Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ever Wish You Had Blinders?

So, I was leaving the office yesterday around 5 and the elevator in my building stopped on a couple of floors - which is unusual, as it usually whisks me right to the lobby at leavin' time. There were already three other people on the elevator and after it stopped one more freakin' time, a guy walks on from the 2nd floor. He was a big guy, probably 6'3" or 6'4". He stands right in front of me, although in my opinion there was clearly more than enough room for him to have occupied someone else's personal space.

Remember that the front wall of the elevator cars in this particular section of my building are mirrored.

I had been selecting the tunes I wanted to listen to on my iPod for the long walk back to my car and went back to it once the doors closed again. Well, in refocusing on my device, I caught a glimpse of his waist and thought, "How can a guy THAT big have a waist THAT small?" Unconsciously, I shook my head. I looked up for some reason and saw him smiling a bit. I couldn't tell if it was that 'You wish you looked this good' smile, or that 'Thanks for noticing I'm flawless' kind of smile.

We hit the lobby and walk through the security gate toward the front of the building. I'd slowed down a bit because I was apparently having trouble working my iPod, walking, and fumbling with my BlackBerry at the same time, so he was about eight feet in front of me. By the time I'd gotten myself together and walked through the doors, I noticed he'd now stopped in front of the bank branch (the bank I work for has a branch on the first floor of the building, and is dominated by floor to ceiling windows on three sides). This guy was standing in front of the branch and was taking his shirt off! Uh, excuse me? Am I really seeing this? Yep. I'm seeing this.

It gets worse.

You know how time magically slows down in your brain when you've witnessed something completely unbelievable? I do now. And it hit me in an instant, like I was dodging a stray bullet in The Matrix.

Not only was he tall, but you could tell he worked out. You could see that with his shirt ON. I was walking - probably slowly at this point - and I'm headed toward steps and a fountain, looking at this guy with no shirt on. He was perfect. Absolutely perfect. He was the kind of guy I HATE! He had the kind of body that my wife would so love me to have - but like candy falling from the sky or puppies learning to shag, it ain't gonna happen. Anyway, I could feel myself shaking my head again, and I knew my eyebrow was arching like it does when I'm disgusted, and I could feel the air rushing into my open mouth. I was aghast! Now, he WAS a little tiny bit ugly (and I'm not judging or at all happy about that...heh heh), but with a body like that, he could probably make women do whatever he wanted. I reached the first step (of like five or six) by the fountain and I realize I'm STILL staring at him, irritated because chances are excellent that he probably wasn't the guy standing behind me at McDonald's while I ordered a number 4, large size. He probably ate dirt for lunch - and burned that off spinning for an hour at the Y.

Shaking my head, eyebrow arched, mouth open, face twisted up like he'd just kicked my dog and I wanted him to know exactly how much I hated his guts for having the body I will have to undergo genetic alteration to get.

And then he looked at me! He looked directly at me!

OMG! Mind you, all of that happened in the space of about three seconds from shirt coming off to the guy looking at me LOOKING AT HIM! I was mortified. The only thing worse would have been if I'd tripped down the stairs or fallen into that damn fountain. LOL!

Guess who I saw this morning, jogging no less, as I drove my pudgy butt to work. Mr. Perfect.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ramble On: Group Therapy

My very first article for Charlatan Magazine was about why we form groups. It was a topic given to me by my editor, and quite honestly, one I'd never thought about before. I mean, did you? Part of you probably doesn't give a flip about the explanation, right? And then, just sitting here reading this entry, and thinking back to how you felt when actually READ the article, it might just do to give it some more thought.

I'm super lucky because the groups I deal with are really more like little families. In fact, one of my groups IS a family - and not the one I was born into. At the end of April, I'll be heading off to Garden City, SC, just below Myrtle Beach for the second annual Chocolate Thunder Summer Ride. Chocolate Thunder is the name of our motorcycle group, and we're a menacing five-strong. Watch out. LOL! Chocolate Thunder is made up of four Reid boys - and me. We've all got cruisers (long-distance motorcycles people generally think about as a Harley) and love to ride every chance we get. Kenny Reid is my neighbor and best friend; one of his older brothers and a cousin live in Charlotte, the other older brother lives in Raleigh. We get together and ride to destinations unknown, sometimes even getting lost on purpose along the way, just to see where roads will take us. Other than my wife's wedding ring, my motorcycle is the best thing I've ever bought.

I met Kenny more than 11 years ago when we first moved into our cul-de-sac. Kenny and his wife are our couple that we do most things with. Our children, 3 months apart, haven't known life without the other. We go to their family functions and I hold the esteemed position of ham carver at the annual Reid Christmas party. We have done so much with their family, that we are considered to be PART of their family. And it's a wonderful feeling. Chocolate Thunder is like riding with my brothers and I love it. It's a group we formed after we all bought motorcycles one after the other. We have t-shirts, club nicknames (Ed comes up with them all - I'm Shakespeare), and while we ride to have fun, we try our best to keep each other safe on the road. Do something stupid and we'll make fun of you. Do something dangerous and we're the first to jump on your case - and make sure you know what to do the next time you come up against a truck in the bend of the road, or hit gravel at a stop sign.

Riding my motorcycle is its own kind of therapy. Riding with Chocolate Thunder is therapy on an entirely different level. We only talk to each other, of course, at stop lights, so the majority of the time we only have our thoughts to keep us company. You might think the stress level of riding a motorcycle through city traffic or down the highway with cars and tractor trailers on all sides wouldn't necessarily lend itself to relaxation. Sometimes it's intense, yes, and you've got to make the right choice to avoid an accident. But the rest of the time, it's one of the most peaceful and enjoyable things I've ever done. And it's something I get to share with them when we're together. All of the Reids are big boys. I'm six feet, almost 200 lbs. And when I'm with them, I'm the smallest one. Well, I'm the least scrappy - let's put it that way. Anthony's a little shorter than I am, but I bet he could beat the living shit out of anybody who crossed him. Fo real.

The power and confidence I fake when riding with Chocolate Thunder is amazing. It's almost a drug, and I love the way it feels. I can do whatever in the hell I want when I'm with them. Or I think I can. I don't think twice about giving some jerk the stink eye when I know the Reids have got my back. And although there probably isn't a whole lot I could do to help them (not like they'd need it), I'd be there is a second to help one of them kick somebody's ass. It might become more of a managerial role, of course, making sure the Reid in question knew what was going on around him, as opposed to me trying to scissor kick somebody in the throat. I know my limits.

My family and I aren't Reids. We'll never be blood relatives. And there are certain things we don't think are appropriate to include ourselves in when it comes to their true family, and family gatherings. We don't invite ourselves to graduations or their mother's birthday celebrations. We won't be at the births of their second and third cousins. We won't attend graduations and it wouldn't be right for us to participate in their family reunions. But we are thought of as Reids, and every one of them has been kind and loving enough to acknowledge that and make us feel like we are truly part of their family. It is an honor, and it is a group to which I couldn't imagine not belonging. My wife, son and I witness Reid family business of the level which is appropriate, always knowing our place - as weird as that may sound. We have families of our own, of course, and to them we owe respect and deference to our respective family units. Some people forget where they come from and try their best to distance themselves from those to which they were born. We're lucky enough to have multiple families, and we try and take advantage of the love and fellowship each one provides (in a different way than the other) every chance we get.

Life without the Reids wouldn't be the same. Just as it would be different I didn't have my sister and two brothers, and my wife didn't have her four sisters and three brothers. After a year of planning and talking and buying accessories and debating about who's going and who's going to chicken out, Chocolate Thunder will ride again. Group therapy at its best.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ramble On: Let there be light

Good grief it's been a long time since you all have heard from me. So much has changed since October when I last gave you something to read. The other day, my wife told me that I was in serious danger of being moved off of her list of favorites because I hadn't written anything in forever. Hell, before that, she told me that since I'm calling myself a blogger in the bio of the magazine for which I now contribute, I'd better well actually damn blog. I added the emphasis there, just to make it that much more interesting. LOL!

In my quest to become a writing success, I reached out to the editor of Charlatan Magazine. If you've never heard of it, you will soon. Visit http://www.charlatanmagazine.com/ for your first foray into the world of Culture as Lifestyle, and make a concerted effort to seek out my column, 'Network', for insightful comment every other month. I started that late last year, and as a result, my blogging has suffered.

One night while I was moving trailers around my part-time job at the International Package Delivery company, it dawned on me that I wasn't living up to my part of the Magnolia Rambling bargain. You were reading (and some of you even leave comments), but I wasn't giving you any new gristle on which to chew. My 'job' writing for Charlatan Magazine has been uber fulfiling, and I consider it to be a dream come true. But I'd created a void, and one that needed to be filled super fast or not only would I lose second-billing on my wife's list of Internet favorites......second-billing, in deed!....but I would let down all of the twenty-four people (including my ten followers) who come to the site for entertainment, a little laughter, and maybe to learn a thing or two when reading between the lines. And that's when it hit me. Ramble On.

Every other month, my editor (how cool is THAT?) gives me the topic of the next cycle's issue. My task is to write a 'Network' article which will entertain as well as educate. Opinion isn't necessarily part of that equation, and as such, it has helped me become a better writer. Magnolia Rambling, on the other hand, is my baby. It was created out of a passion for writing, and used as a place in which I could store the crazy-ass thoughts and ideas that course in and out of my feeble brain at any given moment in time. You read Magnolia Rambling because it's funny, because you never know where in the hell my brain is going to take us on this magnificent journey, and because most of you think I'm the smartest person you've ever met.

Okay...so that last part isn't true, but since it's my blog, I can write whatever in the hell I want.

My idea for Ramble On is this: take the concept/idea of the 'Network' column I've written for Charlatan Magazine and put the Magnolia Rambling spin on it. Not only will it give me a great excuse for sitting down every month (for the challenged....I'll write the column for Charlatan Magazine, and the following month I'll write the Ramble On sister piece for Magnolia Rambling), but it only serves to deepen the hooks I've already sunk into you (and I'm talking about the ten followers here, not the extra 14 folks who happen by on a regular).

My commitment to everybody in 2011 is that you're going to be hearing from me a lot more - whether you like it or not, and certainly whether you agree with me or not. Log in, read the posts, send in your comments, and keep your opinions to yourself if they don't line up with what I've just told you to believe. Ha ha, but not really. :-)

We'll be playing a bit of catch up on Ramble On as the first topic revolves around groups and why we form them - it was the topic of my first article that was published in November, 2010. From there we'll move on to the almighty recession (January, 2011). And from there we'll talk about China and education (March, 2011 and May, 2011, respectively).

Like the newly crafted moto of a very well-respected financial institution proclaims: together we'll go far.

Ramble On...and good night.