Archive for the ‘Editor’s Notes’ Category

I have read books like Bret Easton Ellis’ The Rules of Attraction which was written in first person, but from different points of view of more than one character. There were three main characters in the book whose lives were intertwined, yet the reader was lucky enough to witness the dynamic of how others see us, despite what we may think, or know. One would think there would be a name for this format, but Gow couldn’t find one, and the force is strong with her in terms of web searches.  

Gow wrote a piece about her visit to see me during the holidays and it was unbelievable. I have been writing for about 5 or 6 years now and it took me ages to get to the level of her very first piece.  I always thought I was a natural, but from time to time, I get brought back down to earth. Gow and I decided to collaborate on this piece.  Her observations, opinions and points of view are written in black, while mine are in purple. 

It is our hope that others will smile, laugh and enjoy this piece as much as we enjoyed working on it. 

I have been happily working at the same company for more than 18 years. I have five weeks of vacation time that I have trouble taking every year. Not that I’m a workaholic or anything, just that I’m not big on vacations. Not long ones anyway. I’m a fan of the three or four day weekend. Sometimes I can even do those without taking any time off of work. I am something of a creature of habit, I’ll admit that. I find comfort in my routines and don’t always enjoy being out of my element. Then there is also the little matter of there not being many people on the planet I want to spend 24 hours a day with for any stretch of time, but we’ll just ignore that bit, for now, OK? Let’s just say that I like tossing a few things into a bag that I don’t have to check, hopping a flight to somewhere I enjoy and leaving before I’m really ready to go. 

I’ve been working with the same company for 4 months now. Yay Me!  Prior to this I was with the same company for 17 years. I haven’t had much in the way of vacations, which is not to say I didn’t have a large chunk of time off after giving my former employer the one finger salute for douchebaggery above and beyond the call of duty. The last thing I had that resembled a vacation was a 5 day trip to visit my step brother in Newport RI last summer. His wife was leaving him for a football player (a female football player) and he needed someone to drink with for a few days. He originally asked me to come up and help him with some yard work, which he was going to pay me for. We ended up doing less than a full day of planting, digging and landscaping and spent more time listening to Tom Petty and John Prine break up music. I played with my step niece and nephew, drank lots of beer, ate well and listened to my poor brother vent. The whole affair stank to high heaven. He’s a good man, a good husband, son, brother, and from what I saw, an outstanding father. It was one of those cases of doing everything right, and things still didn’t work out. Regardless, it was the closest thing to a vacation I’ve had in ages. I had a great time boogie boarding, chasing women with my brother (we didn’t “catch” any) and drinking too much. My brother tried to give me money for the work I had done, but I was having none of it. I can’t even begin to imagine how much he spent on my visit without batting an eye.

Of course, like most people, I spend Christmas with my family every year. But, this year we’re scattered over a few different states and some of us just can’t travel for various reasons, so we all agreed to just sort of “skip” Christmas this year. No gifts for the adults, just buy for the kids, and no travel. Sort of a blessing and a curse, if you get my drift. Everyone hates the stress and madness of the holiday family get together, but that’s also where most of the good stories come from and at the end of the day, those are the people you love and it’s good to spend time with them.

Christmas is all about the little ones. I got some toys for the children of some of my friends. I just wish they were around so I could watch them having fun in the time honored ritual of “The Breaking of the Toys”. I have mixed feelings about children and I hate brats and oblivious parents, but my friends are all pretty amazing moms and dads raising good kids. Last year I did a “de-cluttering” and mailed some of my old toys that I don’t play with anymore to my friend Nicolai’s kids. I felt a little bad when Nicolai made them write me a “Thank You” note.  Of course it’s the right thing to do. I just remembered how annoyed I was as a kid when my mother made me write them. To my 10 year old mind, I’d already said thank you to Aunt Jackie for the pink and brown mittens she got me. (Sized for the Elephant Mans hands and guaranteed to earn severe beatings from the less well-adjusted neighborhood kids)

Completely coincidentally, days before my family agreed to the skippage I was trying to work out a trip to see my blogger over there, Mr. Swenson. We’ve generally managed to see each other once a month and it had been almost two months since we had worked out our schedules enough for a visit. I was about to purchase tickets for the weekend before Christmas when I had a rare moment of forethought and decided to make sure I wasn’t working that weekend. (I have to work every 5th or 7th weekend, depending, so it can be hard to keep track) Sure enough, I was working that weekend and very glad I didn’t purchase the non-refundable tickets. When I told him, he said “Well, come the following weekend then.” “But, that’s Christmas weekend.” I said. “Aren’t you going home to see your family?” He wasn’t and things seemed to be working out just swell. I was a little worried about telling my family I wouldn’t be around for Christmas this year, but that quickly became a non-issue. Sweet!

I visited my dear mother in mid-December at her Den of Disapproval…Casa de Guilt. We had a nice holiday visit. I watched a Patriots game with her; we had a nice dinner, saw a movie and exchanged gifts. To be perfectly fair, I turn my mother’s life upside down on my visits too. I’m messy and can be crabby. I made a special effort to be a nice boy and to be helpful around the house. As a result we got on pretty well.

We made plans for a stereotypical, touristy Christmas in New York weekend. Carriage ride in Central Park, visit to Rockefeller Center, FAO Schwarz, etc. We had other not so traditional plans as well. Go see Young Adults (a new movie co-starring one of our favorite comedians Patton Oswalt) and maybe the new Muppet Movie. The Hairy Monk to watch the Patriots game, go to The Comic Strip, our favorite Thai restaurant, etc. It was shaping up to be a fantastic 4 day getaway for the Little Gow.

I had also wanted to take her to see the Dueling, drunken Santa Claus’ competing for the prime bell ringing real estate. “This is MY corner Muthafucka…”  (Santa please, think of the children.)

I had Friday off of work, but he didn’t, so I booked my usual Friday night flight. Friday morning, I get up and turn on the news and it’s all about how this is the busiest travel day of the year. Great. I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s too late to change my travel plans now. As I was driving to the airport I was gearing up for long lines, frustration, crowds and hassles. But, as my luck seems to have been lately, I sailed right through the check-in process and security screening and boarded my on time flight with complete ease and utterly hassle free.

I visited Gow in Orlando once, and I had a great time except for the TSA on the NY end of the trip who were useless, rude and obstructive. I’d like to go back at some point, but money is tight. I made the Gow take me to Bass Pro Shop so I could watch rednecks but she drew the line at taking me to the Creationism Theme Park (aka The Holy Land Experience), despite my begging. I really wanted to see Jesus riding a dinosaur.

So, I arrive right on time Friday night and get all settled in and caught up. No snow yet, but I’m still hoping for a light dusting for our carriage ride on Christmas Eve. Saturday morning, we got up and got all decked out in our football gear and headed over to the bar to watch the Pats game. The place wasn’t too crowded and we got a good table with a nice view of the biggest screen TV. They had one waitress working the entire bar and dining room, so the service wasn’t great, but it wasn’t so bad that we stormed out either. Before half time, he tells me he’s not feeling well and would like to go home. His wisdom teeth have been bothering him for a while now and they picked this weekend to really kick it into high gear. So, we leave the bar, go home and miss the big Pats comeback for the win which I know he would have loved to have seen. Oh, well. Maybe we’ll catch the highlights later.

I had been feeling out of sorts on the way to the bar. I had that too-much-coffee-not-enough-food anxious kind of feeling, coupled with my wisdom teeth beginning to grumble more than a little bit. The bar was cold, and the poor waitress/bartender was doing the job of 3 people. I may have had a low fever or slight infection from the wisdom teeth as normally the cold doesn’t bother me much. I felt a little better after having a so-so burger, but the Patriots were playing abysmally and we left at halftime. I couldn’t even finish the beer I had ordered. On the way home Gow remarked that if the Patriots came back to win this game I would forever think of The Hairy Monk as a bad luck spot. She’s probably right in that respect. I am, like many others, a superstitious sports fan. I have lucky t-shirts and the like. Sadly though, I didn’t care for the bar much, even if it was a New England bastion deep in the heart of hostile Jets country. I should probably give it one more go next October when there isn’t a holiday.

He took some Ibuprofen, had a nice nap and seemed much better when we headed out for the carriage ride. I agree with most of the reviews I’ve read about the carriage rides. It’s something everyone should do . . . once. It’s overpriced, a little smelly and not as picturesque as the movies make it out to be, (especially when it’s not snowing as requested) but still it was a very nice experience to have . . . . once. We scrapped the plans we had for after as he was in a bit more pain now and just wanted to go home.

The horses name was Issac, and like most of the carriage horses around Central Park, he looked like he had seen better days. I don’t think the horses are mistreated, I just think they are working well into their retirement. I felt a little guilty as I wasn’t feeling well and it’s hard to even pretend to be cheerful with a toothache. This was a pretty big deal for Gow and I would be damned if I was going to blow it for her. The driver played Paul Simon music on a small boom box and kept bringing our attention to uninteresting points of interest. “Over here is a statue of Samuel Morse.” Really? You mean that statue of the guy with the big “MORSE” written on it?  Thanks professor.

By the next morning, Christmas morning, he was pretty much in agony. Awesome timing, teeth! Thanks so much! We were able to find a walk-in clinic (in Manhattan, where we had already made two trips) and they gave him antibiotics and stronger pain medication, but it was clear that those babies had to come out ASAP.

The walk in clinic was awesome. In and out, a nice doctor, good magazines, and lo and behold….drugs!

Monday morning we go to the oral surgeon (guess where) for a consultation and to make an appointment for the big extract. When they started talking about how he would get home after being sedated and the post-op instructions he would have to follow, I made a snap decision to stick around awhile longer. I texted my boss to tell him I wouldn’t be back until the new year. Thankfully and as expected he was fine with it. He even asked if there was anything he could do to help. (I love my job and the people I work with and for!) After I got the go-ahead from him, I jumped online to change my plane tickets and was thrilled to find that it only cost $35.00 this time, the least amount I’ve ever paid to make such a change.

The oral surgeon came highly recommended on He was a young, muscular Asian fellow who looked a little bit like a token Asian guy in a movie gay bar scene. He “explained” the “procedure” to me. “So you’re going to go in my mouth and take the painful, miserable little bastards out?”  Thanks, Doc.

Tuesday it seemed that the antibiotics and pain medication were finally doing their thing and we were able to make the movie, do some laundry, fill his other prescriptions and generally prepare for the surgery. Nice day all around and we weren’t getting sick of each other’s company yet, which was good since we still had a few days together ahead.

Did I mention they gave me drugs at the doctors?

I brought my camera on this trip which is something I don’t normally do, but I wanted to take pictures of this cheesy adventure of ours that we had laid out. I hadn’t taken too many pictures thus far, for obvious reasons. I started snapping away in the oral surgeon’s waiting room just before his 9am appointment and I don’t think he was too terribly pleased. No idea why. Maybe it was the fact that he wasn’t allowed even a cup of coffee before surgery and 9am to him is way too early under the best of circumstances.

I am not at my best before noon o’clock, especially without coffee or yums. I will say I was a brave, reasonably cheerful, well behaved little soldier going in to the oral surgeon’s office. We had a friendly Sikh fellow from a local car service drive us into Manhattan. He was chatty and pleasant and I felt a little bad about grunting at him in monosyllabic replies. I told Gow later and she assured me that I wasn’t “that bad”. When we arrived, I had a final cigarette outside the doctor’s office and then a Halls honey-lemon cough drop to cover up the smell. Gow seemed as nervous as I was. I was determined to act like a big boy and promised myself I wouldn’t start crying or shaking uncontrollably in the waiting room. 

The surgery was supposed to take about an hour and I was supposed to use that hour to go to FAO Schwarz to buy him a Lego toy for being such a brave little soldier. Unfortunately, I didn’t go the right way down 5th Avenue and after walking for 30 minutes decided I needed to head back since, obviously it would take me 30 minutes to do that. When I got back, it had been an hour but he wasn’t quite ready to go yet. I asked to use the ladies room which was in the back and I had to walk past the exam rooms to get there. I walked right past him, sitting up and looking loopy and swollen. He didn’t recognize me as I waved at him and has no memory of seeing me at all. I missed a golden opportunity for some fun there. LOL

The hygienist or nursey lady called me into the room where I sat in the dentist’s chair which was covered in plastic wrap that I kept slipping in and out of. I was told to roll up my sleeves and a blood pressure monitor was strapped around my arm…and left there until my arm began to hurt. I asked the nice nurse lady when they would take it off, and she said “When we’re done.”  I was then left alone in the room to play with my new music thingy that Gow gave me for Christmas loaded with 3500 songs and room for many more. I searched for the perfect wisdom teeth extraction playlist….let’s see-eee-eee…Bobby Darin? Check…Jay and The Americans?…Check…Butthole Surfers?…Not so much. I was waiting for what seemed like a long time and I was starting to get annoyed; well annoyed and scared…I was “Scannoyed”.  I looked at my blood pressure reading on the little machine I was hooked up to and my BP was low. I have never understood my perfect or low BP every time I visit a doctor. I smoke, I drink, I have panic attacks and generalized anxiety. It must be the Flintstones Chewables that I have been taking. 

Finally the doctor arrived, and he was very nice. The last time I had my wisdom teeth out (I had the left side taken out years ago, also under IV sedation) that doctor gave me Demerol and Valium with a laughing gas chaser. It was pretty pleasant and in a small way, I was looking forward to the same cocktail. This doctor gave me a shot, or hooked up an IV, I’m not sure which as I can’t look at that sort of thing, and….nothing. Then he put on the little laughing gas mask, and I was still wide awake. The doctor reached toward his little table of instruments and tools, which I also had no interest in seeing, and I began to panic. “Hey, I’m still awake here.”  “Don’t worry.” He said. “Yes, but I am STILL awake…” I said. I started to flail about saying  “Still awake…I’m not out…still awake…I’m not out.”  The doctor told the nurse to turn up the nitrous oxide gas…Now we’re talking doc!

“Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.” the doctor told me. “Yeah, you..ha-ha quack, but I’m still heeheehee, awake you quack…snort  hahaha, I wanna see your credentials…hahahaha  heeheheehee, and I wanna crayon too…” I pressed play on my new music thingy and Jay and the Americans took me to the magical kingdom “In a little cafe, just the other side of the border….” 

“I’m going to put this in your mouth while we work on you Scott” said the doctor placing a rubber stopper in my mouth, similar to the ones you see used for electroshock therapy in the movies…  “OK butshh ew av to eye ee inner hursht” (Translation: OK but you have to buy me dinner first)

“OK we’re done.” said the doctor. I didn’t remember him starting. The nurse lady was taking the laughing gas mask off of me. I offered to give her a dollar if she gave me some more. She laughed, but didn’t oblige me.

I was left alone sitting in the slippery chair for some time. As is my custom with doctors who have kept me waiting I began scanning the room for things to steal. I grabbed the vial of sleepy juice he had shot me up with, and one of those teeth cleaning, weapon looking things they have and jammed them into my pockets. In retrospect I should have gone for more stuff, as the staff would have laughed at my antics in my medicated state. Damn, I should have worn my big jacket and stuck the nitrous tank in there. 

Gow was waiting for me in the lobby and we grabbed a cab home. On the 59th street bridge I began pulling out my ill-gotten booty and showing her proudly.  “Look what I got.” I said. I think she might have laughed, but I’m not sure.

I got him home and settled into bed with the lukewarm cup of chamomile tea that he requested in advance, but he was still hell bent on that toy I had promised and failed to obtain. (“A promise is a promise Lt. Dan Little Gow.”) We had previously looked for toy stores in Astoria but couldn’t find any, so trip #5 into Manhattan seemed to be on tap for me.

I felt a little bad as I had requested the tea, and then never drank the whole thing. It reminded me of the customers I wait on who ask for water when I am at my busiest and then don’t drink it. We had gone to the site of a former Toys R Us in Astoria, and my plan was to regress to a 9 year old, run amok and see what I could get Gow to buy me via cuteness or out of sheer exasperation. If I am feeling particularly childlike, shopping with me can be a less than pleasant experience. I had to take things up a notch at Wal-Mart while visiting my mother as she has grown accustomed to my old shenanigans. I used to point at all the customers whom I literally could not tell if they were mentally retarded, or just really, super low rent white trash desperately in need of a clue. Then I started having my mother paged over the stores intercom system.  “Mrs. Linda Swenson…we have your little boy up here at customer service and he seems very upset….Linda Swenson to customer service, please.” She just ignores these outbursts now, so I resorted to filling up her shopping cart with Depends undergarments when she wasn’t looking and yelling loudly ”Are 8 boxes enough ma?” and “Do you need one right now ma?”

The cab rides to Manhattan were adding up and they can be a little scary as well. I had a Metro Card in my wallet from who knows how many trips ago and decided to use it. I’ve never taken the subway alone before and I hadn’t really paid much attention when taking it with him since HE knew where he was going, why did I have to? Luckily for me it was a straight shot from point A to point B and I easily made it back to 5th Avenue where I had wondered about just hours before. This time I found FAO Schwarz without a problem. The problem was that there was a line around the block to even get IN the place. Really? I mean, Christmas was over! I hadn’t expected that kind of crowd, but I was also in no position to go hunting down other toy stores and I was in no particular hurry as I was sure that Chief Holesinmouth was zonked out and not in need of immediate care. So, I stood in the outrageously long line listening to the tourists jabber in interesting dialects and accents. I wonder why banal and inane conversations are only entertaining to listen to when they are conducted using accents.

The cab rides were really adding up, and I am proud of the Gow for successfully navigating the NYC subway system. It took me a long time to figure it out myself and this is coupled with the half a million micro annoyances that a subway trip entails. It’s a pity that FAO Schwarz was so crowded for the holidays, as it really is a cool store.

Once inside, I just wanted to get my damned Lego toy and get the hell outta dodge, but I could barely move. It was wall to wall people and narrow aisles and about every 20 feet there was another employee with a microphone doing some kind of promotional spiel. Luckily, there were signs around pointing me to the Legos which I was finally able to inch my way to, right next to “The Big Piano”. Another employee with another microphone doing a little shtick about the movie Big and letting kids in four at a time to jump up and down on “The Big Piano”. Yes, it was very loud, but at least it was horribly annoying. I got one of The Pirates of The Caribbean box sets and headed to the cashier. The line wasn’t too long, but of course, the person in front of me had a zillion questions, no American currency and no concept of the fact that there were people in line behind her.

I have tried writing to my congresswoman to get a bill passed into law that would segregate retail lines by IQ. Forget 10 items or less. I want the room temp IQs over there, and the fast, efficient retail gunslingers in my line…preferably behind me. It’s decidedly unfair, costly and frustrating to make those of us with a clue wait behind the ignorant, crazy, oblivious or just plain stupid.

Toy in hand, I made my way back to the subway station and almost broke my arm patting myself on the back for NOT taking the first train that stopped. It was an R and I needed a Q. Yay me! I was even more filled with pride or pomp when a couple of stops into my trip a lady got on the train and realized just a moment too late that it was the wrong train. She asked everyone within earshot if this train was going to Brooklyn, because she didn’t want to believe the first person who said “No, Queens”. Now I was so full of confidence that I got off at a different station than the one closest to home because I needed to stop and get squishy food for my patient. I got off where I thought I should, made it to the bottom of the stairs and realized I was right by Key Food where I wanted to be. Wicked awesome, maybe I was paying more attention that I thought! I rock! This whole public transportation thing isn’t so tough. pffttt.

I picked up all the soft and squishy stuff that he had asked for and a couple of other things as well and headed for the florist to get a balloon. As I walked out of the florists with three balloons, the toy and the groceries it dawned on me that I still had quite a walk ahead of me and the wind had really picked up making the balloon carrying a little challenging. It was a decent walk with all that stuff, but not a very expensive cab ride, so I decided to go that route. As the saying goes, there’s never a cab around when you need one and I spent a couple of blocks walking one way while looking the other in hopes of a little yellow savior. A gypsy finally came by. I got in and told him where I wanted to go, but he didn’t know where that was. I tried to explain that there were literally NO turns involved here. Just go straight. That’s it, Abubu. Go straight and I’ll tell you when to stop and let me out. He was jabbering about how this street doesn’t intersect with that street, yadda yadda, and I just kept saying, whatever dude. . . just go straight down this road. So, naturally he turned right at the first opportunity. I tried arguing with him, but I suck at it. I eventually got close enough, got out and gave him a crappy tip.

While the Gow was out toy and food shopping I was sleeping like a baby. Chong the cat kept me company and was affectionate. I think really good housecats understand when their humans are sad, or under the weather. I was slightly groggy, but the pain wasn’t bad. I was enjoying the warm glow of the pain killers, my day off, the holidays and having evicted the noisy neighbors in my mouth. I kept biting down on the gauze the doctor had given me (or maybe I stole it, I don’t recall) I’d take it out every half hour or so and replace it as it turned bright red from the blood. The bleeding slowed throughout the day and eventually stopped altogether the next day. Gow came back later with balloons, nice yummies and a toy for her big brave boy. I felt so very lucky. 

So, back home I gave the now relatively coherent but still looking a little Godfather-esque with gauze packed mouth man his gifties and soft foods and we watched some DVDs whilst he recovered nicely. And, my little weekend adventure that turned into a week was over the following evening when he went back to work and I flew home.

What is a “Gow”?

Posted: July 9, 2011 by Gow in Editor's Notes
Tags: ,

Remember the guy on the left? "Cockroach" from the Cosby Show

“Gow” (or “Little Gow”) is a nickname I acquired a while back and it comes from one of my favorite pieces written by our intrepid author over there. It was maybe the third or fourth thing that I had ever read of his and I was laughing to myself for hours over his effective use of the word “gow” as an exclamation. Sadly, it’s a bit of a long story and the writing in question has since been lost. Before he had an “editor” Mr. Swenson didn’t keep or organize his work. In the days immediately following my giggles and gushing over how funny it was, he started answering the phone when I called with an excited “GOW!!”, or maybe he always answered the phone that way no matter who was calling. I guess I’ll never know for sure. But either way, it was obvious that this moniker was firmly entrenched as his nickname for me. As nicknames go, it’s a pretty good one. I choose to take it as a term of endearment and special connection and it’s certainly better than “Stinky” or something, right?

How about this guy? "Boner" from Growing Pains

Soon I had him convinced to let me proof read his work before posting it and to save it for posterity. Eventually, “we” decided to start a blog. He would do the writing and I would do all of the grunt work since he’s rather incapable in that area. (Did you read “Technophobe“?) I’m not sure how much of an editor I am. Really, I’m more of a friend, a fan and maybe a bit of of nudge. I often wonder if he ever regrets telling me to push him, to write with more frequency and maybe more discipline. I try to push him without being pushy, but that’s a balancing act I doubt I’m managing to pull off. I had a scathingly funny addition to a piece of his writing once and he had the good graces to laugh heartily when I told him my idea. Then he said “That’s really good! But, it’s not mine.” and he wouldn’t let me add those bits in. Can you imagine?




P.S.    Sometimes I hide little Easter Eggs in the pictures.