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Bank Walkers and Locker Room Code .2

In Be a Guy, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read on September 3, 2012 at 12:03 am

This is an updated & expanded version of an earlier piece of the same name.
This version originally appeared in The Good Men Project which has given me an oppurtunity to reach a larger audience and done something with my spelling.

In the Peoples Republic of Mass years ago; visiting my brother, I end up going to the pool club with my wife, daughter, infant son, Sister-in-Law, nephew and infant niece.

As we ready to leave, the babies are with the mommies and my nephew and I are in the men’s locker room. I’m a little peeved because if I weren’t here this 8-year-old would be in the women’s room.

In the locker room I tell PC to drop his suit near our locker- we don’t care about being naked- and not to wrap his towel around his wet body.  You want it dry after a shower.
We finish showering, go back to the locker, and I put my shorts on immediately. My nephew starts in with his T-shirt. I’m dressed in maybe a minute and he’s still dicking around with his top. So I ask what he’s doing and he hems and haws a bit until I ask ‘hasn’t your Father taught you anything?”
“First thing you put on your pants. There are two theories about this:
1- if this place catches fire you can walk right out with your money and car keys.
2- If there is some guy scoping your package in here; you don’t want to lead him on.
Next you put on your shoes:
1- if you’re leaving in a fire, shoes are handy.
2- You don’t know what’s growing on the floor here.
Your shirt is last; you hung out at the pool without a shirt.
And most importantly: we must be waiting when your Mom and Aunt come out of their locker room. Job one is to be sitting outside and asking them ‘What took you so long?’”

And I hear a gentle voice inquire “Does he really need to hear that kind of thing?” I turn and consider this character, maybe 5 years older than I, which makes him prime hippie age, in a (I shit you not) “Save the Whales” T-shirt . For all I know he’s my brother’s neighbor, but I just have to reply “Yes I think he does. This is how it was explained to me and it’s worked out pretty well and I intend to have harsh words with my brother about him not knowing this. And now I’m going outside with my nephew and discuss how it might or might not mean something when a stranger strikes up a conversation in the locker room”.

To the best of my knowledge I will now have a heart attack on an elliptical machine for divulging these secrets to a mixed gender crowd, my nephew never did.

There are two types of guys- Bank Walkers, as they say in Texas, are guys who are unashamed about their nakedness. My father was a bank walker; as are my brother and I, so are my sons.
[Evidently, LBJ was a bank walker with a hog that would fill a Ten Gallon Hat. I picked up the term from an interview with one of his aides. It’s a reference to while most boys will hide their nakedness and enter & leave the creek as close as possible to their clothes “bank walkers “strut up and down looking for a better place to dive in or to show off their manhood. LBJ may be the all time bank walker. He would leave the door to the bathroom, in the Oval Office, open and insist his aides continue conversations while he took a shit. That’s a little too intimate for me.]

The rest of the guys may or may not be sissies. At one time I thought only latent homosexuals were worried about hiding nascent erections caused by being around other naked men and consequently were embarrassed by nudity. On a business trip with my Father we stayed at the Union League Club with a male only no swim suit pool and it seems to me that there were Y’s (before the Village People) where one swam naked.  Years later I ended up utilizing a gym in Chelsea where I was one of the few straights and noted there were walkers and hiders in that crew, too. (So I backed off the homosexual angle and now blame poor upbringing.) This was a place where the steam room was closed by order of the health department and there were signs in the locker room advising that sex would not be tolerated and I don’t recall any erections. Say what you want about me and that last and next observation. I don’t maintain eye contact with strange men- I watch their center of gravity and hands, where an attack will originate. There are Chelsea bank walkers with bull pizzles and with peckers like a scared turtle.

The Chelsea club was pretty humorous- hard boys in Daisy Mae cutoffs, sleeveless Flannels and Timberlines. Older guys in designer exercise outfits. Everybody is chatting with, spotting for and wiping sweat up for each other.  I’m on the treadmill one day and remark to one of the few women there that I must really be over the hill, not one guy has said hello in the six months I was a member.  She asked how did I think she felt, not one guy even eyed her. Well I opined, nothing personal, but you’re the wrong flavor  for this crowd; me I couldn’t get laid here, or a woman’s prison, if I stapled a $50 bill to my forehead. She didn’t disagree.

My sons are now involved in High School athletics. They are bigger, faster, stronger and more skilled than my teammates and I ever were. The equipment and uniforms are space aged. Hell, my first year playing football there was a galvanized water tub, a dipper and salt tabs. There is one thing missing: towels. Wet towels on hot days draped over their heads and towels around the coaches necks on cold days. Towels filled with ice on abrasions and bruises. Evidently High School kids no longer shower at school- one of my sons is a rare user of the locker-room shower and has to bring his towel. For me showers were a luxury as were clean towels. Unlimited hot water was a rare commodity. The folks went out and I took a tank draining shower. I stood under a scalding shower between classes to sweat off pounds and jumped rope in the shower room with 8 heads going to make weight. My mother assigned each of us a towel for the week and in school I got a clean towel daily. As my rank on the athletic food chain rose so did the number of towels the managers would give me.  The season I won the states (a small trophy in a small division) I received an armload of towels daily some of which went to insulating my rubber suit. Nothing said varsity letter like one towel around your hips, another around your neck and a third drying your hair. My old wrestling coach blamed MTV for kids not showering at school anymore: “They are embarrassed at not having that MTV six-pack”. I believe that MRSA and ringworm attacks are directly linked to not showering immediately.  Of course Jerry Sandusky types may also have had something to do with the drop off in hanging around the locker room.

Mother Would Be 79 Today

In Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read on July 7, 2012 at 12:02 am

Mother would be 79 today; instead she is gone for 14 years tomorrow.
We would eat a nice dinner, made by her, at which she would announce “these are the best chicken cutlets I’ve ever had”.
I’m unsure how serious she was or if it was her way of censuring us for not being effusive enough.
A child of the depression (and Dad never met a waitress with whom he couldn’t flirt)[i] who saved soap slivers and finger swiped every bit of egg from the shell she preferred to eat at home… I don’t know if Dad would be around.

My siblings and I would discuss, this week, her 80th and more importantly her 81st on 7/7/14.  Not so secretly she read tea leaves & tarot, attempted to reach her mother and my 2 dead older brothers through mediums[ii], and looked to numerology for clues. 7/7/77[iii] her 44th was a big deal. I’m sure she went 45 miles away to play $46 in all sorts of Lotto combinations.

She went a bit ursine crazy when my nephew, her first grandchild, was born.[iv] She was convinced that he would die of malnutrition and invented “real breakfast”; Oatmeal with an egg in it and maple syrup- PC is still skinny as is his mother.

She never knew my youngest. I whispered in her ear that there was another one coming and she attempted to rise and talk for the first time in a week. She passed 7 or 8 hours later. [And no- I did not tell her “At 65 you are supposed to retire, not expire”]

The last thing I heard her say was unintelligible.

You can’t be serious? WTF?

She hadn’t the strength to fight cancer one more time.

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Nothing Stands Alone- 1493 and Cusp Events

In Fleshed Out Tweets, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read on September 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

Luckily for you I’ve finished this book; anyone who has ever received one of my tweets or is in my FB circle this week is aware that I am obsessing about 1493 by Charles Mann. The breadth of Mann’s vision and ability to see connections awes me. I don’t think there was ever a moment during which my mind could have grasped the universality of the globe as he does. While this is a pedantic historic account of the past 500 years; us hippies can see a little bit of the Gaia myth and dumb kids can feel the creep of The Lion King’s Circle of Life and Avatar’s what-ever-the-hell it was. Those of you who have had the misfortune of being subjected to my lecture on Cusp Events will understand that I understand that Columbus visitation to the Western Hemisphere to be the singularly most important Cusp event of the past 500 years.

My vision of how the outcome of history is shaped will be forever by 1493. Unfortunatly, i’ve also recently read Outliers: The Story of Success Malcolm Gladwell and I’m in dire danger of becoming a Calvinist. Gladwell and Mann both tell tales of predestination that could adversely affect my ability to believe that much of what I endeavor to do will have much impact on the eventual outcome. Or maybe I’m going to have to take my paranoia up a notch and look even further ahead.

His prior book, that I read, “1491” describes the Western Hemisphere just prior to interaction with Europeans. The gist of 1491 is that European technology and numbers were insufficient to conquer the native peoples of the Americas at the end of the 15th century. The number of indigenous peoples and the sophistication of their cultures far exceeds what was taught in school when I was a kid. The myth of virgin wilderness in the Americas is just that a myth. The forests of the amazon and of North America were carefully tended agricultural plots, maintained by a large and advanced population exploiting and husbanding both animal and plants. Had the Indians been resistant to European Diseases such as Small Pox the Europeans would have barely made a toe hold and would have stacked up on the shores as isolated trading ventures. It is entirely possible that in time Europe could have mustered the forces to invade, however in the interim the exchange of trade goods and specifically weapons would have rapidly diminished the European advantage.

1493 is a careful analysis of “unintended consequences” of the “Columbian Exchange.” Far reaching it offers up new explanations of “the Little Ice Age“, Chinese isolationism and African Slavery in a suddenly globally connected world.


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[Some of] My Father’s Women

In Be a Guy, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read on September 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I know these facts: (about my Father and women)
He was one of 5 boys.
His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, while pregnant with her 6th child and passed shortly after her last delivery.
His sister, the baby, grew up with their aunt and uncle; a childless couple.  
He  grew up in a houseful of boys; his high school and college were not coed.

As an adult, Dad found buxom Jewish women fascinating, small breasted Wasps derisively amusing and any reasonably pretty Italian female a cause for maudlin musing. Short Irish women were a wife or in-laws and cause for worry.

His first sex was with a WWII widow.   Drunk, he told this story once.  She a waitress, he a  teenaged busboy and it was at a Jersey Shore resort. Years later I heard or read or saw in a movie a very similar recount and had an awful moment of  disappointment;  I believe there were a few widows and busboys in the 40s and hope he told me a true story.

In his 20s, as an army medic, he was stationed in postwar Germany. Most of his practice was treating troops for STDs, which held no special terror for him.  He knew the symptoms and the cure, and I imagine him a bit wistful at missing out on Mexican and European whores as Mother followed him to Texas for basic and then to Europe.

In his early 30s, after losing another secretary to marriage, he went looking for a replacement on his own. He invaded the typing pool harem with a sample of his deplorable handwriting and came out with a homely overweight girl, a tactical decision.  Their relationship spanned four decades, and he treated her right. Eventually, she made more money than many of the associates in the firm.

In his late 30s we hiked Yosemite and at the top of El Capitan we came upon two hippie sprites skinny dipping. Thin, 60s breasted and fully thatched, they invited us to join them.  Dad urged my brother and me to strip down to our tighty-whities and  swim. Years later I cannot listen to “Highway 51” without pondering how tempted he must have been to pitch us off the mountain.  I imagine any man turning 39 in 69 ached to tune into “Free Love“. 35 years later I heard myself quoting him “I’m not saying we have to lie to your Mother, but I am suggesting that she doesn’t really need to know all the details”

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9-11 I had a Camera that Day

In Did You See This?, Pictures, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read on September 11, 2011 at 12:31 am


I’m driving down the road talking on the phone and look up to see smoke from the North Tower. I ask the guy on the other end if he’s heard anything about a fire at the World Trade Center. He hadn’t. After our conversation  I tune to 1010WINS  to hear that a sightseeing plane hit the WTC. I call one of my employees who informs me that an engineer in the building, where he is, saw the plane coming down the river and that it was a commercial jet. I get to thinking of the assassination of Massoud the Lion of Panjshir and the dynamiting of the Buddhas. I grab my camera and take a few shots, turn the radio back on, and out of the corner of my eye, see the south tower hit.

I end up stopped, with the rest of the inbound traffic, at the causeway leading to the Queens Midtown Tunnel. We’re watching in silence for the most part.

I notice a brown-skinned Pakistani or Indian looking Dial Car Driver and wonder “Am I the only one thinking this?” I walk over to him and say that I know he had nothing to do with this; but I can’t vouch for the feelings of the rest of the crowd. He bursts into tears, insists he had nothing to do with this and asks what he should do.  I suggest he goes home, locks his doors, turns off the lights and keeps his head down for a few days.

I head back home and on the way, withdraw cash  from the bank, fill up my tank, buy 1,000 rounds of rifle ammunition and a dark gray suit.  I tell the poor kid at the gas station, that day, that the Bill of Rights is going to take a beating

Being wired into the NYC Construction industry I know there were no volunteers working on the recovery by 9.13; the unions clamped it all down tight starting that evening. I know terrible stories that poison the overall valor of most “First Responders”. I think it was criminal to send firemen into the towers with hoses that were just set dressing.  A friend announced she was going downtown to cook for the volunteers. I still feel badly about asking, “What volunteers? The only volunteers are those handing out free meals and clothing to people on the clock”. I know firsthand that a lot of Laborers, Cops and Firemen took home boots, pants and jackets sized too small for them and that a lot of the children of these Heroes were color coordinated that Christmas in browns by Timberland and Carhart.

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Why Does It Always Have to Be Me? With Storm Update

In Be a Guy, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read on August 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm

My two eldest are small and playing at the end of the drive. I hear the bass beat and death metal from a driverless CJ-5. I wheel to watch it blow the stop sign. The kid at the wheel has dropped her joint and is reaching down to find it and is unseeable for twenty-five yards. I yell for my kids to freeze, toss a handful of gravel at the jeep and holler some encouragement. The kids and I head in for some lunch.

Shortly, the missus calls from the front because there is some irate woman on our stoop. The Neighbor (and I go around a bit concerning what may or may not have happened. Whether or not rocks got tossed at “her child” is discussed. I ask how old her child is – “Eighteen” – and explain that my kids are children, three and four, her’s can vote and drive and that the next time her little sweetheart blows the stop sign at 40, we’re going to have more than harsh words. Had her “child” stopped they would be looking for the car keys in the storm sewer. I’m making tuna, and a cop shows up at my door. We spar a bit, and finally I ask him, *** “Where do you want to go with this?” He asks what I mean and I tell him I’m about 30 seconds from telling him to send someone in a tie to investigate this as I’m about to clam up. He puts away his notebook and we discuss it like guys. He asks “Where do I want to go with this?”I suggest that maybe there was a misunderstanding, but, as I understand these things, I can go down the street and say something, then this irate homeowner might say something harsh, the next thing we know, it’s some kind of white trash war ,my dog is poisoned and her garage is aflame… So maybe he should go down the street and suggest it was all a big misunderstanding. He’s about my age and which means he’s been around, I’m speaking in a jocular way and we’re guys while she’s a menopausal maniac. We high-five each other and get on with our day. And I am deeply on my wife’s Shitlist. Soon it is Halloween. The people down at the end of the block are out of the house behind mold remediation and have left a bushel basket sized witches kettle of candy out front on the honesty system. We’re headed up the street: the wife, neighbor and our kids. A couple of teens stroll out of the gate with the kettle of candy. The two women turn and suggest I have to say something. I decline the opportunity reminding them of how much trouble I got into chastising the teen for blowing the stop sign. I, finally, agree to deal with the problem if they both cut me some slack the next time. I wait for these dummies and ask “which one of you shit heads really thought all that candy was for you?” They mumble a bit and apologize and try to hand over the kettle. I tell them “Get Lost — carry it back yourselves”, and when they return the kettle I make them empty the candy from their pillow cases into the kettle. Read the rest of this entry »

Timing is Everything (.1)

In Be a Guy, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read, Work on August 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

Timing is everything.

You have to pick your audience: 
“That was about the same time I was working at the Whore House.”
“After that I was looking for something warmer and went to work at the Whore House.”

Glasses jump on the table and the vibration rocks the floor as that historic fact lands with a palpable thud.
Pause a moment as your audience tries to digest this tidbit and the ripples subside to add “But I wasn’t a whore, notice I said ‘at’”.

Assure them there was no sampling the wares- not even  in an “eat as much as you want” at the candy factory trope. It was a job.

If you are feeling kind fill them in on the management lessons according to
Warren. The owner- come on, the pimp, procurer and panderer.

If you are feeling unkind say.
“OK should we get going?”
“What are you going to have?”

It will come up again and then you can explain  your other duties and Warren’s unique management advice.

As the nominal doorman, Warren  explained-
“A big guy challenges a drunk. If this isn’t his first visit to a house he will suspect that a guy your size probably has a straight razor and nobody wants to get cut.”
“If things get sharp stand back and call the sheriffs; these whores can take care of themselves.  You haven’t been rushed until a pack of whores gangs up on you and scratches your sorry ass to ribbons- I am familiar with this experience.”
“Ask yourself ‘Who is going to swear out a warrant on a gang of women?’”
On getting along with the other employees, he advised-
“You can be kind of a kid brother or a sexy uncle, by marriage, maybe a “helpful” brother-in-law. You can’t be their Daddy I have got that role covered. I will warn you spend time with one of them and you had better date all of them- They expect Daddy to have a favorite; you’ll just infuriate them if you make a choice.
I’m not going to tell you not to fall in love with a whore. You either will or you won’t. I’m sure you know you don’t defecate where you dine. Technically, I suppose, there may be sexual harassment laws against it now. Come to think of it as the only male employee you might just be considered management”

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Spirits of the South Pole

In Be a Guy, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read, Yes, You are a Wimp on August 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm

As some of you may or may not know- I haven’t had a whiskey in 25 years- and all of this “Hint of pear, cinnamon, crushed almonds, marzipan; whiff of tobacco, leaf-smoke, moist leather.” is pretty much a crock of shit in my book. However, were I still drinking whiskey; no let me rephrase that, had I ever learned to drink in moderation, hell had I any interest in drinking and not in getting drunk….
If I weren’t such an animal I would really like to get my hands on a bit of this…I can only speak for myself when I say once you get to a moderately civilized hooch , Jamesons, and your 4th beer it’s all about the booze.

[As Tred Barta said “Fly-fishing is just another f**king way of presenting a bait” and all this BS about whiskey get’s tedious and the wine thing is just a way guys try to seduce women.]

But I am a fan of Shackleton and having read 6 or 7 books about him amused to hear  “He was irresistibly charming, especially to women, and for his time — he was born in 1874 — was a highly advanced adulterer, who liked sharing his girlfriends with their husbands.” He used cocaine “and heavy drinking and smoking may account for his death of a heart attack at age 47.” Which would mean that Ernest and I had similar hobbies- though I tended to keep the husbands in the dark.

Had this expedition taken off in this century Shackleton would be left on the dock, all the Brits would not have made the cut.  
Roald  Amundsen won the race and PETA would have closed his act down pretty quickly- to me the idea of eating the sled dogs after their load is used up seems like a pretty good idea.
[Another Rake of whom I am very fond is Richard Francis Burton].

Problem Children in Congress

In Fleshed Out Tweets, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read on August 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Last night congress, used the bathroom, flushed the toilet, washed his hands and turned off the light.
Now he’s looking for a cookie.
Honey, it’s expected at your age.
The Congress posse is stalking the halls giving guys wedgies and snapping girls’ bra straps. And posting this on UTube.
Congress is farting in the elevator cab and snickering when it gets off.
Congress is picking his nose and wiping his finger on the cafeteria table.
Congress is making fart noises during quiet time.
Congress dropped a turd & is telling you “if it’s in the punchbowl it must be ice”
Congress is pissing down your collar & calling it rain.


Fashion Statement

In Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read, Work on July 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I get a call to look at some work down in the lower village and head down to meet Jameson or Christopher or Roberto — no … Renaldo.

(Let’s not get into the imposition of three-syllable names. Who’s got that kind of time?)
On entering, I can tell that this is “some kind of fancy” little boutique. Long on the subdued lighting with jewelry brightly displayed and starkly dispersed in antique glass cases. The tiny price tags hanging from tampon strings, discreetly turned ink down, notify me I won’t be shopping here.

I’m wearing, basically, the same clothes I’ve worn for 40 years:

Khakis or Levis.

A 100-percent cotton button-down shirt — probably blue.

Utilitarian watch for jewelry.

Some kind of boots — it’s a long story.

A blazer — I grew accustomed to the pockets in high school.

Vaguely I feel like a turd in the punch bowl, a zebra at the paddock.

There are a few skinny sales women — too skinny for my taste and a wisp of a guy, fresh from the band box. He glides over and, like a pro, asks if I’m looking for “something special”.

I know I’m here to meet a potential client who may possibly have learned about the stores I’ve built in three weeks. We need the work. But I gotta say it-
“I don’t know about special; I’m looking for Renaldo”.

He pauses disappointed for a moment, then perks up.  “Is Reynaldo your personal shopper?”

Game, set & match skinny boy.  I’m speechless and incredulous for a few moments…

I can’t help myself.

“Let me ask you a question: “Does anything about me look like a guy with a personal shopper?” It’s just my opinion, but, if I’m a client, maybe Reynaldo dropped the ball.”


What I’m thinking is:

Does this look like a fashionable ensemble a pro would choose?

Would someone really pay Reynaldo good money to put this together?

I have to tell you I have a whole closet full of this stuff and I’m going to stock up now if it’s going to get expensive.

And, god bless him he doesn’t say “No, but you certainly do look like you need one.”


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