Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipses...then and now

Den of the Beastly Bear

Howdy Folks,
 I sit in the grass next to my Father as the Eclipse begins. I take a hit from the bottle of Jack and pour a measure for him. The Perdomo 10th. Anniversary Champagne Noir cigar I'm smoking wafts it's snow white smoke skyward as I pick a stray piece of grass from Dad's tombstone. It's something he would have liked, smooth and mellow much like the man himself...well in his later years at least. My Father would have been 80 today you see, were it not for the Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

 I'm suddenly struck by a coincidence; I was sitting next to my Father, drinking Jack Daniels during the last Eclipse I witnessed.
Well over thirty years ago, my family would go camping during the Fourth of July Holiday. It was an annual pilgrimage made by several families together, some friends, some relatives.

 This one night a group of the guys was sitting around the campfire, my Dad, Uncle Bob and a few other adults and three teenage boys, myself included. Uncle Bob produced a half gallon bottle of Jack Daniels (my Fathers spirit of choice), cracked the seal and started passing the bottle around. The first several passes skipped the teenagers until Jack started working his magic and the rules were relaxed.

 I remember vividly the huge full moon that warm July night, the smell of the fire and the distant trill of frogs and crickets looking for love. The talk was warm and companionly, gentle ribbing and chuckles at this one's expense, before moving that one as a target. This was a special night, and we were allowed to stay up late with the adults as there was to be a lunar eclipse that night.
The hours wore on, the bottle emptied. On this pass, as it got to my Father, he stood up from the log we were both sitting on and hoisted the bottle high. Once certain he had everyone's attention he spoke, with much bravado for my quiet Father.
"I was in the Marine Corps., been around this crazy world and I've been drunk on damn near everything there is to be drunk ON,  and I'll tell you...there is NOTHING better than Jack Daniels!"
With that, he raised the bottle to his lips, tipped it back to take a mighty swig and stopped short.
"Well, will ya look at THAT!" He said, gesturing at the sky "Something's eating the moon!!!" He then, very uncharacteristically ...giggled.

Which of course set us all into gales of laughter, Uncle Bob went to relieve my Dad of the bottle and said "I think you've had just about enough there...." but as he reached for the bottle he tripped over a root, stumbled into my Dad, and they both went over the log!
As quick as they were down, my Dad bounced back up...stared into the bottle and exclaimed: "Didn't spill a drop!"

I smiled at the memory, poured the last bit of Jack on Dad's grave.
Ground out the butt of my cigar, held the bottle high and said: "Well, will ya look at that...something's eating the sun!"

There was no laughter this time, just a single tear.

Be Well Folks, 
Treasure your parents while you have them, for time is shorter than you think.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 not myself...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks,
So today something amusing happened to me, so I thought I'd share.

Losing half your body weight has some interesting side effects. Not only do I no longer have to shop in the Big and Tall section of clothing departments...but I now can walk in ANYWHERE to shop!
I now sometimes have the opposite problem and find something I like, but all the sizes left are too big...go figure!

 So, today at work I was brought a trainee to show the ropes of driving a Hi-Lo. He had been driving a couple days in another department, and we like to bounce them around throughout the plant to expose them to different aspects of the job, different environments, and let them work around different people. This produces a more well-rounded driver capable of fitting in almost any job assignment given them.

 This particular fellow looks vaguely familiar, but when I heard his name I drew a blank...after all, I don't meet so many "Ludwigs" that I would forget one.

 After he's been working on my dock for a couple hours, he mentions that he used to work with one of my regular drivers, Scott. They both drove for the same trucking company that I did, first for GM and later for Penske when he bought the division. At break time, we were talking about the changes that had gone on with Penske that had prompted each of us to transfer back to GM.
Talk then turned to people we knew and what had happened to them.

Ludwig- "I guess a lot of guys from the Flint terminal came over here."

Scott- "Yeah, I know a bunch of us are here..."

Me- "Doug Cramb is here on third...and Jackie, remember her?"

Ludwig- "Yeah, I ran into her the other night. Larry Nevers is on first, I see him every now and then... And Joe Ormerod, he's on second like us, he's in material but I don't know where."

Scott and I exchanged glances, Scott starts cracking up and makes an elaborate "TADA!" motion towards me. I raised my hand and waved.

Ludwig looks at me, then at Scott, back to me and says "Holy SHIT you've lost a lot of weight...I never would have guessed that was you!!!" A look of complete astonishment on his face.

Scott- "He hasn't been himself for a while fact, he's half the man he used to be!"

 And so realization struck me that Ludwig looked familiar for good reason, all be it I had not seen him in 20 years.

Ludwig- "You don't remember me do you? Well, you probably wouldn't. I wasn't there very long before you left, I remember there was a lot of talk when you left...other guys thinking maybe they should too."

So folks, there you have it. Another benefit of my weight loss...I am now incognito, hiding in plain sight! Lol

May you all be recognized and remembered for all you do!

Be Well, 
The Beastly Bear

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Escalation of Benefit or The Stripper Corollary...

Den Of The Beastly Bear

Hi Folks,
 I find myself of late, wasting WAY too much time on that soul sucking venture known as Facebook. So I thought I'd write another missive to you all.

 About my title today, Escalation of Benefit is something we are all familiar with. Every time you see a TV pitchman say "But wait, there's more..." you are seeing Escalation of Benefit. It is an age old marketing/advertising ploy used to separate you from your hard earned cash when you are vacillating on a purchase. But it need not be as in your face as Billy Mays screaming "But WAIT there's MORE!!!"   

 Sometimes the escalation is insidious and small, such that you don't realize you are being manipulated. Hence the second half of our working title today "The Stripper Corollary".

 Now I'll ask you ladies, and those who have never ventured into such an establishment (yeah right) to bear with me for a moment.
Allow me to explain. When one patronizes a strip club, one pays a cover at the door. One is then reminded that there is also a 2 drink minimum, these are the preliminary means of separating you from your cash. The dancers perform on stage for tips, usually dollar bills...maybe a $5 spot here and there. But the main means of emptying your pockets is the lap dance.

 So, you come in, pay your cover, buy your drinks and sit down to watch good looking women dance in various stages of undress. That's when the first stripper comes over. They always send the ugliest one (relatively speaking of course) first. 

You politely decline and send her away, and the next prettiest one approaches.(Escalation of Benefit) This continues until the girl is so fine you concede(this varies by each guy), and BAM there goes $25 A SONG. Now, generally speaking in all clubs it is verboten to touch the ladies as they are performing this service for you. The dancer will, however, lead you to 

believe that should you bump up to the VIP room there may be more to be had.(But wait, there's more!) Should you fall into this trap, you're now out an additional $50 and all you will get is a longer dance. So now you're out $75 you didn't plan to spend, on something you didn't really want in the first place.

 What brought this to mind is a friend that had broken up with her significant other, for the third time since I've known her. She was adamant that she was now DONE! Had met a nice fellow and they were going to start dating. Until the Ex found out. Then he started Texting (ugly stripper), she didn't respond. Calling (next prettiest stripper), then showing up to talk to her at work (they work at the same place in different areas), she was still adamant and discussed this with me. I tried to explain what was happening, told her of Escalation of Benefit and The Stripper Corollary. Next, he showed up and openly cried in front of the other employees (something this narcissist would never do) telling her how wrong he had been. Again she sought my counsel, I again reminded her that this all stems from the fact that she had met someone and he found out through the grapevine and now was going to do and say ANYTHING to try to get her back. When next I saw her she didn't bring him up at all, then I heard that she had gotten engaged.

"Wow," said I "that was fast, she just started dating this guy..."

"Oh no," they told me "She's engaged to her Ex."

"Holy Shit, she bought the lap dance..."

Hope you all enjoy some true benefits in your life...

Be Well,
Beastly Bear

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Funny thing happened on the way home from Buffalo...

Den of The Beastly Bear

Hi Folks,
 As many of you know I took a vacation out to Buffalo, Wyoming the week of the 4th. of July. My main reason was the 6th. Annual Longmire Festival, which transforms sleepy little Buffalo into the mythical Durrant, WY. in fictional Absaroka County. The setting of Craig Johnson's Longmire novels.

 Now Buffalo is a 21 hour 42 min. drive from the Den. So I broke the journey up by stopping a little past the midway point, in Sioux Falls, SD. I stayed at a chain Motel, famous for "leaving the light on for you" and having the added benefit of an outdoor pool. I booked a room for the return leg of my journey as well.

The trip out was uneventful, Buffalo a delight. So it was with a heavy heart that I set about returning home on Sunday morning. This, being the shorter leg of my journey, I sidetracked to both Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument. I got to Sioux Falls around 6 pm. 

I was dressed, as pictured on the right. What you can not see, is I have a small lapel pin on my shirt pocket...a souvenir from Longmire days. It is a mock-up of a Sheriff's badge from the show, no bigger than a nickel and made of pewter.  
 As I went in to register for my room, I passed another guest heading to the pool. I gave him a nod as we passed and I headed in. The Night manager, an American Indian woman of middling years checked me in. A stout 5'6" tall with close cropped jet black hair; she wore sturdy heels with a floral print skirt and a blue blazer. As she was handing me my key, she leaned in to read my pin, saying "Wow, that's cool...where did you get that?" I explained, and she said she too was a fan of the show.

After securing my room key and feeling a tad peckish, I set out for tacos for dinner. They have a very decent little chain out west called Taco Johns; I ordered up a couple small "street" tacos and an order of Potato Oles (tater tot crowns with seasoning salt). Upon my return, I parked near the stairs as my room was on the second level. Removed my suitcase from the car and went to change into my suit and enjoy a little pool time. As I got to the base of the stairs, I encountered the same guest from when I first arrived. 

 He was lounging against the wall at the base of the stairs, partially blocking the base. Dressed in swim trunks and barefoot. As I walked up, I noticed the distant, unfocused stare of the chronically high/drunk. I excused myself politely, as he moved aside he seemed to stare intently at me as I passed him by...I paid it no mind. Mid-thirties, short dark hair, slight of build and a uni-brow...he didn't seem like much of a threat.

 I changed quickly. Grabbing my phone, key-card, and a cigar I headed for the pool area. A quick stop at the car for a Rainier beer from the cooler and I was ready. I found a seat at a table in the far corner of the pool enclosure, set down my stuff in my hat, turned brim up to catch any luck to be had...and jumped into the pool.

After soaking off the road, and enjoying the cool waters after a day marked by triple digit heat, I returned to my table to partake of my cigar and have a cold beer. I lit the cigar and had no more than popped the top on my beer when I heard loud, angry voices coming from the upstairs balcony of the motel.

"I told you to get the Hell off the property!!! This is the third time, and I'm not telling you again. I won't have you harassing my guests...get OUT!"

I could see down the front of the hotel, and there was my friend from the stairway with the night manager hot on his heels. He had a backpack slung over his left shoulder and some clothes and shoes in his right hand.

"You're in for quite a shock you fat bitch, I just bought this place...and you're FIRED!" He retorted to her barrage.

"I know the owner, and he didn't sell this place...keep moving, I want you gone..."
"I TOLD you, I JUST bought your manager He'll tell you."

"I AM the night manager..."

"Then you should know. Oh, you are soooo fucking fired!!!"

This circular argument lasted all down the front of the building, down the stairs, and past the pool...when suddenly his attention focused on me.

"Ask him," He said pointing in my direction. "He can check for you; he's a Federal Marshal. Just ask him..." He Opined.

"I'm not asking him anything; I told you to get! He's a guest here, and you will not harass him either. I already called the cops so get off the property!" She deadpanned, not giving an inch.

"Have him look it up! He's got his phone...let him check with the Marshals, they'll know. They can prove it to you!!!"

 Now folks, all I can figure is that this poor tweaked out idiot had been watching way too much "Justified." Saw the hat and the mini badge, which does bear a resemblance to the one carried by the Marshal service, put two and two together in his chemically altered mind and got eight.  

 As she was escorting him from the property, the owner of the restaurant next door came out to see what all the commotion was about. Our altered friend then tried to enlist his help against her. Complaining bitterly about his treatment and the lack of help from the Federal Marshal. Once he was off the property, the manager retreated to the office to await the police.

 She didn't have long to wait before an SUV with two of Sioux Falls finest arrived. She met them at the door, and while I was too far away to hear the conversation, her animated body language and wild gesticulating in the direction of our friend led me to believe she was still pretty wound up. And then the gloves came out...

 Our friend, still tightly in the grip of whatever he was on...failed to see the danger signs. So when they walked over to him his first words were "Thank God you're here..." he then went on to tell them how mistreated he had been and how that Marshal would not help him either "But I pay YOUR salary, you've GOT to help me!"


 Well, it wasn't long before he was wearing a set of steel bracelets and being led on tiptoes across the parking lot with an officer on each complete shock. It turns out; he was not even a guest at the motel!

All I could think was, the only way this could have been better?
Was if I'd gotten to see a live Tasing! Just like on "COPS"! Lol

Hell, I got a show with my room!

I know it's been a while folks, thanks for hanging in there!
Be Well, 
The Beastly Bear

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Year, ALREADY???

Where did the year go...?

Hello friends!
Where oh where has the past year gone? I was just looking and discovered I have not posted a THING this whole year!!! What the Hell?!?

So, right off the bat let me say I have no excuse!
The past year has brought some changes to my life, both at work and personally, none of which should have affected my writing.

As those of you who have been long-time readers know that I tried my hand at some fiction challenges over at a little site called Yeahwrite. I did very well, winning top slot in only my second entry. But as I continued to place highly in the comps I noticed a change in the vote counts, taking me from consistently at the top of the boards to the middle and then the bottom. Now I'm not saying everything I posted was great, it wasn't. But I started hearing from people that DID vote for me, loved my piece and couldn't understand how I got such a low number of votes when the number was already higher when they voted than it ended up. A couple of emails to the "editors" (note the quotation marks) clarified the problem. Unless you were an editor yourself, you could not accrue a fan base, because they monitored the IP addresses of the voters and anyone that voted for your pieces more than three times would have their votes thrown out! Well, let's say that left a nasty taste in my mouth for comps. I was not the only one to complain or leave, and now they no longer even do the micro story competitions. 

I have some ideas I'm kicking around, and I promise this coming year I WILL write some fiction...whether it will be any good I'll let you folks decide.

At work, I changed positions at Flint Assembly. More a lateral move really, and against my will, but it has worked out in my favor, and I've not been this happy to go to work in quite some time! I have a GREAT crew, and that makes all the difference! The only downside is that I use my computer much more for work and can't just knock out a blog. Perhaps with my new 2 in 1 laptop/tablet my lovely wife got me for my Birthday I may be able to.

On a personal note:
Those of you that have never met me, or not seen me in years may or may not know that I let my weight get away from me. I've always been a bigger guy, at 5'11" not really tall, but wide. I was 255 lbs. When I graduated high school, wore 36" pants and 2XL shirts.
Five years later, when I got married, that had climbed to 275. 
Eventually, through changes in jobs, so injuries and just plain not giving a shit, I ballooned up to 387!!! 
So I took charge, joined Weight Watchers and dropped 153 lbs.!!!
Took me 18 months.
Again, change of job and circumstances and 9 months later I had put back all but 10 lbs. of what I'd lost!!! Talk about depressing!!!
There I stayed for the next 12 years....
My health deteriorated, diabetes became a very real issue...
As did high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and hormone problems. While I didn't "feel" bad, I was headed down a slippery slope. My Doctor pleaded with me, cajoled me, eventually threatened me that my next step was insulin dependence as I was maxed out on medication.
"But overall, I'm pretty healthy..." I retorted "I'm rarely sick, and can do most things a guy my age can do!"
"Joe," she said, "you're on 9 DIFFERENT medications, a sleep apnea machine AND you need Hormone are the DEFINITION of unhealthy!!!"
Well, I had to agree.
 January of 2016, I made a conscious effort to get back. I changed the way I ate, started being more active, watched what I ate, and started losing. But, it was too little too late, despite my best efforts my blood sugar continued to spiral out of control.
I broached the subject of Bariatric surgery (which I'd contemplated for a long time), and she agreed that I should look into it and referred me to one of the top surgeons in the state.
 I went for a consultation, that's all, just a consultation. By the time I'd left I had made up my mind, and scheduled my surgery. I managed to drop 50 lbs. by the date of my surgery. Had my surgery on 5/24/2016. Three days later I was home, my wife took this picture.
About 337 here...
Let's fast forward to today.
No longer do I wear size 58 waist pants, I'm in 36's.
No more 5Xl shirts, some XL's are a little big on me.
I am off ALL Diabetes Meds and blood sugar is normal
Last cholesterol was 117 combined.
Off one and looking to lose another High blood pressure med, but it runs in my family, and I may never be completely off them.
I'm going to the gym, eating around 1000 calories a day and today, weigh in at 221 lbs! 

I put off surgery for years, through a combination of fear and a feeling that doing so was "cheating" and that I would be a loser that needed such intervention. I wish now I had done it sooner!
We took our first Carribean cruise in November, I was still a little over 230 then, but the difference is dramatic, see for yourself.

I still have at least another 21 to go, but I'm confident I'll get there.
So That's what I've been up to and like I said I have no excuse for not writing. Some have told me I should have been chronicling my journey all along. Perhaps they are right, but it has been a deeply personal experience that I wasn't sure I was even going to share. Guess the cat's out of the bag now...Lol.
Got this in with time to I can say I wrote SOMETHING this year! Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!
I hope the new year brings health and wealth to you and yours, and all the joy you can stand!

The Bear is Back!

Be well folks!!! Much love to you all!

The Beastly Bear.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Santa's helper

Merry Christmas Folks!!!

 When I was a kid, the nearest enclosed Mall to us was The Pontiac Mall. Opening in 1963, just a year after yours truly arrived on this good green earth, it was a fantastic place! Decorated, as it was in late 50's post-modern/futuristic design. Lots of tile and metal sculptures!
Fountains ran the length of the main concourse, which to us were seen as wishing wells, we'd throw in coins and cast our wishes to the fates.

The main fountain was right in the middle of the mall, in front of the S.S. Kresge store. The special thing about this fountain was, every year at Christmas became the home of Santa's Igloo!
The fountain was covered, Metal trees removed and a huge flocked half dome was erected over
Main Fountain viewed from S.S. Kresge
it, resembling a giant igloo. Decorated with animated elves, hammering away or sawing wood for toys. Candy canes, and a seal balancing a brightly wrapped present on its nose! Stairs on one side led up to Santa's throne, where we would tell him our fondest wishes. 
It was THE place to see Santa as I was growing up, and I made more than my share of trips up to see that jolly old elf.

Fast forward to 1981, I had graduated High School earlier that year.
I had spent what free time I'd had from school and my part-time job at the sporting goods store in drama, debate and speech and acting competitions. Things that don't translate well out of school, other than I could argue your socks a convincing Russian accent! Lol

That November, I was strolling through the mall doing some Christmas shopping when a fellow about my age stopped me.
"Hey, you went to Kettering didn't you?"
"Yeah," I said looking him over. About my height, maybe 40 lbs. or so heavier, red hair and freckles.
"You were in drama, right?" He asked.
"I was," I told him. Looking closer, I had no idea who he was. "I'm sorry, what was your name?"
"Oh, you don't know me. I went to Mott (our rival school), but I've seen you in're pretty good. You looking for a little extra Christmas money?" He asked.
"I've got a job over at Gell's, behind the mall...why?"
"I'm one of the Santa's they hire for the mall, and we just had a guy quit, you'd be perfect, and I know they'll work around your schedule. Whatdaya say?"
"I don't know..." I hemmed.
"Come on, I'll introduce you to the boss!" He said, starting off towards an "employees only" door.

 In short order, I was in front of the "Head Elf" herself! Money was discussed, I tried on the suit and accouterment, and she said
"Ok, let's hear your best Santa..."
So I lowered my voice, projected from my diaphragm, gave some
"Ho Ho Ho's" and my best "Merry Christmas!" 
The boss lady nodded her approval and said, "You're hired, when can you start?"

Thus started my career as a mall Santa!
What a blast I had! I still have a box with Christmas lists; pictures kids had drawn for Santa, and little men, candies, handmade ornaments and the like. One big drawback to being know how Santa seems to take a lot of breaks? Well, it's not so we can sneak back for a nip of Christmas cheer, oh no!!! Nor is it because the job is so taxing. It's because some overzealous parent forced little Tommy to sit on Santa's lap when he really, REALLY didn't want to...

What he wanted to do is use the bathroom...and he did, right on Santa's lap! Each Santa has one coat, but four pairs of pants to change into that are laundered nightly. 

So when you see Santa taking a break, chances are good that he just got peed on!!!

My favorite story happened about halfway through my tenure there.
In between kids you were encouraged to wave to the passing shoppers...give a hearty "Merry Christmas", maybe even call out a "Hello Billy..." on the odd chance that a "Billy" was walking by with his parents.
 So, Friday night. The Mall is full of people bustling home with their treasures, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Why two girls from school, they're practically here!
"Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas Lisa Meyers! Oh, and there's Gretchen! Have you two been good this year?!?" I called out.
They stopped dead in their tracks, wondering I'm sure, just how in the Hell this mall Santa knew their names? A quick moment of whispered discussion and they got in line to see me; it was just Killing them! When at last it was their turn, they each took a knee.
"High Santa!!!" They beamed brightly, then under their breath "Who are you???" I gave them some hints, but I was too well disguised. When I finally whispered it in their ears, they gave a delighted squeal and posed for a picture with each kissing one of Santa's cheeks! Well, word went out and before long I had one or two girls from school each night...I could get into this!!!

But alas, all good things come to an it got closer and closer to Christmas the line of kids dwindled down to but a few and the powers that be, called it quits. I got fond hugs from all the elves I worked with (good looking College girls all), and we each got a commemorative picture of us as Santa. I'd include it if I knew exactly where that box was at.

But every Christmas I'm reminded of those magical days and the unreserved love of children I'd never met, who looked at me with eyes full of wonder and belief in the magic of Christmas. Why it's enough to keep this old Grinch going each year.
 Be Well Folks!
And a Very Merry Christmas from The Beastly Bear!

Friday, December 18, 2015

You're kidding me, right?

Hi Folks, I know it's been a while...sorry!

 Back when Mama Bear and I were just dating, back in the archaic 80's, we went out to eat a lot. One of our favorite places to go was for a pan pizza at a chain restaurant that rhymes with Pizza Slut.
You could sit down, order a beer (or Pepsi in Mamas Bear's case) and enjoy an appetizer while you waited for your piping hot pizza to be delivered right to your table. We went probably once a month, but when that craving hit, nothing else would do.

 One particular evening, I had picked up Mama Bear and we drove to the closest location of the chain. For a delicious Meat Lover's pizza. The lot was not particularly full when we arrived, which was somewhat unusual as they were quite popular at the
time. There were several around, and though not as common as say McDonalds they were plentiful, but we had our favorite. We walked in and waited by the obligatory "Please Wait to be Seated"
sign, though it was clear we had our pick of seating locations. After a brief wait, a bubbly waitress came and seated us and took our drink orders.

 I had to be up early the next day so we just went with a pitcher of Pepsi. She brought us to full glasses and the pitcher, then asked if we wanted an appetizer. We ordered our normal garlic toast, half with cheese half without. She left us with our drinks and went to turn in the appetizer order. Small talk about work ensued until she returned to take our actual order.
"All right, what can I get you folks?" she bubbled.
"I think we're gonna get a medium meat lovers pan pizza..."
"Oh, I'm sorry..." she seemed to deflate and adopted the pookey lip. 
"We're out of pizza."
"I beg your pardon?" I asked skeptically unsure if I had heard correctly.
"Yeah," She explained "our truck didn't come in today so we don't have any dough." Then she brightened again and said, "But we do have salads...and pasta, so what can I get you?"
"I'm confused," I said "the sign outside doesn't say Salad Hut or Pasta Hut...we came here for pizza, and that's what we want."
"Well we don't have any, so you'll have to order something else."
She said, a little snip to her voice.
"No, I don' fact, you should have told us as soon as we walked in that door that you didn't have pizza, instead of seating us, taking our drink and appetizer order. So we're leaving!"
"But you already ordered can't just leave!"
"Watch me!" I said, as we got up to leave I peeled off $3 for the pops we drank and we walked out.

 As we got in the car we looked at each other and burst out laughing, shaking our heads at the absurdity of it all. 
"Well," I asked "what now?"
"Still craving a meat lovers pizza..." Mama Bear said.
"Ok, we'll try another!" So we drove the 4 miles to another location. This one had more cars in the parking lot and was noticeably busier. We walked in and waited behind a family of four that had walked in ahead of us, as the waitress came and showed them to their seats. She came back, welcomed us and then said,
"Before I seat you, I need to let you know that we aren't serving pizza tonight. We do still have salads and pasta though if you'd like."
"Lot of that going around," I said, "we just left your Walton Blvd. location and they had the same problem. Except they seated us and took our drink and garlic bread order before letting us know..."
"That's just wrong..." She said shaking her head.
"That's why we left..." I assured her. 
"OK, well thanks for letting us know. We're gonna try somewhere else."

 Outside the door, we looked at each other and started cracking up, again...what are the chances? When we settled in the car, I asked
"Now what?"
"I still want pizza!" She said.
"We can try the one on the other side of town..." I offered.
"Let's do it!" She replied emphatically.

 So we drove all the way to the other side of town, parked and walked in. We stood by yet another "Please wait to be seated" sign, and waited for the Hostess.
"Just the two of you tonight?" She asked, menus in hand.
"Yeah," I said. "before you seat us, can I ask if you're serving pizza tonight?"
She looked at me as if I were a world-class moron.
"Ummmm, yeeeeaaaahhhh."
"Hey, if you'd had our night so far, you'd know that question is not out of line..."

Here's hoping you all get what you want...with a little less effort.

Be Well Folks, 

Beastly Bear

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tooting my own horn...

Beastly Bear Fiction

Hi Folks!

Those that know me already know, those that don't will find out.
I'm not really one for blowing my own horn, never have been.

Probably stems from my school days where I was quite accomplished in Drama Club. I won several "best actor" awards in local and regional competitions and was duly proud. In discussing this with my extended family, I was later told that someone I was very fond of thought that I was very conceited about my successes.
I never spoke of them again.

Fast forward to this week.

I entered the Yeah Write weekly micro story challenge. This weeks prompt was "where can I get one of those?". You may not use the prompt in the body of the story or in the title, but you must convey the idea so that even someone that doesn't know the prompt would understand.

I lucked upon a pretty good idea I thought, going with a Depression-era story.

Lo and behold, I actually won this week by a single vote. Just eking by EagleAye and his "Curious Encounter" (he is really great, check out the link to his site). Only fair he took third last week with one more vote than me. Lol

My deepest thanks to any that voted for me, and a deeper thanks to those who took time out of their day to read all the entries and vote.

So this is my Horn blowing post! I still have tons of room to improve, (as not even half of the 36 voters thought I was one of the top 3) but this is encouraging. 

So, I will wear my badge proudly and display it here as well as my regular blog Den of the Beastly Bear. Stop by if you enjoy my writing, there I tell true life stories in what I hope are entertaining ways.
There, now you will hear no more about it!

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear

Monday, October 26, 2015

Not so Evel Knievel...

Den of the Beastly Bear

(Please note the new button in the upper right that will take you directly to my fiction/challenge site! Thanks.)

Hi folks!
I'll bet you're all dying to know just how this motorcycle obsession of mine started, aren't ya?
Well that's just plain rude, but I'll let it slide this time!

As you may have guessed, it started with dear old Dad.
See, Dad had himself an old burgundy and cream Indian motorcycle. Which I pestered him endlessly for rides on.

One day Dad asked me if I wanted to go for a ride in the truck with him. He had something he needed to pick up. Of course, I was as eager as any 8-year-old boy to spend time with him. So we piled into Dad's '68 sky blue and white Chevy pickup.

Out we drove into the countryside, past farms and fields bouncing down dirt roads. The sun peeking through the canopied trees over the roads. Until, at last he finally pulled into a small farm with an actual red barn and little white country house.

The thing I remember the most? The smell. You see in front of the barn was a pen filled with 10-12 hogs, and the smell was, in a word atrocious! I was fascinated however, so wandered off to watch the pigs as Dad talked business.

Finally, a price was agreed upon, money changed hands and the doors to the barn parted. Revealing this...well not this particular one but you get the idea!
A bright yellow minibike with a 5 hp. Briggs & Stratton engine! I couldn't believe it! A bike of my own!!!

On the ride home rules were discussed, the consequences for the breaking of those rules reinforced by stern words and harsh looks! Dad was an ex-Marine after all!

I couldn't wait!

I was after all the terror of our neighborhood on my Raleigh 3-speed banana seated bicycle!

My first time, Dad fueled her up and showed me how to start her up. It was a she of course! After the engine warmed up, Dad pointed me towards the middle of the back yard.
He explained the centrifugal clutch, hand brake, and engine stop. "Start out slow..." He admonished me.

When I was fully prepared to Dad's satisfaction, my helmet was donned and I was ready. Mom and sisters came out to watch the maiden voyage...
So with fantasies of Evel Knievel and Ceasar's Palace fountains I was off.

Things went swimmingly at first as I accelerated into the yard. "Wow," I thought. "I'm a natural..." 
When another thought occurred to me...I've never driven this fast before!

And that's when panic set in.

So, I was instructed in what to do...grab the brake, the brake? Where the HELL is the brake?!? I know I was told, but where is it? My bike had peddle brakes, no that's not it. As I searched in vain I neglected to pay attention to where, exactly the bike was headed.

Just as I remembered handbrake! My forward momentum was suddenly arrested by my Mother's prized Forsythia bush!

While the bike stopped suddenly, I did not...
And just like my hero, I Evel Kneiveled right over the handlebars into the woody bush. The bush, however, had other ideas and having bent under my weight sprang back launching me back over the bike and onto the lawn. Arms and legs all akimbo, flat on my back.

"OH MY GOD BOB! I TOLD YOU HE WAS TOO YOUNG!!!" I knew that voice!!!
Suddenly Mom was there ripping at the helmet as Dad retrieved the bike, I wasn't sure which of us was in more trouble.

So, thinking fast I hoped up, disentangled myself from my Mother looked to Dad and said "Can I try it again???"

He smiled at my Mom, patted my shoulder and said "Sure, just remember the brake is up here." 

And that my friends was the start of it all.

May your travels be fair and your crashes few.

Be well Folks,
Beastly Bear

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The things you see when you're not paying attention...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I'm generally credited with being a rather observant person, but every now and then even I miss a thing or two.

I've spoken of my experiences driving for Perry Drug Stores. I worked there for 11 years and let me tell you, you see a lot, you just don't always know what you saw.

One hot August day, on the South side of Chicago...115th. and Washington Ave. to be exact. My stalwart, though not overly bright companion Leon (of the Coca-Cola perm incident) and I were unloading the truck. We had newly installed liftgates that allowed me to bring the load to their door, one pallet at a time.

The sun was beating down on us like a hammer, and the humidity hovered around 98%. As we toiled away, a white van pulled into the alley from the other direction, ahead of my truck. Three men got out, all dressed in white coveralls with company logos on the left breast pocket. We watched as they took particular interest in the air conditioning unit attached to the wall of a business farther down in the plaza.
As hot as it was, we assumed heating/cooling repairmen.

Tools came out next and among animated discussion, the A/C unit was removed...plywood blocked the hole and they loaded up and pulled away.

Well it wasn't but about 15 mins. after they left we heard:
"AWWWWWwwwwww HEEEEeeeeelllll NOOOOOoooo!!!"
This exclamation drew our attention to the skeletal, 6'4" white pants and pink polyester frocked black man that sashayed our way with great haste! I could only assume this was a hairdresser of some type, that or we were about to be assaulted by a RuPaul impersonator. Eyeliner and all.

When he was close enough he pointed one thin arm back towards the place his A/C unit used to reside and said. "WHAT in the HELL happened to my Air conditioner, Humph???"

He looked back and forth between Leon and I, as if we were the culprits to blame for his misfortune...Leon couldn't take the pressure.
"They tookted it!" he blurted out, staring at the ground.

"Who "tookted" it?" he demanded air quotes and all. Before crossing his arms under non-existent breasts which clearly showed his name, LaVonn in bright red stitching.

"The repairmen," I interjected taking some of the heat of that gaze off Leon "just a couple of minutes ago, didn't they tell you they were taking it?"

"No, cause I didn't call no damned repairman..." he said, head weaving as his eyes flashed to me. He looked me up and down and didn't like what he saw.
"God DAMN!!!" he stomped his foot, spun on his heel and sashayed back the way he'd come.

"What the hell was THAT?" I said to Leon, starting to chuckle.
Joining me, Leon explained. "He own dat hair salon a couple doors down, he alright but damn he shore is mad!!!"

About a half hour later the cops were there, took our statements, asked us questions we obviously didn't know. Come to find out this crew has been ripping off air conditioners all over the neighborhood the past week.

"We'll get'em," the cop said. "or somebody will." with that he gave his partner a smile and off they went to fight crime and write reports.

Couple weeks later when I rang the buzzer, Leon could hardly contain himself with the news. "Dey got'em, Oooo boy dey got'em!"

"Got who Leon? what are you talking about?"

"Dem brothers what ripped off the air conditioner from the hair salon!" He replied.

"Good, I'm glad the cops got them..."

"Ohhh da cops didn't get'em, no sir..." he was beside himself.
"Somebodies from the neighborhood catched'em takin one, an dey whooped dey asses wif baseball bats! Cops come and had to take dem away by ambalance!!!"

"What about the guys that caught them? They get in trouble?

Leon shared with me a big broad grin. "Ahhh nobody seen dem..."
And he busted out laughing. 

Now I'm not for vigilante justice, but you don't screw with a man's A/C in August!!! Just sayin'.

Hope you're all a little more observant than I...

Be Well Folks,
Beastly Bear