Thursday, March 29, 2012

Feel(ing) good story

Among a huge heap of scattered papers, empty energy drink bottles and a random baseball on my desk, I came across a letter from one of our valued V.I. Daily News readers.

Usually, people just leave crazy, F-bomb-riddled voice mail messages on my office phone to let me know I'm doing such a wonderful job covering sports in the territory.

Well, this reader ignored the phone book and typed out a lovely letter for me. It was in response to an article I wrote about a high school football player who found success amid early struggles.

The people who call the shots at the paper liked it so much, they put it on the front page and it was one of those true journalistic moments when sports transcends into news.

Or they just had nothing else to go with that day.

Please don't laugh too hard at our website design and check out the story at this LINK.

The only reason I found the buried letter is because the lady who wrote it just dropped in to discuss the article further with me. She did not know him personally, but if you read the article, I think everyone on island knew of his antics.

We talked for a while and she pleaded that I write more stories like it because there are plenty of young people that are trying to turn their lives around.

"And if you keep writing about them, the kids will read about it and try to do the same with their lives," she said, while holding my hand and trying to hold back tears.

"Wait, let me get this straight, high school kids are actually reading the newspaper?" I asked to break the tension. I think she wanted a hug.

Apparently, they do. Which is why this newspaper somehow still turns a profit. And that's probably why we haven't updated our website layout since 1990. Hmm, interesting.

Running into appreciative readers is always a breath of fresh air.

Like I said before, it does not happen often. When it does, it's pretty awesome. Especially when it comes in the form of a random grandmother with soft hands and kind words.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My dogs are limin' hard

I was texting with my girlfriend the other day about normal midday bullshit. How was your day? What time do you want to do dinner? All that stuff.

I had to go cover a basketball game so to end the conversation, I threw out this matzo ball:

Ok. Fish for dinner sounds delicious. By the way, the dogs have Lyme Disease. Both of them. Have a good afternoon.

For some odd reason, she immediately halted our text dialogue and my phone started to ring. Who could it be? Ahh, she elevated it to a voice correspondence.

Aaron (with jackass sarcasm): Hey, so what's on your mind?

Brianna: What? Lyme disease? Are you serious?

Aaron: Yeah, no biggie. Doc thinks they got it in the States and brought it over here but it had been dormant for the last two years. I told him I wanted my money back from the previous two years' worth of blood tests. He's not playing ball.

Brianna: Stop messing around. This is serious.

Aaron: I am serious. And my wallet is almost $500 lighter now. He gave me some pills and he thinks the meds will knock it out.

Brianna (while looking up the disease online): This is scary. I'm calling my mom.

That fine lady is such a worrier. But it's a good thing. Who else is going to step up and pop a blood blister under my toe nail to prevent infection or allow me access to her protein supplements? And that, among many other reasons, is why I love her.

But I'm also in love with two other sexy ladies on this island and I just learned they had the same disease as that chick from the Real World. Remember her? That black dude slapped her in the face when she was in a car. Ahh, good times.

That reminds me, the freaking Real World is filming on St. Thomas right now, but that's a hilarious story for later in the week. Spoiler alert: They are all Douchebags with a capital "D."

Back to my beloved dogs. Doc said he was 99 percent certain they got Lyme Disease in the States. He's been in the vet game on island for the last six years and only three dogs have ever test positive for Lyme Disease. Hunter was No. 2 and Sydney was No. 3. It's actually very rare on St. Thomas.

I had to feed them these horse pills twice a day for about three weeks. I started to hide the pills in cheese but they became very hip to that.

Then I attempted to crush up the pills and sprinkle it on their food. It took forever.

The simple approach actually worked best. I would give them big bowls of wet Alpo and just stuck the pills into the Grade D beef. They devoured that stuff so fast, they barely even saw the pills.

Later on, I went to a 3-week check up, they drew blood and said they would call me later. I wanted to wait for the results but they said it may take 20 minutes. I was fine with that. Then they said maybe 30 minutes. I was still game.

They obviously wanted me to leave, which was a little strange.

"I promise, we'll call you with the results in about an hour," the untrustworthy receptionist said to me.

OK. I understand. But as I walked to the car, I wondered if that was protocol in case dogs are still sick and they don't want owners flipping out in their office. Yeah, that was probably it.

Well, I dropped off the ladies and went to work for the day. Four hours passed. Five. These bastards really knew how to build the suspense.

Finally, the head doctor called me at 5:15 p.m. I guess it was quitting time for him and he had to knock out a few minor tasks before he left for the day. Meanwhile, an insecure dog owner has been biting his finger nails all freaking day.

He told me the girls were OK and the medicine worked. I was so happy to hear the news, I drew a blank on asking him follow-up questions. I had just spent the previous six hours prodding regatta boat captains with questions, pressing a chess professor on the legitimacy of his job and trying to make 15-year-old high school basketball players say something longer that three words.

Yet, I couldn't get a single question in for this guy. And he knew it. He hung up with me instantly and then he was gone.

Could it all have been a hoax? A trick? A mean ploy to make some broke sports writer even more broke? Maybe they had a bad month? Maybe they had to get some funds up?

They thought, he's some chump with two dogs. Two dogs! Let's tell him they have Lyme Disease, charge him for the tests, charge him for this expensive medicine (which was just estrogen pills) and see if he falls for it. What a sucker.

That person was me. They're always out to get me, right? Either that, or I have a real fucked up way of playing devil's advocate. Whatever. The dogs are good. My bank account is meager and everything else is splendid in paradise.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Iced, Iced, Baby

I was cranking hard on some Ice, Ice, Baby on the way to work today and as a standard on St. Thomas, the island locals gave me the "crazy white boy stare."

Then I saw a girl I knew walking along the road, pulled over to give her a lift and quickly turned down the volume as to disguise my inept musical taste.

She got in the car and smelled like a brewery. As a standard on St. Thomas, she had been out late the night before and passed out at somebody's house.

I dropped her off but the sassy sounds of Vanilla Ice were still in my head. Then I came across this little picture.

Urban Dictionary defines the verb getting iced as the act of drinking a Smirnoff Ice on one knee as fast as you can, following the presentation of the 'ice' in a clever manner.

I think the first time I saw someone get iced was in college but on the islands, it's actually making a steady comeback. Just like drinking Jager. Sure, we poured that crap down our throats with little remorse at the university then we shunned it forever, right?

Not on St. Thomas.

Maybe it has something to do with the sailing but Jager is a go-to poison at the local bars.

Anyway, back to getting iced. That photo was taken moments after my friend Carrie strategically placed a Smirnoff Ice inside a cooler and asked me to grab it right before a boat trip. While captain Morgan fueled up the Black Pearl, I took a knee and reluctantly paid homage to the Smirnoff gods.

Remember back in the day when you drank Zimas with Jolly Ranchers inside them? No, you don't remember that? Well, I guess my childhood was more messed up than yours.

* * *

So I was sitting inside The Rock and working out a algebra formula on a cocktail napkin. I asked my amazing neighbor Emily to let my dogs out so they could pee and so I could keep wasting time in bars.

I asked Mr. Goldman how many bottles of wine I should get her for all the times she has let my dogs out. He started to formulate the equation and I immediately lost interest and watched Linsanity on TV instead. Not sure what he came up but that's not why I have him on the payroll.

Moments later, a phone call came in and Mr. Goldman sprung to life.

"As your attorney, I advise you to buy some beer, hop in my car and drive with me to Neltjeberg for a bonfire. This needs to happen right now."

I always take the advise of a trained lawyer. Before we knew it, we had three Spring Break girls in the back seat and we're headed to the north side. Before we hit the climb, we stopped at Race Track gas station (every gas station on this island sells booze) and I pulled out my credit card.

"What? 12 dollars for a six-pack of Smirnoff?" I barked at the gas attendant. "That's more than my 12-pack of beer. This is highway robbery. I'll get you for this."

The gas attendant was not scared and even snickered when he swiped my credit card. I tried to ice his ass but I didn't want to waste the two bucks.

When we got to the bonfire, a girl that was already there tricked her friend and coincidentally iced her hard. It was kind of hilarious. Then I remembered what was inside our booze bag and was instantly embarrassed. I quickly handed the bag to the Spring Breakers and ran toward the beach.

You can't get iced while in the water. Can you? Where's Vanilla Ice when you need him most? I subscribe to him on Facebook. I wonder if he likes Smirnoff Ice?