Thursday, August 23, 2007

The End is Near

There are a few things by which you can measure your life. Milestones. Unseen flags planted along a curving path that, once crossed, let you know that a distance has been traveled.

Birth. (a gimme really)

Driver’s license.

Porn movie rental.

Legally purchased Mad Dog 20/20. (and subsequent government sanctioned hangover)

College graduation.


Yesterday, I crossed another of these milestones.

I was sitting at my desk here at home, editing episode 5 of the sitcom (check out episodes 1-4 at, when I got wind of the distinct scent of burning sulfur. Seeing as how I don’t life anywhere near an oil refinery, I was a bit concerned. My first thought whenever I smell anything that smells even slightly “fiery” is always that something has—well—caught fire. My imagination immediately begins to conjure up images of the building ablaze. A wall of flame threatening my neighbors, their only hope; my heroic action, my superior sulfur-sniffing schnoz.

But when I got to my front window to check it out, all I found were two kids sitting on the bottom of my steps.

I could tell they were up to no good; they had all the telltale signs of being 10-year-old punks:

1) They were 10 years old.

2) They were kids.

3) They both had that 10-year-old punk-ass haircut. You know the hair I’m talking about. I call it the “Blond Boy-Princess Cut.” Highlights and shine that a tween pop diva would stop purging for. They looked like they just got fired off their stunt-double jobs on “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.” Hair that says “I’m a bad-ass motherfucker” to other kids, too young to appreciate the irony.

I really knew they were dumbshits when I saw the bigger of the two toss a spent stink bomb into the street (I knew I recognized that smell!). I watched them for a little while longer as they threw some other crap into my driveway, had some inane—yet dramatic—convo and fired off some text messages on their Sidekick. (Seriously, why the hell do 10-year-olds need a freaking Sidekick?!)

Finally, the bigger one produced a blue marker from his pocket and I needed a cigarette.

I stood downstairs in my driveway and talked to Tanya on the phone. The kids stayed put at the bottom of the stairs. I half watched them. I should have busted them for throwing garbage into my driveway, but I hate confrontation, even if I’m twice the size of both of them out together. So I decided to relax about it.

I hung up with Tanya and headed back upstairs. The kids graciously move two inches each to let me by.

That’s when I saw it.

The little shit had tagged my bottom step!

I stood behind them for a few moments weighing my legal options before saying anything. These days you have to. You just can’t go around disciplining other people’s kids anymore. In fact, you should probably think twice before talking to them.

But when they felt my contempt busting a hole in the backs of their heads, they slowly turned around.

“Hey, why don’t you clean that shit off my step?”

And with that utterance, I entered a new chapter in my life. The chapter that begins: “I’ll have the strained peas please.”

I’m officially an old man.

I know I’ve said that before, but this time it’s indisputable. Because I didn’t just say “hey, why don’t you clean that shit off my step.”

I stood there while the kid did it.

Albeit, not without a fight.

“I didn’t do that!”

“Yes you did, I saw the blue marker in your pocket. Blue writing. Blue marker. I cracked the code.”

“I didn’t, but if you insist on blaming me, I’ll clean it up.”

“Dude,” I said dude. I may be an old man, but I’m not going quietly, damnit! “Dude, I’m not an idiot. Just clean the shit off my stairs. This place is a big enough shithole without you writing all over it.” I swore a lot just to let the kids know that I’m cool as hell. Because that’s oh so very important.

So the kid grabbed the nearby hose, while I and his princess-boy buddy watched, and he scrubbed the writing off the step with his shirtsleeve.

“Okay, that’s good enough.” There was still some blue left but not much. After all, why humiliate the kid any further because of some blue stains when the owners are barely keeping the entire staircase safe enough to walk on in the first place?

And with a hearty, “Now get the hell out of here.” It was done.

Am I a hypocrite? I had no respect for other people’s property. I tagged crap when I was a kid (with un-washable spray paint! I blame the movie “Beat Street”).

But you know why I stopped? Because some old, out-of-touch, killjoy fucker yelled at me for it.

To everything turn, turn, turn...

My hip hurts.

Fun Fact: When I was 10, my friends and I decided to make a fort—on the roof of the Public Library. When the cops showed up to bust us, we ran and hid in an ally.

The only problem was that the ally was right behind the police station.

Kids are dumb.

This picture is an artists rendering of the actual library mentioned above. Why no real picture, you ask? Well, this is the only one I could find online. Evidently, they don’t trust cameras in Wheeling, WV. They think they steal your “coal.”

They are a confused and superstitious coalmining people.

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