Flying to Mexico…

Well this time tomorrow I’ll be relaxing comfortably in our hotel room in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We’ll be spending a week there, which I hear is plenty of time to put back on all that weight that I so carefully lost after Christmas. Local folklore has it that there’s a restaurant nearby that serves pretty much nothing but shrimp, shrimp, and shrimp – so it looks like I’ll be eating a lot of shrimp, then. That is, if I’m able to put down the tequila long enough to shovel some solid food down the hatch – a contingency I’m fully prepared for, since I’m sure shrimp and tequila are not, in any given dish, mutually exclusive.

We leave LAX tomorrow at 11-ish in the morning, which, if I get up at nine-ish, should give me just enough time to pack before heading out the door. This is, of course, in stark contrast to my wife Lizzy, who finished her packing sometime back in the late 90’s.  We’re different like that. I’ve even gotten the impression – however vague – these last few days that my refusal to pack early has been making her a bit uncomfortable. I mean, it’s probably just in my head, but we’d be having a conversation about something, and I’d be mid-way through a brilliant verbal treatise on, say, why I believe that Jiffy Lube should have more home and garden-related magazines in their waiting room, and when I’d look away from the mirror to face her she’d be gnawing nervously at the skin around her thumb-nails and tapping her feet, her eyes darting back and forth to the empty suitcase on the floor by the bed.

I try to tell her that she should be happy about my procrastination. As any man worth his salt knows, there are three specific qualities that render any member of the male sex suspicious, and they are: if he doesn’t curse like a sailor after a few drinks, if he actually wants to have kids, and if he packs earlier than the morning of a trip. If the first is true of your man than something’s wrong, if the second is true he can not be trusted under any circumstances, and if the third is true – well then, all I can say is I warned you.

So anyway, I’m off tomorrow morning and won’t be online for the week. I know, I know, but dry your eyes – I’ll be back on the 20th of Jan, and I’m sure I’ll be bursting at the seams to write all about our trip.  Until then!


Winter is Bad, But Spring is Worse

If you’re an old friend or family member, chances are you’re reading this from somewhere in beautiful, frozen New England. In Fact, it’s January, and thousands of people just like you are sitting on their floor in the corner, rocking back and forth with their heads in their hands and muttering something along the lines of “…m-m-make it stop…please no more…” Okay, so maybe I’m doing that too, but for me it’s just a natural reaction to watching cable news. For you and anyone else unfortunate enough to live in a Northern or Midwestern state it’s most likely a desperate act of prayer – and let’s face it, you ain’t praying for peace in Darfur. You’re praying that winter would just go away. You’re sick of shoveling snow. Sick of helping your hitherto ignored neighbors get their cars out of the snow. If you’re a male – and I dare you to prove me wrong on this one – you’re sick of getting yelled at by the women in your lives for tracking said snow throughout the house.  It’s okay, you can admit it. I’ve been there myself.

Lizzy and I live in Southern California now, so let’s face it – I’ve got nothing to complain about. Sure, we have our share of problems out here – the 98% chance that a major earthquake will kill us all in the next 27 minutes, for example – but snow is not one of them. Still, I’ve never been known to let “having nothing to complain about” get in the way of complaining like a freakin’ banshee, and I’ve taken to griping loudly, and often, about the fact that some days the temperature dares to fall below 60 degrees. I mean to say, 60 degrees, for God’s sake!

The funny thing is I’m not such a big fan of spring, either. While most of you are practically itching for the inevitable warming trend to turn all that cold, white stuff back into the liquid it used to be before it got all uppity, it might help to know that there are a few things about the warm weather that aren’t all fun and games. So rather than dwell on all the “why I love the spring” clichés, I thought I would provide a short list of what there is to dislike about the dreaded season of pastels. Y’know, just to make you feel better.

First of all, there are flowers everywhere. And I don’t just mean in those vast, rural fields that we’re always reading about in children’s books and Nursing Home catalogues. I mean everywhere. You’ll be walking along the street, perhaps on your way to that surprisingly inexpensive Asian massage you saw in the back of the newspaper or otherwise minding your own business, and hello!  The damn things are all around you, coming out of the ground, being thrown at you by street people, beckoning you from stores, and pretty much guilting you into buying or picking some for your wife, your mother, your girlfriend, or all three. It’s a wonder any of us get out of this season with our sinuses intact. And I don’t even have allergies (unless you count my visceral aversion to movies starring Ethan Hawke.)

My second complaint is all that daylight. Seriously overrated. The end of Daylight Saving (leave the last “s” off, people) Time doesn’t come quickly enough, as far as I’m concerned. I love knowing that by dinner the last, faint glimmer of light will be fading from the sky, dissolving slowly yet inexorably into darkness, like Jim Carrey’s career. I just like the dark, and frankly I don’t think I should have to see other human beings after six o’clock PM.  Most people disagree with me on this one, but it’s really quite simple, if a little bit solipsistic: when I can’t see other people, they don’t exist.  And while there may still be large mobs of neighbors, palm tree pruners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, FBI agents, and angry members of the girl’s high school swim team jumping around out there just itching to bother me after nightfall, the point is that without all that sunlight I can’t see them bothering me. Listen – if I want other things to be visible I’ll turn on the lights. That’s what they’re there for.

Another thing that bothers me is the candy. I’ve never had much of a taste for sweets, a semi-annual craving for a pint of Phish Food notwithstanding, but occasionally, after a long summer of eating only cheeseburgers, corn on the cob and freshly grilled salmonella, even I’m excited for the coming holiday sugar-fest. Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pie, Christmas cookies – bring it on, I say. By Valentine’s Day, however, I’m sorta’ done with the whole candy thing. And come Easter – well, I do not exaggerate when I tell you that even the distant scent of the tiniest chocolate bunny will send me running to the bathroom, clutching my abdomen and generally suffering through what Poe, in his brilliant though under-read seafaring novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, called “manifest rebellion of stomach.” The fact that much of this spring candy has been painstakingly crafted to resemble some small, defenseless newborn field animal only intensifies the revulsion.

So there you go. Add to the above the incessant cacophony of bird chatter, the profusion of psychopathic bunny rabbits leaping out from around every corner and the fact that the biggest spring holiday is celebrated not with perfunctory gift-giving or mindless binge drinking (yeah!) but by going to church, and it’s a no-brainer. Keep winter here, please, and I for one will be happier.

Just as long as I live in Los Angeles County.