Monkey shines!

It’s remarkable to think of all the funny happenings and stories that have punctuated many of the moments of my life. Comprised herein are some of those humorous moments.

I was born six months to the day before the climax of the United States space race in 1969… culminating with man walking on the moon. So the late seventies and all of the eighties were the years that defined my childhood.  My childhood was marked by constant change. From the loss of a parent, resulting in an unstable home life and constantly moving from place to place… state to state… country to country. From preschool to high school, the numbers of different schools I’ve attended number nine. Think about that for a moment… nine different schools… It seemed like every other year we were moving to a new place, making new friends, and figuring out just how to fit into our new environment. The questions were always there… ‘How long would we live here?’ and ‘Will I make new friends just to lose them in another year or so?’ With all the constant changes, I was fortunate enough to spend all four years of high school in the same school. Of course, I went to a different high school than my brother and sister. That was the result of yet another move in the same town but to a different school district. My brother and sister finished at one high school since they had already started there and we moved just before I entered high school so I went to the high school in our new district. All of my friends from the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades went to the high school my siblings attended. Again, I had to start all over… new school… new friends… new everything.

I’ve been exposed to many things over the years, different cultures, peoples, etc. Those experiences, both positive and negative, have helped shaped the person I am today. I think the difference between it either being a blessing or a curse, lies in how you choose to embrace the chaos that is life.

We’ll start our walk through the past in the year 1982. That summer was hot and humid, as is typical in the Deep South… our own little slice of hell in a place known as Huntsville, Alabama. I was 12 years old and lived half a block away from a K-6 elementary school. The school grounds were a popular hangout for the neighborhood kids. There were bike trails in a far corner of the school grounds and a large pine wooded area at the front of the school. There were wide open areas between the back of the school and the dirt bike trails in the rear.

During the summer months, the city had in place a public health program to keep down mosquitoes. They sent out sprayer trucks that would spray entire neighborhoods as the truck drove down the streets at least once a week. People got into the habit of closing their doors, windows, etc. when they heard the truck coming down their streets. Others would try to outrun the trucks and escape the area before becoming sprayed. On one such occasion, a group of us kids were riding our bicycles in the wooded area previously described at the school when we heard the bug spray truck turn into the neighborhood. Someone had the bright idea of throwing green pine cones at the truck as it passed in front of the woods on the surface street. So we hurriedly gathered as many pine cones as we could find as the truck slowly made its way towards us. As it came within range, we pelted the truck with as many pine cones as we could unleash. The truck screeched to a halt before accelerating forward and turning into the school grounds. A little gravel road hugged the edge of the woods and wrapped around the upper area where we had planned to escape. The race was on! We hopped on our bicycles and took off towards the top of the woods as the truck sped along the gravels. As we exited the woods, the man driving the truck was jumping out of his vehicle. He was really close to us. All he had to do was to catch one of us and the rest would’ve been busted. My friend Billy was the easy target. I vividly remember Billy standing up with his back arched and pedaling his bicycle as fast as he could and the man making a grab for his seat bar. The man missed and bit the dust. I don’t quite remember what all the angry man said but he had quite a few ‘sons of bitches’ and ‘little mother fuckers’ in his screams. We didn’t throw at the bug spray trucks any longer after that.

We moved from that neighborhood shortly thereafter and relocated to the northeastern part of town. I entered the ninth grade at Lee High School. Our new neighborhood had a lot of other teens around my age. Two of my closest friends were my next door neighbors, Tony and Tim. Tony was several years older than me and his brother was a year younger. Since Tim and I were closer in age, we tended to hang out more often. Behind our homes was a creek that ran parallel to a strip of woods that was divided by an abandoned railroad bed.  Beyond that was a large field that led to a major roadway known as North Memorial Parkway. This would become the scene of many, many adventures over the next several years.

One cold winter day, during our two week Christmas break, Tim and I had taken our air rifles into the woods to target shoot. We wore several layers of clothing to help protect us from the biting winter wind and wore double socks to shield our feet from the cold wet snow. We had taken provisions with us into the woods to make a temporary camp site and warm our food. Over the course of the next few hours, we had traversed all through the woods and worked up an appetite. We made our way to the abandoned railroad bed. All that was left of the former railroad was the raised gravel bed the rails used to sit upon when anchored to the rail ties. Most of the rail ties were taken, along with the steel rails, but some of the unusable wooden ties were left behind off to the side of the bed. Tim and I dragged a few of the ties back onto the bed and formed a makeshift fire pit. We then filled the fire pit with dry pine straw and sticks we found underneath the snow covered trees. Our ‘roughing it’ skills of lighting the fire with flint and steel gave way to the trusty lighter. Soon we had a nice fire to warm our faces and hands. Digging into our provisions, I pulled out a few cans of Beanie Weenies and handed one to Tim. Out came my P-38 can opener and I punched a few holes in the top of my can to release the pressure the can would generate when placed at the edge of the campfire. We both placed our cans of Beanie Weenies at the outer edge of the fire and were discussing our day. A number of minutes had passed when suddenly, a huge explosion went off. My ears, face, and hands were all burning. Looking down, I saw that Tim and I were both covered in steaming Beanie Weenies. Turns out, Tim had failed to punch holes into the top of his can of Beanie Weenies. Talk about a freakin’ mess. I learned a valuable lesson that day… never assume someone has any common sense.

Both Tony and Tim lived with their grandparents. With such a difference between their respective generations, it tended to produce conflicts. The grandparents were of the World War II generation. The grandfather had served in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific during the war. After the war, the grandfather went into the painting business. As was common for the time, it turned into a family business. Both Tony and Tim followed in the footsteps of their father and grandfather. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them and for their grandfather during the summer months of my teenage years. It afforded me the ability to earn more money than a conventional job and I could work far more hours than the law provided since I was paid ‘under the table’.

There are so many funny things that occurred on the job when I was painting. Seems like there was never a dull moment when working with Tim or Tony. Tony had a habit of doing his ‘business’ on the job site. If we were working on a new construction site, before the plumbing was installed, Tony would grab a plastic bag and a 5 gallon bucket and head for a closet… thus creating his own personal toilet. In occupied homes, Tony would use the homeowner’s bathroom and stink up the room. Once, when he was finished doing his ‘business’, he went looking for Tim. He told Tim about the amazing porn collection that was stashed in the bathroom. Tim being Tim, dropped what he was doing and took off for the stinky bathroom. Upon entering, his dear brother Tony pulled the door shut and secured it so that Tim couldn’t leave. Needless to say, the porn collection never existed, and Tim certainly wasn’t amused!

Another ‘poop’ story… and there are many! We were working a new construction home just north of Huntsville on Bob Wade Lane. The owner was a lay minister and an insurance broker. The home was massive!  The living room was two floors tall with tongue-in-groove poplar ceilings and recessed can lights. Poplar is a hardwood that is very knotty. When poplar is made into planks, the colors will vary greatly over its length. Part of the process of installing poplar ceilings requires using a pneumatic nail gun to nail the wood to the ceiling. The holes produced by the nails then have to be filled in with special wood putty. The putty resembles clay and can be mixed with special pigments to match the color of the wood it has to blend with. On this particular day, we ran out of putty. Tim and I went searching for putty in different parts of the house while Tony went out to the work van to see what he could find. Tim and I came up empty. Minutes later, Tony comes back into the house holding a rag. As he approaches us he says ‘I think I found some extra putty!’ and extends his hand holding the open rag with the putty clearly viewable. Instantly, Tim starts to grab the putty but stops short when he realizes the putty is actually shit Tony had put in the rag. Yep, Tony didn’t find any putty but had plenty of time to take a crap in the van.

On the same job site, and in the very same living room, one day Tony was messing with Tim again. Tony had climbed the scaffolding erected in the living room to install the poplar ceiling, and climbed up to the upper level window and thereby made his way to the outside roof. Tony began calling Tim’s name down the chimney. Tim kept walking around downstairs yelling ‘Where are you?’ After coming in and out of the living room several times, he figured out that Tony’s voice was emanating from the fireplace. The prank was over and Tony came back inside. Later on that day, Tim… being an original thinker… decided to play the same prank on Tony, but with a twist. He made his way up the scaffolding and then the roof. ‘Tony! Tony!’, Tim called out. Tony came into the room and immediately knew Tim was on the roof. It happened that the home owner, his wife, and his sister-in-law entered the room just behind Tony. Nobody knew they had driven up and we weren’t expecting to see them that day. ‘Tony!, Tony!’, Tim yelled again. The home owner went over to the fireplace, bent down, and stuck in his head to look up the chimney. No sooner had he done so, ‘splat’, something hit the stonework beside his head. Tim’s twist on Tony’s prank was to crap down the chimney. It goes without saying that was Tim’s last day on the job site.

I worked with Tim, Tony, and their family for several years in the painting trade. Once I married in 1990, I wanted something more permanent and year round employment. I worked for a few years for a large local computer corporation before landing a job at an ambulance manufacturing company in the Madison, Alabama area. The company employed around 200 people at the time. Of the 200 employees, most were members of one of three families. How that happened, I don’t really know. Regardless, that’s the way it was. I worked second shift and one my team members included a supervisor (Ray), his son David, and his son-in-law Mark. I don’t know what was wrong with Mark. Maybe generational inbreeding finally caught up to him or he was dropped a lot as a child… anyway, Mark wasn’t very bright. He was always full of stupid questions and comments. After one such comment, I turned to him and asked, ‘Mark, did you graduate from high school?’ Everything seemed to pause. His father-in-law, brother-in-law, and others close by stopped what they were doing and waited for Mark’s reply. ‘Yep.’ Mark answered. Then I followed up with, ‘If you don’t mind me asking, what was your GPA?’ To my complete surprise, Mark responded ‘I didn’t get one of them, I got a GED!’ David turned and walked away and Ray, his father-in-law started cussing under his breath but I vaguely made out ‘I’ve got grandkids from that dumb son of a bitch!’

A few years passed and I found myself enrolled in a machine tool technology class, working my way through school training to become a machinist. After just one quarter of school, Parker-Hannifin raided me from the machinist course. I still went to trade school for the next two and a half years but was also learning on the job as well. I was employed by Parker-Hannifin as a screw machine machinist. The people of north Alabama are good and true but they are also a riot to be around. At break time one day, I shared an outside picnic table with two middle aged women, Linda and Kathy. Linda was commenting on the weather, ‘It sure is airshy out here and the sun makes me wanna squench my eyes!’ I whipped around my head towards her and asked, ‘Do you mean airy , as in breezy? And do you mean squint, as in to partially close your eyes?’ Her stare was cold and her face nearly turned into a scowl. ‘You know what I meant! You ain’t from around here are you?’ she asked. ‘Actually, Linda, I was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised all over the place, but spent the better part of my time right here in Huntsville!’ I replied. ‘Then how come you don’t sound like us?’ she asked in her heavy southern drawl. “Because you guys sound like a bunch of fuckin’ idiots, that’s why!’ I retorted.

I ran into an old friend, Bobbie in 1998. I hadn’t seen her for several years. I asked her how she was doing and how were her sisters.  She said that she was well and one of her sisters was in the hospital.

‘Is she ok?’ I asked.

‘Yeah, she’s just gonna have her dick cut off.’ Bobbie said.

‘What???’ I was taken aback.

‘Yeah, no shit dude, she’s got a dick.’ stated Bobbie.

‘But she’s married and has a kid!’ I said.

‘Yep!’ said Bobbie.

‘I thought hermaphrodites were sterile?’ I shot back.

‘Nope, there are several types of hermaphrodites. Some have testicles…’ she started to say.

‘Hey! I don’t really want to know!’ I cried.

‘Dude, you asked!’ she giggled.

‘Well, it does make you wonder… In the morning when she pees, does she sit or stand? And, when she gave birth, did the doctors have to duct tape her dick out of the way? The bigger question is, does that make her husband gay or at the very least, bisexual???’ I asked.

Many more comments were made but those were the most tasteful, so to speak. A few weeks later I met up with Bobbie once again and inquired about her sister. ‘Oh, she’s staying with mom so she’ll be closer to her doctor appointments.’ Bobbie told me. ‘But Dude, check this out!’ she continued. ‘The other day, she came downstairs when my mom had her friends over for tea. She walked right up to a lady sitting on the couch, reached down and lifted up her skirt, with no panties on, and asked ‘Does this look natural?’.’

‘No way!’ I laughed. ‘That takes balls!’

‘Um, not anymore!’ Bobbie snickered.

I divorced my first wife in November of 1998 after eight years of marriage. After finalizing all of my property matters, I picked up and moved to San Diego. I had no children, no responsibilities, and the chance to start my life over again. I was thirty years old and free to do as I pleased. It was a toss-up as to where I wanted to move. It came down to two locations, Montana or San Diego. I longed for the tranquility and wide open spaces Montana offered. I wanted to drop out of the rat race and reconnect with nature. I’ve always found peace when I was alone with my thoughts, no distractions, and in the midst of the great outdoors. The practical side of me said to go where I had ties. Both my brother and sister were in living in southern California. My sister lived in San Diego and my brother lived 30 minutes north of her in Oceanside. The obvious and practical choice was San Diego so that’s where I went. Still, every so often, I think how differently my life might’ve been had I gone to Montana.

I stayed a few months with my sister and her husband until I could get on my feet and find a place to live in San Diego. My sister’s husband, Derrick, likes practical jokes. I’m a machinist as I’ve previously stated. We use a lot of oil based coolants when machining. It is because my sense of smell was thusly compromised, that I did not notice Derrick had played a joke on me. As it turns out, Derrick had gotten ahold of an old pair of my sister’s pantyhose, went outside, and filled it with dog poop. He then hung it underneath the bed I slept on with a paper plate under the poop. The plate was there to catch the excess water from the spray bottle Derrick was using daily to keep it nice and ‘fresh’. One day Derrick finally came in and asked me if I smelled anything. I replied in the negative. He then pointed out what he had done and couldn’t believe I never smelled it. Nope, never did.

There were many great times over and my sister’s and Derrick’s home. She lives in a home that backs up to a canyon that’s a dedicated green space. Hot air balloons would dip down into the canyons behind their home and ride until they approached the far canyon wall. They would then charge the balloon to gain altitude and climb over the canyon wall. One late summer afternoon, another hot air balloon dropped into the canyon. My brother, his girlfriend Kelly, my sister, Derrick, and I were all hanging out in the backyard. My sister, Lillian, was using a video camera, recording as we horsed around. As the balloon reached the end of the canyon, they attempted to climb over the canyon wall. We could hear the people, which numbered about 8, talking very clearly. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t gain altitude. The gondola containing the passengers started to drag along the ascending canyon wall. My brother, Tony, being the outspoken one in the family… decided to offer some helpful advice. ‘Throw the fat one out!’ he shouted. He must’ve shouted it half a dozen times or more. Mind you, we could hear the passengers speaking clearly before they ran into difficulties, it was safe to assume they could hear my ass of a brother the first time he yelled ‘Throw the fat one out!’ In any case, the hot air balloon operator gave up and landed as best he could. Chase vehicles arrived shortly thereafter and picked up the passengers and retrieved the balloon.

When I first moved to San Diego in 1999, my brother Tony was dating a sweet girl name Kelly. Tony was a helicopter Crew Chief in the Marine Corps and Kelly was a Psych Tech with the Navy. They had been dating a while but never set a firm date when they would marry. We were all gathered at my sister’s home one Christmas Day when the topic of marriage was broached. My brother, in true Tony fashion, started to rationalize why they weren’t setting a date. He said that he didn’t have a wedding ring yet suitable for the occasion. Off Lillian darts upstairs. A few moments later, she comes back down and hands Tony a ring. ‘Will this work?’ she asked. Then Tony says he doesn’t have a band either. This time Derrick takes off. In a bit, Derrick comes back with a band. Tony is getting painted into a corner quickly. ‘After the holidays…’ he starts to say, when someone mentions Las Vegas. We looked it up and find that yes, you can get married on Christmas Day in Vegas. So the five of us pile into my sister’s GS400 Lexus around 6 pm on Christmas Day and head out to Vegas. The wedding was on!

We get to Vegas around midnight, arriving at a wedding chapel. They send us to the county courthouse for a marriage license. So, sometime after midnight on the morning of the 26th, we’re finishing the required paperwork for a license at the courthouse. We then made our way back to the wedding chapel. Ceremony was performed shortly thereafter and by 6 a.m., we were sitting at a Vegas hotel buffet having breakfast. Twelve hours… a lot can happen in twelve hours. Yes, Sin City at it’s finest.

Kelly decided that she wanted to undergo elective surgery for a slight under-bite. Being military, she could have the procedure performed at the Navy hospital. In addition to having the under-bite corrected, Kelly also wanted to have a fuller lips. She was wanting to tell me all about her upcoming surgery. ‘Kelly, are you sure you want me to know?’ I asked. But she persisted. She explained how they were going to cut two ‘S’ shape fragments from both sides of her lower jaw and slide it backwards to correct the bite. While they were at it, they were going to insert a sphincter from a cadaver, underneath her lips to fill them out. Apparently, somebody’s dead asshole has similar characteristics to human lips. Who knew? Kelly soon regretted telling me these beautiful nuggets of information. The humorous observations began! What if the sphincter came from some gay guy’s asshole? Would you still be able to whistle? Or, would it look like a basset hound blowing out a cake full of candles? And questions like, ‘Doctor, why does everything taste like shit?’, ‘What’s the difference between oral and anal sex, Tony? NOTHING!’, and so on…

Some time later, Tony, Kelly, and I were going to Lillian’s home to hang out. Entering the bottom of the neighborhood, Tony saw two very overweight German Shepherd dogs walking around a front yard. Remember, Lillian’s home backed up to a canyon. Seeing wild animals in the area wasn’t uncommon. Anyways, Tony points out the dogs and says to Kelly, ‘Kelly, look at those coyotes!’ Kelly’s eyes grew large and exclaimed. ‘Those mother-fuckers are HUGE!’ I laughed and said, ‘Kelly, I think they escaped a research facility.’ ‘How do you know that?’ she asked. ‘Well, you see those fucking collars they’re wearing…?’

Kelly was a lot of fun to be around. She wore her heart on her sleeve. One day she came by my sister’s home and we were hanging out again. She started to tell us about her day at work in the psych ward. She opened by saying, ‘I was talking to a friend at work today…’ when I interrupted with, ‘Hold on, are we talking about a patient or a co-worker?’ and then Lillian asked, ‘Yeah, can we see them too?’ Kelly was not amused.

I worked for a couple of years in Scripps Ranch at a machine shop. After work, some of my coworkers and I would go out bar hopping. On one occasion, two of my coworkers and I went to visit the PB Bar and Grill downtown. We parked a few blocks away from the bar as there were no parking spaces available closer. Floyd, Mike, and I were walking along, making our way towards the bar when we noticed that Mike started to lag behind. We stopped and I asked Mike, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ Mike walked up to us, turned and pointed out a homeless lady a short distance away. ‘Yeah, so?’ I asked. Mike continued, ‘I’ll bet she’ll do anything for a cheeseburger!’ Sick bastard… we grabbed him and kept walking towards the bar.

Floyd is a fun guy too. He comes with his own set of issues. He’s Pakistani by birth. When I first met him he introduced himself. I asked if ‘Floyd’ was his given name or a nickname. He assured me that yes, ‘Floyd’ was indeed his birth name. Ok, the guy is dark, he’s Pakistani, and his name is Floyd. Just how the hell did that happen? As it turns out, Floyd’s grandfather was from the UK. He met and married Floyd’s grandmother when India and Pakistan were still one country under English colonial rule. From that point on, the family was raised Christian in a majority Muslim country. No need to point out the many serious problems that created for the family. Eventually the family immigrated to the United States.

Floyd used to make a Tijuana run with another coworker named Richard. They frequented a rat hole in TJ whose name translated into ‘The hairy cave’. There, they would pick up prostitutes for the evening. One Monday Floyd came to work with a strange look on his face. I asked if he was ok. Floyd informed me he thought he had fallen in love. ‘With a hooker?!’ I exclaimed. His story went something like this… after having sex, the prostitute got up and went to the bathroom. She left the door open and Floyd could see her cleaning herself out while straddling the sink. It was then he said that he fell in love. Really, Floyd? Really??? That’s seriously fucked up, dude.



I’ve always been a subscriber to the idea that a person’s perception is their reality… no matter how screwed up that reality appears to the rest of us. I believe our life experiences, or lack thereof, helps to shape our overall opinions and sociopolitical views.

I once worked with a lady that was very religious and called herself a Christian. Who am I to argue if someone is a Christian or not? But I have to wonder how someone can claim to be a Christian when they don’t even have a reasonable grasp or understanding of the religion they profess to be a part? Sure, faith requires belief without proof… but even so, isn’t part of faith the seeking of truth? I asked this lady if she believed in the literal word of the Bible or if she thought of the parables as teachable stories that conveyed a universal morality?

She looked at me with a blank expression on her face. I could tell she didn’t understand the question so I broke it down Barney style for her. She answered that she believed in the literal word… the Bible states that God had created the Earth and all its creatures in 6 days and on the seventh, He rested. Ok… I couldn’t help myself… I had to ask… ‘If you believe in the literal reading of the Bible, and if God is all powerful, why couldn’t He create everything instantly and why did he need a day to rest?’ The silence was deafening. I’m not against religion. I think all faiths have something to offer their faithful. It’s just that unquestionable blind faith, while admirable, is irrational.

Over the course of time I worked with this lady, I gleaned snippets of information about her life, her ‘backstory’.  She would talk about the troubled life she had growing up, some drug use in her early adulthood, and ongoing family issues. Upon learning this, it seemed to make more sense why she had become so religious. Maybe she was trying to make amends for her past? Perhaps religion was her coping mechanism instead of alcohol or drug use?

An age old question, the meaning of life.

A major epiphany I’ve had to accept over the course of my life is the fact that there really isn’t any actual point to it. Life exists for its own sake. There is no goal, no end point, and no payoff with the joys of an afterlife.

What life is, is a series of shifting priorities. We all go through stages in which certain things are more important than others at a particular point in time. I think we kind of get wrapped up in those shifting priorities and that becomes, symbolically at least, our purpose. We focus on the immediate, mundane aspects of our lives, but tend to lose sight of the overall picture. We are here for only a short time and our individual lives, are trivial. We’re born, endure transitory lives, and then perish. That’s it. It really is that simple…

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