Monday, June 30, 2014

For Sam...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

Still with me...?
Well, that's what I get for not posting a new blog in almost a week....last post received only ⅓ of normal page views!

So those of you that have hung in there with me, thank you!

It's gonna be a hot and muggy one today...and tomorrow it's the first of July.

I have a thousand great memories surrounding the first week of July. From the annual 2 week shutdown at work as an adult (not getting one this year, launch of our new truck is going too well!). To picnics and Birthdays of friends and family. Vacations taken as a child.

But they are always tempered with sadness...

My parents divorced when I was 9, and Mom quickly remarried. The guy she married was a journeyman welder for General Motors, and an ordained Baptist Minister (more about him at a later date). He had a dog named Sam.

Sam was half beagle, half basset hound. Sam was, like all our dogs an "inside" dog. He did however have a doghouse my stepfather had built for him. It was a very nice doghouse. Shingled and insulated, fresh straw on the floor. He had even taken a Maxwell house coffee can, drilled some holes in it and used tin snips to cut petals on the upper lip so he could attach it over a 100 watt incandescent light bulb to provide heat in the winter. It had 50-60 ft. chain to attach to his collar. Strategically placed in the middle of the yard so that he could enjoy the shade of the trees but not get his chain caught on one.

Sam was my buddy! We did everything together, you know "a boy and his dog". I taught him new tricks, and we'd walk the fields near our house and run rabbits...and flush pheasants!
Though he would give me a disapproving look for not shooting them!

We had a fenced in yard, and if we were home Sam was fine. But Sam was a fence climber! Hence the reason for the doghouse...
If, as a family we were going to be gone more than 8 hrs. Sam was put outside and chained to his doghouse with a big bowl of fresh water.

One fourth of July we took a day trip to a drive through safari park in Canada. Step Dad had busied himself doing chores the first few days of vacation. Cleaning the pool, mowing the lawn, trimming the the rest of the week was rest and relax.

We were going to be gone around 14 hrs., so we fed Sam before we left....put out two big bowls of water close to the doghouse so he wouldn't knock them over, and clipped Sam to his chain.

We had a great day!!! Loved seeing all the animals!
But it had been a long hot July day.

We got home after dark, first thing I did was run out back to let my buddy in.

As I ran outside, excited to see Sam and give him a hug...I anticipated the tongue bath I was about to receive. Normally Sam would be straining against his chain in an effort to get to me...he wasn't.

He was laying on his side next to a tree...when I called him he didn't move. I ran out to him, and that's when I saw it. 

We didn't have "weed whips" back then, so rather than get out the scissor shears to cut the grass around the doghouse, step Dad would move it to mow the grass then put it back. Except this time he didn't.

When I got to Sam I saw that his chain was wrapped around the trunk of the tree...holding him there.
He didn' even raise his head when I got to him, not a wag of the tail, no recognition at all.
All he did was stare into space and pant...

The water bowls were full, he must have got tangled up shortly after we left.

I unhooked his chain, but he was too big for me to carry. 


He ran out of the house, took in the scene and scooped Sam up in his arms...

"Get all the ice cube trays and bring them up to the tub," he told me. "we have to cool him down!"

I was fast on his heels as he carried Sam upstairs, my sisters didn't know what was going on...but knew it was something bad, and started to cry. Mom joined us in the bathroom as we filled the tub with cool water and ice cubes.

We held his head up as the water rose, still senseless...instinct kicked in and his paws weakly moved trying to swim, as we laddled the cool water over him.

At that point Sam lost control of his bowels...and horror of horrors, part of his intestines came out as well.

"Call the Vet," he told my Mom. "Have him meet us, it's an Emergency!"

I stayed with Sam, pouring water on him until Mom came back.

"He can be there in 10 mins." Mom reported.

Step Dad picked Sam up out of the tub.

"You stay with your sisters..." he said to me.

"I wanna come," I whined "he's my dog..."

"I need you to stay here, and be the man of the house while we get Sam some help!" He told me.

"He's gonna be OK, right?!?" I asked hopefully.

"I don't know..." And then they were gone.

I don't know how long they were gone, it seemed like forever to my young mind.

When they got home, the girls were already asleep...I couldn't, I had to know.

They were both in tears when they came in, with Sam's collar in their hand...and I knew he was gone.

He died while the Veterinarian was examining him...extreme heat stroke. The Vet marveled that he had lasted as long as he had, like he waited for us to come home before he left.

The tears still fall as I write this...a cautionary tale!

Please, please, please do not leave your animals outside in this heat!!! Their safety is our responsibility!

Never again did we chain a pet, Step Dad sold the dog house...lesson learned too late for Sam, let it not be so for you.

I hope he forgives us, for we can not forgive ourselves!

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Bouncers curse...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

It's been a few days, my apologies!

So, back when I started bouncing I was told about the curse by a fellow Bouncer. I didn't believe him of course...

According to him, the curse was damn near as pervasive as the "Curse of the Bambino", which lasted 86 THAT'S a curse!!!

But like any newbie at any profession, I had to learn the hard way...

It was almost Christmas. A snow covered, cold Michigan night.
The bar I worked at had a banquet room downstairs that they rented out for special occasions...this Thursday night it was rented by a local business for their annual Christmas party.

I was working the door alone, as Thursdays were not big "trouble" nights. There was a foyer as people came in off the street, with a set of stairs to the left leading down to the banquet room. A second set of glass doors led into the bar proper, where patrons would show their ID's to yours truly before entering the club.

Management trusted the businesses to self regulate, and no bouncers were required in the banquet area unless requested...which never happened.

From my position at the door I could see all the party goers as they arrived, before they peeled off to head down the stairs.

It was a little after 9 pm, I'd just come on.

She caught my eye the second she walked through the doors...I can still see her in my mind's eye.

A halo of blonde hair surrounded an angels face, the rest hanging to the middle of her eyes that caught mine as her boyfriend took her coat.

She was dressed for the event in a long sleeved red velvet mini dress that fit her Penthouse body like she was sewn into it...shapely legs ran down to a pair of F-me pumps that matched the dress in that they too were red...and velvet covered.

She graced me with a smile, tucking a stray hair behind her ear...(and my heart stopped)...before following the boyfriend downstairs to the party.

Time passed, people came and went and the dance music played.
I had nearly forgotten about her, when I turned around and there she was before me...

"Uh, Hi!" I stammered...I'm quick that way! 

"Hi," she replied meekly "is there a cover to get into the bar?

"Not at all," I told her "did you need something? Your waitress should be able to bring you whatever you need downstairs..."

"If it's all the same to you I'd rather be up here...I kinda had a big fight with my boyfriend...we broke up, he's such an asshole sometimes...and he's been drinking. You probably see a lot of that...doing what you do."

"Yeah, kind of an occupational hazard..."
She laughed softly, then the tears welled up...

"I'm sorry..." she said, digging in her clutch (red sequined) for a tissue.
I had a some napkins on the table next to me and I handed her a one was waiting to get in so I walked her over to a table, pulled a chair out for her and got her seated. I got the attention of one of the girls and told her on the sly to get the lady whatever she liked, on me. 

A group was coming in so I excused myself and headed back to the door.

It took longer than I figured, but sure enough here came the drunken boyfriend...

"Sarah, what the fuck?!?" he demanded storming up to her.

"I told you if you didn't stop I was're such a jerk!!! I can't even talk to people without you freaking out...just go away."

"The fuck I will..." he said, listing a little unsteadily on his feet.
"You're coming back downstairs..."

"No, I'm not...just leave me alone...go drink with your asshole buddies, that's all you care about anyway!"

I watched this all play out, not really wanting to get involved yet...drunken lovers spats are de rigeur in a bar, so unless somebody starts "laying hands" you let it go...

"Don't be such a fucking bitch Sarah...come on!" (Wrong thing to say Bub)

"Fuck you!!!" she spat back at him. (Told ya...)

"I said COME ON!!!" he screamed, at which point he grabbed her upper arm and jerked her to her feet, the chair spinning away and toppling to the floor. 

"Jay stop, you're hurting me..." (That's my cue...)

Before the words were fully out of her mouth I was there...a couple other guys close by were half out of their chairs as well.

"Let her go!" I said in my outdoor voice to make myself heard over the throb of the music.

"Huh?" Jay looked at me not sure where I'd appeared from, or who I was, or why this broad shouldered fellow was bothering him.

"The lady obviously doesn't want to go with you, so let go of her."

"Who the fuck you think you are? She's my girlfriend so you can kiss my..."

"He's the Bouncer Jay...let go of me before he hurts you."

"Last chance pal..." I said stepping towards him.

He'd been holding her arm up level with her shoulder...he threw her arm down and said "Fuck this shit...and Fuck you.." He said to her, sticking a finger in her face. "Walk home BITCH!!!" 

With that he lurched his drunken ass out the door, and into the parking lot.

I righted her chair and held it out for her...she smoothed her dress under herself and sat down with as much dignity as possible. Her drink had spilled when she hit the table when he jerked her up and she mopped at it with a napkin. I had the bartender toss me a towel and I cleaned up the rest. Her waitress brought her another drink, to a muttered "Thank you"

I asked if she was alright..."Uh huh..." she answered.

"You want to call somebody?" I asked "The Bartender will let you use the phone..."

"No, that's ok" she said.

The manager, a women as opposite from this creature before me as is possible was staring daggers at me so I excused myself back to the door.

There was a small table by the door along the low wall separating the door from the rest of the bar. There was just one chair at it.
When we worked two Bouncers, one stood and worked the door...the other sat and watched the room. Working solo I stood.
I was allowed one drink, so I nursed my whiskey and ginger ale all night, setting it on the table next to me.

I heard something behind me, when I turned she was just sitting down at my table.

"You don't mind do you?" she asked.

"Not even a little bit..." I answered with a smile.

"I'm Sarah..."

"I heard..." motioning towards the table she'd been seated at with my head.

"Oh....yeah..." she blushed.

"I'm Joe..."

"Pleased to meet you Joe..." she said sticking out her hand.
I took her hand and she gave it a quick shake. 

She sat there and talked to me while I worked the door. When she finished the drink I'd bought her, she ordered herself another. Not letting me buy this time.

She told me all about her and Jay...told me it wasn't the first time he'd hurt her. I told her then it was "good riddance to bad rubbish".
She chuckled.

 She deserved better I told her. She asked if I had a girlfriend...I told her I was currently unattached. We talked about a little bit of everything, and the talking seemed to relax her. She told me where she worked (the cafeteria at the Kmart near us)...and as we talked she drank...white Russians.

Finally she sighed and said "Can I ask you a favor?"


"Will you take me home...? I mean when you get off work." (YES!)

"I don't get off until 2:30...we close at 2, I help clean up and walk the girls out to their cars." I looked at my watch "That's about two and a half hours from now, you sure you want to wait that long?"

"For you..." (Oh man....)

The more she drank the flirtier she became...I was considering asking the manager to leave early when a middle aged woman in a mink coat and her husband came in...holding Sarah's coat.

"There you are dear..." The woman said "I'm so sorry about you and Jay...he's still young...give him time." She looked at me...

Made a face as though she smelled an unpleasant odor and asked. 

"How are you getting home dear? I understand Jay left hours ago..."

"Joe's going to take me..." she said indicating me with a smile and a wave of her hand.

"Oh that simply won't don't even know!" She looked me up and down, obviously not liking what she saw.

"We'll take you..."

"That's true, thank you." she said 

"Wanna go out sometime?" she said to me.

"I'm free tomorrow," I said. "we can meet here and then go out from there...if that would make you feel better."

"What time?" she asked.

"About 7pm?"

"It's a's my number." She said getting out a pen and writing it on one of the napkins from my table, along with her name and a big heart. 

She gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and said.
"Thank you for made tonight bearable.

The older man helped her into her coat, and she walked with them out into that cold dark night.

The next day I was walking on air...THE hottest girl I'd seen in ages was interested in me!!!

At five I called her number to make sure we were still on, no answer.
I tried again at six, no answer...
I was starting to get that feeling...but I went anyway.

As I walked in, Kelley the bartender (we had our own adventure here) said "Hey Big Guy (everybody was big to Kelley) I thought you had the night off?"

"I do...meeting a date. Can I get a whiskey and ginger ale?"

"Not that chick from last night?" she asked rolling her eyes.

"What?" I said "She's nice..."

"She's trouble, is what she is...trouble you don't need. Besides, did you forget about the curse?"

"No, I didn't forget about the curse....I just don't believe it."

"Ok," she said sitting my drink in front of me and wiping down the bar with her white towel. "Just sayin'..." as she moved down the bar to wait on someone else.

The other bartender, Lisa came out from the back room.
"Whoa," she said to Kelley "we get Heavy Duty AND WWF tonight?" Lisa had a penchant for nicknames...WWF was Sean, who looked like a wrestler and worked the nights I didn't.

"He's meeting a girl..." Kelley said.

"Not the one from last night...?" Geez...did everybody have an opinion?

Well, long story short...she never showed. I hung out until midnight to be sure....

My Bartender friends agreed, it wasn't was the curse.

So Saturday, I had the day off from Dunham's Sporting Goods, a part time job I'd taken to help pay the bills while I worked at the school and bounced.

I remembered Sarah telling me she didn't go in to work again until Saturday morning when we were talking. So, giving her the benefit of the doubt...who knows, something could have come up...
Ok, Ok she was insanely hot and I wasn't giving up with out giving it one more try. I decided I'd go for lunch at the cafeteria at Kmart and sit in her section. You see how insane I was...I was willing to eat at Kmart for  chance with this girl.

Soooooo, I go.

I ask for her section specifically, and I'm looking over the menu when she walks up...

Hair pulled back on the sides of her head, the rest cascading down her back. Pale blue and red uniform dress that fit her like her Christmas dress had to be her...NOBODY else could make that uniform look that good! Anklet socks and white sneakers completed her uniform. Her make up was understated, yet she still had aura of sexiness about her.
And she STILL looked hotter than most models!!!

"Hi, how're you doing today? Welcome to Kmart, can I get you something to drink?" she asked cheerily

"An iced tea please..."

"Ok, are you ready to order or do you need a minute?"

I had set my menu down, and she was looking right at me waiting expectantly...

"You have no idea who I am do you?" I asked, crestfallen.

She cocked her head to the side, bringing her pencil up to the side of her mouth as she concentrated...making the cutest little face of perplexity.

"Ummm, no...I guess I don't."

"I'm Joe..." I offered helpfully

She shook her head slightly still not making the connection.

"The Bouncer...? From Thursday night...?"

Her eyes lit with sudden comprehension..."That was you???"


"But," her brow furrowed "how did you know where I worked?"

"Because you told me...and when you worked next...and all about you and asked me to take you home? Any of this ringing a bell?" I asked hopefully.

"Kinda...I had a little bit to drink that night." she offered.

"Do you remember giving me your number? And why?"

She gasped a sudden intake of breath "Yes...Oh my God...I didn't show up!!! I'm so sorry..." She said as she slid in the booth across from me.

"I tried calling a couple of times before I left but you never answered..."

"Yeah, I wasn't home...I went over to Jays to get my things, and we wound up talking...and, well...we're back together." she said, not meeting my eyes.

"I figured it'd be something like that..." I said "I know I don't know you, and it's none of my business...But you don't deserve to be with somebody that puts their hands on you like that."

"He's a really nice guy when he hasn't been drinking...I know it's not an excuse, but..."

"But you love him..."

"Yeah." she answered with a nod.

I took a napkin, and wrote my name and number on it. I pushed it across the table to her.

"If you ever decide you deserve better..."

With a nod she scooped it off the table and slid it into the pocket of her uniform dress.

"Thanks," she said as she slid out of the booth. "you still want something to eat?"

"Gotta eat," I said with half a smile "Cheeseburger and onion rings please."

"Comin' right up..." she said with a smile as she walked back to the kitchen. 

She brought my check with my food, and when I was done I paid and walked over to say goodbye.

There was a trash basket sitting next to the waitress station, as I walked up something in it caught my eye...the napkin with my name and number on it.

When I looked up she was starring at me...
"Sorry" she mouthed.

 She looked away, and turning walked through the 
"employees only" door, and out of my life...forever.

I guess Sean was right about the curse...Damn him!

"Always remember the Bouncers curse, or this job will drive you crazy!" He'd said.

"What's that?" I asked.

"The Bouncer NEVER gets the girl."

Be Well Folks!!!

Beastly Bear

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Season of My Discontent....

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

Here's something you might not know...


Oh I know it's not right...after all rain is water and water gives life, but I hate it just the same.

Well, more specifically being out IN the rain....
Always have.

Perhaps it was the whole "Rained for forty days and forty nights" and destroyed the world thing from catechism...I don't know.

I will allow that I love the sound of the rain.

I guess what it really comes down to is being in wet clothes, at least if you're out in the snow you can brush it off!
But rain just soaks you through to the skin! Nasty wet, clinging clothes...they even smell funny. Like wet dog...

That whole kissing in the rain business from "The Notebook" that all you gals find soooooo romantic...
I can't imagine being any more miserable...

Brings to mind the old "Don't have sense enough to come in out of the rain" idiom.

Also, rain brings humidity...which makes me hot!

I also hate being hot!

If you're cold, no put on more/warmer clothes. If you're hot, there's just so much you can take off...and trust me, nobody wants to see THAT!
How I look exercising!

This is yet another reason to hate exercise!
Exercise makes me hot, which makes me sweat...a lot, which makes my clothes wet! Aaaarrrgghhh!!!!

I only like being wet on purpose, which meanings swimming or showering (preferably with a partner).

Completing the trifecta of things I hate: mosquitoes!

Can't stand the little blood suckers! There are even tales, quite believable to me...of frontiersmen being driven insane by their constant buzzing attacks.

Whenever the ubiquitous Facebook post asks "If you could eliminate one thing from the world, what would it be?" 
My answer? Mosquitoes!

Follow me here, not only are they personally annoying, put as purveyors of disease worldwide they are without peer! Encephalitis, west Nile virus, Dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria... Need I go on?!?

Today is the Summer Solstice, the official start of summer, or: 
"THE SEASON of rain, heat, and mosquitoes"!

Hence the season of my discontent!

I suppose if I lived on the beach, with cool breezes blowing in off the ocean, and could jump in the ocean should I get too hot, and a derth of mosquitoes... I'd be fine.

But being I live in South Eastern Michigan...heat, rain, and mosquito central... I'm in for three months of misery while the rest of you are loving it!

So should I not appear overly happy the next few'll all know why.

Glad that you all will be enjoying it though!

Be Well Folks!!!

Beastly Bear

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The art of Disinformation...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

The other night I was talking with a fellow Team Leader at work...we had experienced some severe weather in the state with a possible tornado touchdown near Hale, MI.

Jokingly I said "I'm a Yale man myself..."

He looked at me and said "If you went to Yale, what the Hell are you doing working in here?!?"

"No no, I was born at Yale Community YALE, MI." 

"Oh," he said "oh that makes more sense..."

This got me to thinking...I know, shocking right? Lol

About the art of disinformation. Not lying "per se", but presenting facts in a certain way. Saying or not saying something that leads the listener to make assumptions.

As an example, before I started dating Momma Bear...I dated a bit. At the time I was driving Semi's for Perry Drugs. An honorable, if less than exciting or profitable sounding venture.

So should I meet a young lady in a bar and she asked me what I did for a living I would say that I was an 
"Interstate Pharmaceutical transportation Engineer" for Perry Drugs.

"Oh my..." She might answer, hearing "Pharmaceutical" and "engineer" in the same sentence. "Tell me about that."

"Well," I'd continue "I get a company vehicle, because I travel all throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. When I have to be out overnight the company puts me up in a hotel room, and pays for my dinner. I check routing, visit stores, interact with vendors from multiple companies. I check and verify the security of the drug shipments on the route I'm on any given's time consuming but very rewarding."

Now technically all that is true...but it certainly gives a different impression.

"Wow, where did you go to school?" She'd ask.

This one was a little dodgier...
"Ever hear of M.I.T. ?"

"Oh yes..." She'd say breathlessly.

Here I give a slight nod of the head, along with a minimalist shrug and raising of the palms as if to say "There you have it..."

"Cool..." She might answer...come on, this was almost 30 years was,! Lol

Again, I never said I went to M.I.T....I merely asked if she'd ever heard of it.

Now before you all jump on my head for being a player and a Cad...I never kept up the charade longer than a few minutes...gently teasing them about being perhaps a little too trusting(gullible).

There was a time though when I used the art to confound an idiot, and send him sputtering out of my life forever.

After graduating High School I went to work for Gell's Sporting Goods full time...the military wouldn't take me, so why not?

After a couple years I was promoted to Assistant Manager myself after one of ours quit and Steve returned to Manage the Livonia Store.

I almost never had problems with customers, even belligerent ones seldom fazed me...but there was this one guy.

Let me preface this story thus:
I am a hunting/shooting/reloading nut. Rifle, pistol, shotgun, bow and name it! Have been since the age of 12 or so. Read every magazine/book/article about the subject I could lay my hands on. I memorized ballistics charts and reloading manuals like other kids did batting averages. At 15 I was the youngest person Gell's ever hired to work the gun counter, I was of course too young to do the paperwork but I did everything else. The depth and breadth of my knowledge of the subjects was attested to in that if the older guys didn't know the answer to a question...they asked me.

One day two fellows came in to look at reloading equipment, an obvious "newbie", accompanied by an
"expert" read as "know-it-all".

I'd seen this before...

Newbie wants to "try it out" for a minimal outlay of cash.
The Expert trying to impress the newbie with his vast and superior knowledge tries to oversell his "friend" things he neither needs, nor is likely to use or use properly. Reloading is definitely an area where a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

As they walk up, the expert jumps in an starts to run the show...telling me what he wants, how he wants it, and so forth. The newbie is obviously uncomfortable.
So when the expert was done, I politely asked the newbie himself a couple points of clarification. With his answers in hand I began assembling for him a "beginners" beginners kit. One that would give him an introduction, at minimal cost and maximum safety.

Every step of the way, the expert had a comment, nothing was right, nothing was good every comment I stopped, explained my decision...gave the pro's and con's of going a different way...and each time the newbie trusted my judgment.

Finally the expert says to the newbie in exasperation:
"Don't you hate these fucking smart ass kids that's think they know every fucking thing!?!"

"Excuse me?" I said, not sure I'd just heard what I thought I just heard.

"You heard me..." He said.

"Sir if your recommendations are any indication...they show your knowledge to not only be limited, but dangerous for a beginner."

"Fuck you" he snarled.

"Sir, if you're not happy with the level of service being provided the door is located at the front of the store. If you can't find it on your own, I'd be happy to show it to you."

"You can't talk to me like that you fucking asshole, where's your Manager?"

"I AM my Manager sir..."

"Then I want to talk to the owner!"

"My Dad won't give a shit what you have to say..."

"Fuck this!" He sputtered "I'm outta here!!" 
And out he stomped, leaving me alone with the newbie.

"I'm sorry about my buddy." He said apologetically.
"As you can tell he's a bit of an asshole..."

"My apologies to you, I shouldn't have let him get under my skin...but that last comment was just too much!"
"You've got a good safe kit here, I started with one just like it when I was 14. It will do what you want with a maximum amount of safety. And if you decide you like it and want to upgrade, you're out a minimum amount of money"

"One question though..." He asked leaning in conspiratorially "Is your Dad really the owner?"

I leaned in as well "I never said he was. I said 'my dad won't give a shit what you have to say' which is true. 
I never implied my Dad owned the store...he made that assumption."

He got a big smile on his face and stuck out his hand.
"Rick" he said.
I shook his proffered hand.

"Your secret's safe with me...damn I wish I was as fast on my feet as you are!"
He gathered up his booty and walked off chuckling.

A month later Rick was back, enjoyed it so much he wanted a "real" set-up...asked for me by name.
Became a loyal customer, right up until they closed the doors due to the owners retiring and their kids not wanting anything to do with the family business.

Never saw Rick's buddy again...not that I missed him!

Be Well Folks!!!

Beastly Bear

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My other, other Dad...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I've always been a bit of a prankster...a couple of these stories might have brought this home, and yes my sisters DO still speak to me! Lol

When I was driving for Perry Drugs, one of the first guys I met was Joe Cain.

Joe was a very dark complected black fella about 20 some years older than me, born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. To say he had an accent would be an understatement...for the first week I knew him I barely understood every third word he said.

But I have an ear for dialect and before long I was translating "Joe" for some of the other drivers.

Joe and I were kindred spirits, both loving nothing more than a good laugh...and if we were the cause of a good prank, even better.

Talking one day, I discovered just how much older than me Joe was...and I told him "You're old enough to be my Daddy!"
He cried "SON!"
I cried "DAD!"

And a comedy duo was born.

We took our act on the road...every truck stop between Detroit and Chicago...and a couple in Milwaukee. 

Our act went something like this:
We'd go into a truck-stop for something to eat, get a table and peruse the menu.

After a time a world weary, overworked and underpaid waitress would appear and ask us what we'd like.

Me: "I don't know...Dad, what are you gonna get?"
Joe: "Well Son, I was thinkin' on the chicken fried steak."
M: "You know Mom wants you to watch your cholesterol! You should get something healthier!"
J: "I was pickin' my own food long afore you was born and I ever laid eyes on yo Mama I'll get whatever the hell I want.."
 The Waitress following us back and forth like the last round at Wimbledon: "You two REALLY Father and Son?"
Together: "Yeah....WHY???"
"Well you're..."
"Unh huh?"
"And he's..."
Waitress walking away shaking her head "Mmm mmm mmm!"
She'd leave, and we'd cut up!

We weren't above pranking each other either...

Many a time I returned to my truck after having stopped somewhere with Joe. He'd give the twirling finger "Let's go" sign, I'd release the air brakes and put the truck in gear to begin to pull out...only to leave my trailer sitting where I'd parked! 

While I was otherwise occupied, Joe had extended the dollys on my trailer, pulled the fifth wheel pin and removed the air lines!!! The last thing I'd see as he pulled away was him bouncing in his seat hooting in sadistic glee!!!

Oh but I got him back...yes I did!

Sometimes when we went to Chicago, instead of getting a room we'd pull into a truck-stop and sleep in our trucks and pocket the overnight money the company gave us.

One such night Joe and I agreed to meet back at the New Buffalo, Mi. truck-stop to catch our 40 winks before heading back.

I had gotten tied up at one of my stores, and was a couple hours late getting there. In an age before cell phones, there was no way to let him know.

It was almost midnight when I pulled into the mostly empty lot, the truck-stop was closed...but I spied Joe's truck all by itself in the back.

As I pulled by his truck I saw Joe, head cradled in his arms across the steering wheel fast asleep...he didn't even flinch as I rolled by.
And I got an idea...a great Grinchy, awful idea!!!

Instead of backing in beside him, I kept going...shut off my headlights and circled the lot.

Arranging it so our trucks were nose to nose, about 40 feet apart...
set my headlights to high beam, turned them on and grabbed a fist full of air horn! To sell it I mimed a scream and threw one arm up as if to hard off the oncoming collision.

Joe came full awake instantly, standing on the brake pedal with both feet and sawing on the steering wheel trying to miss me! Oh, his eyes were like saucers and all color had drained from his face....which is saying something!

He was less than amused when I about fell out of my seat laughing at him...he disowned me for a few weeks saying "You ain't no son'o mine!"

One of my favorite memories, was one holiday the company combined Mon., Tues., and Wednesday's Chicago runs into one day. A Monday, we would deliver that day and come home the next...New Years Eve., Wednesday we were all off for New Years Day.

There were 8 of us, and we decided we'd meet back at the TSA Truck-Stop in Gary, IN., sleep in our trucks and spend our overnight money in a bar that was within walking distance of the truck-stop.

I had the longest, worst run as I was youngest and had the lowest seniority. Which meant everybody got to the bar, well before me.

This bar was your typical truck driver/redneck/biker bar...sawdust on the floor, common fights, occasional shootings/stabbings! But hey, beggars can't be choosers!

A sign over the door proclaimed "No Heifers Allowed" (but it wasn't enforced)...along the wall was a "Fist of Fury" machine, that measured your punching power and a "Bull Wrangler" Machine...built to look like a bulls head, you took each horn in your hand and squeezed the two together to see how strong you are!

The guys got there and started drinking, when they were approached by a "Lumper".

What IS a Lumper you ask?

A Lumper is a nomad that travels around from truck-stop to truck-stop offering to unload your truck for you...for a price. Sometimes it would be $50, sometimes a ride to the next truck-stop. Often times they'd have a con or a scam they'd try to run on you...they are best left alone.

Like Carnies! Lol

This Lumper was a mid thirties well built young man, brown haired and blue eyed. Flannel shirt and jeans. He approached the guys offering to arm wrestle for drinks...appearing three sheets in the wind already, a couple of guys gave him a try...but he sobered up enough to beat them! After winning a few rounds, Joe told him:
"Y'all wait til my boy gets here....he'll give you a thrashin'!!!"

So as I walked in, I was greeted with a resounding "SON!!!"

I walked to the table, a beer was stuffed in my hand and I was given the lowdown on the nights activities so far...

"You gots ta whoop that punk ass it fo yo Daddy!" Joe added.

So they called him over, he looked me up and down...seemed unimpressed "So, they think cause you're big you're tough huh?"
He said with a slight southern drawl.

"Oh, I never claimed to be tough...I was just wondering if you were still taking bets?"

"Sure...Whats the bet?"

"Well you were arm wrestling these guys for drinks, right? Let's start there..."

"They got so much confidence in you, talked you up big...let's make it a round. You win I'll buy you all a round, I win you each pay me the price of a beer. Whatdaya say?"

The guys were all nodding and giving me the thumbs up, so I said:

"Sure, why not."

A table was cleared, we set across from each other and locked hands. At the count of three the match commenced...

What the Lumper didn't know, and what nobody felt like telling him was that this was kinda my "Thing", in fact I'd beaten every man there easily back at the shop.

I beat my Dad, and his entire bowling team when I was 13.
Since then I could count on the fingers of one foot how many times I'd been beaten since...

I was more than prepared for the Lumpers initial surge, that's generally how you win...a big burst at the beginning til you have the leverage advantage, then power your opponent down.

He was unprepared for it to have no effect...

He was strong, I'll give him that...but I twisted my wrist, putting him at an awkward angle and started taking him down.

He took losing with good grace...then offered:
"Hey, how about double or nothin'....left handed!!!"

"You sure man, that will be like $40..."

"I'm sure" He said.


Again we lined up, locked the count started he says:

"You oughta know, I've never lost left handed" and smiled, thinking he had just lined up an easy mark.

"You oughta know" I replied " left handed" He lost his smile.

At one, I put it all into my own burst...powered through his, and rapped the smug bastards knuckles against the table as I won.

"Dat's my BOY!!!" Joe Hooted.

The Lumper let out a "yip" and started rubbing his shoulder...

"That'll be Forty bucks please..."

He reached into his shirt pocket and tossed a couple $20's on the table. Joe gleefully scooped them up and headed for the bar.

The Lumper leaned forward and says:

"Can I ask you sumthin'...?"


"Is that guy really your Dad?"

"Yeah," I said "why?"

"Well cause he's a N..."
The narrowing of my eyes as a leaned closer to him, brought him up short.

"He's a what?" I asked in my most dangerous tone.

"Uhhhh, nothin' man...never mind..." He got up. 

"You guys have a great New Years." he said over the shoulder he was still rubbing as he moved away into the crowd.

Well Folks we drank WAY too much that night, celebration will do that to you...drove home the next day with the worst hangover of my young life. Never regretting a minute of it!

Joe retired almost ten years ago, I'd left Perry's long before that...
Did I make it to his retirement party? You bet your ass I did!!!

He had plans to move back to Louisiana...whether he did or not I'm not sure. I Talked to him on the phone a few times after he retired, each call farther know how it goes.

Think I'll try giving the old man a call tomorrow...see what he's up to. Share a laugh, I miss it.

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear

Monday, June 16, 2014


Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I have in my possession a vintage pair of Smith & Wesson(yes the folks that make guns) Model 94 
Maximum Detention handcuffs.

Back when I got them, some 30+ years ago...they were the end all and be all of handcuff technology. 

Tube keyed and nickle plated steel.

Supposedly impossible to pick.

I did not buy them, they were about $85 back then...
No, they were gifted to me, and therein lies a tale...

It was the spring of my senior year, doing optional semester with Oakland County Sheriff's Dept. and working my after school job at Gell's Sporting Goods.

On Saturdays I habitually worked a 12 hour shift, 9-9.
This made for a long day, but I worked with a great group of people(for the most part) and we had a lot of fun!

I had gotten a new Assistant Manager, up from our store in Livonia named Steve Borza. Steve was in his late 20's...a red haired, brown eyed fella with pinched ferret-like features, and tons of nervous energy! Steve had one true love in his life...The Beatles! A fount of knowledge about the band, their songs, movies, you name it!!!

This particular Saturday, it was just Steve managing the store as the manager was off, and the other assistant was on vacation.

I was, as usual working the gun counter on the far side of the store with my buddy Mike Dumas.

The morning had been busy, but as usual. Around 3 o'clock, maybe three thirty I saw a youngish black fellow squatted down looking at our revolvers through the glass showcase and stepped down to see if I could help him.

"Good afternoon," I said "anything I can show you today?"

He didn't answer, but slowly stood.
He was a good inch or two shorter than me, 5'9" or so and slight of build. By his dress, he appeared to be not too well off...not a judgment, but as a salesman you learn to access the person you're dealing with.

His attire was budget store chic. Navy work pants...a little big, maybe second hand. Black converse sneakers, a green and red striped pullover shirt(ala Freddie Krueger) and an army surplus OD green knee length overcoat, open, completed the look.

He pointed through the glass and said:

"May I see that one?" Pointing to a S&W model 28 "Highway Patrolman", a 4" barreled .357 magnum popular with police depts. across the country at the time.

I unlocked the case and removed the gun he indicated, checked it was empty and handed it to him butt first.

He took it from me, examining it closely opening the action, trying the trigger, the things a "normal" buyer does.

Then he did something normal buyers DON'T do...
With the gun in his right hand, he raised it and put the barrel to his temple and pulled the trigger 6 times...
"Click, click, click, click, click, click"

"Yep," He said "that'll do...."

I snatched the gun away from him, as other customers and Mike looked on in shock.

"What the Hell are you doing man?!?"

He just looked at me and shrugged, turned and walked away...
I watched him until he was out the front doors and out of the store.

Steve had been in the back of the store when this happened, and Mike and I told him what had happened. So should this guy come back, he'd be prepared if the guy asked Steve to show him anything.

A couple hours later, I was in back on my dinner break when Steve sent one of the other guys to come get me. When I found Steve he was watching the guy I had waited on earlier. I went over and asked him what was up.

He told me this guy had in fact returned, and asked him to see the exact same gun. Having been forewarned he had declined, saying he had heard what he had pulled earlier and would not be showing him ANY guns. Instead of leaving...the guy was now "creeping" around the store...
Steve tasked me with shadowing him until he left.

When I went over and asked if I could help him, he asked:

"Oh, you work over here too?"

I allowed that "Yes, I work the whole anything you need, I can help you."

He meandered through the store, stopping every now and then to examine something that caught his eye...all the time mumbling to himself.

He went back to hockey, through camping, and baseball...where he looked at a couple bats (I half expected him to start smacking himself in the head with one).

When he went into shoes, I broke off and told Steve that perhaps we should call the cops...this guy's not right, and I'm getting a really bad vibe off him. Steve was hesitant as the guy had not actually done anything yet.

When I turned around, I had lost sight of him...a quick search put him back in the boxing/weight lifting area. As I walked up on him he was standing in front of the barbell rack. Picking them up one at a time, checking their price tag before setting them back in the rack.
Finally settling on the 15 pound cast iron dumbbell.

"I've been needing one of these..." he said to me.

"The cashier will be happy to ring you up at the front of the store sir." I offered, hoping against hope this foolishness was over.

"There is one other thing I need..." He replied and headed back towards the gun dept., weight in hand.

I caught Steve's eye and mouthed "Call NOW" and he headed towards the phone.

Our overcoated weirdo headed up the aisle right for the case with the revolvers in it.

At the last minute he stopped and started looking at the books and magazines on a spiral rack at the end of the aisle and I took the opportunity to put my self between him and the showcases.

He picked up a book from the rack and held it up like he was intently reading the cover, but when I looked at his eyes he was starring back into mine. In that instant,the hatred that flashed across his face made me think the dumbbell was intended for me. Time slowed...

He flung the book towards my face and launched the weight as hard as he could towards the glass showcase. There was a deafening crash of glass as the weight smashed through the case, and the glass selves collapsed sending thousands of dollars worth of guns into a pile at the bottom of the case, covered in broken glass.

Thinking he had distracted me, he launched himself towards the now open showcase. What he had not counted on was me ducking like my life depended on it...which I thought it did if he was swinging that weight for my head. The book sailed harmlessly past my head.

As he passed me I got both hands full of the front of his coat, redirected him and using my own body as a fulcrum used his momentum against him to spin him around and slam him into the wooden counter, knocking the wind out of him. He went down on his knees but tried to spring up and away from me. I brought my left elbow down hard between his shoulder blades, the blow driving him back down. I grabbed his left arm, wrenching it behind him. Twisting, I brought my right forearm across the back of his neck and shoved his face into the mat, pinning his right arm with my body and holding him there with my weight. He went limp and stopped fighting.

Steve was at the counter where we landed, and was momentarily stunned by the sudden turn of events.

"Get me a set of cuffs!" I said to him...he just stared at me.
"Steve!" I repeated loudly "Cuffs!!!" 

He snapped out of it, opened the case and tossed me a set of the cheap $20 handcuffs we sold. I released the pressure on the guy's neck and snagged them with my right hand. 

"Don't move" I told him, increasing the pressure on his left arm.

I put the cuffs on him and got him to his feet. Searching him, I found no ammo...that was a good thing.

"What's the matter with you?" I asked him.

"I did it for my girlfriend...I have her picture in my pocket." He said pointing to his breast pocket with his chin.

There was but one piece of paper in his pocket, with one picture on it...this one! No Shit!

"This is all that's in there.." I told him.

"Isn't she pretty?" He answered.

We took him back to the office to wait for Waterford PD, which was a short wait as Steve had been on the phone with them when the showcase collapsed.

He was arrested, charged with attempted armed robbery and assault and taken for a psych. evaluation, or to sober up if he was in fact high.

A week later when I came into work the owner of the store was in, Steve came and got me and told me solemnly they wanted to have a little talk with me before my shift...certain I was going to catch hell for something, I followed him back.

In the office were the Manager, the owner Robert Gell, and the two Assistant Managers.

I wasn't in trouble. 

Instead they thanked me for stopping what could have been a very bad situation.

"Steve tells me you're taking Law Enforcement training through school, is that right?" The owner asked.

"Yes sir." I answered him

"Then these will come in handy," He said reaching into his pocket
"I hear they're the best they make!" Handing me the distinctive blue box.

"Thank you Robert!" I said, shaking his hand.

"Don't thank me...Thank Steve, it was his idea and he ordered them."
I looked to Steve.

Steve gave me a wink "You earned them buddy!"

Months later, I was at the trial...expecting to testify when I was told it had been plead down to "Malicious destruction of property, over $1000" He was given a year...and didn't end up serving but about 8 months.

So there ya have I came to own a pair of one of the best handcuffs ever made.
Though I know some of you will think this instead...
Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear