great country 10 years ago!

Dispatches from the Road: Kissing Cousins. Almost

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El Paso at Night

El Paso at night. The dark parts are Mexico.

Cameron, Scott, Tony and I had made the 20-hour non-stop drive from Douglasville, Ga., to El Paso, Texas, without stopping for anything but gas. One of those stops was at a truck stop, which, in a matter of minutes, became Cameron’s 20th (or some other ridiculously high number) building that he’d “conquered.”  (I’ll leave Cameron to share this shame with you at a later time.)

But that’s another story for another day when we all have health insurance and can afford to see a psychologist, especially Cameron.  No, make that especially Scott.  Although Tony’s pretty crazy, so he’s probably the one that needs to see a shrink most desperately. Well, we all four should seek out a mental health professional at some point, but since that’s not a financial option right now, I think putting our thoughts out on the Internet for everyone to read is probably the best option.

Anyway, we arrived in El Paso around 5 or 6 in the afternoon and navigated through the maze of 7/11 convenience stores to our destination, Cameron’s uncle’s house, whom we shall call Uncle Rick. Uncle Rick was married to Aunt Nancy and they had a 12-year-old daughter — Cameron’s cousin — Trixie. (The names here have been changed to avoid allegations of libel. If you’d been there, you’d know what we were talking about, but you weren’t — but you should’ve been. Either way, no one was innocent, but everyone had fun.) Cameron’s grandfather, “Opa,” which we were told was Hungarian for Grandfather but might have been some sort of ethnic slur, also lived there. They were all really great people and their hospitality was unmatched.

We went to dinner and then out to the top of a small mountain to check out some of the beautiful scenery that El Paso had to offer. As we walked and talked we noticed that Trixie was very smitten with Cameron. Nothing too unusual, though; little girls will often have a crush on an older boy, especially one as adorable as Cameron. And it wasn’t as though the two had grown up together, as Cameron’s time in El Paso as a boy was fleeting compared to the criminal record he’s racked up in Douglasville. So, naturally we made fun of Cameron at every chance we got. When we returned to the house we sat in the garage and talked for hours and drank Uncle Rick’s beer until one of the drunk neighbors came over and told Cameron that it was “impossible to almost die,” after overhearing one of our stories in which Cameron almost died. Tony explained later that he’d refrained from beating the man because, after all, it was our first day on the trip and if he got his clothes all bloody then that’d throw off his wardrobe for the whole journey and he’d run out of clothes a day early.  Something no one wanted to happen.

Uncle Rick summoned Tony into a different part of the garage, presumably to show him some of the cool collectibles he had acquired over the years.  Tony was quite excited about this because, like Uncle Rick, he too was old and he and Uncle Rick had really hit it off, having a good bit in common.

Kissing Cousins

The happy couple taking a friendly family stroll.

“You know, Trixie really likes her cousin Cameron,” Uncle Rick said, his fifth or sixth or … twelfth … beer in his hand.

“Well yes I can see that she’s very fond of him. Cameron’s a nice kid. We all like Cameron,” Tony replied.

“No.  I mean she really likes her cousin,” he replied.

“Yeah,” Tony said. “Ummm, we’d noticed. I think she’s just glad to see him again. It’s been a while.”

Uncle Rick smiled. “It’s OK by me,” he said. Tony looked around for something else unusual that he could ask about to change the conversation. Anything would do. Hey, he’d ask, is that a door knob?

I was not aware of this conversation because I had just returned from the bathroom I had flooded. We’re very poor houseguests.

“There was already toilet paper in the bowl.  All I did was flush it down,” I said.  But, as is usually the case when I flood a bathroom, nobody believed me.

With a load of toilet water soaked towels in the washer and most everyone intoxicated past the legal limit we retired for the night. Scott commandeered a couch in the living room, and Tony had a military surplus cot from an old M.A.S.H. unit that he swore someone had died on, while Cameron and I stretched out on two other cots placed cozily next to each other in the middle of the room.  Tony and Scott would later be repaid for taking the good beds in El Paso by being forced to share tiny, soiled hotel beds with each other for the rest of the trip — something Tony still hasn’t quite gotten over.

As Cameron and I lay next to each other with our shirts off (it’s really hot in El Paso — like surface of the sun hot, which is not Burt Reynolds’ hot, but close), Trixie came into the living room. She saw a shirtless Cameron with probably a hint of a sunburn said “Cameron! I’m going to put lotion on your back!”

Scott laughed so hard I thought his giant head was going to explode and create a small mushroom cloud over El Paso. Cameron laughed a “what have I gotten myself into?” laugh. Naturally, I high-fived Cameron, because that’s what you do if you think your buddy is going to score. I mean, it was only Day One, and Tony had considered beating a man to death, Scott’s head was about to burst and Cameron was about to get a rub-down from his prepubescent cousin! This was destined to be the best. Trip. Ever.

Trixie returned and hopped up on the cot alongside Cameron. “Are you ready?” she giggled, squirting the bottle on his back. Cameron smiled — and shuddered.

“Oops!” she said, “I put too much.” She giggled some more. “But that’s OK; I did it on purpose!”

Tony immediately fell asleep as a defense mechanism, similar to how people in horrific accidents go into shock and can’t recall anything about what happened. He swears that’s the last thing he remembers from the night. As far as he remembers, we arrived in El Paso, ate at a Bavarian restaurant and drove immediately to Los Angeles. Nothing else.

Trixie ran into the kitchen to get some paper towels and Cameron just laughed into his pillow. Or maybe he was crying. I couldn’t tell. But I was having a great time. Surprisingly (or maybe not so much), it was the most action any of us got from any women during the whole two weeks.

I stand corrected: it was the most action any of us got for free during the whole two weeks. Cameron had a real good time in Vegas — and all it cost him was a couple of Jeep payments. But, again, we’ll let him share that shame at a later time.

Maybe when we’re in group together. Probably on the mandate of a court order. Either way, it’s going to be great!

Odds are, Trixie’s flirtations were nothing of the sort; she was just happy to be with her hero cousin again. And, naturally, we can think of nothing funnier than the idea of Cameron getting pinned down by his young kin — even if Tony, as his attorney, steadfastly advised against it. Either way, nothing happened.

But then, we did go to sleep sometime…

Dispatches From the Road: Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

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Burt's handprints

'To the public who made this all possible." <SWOON!>

Oh how those seven little words have changed our lives forever.

A limo passes by Adam Sandler’s character, Happy Gilmore, and Gilmore says, “Woah, must be Burt Reynolds or somethin’!”  Seems fairly innocuous doesn’t it?  What began as four friends quoting a movie line whenever a limo passed by has somehow morphed into a semi-serious obsession in which our underwear (if we were wearing any) would be ripped off and hurled into the direction of any limo which may or may not have contained Burt Reynolds.

Unfortunately we did not get to show our support for Mr. Reynolds very often by hurling underpants toward him (due to the fact that none of us wanted to get arrested — again), so we had to devise other ways to show our true colors.  Tony, Cameron, Scott, and I would regularly attend trivia nights at local coffee shops. Night after night, week after week, when asked for our team name we proudly wrote down “The Douglasville Chapter of the Burt Reynolds Fan Club.”  If there was ever a question that we didn’t know the answer to we would generally write down anything about Burt or something from one of his many popular movies, assuming that it just had to be the correct answer.  I mean, why would anyone ask a trivia question that did not involve Burt Reynolds?

In all seriousness, I do like Burt Reynolds.  In fact, I have seen Smokey and the Bandit 20 or 30 times.  Part of that is due to the fact that I didn’t have cable growing up and TBS was one of the few channels that came in clearly on my TV.  But, I really do like the movie.  So when Tony, Cameron, Scott, and I decided that we were taking a driving tour of the United States and would be spending time in Los Angeles we made it our mission to find, photograph, touch and drool all over Burt Reynolds’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Maybe it was the 20 straight hours of driving to El Paso that made us delirious, or the noxious fumes from my constant farting, but whatever it was we became more and more obsessed with Burt on our long drive through the deserts of the American Southwest on our way to the sacred star of Burton Leon Reynolds Jr.  We even wrote a fan letter that, if ever published, will most certainly result in a restraining order.

Naturally, we would have gotten to Los Angeles much sooner had “The Bandit” been driving the 1989 Pontiac Bonneville, but we got there soon enough being chauffeured “The Tony,” sans Snowman.  After settling into our hotel next to the liquor store and the gas station with the bullet proof glass in the not-so-nice part of Long Beach, Calif., we began to plot our adventures for the upcoming four days.  In between getting naked and dousing each other with ice water (please read Dispatches from the Road: Icing the Bear), we decided to head out with our map — four wise men, following a star.

West Hollywood

West Hollywood -- the happiest place on Earth.

As we motored east, we encountered a sign that said “Welcome to West Hollywood.”  One can only imagine our excitement as we closed in on the western half of Hollywood.  However, Hollywood was not quite as we pictured it. There were rainbow flags on every streetlamp and we passed several shops with leather clad nearly naked mannequins in the storefronts.  Then we passed the Out of the Closet Thrift Store.  We thought the street decor was a bit unusual, but being that we were four males crammed in a sedan for days and sleeping two to a bed in a Holiday Inn, the same sex mannequins and rainbows didn’t bother us in the least.  Heck, we felt right at home. As we passed a billboard with two shirtless men embracing I looked down at our map to find Hollywood Boulevard.  As I scoured the map I noticed that not only were we not near Hollywood Boulevard, we weren’t even in Hollywood.  We were in West Hollywood, a completely separate city. As my research would later reveal to me, West Hollywood may actually be the gayest city in the U.S.

We took the time to visit a small street cafe, where we sat and sipped sodas while watching men in Daisy Duke shorts with tiny dogs Rollerblade past, their shirts tied up suggestively over their superfluous nipples.

We were both very excited -- even though Cameron wasn't real clear on who Jim Nabors was.

Sadly, we had to leave “WeHo” in our search for the star of Burt Reynolds, but we all still have fond memories of the rainbow flags and leather sporting mannequins.  When we finally reached Hollywood Boulevard, we started walking up the street looking at every plaque with the hope that it might be the “unreachable star” of Burt.  “Is that it!?!” one of us would shout.  “No it’s Cher. Again,” another would reply.  At one point the guys thought I found it because of my excitement upon reading the name on the concrete but when they approached a bewildered Scott said “Who’s Jim Nabors?”

“It’s Gomer Pyle from the Andy Griffith Show!” I shouted.  “Here!  Here!  Take my picture next to it!”  I am a huge Andy Griffith fan.  My comrades, not so much.  But I got my picture.

After walking up the street for at least a half hour and realizing that the other sidewalk had just as many stars on it we knew that there had to be a better way to find Burt Reynolds.  What we really needed was a “map of the stars.”  You wouldn’t think that a map detailing the location of every person’s star (or stars) that has ever been put on the Walk of Fame would be that difficult to obtain.  But you’d be wrong.  We found it quite difficult to get a map, for free, so we did the next best thing.  We began asking everyone we saw if they knew where Burt Reynolds’ star was.

“Have you seen Burt Reynolds!?” I said as we approached a man kneeling on the ground posing for a picture with a star.
“No,” the puzzled tourist said as he got up from a star that said “Elvis Presley.”  That guy looked at us like we were the crazy ones.  So I shot him back a look that said without a shadow of a doubt “What’d Elvis ever do that was so spectacular?  He never drove a black Trans Am from Texarkana to Atlanta and back in 28 hours, outrunning that old Smokey.”

Finally we came upon a thin, middle aged woman with light brown hair handing out some sort of flyers.  We figured she was a local so she’d have to know where Burt’s star resided.

“Do you know where Burt Reynolds’ star is?!” Tony asked with a combination of desperation and excitement that only a fat man wearing a “motoring cap” can pull off.  “We’re his biggest fans!  We’re the Burt Reynolds Fan Club in Douglasville, Georgia!”  The club was unofficial, but no one at trivia night ever challenged our allegiance to The Burt so I felt confident that this lady handing out flyers wouldn’t question our credentials.

“Well no, but I think that shop over there has a map in it where we can find it,” the woman said.

“OH MY GOD!  This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to us!” Cameron said.  We all were acting like excited schoolchildren in the presence of this complete stranger, but strangely, she didn’t seem to bat an eye.  We followed her over to the shop where we went in and she asked the shopkeeper about Burt Reynolds’ star and he looked at a map that was under the glass countertop.

“About two blocks away in front of a movie theater,” the dirty hippy man said.  We nearly knocked each other over as we scrambled out the door, but then we remembered our southern manners and let the flyer lady go first.

“You know I really love Burt Reynolds too!  He was the hottest thing going in the late 70s and 80s,” she said.

“Was?  You mean still is the hottest thing going!” I said.  “It’s like his mustache gives him super powers of sexiness!”

“Oh I know!  Have you seen his centerfold from Cosmo?” the woman asked, referring to the 1972 issue of Cosmo where a naked Burt Reynolds poses on a bear skin run.  A photograph we had only known about because Cameron’s mom had the magazine and  told us about it once she learned of our unhealthy obsession with Burt.

“He has it!  He has it!” Tony, Scott, and I shouted in unison as we pointed at Cameron and jumped up and down, jubilant at this woman who apparently really did have some sort of Burt Reynolds fetish.

“Thanks guys,” Cameron said as we walked briskly toward the theater where Burt’s star lived.  “Now I’m never going to get laid on this trip.”

“Oh sure you will,” Tony said with assurance.  “We’ll just drop you off in West Hollywood on the way back to the hotel.”

The Wal-Mart Bathroom

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Potty

Where some guys go for a good time.

During my time at the University of West Georgia, I would occasionally run in to people who I went to high school with.  Most of these people were simple acquaintances in high school, but when we got to college and we’d see each other we talked considerably more in one day than we had in a couple of weeks back in high school.

Although I didn’t typically know these people very well, I knew them much better than the thousands of others at my college that I never spoke to.

The most notable of these occasional encounters with high school acquaintances was with Cameron, who would end up becoming one of my closest friends.  I had one class in high school with Cameron, Advanced Placement U.S. History. He wore a lot of FUBU — a clothing line marketed toward black people — a lot of flashy fake jewelry and was a huge rap fan. My brother recalled seeing Cameron leaving the parking lot of our high school with his 1991 Lincoln Continental, packed full of people, blaring rap music and grinning from ear to ear.

We sat a fair distance away from each other in class and didn’t have very much interaction, but we definitely knew who each other were.

That was when I was in the 11th grade, and I didn’t see very much of Cameron my senior year of high school except when I’d run across him in the hallway selling candy from a duffel bag during class change.  I eventually graduated high school and went onto college and of course since Cameron was a grade below me, I didn’t see any of him at college either.  That is, until my sophomore year at West Georgia.  I ran into Cameron in one of the buildings where we had class at the same time, and since we knew each other from high school we struck up a conversation.

I don’t remember the verbal exchange word for word, but I’m sure I asked him if he was still black and he probably asked me if I still wore those funny hats that I used to wear to all of our high school football games. As shy as I was, I still loved drawing attention to myself with crazy hats, like my Rocky and Bullwinkle hat and — my personal favorite — a hat that looked like a football field. Come to find out, Cameron had always admired my hats and I’m sure he was just as excited to be talking to the crazy hat guy as I was just to be talking to anyone while on my college campus.

Cameron and I continued to hang out before and after class and in a short matter of time we began hanging out outside of school on a regular basis. As young, intelligent college guys we both loved two things: knowledge and pretty girls.

After a while we came up with the perfect activity for the both of us. Hooters restaurants, known for pretty women, held trivia nights once a week. So every Tuesday night we’d drive up to Hooters and play trivia and sip water for a couple of hours and ogle the waitresses until we’d finally lose the trivia game and go home.

One night, after a rousing game of trivia, we left the restaurant about 10 o’clock and headed to my car — a shiny, red 1989 Camaro.  I realized that I had to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t want to go back in the Hooters just to go to the bathroom (the pretty waitresses would whisper about all the water I drank and how cheap I was, and that would be embarrassing — plus, drunks don’t have the best aim), so we decided to head next door to Wal-Mart.

I drove from the parking lot of Hooters out into the Wal-Mart parking lot and parked in the fourth closest space to the entrance. Cameron and I walked into the acclaimed discount superstore and headed to the left, toward the public restrooms. We both went in at the same time and wound our way around two corners and entered the white, tile-covered lavatory.

There were two urinals separated by a blue partition on the left side and a stall with a conventional toilet to the right. To the right of the first complete stall was a larger stall for handicap access. No one was at the urinals or the first stall, but the handicap stall door was closed and there was a pair of feet, with shoes on, visible below the stall wall.

Cameron and I stepped up to the adjacent urinals and began doing the only thing guys can do at urinals. Out of nowhere, well out of the handicap stall, came a Neanderthal-like grunt. Cameron and I both smirked and laughed under our breath a little. Then we heard it again, this time louder and more anguish sounding than the first.

“Arrrgh.  Ummmph!  Errraaah!”

We both started laughing almost uncontrollably at this point, so we zipped up and hastily left the bathroom.

“Oh my God.  That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever heard,” Cameron said.

“Yeah.  I’ve never heard anything like that before.  I mean, what could someone have eaten that would have made them do that?” I asked.

“I don’t know man, but I didn’t finish peeing and I’ve really gotta go. I’m going back in.”

Cameron walked back in and I waited outside, watching the entrance closely just to make sure the grunter didn’t come out without me getting a good look at who was causing such a ruckus in that stall. A couple minutes later, Cameron came out holding his stomach and laughing like I’ve never seen him laugh before.

“What happened? Was he still making the noises? Did you see him!?”  I inquired.

“No. Well, yes.  I mean no,” he said.

“What?” I said laughingly. I was still very amused although a bit flustered that I couldn’t figure out what had happened.

“Yes, he’s still making the noises,” he got out between bursts of laughter. “But he started banging on the wall of the stall!”

“No he didn’t!” I said laughing with disbelief. “Why would anyone do that!? We’ve got to wait and see who comes out of this bathroom.  I’ve never heard of anything like that.”

“Yeah, I’ve got to see what this guy looks like.”

So we stood at the side of the bathroom, looking very conspicuous, every now and then giggling like school girls. We waited and waited for what seemed like forever. Although I’m sure it seemed longer to the guy groaning and banging on the stall, it was probably five to 10 minutes.

Just as we were about to go back in the bathroom to check on our “friend,” he emerged. He was a thin, black man — about 5’10” and appeared to be in his early 30s. He left the bathroom and walked toward the exit of the store like anyone else that comes out of a bathroom, but Cameron and I knew his secret.

We knew that while he looked like he had just taken a normal bathroom break, what he did in that bathroom didn’t approach anything normal. After evaluating him for a minute or so we decided that our mission was complete and we started to head out toward the door.

Then another man came out of the infamous bathroom. He was an older man, white, about 50-60 years of age with the same build as the younger black man.

“Cameron,” I asked, “was there someone else in the bathroom when you went back in?”

“No,” Cameron said, stunned. “I checked the other stall. There was just that one guy in the handicap stall.”

“One guy? Two guys came out of that bathroom and there was only one stall door closed,” I corrected him.

My mind raced with the possibilities of what could have happened. I had watched the bathroom door the whole time after Cameron had come out with stories of grunting and banging on stalls. Either someone had sneaked in the bathroom without me noticing — which would have been very unlikely, because I was watching that bathroom like a hawk — or there were two guys in one stall.

We only saw one pair of feet in the stall, which also complicated things.

However, if there were two guys in that one large stall and there was grunting and knocking going on in there, there was only one thing I could think of that was happening. I was a little disgusted, and a lot amused. The thought of two men of such different ages and ethnicities meeting in a Wal-Mart store bathroom of all places for some sort of illicit rendezvous was more than Cameron and I could handle.

We laughed until we got to my car and I was laughing so hard once I got in the car that I couldn’t drive away. So, we sat in the car and laughed for about half an hour. I don’t even think we talked. It was, to this day, the funniest thing I’ve ever experienced. I keep thinking and hoping that maybe we blinked or turned for just a second to look at something else and one of those guys entered the bathroom without us noticing. But the time frame was so small and the alternative story so entertaining that we just admit that we’re really not sure about what happened in that bathroom that Tuesday night. I still haven’t heard anyone else grunting like that or banging on the walls, not once in all the many times I’ve used public facilities since then.

And I always look closely at the stalls, just to make sure there is one pair of feet in every occupied stall in every public bathroom I go in.

Meet Your New Blogger

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While I am not completely new to the media, having written a few sports stories for the local newspaper and being a highly unpaid intern for morning radio on the old 99X (99.7 FM — everything alternative, including my lifestyle), I am new to blogging.  To introduce myself, I would first like to express how much I love those “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials.

RugBurt

Sexiest man alive? Try sexiest man ever!

Of course, those commercials would cease to exist if it weren’t for the man behind the scenes.

There was a man who inspired such witty comments as, “He’s been the best man at weddings of people he’s never met.”  Naturally I am referring to the man who will be getting most of the praise from the bloggers on this site.  The man who, without him, nothing would exist in this universe:  Burt Reynolds.

Had Burt Reynolds never been born, the hillbilly would still be raping that fat guy from Deliverance.  Perhaps his mustache has given him mystical powers that enable him to perform supernatural automobile maneuvers in a black Trans Am (Smokey and the Bandit) or an ambulance (Cannonball Run).  Maybe he is an alien from a distant galaxy where all life forms are perfect physical specimens.  Whatever his secret, I feel confident when I refer to “The Burt” as the sexiest person the universe has seen or ever will see.

I could go on and on about the merits of Mr. Reynolds, but it is getting late and I need to go let my cat, named Burt Reynolds, inside.  I hope all you bloggers and bloggettes enjoy our future writings.  I will end this blog the way I should – but probably will not – end all my future posts… with a hearty “Hail Burt!”

Burt's star

Joey, Scott, Tony and Cameron with... BURT'S STAR on HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD!!!