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The More Things Change…

The More Things Change…

One-score and five years ago, I diverged mightily from my peers and dropped out of college.  Or failed out, whatever.  (Technically I should’ve been a medical withdrawal as I had a horrendous case of mono, but a couple of dickhead teachers went ahead and gave me Fs anyway since my attendance record was somewhat spotty prior to the (in my case, inaccurately nicknamed) kissing disease.  Again, whatever.)  This led to a brief period where I tried to live at home (that lasted like two days) and then I moved back to where I went to high school and eventually picked up a few shifts at Taco Bell. Pretty classic case of being a shithead loser that couldn’t handle college and putting oneself on track to have a neck tattoo and three kids before the age of twenty two.

Although my reasoning for not giving a shit about college was pretty sound – I looked around at the 30,000 other kids eventually destined to graduate from my bottom-of-the-SEC-academically-and-that’s-probably-saying-something not-alma mater and wondered what would ever really make me different from all those other dipshits in the eyes of future employers. A valid concern, and as I now know I had a few lucky breaks that sent me down a more lucrative academic pathway. Back to 25 years ago…

Working like ten hours a week at $3.45/hour presented me with a few dilemmas, such as how to provide myself food for consumption.  I also wasn’t technically living anywhere, staying at my then-SO’s house (she lived with her parents, and they were unaware that I was sleeping on their couch – chastely, might I add) – for a few hours a night.  Some nights I slept in my car – I had the ingenious strategy of pulling my car into a used car lot so that nobody would give me shit like if I tried to crash in the Wal-Mart parking lot (before they were open 24 hours).  While a 1981 280ZX shares many attributes with a plush recreational vehicle, retaining warmth was not one of them. This lean period frequently caused me to rue my failure to endure collegedom.

Eventually I sort-of moved in with some former coworkers – there were about 8 people living in a 600 sqft apartment at one time or another.  I added additional jobs to my resume – donut cooker at a grocery store in the morning, tough guy who collected on newspaper subscriptions in the afternoon, Taco Bell closer at night.  I got canned at Taco Bell (at the time for showing up late and having a bad attitude; when I saw my old manager a few years ago at a reunion he claimed they knew I was capable of more and needed to get the hell out of Dodge. Revisionist history.) and eventually got a far more lucrative job as a waiter, which allowed me to finally scrape together enough cash to get my own place before joining the Navy.  (I was 19 and that was my second apartment I’d had on my own – old soul.)  Other than eating at the Ragin Cajun restaurant, approximately 85% of my meals were Goober Grape-based.  (At the communal apartment, when someone would bring in a block of ham, it was ironically like that scene in Hannibal when those pigs ate that dude.)

I have generally felt that those bootstrap-pulling times provided me perspective later in life.  If that’s the case, I’m setting myself up to REALLY have some perspective about ten years from now….Let’s take stock of present-day Chilly: unemployed for going on five years (okay, sure, that was largely of my own volition, but I’m trying to draw parallels here), savings largely sapped (thanks AAPL, I’m not even a fucking fanboy and I got lured into big (well, relative to account size) bets based on eye-poppingly modest valuation multiples and insane cash flow and margins, not realizing that options have truly become the tail wagging the dog in a huge way), again semi-estranged from my mom (my dad passed away in January – no need for condolences, it was a relief after suffering from stroke complications for 18 months), I weigh close to 230 (my goddam foot still hurts from the plantar fasciitis) and the 49ers lost the Super Bowl because they acted like they didn’t give a shit for about an hour and a half. So, yeah, it looks like a full circle deal.

Getting into this situation wasn’t the same process as in 1988, where I kind of rejected the do-what-you’re-supposed-to-do thesis.  Then, my thoughts were more along the lines of “look at all these dickheads, going to classes and stuff”…in the present I never really thought “look at all those dickheads going to work and stuff” – it was more born of being tired as shit.  Being on a submarine, and then being a banker does not mix well for a classic Type B (translation: lazy) person.  I wanted to take some time and just do whatever the fuck I wanted.  I mighthave gotten a little carried away with that – I doubt many leading life coaches would embrace the “just fuck off instead of working during some of your peak earning years” approach.

So what is next for the Chillster?  I did what any rational person would do – I packed up three suitcases of shit and drove to Austin, Texas where I rented an apartment for $600/month. Luckily, the girl leaving the apartment let me have her crappy furniture (my nice furniture has been in storage in Brooklyn for seven years – don’t ask) which may or may not be bedbug-infested.  Yesterday, I bought two plates at Goodwill. Today I went to a different Goodwill and bought a pot and a spoon.  (Reminder: six years ago I paid $87k for a car without thinking twice about it.) Tomorrow, I’m gonna buy a fork.  And maybe look for a job.  I’ll keep ya’ll posted.

Anyway, this post was meant more as an announcement that I’ll finally (for real) be posting more, as I will try and document my Phoenix-like rise. And I realize this post sounds like whining and bitching, but really it’s all good in the hood (extra appropriate since I actually live in the hood): some of my happiest times were being poor as shit, fighting it out with a bunch of other poor bastards for a hunk of ham.

And completely mitigating all other downers is the fact that, this Christmas, I finally achieved one of my life-long goals: owning half-pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  More details on the gigantic Reese’s Cups here.

half pound reeses cups up in here
Fake Rolex for scale purposes only - these are some big-assed Reese's Cups


And a have a really cool roommate:


Looking Back: Spring Break 1993 (Part III)

Looking Back: Spring Break 1993 (Part III)

It was like this, but different

(Editor’s Note: Man, I am apparently quite a chatty f*ck…this should’ve been a quickie, and yet I have once again turned it into something Tolkienesque…it has taken me some time to get in the right frame of mind to finish the saga, but I think I finally stumbled upon the right combination: >1 bottle of Apothic Red in my system, Hall & Oates all up in my Grooveshark queueueueueuue and the 49ers having selected someone I’ve never heard of in the first round, despite the (literally) hundreds of hours I’ve spent reading about the NFL draft.)

Alcohol affects everyone differently: some people get mad, some sad, some strangely racist.  My problem with alcohol has long been that it lifts the non-rose-colored veil from my eyes and allows me to realize what an incredible person I am.  Sure, I might become an angry drunk one out of eight hundred times, but mostly I like to get drunk and just soak in my own ambience.  This was true back in 1993 as well.  I was inebriated during the majority of this portion of the story, but I stand by its accuracy.  (Unless someone gives me a really hard time, then I’ll fold like a Brooks Brothers non-iron handkerchief.)

I still remember her name: Jill Banezkkdiaodhfadiuhadhgekeiwzcy.  I believe she went to Oswego State or some other SUNY institute of higher learning.  She was part of a contingent of lovely (or semi-lovely) ladies that ended up at the same half-empty bar as me and Pos on a fateful Monday night.  (Foreshadowing)  And (as I remember it), she was smoking hot – blond, tan and surprisingly nice for someone with the aforementioned qualities…quite an attractive combination.  We talked for a bit – maybe she was a little on the boring side, but let Chilly do some of his patented magic and who knows- then, wham, the whole group of them bailed.  They were going to Miami or Key West the next day and wanted to get an early start.  I blamed Pos, who clearly couldn’t entertain the other seven girls enough for me to get some quality time with Jill.  Just for the record: she was the hottest one, and if Pos ever claims otherwise, it’s just sour grapes for this story finally hitting the historical record.  The Fort wasn’t actually hopping that much, so we called it a night shortly after the ladies from Oswego left.

The next day we just decided to sleep in, chill with some Mcdonald’s (I have no recollection whatsoever of where we stayed in Ft. Lauderdale – nothing as visually striking as the Copa) and kind of ease into the day.  Rested and feeling like native warriors, we returned to the previous night’s sports bar, where we each came oh-so-close to have having at least a fivesome.  At this point I was enjoying life – we were out of the stifling Academy atmosphere, I was sporting some attire that in hindsight probably looked like I was joking, and we were sipping a couple of dollar beers, flush with at least $100 cash money between us left.

And then, like an apparition, she appeared.  Jill Banekskaldfjaduhfaduhaduhadksky – and friends – marched right up to us (we were sitting outside like cool-assed motherf*ckers.)  Playing it super-cool, I was like “I thought ya’ll was leaving?” and she was all “we decided to stay – there was something we liked about this place.”  And internally, I processed that as “they f*cking love really clean streets as much as I do, these girls are all right.”

As I further pondered the mysteries of street cleanliness, sh*t got really, really real.  She leaned in and said “I’ll buy you any shot and any beer you want.”  Wait just a f*cking second!  Hot chick, loves clean streets and she’s buying drinks?  If there were Little White Chapels all over the place in Fort Lauderdale, I would have tried to convince her to head to one, posthaste.   I could not believe my good fortune – the best-looking girl in the place (granted, the pickings were fairly slim on a Tuesday night but whatever) was going to pay me to drink with her.  Finally, the good karma from having a hot almost-girlfriend up in Maryland had wafted down to South Florida.  I really wish that Youtube existed back in those days, because my intimations to Pos about what was happening could potentially have forever-altered the scales for arrogance, smugness and talking-sh*t-to-your-buddy-who-wasn’t-with-the-hottest-chick-in-the-group.

Having made sure to give Pos a major amount of sh*t for my good fortune and his (relative) lack of same, I sauntered to the bar, my non-ironic plaid shorts shimmering in the faint light of dusk and Jill B. in-hand.  A romantic at heart, we exchanged the following playful banter on the way to order the drinks THAT, BY THE WAY, SHE WAS PAYING FOR (which was a good thing since bars rarely accepted Texaco cards back in 1993).

Me (smugly): “How does tequila sound?  With an Icehouse chaser?”

She (innocently): “Oh, I can’t do tequila.  That is the worst thing ever.  Anything but tequila.”

Me (idioticly): “No, that’s not true – there are a bunch of things stronger than tequila.  Just because you had one bad experience -“

She (coyly): “Tequila’s just not a good call for me right now.  I’m down with anything else.”

Me (in-hindsight-I-can’t-believe-itly): “Have you ever had a 252?  Some places call it a Gorilla Fart?*”

She (I-can’t-wait-to-do-bad-things-on-spring-breakly): “Sounds delicious.”

Me (scientifically): “Okay, but just so you know, it’s made of Wild Turkey 101 and Bacardi 151, it’s really strong.”

She (I-should’ve-picked-up-on-how-bad-of-an-idea-this-wasly): “As long as it’s not tequila.”

So, we did a 252 shot.  And started to enjoy our very-chilled Icehouses.  I probably should’ve heard some ominous internal music playing when one of her friends came up to me and said “Wow, Jill must really like you, she doesn’t usually drink.”  (Note: for some people this would have been foreshadowing, for Chilly it was f*ckimawesomeshadowing.)  We proceeded to head over to Pos and her other friends – they seemed to be getting along similar to a few old buffalos and a lioness begrudgingly sharing a field – where I went into full-on f*ckhead mode, because I had f*cking won.  The hot chick convinced her friends to stay in lame Fort Lauderdale – maybe I do look like Kurt Russel? – and I’m f*cking ruling this sh*tty bar.

Things only got better: “you want to go for a walk on the beach?”  Looking back (the theme of this post), this was the precise moment in my life where I started the movement from a youthful lack-of-self-awareness-I-have-all-the-answers-f*ck-you perspective to a more adult worldview.  I did, indeed, want to go for a walk on the beach.  And she even did the move from movies where she takes her shoes off – perhaps to enjoy the beach (although, sand sucks) or maybe to subtly suggest that there was more disrobing where that innocent first step came from.  There was a brilliant full moon – hell, I think Venus was maybe in view back then, too – it was a perfect night for a closer such as myself.

Except she needed to sit down for a second.  On a rock.  And then commenced projectile vomiting.  I held her hair.  The vomiting continued.  I felt like I was at a blackjack table where Sue Ng had just stepped in as dealer – no way to stem the tide.  I started to feel weird just sitting on a rock while she was barfing and I was making sure her hair was barf-free.  This was quickly descending into debacle territory.  I decided to carry her back to her room – first opting for that “Ryan carrying Marissa out of the car wreck on The OC” style while dealing with innumerable insults and slurs hurled from folks that suspected I was on the forefront of the Rohypnol craze.  I eventually just had to sling her over my shoulder for the last couple of blocks.

Innovation: having head inside the toilet bowl eliminates need for a hair holder

We ultimately made it to her room, where I monitored her vital signs for a few hours to make sure I didn’t have a death on my hands before even starting military service.  She survived.  Meanwhile, Pos was in the other room getting some hand love from one of her friends.  One of the earliest examples of FML.

Silver lining: spring of 1993 was the Storm of the Century, a major blizzard.  We realized it was coming and cut our trip short (also, we were out of money, at one point frustratingly trying to get $19 out of an ATM that only dispensed $20s.  (Really, back in the day ATMs dispensed $5s – hell, in Arkansas today there are some ATMs that dispense $1s – and you had the curse of looking for the Plus Network – not every ATM would do.))  We made it back to Maryland barely ahead of the storm.  The storm effectively extended spring break another week – during which I got to hang out with my not-girlfriend and accomplish some of the goals that spring break would not allow me.  All was not lost.

* One crazy thing about 252s/Gorilla Farts: they were popular at the Academy at that time because there was a former State Trooper who was almost killed by a drunk driver – he became a motivational speaker because he survived – who would buy anyone who talked to him (and he was at the bars constantly) a 252/GF.  Even though alcohol almost killed him – there was some meaning behind it, if you asked him to discuss it, but I was generally really f*cked up by that point and never fully understood why he did that.  True story. 




Looking Back: Spring Break 1993 (Part II)

Looking Back: Spring Break 1993 (Part II)

The Copacabana Hotel in Daytona, Florida
The place wasn't quite as popular in 1993, divide the number of people at the pool by 37 and you'll get a better idea of the situation we were dealing with


I believe I left off at the point where we had reached Daytona and made the adult contemporary decision to stay at the illustrious Copacabana in search of potential Lolas-of-the-moment.  The above image is apparently the Copa in its heyday, which was 1-2 generations removed from our visit – is that Don Draper in the background?  I can only remember a few noteworthy items about the Copacabana:

  • Our room had a screen door
  • We got MTV, and Beavis and Butt-Head had just hit the airwaves (I ironically found it sophomoric at the time, despite being recently removed from sophomore status myself)
  • There was a Texaco nearby, so we could counter the $24/day motel rate with a couple cases of Icehouse from the Star, which presumably my parents would eventually pay for (but most likely they would just say “f*ck it” and not pay the bill anyway; their love of usurious interest rates and late/reconnect fees is legendary)
  • There was indeed a pool, but it did not look much like the one above.  If memory serves, it was a bring your own chair setup.

We were f*cking pumped to be in Florida, ready to rock the sh*t out of the place.  Also, though, we were pretty sleepy.  That’s a long drive in a Ford Ranger.  So if my memory is correct – and almost certainly it’s tainted by inaccuracy and a bloated sense of self-esteem – we ended up sleeping til like 8:00 PM and then going to some f*cking ridiculous dance club with glow sticks and test tube shooters and stuff.  At the time, I certainly needed a little bit of verbal communication to have a shot with the ladies – I hadn’t perfected the “get up in their face and krump your ass off” technique that I have going today.  Pos was essentially in the same boat.  And we paid a f*cking cover to get in there – I think $10 each.  That was a decent chunk of our $400 straight cash homie.  We still bailed – it was a sh*tshow in there and not really our scene.

The next day we decided we were gonna let the party come to us – we loaded up the bathtub with a couple cases of sh*tty beer, did some preemptive pushups (gameday pushups always trump months of working out in advance of spring break) and hit the Copacabana pool.  Don’t let that postcard image above fool you – we were the only people there.  But it was all good, we could see the beach – and, seriously, f*ck sand.  Couple of cool guys like us, it was only a matter of time.

Our luck turned better after about the fifth Milwaukee’s Best.  Three chicks showed up and pulled up towels (or ottomans or whatever sh*t the Copa had to prevent your skin from coming into direct contact with the pavement) in our general vicinity.  I, seasoned from a year of “regular college” might as well have spotted a scarlet letter on their cover-ups – they were Delta Delta Deltas from Southeast Missouri State.  (From memory, I came up with SW Missouri State, but my quest for precision led me to do some fact-checking.)  As I explained to Pos, Tri-Delts were generally known for being hot of appearance and loose of morals, ie the perfect spring break combination.  And there were three of them!  We were running a fast break up in the Copa!  All we had to do was come up with some clever banter (being from Missouri, we had to make sure that the majority of said banter was monosyllabic, so as not to hurt any feelings or cause headaches) and we had a very great chance of hooking some sh*t up.

Now, I don’t want to brag, but somehow they ended up in our room.  It was either our doughy-even-though-at-a-military-academy physiques, our suave demeanors, or the fact that they were at the same sh*tty motel and pretty much nobody else was just hanging out at the sh*tty motel – most other spring breakers preferring loud, redundant thumping and girls in bikinis walking around selling trays of test tube shots.  The problem was, neither one of us was particularly suited to “culling the herd” if you will.  If memory serves, they were all pleasant enough, in an unenthusiastic way, but there were too many of them – suddenly the numbers were working against us.

At a critical juncture – I think we were trying to get them to go swimming in the ocean with us (not a bad approach to figuring out who was the most interested – unless they were are all tied for least) and I said “f*ck it” and went and called my not-girlfriend on the payphone, just to check into whether she was not-boning someone at the not-moment.  It apparently got kind of awkward when I was gone, the girls were like “is he calling his girlfriend?” and Pos – quick thinker that he was* – was like “no, he just had to call his mom”…like being a weird mama’s boy isn’t just as bad as being a not-philanderer.  Turns out they could not help ya.  Fail.

tri delts on spring break
Not the actual coeds in question, but one of three kazillion results for "tri delt spring break" on google image search. So effectively like 3/5 of the above.

(*Anecdote within an anecdote (aneception?): Guys at military academies – despite the strict honor code that forbids it – are frequently forced to omit or stretch information when asked questions like “where do you go to school?” by girls who go to colleges that don’t require uniforms.  When I was a sophomore, my go-to white lie was that I was a student at Georgetown Law School.  This was not a stretch since at the time I was totally planning on going to law school in the future, so it wasn’t really a lie so much as just pro-forma truth.  One time in New Orleans, with Pos, we were well into a promising conversation with some Australian nursing students (actually, maybe they were nannies?), who were no doubt impressed by our Georgetown Law pedigree.  We were unfortunate to be overheard by an actual Georgetown student, a fine fellow who was also a c*ck-blocking enthusiast.  Sensing weakness, he lobbed a grenade toward Pos – who’d never gone to “real school” – by asking what fraternity were in.  He responded something like “Frito Pigmy Abacus” and the house of cards began to crumble in embarrassing fashion.  We’ll always have Outback Steakhouse, though.)

We woke up and decided that maybe Daytona sucked.  Maybe we were old school guys, who needed to rock it really old school, like Fort Lauderdale style.  Also, we were baseball fans, and it was spring training time.  What better way to conserve money and still have a good time than to catch my team – the successful-at-the-time-but-cursed-in-the-Series Atlanta Braves?  We decided to catch a game in West Palm and got to see my boy Tom Glavine warming up (just throwing on the side unfortunately), that was a solid time, cost like $3 and we had progressed very close to Ft. Lauderdale.

And it was only Monday.  Since we had been alternating between McDonald’s value meals (Pos preferred the Jordan Meal; I went Double Quarter Pounder), Taco Bell takedowns and loading up on gross food at Texaco when we needed beer or gas, we weren’t wasting too much precious cash on food.  This would come back to haunt me though, as Pos hucked the unspeakably disgusting remains of a microwave hamburger in the back of the Ranger.  This would lead to me eventually getting pulled over on suspicion of hauling dead bodies around.

We made it to Fort Lauderdale in the late evening, and the first thing that struck me was how clean the place was.  There was a street cleaner running like 24/7 and the place looked pristine.  And, the only really meaningful stuff that happened on the trip happened in Ft. Lauderdale, so I probably could’ve just started writing at that point, instead of writing a 2,500 word preamble.



Later and Happy Easter,



(Question: Is the font on here really hard to read?  Seems like this is user-unfriendly for dense text.  Maybe my computer is trying to tell me something?)