Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What I say, I mean. What I mean, I say.

This hails from my day of truancy as a sophomore in high school. My grandparents lived a couple blocks from my high school. They went out of town, so Roy and I hatched a plan to skip school for the day. After our parents dropped us off we had our friend Ross drive us the three blocks and then we used my grandparents' hidden house key. Ross had the good sense to go back to school.
Roy's older brother was going to call in pretending to be my dad to get my absence excused. I don't think anybody could have gotten ahold of Roy's parents that day for some reason. At least, I don't remember the plan involving anyone calling in for Roy.
I don't think we really knew what we were supposed to do with our freedom. We had this big ass house full of liquor and cigarettes at our disposal, but we just drank Cokes, played pool, and watched TV in the game room. Until my Aunt Ann came by the house.
When I heard the car pulling into the carport I slapped the TV off, hollered, "Dude, we're fucked. Run!" to Roy, and took off. We skidded past the kitchen just as she was fitting her key into the door. Luckily the shades were down. By the time she was inside were huddled together in a closet upstairs. I'm pretty sure I know what Anne Frank felt like. [Kidding! Geez.]
The hiding spot was perfect because Ann had no reason to come upstairs and she would probably not have looked in the closet anyway. It was less than perfect because we couldn't hear her movements downstairs or see her car to know when she left. So we sat around the closet smelling Roy's farts for what was probably ten minutes but felt like five hours. After that we were still too scared to go downstairs but we decided to at least check out the upstairs bedroom.
We found some of my Uncle Pete's (I assume) old shorts and T-shirts with the sleeves ripped off. We changed into these clothes in what now seems like kind of a gay decision. I think the clothes change reminded me that I had forgotten socks to wear to the Y after school. (I would go to the Y with Wes Tumlinson between school letting out and driver's ed starting.) So I called my mom at home to see if she could bring some socks for me to the Y.
"Hey, mom."
"Matt, where are you?"
"Uh, I'm at school."
"No, you're not, Matt. The school just called me looking for you. Where are you?"
"Uh, I'm at Mamaw and Pawpaw's."
"Well, you're dad's on his way over there right now."
At this point I'm waving frantically at Roy to get our stuff and leave. "Uh...uh...bye, mom."
We grab our bags and school clothes and take off toward school. We decided to run along the railroad tracks instead of on the road in case my dad was driving by. We changed clothes as we ran, pulling on polos over our pilfered ripped tees. Our English teacher saw us walking up to the football field as he was walking home for lunch. He nodded and said nothing.
We went straight to the office to turn ourselves in. I was in full-on panic mode. My heart rate was probably 200. I was scared, but I was pissed too. I thought Roy's brother had me covered, but it seemed he had fucked me. When I checked in with the secretary, however, they didn't bat an eye. "Oh, you were sick but now you're feeling better? Okay then. Go on to lunch and have a good day." Seriously? That's how easy this shit was? Turned out Dwayne had called in for me but only after they had called my mom. I don't remember what Roy told them, but he got off pretty easy too. Hell, Roy used to go to the sick room and make out with his girlfriend so he was practically a pro at this shit.
I spent the rest of the day imagining the various ways my dad was going to inflict pain on me. I seriously thought he was going to beat. that. ass. I had never done anything like this and was sure this would be the end of me. If I survived at all it would be as a crippled shell of what I had been. Of this, and only this, I was certain. Classmates were genuinely concerned for my safety. One girl told me the next day she almost called the cops for me because I was so worried she thought my dad might actually murder me.
Anyway, I don't remember much of the rest of that day. I know that at the beginning of religion class, when we always said prayers and intentions, somebody prayed for me not to get killed. I know that my mom didn't really talk to me at the Y and that I did go to driver's ed. I know that my dad was really late to come pick me up, giving me an extra few minutes to dream up methods of torture he could use.
Finally, he arrived. I got in the car and we didn't go anywhere. We just sat in the parking lot, listening to each other breathe heavily. One in fear, one in anger. Finally my dad said VERY calmly, "Why do you think you don't have to go to school? You can't just choose not to go to school. I have to go to work. I can't just choose not to go to work." And that was basically it. I was almost more embarassed that nothing happened when I went to school the next day than I would have been if he'd smacked me around a bit. But his approach worked. I never cut school again.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


My mom insists on a detailed Christmas list every year. I don't really like this practice as I'd rather the gift be something the giver thought I'd like. Even as a kid I never really made a Christmas list. I don't think Ojo or Snake did either. Maybe it's because we were inundated with so many gifts we couldn't imagine wanting more. After Ojo's traumatic Christmas of '87 or '88, though, things changed.
He was in sixth or seventh grade. My parents knew he'd sort of out-grown G.I. Joe but weren't sure what the equivalent gift for an adolescent boy was.

They chose poorly.

Had they been reading a Zork choose-your-own-adventure book, they would have descended into the well and been eaten by a grue. That year Santa Claus gave Ojo a globe and a desk lamp.
The next year Ojo implemented a strict policy of gifts-from-the-list, and the list was cross-referenced to the exact page and item numbers in the J.Crew catalog. After that my parents came to completely rely on lists, not wanting to risk putting their own thought into getting the wrong gift for one of us. It soon spread to their gifts for each other.
One year my dad saw the exact electric drill he wanted at Sears. He gave my mom a picture, a serial number, the location on the shelf in aisle 32 at Sears. He was very clear about which electric drill he wanted. And he really, really wanted it. Like official-Red-Ryder-carbine-action-two-hundred-shot-range-model-air-rifle wanted it.
And my mom got it for him.
On Christmas morning we all opened our presents and then Mom and Dad opened theirs. Dad opened his up and began with a beaming patented guttural, "All riiiieeeght," and finished with a trademark scowl, "This ain't it, dammit." My mom was crushed but insisted she had gotten him exactly what he'd asked for. Dad quickly backed off on the disappointment so as not to ruin Christmas, but his disappointment was clear. It was as if that close-but-not-quite drill had shot his eye out.*

* To Ojo and Snake, I'm aware that the drill story probably predates the desk lamp and globe by about three years but it sounded better this way to me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

[awkward silence]

This is yet another quote I know only from hearsay, but I've always liked it. To have a passing familiarity with my dad is to trust that he does not sit around at home in a recliner communing with the spirits of Motown. To really know the man, however, is to have seen him kicked back in his dead grandmother's orange recliner full of jelly beans, a beer in his lap, his eyes closed, letting the velvet tones of Marvin Gaye and Al Greene wash over him. Snake happened to be present during one of these episodes. I don't think Dad knew he was there or maybe he just didn't care. At any rate, he's sitting there engrossed in the rhythm and blues and says out loud to the ghost of Marvin Gaye and his own passing youth, "Sing it, brother."

P.S. Make sure you tune in next week for the famous afraidtofail Christmas special!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

we're experiencing technical difficulties

Below is how far I got on a post about me fucking up my computer before I realized nobody cares. Anyway, fucked up computer and internet problems are why there's no post today. I'll get a new post up tomorrow and resume weekly Wednesday posting next week. And just to include a quote from dad, "FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK." (You have to imagine me jumping up and down like a two year-old screaming that to get the whole effect.)
I don't know dick about computers. The only thing I know is that armed with enough patience and obsessiveness you can figure out any goddamn thing with google. So of course when AT&T fucked up my phone and internet service last Friday, effectively cutting me off from my only source of knowledge and insight, I took it upon myself to try a complex change to my home desktop.

A few words about my computer. I bought the cheapest new computer I could find about 7 months ago. I doesn't have bad specs to my eyes, 2GHz Pentium Duo processor, 1Gb RAM, but it did come with Vista as the OS. Vista requires GREAT specs to run modestly well. Even after following every tip on the internet for improving the performance of Vista it still sucked up too much processing power to allow me to smoothly use the vector and bitmap imaging editors I like. This pissed me off and I wanted to try going back to XP.

Here's the problem: I knew Lenovo didn't include drivers for XP on my computer. I wasn't sure I wanted to risk dumping Vista in favor of an outdated OS, and I wasn't sure I had the skillset to pull off the change and end up with a functioning machine.

After consulting the hive mind I decided that a dual boot system, while slightly more complex, was probably the safer way to go, because in the end I'd at least have Vista to fall back on. I've been wanting to do this for months, but was always a little scared to try it. I've even had my hard disk partitioned this whole time but was just too scared to pull the trigger.

Well, when AT&T collapsed I decided the thing to do was attempt to set up my dual boot without the benefit of an active internet connection in case things went bad. To quote my dad, "Me fucky uppy."

I successfully loaded XP and it worked, sort of. I couldn't get it to recognize my DSL modem. Not to big a deal since the internet was dead to me anyway. I rebooted hoping to get back into Vista. No dice. Never got the option I was looking for on the boot screen.

I load the Vista recovery disc that came with my computer and reboot. Let's see, the instructions say to select repair system when the disc loads, huh, okay don't see that option. I'll just hit next and

Okay, no big deal, I'll just get all that software back when the internet connection is up again.

Monday, December 8, 2008

sorry, no post this week. Will try and resume next week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm living in a stacked deck

Yet another one that's simply a favorite expression of my dad's. I remember often hearing this during Cowboys football games.