Archive for June, 2010

That First Kiss

My bartender in this little shithole tavern just gained another 2.5 % on his tip. He still has a way to go before he reaches the Large Man goal of 20%, but he informs me that he has two brand new cases of Kona Brewing Company’s Fire Rock Pale Ale on ice in the cook’s prep room. I think this guy’s gonna be OK, but we’ll see.

Here comes the first sip.  Oh my…that’s good.

That first sip of a great beer is the best. There are no bad sips, but that first sip of a new beer is like a first kiss. It’s that very intimate, sorta fragile, getting to know you point where the relationship – good or bad – is going to pick a direction.

The good thing about beer is that you can have a first sip of a new beer every day if you really want. But if you’re a responsible and caring human being, first kisses don’t happen every day. I can describe the hoppy bite, and rich texture of a great micro-brew, but how do you describe that first kiss?

I would love the opportunity to have a conversation with a girl named Debbie (No last names here). She could give me some clarity on this subject. She went to junior high with me, I think one year younger. We went to a party in 7th grade at a girl named Dena’s house. About 10 of us were in attendance at this invitation only gathering. We put on Grand Funk Railroad’s Red album. Hastily, a 16oz glass Pepsi bottle (the clear one with the swirled body) emptied itself into a wax-coated paper cup. The bottle was so much more valuable empty than it had ever been full. It hit the green shag carpet in the middle of a circle of 13 and 14-year-old kids, I gave it a spin, it pointed at Debbie, and those next 15 seconds changed my life forever. This was my first, first kiss.

The early teen awkwardness and total fear of this life changing moment would be pushed aside by my desire to have the experience. The bottle pointed exactly in the direction I wanted, the entire world turned with that hunk of twisted glass. My chest heaved as my heart pounded; my mouth was as dry as a bag of kitty litter, palms sweaty… I was terrified, but I was unable to back down. I really wanted; I really needed; to be good at this kissing thing. The girls talked about this stuff a lot. It was more important than good grades…money…even football. This was my life’s most significant moment in time. Everything that had ever happened to me before this was meaningless. Everything after this would be slightly dulled by the magic that would be this first kiss. I was sure of these things.

She stretched across the circle, I did the same, and over top of that empty Pepsi bottle our lips met, our mouths opened, and my heart soared. I think there were fireworks, rainbows, and a marching band…but those details are little less clear because my mind and my soul briefly abandoned me. My first real kiss. We pulled away, and I saw her smile. That’s better than throwing up I thought. 

Debbie wore black rimmed, round glasses in front of a pair of sweet, beautiful, light brown eyes that were enlarged by her thick lenses. By anyone’s standards, even with the substantial glasses, Debbie was a pretty girl. After that kiss, in my mind she was a goddess. After that kiss, I was ready to spend the rest of my life with her, I guess in some ways I have. She is a supernatural being to this day. If I let my mind go, I can still smell her, I can still feel her in my arms, and taste her lips on mine. I think that’s nice.

“Another Fire Rock please. You’re doing a good job dude, but when you see the bottle level below one inch, YOU need to ask.”

Poor bartending is inexcusable. OK, we’re looking at 15%…shameful. I’m just sayin.

Time moves on, so slowly when you’re in that moment at 13 years old. Looking back, it was the blink of an eye. I know everybody feels different about their formative years. I wish I had known in those moments how fondly I would look back on that time – those experiences. If I knew then, what know now, I would have gone much slower.  

 I’m lucky; because I liked kissing girls so much, the activity became my first hobby. I kissed quite a few. I loved every single kiss. I loved every single girl, and I still do. There is something about holding a girl in your arms, lightly brushing her hair to the side of her face and slowly leaning into a kiss. Feeling her breath on your breath, her body against yours, feeling both your hearts beating…POUNDING against each other. There are few moments more special.

I’m married now; first kisses are harder to create. First kiss after a trip…to Louisville…first kiss after a flight delay in Charlotte…on US Air. I’ll use any “first” scenario I can. I try to recapture that first kiss passion, but it’s different. Sometimes it’s better, kissing someone you know you love certainly has its merits.  When you believe they love you, and you feel it in their kiss, that’s magic. That doesn’t happen on a first kiss. It can’t.

What the hell do I know! I just like to kiss.

Kisses eventually lead to more grown up experiences – those are great too… but the innocence of that first kiss is so special. That first kiss is great every time. Even when they are bad they are great, because you know.  You learn something. Everything that has led up to that point is seen at a new angle, in a new light, or a different color after that first kiss. Whether it’s been several dates, a goodnight kiss after a first date or a chance encounter…everything takes on a different hue after that kiss. After a first kiss, you never look at that person the same way again.  

It’s closing time, I need to find my bartender so I can lecture him on why he’s only getting 13.7%.

Go kiss somebody.

The Large Man

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Father’s Day

   I promised myself I would stop writing all this sappy, life affirming, everything means something more, kind of stuff. The Large Man Chronicles are supposed to be funny, crude, and completely off-color. I don’t know how we got here.  But since we’re already here, I might as well talk about Father’s Day. It’s a reflective day for me. I may celebrate it a little bit differently. Traditionalists would say that it should be a day that’s all about Dad, so he gets to do something just for himself. That’s fine, if that is your wont. I like it to be more about being a Dad, but my circumstances are different.  A few of my friends are out playing golf. Another dude I know is getting a mani-pedi, and then a massage (yeah…I know…he’s not a good friend, more like just someone I know). Other guys are canoeing, fishing, hunting, trapping, skinning something, or drinking. I like all these things too. There are few things more rewarding than getting a 6 beer buzz on and then killing something and preparing it for a feast. If you can do these things on a golf course – THEN go directly to a Daddy Day Spa and get a mani-pedi and a massage, it’s absolutely Utopian.  As I said, I like that stuff too, but mostly, I just like being a Dad.  I made a career choice that keeps me away from Dad activities the majority of my time. I wonder about this choice every day. Luckily I work for a company that values family, and they don’t just say it…they really mean it. The details of my job are not important; frankly they would bore the shit out of you. I’ll simply tell you that the things I need to do for my job need to mostly be done somewhere other than where I live. But when I’ve had enough of being somewhere other than where I live, or if my family has had enough, all I have to say is, “Enough.” Then it’s break time. I have pretty much always done this kind of work, and I enjoy it…but I’ve never before worked for a company that understood, “Enough”. I’m fortunate.  I’m also fortunate to have a wife that’s strong enough to play the Mom and the Dad role 4 or 5 days a week. She can clean a garage, weed and mulch a flower bed, prepare 3 meals at a time (that’s right – not 3 meals a day, 3 meals at a time! I’ll tell that tale later), pay bills, fix lamps, keep a monster Black Lab entertained, mow the lawn, shop, taxi kids to every kind of event, keep her Facebook page updated… all in an environment that is healthy, happy, and safe. In fact, the environment is friggin joyous. I’m not just saying these things to get some luvin tonight (although…) I say these things because they are true. Furthermore, even though I’ve never seen her do it, I’m quite sure she can fish, hunt, trap, and skin things too. Again… fortunate.  It will be a long time before I’ll know what the toll is for my time away. What is the price? I think we’re doing OK, but I don’t know. I know my kids get good grades, we live in a nice, safe neighborhood, (our neighbors are off the reservation insane, but they’re safe) we love everything about living here.  Good neighborhoods come with a price. A healthy, happy home comes with a price. But, a nice house in a nice neighborhood with good neighbors doesn’t determine whether or not you are a good father. There’s a big difference in being a good provider, and being a good father…that much I do know.  Maybe I’ll never know how I’m doing, or how we’re doing.  Am I a good Dad? Who knows? There’s lots of growing left to do around here, (for all of us) before we know the answer to that question.  Right now, my kids know I love them. I kill spiders for them, I make them laugh, and I scold them every now and then. They know I love them because I tell them every day, and I tell them why. They’re good with that, for now.  So I had no need to play golf today, or kill anything…OK, maybe a spider or two. I celebrated Father’s Day by cleaning my pool.  I made breakfast for everybody this morning, and all four of us saw Toy Story III this afternoon. I grilled our dinner this evening, and messed around in the garage. Most of the day there was 1 kid or both by my side. I was only a Dad today. Not a good one, not a bad one, just a Dad that was there. That’s a perfect day.  Thanks for reading.  The Large Man

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Mentors & Heroes

Last week I got to visit a cherished childhood friend. We have known each other since the 3rd grade. She is now a successful business woman working with a staff of successful business women. I really like women, so this is a good start.

I was lucky enough to have lunch with the whole group, and I came away from the experience simply awestruck. These chicks have it goin on… they are smart, they are having fun, yet still very professional. They are a well oiled machine – each one in a role that suits their strengths, but has room for growth. All of them are very businesslike without being uptight. Also, as luck would have it, they are all totally hot. (This point rarely goes un-noticed by The Large Man)

If I didn’t already have a job that I loved, I would be begging my friend Kathy to let me work for her. My only reservation is that I know I would bring the level of professionalism down a notch or two…’cause that’s how I roll.

So get this; the name of her company is The Training Connection. They set up training and mentoring programs for other companies. How cool is that? Kathy even wrote a book on mentoring. I’ve made the decision that she now gets to be my mentor (she just found out about this new facet of our relationship at the same time you did!!). Let’s face it-I could use a little mentoring.  With all my foul language, womanizing ways, craft brewed beer stalking, and poor sentence structure, I am the perfect candidate for a mentoring program. I’m ready to grow! I’m tired of always being the “before” guy in the picture…I’m ready to become the “after” guy. This is exciting.

The positive experience at The Training Connection got The Large Man thinking (as most positive experiences will do)…I’ve had some really good mentors in my life. I’ve been blessed. With absolute sincerity, I believe that a mentor is one of the most important roles a person can play. Kathy has just taken on a lot of responsibility… Mentor To The Large Man. I wonder if she has room to put that on her business card.

I sit here in room 106 of the SpringHill Suites, and I start adding up the mentors, the people in my life that have propped me up, showed me some culture or a view that I had not known, or maybe given me a reason to believe that I was capable of a bit more.

Brief list:

  • My big brother made music cool to me; my little brother showed me how to love it.
  • Buddies DJ & Dave taught me some self-respect, how to dress, how to settle down and still have fun. Any “cool” factor that I might have is because of them.
  • My Mom and Dad showed me what a work ethic looks like.
  • My boss is a dude that thinks there is more substance in me than there probably is, this makes me try to live up to something.
  • My first employer in the sales profession showed me how NOT to work.
  • William J Hall, Paul Boutwell, and my Mom are the quiet whispers that I hear when someone tells me that I can’t do something (as in not capable). Those 3 voices tell me I can.
  • Mohamed Ali showed me at a very early age that authority figures are not always right.
  • Bridget, Sue, Erica and my wife are my most current mentors…the writing conscience. My wife and Sue for what I say, and Bridget and Erica for how I say it.
  • Billy Davidson gave me my first full bottle of beer.

I owe them all so much.

I could easily write 50 more names: coaches, teachers, family and friends. I only stop here because these names wouldn’t mean much to most of you, but if you think about what they’ve done for me, it’s a big friggin deal! 

Kathy has a cool ass job!! This is hero stuff. Someone that would help you become better at your craft, your job, someone to help you become more learned or nobler in character – that’s a hero. Maybe when Kathy writes her next book, a Deuxi`eme Partie, it should be about Heroing.

I’ve never really thought about mentoring anyone before now, but I’ve always thought about being someone’s hero.

In my Walter Middy imagination, I’ve saved a million damsels in distress, but refused their post trauma induced advances because it just wouldn’t be noble. In my Large Man mind I have pummeled countless thugs in the name of honor, justice, and common decency. I’ve rescued homeless, disabled, medical missionaries from sinking ships in a hurricane – armed only with my pure heart, a Leatherman, and a keen desire to do the right thing.

 In my mind I have done these things. In reality, those opportunities do not present themselves on a regular basis.  A real life hero is something much different. Most “real life heroes” are not doctors, service men and women, firemen and police women…most heroes are simply mentors that lifted us up, gave us a boost and made us believe in ourselves.

Was there someone who put you on their shoulders, and let your psyche peek over the fence at what could be? I would appreciate hearing about someone, or the someones who played these kinds of roles in your life. Please put an example or two in the comment section on the blog page, or the Facebook post…or reply to the email if you get your Large Man that way. I think it’s a great discussion topic – I’m (obviously) hoping you do too.

From the depths of my full heart, and from the vast expanse of my wretched soul, I thank you for reading.

Until next time,

The Large Man

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