Monthly Archives: February 2012


Tough times in the ranch house these days. Most of you know we’ve been given our end-of-lease notice—not through any fault of our own, exactly, except perhaps failure to purchase the house before it nose-dived another $50K. And now the landlord has no interest in selling for a pittance. Nope, he wants to move back in and, at the very least, lessen the chance of a fireworks-and-bonfire-related blaze that might damage value further.

So we’re on the market for new lodging.

There’s just so much to consider: Location is limited, with CCB working in St. Pete and me in Sarasota, and neither of us wanting an hour-long commute. So we’re pretty well limited to Bradenton proper, east and north, with Palmetto, Ellenton and even interstate-adjacent Sarasota locales also a possibility.

Then there’s the money: Spare the wallet and spoil the ghetto; spend big and say goodbye to furniture (not to mention hockey budget).

Condo or house? One’s easy to maintain; the other lets you set fire to things in the back yard.

Rent or buy? Not really prepped for a down payment, but holy cow it’s a buyer’s market.

Only after all those logistics come personal preferences (otherwise known as “bonuses” when you’re house-hunting): two-car driveway, two bedrooms, proximal to civilization, minimal drive-bys, etc.

So where do you give? Low rent, newly built, size of a closet? Cheap buy, awesome yard, bullet-perforated? Comfy, cozy, smack dab in the center of East Jesus? And in addition to our shared logistics and preferences, we have to negotiate our differences: Is he willing to drive farther? Am I willing to pay more?

Where will Beerslinger Bud reside next Halloween?

All that, and searching for a new place is only a third of the struggle. We’ve also got to clean the old one, which is going to be a titanic undertaking, considering our tolerance for mold and filth. Then you’ve got the riddle of how to get the guy, his fox, his chicken and his feed across the river one boat trip at a time. Except with us it’s a cat, a fish and a work-appropriate wardrobe—given limited transportation and storage, when do you move what so that it’s in the right place when you need (to feed) it?

It’s stressful, and it makes me feel as though all other gnawing obligations should stop while I address this knot of coordination and heavy lifting. I shouldn’t have to get my car fixed too, dammit; I shouldn’t have to go to the dentist.

But, I admit, it’s also kind of exciting. In all the panic about torn curtains and security deposits, I dream about where we’ll put the tables in our new home, how we’ll arrange the couches, about endless countertops and built-in bookshelves. I think about what the view will be when I look out the kitchen window, how much easier it’ll be to access the photo albums, where we’ll sit when we come home from work, kick off our shoes and drink beer while we watch the sky turn orange, then blue, then black.


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Fantasy UFC

Oh yes, we do like the beatings. used to have its own fantasy game (or I wouldn’t have known where to start in creating one). Of course, they also had some super-convoluted scoring system akin to quarterback rating–it calculated automatically, thank god, but they yanked it altogether a while back, and then we didn’t have any reason to watch the prelim no-names. Except, of course, the blood.

I’m joking, really. I like MMA–CCB got me into it when we first got together, and while I hadn’t been squeamish about the blood, I had thought it was all just wreckless fury. But really, the techniques involved, and the interplay between those techniques, is fascinating. Seeing someone segue between boxing and judo, knowing the different advantages of kickboxing vs. karate vs. muay thai, recognizing the amazing nuances of jujitsu, and seeing, in action, how someone can defend his opponent’s strengths just well enough to apply his own fighting specialties–it’s the same satisfaction you get when you recognize how a deep slant beats a Tampa 2. Or how dump-and-chase beats the trap.

That being said, it always helps to have someone to root for, yes? So I figured, at least for this Saturday’s UFC, while we’re critiquing the finer points of some early fighter’s takedown defense, we could also be screaming at him to cinch up that guillotine already, I’ve got the second minute in round 2 and I need me some bonus points.

The other fun of fantasy, of course, is that you can play even if you know nothing about the sport. So here’s my dumbed-down fantasy UFC form for this weekend’s event. You just gotta pick your winners, their winning method, what round they win in and what minute of the round. (Here’s the fight card for a bit more info on the fighters.)

(Printable: UFC 144 sheet)

(All rounds are five minutes, and all fights are three rounds–except the top fight, which is five rounds.)

(And if you pick any kind of a decision for the winning method, then the round/minute info is automatically the max–ie round 3, fifth minute.)

Yeah, OK, I may be a nerd, but at least I’m a violent nerd.

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More Things CCB Says…


ME: That long toe there means you’re royalty.
CCB: I am…a queen. In Belgium.



ME:  If we had kids, they would have rockin’ calves.
CCB: They would have cankles. You know how two short people make a tall person?
ME: No, I don’t think two short people make a tall person.



By “street smarts” she means, “follow your tits to whoever’s staring at them.”



ME: They just called Tony Stewart “Mr. Quickypants.” That’s totally your new nickname.
CCB: Aw, I don’t wanna be Mr. Quickypants. I want to be Mr. Awesomepants. Or Mr. Awesomesausage.

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A Delicate Balance

[I’m fairly certain I just don’t have the mental capacity to comprehend convoluted banking practices. Still, I thought this was amusing. This is the actual transcript of my customer service online chat.]

Thank you for choosing Bank of America. You are now being connected to a Chat Specialist. For security purposes, please remember to close your chat window when completed.

JASON: Hi! Thank you for being a valued Bank of America customer! My name is Jason. How may I assist you with your personal accounts today?

ME: I just had a question regarding overdraft protection for my checking account.

JASON: I truly understand your concern regarding overdraft protection on your account and I will definitely check that for you.

JASON: To begin with, may I have your complete name and the last four digits of the account number you are referring to please?

ME: Hannah ******, ****

JASON: Thank you for that information. Would you mind if I will address you with your first name during our chat conversation?

ME: Certainly, that’s fine.

JASON: That’s great, thank you Hannah!

JASON: What about our overdraft protection please?

ME: This week, overdraft protection kicked in, transferring $100 from my credit account—but according to my account, I had sufficient funds to cover all my transactions.

ME: Having made no deposits beyond overdraft protection, I still have $123 in my account—that means I still had a $23 cushion.

ME: (er, $128)

JASON: I do get your point and allow me to check it for you.

JASON: Please click on Account Details Sub tab. On the left hand corner, please click on Available Balance History.

JASON: Are you in the page please Hannah?

ME: yes

JASON: Perfect!

JASON: No, if we are going to compute the transaction posted on your account last 6th of February, from Bay Area Sleep as Tampa to Checkcard **** Starbucks, the total debit transaction was at $935.57

ME: ok

JASON: And if you can see your accounting ending balance on the 3rd of February, prior to the overdraft protection transfer of $100 took place, your balance was at $922.84.

JASON: With that note, to protect your account from being overdrawn, the overdraft protection has to take place.

JASON: This will you for your account not to be assessed of $35.00 overdraft fee.

ME: Ok, I understand that expenditures for that period are more…than the balance for that period? I guess? What I don’t understand is, if I were going to be overdrawn otherwise, and I only received $100, then how do I have more than $100 now?

JASON: I certainly do get your point and allow me to address it for you.

JASON: Please have a look on the following transactions Bay Area Sleep in the amount of $50.00 and Sahara Café in the amount of $8.82.

ME: Ok

JASON: And Bar B Q in the amount of $6.37.

JASON: As you can see, since it is still in the processing status, the amount has been credited back on your account until such time the merchants claim the payment on your account.

ME: I don’t see that, no—the account balance appears to reflect the total after those figures have been subtracted.

JASON: Are you still in the available balance history page please?

ME: yes

JASON: Okey, let go for the transactions mentioned above.

ME: Ok

JASON: First the Bay Area Sleep Processing on the 6th of February, and dated 7th of February in the amount of $50.00

ME: Ok

JASON: The first one dated 6th, we deducted it and we credit back again on your account on the 7th.

ME: Ok, I can sort of see that—I just have trouble following the information on this page

JASON: Perfect!

JASON: Our endeavor is always to provide world class service to our customers and I hope I have made an attempt for the same today.

ME: You have certainly made an attempt, yes.

JASON: You are most welcome! And have a lovely day ahead of you!


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The Dolphin Lounge

I like me some dive bars. Like strip clubs and hockey locker rooms, they satisfy my craving for social adventure. I like summoning up the courage to go into a new place with seemingly rough people, and then trying to kick back like I belong.

But, being not actually very bold, I treat dive bars like when, as a kid, you’d try to get close enough to a grand adventure to be excited—without actually being so close as to be in real danger.

Most of the time, this works out pretty well. Locker rooms are my home away from home; the Hi-Way’s pretty well old hat for us now; all the local strip joints have served their purpose insofar as letting me feel brave, rebellious and seasoned—well, “seasoned” is probably not a word I want to be using there…ew—without involving any of the things you’d see in an anti-strip-club PSA: muggings, drug addiction, human trafficking, etc.

(Hah, I was just reminded of this after-school special from, like, second grade, where this old witch in the park scared all the children, until one brave family took her in and gave her a bath, and then she was a nice, pretty lady. Like, “See, she’s not a witch! She just needs better grooming habits!”)

(I don’t know why it never occurred to me how weird it is to just up and decide to bathe a stranger.)

In fact, we’ve had such luck exploring disreputable haunts that we sometimes forget that, well, witches do exist. And we probably ought not fuck with them.

Which brings us to the Dolphin Lounge.

The Dolphin Lounge is a windowless, flesh-colored, standalone bomb shelter of a building on Bradenton’s Ninth Street, a busy, pedestrian-heavy two-lane road banked by a tangle of power lines, tiendas, used car lots and abandoned buildings. We’d long had it on our list as a potential neighborhood watering hole, since it’s only 10 blocks or so from the baseball field. So one night after a game, we had the gumption to stroll on over and give it a whirl.

I had pretty well crossed over the “adventure” line and was easing my way into terror-tinged social anxiety, but CCB is an intimidating enough figure to ward off most troubles. I figured.

The one big room is about the size of a small house, with dim lighting, a couple of pool tables, a shuffleboard table, some random columns joined by “bars” with stools on either side. The actual bar is a massive double-horseshoe that takes up most of the long wall.

When we came in, the bar—big though it is—was mostly full, and there was a big, happy, rowdy group of middle-age people next to it playing pool. They immediately involved us in their loud conversation—saying hi, making bawdy jokes, demonstrating how someone had just poured a beer on someone else—as we waited to get the bartender’s attention. Friendly people, didn’t seem to give a damn about a couple of young punks like us in there—seemed like a good deal. “That’s what I’m talking about,” I said to CCB as I sipped my JACK and coke.

CCB relayed to me the bartender’s message, that they do tend to get bikers in there, but “You show them respect and they’ll respect you.” Uh…huh. Well, that’s a step beyond the Hi-Way and its no-gang-colors policy. Exciting.

One drink and we’d settled in on one of the supplemental “bars,” watching SportsCenter on an old 12-inch TV. Then I decided to go get the next round.

The part of the bar nearest to us was still a few people deep with the pool crowd, but I spot an opening in one of the “armpits” of the bar, in between the two horseshoes.

As I wait, of course, of course the guy sitting nearest to me—by himself, of course—strikes up a slurry conversation. “Hey, is that big guy you come in with your man?” OK, scary question, but this guy was probably about my size, mid-40s, beady eyes and a boyish face that, sometime in the last decade or so, had turned into a droopy mean mug. In the Lifetime movie “Hannah Wallace: A Dangerous Dive,” this guy will be played by Chris Cooper.

“Uh, big guy?” I ask.

“Yeah, the really big tall guy you come in with.”

“Um, well, the guy I came in with is right over there.” I wave at CCB (make sure he’s made eye contact).

“Naw, that ain’t him,” Scary Guy says. Pause. “You wanna go home and have sex?”

Shudder. Barf. Shudder.

“Uh, no, see, ‘cause that guy over there? He’s my man.”

“Oh, OK,” he says, like I’d reported on the weather. “You a cop?”

Oh dear god, I think, these are not good things he’s assuming about me.

“Nope,” I say, in panic, trying to be a sunshiny princess.

“Oh. You look like a cop.”

“Oh, no, sir,” I say all cheerful, “Nope, just…gettin’ a drink. For me. And my man.”

“Don’t call me sir,” he growls.

“Sorry!” I’m talking an octave higher than normal and smiling like a beauty pageant toddler. It’s that stupid “girls need to be super-nice to scary mean men” social construct. I make a mental note to go straight home and read The Gift of Fear.

“You sure you’re not a cop?” he presses on.

“No, sir, not a cop.” I now realize it’s better he’s alone than convincing a group of people that I’m a cop.

Don’t. Call me sir.”

He’s quiet for a few moments, then starts in on a story, his eyes fixed forward on nothing in particular. “I used to live in Fayetteville…”

“Oh! Yeah! In North Carolina! I know Fayetteville. Were you in the military?”

“Yeah.” He is totally uninterested in my recognition. “I had this buddy up there. This buddy of mine, he used to call all black people n*****s.”

Um…OK? At this point, I’ve got my drinks, but I can’t figure out how to dip out on the story.

“This buddy, his dad was real sick. And I was the only one who would go see him.” He looks at me. He’s getting intense here—louder, and his voice wavering like he’s near tears. “I was the ONLY ONE who would go see him. He was stuck in bed. He couldn’t walk. His face was all swollen up, his eyes were swollen, and they oozed and he couldn’t see. He was all swollen.”

“My god,” I say. “What happened to him?”

Flipped switch: pissed. “He was in fucking Vietnam. So you leave me the fuck alone!

“OK, sir!” I chirp, turn on my heel and sprint-walk away.

And that is why I never again want to go into any place scarier than Chili’s.


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