Alfonso, The Man

I couldn’t believe it. I was on the phone with Alfonso, the very mature-for-his-age guy in middle school who was so mature, in fact, that he actually had a mustache.

Every school had an Alfonso: The Guy Who Looked Like a Grown Man.

Alfonso was a year ahead of me, wasn’t particularly smart, and wasn’t especially nice, but he was gorgeous, knew how to dress, and was practically a man in a sea of what looked like little boys by comparison. When he swaggered through the school, he looked like Antonio Banderas visiting a kindergarten class.

And here he was – talking to me.

Loser me.

Girl who had never even kissed a boy or had a boyfriend me.

I was amazed I was able to stay conscious and didn’t just die right there clutching the receiver of my telephone in one hand and a yearbook with Alfonso’s picture encircled with a heart in the other.

My friend Jenny was in the same grade as Alfonso, and she had chatted him up in class that day and told him I had a crush on him. I wanted to kill her – and I would have killed her – had my phone not rang that night.

I picked it up, and a man’s voice said, “Hi, is…uhhh…Maggie? Is…uhhh…Maggie there?”

I don’t know how you can hear a mustache over the phone, but I totally heard his mustache over the phone.

I thought the pause before he said my name was because he was nervous. Looking back, I realize that the pause was because he was trying to remember my name. He probably had a clipboard next to his phone with a hundred girls’ names on it, and he had forgotten which one he was calling that night.

The fact that he then had to ask me what I looked like should have been another indication that he had no idea who I was. I chose to not acknowledge that in favor of believing he was a nervous wreck because he was, obviously, in love with me.

Everybody knew that boys in middle school acted aloof and weird when they liked you. I figured he must really like me if he couldn’t remember my name or what I looked like. This all made perfect sense to my 7th grade mind. Later, Jenny agreed with me.

Consensus: Alfonso was way, way into me.

My very brief phone call with Alfonso started with him not knowing who I was and ended with him asking me if I wanted to meet up at the movies on Saturday to go see Batman (the Michael Keaton one).

When I said yes, he said, “So you’ll be going doooown with that tongue, right girl?”

My face turned red. I thought, “Oh my god. Alfonso wants to kiss me!”

Sidebar: I’m sure kissing wasn’t exactly what he meant.

I just had to get dressed up for my big date, so Jenny walked with me to the nearby shopping plaza that Saturday morning to help me buy all the things that I needed.

I should clarify that the word “buy” is somewhat of a misnomer, as the plan was to steal every single item, seeing as we were both poor and had not a dime to our names.

Jenny and I were already accomplished thieves at that age, and we viewed shoplifting more as just “the way we shopped” than a crime. We’d go into the department store and layer on spandex leggings under our jeans in the blind spots of the dressing room, stuff eyeshadows into our socks, and slip nail polish bottles into our pockets with the grace of ballerinas. Criminal ballerinas.

I even developed a shoplifting method where I would go up to a register to buy something cheap while secretly palming a small expensive item in my hand, and when I would go to pay and reach into my purse for my wallet, I would drop the small expensive item into my purse as I pulled out my wallet. I got SO many packets of 24 karat-dipped nail charms at the beauty supply store that way that I actually ran out of fingernails to glue them to, so I started gluing them to my toenails, too.

After Jenny and I had stolen enough makeup that I felt I could adequately paint my face up for the big-tongue-makeout-date with Alfonso, we went into a drug store for one more thing. I eyed a bottle of perfume on the shelf, called Illegalé. Alfonso wouldn’t be able to resist…uhh…what was my name? Maggie! He wouldn’t be able to resist Maggie, or whoever he thought he had a date with that night, if she were wearing Illegalé.

After I slipped the bottle of perfume in my purse, Jenny decided she wanted one, too, and since I had the bigger purse, she slipped it into mine.

The store detective walked up to us within seconds, flashed a badge, and said, “I’m gonna need you two young ladies to come with me.”

Later that night, as I sat in my bedroom after being grounded for having been caught stealing perfume, after the humiliation of my mother having to come pick us up and the detective telling her I was banned from the store for life, after my mother telling me that she had never been so disappointed in her entire life that she had raised a thief, after taking the rap for both Jenny and I because Jenny’s mom would have literally beaten her ass if she had been busted, I cried.

I wasn’t going to be going dooooown with that tongue, right girl.

Alfonso didn’t even reschedule our date, he just moved to the next girl down the list.

And that’s how two bottles of Illegalé saved my 12-year old innocence.

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And then a hero comes along…

Mz. Mannerz: Hi Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Time for another exciting edition of Mz. Mannerz!

Hi.

Who would have thought such a little word could inspire so much rage?  I mean, I would have thought that, but I fly into rage over someone misquoting lines from Caddyshack, so I’m a bad gauge of what’s rage-worthy.  You should probably talk to someone who doesn’t have a vein semi-permanently bulging out of their forehead if you want calm and well-thought out commentary on the matter.

I mean, goddamn it.  If you’re not gonna get the quote from the movie right, then don’t quote it.  You can’t just replace Bill Murray’s line “Big hitter, the Lama” with “The Lama is a big hitter” because you will have ruined the line.  RUINED IT.

As I will pontificate to anyone who will listen while I eat pizza:  Comedy is as much science as it is art.  Maybe more, even.  The order of the words counts.  Every word, change of tone, inflection, eyelid movement – it all counts.  It is 100,000 times more complex than drama, and I will stand by that until the day I die eating pizza.

Drama is so freaking easy, it annoys me to no end how much credit people get for it.  Oh no, they killed that character everybody liked and it was sad!  A lone tear falls from a sad British person’s face.  Cue violin music as people make stern facial expressions under overcast skies.  Black umbrellas.  HERE’S YOUR OSCAR.

Sad shit happens in real life all day, every day.  Making a movie about sad shit where the main take is, “That was sad!” is not the work of genius.  That’s just long-winded reality with a soundtrack.

You try killing off a character everybody likes and making it funny.  Craft a touching death scene to kazoo music.  Shoot Old Yeller with one of those guns that just unfurls a banner that says “Bang!” yet still preserve the integrity of the scene.  That shit is hard.  That shit takes finesse.  Watch “The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of The Desert” for further reference.

Where was I?

The person who texts you with the word “Hi” followed by nothing is the most obnoxious person in the universe (besides guitar players, which I try to cover in every other blog post.  Try to keep up).

What this person has done with their lone “Hi” is start a conversation with you by immediately forcing you into an awkward silence, thereby drafting you to be the person who remedies it.  They’re not being folksy with their “Hi”, they have given you a J-O-B.

My whole life, I’ve had this desperate need to fill the awkward silences in conversations to make sure everyone is having a good time.  You might better recognize it as, “Good lord, you never shut up, do you?” but your better class of swap-shop psychologists would call it “codependency”.  I always try to have at least three universally interesting topics on-hand just in case an awkward silence happens.  I literally cannot take it when people seem uncomfortable.  It makes my palms sweat and my heart race.

The person who just sends “Hi” is the same person who when you respond with:

“Hey, what’s up?”

Will respond with “Nothing!” and then continue to sit there in silence.

GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WORK WITH.  Why did you text me if you have jack jimmy squat to say???

Did you just want me to entertain you?  Because if that’s the case, feel free to say that right up front.  “I’m bored and I can’t find any way to amuse myself, can you tell me a knock knock joke?”

Hey, schedule-permitting, I would be fine to tell you a knock knock joke.

Schedule-permitting.

Also, my schedule does not permit that ever, so if you want to be a wisenheimer and text me and say, “I’m bored and I can’t find any way to amuse myself, can you tell me a knock knock joke?” your text will be deleted and you will be immediately put on “The List”.

Is “The List” a good list or a bad list?

You tell me.  Do you think something that I refer to as “The List” is a good thing?  Take a moment.  Really think that over while you look at my prom picture:

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It was a magical  night.

I’m not filling awkward silences anymore.  If you text me a “Hi” followed by jack jimmy squat, guess what you’re getting back?  Jack.  Jimmy.  Squat.

I will wait you out, joke-a-cola.  I will let that “Hi” lie there like a corpse if I have to.  I refuse to participate in your senseless games.  I won’t do it.  The ball-rolling is now your job.

Unless a full ten seconds go by, and then my palms will start sweating and I’ll tell you about that time my best friend Anne and I went on a date with five Moroccan contortionists and fire-eaters at Epcot when we were 19 and when I called my mother beforehand to brag about it, she yelled, “DON’T YOU MARRY ANY OF THEM! THOSE MOROCCANS TREAT THEIR WIVES LIKE PROPERTY!” because that shit is universally entertaining.

So!  To summarize:

  1.  Don’t quote the movie if you don’t actually know the quote.
  2.  Comedy is harder than drama.
  3.  There should ideally be a give-and-take in successful human communications.
  4.  Don’t tell my mother that you’re going on a date with Moroccan fire-eaters and contortionists.
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That Mighty Mighty Bosstones t-shirt I’m wearing never failed to attract inordinately flexible Northwest Africans.

Another Post Where I Make Fun of Musicians

Here’s how I pick a restaurant.  I walk up, see this sign…

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…and then I pick another restaurant.

If I’m out to dinner, I want to be able to chat.  I’d like to unwind and delight in some sparkling conversation.  I have really important things to discuss with my dinner companion, like how unfair it is that Eva Gabor was the most talented Gabor sister, yet Zsa Zsa is the one everybody remembers.

“But!  But!!  Green Acres!!”

Zsa Zsa Gabor was not on Green Acres.

Eva Gabor.  Eva Gabor was on Green Acres – and I’m sick and tired of having to snottily set people straight when they say otherwise.  It makes me look reeeally petty, especially when I pull out the charts and graphs, and pettier still when I make them wear a sign around their neck for the rest of the evening that says, “I should have stayed in my lane as a merely casual classic television watcher.”

So!  There are two issues I have with this live music at restaurants.  (I should note that bars and clubs are fine, so you don’t have to throw one of your classic hissy fits, Axl Rose.)

The main issue is that I am a musician.  I know many musicians.  Oh god, so many musicians.  Like a plague of locusts in tight jeans that have been raining down on my withered soul for decades.  Like a bucket of hot dogs being thrown at my face every time I walk out my front door.

And they’re all too goddamned loud.

When they’re so loud that it’s splitting your eardrums while you’re trying to enjoy your fish dip on the patio at Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez (your better Florida-style restaurants are named after midlife-crisis fishing boats), it’s because they think they are way, way more important than anything you’ve got going on at your table.

More important than your right to sit and have a pleasant dinner with someone at Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez.

More important than Whale Dick Dave’s on The Wavez losing business over how loud they are.

Your attention must be on them at all times, fish dip enjoyment be damned.  If you don’t pay attention to “local legend” Shreddin’ Steve up there wanking away at that cover song like he himself invented the guitar, then guess what?

Shreddin’ Steve
Would be just fine
To have you leave

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Poetry.

I can’t even tell you how many grown adult musicians I’ve known, who when they’re finally told to turn it down by the manager of the restaurant, unplug their gear in a huff and storm out the door, their straw fedora all rumpled and askew atop their Counting Crows chin-length faux-dreadlocks, the clanging of their thumb ring knocking against their guitar case as they borrow someone’s cellphone to call their mom to come pick them up.

Oh no!  Now I guess I’ll have to just hum Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise” to myself since Phil Spector here has absconded with his magical talent machine!

Which brings me to my second issue:  Song selection.

I realize these things are regional, I am in South Florida after all, but I swear to god if I have to hear some guy in a Hawaiian shirt barf out “Margaritaville” at Ballz Deep-Seafishin’ Depot one more time, I’m driving straight to Jimmy Buffett’s house and bulldozing it – with a parrot on my shoulder the whole time – because I like poetic imagery and stuff.

Ohhh, Jimmy Buffett.

Look, I don’t have a problem with the man personally, not at all, but by the 818,000th time you’ve had to endure “local legend” Jammin’ Joey at the Flick The Beanz Café playing Dance to The Left with an acoustic guitar and a drum machine at 200 decibels while you’re just trying to eat a breakfast wrap and chat about last night’s episode of Green Acres, it takes everything you have to not want to go back in time like The Terminator and push a young Jimmy Buffett out of a tall coconut tree.

And as for the blues, let me tell you.  I am a blues fan.  Bury me in Memphis – please!  I’m not a blues snob, either.  I can admit when something “newer” is good.  It doesn’t have to have been recorded prior to 1950 for me to like it.  And for the record, blues snobs think anything recorded after Truman left office isn’t “real blues”.  < eyeroll >

That being said.

You would think, based solely on the live music that is played in South Florida at restaurants, that Stevie Ray Vaughan is the only blues artist who has ever existed.

And not just Stevie Ray Vaughan, who recorded like twenty albums.

Two songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan:

  • Pride and Joy
  • The Sky is Crying

That’s all you get.  Occasionally, you’ll get Cold Shot, and even though you’ve heard that one 56,000 times, it will seem like a breath of fresh air that it’s not Pride and Joy.

You will reach to the sky, arms extended, to thank the stars that it’s not Pride and Joy.

You will give all of your worldly possessions to charity to show your gratitude to the universe that it’s not Pride and Joy.

You will have a baby just so you can fly to Hawaii and chuck it into a volcano as a sacrifice and say, “Thank you, Pele, Goddess of Fire, for not making me sit through Pride and Joy again.”

Do I have a problem with Stevie Ray Vaughan as a person and musician?  Hell no!  Does hearing the beginning chords of “Pride and Joy” for the 2,654,925th time make me want to rip my own ears off and throw them at “local legend” Rockin’ Randy whose playing a $2,500 guitar but arrived at The Salty Dogbonerz Bistro on a borrowed BMX bicycle?

One time, I swear I melted out of a dining chair and rolled onto the floor when the first chords of Pride and Joy started – because it was the second time I’d heard it that day.  Then it turned out I was wrong, and it was actually The Sky is Crying, so I turned into booger slime and escaped from the restaurant like ooze down a storm drain, Rockin’ Randy crooning out “Can’t you see the tears rooooooolll down my noooose?” as a fitting soundtrack.

No.  No, I can’t see the tears roll down your nose, Rockin’ Randy.  Because I am in my car, speeding away from Mermaidz Tittiez Raw Bar like it’s on fire.

Also, none of this applies to my current band because we are awesome and don’t even know any Jimmy Buffett or Stevie Ray Vaughan songs.

It definitely applies to my previous band.  Times one trillion.