Sort of Borrowed Goods

Two or three times a year I leave the house without any deodorant on. I don’t do this on purpose; sometimes I just forget.

I have a very short attention span.

So short in fact, that I will walk from one room in my apartment to another room only 10 feet away to do something, do something else entirely, and not realize until hours later that I never did the thing I set out to do.

This has always been the case since I was a kid. My parents used to yell at me for not paying attention. But that’s not the case. I always paid attention. I paid attention to everything. That was the problem. I couldn’t pay attention for long because there was always something new I had to pay attention to.

It’s difficult being me.

So it is understandable that in the daily routine of getting ready in the morning, sometimes I leave out a crucial step like putting on deodorant.

If it is a normal workday it’s not a problem because I keep a stick of deodorant in my desk at work. I do this for my forgetful days or if I need to re-fortify the pits before leaving the office for what I anticipate being a particularly sweaty night.

However, if I am headed to any place but work, well then I have an issue. It’s at this point that I have to do some calculations.

How long I will be out + how much I like the people I will be around = Whether or not action must be taken

If that formula adds up to equal the fact that action must be taken, I head for the nearest drug store.

Now before you judge me, I will say no, I do not grab a brand new stick of deodorant from the shelf, open it, apply it to myself and then put it back on the shelf. That would be disgusting and also morally reprehensible. I’m not a savage after all. I understand that is completely unacceptable. I would never do that with a stick of deodorant.

That’s why I use the spray.

It’s not something I do a lot, I’ve probably only done it two or three times in my life. And it’s been necessary. Stinky times call for desperate measures.

The toughest part is doing it discreetly. It would almost definitely be easier to actually steal the entire bottle of deodorant spray than it is to use it without anybody noticing. I have to pretend to read the label of the bottle, discreetly look up and down the aisle and then… shove the bottle under my shirt so I can give a quick blast of chilly pressurized mountain fresh air into each pit.

You might not approve of this, but I can assure you the people I saw on those occasions certainly did.

And since I’m forgetful, it’s not only deodorant that’s gets left behind. Sometimes it’s something much more important like sun block.

Last year I was in Chicago for a conference.



I had a whole day to myself before the conference started. It was a brilliantly sunshiney day and I wanted to spend it outside eating and seeing the city.

I signed up for an Architecture boat cruise. And it wasn’t until about an hour before the cruise that I realize… I haven’t brought any sun block.

Again, predicament.

Now I could have easily have just purchased a bottle of sunscreen but they only had bottles over three ounces, which means that I was going to use it once, and then I would have to leave it behind since I wasn’t checking my luggage back to New York.

I didn’t want to waste all that sun block.

So I utilized my deodorant strategy and I located a drug store.

I walk into the drug store and locate the sun block aisle. There was no way I could effectively apply a cream to my body efficiently with enough time to actually protect myself and still not get caught at the same time. So I look around and I find the aerosol spray cans (which function very similarly to the spray deodorant I was familiar with pirating).

I take a look up and down the aisle… and then I panic.

This was going to require way more than two discreet sprays. I have a face and ears and neck and arms to cover. This drug store is far too crowded and there are too many people coming in and out of the aisles.

So instead I start a sort of walk-and-spray tour of the store. I walk down an aisle and when I think no one is looking I launch into what looks like an epileptic fit trying to cover as much of my body as I can in three seconds.

And I can’t do it for longer than that because sun block is fragrant. You always know when somebody is applying it.

So I’m walking up and down aisles, sporadically sun blocking myself, and the longer I do it, the faster my pulse races.

I finally think I have enough coverage and return the bottle to the shelf and walk out the door. But my hear was pounding so hard as I thought a security guard was going to full out tackle me before I got to the door.

But I made it out the door without any violence, and even better, I didn’t get burnt on the cruise.

I know it seems like I wasted a whole bunch of sun block, but don’t blame me.

Blame the TSA.

Unlikely Women I Could Potentially Marry - Part 2

When I first started working in Manhattan, I worked for a magazine publisher. Actually that's not true, my real first job was working for a company in sales. I was so unhappy I quit after seven weeks.

I gave my two weeks notice to go and work for the magazine publisher. When I got there I was suddenly a part of a big corporation with different departments with a myriad of responsibilities.

One of the departments I regularly had to deal with was Finance.

Now when one thinks of Finance and Manhattan one probably thinks of slick high powered businessmen in 5,000 dollar suits talking about bulls, bears and foreign currencies.

But Finance in my company was an office that dealt with payouts, with reimbursements and paychecks. It was also an office filled with somewhat unintentionally hilarious Filipino women.

I didn't quite understand how four quiet reserved Filipino women all ended up in the same department, but I suppose it was no more unique than four white people working in my department.

When I first started I didn't know the women in Finance that well. But as my job progressed I had to spend more and more time working with them to figure out specific issues and challenges.

Often times, I would need things from them.

Now there is an unspoken rule in businesses that she who controls the money controls the pace of business.

Since I needed things from Finance, payouts and author checks and such, I would do my best to charm the ladies. I usually dressed up for work in a tie or a vest or cufflinks or some other aspect of snazzy. This, I found out, made it easier to charm them.

Gradually these tough Filipino females softened to my presence. They would engage me in conversation and laugh at my jokes, giggle when I asked them if they wanted to hang out that weekend.

But soon they began engaging me. As soon as I would start talking, one woman in particular, would say, "You're so handsome!"

This was a wonderful thing. Especially when I started hearing it on a regular basis.

But things quickly got out of hand.

Like the time when one of the women brought her daughter to work. As soon as I walked into Finance on that day, the ladies started whipping out cameras like a horde of Filipino paparazzi.

Go, go stand with Richie, take a picture, he's so handsome.

There is probably nothing more embarrassing for an adolescent than being forced to take a picture with a gangly 23 year old her mother apparently has a crush on.

I was extremely uncomfortable. When I had dreamed of being rich and famous, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

I don't know if anybody was more upset than the Finance ladies when I left that company.

I moved onto another corporation, also with a Finance department. While also all women, this department seemed to be made up of women from only island nations. Again, strange, but perhaps not that strange.

One day, the middle-aged women of this finance department were having a spirited debate about the correct pronunciation of my last name. To settle it they took to the Internet. At this point I had already started my blog and was well into publishing regularly.

While looking up my name they came across my picture from my blog. I know this because I walked into their department in the middle of this process. I saw the headshot from my blog up on one of their screens.



Richie, Richie, how you say your last name?

I told them that in English it was Bem-key but in German it was Boomka

Ohhhhhh.

And that's when they started comparing me to a guy that was on a semi popular cable show about a former spy.

He look like that guy from Burrrn Noootice.
Don't he look like that guy from burn notice?
Boomka, you look like that guy from Burrrn Noootice.

I couldn't really agree or disagree.


That day really opened up the relationship I had with the ladies of that department.

I would chat them up and try to be friendly because, once again they controlled the money, and I often needed their help.

I even brought a special bottle of booze back for one of them when I went away to South America.

It's kind of easy to chat up middle-aged married women as a 24 year old. It's about as nonthreatening as it gets.

However as I poured on the charm and faux flirtation inside the office, I did not anticipate it being reciprocated.

I grew a beard at this time. And many people know my beard is red. Well one day at an all team meeting one of them ladies of finance tapped me on the shoulder before it started. I turned around.

Hey Boomka why is your beard red?

Oh, I said, my Dad has red hair.

Ohhh.

Pause.

Does the carpet match the drapes?

For those of you unfamiliar with that phrase I will just say they she was specifically inquiring if my facial hair was the same color as, well, it was probably not an HR appropriate comment.

It was the LAST thing I expected to hear from her. But since I was so caught off guard I did what I always do, I went into full out panic mode and made a ridiculous joke about it in the spur of the moment.

Oh you know, that's between me and the 100 or so ladies I've been with.

Jokingly. I said that JOKINGLY! Hyperbole. Exaggeration. Ridiculousness. These are my things. But the lady from finance reacted like I just told her I had a Ferrari, and I could swear the look she gave me was one of... pride. And she said;

Ohhhh alright now. Ok. Good for you!

My relationship with her was sufficiently tainted from that point going forward.

Fortunately, I quit several monthly later.

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on whether I actually look like that guy from Buuuurrrrrn Noootice.

People I Don't Look Like


I am in 10th grade sitting in my “Health” class, perhaps the most generically titled of all my high school classes. I am sitting in the first row, second seat from the back when the kid who sits across from me and one seat ahead turns around to look at me and say "You look like Dan the gay model from The Real World."

I am not quite sure how to respond. I am pretty sure this isn’t a compliment. I am almost positive I should say something to combat his statement yet "Thanks?" is all I am able to say.

My high school arsenal of witty and cutting comebacks was pretty limited.

Everybody sitting around us starting laughing, as they tend to do at high school buffoons who say outlandish things without prompting or logic. I panicked. If I laughed too would they think I was gay? I had only seen a couple of episodes of The Real World so I couldn't even really formulate a solid opinion on the matter.

The moment eventually passed and I never heard that comparison again. It as easily the worst comparison I had ever received.

Well, that and the time a coworker told me I looked like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years. In addition to being completely wrong, it was also pretty awful.

The comparisons I have heard haven’t always been bad though. In fact, earlier in my life they were quite good.

When I was about 10 years old a movie called Rookie of the Year came out. It was about a kid my age who ends up on a major league baseball team.

I looked exactly like him. People would tell me so all the time. It was the first time I had ever been compared to somebody famous. I was on a local television show at the time, and the cast got to go see the movie and meet the star.

Naturally I was sick that day.

But they brought me back a signed picture

To Richie

All the best. God bless.

Thomas Ian Nicholas

I don’t think I have that picture anymore.

Eventually I grew out of the resemblance and into the one I still get to this day.

Ferris Bueller.

Perhaps it is my penchant for dancing in parades and giving shower monologues to cameras that shouldn’t exist, regardless, I readily embraced this one. Ferris Bueller has always been cooler than I will ever be.

Sometimes people just skip over the character and just tell me I look like the Matthew Broderick. Though I hope they still mean in his earlier years, as being compared to somebody 21 years older than you doesn’t necessarily make one feel good.

Once a mother of a friend of mine told me I reminded her of a young Alan Alda. She is the only person who ever told me that. I am almost positive it was a compliment.

Once in a while I will meet somebody new who after a while will say to me:

You remind me of my friend. He is hilarious!

I like hearing that but I would kind of rather hear them tell me that they have never met anybody like me and I am far an away the most iconoclastic individual in the free world.

I am still waiting on that one.

However I do hear from people:

You remind me of this kid I used to know, he was such an asshole...
But I like you though!"

But at that point it’s too late. I am already fuming about the a-hole out there benefitting from his similarities to me.

I also have a hard time understanding why anybody would tell a completely normal friendly complete stranger that they bare resemblance to a crap human.

Apparently insults are the new complements.

I have also been compared to Ben Affleck by no less than 3 people over the course of my life.

Stop laughing. I am not finished.

It started when I was 14 and while it doesn't happen often it did happen again recently. A friend send me a text that said:

You look like Ben Affleck. Maybe it’s the hair.

Two days later the same friend texted me again.

You remind me of Lumière from Beauty and the Beast!

Lumière, for those of you without a solid background in Disney film, looks like this.


I had gone from Oscar winning writer/director actor, to.... flaming French candlestick.

Oh how the mighty fall.

I was outraged. A cartoon? And not even a normal cartoon, a table decoration. My friend tried to rectify the damage done by explaining to me why I resembled Lumière. She tried to make it seem like it was a compliment, that it was a good thing. That many men would be happy to be compared to a singing dancing table decoration.

None of this helped.

It was at this point I realized I probably don't look like Ben Affleck. And also... I no longer trust my friends.

While I’d like to believe I’m evolving, apparently I’m just evolving into different characters.

Through all of this I have learned that everybody reminds somebody of somebody else. I am guilty of this too, comparing people I’ve met to other people. But I’ve realized just because it might be true, it does not mean it is worth verbalizing.

It is far better to believe that we are all original unique snowflakes than risk being compared to somebody we may not like.

I imagine one day down the line somebody will say to somebody else "you look like Rich Boehmcke" and that person will laugh it off, having a ball with everybody else while in their head they think to themselves:

Who?

Are You Afraid of the Dark?


I don’t do well with ‘spooky.’ I never have. My gut tells me I never will.

My unfortunate relationship with Halloween has been well documented on this blog. But it’s not just that holiday, it’s all things scary, and haunted. I don’t have a desire to be scared. The idea of it actually scares me.

I’m sure we can trace this one all the way back to my childhood.

When I was really little, the most deliberately scary experience I can remember was going on was Mister Toad’s Wild Ride in Disney.


That wasn’t scary as much as it was just a tiny acid trip for children. That I remember enjoying. Lots of black lights and fluorescent lights and frogs. Pretty easy to handle.

As I got older there were these annual carnivals that would come in to my town. The kind that show up for weeks complete with scary looking dudes trying to get you to go on a ride that spins around upside down that they assembled that morning out of what looked to be bobby pins and erector set pieces.

These carnivals inevitably had a haunted house. And since the haunted house had to be packed up and thrown on the back of a trailer every other week, they didn’t have the most tremendous special effects. So they hired local teenagers to put on masks and jump out and grab you while in the dark.

In retrospect this probably could have been called Mr. Toad’s Lawsuit Ride. I don’t think I would have ever willingly volunteered to go on such a ride. But I remember one year my next-door neighbor and I went together.

My next-door neighbor was an interesting kid two years older than me who had moved into the neighborhood late in elementary school. He was from the city, from tougher parts. His parents called the street ‘the gutta.’ I knew this because they were always telling us:

Get outta the gutta!

We willingly obliged until they went back in the house.

My neighbor also taught me the phrase ‘flat leaver.’ As in, if you were hanging out with somebody, and then left to hang out with somebody else, you were a flat leaver.

It was about the worst thing you could call somebody.

One year my neighbor and I went to one of those carnivals, and either because neither wanted to admit the other was scared or because we convinced each other it was a good idea, we went in the haunted house. Certainly I must have feared being called a flat leaver for not joining in the experience.

Shortly into the 60 second “ride” my neighbor was grabbed too hard by one of the volunteers.

When the ride was over we complained to the…  well, carnie, running the ride about what had happened. He promised us he had never heard any complaints like that before.

Regardless, it was the last haunted house I ever entered at a carnival.

Several years later my parents, my sister and I went up to Salem, Massachusetts. Home of the famed Witch Trials and a noted haunted place.

Back in those days I was so blissfully unaware and was more excited about the whole vacation then any specific haunting in particular. Whereas today I would probably stress out so far in advance that I would have an ulcer before I could leave my apartment.

There are all kinds of wonderfully kitchy things to do in Salem. There are walking tours, and reenactments, and of course, haunted houses.

We were there for a long Labor Day weekend. It was a distinctly cold and dreary weekend, seemingly apt for such a vacation. We did all of the family type stuff that the city had to offer, and when my father proposed a haunted house that you walked through, we all thought it would be hilarious to do as a family.

In hindsight I realize that if I ever end up in a haunted house again, I don’t want to be near anybody I know. Because, well, basically after they see how I behave the will lose any and all respect they might have had for me based on how I behave.

It is, in a word, embarrassing.

Into the haunted house we go. We have to walk down a flight of steps into what is essentially a set path through basement hallways dressed up elaborately in a variety of themes. It was really quite something. In a matter of minutes my mood shifted from excitement, to amazement, to concern, to all out paranoia.

We weren’t just walking through narrow halls with sloped ceilings looking at spooky stuff. There were actors in full costume, corpses come to life, ghosts, zombies, and all other manner of undead.

They would walk up behind you, jump out in front of you, all in very very close quarters.

As we made our way through the house my heart rate quickly became unbearable. I had experienced enough. I couldn’t handle the anxiety of the upcoming scare. I didn’t want to be scared anymore. I had no idea how many more ‘boos’ lay ahead.

So, after we passed a corpse on a table and a man with a knife jumped out at us, I had decided that was enough and faked hitting my head on the corner of one of the arched doorways.

I did this by kicking the wall as I gently bumped my head.

Cowardice makes one wildly creative.

Immediately, Frankenstein came out of nowhere to make sure I was OK. My parents fawned over me. I said I was OK it was just an accident. But by that point the majority of the scaring was over and I think we passed through the rest of the haunted house rather unscathed.

We emerged into the sunlight, which quickly solidified the guilt in my chest I felt from having to fake an injury to get out of being scared.

A guilt I never felt from my time with Mr. Toad.

The Crappiest Criminal - Part 2


A couple of weeks ago, on a particularly frigid night in New York City, I was on my way home to Queens.

I was going to have to change trains at some point in order to get home. I could have done it at 4th, 34th, or 42nd street. However my train philosophy, and really my general travel philosophy is “get as far as you can on the vessel you are on before you change.”

And generally it works out pretty well for me. But for whatever over thought reason, I got off the train at 34th to change.

At the risk of sounding insensitive I will point out that when it gets really hot outside, or really cold for that matter, you tend to see more homeless people on the climate controlled trains.

But a subway car is a closed space and it is quite frequent that the homeless individuals who have settled in smell less than ideal. Often if I board a car that smells awful or I am aware of somebody who might smell, I’ll move to the next car.

According to the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, moving between cars while the train is in motion is illegal. However it is something I have done dozens of times. Many people have. It is something that happens every day in every single car of every train I have ever been on.

Sure it’s illegal, but so is jaywalking, and who gets arrested for jaywalking?

Upon boarding my train, I noticed a pair of homeless individuals, and realizing I had about 30 minutes left before I got home I decided not to risk the smell and moved on to the next car.

As soon as I walked in the next car I saw 7 police officers. My first thought was that I had walked into a murder scene, which made me panic. Then I thought one of the officers was talking to me, which also made me panic.

But he wasn’t talking to me so I just sat down and put my headphones in. Thirty seconds later when we got to the 42nd street stop and the doors opened, one of the officers signaled to me to get off the train.

 Could you come here for a second?
Shit.

The officer was one of a group of three, all who appeared to be fresh out of the academy. He told me that walking between cars is illegal, and asked me if I knew that.

I told him I did.

He asks for my I.D., which I give to him. We are underground one of the three officers has to go upstairs to call it in to make sure the yuppie with the newsboy hat and duffle coat isn’t actually an arms dealer.

I’m standing on the platform, freezing, because I don’t have my gloves on, because they are inside my coat, which I don’t think I’m allowed to open because they don’t know I’m NOT an arms dealer yet. I go to put my hand in my pocket which the officer asks me not to.

Great, first I get pulled off my train, and now I’m going to get chapped hands.

It takes no less than 10 minutes for the officer who took my license to come back. In that time I stare at the floor. I stare off into the distance, at the other people who are now staring at me because I am standing against a wall with two police officers blocking me from moving in any direction.

Some schmuck keeps looking over and smirking. I want to kick him in the junk. I want to push him onto the track. But then I realize he doesn’t know that I got busted for walking between train cars. For all he knows I COULD be an arms dealer… A very preppy arms dealer.

Finally the third officer comes back. And that’s when the officer who asked me to step off the train, the one who looks about 23, reaches into his pocket and pulls out his pad.

I’m going to have to give you a summons.

Which is a lie. You can call it whatever you want, you can call it a Bagel Dog. It’s not a summons. It’s a ticket. A ticket for 75 dollars.

It was at this point that I wanted to yell at him.

Are you kidding me? Look at me? Do I look like a rule breaker? How about you do something about the guy I saw on the train last week who was peeing himself while he was on the train? Or the people who lay across 4 seats to sleep? Or how about the people who panhandle on the train, which is illegal by the way, and then walk between cars, which is also illegal as you know, so they can do more illegal panhandling in the next car they illegally entered. Why can’t you arrest them? Or the people who shout at me to repent for my sins while I ride to work? Or the kids who sell candy for their “basketball team?” How about you give ANY of them a summons?

And this is when I realized, I am not meant to be a risk taker. I can’t even lead an exciting enough life to possibly expose myself to the risk.

I’m the kind of guy who would go to jail for an overdue book, or for putting gum underneath a table. I constantly think about what it would be like to be one of those people who just goes where life takes them, who ignores conventions to just do whatever interests them.

But I can’t even do that because the laws of the universe refuse to even allow me to move away from odiferous transients. How can I break the rules if I can’t even break the smell barrier?

It takes the officer forever to write the ticket because he’s obviously never done it before. So it takes the three of them 15 minutes to read their rulebook, consult each other’s intelligence, and fill out a half a sheet of paper.

I want to argue but everything sounds cliché`. And as a writer, I hate cliché`s.

Give me a break, come on, seriously, and all the rest of that sounds so already used up that I can’t bring myself to say any of it. So I just stand there in silence as he writes my ticket, my ticket for what is officially denoted as “unsafe riding.”

Which if you look at my history of police infractions, pretty much every single one can be classified as “unsafe riding.” Which in and of itself is pretty pathetic sounding. Not even “dangerous riding.” Nope, unsafe. And I guess that’s me.

Rich Boehmcke: Not dangerous just... Unsafe.

What Not to Run With

I’ve always been a skinny kid. I don’t just mean that I’ve always been in shape (because I’m not sure I’ve ever referred to myself as “in shape”) but skinny. Muscles have never really been my thing. Sure I’ve wanted them, but they just never really… happened.

When I started playing basketball in high school, weight lifting became a mandatory aspect of our training and practices.

We’d meet in the weight room after school and pair up with a partner of similar strength (which for me meant some other weakling) and take turns lifting and spotting each other. It is amazing how going from never lifting weights to simply lifting weights can make you think you are so much stronger than you were a week ago. When really, you probably are not stronger at all.


And of course when I say “you” I mean me.


I spent a lot of time in the weight room after school as well as during summer break. But for as much time as I spent in the weight room, it seems all I did was wait for my muscles to come.

But in my mind, I was jacked, huge, a veritable Adonis. And because I was an Adonis I would try to do things I saw football players do, like… squat with other human beings on their shoulders.

Yes I know my teenage years were not my brightest.

I would pick up my really skinny female friends and throw them over my shoulders and do a couple of half squats with them to show off how buff I was getting. While people probably thought it was funny, I’m not sure anybody truly believed I was strong. Frankly it was a miracle I never dropped any of them.

During this time in my life I took a trip to Louisiana, a state I’d never been to before nor had never given much consideration to.

The fact that I was in Louisiana didn’t really matter as much as the fact that I was thousands of miles from home without my parents hanging out with a dozen kids a year older than me that I was simultaneously in love with and trying to impress.

There were a couple of advisors too.

I was serving on the International Board of this leadership organization I was a part of. It was quite an honor and everybody on the board was smarter, more confident, more talented, or at least taller than I was.

In typical high school fashion (though I’m not sure I’ve stopped doing this) I compensated for my insecurities by making lots of jokes, being extremely loud, and doing ridiculous things.

For the most part it worked out OK, but not always.

We were wrapping up the weekend, checking out of the hotel and getting ready to load up into the 15-passenger van that would drive us all to the airport.

It was about this time that I was saying goodbye to a female friend of mine who just happened to be the tiniest teenage person I’d ever met. She was a few inches shy of 5 feet, and adorable at that. We had a very affectionate relationship, and would regularly hug each other or sit in each other’s lap.

Well, she would sit in my lap; I wouldn’t sit in hers because ya know… I’d crush her.

So we are hugging and I think I started joking about how I was going to take my little friend home with me. So I threw her over my shoulder, which wasn’t that hard to do considering how tiny she was.

But then I started to run.

I want to pause here to let you know that even though it is now 12 years later my stomach is still in knots while I write this. Also, I feel a little nauseous. If that’s not foreshadowing I don’t know what is.

So I start to run and I get about 20 or 30 feet before I start to feel myself leaning forward ever so slightly.

And if you are running with a person on your shoulder, by the time you feel yourself start to lean, it’s already to late.

My hands let go of my friend and go out in front of me as we both start to fall, which doesn’t really help her because she isn’t prepared to fall off the shoulder of the idiot 16 year old who picked her up and started running with her without her permission in the first place.

I don’t remember my exact thoughts as we fell but I’m pretty sure it was something along the lines of:

Holyshitholyshitholyshitholyshitholyshitholyshitholyshit

Boom.

We both hit the pavement. I am OK though my friend’s knees immediately start to bleed and she starts to cry. And I shrink to 1/8th my size and feel incredibly embarrassed as everybody, including our advisors come running over to help.

Saying I feel awful is an understatement. I feel so stupid, and embarrassed and disconnected from the group. None of who would ever think it a good idea to RUN WITH ANOTHER PERSON ON THEIR SHOULDER!

Ugh.

I got to hear later on what it looked like as I ran. People told me that they knew it was bad when we fell because when I dropped my friend they saw her bounce.

BOUNCE!

Humans should not bounce off of pavement.

The ride to the airport consists of me apologizing, my friend forgiving me, and then me apologizing again.

Apologize, forgive, repeat.

I get back to New York and I send her a basket of fruit? Teddy Bears? Something that says “Hey I’m sorry I threw you on the ground like a bag of trash”

Since then I cannot so much as think about the story without feeling my stomach tie itself into a handful of knots. I’m not sure I will ever feel good telling the story, not that I should.

But I definitely learned my lesson.

I quit basketball the following year.

Flog Blog

Undress to your comfort level.

That’s what she said to me. And you’d think that would be an easy enough instruction to follow. If I were, say, waiting for the train to come. And somebody said to me “undress to your comfort level” I would probably not move a muscle and continue to enjoy my fully clothed existence.

Whereas, if I happened to be in dressing room of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and one of the models said to me “undress to your comfort level” I would shed my clothes like they were made of bees.

But the person who told me to undress to my comfort level was actually a masseuse, and I was about to get a massage from her. She had just brought me into the room when she said it.

Undress to your comfort level. Take your time. Then get under the blanket face down. I will be right back.

I typically don’t do well with instantaneous options that involve me selecting the best course of action.

Had she said “Keep all of your clothes on, put on this winter coat, and then lay under this down comforter with your arms straight out like you are superman,” I would have readily complied because she is the expert and she told me what to do.

Just like if she had told me to strip naked and get under the covers and hum the star spangled banner until she came back, I would have also been OK with that because once again, professional giving me instructions I can handle.

But she had given me an option and I had no idea how to react because I wasn’t sure the correct protocol. I didn’t want to immediately strip naked and have her start massaging me and think I was some kind of a pervert.

But just recently I had received a massage in Fiji where I had showed up in my bathing suit and the woman just told me to get under the blanket and that was that.

Not wanting to go too far I left my boxers on, got under the blanket, and waited for her to come back to the room and judge me.

But somehow getting under this blanket without being completely naked seemed just a little bit off.

And immediately after she started massaging me, I felt like a prude, a nerd, a completely clueless buffoon. Like that kid at the public pool that wore his underwear under his bathing suit or somebody who wears a helmet while riding a bicycle built for two.

Actually just riding the bicycle built for two is enough on its own.

But it was too late. Because the only thing you really can’t do during a massage is stop your masseuse halfway through and say:

Actually, you know what? I think I want to take my underwear off for this.

That’s a great way to end up in jail.

But I had other things to worry about, mainly the fact that the Malaysian food I had consumed the night before that had given me heart burn might make an unwelcome appearance if I was massaged in just right (or wrong, for that matter) way.

It was at that point that I also realized I was glad I stuck with the basic Swedish massage as opposed to any of the upgrade options the nice woman at the front desk provided me with. I was certainly glad I didn’t indulge in any of the ones that involved a “flogging.”

And there were several.

There are certain things in my life I rarely volunteer to have done to me. Being flogged is one of them.

Even though several of the massages involved being “lightly flogged” and some included being feathered. Apparently that meant having a feather dragged light across your body to relax the central nervous system… or just confuse the hell out of you.

Somehow I knew that a feathering just wasn’t for me.

There was also one I could have chosen that would have involved 9 essential oils, coating me in sliced ginger and topped off by having my entire body “sugared.” When hearing this I almost wondered aloud if after it was finished I would also be popped into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and tender?

But those worries were behind me and I was able to just concentrate on the massage itself, which was not too light or too painful. I had doubted myself when before the massage started my masseuse asked me “What kind of pressure” I liked.

Again, if she said I am rough, I would have said, oh OK, I get it, I’m ready, bring it on.

Or had she said I have the hands of a lily, again, I could have handled that. But the fact that she asked me what I wanted, made me panic.

I didn’t want to say go easy on me.

Yes please, take it easy on the pale kid who is afraid to exit his underwear.

I also didn’t want to say, please, abuse me. Make me pay for my sins. Because in my limited experience with massages I have found it better to say, “ow” as opposed to, “COME ON YOU SISSY. PUT YOUR BACK INTO IT!”

In my opinion, challenging somebody who spends 8 hours a day everyday pushing their thumbs deep into other people’s flesh to step it up is a whole bag of not good.

But all in all it went well. I didn’t cry. I didn’t break wind. And I managed not to drool on her feet. All things that might have happened had I agreed to a flogging.

 

The Greatest Lie I Never Told


I pushed Haresh off the slide.

I say this to you now because I believe the statute of limitations for playground bullying is less than 15 years.

But nobody knows that I pushed Haresh off the slide. The only people who know are the people who were in my classes at the time, well, and the rest of the people in the school. But that was a long time ago and people forget childhood memories easily. Except of course myself.

People who do not know that I pushed Haresh off the slide include my parents, who for the entirety of my life have had no idea that Haresh broke his arm and I was the one responsible for it.

Haresh was new in our school. Some time around the second or third grade, he showed up in our classroom as the new kid. And instantly we realized he had all the attributes required by a person to demand being made fun of.

He had a funny name.

Haresh came from Brooklyn with his parents and his little sister. He was eastern European and I vaguely recall his mother wearing a head covering when she came to the school to pick him up. That made her extremely different than the rest of our relatively white suburban moms. Haresh’s family moved into a huge house that they refurbished a couple blocks away from my family. The house looked out of place and had white columns that went all the way up to the roof.

And as my friend Tom Peters would point out on a regular basis, if your house had columns, it meant you were rich. Never mind the fact that my house had columns. Tom Peters bothered me too.

Harish’s features were a bit of a hodge podge. His eyes made him appear kind of stoned, which at this point in our lives, he just appeared sleepy. As soon as Haresh opened his mouth the ridiculousness spilled out. One of the first things he ever said to me was

In Brooklyn we’re tough.

Oh… OK.

Be that as it may, we were 9 when he said that to me. Tough meant not crying when you fell down on the playground. Haresh did not carry a bat with nails sticking out of it; he did not have a gun. He did not ride a motorcycle. He readily appeared to be quite the opposite of tough.

In fact, he was pretty goofy.

He had that pale, kind of pasty looking eastern European complexion. He wore baggy clothes and t-shirts and when he ran he looked like a robot with a dump in his pants. Every time he threw a ball it looked like he was doing it for the first time.

He was not coordinated, he said stupid things, and he was different.

Naturally, I couldn’t stand him.

More than anything it was the things he said. He would continue to spout stupidity well into high school.

During our 6th grade maturation class, (a class we had to have a permissions slip signed to attend) where we were sequestered in the library with an uncomfortable male gym teacher from another school to discuss sex and the reproductive process, Haresh would be the origin of many ridiculous questions. Ones like:

Yo Mr. Stephens, I read that like, in 25 years, all men are going to have breasts.

There wasn’t a boy in that room that wasn’t interested in breasts, but Haresh had managed to kill that interest in record time.

Later on in 6th grade he told everyone he changed his middle name to Ferrari, apparently his favorite car. He signed his name “Haresh Ferrari Rezicka” in yearbooks.

But for all the hatred I directed towards Haresh, I never really had any intention of hurting him. I was too paranoid as a child. I thought about the consquences of nearly everything. Plus I didn’t really know how to fight. If somebody pulled down my pants on the playground, I dove at them… and then cried.

I had no intention of pushing Haresh off the slide that day.

It was a tall metal slide that was probably dozens of years old. It leveled out about about a foot and a half above the ground, so you’d get to the bottom and have to hop off the edge. This was the edge that Haresh was standing on.

I wasn’t playing soccer with the rest of the kids or hanging out on the jungle gym, which kind of scared me. I was just running around when I saw him.

I remember my intention had been to run up to him as fast as I could and scare him as though to make him THINK I was going to push him off the slide. It would be hilarious… in my mind.

I started towards him, with every intention of screaming like a lunatic to freak him out,  but then something happened.

My brakes failed.

Within feet of approaching Haresh, at the point where I should have stopped… gravity took over and I just didn’t.

Examining the rest of my life the only similar sensation I can think of is being within kissing distance of a beautiful woman. You have to move yourself so far, but at a certain point, you couldn’t stop yourself if you tried. It just happens, automatically and without effort.

It is beyond control.

So I didn’t stop. And with my arms extended, screaming, I pushed him off the slide. I realized as soon as he hit the ground that I had screwed up. He was writhing in pain, screaming and moaning. The teacher’s aide made me take him to the nurse.

I was holding some kind of squishy koosh type things that I handed to him.

Here, rub this on it, it will make it feel better.

He did… it didn’t.

The events after blur together but I do remember getting sent to the Principal and her telling me I was going to have to tell my parents.

Looking back now I find this to have been a massive oversight in the public schooling system that I was a part of that they did not take it upon themselves to call my house and tell my parents that I BROKE A CHILD’S ARM!

Hey Rich you’ll definitely tell your parents that you pushed a kid off the slide so you can get in trouble right?

Oh yeaaaaa.

So I never told them. To this day. They still don’t know.

My Principal pulled me aside the next day and asked me what my parents had said to me.

And what did they say?

No T.V. for a week.

And what else?

Umm… no Nintendo.

Anything else?

Umm… I can’t go outside.

And just like that it was over. I apologized to Haresh. By the time his cast came off and he had a functioning arm again I was relieved.

Granted I still stressed about it every day until I left elementary school, because from time to time, when Haresh were not getting along, he would say something like

Oh yea? Well you won’t be laughing when my parents sue you for breaking my arm!

And my heart would sink and I would stress for the rest of the week.

But the time of that stress has now passed, and I don’t even have to tell my parents.

Because they read my blog.
 

Toothpaste, Margarine and the Toilet Seat

I will honestly state that I do not make the best decisions. I regularly base my actions on ideas that seem to make sense to me but in hindsight appear to never have really made sense to me at all.

This is not a new thing. In fact there are several instances within my life that I can point to as being extremely ridiculous and lacking any intelligent base. There are 3 specific time periods in my life where I was making different poor decisions on a recurring basis.

The Toothpaste

When I was very little, back when my sister and I were still brushing our teeth at the same time to get ready for bed. We had Crest or Colgate toothpaste, and we’d stand in the bathroom scrubbing our chompers in our pajamas.

We’d put the toothpaste on the toothbrush first, then rinse it under water (and don’t you dare tell me you rinse the toothbrush first) and then commence our brushing.

Now the natural completion to brushing your teeth is to then spit that mouth full of foam into the sink and wash it way.

Not lil Richy Boehmcke. Nope, so sir, that was a mouth full of tasty I was processing. No I wanted the full experience. So I would swallow it.

I distinctly remember my sister yelling at me telling me not to do that because it was wrong. I didn’t understand why. How could something so delicious be wrong? Certainly she was mistaken.

She even told our parents. I think she told my father specifically who came in to the bathroom and wasn’t quite sure about what to say to me. I mean, it may have been gross but it certainly wasn’t a mean-spirited thing to do. It was my mouthful of toothpaste to do with as I wished.

Upon further research it would appear that swallowing toothpaste that you have used to brush your teeth is NOT advised, but that was not what stopped it for me. I guess I just lost interesting in swallowing the nasty I had just removed from my teeth… even if it did taste minty.

The Margarine

My family used to buy margarine. Specifically we bought a brand called promise. It came in a plastic tub with a swirl in the middle. I loved that swirl. I loved that swirl more than anything else in the fridge. I loved that swirl so much that I would get jealous as well as angry any time somebody would get to the swirl before me.

I’m sure my parents and sister thought there was something wrong with me. I mean, not just because of the way I looked, but also because I would throw mini tantrums any time I discovered a missing swirl.

It was for this reason that I started eating this swirl before the rest of my family could get to it. And I don’t just meeting being the first to spread it on toast. No, I mean I would sneak into the fridge and eat the swirl out of the tub of margarine before somebody else got to it.

Now I will be the first to admit that eating margarine straight from the tub is not a good idea. It is a very easy way to become the world’s fattest man. That was not my goal, I just needed that swirl.

I don’t’ even know how I fell in love with the swirl. But it’s kind of like falling in love with somebody from across the room and then immediately hating any man that talks to her. It was like that for me.

I’m not sure if I stopped eating that swirl first, or if we just stopped buying margarine. Either way it was for the best because I still think fondly off that swirl.

The Toilet Seat

And finally, there were about 4 years of my life where I did not sit on the toilet seat.

And trust me, I am well aware that nothing I can write here will make this make sense to you. I know this. But from about the time I was 7 until I was about 11 the toilet seat and my butt did not have a close relationship.

I don’t know how it happened or what cued up the initial thought. I just remember looking at the hole in the toilet seat and thinking to myself, “that doesn’t seem big enough.”

Granted a very cursory knowledge of the human body, and toilet seats for that matter, would make it easy to see that the toilet seat was working for the other 8 billion people on the planet, surely it would work for me.

But defying logical though is something I excel at and this time was no exception. I just didn’t feel comfortable sitting on a toilet seat. The confidence I needed to exist on that flat surface was just something I did not have. I don’t know how I lost that confidence, where it went, or why I didn’t think to speak to somebody about this.

What I do know, is that those 4 years of bathroom use were hands down the most stressful of my life. The threat of falling into a toilet was ever present as was the discomfort of that hard porcelain.

I imagine it is similar to being afraid of the dark. You don’t really remember when it started, or when it ended, you just are one day no longer afraid of the dark. Except, I am still kind of afraid of the dark, and any time I am in a dark completely black room I see that creepy chick from The Ring climbing out of mirrors and TVs and accosting me, and that’s something I absolutely cannot handle, so maybe this metaphor isn’t really doing the trick right now.

So my point is I just remember one day thinking to myself, well, let’s give the toilet seat another try. And just like that, after being estranged for 4 years, the toilet seat and I rekindled our relationship, thereby ending a string of extremely poor decision making that included consuming the inconsumable and poor hygienic decisions.

Granted it would be another 10 years before I had the experience of going #2 into a hole in the ground. That’s a story for another day. But even that wasn’t my poor decision making that was just a poor decision I was forced to make. Big difference.

Mad Men... Myself

I love living alone. I’ve had my own apartment for over 2 years now and it’s fabulous. It is quite possibly one of my favorite aspects of my life. It allows me a freedom and comfort I couldn’t have if I still had roommates.

The only thing challenging about living by myself is not having anybody to instantly coerce into helping with the half a dozen projects I am always thinking about doing. If I schedule it far enough in advance, I can gather some wonderful friends to help me.

But every once in a while I find myself dressed in a suit and tie climbing out my window holding a tri pod and a bottle of Jim Beam.

Allow me to explain.

I have been on a contest kick the last 6 months, video contests mostly. And that has led into other ventures like the viral videos that I did for my friend Sean's company Boom Boom Energy. Myself and my friend Brandi self shot 3 videos for him in my apartment using a tripod and my camera. You can see them all here.

But as I was moving stuff around my apartment to assemble a desk I just bought, I put the tripod in my room and forgot about it.

Until later that day when I came home, walked into my bedroom and saw a tripod... with a camera on it... facing my bed. I can only IMAGINE what somebody would have thought had they come over after work. Thank god nobody saw that one.

But aside from incriminating myself in my own apartment, I recently started watching Mad Men. Yes I know this is the 5th season and it’s amazing. But I don’t have a lot of time, and I don’t watch TV. But the amount of people who told me

Rich you would LOVE Mad Men. You HAVE to watch it.

Was starting to get annoying, and I was pretty interested in it anyway. So I bought it on iTunes and started watching it. I got so into it that I watched the first 2 seasons in about 3 weeks.

I noticed 2 immediate effects.

  1. I started drinking a lot more. I’d like to believe that it was the 95 degree weather but something felt positively sinful about not whetting my whistle while engaging in mid century misogyny and philandering.
  2. I really felt myself wanting to be a part of that lifestyle. And not because I want to get married, cheat on my wife, and then cheat on the woman I am cheating on my wife with. But because they were so damn stylish, I wanted a reason to look that good. I will admit I wanted to be Don Draper. 
Luckily around that same time, a friend of mine sent me this tasty little flyer from Banana Republic.


A chance to walk on to the set of Mad Men? Absolutely. I was in. Now I just needed a plan.

While I had previously sworn off public voting contests, this one was just too much fun to pass up. So I took a look at the site and was immediately disheartened.

The person with the most votes had many thousands of votes. Something I couldn’t possibly match.  I contemplated not doing it but then I decided I would and enlist the help of some friends.

Well the friends ended up being quite busy and or out of town at that time so I had no choice but to shoot it myself. I was at work on Friday afternoon when I realized I could take the picture on my roof. With the sun setting. Perfect!

So I rushed home after work.

Actually that’s not true. I walked fast to the train, but then I just sat on it, it doesn’t matter how much of a rush I am in, the train tends to go the same speed and or slower. So that sentence should have said:

So I went home at normal speed.

Better. I got home and climbed out my window onto my fire escape and up to my roof. I quickly realized that I didn’t have much time. The sun would be gone soon. So I climbed back into my apartment to shower, shave, get suited up and set up the shoot that I would be doing of myself.

The shower was quick and easy but shaving in a hurry is like, well, I mean it’s really its own metaphor. Any time we are talking knives and faces, there really should be as much time allowed as possible.

Thankfully, I didn’t cut my head off and was able to quickly get dressed and part glue my hair into a 1960s quaff.

I grabbed the camera and tripod as well as a bottle of Jim Beam which I was going to use as a prop for the shoot.

Now I was in one of my favorite suits which I wouldn’t exactly call “action wear.”

And climbing out of my window requires getting over an extremely high sill which I can barely do in basketball shorts, never mind tailored pants. And with nobody to hand me all of my stuff I had to simultaneously lift my leg 4 feet in the air and over a ledge to get it out the window while also holding a fully expanded tri-pod (for some reason I hadn’t thought to collapse it) and a 30 year old bottle of whiskey that hadn't been opened since the last time my parents had a "nautical party" in our old basement.

Right about the time I was straddling the window I thought to myself, what if somebody sees me? What would they think?

OH there he goes again. Always getting dressed up to drink whiskey on the roof!

Never mind the fact that once on my fire escape I have to walk past my neighbor’s living room on my way to the ladder to get to the roof. My neighbor, who recently bought an Ab Rocket and uses it for 30 minutes every morning so I hear a half hour of

Squeak Squeak Squeak Squeak

Well... at least I think that’s her Ab Rocket. Anyway, I'm just saying we both have our own stuff going on.

Mine is not the tallest building in my neighborhood, so I can only imagine if the people in the buildings across from me looked out to see me standing on my roof, in a suit, and sneakers, striking poses for a camera on a timer.

A couple of years ago this might have bothered me, or made me insecure. But I have embraced my ridiculousity and thus do not mind doing strange things that attract attention.

I mean it doesn’t always go so well, sometimes trying to take a picture of myself all I got was this.


Headless man on the roof.

But when it went well it was pretty cool. And I was happy with how most of the pictures came out, and after much debate I picked one that would be my entry into the contest that I had no chance to win.

Which picture did I choose? Well, you'll just have to wait and see now won't you?

Miami Bound Machine - Part 3

My experience at the beach can pretty much be summed up by an experience from my college years.

I was home on Long Island, back from my first year at ASU. One weekend my buddy Mike, his friend Jen, and I all went to the beach. We parked the car, grabbed our stuff, and headed out to the sand.

After finding a spot and dropping our things Jen and Mike stripped down to their bathing suits and jogged merrily down to the water.

I on the other hand, took off my shirt and immediately got a nosebleed.

It wasn’t like a little one either; it was like what happens when one catches a football with their face.

I started to panic. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to track down a tissue at the beach, but trust me, they are in short supply.

The awkward thing about getting a nosebleed at the beach is there is just nothing to stop it. What are you going to use… sand?

Mike: Hey Rich why are you laying face down in the sand?
Rich: Oh nothing, just a nose bleed, I think this is how they stop oil spills. I’ll be fine.

No, you can’t do that. And of course there is nobody around, I am bleeding all over my hand and the only thing I have to stop the bleeding is the shirt I just took off.

It was either use my shirt or just go bleed in the ocean. So naturally I chose to use the shirt.

Imagine my friends’ confusion when they came back from the ocean to find me with a tank top in my nose and blood on my hands.

It doesn’t get more embarrassing than that. I mean I hadn’t even been there 10 minutes! And I had JUST gotten my shirt off, which is quite the event itself. My body being so pale and reflective it requires sunglasses just to witness.

Much later on, Mike told me about a conversation he had with his friend Jen and my name came up.

Mike: Do you remember my friend Richy?
Jen: Is that the kid who almost died when we went to the beach.

Pretty much. I mean I might as well title my memoir that

The Kid Who Almost Died When We Went to the Beach: The Rich Boehmcke Story.

And even though I sometimes spontaneously bleed there, I do love the beach. But for many reasons, the beach doesn’t so much love me. Typically a lot of awful things aside from nosebleeds have happened to me at the beach. Granted this is because I have done a fair bit of travelling by myself. So I am usually at the beach on my own with nobody to look out for me.

Going in the water by yourself is a stressful situation. I remember my time in Australia when I finally got up the courage to leave my stuff on the beach and just go swimming by myself, only to see this sign when I emerged from the ocean:


Awesome.

My body was built for many things: sitting on a couch, reaching for high up objects, making really dramatic awkward movements, but the beach? No, this vessel I have is not necessarily beach ready.

Those of you who have seen me in person (and once again, my apologies) know that my skin is not really a durable looking kind of skin. I am pale. While my mother is of Italian decent, my father’s Irish German lineage beat out my mother’s genes when it came to whose skin I would get.

While “lily white” is a beautiful color, it isn’t exactly a good color for skin. And it certainly isn’t a sun proof kind of color. It is the main reason that from the ages of 6 up until recently I always wore SPF 45 when I went to the beach. And not just SPF 45, a very specific brand called Water Babies.


It is a fine product that works well but you just get to a certain age and you just look to avoid using products that have pictures of half naked children on them.

So if I am going to go to the beach I need to make sure I have plenty of sun block on hand. I reapply many times, and make sure to hit all exposed areas.

Though if I am by myself, the issue usually arises about what to do about my back. If I apply it to myself, I usually miss a rather large spot in the middle of my back, which I don’t know about until somebody points it out to me later on.

This became very obvious to me in Chile last year.

It would be beneficial if somebody could invent some sort of back scratcher/sun tan lotion applier. This way I could go to the beach alone and actually enjoy myself. Half the time I am just standing 2 feet into the ocean praying I don’t get burnt and staring at my blanket hoping somebody doesn’t steal my stuff.

But Miami should be different because I will be there with friends.

Well, not really friends, more like 100 strangers I have JUST met, but hey, same thing.

This fancy hotel I am staying at will perhaps have some sort of sun block applier. I sure hope so anyway because my goal to show up tan has failed.

In fact at this point I have really lowered my hopes for all the things I wanted to be before I showed up in Miami. I realize I won’t be buff. There is a good chance I will be ostracized for my clothes. And as for tan? Like I said, I’ve given up any hope of that.

Now my goal for when I show up to the beach is just not to look like Gollum.


Stranger: Hey Rich why is your nose bleeding?
Rich: THE PRECIOUS!

But that all remains to be seen when I finally put my feet in that Miami sand, which hopefully, I will not need to use as clotting material.

The End.  (Kind of, I’m sure there will be a recap.)

Miami Bound Machine - Part 1

I mentioned recently that my Cold-EEZE video won the contest it was in. And my prize for that was a mystery vacation. The details of my vaycay were recently revealed to me. I will be going on an all expenses paid trip to MIAMI!

Awooohooo!

The itinerary for the trip was posted on the website.


It is going to be epic. I am beyond excited. I knew it was going to be someplace warm and awesome and Miami is both of those things.

But then I started thinking.

This is Miami. This is where, at least according to Will Smith, there is a party in the city and the heat is on.

Miami is like the Las Vegas of the East Coast without all the hookers and the gambling (I’m guessing).  Nobody ever comes back from Miami with a story like

“Yea it was OK, I mean, it was kind of quiet, real low key, we just kind of hung around and ate chips.”

No, every time I talk to anybody who has come back from Miami it’s always like:

“Oh my god the beaches were so hot and everyone looked amazing and buff and then we went to the craziest club at night, and danced in an upside down anti gravity chamber of awesome. And then we drank champagne out of David Caruso’s wallet!”

Miami is the city of players, and playas, and la playa, and probably papaya. This is a city of bespoke linen suits, and bottle service, and the sexiest humans on the planet.

Well, in 3 weeks it will be home to the sexiest humans on the planet and this guy;


This just will not do. I can’t roll up to Miami looking all hokey and foolish... ya know, like myself. There will be about 100 very cool people getting on this plane to go down there for this party. And I just keep having visions of myself walking onto the plane and hearing:

GO HOME DORK

As a tiny empty vodka bottle and a honey roasted peanut hit me in the side of the face.

No, I have to get my act together. The way I see it there are 3 parts of my life I need to get in order before I make my way down on a plane full of trendy, sexy, party animals. And the first part of it is my wardrobe.

Even though I think I look OK when I go out in New York, it is always different when you go to another city. Like last year when I shot down to D.C. for the 4th of July and my friends and I went out at night. I thought I would look good in my New York staple black. Imagine my surprise when I showed up at a bar full of people who looked like they were on an Easter egg hunt.

I realize now that certain cities require certain style.

Now I have had some interesting outfit choices over the course of my life. In fact it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I actually started understanding how to buy and wear clothes.

Up until then it was a lot of hit and miss with many more misses than hits.

Like back in 8th grade when I so badly wanted to dress cool and look like the other cool people. At this time there was a popular accessory in my school. It was a belt made out of a seat belt.

I didn’t have such an accessory, and I really wanted one. And this feeling hit me about an hour before the 8th grade dance when I was visited by the pants muse. And suddenly I fancied myself a designer, a pant closure genius if you will.

So I tried to invent my own belt. I went into my father’s closet and got out one of his old leather belts and cut off the metal clasp. Then I poked a hole in both ends. And then I took, get ready for this, a combination lock, and hooked it through the hole on one end, and then the other and then I CLOSED THE LOCK.

I walked over and took a look in the mirror. Sweet! I looked awesome. This would totally make other people think I was cool.

Have you seen Rich’s awesome combination lock belt?
Man, Rich has the coolest belt ever!
It’s a belt, it’s a lock, it’s both!

Satisfied with my invention I went to open it and realized a crucial fault in my design. It was still a combination lock. And now I had to put in the combination, on an upside down lock, which was secured tightly to my pelvis.

And that’s when I started to panic. I was having trouble opening it and starting to sweat. And then I realized I had to go to the bathroom. I was like a crappy Houdini. Except I didn’t have any magical abilities and I wasn’t trying to do a magic trick, I just had to pee!

Since then I have avoided the trends. I have stuck with basics, things that worked, and things that did not require the training and expertise of a locksmith. I imagine most people would say I have a pretty clear style, nothing too crazy or outlandish.

But this is Miami! This is the place where ya know… stuff happens.

(I would be more specific here but I have never been to Miami and therefore have no idea what actually goes on)

I want to make a statement so that when we all go out to the clurb to get our drink on and dance on, people will say, hey who is THAT guy?! And not just because I managed to get Pina Colada in my hair, but because I look good!

This thought process led me to an investment reserved for a certain class of people, those either playing shuffleboard in Boca Raton or those people named Ricky Martin. This led me to an investment I never thought I’d make.

I bought white pants.

Now the actual ramifications of this decision remain to be seen. I am not sure when or where I will display these pants. But they are coming with me. I am going to rock them. I am going to show the world my confidence… or lack thereof.

But most importantly, when the time comes to go to the bathroom… I will be able to do so.

To Be Continued…

Old Enough To...




Raise your hand if you’re a grown up.

I am serious. If you feel like you’re a grown up, put your hand in the air. Ok, now when did you start feeling like that? Was it when you got engaged? Married? After the birth of your first child? What made you feel like a grown up and can you please tell me how I can feel like one too?

Growing up is taking a toll on my brain. Never mind the fact that I can barely function like a normal human (whatever that is), trying to figure out to behave while constantly adjusting that for the age that I am is becoming more and more difficult.

I always hear people talking about how they feel older than they are. And sometimes I get close to feeling that way. Really close… and then I have a night like I did this past Saturday where I eat 7 Entemann’s Chocolate Frosted Mini Donuts, and 3 Full sized crumb donuts. And I realize once again… I am not yet a man.

In the mental evolution spectrum I think I have JUST figured out how to act like a semi -confident 21 year-old. And that is great. But the catch is, of course, that this is coming about 5 years too late.

Plus I have absolutely no idea how old anybody else is.

I remember the first time I noticed this. I was at camp when I was 11, back when I looked like this:


Unfortunate I know.

Anyway. We went to beautiful Mount Airy Lodge in Pennsylvania for an overnight trip and had a dance party in their “club” with another camp that was there. For the first time in my life I actually walked across the dance floor to ask another 11 year old to dance. And do you know what she said?

She said, “You know I’m the counselor right? I’m 17.”

Pssha, of course.

Long awkward pause.

So um… you don’t want to dance?”

And that was the beginning of me pretending to know what the hell I was talking about when interacting with females. The trend has continued to this day.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 40, chances are I don’t know your age. If you are a woman that spectrum included all those between 16 and 45. I constantly wonder the ages of the people I talk to. I am shocked to find out people I think might be younger than me are in their late 30s with 2 kids. Or somebody who might be a great career mentor for me is really struggling with their sophomore year.

Of high school.

I think it’s genetic. When I was little and my dad would tell us a story about a kid in a store or something and I asked him how old the kid was my dad would say, “Oh you know, 7,8,9,10.”

I mean that’s a 40 percent fluctuation in possible age!

How old was she?
Oh you know, late 20s, early 40s.

Everybody looks the same age to me. Which makes me wonder, how old do I look?

I know I have a baby face, and I shave as infrequently as possible. I do this for several reasons. The main reason being that I am lazy. (This informs most of the decisions in my life) The second reason is that I don’t like scraping blades on myself, but also because I think having a few days scruff makes me look a little older.

When I am cleanly shaven like here I can’t even buy expired grape juice never mind a glass of wine.


Perhaps the intense stare is to confuse people into making them think I am older?

I’m sure I will get to a certain age where I will shave everyday to maintain my youthful exuberance. But how old do I look? At the bar I work at people regularly ask me if I am still in school.

But on the flip side, I have been noticing a strange trend recently. People have been calling me sir. Like, more than one person. Multiple people calling me sir, and one person called me mister.

MISTER!

Like I was buying a newspaper from him on the corner for a nickel.

Does this idiot look like a mister to you?

 

What do you mean what am I doing? I'm changing my socks obviously.

ANYWAY... 

When I didn’t know a woman’s name I used to say, “Excuse me ma’am” until I kept getting yelled at. On more than one occasion I heard;

Do I look old to you?

At which point I froze because I know this is a trick question, and saying yes will probably get me slapped. The only logical response is to immediately fake your own death.

Or even worse they say something like, “How old do you think I am?”

At which point I say, “Old enough to vote?”

I really have no idea how old people are. I bartend, and have for 5 years. I might get into trouble on this but I never check I.D.s. Now I’m probably going to have busloads of 8th graders coming into the bar next week but I just take it for granted that anybody who orders a drink is of age.

I just don’t want to offend somebody when I ask to see their I.D. I have been to bars where sometimes I get carded and sometimes I don’t, by the same bouncer. I mean it’s not like I’m walking in there with a balloon and a box of animal crackers in my hand. I look pretty much the same most days. At least I think so.

I think going forward my best bet is to avoid all discussions about age. And I think I will stick to my regular regimen of not shaving.

And when it comes to the dance floor, as long as I avoid accidentally asking the campers to dance… I think I should be fine.

Dial 1 for Confusion

Cell phones have allowed us a tremendous amount of freedom. We can talk to our friends wherever we may be, make dinner plans, chat with our relatives, and yell at our cable provider from any place in the world. They have freed us from the bondage of land lines and the tyranny of the corded telephone. But there is something cell phones have not been able to free us from.

And that is the wrong number phone call.

I got my first cell phone in college. I was actually studying in Italy and it was more for emergency purposes than anything else. Nobody except a couple of friends back home and my parents knew I had one. I didn’t really get many wrong numbers. And if I did, they were in Italian and I couldn’t understand them anyway.

When I got back to the states I got my first brand spanking new cell American cell phone with what I thought was a pretty random Arizona cell phone number. Little did I know that number was 1 digit off from the Sunburst Resort.


People would call me and the conversation would go like this.

Hello?
Hi I’d like to make a reservation.
What?
I’d like to make a reservation for the 26 through the 30th of next month.
Um…. What?
Is this the Sunburst resort?
Oh. No.

And then they’d hang up on me all frustrated. Like I was the idiot. Like I’m running around town scratching the last digit off the phone number on the printed materials of hotels through the Phoenix metropolitan area. Some nerve I had, not taking their reservation over the phone for the hotel they didn’t call that I don’t work at.

It started happening so frequently that I thought about actually just taking the reservations and letting them fend for themselves. Hey, it’s not my fault they screwed up. But by the time I came to that resolution they stopped calling.

I also used to get calls for somebody whose nickname was “Golden Boy.” This would not have been nearly as confusing had his real first name not been Rich.

Hello?
What’s up Golden boy?
What?
Is this golden boy?
I don’t think so?
Is this Rich?
Yes.
Rich Gulden?
Oh. No.

My dad’s cell phone number used to be 1 off from the towel department at Bed Bath and Beyond. People called him on more than one occasion to get a conversation that went like this.


Hi this is Fred.
Hi can I have towels please?
What?
Can you transfer me to towels please?
You have the wrong number.
This isn’t Bed Bath and Beyond?

No you idiot face, I’m playing a prank on you. You know us folk in the bedding department, always screwing with the guys in towels. What the hell do you think?!

Did they think my dad misheard them?

Oh TOWELS. I thought you said trowels, and I was thinking to myself, man, we don’t sell any shovels.

You’d think the wrong number would result in more hilarity and less anger and frustration. People always end the calls so abruptly. As though I am going to keep them on the phone just to make fun of them.

Like my friend Julie who got a call from some guy freshman year looking to rectify problems with his girlfriend. Julie was not his girlfriend but after hanging up and trying to call his actual girlfriend only to get her voicemail, he called Julie back to ask for her advice.

Perhaps he was a womanizer of wrong misdials; perhaps he liked the sound of her voice. We all found it quite strange that he called her back for relationship advice. Perhaps he didn’t have any friends of his own. Maybe he really needed a (very) impartial third party to help solve his problem. Maybe he was really in a bind.

This must have been the thing because he called her back a third time to ask some follow up questions. And Julie, bless her heart, stayed on to chat with him to humor him and engage in a story. She really commits to the fun. And it was her thought process that I channeled recently when I had a similar scenario pop up in my own life.

Last week I was out with my good friends Josh and Marissa whose wedding I attended 2 years ago. After a dinner full of delicisiousness and more than our fair share of wine, we headed out to a pub to keep the night going. Well a couple drinks later Josh’s phone rang with an unknown number. He wasn’t going to answer it so I asked if I could. The following conversation is not exaggerated or made up.

“This is Ramon” I said as I picked up the phone.
“Oh I’m sorry I think I have the wrong number.
What number were you looking for?
(She gives some number that is not Josh’s)
Oh no that is not this number, who were you looking for?
Oh I was looking for my daughter.

It was at this point that I wondered about this woman. A. Why is she still talking to me? B. How much does she really care about her daughter if she can’t even take the time to put her on speed dial?

Where is your daughter?
She’s in her room.
Where are you?
I’m in my room.
Are you in the same house?
Yes.
You are calling your daughter from inside the house?
Yes, her music is too loud and I was going to ask her to turn it down.

It was at this point that I realized this woman must really not like her daughter if she doesn’t even want to see her face to tell her to turn off her music! How far could she be away from her? Close enough to hear the music but not far enough away to need to call her?

Oh, do you usually call your daughter from inside the house?
Sometimes.
Oh OK, well, I hope she turns down the music.
Yes me too.
Take care have a good night.
Thanks you too.

And that was it. We will never know if her daughter turned down the music. Perhaps I could have been more helpful, given her more guidance, suggested more solutions.

Or maybe I could have just transferred her to towels.

Winners Don't Use Drugs

Up until fairly recently, the greatest aspiration of my life had been: To be cool. Throughout elementary school, high school, and college, my goal had been to not only feel cool, but to also appear as such to my peers.

I put great effort into this by engaging in such activities as hanging around cool people, and wearing brand name clothing that others would recognize as "cool."

But it was a house of cards. And my coolness was always, at best, fleeting. It was almost as though the universe knew this and was going to make its best efforts to point this out to me. And on two very specific occasions, my ability to appear cool was squashed by an almost clairvoyant ability of others to point out deficiencies I wasn't even aware I had.

I was and still am, a scrawny white kid from the suburbs. My world awareness and cosmopolitan nature did not come along until much later in my life. As a kid, my music knowledge was limited to the radio station Z100 which played the top 20 pop songs in the country ad nauseum. I knew vaguely of the blazing Hip Hop and R&B of Hot 97.1, but I did not listen to it, nor did I understand it.

My childhood best friend however, was much more urban conscious than I ever was. He knew that radio station and its songs very well. It was his forte. He was much tougher than I was. And even though he lived but 2 miles from me, he was over the border and into Queens. Things were different there. He was hardened steel and I had all the street toughness as a bowl of wet spaghetti.

So one night my best bud and I went to the movies by ourselves. We didn't meet girls or get into any shenanigans, but in terms of independence and growing up, it was kind of a big deal. And I was feeling like I was really something.

So suffice to say when we got picked up from the movies by his mother, sister, and brother, all of us crammed in the car like a gang of teen sardines, and the Hot 97 came on, the coolness I had been feeling started to quiver a little bit.

And before I knew it, everyone (minus myself) was singing along to a Mary J. Blige song. And my best friend's sister, a very gregarious girl, turned to me out of the blue and in an accusatory manner that made my soul drop through my butt, said;

"Don't you know the words to this song?"

Of course I didn't. And admitting so was like admitting my status as a second class citizen. And all I could do was stare and make a constipated face. My coolness cover was blown.

But as I would find out, not knowing something, was way better than thinking you did.

Back before the D.A.R.E. program taught all of us prepubescent lumps of clay what drugs were, and exactly how to use them, we were limited to second hand knowledge from friends and older siblings.

Unfortunately, I did not pay close enough attention.

That became blatantly obvious when my sister and I were at a pool party of our parents' family friends one summer. At this party there were a lot of kids of outgoing personalities and considerable privilege. Kids who had done the coolest things, had the coolest toys, and clothing. Kids that I, of course, wanted to impress.

I was trying so hard to fit in that I was wearing my prized #9 Dan Majerle Olympic Dream Team basketball jersey. It was the crown jewel of my wardrobe.

We were sitting at the table eating hamburgers and hot dogs and pasta salad and dinner rolls. We ran the gamut from pre-pubescent to post, and we were all engaged in one large conversation of multiple topics.

The conversation shifted and the topic of drugs came up. Marijuana and smoking weed was mentioned. Somebody mentioned being stoned. And out of the blue, for no obvious reason, and like she had been clued into a major gap in my knowledge, one of the older girls turned to me and said, "You do know what being stoned means don't you?"

Of course I did. And I told them.

"It means to have rocks thrown at you."

I am hard pressed to find a time in my life when people laughed harder at me than they did that day.

My catholic upbringing had betrayed me. Never once did I think Jesus might have been a pothead. My knowledge was way too literal.

Everyone laughed and my poor sister was so embarrassed that I was essentially useless when it came to being cool. Especially since she too probably wanted acceptance from these kids. One particular boy that I did not like really pissed me off with his laughing and general existence.

I was so embarrassed from being made fun of, and in poor control of my emotions that I, in fact, stoned that boy.

I took a dinner roll from my plate and threw it at the boy's head.

Direct hit.

I believe that the boy I pelted with a carb grenade, responded in kind by throwing a limited amount of sprite on my jersey.

And me being completely embarrassed, and wanting to escape, I ran into the house to change my jersey. Not so much worried about the quality of my jersey, but that my own ignorance had turned into an assault on my most favorite article of clothing. Perhaps I was really throwing that bread at my own embarrassment.

Either way, I learned a lot about being cool that day. I learned I wasn't. No matter how hard I try, no matter who I think I am, some things never change. And I learned another lesson. Whether it is right or not...

Sometimes it feels good to throw bread at people.

The Derm

My cultural heritage is somewhat of a mixed blessing. While the Italian from my mother's side has given me thick brown lustrous hair, the Irish German from my father's side has given me pale and somewhat, well, delicate skin.

Having such a precarious epidermis, I must make regular trips to the Dermatologist. Unlike some other doctors, you can’t get away with keeping some of your clothes on during the examination. The Dermatologist needs to look at all of your skin. And I don’t know about you folks but I have skin everywhere.

This poses an interesting challenge for me, in that I am someone who likes to project a vibe of strength and confidence. Yet, I struggle to do so while standing around in my underwear in a room full of strangers.

I didn’t go to the dermatologist for the first time until I was in college. I had heard of the Dermatologist and was aware of their contributions to society, but on my first visit I had no idea what to expect.

The first thing I didn’t expect is what a rock star the dermatologist was! I can usually get a doctors appointment anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks out. But for the Dermatologist, we had to make an appointment a year in advance.

A year? I’ve planned international vacations in less time. Who were all these people going to the Derm? What group of humans was so intent on seeing the Derm that they were filling up every single appointment for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 50 weeks a year? When I arrived for my first appointment I got my answer: old people. They were everywhere.

I was in a small space packed with old people. Apparently the more wrinkles your skin has, the more that can wrong with it. What kind of life style am I leading that the only people I spend my free time with are the people collecting social security that is taken out of MY taxes. I felt like walking up to them and saying;

"Ya know you are only here because I’m paying for it."

I was called in for my appointment by one of the assistants who said to me;

“Strip down to your underwear, take off everything except for your socks.”

This wouldn’t have been so embarrassing had my dad not been in the room with me for our joint appointment.

The Dermatologist is so busy that I couldn’t get my own appointment. I had to be seen with a family member and we weren’t even getting a discount.

So now my father and I were standing there like a pair of potato famine thieves at the end of a strip search, waiting for a strange man we’d never met to come into our room and inspect our Irish German abnormalities.

As the assistant left the room she pointed to something on the chair and said;

“You may put on a gown if you like.”

A gown? Maybe hanging out with my dad in our underwear wouldn’t be so bad after all? My regular doctor had never given me a gown before. This place was classy!

I grabbed the "gown" from the chair, excited to put on my royal robe. But after unfolding it I realized this was no gown. This was a large sleeveless napkin complete with some kind of plastic twist tie cinching string that didn't even make it around my whole waist.

Gown?! Yea right. I put it on and was suddenly aware of the fact that I was wearing a big paper mumu. What other "clothing" did they have? Toilet paper scarves? Newspaper pashminas?

So there we we, my father and I both standing there, like we were at a Fruit of the Loom testing facility. And I realized nobody looks cool standing around in their underwear. And that is what I struggle with.

I just want to look cool, or at least normal, when the Dermatologist walks in. I want to appear confident like I know what is going on in my life, but that becomes increasingly more difficult once the examination starts.

You are just hanging out in that sterile little room with that Lay Z Boy from hell. It’s a lot like laying in the dentist’s chair… except you have no clothes on… and the dentist is using his tools to poke you... all over your body.

So I use this time to ask all the questions about the spots on my body that make me nervous.

What’s this?
That’s a mole.
What about this?
That’s a blister.
And this?
That’s your belly button.

It’s all too much to handle. So since I have become an adult I have started going to the Dermatologist by myself. And on my last visit I made a commitment to myself. I am going to appear confident if it kills me!

I will not just wait in that room with nothing to my do. I will bring my book I will sit in the chair, gownless, and project an aura of sophistication and nobility.

When I was called into the tiny experiment room. I stripped down and refused the emperors new gown. I sat there, in my underwear awaiting the Derm.

But just sitting there I didn’t look confident, I still felt uncomfortable. What do people do when they are wearing clothes and feeling comfortable? So after a brief moment of thought, I went British dandy.

That’s right. I crossed my legs in the effeminate knee over knee fashion, with my book held out in front of me as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Like I just happened to be doing a Shakespearean reading in my underwear, and what’s this, a Dermatologist has walked in? Well welcome to the reading!

Did it work you ask? I don't really think so. I think my new Dermatologist thought I was slightly confused and possibly damaged in the head. In fact the look on her face was pretty much, "Oh Jesus." But hey I tried!

And besides, it could have been worse. My dad could have been there.

What the Hell Are You Saying?

No matter how much older I get, there are certain scenarios that instantly transport me back to being in school. Something about a circumstance or situation brings me back to feeling baffled in class. Even though I am not that far removed from those days, the feeling of being unprepared, of having not done my homework is something that seemed like a distant memory. At least, until that feeling popped up again unexpected.
I don’t anticipate getting much smarter in the next 60 years, I have to admit to myself that not only will I not increase my mental capabilities, but most likely, I will at best remain stagnant. And I will be reminded of those times in school when I had no idea what was going on.
I was a good citizen this week and voted. I did a little research to see what amendments or proposals I would be voting on before I got to the booth. I did this so I would not accidentally pass a law legalizing the use of arsenic in creamed corn or ban the use of fluoride in water.
I was enlightened to see that there were only 2, one of which was pretty straight forward. The other one read as follows:
The proposed amendment would eliminate the requirement that veterans who were disabled in the actual performance of duty in any war be receiving disability payments from the United State Veterans Administration in order to qualify for additional points on a civil service examination for appointment or promotion. Under the proposed amendment, the disability must only be certified to exist by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The proposed amendment would also update the reference to the "United States Veterans Administration" to instead refer to the "United States Department of Veterans Affairs" to reflect current federal government structure. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
What?
My first instinct was to turn to the person in the desk next to me and see what they were writing on their essay.
Then I realized this wasn’t a social studies test, I’m not in high school, and I’m not 16. I’m 20freaking5. I was just sitting at my computer at work trying to figure out what the hell that amendment said. I had to read it twice before I realized I was never going to figure out what it meant on my own.
I had to go to some other website to translate what this amendment said because apparently I only speak English, I don’t comprehend it.
And what the amendment basically said was, “If you got a bullet hole in you, you don’t need to be getting money from the government in order to get a better chance at a government job.”
Way easier that way isn’t it?
No wonder ridiculous laws get passed. People are tricked into thinking that something is a good idea, or a bad idea for that manner. And just think, we vote to elect people into office, to draft these amendments that we then have to vote on but can’t comprehend because the people we elected weren’t bright enough to understand how simple we are.
Easy right?
I once had a teacher in high school who would get frustrated when the classroom got noisy and he would shout “WHY AM I NOT THE ONLY ONE TALKING?”
What?
I had to sit there and repeat the sentence over in over in my head while drawing a tree diagram on my notebook to try and understand it.
Why am I the only one talking? Why am I not the only one talking? How about, why are you talking? Or even better, Shut up! Sentences should not be that confusing. No wonder the class kept talking; we had no idea what the hell teacher was saying.
At the risk of embarrassing myself (which I risk doing every time I leave my apartment) I would like to relate another story.
I recently took a class over 2 weekends that prepares you to sit on the board of non-profits. It was a fascinating class and I learned a lot, but unfortunately we had homework.
One of the items for homework was to evaluate the budget of a fictional non-profit. The sample budgets were shown over the course of 6 different pages. It was confusing at best. There were numbers everywhere that I couldn’t process. I started to get a headache. I started feeling insecure and inadequate. In fact it made me realize I wanted to change my major from Business to something else.
And then I realized I wasn’t in college, I had changed my major, and I already got a C in accounting.
I can so vividly remember freshman year accounting when I was the dumbest kid in my group (possibly the class) and I volunteered to type up our paper so I could at least say I contributed something.
“Shouldn’t we capitalize the R in the word Revenue? That’s what I thought too.”
In fact when I got to my nonprofit class, I was having heart palpitations thinking the teacher might call on me to explain the budgets. At which point I probably would have had to pretend I had a really important phone call or just fake a heart attack.
I don’t think that I will ever understand everything, I am not sure that I will ever stop having those moments of feeling like a confused kid in school again. I’m still trying to adjust to being a confused adult. Perhaps it was the feelings of inadequacy, the constant inability to reach my potential, or always sounding like an idiot when I talk to girls. And that was just last week.
Maybe those feelings never go away.
Either way, I thank you for being one of the people who didn’t forget to choose to not forego reading my blog.