Archive for August, 2012

A Good Waitress

I was desperately homesick in Chattanooga. I was also a bit tense. Too many days, too many miles, and too many douchebags were separating me from my brick and vinyl bastion of serenity. I was depleted, raped, and pillaged by the Huns of Revenue Generation. I missed my humble castle, humbly nestled near the lazy rolling, and humble, mocha brown waters of the Conewango Creek. My refuge filled with the soothing sounds, comforting smells, and the magical aura that are the inspiration for the perspiration of my daily toil; my cubs, my queen, and my trusty hound.

My soul was left abused and emptied because I continued to attend useless and needless gatherings of people who refuse to even attempt to hear my testimony with regard to the marvelous merchandise my employer can provide to safely transfer dry bulk and hazardous liquid bulk media in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. No matter what is offered, only more is wanted. The privileges that accompany a transaction with my beloved employer are rarely considered or appreciated. Even more hurtful, most of these blood-sucking, life-sucking fiends only see me as a part of a process, they never appreciate how splendidly awesome I am as a human. They have no idea that I’ve kissed at least three homecoming queens, or that I have over 60 t-shirts from restaurants & pubs & such. They would never guess that I own like 7 guitars, or that my wife agreed to go out with me when she was at the apex of her hotness. They never so much as ponder the fact that in the spring of 1979 I punched a jag-off McDonald’s manager through the drive-thru window because he was sexually harassing some friends of mine (this was before Clarence Thomas was appointed, so the term “sexual harassment” wasn’t even recognized by the mainstream yet, so yes, if you’re thinking that my chivalrous sock in the nose was ahead of its time, you’re right).

Only a few people from my day job know any of this stuff about me; mostly they just think of me as a sales dude. They don’t want to know The Large Man, they just want to know cheaper prices and faster deliveries; they only want to know The Large Servant. I’m sure most of you are getting the Bruce Wayne/Batman vibe right now, and you wouldn’t be far off; it’s probably the closest analogy. I just don’t have a utility belt, a butler, a lot of money, and I’m in poor physical shape; otherwise, it’s like we’re twins.

So with this entry in my humble little blog being the exception; I usually just suffer in silence. Sometimes I feel like I’m standing outside of my body and I watch with sadness as tiny bits of my soul are broken away by the hammer and chisel of commerce. I quietly cry for the battered “little boy” heart that lies deep within this “grown up” man; this grown up man who just wants to be loved and respected for who he is, and what he stands for.

How do you repair the injuries that are left behind by this kind of assault? What emotional or spiritual salve can be applied to these wounds that leave no mark, yet scar so deeply and permanently? How does one make oneself whole again?

Well I don’t know what other people do, but I go out and find a funky little semi-regional pizza chain that has over 30 varieties of micro brewed beers on tap. I try to sit at a table that faces the main entrance (Batman precaution) in the section being looked after by a hot waitress who knows what the hell she’s talking about, and I say F**** IT! I tell myself, “It’s only a day job! That ain’t who you are, dude!!” I remind myself that I have a buttload of cool t-shirts, and that I’ve kissed a bunch homecoming queens. My wife is still smoking hot, my kids are cool, I have a kickass amphibious assault hound, and a 2003, ice blue, Buick Le Sabre that can take me anywhere I want to go, AND… I can stuff that beautiful ride full of guitars if I want. I’m Batman!

And then things get a little bit better.

If you know how to talk to yourself in a positive way, and if you are willing to do a little environmental modification, you can turn any bad day into a great day. I call this, “The Large Man’s Positive Self Talk and Environmental Modification Exercise”, or “TLMPSTaEME”.

Now, you need a little help, because waitresses like Jackie, the pro I found that particular evening, don’t just grow on trees; but they’re out there, and they make all the difference in the world. You have to be willing to accept their help, and you have to be willing to move on if your first perch doesn’t suit you.

The “first perch” of my evening suited just fine. I was greeted by a kiss of cold and dehumidified air as I walked out of the damp and oppressive Tennessee heat and in through the double glass doors of The Mellow Mushroom. The aromas of baking parmesan cheese, freshly sliced cucumbers, and craft brewed beers gave me a hug to accompany the air conditioner’s sweet and comforting kiss. The pretty girls at the hostess stand created a nice vibe as they greeted me with their youthful smiles and led me to my table.

And then Jackie showed up…

When you get a waitress like Jackie, about 2 or 3 minutes into the relationship you realize that the job title of “waitress” doesn’t really fit here; waitresses work at Bob Evan’s, Jackie is more like a tour guide on a cruise ship, or a camp counselor. She’s like that kid in your neighborhood who had all the cool toys, and was always willing to share them with you. As I sat in that manmade cool air and watched this Bohemian styled woman walk towards my table, before she even said “Hi”, just by her style, smile, and walk; I knew she was bringing the fun. The inspiration that I needed to shake off this crappy day was now standing in front of me, my mood just became her responsibility, and this confident server of “fun” had no fear.

She asked me how I was doing in an accent that sounded more like Iowa than Tennessee, but that light raspy voice delivered through the charming and slightly mischievous smile suggested that whatever hardships I had faced this day were soon to be a distant memory, like impressive statesmen with something to say, and quality unbiased news programing.

“I think I’m gonna be OK now” I replied.

“Well I’ll see what I can do to make sure” She said. “Can I get you something to drink?”

This question almost always makes me fall in love, sometimes, even with dudes. “Can I get you something to drink?” Why yes, yes you can.

I asked her to help me pick out a beer. I explained to her my affection for high quality micro and craft beers, and my 5 Thong Large Man Rating System (5TLMRS). She offered a few suggestions, based on her experience, and what other people (whom she had no doubt pulled from the depths of a crappy day as well) had enjoyed, and we were on our way. I had a small pizza, a nice freshly chopped salad, 3 beers, and an emotional full body massage. For about an hour, I forgot about douchebags, volume incentives, lead times, call to close ratios, and travel arrangements. I watched baseball on flat screened high def TVs, I admired the tight skirts on the hostesses as they escorted other folks to their tables, I talked to Jackie about beer, her Tennessee upbringing, and how cool it is to work at a place like The Mellow Mushroom. She brought over her manager, Jen, to suggest another I.P.A option because Jackie was “not really an I.P.A. kind of girl”. Jen suggested a Caldera I.P.A. out of a brewery in Oregon that I had not heard of. So as I’m waiting for this delivery of something new to try, it hits me that I’m not looking back on the bummer of a day I just went through, I’m looking forward to getting home. Ahhh…the magic spell of a good waitress named Jackie.

The Caldera ended up being a great 5 Thong interpretation of an I.P.A., so even when I was completely content and relaxed, and thinking to myself that it doesn’t get any better than this…it did.

Does it help that Jackie, and Jen, and the hostesses were pretty girls? Yes, it probably does. Did the high quality food and beverage make a difference? Most likely, yes. But I’ve been served by pretty waitresses at 5 star restaurants where the arrogant service and stuffy attitude were as soulless as the meetings I had attended the same day…these experiences rarely relieve me of any tension or help me forget about the day. They usually feel like one more part of the process. Who has time or need for that?

Jackie didn’t know how “splendidly awesome I am” when I sat down in her section. She doesn’t know how many t-shirts or guitars I own, what kind of car I drive, or how great my company’s products are. She probably didn’t imagine a homecoming queen smoocher either as she saw my immense frame walking over to the table facing the front door.  She just saw a Large Man with a clenched jaw who looked like he needed a beer, and she got me one. On the surface, it seems simple, but there is so much more to it than just bringing out that beer. It’s how she brought that beer. She made a connection, and she made a difference because that’s what a good waitress does. A good waitress can change your day. Jackie is a good waitress.

If you’re ever in Chattanooga, check out that Mellow Mushroom – the one by the airport, and ask for Jackie, and tell her that The Large Man sent you. Then give her a big tip.

Thanks for reading.

The Large Man

Read Full Post »

This whole Chick-Fil-A thing has forced me to write a Large Man Chronicle that is political, theological, and topical. I made a promise to myself that I would NEVER do anything this stupid. Things like this require research, deep thought, kindness, and reflection…all the things that I despise. Anything written that is based on facts, deep thoughts, and reflection, will usually bore the shit out of me, and don’t even get me started on kindness. Furthermore, my opinion(s) on this highly charged topic will kill my Large Man Chronicles t-shirt sales, cripple my circulation, and anger just about every friend I have. I’m going to be kicked out of my country club, black balled at work, and scorned in my community. So I have no idea as to why I am writing, and sharing this opinion. By publishing this post, I will be forced to find solace in cold, craft made beer, expensive cigars, and strip clubs, so I hope you’re all happy.

In the interest of brevity, I’m going to do a little paraphrasing with quotes here, and I don’t have exact dates, but I will do my best to keep it within what I see as the context of this controversy. It’s all available on the internet, or on the street and in school yards – so it’s just like how we learned about sex. I’m sure most of you have read the articles, or seen the news stories. I’m also guessing that most of you have formed your own opinions, and those opinions are likely to slant in the direction of your general political or religious ilk. That’s what we do.

So here’s what has everybody’s panties in a wad:

Through the power of Christian radio airwaves, and in the name of free speech, and God, the guy that owns Chick-Fil-A says he believes in traditional marriage, and Americans shouldn’t mess with the concept. We are pretty sure he’s saying that he doesn’t like the thought of gay and lesbian marriage.

Through the power of free will, and because free speech doesn’t mean freedom of consequence from the things that we say, people who believe that a more non-traditional marriage, like same sex marriage, should be accepted and embraced by our country. They believe that the chicken man’s position on the subject is born of hate and intolerance.

The gay and lesbian community wants us to boycott Chick-Fil-A and silence their corporate sponsored, hate filled rhetoric. They cry with passion for us to end this oppression, “NO MORE CHICKEN!”  But, in opposition to these cries for a fast food embargo, the Christian community wants us to support this man’s faith, and his free speech rights, and they want us to demonstrate this support by eating every golden fried piece of poultry flesh that Chick-Fil-A has to offer.

Vegan Christians don’t know what the fuck they’re supposed to do.

Looks like we have us a good old fashioned disagreement!

For the record, and so you know where I’m coming from; I don’t have a dog in this fight. I really don’t know how I feel about gay marriage, I probably don’t care… but that’s the turf I’m usually walking on. I’m in the middle on most divisive political issues of the day. The only thing I passionately believe in is that there are at least two sides to most issues.

If I lean in any direction, I lean right or conservative, but I am a big believer in tolerance – both political and religious, because I might be wrong about everything. I am a supply side Republican; I am a capitalist that believes in a free market, and smaller government. I believe that “middle America” is carrying an unfair share of financing an inefficient government, but I don’t believe that rich people should be taxed more, and that’s not because I’m rich. I am rich with love and fellowship, but that’s about it. I also believe that well run social programs can lift people up and that these publicly funded programs are a necessity if you are a government “of the people”. I don’t believe that money cures poverty; I believe education and motivation cure poverty. I believe in a strong military for defense. I believe that both political parties are failing the American people.

I believe in God, although my faith does not incorporate traditional religious practices. I won’t preach my whys and hows, they’re not important (to you). I believe in tolerance here as well, because again, I could be wrong. I also believe that there is room for science and religion to coexist. Finally, I believe that our Higher Power will judge us all at some point, so I do very little judging on my own. This part of my faith frees me from wasting the days fretting over bullshit like who is serving my chicken.

So, if it matters, and I don’t know that it should, that’s the political, and spiritual lens I’m looking through.

So the gay community is chicken spittin’ mad because a guy who owns a company that is closed on Sundays because of a Christian faith and family value, spoke out on a Christian radio station that he believes in “the biblical definition of the family unit”. He also said that God might get mad at us Americans if we challenge that definition.

Because of God, and their interpretation of the Bible, this multi-billion dollar corporation is closed on Sunday- every Sunday. They are willing to give up a day of millions of dollars in revenue – every week, because of the religious faith of their corporate leadership. Just curious, what would the Gay & Lesbian community expect from the owner of a company with this kind of corporate culture?

Why are you choosing this fight? Are you stupid? When you fight a fight that you can’t win, sometimes you make your opponent look stronger and smarter than they really are…even if they are a bunch of chicken frying crackers (and they’re not – Chick-Fil-A is a successful, well run, popular, family friendly business). Why would you give this company a platform? Right or wrong; enlightened, or not, the president of this company is entitled to his faith and his opinion and he is free to express that opinion. I don’t know why you are fighting with a chicken stand. Do you need the Religious Chicken Stand endorsement? It’s a fucking chicken stand! A well run and highly profitable, and faith driven chicken stand, but a chicken stand none the less.

In mankind’s ugliest moments, people have flown airplanes into buildings because of their faith. People will strap bombs to their bodies and blow themselves up because of faith. People have burned crosses, and witches, starved themselves, and have restricted their diet to only fish on Fridays because of faith. In our most beautiful moments, people have given their fortunes to support the needy because of faith. People have traveled to strange lands (where they are not welcome) to share the glory of their faith. People have been imprisoned for preaching their faith, and people have given their lives rather than renounce their faith. People like Mother Teresa have devoted their lives to kindness and mercy and the service of humanity because of their faith.

Faith – no matter where it’s directed, or from where it comes, is a powerful force. Everybody knows this; the gay and lesbian community should know this too. I admire the courage to fight the biggest kid on the playground, but in this case, even if you win, your opponent will not shake your hand. I don’t think you’re gonna get this endorsement.

But on the other hand…

I’m not gay, and I’ve never dabbled, but as you probably would expect if you’ve ever seen me in person, I get hit on all the time. I don’t understand it, all I can think about is the sexual aspect – the act, the bedroom stuff and the misuse of my naughty parts. I can’t speak for other folks, but I’m probably not the only American male who thinks this way. But with that very private and very honest, and very narrow-minded, thought being shared, I don’t care what other consenting adults do in their private lives, and I don’t want to care.

My marriage is not defined by what my wife and I do in the bedroom. (But if she ever leaves me, I got stories) It’s mostly defined by the support we give each other as we journey through life. As cheesy and sappy as that sounds, that’s it. Why is it so difficult for me to believe that two dudes or two women can’t define their relationship the same way?

If you want to argue the “sanctity of marriage”…sorry, in a nation where over half the marriages end in divorce, and more than 70% of second marriages end in divorce, it won’t fly here. I’ve even heard the argument, “Where does it end?” Or, “Next we’ll be marrying our pets!” The pet thing is stupid, but “Where will it end?” is a fair question in my opinion. If gay & lesbian marriages should be accepted so the participants can have the same spousal benefits as a “traditional” marriage – health insurance, tax benefits, all the cool gift cards you get on your wedding day, marriage discounts for car insurance, etc. …are cousins next? What if an asexual brother and sister couple want to get married for the same reasons? These are extreme cases, but a gay or lesbian marriage is just as extreme to a person whose belief says it’s wrong.

What are we afraid of? Are we afraid that if we accept gay marriage, it will become acceptable to be gay? Maybe, and I see that point. I don’t want my kids to be gay. If my son were gay, I’m not sure how I would feel. I imagine that I would be embarrassed; I would probably blame my wife. Why? All I should really ever want is for my children to be happy and to find someone who will help support them on their journey. I can’t imagine the circumstances that would cause me to turn my back on my children. My daughter has become a Baltimore Ravens fan because of Michael Oher, the main character in the movie, “The Blind Side”. Because we are a Steeler family, this is about as disobedient as you can be in my home, but I doubt that I will stone her, and I’m sure that I still love her.

When I listen to Christian radio, I keep hearing the word “abomination” with relation to the gay & lesbian relationship. I’ve heard that same reference in regard to inter-racial and inter-faith marriages too. Have we completely evolved past that? No, but we’re getting there.

Religious right, is there any room for tolerance here? What are we afraid of? The Gay community shouldn’t be defined by words in a book – a book written by men. This is the point in the debate where we bring up Leviticus, and the teachings about how ‘a man shouldn’t lay with a man’ and the stoning of disobedient children and the right to own slaves. If one point is subject to modern interpretation of the text, or the evolution of society, then maybe other points are as well.

I don’t know what it’s like to be gay, just like I don’t know what it’s like to be black (some people say African American, I say black – my blog). I have no idea what it’s like to be oppressed, because I am the poster child for the non-oppressed. I am a blue eyed, white, male, of European descent. To all of my over-taxed upper-middle-class white brethren who are reading this; please don’t reply with “hard working white men are becoming the oppressed”, because we’re not. I’ll admit it’s becoming more difficult to continue to go out and work harder for less return. I, like many of you, am becoming very irritated as I watch capable people live on the handouts provided by the unfair taxes that I pay. I’m frustrated, but I’m not oppressed, and there isn’t a single segment of a currently, or formerly oppressed member of society who I would want to trade places with. I wouldn’t want to be a woman, or African American, or Hispanic American, Jewish American, Muslim American, Asian American, or a Gay American – even if they were rich and married to a Kardashian.

These are tricky times. I’ve never looked at an issue like this and been 100% sure that my position is the right one…if you can, I guess you’re lucky. I don’t see the attraction of romantic activity with another man, but I also don’t see how somebody can look at a beef tongue and think that it might make a tasty sandwich. People eat beef tongue sandwiches every day. One man’s abomination is another man’s beef tongue sandwich.

If you finished it, thanks for reading!! I hope we can still be friends.

The Large Man

Read Full Post »