Category: Bad Days


I Don’t Get Chicks

“I just don’t get chicks.”

With a coffee in hand, I leaned back and regarded my friend. “C’mon man, who really ever gets chicks?”

“Did I tell you about that date I had last weekend? It was with this girl I really liked, but throughout the date, she didn’t seem that interested in me?”

I nodded.

“Well, I asked her out again just for the heck of it.”


He shifted in his seat. “And she said, ‘Sure! I had a great time and would love to.'”

There was a pause. Then: “Oh wow, really?”

He nodded. “I really don’t get chicks. At all.”

“So, then, uh, what made you think she wasn’t interested originally?”

He sat back in his seat and sighed. “Let me count the ways. First, she said she already ate dinner and wasn’t hungry. Then, when I asked if she wanted dessert, she said ‘No.’ Then I had to go to the bathroom, and she was on her Blackberry before I even got to my feet. Then she looked at her watch and said, ‘Wow, it is late. I think I should be going now.’ And it was 9pm.”

I scratched my chin and hmm’ed.

“Then I walked her to her car and asked her what she had planned for the rest of the night. She said, ‘Oh nothing. Just going to chill and watch TV.’ Finally, she gave me a junior high school dance hug and that was it.”

“What?!” I jumped in my seat. “Ouch man.”


“That totally sounds like she’s not interested.”

“I know!”

We both sat there in silence, staring at our stale coffees. A fly buzzed by. Somewhere, outside, a car honked.

“So do you think she was lying about having a good time? Maybe this is just a pity second date?”

He shrugged. “Do girls even do pity dates?”

“Sure, why not. Or maybe she’s just clueless about dating? And doesn’t know how to show interest or anything?”

Another shrug. “I really don’t know. In fact, I almost didn’t email her again for this second date.”

“Hmm. So why did you?”

“She gave off such mixed signals. During the date, we had great conversation and lots of common interests. Sometimes our conversation flowed nicely. We have a lot of similarities. But towards the end, she just seemed like she was in a rush. Like she had other things on her mind.”

“Ah. Maybe she did have other things on her mind then. Maybe she had to rush home to call up some other guy she’s dating too?”

Another shrug. “Who knows?”

I swirled my coffee around. “Or maybe… she has a yest infection or something. And was really itching and had to go home to get some powder.”

“Or maybe it’s PMS.” We laughed. “There are so many possibilities.”

“True. You’ll never know for sure until you do this second date with her. You’ve already seen how some girls act totally differently on a second date. Maybe she will too.”


We slowly sipped our stale coffees. The sounds of traffic rattled the windows. Somebody coughed.

“But there is a great moral to this story.”

My ears perked up. “Oh? Do tell.”

“Don’t try to guess what is going on in the mind of someone you’ve only known an hour. The human mind wants to fill in the details. To make the unknown, known. But in reality, there are just too many possibilities… To many unknowns… And too many assumptions.”

“Wise words, man. Wise words. Is that your key to understanding chicks?”

“No. That’s my way of trying to understand anyone. But chicks in particular… I just don’t get chicks.”


Misery Loves Company

There are Pale Ales on the table. The lighting is dim. A chilly draft brings in much-needed fresh air. The other patrons provide gentle murmurs for ambiance.

“What really gets me,” Ken says as he grips his beer tightly, “is that she can say one thing, and then do something else.”

I close my eyes and nod. “Or she can tell you she isn’t the kind of girl who’d do something, but then in an argument, tell you that she really wants to do it.”

Lisa clears her throat. “Or who you thought was a friend can betray you and take your man.”

“Well,” he grins and shifts in his seat, “I don’t think I’d have to worry about anyone taking my man…”

“Shut up,” she smiles and throws a rolled up napkin at him.

“Heh. Sorry, couldn’t resist.” He looks back down at the table. “What I’m saying is I hate mixed signals. All weekend, we were cool. She seemed interested, she was flirting, everything. Then come Monday, BAM, she’s someone else.”

We nod and watch our friend silently. His eyes become glassy.

“I mean, is that too much to ask for? A little consistency?” He takes a messy gulp of his beer, dribbling it down his shirt. “It just gets me how cold she can be. How she can change into someone else so quickly. What happened to this weekend? What was that all about then? Was that not the real her?” He pauses, then adds in a whisper: “And if not, who IS the real her?”

Several beats pass in silence. We all take swigs of beer and study the swirls on the wooden table.

“How about you?” he asks me.

“I just want a girl who…” I pause and regard my beer. “I just want a girl who isn’t just rebounding.”

“Ah, oh yea. You really liked her, huh?”

I scratch my chin. “You know, not that much. I could tell there were going to be issues between us. But what really upset me was being cheated on.”

Lisa pats my hand. Kevin nods. Another silence overtakes the table. We all savor our beer and fiddle with the mugs.

“How about you?” I ask Lisa.

“I want a guy who won’t fall easily for my friends. I hate losing my boyfriends to my friends.” She narrows her brow. “I’m worse than both you guys, because in my case, I not only lose a boyfriend, but I lose a friend too! I lose two people!”

“Damn. I think you win,” Ken mutters.

“Win what?”

“The Misery Contest. You’ve got us beat.”

She chuckles. “Yea, and for my Thank You speech, I would like to thank you both.”

“Thank us?” I arch my brow.

“Yea. Without hearing your stories, I wouldn’t have told mine.”

“Ah,” I nod. “Well, yea, that’s because misery loves company.”

Ken and Lisa smile. Then we all stare silently at our beers again.

. . .

What are you miserable about?


The DECA Program Guide Cover Contest

I don’t win many awards. Hardly any, in fact. So it was a big surprise when I won the Program Guide Cover Contest for DECA’s NY Conference in high school for a second year in a row.

The main speaker was pretty surprised too, apparently. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

DECA is, according to their website: “an international association of high school and college students studying marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality and marketing sales and service.”

My high school had a chapter and one of my teachers encouraged me to join. It was her who suggested I enter the Program Guide Cover Contest as well.

The first year, I drew the NY state flag. It was pretty awesome, if I say so myself.

At the conference, the speaker brought me onto the stage and presented me with a $100 check. For a high school student, that’s a lot of money. I brought a ton of comic books and candy with that money.

Our high school also won another award that year. So that, plus my Cover Contest award, meant we had one kick-ass high school. Our school was mighty proud.

The next year, I won again with a drawing of the Statue of Liberty. Another awesome drawing, I humbly admit.

The speaker rattled off the winners of the various contests. When he got to the Program Guide Cover Contest, my classmates howled before he even said my name. They continued to cheer as I walked onto the stage.

Then I noticed something wrong.

The speaker wasn’t looking at me. His arm wasn’t extended like it was last year. I didn’t see a check in his hand. But I know he announced my name; my whole table heard him.

I walked over to him anyways, thinking perhaps the check was in his pocket or something.

The room fell silent. The speaker stood there for a few moments, eyes glazed. He silently shook my hand. I said, “Thank you,” though I’m not sure why. Then I retreated off the stage.

Back at my table, my classmates were still howling. Only this time, they weren’t cheering, they were laughing.

I think it was Dave who was the first to say, “Mike, I don’t think you were supposed to go up there this year!”

They realized this when I was halfway to the stage. The speaker continued rattling off contest winners without pause. My classmates shouted at me to return, but by that time, I was on autopilot.

When I got on the stage, the speaker had no clue who I was. I’m surprised he even shook my hand. I wonder what he was thinking when this random Chinese kid walked onto the stage with him and shook his hand.

And after that, I never entered any more DECA Program Guide Cover Contests.

. . .

Have you ever won any awards?


An Email Soap Opera

Date: June 2
To: Mike Lee
From: Friend in IT
Subject: [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

hey mike, here’s the full thread. I reordered it so it’s in chronological order. it’s funny as hell. it’s like a friggin soap opera. don’t these people know that my job is to monitor work emails? they shouldn’t be sending crap like this at work. but what the hell. makes my job more fun. heh. enjoy!

. . .
Date: May 6
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Dean Keene
Subject: I can still smell you...

Virg, your perfume is still all over my desk. Last night was awesome. Let’s work “late” again this Friday!

. . .
Date: May 6
To: Dean Keene
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [re] I can still smell you...

I know, that was pretty hot, wasn’t that? That thing you did with your nose was great! BTW, I can’t this Friday, my husband has some friends coming over and I have to be the dutiful wife and entertain. How about Thursday?

. . .
Date: May 6
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Dean Keene
Subject: [re] I can still smell you...

Dammit. Screw your husband. He’s not the boss of you, right? I am! Well, I’m your boss’s boss, technically, so what I say matters. I really think we should “finish that report” this Friday night. It’s urgent.

. . .
Date: May 6
To: Dean Keene
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [re] I can still smell you...

Um, I don’t know what to say Dean. I already committed to this dinner. Why don’t you go home to your wife, open a nice bottle of wine, and spend a romantic evening with her?

. . .
Date: May 6
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Dean Keene
Subject: [re] I can still smell you...

What the hell is your problem? Didn’t I just tell you this is urgent? What side are you on? I know you want that director spot. Shall I give it to Roger instead?

. . .
Date: May 6
To: Dean Keene
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [re] I can still smell you...

You fucking bastard. Don’t fuck with me. If you want blood, I’ll give you blood.

. . .
Date: May 6
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Dean Keene
Subject: [re] I can still smell you...

You go and try, whore.

. . .
Date: May 6
To: Rachel Keene
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

Hi Mrs. Keene,

I found your email address in your husband’s PDA. He leaves it on his desk everyday when he goes to lunch, so it rings and rings and rings when he gets a call. It’s annoying as hell. But that’s nothing compared to what you’re about to read.

. . .
Date: May 7
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Rachel Keene
Subject: [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

I don’t know what you’re trying to pull here. Just because you’ve informed me of my husband’s infidelity doesn’t mean you’ll get on my good side. I’m going to get his estate and everything in the divorce, now that you’ve given me this proof. But after I clean him out, I’m going after you. Have a nice day.

. . .
Date: May 7
To: Rachel Keene
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

Hi Mrs. Keene,

Um, I think you’re blowing this totally out of proportion. It was only one time and I sincerely believe that it was a mistake. I’ve regretted it ever since. He had me in a moment of weakness. Also, because he’s my superior, I felt there wasn’t anything I could do without jeopardizing my career. It’s sexual harrassment, plain and simple. I’m the victim here and I can’t tell you how sorry I am. You must be going through a lot of pain right now. I can’t even begin to imagine how much pain. Why don’t we get together for some coffee? I really think we should meet. I can tell you my side and we can work through this together.

. . .
Date: May 7
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Rachel Keene
Subject: [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

When my husband returned home earlier this week, I could smell the perfume on his clothes. It was the same perfume I smelled on him last week. And the week before. Don’t try me, Ms. Tyler. You’ll have no sympathy from me. Just sit tight. I’ll deal with you soon enough.

. . .
Date: May 9
To: Edmund Smythe
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

Hi Edmund,

I really need your help. It seems I’ve just incurred the wrath of two psychos here. What can you dig up on these two to help me? I assume your rate is the same as last time?

. . .
Date: May 16
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Edmund Smythe
Subject: [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

Hello Mrs. Tyler,

Here’s what I found on Dean Keene and Rachel Keene. Attached are the full police and IRS records.

Dean Keene was charged for embezzlement in 1992. The case was thrown out due to improper police procedures and he walked free. The amount he was suspected to have embezzled is 1.2 million. The police report includes the lead investigator’s contact info.

Rachel Keene holds approximately $800,000 in various offshore accounts, according to some clandestine wire transfers she’s made. She’s a three-time divorcee and most of her savings has come from her divorce proceedings. However, according to the IRS, she’s only valued at around $60,000.

One of her ex-husbands worked in the same company Dean did where he allegedly embezzled the 1.2 million. Rachel happened to be a Financial Controller there, and he the VP of Accounting. She wasn’t implicated in the charges, but perhaps there’s a connection. I included that ex-huband’s contact info here too.

Pleasure doing business with you again, Mrs. Tyler. Take care.

. . .
Date: May 16
To: Edmund Smythe
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

You are SUCH a sweetie, Edmund! If there’s anything I can do to repay you, just let me know!

. . .
Date: May 16
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Edmund Smythe
Subject: [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

Hello Mrs. Tyler,

I appreciate the sentiment, ma’am. Your payment is sufficient. Just remember me for all of your future blackmail needs.

P.S. I prefer guys. As I was following Dean around, I saw him with a ravishing young brunette who appeared to be his assistant. His skin was so supple and fresh. If you happen to know the name of this brown-haired Adonis, I would be highly appreciative.

. . .
Date: May 21
To: Jim Anderson
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

Hi Jim,

Last night was so hot, Jim. You’ve always been someone I could turn to here. I don’t know why it’s taken us so long to take it to the next level like that. I can tell you’re really a smart guy and I sincerely believe you when you say you’ll do anything for me.

Here’s what I was so upset about. Dean is a bastard and he’s trying to screw me over. His wife is also after me. I haven’t been able to sleep for weeks because of this. You said you know computer hackers who could get into bank accounts around the world. Do you think you could get them to help me out here? I need to find out if Dean has any offshore accounts, and if Rachel’s offshore accounts are tied to the money they embezzled. I’ve included all of their files here in this email.

Thanks again Jim! You’re so hot! Thank you so much for helping me. You know I’ll be eternally grateful!

. . .
Date: May 22
To: Virginia Tyler
From: Jim Anderson
Subject: [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

Hey Virg,

This sounds like some pretty serious stuff. I had no idea Dean Keene was accused of embezzelment. I see that guy everyday in the cafeteria!

I don’t know what I can do to help exactly. I can talk to my hacker buddies, but what kind of information do you need? Can you be more specific?

. . .
Date: May 22
To: Jim Anderson
From: Virginia Tyler
Subject: [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

I don’t know, Jim. You’re a smart, handsome young man. I know you’ll figure it out. I can’t stop thinking about you, gorgeous! Write me back soon with some info, okay?

. . .
Date: May 24
To:  Roger Anderson
From: Jim Anderson
Subject: [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] [fwd] [re] I can still smell you...

Hey bro,

You won’t believe what just happened to me!

First, that hottie over in accounting, Virginia Tyler, totally made out with me this weekend! And then she tells me this huge sob story about how the VP of Finance Dean Keene is trying to screw her over. I gave her some bullshit story about how I know hackers and could help. I guess she believed me because I’m in engineering.

Next, she forwards me this crazy email with all this back-and-forth between her, Dean, Dean’s wife, and some gay private investigator! Talk about your twisted scandals!

And get this – you’re going to love this part: Virgina Tyler is after the same director position you are! I guess she couldn’t tell that we were brothers. What a ditz!

. . .

Do you have any amusing email threads?


Welcome to Manhattan

It’s not that Kris is unintelligent. Far from it. Her Ivy League graduate degree is plenty proof of that. In fact, she’s one of the most intelligent people I know.

It’s just that… well… let me tell you the story and you can see for yourself. (She’s going to hate me for this.)

Her first day in Manhattan. Kris walked the streets in wide-eyed wonder. Everything was so grand, so bustling, so intense. It was almost overwhelming. But she took it all in.

She eagerly rode the subways and followed the crowds, trying not to use a map and look like a tourist. When she got to Penn Station, she followed the herd outside to look for a taxi.

The taxi lines were long as usual. She walked towards the back and looked down the street. Dozens of taxis were approaching. The wait shouldn’t be too long.

“Hey Miss! Miss?”

She turned around.

“Miss, you need a taxi?”

It was a man wearing jeans and a dark button-down shirt. His eyes looked weary and his mustache needed a trim.

“Miss, you don’t have to wait in line. I can get you a taxi.”

“Really?” Kris asked. “How?”

“I work for the taxi company. I help people get taxis. Here, follow me.” He walked to the corner of the block. Kris followed, intrigued. There were people all around, so she knew she was safe.

At the corner, the man hailed a taxi. It pulled over immediately. Kris was impressed.

“Where are you going?” asked the man.

“Union Square.”

“Okay, we have a flat rate for that area. Just twenty bucks. It’s discounted from the usual fares.”

“Okay…” Kris fished out a twenty-dollar bill and handed it over.

“Thanks.” The man opened the door to the taxi and shut it behind Kris. “Union Square please,” he shouted to the driver. “Have a nice day,” he nodded to Kris. She waved back.

The drive to Union Square was pleasant. She looked out the window the entire time, trying to absorb all she could see. The buildings, the people, the shops. The sights, the sounds, the smells. It was all so much. She knew she was going to love it here.

Finally, the taxi arrived.

“Thank you!” chirped Kris as she swung open the door excitedly. It was her first time in Union Square and she was eager to see it.

“Hey! Hold on lady!” shouted the driver. “Where the hell do you think you’re goin’?”

Kris froze.

“You gotta pay me first. This ain’t a free ride, lady!”

“Wha-what?” Kris muttered. “But I-I already paid.”

“What the hell you talkin’ about? You didn’t pay shit. You were just ’bout to run out that door without payin’ me!”

“B-but, I paid the man on the street. He got me this t-taxi…”

“What planet are you from, lady? What man on the street? Why you payin’ some man on the street for a taxi ride? You don’t pay no one else but me. So c’mon, I ain’t got all day.”

Kris wiped the sweat from her brow. Her hands were shaking as she reached into her wallet. To make matters worse, it was much less than twenty dollars. The driver swiped the cash with a grunt and sped away as soon as Kris was out the door. “Stupid tourist,” he growled.

Kris watched the taxi drive away and sighed. Welcome to Manhattan, Kris.

. . .

Do you remember your first experience with Manhattan?


Defensive Driving

There are a lot of fucking idiots on the streets, pardon my French. So it’s a matter of necessity that you employ defensive driving techniques, lest you end up being a maroon smear on the pavement. I say this because I’ve had to share the road with such idiots in the rain in both San Francisco and NYC these last couple of weeks.

Over the years, I’ve found myself unconsciously acting on certain defensive patterns while driving. So I decided to write them down here. Maybe one day, these will become lessons I pass onto my kids.

Or maybe one day, I’ll write a book, get filthy rich, then hire a chauffeur so I never have to deal with those fucking idiots on the streets anymore.

I should add that I’ve never taken a defensive driving course before, though I’d really like to. I wonder what kinds of tips they teach you in those classes. You should trust what you learn in those classes more than you trust what I’ve written here.

And to be honest, much of this may be common sense to you. If it is, then I thank you, because you probably aren’t one of those fucking idiots on the streets then.

Anticipate the Future

Look at least two cars ahead of you. Just watching the car in front of you isn’t enough. If visibility allows it, look past the car in front (e.g. through the windshield, over the side, by their shadows or reflections on the street) to the next car.

Some drivers don’t have good braking habits, so by looking two cars ahead, you can monitor the braking patterns of both. As a general rule, you should brake when the car in front brakes; an extension of that rule is to brake when the second car ahead of you brakes. You don’t have to be a frequent braking maniac either; simply being ready to brake is enough.

It should go without saying that leaving yourself plenty of space between you and the car in front is smart as well. This gives you some buffer room for sudden stops. Tailgating is just about the dumbest thing you can do.

If you have enough space, and are watching two cars ahead, then you can sometimes find yourself not needing to use the brakes as much. This has the added benefit of saving wear and tear on your brakes. If the car in front hits the brakes, you can watch the rate at which the space decreases. This can indicate when and how much to apply your brakes.

Although if you’re not entirely confident in your braking judgment, please feel free to apply your brakes whenever the car in front is doing so.

SUVs, vans, and trucks can impede your visibility. In such cases, try and get into a lane where the car in front is a regular passenger car.

Be Predictable

Let the drivers around you know what you’re going to do. You can do this through the use of your car’s various indicators. Not only are the left and right turn blinkers indicators, but your brake light is also an indicator. Using these allow other drivers to react to your actions appropriately.

If the cars in front suddenly brake hard, hopefully you’ve already given yourself enough space to react. In such a situation, tap your brakes to let the car behind know you’ve got a sudden stop. The tap should be hard enough to have some visual jerk of your car, but not enough to lose control. The point is to use your brake lights and an extra indicator to let the driver behind know there’s a sudden stop.

I’ve seen some drives also employ their blinkers in these situations. If you have the clarity of mind to do this, then go for it. It seems to be a fairly useful technique too.

After you’ve made the initial indication, ease up on the brakes and allow yourself to continue forward a bit. The intent here is to give the driver behind some space in case he doesn’t or can’t brake quickly enough.

This basically means you need to be mindful of the space in front and in back of you. If the driver behind is tailgating you, move to another lane and let him pass. You can use your brakes and speed to influence the average driver behind you into a safe distance. For aggressive drivers behind you, just let them pass.

And obviously, use your turn signals all the time. You never know when another driver intends to merge into your target lane. A signal will let him know your intentions, so he can react accordingly. Not only is this a defensive technique, but it’s also a courteous one too.

Have an Exit Strategy

As you’re driving, assume the worst. Picture in your mind the potential accidents that could happen around you. Doing this isn’t meant to drive you into a state of perpetual panic; this is meant to help you visualize an exit strategy to get out of any potential mess.

In other words, plan your escape route. Assume that the cars in front of you will stop short or get into an accident. Try to avoid being boxed in by cars and trucks, if possible. Lanes at the edges (left-most or right-most) can sometimes offer good exit points if they have shoulders or space to drive into.

On a street with low traffic, the center lane can be the safest, since you can exit into the left or right lanes easily if needed. There is buffer room on the sides of you for driving adjustments.

Drivers tend to do this unconsciously already. Whenever there are two cars next to each other, generally one of them will pull away. This is a sociological phenomenon that happens to be beneficial as well, because if the lane next to you is clear, it can be an exit lane.

This all may seem like a lot of extra mental overhead. But after having avoided several accidents and been in a few close-calls with some fucking idiots in San Francisco and NYC, I’d much rather be a defensive driver than a pissed-off accident victim.


An Adventure in a Blizzard

Categories: Bad Days, Snowboarding

We got off the ski lift right before the high winds forced Kirkwood to shut it down. That left us at the top of Caples Crest with a handful of other snowboarders and skiers, all huddled to the ground to shield our faces from the stinging squall.

The winds had begun as Leslie and I approached the top. Our chair had swung precariously in the frozen gales. It would have been fun, like a playground swing, had it not been for the ten foot drop and piercing cold. Unless you grew up on an Alaskan playground, I suppose.

As we crouched on the ground, I looked down the slope. All I could see was a sea of white. Visibility was near zero. There were some dark splotches which I assumed were trees.

“Is it safe to go down?” a nervous snowboarder asked. Fortunately, at the top of Caples Crest was a Ski Patrol station.

One of the patrols answered: “Sure, if you’re very careful and know what you’re doing. You can also hang out here and wait for the winds die down. If it gets worse, we’ll start taking people down.”

A few daring souls took off down the slope. I silently watched the white swallow their bodies.

Several minutes passed with no mercy from the storm. Leslie turned to me. “Want to go down?”

I shrugged. “Sure, what do we have to lose? Just our lives, right?”

With that, we go on our snowboards and slowly slid downhill. I quickly realized that to say “visibility was near zero” was like saying “the sun is kinda hot.” There was literally a wall of white in front of us.

In other words, the storm was tighter than a virgin’s ass, and we squeezed through it like a cucumber without KY. Got the image down? Good.

We carefully glided through the soft snow. I’ve never boarded in snow as powdery as this before. I imagined this might be something like how surfing on water feels like.

The first twenty feet or so were smooth going and really damn fun. Then the winds picked up and I tumbled head-first down the mountain. With the soft snow all around me, I felt like I was falling into a bed of really cold cotton.

There was a slow-moving dark blur next to me, which I assumed was Leslie. I tried to push myself to my feet, but instead buried my arms into the snow. The harder I pushed, the deeper my arms sank. I had to pack the snow down to finally get back up.

Slowly, we made our way down Whiskey Slide. Except for a few boarders and skiers that flew past us, the slope seemed mostly deserted. The storm continued and the powder got deeper and softer, making each fall a real chore from which to recover.

Finally, we saw a sign. “A black diamond,” I shouted. Leslie nodded. “What do you want to do?”

We’re both relatively new to snowboarding and mostly stay on greens and blues. Although my first snowboarding trip was years ago, I go on an average of only once a year. A black diamond in a blizzard would be, well, what’s that s-word that means something like death? Oh yea: suicide.

There was a path next to us that was a blue. We tried to make our way there, but only slid further down the black. So we dismounted our boards and began walking.

The powder was high now. Each step consumed our boots. Walking through it was excruciating. I think I uttered just about every piece of profanity I could think of while making that arduous trek.

We came across a skier and several other boarders. The winds suddenly picked up and we all crouched again. I imagined us becoming frozen snowmen on the slope. One day, kids will visit us and put coals and carrots on our faces.

“Hello?” yelled the skier. “Do you know where we are?”

I marched over. “Not really. I haven’t been able to see a damn thing.”

“I haven’t seen any signs either,” added a snowboarder.

We all surveyed the mountain around us. The snow was still coming down hard. Part of me wanted to stay here until the storm passed. Another part of me thought back to the frozen snowmen on the slope and wanted desperately to get off the mountain.

“Maybe we’re right above Low Whiskey and High Whiskey,” I offered.

“I don’t think we are anymore. Look.” The skier pointed down the slope. “It’s all closed off over there. We can’t get down that way.”

“What’s down there?” asked a snowboarder. He pointed towards the right, where Leslie and I came from.

“It’s a black diamond. It’s open if you want to take that route.”

The skier and boarders exchanged glances and shook their heads. I guess they were new at this too.

“Oh, wait, I have a map!” chirped the skier. She pulled out her map and we all clustered around her.

“Ah, I think that closed off area could be this area here with the dashed red lines,” I pointed at the map. “So that means if we go left, we’ll be right at Hay Flat.”

“Ah! Great!” cheered the skier. “Thanks!” And with that, she skied over to the left. Leslie and I walked a little bit more before trying to get on our boards again. The other boarders hopped on their boards right away and glided past us.

The snow was up to our knees now. In some areas, it even came up to our thighs. We weren’t able to get back on our boards again. Each time we tried, we sunk deeper into the snow. So we opted to continue walking.

Did I tell you that walking through knee-deep snow sucks? Well, it does.

After twenty minutes of an agonizing hike, I decided to try getting on my board again. Leslie continued by foot while I wrestled with my board. But it was no use. At the rate I was sinking into the snow each time I tried to get up, I was bound to end up in Australia soon. So I started walking again.

I made it to several rolling hills below me. Since the snow was still too soft for me to get onto my board, I hatched a brilliant idea: I put my board on the ground, sat down on it, and pushed myself forward.

In effect, I rode my board like a sled down the rolling hills. If you’ve never tried this before, you’ve got to try it at least once. It’s hella fun!

Steering can be an issue though. Several times, I had to kick my feet down to stop myself from crashing into a tree. But other than the potential tree-splattering danger, it was fun!

Finally the storm started to ease up. I could see more hills in front of me and the Snowkirk ski lift beyond them. Energized, I continued sliding.

The last hill before the ski lift seemed really steep. Really steep. Suddenly, I found myself blazing down the hill. I sensed the incline drop sharply and I saw a cliff in front of me. First, there was hill, then there was air.

I leapt off the board and kicked my feet deep into the snow. My board slipped beneath me and disappeared into the void.

Time stood still for a moment. I contemplated what had just happened to me. I had no idea how tall the cliff was, nor what was below it. I wondered what would have happened if I continued to ride my board down.

Cautiously, I climbed towards the edge. The hill made a steep drop of about fifteen feet. Below that was a hole in the snow; in the hole were some rocks and flowing water. And in the water was my board.

“Mike! Mike!”

I saw Leslie standing in a distance near the ski lift. I waved back and looked down. The side of the cliff wasn’t total vertical. I took in a deep breath and started climbing down. Fortunately, I made it down without incident.

The hole where my snowboard fell was about eight feet deep. It looked like there was a stream under the snow and ice here. I walked around the hole to try to figure out a way to climb down. The snow around it didn’t seem stable and I decided to abandon the board.

I marched through more knee-deep snow towards the ski lift, cursing along the way. A Kirkwood lift operator was with her and he called the Ski Patrol. After they retrieved my board, Leslie and I continued down the rest of Hay Flat and Snowkirk. By this time, the storm had mostly subsided.

My legs were on fire from the walking and my wrists were stiff from the falls. As we glided back to the lodge, I almost cried for joy. If there weren’t people everywhere, I would have kissed the lodge itself. Maybe even given it some tongue.

After all of this, Leslie and I treated ourselves to some snacks and hot chocolate. As we kicked up our feet in the warm, safe lodge, I looked out the window.

“Want to go back out there?” I asked.


And we went back for more.

. . .

Have you ever been caught in a blizzard?


Feeling Helpless

Categories: Bad Days, Relationships

It’s been a while since I’ve had the energy to write. To be honest, I’m not really in the mood right now. But the cathartic nature of writing is what is compelling me to sit here and type. Not that I’m the one who really needs the healing.

If I could, I would send any ounce of curative energy I might feel to you right now. Fortunately, you’re no longer in the hospital and are with your parents, resting & recuperating. A little bit of extra energy wouldn’t hurt though, right?

The hospital. I’ve never been comfortable in a hospital. I could never be a doctor. All those smells and sights and sounds make me feel real uneasy and queasy.

Seeing you in there unleashed a deluge of different emotions. I’m not sure I can name all of them, but I know there was sadness, anger, and helplessness.

Sadness in seeing you lying there in pain. With those IV tubes on your arm and tray of pills & water by your bed. Each time I saw you, my heart tightened. You were in such agony. I was starving to see you smile.

Anger in the infection that was hurting you. All I wanted to do was to grab those germs out of your body and strangle them with my bare hands. I hated those germs with a passion. Personifying them as physical bad guys whom I could slaughter made me feel better, though only by a little.

Helplessness in not being able to do anything to make you feel better. All I could do was stand there, watching you in pain. If I could, I would have absorbed all of that suffering and taken it into my own body. But I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t do anything. And that inability to help shook me to tears.

There was also guilt for the selfishness I exhibited over my work. Sure, I can make excuses and rationalize that my work has been extremely busy these last few weeks. A number of issues all seemed to coalesce into the same time period. There were days I felt my head was about to explode. But what is that compared to the distress you felt as you laid there in the hospital?

There was also hope. I know it sounds out of place here, but there were a few times when I did catch you smiling. And it was great seeing all of your friends visit you and send colorful bouquets of flowers. There are a lot of people who care about you and want to see you get better.

Then came the day when the color returned to your face and you cheerfully talked about your roommate. Quite a character your roommate was. I’m glad there was some kind of comic relief in your hospital room.

I’m really thankful that you’re feeling better now. Please let me know if there is anything else that I can do for you. I still wish there was more I could do.

When you’re feeling well enough to go out again, I’ll take you out for some pearl tea. It may not be much, but I hope it will help.


Ketchup Stain and the Quest for Seltzer Water

“Oops!” Kathy yelped. Her expression froze as her eyes searched the food court, making sure no one saw the blob of ketchup that just landed on her left boob.

I looked over and grinned. Kathy’s eyes slowly drifted downward. With the burger still halfway in her mouth, she stared sadly at the red dot on her white t-shirt. “Oops!” she muttered again.

I grabbed a handful of napkins and was about to wipe them when her Decency & Discretion Warning System came to order and snatched the napkins from my hand. She caught the look of confusion in my eyes. “Um, it’s probably best you don’t rub my boobs in public,” she whispered. Blushing, I handed her more napkins.

She giggled as she soaked up the majority of the ketchup. “I should wear a bib!” she joked.

I threw on my Dutiful Boyfriend Cap and got up. “I’ll look for some seltzer water for you,” I declared.

She beamed me a gracious smile. “Thanks!”

I scanned the fast food outlets for a booth that had seltzer water. Passing several by, I approached a Chinese food shop. “Excuse me?” I asked the old man behind the counter. He looked up and stared at me through his thick glasses. “I was wondering if you have any seltzer water?”

“Wah?” he asked.

“Seltzer water?”


I sensed didn’t know what seltzer water was. “Soda water?”

“Soda? You want Coke?”

“Soda water. Clear soda water. Not Coke.”

“Soda? You want soda?”

I decided to go for another approach. “My girlfriend just spilled some ketchup on her shirt and she needs to get the stain out. So I need some…” I paused and scratched my chin. “…some bubbly water. Like soda, with bubbles, but without any syrup. Just the carbonated water itself.”

“Ah, water!” he shouted and went over to the soda machine. He filled a small cup and handed it to me with a smile.

I looked down into the cup. It was regular water. “Um, thanks,” I muttered and walked away.

I continued down the food court, taking sips of the water. The next booth was a bar. Two ladies were behind the counter, engaged in an animated conversation. I finished the water in two gulps and approached them.

“Excuse me; I was wondering if you have any seltzer water? My girlfriend just spilled some ketchup on her shirt and needs to get the stain out.”

“Ah!” one said, holding up a finger. “Say no more.”

Then, with the precision of a military drill sergeant, she filled a cup with seltzer water and handed me a disposable washcloth. I hadn’t even considered a washcloth. These ladies knew exactly what a ketchup stain needed.

“Thanks!” I hollered.

“Anytime! Good luck with her stain!” they replied. I hustled back to my girl.

As I returned, I saw Kathy struggling with a handful of napkins. I handed her the seltzer water and washcloth. She beamed a “Thank you!” with her eyes. Then, with a big smile and a few giggles, she began working at the stain.

Seltzer water is amazing on stains. I don’t know what kind of magic it holds, but it works. You could put seltzer water on Gorbachev’s head and rub the red mark from his scalp.

Her efforts left a noticeably large patch of sheer wetness on her white t-shirt, right around her left boob. She looked down and pouted, trying to dry it up with a napkin. Then she looked up at me and said, “Thanks honey! That was so sweet!”

“You don’t have to thank me,” I answered. “Just stop trying to dry your shirt. That patch of wet t-shirt is thanks enough!”

. . .

Have you ever had to hunt for seltzer water?


Eating Chinese Food with My Parents

Chinese parents have stomachs of iron. Literally; their stomach lining is cold hard metal. Rivets line their intestines. There is very little they cannot digest; I kid you not. Want me to prove it?

Well, pull up a chair and let me tell you a story. ‘Tis a true story, a story from my youth.

I was in grade school, only eight or nine years old. My family and I were in some nondescript Chinese restaurant near our house. It was the kind of place that uses fluorescent lights and has greasy tables. You can smell the grease and oil down the street.

We were given a booth with plastic seats and plastic chopsticks. And this was a good seat. Whenever Chinese waiters see a Chinese family in a mostly-white town, they always give them extra-special treatment. If you’re not Asian and you’re hearing this, sorry, but it’s true. Sucks for you.

My brother and I sat across from each other. My Mom was next to me, my Dad across from her. Menus with slippery plastic covers were placed on the table. I picked up a menu and opened it.

A cockroach fell out of my menu and into my lap.

Let me repeat that.

A friggin’ cockroach fell out of my friggin’ menu and into my friggin’ lap.

Now I hate bugs. Absolutely hate them. When I was a kid, they terrified me. So I flipped out and batted the cockroach off my legs with noisy fervor. The other patrons looked over and probably thought I had a wild ferret in my pants or something.

My Mom, on the other hand, calmly looked over and said:

“Don’t worry, all Chinese restaurants have cockroaches. Do you want sweet and sour chicken or sesame chicken tonight?”

We stayed and had dinner there. Stomachs of iron, I tell you, stomachs of iron.

. . .

Do your parents have stomachs of iron?