good god willing

I knew better, but I shared Allie's joke with Lynn. Of the falling boulder killing my car but not me, Allie had snarked, "John, that wasn't God sparing you. That was God missing."

Lynn took offense and sat bolt upright. "That was God sparing you." She was incredibly confident.

We've fought this battle before. Every possible outcome is proof not only of God's existence, but of His divine intervention. If the boulder misses my car, it's God's will. If the boulder destroys my car, God spared me. If the boulder kills me and Fredo, He's calling me home. Fredo is just shit out of luck.

"Dear Jesus," I prayed aloud after Lynn's proclamation, "Thank you so much for sparing me from the boulder you sent to destroy my Jeep. I'm sure whatever the Jeep did to anger you, it had it coming."

Lynn glared at me. I'd like to think she was silently saying a prayer for my eternal soul, but I think she was just pissed.

• • •

Now that I'm waiting for an MRI on my shoulder, Allie wondered what Lynn would have to say about God causing my slip. I thought about it. "God sent the boulder to destroy my Jeep because He knew I wouldn't be able to drive a standard a month later. See how it all dovetails together?"

putting my shoulder into it

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Yesterday at 6am, I took Fredo for a walk. It lasted under a minute. The sidewalk had frozen over, and for the second time in a month, I went down hard.

My right shoulder absorbed all of the force, and it was immediately clear that something was wrong. I couldn't move that arm at all. I drove to the emergency room, where the x-rays were negative for a break. My shoulder was separated.

You know how in the movies, they violently reset your shoulder, and you scream in pain, and then you're fine? Everything but the last detail is accurate. I am completely incapacitated. The very thought of leaving the hotel makes me woozy. I cannot protect myself in the least.

It sucks. The silver linings are few. I barely missed Fredo when I fell, so there's that. More importantly, my cigar stayed in my mouth. I am oddly proud.

salad days

In my mind lately, I've been hearing Dorkass call me a big tub of goo. A lot.

"A salad and iced tea?!" Amanda the bartender exclaimed. "Are you going healthy or something?"

"Yeah. I feel all blobby and gross after Christmas."

"Me too. I put on 12 pounds," she said.


The iced tea detail is important, lest you think I was impaired when I made a weight-loss bet with a 24 year old. No, I'm just that stupid.

When I saw her a week later, I repeated my order. She confessed that she and her boyfriend were about to go on a Cabo vacation and as a result, she was probably going to lose the bet. We chatted about weight loss while I picked at the plate o'crap in front of me. There's nothing quite like a chain-restaurant salad to make me lose my appetite completely. I asked her what the dessert options were. There were three. Her favorite was the six-inch-tall chocolate cake.

I ordered it, and she was beaming when she brought it to me. "This makes me feel better about Cabo!"

"Well, prepare to feel worse, because that cake's not for me." I ran for the door.

It wasn't the first time a woman yelled "ASSHOLE!" as I bolted out of a bar. Won't be the last.

ryan gosling

One of the more bitter parts of getting older is women considering me harmless. "Here's my phone number!" chirp 20-somethings, and I'm forced to recall how this same woman never, ever would have given me her phone number when I was an actual prospect.

"Do you know how to text, grandpa?" I hear in my head.

• • •

The five newest contacts on my phone are four such bartenders and a waitress. This brings us back to my diversification effort. Today, I co-worked for the first time.

The space was gorgeous, something straight out of a movie. Open brick walls and exposed ducting contrasted with gleaming glass conference rooms and cubicles, and of course, an all-stainless and granite shared kitchen. When I saw the vintage Space Invaders machine, my inner 12 year old shrieked.

I sat next to a guy who looked like just Ryan Gosling if Ryan Gosling were 5'8". He was inarguably gorgeous, and he had that sparkle that reminded me of how much I hate Ryan fucking Gosling. We chatted for a bit.

"Can I just say," he smiled, "You have the nicest voice."

FAKE RYAN GOSLING THINKS I HAVE A NICE VOICE! I beamed like the easily flattered, hypocritical schoolgirl I am. We chatted some more, and he revealed he was doing some creative writing. I asked what he does for a living.


cracking knuckles

"Maybe you need to try meeting people other than bartenders," sniffed Allie haughtily but not incorrectly. Indeed, I received two invitations to Thanksgiving from new friends last year. They both did so while pouring me drinks.

It is time.

I'm going to try one of those "co-working" places, where you pay a monthly fee to use a shared office space. The idea is that perhaps I can meet actual professional somethings, anythings there. In practice, I expect to find nothing but whiny millennials pretending they're captains of industry and whispering about my sweatpants.

When that fails, I'll explore volunteerism. A quick check of my options shows that most efforts are hopelessly intertwined with rollickin' religious types, so I'm really hoping to quickly develop a tolerance for millennial whining.

peace on earth and mercy mild

The most educated person I've met in my three months in Cooterville is Fredo's vet. I assume. I didn't actually ask to see credentials. The second-most educated person I've met is Jess, a bartender and 28 year old college sophomore. At her present pace, she'll graduate shortly after retirement, but she's still the top academic in my world. Just so you have the proper context...


auld lang syne

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I visited my alma mater today and returned to find a parking citation flapping under my windshield wiper. Why, it's like I never left.


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For the last week, I've been both carless and homeless. I walked to Walmart in a freezing rain so that I could buy a poncho so that I could more comfortably walk in freezing rains.

Yep, it's quite the life I've carved out for myself.

I am now with car again, and when the Jeep is towed away today, life will begin to return to normal—meaning mere homelessness. Getting the replacement vehicle meant dealing with car salesmen, no one's favorite demographic. It's amazing how they so consistently begin every conversation with "Say John, what do you do for a living?" Such a curious, caring people.

I looked at a sedan about which I was pretty meh, all the more so when I learned that it was not all-wheel drive. Undeterred, my salesman, Cooter P. McNugget, dismissed my desire for AWD as silly. When I would not be dissuaded, he argued for literally every AWD on his lot. I said I wanted to get some breakfast and do some research. "Where ya going?" he said, and I stupidly told him. Sure enough, he showed up at the restaurant and plopped at my table, filibustering to inhibit my research.

I glared at him. "I need you to fuck off."

"Okay, okay, heh heh heh, I'll just sit over here. There's no need to be like that, heh heh heh!"

"There is apparently every need," I said, gathering my laptop and leaving. I could feel the rage veins in my forehead pulsating. Does this guy ever make a sale?

The best part of having since purchased a car is no longer having to shop for cars.

• • •

Here's an endorsement of the CarMax buying experience. They're consistently priced under the traditional dealerships, and the price is the price. No negotiations. It's an amazing difference. It was a polite, professional transaction very much like buying a pair of shoes.


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Having survived a boulder destroying my car but not laying so much as a scratch or ache on me, I ended my week in the only appropriate fashion. I slipped on a restaurant's wet floor, fell hard, and royally screwed up my knee.

Being me is exhausting.

I was telling Allie how lucky I feel. If that boulder had been a foot higher, Fredo would have been killed. If I had been a quarter second later, the boulder would have hopped into my windshield and killed us both. I didn't hit the oncoming school bus, and I didn't end up in a lake. All things considered, this is an implausibly fortunate outcome.

"It wasn't God sparing you, you know," she observed. "It was God missing."

He always was a crap shot.

She thought some more. "Say, do you think God says 'goddammit' when he misses?"