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Vertigo

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.

Tell someone you love them today.

TLM

Sweet Dreams

So, here I am…living the dream. Since I have always been sort of a hopeless, romantic, dreamer, it’s worked out pretty well.

I remember as a small child, I would lay in the stiff and crunchy straw grass at “the short cut” and stare up at the autumn clouds on a sunny October day, and I would imagine that if I could just get up there, I would have a blast bouncing from cloud to cloud. Free from gravity, free from tonsillitis, free from runny noses, free from arguing parents, free from uncertainty, free from fear. No bullies, no bullshit, no restraints. I dreamed about flying all the time. I would jump out of a plane from above the clouds, and just drop down upon them…as soft and gentle as my grandma’s hug. The clouds were landing spots, and launching pads; it was real, and possible… and it was just a matter of time.

And then, in fifth grade, back when they taught you stuff instead of how to take tests, we had science as part of our curriculum. And when you took science class in fifth grade, they loaned you a text book, AND…in this particular Houghton Mifflin text book, there was a chapter on weather… and THAT fucked everything up.

Turns out cumulus clouds are not spongy, springy cotton balls, basically they’re just water. If you tried to jump on one, you would fall through it, crashing to the earth. Then you would land on the sidewalk or the street (because back then the world was made mostly of sidewalks and streets) and you would break an arm or a leg. So then, you would still have tonsillitis, a runny nose, bickering parents…bullies & bullshit, but you would have to add whatever broken bones you acquired from the fall to that inventory of earthly misery. I probably should have deduced all that when I saw planes fly through the clouds.

So that sucked…

The lesson here is that a good education is a spoiler of dreams.

However, it’s still a sweet memory, and it was a sweet dream. A little boy imagining a trampoline world up in the clouds…free and peaceful, special and safe. Nothing wrong with that.

Later, I dreamed of being an athlete. Mostly a pro football player, but I could have been a baseball player, a swimmer, or a track star. Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Carlos Palomino made me want to be a fighter. Bruce Lee and David Carradine made me want to be a martial arts master, but a Robin Hood type; a protector of the innocent and downtrodden. (And the cute!!)

I kicked a LOT of imaginary asses at first. After I became a more skilled imaginary ass kicker, I daydreamed of taking on real life bullies. I usually kicked those thug asses while protecting some of the girls who were my seventh and eighth grade crushes. These were very James Thurber, ‘Walter Mitty’, type daydreams.

Imagine, if you will…

Laurie, the seventh grade captain of the cheerleaders, and prettiest girl in the school, is walking down the hall, making eye contact with me from twenty lockers away, and smilingat ME.

So with a cool twitch of my head, I shift my poorly trimmed hair out of my eyes, and I walk towards her. (We’re moving in slow motion, because that’s how daydreams work, this allows the joy to last a full, one third, longer…this is always true. You can Google it.) As we get closer to each other, it seems like it’s a foregone conclusion that she’s going to ask me to walk home with her. Of course I will, and I’ll carry her books for her. Maybe she’ll ask me go to the Sadie Hawkins dance, and if we go to the dance, maybe I can kiss her goodnight. I would kiss her so gently and sweet, right on the mouth…and she will taste of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine, and everlasting love.

But Oh No! Just as we are mere inches away from each other (and everlasting love) Rick Bluto steps in front of her and asks her if she wants some of his Big Buddy bubble gum. He’s very suggestive and ungentlemanly in his offer. He startles her, and scares her, and I see the pleading in her eyes…asking me for help. But Bluto is much larger than me, and he’s strong, and hairy…and in seventh grade you avoid confrontation with hairy guys at all costs. So I turn and start to walk away in shame. But as I look over my shoulder I see that he’s grabbing her arm to try to hold her hand, and I can stand no more. So I walk back – with the determination of a grown man in love. And even though I’ve never had any “formal” training, I’ve watched enough ‘Kung Fu’ episodes to have a basic understanding of martial arts, and I bust Rick Bluto’s large and hairy ass for him. Of course, it was for Laurie too, and for me, and for everyone else in America. The kids all gather around and start chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” It’s practically over before it starts, because I’m so quick, noble… and martially gifted. 

I win the confrontation, and the girl. Rick Bluto learns a lesson, and starts getting better grades, and stops picking on all of us, and becomes a congressman. Laurie and I get married and have a couple of kids. And teachers, school administrators, and everyone in our community agrees that THIS seventh grade class was probably the best ever. Everybody wins.

No shit. I really dreamed like that, all the time. I even wanted to start my own street gang, but we were going to be a nice and noble gang – good Samaritans – we would defend women and children with “…the fiery passion of a thousand suns”. We were going to get denim vests with sewn on patches. We would be called “Feminine Protection”, and the mean streets of Woodbridge VA and Washington DC would be safe to walk again – any hour of the day! That was my dream.

One day, in the summer of ’72, I shared my dream with my mother. I asked her if she would buy me a Levi’s denim jacket, help me cut off the sleeves, and find a way to embroider “Feminine Protection” on the back.

So being the amazing mother she was, she explained some things to me. “Oh”, I said in response to another science lesson. After the trauma of the lesson on feminine protection,  I couldn’t come up with another catchy name for my noble gang, so just like the clouds, another dream was dashed.

I had a rough childhood, full of disappointment and failed dreams.

But eventually, I started to put those childish dreams away. When it became clear that I was not going to be the president of the local chapter of a noble street gang, or the next Lynn Swan, Muhammad Ali, or even Kwai Chang Caine, I started imagining a different future, one more reflective of who and what I really am.

When I figured out that I was just The Large Man, nothing more, but certainly nothing less, dreams changed to aspirations. When I realized that other than being a decent kisser, and having a knack for picking the perfect “next song” at parties, I had no special powers or talent. I was an average guy, and I began to dream average guy dreams.

Or did I?

Maybe…just MAYBE, those average guy dreams are actually bigger…and better.

I wanted a wife, and I thought it would be awesome if she were pretty, and she liked me. I wanted a couple of kids that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time in court with. I wanted a Large dog that came to me when I said, “Here boy!”. I dreamed of living in a house in a safe neighborhood, and driving a car that I didn’t hate that would get me back and forth to a job that I also didn’t hate. That was it. Well, I guess I’ve always wanted a decent stereo too.

Wife, kids, dog, house…stereo. Less dramatic than bouncing on clouds and protecting cheerleaders from bullies, but in reality, just as ambitious.

A good and simple life is hard to come by. The stars need to line up for 2 completely different humans who want pretty much the exact same things. Finding a partner who loves you, and who will love you forever is just about  as difficult as bouncing on clouds. A lot of times people think they love each other, because of all those beginning fireworks, but when the smoke clears and the ash settles, they find out that being in love, and staying in love, is much harder than falling in love. Take my word for this…I have some experience. Some dreams end a lot worse than finding out clouds are really just water.

Funny how it worked for me though. It seems like when my hopes and dreams became a little smaller, and a little less spectacular, my realities became much bigger, richer, and sweeter than I ever imagined. As a young man, I absolutely DID dream of this life, I just never dreamed that it would be this sweet.

Wife, kids, dog, house…simple when you write it out like that, but when you add them together, and take a good look at that simple, sweet dream, it’s really quite something.

Sweet dreams & Big love to you. Thanks for reading.

TLM

Disgruntled

Do you guys watch TV? Do you ever watch the news channels? Sports channels? Presidential debates? Do you ever listen to news radio? Do any of you dear and treasured readers of The Large Man Chronicles have a Facebook account? And do you follow the thread on at least a semi-regular basis?

Does it sometimes seem like everybody in the world is pissed off about something?

It does to me, and I’m becoming a bit concerned.

One of my favorite things in the world is the NFL championship game. (I ain’t allowed to use the “S” word because of copyright protection. If this Large Man tale is ever published by an entity with intentions of profit, I would have to pay a fee for using the “S” word. Paying fees is not “super”.) As I watched this year’s install of America’s greatest entertainment event, I truly enjoyed the Denver defense’s dismantling of the Carolina Panthers team. I also took great pleasure in watching one of the game’s all-time great players (and pitchmen) win his last game, and walk away as a champion.

But as much as I loved it all, as much as I scheduled my Sunday around the event…as much as I bask in the passion of the event; it’s never lost on me that is a game. It’s a game!

It’s a game played by young men. Young human men. Young human men who have been coddled and handled most of their lives. (Also very much abused in my opinion – story for another day)

I’m not the only person who watches that big game, (I don’t pay a fee for “big game”, but the NFL tried to copyright that too) but it feels like I’m the only person in America who wasn’t disgruntled over some aspect of the game when it was all over.

White people are mad about Beyonce. Deaf people are mad about Marlee Matlin’s limited TV screen time. Peyton fans are mad that Eli didn’t show enough emotion. Black people are mad because white people don’t love Cam.

 

Now I’m mad…because it’s a football game. That’s all it is. People get worked up over the stupidest, silliest, shit. I’m heartbroken that my kids are growing up in a world so full of contempt. Contempt for difference, and contempt for tradition. Contempt for expressions of joy, and even contempt for expressions of grace and humility.

I DON’T LIKE CAM! But I don’t dislike him because he’s black and if he stays healthy he will most likely break ALL the records of my beloved white quarterbacks*. Even though that kind of sucks…I want my heroes (sports heroes) to be heroes forever. But that’s just about impossible.

*I don’t love them because they’re white.

I do not dislike Cam because he’s a joyous and talented and strong and INTELLIGENT, proud African American man, I don’t like him because he went to Auburn, and I’m a ‘Bama fan. Do I wish he handled his post-game presser a little better? Maybe. The guidance I might offer the young man is that if you are going to perform the histrionics after every first down, a little humility after you got your ass kicked would be appreciated by the rest of the world. But that’s my way…that’s what I would teach my children. Doesn’t have to be Cam’s. Cam Newton is not the first athlete to act like an asshole after a game – win or lose. Bill Belichick does it every week.

Why the anger? Why the hate? It’s a game. I don’t understand how a reasonable person would give a flying —-!

I don’t have a problem with Beyoncé’s halftime show, but guess I understand how some people might. However…controversial social expression only hurts you if you let it. And, black or white, you’re an idiot if you let it.

I do have a problem with her music, but only because it sucks. It’s barely even hers. If she didn’t have a pretty face, a nice ass, and a choreographer, we wouldn’t know who she is. You may feel differently…I come from a time when people could stand alone and make your heart soar, and ache, and dance, with just their voice and a piano. Her lyrics lack depth, her melodies are unimaginative, her voice lacks style and clarity…and her message sucks. Give me Aretha, Brenda Russell or Billie Holiday, any day…and twice on Sunday.

But that being said, it may be that she is simply not my cup of tea. I’m a 56 year old white male. Her voice is not the voice I hear when I crave inspiration, or a slow dance with pretty girl. But based on her record sales, my position on the matter is quite different than people much younger than me. She seems to reach them. Guess what…that’s ok too. It makes me a little melancholy when I think of an R & B artist who has no soul (in the way I define & recognize “soul”), but society will not prosper or face its demise based on Beyoncé’s success…or her halftime show. I’m bigger and stronger…Larger than controversial messages. I’m teaching my kids to be that way too. In Casa de Grande Hombre, we’re not counting on Cam and Beyonce to be lighthouse beacons for ships that carry our eternal souls, so it’s kinda hard for them to disappoint us.

The media, Twitter, and my Facebook page burned with hatred and disgust for 3 weeks after the game. I had a friend starting chemo, maybe that’s why I didn’t place a lot of importance on a pouting primadonna, and an over-hyped line dancer. I thought this was one of the best championship games I’ve ever watched. I totally enjoyed the halftime show too. The colors, the singing, the dancing, were spectacular. I would have preferred the Stones, Springsteen, or Tom Petty, but I’m really old.

And I think Coldplay sucks too.

The people who say they represent deaf people were off the reservation pissed about the sign language interpretation of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ not being broadcast in its entirety on TV. It was shown on the big screen for the duration of the song for the people in the stadium. But that’s not enough.

It’s never enough.

There was a military fly by with F-16 jets, so now there is an entire contingent FA-18 pilots and navigators who are suing the NFL for their exclusion. Civilian Lear jet pilots heard about the FA-18 movement, so they’re getting in on it too.

Several Peyton Manning fans brought it to the attention of the media that Eli was less than excited when it looked like Peyton had clinched the game with a beautiful pass for a 2 point conversion. So now, Peyton’s father, Archie Manning, has grounded Eli until next season, telling him if he can’t support his older brother he doesn’t need to go out and socialize with others.

I don’t know where it’s going to end, but I ain’t playin’.

Big Love,

The Large Man