Wednesday, August 23, 2006


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I told you I could look at this picture every hour and have it spur a tale or seven and I'm here to prove it. If you've just got off the bus, scroll down until you see this picture again and start where it makes sense to start--not in the middle of things.

Old Paul has the boat that took me sailing that sent me flying over the Pacific like a beetle on a buoy in a storm. He's the far lefter. What you can't see, is that he is a great boogie woogie piano player. He just "hears" the boogie woogie and has taught himself to play just by sitting down and playing. I think with some people, music or an instrument were waiting for them when they were born.

Paul was a builder until he invented the soap dispenser. He was a good builder. He built his own home and as a builder, I can verify that it is well built.

Paul managed to stay in shape as a builder and after, and to this day (he's in his late fifties) he swims in a lap pool he built for himself to do just that.

Paul has a son who, at the time of this story, eight years ago, was about fourteen. He was messing around on a chin up bar doing inverted (or do you call them inside?) "flips" like a gymnast in slow and steady motion. You do a hand stand on the bar, you tuck your feet and then your body through the space made by your shoulders and the bar, and then you lower yourself slowly with the bar now rising behind you until you bottom out on your arms, and then you drop to the ground.

If it sounds simple and taxing on the arms, that's because it is.

Paul's son was messing around doing this and Paul thought he'd have a go and see if he was up to his son's abilities. He managed a hand stand, he managed to tuck his feet inside the gap made by his shoulders and the bar. The bar was raising slowly up behind him...


The stress created by Paul trying to lower himself slowly to where his body bottomed out at the end of his arms caused his bicep to tear completely away from its attachment point near his elbow. Paul's soft ball sized bicep, which once stretched and swelled over his upper arm was now quivering like a snake in a sock up near his shoulder.


I'm glad I wasn't there ( but I was there shortly after). I was visiting with Eric (remember Baby Huey?) and we got a call from Paul's son.

"It's flappin' around in there!"

"Now calm down. Whaddya mean he ripped his muscle off his bone?"

Paul's wife was an ER nurse who happened to be on duty and Paul's neighbor got Paul rushed off while Paul's son tried to describe to Eric (who loved details) just what he meant by "flapping around".

In the end, Eric and I went to the scene of the flapping and calmed Paul's son down, and Paul had his bicep reattached and was wrapped up and sent home after a couple of days.

A couple weeks later, I inquired about Paul's arm to Eric, and Eric told me there was heavy nerve damage at the site of the surgery. The doctor's all said that the nerves should regenerate, but that they would take time. Paul's hand looked like a cerebral palsy claw (Drop Wrist Syndrome), and it seemed his boogie woogie days might be over.

Ahhh, not so, says the storyteller.

Paul simply changed his tune.

What he did was tape a C-shaped thingy to hold his thumb and index finger a specific distance apart. Two keys separated by a single key to be exact. It was his left hand, the hand he played rythm with, and with his new style and a lot of tape he boogied on.

A few months later, Paul's hand just "woke up" one morning, as if a switch had been turned on. The nerves had grown toward each other and found each other.

Amazing how that happens.

As an addendum to this, when I awoke the morning after St. Patty's day to find my arm all curled like a claw, I knew the miracle of nerves. I had seen what had happened to Paul's hand, and heard the boogie woogie...

Mum was once taught an Italian song by syllables. She had learned the whole thing without understanding a single word. OK perhaps she knew two or three words but in a whole song in a foreign language, that's not much. She was taught the song because she had been asked to sing something to the Italian soldiers stationed as "peacekeepers" in Israel in the mid-sixties. Mum ws asked to be like one of Bob Hope's girls. You know, sing to the guys. Make 'em less miserable. Do a good thing for the morale of the men...

Mum couldn't believe how much these men whooted and hollered and jeered and leered at her. She said she had never been that kind of object of lustiness in a crowd in her entire life. She wrote it off to the rumors she had heard about Italian Men. It's all sex and more sex until they discover wine and bread and butter.

Mum was later to find out that she had been taught a song that begins along the lines of "I'm just a lonely whore and you are free to ride..."

But the melody had been so lovely!

Eric had a daughter who had a brief period in her later teens where she needed to rebel. We've all seen it. All fathers dread it. The two o'clock in the morning phone calls--

"Yeah dude, is the chick, like, IN? Oh man, wha's wit de attiTUDE? Chill man. Of course I knows what time it is!"

Those kinds of calls. His daughter threw fits and left home for days. Eric needed a diversion, so he rekindled his lifelong desire to build a small cabin on a big piece of property he bought communally in the sixties when he got back from Vietnam, to go where he had once erected a big home-made teepee.

Yes, I have friends who've spent a couple of winters living in a teepee...

I have friends who also ask me to help them build stuff, me being a builder of stuff and all. So we knocked up a cabin with a loft.

What I wanted to tell you about was the time we were there and it snowed. A rarity, it snowed about eight inches on the ground where we were working. We gave up on building and got into a snowball fight. Now the thing you gotta understand about Eric, who I call Baby Huey, is that Baby Huey acted like Baby Huey. Eric is tall, but he had gotten a bit big in the middle, and he had the heart and soul of a child. Eric wanted to WIN in this snowball fight the way any ten year old wants to win in a snowball fight.

Trouble was...

He was up against me.

I was a baseball pitcher as a kid and could hit a mitt with a ball most days most times. A catcher's mitt is about the size of a head.

Eric's head.

Now when he's throwin' and I'm throwin' I'm not as accurate. But I can hit a guy 6-4 and gettin' thick in the middle like he was the side of a barn. I kept hitting Eric with every throw. Bam bam bam... and he kept missing me by widths unheard of in things like bowling...

Tired of getting creamed, Eric called a timeout.

"Alright! alright! alright NEW RULES!" he called out.


"Since when does the guy LOSING the battle get to call time out and make new rules?"

"Since today."

"Alright. What rules."

"No moving."

"No moving?"

"Yeah. No moving. I will stand here with my arms on my sides and won't move and you get a free shot."

"A free shot?"


"And then what?"

"You have to hold still and I get a free shot."

"Are you SURE about this?"

"Yeah. Free shot. Then I get a free shot."

I get the feeling Baby Huey was thinking about HIS free shot and how he was gonna finally get one into me when he stood firm with his hands to his sides and squinted his eyes like Chinese safety glasses and waited for me to have my throw so he could launch into his. I mean, what else could he have been thinking? I had shown an ability to hit him while on the move, and now I was going to get to have a wind-up at a non-moving target...

Remember when I said I could hit a mitt with a ball most times and most days? And how a mitt was about the size of Eric's face with his silly squinting eyes and that "get this over with" look?

Well, I could, and I did.

A reasonably well packed snowball about the size of a softball will have an impact on a nose, to be sure. It might not actually break it, but it will bend it some and water the eyes a bunch and perhaps make standing straight and throwing a snowball a little difficult.

"Your turn," I said. "Hurry up. I won't stand still like this all day."

I'm not sure what was visible out of Eric's tearing eyes, but it must have been something about six feet to my left. There was no whistling past my ear. There was no flinching. There was no relief, even, he was that far off...

"Wanna go another round?" I asked.

"No thanks."

"You sure,"

"I think so."

"I'm up for another round if you wanna...?"

"Actually, I'm getting hungry. Head down to the brew pub? On me?"

"You buyin?"

"It's the least I could do."

I once collected the lint that formed in my bellybutton in a mayonaise jar until it was full.

That's my story.

My sister Sandy once asked me if I knew what the little ripples on men's stomach's were for?

I said "You mean a six pack?"

"Yeah. You know what its for?"

"Do I wanna know?"


I didn't wanna know. That's my sister!

I was hanging with Jamal one time and something weird flew over our heads. It was a UFO. Now I'm not saying it was ALIENS or anything supernatural. We just didn't have a clue what it was. It seemed like a remote controlled airplane with a sparkler attached to it. But it was silent.

Jamal gets a little excited and he got a little bit more than excited when we had seen the UFO. He was in need of a slap, like in the movies, but I didn't want him to hit me back. I suggested he call the radio station (the one that carries the local news) and ask if they had any unusual reports to give him something to do.

He got the number from information, dialed it, and a woman answered.

"This is KTVU. How can I help you?"

Jamal had eyes as big as flying saucers. This was an event and he was right in the middle of it. Here was his chance to report the news event of a lifetime. He shouted into the phone.


"Excuse me, sir?"


"Sir? How can I help you?"


"Sir, I'm going to hang up now."


"See what sir?"

"I can't do THIS! Scott. Here. Tell her what she saw..."

I've always had a knack for remaining calm in these types of situations.


She hung up on me.

Jamal was ready to slap me.

End of story.

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