Taking Note of a Few Things: The That Was then, This is Now Edition

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The last time I was this single, I was enjoying college life in Chico, California. I still remember moving into a studio apartment that was once a single car garage. My bank account read one cent and my former roommates left me with whatever they left behind in the kitchen to feed myself until my next paycheck came in. I lived on $250.00 a month and that included rent, utilities, food, and college fees. I did not have a care in the world and most of my friends lived in a similar fashion. Life was pretty damn great.

The other day, I was pretty happy to get out of the grocery store for just over $85.00. Then I made the mistake and picked up a prescription that was $164.00. A month of living expenses 43 years ago gone in ten minutes.

Why was life better four decades ago? For starters, my generation had yet to succeed at fucking up society. Basically, my life was in front of me and I was certain the joy ride I was on was never going to let up. Today, I am reminded of my limited time, limited energy, and limited patience for a world that has turned me into a dinosaur on the brink of extinction. I can look back at all that I once enjoyed and forget about anything that seemed remotely close to a problem and smile, which is not quite the same reaction I get when I look at the road ahead.

When I think about my college roommate, Walter, or LJW, or well I won’t get into his other nicknames because to do so in today’s world might get me canceled. He had the greatest pickup line ever uttered by a porn infatuated guy and never let a slap across the face keep him from his mission in life — getting laid as often as possible. Today, he has tubes running out of both kidneys, bags to collect his urine and blood output, and awaits two more procedures that would make you squirm to read about them. When we talk and share our woes with each other, we end up laughing when one of us tells the other a story from long ago.

In those days, when one of the guys had way too much to drink when we lived in the dorms, we would place them in their beds rolled onto their side with a waste buck next to their mouth so if they tossed cookies, booted chunks, or just plain puked their brains out, there would be minimal mess and no risk of choking to death on their vomit. We may have enjoyed our share of debauchery, but it didn’t keep us from looking out for one another’s well-being.

If I drink one beer now, my stomach becomes so bloated it makes me want to stick my finger down my throat and relieve myself of my discomfort. Thanks to my evening dose of medication, I am lucky to make it to 8pm before I am dead to the world. On a good night, I will get up just once to pee, but if I have too much salt, I can count on three or four trips before I give up on rest.

It’s not so much that the world is worse off today that turns guys like me into sour pusses. It’s actually because I am much worse off today than I was forty years ago. I sit on the toilet to pee because I have no idea which direction my urine will squirt if I stand. Of course, I need the tall toilet so I do not have so far to squat. It doesn’t matter because as soon as I bend my knees, I make grunting sounds that probably make my neighbors wonder if I am keeping hogs for pets.

I took my first yoga class the other day. I was the only male and the average age of the six women was about 35, and I only looked long enough to know each did their yoga tights proud. I made sure to place my mat front and center because I know enough to know if I look at a hot woman in a hot yoga class for more than a blink, I am likely to have half a dozen tossing me out to the street.

One time in college, I was giving a female friend a ride to Sacramento before heading to my parents’ home for the weekend when my 61’ Bug caught on fire at the only stop light in Yuba City. A guy standing by the road laughed hysterically while the entire town’s first responders flew into action and put out the inferno. He then went on to tell me I broke my brake line to the right front brake and then listed off all the parts I needed. He asked one of the cops at the scene to drive us to a parts store where he then proceeded to pay for my parts because the store would not accept my check from a Japanese bank. Once we were back at the car, he spent two hours fixing my brake line. As he finished, his wife pulled up and wanted to know what was going on. The sun was just setting and he was late for dinner. He then insisted they follow my car for a “couple of miles” to make sure we were okay. Thirty minutes later, when we were on the outskirts of Sacramento, they turned around. Today, I’d call for an Uber and have my parents Triple A come get my car. He taught me to pay it forward, something an Uber app fails to do.

When I grew two tomato plants in five gallon buckets placed on the roof of my studio, my landlord said I had to remove them because I was not allowed to grow pot. I said they were tomatoes and he told me to go up the street to Frank’s Market if I wanted some. Today, I can probably go to Frank’s and buy both.

Outside Frank’s, there was a public phone. When my girlfriend was on exchange with the University of Massachusetts, she’d call me collect and ask for Ivy Booth. I would decline the call and then run up to the phone booth on Ivy Street where she would call and we would talk for hours for free. Back then, we paid by the minute for long distance calls. Now, phone booths are gone and cell phone plans charge by the month. Most likely, mom and dad have their college kids on their phone plan so phone calls are free. However, sticking it to Ma Belle was priceless.

At Chico State lots of guys took great pride driving gas guzzling muscle cars. Today’s kids get to drive around in their parents’ hand me down Prius. We earned money by getting our hands dirty. I cleaned bathrooms, trimmed hedges, and mowed lawns. Today’s students hack companies, deal in crypto currency, and compete in world-wide gaming contests.

I knew many college students who took advantage of guaranteed student loans worth three grand with no intent of ever paying it back. I am sure a few went on and became bankers who took government money in the 2008 bailout and rewarded themselves with nice fat bonuses for a job well done while good people lost their homes and retirements. Hopefully, their kids did not inherit their greed.

The world was terribly homophobic when I was in college. In 1980, you were either straight or there was something wrong with you. Today, there is something wrong with you if you think there is something wrong with someone who identifies as They. The right is wrong. The left is wrong. Any news you follow is fake unless you think it is right. You can’t point out what someone else does that is wrong because it hurts their feelings, which is never right. It’s none of my business how a person identifies, but I better be right in how I address him/her/they/it … or they will let me know how wrong I am.

Something you never saw back in the day were emotional support animals. Seeing eye dogs had the corner on the market for critters allowed to roam about in public.  Now, people use baby carriages to push their support dogs/cats/chickens/pigs/they/them and just about anything else they can get away with.

Apparently it is cruel and demeaning to expect your college age kid to work while they are in school. It’s much better if they take out loans that will require twenty years to pay off just so they can live with their parents once they graduate. Mom, dad, and college grad just can’t believe how hard it is to find a job even though study after study shows over 70% of college graduates will never find work in their major. It’s also wrong to expect their 24 year old grad to have to start at the bottom while some 58-year-old takes the job they feel they are deserving of. Who cares if that 58-year-old has to work a second job just to make ends meet while Skippy is content to wait as long as necessary before he accepts his first job that comes with a corner office, corporate credit card, and company car?

My college housemates and I once threw a party complete with a keg and food. Well, by food, I mean chips with a dip I made that was equal parts peanut butter, mustard, and liverwurst. Okay, when I write it out, it sounds gross. But to a drunk college student, it was pretty good. If one beer makes my stomach bloat, I hate to think what that dip would do to me. Of course, I shy away from peanut butter and liverwurst because of my high cholesterol and their salt content.

Like I mentioned earlier, we did not have cell phones when I was in college. I always knew on a Friday night I could find anyone I was looking for at either Madison Bear Garden, which was across the street from campus, or at Fifth Street Manor, an apartment complex outside of town where whatever happened there was usually not remembered the next morning.

Chris Christie is running for president again. This is good news for Donald Trump. As long as Christie remains in the race, Trump won’t be the largest ass on the debate stage. Christie knows he has no chance of winning his party’s nomination, but figures as long as he runs, he stands to eat all the free county fair food he can handle, which in his case will be worth more than any amount of money he fundraises.

Please take note, I just made a fat joke at the expense of two fat men which should prove to you I am not sexist when it comes to being fatist.

It is reasonable to question any political candidate being fit to serve in office if they have such little regard for their body. Imagine the concern voters would have had if George Herbert Walker Bush was obese and Dan Quayle was a cheeseburger away from becoming POTUS.

This reminds me of an instructor I had when I was in the student teaching program at Chico State. For an entire semester, she never got up from behind the desk she sat at while stressing the importance of not being one of those teachers who sits behind the desk and lectures all period. Either she was clueless to her teaching style or figured we were too tired from teaching all day to listen to her evening lectures.

There seems to be a lot of debate over whether LeBron James has displaced Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player ever. Let me put the debate to rest once and for all. LeBron is not the GOAT. He is simply proof that in today’s style of basketball, all you have to do is score points because defense is pretty much nonexistent. Jordan played in a time where he was constantly mugged, beat on, and double teamed. Today, NBA teams can play zone defenses and players have no worries of being touched by a defender without a foul being called. I have never tuned into a game to watch LeBron play whereas Jordan was always a must see. Jordan never had to move from one super team to the next while trying to chase championships. He simply put teams on his back and carried them to six titles. Oh, and Jordan never needed a legion of fans to flood the internet to defend his greatness.

An Angels fan is suing the team after one of their players last year tossed a ball into the stands and struck him in the eye causing him to become blind in it. His attorney claims the victim’s life was already at a low point when he decided to attend an Angels game for a much needed break. If I am at a low point in my life, which can be argued I recently was, I would not add to my woes and attend an Angels game. At least the Dodgers win games. Of course, if I were to attend a Dodgers game, I would likely get jumped in the parking lot and knocked unconscious, but at least when I came to I’d be able to see.

Recently, in the Amazon, a discovery was made of what was initially called a Penis Snake. Turns out it was improperly named, not because it doesn’t look like a penis, but because it is not a snake. Upon further examination, the phallic finding is actually an amphibian. This might explain why it shrinks when it enters the water.

He’s back. No, not Trump. I am talking about former Los Angeles Dodger first baseman Steve Garvey. It seems the 74 year old is being wooed to run for the soon to be open senate seat when Dianne Feinstein retires. If he is the only recognizable name and face the GOP can offer voters, it shows you just how few viable candidates they have to run for public office. Let’s face it, Democrats own this state and it is not swinging right anytime soon.

Turns out, if you are Clayton Kershaw, and you take offense to your team’s organization offering up a Pride Night, you can express your displeasure for it and use your influence to host for lack of a better term, a Christian Pride Night. When are organizations going to stop trying to placate every special interest group in the nation? It is unfair to ask players to support something that goes against their personal beliefs, insulting to special interest groups to tell them they can have their night and then just move on to business as usual, and the fallout from players who boycott participating only adds to the divide in this nation. Why not just add a weekly special discount night to ALL fans who show up to the park?

Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw wearing the number of Dodgers and baseball icon, Jackie Robinson (Claudia Gestro)

And while I am on an old man rant, can professional sports teams just go back to one set of home and away uniforms and do away with the nonsense they dress players in? The answer is yes, but they won’t because teams want to sell as many of their jerseys to their fan base.

School’s out forever. Alice Cooper — Vincent Furnier — will eventually die, but his song will live on as long as we have public schools. The feeling he captures in that song is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago when it was released. Of course, it isn’t really out forever, unless you are like me and retired from teaching. The rest of you schmucks have just a couple of months off. I just had to remind you what forever really means.