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Chasing Halley’s Comet

Relationships are difficult to comprehend or understand when you’re in the sixth grade. Every blonde teacher is gorgeous, any girl named Jenny is a knee knocker. At that age everything that didn’t matter to anyone else, mattered to me. The jeans I wore, the shoes I kicked ( yep I said kicked cause that was cool back then ) . Back then I just wanted to be noticed by the Jenny’s or the Ali’s or Hell, anyone.

I learned in middle school that as of 1986 the average life span of a human male was 67. Didn’t care, i’m 13. All I cared about was comic books, sharing fart smells with my friends. Age meant nothing to me. My neighbors dog died, they got a new one. Thats just how simple it was then.

My father was a pilot with Delta and was usually working three to four days a week every week. My brother had just turned sixteen, so as you can imagine most weekend nights he was out with friends as well. It was just my mom and me most of the time. We fought a lot, not physical just words, I know she missed my father being in the air a lot and my brother growing up way too fast, her first born was about to fly the nest for college, but we were both just stuck there. We’d go days on end of the silent treatment until my dad would return or I needed money for a field trip to the worst thing atlanta ever tried, Sci Trek.

There comes moments in your life when you make split second decisions which later on you look back on and say I made the right or the wrong one. Skip back a few years, I’m nine years old living in Augusta. My dad had just gotten back from a trip from Germany or wherever the Hell he took people. ESPN was relatively new then but Canadian football was on TV. I was just happy my dad was home, football was on… perfect night.

My mom walked in with a picnic basket and asked if I was ready. It was July 4th and she had asked weeks earlier if would go with her to see the fireworks. That was the first time in my life that I realized the decisions you make regarding the people you love affect not only you but them.  The fireworks were great in the parking lot of the “downtown” Piggly wiggly.

Ok so now back to 1986. Nothing I own really fits, I have the coordination of a deer on ice. My brother has one of those too early to shave mustaches . My dad is now gone four days a week every week. We’ve moved to the BOOMING metropolis of Marietta GA. There’s no text messaging or internet so mostly it was just me and my mom. … on the side of a mountain in a three story house. I was in our bonus room, don’t remember what night of the week it was, trying to get to the final stage of ikari warriors (which if you’re a nerd you know it takes like 8 hours) . My mom came in, which at 8 pm on a night after we have already eaten dinner usually means she’s found out I did something to the neighbors house or she got a call from school. She asked if I wanted to try and see Halley’s Comet with her. Now being 13 and obviously an astrophysicist I thought she wanted me to come see what the neighbors dog did. Well it turns out, its a comet that has been running around at now our best guess, forever, but it only shows up once every 76 years. I was almost at the end of the Ikari game, had a full glass of Mountain Dew plus my cat was asleep next to me (ignore the cat part), but I said sure, where to?

We drove to the top of the hill in my mom’s stellar Pontiac 6000 STE which was one of the first cars that would show you on a digital screen that a door or gas cap was open. We were ahead of the curve. We parked up there and waited… and waited… We sat on the hood just looking up and waited, not saying anything just doing something together. To this day I don’t know if either of us can say we saw the Comet, but looking back I can truly say I did. It comes around once every 76 years, kinda like the people that love you and put up with you for the next time it comes around. Chasing Halley’s Comet for me was just one of those moments you are blessed just to be there.

The Walker Files

I’ve thought long and hard about how to spin or tell this story, but after looking back it just tells itself

It started with a plan my friend Jason I devised to follow the Braves thru spring training. Knowing Jason’s CJ7 Jeep wouldn’t make that kind  of trip we decided to take my Beretta. My Dad said no (we’re 21 by the way) I think he knew what was coming.

So we took Jason’s 4 on the floor Jeep. When my mom said wait, JJ can’t drive a standard, Jason’s response “Oh no Mrs. findlay, he drove it when we left Athens at 3am to meet the Braves after they lost to the Twins” Thanks Jason… it gets better.

Jason had a hard top on the jeep and it being spring and florida and all we wanted to take the top off. Bill Walker, the smartest of the Walkers said no. I might be getting a little ahead of myself here so let me back up. Jason TOLD my dad that his car would break down. My dad handed him a bottle of 10 W 40 oil and said good luck retards.

Ok back to the Jeep with the hard top. we wanted it off. So here’s what we did… Somewhere around Valdosta we found a hunting trail that ran beneath a billboard so we ditched the top and hid it.

About 50 miles south of there a rod shot loose in the hood and the car was done. We made it to Gainesville FLA . Jason knew a girl ( I knew her too but can’t remember her name) who was in a sorority and she took us in. The house mom PROMPTLY took us out.

Now here’s where it starts to sound like I’m making this up. Because we were under 25 we couldn’t rent a car so I had to call my dad… “Jesus F’in Christ”. Well my dad got off easy. Jason’s MOM and DAD drove down to tow the jeep back to Atlanta. Jason and I have been staying at a Holiday Inn in Gainesville off my dad’s Delta points for the past day and haven’t eaten. So his parents show up , take us dinner but I know whats coming. There is no top on the Jeep that his dad has driven 6 hours to pick up.

Luckily going to a school like UGA we know people in Valdosta. We called our friend Robbie and described the hunting trail, shocker, he knew it. He picked it up, god knows how but he stored it and we gave Jason’s dad the address. So now we go to dinner and I’m not saying a word cause if you’ve ever seen a mad dad you back away.

We leave dinner and they are driving us back to our hotel when THE JEEP BREAKS FREE from where Bill had chained it. We are now somewhere in North Florida going down what I can only describe as Anytown Broadstreet. Bev (Jason’s Mom) Is screaming “Bill Its Loose” now at this point I suspended my ability to absorb unintentional comedy because the damn thing was loose and was now trailing us at at least 35 mph. I looked up front at Bill and all he was doing was slowing down and looking at the rear view mirror. Bev was yelling and his only response was “I got it”.

The Walkers left us and drove the trek back to atlanta hopefully with a Jeep safe in tow. Jason and I , 21 is and a rental car, basically out of money, continued south, and then boom my brother and his friends had rented a house in Melbourne.

They took us in. I honestly thinking back dont know what we did with that car. I just know both of us slept for a month. We hopped a ride back with one of my brothers friends. You know that scene from Almost Famous? When he’s messed everything up, he’s still drunk and then Tiny Dancer comes on? That happened. And yes 98% of this true

THE ZOO This one is for me … you know who you are

So a girl told me the other night, “You think you’re pretty smart don’t you?!”

At first I didn’t know how to take this, so I took a moment, walked away and came to this conclusion, and I kinda let her have it.

What do you consider smart to be? Someone who knows the answers to questions? ASK me ANYTHING give me a laptop and 10 seconds… am I smart now? The consideration of “smartness” ( I think I just dumbed myself by using that word) is the ability to repeat the words by those considered smart.

What I consider smart is the ability to perceive things in situations that you would never be involved  in yet put yourself there on purpose. I went to ART school at UGA but still got into a business fraternity. I witnessed the sheep and the wolves. So who is the smart one? Me? probably not. But not YOU who passed psych 101 after sitting in a room of 400 looking at a book you bought in the bookstore for 90 bucks written by the same old man who is standing in front of you lecturing on your required reading material that he is being paid for by you.

Smart has gone out the window, go to any bar that has trivia, everyone is get’em right. It doesn’t pay any more to be smart, but at any case, I perceive you’re not….. 

sorry that one was  a vent.

BOBA FETT

Ugghhh Technically for the nerds, Boba Fett wasn’t in Star Wars. He was in the Remake, then he was in Empire fore like a minute. If you’re my age and knew how amazing it was to collect Star Wars figures you know how hard it was to get a Boba Fett. He wasn’t sold in stores. There was no ONLINE, they had reward points on the back of the packages that you had to collect and when you got to 200 you could send them in and then 2 MONTHS later Boba arrived.

Some things in life are easy to just buy. You want it you just go get it. You appreciate things more as a child because you have no control over it. I was given a small allowance as a child which I spent exclusively at 7-11 and K Marrt. I earned a Boba Fett.

As an “adult” I met someone who changed my life. She was on the downside of a failing marriage, but I waited because she was something I had NEVER seen. Like when I saw Boba Fett for the first time only now with different feelings. The first time I kissed her… well those are my feelings but just imagine , well everything. 

I guess the problem with getting what you want is that you forget how hard it was to get it. I don’t know where my Boba Fett toy is but I can get one online whenever I want. Its the loves of our lives that are irreplaceable. You can’t buy them. Feelings can’t be replaced and lives aren’t toys. What I’ve found is that I have treated EVERY SINGLE THING in my life like Boba Fett. Singularly focused on it until I had it….. Now I don’t know what to do with it. Something I’ve wanted for so long is now here…. Now what

The Mall

I collected alot of comic books as a kid. Batman ruled my budget. Hated Superman,, even feel bad putting a capitol S on that. Batman did so much more with being given less, i mean come on. He was just rich, superman could fly….

I worked at McDonalds by town Center Mall for a week when it first opened. If you can imagine our compound we grew up in, Town Center Mall was the holy grail of where high school kids wanted to work.  I up grated into the mall shortly there after to a sales a sales clerk at Natural Wonders. I wasn’t Superman but for some reason I ran the store… at 17. I bet the manager one day during Christmas that I could sell 70 of any CD I picked. BOOM Enya Orinco Flow on repeat for 8 hours, sold 132 one employee quit.

I loved that place. The six months I was there were great. During the Christmas Rush “because I was so good” they asked if I could go help out at a short handed store near us. Why not Nerf job. That day was odd, watching people care about people and a job that I didnt. It wasn’t until I got back to my “store” that I realized it wasn’t the store or the job that cared about. It was the relationships you build with the people you don’t think you wanna see every day. Those people that you show up to work for and they’re just as pissed as you but in the same pool. The one thing I i found enjoyment was at both malls was working in malls sucked, being batman or superman rocked… glad they sold comic books in the mall

 

My Gorilla

You can learn alot from a person by listening to the stories of the jobs they have had. I worked for Wal Mart, Best Buy,  a liquor store, several fast food companies and a couple of grocery stores. My favorite time was North Point Mall. The bottom line of the store I worked in probably suffered because I just didn’t give a shit. But the kiosks and other stores made it so WORTH it. The O zone, a stereo store (yep stereo) was owned by the braves centerfielder Otis Nixon. He would open at 2 or 3, the Mall opened at 10. I think the only shit he “sold” was the hi fi he gave away to his friends. It was Don Cheadle from Boogie nights in the O zone.

When I got the job at North point Natural wonders I cracked myself up. Didn’t want the job but wanted 30% off at every store in the mall. Over Christmas the franchise circled its waggons. My gay manager John was asked by the Town Center Mall store for extra staff. Boom, I jumped. Come on the chance to get fired from a store you don’t even work for…. priceless.

Town center had a stuffed gorilla on the wall that was for sale for $400. Keep in mind I still get 30% off. I had my friend Jason come in and buy it and return it to North point.  We made $100. I felt bad about the stealing so I just bought the damn thing at full price.

Mom, you should stop reading at this point.

North Point had a merry go round for god knows why in the food court. Eric, the Mall cop, was not happy happy with me putting  Albert (my gorilla) on a horse at noon. Its amazing what you can get away with when you just don’t respond to anything. I will say this, it was virtually impossible to pay the $1 for my gorilla to ride the merry go round and not laugh. The only way I found that it worked was to pretend to be retarded. It wasn’t a stretch for me.

I think I crossed the line when I took the Gorilla to see star wars and bought two tickets.  The Girl looked at me like I had nine heads. I bought Al popcorn, he didn’t eat it. There were 8 people in the theater all of whom thought I was nuts. I wasn’t, hell I am , I don’t know, I live my life for the reactions of others.  You can learn alot from books, God knows I’ve read enough of them, but you can learn so much more about a person by putting them in a situation they’re not comfortable with. I miss the times when it was just fun to F around. Something changed my gorilla is now real and I’m in the uncomfortable situation. I wanna go back.

Six to Eight

Its so odd, when you look back the days seemed to fly by. Morning, breakfast, school, recess lunch, after school pickup… It was a whirlwind, until the gloaming time of six to eight. There are a few people who know what after school school shoes and clothing are but I do. Looking back on what I wore my mom should be punished. but the truth is, I didn’t care, that was the beauty of six to eight. there was no care in the world, no mortgage, no apologies, just running like a wild dog covered in mud.

I adopted everything my brother did just because I thought he was cool. He taught me how to fish, how to wear white tennis shorts and not make them look gay. When you look up pubescent 13 year old from the the 80’s with a small mustache, that was my brother. I never , looking forward or back, saw myself catching and cleaning a fish, but I did. Bream, which for some reason is pronounced Brim, Crappie, Bass, Catfish ( they sucked) . Those three years I spent in Augusta seem so surreal now like time just took a break.

But, Augusta was my childhood. Why we lived there I’ll never know. My dad flew for Delta and was based out of Atlanta. so on top of the the four days a week he was gone he was also gone 7 hours in transit. You might think that would make my relationship with my mother closer, wrong. We were tooth and nail from the 2nd to the 5th grade. Don’t know why, guess we were probably equally stubborn. My Mom was a single parent who happened to be married. I was a jackass kid who observed things things well before they were supposed to. What I realized later in life was that my mom never got a 6 to 8. She went from raising her siblings because she was the oldest and her parents worked, to marrying my father and immediately becoming a mom.

My brother was and is a nerd. He’ll never get my sense of humor and if he does I’m doing it wrong. My father is the only person who knew when I was making fun of someone and when I was just making a joke. There’s a difference. My brother has his kids I still have have my mom/friend who rolls her eyes at everyone of my next projects but always rolls them back to support me. There was a time when 6 to 8 was the best time of the day. I grew up in a Rockwell painting. We actually had a dinner bell, it was a triangle on the back porch, it meant eight o clock. when there’s no sunlight and its not dark… Its six to eight. Cheerish that gloaming time.  Eight o’clock comes faster than you think.