Archive for the Stories Category

The Woodshop

Posted in Stories on October 2, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

Lately when I go to Morris to visit Keely and the boys, 4-year-old Grayson insists we play his new favorite game, Woodshop.

In the basement of the house Grayson’s dad has a workshop filled with tools and wood. Naturally Grayson also wanted to have a workshop there as well. So, next to his father’s work area, he set up his own work bench along with his own child-sized tools.

The game Woodshop is simple. Grayson is the owner of his very own business. I play the role of various customers who visit Grayson’s Woodshop to have work done. Here is how the first day went.

I arrived at the shop with a broken dirt bike. I introduced myself as John Smith from down the road.

“My son’s dirt bike doesn’t run,” i said, after shaking Grayson’s hand. “Can you fix it.”

“Sure,” Grayson said, enthusiastically. And he went to work, pounding on the bike with his plastic hammer, then wiping it down with paper towels.

“All done,” Grayson said, as he stood before the bike. ( which really belongs to Aidan and takes up permanent residence in the basement, but we can overlook that.)

“Wow, as good as new,” I said, playing the role of good ole John Smith from down the street. “How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing,” Grayson said, casually. “It’s free.”

And with that I left Grayson’s Woodshop only to return moments later as Jim Higgins. I was carrying two pieces of wood I picked up off the dusty floor. After introducing myself I handed the wood to Grayson and asked if he could fashion me a bird house.

“Of course,” Grayson replied.

Again, Grayson went to work, hammering and chopping with his plastic hammer and axe. I pretended to be talking on my cell phone when Grayson stuffed the two pieces of wood under a table and casually picked up a wooden birdhouse from the shelf that his big brother Aidan had made for a Cub Scout project.

“Here ya go,” Grayson said, handing me the wooden birdhouse fit for the Holy Dove himself.

“Thank you sir,” I said. “This is perfect….How much do i owe you?”

‘It’s free,” Grayson said, once again.

I left the woodshop, ready to return for a third time as a new customer. I noticed Aidan’s wooden Louisville Slugger baseball bat in the corner of the basement and picked it up. I stepped outside, then knocked.

“Come in,” Grayson said.

His eyes beamed as he watched me come around the corner holding the baseball bat.

“Hi, I’m Derek Jeter, ” i said, holding out my hand. “Do you know who I am?”

“Yeah, you play for the Yankees,” Grayson said.

I told Grayson that I heard he was the best woodworker in town and my favorite bat was broken. I needed it fixed for the playoffs.

“No problem,” Grayson said, taking the bat from my hand as if it were some glorious, yet fragile,  toy.

A few moments later, after some hammering and sawing and wiping, the bat was done. Grayson smiled wide as he handed me the bat.

“Here ya go Derek Jeter,” he said.

“Thanks  Grayson, ” I said.  “It looks as good as new…. How much do I owe you?”

Grayson held out his little hand, and with a serious look on his face said,

“$10,000.”

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Flip Em The Bird

Posted in Stories on May 19, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

Sometimes I leave my porch door open to let in the fresh air. Last Thursday, some of you may recall it was sunny and 70. The nicest day of the year I would suggest. Of course it turned in to a big headache for me.

Naturally, the first thing I did when I arrived home from work that night was open the porch door. Andy likes to go out there and sniff around while I tend to make frequent trips out to the porch to smoke and spy on the neighbors.

Friday morning around 7 a.m. I was awoken out of a sound sleep by a thump. Was I dreaming. I came out of my daze as I heard Andy’s slow belly growl. The thump had woken him up too. Looks like I wasn’t dreaming.

Andy then shot up like he was spring loaded. His growl turned to a whimper then a frantic run around the house. Something had his interest. I tried to ignore it.  Ususally if he smells an animal outside he goes a bit berserk, fearing the creature is peeing all over his daily marked territory.

Just as I was about to turn over I saw a gray blur jet across my bedroom, followed by another thump against the window. And right behind the gray blur, like a bull in a China shop, was Andy.

I instantly sat up like The Undertaker in the center of a wrestling ring. It was clear to me. There was a fucking bird in my house and Andy was chasing it.

The dog leaped at the window where the bird had crashed seconds before. The second Andy made contact with the blinds the bird flew from behind them, over my bed and out of the room. I’m not gonna lie, I momentarily ducked under the covers and shrieked like a school girl as the bird buzzed over head.

Andy followed, growling and whimpering. I got out of bed, worried that the bird was going to peck Andy’s eyes out.  The winged beast darted throughout my apartment, bouncing off the windows like a rubber ball. Andy gave chase in what I would call the most exciting adventure he’d ever had.

I stood in the doorway between my bedroom and kitchen, on the ready in case the bird came my way. I guess I get the broom I thought and shoo the thing outside. It was no surprise as I reached into the closet I noticed the porch door had been left open. Since the warm weather started last month birds have been attempting to build a nest on the roof and one must have made its way into the house through the open door.

By the time I had the broom in my clutches the bird had already made its way into the spare room, which is a good thing since that’s where the open porch door is. Trouble is the damn thing just kept crashing into the window trying to escape as Andy leapt and barked beneath it. It only had to make a left and it would be free.

I clutched the broom and as I was about to swat at the winged intruder I forget something. Andy HATES brooms. The second he saw me raise the sweeper he turned his attention from the bird and bit into the broom, growling and trying to rip it out of my hands. They say birds are dumb but it must have sensed its opening because the moment Andy and I were occupied the thing bounced off the window and zipped out the porch door and into the world. I dropped the broom as Andy continued to struggle with it and slammed the porch door shut and locked it….as if the bird was going to try to get back in, let alone open the door if it wasn’t locked.

I put the broom away and trudged back to my bedroom. Andy followed as if NOTHING had happened. The damn dog was asleep before I was. Me, I lay in bed, wide awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering….A bird, flying around my apartment at 7 a.m. Really? Really? I guess there could have been worse things to fly into my apartment….like a bee, or a bat…or a 747.

The Wallet

Posted in Stories on April 19, 2011 by bigdaddygouda

I had just finished loading $5.25 worth of bottles and cans into the recycling machine at the grocery store. My hands were sticky and smelled like stale beer and flat soda. As I approached the courtesy counter to exchange my bottle receipts I stepped on something. I looked down and beneath my foot, which was also sticky from 20 minutes in the bottle room, I saw a wallet.

I casually reached down for the wallet and cautiously looked around as I picked it up.  I don’t know why but I felt a bit like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank when he opens the box Andy had left for him beneath the stone wall in Buxton.   No one appeared to be watching me and even if they were, so what. I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

The wallet was thick. Obviously I opened it. I saw a drivers license. It belonged to a woman. I didn’t know her. The thing was loaded with all sorts of cards – credit, debit, Bjs, etc. Instinctively I pulled open the money part with my thumbs. This woman was loaded. So to speak. She had hundreds of dollars. Who carries that much cash anymore? Especially with people like me walking around.

Thoughts flooded through my head. How easy would it be just to casually put this thing in my pocket and walk out of the store. I’m pretty sure a younger version of myself wouldn’t have given it much of a thought. Probably would have kept the cash and dumped the rest in the river. What made matters worse is I was broke. I have pennies to my name until my next payday on Thursday. With this small fortune I could fill my gas tank and my refrigerator. I could pay my cell phone bill and buy my sister something nice for her birthday on Friday. Those thoughts however, didn’t compare to the others that creeped in to my head.

I thought of the woman out in the parking lot, frantically searching her bags for the wallet. I thought of the call she would have to make to her husband and explain what happened. I thought of him yelling at her. I thought of her kids who couldn’t go to the movies to see Rio in 3D because Mommy lost the vacation money. The dread that overcame me along with those thoughts was more powerful than the relief of paying off a few bills.

I didn’t give it another thought. I walked to the courtesy desk with a purpose. I handed the clerk the lost wallet and explained how I found it on the ground.

As I walked out of the store with my $5.25 in bottle-return money I heard the woman’s name called over the P.A. system, asking her to please come to the courtesy desk. If she wasn’t in the store I’m sure it would only be a matter of moments before she was back, frantically asking if anyone had turned in a wallet. Lucky for her, somebody had.

I’m broke, I may have to borrow $20 from my sister for gas money but I’m going to bed tonight with a clear conscience. And that is priceless.

Baldy

Posted in Stories on April 9, 2010 by bigdaddygouda

A few week’s back I wrote a post about our junior high clicks, The druggies and The Preps.

And while we had a lot of differences that separated our social circles, one thing unified us – our hatred for the younger grades, especially the grade directly below us, the 7th graders. We ruled the school and those younger better damn well respect us.

The one instance of our unified torment on the seventh graders that stands out began when some punk kid named Donald had the balls to show up to school after shaving his head. He didn’t just shave it, he Bic’d it. Smooth as a baby’s bottom….I would assume.

People pointed and whispered at Donald all morning, but no one his age or younger dared confront him. He was a bully and picked on kids in his grade and especially the younger ones.

However, us being 8th graders, well, he respected the food chain and never bothered us.

Truth be told, none of us ever paid him much attention, until the day he showed up to school bald. A big no-no in a world of clicks and conformity.

Around lunch time the Preps were seated at their table and us druggies at ours. Then Donald walked in.

To this day, I’m not sure who started it. I’m thinking it was the combo of Luke Chappius and Bush Marcantonio. Regardless, they stood up from the table as Donald entered the cafe and got in the lunch line. In unison they began chanting “Baldy, Baldy, Baldy.”

After three chants our table full of druggies had risen and we were all chanting together, “Baldy Baldy Baldy.”

Then something magical happened. The preps also stood up when they caught on to our torment. And, like clockwork they too started chanting along with us, “Baldy, Baldy, Baldy.”

Within seconds, both tables of Druggies & Preps stood as one, chanting in unison, pumping our fists in the air, “Baldy, Baldy Baldy.”

And Donald just stood there in line looking at us. Shock and anger filled his face but what could he do. We were a united front. 20 strong chanting at the tops of our lungs,”Baldy, Baldy Baldy.”

The spectacle lasted about 30 seconds before we were interrupted by a teacher who caught on pretty quick. She pulled both tables, Druggies and Preps alike, into the hall.

For the next five minutes she told us how cruel we all were and lectured us about how, as older kids, we were supposed to set an example for the younger grades.

It was hard for us Druggies not to giggle during the lecture. We were used to getting in trouble. However the preps stood there terrified. For many of them, this was their first taste of teacher discipline. “What will my parents think,” I’m sure some of them were thinking.

We all went back into the lunch room and sat at our separate clicky tables. The brief unity we’d experienced was over and in only minutes we’d be outside for recess. On opposite sides of the football field.

My dog did this and my dog did that and then….

Posted in Stories on March 19, 2010 by bigdaddygouda

If nothing else, adopting Andy the Puggle has given me a new subject to write about when my mind is otherwise blank…like today.

 Andy has got me outside at least twice a day. While some may not believe me, I am being truthful when I say I’ve walked him at least once every day since he came to live with me in November. And most days, I walk him twice.

One thing I noticed right off the bat as Andy an I began our walking tradition is his idiosyncracies when it comes to doing his business.

As far as peeing is concerned he will make water anywhere. He pees on trees, bushes, rocks, street signs, tires, snowbanks, curbs, little mounds of dirt, big mounds of dirt and basically anything else he passes along our walks.

After the first few days when Keely, his former owner, asked how things were going, I said, “Fine, except Andy always pees on himself.”

Needless to say, she had owned Andy for four years and he had never peed on himself, so she asked me to explain.

Every time Andy was finished peeing he would immediately use his two back legs to kick up the ground beneath his feet. Kind of like he was digging with his back paws. Debris (gravel, dirt, leaves, snow) would shoot up from his powerful kicks.

What the hell was he doing? Well, it was pretty obvious to me. He had peed on his feet and was trying to dry them off. Right?

WRONG!!

Keely (and then Google) set me straight. Apparently, the reason Andy is peeing on everything is to mark his territory. Yeah, I knew that. But the reason he is kicking dirt up after he urinates is to bury his scent.

He owns that rock he just peed on. Now it’s time to cover all traces that he’s been there so no other dog will claim it from him. Makes sense. I guess.

Now when it comes to doing a number 2, Andy is much more picky. He has to find the perfect place. Never on the road or other hard surfaces. It has to be soft. He prefers grass but I’ve seen him launch in a pile of leaves and in a snow bank.

And the instant Andy makes his deposit into the earth he bolts, and leaves the scene as fast as the can.

You’d think the smelly mess he just left was about to self destruct and he needed to get out of there as soon as possible.

Andy is in his own world when he walks. He doesn’t pay attention to other people, animals or cars. All he wants to do is sniff stuff and he aint gonna let nothing get in his way.

Which leads me to the only problem I have with him.

God forbid he picks up the scent of another animal. Not a dog or a cat but something a little less common. Something he rarely sees, like a raccoon or skunk.

Even if we are indoors and a racoon comes within the vicinity of the home, he freaks out, running around the house, whimpering, looking for some sort of escape.

I swear, if a squirrel farts outside Andy will hear it and freak out.

So on the days when we go for our walks and Andy picks up on one of those unfamiliar familiar scents he goes into a sort of frenzy. He runs in circles, trying to pick up the exact location of the animal. No matter how bad he has to go to the bathroom he wont stop until he no longer smells the animal or the scent leads to a dead-end.

Which makes me wonder, what the hell would Andy do if he actually caught up to one of these animals? I don’t think he’d know what do. I mean, this is the dog who barks at spiders but is terrified to do anything other than bark at them. In our house Andy is third in command, behind me and whatever insect may be in the vicinity at any given time.

So here I am blogging about my dog. I feel a little like one of those FACEBOOK moms who status updates every aspect of her child’s life: “Little Jane burped today…Little Johnny has a cold…..Little Mary is watching Dora….Little Jeffery is eating goldfish.”

Anyway, I digress.

Stay tuned for future updates on Andy the Puggle, including stories about his fear of water and his hatred of every brand of dog food I’ve ever put in front of him.

Slip Slidin’ Away

Posted in Stories on February 24, 2010 by bigdaddygouda

It was coffee that nearly killed me yesterday.

As I arrived on the outskirts of Waterbury yesterday on my way to work traffic started to back up. Snow was starting to fall hard and people were starting to notice.

I had about 40 minutes left on my drive to work and I hadn’t stopped for coffee as I usually do. However the prospects of a prolonged drive stuck in traffic with no coffee was too much to handle. I flicked on my blinker and prepared to pull off exit 36 in Waterbury.

I pulled off no problem and began coasting down the exit ramp. As soon as the ramp started to twist I lightly tapped the brakes….Nothing. I kept going and if I didn’t know better I’d say I actually picked up speed.

I slammed my foot on the breaks since tapping did no good. Same result. Nothing! The STOP sign at the end of the exit ramp was approaching. At the end of the ramp was Colonial Avenue. A fairly busy Waterubury street that was sure to be littered with morning traffic. If I don’t stop I was most definitely going to pull out into this traffic and then….who knows.

I decided to take my chances with the guard rail rather than the busy road. I turned my wheel to the left and immediately the back-end of the jeep started to fishtail to the right. I was no longer driving the Jeep. It was driving me.

I attempted to straighten the wheel but the Jeep just kept sliding sideways. The front left tire clipped the guardrail and I heard what sounded like a small explosion, then felt the car dip slightly on the left side.  Just as I approached the stop sign, thankfully, the jeep stopped.

It felt like an eternity but the whole ordeal, from the time I pulled off the exit to the time I crashed into the guardrail was about 20-30 seconds, tops.

As I sat on the side of the road, hands shaking, heart pounding, a truck pulled up alongside me.

“Walt!,” the man said, as he pulled up along side me.

I instantly recognized him as Adam Perrin, a close friend of Keely and Charlie.

“I didn’t think you were going to stop,” he said. “Are you alright.”

I nodded YES.

I got out of the Jeep and instantly noticed that my tire had come clear off the rim. That explains the explosion sound.

I got back in the jeep and drove across the intersection, safely, on three tires.  Adam waited with me for a few minutes before I convinced him I was physically fine, just a little shaken up.

I called AAA. They towed my car, and me, to Sears Tire Center. $160 later I had a new tire and it was as if the whole thing was just a bad dream.

But it wasn’t. For a few hours after the incident I felt a tad bit enlightened. Like I had stared death in the face and survived. Little problems seemed insignificant. When I thought of all prior disappointments I just laughed.

By 5 o’clock I was mentally back to normal. Worried about money, longing for a beautiful woman, pissed that I’d have to walk Andy in the rain.

But don’t get me wrong I was thankful. Thankful that LOST would be starting in three hours.

Mike Hawk is big

Posted in Stories on January 29, 2010 by bigdaddygouda

I have told you all before about Bob. Growing up we spent most of our summers together constantly trying to come up with “The Greatest Game Ever Invented by Kids”.

The friendship started for the same reason that all friendships begin when we’re younger. We were neighbors. Our divorced fathers lived across the street from each other and during the summer we both spent the majority of our time with our old men. Hence the friendship.

Now, the reason the friendship lasted was because of our love for two things; going to the movies and causing trouble. This story is about the latter.

Our friendship peaked when I was 13. Bob was about 11. After that his father moved so he stopped coming to town and as I got older we kind of went our separate ways.

Anyway, as teenagers, or in Bob’s case, on the cusp of being a teenager, we possessed dirty, curious minds.  Whenever we found something in a book or on TV that was even remotely sexually related we’d share it with the other one. ( a joke, a new word, a movie that was supposedly going to have full frontal female nudity)

In this sense, one of our favorite things to do was to sit in Bob’s kitchen and talk dirty in front of his deaf old grandma. She was also kind of clueless, which helped out immeasurably.

Our favorite little game to play was called “The Party Game” where we would talk about all the parties we were going to. Thing was, the people throwing these “parties” had names that could be classified as….saucy.

Here’s a typical conversation Bob and I would have in the presence of his deaf old grandma.

ME: So are you going to MIKE HUNT’S party next week?

BOB: Probably. HARRY BUSH said his parties are usually great.

ME: Really? Because JACK HOFF said they usually suck.

BOB: No, he only says that because he prefers parties at the beach house owned by Phil McKrakin.

ME: Well, good, it should be fun, especially if that new foreign exchange student Chu mei is there.

So yeah, that was a typical convo and only once did Bob’s grandma give any indication that she was listening when she said, “Wow, you guys sure go to a lot of parties.”

Just to be fair, we did try to the conversation once in my kitchen, in front of my Grandfather, who was always smoking a cig, drinking a beer and looking out the window.

 Big mistake.

As soon as I mentioned to Bob that we were both invited to that new Italian restaurant owned by Harry Ballsonya,  Bob was sent home and I was sent to my room.

When it came to sexual innuendo, nothing got past grampy.