Monday, February 23, 2009

Won't You Be My Neighbor...

This past weekend under the cover of darkness our neighbors across the street packed up and slipped away over the horizon. In a lot of ways they were mirror images of us. A hard working, scruffy, easy to get a long with dad. A beautiful wife. A small boy a couple of years older than Fred. A new baby.....okay honestly I'm just romanticising the entire thing. The truth is a Uhaul pulled up in the middle of the day and it took them the entire weekend to leave. The husband was nice, but more so than ever I tend to be a grouch who tells old ladies to mind their own business after they have just commented that the reason Fred is screaming his head off in the mall is because he must be tired. (Like myself and the other thousand people in the food court didn't know that, but hey thanks for making sure everyone within ear shot who wasn't already staring at me became witness to the meltdown). I got the wife part right, but who knows how old the kid was because they left him alone so much that he was practically raising himself anyway. For all I know he's a tall 1 year-old who was wise beyond his years. And no baby announcements here yet for at least a few more months

Neighbors are an important thing. Too nice and they are always over at your house bothering you. Too mean and you end up having to bring in everything that's not cemented into the ground before you go to bed at night. That's why the moment a near by home goes up for sale people immediately begin trying to hand pic who they think has a shot at the place.

"Aunt Lisa is looking."
"No Relatives!" Scratch
"What about that girl from your office?"
"She's goes through men like copier paper" Scratch

Ideally you want your neighbor to be a mirrored version of yourself, but less nosey. I'm a nosey guy and I'll just say it "Sometimes the show going on across the street is better than anything happening on HBO" There's the old guy down the block that refuses to take his medicine which means Fred gets to see an ambulance and a firetruck up close twice a month. The guy that refuses to cut his grass so eventually his wife has to breakdown and do it herself. The old lady with the looser son-in-law who might be a pedophile and must be kept an eye on at all times.

This is why I'm sad to hear that the folks across the street were forced to move. The economy is bad and their fixed payment apparently wasn't that fixed after all. Now instead of tuning in to "Look what they are letting that kid do now!" a new series has just been announced called "What if the new people have teenage boys!!!!"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

He Wrote The Songs I Know By Heart

I must have started listening to him back when I was 16. I remember a group of us would all hang out at this old dead end out in the Industrial Park area of Florence just down the road from where I found myself working 15 years later. Ole #7 is what we called it cause it was right next to Tee Jays Plant#7. No matter what else was going on we'd all find ourselves out there at some point on a Saturday night just hanging out and having a good time. Good times and Jimmy go hand in hand so it's no surprise that over the all the laughing and hollering, "Son Of Sailor" could often be heard in the background. I remember Matt Parker and I driving around looking for trouble in his old navy blue pickup truck singing "He Went To Paris".

I forget when I bought my copy of Songs You Know By Heart, but it must have been somewhere between my senior year in high school and freshman year of college. That summer when all I wanted to do was sit at Tommy's lake house drinking anything I could get my hands on. That summer I made my first trip to Margaritaville. I didn't join a fraternity because of which celebrity was also a member, but it was always cool to know that we both shared the same rituals and connections.

Lucy and I would head off towards the beach quite a bit back in our early twenty's and the rule for me was all Jimmy all the way down there. Even now I insist on leaving the station on the Jimmy Buffet channel the whole time we are in Orange Beach, Al. We even stopped in to visit his sister Lulu's restaurant this year and will be back a dozen more times in the years ahead.

Despite the fact that I own a dozen or so of his CD's, I've never seen him play live before. Something I plan on correcting very soon. When telling their stories of how they came to meet somebody famous, most will say they went to their concert, snuck around back, waited for them to come off stage, and the rest is history......I've always been different so it shouldn't be a shocker to hear that this week I met Jimmy Buffet on an airport runway on my lunch break on a Tuesday afternoon. Thanks to my Aunt Lisa who works at the airport. When hearing Jimmy might be flying in (Muscle Shoals has a huge music history and Jimmy has recorded many an album here) she gave me a call on the off chance that I might get close enough to meet him. At first I figured it would never happen and almost didn't show up. Then at the last minute Lucy cancelled our lunch plans and instead of sitting at home for an hour scanning the web for freelance work, I decided I'd rather show up and not see him, than sit at home and not even have a chance.

So there I was along with maybe 10 others, shaking the hand of the man that had pretty much written the soundtrack to my entire life, and there with me was that simple yellow CD cover with the red letters that I bought some 15 years before. Here is the picture I took of Jimmy Buffett. Very soon it along with my signed copy of Songs You Know By Heart will be framed and hung on the wall of my home. Guess I better go buy another copy....

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Blanket Apology

Honestly I'm sorry. I should never have laughed and for that I apologize. It wasn't just me though, your mother was laughing just as hard as I was. In fact she almost fell off the couch. In my defense you guys laugh at me all the time when I talk in my sleep. Of course I've never ate an entire slice of bread while catching an afternoon nap, but hey congrats on multi-tasking. Still, that's where it should have ended. We should have just woke up or at the very least we could have quit laughing.....then just when we thought we had seen it all you slowly reached out once again, grabbed for your snack, and continued eating. Only this time....this time your reach was off a bit and while you lay there dreaming of eating a fresh piece of loaf bread, you were actually chewing on the corner of the blanket....and that's when I laughed so hard I almost wet myself.....again I'm truly sorry....but I tried to wake you up and your mother said no.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New Year's Rejuvenation

This past weekend was supposed to be our New Year's Revolution. For weeks we talked it up. Telling all our friends that we were going to put our recent bad luck behind us by righting all that went wrong on New Year's day. We had planned to eat the traditional foods (hogs jowl, black eye peas, turnip greens), make new resolutions, and even watch the ball drop via You Tube. It was going to be a ceremonial end to our bad Karma......and we never went through with it.

Instead we got up like a family and went to church on Sunday morning for the first time in ages. We sang songs in worship of God. We took the Lord's Supper for the first time this year. Even Fred went through the entire service barely making a peep. Afterward we joined our friends that had been doing everything they could think of to include us in their activities at a birthday party for one of the kids.

No at the end of the day there weren't any streamers or Midnight kisses under a sky full of fireworks, but just the same things feel new again and I have no doubt we did manage to fix what once went wrong.