Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Mark has really slowed down his shopping on Ebay lately. Fewer and fewer packages have been arriving. In fact he asked me to help him get rid of some of the crap that he has bought. So I decided that it came from Ebay, it should go away through Ebay. The only problem is that I have never bought or sold anything on Ebay and had no idea how it worked. So there were some old parts from my 1950 Studebaker sitting around gathering dust, and I thought I'd get my feet wet by selling those on Ebay. I'm not sure what Ebay stands for, but I'll tell you, after signing up, giving them some very detailed information about my banking, and putting my first item up, I learned that the E in Ebay does not stand for easy. I found it very complicated and confusing. First there is the setting up of a PayPal account. That's where you give them access to your bank account, and you give yourself some acid in your stomach. Finally I was ready so I took some photos and put my first item up, but not before I had to figure out shipping costs. This turned out to be another confusing mess because now you had to deal with the United States Post Office, not known for efficiency. I went to the USPS web site to figure out packaging, and price of shipping. What a circle jerk that was. So I kind of figured I needed a flat rate box, but wasn't quite sure how priority shipping was different from priority express. In the end I posted a shipping fee of just over five dollars for the item. It turns out I was wrong, very wrong. After shipping and paying Ebay their cut, the 1950 Studebaker tail light bezels that I had put on Ebay for $40, ended up netting me less than $22. But I guess that was the point of my first sale, to learn how to do it. I fucking learned alright. I quickly raised the shipping cost of my next item by more than a hundred percent, and it won't be shipped by 'Priority Mail'. Screw the post office, it's going low class.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Open House

When I was a kid and my mom was giving birth every two years or so, my parents realized early on that the two bedroom home they had bought wasn't going to cut it. So every once in a while they'd pack us all in the car for a Sunday drive which always seemed to culminate in a visit to a new housing development. We would all pile out of the car and tramp through the model houses, oohing and aahing at the modern amenities, and smartly decorated dream homes. Each of us kids would quickly claim a bedroom just in case this was the house Dad would ultimately buy. In 1963 our model home shopping came to an end when Mom and Dad decided to buy one of the houses we had looked at. Not only did they buy a house from the developer, but they bought the  very model home we had looked at, furniture and all.

            I have carried on with that tradition of "window shopping" houses. I love going to open houses, especially in our neighborhood. It's fun to see the inside of neighbor's homes, to see just how they've been living. Most often what I see is that they live much better than I do. Mark on the other hand does not enjoy going to open houses. I'm not sure why, it's not like they don't want people in there. They've got signs all over the place begging us to come on in. Besides, I really enjoy the faces of the real estate people when that skinny black man walks in. I only wish we could bring along about a dozen little black kids.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pasta Pasta

There are places you go to eat late at night, when you are drunk, that at the time seem quite good. White Castle comes to mind. Who hasn't scarfed down half a dozen sliders at four in the morning? When Mark and I visited Saint Louis we stumbled across a place called Eat Rite, where at three in the morning it was filled with drunks guzzling down something called The Slinger. The Slinger was something piled high on a plate consisting of two sausage patties, two eggs, grilled potatoes, cheese and a bunch of other crap, drowned in chili.
            Wednesday night Mark went out, as usual, and ran into somebody at his favorite bar who was singing the praises of a place in Fort Lauderdale called Pizza and Pasta. He gave Mark a card from the place so he would remember to go there. Fast forward to Thursday evening. Mark and I are sitting in a bar, well lubricated with vodka, and Mark suggests we go to Pizza and Pasta. Assured that it was the best place in all of South Florida for said pizza and pasta, I agreed. Here is what I remember. Walking in the door I was overwhelmed with the smell of burnt pizza dough. Not the worst thing. I've smelled that before and had a fine meal. However, one of the worst things you can see when you enter a restaurant, is the owner in shorts and a dirty tee-shirt, sitting at the front booth hanging out with his buddies. This restaurant featured just that scenario. We sat down in a booth that appeared to have never been cleaned or refinished in the last forty years and were greeted by Louise Lasser, televisions Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. It might not have been her, but it sure looked just like her. Louise plopped down a bowl of "garlic rolls" which were nothing more than Parker House rolls with a bit of chopped garlic dumped on top.

            "What can I get you to drink?" Louise asked.
            "Ummm.... " Looking at what was available, I chose water.
            "Okay, I'll be right back." Louise said as she walked away with a bottle of Windex and a dirty rag in her hand.
When Louise got back we put in our orders. Chicken Piccata for Mark, and calamari with spaghetti for me. Here is what we got. A piece of rubbery chicken with some kind of lemony goo on top of it for Mark, and a huge, and I mean huge, plate of fried calamari for me. What stood out most about the calamari was that it was gray. In all my life I have never seen any deep fried food come out looking gray. I took a taste. It tasted gray. So for about ten minutes Mark and I sat there in that dirty, old, smelly restaurant looking at our food. I even picked at the calamari a bit before I got nauseous. After watching Louise Lasser clean a couple of tables with the dirty rag and the bottle of Windex, we asked for our check. So how bad was the food? I offered the leftovers that we brought home in the big Styrofoam box to Chandler and Bette. They turned it down flat. Dogs who usually will have restaurant food halfway down their gullet before they even realize what it is, turned it down. I sure miss White Castle.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Falling Down

The fence fell down again. That would be the once good looking fence, back along the pool, that dates back to when this house was owned by a drug dealer. The fence isn't mine. It is on the neighbor's property because back then the neighbors on both sides put up the fences to keep out the junkies and riff raff that regularly visited this house. That section of fence first blew down nine years ago during Hurricane Wilma, and my brother and I put it back up with screws, nails, duct tape, and spit. I knew it wasn't going to last so I asked the lady who owned the property next door if she would go halves on a new fence. I got a very non-committal maybe from her. So nothing was done other than Mark dressing the fence up with a bamboo curtain. Now the fence has gone down again, twice in the last week. The tenants next door propped it up and called their landlord. She came by, took a look at it, and then came over to inform me that she is going to have Stan, the handyman, tear it down.
            "So are we finally going to go halves on a new fence?" I asked her.
            "I think I'll just leave it. I don't really need a fence."
The bitch. She knows that I need a fence there. It is required by law that I have my swimming pool fenced off. So I got a hold of Stan, the handyman, and told him that after he is paid by the neighbor for tearing down the old fence, I will pay him to put up a new fence, or half a new fence. It will only stretch from the back of the property to the back wall of the house, and the 'good' side, the side that is all pretty without the posts and cross members showing, will face my yard. As for the rest of the fence that runs to the front of the house, I'll let that stay until it rots and falls over into her yard. One thing I know, is how to get along with the neighbors.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shopping on Mars

My idea of grocery shopping is to find the store with the best meat counter and start there. I load my cart up with the meats that I like and then I make my way up and down the aisles picking out the things that I think will go good with them. Up and down the aisles, grabbing things I need oblivious to the prices. That's how I do it, or should I say did it. Mark has been doing the shopping ever since he moved in with me. For seventeen years the only thing that I have had to do with grocery shopping is when Mark comes in the front door and announces, "Get the stuff out of the back of the car, and hurry before the ice cream melts."
Recently Mark took me grocery shopping with him. He took me to a store that I had never been to before. It's called Aldi, and it was sort of as if Mark had taken me to a different planet. It had a sign out front just like any other supermarket, it had a parking lot, and there were carts out in front of the store. It looked very normal until I tried to take a shopping cart. It was locked to the cart in front of it which was locked to the cart in front of that one, and so on, and so on.
            "Here", Mark said handing me a quarter, "Just stick this into the little slot".
So Aldi figures that if you make people pay a quarter to use one of their carts, homeless people wouldn't think of taking one off of the property. I guess it works, I've never seen an Aldi shopping cart sitting forlorn on the side of the street filled with smashed cans and rags. As we entered the store my first impression was that all the products looked just a bit off. They had the appearance of brand names, but the labels all had a twist. For example, when I saw Kellogg's Frosted Flakes for only $1.49 I immediately grabbed for it. However, upon closer examination it wasn't Kellogg's, it was something called Millville Frosted Flakes. Didn't matter, it was cheap and looked close enough for me, so I tossed it into our 25 cent shopping cart. There were soup cans that looked vaguely like Campbell's soups, dog food that looked nearly legitimate, and everything was super cheap. Over in the frozen food section I found something that would have made my dad orgasm. Ice cream in what looked like a five gallon tub for only two  dollars. My dad was the king of cheap, crappy ice cream. I never knew what real ice cream tasted like until I was over twenty one. Dad always brought home store brands that were gummy, and tasteless. He even tried to pass something called ice milk over on us once. Anyway, Mark was now done shopping and we rolled up to the checkout counter. I have never seen a cashier move as fast as that one did. The only problem was that she was tossing everything loose into another shopping cart. I frantically tried to put it all in the bags that they made us buy for ten cents each, but she was too fast and eventually buried my pathetic attempt at bagging.
            "No Alan, you bag your stuff over there.", Mark said while pointing towards a shelf at the front of the store. What do I know, I haven't been a bag boy in a supermarket since 1966.
            Other than the bagging thing, I have to say, Aldi has some pretty good bargains and that Millville Frosted Flakes taste every bit as good as the Kellogg's that cost twice as much. And the best thing about Aldi's, I made fifty cents in quarters returning shopping carts to the front of the store.