Call Me Zatara

Call me Zatara.  I’ve grown a beard and plan to seek vengeance on a triathlon.  I’ve actually been signed up for a few weeks now, I just keep forgetting to write about it.  It is on May 1st in sunny San Diego.  It is only a quarter-mile swim, nine-mile bike and three-mile run but I figured for my first it would be perfect.  Actually, at the beginning, it was just me, but now I have five friends that are going to hit it with me, including my training mate Armando and my brother-in-law Michael Muse.  I always think that motherfucker’s name sounds cool, Michael Muse, like my buddy Rich Sharp from grade school.  Good crisp names like characters from Rumble Fish or something.  The tri (listen to me, I’m using the lingo like I’ve been doing this shit for years), the tri has become a goal, a light at the end of this dry, alcohol-free tunnel.  I even bought a fucking Speedo.  Don’t get too excited, it’s not like a European window display or anything like that. I’m not there…yet.

As for the beard, it is more of a goatee, and there is no significance behind it besides a little change.  Then I look at this picture of me at 32 in a G-N-R tee-shirt and I realize nothing has changed.

I’ve been keeping myself really busy, but to be honest the weekends are a little tough.  One, I’m not drinking and, two, we are trying save money for our summer adventure to Africa.  We’re taking it easy and have been regulars at the local cinema.  Now I am no Roger Ebert but let me give a quick review on Black Swan.  This movie gets an A+ or two arms up, or whatever it is you give to say “fucking awesome.”  First, there is a great lesbian scene with Natalie Portman and the girl from That 70’s Show…Awesome.  Then, there is a beautiful masturbation scene with Natalie Portman that ends with her discovering her mom sleeping in the chair next to her bed.  Weird at first I know, but I can dig it.  These scenes along with a lot of others of girls in transparent ballet outfits make this an instant classic.  Shit, if all ballet had lesbians and hot girls fondling themselves I think I could really get into it.  Become a cultured man.  Again, usually when I’m drinking I will sneak booze into the theatre, in turn causing a couple of bathroom runs.  Without the booze, I don’t have to leave and I don’t miss a second.  Who knows how many nipple shots I’ve missed in the past.  Damn you booze.

I have a couple of health pointers for those of you that are following along.  First, I don’t recommend eating your left-over Indian food right before you go to swim class.  The whole night I felt like I was on the verge of throwing up and I kept thinking how nasty my vindaloo was going to look as it spread through the water.  Second, I had to get some of my Africa shots the other Friday night after work.  When I say some, I mean there are five and I got two. Now anyone real close to me knows that needles are my Achilles heal.  They gross me out to the point that my knees grow weak and my mind faint.  Anything from a cholesterol prick to a Tetanus shot just turns my stomach.  As a matter of fact, when the Red Cross used to come to campus at Penn State I used to avoid their trucks like they were a fucking death squad.  Taking all my hard-earned blood for a lousy fucking doughnut???  Give me a break.  Also, they had those trailers with the steps leading up into their little labs of torture.  How the hell are you supposed to get down from those things after they take your blood.  I can’t even walk straight after a needle, let alone down three steps with a doughnut in my hand.  Disgusting.  Even now as I write this my finger tips are getting numb and my elbows are pressed tight to my sides.

So, I got two of the five.  I still need my Yellow Fever, Hep B and Typhoid.  Plus, I need to take Malaria pills a few weeks before I go.  I always thought it would be a cool story to get something like Malaria or Yellow Fever.  Sitting there, a wild-fire snapping as back-round music, wide eyes watching me as I told the story of my days in Africa and the bout of Malaria I dealt with.  “Yes, it was bad,” I would say. “But what was I going to do, not hike Kilimanjaro to procure the antidote and save the village because I had a little Malaria?” Ha, Ha, Ha, the room would say, we would laugh and I would twirl the hair behind my ear with my thumb and pointer finger and gaze off into the jungle of memory.  Yes, I thought it was cool.  That was until I started reading the books on some of the great explorers of Africa.  Livingstone, Burton, Lander, etc: these were some tough boys who explored the interiors of the unknown Africa hundreds of years ago.  Reading some of their stories made me reconsider some of my hopes for infection.  One of the best books I have read so far on Africa is The White Nile by Alan Moorehead.  This book really gives you a good look into the country and the horror, the horror, of its past.

My second piece of advice, as I have already strayed too far, is do not go get your Africa shots the night before one of Trent’s Saturday death circuits.  I awoke early and already knew the effects of the shots still lingered within me.  Contemplating taking a day off, I guilted myself into toughing it out.  I arrived and knew I was in for the shit.  There were all kinds of weights, ropes and hula hoops littered across the parking lot.  Shit, the only thing missing from this shit show carnival was a midget and a bearded lady.  My mouth was dry and a little dew of sweat had already crept onto my upper lip.  Armando had to leave early, so he had arrived long before and was already finishing up.  He looked miserable and I knew I was about to face hell, without him suffering alongside of me.

Armando and the rope bullshit

Mando done, Crowley yet to start

Trent knew from the beginning that I wasn’t my usual feisty self.  This workout was grueling.  Six stations that I had to complete five times each.  I felt like the diseases of Africa were flowing through my veins like the fucking Nile.  Trent filmed parts of my misery, and as soon as I get the video I will put it up here.  Each exercise was taking every bit of energy for me to complete.  I wanted to give up, shit, I was almost hallucinating.  I wanted to take that jump rope and strangle myself in the hope that I would be given a free ride home in an ambulance.  Trent was good though man.  He’s a good dude and kept working with me, station by station, pumping that shit out.  In the end, I had nothing left.  I completed my fifth round of all the stations and would have fallen to the floor if not for the fact that Trent is a Brave’s fan, and I refuse to show any sign of weakness in front of such a long time enemy.  I quietly wiped the drool, sweat, puke or whatever the shit was that was from my lips and sat down, completed, no surrender.

A quick thought before I go.  On my street most of the buildings have automatic sprinkler systems that come on to water the grass for about 15 minutes and then shut off.  Now I am not a residential planner or a landscape designer or even a building manager, but, common sense provokes me to say:  “Let’s make these sprinklers go off at like 10AM or like 2PM,” or something like that right.  No one is home, people are working, streets aren’t crowded.  Well, not the geniuses on my street. These fools have the sprinklers all set for between 7:30AM and 8AM.  I’m dead serious.  I’m leaving for work every morning and it is like fucking Dorney Park and Wild Water Kingdom along my block.  People rushing all over the place to avoid the water, slipping on the grass, cars getting drenched on one side, dogs and women running in fear.  I mean shit!  I know your job as an apartment manager is as stressful as planning for the Soviets but give me a break.  Let’s think this through a little.  You’re ruining my car wash daily, you damn assbags.


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