Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gender confusion at the symphony

So I had a few day-time beers.

Yeah, that's it. I'll blame it on the day-time beers.

I was in Fort Myers, Fla. and was visiting with my girlfriend's parents. My lovely girlfriend, Brianna, surprised her parents with tickets to the symphony that night so she closely monitored my day-time beer intake.

I still had to wait on the outcome of two boxing matches in Las Vegas and then decide if I could get something into my paper before deadline. Ahh, the life of a traveling sports hack.

USVI professional boxers Samuel Rogers and John Jackson were fighting for minor WBC titles that night and instead of sitting ring side in Sin City, I was rubbing elbows with silver-haired snow birds from all across the land.

Yes, they came from far and wide to take in the soothing tunes of the local symphony. What's the difference between a symphony and a orchestra you ask? Good question. I googled it during the first intermission and learned they are basically the same thing. So I did take something away from this valuable night of culture.

Then my cell phone buzzed because I had a text message. Then it buzzed again. And then a third time.

Not only did I have two local boxers fighting over a thousand miles away but a high school all-star football game was being held back on St. Croix. It was a game I helped organize but since it was postponed twice (due to confusion), I was in Florida and not on the sidelines.

Turns out, there were no sidelines. No one mowed the grass and the referees did not show up. So they had 50 angry football players getting screwed over once again and about five different coaches texted to tell me how pissed they were because another commissioner dropped the ball entirely.

Welcome to the Virgin Islands.

I quietly slipped out of the theater and didn't make a sound. As I briskly walked into the foyer, my phone started to ring. It was one of the boxers calling from Vegas. I knew this was my only chance at the interview so without thinking, I walked into a nearby bathroom.

I walked into a stall, pulled out my voice recorder and interviewed Samuel Rogers about knocking some chump out in the 10th round. While I listened to his descriptions of divine perseverance and Mohammad Ali cliches, I quickly noticed that I was standing in the cleanest bathroom stall I had ever seen.

I talked loudly because I had to hold the recorder close to the speaker on my phone. My heightened voice did not deter an older woman in a prom dress from entering the main bathroom area.

“What the hell?” I asked myself out loud.

“No, no … I said I wanted to thank God,” Rogers said back on the phone.

I looked around for a second and then immediate shock consumed me. Why are there no urinals in this bathroom? Oh shit...

I put my phone call with Rogers on hold without telling him, walked past grandma who was now washing her hands and didn't really acknowledge my presence. I can only hope she was hearing-impaired.

I exited the woman's bathroom just as a group of teenagers stood near the candy/coffee counter gawking at me. As if they had waited for this moment. To my right, a few women sat in chairs and gave me the stink eye from hell. The teenagers started to point and snicker.

My utter embarrassment hit a new plateau because I started to stutter, “I, I, I, I thought...wait a second...I, I, I...”

The teenage snickers elevated to full-blown laughter as a result of my bumbling banter. I looked to my left as an elderly male usher stood near the theater door and just looked down toward his feet, closed his eyes and shook his head slightly.

A few superiors in my day had given me that same look before and I think my dad had thrown it at me once or twice while growing up. It was the look of pure disgrace and unnerving disappointment.

I literally ran down the hall to escape but the teenage laughter echoed behind me. The whole time, Rogers was still on the phone and I had digitally recorded the entire fiasco.

“Aaron, are you still there?” Rogers asked.

I didn't know what to do. I bolted into the men's room (I triple-checked before I entered), walked past a row of filthy urinals and slowly put the phone back to my ear.

“Oh my God,” I said faintly.

“That's what I'm saying,” Rogers said. “I put all my faith in God and he helped me in the ring tonight.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From San Juan, With Love

I usually want to choke myself when I hear the regular joes in my newsroom sling mindless banter around. My usual style is ear phones in, zone out.

But last week, I heard something that sounded like, “20 bucks round-trip to San Juan?”

I quickly investigated and before you could say, “Please shut the hell up – no one cares,” I booked two tickets to the gem of Puerto Rico.

Jet Blue just started non-stop flights to the Rock from Boston and some other East Coast spots so to celebrate, they offered extremely cheap airfares in between San Juan and St. Thomas for only 10 days and this guy (two thumbs pointed directly at me) jumped right on it.

My next stop naturally was priceline.com. Mama Gray swears by the whole bidding strategy for cheap-ass hotels and it works like magic in Vegas. Puerto Rico, not so much. Don't get me wrong, I still got a smoking cheap room just a 10-minute walk from the beach but many people don't operate like that.

“Dude, do not get one of those cheap rooms in Syracuse, trust me,” Michael Rothstein, a former colleague of mine from Virginia, told me when I was planning out my trip up north.

“Why the hell not?” I barked back.

“Prostitutes, dude. Plus, they rarely clean the sheets.”

Since my travel partner was my lovely girlfriend, the prostitutes posed little problems. The sheets, well, what can you do? I can't tip the cleaning ladies in advance. We were booked for only one day.

As we embarked on the 16-minute flight from the Rock to San Juan, I told Brianna that I would pay more for dinner that night than both our round-trip flights and hotel room combined. Then I told her we had reservations at Burger King. She was not amused.

I know we live near the beach but guess where we hung out during the day in PR? The beach.

Even though most of the pink and yellow hotels in Condado were under construction and the subsequent beaches were swallowed whole by the Atlantic, it was a nice change of pace from Limetree, Magens, and Brewer's Bay.

I ordered a Cubano sandwich from a coffee shop, stayed clear of the casino, took a long day-time nap and even ordered a little entertainment for that evening.

It was dinner and a show. He was drunk, slurred the words to many classic Christmas carols and wouldn't leave our table until I greased him. Now Brianna can't say I never serenaded her.

The morale of the story is that San Juan is great. Charlotte Amalie ain't got nothing on Old Town San Juan. If I could go back every week, I would. As we made our final walk around town, Brianna said, “This is nice. I could work here full-time, what do you think?”

Ear phones in, zone out. And then I stepped into a Jet Blue plane.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some things just never get old

Location: the British Virgin Islands
Date: Saturday, December 10, 2011
Time: 1:36 p.m.

It's crass. Juvenile. Inappropriate. Yet, you can't look away...

I remember when a picture of Houston Texans quarterback Matt Leinart doing beer bongs with a some girls in a hot tub surfaced and it tarnished his image. What is Matt Leinart doing right now? Rehabbing a broken collar bone. What's the connection? I have no idea.

I actually liked Leinart more when I saw the photos. It made him look human.

It's like when I drive through street puddles and soak unassuming pedestrians. I just can't help myself. You know the feeling. Some things just never get old.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Slumdog Millionaire

My last landlord screwed me pretty good and I don't normally lash out on the blog but I know he checks it quite frequently so this one is for you, jackass.

ATTENTION ST. THOMAS: Do not rent from this slum lord...

He has been ripping off the fine Rock City misfits for a generation and chuckles about it all the way to the bank. I won't go into details of how he screwed me ... wait a second, of course I will.

We have two lovely dogs. If you've ever met these fine dogs, you know they would never hurt a fly. Well one day, it appears one of the dogs ripped a small hole in a cushion on the couch.

It was very minor and was covered up with a simple flip of the cushion. Well, this dumbass saw the rip after we moved to a bigger house and decided to hit us where it hurts: our wallets.

That tiny little rip in the cushion was the only conflict with getting our security deposit back. Well, this dumbass brought in a upholsterer and he estimated the couch and felt the fabric would have to be replaced for the ENTIRE couch.

Over three months after we moved out, I finally got my security check back. He gave us back $80 of our $1,000 deposit. After I argued with him about how this whole fleecing went down, he told me to get a lawyer. What an asshole.

$920 to fix a small hole in a couch cushion?

I love the people of the Virgin Islands. There are, however, a few that make money purely on the people who visit and/or re-locate here and those bastards are scum. Get a real job, sir!

Ripping my girlfriend and I off is not worth your pompous lunch dates at Craig and Sally's or paying alimony to your second or third ex-wife. I lost count of how many you have, though that never stopped you from telling me about them.

And check out the teeth! You obviously haven't visited an orthodontist since '63.

This guy is just a retired old hack that goes around collecting rent from his properties and never flinches when its time to gauge a tenant. You are a waste of space. You contribute ZERO to your island or society.

All of this was going through my head when you came into my office last week to put another "for rent" ad in our newspaper. The fleecing cycle continues, huh? You are pathetic.