It's all a matter of perspective.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Perspective. All you need is a few hours of sleep and you can find yourself overrun with fresh perspective.

When I got home from work yesterday, Wylie was feeling pretty good. I went outside and planted a couple of tomato vines in my garden and he wandered outside with me. Just before dark I went to get us some BBQ and when I got back the boy was having a relapse. It was the saddest thing that I have ever seen. His fever went up to 104 and his head felt like it was going to explode. He was lying very still on the couch. I had the ceiling fan turned on high and his shirt pulled up. I put a cold towel on his head and another on his neck. He just lay there shivering. “I’m told, dadoe. I’m so told.”

We prayed together for God to take his fever away and help him to feel good again, but God didn’t move fast enough to suit me. We had given the boy some Motrin and it did nothing. I thought that we could give Tylenol after two hours, but I was not sure. I tried to call my mom, who is a nurse, and could not reach her at home, on her cell, or even my pop on his cell. They knew that Wylie was sick. Why were they unreachable? I called my sister who is a pharmacy tech. She thought that we could give the Tylenol. Miss J thought we could give the Tylenol. I thought so too, so we gave it. This did not bring the fever down, but it put him in a deep sleep.

I sat beside him on the couch and held a thermometer under his arm while he slept. I had my head down staring at the digital display as if I could make his temperature recede by sheer force of will. This was not helpful to anyone.

So Miss J and I ate our BBQ. We sat and ate and I confessed about school. I have failed. For a third time I have started college and fucked it up. I have to stop going for a while and reevaluate. I have no choice in the matter anyway. They don’t want me around and I don’t blame them. I have failed, I have wasted money, I have wasted time, and I have accomplished nothing.

Then the funniest thing happened. She took my side. She said that she still loved me just as much as when I was a straight-A student. More even. She said that the way she feels about me is not based on my accomplishments. She said that she supports me regardless of what I am doing and only wants me to be happy and successful.

Can you believe that? Perhaps you can, but that was not the environment that I was raised in. I feel like a complete failure. She does not think that at all.

Wylie was still red and hot. We tried to get him to roll over and expose his belly to the fan. He would not move, he would only moan. More prayers.

At this point it was getting late and close to out anniversary. Our tradition is to get out the wedding pictures and reminisce on our anniversary night. We figured there would not be a more appropriate time, and it was better than watching Wylie sleep and wringing our hands.

So we went back to the bedroom and got out the picture albums. Pictures from our trip to Nashville with my parents in the summer of 1996. Miss J and I had been dating for about a month when Mom and Pop invited us to go on vacation with them. My mother loves to shop on vacation. On our first day in Nashville we found ourselves at a strip mall. The girls went one way and Pop and I the other. We stumbled across a diamond outlet. The engagement rings were on sale. Dad let me put one on his credit card. Miss J caught wind of it and I had to give it to her. We got engaged on the sidewalk at an unnamed strip mall in suburban Nashville. My parents were walking behind us. That night we all went out to eat at the Olive Garden, then on to the Grand Ole Opry. How romantic.

Then we saw the pictures of our wedding day. Everyone that is important to us was there. Everyone that we thought was cool was there. My groomsmen were my crew. We all wore white socks with our tuxedoes and styled our hair into the biggest pompadours we could muster. When we marched in to the processional piano we broke out of line, wandered among the tables where the guests were sitting, and converged back at the podium. Miss J appeared at the back door in a white glow. Beautiful. Perfect. Her dad made some speech and Pastor Tim said some stuff and then I laid one on her, big time. The wedding kiss drew whoops from the crowd. Well, it drew whoops from the groom’s side - the side with the redder necks.

Pictures from the reception. My band played. That was my slick maneuver to get out of glad-handing all of the guests, I played guitar and sang at my own wedding reception. We had on our wedding tuxedoes and our white socks and our rock-and-roll- hair and we played some extra loud jams. Miss J danced with her grandfather. My dad danced with crazy old ladies from his church. My hippie brother-in-law danced with every girl in the room. Old people held their ears and murmured in the back. There was a picture of John and Janna Barber eating biscuits and gravy. They were just John Barber and Janna Young then. They would be married about nine months later.

When it was over, the Maid of Honor blasted me in the eyes at point blank range with birdseed. Somehow we found our way to Dan’s sister’s Honda and there sat my best buddy Dan with a lit Camel cigarette waiting for me. He drove us downtown to the fanciest hotel were Miss J and I, now mister and missus G, went upstairs and ordered some steaks from room service, by god. Send us some steaks! Big damn steaks, for we are hungry!

Outside our window Riverfest was going on.

Then we saw the pictures of our honeymoon in New Orleans. We ate seafood and went to bars and listened to music. We shopped and went to the Aquarium of the Americas. We spent a ridiculous amount of money. Every penny of the cash we got at the wedding. I flew on my first airplane. I stood naked in the windowsill of our honeymoon suite on one of the higher floors of the Hotel Monteleone and proclaimed my presence to all of Louisiana. There was not a picture of that.

Just by chance, there were pictures stuck in the back of the album of Miss J pregnant with Wylie, and then Wylie as an infant. Oh yeah, Wylie. I went back into the living room to check on him and his fever had gone away. God had delivered him just like we had asked him to. Shortly after that he woke up in a pleasant mood. He said he wanted to lie in his bed, but when he got in his bed he remembered the mac and cheese that he had asked his momma for four hours ago. The fever had come up and caused him to fall asleep before it was ready to eat.

So my happy little family sat around the living room in my house, at 1:00 in the morning on my sixth wedding anniversary and ate Kroger brand macaroni and cheese dinner. We all smiled and winked at each other. After our bellies were full we went to bed and slept until 10:00 this morning. Wylie woke up feeling great with no fever. I made us bacon and eggs. Whatever horrible bug had him feeling so bad yesterday has been vanquished from our property. Wylie’s visit to Mimi’s is back on. Mine and Miss J’s anniversary date and trip to Riverfest is back on. I am a horrible failure at school, but I have a wonderful family that loves me unconditionally. That is my perspective from the morning after.

Friday, May 23, 2003

When I woke up this morning I thought that today was going to be the start of a great weekend. As late as 1:00 today I thought that things were great and only going to get better. Now they could only get better, because there is nowhere to go but up.

Saturday is mine and Miss J’s sixth wedding anniversary. This weekend is also Riverfest here in Little Rock. I was planning to take the boy, Wylie Allman, to concerts at Riverfest tonight and early tomorrow. Then he was going to go home with his Mimi tomorrow afternoon so that Miss J and I could have a nice Anniversary date. Sunday would be Church and more Riverfest. Monday I was planning to bottle my homemade peach wine that has been sitting in my pantry for a year. That night we were going to go see A Mighty Wind. Tuesday morning Wylie would come home and I would go back to work, feeling revitalized by the relaxing weekend.

I found out at 1:00 that Wylie was barfing a running a fever. I hate it when he is sick. It kills me to see him puny and down. I want to fix him. Make him feel better.

Also it ruins my plans. Obviously I am not going to go to the concerts and leave him at home. Even more obviously, I am not going to send him to Mimi’s when he is sick.

Then I got home to find a letter from school. I have flunked out. No more financial aid will be offered to me until I can pass nine hours in a row with at least a 2.0.

I have not talked about school this semester because it has been bad. Traditionally my grades will go one of two ways. Either I make all A’s or I make all F’s. I overwhelmed myself this semester with too many classes and a new job that required me to work a lot of overtime and do a lot of traveling. By mid-April I had made A’s on all of my tests and assignments, but I had missed so many classes – either because of work or because of exhaustion – that there was no way for me to pass. UALR instructors take roll and they will fail you for missing more than the allotted number of days.

Getting the grades up would not be a problem. I just have to take a small enough load for me to handle and forego some overtime at work. This will likely not happen though, because I am not going to have any money to pay for it. I certainly cannot afford to pay tuition out of my pocket.

But I sincerely hope you have a good holiday.
The Guitar Center in Little Rock is a wonderland of shiny beautiful playthings. They have all kinds of stuff I want to take home, but they also have the lousiest sales staff in the history of the world. They are a lazy, juvenile, uninformed bunch of dolts with rock-and-roll hair and lip piercings. I try to give them my money, but they won’t take it. Consider my last three visits to the store:

About six months ago I got a postcard from Guitar Center touting the latest sale. Looking down the list of sale items, I found a nice PC sound card at a very reasonable price. I could use one of those. So I went down to the GC and strolled past the instruments into the Pro Audio department. I brought along my sale flier just in case. I pointed to the sound card and said, “I would like to buy one of those.”

The salesman huffed and sighed and slithered over to his computer terminal. He punched a few buttons and made a few clicks. Finally without looking up he said, “It says here that we have one left, but it is in the back.”

“That will be great, I’ll take it.”

He said that he would go in the back and get it in just a few minutes. Then he started talking to another customer. After a few minutes I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “I am going to go play some guitars. I’ll check back in a few minutes.”

He replied, “I am going to the back right now,” then he turned on his heels and went through the back door.

After about twenty minutes of playing on several lovely guitars, I decided I needed to get going. I went back over to Pro Audio. As I got to the counter, my salesman came through the door from the back holding not a sound card, but a bag from Taco Bell. I asked him if he had any luck finding it. He said no, but he had another guy still looking back there. I told him I would go back to playing guitars and check back in a few minutes.

Twenty minutes later I went back in there to find him finishing up his burritos behind the counter. He looked at me like he was surprised I was still there. No sound Card. I left.

A few months later I went in there with a friend who needed some strings. While he was shopping I got to chatting up one of the salesmen. This was a Saturday about 5:00 in the afternoon. The salesgeek told me that they had not sold a guitar all day long. As a matter of fact, they had done about thirty dollars worth of business all day. “If you ever want to buy a guitar, today is the day to talk us into a deal.”

So I went and found a lovely Taylor Acoustic. The price tag said $1800. “What kind of deal would you like to cut me on this one?” I asked.

“We’ll give you that guitar for $1800”

“$1800 is what the sticker says.”
“Ok, you drive a hard bargain. $1800 cash and I will pay your sales tax for you.”

“I know why you haven’t sold any guitars, you don’t want to sell any.”

“Ok, fine. But this is as low as I can possibly go. How does $1750 sound?”

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. Guitar Center is running a special. Fifteen months no interest on your Guitar Center Credit Card. Dan has one of those. He has wanted to buy some stuff for the studio, so we went over to see what we could find.

Dan went into serious money spending mode as soon as we walked in. He started grabbing snakes, microphones, cables, and anything else that looked interesting. You only get one shot at this “no interest” deal, so might as well make it count. The whole time we are placing all of this stuff in a pile on the front counter next to the cash register. There are two sales guys just staring at us. The only thing that they will say is, “Y’all ready to check out yet.”

Finally they just start ringing the stuff up. At this point we have about $1000 worth on the counter.

Dan says, “Do you have any Mackie M90s.”

“Nope, all sold out.” The salesdolt replies.

“Can you order me one?” Dan persists.


“Can you put it on this ticket so it will be on the no interest deal?”

“I don’t know.”

“Can you find out?”


“Well, we are going to go play on some guitars. Page me when you get it figured out and we will come finish checking out.”

You know what happened. We played guitars until closing time. We checked back with the sales guy twice. He never gave us a straight answer about the M90. At closing time we left. As we were getting in the truck the sales manager comes running out of the building yelling, “Hey wait. Where are you guys going? Are you not going to get your stuff? What is the matter?”

We told him the story. He tried to act like we were the assholes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Imagine that you are a fat, sweaty, hairy, lazy, introverted, anti-social, sad man. Imagine further that you are married to a beautiful, with-it, confident, sweet-smelling, popular local television personality. This is Miss J. and I.

She keeps a calendar online for me. Being a self-employed atmospheric consultant and paint-picker-outer her schedule is erratic. I looked at it this morning as I do every morning. The entry for this afternoon said, “Go to Party Time 3:00-4:00.”

She called me about 3:00 and said that she was running a little late and might not be home by the time I got home at 4:30.

When I got to the house I called her to see when she would be home and she said she was shopping with a client and it would be a few hours.

About 6:30 I called to say that I had prepared dinner.

Miss J said, “Well, we have not gotten to her house yet.”

“So what then, about 10:00 tonight” I joked

“Nah. I should be home by about 9:30 at the latest.”

She got home about 11:00

Imagine that you are a fat, sweaty, hairy, lazy, introverted, anti-social, sad man. Imagine further that you are married to a beautiful, with-it, confident, sweet-smelling, popular local television personality.

What would you think that she had been out doing?

Monday, May 19, 2003

Dan, since you are going to die in a few weeks of SARS poisoning, stop eating that cheesecake and blog for me, dammit.