Just in Case…

I’m having a little surgery this afternoon, and it’s no big deal, but, I am going to have to “go under”. Anytime someone goes under, there’s a chance that they might not come back. In movies and in the news, many people who receive anesthesia don’t come back. It’s a simple and accepted medical reality.

The patient will aspirate, or get an infection, or there is some sinister plan by one of the doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, “big pharma”, or a greedy insurance company, that will cause the patient’s demise. Then great actors like Paul Newman, Matt Damon, or Jim Carrey have go to bat for the deceased’s family.

These hero lawyers are usually a little bit down on their luck, and they almost always have a lot to lose by taking the case, but they’re such good people at their core (like all lawyers), they take the case anyway. They’re willing to face hired thugs, mountains of paperwork, and a labyrinth of lies, schemes, and deceit that sometimes can go all the way to the White House, because it’s the moral thing to do.

It’s a common tale. It’s bad stuff. And, Paul Newman is dead…so there’s one less good guy to fight the good fight. There is no reason to think this won’t happen to me. I’ve had a bad run of luck lately.

So, even though I say, “it’s no big deal…”, it obviously is. It’s no big deal, as long as I come back. But I’m only giving myself about a 10% chance of survival, so if you do the math, that’s like a 77% chance that I’ll be a cold, lifeless, Large, blob of death … by 6:00 tonight.

In light of this, I feel the need to get something off of my chest. Just in case I don’t come back, I need to say something to all of you, and as I tell the tale, it saddens me that this last ‘Large Man Chronicle’ is going to disappoint you. You won’t be disappointed in the work; the writing will be as brilliant as it ever was…you’ll be disappointed in me.

So here goes:

A very wealthy guy was interested in my wife before my wife and I were a thing. He asked me about “her situation” and I lied, and I kind of intimidated him too. On purpose.

There…I said it.

This dude wasn’t just rich, he was old money rich. He was an heir to a funeral parlor dynasty in a highly populated and affluent area in Northern Virginia. He was thin, he was decent looking, and he seemed like a nice guy. I didn’t know him, but all of my friends who did know him, genuinely liked him. We had very little in common.

On the evening of my crime, the 3 of us were at a dear friend’s post funeral reception. The man we were laying to rest was like a second father to my future wife, and a very good friend to me. He was a “client” of this rich kid. It was an emotional time. My wife and I had some sparks flying between us for several weeks, maybe even a couple of months…I’m reasonably sure of this. Both of us were recently single, both with similar sensibilities, tastes, and sense of humor. But we were not dating. I had intentions of asking her out, however, at that time, I was in an extremely negative cash position, so I had not gotten to it quite yet.

My (not at the time) wife, her brother, and I rode to the funeral home together, and then back to the family home for the reception. When we got there, Richey Rich Funeral Boy was already there schmoozing the family and friends of our lost loved one. When we walked in the door, it was immediately plain to see that Clammy Hands Funeral Douche was attracted to the future Mrs. Large Man. In fairness, she was as anatomically close to Mattel’s Barbie Doll toy as any human woman you have ever seen. Now, put that package in a little black funeral dress and…duh… EVERY guy there was attracted to the Future Mrs. Large Man, and most likely even a few of the women.

I’m an expert at assessing the mood and tone of a room. I had “spidey senses” before Spiderman was even a thing. We hadn’t been there long before I noticed the object of my desire was laughing a little too sincerely at the Rigor Mortis Kid’s witty observations, and funny little quips. I knew there was danger afoot; this Barbie Doll was my destiny, and no formaldehyde smelling, skinny black tie wearing, grave digger was going to get in the way of my destiny.

Don Corleone taught us to keep our friends close, but our enemies closer. Pretty much everything I know and live my life by was taught to me in the 70’s by Don Corleone, Don Cornelius, and Miss Covington (Jr. High English teacher). So, knowing these lessons, I moved in…NOT on the Barbie doll, but on the prospective “Ken”. The cold-eyed undertaker, with his chiseled chin, tailored suit, and prep school charm was going to get a Large dose of Large Man. It’s not my comfort zone, but I can be charming, I can be funny, and I can be ruthless while doing so.

“So, Biff, you grew up with this crew?” I asked with a smile.

“Yeah, we’ve all been friends since grade school.”

“That’s nice, “I extended my hand, “I’m Large Man, I moved into the area about 8 years ago. They’re a great group of people, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Same here”, he replied. To be honest, it was a rather delicate handshake. Just sayin’.

As we shook hands, I couldn’t help but think of all the intestines, livers and gizzards he had handled just that day, and I quickly released my grip. We looked around the room, and we noticed the Barbie doll talking with her neighbors, and noticed everyone not involved in the conversation was kind of noticing her.  Barbie Doll (my destiny) has always had a way of creating a presence, and you never know if she’s trying or not.

We continue with some idle chat, talking about different dudes who were mutual friends, the passing of our friend, the funeral business in general, when simply out of nowhere, the Death Merchant says to me rather bashfully, “I don’t remember (Barbie) being so beautiful. I thought she was married? Is she? Is her husband here?”

“Oh dude? Where have you been?” I asked with phony surprise. “I thought you were connected to this clique. She’s married, yeah, but it didn’t take. She’s in the process of becoming unmarried.”

“Well, that’s lucky for the single men of Northern Virginia” he said, with some genuine enthusiasm.

“Oh yeah? Why do you say that?” I ask.

“Well look at her, dude! She’s…she’s gorgeous! She’s funny…SHE’S GORGEOUS! I don’t know how else to answer you.” He replies, again, somewhat bashfully.

He continues, “I’m recently single myself, and I haven’t really felt like dating with the newness of it all, but Barbie is kinda making me ‘rethink’ the whole single life thing.”

Even though this hearse driving stooge was wealthier, better looking, and more polished than me, and would have given my wife a MUCH more “comfortable” life than I ever could have; bashful little Ken dolls just wouldn’t do well with this Barbie. While my next comment was technically wrong, deceitful, and slightly immoral (being that it was an outright lie), I think I might have done this guy (and my Destiny) a favor. That’s the way I look at it, or at least it’s how I get myself to sleep at night for these last 25 years or so.

“Well, umm listen,” I replied softly as I leaned in a little, “and don’t feel bad about this, because you obviously didn’t know. But I’ve actually been seeing her for the last couple of weeks. We’re trying to keep it quiet while she’s going through this divorce thing, so we would appreciate it if you didn’t say anything to anyone.” I continued, “Now I’m not saying you can’t call her; I’m just saying I wouldn’t if I were you.”

I said these things to this 30-year-old trust fund punk as if they were completely true. I spoke while looking directly in his eyes, my words were as cold as the bodies he had stacked up in daddy’s office. “…we would appreciate it if you didn’t say anything to anyone.”

And he didn’t. So that was that.

As far as I know, until today, nothing was ever said to anyone. My ruse created some urgency on my part, I scraped together enough cash to take Barbie doll out for a couple of beers and a hot pretzel the following weekend. I don’t really know what happened to the Cremation Kid, but I never saw him again.

He wasn’t invited to the wedding, that would have been gloating on my part, and that’s just poor taste. I may not be honest, I may not have any integrity, and I may be poor…but I’m tasteful.

The Barbie doll and the Large Man have been together ever since. Not rich with money, but rich with love, and rich with problems that having lots of money would easily solve…so I feel kind of bad for her.

Nothing I can do about it now. (Put a Large smile emoji right here!!)

So that’s this entry to ‘The Large Man Chronicles’, most likely my last. Just in case I don’t make it back, thanks to all of you for reading, and thanks for giving me a voice. I love being The Large Man.


I love my home.

I love my hometown.

My Christian friends tell me all the time, “God never gives you more than you can handle…”.

If my Christian friends are right, God must think I’m some kind of badass.

Welcome back to The Large Man Chronicles…it’s been a year since my last confession.

Before we start, I would like to set the table by sharing a few of my Large Man truths. These are things that I sincerely believe, you don’t have to…but you would be wrong if you don’t. (Just kidding…except not really).

Large truth #1:
If we spend too much time trying to wrap our heads around all the “what ifs” and the “what could have beens” that we face in our daily lives, it’s easy to become paralyzed and trapped by all the scenarios we can imagine. It would keep us from swimming in the ocean, riding roller coasters, learning to drive, singing karaoke, or asking out girls who are out of our league. This would be a terrible existence.

Large truth #2:
Someone always has it worse. AND…someone will always tell you who it is or was, especially if it was them.

If you have your arm in a cast, someone will ask, “How did that happen?”. Then they will tell you about the time they broke their arm…and it will always be worse. If your arm was broken while falling down the stairs at an apartment building, their arm was broken while falling down an elevator shaft at the Empire State building. I once had surgery for a torn ACL. I spent 6 months in a knee brace of some sort or another, and I heard every knee surgery story there was. I was lucky, because they were all worse than mine.

But here is why it is a Large truth…it’s accurate. There is always someone who has it worse.

Take the most extreme suffering you have ever experienced, and someone will have been through, or heard about, something worse. I won’t give examples in this Chronicle, because I can be overzealous with the morbid and macabre…and this is a family show.

Large truth #3:
Although it’s true that someone always has it worse, you can only relate to what you can relate to.

If you are in a car accident, and you’re in the hospital for 2 weeks from the injuries, your level of suffering is not diminished because the person in the other car was hospitalized for 8 weeks.

You’re not lucky, because it could have been worse. You’re not lucky at all! You were in a horrible car accident. You’re gonna miss work. You’re gonna miss Christmas. You’re gonna walk with a limp for a long time. Girls won’t sleep with you because of your temporary lameness.

Oh sure, at first, everyone will be sympathetic and helpful (except for the girls you want to sleep with). But after the novelty of their goodwill and charitable hearts wears out, the help with your crutches and your briefcase will disappear. It’s just a matter of time before they start asking you to “hurry up”. Then they’ll start calling you, “gimp”, or “hop-a-long”. Then DJ will think it would be hilarious to put petroleum jelly on the tips of your crutches so they’ll have no traction on linoleum. Then you fall. People laugh. Friendships are destroyed… Yes, someone always has it worse, it just doesn’t feel that way when you are splayed out on the linoleum floor at the Smithsonian, in front of your “friends”, in a puddle of your own urine and a few dabs of Vaseline.


My house was hit by a tornado last Sunday. My home…my place that I love.

Here are the sterile numbers of the story:

At 8:20 PM EDT, on Sunday, April 14th 2019, an F2 tornado knocked a 106-foot-tall, 44-inch wide, basswood tree, (heretofore referred to as “Big Daddy”) into my 90 some-year-old, brick home. The event took less than 30 seconds. We lost power, phone service, and internet. The tree took out 5 other trees, and a large portion of my roof. Big Daddy fell across my driveway taking a 30-year-old, 30 ft tall, beautiful Holly tree (heretofore referred to as “Holly”) with him. Big Daddy and Holly, missed my son’s car by 8”. (Yes, I measured all this stuff) Finally, an 80-foot-tall white pine tree (heretofore referred to as “Piney”) was split by the storm winds. Half the tree stayed erect (hee hee…erect), the other half fell into my neighbor’s yard and on top of her covered porch. It continued to storm after the tornado left, and gallons of water leaked into our master bedroom, and our son’s bedroom. We could do nothing but put down buckets, lay down for the night in other rooms, and pray to God (who apparently has as much faith in me as I have in him) that everything would be taken care of in the morning.

It was a real mess, but I was lucky.

Houses get hit by tornados all the time. In fact, according to Statistical Twisters, a storm chaser website, the odds of a house getting hit by a tornado are 1 in 10 thousand. (Can’t be accurate, but it was on the internet, and it makes for a better story) However…and here’s the good part…the odds of a house being hit twice, is 1 in 100 million.

LUCKY US!!! This is our second hit! We’re 1 in 100 million. What could be worse than that?

The first time was also on a Sunday. Sunday, June 5th, 2016, at approximately 3:00 PM EDT, an F1 tornado knocked several branches off of a Bradford Pear tree (we won’t name these) and an extremely Large maple tree in our yard. Those branches slammed into my house, and between the wind, and the branches, we lost about a third of our roof.

Oh…and not for nuthin’… at 8:33 AM EDT on June 17th, 2017…the morning after my daughter’s high school graduation (GO Dragons!!), a 2017 Dodge Challenger, jet black with red racing stripes, slammed into a curb across the street from my house…the driver panicked, overcorrected, pressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake pedal, drove through my front yard, became airborne at my flowerbed, and crashed into the northeast corner of my garage…breaking up the building, my concrete driveway, and smashing the can where we store our dog’s poop until trash day…which is Sunday…and this was Saturday. So, in addition to the damage to my house, we lost a full can of shit.

3 out of the last 4 calendar years, my house has had its ass kicked by forces beyond our control.

But…we’re lucky. That’s what I keep hearing.

The what ifs and the what could have beens are horrible to think about. These 3 strikes are events…things that happened that are now funny stories to write about on a blog page, and to tell from a barstool. Inches and seconds are what kept these “events” from becoming disasters…tragedies. But I’m not sure I would call it “luck”.

If the car that hit my house in 2017 had come in 2 minutes earlier, it would have crashed into my garage, AND my wife, as she was depositing our dog’s morning glory. It would be hard to imagine a person surviving that impact. At the very least, she would have been covered in a week’s worth of dog poop. Who would want to survive that?

When the 2016 tornado hit my house, I was driving west, and passed through the weather system that was creating all the havoc. I had to find sanctuary at a rest stop on the interstate, as the hail was so Large, I was worried that it would break my windshield or beat up my car. I called home to tell Mrs. Large Man that a storm was headed her way, make sure the kids are home, etc. She did. The system created the tornado that hit our home. The kids were inside, she was inside. All clear…all good. Lucky?

Sunday’s tornado, like the car crash, came with little or no warning. My son was just arriving home from a weekend field trip, my wife went to the high school to pick him up. As she turned south out of our driveway to get him, I took a left (north) out of the same driveway to pick up a pizza (Large truth # 4: high school kids LOVE pizza). Each task took roughly the same amount of time.

On my return, pizza and wings on the passenger seat of my truck, I drove through quarter sized hail that felt like shotgun blasts against my vehicle. I was worried sick about my wife and child driving through the same thing. The town emergency sirens were barely audible through the sound of the hail, but they were there. White knuckled, I pressed on. As I turned into my driveway, I was relieved to see the garage door on my wife’s side slowly dropping its last few feet. Thank Goodness, they were home. I pulled into my garage stall, and closed the door behind me.

Less than a minute later, I walked into our kitchen, wife and son still with jackets on, pizza in my hands, the sound of a freight train was right outside our window. We know that sound. At that second, we lost power, I set the pizza down, we called our dog, and we headed to the basement, and before I opened the basement door, it was gone. Pulling into my garage, walking into my kitchen, setting down my cargo, and scurrying 20 steps to our basement door…ALL…took less than 1 minute.

It was surreal, it was still raining hard, but it was eerily quiet after the “locomotive” left us. We were in the dark. Mrs. Large Man and our Large son grabbed some flashlights and we reacquired our bearing inside the house. The smell of hot wings and near death filled the air. Okay, we actually didn’t realize that this was a “near death” experience, because we hadn’t looked outside, I just like that line, “…wings…near death.” (The Large Man is BACK, Baby!!)

I grabbed a high-powered light emitter (flashlight), and stepped outside, and I was shocked at the level of debris in my driveway. Holly was spread all across the concrete, Piney was split in two, so there was that pine essence in the air. At first, the combination gave it something of a Christmas feel. Then I saw the beast tree, Big Daddy, laying across the entirety of the driveway. I worked my way around it, and out into the street, still not really processing it all until I heard my neighbor from across the way, Bob, exclaim, “DUDE, WHAT THE FUCK!”

It was kind of an exclamation, and a question, but very clearly the most appropriate way to address the moment. He kind of snuck up behind me, as I was trying to make some sense of it all. By the time I snapped to, Bob gave me a pat on the shoulder, asked if I was alright, and as I started to explain that, no…I was not alright, emergency vehicles were entering the area, and police and firemen were yelling at us to get inside our house.

NOW…the air smelled like near death, hot wings, and I guess a little like Christmas. A Christmas with really shitty gifts, spent with relatives you never really cared for.

Had we been maybe even seconds later arriving home, this would have been a very different story. I still would have written it because of my love for attention, but I would be a lot sadder about it all. Probably would have shopped the story to some of the celebrity & human-interest magazines. Mrs. Large Man would LOVE to be in People Magazine…even if it was from being squooshed by a giant basswood tree named Big Daddy.

Lucky? Hmmm… My house is now a bit of a freak show, all week long people have been walking by to gawk at The Large Man’s representation of Mother Nature’s power. Some people driving by stop their car in the middle of the street, get out, and snap a picture. It is amazing to think that wind could do the things it did to my yard, my home, and other places in town. We were lucky, because “…a lot of other places got it worse”.

“WOW! You’re lucky that tree fell the way it did.”

“Jeez! You have to feel lucky no one was hurt!”

“DAMN! You’re lucky you were able to get a contractor out here to tarp off that roof. You know, the lumber yard over in Starbrick was completely destroyed!”

Yes. I’m lucky…but more accurately, I’m blessed.

It’s not lucky that your house has had its ass kicked 3 out of the last 4 years (This being said, that house sure can take a punch!!) In fact, 2 tornados and a car crash would be defined by most anybody as bad luck. It’s one of the reasons I don’t really gamble. All my luck seems to be spent on survival.

I’m blessed. I’m blessed that through all this shit, my wife and kids are alive and healthy and vibrant with light and energy. I’m lucky that I get to see these life forces flourish in a world that’s both cruel and beautiful…and can display those contradictions only minutes …only seconds…apart from one another.

The lightning in the sky, and the thunder it produced were spectacular before that cyclone formed just afew seconds later. The devastation to my property doesn’t come close to the measure of kindness, support, and goodwill I received from my friends and neighbors. That’s not luck, that’s a blessing.

I don’t believe in religion, but I believe in God. I don’t really believe in Karma, but I believe in the Universe. Whether it’s stardust, or Divinity, I believe we are all connected. Actually, I believe it’s both.Because of my stardust and Divinity belief, I’m starting to believe that there might be more at play here.


But maybe that contradiction of bad luck & good luck is a reminder…a nudge, perhaps, from Something, or Someone bigger than me. Maybe They are trying to get me to understand that I’m here for a reason, and it’s time for me to figure it out.

Maybe I’m Batman.

If it turns out that I’m Batman, that will be so cool!!!!!

Thanks for reading…I’m back 😊

I haven’t done this in about a year or so, so please, bear with me…sentence structure, grammar, and tone and timbre all may suffer from some “artistic atrophy” as I start working these literary muscles after a LONG break. I’ve started a few times, but just never found the spirit or the heart the collection of words needed.  As I type out these first few lines, it occurs to me, just now, how important it is to do this Large Man thing. For me, it’s soul food.

I’m on a plane bound for Pittsburgh. Hosier is explaining to me through headphones about how he “…fall(s) in love just a little o’ little bit every day with someone new.” And then he asks “…would things be easier if there was a right way?” But then he goes on to explain, “but Honey, there is no right way.” I think he’s right, when it comes to love, there is no right way. That’s why he’s one of my current favorite philosophers, that Hosier dude.

While Hosier is teaching me about love and life, I’m in a middle seat on a 4-hour flight, with a small, polite, man sitting on my right by the aisle, and my 17-year-old son on my left by the window. My son and I are on our way back home. We had to pay extra for Exit Row seating because my son is 6ft 8in. tall, and the airlines love to squeeeeeeeze every dollar out of you they can.

But that’s all OK, I love the fact that I have a Large son, I love that we are able to take this trip, I love that these things are possible because of the work I do. So, for now, I’m settled. I have some crazy days ahead, but right now, this moment, I’m exactly where I want to be. I love being a dad. I wish I had my hat that says “Blessed” on it. (I have one…it was a Christmas present. One of my favorites!!)

My son’s Christmas present was a father & son trip to the Grand Canyon. For those of you not familiar, that’s the big one that’s mostly in Arizona. The Grand Canyon has been on his, “…bucket list for several years”, or so he says. I’m not sure a 17-year-old should have a bucket list yet, but I think he’s a millennial, right? Doesn’t that mean he can have anything he wants, as soon as he wants it? Whether he’s entitled to a “bucket list” or not, I indulged him…he’s a good boy.

We did it up, BIG, I mean LARGE…

We did the helicopter tour in the canyon – AMAZING! We did the Pink Jeep Adventure in Sedona – EXCITING! On a Monday we drove about 600 miles in our rental car, just looking at the landscape in northern Arizona, and southern Utah – SPECTACULAR!

We saw the “Four Corners” monument where Arizona, Colorado, Utah & New Mexico all meet (Say Cheese!!). We went to the place where Forrest Gump decided to stop running (yeah, it’s a real place in Utah). And we walked and we talked,  and we just looked…all around us. We listened to a mystery novel on CD, we talked some more, and we made a memory that will be treasured by both of us for the rest of our lives.

I have this friend, who’s pretty much a big dope, but I remember him telling me that your kids will rarely remember the things you “got” for them, but they’ll always remember the things you “did” with them. Pretty smart ponderance for a big dope, but it made sense to me, so I’ve tried to live by that philosophy.

I have struggled with balancing family and career for the last 19 years; it’s especially challenging when you travel like I do. But if crossing something off of my son’s “bucket list” is the reward, the struggle is worth it. Seeing him experience the magic you feel when your soul connects to something Larger than yourself, something spiritual, is worth every missed flight, every shitty hotel… every lukewarm Diet Coke that washed down a cold and stale sandwich in a dirty airport.

I loved every minute of this trip. Actually, it wasn’t trip…it was an adventure.

There is a song by the band, Lord Huron, called ‘Ends of the Earth’, listen to these words: (I guess, read these words)

Oh, there’s a river that winds on forever
I’m gonna see where it leads
Oh, there’s a mountain that no man has mounted
I’m gonna stand on the peak

Out there’s a land that time don’t command
Wanna be the first to arrive
No time for ponderin’ why I’m-a wanderin’
Not while we’re both still alive

To the Ends of the Earth would you follow me
There’s a world that was meant for our eyes to see…

It goes on like that.

The way it’s written is that this guy is singing to a girl about how he wants to see this wonderful world, and also, he loves her because she’s beautiful and she has this amazing body. But as much as he loves her, this world is waiting to be experienced, and she’s welcome to come because of her amazing body and all, if she wants to; but he’s going… with or without her, and her amazing body.

Take the way this man objectifies his love interest out of the equation, and the song is quite inspiring for those of us who have a wanderlust. (And I may have been interpreting the “amazing body” stuff anyway). The way it’s written and performed, you feel his need to see, and touch, and become a part of, all that our rivers and mountains, canyons, caves, and skies have to offer. I love that he’s willing to forsake his true love rather than miss it all.

Now, that being said, I think he’s making a mistake. I love mountains, rivers and canyons and shit, but true love is probably still my first choice. That’s me. If the dude who wrote the song loved the girl I love, he’d be happy to stay at home and just watch all that stuff on Nat Geo.

So, what I hope for…

I am ecstatic about the fact that my 17-year-old son has experienced a spiritual connection to our earth, and nature. I hope he can find someone who will love these things as well. But if he doesn’t find someone with that same wanderlust, curiosity, and connection to Mother Earth, I hope he finds someone who will allow and nurture his desire to see and experience, ‘The Ends of the Earth’. Above all, I hope this adventure is the beginning…the seed that sprouts into a lifetime vine of adventures for him…and his kids.

There is so much to see. I never get tired of it, and I don’t think my Large son will either.

I started this Large Man thing because I wanted to share what I saw while on this “journey”. “It’s what you see along the way…” is the tag line for these ‘Chronicles’. It’s even printed on our business cards and tee shirts!

It’s a great journey. This life we live, and this world we live in have new adventures around every corner. Even after 20 straight years of traveling just about every week, I still want to go “to the ends of the Earth”. Nowadays I prefer that there’s room service and a decent craft beer selection, but still…

Thank you for reading…I think I’m back.


Meet Pyro…

Can you identify the proudest moment of your life? Do you have a moment that currently outranks all other moments of your existence… for you?

Let’s disqualify the day our babies came into the world, or the day we married “the love of our life”. Those moments, as amazing as they are, kinda depend on someone else to make them special. I’m asking for your proudest, most special, amazing, awesome moment.

I asked my office mate this question, and she didn’t hesitate with her reply. “The day I got my degree. No question. I was working full time, raising three kids, and I did it.”

I think it’s great that she came up with it that fast. I have a more difficult time coming up with mine. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve led a life that has been blessed with so many milestones and magical moments that a “greatest” or “proudest” moment can’t be singled out, or, when it comes to things that only involve me, maybe it’s been a lifetime of “nothing special”. Hard to say…

But I know a guy…

…let me set the stage.

Flashback to Sunday, April 24th, 2016…San Diego, California, Marriott Marina & Convention Center…National Tank Truck Carriers Spring Convention & President’s Meeting

The National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) is a non-profit advocacy association that works to support the business interests of trucking companies who deliver goods via tank trailers. Most of the gasoline delivered to your local gas station is carried by a trucking company that is a member of this association. Most of the liquid and powder chemicals delivered to the manufacturing plants in our country are delivered by NTTC members. The chlorine that sanitizes your pool, and the propane that cooks your steaks to that perfect warm red center, are all delivered at some point by a tank trailer.

The NTTC has two major conventions a year, one in the spring, one in the fall. The company I work for makes parts and pieces that keep the chlorine, gasoline, propane, ethanol, and glycol, inside of those tanks, even if those tanks roll over or catch fire…it’s kind of an important thing. So, I get to go to these conventions and meet with the people who own companies that have tank trailers that use the parts and pieces my company makes. It’s a good gig. San Diego any time of year is beautiful, for a guy who lives in northwest Pennsylvania, San Diego in April is medicine.

So, it’s Sunday evening in San Diego, on the convention hall floor, and there is a “Welcome” reception, with music, hors d’oeuvres, and an open bar. Because I am the trade show coordinator for my company, and I’m a genius, the open bar is right next to my company’s booth. Patrons of the show see me and all of my company’s wares, as they wait in line for their gins and tonics, Buds and Lites, and Jacks and Cokes, and they sarcastically chide me, “Hey Large Man, did you plan this? Pretty convenient for you, Ha ha haaaa!”

Hell yes! I absolutely planned this. I get thirsty, and I crave attention. My booth needs to be where the action is. To quote ‘Hamilton, The Musical’, “…in the room where it happens!”

As my coworkers and I are meeting and greeting other patrons of the show (and the bar), I notice this one guy kinda checking things out, and he has a familiar look. A good beginning descriptor would be that he is “thick”. He has a thick barrel chest, solid, thick upper arms, wide and thick shoulders connected to a thick neck, that terminates at a beautifully shaved & shiny head. This man is a Large man.

I watched him looking at the valves and lighting products on one of my tables, and some of the trinkets on tabletops at the booth next door to mine. As he studies these products, holding them in his big thick mitts, his dark eyes stared intently…he neither smiled nor frowned, he didn’t seem to approve or disapprove of anything he examined. He just seemed to be processing…taking it all in.

I approached this Large man and asked, “Can I answer any questions for you?” (‘Cause that’s my job).

He looked up from the 6496ALB Normal Vent (it’s a thing, really), and says, “No not really. I’m a driver, and I use a lot of this stuff, but I rarely get to see it when it’s not on the tank trailer. Kinda cool. I do have one question though, where did you get that beer?”

I get excited when people ask me questions and I immediately know the answer, so I smile real big and say, “Follow me.”

The thick, Large, man returned my smile, and did as I requested. I felt this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. We shook hands and introduced ourselves by name and company as we stood in line at the bar, and when my new friend spoke to me, he did so from a big wide toothy grin, surrounded by a meticulously trimmed goatee. He had these lively, dark eyes, that seemed to dance in rhythm with every word he spoke. We’ve all met people who have a presence, people who immediately seem “Larger than life”; my new friend, Darryl Ray Nowell, is the quintessential example of that essence.

Darryl is a truck driver for Eagle Transport, based in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He works out of their Richmond, VA terminal, and has been employed there for 16 years. Darryl was attending the show as a nominee, and one of eight finalists, for NTTC’s annual award for “Truck Driver of the Year”.

The bar line moved quickly, Darryl and I grabbed a brew, and went back to my booth to chat about business and life…this is TRULY the best part of my job…it’s the best part of my life. To be able to continually connect with people from all over the world, and from all walks of life, keeps me in a constant state of fascination.


The “Driver of the Year” award is in its early stages, there have been only two prior recipients, and this year’s group of 8 nominees had 4 drivers who were finalists in the previous two years. Darryl was a first-time nominee, and appeared to be the youngest of this year’s group…in my opinion, he was clearly the most colorful.

Let me share with you a few of the things Darryl shared with me while we had a chat:

Darryl Ray Nowell is 52 years old. He served our country honorably in the US Army for 11-1/2 years. He has done volunteer search and rescue work. He has been a professional wrestler for over thirty years…his wrestling character’s name is “Pyro”. Pyro does public safety commercials, public appearances, fund raisers in the greater Richmond area, for free, to promote fire safety for kids. He’s also starting his own chili company…so he’s a chef. In the 16 years he’s been driving a tractor & trailer for Eagle Transportation, he has logged almost 3 million (2.9 million) accident free miles. And as cool as all these things are, I truly felt Darryl’s humanity, when he talked to me about his son. Darryl is a single father of an all-star bowler and honor roll student. When this proud father told me things about his kid, the dark, lively, dancing eyes, glassed up a little bit.

This Large, thick… bad ass, Army veteran, searcher & rescuer, professional wrestling truck driver…was as sweet and gentle as a puppy when we started talking about our kids. And he listened intently as I shared stuff about my kids as well. When it’s all said, and done, Darryl…Pyro, is just a dad.

I love that stuff.

And yet, as much as I enjoyed my time with this amazing character, I didn’t like his chances for Driver of the Year. He was a first-time finalist, and he didn’t have the time or miles that most of the other nominees had.

The award ceremony takes place during a Monday morning breakfast reception that my amazing company has been sponsoring for about 20 years. We have an opening blessing, some yellow re-hydrated protein product that’s supposed to resemble scrambled eggs, flimsy bacon, under-ripened fruit plates, a celebrity keynote speaker, and now we close the event by announcing this year’s driver of the year.

Eight finalists from eight different companies are introduced to the crowd, and as they walk up to the stage, a short “bio” video tells their story on a giant screen in the background. It’s all very Large and loud, with music and pictures of their families, and events they’ve participated in. There’s a few seconds of interview and action shots of these guys, who in many ways, are the backbone of American industry. It’s a celebrity moment for men and women who should be celebrated every day…but like most of us in the working world, they are not. They’re just a group of people who go to work in the morning, and do the very best they can to see that they get home…AND WE GET HOME, safely, at the end of our working day. Driving and delivering hazardous material, safely and efficiently, is no easy task. Darryl and the fellow nominees who shared the stage with him, had logged close to 40 million accident and incident free miles on our highways & byways. That is “job excellence”.

So at the end of the introductions, and the tribute videos, the eight finalists stand on stage and listen as the master of ceremonies announces the winner. It’s not done by opening an envelope and announcing a name, it’s done by the emcee giving us deeper details about the individual. The first sentence or two could describe any one of the finalists, then the next sentence might narrow it down by one or two.

These eight men face the crowd.

As the announcer continues down the list, you see some guys shift their body weight, some guys shrug their shoulders, and you see some guys stand up a little straighter…


…as it got down to the last sentence or two, I saw my guy flash that big toothy grin, and I saw him shift his weight from side to side, and I saw those dark dancing eyes glass up again. Then he put those big thick hands up to his eyes, made a nod to Heaven, and wiped away tears of pride and joy as the announcer said, “This year’s National Tank Truck Carriers, Driver of the Year Award, goes to Darryl Ray Nowell of Eagle Transportation. Congratulations Darryl!”

I was pretty sure Darryl had won the award when they described the community service aspect of the resume, and they said “…a professional wrestler who works tirelessly in the community to promote fire safety”. I don’t think there were any other pro wrestlers on stage, probably not even in the building.

After a round of congratulatory handshakes from his fellow nominees, Darryl stepped to the mic and humbly thanked the men he shared the stage with, and congratulated them on getting there. He thanked the association, and all the people standing and applauding.

As we settled back into our chairs, we could feel Darryl’s emotion. I don’t have enough colors on my literary palette to paint this picture. It was probably the most emotional scene I have ever experienced in the work place.

Darryl explained to us through all this emotion that “…other than the day my son was born; this is the greatest moment of my life. I only wish he was here to see this.” That’s the one that got me. I looked around the room at that point, and there was no doubt…it got a lot of us. There were a lot of tears being wiped away throughout the crowd.

On Monday, April 25th, 2016, I got to see a man experience one of the “greatest moments” of his life. I got to share the experience with a couple hundred people who appreciate the hard work it took to achieve that moment…Darryl worked for this “greatest moment”, he didn’t get lucky, it was earned. Maybe the best part of the audience’s experience was that we could all see that it was appreciated and valued by the man being honored.

I think it was one of our greatest moments too.

Thanks, Darryl…”Pyro”, for letting me tell your story.

There’s a comment section at the end of this post, or on the Facebook post where you opened it up… if you feel like it, I would love to know your proudest, or greatest “moment” (so far). Thanks for reading.



This happened to me last spring, and it happened exactly as I tell it. I have embellished nothing.


One of my favorite places on this earth is the town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The college town has a southern charm that stirs me. The spacious downtown streets are shaded with old growth hardwood and pine trees, and lined with small shops, restaurants, pubs and coffee houses. Every time I pass through, I find another little gem that makes me grateful I went out of the way to stop. Don’t even get me started on the Shrimp & Grits and the Frozen Mint Julep at Crook’s Corner.

But every rose has a thorn, and last time I was there, I got pricked.

It was a beautiful spring morning, a perfect setting for a brisk walk through the town and around the campus. My room key, credit card, I.D. and $20 was all I thought I would need for my morning’s exercise.

Out the door at about 6:30, so the town is just starting to wake up…fresh newspapers, still strapped in their bundles, on the sidewalk outside the different shops. College professors ambling down the street carrying weathered, leather satchels, full of today’s blue prints to liberalize America’s next group of unemployable college grads. Dirty brown sparrows are eating the French fry fragments out of the vomit from last nights “full contact” partying…it’s quaint here, but it’s still a college town.

I get a solid 40-minute workout in, so I decide I’ve earned a nice breakfast to help fuel today’s revenue generation activities. I’m a superior hunter-gatherer, especially when it comes to hunting and gathering breakfast foods.

And that’s where it happened.

Only a few paces from my hotel is an unassuming, poorly marked, hidden little café. There is a chalkboard menu by a dark tinted glass front door. I had to kinda “test push” the door to make sure the place was open…the test was positive.

About a dozen or so modest tables with a variety of styles of chairs are scattered about the dining area. The college town café reminds one of a college student’s apartment – function is more important than style, so much so, that function becomes the style. There was a large counter at the front of the shop, and behind that counter stood a sturdy woman with gray hair pulled tight into a pony tail, thick glasses that magnified the size of her pale blue eyes, and a smile that made me feel welcome. The smell of their “artisan” coffee filled the air, and the whole vibe made me sure I had lucked into another “gem” in Chapel Hill.

“Good morning, sir. You place your order here at the counter, and then we’ll bring it to you when it’s ready. We make everything from scratch, so it takes a few minutes. Our menu is on the board behind me, we have an amazing homemade apple & pork sausage burrito, with egg and cheddar cheese, garnished with our house made sweet & hot salsa, as our feature this morning. Take your time.”

“Say no more,” I reply. “I’ll have your ‘special’. I’m not a coffee drinker, do you have any cold drink options?”

She looked at me with disappointment in her kind eyes, Not a coffee drinker? How sad for you. She offered me a pear flavored seltzer water. I accepted. She gave me the can, and a dishwasher spotted glass full of crushed ice. I paid her, and headed to a table in the seating area.

Nice place. I love breakfast burritos.

The dining area was scattered with about 3 or 4 groups of 2 or more at tables, and 3 or 4 individuals at a table. I took a seat at a smaller table, in a corner by a window facing the street. With my back to the window, I took inventory of the room. Sitting diagonally from me was a pretty young mother of 2. The kids were sweetly taking turns playing a game on an iPhone, while mom was typing away on an iPad. Behind them, sat a man at a table with 3 women. 2 of the women seemed to be hanging on his every word, the third woman only seemed to be interested in her phone. She would look up with an accommodating, perhaps even patronizing smile whenever the rest of the group shared a laugh, but for the most part, she was disconnected from the people at her table because she was connected to her technology. These are the times we live in.

I love to people watch. I have played this sport since I was a kid. As much as I like to watch, I rarely like to “connect”. Something brief? Sure. I like to pay a compliment, make someone smile, extend a courtesy…but I don’t need much more than that. I have plenty of friends, I make work connections all day long. And here, I definitely don’t want to connect to anyone, because when this burrito comes to my table the carnage is going to be ugly. I’m hungry, this meal will not be eaten; it will be assaulted.

As I waited at my little corner table, a woman who appeared to be in her mid 30’s came in and ordered something from the counter and then set up shop at the table next to mine. This is not uncommon, especially if I have a little sweat working, what with my pheromones and all. She removed a stack of papers, a phone, and a smart pad from an expensive leather brief case, and arranged them strategically on her table. She made eye contact with me, but didn’t smile, so I made the gay assumption, but who’s to say. She held her gaze on me briefly as she sipped her halfcaffsoylattespresso, or whatever it was. I smiled and turned away.

She sat, and started her tasks in her makeshift workstation. I turned my attention to the rest of the room; watched the kids with the pretty mom, the professor and his table full of ladies, and just as I was turning my attention to the street, the new patron…the one with the work station, asked me if I would stop “staring at (her)”.

Because I didn’t think I heard her correctly, I smiled, and said, “Excuse me?”

“You’re staring at me, and I would appreciate it if you would stop,” she said.

“No Ma’am. I’m not staring at you. I’m just waiting on my food,” I replied. I was a bit shaken by the interaction, she was clearly irritated. I looked away, back out the window onto the street.

Probably 2 minutes went by, it seemed like 20. I wasn’t staring at her, but now I’m afraid to even look up. Do you know how hard it is not to look at someone when they demand you stop? Even though you weren’t in the first place! Now I’m staring at my fingernails, looking at the floor…thinking, SHIT! When is my flippin’ food gonna be ready?!

So I look back at the front counter to see if any plates are coming out. Unfortunately, the work station is directly in the line of sight between my table and the counter. And even though I tried to look over top of her, it was game ON!

Immediately she put down her phone, and placed her palms flat on the table and asked, “Why do you keep staring at me?” This time, rather loudly.

“Ma’am, I am not staring at you, or anybody else. I’m waiting for my food. I just want to be left alone. Can we please just leave each other alone?

So now the negative energy is being generated, and it’s connecting the people in the room, and connecting them back to us. The pretty mom looks at me, and the kids look up from their phone game. The table with the man and the 3 ladies became quiet, and about every third group in the room turned their attention toward us…at this point it’s just a curiosity, but only for about another minute.

Our heroine looks me in the eye, and asks, “Don’t you have a phone, or something you can look at rather than harassing me?” She continues with, “Why don’t you have a phone? You’re making me uncomfortable.”

She then turns away, and walks up to the counter and asks for a manager. The same, friendly, gray haired woman who served me came to the counter from the kitchen, exchanged words with my, (now) adversary, looked up at me and her face flushed. Not the good kind.

My sturdy host hurried over to me and quietly asked, “Do you have a phone or something, sir? You’re making my customer uncomfortable.”

“No, I do not have a phone with me, and I’m a customer too. I was on a walk; I don’t need my phone. I’m not bothering anybody. I just want to have some breakfast.”

So the lady at the table says, “Well you have to move then. You keep staring at me, and now I’m feeling unsafe.”

NOW…it’s escalating. As soon as the first syllable of “unsafe” was spoken, the guy at the table with the 3 women stood up and walked in our direction…to save the day in front of his ladies. He was very tall.

OK, I’ll admit that I didn’t have to say the next few things I said, and perhaps the story would have ended better if I hadn’t. But I did…

“Excuse me ma’am,” I say to my accuser, “I don’t want to be disrespectful, I just want my breakfast. I am not, nor have I been, looking at you. I smiled at you when you sat down, and that was it. There is no reason for me to be staring at you. You have no reason to feel unsafe….and I’m NOT moving!”

The very tall “ladies man” faced me and said, “You’re gonna have to move sir.”

The sturdy proprietor said, “Yes, (Large Man) this woman feels unsafe, and we can’t have that here. If you don’t leave I’m going to call the police.”

I hope you readers can understand why I was upset. All this happened because I didn’t have a phone in my hand. I was doing nothing but sipping on pear flavored seltzer water, and NOT looking into a screen of some kind.

My next comment was the straw that broke the manager’s back. Tall guy moved in closer and explained to me that if this woman felt unsafe, and I didn’t leave on my own, he would be forced to remove me (I’m paraphrasing). I looked him in the eye, and responded with, “The only person here who should feel unsafe right now is you, sir. Do not put your hands on me.”

My declaration backed him down, but r e e e a l l y pissed off our shop owner. “All right! That’s enough! You leave right now, or I’m calling the police”, and she walked to the counter. I could see that other people in the shop were upset. The little kids just stared at us, (how come nobody said anything to them?) and while I don’t think they fully understood what was going on, they were nervous. I apologized to the mom, and told her not to worry. I followed the manger to the front of the store, and asked for my money back.

“We have a no refund policy sir. Your food is done; I’ll wrap it for you to go.”

And she did. She handed me a white paper bag that was warm, and smelled delicious. It was a bitter irony.

I left, wanting to say something as I walked out the door about how our addiction to technology would be the downfall of humanity. But I was too upset to say anything cute, or thought provoking. I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t stare at that woman. I was treated like some sort of freak because I didn’t have something in my hands to occupy my face.

In all my anger at the moment, I maintained my composure, and I maintained my dignity. I walked back to the hotel, and up to my room, almost in a daze. I was pulling things together as I walked into my room, I looked at the white paper bag in my hand, filled with food from a place that tried to rob me of my dignity, and I tossed the bag into the wastebasket by the desk. The bag no longer held food, that bag was filled with hate and intolerance…and misunderstanding.

But as I sat on the bed, the aroma of that bag full of intolerance and misunderstanding started filling the room…and as it did, it seemed a little less hateful. It was then that I realized something…my dignity was hungry. My dignity and I knew we were alone in that hotel room, but we still looked around to make sure nobody saw us dig that bag out of the trash can.

It was delicious.

Thanks for reading.


Mrs. Large Man and I have raised two great kids. They’re not better than your kids…they’re not better than anybody. Well, they’re better than me, but that was the plan all along…it was what I hoped for from the start. Please remember “…what I hoped for” as you read the rest of this story.

A lot of people (including me) will insert the barb, “You mean Mrs. Large Man raised two great kids.” Then we follow with “…you were gone all the time playing golf, traveling to exotic lands, like Greensboro, NC, and Rehoboth, Massachusetts”. Well, just so ya know, my well-meaning and beloved friends; no, we both raised these kids, and we both made them who they are…good stuff and flaws.

Mrs. Large Man gave them manners, a work ethic, their pretty faces, and a little bit of class. I gave them curiosity, passion, courage, and belief. It may not seem like I’ve been around… but I was, and I am, and I gave them good things. Not “store things”, just good things. I don’t spend a lot of time boasting on my contributions to society, but I’m unapologetically  (it’s a word) proud of the two people Mrs. Large Man and I are about to donate to you.

I’ve written a tale or two about the magic I felt the day my kids were born. The very first “official” Large Man Chronicle was ‘Thank Heaven for Little Girls’ written about the day I met my daughter. I can’t wait to finish and share the story of my son’s first day here with us. He came quickly, and quietly, with a little bit of humor, and just a touch of intrigue, and he’s spent the last fifteen years living pretty much that same way.

I explained once in a Large Man story about how I didn’t want kids, and how stupid I was for thinking that I didn’t want kids, because I think kids have ultimately defined who the Large Man really is.

I love being a dad.

When my daughter was born, after the original scared shitless days, I remember the bliss that came after “bath and boobs”, just holding that little bundle of hope, and staring into those little blue eyes full of potential, and thinking about all the things she was going to be able to be. This baby girl was going to be the “fix” to all my flaws and failures, and she was going to make me a better person. It was no longer about me, it was about her.

Then I remember thinking, Didn’t I say that same shit about my wife when I decided to ask her to marry me? Yeah, I did.

My wife was going to straighten me out, and here was the theory:

I knew she was a good person, and for the first time in my life, I also knew, and trusted, that she loved me. This was the first time someone who wasn’t required by birth and bloodlines to love me, actually loved me…not because she had to, but because she wanted to. If somebody this good, this beautiful, and this amazing, could love me, maybe, I didn’t need to be “straightened out”. If someone like her could love someone like me, then there simply had to be good and beautiful and amazing things inside of me.

Yeah, no… I was wrong there…way off. Turns out, great, amazing, intelligent and beautiful women fall in love with assholes almost every day.

But, somehow, holding my daughter, kissing those little cheeks, and nibbling on those tiny little perfect fingers, and gazing into those perfect little eyes that gave me hope, I trusted that she was going to be amazing, and I was still going to be flawed, and that it was all going to be okay.

The day I found out my son was coming, I experienced two extreme and opposite emotions. My wife and I were on our way to The Virginia Wine Festival and as I was getting ready to manipulate her…I mean convince her, into being the “designated driver”, she came out of the bathroom with one of those sticks in her hand, and a smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eye.

My initial reaction: YES! DD baby! Daddy is gonna get his drank on! Because this is what people with goodness inside of them do at wine festivals when they find out they have another child on the way.

Then, like 10 seconds later, I thought, Damn, another baby? I’m just getting used to the idea that I’m not gonna break the one I have. I love my little girl more than anything I have ever loved. I didn’t even know you could love like this. How on Earth will there be enough of me to love another one? They’re both gonna be cheated.

I share these very personal thoughts as support data for my earlier statement that women fall in love with assholes all the time. But I’m an asshole that can learn.

Wanna know what I learned?


I think if you love, and you love unconditionally, love becomes infinite. I could have ten kids, and I would love each one as much as the other. That’s what I learned the day my son showed up. I didn’t know it until the day he came, but it happened the second I saw him. I owe him for that one, that’s a lot for an asshole to learn in one second.

I think loving someone, and ALLOWING SOMEONE TO LOVE YOU, allows you to change, and evolve, and to develop the good things inside of you. And I think most of us have good things inside us.

So now these babies who taught me and my wife (but mostly me) these great lessons on love and life and goodness, have grown up. We have laughed and learned together, been on great adventures together, and we have experienced intolerable sorrow together. Our storms of life have been much more bearable because of this bond…a house full of love and kids can do that to you. It’s what I hoped for.

I’ve bitched and moaned so many times as I grabbed a jacket and boots and sat through the rain sleet and snow at soccer games, band performances, football games and track meets. I’ve whined and complained about “FOUR NIGHTS IN A ROW AT THE THEATER?! REALLY? ARE WE ON F-ING BROADWAY NOW? I’M RUNNING OUT OF BLAZERS!” And at the time of my protests, there was always a little truth in my ranting, but I never regretted going. There is always something that amazes me, or tickles me, or makes me proud. Watching one of my kids do something  I can’t do, and something  I didn’t teach them, has been one of my life’s greatest joys…there is an emotion there that I’m not skilled enough to explain in a Chronicle.

But things are changing. My daughter is driving, she’s been accepted to college, and I just watched her march with her marching band for the very last time. My son is riding in cars with buddies, he’s talking to the ladies, and he’s making decisions for himself. Just in the month of August, both of my kids showed me strength of character, maturity, and courage, that would make the most disinterested and detached parents on Earth beam with pride. They did these things on their own, as their own people…kinda like grown-ups.

It’s the nature of things, and these are things to celebrate…and it’s what I hoped for.

Sort of…

All my dreams somehow had me and their mom in the same picture with them. When my daughter was fighting for justice in a courtroom, passionately speaking the truth as she stares over her glasses into the eyes of the judge, I was sitting on one of those hard wooden benches watching with pride and admiration. And in that dream, when the bad guy spoke harshly or threatened her, I stared him down with my best Clint Eastwood stare and he sat his ass back down. (I’m talking ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘Unforgiven’ Clint, not Republican Convention Clint)

When my son rescued dogs from puppy mills, scored touchdowns, hit home runs, and pulled women and children from burning buildings, in the dream, I’m driving him to all these activities. As he crosses the finish line, covered with sweat and grit and blood, I’m handing him the Gatorade and his mom is handing him a cold washcloth to wipe away the hurt.

My daughter and my son are going to stare down life’s bullies, bad guys, and “storms”, because they can. They’re better than me, and that’s what I hoped for. I just didn’t think it was going to happen so fast, and I didn’t think they were going to do it without me.

I didn’t think about that part.



Have any of you ever suffered from Vertigo? Well I have, and it sucks.

Today’s tale is dedicated to my bro, Patrick. Patrick and I are co-workers, and once upon a time I must have shared this story with him while we were traveling together. I tend to tell lots of stories to people who travel with me. People usually only travel with me once.

Anyway…Patrick thought the story I’m about to tell was funny, interesting, and just “messed up” enough to be shared with the masses, so he suggested I should write it as a ‘Chronicle’. I told him he should mind his own business, and not tell me what to write, and to go fuck himself. Upon reflection, I realized my initial response to his suggestion may have been a bit course. I can’t really apologize to him, because apologizing would be admitting I was wrong, and even though I was wrong, I can’t go around apologizing to people every time I’m wrong about something.


A long time ago, in an airport far, far away, I was waiting for my terminating flight to Hartford CT, and my ears would not “un-pop” from my previous, connecting flight from Kansas City. I was uncomfortable. I was suffering from a minor sinus infection, nothing debilitating, but certainly unpleasant while flying. I made quite a spectacle of myself walking around the terminal, pinching my nostrils together and blowing into the blocked off nasal cavity with all my might. It made me dizzy, and frustrated…and it didn’t work. Passersby watched and judged as I stood in line to board the plane, and turned my pale winter face a deep crimson as I continued my pressure relief attempts. It still didn’t work.


I was not excited about getting on another airplane. I wondered if my ears would double pop on the next trip. And I wondered if my ears double popped, would my head explode? It seemed like a possibility, even though I had never heard of this occurring before. So then I imagined if my head did explode, it would suck for my fellow passengers what with the mess and everything, but since it had never happened before, I would probably have a story written about me in ‘People Magazine’…and that would be cool.

My wife’s dream is to be in ‘People Magazine’, so maybe she could be in the article as well:

“…he is survived by his wife and children in Kansas City. When we spoke with Mrs. Large Man, she said ‘His head looked fine when he left that morning. He talked like he was a little stuffy, but that was it. It’s all so shocking and hard to process. Do we get any money for this interview? You know, the Maury people want an exclusive, and they’re talking deep into 4 figure territory. Just saying. I’m probably going to have to raise these two children on my own for a few months.’”

Even though I wondered about these things, we never made it to ‘People’, because, obviously, nothing exploded. Well…technically.

So I hop on the plane, and we take off, and I feel the pressure build as we climb. I expected it, so I just took the pain as the air pressure in the cabin grabbed two metaphorical ice picks and jammed them mercilessly into both of my ears. Pain isn’t really a big deal to me. I took it like a man…like a Large Man.

Then, the bell chimed, indicating we had reached 10,000 feet…and my ears un-popped. For about 2 seconds, everything felt great. Such relief…for about 2 seconds.


So I hear the chime, the ears clear, and as I exhale the sigh of relief, the plane appeared to turn upside down. As the plane turned upside down, my body became completely drenched from sweat (I hoped). I felt a total body tremor, and within another second or 2 a wave of nausea completely overtook me.

I’m on a Southwest Airlines flight, about 3 rows back from the forward lavatory, but we were still in our ascent, and as far as I could tell the plane was still upside down, although now it was spinning in circles while we were upside down. I pressed the help button, and a flight attendant announced over the intercom that the flight attendants were not available until we reached a safe altitude. There was an empty seat between me and the dude sitting by the window. I remember looking at him with pleading eyes and he smiled at me. At that moment, I assumed that he assumed he was going to heaven after our plane crashed. The flight attendants were calm as well, and as I looked around the cabin at all the other passengers, no one was afraid. They were calm, some were sleeping, some were talking, others were listening to iTunes, on their iPhones or their iPods, completely at peace with our impending iDoom.

At that point I realized while I have been a bit of douche bag most of my life, I couldn’t be the only person on the plane not going to heaven. I looked behind me, and quickly determined that the asshole in 7F had no shot at “ascending to the light”, based solely on the fact that he was wearing a blue seersucker jacket with a tan button down oxford shirt, brown slacks, RED socks and black lace up cap toed shoes. Five different articles of clothing, and couldn’t match two? Yet he was calm.

I don’t know if it was 7F’s f-ed up apparel, or my own malady but I could no longer keep the contents of my stomach contained. I grabbed the airsickness bag and even in my state of panic and confusion, I deftly unfolded it just in time to release the morning’s sausage, egg & cheddar on everything bagel mixed with diet Coke, into the bag.

Well, that was the plan anyway. However, I still thought I was upside down, so instead of tossing my bagels downward into my emergency puke container, I held the bag above my head as I leaned my head back. The vomit percolated out of me, upwards… like one of those old style water fountains that would shoot straight up and then fall back into the basin. Unfortunately, the “basin” in this situation was my bearded chin.

This was unfortunate.

The dude sitting next to me, the one going to heaven, looked at me in horror, and asked in a rather unsympathetic tone, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I replied calmly, wait, no…I mean hysterically, “I don’t know. Is the plane upside down? Are we going down?”

He just smiled and said, “No, you have vertigo, and you just got puke all over your clothes.”

And then the smell hit him and he covered his mouth and his nose and his gag reflex started tickling the back of his throat, and he almost puked as well. His body heaved a couple of times, and then he just turned away and faced the window…like a little baby.

About a minute later, the plane leveled off and a flight attendant brought me a handful of paper towels and a plastic bag, looked at me with utter disgust and said with a totally phony smile, “Just do the best you can, sir.” Then her hand went over her mouth and she did the “body wretch” dance as well.


I cleaned up as best I could, I threw the paper towels into the plastic bag, wrapped it up tight, and tried to hand it to the flight attendant. She looked at me with the disdain that someone might have if they watched someone else puke all over their self. I couldn’t blame her for that one…totally MY bad in this situation.

She said, “I don’t get paid enough to handle that bag. Please just keep it under the seat in front of you until we land, and find a wastebasket at the airport, sir.” She was very polite, with all the “sirs” and everything, but I didn’t get the feeling that she liked me.

We landed. I did as she instructed. And the horrifying and shameful experience was over…

…until the next time I flew on a plane.

Vertigo sucks.

Thanks for reading. I hope Patrick was right, and you found it to be a story worth reading.

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