Hell of a Guy
If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough. - Mario Andretti

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Griffin Tavern…No Mas!


The Griffin Tavern is a neat little English Pub and Restaurant in Flint Hill, VA.  The Nancy and I have been visiting the Griffin for nearly five years, perhaps longer.  We would hardly be called regulars, but we have stopped there at least eight to ten times a year.  We don’t bring them an enormous amount of business, but we probably spend $500 to $600 there every year.  I know we average over $50 each time, sometimes much more, especially when we have guests, and that happens once or twice each year.  I love this place, the atmosphere, the beer and some of the menu items (though I believe the old chef is better than the new).  Sunday, Father’s Day, I gave them my final notice.  I used to love the place, but I won’t be going back.

The Nancy and I visited the Griffin about three months ago where we encountered a real bonehead, ignorant, SOB sucking on his fetish substitute.  The odor from this rancid, cancer spreading apparatus was unbearable.  My eyes were burning within seconds after this idiot finished his meal and decided to ruin everyone else’s by lighting up a very gross smelling cigar.  The owners tacitly encourage these goofballs to light up and even provides them with specially shaped ashtrays designed to hold the “weapons of mass desertion.”  Some customers – those with Cajones Grande, or just good sense – turn and exit the place at the first hint of the foulest odor known to man in a restaurant.  I commend their smart decision.  There is nothing fun about a smoke filled, foul smelling restaurant.

I don’t believe my olfactory sense is greater than the average human, so my outrage at this affront seems to me to be quite average.  Some people grin and bear rudeness, but I choose to make my displeasure known.  The Nancy gets a little upset with me when I voice my displeasure openly and with the offender in earshot of my complaint.  Personally, I don’t know why some cigar smoker could possibly be offended by my simply stating he sucks on a cigar because he is afraid of what it will make him if he takes the test with the real thing.  I wonder is cigar smokers would be upset if I continuously farted while I sat next to them?

If restaurants like the Griffin wish to deny the reality that this policy costs it many customers and drives them away, so be it.  I have given my notice; I will not be going back, unless the smoking policy changes.  At some point, the Commonwealth of Virginia will have to join the civilized world and ban smoking altogether in businesses catering to the public.  It will come, and until that time, or the time the Griffin rectifies its stance, my $500 plus will go elsewhere…dammit.

And all I have to say that is about that…

Monday, June 11, 2007

Flight 475 - Milwaukee to Baltimore


Friday, June 8th:  This flight pulled away from the gate at just about 7:10am.  I am currently flying over Lake Michigan and looking out over Chicago from 31,000 feet.  There is a layer of gray clouds above the plane and scattered ones below.  I am listening to the Audio Visions (New Age music) channel on the plane’s XM radio system, and I am feeling very Irish at the moment – love Celtic.  Baltimore awaits me in about another 75 minutes, according to the pilot.

Two nights ago I wrote about my adventure at the Houlihan’s restaurant just a short walk from the Hampton Inn (Dan the Man).  I decided, once I re-checked in to this hotel and after a very long day of traveling to and from an appointment in Iowa (once a year in that place is enough for me), to go back to the Houlihan’s for another round of serendipitous kismet.  After spending almost seven hours in a car, I was quite anxious for a little entertainment of the human variety.  I was rewarded.  It seems I have an uncanny, innate ability to put people at ease to a point where they open up (some even too much, eh Dan?) and say stuff better kept secret. 

For the second time in three nights in Wisconsin, I bellied up to the bar – these days I have the belly made for it.  Within a few minutes a very nice looking lady, possibly in her mid-forties, sat at the bar on a seat around the corner from where I was seated, maybe four or five feet diagonally from me.  She was relatively attractive, blond hair in a French twist style, red blouse, and black skirt – yeah, I noticed; I am old, not dead.

Anyway, I was telling the bartender about my last visit and my conversation with Dan.  This lady, I guess I really didn’t care enough to know her name, said something, and we began a conversation, mostly just small talk.  She was there on business from her home in Florida, via Phoenix, and had been traveling since Sunday.  She is married and has a fourteen year-old son.  She had returned to full employment after being off for six months, and I forget the reason for the sabbatical. 

It wasn’t too long before her cell phone rang and she answered it.  I heard her tell the guy (an assumption I made very quickly) something about a lady sitting in a booth just beyond the other side of the bar.  The lady looked like “your sister,” she said.  Curious, I looked over in the direction of the booth.  There sat a couple holding hands across the table.  The lady was looking adoringly at the man, as he was quietly telling her something.  She had an angelic, Mona Lisa smile on her face.  As my bar mate ended her call, I jokingly made the comment that the couple couldn’t be married (given their handholding), and added they were either on a date or having an affair.  The comment I made was the key to opening the door to her compartment of secrets.

She said, “Funny you should say that.  I am having an affair and I was just telling my guy that lady looks like his sister.”  Than she decided, I suppose, it was safe to reveal herself to me, so to speak.

She has been married for seven years. (Sounds itchy, to me)  Her lover is sixty-years old, but is gorgeously handsome and has dated some women as young as thirty.  She doesn’t know what happened to her current marital relationship, it just died.  She lives in one part of the house and her husband in another.  They are staying together for the sake of her son.  I suppose they think the son doesn’t notice the marriage partnership sucks.

The lover was apparently calling her to let her know her husband was out having dinner and might be with another woman.  The ironic thing was that this lady sounded a little hurt by the fact her husband might be fooling around.  Hmmmm?

Long story short, as I was leaving I asked her if I might give her some honest feed back, didn’t wait for her answer, and left her with this: “End it.”  She will have to determine which part.

And that is all I have to say about that…   

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dan the Man…


If you read my last post, you probably know this one is written the same day.  I checked into a hotel in Milwaukee about 5pm.  I did some work (my company requires it) and then went to look for a place to drink beer, and maybe get a bite to eat.  There are only two eating establishments – if you don’t count McDonalds – within walking distance, and I am on foot.  So, I investigated the closest and quickly ascertained the beer selection rated somewhere on the scale of “really sucks” to “really sucks, absolutely.”  I did a 180 and visited venue numero dos: Houlihans.  The beer selection at Houlihans is about the same as the first place I visited.  Bottom line is that Houlihans does not offer a beer I like, but I did have a Beck’s, which means four, because I didn’t want to walk back to the first venue.

I bellied up to the bar and almost immediately got to meet the guy standing next to me, a rather inebriated gentleman who was there with his wife and some relatives.  He introduced himself as Dan something or other and shook my hand as I told him my name.  With a couple of minutes I found he was here in Milwaukee attending his wife’s grandmother’s funeral.  The grandmother passed away about a year ago (?), and she would have been 102 tomorrow.  He lives in Burtonsville in Montgomery County, Maryland and is retired from the some kind of security job within the State Department.  He is fifty-five years of age and wants to move to Charleston, SC.  His wife works for some other federal agency and can retire in four years.  He was divorced and single for twelve years before he married his now wife, Carol.  Shortly after they were married she was diagnosed as having Lupus and some of his friends were surprised he stayed with her.

Dan could hardly stand up and I was somewhat afraid he was going to fall over; he kept weaving back and forth.  His wife asked me if he was bothering me.  Actually, he was entertaining.  Dan is probably about five-foot, eight, and may weigh in at 150.  He had problems staying with our conversation and seemed not to remember what he had told me – I guessed that when he looked at me inquisitively and suspiciously as I asked about stuff he had already told me, like is Burtonsville in Montgomery, County?

Dan and I probably talked for about thirty to forty-five minutes.  I was standing next to him waiting for a seat with some space around it for me to sit and eat.  I had my right hand in my pocket, along with my cell phone.  Dan kept looking down at my hand in my pocket (I hope).  All of the sudden he took hold of my wrist, drew my hand out of my pocket, took my cell phone from my hand, pushed my cell phone about a foot out from my hand and said I was making him nervous and not to put my hands in my pockets.  I had to chuckle and it seemed to set him off.

Dan told me not to mess with him, and then he asked me if I was threatening him.  Now, I am a pretty big guy…235 (I am being kind to myself) and 6’2”.  I could have picked this drunk up and flung him over the bar, but being the kind, wonderful man that I am, I simply told him not to think I don’t love him, but I was going to sit somewhere else…and I did.  But I noticed he kept looking at me.  At one point his wife must have realized Dan was crocked and near passing out, and she took him away from the bar, hopefully to their room and tied him to the bed.  Dan the Drunk had to hold onto her shoulders as she guided him out of the bar. 

Shortly after Dan left, the guy sitting on my right told me Dan was muttering to himself after I moved.  I told him Dan had been over served.  He told me Dan kept looking at me and mumbling “I could kill that guy” and said it several times.  Perhaps that is why Carol put him to bed.

Fortunately, Dan knows nothing more of me than my first name.  He is in one hotel and I am a couple of blocks away in another, and that lends me a great deal of comfort.  Dan is either unstable, psychopathic or just plain drunk.  He didn’t frighten me, but I had had enough of him.  I certainly didn’t want to attempt to eat next to some wacko from Maryland.

Dan obviously has some underlying issues. I believe that he was reaching out for help, and I hope he finds it.

And that is all I have to say about that…     

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Flight 346 and a Useless Crutch…


Headed for Milwaukee on an Air Tran flight.  The plane just took off a few minutes ago and since I do my best thinking on airplanes, or so it seems, I thought I would jot down a few things I have been giving thought to today.

Just prior to leaving the farm this morning, The Nancy had already left for her office, and as I was primping and making myself suitable for public consumption, I overheard something on the Today Show that caused me to wander into the bedroom and listen.  Some guy taking Al Roker’s place for the day– I didn’t care enough to remember his name - was outside the studio on the Plaza getting ready to do the weather report.  He was bantering with some people and stopped to chat with a very attractive young woman inquiring as to why she was in New York.  As cute as she was, I probably would have stopped, as well.  She said she was celebrating her birthday and blurted out to “Mom and Dad” she had acquired a new tattoo.  The substitute weather guy said something about TV ethics or policy or some other TV crap would not allow her to show the tattoo because of its location on her person, but she did show one on her lower leg, just above her ankle.  He then asked her what it was he was looking at, and she responded, “A tugboat.”

I think the weather dude had the same look of incredulity on his face as I had on mine.  A tugboat?  The girl couldn’t have been more than eighteen or nineteen – a great age to make decisions on things that will affect your whole life.  Weather guy asked the question that had to have popped into the heads of thousands upon thousands of viewers; why a tugboat? 

Her answer caused me to have more questions than the tattoo itself.  “To help me get through life,” was her reply.  That is what she said, and I heard it with my own two very much unbelieving ears.  I was flabbergasted anyone that young could possibly need anything to help them “get through life,” especially a friggin tattoo.

A tugboat pushes and pulls.  It is a support mechanism for large ships as they maneuver in tight spaces and unfamiliar waters.  It guides them and directs them – a crutch, so to speak.  Why does an eighteen-year old need a crutch, I have to ask?  Does the tattoo serve as a reminder she cannot make it in this life without something to support her, to move her forward?  I just don’t get it.

I think sometimes people spend way too much time thinking about living without ever trying it: too much time leaning and not enough falling down.  If you think you need a crutch to make it through life, then, dammit, you will need a crutch to make it through life.  Go make it on your own, or you may be doomed to grow old in a world of Woe-Is Me.  You don’t need a damn crutch or a tattoo in order to make it through life.  Go live it.  Go be it.

I am fully responsible for all that happens to me in my life or has happened to me in my life, and that means everything – all the good, all the bad.  Everything!  I don’t need no stinking crutch.  I choose to live.  The Hell of a Guy lives!!!

I’d like to grab that girl by the shoulders, shake her a couple of times and slap some sense into her.  Perhaps give her the crutch she is so in need of.  Don’t get me started. 

And that is all I have to say about that… 

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