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Archive for March, 2011

A Knight In Rusty Armour

March 28th, 2011 by Bob Gilmore

It is Saturday morning and my responses to our E-Diner yarns were delayed due to the fact that it’s busier than a Kansas City stockyard next door. We have been assisting any way we can the last few days to make the blushing bride’s (“Dana”) big day go as smooth as a peeled egg. The wedding starts in a few hours and will be filled with twenty-somethings probably texting each other inside the church. I can smell the aroma of my Cauldron of Comments that is already starting to boil and bubble. I will call “em as I see ‘em. I got myself caught up in an interesting situation on Thursday evening and along with your misc. comments about young people versus adults, I will unleash a story that has all the elements of a classic fable that I will call “A Knight in Rusty Armour”. It will be descriptive, heartwarming, very wordy and contain dragons and an unlikely hero. The preparation of this wedding also helps to heat the cauldron. A woman would consider the fable more seriously. Chivalry is not dead and I can prove it. By the way, the cat’s stool sample was negative. Here comes the bride so I must get dressed, in Killer Threads

I’m back from the wedding, it’s late and all is quiet. I’m pondering the idea of starting the Knight story for you guys. I think I’ll make a pot of coffee first. I’ll be right back….OK I’m back. If you guys have to go to the bathroom, now is the time. You know how wordy I can get. Here we go…”Once upon a time…..”

It was late Thursday afternoon while driving home from filling out yet another job application, my cell phone rang and was told to report to the large dress shop that “D” uses for formal frocks. The store was open until 8:30pm and it was already 5pm. This was a final attempt to find a “better outfit” to wear to (today’s) wedding. With all the action of a red Torino in a Starsky & Hutch car chase, It was balls-out to the frock shop. Why my opinion matters now is beyond me, since I’m told I’m never right and have been in this scenario and store many times. Nevertheless I arrive in true Adam-12 style.

The store is fairly large and is chock-full of formal, party, wedding and prom dresses and gowns. The sizes range from zero to 28 so you must be prepared for sudden shocks as females go in and out of the row of dressing booths to get opinions from relatives, spouses and friends. There are also multiple full-length mirrors in this area and it tends to look like a carnival fun house. Some people don’t understand why you should not try on a mermaid style gown if you are pushing over 200 pounds.

While my better half was busy in her quest, I took a seat at ground zero by the dressing rooms since this is were the decision making process takes place. By this time the only other customer in this area was a senior woman and a young girl in a sweat suit getting ready to try on a few garments she was carrying. I didn’t pay much attention and sat across from her after she politely said hello. She looked dismal so I started a little small talk and was informed that she was the girls grandmother and was “stuck with the job” of escorting her because her mother was too busy and would not make the time to shop for the THREE proms she was invited to. Wow…that was harder than I would slam a door. I was still uncomfortable as I pondered why ma and g-ma would not be proud that others thought enough of the girl to invite her to three expensive formals. What makes this young lady different? I was about to find out….

What emerged from the dressing area left me breathless. She was a beautiful girl-next-door classic with long thick wavy hair that was a mix of honey and the color of old copper pipe. Her velvety skin had a warm tone. The gown she had on was a floor length number that was the color of hot molten flowing lava. It was a very sleek, fitted rig. Like most females she started to do the little war dance in front of the mirror that consists of twisting her head and turning to check the look of every angle along with creating invisible high heels by standing on their toes. This ritual and the wet hair towel wrap-and-flip are developed moments after birth. The front of the dress came up to a halter style top that was sporting enough cleavage to keep you constantly daydreaming. When she turned around and pulled her hair forward I saw that the dress was completely backless. The back was cut so low that when your eyes run down her spine it feels like a fast ride on an elevator the way your stomach jumps when you stop at the ground floor. The fabric made her ass look like a perfect mouth-watering peach. She was built for speed and if the person that will be escorting her wants to put their arm around her they will have to shift down into 2nd to handle those curves.

You could tell by the look on her face and the tone of her voice that this was a “must have” and she also tried on two others that were “keepers” and would bring these deadly weapons to bear at the other functions. One was a green rig similar to the lava dress and the other was a short dark purple atomic reactor that left little to the imagination and will leave a path of destruction and broken hearts like the Martians did in War of the Worlds.

What she did not realize is that this was about to happen to her…

All the while the young lady was trying the garments, she would ask g-ma for constructive advice and opinions.

Deep in the Forrest of Taffeta the young lady was trying on the garments, she would as g-ma for constructive advice and opinions. All she received was snide comments and dull remarks about style, price and colors. This gathered my full attention and I caught g-mas game early on. This girl was sweet and not a spoiled bee-otch and did not deserve this badgering.

No matter what this girl would wear to a formal, rest assured the front of her would capture every ones imagination upon entering and the back of her would hold their attention until long after she walked out of sight.

The negative comments continued with each garment and I could see what it was doing to the girl. I could not stand by and do nothing so after every comment I would throw a few complements and opinions as heavy as blacksmith anvils, frustrating g-ma. She knew in her heart that her three selections were perfect and asked g-ma if she could purchase them this evening. G-ma fired back with “that’s your mothers decision-it’s her problem.” I was still stunned as the girl opened up her cell phone to call her mother for permission to buy the garments. She closed her phone after a brief conversation and I could see the anticipation drain from her face. She told g-ma that her mother had not time for this right now and that the best she could hope for is for (mom) to bring her back tomorrow and “we’ll see”. THAT DID IT…

G-ma responded with a smug look and told her hang up the dresses and get ready to leave. I could feel the anger welling up inside me and the feeling of my clothes turning to metal. The heavy sensation of the Excalibur was in my right hand. The area around my glasses became dark as if looking through the openings of a bucket shaped helmet. The girl was crushed. The heavy stench of brimstone surrounded the g-dragon and her large bat-like wings engulfed the maiden in a sinister shadow.

With heavy heart the maiden handed back the dresses to the sales lady and asked if the could be held until she could return with her mom the next day. The lady said she would hold them only until late afternoon because it will then be Friday (busy) and it is the height of prom shopping season.

I could feel the sting of the g-dragon’s tail as she clutched the maiden in her talons and flew out of the shop, positive that she would report her version of what transpired to her offspring (mom) upon arriving at her lair.

The gouges, rust and scrapes in the Armour that I have forged over my lifetime so far, reflected back from the mirrors and reminded me that I have slain far more tenacious foes than what I have just encountered. Cutting the head off the g-dragon was no longer an option. What was needed was a device of lethal cunning, with the ability to slay not only the g-dragon but also her no-time-for-this offspring, from a far distance.

I explained what happened to the sales lady and asked to see the prices of the 3 frocks. The green number and the purple killer were.. NOT CHEAP and if combined would amount to half the price of my first used car. The Lava dress however, had an additional tag along with two other stickers. I asked the sales lady to help decipher the price and she said that the tag was a price reduction due to the fact that it was the last one left and will not be reordered or it has been discontinued. The stickers allowed an additional 50% reduction. My iron attire squeaked as I pointed my heavy sword directing her attention to the very tall rack near the dressing booths. “That ‘s the rack (truthfully) that the girl picked the gown from..” “and there is a little sign on the top that says additional 50% off” She looked up and said “what sharp eyes you have!” and then said yes, there would be another reduction of the marked item. (reduced price minus 50% minus 50%) “SOLD!!” I said to her and she was taken by surprise. I instructed her to ring up the dress and hold it for the girl and give it to her as a gift with my complements should she return with her mother, and also tell her that I want to make sure that at least one of her three wishes comes true. The sales lady as deeply touched and asked what to do if she did not return. I instructed her to credit my account if she did not return, changed her mind or was not comfortable with a stranger’s gift or just put the funds toward the other items. She took my number a promised to call with the outcome no matter what. Gallantry is way cool. As I left the frock shop my Armour felt lighter and more comfortable as I squeaked, rattled and clanked towards the car. It’s been a long time since I donned these devastating duds.

Friday had my mind on various distractions and while cleaning the litter box around 4pm, my cell phone rang. I answered and a woman’s voice said “is this Bob?” (yes) “this is the sales lady from the dress store” ” the young lady and her mother came back today and I told them the whole story and the young lady is with me and would like to talk to you-please hold.” A moment later a sweet voice said hello an started gushing with gratitude and thanked me repeatedly along with a quiver in her voice that also had undertones of disbelief. I told her that she was more than welcome and to have fun at whichever function she decides to wear it. I also told her that it is common to alter the gown by cutting it above the knees for use as a party or cocktail dress after the formal is over. I asked if her mother will let her get the other two dresses and she paused and quietly said maybe not. I instructed her to keep up the pressure and tell mom the money she didn’t spend on the gown she now has can be put toward the other two. I wished her all the best and said good-by to the fair maiden.

As I closed up the cell phone I said to myself in a low voice: “Fair Maiden…I kneel before you and offer you my compassion and to prove my devotion, I offer you this gift…it is the head of the Dragon.” THE END

I know you are all wondering the same things and you will haunt me until I tell you. The young ladies name is EDITH (e-dee) and the final cost of the Lava Gown was $49 bucks. Bob G.

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Killer Threads Part Deux

March 25th, 2011 by Rich Szabo

A Continuation of “Killer Threads”

Was the little dump truck that our tire exploding hero drove the same vehicle that was carrying the piano in the dump bed while the janitor from the elementary school played songs on it all the way across town at about 35-40 mph? I recall a discussion about this years ago and it must have lingered in the dusty hallways of my mind.

Your time line is correct with regard to me working at Lavalle’s Amoco during your grandmas bout with Exxon’s red carb, high cholesterol gas dye. That reminds me…I have to get a good specimen from my cat’s litter box to bring to the vet for testing tomorrow. My cat and your grandmas car have similar symptoms. Exxon no longer uses the catch phrase “Put a tiger in you tank” and that is probably the reason why.( I have a hep-cat!)

That bout was also shortly before you and I transported Jack back from college laying on an army stretcher piled on his belongings in the back of my truck. Everything was piled high in my Suburban and he only had a few inches of space and would smash into the roof on the bigger road bumps. Dropping most of his stuff out a multi-story window was a real time saver,regardless of the fact that you “cracked one off” in the elevator and nobody wanted to use it until it aired out. Otis Elevators can really take a punch!

I cannot give anyone results of today’s interview because the employers had a shindig going on in the “big room” and had no time for me, so I filled out forms and was told I would be contacted tomorrow. I saw what was going on and understood. Over the last few seasons I have trained myself to not get my hopes up when job hunting no matter what anyone says. As I drove the 24 miles (one way) to the interview on a road that shook me loose from anything I ever held sacred….I reminded myself of all the people that took my applications and then blew smoke up my ass, wasting my time the past few seasons. I can now fart hourly smoke signal messages,weather reports and union soldier locations to all the Indian tribes as far as the great plains. I knew I had to look the part since this was an upscale joint along with catering hall for blushing brides, restaurant with bar and downstairs lounge for divorcees, cougars, big liars, giggles and grab-ass. My standard bartender outfit was the uniform of the day,consisting of black pants, bleach white oxford shirt,name tag engraved with “Bartender Bob” and black waffle stomper laced boots. It was windy and 40 degrees today so a short length black leather pilots jacket and smooth black lambskin gloves gave a mission-critical look. I will have to repeat this process when I am (hopefully) called back. When I was young I never thought I would see a great depression, abandon my true profession and beg for a job mixing flammable liquids with fruit juice.

Wow, I don’t recall the piano playing dump truck at all. I do remember the trip home in the cargo hold – grateful for the ride and the bruises were just a part of deal. To this day, I get a laugh telling about the time I sat in the Great Hall at Penn Station waiting on my chariot. I was just about nodding off when a commotion went through the room “look at THAT!” as Santa and Rudolph twinkled along the outer windows. “What on earth IS that?” ‘Scuse me! That’s my ride! We may have been broke, but you can’t buy style and class.

I’ve been meaning to respond more on what we have lost in the economy and culture. Part of it, on the Dean Martin, scotch and bombshell side, is that now we glorify youth and pretend we never have to grow up. A 45 year old man in a Party Dude t-shirt and Ed Hardy jeans is not rockin’. He’s creepy, he’s pathetic, and probably not allowed within 1500 feet of an elementary school. Adults drink cocktails, appreciate a good Cuban cigar and want music played by someone not overdosing on mescaline. Every generation rebels against their elders, it’s a part of growing up. Our problem is that in the ’70s the punks won, and we’re still paying the price.The world is much better with adults in charge.

The dump truck was the very same vehicle, but the driver at the time of the mobile honky-tonk recital was none other than Charles Gutknecht — yup, my stepfather. He actually did have a sense of humor, just not with me or my sister. The playing of the “Maple Leaf Rag” and other ragtime classics on that gigantic old upright was performed by Harry Hoeke. And the witness to this spectacle was my mother, who happened to be bicycling along Hillside Avenue when this sideshow went sailing past her.

Wow, I give Charlie credit, never knew he had that kind of humor. Pity he hid it so well.

Reminds me of that group about ten years back that mounted a grand piano on skis and ran it down the slopes at a resort in the Alps, with a pianist in black tails playing. The spokesman said “He played (whatever piece) by Rachmaninoff, which we think is appropriately tragic, and quite competently played under the circumstances.” You hope they had plenty of people waiting at the bottom to stop the damn thing before it went through the town.

Your grandmother’s problems with Exxon regular also reminded me of many Saturdays when we planned to do something. We both cut the grass at home first thing in the morning, then met at your grandmother’s and knocked out her yardwork so we could do our own thing. Amazingly enough, we didn’t think we were abused or exploited, it was what everybody did. I see plenty of kids around here, but rarely do you see one cutting the grass. Why is that? Are chores toxic now?

To be continued…

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Killer Threads

March 24th, 2011 by Rich Szabo

This is an on going email thread between myself and three very good friends. I asked permission to post this and all agreed. I think you will find it amusing:

While sorting my laundry I did ponder the differences and mentally reviewed the clothing in my favorite WWII movies. The Axis attire was far more stylish than our own doughboy duds. Nothing puts a high gloss on a staff meeting better than the German long leather coats, gloves and boots. Great collar insignia, iron crosses and peaked caps put the “can do” in the “who’s who”. One of my personal favorites is the panzer commander’s black outfit. I’m sure the ladies could not resist those killer threads along with headphones and binoculars for that “man of action” look. Whether cruising with your turret hatch open or relaxing and eating lunch on your track skirts, it’s always a crowd pleaser. I always looked for the good in the Africa corps uniforms but never really liked them (especially the hats). I did however like the little palm trees painted on the equipment. The British always looked too dated and the embellishments were not practical. The only thing that the US really idolized was the bomber/pilot jacket. It is obvious that our uniforms were form-follows-function. My feelings toward camo colors and patterns (of which there are many) are mixed. It’s hard to be stealthy when you let loose on a 50cal. machine gun. If you are raising dust in a convoy or smashing through the woods in a tank or advancing across the desert with attack copters overhead you might as well wear a clown costume for all the good it will do. I often look at things a little differently.

The Axis looked much more stylish than the Allies. There’s a reason that even today the Fashion Leaders (Hollywood and bondage dungeons) (I repeat myself) go for that black leather and stainless steel SS look. Even the Darth himself took his style cue from the Germans. The Italians could cut a sharp figure, no surprise considering that Milan still teaches the rest of us how to look good. Very underrated, in my opinion. The Japanese weren’t too overly good or bad on uniforms, but for an interesting contrast look at the photos of the surrender ceremony on the deck of the Missouri. The Japanese were starving, bombed back into the Stone Age and literally glowing in the dark, yet they show up in full-dress morning coat outfits. Classy, even in abject defeat. MacArthur standing in his baggy khakis looked like he took a break from cleaning the basement to sign the damn document. I still feel a twinge of embarrassment when I see the photos. Gee Dougie, could you stop flogging the Filipino butt-boy long enough for him to iron your Class A’s?

As for the Allies, the Russians never stood out much with their uniforms. Not terrible but nothing you’d want to copy. To my knowledge, no one ever actually witnessed a Frenchman in uniform long enough to form a judgement one way or the other. More likely, you see them in a ratty shirt, sucking on a Gauloise with a bottle of cheap vin rouge and a collaborating tart on the other arm, cheering on whoever seems to be winning at the moment. The Brits were a little odd, as they tend to be. That whole idea of wearing shorts as a battle uniform just looks bizarre, like a troop of Boy Scouts playing army. On the other hand, for sheer dignity it’s hard to match a couple RN senior officers in full overcoats, standing on an open bridge in a North Atlantic gale debating the finer points of grouse hunting while German 14 inch shells splash all around. I think the attitude is just as critical as the outfit, but God knows they have the attitude in spades.
The best take I’ve seen on US uniforms mentioned something about how you don’t need to know how they’re dressed, when all you can see is a flash of polished aluminum five miles overhead. Not exactly on point, but it makes me laugh.

Glad to see we Concur on Couture with regard to military garb past and present. I would like to add another salvo to your observations about MacArthur’s constant fashion faux pas. The pictures and newsreels also make my skin crawl because I have also remarked about the sloppy fit and wrinkles. Here we have the final surrender of the enemy in the largest conflict in human history dressed to stunning perfection complete with top hat, and who do we send to represent our country? Emmet Kelly, from Ringling Brothers. Let’s face it, he looked like he was on an all night bender, pissed himself and passed out and slept in his uniform. I’m sure the reason he said “I shall return” is because he got thrown out for looking like that. Any bouncer at any hot spot will back me up on this.

Let’s move on to Darth……yes, the German SS did influence many things like his helmet. We older gummers new this from the first episode. You will notice that our troops use a copy of the Jerry helmet today only it has a cloth cover. You will also be pleased to know that kinky Nazi bondage outfits are now available in washable leather (what? cum again?) . Latex outfits will always be available for the thrifty budget. As for the Brits fighting in the desert with shorts and knee socks…..don’t get me started. These are the same people that came up with the pith helmet and also wore berets. Who the Hell wants to wear a three pound hard hat and shorts in blistering conditions?

Watch the movies “Hatari” with John Wayne or “Magambo” with Clark Gable and you will see the proper attire for tropic/desert adventure. I have a closet full of hot weather threads just like in the movies and they serve me well along with looking spectacular and could give John or Clark a real run for the money. Understand of course that I would spend less time hunting animals and more time banging the brains out of Eva Gardner. As for our Dudes in Drab…I think our “green army men” uniforms have served us well over the long haul and I would be proud to wear them as surplus.

The very thought of guys like Vic Marrow in tv’s “Combat” standing there wearing a steel pot, battle jacket, grenades, tommygun and a few days stubble complete with an unfiltered cigarette is enough to make the enemy wish they died at birth. Priceless.

One of my all time favorites is of course…Rat Patrol! Nothing says “action packed” like the outfit worn by Christopher George! That is the ultimate outfit for a day of 50cal. Gun play and then take the jeep for a cruise to the oasis for cool drinks and hot babes with big boobs. The lap dances would be non- stop since they can’t resist the cool khaki cotton, Aussie hat and brown jackboots. To complete this thrill package requires two packs of Lucky Strikes, the trusty Zippo lighter, a roll of US greenbacks and a well worn .45 for dishing out lead poisoning. Combine this with a buxom babe with high heels and low morals and it’s V for Victory!

The website where I bought my pith helmet explains the difference pretty well – The Gunga Din hat is the Brit military version, never did see the point in them as it has no brim at all. Unless you’re a re-enactor doing the Boer War for some reason, there’s no purpose in wearing one of those that I can tell. The classic police “bobby” helmet is actually a version of that style of pith helmet.

Mine is the safari style, canvas covered but with a wide brim. I believe they call it the Indian helmet, but I might have gotten the French helmet. Pretty much identical, anyway. The internal band makes it “float” over your head so there’s plenty of air to cool you down, and if you dunk it in water the evaporation will provide air conditioning. It’s really just ingenious.

I used to have a campaign hat (bought it at Sam’s) but don’t recall whatever happened to it. That’s another great style, it’s obvious that they get used because they work so well.

I will tell you what just struck a nerve. I was just getting some clothes out of my closet for an interview tomorrow and came across my vintage blue ESSO service station Ike style jacket. (pre-1972,Exxon was ’73 on). I stared at it and memories came back like a firestorm. My parents would enter Bernie’s Esso Station at Northfield and Hillside(Bernies has been boarded-up for a long while now) and a moment after you heard the DING-DING, Bernie or a mechanic would appear wearing their Esso uniform and say hello,what fuel and how much you would like. After you heard the slap of the spring loaded license plate hit the nozzle and the pump dials start to spin….the man would pull one or two blue paper towels from the dispenser that also held the flat squirt bottle and then cleaned the windscreen, lifted the wipers and ran the towel on the rubber edge for a final touch.

Part of our growing up was walking a bike across the station (past the promotional Esso Tiger sitting on the pumps) over to the Enco TY-R-FLATOR air pump for that heartwarming GA-DING-ssss, GA-DING-ssss sound. If that didn’t work you just went inside and the man would sell you a quality ATLAS patch kit. My question to you guys is this….have we (society) lost all style and respect for common and mundane services? Is it to much to ask for a little style and polish and respect so people know that they are honestly welcome and their patronage is appreciated? Years ago every skill and service had a distinct look (barber,bartender,driver etc.). What happened? I think in these hard times we should take a hard look and maybe reconsider what is really important. To continue on the subject of uniforms… I would love to see the reaction of people pulling into a little filling station and being attended to by a man in a classic outfit complete with 5 point cap,bow tie,crisp Ike jacket with pressure gauge in the pocket and chunky black oxfords. A white shirt and wiping rag in the rear pocket says “Fill’er Up!” to any sporty blonde or rubber-burnin’ brunette. Many of the things that made this country great have withered on the vine. Please tell me I’m wrong. Are we the last guys on earth to understand what is really important? People often laugh at my Dean Martin-scotch & soda-stacked bombshell way of thinking. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would like to fill up at that station with the vintage attendant in a monster tail-finned convertible while wearing a full tux and a girl that’s built like a brick shit-house by my side. The world doesn’t know what it’s missing…… Sighhhh.
Anyway, thank you-drive safely-here are your S&H green stamps and “Please come again”.

Fossils — yup, by the standards of today, I’m afraid we’d all fall into that category! Just thinking about Bernie’s Esso takes me way back. I can still hear the DING-DING of the service island bell coming through the open windows of our house in warmer weather. Considering how clearly we could hear that bell from about 100 yards away, I’m sure that by now OSHA has probably declared such bells an “occupational safety hazard” that require either removal or handing out OSHA-approved hearing protection to the employees.

On the opposite hand, I also remember good ol’ Esso/Exxon leaded regular; the gasoline in and of itself was probably okay, but that goddamn red dye they put in the fuel for visual identification — I swear that it could pug up the Holland Tunnel, never mind the tiny passages in the idle circuit of a carburetor. Damn, I hated that sh!t. After the third carb rebuild — or was it the fourth? — in less than two years, I told Grandma, who you KNOW that I would literally do ANYTHING for, if she didn’t stop putting that crap in her tank, she could start paying a mechanic to de-gunk that carb. I made her switch to Amoco, and after that she never had another fuel problem.
The comment about the TY-ER-FLATOR immediately dug out the memory bank an incident I hadn’t thought of for decades. My Mother, who never drove a car, used to ride all over town on a bicycle. In the summer, the three of us — Mom, my sister and me — would cycle over to the town pool at Memorial Park. One day, as we reached the end of the street, I noticed that the front tire on Mom’s bike was a bit low so, naturally, we made a quick stop at Bernie’s to use the air hose. Just as we pulled up to the old Enco, one of my stepfather’s Board of Ed co-workers, Ray Ambio, who was filling up the BoE’s green mason dump, saw us by the air pump and gallantly walked over to “assist.” He had no air gauge, and he didn’t reset the automatic pressure cut-off — he claimed both were unnecessary, since he could “feel” when the pressure was right while filling the tire. Well, he was “feeling” the tire when the damned thing exploded like a blockbuster right beneath his hand. I think my ears rang for an hour after that, as I’m sure his did, too. I’m equally certain that fire engine red welt that covered most of Mr. Ambio’s palm continued to sting for days after the ear-ringing subsided!

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