Saturday, January 24, 2015

post 801: the annual column

“I set out one night
In the fast lane bound for freedom,
In a truck that daddy bought me,
And money momma had saved for school.

I laid down all my books,
And picked up the drinking;
Felt like I let ‘em down,
When I gave up like a fool.

And one reckless night,
Just looking for my whiskey?
I found the Bible momma gave me,
And read awhile.

I read a story about a man
Who lived just like me.
And finally ate his pride,
And came running home.

Lord?  I’m a renegade, a rambler –
I’ve squandered all I’ve owned.
A bona fide runaway, I’m a gambler –
I can’t count the lies I’ve told.

I need forgiveness – how about redemption?
And I pray for open arms!
‘Cause I’m coming home.
Yeah I’m coming home –

Like a modern day prodigal son …”


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Welcome to “The Annual Column”!  Where I once again attempt, in the most pathetic and sophomoric way imaginable, to communicate to those of you I know best, just how much you mean to me!

(kazoo voice) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Prior Editions Of “The Annual Column”:


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I apologize this post is coming far later than promised.  I planned for this to be Post 800 on this site, to close down Year Seven in fashionable style, on a classy note.  Only, I couldn’t figure out how to truly write this thing. 

(That, and let’s be honest – “fashionable” and “classy” are not two words often associated with this site, or with the dude who blogs on it.  Well, unless you remove the c and the l, from “classy”.  Thank you Carl Peterson, for the quote that keeps on, uuh, quoting, twenty plus years later.)

I admit up front, I have re-written portions of this thing at least sixteen times.  At some point?  You just want to bash your head against a bowling ball, you get so frustrated at lacking the proper sentiment to type.

This year’s annual post won’t follow any traditional format.  Last year’s threw all of it into the proverbial outhouse, save for honoring my folks first off the bat. 

That tradition continues.

In the words of Trick Daddy: “let’s go”!

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* So allow me to honor my mom and dad.  If any two people in the world are more amazing than these two incredible, awe-inspiring, absolutely indescribable people, I am so damned blessed, honored, and humbled to call my parents?  I have not met them yet. 

They may not share that sentiment in reverse – and nobody would blame them if they didn’t, least of all me.  I’m not an easy person to love.  And yet, they do, unconditionally. 

My feelings about my dad have been stated before.  Simply put, he is not only the greatest man I’ve ever known, he’s my hero in life.  What’s strange, is to see my mom and I’s relationship over the last 15, 16 months, ever since October 6, 2013 happened.  My mom and I are not what you would call “close”.  Really, for most of the last fifteen some odd years, I wouldn’t have even referenced us as friends.  And I get why, I really do.  

And then came October 6, 2013.  And every day since.  And it’s amazing to me, how much you don’t really know someone, until you’re forced to know them.  I know, I know – that doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface.

But once you truly HAVE to get to know someone?  Their true character, their true personality, their true feelings for you, are revealed.  Usually, that moment arrives when you face a crisis, or a decision or three is made that rocks the relationship to its previously solid (or unsolid) core.  My mom and I had to completely re-evaluate each other based on that week in October last year … and just as I was so, so wrong about some of my judgments and opinions of her?  She’d admit she was so, so wrong in some of her judgments and opinions of me.

I hate that it took my dad’s near death to save, and rebuild, my relationship with my mom … but in the words of Garth Brooks?  Which is my theme to you two amazing, awe-inspiring friends:

“Sometimes I thank God?
For unanswered prayers.
Just remember when you’re talking
To the man upstairs?

That just because
He doesn’t answer?
Doesn’t mean
He don’t care.

Some of life’s greatest gifts?
Are unanswered prayers …”

There were times (I have no doubt) my folks wish they were rid of me.  There have been times, I’ve gritted my teeth at them.  I thank God, that whenever this incredible journey He has given us called “life” ends, it will end with us, as not just parent and child, but as friends.

So to my folks: thank you for the lessons you at least tried to teach me, even if at least 77.25% of them didn’t stick.  Thank you for your unwavering support of me, even when I didn’t deserve it.  Thank you for your unconditional love for me, no matter how fatally flawed I am.

And oh, yeah – thank you for allowing me to be …

(Pause).

We’ll get to that, in The Finale.

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* While I’m addressing parents, I am blessed enough in this life, to have multiple sets of them.  And I do mean multiple.

So to my Second Parents, Russ and Mona – who our Springfield friends actually thought were my parents for the first three, four years we all tailgated together – you truly are Mom and Pop to me.  I am honored, and humbled beyond belief, to be constantly referred to as “Son” by you.  I don’t deserve the incredible actual parents I have, let alone a second set of folks every bit as loved by me, respected by me, and simply “shake my head and think “what the hell did I ever do to deserve two people this great!” by me, as you are.

Someday, we’ll have a Chiefs road trip, that doesn’t involve ridiculous weather conditions on the drive home.  Someday.  I will grant you, we’re oh for five at this point … but someday.

My theme to you, is “Let It Be” by the Beatles:

“When I find myself
In times of trouble?
Mother (Mona) comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom;
Let it be.

And in my hour of darkness?
(Russ) is standing?
Right in front of me.

Speaking words of wisdom;
Let it be.

Let it be!
Let it be!
Let it be!
Let it be!

Whisper words of wisdom;
Let it be!”

* And then there’s the Third Parents, my former co-worker Penny, and DeHart.  My bowling league teammates, amazing friends, and absolutely incredible people.  They call me the “son we never had”.  Good grief!  How many “cool parents” can the most uncool kid in class have?

More specifically, how much more blessed can I possibly be, to have at least six incredible people, care so much for me they’d reference me as son?  I’ve done nothing in my life to deserve that highest praise and honor out of anyone, let alone six people as incredible as my three sets of parents.

My first year as Penny and Steve’s teammate, we had a running gag, that “I was the only guy nobody in this league wanted as a teammate, and you had to ask me twice, to be yours!”  I will grant you, the fact that comment irritated the p*ss out of a certain someone still to appear in this post, made it that damned funny to the three of us.  But the fact that it wasn’t true? 

Is why it was so great.  I have so many people in that league that I view as great friends, if not family, after nearly a decade, that I can’t imagine Wednesdays from October to April being spent anywhere other than College Lanes.


“Tell me, what is my life,
Without your love?
Tell me who am I,
Without you by my side?”

I guess I should honor those folks, next.

But not before noting, I cannot imagine ever bowling on another team again, that doesn’t involve Penny and DeHart. 

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So, for the UUG League, and corporate takeovers, mergers, shakedowns, hoedowns, throwdowns be damned, it’s still the UUG League to most of us …

* thanks to the Gutter Girls.  Beth, you are one awesome person.  I am so damned glad I have gotten to know you, both through this league, and through work.  I love your attitude.  I love your smile.  I love the fact that you’re harder on yourself than anyone else (it’s a trait I share with you).  I also love that you have a self-deprecating sense of humor.  Again – shared trait.  Looking forward to mid March and bowling you and your team again.  But sad that Leslea won’t be there.  Hope the move works out great.  I’ll miss my ally on the Spirit Committee against a few people who deserve to be punched in the throat.  But I wish you the best.  Ditto you as well, Deb, and those weeks when we’re privileged enough to get a sighting, Gabby.

* thanks to Kyle and Carolyn and Jeff.  We had you guys Wednesday.  We should have lost all four.  And yet, it was one of the five funnest nights of the season, because you three are that much fun to spend a few hours with.

* thanks to the Shepard’s, and to Graham.  True story time!  My first night in this league (linked here …kinda, sorta … and my God, is this post dated, given current realities), my team bowled the Gutter Balls.  It’s been pushing ten years of fun since.  Congrats on the new grandkid; adorable.

* thanks to the Pink Ladies.  Judy, you’re a far, far, far better commish than Wayne ever was, and you don’t gross us out with the makeout session after every mark.  Angela, you never fail to make me laugh.  I miss sitting by you guy on 2; and Cathy, your husband is in my prayers every night, as he is with Penny and DeHart as well.  He will recover, and I look forward to buying that man a beer, when he subs for one of you next season.

* and to “our biggest rivals”, the Hoxsies and Mark.  If rivalries were this friendly?  There’d never be rivalry.  Thank you so damned much for your friendship, your support, and your simple “hang in there!” moments over the last two seasons.  I hate to speak on behalf of anyone else, but I know Penny won’t mind – you have helped ease our family hurts over the last few years, and if there is anything we can do to ease yours this year, don’t hesitate to ask.  Group therapy: it works!

My theme to all of you, is one of the very few remakes of a classic, I love better than the original.

“What would you do,
If I sang out of tune?
Would you stand up,
And walk out on me?

Lend me your ear,
And I’ll sing you a song!
I will try not to
Sing out of key.

I get by, with a little help
From my friends!
I get high, with a little help,
From my friends!

Ooh ooh ooh, yeah! …”

-- “With A Little Help From My Friends” by the late, great Joe Cocker … originally performed by the late, great The Beatles …

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And to three former league mates:

* To Ashley and Cameron: congratulations on the birth of your daughter.  It sucks not seeing you two every week, but sometimes life is like that.  All the best in this new year to the three of you.

* And to Ammie: you’re the only one of the five of you, who truly made me feel wanted and welcome in that building, the last few years.  I will never forget your kindness and friendship, when I am sure at least one person you had as a teammate, demanded you show anything but, towards me.

I have no ill will at all, towards the three of you.

My theme to you is a song we lived way, way, way … too few times, in hindsight.

“Am I the only one,
Who wants to have fun tonight?
Is there anybody out there,
That wants to have a cold beer,
And kick it ‘til the morning light?

If I have to raise hell
All by myself?  I will,
But y’all?  That ain’t right.

It’s time to get it on!
Am I the only one,
Who wants to have fun tonight? …”


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Let me hit the immediate co-workers – the work family, if you will – next.

And this will be mostly quick-hit style, as I see these people every day, we laugh, we live, we mock random moments of life every day, and yeah, we always find a way to make each other smile, at least once, when at least one of us never sees it coming.

Because this team I am a part of?  Whatever I may think of certain pronouncements in our department, that this is a “family”?  Well, I’ll keep those thoughts to myself.

But the nine of us?  It feels like a family, in every sense of the word.

* To Joe: congrats on the new kid, thank you for everything you do to keep us afloat, and whatever they’re paying you, it’s at least $22,500.00 too low.

* To Dale: I like that the less-serious side of you came out this year.  And you do a damned good job in somehow (with the next person) keeping our online imaging system upright and ambulatory.  You deserve at least $12,500.00 more than you earn.

* To Kimberly: bless you!  (It’s an inside baseball joke.)  You’re the best Valentine’s “date” I’ve had in five years, and sadly, that is not a joke.  Congrats on the grandkid.

* To Courtney: you’re the probie, the newbie.  Welcome aboard.  If you didn’t run out the door screaming and cursing after Day Three, you’re a keeper!  Hope to get to know you better in the coming year.

* To Diana: if you’re a friend of Heather, that’s all I need to know.  Welcome aboard, and allow me to say, you have a sneaky wickedly funny sense of humor, I wish you’d let out more often.

* To our boss Kathy: how you held it together this year, is beyond all of us, especially me.  You have always had my back, going back pushing fifteen years to Transamerica, when you arrived, and within two days, had figured out the sh*t I had to deal with, and were the first boss to stand up and defend me against it.  It took you longer this time to see what I have to deal with out of Seattle … but you stood up and defended me against it, even when it was the completely unpopular and decidedly “non-career-advancing” position to take.  I will always appreciate you for that.  And I will always attempt to have your back, just as you have had mine.

* To Heather: I can only quote Principal Jacobs, from “Mr. Holland’s Opus”, in a bastardized sense: “Ms. Heather?  Of all the employees I have worked with at (company that employs us)?  You’re my favorite.”

* and finally, to Dusti: you literally saved my sanity this year.  I am not joking about that – I would be in Two Rivers or Charter or wherever the hell someone still to appear in this post would have advised me to seek mental health help at, had you not arrived.  (Sad) true story time: I literally could not take a day off, from May 15 of 2013, until May 2 of 2014.  I worked on the roadie to, at, and from Indy.  I worked every single day (company I work for) was open, for a freaking year – including that week in October, dealing with Dad.  (I worked in the lobby of the ER, every day, for a week.)  Why?  Because I had no backup; they’d all been poop canned.

It obviously helped that I already knew you (we’d worked together, sorta, at this company a few years earlier), but your intelligence, your ability to pick things up, and most importantly, your desire to take things on, has been my salvation this last year. 

I love that I don’t even have to train you on anything; you just go out and figure it out on your own!  Then when you show me what you did, I’m left standing and looking like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, because I am Excel-illiterate, and you’ve improved what elementary spreadsheets I’ve put together, in about ten minutes, when it took me ten months to figure out how to link between tabs.  (Sadly … this is true.  I know nothing about Excel.  Blame 9/11.  Access?  I’m golden.  Excel?  Clueless.)

So thank you, so damned much.

And also, for the “blast from the past” portion of these prepared remarks, thanks for “The Couch”.  (Happy) true story time: “The Couch” from Stubbs?  Dusty and I purchased from, uuh, Dusti and her husband, for $50, the week “Deadbeat Ex Roommate” was shown the curb.

(Believe it or not, he factors into “The Finale”.  (cue “the congregation” getting mildly interested for the payoff twenty pages from now …)

Until then, my theme for you all?  Is the most criminitely, indefensibly undersold and underplayed, song of all time:

“I was checked in by four;
Put my sign on the door.
Looked out the window,
Of the seventeenth floor.

Talked to the city,
That knows me by name,
And all the bad things
That I’ve done …

I shed five bitter tears?
Into five bitter beers.
I looked at my watch, and said
Where have the years gone by?

I’m wasting away
Like a castle of clay;
Slowly crumbling
Too …

Every Monday?
I get this pain.
Every Wednesday?
It hits my brain.

Every Friday?
I die.
‘Cause every day?
I still think of you …”


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* To my brother: it never fails to make me laugh that the boss who drove me to full-blown alcoholism for a while (readers voice: a while?!?!?!), now reports to you.  Never will fail to make me laugh.

Having said that, there is no person on this planet, currently drawing breath, I respect more than you.  You are what I wish I was.  (And no doubt, that Mom and Dad wish I, uuh, was.)

You’re the most damned decent person I’ve ever known.  You’re one of the few people in life, that is 100% completely genuine.  There isn’t a hint of phoniness, a shred of ambiguity, a bit of bullsh*t, about you.

What you see with you, is truly not just what you get, but who you are.

Your kids will someday see that, and not just admire you for it, but try to emulate you for it. 

You are our Dad.

And one of the best friends a person could ever have.

Never – never! – stop, being you.

Because we all – especially me – need someone to aspire to be.

And you?  Are that someone, for me.

My theme to you, and screw anyone who questions this pick:

“Ordinary?  No.
Really don’t think so.
Not a love this true.

A common destiny;
We were meant to be –
Me and you.

Like a perfect scene?
From a movie screen?
We’re a dream come true.

Suited perfectly,
For eternity –
Me and you.

Every day?
I need you even more –
And the nighttime too.

There’s no way,
I could ever let you go –
Even if I wanted to …”


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* To my sister-in-law, I can simply note, (harriet hayes voice) “you knock my socks off”.  You truly are amazing.

* To “My Special Little Guy”: I’ll build Legos with you anytime, anyplace, anywhere.  I cannot believe you’re going to be seven in a month.  It seems like yesterday it was 22, sleeting, and Thursday, February 21, 2008, about 8am in the morning, when I got into work, didn’t even get the laptop fired up, and Drew texted me “it’s go time”.  One of the two or three happiest days of my life.  Your Unca Teve loves  you unconditionally dude, and you OWN our tailgate, buddy!  Everyone loved having you there for the Chargers game!

And we can’t wait for you, to ride out on The Bus, when you’re a little bit older!

* And to “My Special Little Girls”: I can’t deny this, as selfish as it sounds.  I LOVE that Unca Teve’s cheap $6 throw-away gifts for each of you (a Hello Kitty doll and reading book for Fallyn; an Ariel doll and reading book for Reghan), was your favorite gift from Christmas.  I LOVE that you two carried those little dolls everywhere the last month. 

And I LOVE you girls so much.

It seems like yesterday, when I got the “you went WHERE?!?!?!?!” chew-out of a lifetime from my mom, for opting to go on my buddy Scotty’s floater bachelor party, that last weekend in August 2010, when the two of you were due any day.  (In my defense?  I’d already paid for that trip!  River Ranch ain’t cheap!  Plus it was 105 degrees.  And a friend’s bachelor weekend.)

So in the interest of full disclosure?  Unca Teve bet on you two, to be true family, and wait until Sunday to arrive.  I got a text from my brother at 4:50ish-am on Sunday morning: “it’s go time”.  Job well done!

To Fay Fay: you never fail to make me smile.

To Rey Rey: (deep silent pause … deep sigh … resigned sigh of stating “captain oats”) … to Rey Rey?

You’re Unca Teve’s favorite.

Just keep that between us, OK?

(Done and done.)

* Oh, and to the “New Major”?  Thank you, thank you, thank you, for letting me sleep in, when I dog sit you.  Your predecessor?  6am.  Paw.  Paw.  Whole body.  Time to feed and potty.

You?  At 6am, 7am, hell, 9am?

(snoring away.)

My kind of dog!  Priest would have loved you, Rosabelle!

God, I miss my original “special little guy”.

To my brother’s family, all I can offer as a theme, is this … and I grant you, only one of you, will get why I chose this song …

“We sail on together.
We drifted apart.
And here?  You are?
By my side.

So now?  I come to you,
With open arms!
Nothing to hide;
Believe what I say!

So here I am,
With open arms!
Hold me?  You’ll see,
What your love means to me?

In open arms …”


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(peter griffin voice) OH CRAP!  I’m on Page Ten in Word, and I haven’t even begun to thank my Tailgating group, my non-immediate co-workers, my former co-workers, and my closest friends in life that aren’t blood relations!  To say nothing of other friends for other reasons, and attempting to deal with “The Family”!  (spanish bumblebee voice) Aye yay yay!  No me gusta!

So, it’s decision time – split this post apart … and risk pulling a typical Stevo, and never finish the post … or persevere, and write the “modern day longest opus ever”.

(Pause).

We press on.

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Let’s do the “core” Chiefs Tailgating Group (save for one friend still to come, and The Second Parents, who were already noted) next.

* to Susan: I could not think of a better person to cede “my seat” to.  Thanks for being a great friend, thanks for always remembering to bring the paper every Sunday morning, thanks for the musical suggestions, and thanks for simply being you.

* to Ron and Michelle: thanks for coming up every game.  Looking forward to the week at the lake house with you all this summer.  Love the Presidential Platter at every game, and love that “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” is your family anthem.  That’s epic.  Had a blast at every tailgate with you last year, especially up in Indy for the playoff game.

* to Anthony and Jaimmie: April weddings tend to work out well, for folks in our tailgating group.  I was so damned happy and proud to be a part of yours.  The best gift I gave all year, was making sure you made every game.  And I’m damned happy and proud, to do it again next year, and the next year, and any further years to come. 

Oh, yeah – and thanks for being the only people so far in life, to allow me to play “vodka pong”, instead of chugging Bud Light, in a drinking game that counts.

* to Chesney and John, to Paul, to Michael, to Clint and Samantha, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting: don’t be strangers this summer at the pool, and show up more often next fall at Terrorhead! 

* to Roger and Diane, thanks for being awesome neighbors.  And how the hell do you always beat us in by a solid fifteen minutes, when we’re third in line?

* to Brad: congrats on the engagement man!  You’ve got a keeper.  Look forward to seeing you at least ten times later this year.

* to Phil and Texas and Grandma and the crew: the ‘Bulance is awesome.  As are you.  Looking forward to a few reciprocal pool days this summer.

* and to Chris: just please always continue to be, who you are.  Because you’re so damned lovable, it’s beyond awesome.

To Chris, my theme is “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake.  It will forever be in the Mixology rotation for as long as at least one of us draws breath.  To everyone else in this section of the post, I give you the song, that defines my favorite moment of every tailgate … because it’s one of only three songs, guaranteed to play at least once:

“You don’t have to call me Waylon Jennings.
And you don’t have to call me Charlie Pride.
And you don’t have to call me Merle Haggard, anymore.
Even though you’re on my fighting side!

So I’ll hang around
As long as you will let me!
(Let me, Let me, Let me, Let me!)

And I never
Minded standing in the rain!  Oh!
You don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’ –
You never even called me by my name!!!!”


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To some current co-workers not in my immediate area of the department:

* to Shannon: you never fail to make me laugh. At least 72.46% of the time, that’s a good thing, even by HR standards. 

* to Geoff: I have been told, in blackmail-ish terms, that I have to find a way to get you to come back and chair the Games Committee again.  (Apparently the Spirit Days folks have no faith in me, chairing the committee.  In their defense?  I have no faith in me chairing that committee either.)  So, uuh, thanks for being my favorite co-worker?  Thanks for being one helluva good dude, one helluva funny guy, for somehow managing to fill the single biggest void Penny left*, and, uum, please, say yes to chairing the committee one more year?

* to Deneece: God I love you girl.  I’m not sure I really need to say anything else.

* to James: you’re a damned decent dude, and I’d love to work under you someday.  I’d be proud to call you my boss.

* to Mary: you keep me sane.  You somehow always know exactly when to walk half a city block, just to shoot the sh*t for two minutes, simply because.  Oh, yeah – and your idea to move our weekly meeting from hell itself across the street to P Otts, needs to happen.  I think Waldorf and Statler would be tolerable after a couple vodka tonics.  I know whichever one Ivy is would be; I’ve had a happy hour or three with her.

* to Wendy: you … you are amazing.  I wish to God we’d had you at TA thirteen, fourteen years ago.  We’d never have had a need for the CRAP committee**, if you’d been around.  So damned glad you’re on board for at least another year or so.

* and to my “other department I sat by but can’t remember said department’s name” friends: Susie, Reggie, Jodie, Travis: miss sitting by you guys.  You always made things fun.  If only because I’d hear you on the phone, and think “dear God, my job actually COULD be worse!”

To all of you, I simply offer this:

“Everyone knows I’m in
Over my head!
Over my head!

With eight seconds,
Left in overtime?
She’s on my mind,
She’s on my mind …”


Or as someone still to appear in this post would call them, “The Frye”.

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(*: Geoff has mastered the “right!” quote.  (penny voice) Right!)

(**: CRAP: Ceded Reinsurance Administration Project.  Never, ever failed to make me laugh, the entire four years, I was stuck on that project.)

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To former co-workers and (when mentionable) their significant others:

* to my former boss Mary: every year that goes by, I regret reaching my “screw it, I quit!” moment in August 2005 even more.  And yet … God is good.  I know with hindsight, I had to move on.  And I know it’s worked out for you too.  I will never be able to repay you, for all you truly taught me, in our seven years on the job.  You should know that.  Even if at times, I wanted to toss you out the 26th floor window.  (Probably good those things were shatter-proof.)

* to Brett (and Shannon): I love you two irrationally.  (Says the guy Shannon swore was a figment of Brett’s imagination***.)  I pray every day for you two, and your sons.  I wish you nothing but the best life has to offer.

* to Phil (and Lacey): I love you two irrationally.  (None of you ever claimed, I was a figment of Brett’s imagination … although there was that one time, at the Quaff, when “you let him leave?!?!?!?!” happened …)  I pray for you two every day, as well as your daughter, who is every bit the cutest kid ever, you’d expect her to be.

And dude?  I still recall every moment, of one of the funnest Royals games I’ve ever attended – and pick which one: 2004, the Saturday day game against the Twins, or 2007, the “what the hell, why not!” day game against the A’s, when a certain someone still to appear and I literally carried you out of the stadium, on “School Day at the K”.  There’s drunk, there’s insanely drunk, then there’s “sh*t faced on “School Day at the K” in front of 30,000 minors” drunk. 

(Pause).

God I miss how things used to be, all the time.

* to Scotty (and Rachelle) and your kid: congrats.  Wish you and the family nothing but the best, now and always.

* to McRae: I miss ya dude.  I had a serious flashback to you in a conversation with my ultimate boss earlier this year (albeit by accident … we’ll get there eventually, when I get to someone whose name sorta, kinda, is like your first one.)  Hope all is good with ya. 

* to Hadley and Shari: I know all is good with you.  We need a poker night.  Ditto to Amber and Jamie, Melissa, Robin and Justin, and every other degenerate gambler that graduated from TA.

* to Pickell: (pickell voice) Put it this way.  I love ya man.  Pray all is good with ya.  Long time no talk.  Pick a bar in Waldo; I’ve got the tab.  Or if not, I’m sure I’ll see you at Ameristar at some point this year.

* to Belk: you’re the best boss I have ever had, and there’s nobody else in the competition.  I am so damned happy you wound up better off, for what I still have to deal with every day, intended for worse.  All I can say, is God is amazing.  All the best to you and your family.

* to Carol: I guess it’s time to reveal some “inside baseball” knowledge here.  I knew I had this job, about three minutes in to the interview I had, with you and Belk.  I knew I’d nailed it, because I knew you saw me not as the “how the hell is this guy unemployed” failure I was, but as the “holy sh*t, hire this guy – now!” success I am.  I will be forever grateful, for all you have done for me.  I cannot possibly ever repay you – in this life, or twenty others – for the second chance I was given, in the highly specialized, “either you’re good or you’re fired” industry I work in.  (And sadly, it is true – either you make it after six months … or your career is over, because reinsurance is that bass-ackwards most of the time.)

Please know, I pray for you every day, and you have so many amazing friends who just want the best for you, that I am truly honored and humbled, to have the privilege of calling you my friend.

* to the F&I folks, and good God, are there a lot of them:

Lucy is the second best boss I’ve ever had.  Brad’s got the show slot, in that pony wager.  Pat, I am so damned happy it’s working for you, and I pray for your husband every day.  Courtney?  Good grief, how many different jobs are we gonna hold, where we interact with each other?  In my book, not enough.  Colette and Dee and Vinita, you three rock.  Donna and Teresa W, I do NOT miss the “trending reports”.  But I do miss you.  Teresa K, our company has no idea what they missed out on in you. 

* to the Actuary folks I sit by:

Debbie?  How you put up with me responding to the calls that come in?  Makes you a saint.  (Let’s just say, anytime a 206 area code pops up on the Caller ID on my desk phone, something hits the wall between us, and usually it’s an empty Diet Coke bottle, or whatever pen I’m holding in my hand.) 

David, and Tim, and Kevin, and Brett, and Kyle, and so many others I’ve known for far too long – my department’s boss should hire every one of you, to do our actuarial pricing. 

Especially Kyle.  Anyone who can shoot the sh*t with me about the 9:30 TNT game on Friday morning, has my respect and admiration.

And Jarow?  There’s a reason the Mayor of Indianapolis held the “if you’re still here Sunday morning, you’ll be here on Wednesday” presser last year.  Still, glad to know we can shoot the sh*t about the Chiefs anytime we want to.

* and to the copy / mail room folks:

Steve?  Love the random run-ins with you at the Price Chopper.

And Mr. Hance?  You keep me sane … for at least a few moments at a time.

That’s gotta count for something.

My theme to all of you, is Tina Turner:

“You’re simply the best!
Better than all the rest!
Better than anyone
I’ve ever met!”

--------------------

(***: this is a true story.  Apparently the lovely Shannon did not believe someone as epically awesome as me, could possibly exist.  That, or she figured Brett had made me up, to enjoy a few nights out with the boys.  (Pause.)  Definitely the former, right?)

--------------------

To those amazing friends I have:

* to Anthony (and Megan, and the beyond adorable, beyond awesome, beyond “holy sh*t this kid is cute!” Rocco): God bless it man.  You … Jesus, if I keep typing I’m going to cry.  You? 

You are the embodiment, of what true friendship is.  True story time (yet again)!  The first time I met Anthony, was on my first day of truly credible, legitimate employment after college, my first day at Transamerica.  He was the “perpetual intern” in the cubicle next to me (or was it across from me; that one, I fail to recall).  Every summer for like, five, six years, we’d have one helluva fun time discussing baseball, discussing football, discussing life, just simply being friends. 

This guy?  I’d take a bullet for.

And go figure – he married a girl whose last name was Cool.

Sonofa …

I hope – I pray – that someday, I meet my “Cool”, to settle down with.

* to me and my brother’s buddy Neeck:

You’re family.

Nothing more needs to be said.

You.  Are.  Family.

* to Jasson (and Tara, and Austin and Ashton), to (stevo voice) bts (and Ashley, and Scarlett … seriously, that name is so damned cool, I’m drooling on the laptop), to Nancy, to Mark and Rita, to … well, to all of you: I am so damned proud to count you all as friends.  (I probably should have doubled up a consonant or five, in that previous sentence, to stick to tradition.)  I wish you all nothing but the best in 2015, and every year beyond.

* to Sam: loved running into you in a checkout lane at the CVS in Waldo last month.  Loved sharing a cold three or four as a result.  You have always – always! – had my brother’s back, unconditionally.  (It’s why I demanded you be the true “best man” at his wedding****.)  I admire, and respect, the hell out of you.  As does my brother.  Just keep being you dude; you?  Is as perfect as perfect gets.

* to my buddy Ryan, from the Chiefs crew: I cannot wait to deal with this season properly at your folks lake house.  And I cannot wait until that incredible girl you’re with, is proudly showing off a ring, next fall.  (Sorry dude, but let’s be honest; you know it’s happening.)  And us KC folks cannot wait to head down your way, to properly celebrate this friendship, this incredible, amazing friendship, we have all forged over the last 4-5 years, none more revered, treasured, and important to me, than me and you dude. 

* to Donnie: everyone needs a friend like you.  Far too few people get one. 

* to Cindy: it does get better.  Just keep headed for the positive, just keep moving forward, and eventually, you’ll view Trish’s loss in a reflective light, rather than reactive one.  Until you get to that point?  I’ll always offer you a shoulder to cry on, via a hug to embrace you.

* to Megan: you will always be “The Crush”.  Dusty has no idea what he p*ssed away with you.  Actually, that’s not fair – I suspect he does.  Please know, I’ll always irrationally love you.  (Pause).  Although that proposal was fake.  Just to stress that – I did NOT propose actual marriage.  J  I love you irrationally.  And you get your own personal theme, since it’s the moment I knew you were a keeper.  “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey.

* and to Damien: there are few people in life I admire.  You’re in that very select few.  You’re the one truly great thing, Dusty ever brought into my life.  All the best to you and Shannon and your families, in this new year.  Oh, and I promise for the ninth straight year, I will never again pick a Chiefs outcome, by noting how said outcome will occur.  Even if I’m usually right*****.

To all of you, my theme is “Simple Song” by The Shins.

“Well this is just a simple song,
To say what you’ve done.
I told you about all those fears,
And the way they did run.

You sure must be strong!
When you feel like an ocean,
Being warmed by the sun!

When I was just nine years old,
I swear that I dreamt,
Your face on a football field,
And a kiss that I kept

Under my vest,
Apart from everything,
But the heart in my chest.

I know that things can really get rough,
When you go it alone.
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough,
Complete like a stone.

Could be? 
There’s nothing else in our lives,
So critical,
As this little home …”

--------------------

(****: I know I’ve shared this story before, but for those of you who drunk or stoned Google stumbled onto this site … welcome!  Grab a beer, light a joint, you’ll fit right in!  Anyways, my brother’s reception, I went first, and I gave the classy, “big bro is proud of lil’ bro” toast that is 100% genuine … but draws no real laughs.  Sam followed me, and opened his toast with the following sentence.

“I knew Drew was serious about her, when he started exchanging his ones into fives.”

Brought the house down.  My dad was crying from laughing so hard.  The only person not laughing?  My mom.  Who leaned into me and asked “what does that mean”?

There’s awkward, there’s “your folks walk in on you” really awkward, and then there’s “explaining to your mom that “changing his ones into fives” meant her son no longer felt a need to frequent strip clubs” awkward.)

(*****: 2006 season.  I predicted the Chiefs would beat the Chargers in Week Seven on a Larry Tynes last second field goal from 42 yards out.  I was wrong – it was from 53, not 42.  I predicted the Chiefs would beat the raiders on a last second Pat Surtain interception in the end zone, to stall out the raiders final drive.  I was wrong – it was Bernard Pollard with the INT.)

--------------------

And a few out of towners:

* to Jeff and Paula: thanks for one awesome lunch, one amazing afternoon introducing me to wine made from honey, and one awesome tailgate, this past fall … and thanks for being friends.  I’ll gladly cede the “Stevo Guest Room Bed” to you two any time.  Can’t wait to see what you come up with, for the roof of The Bus this summer.

* to Becky and Ron: congrats on the Havasu purchase!  And thank you so damned much, for your hospitality, and friendship, on the trip up north this year to Sioux Falls.  Don’t be strangers.  Can’t wait to head up your way next fall for the raiders roadie!

* to Tom and Nicole: I’m really glad I got to know you two this year.  When you’re down in May for the Twins series, hopefully Hayward’s won’t be out of burnt ends this time.  Looking forward to a few more fun weekends with you guys in 2015.

* to Rudy and Heidi: thanks for the friendship, the fun, amazing times … and looking forward to that July 4th weekend!

* to Ian and Angie: thanks for the hospitality (even after we lost to your team), thanks for the most amazing hash brown casserole I’ve ever had, thanks for making “The OT” matter to me again in a meaningful way … and thanks for simply being you.

* to Astin: you rock girl!  So damned proud to call you a friend.

* to Kalen: you and “My Special Little Guy” would be amazing, life-long friends.  Convince your folks to bring you down for the raiders game next year, dude!

* and to Mason: you own Unca Teve’s heart man.  You OWN it. 

My theme to all of you******?

“May God bless and keep you always;
May your wishes all come true.
May you always do for others,
And let others do for you.

May you build a ladder to the stars,
And climb on every rung.
And may you stay forever young.

Forever young!  Forever young!
May you stay forever young! …”


--------------------

(******: you “Parenthood” fans reading this?  I ask this with all seriousness: how much is whatever company that owns Kleenex going to make in profit on Thursday night?  Billions of dollars?  Or trillions?  I am enough of a man to admit, I lost it five time this past Thursday – (1) Millie painting Zeke, (2) Millie’s reaction to Zeke’s decision regarding the surgery (and in the interest of fairness, Kleenex earned millions off of me, on this one scene alone, if only because living through this (as a kid, not the spouse), I understood with 100% clarity both Millie and Zeek’s reactions), (3) Sarah checking in on Zeke after the fight at the “Original Six” dinner, (4) Sarah and Amber singing on her bed, and (5) precious baby Zeke introduced to his great grandpa.  Please God – may You bless and keep us always, may we climb up every rung … and may we stay, forever young.)

--------------------

And the college roommates:

* To “Tony Gonzalez” (aka Frank): Love ya man.  It isn’t every day the dining room is turned into a workout room.  I’ll always love ya, man.

* To “Cocoa” Vineet: I’ve never cried more, or harder, than at 9:17pm, on 9/11, letting me know you were still alive.  I wish to God I had your passion to pursue your true dreams.  I have always admired you, and I will always love ya.  And I will never forget that man-hug, seeing you in that Chili’s in Addison, back in July 2002.  To simply see you, moved me to tears.  To see the best friend college sent into my life, less than 10 months after I prayed to every God there was, there ever is, there ever will be, and the universe entire, that you were still alive?

Just rocked me to my core.

I have never cried, like I did that night.

That has to count for something.

All the best to both you and Frank, in the New Year.

My theme to you, is … and yes, I am choking and swallowing this song down:

“Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy,
Til we see the sun!
I know we only met,
But let’s pretend it’s love!

I’ll never, never, never
Stop for anyone!
Tonight?  Let’s get some,
And live while we’re young!

Live like we’re young! …”


--------------------

And then … there were four.

“The Family” minus one …

… “The Best Friend (and His Family) A Dude Could Ever Have” ...

… “The Champ (aka the “Minus One”) …

… and “The Finish”.

--------------------

Page 18 … and this is where the rewrites, revisions, total re-dos, and (at least twice) the “screw it, just delete it and completely start over” moment of this post, seems to begin.

I have written “The Family (Minus One)” section of this post … and deleted it.  Then re-written it … and re-deleted it.  Then re-re-written it … and re-re-deleted it.  And re-re-re-written it, and re-re-re-del … hell, you get the point.

This?  Is one of the two sections of the post, I feel like I have to nail, get 100% right, if only for my own sanity.  (And yes, cue the “wait, you’re sane?!?!?!” responses in five, four, three …)

I’m not saying any of the last four sections are perfect … but at least I tried.

Twenty freaking times.

--------------------


You may think I am angry over the use and abuse of me, in the last few months of 2014.  And you would be wrong.

I am p*ssed.

But I honestly don’t truly give a damn about that. 

When it comes to you?  All I give a damn about that you’re ok, that you are fine, that you are … the you, I knew for so damned long, the you I thought you’d recaptured and embraced, entering November. 

I pray that in this new year, you seek and receive the professional help you need.  I hate to be so blunt, but girl?  If you keep this up?  The next time I see you, you’ll be lying in a coffin, that I’m helping carry to your gravesite.

My theme for you, is what has always been the song that reminds me of you, from the first time I heard it.  And yeah, typing out all the lyrics is going to add at least a page to this (currently on page 19 in Word) post, but if a single word about to be typed manages to make you “get it”?

Then every word, was worth it.

“Mama?  She’s still got that picture,
Of me and Katie, on Homecoming night.
She looked pretty in that fancy dress;
The dang girl was a barefoot and blue jean princess.

A handful of rocks and daddy’s pine ladder?
Sure did come in handy,
For a teenage boy thinking all that mattered,
Was a kiss that tastes like candy.

Back in the day?
We were wild and free!
She was my dashboard drummer,
Butterflies in the backseat!

And little footprints on my window!

Parking my Chevy by the riverside,
And four letters in a heart,
Carved in a pine!

A little sundress laying up there on the bank,
While the water washed our innocence away,
Back in the day …

Friday nights?  I’d look up there in the bleachers,
And I could see her, with my letterman’s jacket on.
And I still got this scar here on my right hand,
From when Bobby told her, she deserved a better man.

She hung right with me in Panama City,
Raising hell on our senior trip.
And man, ain’t it funny – it gets the best of me,
And I just can’t forget!

I just can’t forget …

That back in the day?
We were wild and free!
She was my dashboard drummer;
Butterflies in the backseat!

And little footprints on my window!

Parking my Chevy by the riverside,
And four letters in a heart,
Carved in a pine!

A little sundress laying up there on the bank,
While the water washed our innocence away,
Back in the day …

Summer was over, college was calling,
Man – I had to watch her leave.
But I still wonder if she ever
Thinks of me …

Because back in the day?
We were wild and free!
She was my dashboard drummer!
Butterflies in the backseat!

And little footprints on my window!

And parking my Chevy by the riverside!
And four letters in a heart, carved in a pine!
A little sundress laying up there on the bank!
While the water washed our innocence away!

It feels like yesterday,
But it was
Back in the day …
Back in the day …
Back in the day …”



It’s your section, that was the hardest to write of this post, and might quite frankly be the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted to write on this site, or “The Herm” before this, or the emails that preceded blogging, or pen onto paper that preceded Al Gore’s amazing gift known as an Internet, to express your thoughts and feelings.

Picking the theme song for you, was easy.  I knew it the second I scrolled through my iTunes list, and didn’t even have to scroll past the B’s, in the listing.

(And no, to the Waldorf and Statler* Peanut Gallery out there – it is not “The B*tch Is Back” by Sir Elton John … which is NOT the song by Mr. John, I had initially intended to use, in the linked post that opens this part of the post, back in July.  If only because you can’t be “back” as something, you not only never were, but you never arrived as, and never intend to be.  For the record, the Sir Elton John song I had pegged for her in that linked post was “Border Song”.  I saved it for a later look back, at “The Family’s Funeral”.)

It’s writing about you, that is so damned difficult. 

I’m not going to dignify our year, by giving you credit for anything.  You couldn’t even manage to say “thank you” via a text or email, for what I did for your son at Christmas.  I have no doubt you are the one who returned the anniversary gift I mailed you (because it wasn’t Dusty’s handwriting on the envelope).  And you …

The rage I felt, over the fact that you had to have read my letter, and blamed the victim, for your indefensible conduct over these last few years, you blamed me?  For your repulsive treatment of me these last few years …

Screw it.  I’m just gonna type the lyrics, to The Chica’s theme, and move on.  She has to live with her conscience.  Only God knows, how she possibly can.

“She’s got a way about her.
I don’t know what it is,
But I know that I can’t live without her.

She’s got a way of pleasing.
I don’t know what it is,
But there doesn’t have to be a reason, anyway.

She’s got a smile that heals me.
I don’t know why it is,
But I have to laugh when she reveals me.

She’s got a way of talking.
I don’t know why it is,
But it lifts me up when we are walking, anywhere.

She comes to me when I’m feeling down,
Inspires me!
Without a sound?  She touches me.
And I get turned around!

She’s got a way of showing,
How I make her feel,
And I keep the strength to keep on going.

She’s got a light around her.
And everywhere she goes?
A million dreams of love surround her, everywhere …”


* And to the Lil’ Champ: I pray for you every day dude.  I’ve prayed every day since I found out you were headed into this world, that God would give you happiness and health every day of your life, since those are two things that truly, only God can grant you.

My theme to you, lil’ dude:

“There is a young cowboy,
Who lives on the range.
His horse and his cattle?
Are his only companions.

He works in the saddle,
And he sleeps in the canyon;
Waiting for summer,
His pastures to change.

And as the moon rises?
He sits by his fire.
Thinking about women,
And glasses of beer.

He closes his eyes,
As the doggies retire.
He sings out a song,
Which is soft but it’s clear,

As if maybe someone could hear …

Good night, you moonlight ladies.
And rockabye, Sweet Baby James.
Pea greens and blues?
Are the colors I choose.
Won’t you let me go down
In my dreams?
And rockabye, Sweet Baby James …”

-- “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor, written (gulp) over forty years ago, for his son’s arrival into this world.

--------------------

(*: first, I’m resetting the asterick count.  I’m on Page 22 for God’s sake; not even, uuh, God could keep up with how many footnotes I have in this post, at this point.  Having said that, the funniest moment at work for me this week, was when one of our BA people approached me as I was getting ready to leave on Thursday.  I attempted to blow her off, and she noticed the “Waldorf and Statler” Valentine’s Day heart thingy on my desk.  This person noted “wow.  That’s what me and Domi get called.”  My response?  “That what I refer to Connie and Ivy as.”  Her: “I’m not happy about it.”  Me: “well I wouldn’t be either.  It’s not exactly a term of endearment; it’s what you call people who b*tch all day long about the problem, yet never offer a solution.”  And … end conversation.)

--------------------

* To The Voice of Reason’s Wife (aka Ashley): in the interest of full disclosure, I despised you big time early on, especially Memorial Day Weekend 2006, when I had to take a call from Gregg, while I was at the Indy 500, that you’d broken it off.

You won me back, when I got a call from your (now) husband, ironically eating the same breakfast (biscuits and gravy with a side of Bud Light), sitting on the same driveway (Peggy’s, a two block walk west from Georgetown in the closest thing to Heaven, that Earth has to offer), almost three months to the day later, for the Brickyard in 2006.

I figured G proposing was coming; if he’s giving me his Brickyard tickets, he obviously had something planned.

So allow me to say this:

You are the single best thing, that has ever happened to him.  Yeah, Garrett and Bri are going to change this world for the positive. 

But you?

Are the best thing, to ever happen to him.

And I am already laughing out loud, at said Voice of Reason reading this … realizing that I?

Am being perfectly reasonable, for once.

Also, your breakfast burritos are to die for.  If you come out for a Chiefs game next year, I’ll happily spend $50, on whatever you need, to work your magic.

* To Garrett and Bri: you have a dad, 99.99% of the world, would kill to have.  Ditto your mom.  You won life’s lottery, even if you don’t know it yet, even if it takes you 20 some odd years to get it … or like me, you’ve known it all along, but it takes you 30 something years, to admit it.  There will be times in this life you will question the three words appearing after the colon here, but trust your Unca Teve, for once he’s right: treasure your parents.  Thank God above that He gave you the parents He did. 

You’re going to change this world for the better.  The great ones?  Always do.

To “The Voice of Reason”’s family, my theme would be:

“You get the best of my love!”


Another section down, incredibly enough in … barely over a page!

Which means three more sections to go … two of which involve the two best friends, I’ve ever had, in this amazing gift from God known as “life” …

------------------

* To my personal “Voice of Reason” (who, (classic “snl” sketch voice) “unless you’ve been living in a cave”, you know is Gregg):

You are the best friend a kid could ever have.  (Pause).  Wait – I’m seven months older than you.  I’m not the kid!  Sonofa! …

I cannot ever possibly put into words, what you mean to me. 

You had my back through the worst of times.

And I applied that God-awful smelling sh*t on your back, in the best of times.  (It was to deal with sunburn, people!  Don’t read into that, that which isn’t there, (gumby voice) dammit!)

You forgave me for failing this friendship in ways that are indefensible. 

I have never, for a day in this life, deserved someone as amazing as you.

But for one day this past year, I’ve never been prouder, never been happier, never been more in awe, to simply have you call me a friend.

September 30, 2014.

Royals host their first playoff game in twenty nine years. 

Everything about that day was so epic, so amazing.  Our buddy Hoagland coming in from Tampa to simply witness something we’d waited thirty f*cking years for.  (Note: I believe that’s the first f bomb in the post, and it occurred on Page 24 in Word!  That’s a win for all of us!!!!!!!  (Pause).  Oh.  (Pause).  Yeah, Dusty’s section is still to come.  So those of you who took the “over” 6.5 on the prop bet of “how many f-bombs will Stevo drop in this post”, are still very much alive, to win that bet!)

My brother and Neeck.  Sharing that day with Tim.

And good grief, your dad dude.  I honestly think, after Sal Perez hit that ball down the third base line to deliver the Royals into the Divisional Series, the moment that made me cry the most, was you and your dad’s reaction, over it.

I can only think of one song, as your theme.  We may have had to wait thirty years, hundreds upon thousands of wasted dollars, tens upon tens of fun tailgates for worthless day games**, and at least a few Double Header Days that we can’t recall 40% of because of the alcohol involved … but we were there, at 11:53pm, on Tuesday, September 30th.


Or as you noted to that crack reporter for Channel 9 (gulp) sixteen years ago, leaving Double Header Day:

“It was worth it!”

There’s only one song, that can possibly be your theme from me, for this year.  A song that on Wednesday, October 29th, I not only had on a constant repeat loop for nine hours on the job, two hours in the bowling league, and fired up at every television commercial watching Game Seven at P Otts on College … I’d bet everything I have ever earned or owned in this life, you did as well.

The song that defined October 2014 … which wouldn’t have been possible, were it not for 11:53pm on September 30th.

There is literally noone else, I would have wanted to see that moment with, than you.

Other than possibly Jasson.

I’ll always have your back man.  Then, now, and always.

“Growing up?
You don’t see the writing on the wall.
Passing by?
Moving straight ahead, you knew it all.

But maybe sometime?
If you feel the pain?
You’ll find you’re all alone;
Everything has changed.

Play the game!
You know you can’t quit until it’s won!
Soldier on!
Only you can do what must be done!

You know, in some way?
You’re just like me.
You’re just a prisoner,
And you’re trying to break free!

I can see the new horizon!
Underneath the blazing sky!
I’ll be where the eagle,
Is flying higher and higher!

Gonna be your man in motion!
All I need is a pair of wheels!
Take me where my future’s lying,
St. Elmo’s Fire!!!”

-- by John Parr

-------------------

(**: added late by the editor: Mendy Lopez Happened.  We EARNED October.)

------------------


First, congratulations to you and Kellie on the birth of Miles.  I pray he is everything you wanted, everything you hoped and prayed for, and I am extremely happy for the two of you, at the addition to your lives.

Having said that …

Dustin, I’ve known you for pushing fifteen years now.  I’ve never been angrier with you, than I am at this point.  And I am fully aware you have a thing called “Stubbs” on the resume, to enrage me.

I’m angrier now, than I was that night in March 2009, when you owned the failure that was our tenure in that place.

For me, this is simple.  If what we have become is what you want us to be, then be enough of a man to look me in the face, and say so.  If what we have become is not what you want us to be, then be enough of a man, and enough of a friend, to own your epic failure to this friendship, and agree to talk this out.

Either way, sir, use your balls for something other than blowing a load, for the first time in your life.

Act like the man you claim to be, and the great friend you represented yourself to be.

That is all I have asked you to do.

(nike voice) Just do it.

Because I miss my friend.  Tremendously.  There honestly is no word to describe, how much I truly miss you dude.  And I’m not the only one, of the friends I brought into your life, who feels that way. 

My theme to you, is my favorite song of all time.  And its’ words have never rang more true.  

Read them.  

Then please -- act on them.

“I came across a fallen tree;
I felt the branches of it,
Looking at me.

Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that
I’ve been dreaming of?

Oh simple thing!
Where have you gone?
I’m getting old, and I
Need something to rely on.

So tell me when,
You’re gonna let me in.
I’m getting tired, and I
Need somewhere to begin.

And if you have a minute?
Why don’t we go,
Talk about it,
Somewhere only we know?

This?  Could be the end
Of everything!
So why don’t we go,
Somewhere only we know?

Somewhere only we know?

Somewhere only we know! …”


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And at last, we reach ...

* “The Finale”.

I turned 38 on January 3rd.  Last year I spent my birthday weekend watching the Chiefs collapse in epic fashion in Indianapolis, then enduring a ride home from hell itself I wouldn’t wish on even john elway.  (I should note, the weather is what has always enraged me the most, about that defeat.  We couldn’t properly deal, with the defeat.)

This year’s birthday was much more low-key.  I spent the day attempting to thank every person on Facebook who wished me well, attempting to reply to every email and text and phone call, because any person that is a part of my life, in any way, matters to me, tremendously.  True – some, more than others.  But everyone has value, everyone has worth.

I was getting ready to call it a night – Seattle was demolishing Carolina, there wasn’t a NBA game worth tuning in to, ditto a college game, and as I prepped to take the laptop from the bed to the outlet to recharge, a notification came up, that I had a new Facebook message.

So, I hopped back up into bed, clicked on the Facebook icon, and was curious to see who the latest birthday well-wisher was.

It was “Deadbeat Ex Roommate”.

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I’m not going to post what he wrote, because (a) that’s not fair to him, and (b) a lot of what he had to write was personal.

But I mention this, because I am “that guy”, who believes coincidence is as based on reality, as the unicorn is.

Reading what Ben had to say, it caused me to view things in a whole new light, I had never honestly considered before.

And that is what I choose to say, in “The Finale” this year.

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If you scroll back up twenty seven pages, you will see the theme for this post, “A Modern Day Prodigal Son” by Brantley Gilbert.  If you’re astute and/or a MENSA member, you will notice I have never once injected the theme to the post, into the, uuh, post, so far.  Twenty seven pages in, and the theme is irrelevant so far.

It’s time to apply the theme, to the post.

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Ben’s message actually made me cry.  And that was a good thing.  His apology for all that happened during that year as his roommate, was one of the most heartfelt and genuine “dude, I f*cked up, and I’m sorry” moments, I’ve ever read.  For the record, while I was disgusted with the guy, I never hated him. 

He updated me on what his life has become, and apologized for the hurt he caused.  He owned his life – the good, the bad, the ugly.  And thank God above, it sounds like it’s all good now. 

Whatever disgust I still felt?  Melted away with that message.  He owned his failure to the friendship.  That’s honestly all I ask out of a friend – when you fail me, be honest enough to admit it, and own it.  And my response (which was nowhere near as worth reading as his reach-out to me) noted that, and extended an invitation to him the next time he’s back in town, to a happy hour on my tab.

No sooner did I click “send” … than it finally hit me.

(Pause).

I’m ... Ben.

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So allow me to open 2015 (readers voice: open?!?!?!  We’re 27 pages in, tito!!!!!) by saying that I am sorry.

I am sorry I have failed so many of you, so epically, over the last few years.  My life is what it is.  It’s not perfect.  It’s far from perfect.  Hell, at times, it’s a train wreck that even an Amtrak official would be disgusted by. 

I have demanded of you, what I refuse to give of myself, and that is to own your mistakes, own your failures, own your decisions and choices.  (Note: this is especially true when it comes to Dustin and Kellie.)

I have been the arrogant, selfish asshat, nobody wants to deal with.

And I am a rank, stank hypocrite, for having done that.

Every word in the opening lyrics to this post, apply to me.  Every bleeping word.  I can’t say I’m proud of that; I’m anything but.

I just hope you can forgive me.

But I understand, if you cannot.

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So to any friend, reader, or random stoned dude who stumbles upon this, my pledge to you for 2015 and going forward is this: if you ask me to be open and honest with you?  I will be.  

If you want to meet with me, because I’ve hurt you in any way, shape or form, and you want answers, explanations, and/or apologies?  I’ll meet you, on my dime, at a date, time, and location, that works for us.

It’s time for me to be held to the same standard, that I hold my friends to.

That is my pledge to you, in 2015.

I’m not going to promise to post more, although I’ll try.  I’m not going to promise to be funnier, or edit myself better (note: that is never going to happen), to be more interesting, to be sexier (note: that isn’t possible; I’m already so hot, the sun is jealous) to be …

Well, to quote the motto of my life:

I don’t wanna be anything?
Other than me.

Because I’ve been a renegade, a rambler, and I’ve squandered all I own (and then some).  I haven’t been a certified runaway (yet, anyways), but I have been a gambler, and I cannot count the lies I’ve told.

I need redemption, and I need your forgiveness.  And I pray for your open arms.

Because this modern day prodigal son?

Is ready to come home.

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To everyone reading this: I wish you all the best in 2015.

And my offer is real, and it is spectacular.  If I have hurt you, offended you, angered you, slandered you, trashed you, done anything to you over the years that you want accountability, explanations, and/or apologies for?  Reach out to me.  

I'll meet you, unconditionally. 

On your turf, on your terms, on my dime, on whatever.

Because I'm coming home.

Yeah, I'm coming home.

Because I'm f*cking done, with being a modern day prodigal son ...

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