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.

Sliding Slowly Down the Mountain


How do you feel?

This is the question everybody keeps asking me.

After nearly 6 months of working to bring a play from idea to implementation, after beating a script into submission, hunting for theaters, soliciting actors, rehearsing to ungodly hours, doubting every facet of my life, and more restless sleep than I care to remember… I’m not sure how I feel.

I know I am incredibly proud of the show, I felt warmed, and purged, and impressed, and wowed and fulfilled, but this past week has almost felt like a hangover.

I know I don't feel numb, it's actually quite the opposite, I think I feel everything. Kind of like being underwater, where every sense on your body feels something, like you’re enveloped.

I do know I feel tired. I haven't felt this tired in years, since I was 21 and running homecoming for my school. A week of events had left me so drained that I fell asleep sitting up at the lunch table on the last day. The mayor was sitting across from me, kicked me under the table and said

Hey, go home and go to bed.

This feels kind of like that.

How does one even begin to contextualize something like this? How can I make others understand when I myself have barely managed to wrap my brain around it. I think about every moment of the process every hour of every day. I quote the play in my head. I replay conversations I had with my actors. I relive the feedback I heard from the attendees. It is like the entire experience is on loop in my head and I kind of can’t stop it long enough to realize:

A: It’s over.
B: What that means?

People also keep asking me what’s next. And while I know, I’ve known for months what my next project would be… I’m not ready to look at it yet.

It’s kind of like finishing a really amazing dinner. A meal that was slow cooked that you took your time to savor than lives on your tongue long after your plate is cleared. And the natural instinct is to start the next course, or dessert, but I’m not ready for the sensation on my tongue to dissipate yet.

This project took so much out of me in the best way possible. I honestly believe by the time Saturday night came, and my actors took their last bow… I had nearly nothing left to give.

Every night of the show I watched from the back of the theater, trying to gage the audiences reactions by their faces, trying to anticipate how it was making them feel. My head swiveled back and forth from my incredible actors to the audience. Back and forth, back and forth.

But on the last night I had a hard time watching the show. It had nothing to do with the fact that I knew exactly how it would go, or that I had seen it dozens and dozens of times. Something about the fact that this was the last time it was going to happen made it almost unbearable to watch.

Logic says to me that it should have been the opposite, that I should have been glued to their performance, but for some reason, not knowing if I would ever see it staged again almost… hurt.

And so these last 7 days I too have almost hurt. I feel slow, purged but at the same time sluggish, laden with all of the emotions I struggled with over the last 6 months… over the last year.

I have had crazy dreams every single night. Wild dreams with diverse casts of characters in far off places, a result no doubt of having repressed my creativity for anything except this very project.

My emotions have been so close to the surface. The first two shows I did I felt this overwhelming storm of tears brewing within me, and sure enough sometime after the show ended, those tears came in force, no doubt aided by alcohol.

This time was different. Seemingly little things bring tears. A story from my actor telling me what she appreciated about the show. Questions from friends about how this affected me. And as always, self realizations about who I am or am not.

All of this has made it feel like I am walking through sand the last week. Not getting anywhere quickly, incredibly aware of how much energy it takes.

And this might not make sense, but the way I feel, the way I have been this past week has almost felt… earned. Like I deserved it. In some sick way, this exhaustion is almost exactly what I didn’t even know I wanted to feel.

One of my good friends who came to the show and I were talking last week about the important attributes artists need to have to be successful. I mentioned vision. We went back and forth a little bit about it but as I sit here now and write this, I realize how important it has been for me.

The ability to see where I want to go, to trust that I have the ability to take myself there, that I can will myself into something more than I was when I woke up this morning, that such a thing or place exists, to me that has become more important than ever before.

So I turn my eyes to the future, to unknown lands, and to the next mountain I look forward to sliding slowly down.

What Not To Do

#1 Do not try and take a camping knife through airport security.

The TSA will not support you in your decision.

It wasn’t a gigantic knife like one of those bowie knives you can buy off the TV at 2 am for six easy payments of 19.95. This was a collapsible Buck knife; something I use exclusively for cutting tags off newly purchased items and removing stray threads from clothing.

I didn't even know I had it in my backpack.

So I go through security. They put my bag through the scanner. They stare at the television screen for a minute. Then they say they are going to scan it again. Then they call somebody else over to stare at the screen, and then somebody else. So now there are 3 different people looking at the contents of my tiny backpack on a small television.

Finally they tell me they are going to check my bag by hand. I readily agree having no idea what is so confounding to these experts in safety. After 4 seconds the agent finds what she’s looking for, excuses herself and walks back over to her team with her hand still in the bag like she had to keep it a secret.

Then an old bald TSA agent with a look on his face I can only describe as "assholeish" sauntered, and I mean that, sauntered over to me holding the knife. He then repeatedly tried to open the knife like he was a Jet or a Shark.

I suppose it didn't help that after watching him try this multiple times I said:

That’s not how it works.

I don't think he liked that. After measuring the length of the blade with his fingers, which is apparently the international way for determining danger, he just looked up and stared me in the eyes. As if to say;

Where is the criminal in there?

This guy, this safety “expert”, who just 5 minutes before I heard telling his coworker he couldn't figure out how to use his Blackberry didn't like the cut of my jib, or maybe he didn't like my jib at all.

And then he said:


Alright friend, it's a lost item.

Not, “you can go back and check it”, or “we have to confiscate this because you can't bring a KNIFE on a PLANE”.

I pretty much knew it was gone as soon as he pulled it out of my bag. I was done owning it.

And then I walked away scot-free and was allowed to board my plane. Though as soon as I landed in London and went through customs I was afraid they were going to take one look at me and scream, "KNIFE!" and then tackle me like I was in a rugby match.

But then I got angry because I realized that twice in the last 4 days I had brought that same backpack through security with that knife in my bag. That means I twice traversed airport security without them once noticing that knife.

Scary.

#2 Do not pack one light colored suit for several days of meetings and do not eat really drippy dark colored fruit for breakfast.

I mean it’s pretty simple. I am apparently a man-child and I can’t have nice things because I can’t eat my food without also simultaneously wearing it.

So there I am eating my proper British breakfast, pot of tea, eggs, bacon, mixed berries. I’m exercising care to make sure that everything I do makes me look like an official businessman in London doing important business man things.

Until I look down and see the red splotch on my thigh.

Now I have no options here so I wet my napkin and start furiously blotting my pant leg using so much water that by the time I stand up 20 minutes later to head to my first meeting, it looks like I was hit by a water balloon. But the good news is the stain came out.

Kind of.

#3 Do not lay underneath a train

As I mentioned recently, in New York, there are a bunch of cryptic messages that come across on the loudspeaker while you are commuting. But in London they are a bit more direct.

While walking through a tube station on my way to the exit, I heard an announcement from a beautiful British female voice that said:

Due to a person underneath a train, there are delays on the Jubilee line.

Wait, what?

UNDERNEATH A TRAIN? Are you kidding me? So seeing as trains sit on tracks, if somebody is underneath a train, they are also probably not alive. But of course, in that proper British lilt, it really makes it sound like not something that bad at all.

In New York, that just would have been:

Due to an earlier incident, trains are running at slower speeds.

The Brits don’t mince words.

#4 Do not drink all the tea they give you

I like to immerse myself in the local culture. In England, that means having a cup of tea whenever one is presented to you. Now when you stay in a hotel in the U.S. you have tea in your hotel room, but I never drink it. Maybe I will if I’m feeling zippy.

But in England it’s like a siren call. I feel the need to have a cup whenever I can. If somebody asks me if I want tea I am always saying yes. And they don't give you a cup, they give you an entire pot.

Which explains why I was running to the loo every 90 minutes.

#5 Do not sleep on a single bed

I have to be honest, even though in college I slept in a double bed (which was too small for me having had a queen bed my whole life, yes I know, spoiled) I had no knowledge that there was such a thing as a single bed.

It wasn’t until I walked into my room and sat down on my single bed (which was on wheels by the way) just how tiny such a thing is.

I couldn’t sit up in bed without the bed rolling away from the wall like I was at the starting line of a box car derby.

And lying in bed felt like I was trying to sleep on top of a Twinkie. If my legs had any distance between them, they would immediately start sliding off the edges of the bed so that I was straddling it like I was doing a horse trick.

So I spent my nights with all my appendages pressed together like I was about to be shot into space, which consequently I will probably never be allowed to visit because I would be the only idiot inadvertently trying to bring a knife on the spaceship.

Which is for the best, I’d probably just end up getting space fruit on my uniform anyway.

36 Hours in London - Part 2

The minute I board my flight to London I am accosted by beautiful looking British women with accents I crave like ice cream. The minute they start talking to me and ending their sentences on an uptick I am instantly jealous.

But instead of just coveting their accents like a normal crazy person, I replicate them. Not just a generic British accent (I prefer a cockney accent myself) but the specific type of accent they have.

I don’t do this to mock them, I do it because it’s like test driving a life. It’s fun, it doesn’t cost me anything, and I get to see what it feels like.

I fake a British accent all the time. Not to confuse people, people I talk to seem confused enough by my existence already, but because I love the sound of it. I’ll speak to my coworkers like a London tour guide when trying to spice up a spreadsheet. Or I’ll do an accent for my friends when explaining something I know nothing about.

I.E. Lying.

It’s not just British accents either, all accents. Irish, Australian, French, and Italian are my personal favorites and appear the most frequently. But when I’m around people who actually have accents? Forget it. It’s like everybody is walking around with a tray of free cupcakes and I’m not supposed to take one, but I know I really can if I want.

So there I am on my flight and my flight attendant asks me if I want something to drink. And I answer but she doesn’t understand me and asks me to repeat my self. So naturally this time I say “water” with a British accent.

Damn it.

I tried. I really did. But I made it about 45 minutes. But I did it strictly out of a need to be understood. Because I have found in my clinical scientific studies (and by clinical I mean “beer fueled” and by scientific I mean “in bars”) that if I speak to somebody from another part of the world if I use their accent, it makes the words I’m saying easier to understand.

I think it’s because our ears become so attuned to the sound of not just our own language, but the tone and way that it is spoken. So to say even the same words, with a different tone or inflection, can seem tricky.

Really, what I’m saying here, is that I am doing the world a favor.

A perfect example of this is the usage of words pairs between different cultures. Like when my stewardess approached me and asked:



Would you like a muffin or a Danish?

I chose the muffin. And even though it was dark in my aisle I could still see that she was about to hand me something that looked like a disk more than a muffin. I took it from her, held it under the light and saw what it was.



Ah yes, a muffin top.

Now while this mythical foodstuff was glorified by Seinfeld, this was not really a muffin top. If anything it looked more like a muffin middle. I chose not to say anything, I just smiled and said thank you.

It also means something else that is entirely inedible. I will spare my own creative explanation for one that has been pre-approved by thousands of Internet denizens.

We finally arrive in London, meet our driver, and are immediately carted off to our presentation where we are scheduled to speak as soon as we get there.

Now I’m in a professional business setting listening to a room full of British accents. I feel like it has already been infused into my blood.

And I am about to make a presentation to a room full of European clients, including some British, and I find myself talking to my boss in a fake British accent when he stops me abruptly and says:

Rich, you can’t do that here!

Oh crap, right. These people know I’m from New York. Faking a British accent here will just make them think I am an ass or idiot… or both. And I don’t know these people. I still have a chance to make them think I’m bright and stuff.

Lucky for me, I made it through my presentation without faking the British, Spanish, Portuguese, Irish OR Scottish accents in the room. I didn’t anticipate so many accents. It was like a buffet of wonderful voices. I just wanted to sample all of them.

We finished our presentation and hustled out of there before I could do any damage. I arrived back at my hotel, dropped my stuff and tried to make the most of the 30 hours I had left. So naturally I took a long walk, had a beer, and a Nutella filled crepe.

I contemplated ordering both an accent, after all I didn’t stick out. I was in the one English speaking country on the planet with an entire population of people just as pasty white as I. But I opted against it and stuck to my normal speech.

And for the rest of my time in London I managed to keep myself in check, though I would occasionally find myself mouthing along with somebody else while they were speaking, like I was trying to learn the words to a song. Really I was just memorizing aspects that I could use when I got back home and was free to fake an accent again.

And I arrived back in my home country, got off the plane and into a cab with a driver who had an accent. But it didn’t excite me in the same way. It had been a long 36 hours, and I was just to tired to fake it…

For now.

A Good Look Back

Seeing as I had a bit of a rough spell a couple weeks ago, I want to end this year on a positive note. So instead of dwelling on something shitty that happened, I want to focus on what has been an otherwise incredible year.

I can say hands down, this has been one of the most incredible and intense years of my life. There are so many things to be grateful for. So I am glad to provide a retrospective on 5 things that people either said to me or did for me that made my year so wonderful.

#5 - The Cab Ride

New Years Day. It’s just after 1 am in Chicago, Illinois. Myself and 2 female friends are celebrating at a bar on the outskirts of the city. After some drinking and much dancing we decide it is time to go. We go to retrieve our coats which quickly turns into the most awful experience involving a coat I have ever been a part of.

We step outside to get cabs along with the 200 other humans, most of them blackout drunk, looking for cabs. We are in a very industrial part of town not necessarily known for its hopping night life. In retrospect, we would have picked a place easier to return from.

It is 0 degrees and I realize my coat, while stylish, is essentially useless against the cold. I am so cold I want to cry frozen tears while laying in the street but that thought freezes in my spinal cord before my body can make it a reality.

I am miserable. I have been cursed at, pushed, shoved, and told by the police that I can’t wait inside for a cab. A guy around my age, let’s call him Tom, is also hopping up and down in the freezing cold asks me where I’m going. I tell him. He tells me he’s headed in the same direction and that since he only has one person with him and I have 2, we should split a cab.

I readily agree with Tom, but my faith in this pact is lacking. If I get a cab and this guy is nearby, of course I will give him a lift, but I know I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to track him down. We are outside for 10 minutes, 20, a half hour. Tom walks further down the street to see if he can hail a cab. I go back inside to check on my friends. I get yelled at by police officers. I go back outside and that’s when I see him.

Hanging out the rear window of a cab is Tom.

Rich, Rich! Over here!

He is waving to me, flagging ME down to get in the cab with him that he has been circling in to find me. I am blown away. I tell him to hang on, I run back inside and grab my friends. We push through the hundreds of frozen drunk idiots and into our cab.

I thank Tom profusely. I thank him out of sheer gratitude to be out of the cold, but I also thank him out of guilt. Because I cannot picture myself circling to track him down. I am embarrassed and ashamed but also grateful. I give him my business card. I tell him to contact me that I need to thank him again.

We make it home and go to bed. I never hear from Tom again.

#4 – The New Job

After years toiling away in positions that I didn’t really believe in, doing things that didn’t really make me happy, I found a job this year that made me believe in my ability to succeed in a corporate environment. Since I was rapidly descending upon the possibility that I might have to become a career tour guide.

I make tons of new friends and as a ridiculously ridiculous awesome bonus, for my second staged play, my company purchases 40 tickets for employees to go to my show. I am blown away. They attend. They clap. They support me. I remain blown away.

#3 - Miami

Random Girl: Who ARE you?
Rich: Who are YOU?
Random Girl: Everybody here knows you as the guy who is always having fun.

‘Nuff said.

#2 – Glass Half Full

I spilled my drink. This is is not a new occurrence. I regularly do this. I also regularly knock cutlery off of tables and blow out candles using my nose.

I don’t do this on purpose mind you. As a human being, I tend to use a lot of air, and when I laugh, I dispense that air through my mouth and quick exhalations via my nostrils. And I like to lean over the table to be closer to whomever I am talking to. And that usually puts the candle in direct line of fire from my nasal blasts, so I laugh, and then the candle goes out. It happens. EVERY. TIME.

I was meeting with my writers group (sounds chic doesn’t it? Well it is.) and I was gesticulating grandly, as I tend to do, and I knocked over my nearly full beer. I quickly righted the glass but the beer was gone.

And right then I witnessed one of the greatest gestures of friendship I had ever witnessed. Without even missing a beat, my buddy Phil who was sitting to my left with a nearly full glass of beer poured half of his beer into mine.

He did it without hesitation. It was just, your beer is gone, here is half of mine. I absolutely LOVED that his first instinct was to make sure I had some beer, not there is a mess of beer on the floor now.

It might seem kind of small or trivial, but it was quite significant. And just another reminder for me how awesomely lucky I am to have incredible people around me. And that it really is the little things that stir us.

#1 – Friends

Through everything that has happened this year, far and away what has made anything worthwhile has been sharing my experiences with my friends. Whether it was the good, the bad, or the heart wrenching, I know I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded with the people that I have in my life.

With the awfulness that happened, so many people went out of their way, to say, offer, and do things for me that I probably will never be able to repay. I hope those people get to read this and know just how violet with gratitude my heart burns. Thank you so much.

And now, enough with the past! Here is to the future, to a 2011 filled with all of everything that we want, and none of the nothing that we don’t.

May your new year be filled with big things, or little things, or whatever it is you seek.

Cheers.

I'm Tattooing My Face

I’m tattooing my face.

I mean it’s not going to be a real tattoo, it will just be in pen, but I’m still looking forward to it.

You see, I’m not particularly “tough” or “edgy.” I’m more “complacent” and “ticklish.” People like me don’t get tattoos, we get screen printed t-shirts. It’s not just the needle that scares me, though lets be clear, the needle really, REALLY scares me.

They don’t even make any bones about calling it a needle. They don’t try to make it seem less painful, the way my dentist calls his scraping hook and stabbing stick his “instruments.”

As though the hygienist is in the room cleaning out his saxophone.

Ok Michelle, would you hand me my instruments… so I can play rich some JAZZ!

Nope, when you get tattooed, they use the needle. And they hold something in their other hand to wipe away the blood that comes out of you as they draw a picture on your body with a needle.

THEY DRAW A PICTURE IN OUR SKIN USING A NEEDLE!

I mean if that doesn’t make you cringe you must be much tougher than me, which actually, isn’t saying very much.

But the other reason I never contemplated getting a tattoo is because my life is always changing, as is my outlook. The things I like one year aren’t necessarily the things I like the next. I’d be terrified that 6 months after getting a tattoo of something seemingly significant to myself, I would no longer like that thing.

I did get a henna tattoo when I was 16 on my forearm that I believe meant “courage.” It was about the coolest thing I had ever done, which gives you a pretty good idea of how cool I am.

But I had an idea recently. Really I must credit my buddy Phil for inspiring this genius within me. But I (we) had an idea for how I could get tattooed and not have to cry in front of strangers!

So why now? Why am I going to get inked (washable) all over my body? Well, it’s my job.

You see I work for a pretty awesome company, and because we are a pretty awesome company, we do pretty awesome things – things like putting a ping pong table in the lunchroom, insisting that there be a giant bowl of candy at least somewhere in the office, and allowing people to wear a onesie to work.


But the most awesome thing they’ve done so far is decide that they are going to fight cancer.

Now I’ve worked for companies with philanthropic interests before. Heck, for 2 years I worked for a non-profit and spent my days in front of people who probably didn’t like me, trying to convince them to donate money, to a cause they probably didn’t care about.

But we’re doing something different. We’re not just donating money, or asking people to help out, we are going out and putting the pedal to the, well… foot.

You see a couple of years ago a good friend of our company’s founders named Jennifer Goodman Linn was diagnosed with a rare cancer. So she started a spinning fundraiser called Cycle for Survival. With 50 stationary bikes in a local gym they raised a bunch of money.

And Jennifer beat her cancer. And all was good.

But then her cancer came back. And again. And again. And today, she is currently battling cancer for 7th time. It’s kind of bizarre to see a vibrant attractive individual describe themselves as a patient, as Jennifer does. And when you think about the word itself its almost ironic seeing as patient is probably the last thing Jennifer wants to be right now.

So our company has agreed to raise money for Jennifer and her cause. And I was thinking about how I could raise money. Seeing as my goal is to raise a thousand dollars, I thought of all the ways I could do it.

-I could demand that every one of my 500+ Facebook friends donate $2.
-I could demand every person on my email list donate $2.50.
-I could demand my richest friend donate $1,000.  (After further consideration though I think I came to the conclusion that I don’t have rich friends)

But none of that would work. Giving is a very personal thing. And after 2 years in a nonprofit listening to people talk to me (and sometimes swear at me) regarding their philanthropic priorities, I feel I have some insight. I have a better idea. I’m renting real estate.

On my body.

That’s right friends I am combining 3 things – my hatred of cancer, my curiosity about tattoos, and my fundraising effort. Basically it breaks down like this. If you donate any money to my cause at THIS LINK HERE I will write your name on my body for the day of the fundraiser and take a picture of it and send it to you!

Warning: I may be wearing bike shorts.

It doesn’t matter how much you give, I will write your name on my body. If you donate a buck I will write your name. If you donate 100 bucks I will write your name. The more money you donate the bigger your name will be.

Here is the kicker. The person who donates the most money will get their name written on my rather sizeable forehead.

Studies show that people give more money during the holidays than at any other time during the year. In fact, the majority of donations come in during this season. Am I demanding you donate? Of course not. Everyone’s got their own thing going on and certainly I’m not here to judge.

All I’m saying is if you are so inclined, and if you have some bucks to spare, I would love your help in fighting cancer.

Because while I am scared of needles, Jenninfer Goodman Linn fears nothing. She’s beaten cancer 6 times before. I’d love to help her with her seventh.

 Click the logo to donate!




Passing the Bar - Part 2


So I sailed my car over to Grimaldi’s around 3 pm. I walked in the front door and asked to see the manager. I had grown accustomed to sitting and waiting while filling out a job application that asked me where I went to high school and what my course of study there was. As if where I learned how a bill became a law was really relevant for making a martini.

But this place was different, I went up to the bar where I immediately shook hands with the bartender and was handed an application by the owner. I sat down to fill it out when the manager walked by carrying plates to the back said, “Don’t worry about it.”

I didn’t really know what that meant, considering I wasn’t sure I would have been worrying about in the first place. So I just smiled and went back to filling out the application.  I was barely 10 percent into the application before he walked past again and said it again, “Hey boss, don’t worry about it. Just come next Sunday dressed in black and George will train you.”

Was that really it? After countless Arizona applications, convoluted interview processes, and a job at a country club that required 3 different phone calls, was this all they really asked from me? I wasn’t complaining but it almost seemed too easy. Did I really look that competent? What was it about me that finally did the trick for this restaurant?

Whatever it was I didn’t ask questions, I said thank you and left. This was it. I finally had become a bartender at not one but TWO different places.

I went home and told my parents. My father was particularly elated. “I have a bartender AND a bus driver for a son, wait until I tell my friends.” We both laughed. I have to smile looking back now after 5 years of working professionally, and 4 different office jobs, it's kind of hilarious that the pinnacle of working career at one point was pouring beers and driving around 7 year olds while singing songs. It seems my career aspirations have shifted.

All of that aside, this was it; this was the beginning of my life of rolling around in cash and beautiful women writing their phone numbers in lipstick on napkins.

But in a lot of ways bartending wasn’t what I expected it to be, and it was a lot of things I didn’t expect too.

The women? They never really came. I never got a single phone number from a woman coming into my bar. There was never some cute chippy sitting at the end of my bar waiting until my shift was over to come talk to me. If there was a cute woman at the end of the bar, I probably brought her in and put her there so people I worked with believe that women liked me.

I did however make more money than I probably ever could have imagined. The first night at that crappy country club I made over 100 dollars. Cash. In my pocket. I immediately went home spread it out on my bed and took pictures of it.

Smile money! Oh you look so cute! Smile!

But the country club quickly wore on me, poor management, and archaic payment structure ended in a confrontation where I quit, 3 weeks after I started.

And from then on I was a Grimaldi’s guy. I made more money that summer than I had my entire life. It quickly became the easiest and greatest job I ever had. The summer passed with many free drinks and a lot of laughs, a boss who pretty much let me do anything I wanted. That goes for the Christmas party too!

The owner’s brother owned a bar in Arizona near my school and he got me a job out there. And when I graduated and came home looking for a full time job, they let me work day shifts until I got hired full time. And when that happened they asked me if I wanted to keep Sunday nights, an easy shift just to make some money on the side.

Considering I made a dollar at my first job, it seemed like a great idea. And it was. Because even though it was only one night a week, it was enough pocket change that I didn't have to dip into my checking account during the week. And even though I eventually I got tired of bartending, having had no intention of doing it past the age of 25, I can't look back on it with anything but fondness.

Bartending allowed me to save up enough money to get my apartment. It allowed me to see Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay without bankrupting myself. It allowed me to furnish my apartment with furniture that doesn't suck, go out to dinner with my friends, go to concerts, shows, and revel in the glory of my early to mid 20s.

But eventually I grew tired. And then I moved out of my parents house and stopped driving to the bar and started taking the train. And then my parents moved away. And the longer I did it, the harder it was to drag myself out of my apartment and pour drinks for people who screamed, "GIVE ME A COORS LIGHT" like I was serving drinks on a helicopter pad in Vietnam.

Something about being a bartender in college was incredibly cool. And then after college it was still pretty cool. But the older I got, the more I lost interest in doing it. That feeling grew until that bar was the only thing tying me to the town I grew up in.

And then after my most recent job change I realized it was time. I would save up enough money for one more vacation and then hand in my… umm.. wine opener. While the cash would be hard to give up, it would be great to watch football in my underwear and just work on the projects I have become so fond of filling my life with.

And being done feels wonderful. I don’t miss it, which is the way it should be. I had a lot of fun, made a lot of money, and really only because a certain manager saw fit to hire me because he thought I was a good person.

I am very aware that the only reason I am allowed to have grown tired of bartending is the intersection of chance, good fortune, and timing.

And now, 5 years, 7,500 tap beers, 2,500 bottled, 1,200 bottles of wine, and god only knows how many mixed drinks later, I am done. I no longer have my trademark pens in my ears. I am a bartender no longer. So if you ever see me behind a bar again, well, please put me in a cab home because I’m drunk and shouldn’t be back there.


Passing the Bar

I am writing this from my couch at 6 pm on a Sunday night while watching Football. Admittedly that is not something that seems so impressive as that seems like what any healthy (or maybe not so healthy) American would be doing on a Sunday.

But my Sunday nights have been different. For the last 5 years of my life I have bartended on Sunday nights. So instead of sitting on my couch like the world's most stagnant man, I was pouring drinks for strangers watching the TVs behind me.

Super Bowls, Oscars, etc. I bartended through all of it. Dressed like a drink Ninja and standing on my feet for 6 hours is how I passed nearly every single Sunday since April of 2005. It had become part of my regular workweek. Five days in the office, one day behind the bar.

But I quit 3 weeks ago and I can’t tell you how amazing it feels.

For a long time people had told me I would make a good bartender. I don’t know what that actually means. Like I looked trustworthy enough to pour drinks for people I don’t know? I might be really good at handling glassware? I look good in black? (It just so happens that I do.)

Whatever it was that those people saw bubbling beneath the surface exploded after I watched the movie Cocktail. For those of you who have never seen it, it watches like a loveletter to all things bar related. Tom Cruise is looking to land a job in business but can’t, and thus ends up living the wild exotic life of a bartender.

I tell you, that Tom Cruise certainly can sell a lifestyle. Wild nights, gorgeous women, and more cash than he could handle! I mean, granted the end of the movie where his Bartending mentor kills himself wasn’t exactly appealing, but ya know, all the money and the women kind of pushed that visual out of my mind. It was decided, I would become a bartender!

I had a big problem though. I had no idea how to make a drink. A vodka tonic was easy enough, and I had opened beers before obviously. But things like cosmos and tinis and shots I didn’t have a clue. I was halfway through my 21st year on the planet and only 1 year removed from the time I had my first drink. I drank beers and simple drinks. I wasn’t walking into bars asking for a Harvey Wallbanger… mainly because I didn’t want to get punched in the face.

It was winter break of my senior year of college. So I looked online for bartending schools. There were many. Very expensive, very cheap, online only, etc. But getting a bartending certification online seemed kind of like passing a road test over the phone. I needed the experience, I needed practice pouring and mixing, holding the tools, and perhaps, flipping them in the air.

So I found a place in Arizona. Two weeks, 5 nights a week for 4 hours a night. It cost 400 dollars. It was a big chunk of change, but I was pretty sure I would be able to make it back pretty quickly if I got a gig. So I did it. The ABC Bartending School or something. It is there that I learned a whole crapload of things that I can no longer remember.

I finished the class in the beginning of February and set about looking for a spot to bartend at. But bartending in a college town is a competitive gig and the only person I ended up pouring drinks for was myself.

So after the semester I came home to NY where I got a day job at a summer camp sharing my life advice with a gang of 7 year olds and of course, driving a school bus.


And yes, it is in fact a short bus. Please, no comments.

But I wasn’t about to let my hard earned bartending knowledge (and 400 bucks) go to waste. I started looking around my town for a bartending job. I drove my sailboat (1990 Crown Victoria) from bar, to hotel, to restaurant looking for an employer looking to hire a bartender with no experience but a hell of a certificate.

It was incredibly unrewarding. Here I was, a worldly individual nearly done with my degree which I was getting on full scholarship 2,500 miles away from home, and I couldn’t convince people I was qualified enough to pour rum AND coke into the same glass.

Managers would look at my resume and the job app I was filling out and kind of make a face or tell me they only hired from within. I would smile back and say thanks for letting me know but I really wanted to say “YOU TURDWAGON, I TRAVELLED THROUGH 9 COUNTRIES IN 30 DAYS BY MYSELF, I CAN FIX A COUPLE FRIGGING DRINKS!”

But of course, that is not appropriate bartending application etiquette.

I finally got some luck at a second rate country club that I should have known was going to be an awful experience. But I wasn’t sure it would come through so I kept driving around, eventually spending an hour at chain hotel to fill out an application. I left there and was on my way home when my mom gave me a call on the cell.

There’s a new pizza place that opened in Garden City. It says its looking for a bartender. Why don’t you go check it out?

So I did. I walked into Grimaldi’s. And even though it was technically the second bartending job I had been hired for, It’s really where it all began.

To Be Continued...

A Good Reason to Go Crazy



Hey you! Yes I’m talking to you! The one sitting at your desk slumped over like the hunchback of Internet Explorer. I know exactly what you’re thinking!

You are thinking,

Man, I have way too much free time and money on my hands. I am looking for a way to be stressed and really alter my life. How can I do that?

Well lucky for you I have just the way! It’s new, it’s exciting, and it will also possibly help you lose all of your friends in the process!

HOLY CRAP THAT’S AMAZING!

Yes. Yes I know. So what is this amazing activity? What should you be doing? Or more specifically, what should you do now?

I’ll tell you, you should put on a play!

What? Rich Boehmcke that is ridiculous.

No, YOU are ridiculous.

No seriously, stop it. You should go back to doing what you do best, eating cereal and tripping over your own feet when you make eye contact with women.

Trust me. It’s so much fun. I’ve been doing it since I was 10 when we put on a dancing lip-synched version of Aladdin in my neighbors backyard.

Well, I mean if I’m being honest, that show never made it out of rehearsals. It was fatally flawed from the beginning.

Perhaps it was the fact that half of us had not hit puberty yet, and the other half had no theater training greater than the part of Protractor #3 in Mrs. Fink’s 5th grade production of The Case of the Missing Bookcase.

Or it could have been something more specific, like how none of us could figure out how to make a turban out of a bath towel and a safety pin. Or maybe it was the fact that none of the background dancers (Read: Neighbor kids) could say: He’s got the monkeys; let’s see the monkeys, without bursting into hysterics.

Now some might say I was a bit of a diva, starring of course, as Aladdin. But I only was seeking perfection for my cast. I mean we weren’t really organized. My sister was a good director and all, but a dozen kids acting like maniacs in the front yard of your house to the repetitive sound of Robin Williams' voice on a Disney CD isn’t exactly a well-oiled machine.

It wasn’t so much a musical as it was a summer mental asylum for ADD lunatics.

But I digress.

Three years later (tired with the musical theater industry… of my front yard) my friend John and I produced the first (and subsequently) last season of 2 very prominent television shows.

The shows I speak of are of course “The Rich Boehmcke Show” and the “Joe ‘The Hunk’ Shmo Show."

The shows basically consisted of John and myself taking turns hosting a talk show at my kitchen counter in front of the video camera. We used some cheesy wedding reception noise maker as applause, a ska CD as our intro music, and we dressed up in a variety of clothing from around my house to resemble different guests.

OK, basically it was really us putting on my mother’s old wigs, shoving pillows in our shirts, and pretending to be Pamela Anderson or Carmen Electra.

Again I know what you’re thinking.

RICH THESE SHOWS SOUND AMAZING! WHERE CAN I SEE THEM?

Alas, like all great television shows, the originals have been lost. Rumor has it that they may be somewhere in a box in my parents house in South Carolina but only time will tell.

But again, I digress.

I took roughly a 13 year sabbatical from TV and musical production to focus on other more productive activities like getting an education and staring at girls I was too afraid to talk to.

But alas, last year after attempting many different pursuits I came upon the brilliant idea to write and direct 2 shows. And being the charming individual I am, I coerced  my friend Andrea into assisting me assuring her it wouldn’t ruin our friendship, even though I was almost positive it would.

The shows, which were written, rehearsed, and put on in less than 4 months were an excellent study in budgeting, sleep loss, and extreme stress.

Sounds amazing right?

Well it actually was. It was maybe the most fantastic experience of my life, including the crying. And then afterwards I went back to work, and life, and just being a normal Rich Boehmcke.

Things kind of rolled along as usual, took a dip south towards crappy for a while, but then the spring happened and things were going really well for me. I was happier than I had ever been. And I realized…

Something was missing.

I realized it was the sleep loss, the stress, the neuroses and all the panic attacks that come with putting on a self financed production based around your own writing.

So we decided to do it again!

Well not so much “we” as “me” and I kind of just told Andrea I wanted to do it again. And I think I did it while she was sleep deprived or not paying attention, thereby confusing her into saying yes.

So you too should join me in this endeavor. Keep your eye (or both eyes for that matter) on me in the next month as I get ready for our next show. As over the next 4 weeks I forget to eat dinner, wear one sock at a time, and walk around town with my fly open as I commit all available brain cells to our next play.

Wait, what’s that you say? What is the next play? What the hell is it all about? Where can I buy tickets? Is there a trailer?

First of all, stop asking so many questions. You are stressing me out.

Second of all, all your questions can be answered here…




Pore Decision

The funny thing about a bad idea is it doesn’t always immediately seem like a bad idea. On the contrary, it is not until you are in the middle of implementing that idea that you realize… this is an awful idea.

I started a new job this week. It’s a whole new position in a completely different industry. I was looking to feel refreshed and rejuvenated so I didn’t roll into my first day of work looking like this:


Yikes.

I didn’t have time for a vacation or a getaway. So I thought if I couldn’t actually feel refreshed and renewed, I might as well appear so. I will get a facial!

And yes I am aware this can be added to the least manly things I have done in my life. But hey, celebrities get facials and I am planning to be really ridiculously successful so this is basically just planning ahead.

Way ahead.

I heard it might be a little rough and there might be some discomfort but I could handle it. After all I had been to the dentist earlier that morning. I had dealt with my pain threshold for the day.

The place I chose was bustling with many eastern European women with dazzling skin, escorting (mostly but not all) female clients in and out of tiny rooms in a large labyrinth of facial care.

I checked in and was escorted by one blonde eastern European woman to a tiny room 6 feet wide and 12 feet long with an accordion door. She looked at me and said:

Is this your first time here?
Yes
Top off, robe on, and make yourself comfortable.

And she slid the door closed and left.

The confusion immediately set in. Robe? What robe? I looked around the room and noticed a full massage table and what appeared to be a dry cleaning steamer.

Why did I need to take my top off? What were they going to do to me? Did every man’s facial come with a complementary chest wax? I did not want a complementary chest wax… I did not want ANY chest wax. I tried to ignore this thought as I spotted a large green silky robe hanging on the wall and traded my shirt for it.

Fact: Dressing like a Hogwarts Professor is not my idea of “getting comfortable.” I was reminded of my time at the dermatologist, but comforted by the fact that this time I got to keep my pants on.

I sat down on the bed, and then decided to lie down and fold my hands over my chest to try to appear as nonchalant as possible. (Read: Not very nonchalant at all) Eventually a tall eastern European woman with dark hair and large dark spectacles entered the room. In her thick accent she introduced herself.

My name is Madonna and I will be your aesthetician.

But what she SHOULD have said, was,

My name is Madonna and I am about to squeeze the shit out of your face.

I asked her how my skin looked thinking I did a good job of face maintenance.

It’s a little dry and a little clogged.

Dry and clogged? So the face that I was proud of had the exact same qualities as a dorm toilet. Awesome.

I’m not sure why my skin was clogged. Perhaps I had spent 1 too many nights pretending I was a dirty pirate.


Who knows? As she was getting herself setup she also said to me:

We put on hat gloves.

Hat gloves? I tried to imagine what a hat glove looked like? Was she going to put a winter hat on each of my hands? Or was I going to have to put my hands inside of a hat on my head (which she had already wrapped in some sort of shower cap/ turban combo).

She must have seen the look of confusion on my face because she repeated.

We put on hot gloves.

Ohhh hot gloves ok, sure. I’m not sure what this has to do with a facial, but sure.

She then coated my hands in a lotion, covered them in tissues and slipped them into a pair of plastic/aluminum oven mitts that were plugged into the wall.

I was a bit concerned about being PLUGGED INTO A WALL like a toaster. This is something I try to avoid. She said:

If they are too hot, just take them off.

I had no idea how that would be possible, considering I was bound and plugged into the wall like some kind of electric mental patient. But luckily I was quickly distracted by something else.

She began rubbing lotion on my face and covered my eyes with a wet towel. I then felt the sensation of a dry cleaning steamer on my face. I started to feel claustrophobic. I think she noticed because she pulled it back before she left me me lying on the table to... steam?

After about 10 minutes she came back in.

How was that?
Good, very relaxing.
This part won't be. (Small laugh) Now I clean out your pores. Let me know if it is too hard.

I thought this was just a courtesy, a way of making me feel comfortable.

No, she was serious.

Madonna went to town. I'm not sure if she was using her nails, or actual carpentry nails, but I think she was mad at my face. Like, really mad. So mad that she was trying to ruin it. I was not prepared for this amount of pain. I was wincing and wondering why I didn’t hear screams coming from the other rooms? If other people were experiencing this much pain shouldn’t I be hearing swear words and blood curdling screaming? Because I tell you, that was my inclination. Was I just a wuss?

I must be bleeding I thought. There is no way I am not bleeding. SURELY she can see the blood coming out of my face right? Why does she continue to squeeze if I have a bloody face? Just because her name was Madonna didn’t mean she had to turn this into the Passion of My Face.

She finally finished and it was all I could do to not actually scream out praise for the actual mother of God.

Then she said,

Do you see the light?

And I really panicked. Oh shit I am dead. I died. I knew it! The mother Madonna is here to escort me into heaven after squeezing my face into an early grave.

As it turns out, what she actually said was

Are you alright?

I mumbled yes as she took the towel off my eyes.

And that is when I felt the tears spill out and roll down the sides of my face. The pain had been so great that I hadn’t noticed my eyes welling up.

She had finally managed to unclog my face, and I managed to moisturize it myself.

She did give me a bit of advice as well.

Next time, shave.

Ha! Like there’s gonna be a next time.

I'm Done

I've come to a decision: I'm ready to retire.

Now I know what you are thinking. "Rich you are too young and full of pep and zest to head south for the rest of your life!" But I really don't think I am. I've taken stock of the things I enjoy in my life, and the things I would be able to do as a retiree, and aside from the fact that I have no idea how I would be able to support myself financially... I really do think it is about time for me to retire.

As I cross the hump from my early 20s into my late 20s, I have started to wonder: shouldn't I be a millionaire already?

When I was in my teens I looked at 25 as the pinnacle of my life. That would be the year of my prime, the year in which I was wanted by gorgeous women, making tons of money and reveling in my success.Well since rounding 26 and heading deeper into this decade of my life, I realize the only gorgeous women who want me are those who need a jar of jelly opened. I certainly don't make tons of money. And after some unmet expectations, I have redefined success as getting through the whole day with my fly closed.

So if I can't have the life I had anticipated, I might as well fast forward to the end of this movie and head right into retirement. I think it is really the best option at this point.

My parents are retired and living in South Carolina. This is a fine place to retire. Visiting them makes me realize that while I may have to give up certain things I enjoy to live in a place like they do, the benefits to my life would far outweigh any losses I would suffer.

Here is why I think I should retire.

While I enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle I also really like doing nothing. Not the kind of nothing that involves bumming around the house, fiddling with this and that. No. I mean nothing! Staring out the window at a tree kind of nothing. Doing so much nothing that I fall asleep because I am so relaxed. That is the kind of nothing I can really sink my teeth into.

Here is a rough itinerary for the days I typically spend visiting my parents.

Wake up, eat, golf, eat, nap, eat, watch TV, read, eat, sleep.

This is by far the most beautiful schedule I have ever seen. Picasso couldn't have painted a better schedule if he put its nose on the side of its face. Now the activities may switch place or occur in a different order, and once in a while there will be something additional like "shopping" or "visit Savannah" or "eat thirty cookies" thrown in. But for the most part, the schedule here is pretty accurate.

I would like to take this moment to point out that the golf is not a fixed structure on the calendar. While I generally enjoy golf I am so bad at it I really do question why I continue to play. It is a sport that entails a fair amount of adding. And the way I swing the club I have to do a lot of adding. The ball never goes in a straight path. And I usually end up spending half the day walking around the woods like I'm trailing Sacagawea.

Retirement relaxes you... I'm guessing. At least I feel relaxed when I am pretending I am retired. The only reason I even wear my watch when I visit is to make sure I didn't miss my tee time. Otherwise who needs a watch? What was I going to miss? It is always time to eat a cookie and take a nap. Always.

And as for my phone I just leave it in my room. Nobody calls me. The only person that calls me is my friend Megan and I'm pretty much the only person that calls her. So if we both walked around without our phones the only thing we would be wondering about is what the other person is doing.

In fact a lot of the time I turn my phone off. Why not? Nobody is going to call me to ask me to have dinner or hang out or anything like that. All my friends are 800 miles away. Who is calling me? Phone, you can be turned off.

I want to lead a life like these dogs I saw in the backyard of one of the houses on the golf course.


Any place where dogs hang out on lounge chairs has to have something really special about it.

Now maybe you think I am going to miss out on some really important things by skipping right to retirement.

Like what?

Working for 40 more years? Pass. Fighting commuters, crazy cab drivers, and mass hordes or tourists? Pass. Battling the freezing cold? Really pass.

The only concern I have is how I will support myself financially. And to be honest I really don't know how I will do it. But I'm sure there is a lot of money to be made in the untapped market of opening jars for old ladies. And as long as my fly stays up, I will have all the success I need.

Banging the Drum

Several months ago I was standing on the train on my way to work. When the train pulls into my station at rush hour it is already pretty full and I rarely get a seat. On this particular morning there was a man sitting very near to me dressed all in black. His clothing was dirty and a little ragged, and he had several large bags with him. he may have been homeless or just down on his luck.

The most distinct thing about this man was the fact that he had a drum in his lap. It was kind of like a half a bongo, only the top part of it. And he was playing it, banging on it, non stop at 8:30 in the morning, on a fully packed train, on some random Tuesday, and he was showing no signs of stopping.

At first my thoughts were probably the same as everybody else on the train;

STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP OH MY GOD STOP!

It was obvious that people were frustrated. I caught more than one person giving him the evil eye and heard plenty of exaggerated sighs. Even though everybody wanted him to stop, nobody said anything. Maybe because everyone realized anybody playing the bongo on a rush hour train may be a little off and therefore, not worth antagonizing. It takes about 25 minutes to get from my stop to midtown, and this guy didn't look like he was getting off anytime soon.

Let me say that it is not unusual for Bongo playing to take place underground in new York City. In fact I would argue it is a staple of the subway experience. But it is something you usually hear on the platform. A tightly packed train car is the opposite of a good place for a one man bongo show.

I watched him pretty much the whole train ride. It was hard not to. I had a book with me but I couldn't really keep my focus on it. He would play for a bit and then stop for a minute; he would smile to himself as he tried out new beats, or replayed ones he knew well. He would laugh here and there as though a certain particular beat was particularly amusing, like the beats brought back memories.

Maybe they did.

But the longer I stared at him the more my thoughts changed. My frustration changed to curiosity, and then ever so slowly into introspection. It wasn't just the noise of the music of the bongo that got me thinking... it was the guy himself. Something about him and what he was doing spoke to me. And then I realized;

He was my metaphor.

Now I didn't realize it right away, because at first I thought he was just crazy. I kept wondering, doesn't this guy know he's not any good? Surely he must know that or he wouldn't be a homeless man playing bongo on the subway, he would be off somewhere in some famous bongo band.

But no matter how many people sighed or shot him dirty looks, he didn't seem to notice. He just kept right on drumming. It was almost beautiful.

He didn't have a hat out, or a sign asking for money. He didn't ask anyone to make a contribution to his fund. He just sat there, playing the bongo however he wanted, for as long as he wanted. For whatever reason, something compelled him to do it. Until somebody forced him to stop, or he completely lost interest, he would bang his drum. Just like I have been banging my drum for the past 12 months. Except my drum is a blog.

A little over a year ago I was looking for a reason to write more. I had pitched a couple of magazines with story ideas but never heard back. I knew I wasn't going to get better unless I started having a regular reason to write. The word "blogger" had taken on such a negative connotation that I had no desire to create an identity as one. But the more I thought about it, a blog was the best way for me to have the freedom and the ability to write as I wanted.

I thought I had some interesting things to share and some unique stories to tell. Most of all I thought I might be able to make people laugh. The only way to figure that out was to try. And so Boehmcke's Human Condition was born.

I started sending it out.

Nothing came of it right away and still at this point, nothing has come of it. Well, that is not entirely true. I have met some wonderful people through writing and blogging as it were. I have created a tremendous amount of meaning for myself through the process of writing. To say it gives me a sense of purpose sounds too severe, but in some ways it really has. It has given me a drive and a focus I didn't have before. I love to do it, and I love the reception I get, be it positive, negative, or just plain creepy.

But in terms of life changes... I haven't had any really that I can attribute to the blog. At least not yet. No movie offers or book deals. No newspaper or magazines asking me to syndicated myself nationally. No special on Comedy Central. No appearances on the Today Show. And yet, I keep writing.

I do so because I believe in it deep down in my bones. I believe that this is something that is going to change my life. And unlike the other jobs or internships or part time work I've had, this doesn't make me a dime. But I love it. Just the act of doing it makes me feel good.

So I keep banging my drum, sending out my blog week after week. To people I know well and barely at all. To other bloggers and other bloggers' friends. To anybody who friends me on Facebook and anybody who asks; "What types of things do you write?" I keep sending it out.

Like the bongo player, nobody asked me to start. And thankfully, as of yet, nobody has asked me to stop. But I will continue to do it until I have a reason not to, putting my writing out into the world for all who care to see until I have nothing left to write. Hoping that somebody likes it enough to make it worth my while one day leave the desk job behind.

And granted I don't read my blogs aloud on the train at 8:30 in the morning, many mornings I am thinking about them. The link is there. This bongo player and me, both unpaid, same train, both doing something that makes us happy, doing it until we run out of steam, until the gods of our art and our craft put a stop to our drumming. Until there is a reason not to.

Change I Don't Believe In

I'm not a big fan of coins. I mean I like money as much as the next guy, but coins in general are a bit cumbersome. And for someone like me who likes to travel with as few items as possible, heavy metallic change is kind of the enemy.

But I have found myself paying a lot closer attention to my change lately. Perhaps I'm becoming more frugal, or maybe it's my fear of a complete economic collapse, either way, I'm not forsaking my coins any more for their dollared brethren. I am taking care of them, nurturing them, and using them. And it's making me realize certain things.

The first thing I've realized is that using change makes me feel like a child. I'm not sure if this is an insecurity of my own creation as much as it is imposed on me by society.

I keep all of my change either in my desk at work, or at home in an empty Gatorade bottle. When that bottle gets full I take it over to my bank and dump that change into the automatic coin counter.

It is a large machine with a touch screen and a tray that sorts and counts your coins. It then prints out a receipt which you can take up to the counter and exchange for paper money, which is my favorite.

You get some pretty interesting characters waiting in line at that machine. Characters including the creepiest looking people in the world with mugs, jugs, and dirty socks full of coins. So many coins that they often break the machine making us all wait a half our for the manager to fix it.

But it's not the machine itself that makes me feel like a child. It is the instructions. These are given loudly by audio in the voice of an 8 year old girl.

Why?

Well I guess they assume, like I do, that the only people trying to buy anything with change must still be in elementary school. They also apparently think I can't read so i have to listen to another smarter elementary school kid tell me what to do.

So as I am shaking my Gatorade bottle full of nickels into the sorting panel, this cartoon brown noser on the screen is shouting to the whole bank;

"DO YOU WANT TO GUESS HOW MUCH YOU HAVE?"

No I don't want to guess how much I have. How about this guess... Not enough!

And when I finish emptying, and she finishes sorting, she shouts with mock excitement;

"WOW YOU SURE SAVED A LOT OF MONEY!"

Shut up you little snot! I know things are different in cartoon world, but in mine $23.86 is not a lot of money. That's not even half my grocery bill. So stop patronizing me. I don't need you telling me I don't have enough money. What do you know?

About 15 years ago, maybe I would have thought a bit differently. Back when I was a kid the only things I bought were baseball cards and candy. And I always used change, piling my silver on the counter of the corner store like I was a pirate and I had just dug up me plunder.

But at my current point in life, piling change on a counter does not make me feel like a pirate. It makes me feel like an incompetent moron. Like when my drawer at work gets too full of change, I take it downstairs to the hole in the wall coffee shop to buy a breakfast sandwich. And even thought the sandwich only costs 2 bucks, I still feel kind of uncomfortable paying for it with 6 quarters, 2 dimes, and a nickel.

I wonder what the guy behind the counter is thinking.

"Oh great. Here comes the man-child with no real money."

Does he wonder if I am extremely cheap? Broke? Maybe I operate a tollbooth on the weekends and I'm skimming the profits?

Perhaps, because I can put myself in his shoes.

I bartend on the weekends at a place that gets pretty busy. Many people pay by credit card but most people pay by cash. Things usually go pretty smoothly, but there is one situation that always trips me up.

When somebody's bill comes to something like $19.95 and they give me a twenty dollar bill and stand there waiting for the nickel while I go and make change, for some reason it leaves me in disbelief. I pause for a moment and then scream, "Do you really need this you cheapskate?"

And then I fling the nickel at their face.

Maybe not.

But when the tables are turned and I am the customer, I don't really know what to do. For instance, if I give someone a twenty for something that costs $19.95, while I stand there waiting for my change I have a small panic attack.

What does the person behind the counter think about me while I stand there waiting for my nickel.

Do they think I am some scrooge hunting after every last cent? Like I wouldn't dare let any of my tremendous net worth out of my sight. So then I contemplate letting them keep the change.

But what am I supposed to say?

"Hey there friend, buy yourself a nice piece of Bazooka Joe."

How does that make me look? Oh yea I'm so wealthy that you can keep that nickel. Or do they think that I think that I am doing them a favor? I don't know! I think the best thing to do is just walk off like I didn't even notice a nickel was involved. That way we both win.

And maybe as I walk off I can add;

"WOW YOU SURE SAVED A LOT OF MONEY!"

Or maybe not.

May I Touch You?

I imagine living in a puritanical society was pretty simple. Societal rules were pretty clear.
1. Wear black all the time
2. Don’t touch anybody ever
3. Avoid red lettering
Boom, done. No questions asked.

But the society we live in today is full of personal space and public affection, hidden boundaries and broken rules. It can be quite difficult to negotiate the social atmosphere. Especially for a guy like myself who grew up in a particularly affectionate generation.

By the time I got to the 8th grade I was hugging and kissing my female friends on the cheek whenever we would say hello or goodbye. I don’t know if it was us feigning adulthood or just a natural progression in trying to get closer to touching the opposite sex, but either way it became quite common within my social circles.

But that was in New York. When it came time to move to Arizona for college I didn’t even think twice that these social customs might be a little bit foreign to the people of the Cactus State.

One of my first nights in Arizona I got a ride home from a class member, a nice girl whom I had just met. When she dropped me off at my dorm, I moved to engage in an act I had performed hundreds of times with all of my platonic friends; I leaned over from my passenger seat to give her a kiss on the cheek to say goodbye. This would have been made infinitely easier had she met me halfway like I was used to.

But she sat there paralyzed. Like Super Mario in a Tanooki suit, she didn’t move. By the time my lips finally made it to her cheek I felt like I had spent 2 months on the Oregon trail. It was a completely G rated kiss on the cheek, but when I pulled away the look of shock on her face made me think I had accidentally tried to get to third base with her… which had NOT been the case!

Obviously my social customs were a little different than those of some of my new friends in Arizona.

Flash forward to current day. I am a working professional (whatever the hell that means). And I spend my days in business environments with people my age that I get along with pretty well.

Now business custom dictates that I shake their hand, but that feels cold and informal with female peers of my age that, in any other scenario, would involve a hug or kiss. However neither of those is appropriate in an office environment unless of course;

  1. They have retired, quit, or been fired
  2. They are receiving an award
So what I often do is just walk up to said females and stand there with my arms akimbo and uncomfortably lean slowly toward them hoping for some sort of last minute intervention that will make my course of action obvious.

I end up looking like more of a creep than had I just agreed to shake their hand in the first place.

The worst part is if they are leaning slightly in which implies a hug but I’m thinking I’m supposed to give them a polite kiss on the cheek and then next thing you know I have some female in a suit pressed awkwardly up against me and I’m gasping for a breath through a mouth full of hair.

I feel like an awkward award presenter. Like I’m about to give Taylor Swift her next Grammy award and a handshake is too formal, and a high five too juvenile, but a hug makes me seem like I’m one mistaken touch away from hearing those dreaded words…

“I’m Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC.”

I don’t know the rules. I just don’t.

When I first started working after college I was terrified of a sexual harassment suit. I don’t behave inappropriately around women (well…not that much) but I was so aware of having to behave like an adult (whatever that means) that I ended up embracing my German roots and showing no emotion at all.

Companies make such a big deal about explaining their rules and regulations and policies when they hire you that it’s a great way to become paranoid. Based on my last 3 jobs, if those rules had been in place while I was in college… I would be probably serving a life sentence in solitary confinement.

We as a society need to embrace hard and fast rules on this. A name tag system could be used.

“Hello I’m a hugger”

or

“Keep your hands where I can see them”

We just need something clear and concise. But I have an idea. I submit that we all (except for the smelly people) hug all the time. Hear me out on this one.

As long as you are wearing a shirt (which, unless you are Ricky Martin, you probably should be) there would be no skin on skin contact. Just 2 humans embracing in a cottony wonderland and it is done. No weak, dead fish, weird touch, germ filled, hand shakes. No my face touching your face, my lips on your cheek, your ear in my eye etc.

Granted I get excited to see pretty much everybody. And I’m kind of like a koala. If you’re willing to hold me, I’m probably just going to hang on as long as you do.

So the next time you see me, whomever you are, just give me a hug. Don’t even let me go for anything else. Just wrap me up, and hold me, and maybe you could whisper in my ear that I am loved. That would make me feel good to.

Unless of course you’re from Arizona, in which case, please just wave.

The Price of Being Ripped Off

How much does stuff cost any more?

I understand that things like inflation and the global economy can raise prices, but things have gotten a little bit out of control. I suppose its supply and demand, but in my opinion I think it is more laziness and convenience.

I was recently ripped off by two different vendors in two completely different stores. I did nothing about it in either case. (That's kind of my thing)

My first rip-off happened this week. I needed to buy a stamp to mail a letter. One stamp, that’s it. The post office is only 2 blocks away from my office but I didn't feel like leaving work in the middle of the morning just to mail one letter. So I just went downstairs to the convenience store in my building's lobby and got a stamp.

To be clear I would like to point out that at this point in our economy regular first class stamps cost 42 cents. That is across the country. The price will be going up soon but the price, for now, is 42 cents.

So I go up to the counter and ask for a stamp. The man hands it to me and says "50 cents."

Fifty cents? FIFTY CENTS? YOU SONOFABITCH! You are marking up the price of a stamp? OF A STAMP!

Isn't that illegal? It was price gouging! It wasn't like there was some sort of stamp shortage.

"THIS JUST IN, STAMP FAMINE SWEEPS NEW YORK CITY."

And it wasn't just markup, it was 20 percent markup. Do you know what that means? That means if I wanted to buy a book of stamps at $8.40 this sonofabitch would have charged me an extra $1.68.

Where is the law? Where is common decency? Where is the morality of business that the Greeks, Romans, and aristocrats have venerated for centuries and centuries?

Gone I guess.

I should have stormed out of there. I should have made a fuss. I should have thrown up my arms and in my rage thrown packages of gum (spearmint trident of course) from his buffet-like display at his knobby little head.

But I didn’t.

Instead I paid the 50 cents rather than walk 5 minutes to the post office to wait on a line for 10 minutes to pay 42 cents for a stamp to put on my maintenance check so I could mail it in a week late.

Laziness 1 – Richard 0

I also had 2 watch batteries replaced recently. One in a dressy watch with a leather band, and one in a sport watch with a rubber band.

I went to the jewelry store on the corner which does have a certain sketch factor to it. The man behind the counter has a booming scratchy voice and an accent that could be from anywhere east of Germany. And, while friendly, he also appears to be completely out of his mind.

When I brought in the leather watch the crazy man asked to see it before he told me how much it would cost. I should have known I was about to be ripped off.

I showed him and he said, "Ooo nice watch." What he was actually saying was, "You probably have a roll of hundreds stuffed in your underwear right now." He then told me the price while shrugging his shoulders as though telling me it didn't matter that I'd lost his cat.

"Ehh… 15 dollars."
I was skeptical, but also lazy. So I just accepted his price and left it with him.

Laziness 2 – Richard 0

And because I am too lazy to find a new watch repair shop I went back to this guy with my other dead watch. When I came back with my rubber and considerably cheaper watch, I handed it to him and asked him how much it would cost. He responds by asking me if it is waterproof. I hesitate fearing what kind of scam my answer will get me into, but I tell him yes. He says, “Ok… 20 dollars.”

20 Dollars? Last time it was 15!
Oh I have to water test it.

Water test it? If by water test it you mean take the watch and run it under a faucet, I will water test it myself thank you. I’ll go wash a dish or something. I don't need to pay you an extra 5 bucks to make sure gravity and air pressure still exist in our universe.

And besides, if you "water test" it and it turns out you botched the job and it is no longer water proof…what then Bruneleschi? What's your plan of action there? Charge me another 5 bucks to tell me it wasn't waterproof?

So not wanting to pay more than 15 bucks I argue again.

But last time it was 15!
Did I water test it?

And now completely lying because I don't like this guy and his wandering right eye that points towards the moon, “Yes, yes you water tested it.”

He concedes and charges me only $15 for 15 minutes of work, which I am almost positive, is highway robbery to begin with.

By that standard, this guy gets paid a dollar a minute to put batteries in watches which by my calculation, if this guy works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, he is making $120,000 a year putting batteries in watches. And if he had charged me his “standard” price of $20 this lunatic would be making $160,000 a year.

Either way I am in the wrong line of work.

So I left, happy that I had only been mildly ripped off as opposed to my usual completely ripped off.

Laziness 3 – Richard 0

But the good news is, going forward at least I know what time it is when I get ripped off, whereas before I just had to guess.

Snow Day

I think often about my childhood. I think about the things I did and no longer do, or the things I had and can no longer have. And whenever winter storms blow in, I think about snow days.

As a child there was no greater lottery than getting a snow day. The sheer chance that school would be closed because there was too much awesomeness outside seemed almost unfathomable.

We had a bunch of snow last week in New York and I got something that is as rare as the white whale, an adult snow day. My company has a rule that we must close when New York City schools close. Last Monday my work was closed due to snow.

What follows is a step by step recount of how a typical snow day went as a child and how it did for me last week as an “adult.”

Child: Wake up at 6 am and run to the window to see the snow. Run to the TV to find out if schools are closed. Wait in anxious anticipation. Turn on radio and listen to school closings while watching the ticker on the bottom of the news. Witness my district on the TV as one that’s closing. Jump for joy and celebrate by running around the house and gathering up all snow gear for day of playing in the snow.

Adult: Wake up normal time. See text message announcing work is closed. Text back, “really?” Celebrate by immediately closing eyes and going back to sleep.

Child: Spend 45 minutes putting on long johns, shirts, sweatpants, 2 pairs of socks, snow boots, jacket, gloves, scarf, and hat. Zip everything up closed and tight. Get ready to spend several hours jumping and frolicking in the snow. Realize I have to pee.

Adult: Spend 45 minutes trying to go back to sleep but curse the irony that on my day off I can’t fall back to sleep like I do every other working day. Walk around apartment in boxers and lay down on the couch. Get comfortable and ready to spend several hours not moving. Realize I have to pee.

Child: Run outside and start shoveling the walk into a huge pile on the lawn. Eat entire handfuls of fresh snow. Finish shoveling and immediately jump head first into the pile of snow. Lay there for 20 minutes making snow angels.

Adult: Excited to eat breakfast but too lazy to make something; lay on couch eating entire handfuls of dry cheerios. Go back to bed and dive headfirst into my pillow. Lay there for 20 minutes making bed angels.

Child: Build a snowman. Throw snowballs at trees. Build a fort. Throw more snowballs. Tackle snowman. Build a better snowman. Completely destroy all snow in front yard.

Adult: Wake up 2 hours later. Go back and sit on the couch. Do nothing.

Child: Come inside around noon because I am hungry and have to pee. Strip off 7 layers of snow clothing and realize under it all I am drenched in sweat. Go pee. Sit at the kitchen table where mom has prepared me a most delicious hearty meal of hot soup and grilled cheese.

Adult: Realize I have to pee. Sniff self and realize I stink. Contemplate eating. Think about the simplest possible meal I can make. Pour pre-made soup into bowl and microwave. Put cheese between 2 slices of bread and fry. Eat while lying on the couch.

Child: Redress in snow clothing, boots, coat, jacket, hat, gloves, socks, scarf, zip, zip, zip. Go outside with sled. Walk like a yeti to the park to join all the other kids sledding down the big hill.

Adult: Lay on couch. Watch progressively worse television. Do nothing.

Child: Sled down the hill, run up the hill, sled down the hill, run up the hill. Try to stand on sled while going down the hill. Fall on head. Pretend not to be hurt. Walk around dizzy for 10 minutes.

Adult: Lay on couch. Do nothing.

Child: Trek home from sledding around sunset. Put all clothes in dryer. Have cookies and milk. Run into the living room and plop down on the couch exhausted. Watch afternoon cartoons and finish your day.

Adult: Stuff half a Toblerone bar in my face. Chew while horizontal. Contemplate the meaning of the words “Saturated fat.” Look outside and notice it is getting dark. Decide to shower. Turn off TV and start my day.

And the Pretty Shall Inherity the Earth

The apocalypse is coming. The talking heads are discussing the failing/failed economy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The planet needs a bailout. Companies, states, and even entire governments (Iceland…who knew?) are failing. It’s affecting the middle class, the working class, and everybody in between. But I have news for you America. It isn’t who you are or what you do that will determine how you survive this recession. No, the only thing that matters is what you look like. The people who are in most danger are the unattractive. Ugly people, you are on notice. This crisis will affect you worst of all.

Consumers are cutting back spending and employees are being laid off. There is a bit of palpable hysteria in the air. It’s kind of like the worst thing ever. People are worrying about what would happen to them if they lost their jobs, myself included.

So I thought about what I would do if I got laid off. I can’t imagine the frustration of looking for a job while the unemployment rate is rising. I considered all the jobs I’d had in the past. And while it is quite an impressive portfolio of random jobs, most of them are pretty impractical or just not possible. (Being a summer camp bus driver doesn’t really translate into a full time job)

I honestly believe if I got laid off tomorrow I would just look for a full time bartending job until the insanity died down. I remember when I first started bartending all of the jobs required that applicants have at least 3 years experience. It was kind of frustrating at the time. But that was almost 4 years ago, and I am now properly experienced to get a prime bartending job.

So I went on Craigslist to see if there were any jobs available. There were tons! I came across this posting. This is real.

-3+ Years NYC Experience
-Smart and Intelligent
-Fairly attractive
-Witty and Charming (for the customers)

The hilarity of the posting speaks for itself.
Fairly attractive? How does one go about figuring that aspect out? It’s kind of like how I refer to myself as “relatively good looking.” To me, “Fairly Attractive” is what you say about somebody who is NOT attractive. Imagine a conversation where that description would be used.

Mike: Hey Rich I know this girl you’d like.
Rich: Oh really? Is she cute?
Mike: Well… she’s fairly attractive.
Rich: Does she also have a GREAT personality?

Fairly attractive is what you say about someone who cannot get away with just being called “attractive.” On a scale of 1 to 10 I have to imagine fairly attractive is like a 6 at best.

I suppose its better than unfairly attractive. People like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are unfairly attractive. They are the kind of good looking that pisses people off. Unfairly attractive doesn’t pay for drinks, gets out of speeding tickets, and gets gift baskets for just showing up at places. I would love to be unfairly attractive. Unfortunately I am just Theoretically Handsome.

I am very happy that this bar is an equal opportunity employer that doesn’t very much care what its employees look like as long as they are friendly, but that is cancelled out by this establishment’s next requirement.

Witty and Charming (for the customers). Only for the customers? Yea good point, forget everybody you work with. Be a complete and total a-hole to your boss and coworkers. Curse, swears, and be inappropriate as much as you like. As long as you’re Witty and Charming for the customers, all is well.

That posting was a little silly, but the more posts I looked at the more I realized a trend. Looks are extremely important for bartenders. All the posts wanted people to send a picture or apply in person; if you didn’t do either or both they were very clear you were not welcome to apply. It makes sense that good looking employees would probably sell more drinks, but these bars weren’t even being subtle about it.

“Resume sent via email must have picture.”
“Resumes with PHOTO will be answered first.”
“Italian restaurant looking for a good-looking waiter.”

But what if you are not good looking? What are my people supposed to do if we can’t pass the test of non-ugliness? Will I not be able to bartend to support my livelihood?

Not necessarily. There are still some options for bartenders; however they do require some other more… obscure skills.

OYSTER SHUCKER/BARTENDER
BIKINI DANCERS/BIKINI BARTENDERS (FEMALES) NO EXP NEC

I became a bartender to make money and meet people, not so I could get stinky and meet shellfish. I imagine the amount of Oyster Shucker/Bartenders in the city are quite limited. Its kind of a niche market.
And as for a being a no experience bikini bartender, well, I’m kind of confused this post did not require a photo. But then again, I suppose if you look good in a bikini, it doesn’t really matter what your face looks like. Lucky for me I look great in a bikini

So I will continue to do my best at my current job while still keeping an eye on the craigslist postings for “Goofy looking individuals with extreme ADHD who bear a striking resemblance to Guy Smiley.” That job I know I could get.