The Man Cave

The Man Cave
Jack's Man Cave (Click on the photo to enter the Cave)
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Things Not to Go Cheap On (A Poem)

 Things Not to Go Cheap On (A Poem)

The Poet

Plastic surgery
Background checks
Toilet paper
Whale watching
Hot air balloon ride at sunset
Hockey seats
Criminal defense attorney
Bear spray

© Jack Clune 2021

Sunday, October 11, 2020

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out


There is a Light That Never Goes Out 

Can you go back and fix your biggest regret?


You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby

The other day I was lying on the couch in the Man Cave, feeling sorry for myself because the San Diego Padres just lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL2020  playoffs.

My thoughts turned to some of the things I regret in my life, the missed opportunities, and the terrible decisions I made.

If only I could go back in time to fix things.

Is It Really So Strange?

Suddenly, the comedian George Carlin appeared in the bar stool chair. 

"George Carlin, what the hell ...?" I asked.

"The powers that be sent me here to give you a chance to travel back in time to fix one of those regrets you're always stewing on," said George Carlin, rolling his eyes upward to indicate who the "powers that be" was.

"Are you serious?" I asked.

"Serious as November 4th," said George. Then he said:

"Let's have it. To when and where are you going back in time?"

Well I Wonder

George was dressed the same way as he was in the movie  "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," a movie I've never seen.  He wore a trench coat, his hair was slicked back, and he wore dark wraparound glasses.

"Mr. Carlin . . ."

"Call me George," he said.

"George, I have a million questions," I said.

"Look, don't belabor this, buddy.  Let's get to the fun part of the story," said George.

"I know, I know.  But let me ask you a few questions."

"Okay. Shoot."

"I've never seen 'Bill and Ted,' . . .are you like an Archangel, or are you, God?' I asked.

"I'm sort of like an angel today.  I'm an anthropomorphic representation of your own psyche.  They said I'm as good a representation of how screwed up, cynical, and sarcastic you are, except I'm way more funny and talented, and I did a lot more drugs.  They were thinking about sending Anna Nicole Smith, or Chris Farley, but they were both working on other projects."

"Is this another one of my funny life stories that Hollywood has already stolen?  Like all my tales that I tell down here in San Diego that somehow seep up there to that cesspool and get watered down and put into movie scripts," I asked.

"Yeah, that's it. That's exactly right," says George sarcastically, rolling his eyes.   "Jesus, you really are a buffoon. You think the whole world revolves around you? Are you really that bitter about the Dodgers?  The Padres just need better pitching."

"If I go back and change events, does it change the whole course and trajectory of future events?" I asked.

"No.  This is just a vanity project for you.  You're gonna go back to see what would have happened if you had done the right thing and not F'd up as royally as you did the first time. But the fact you screwed up royally in real life will remain unchanged when you come back here to the couch."

"Oh my God.  Is that supposed to somehow make me feel better? I already know I F'd up?"

"Look, Sunshine, the clock is ticking.  If I just snap my fingers, I'll be out of this weird bric-a-brac  "Fortress of Solitude" Man Cave thing you got going here."

The Boy With the Thorn In His Side

"Can I have a day to think about where I want to go back in time?" I asked

"No. You gotta decide now. Chop-chop," said George Carlin.

"I have so many regrets.  Which one should I choose?" I asked George Carlin.

"Choose the regret that causes you the most pain.  Get it out of your system," said George.

"Should I go back to the Rosarito Beach Hotel in Mexico to fix . . ."

"No! Not that one.  Let sleeping dogs lie!" said George.

"How about Vegas?  That time I wore the Elvis costume, and I got in those two car accidents on the same night?"  

"No.  That one actually panned out in the end if you look at the big picture. Wasn't there a lawsuit after that one, where you got some money?  The money to pay for your wedding ring?"

"Yeah, I did," I admitted.

"That's a net gain," said George.

"Can I take someone with me on the trip?  There's someone who needs to go back with me for this one. This is the biggest regret in his life too." I asked.

"No. But you'll see him there."

"Will Tracy know which regret I went back to fix?

"Only if you tell her," said George.

"Because she'll be pissed if she finds out I didn't go back to fix one of the stupid things I did  . . . during our time together," I said.

"Better keep your mouth shut then.  Let's go, you gotta decide now!" said George.

"You know what I'm gonna go back and do, don't you?"

"I've got a pretty good idea. Statistically, there's one thing you dwell on all the time.  In fact, it shocked me to see how much you fixate on such a stupid and trivial . . "  George caught himself, "I mean, really important event in your life."

"Okay.  I'm ready.  Take me back to 1986!"

This Charming Man

In an instant, I'm standing outside the San Diego State Open Air Amphitheater on a warm dusky summer evening.  A big crowd of high school and college-aged kids are milling around, excited for a concert about to begin inside.

"Luis!  Holy crap, look at how young you are!" I yell at my friend Luis standing by my side.

"What are you talking about?" asks Luis, looking baffled.

I run over to a car window to get a look at myself.  I see my reflection in the Honda CRX.

"Oh, man!  To be this young again!  You Handsome Devil!" I yell at myself in the reflection.

"Hey, Fabio!  Get over here!" says a familiar voice.

I look over, and it's George Carlin, standing under a canopy, behind a plastic table, working the T-shirt booth.  When I run over to him, George says:  

"Look, here comes your boy now.  I can't believe it. You almost F'd it up again. Get over there and buy the tickets!"

"Okay, okay!" I say, running to gather up Luis. "Lu, follow me!"

Luis and I come face to face with a college kid, who looks like Robert Downey, Jr. He's wearing a fedora hat, a T-shirt featuring the band who is about to play, jeans that are tapered and rolled up at the bottom, with white socks and black wing-tipped brogue shoes. 

"Dude, you're about to come offer me and my friend two tickets to this concert aren't you?" I say to Robert Downey.
"Well . . .I've got two tickets I'm trying to sell," says the good-looking scalper.

"How much?" asks Luis.

"$20.00 each.  I paid $17.50 face value."

"We'll take them!"  I shout as I hug the repulsed scalper.

"Wait a minute Jack.  That's too much. I just came here to stand outside the concert to listen to a few songs," says Luis.

Time comes to a halt.  I see George Carlin, who is selling some kid a band poster.  George and I make eye contact, and in slow motion, he slaps his hand to his forehead.  

Classical music is booming out of the P.A. system inside the amphitheater, which only heightens my anxiety that Luis is about to blow this moment A SECOND TIME.

Snapping out of my fugue state, I turn to Luis and say

"Lu, this is one of the most important moments of our lives.  If we don't buy these two concert tickets, no matter what the price, we are going to live to regret it for the rest of time- do you understand me?!"

Lu and the Robert Downey Jr. scalper's eyes widen.

"In less than twenty-four hours, Lu, for some reason we never understand, you will become the biggest most obsessed fan of this band in the United States.  You start to dress like the lead singer.  You buy every single T-shirt, poster, cassette, and vinyl record the band ever produces," I say.

Lu and the scalper stare at me like I'm a mental patient.  

"You buy unlistenable bootleg vinyl discs, recorded under raincoats at concerts.  You correspond, PRE-INTERNET, with people in Denmark, New Zealand, and across the globe, trading band memorabilia, by writing hand-written letters and using stamps.  You wait weeks for the British versions of the records you already have the American versions of to arrive in the mail.   You know all of the secret messages carved into the run-off grooves of the vinyl discs."

"Lu, you will wear eyeglasses and a hearing aid that you don't need, simply because you saw the lead singer doing that in a music magazine.   The lead singer wore that rig for a concert or two, to was pay homage to that deaf singer from the 1950s who Dexy's Midnight Runners sang about, named Johnny Ray.   You, on the other hand, will wear the glasses and fake hearing aid for the first two years of college every single day.  People point and stare at you."

I'm starting to get through to Luis now. He's such an obsessive basket case, none of this seems that far-fetched to him.

"Most annoyingly, you will take on the very persona of Morrissey.  You will critique everything that normal people enjoy, and you go around quoting Oscar Wilde all the time. " I tell Luis. 

"Finally, you will pretend you're 'consciously abstaining from sex,' when in fact, you and I both have so little game that we couldn't get laid in a Nevada brothel even if we had a ton of Bitcoin."

"What's Bitcoin?" asks the scalper.

A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours

"San Diego, we are 'The Smiths!'" says Morrissey as he takes the stage.

My knees buckle. I almost faint.

The band launches into the song "Panic" then "I Want the One I Can't Have" then into "There is a Light that Never Goes Out."

Tears are running down my face.  

"Jesus Christ!" I say to Luis, putting a fist up to my eye, embarrassed.

"Johnny Marr is the greatest guitar player in the history of the world," says Luis, 

Lu is right.  Johnny is a virtuoso, and every note he plays makes me wanna scream and faint like one of those girls in a  Beatlemania documentary.

I see in Lu's eyes he's become radicalized.  He's started his journey into The Smiths psychosis.  It's gonna be about eight years til he gets deprogrammed and we see him on the other side. I can almost sympathize with his plight from this perspective.

"These seats suck," I said to Luis, squinting my eyes to see the stage from the second-to-last row that we're seated in.

"Yeah, who cares, dude.  This is amazing.  I'm so glad you had that cash.  There's not an ATM for miles around here," said Luis.

"We gotta get closer to the stage.  If Tracy were here, she'd walk us right to the front.  Shit, she'd get us backstage!" I yelled at Luis over the music.

"Who's Tracy?!" yelled Luis.

Just then, George Carlin appeared at the end of the row, wearing a yellow security windbreaker.  He beckoned us with his finger to come with him. We did.

"Whattya gonna stay up here the whole time?" said George.

I looked at him meekly.

"You gotta at least try to get close to the stage.  You'll regret it the rest of your life!" shouted George.

Shoplifters of the World Unite

We followed George Carlin down the long flight of amphitheater stairs, right up close to the stage.  When the Smiths start playing "How Soon Is Now?" the place erupts. The fans go batshit crazy.

George Carlin grabbed Luis and me by the scruff of our necks and pushed us to the front row, right at the foot of the stage yelling,  

"Now Go!"

We tumbled right into a real douchebag-looking guy, surrounded by a bunch of bimbos. He looked like Donald Trump, but he was the local 80's San Diego version.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" said the San Diego Donald.

"We're getting close to the stage.  We love The Smiths," said Luis.

"No you're not!  Where's security?" said S.D. Donald, looking around over the crowd. 

Damn, S.D. Donald is really tall, I thought to myself.  Really tall. What the hell is a douchebag businessman like him doing at a Smiths concert anyway?

"Security!  Security!" shouted the Donald, pointing down at me and Luis.

The Donald is dressed in a big 80's double-breasted business suit.  His tie is tied way too long, hiding his fat belly.  Donnie whips out an enormous 80's style mobile phone, and, squinting, he starts dialing a number.

"You know how much I paid for these tickets you assholes?  One-hundred, twenty-five bucks each!  Beat it!" said the S.D. Donald.

"Hold on!  Hold on, Sir!"  I shouted.  I had an idea.

The music was absolutely pulsing from the stage.  The whole crowd was hugging and singing the words to "How Soon Is Now?"

I reached in my pocket to pull out my iPhone.

"Excuse me while I whip this out!" I yelled at the Donald, with my phone illuminating his and my faces.

"Oh, No!  The kid's got some kind of a gun!" screamed one of S.D. Donald's dumb girlfriends.

The crowd around us went into a panic and started scrambling to get away from me. 

Paint a Vulgar Picture

S.D. Donnie didn't move an inch. He just stood there scowling at me.

"It's a phone!  It's only a phone!" I shouted.  "Look, check it out!" I took a "selfie" with me and S.D. Donald, then I showed him our picture on the screen.

"Where the hell did you get that thing, kid?!" shouted the Donald.

"I'm from the future! The year 2020.  You invest in the stock market?" I shouted over the music.

"I sure do.  OK great. What's the name of the company?"

"Palm Pilot!"

"What is it?!" shouted the Donald, bending, and cupping his ear.

"Palm Pilot! Invest every penny you got!" I shout.

That's when the music stopped, and I felt the big arm around my neck.

Rusholme Ruffians

Five or six security guards tackled Luis and me to the ground, putting us in chokeholds.  I shoved the phone back into the deep pocket of my B.U.M Equipment pants.

The lights of the amphitheater came up. 

"Stop!  Relent! Stand down Philistines! You brutes!" shouted Morrissey into the microphone.  

The security guards looked up, confused and disgusted at Morrissey on the stage. 

"Unhand those gentle supplicants! Bring the buggards to the stage!" said Morrissey.

George Carlin appeared in his security windbreaker again.

"You heard Morrissey- get these two buffoons backstage now. Otherwise, we'll have a riot on our hands. Chop-chop!"

The Donald was on his huge 80's mobile phone. The bimbo girlfriends stood next to him, flirting with the security guards. 

"I want 500,000 shares of Palm Pilot tomorrow morning, you hear me?  'A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SAYING' it's a good thing. Just do it."

Steve West, the British D.J. from the New Wave radio station 91X, came up to the microphone.

"Alrighty! Now, now!  It's been a right proper cock-up hasn't it?!  A real wobbly!

We're gonna take a short break so you mingers can get your heads together. Hunky-Dory, - eh?!  That's right, Lads- ta! 

The Smiths will be back soon.  'How Soon Is Now?'  I can't tell you."  Steve West chuckled at his own terrible joke.  

"Listen, there'll be no more kerfuffles, or the boys are going home- do you understand?! Cheers- ta!"

The audience looked at him, totally confused.  

I wasn't sure what he meant either with those crazy British slang words.  

But everyone grunted, "Yes."

Golden Lights

The security guards pushed us to the side entrance of the stage. The kids in the audience shot daggers with their eyes at Lu and me.  We had ruined the song, and now we were going backstage.  

The pungent smell of marijuana filled the air.  At the last minute, I saw the face of the handsome scalper who sold us those shitty seats.  I met his eyes, but he was so stoned, I don't even think he remembered who I was.

"Bring 'em up here, boys!" said George Carlin, who was holding the backstage door open.  George was now wearing a dungaree jeans outfit, with a crocheted Rastafarian tam on his head.  He had transformed into a backstage roadie. 

Luis and I stumbled as the security guards pushed us hard through the backstage door. Then George and two other roadies dragged us to a hallway, where, in all their staggering genius stood The Smiths. Johnny Marr's guitar parts from the records were so complex now, they needed two guitarists on stage, so they brought Craig Gannon from the band Aztec Camera. That's like being invited to join The Beatles.

I got so nervous, I nearly pissed my pants.  Morrissey said:

"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom . . . Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you two tossers, because you're here somehow"

Now that's some cool Samuel L. Jackson "Pulp Fiction" shit right there, I thought to myself.

The silence was painful.  

"Luis loves you, Morrissey.  And I do too," I said, regretting the words instantly.

"Call me Steven," said Morrissey.  

Luis and Morrissey walked away and sat in two metal folding chairs in the corner, talking quietly face to face. The rest of the group broke off too.

George Carlin leaned against a rigging cabinet smoking a joint with Andy Rourke, the bassist, and Mike Joyce, the drummer.

Stretch Out and Wait

I run after Johnny Marr who's gone off to find his wife, Angie.  Johnny grabs a beer, lights up a cigarette, and then we all three sat down. I started telling Johnny about my guitar playing, and I gave him some tips and tricks that I'd picked up along the way.

"Johnny, can you explain to me how you get your tone on "Some Girls are Bigger Than Others," that's one I've kind of struggled with,"  I asked Johnny, pretending like it was even remotely possible for me to play.  

"Sure, why not?" said Johnny picking up his Fender Jaguar. 

Then Johnny explained his tone settings and showed me the riff.   Everything was going really good, and I was saying  "Yeah, yeah," you can hear me on the video.  I was nodding my head while he talked, but when we got to (1:11)  suddenly I got light-headed, the room spun, and I was out cold. [The nice video player does not show up on the mobile version of the story sometimes- so please click the underlined link, thanks].

Next thing I remember, I was coming to on the floor staring at the ceiling, with George Carlin, Johnny, and Angie, fanning me with towels.

"Oh ... oh shit.  Shit, sorry, Johnny.  Sorry guys.  Johnny, next time you just casually launch into a riff like that, can you give me a little more warning?" I asked, rubbing the back of my head.

"Ahh, sorry Jack, my bad.  That one's on me," said Johnny.

I sat up and looked for my beer.  Someone brought me a fresh one.

"That's so beautiful Johnny. How can you be so talented when you're only in your twenties?" I asked him.

"Lot's of hours sitting alone in me room there, Jack-O," said Johnny.  "Right Angie baby?"

"Don't I know it," said Angie.

"So, Jackie, what's the story here?  Why did you cack up our concert here in sunny San Diego?  What's all the fighting about?" asked Johnny.

"Johnny, I'm here from the future.  From the year 2020.  George Carlin is an angel who visited me to let me come back in time to fix one of the biggest regrets of my life."

I continued.  

"See, in real life, I blew it and passed up the opportunity to buy a ticket for this show.  My friend Luis screwed up even worse.  Within like 24 hours of this concert, for some unexplainable reason,  he becomes the biggest Smiths fan in the world, and we had to stop him from committing suicide whenever he thought about missing this show."

Johnny and Angie stared at me.  Then they both burst out laughing and clapping their hands. 

"Oh, Jack-Man!  What did you smoke tonight, Son?" said Johnny, looking at Angie grinning.

"Check this out," I said as I whipped out my iPhone.

"Oh wow!" said Angie as the phone lit up.

I did the selfie-trick with Johnny and Angie.

"Top gear!"  Brilliant!  You must be joking!" said Johnny.  "Real Star Trek stuff, that!"

"Can I see it?" Angie said.

"Yeah, flip through all the screens," I said.

"So wait a sec. You're from the future?  You know everything that's gonna happen from now to 2020?" asked Johnny.

"Yep," I said.

"And if you tell us, will that affect the future?' asked Johnny.  "I love science fiction!  I've read all them science fiction books y'know!"

"No.  George Carlin says even if I tell you everything that happens tonight, you won't remember any of it when my little trip back in time is over."

Johnny looked at Angie and then back at me.

"Tell us everything!" they both said.


This Night Has Opened My Eyes

I told Johnny and Angie everything that happened between 1986 and 2020.

"And the election is on November 3rd, in like three weeks, and they don't have a cure for the Coronavirus, and Keith Richards is still alive,"  I said, exhausted.

"I can't believe Manchester City wins the Premier League," said Angie.  Johnny shook his head in astonishment too.

"And I can't believe the Bruce Jenner thing," said Johnny.

Outside, the crowd was going berserk for The Smiths return to the stage.

"Jack, everything you told us was so amazing, but you didn't tell us what happens to The Smiths," said Johnny.

"Oh, yeah. Well, Johnny, you stop drinking and smoking.  And you become vegetarian, and run lots of marathons," I said.

"Really? Cheers, Jack, cheers," Johnny said, clinking his beer with mine.

"Yeah, and you and Angie stay married the whole time- real high school sweethearts!" I said, trying to avoid saying more.

They looked at each other and cuddled.

"What about me and Morrissey, Jack?" asked Johnny sheepishly.

"Johnny, before I tell you that . . . can I play "Please Please Please Let Me Get I Want" on guitar for you and Angie?" I asked.  "It's a short song, and one of the only Smiths songs I can play."

"You play guitar do ya, you chancer?  Yeah sure, here play this one," said Johnny.

"Johnny, do you have a left-handed guitar I could play?" I asked, embarrassed.

"Jack, nobody plays left-handed guitar," said Johnny

George Carlin presented me with a left-handed guitar.

"Thanks, George," I said.

Sadly, I can only show you the end of my performance as the video (my talent) is too big for the blog website to handle.  You'll just have to use your imagination how good the rest of it was [Please click on the link if the video player does not appear:

I played the best I could, but, I was nervous, and I  messed it up in the middle. Johnny and Angie clapped politely and over-enthusiastically, just to be nice.  I was over the moon.

"Johnny, that song really meant a lot to me and Luis when we were in high school.  Y'know like when we had a lot of disappointments, like crushes, and missing this concert and stuff."

"Cool, man.  That's cool. Thanks for sharing that, Jack," said Johnny.

Bigmouth Strikes Again

Luis and I walked with The Smiths to the stage and stood by before the curtain opened.  That's when Johnny couldn't hold back anymore.  Johnny got up in Morrissey's face.

"You fuckin' prat!  Do you realize you become a right-wing fascist in your fat old age?!" shouted Johnny.

Poor Morrissey was in shock, having no idea what Johnny was talking about.

"What are you on about?" said Morrissey.  "You don't actually believe a word he says, do you?" pointing at me.

"Did you hear the barmy story he's got about Bruce Jenner?!' shouted Morrissey at Johnny.

Luis and I watched the rest of the show right from the side of the stage.  When the band played their final song, Luis and I  ran out and joined the other crazy fans who made it past security up onto the stage. We picked up and played a tambourine and maracas.

I Know It's Over

When the show was over, we said goodbye to the band, and they zoomed off in the limo-bus.  I took a bunch of photos with my iPhone, but it was sad to think the photos would probably disappear later.

"Alright 'Gulliver's Travels,' it's time to say your goodbyes," said George Carlin, who was now back in his "Bill and Ted" outfit.

"Okay, man. I'll say goodbye to Luis." 

I walked over to Luis, who was standing where the bus had left.

"Hey Lu, was this the best night ever or what?" I asked him.

"Yeah.  I'm so glad we bought tickets.  We would've regretted it for the rest of our lives," said Luis.

"You know what dude? If we missed this concert, we'd have gotten through it together.  We'd have spent hundreds of hours listening to The Smiths, imagining we saw them at this concert.  And that wouldn't have been so bad would it?" I asked.

"Dude, are you kidding me, tonight was epic," said Luis.

"I know.  You're right.  I played guitar for Johnny Marr and his wife, and they clapped politely. Who's ever gonna believe that?" 

"Morrissey told me I should be celibate for a few years, and wear fake eyeglasses and a hearing aid in my ear," said Luis.

"Why did he say to do that?" I asked.

"I don't know.  But I think I'm actually gonna do it," said Luis.

I know you are, buddy, I thought to myself.  Even at school.

"Hey Lu, it was really great seeing ya here tonight.  I wish I could just stay here and do everything we did in high school and college all over again. Most things I wouldn't change at all, really," I said.

Luis gave me a curious look.  Then he said:

"Oh yeah.  Morrissey told me something else too.  He said he couldn't believe that of all the things in the world, you chose this concert.  He said it made him proud for what The Smiths achieved with their music and the connection they made with their fans- with us."

"Really?  He said that?  Geez, Morrissey is such a difficult bastard, it's hard to imagine him giving us a sort of compliment like that," I said.

Luis and I took it all in for a moment.

"Hey Lu, you never even asked me how I knew how to play guitar," I said.

"Yeah, what the hell? You learn how to play guitar in the future?" asked Luis.

"Yeah.  Actually, you play guitar first, and I get jealous, then I learn how to play," I said.

"Hmm." Luis thought about it. "Do we form a band?"

"No.  You're too difficult to work with - like Morrissey.   You lose interest anyway, and you start exercising, just as obsessively as you followed The Smiths.  You become like a super fit Ironman." I explained.

"That's rad," said Luis.

"Hey, Lu.  You just go ahead and drive your Volkswagen Fox home, I'll get a ride home with our new friend George Carlin here, okay?" I said.

"Later dude," said Luis, and we did our soul brother handshake that we always did, cupping our hands to make a real loud "pop" sound when our hands clasped.

Accept Yourself

With a whoosh, I was back in the Man Cave, lying on my couch.  George Carlin was on the barstool.

"Well?  You feel like you got it out of your system?  No more regrets?" asked George.

"Yeah man, that was a blast," I said. "Thanks for all your help George."

"Whattaya think the lesson is, 'Sunshine?'" said George Carlin.

I thought for a few seconds.

"That anytime I need to, I can go back in time in my imagination, and rewrite my life any way I want."

"That's a start," said George.  "Kinda shallow and narcissistic, but a start."

"And if I hurt someone, and that's my regret, whether they are dead or alive,  I can write them a letter, and as long as I'm sincere and honest, I can probably make things better," I said.

"You know, sometimes a well-timed, sincere letter can do just the trick," said George.

You've Got Everything Now

"Here, someone asked me to give you this," said George, standing up from the bar chair.

He threw me a piece of paper folded into a square. Then George snapped his fingers and disappeared.

I unfolded the paper.  A guitar pick with the initials "JM" fell out on my lap.

On the paper, were the lyrics, written in Morrissey's handwriting, to "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

Beneath the song it said:  
"Luis and Jack . . . 
'Non, Je ne regrette rien!"

signed Morrissey and Johnny Marr-SDSU 1986.

© Copyright Jack Clune 2020 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Only People Who Like My New Car Are Men Who Own Car Washes

The Only People Who Like My New Car Are Men Who Own Car Washes

Women don’t find my car sexy

Photo by Grahame Jenkins on Unsplash

I’ve leased the same car for nine years in a row

I’ve leased the same strange, niche model of BMW for three times in a row, amounting to nearly nine years with the same car. I have to get the identical car all the time because it perfectly suits my need to put surfboards in it on the two or three occasions per year now I actually go surfing.

I don’t like to put my precious surfboards on a roof rack because I do not want them to get stolen. These surfboards are not the foam boards from Costco. These are McCoy surfboards from Australia, and they are works of art. Never mind that I’m so fat now, the boards can hardly float when I’m sitting on them.

                                   The Author

The model car I get is called a 335i GT, and the “GT” stands for "Grand Turismo." The car is basically a 3 Series BMW, stretched out and plumped up into a hatchback, for more storage than a standard 3 Series sedan.

In exchange for losing the world-class sportiness and agility of a standard 3 Series, the GT has incredible storage space when you put the back seats down. The GT drives more like a truck on rails, and you sit much higher on the road than the standard 3 Series “Saloon” (fancy word for a car with a fixed back seat and trunk).

It’s not a sedan, or a wagon, or an SUV

In America, we have a stigma against station wagons, so BMW built the car to suit a niche market that I fall into. The Germans stretched out the chassis on the car, to make it longer and roomier.

The chassis is referred to as the “Chinese chassis” because, supposedly, in China, the people like all their cars stretched out with big back seats, so they feel like they are riding in limousines.

I like that concept too- the huge back seat. The backseat in my 335 GT feels even more roomy and luxurious than a 5 Series BMW, and, on the BMW blogs, it is more often compared to the enormous 7 Series back seat. Now, whenever I drive any other car, I feel like the rear seat passengers are sitting on my shoulders.

Europeans, and American car magazine writers, however, love station wagons. They make fun of my GT as being an ugly “Frankenstein” car, for stupid people who aren’t smart enough to like station wagons. The magazines and the blogs laugh at how supposedly unagile and awkward looking the 335 GT looks compared to a wagon.

Crusty old Douchebags (with a capital ‘D”) who have driven BMW’s for decades make fun of my 335 GT and say that the model is an insult to the BMW brand (“rondel” in the trade- meaning the emblem on the hood of the car). These bastards are all wrong, of course, and I am right, and I love the car.

BMW, unfortunately, must have listened to all those cretins, because in 2019, they decided to discontinue the car. So now I have to decide whether to keep mine at the end of my lease.

I may become that guy you see driving a SAAB from 1983. The SAAB that’s out of alignment, going sideways down the road, with the leather bra on the hood, the bent antennae, and the Supertramp bumper sticker.

. . .

I had to upgrade my car when I switched from being an insurance defense attorney to a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney

I used to drive a Mazda Protégé wagon that fit my surfboards just fine. I didn’t mind getting sand in the Mazda, or when the surfboard wax melted on the carpet in the back or on the back seats. The Mazda Protégé was my real “surf wagon.” The trusty ‘ol Protégé suited my job too.

Insurance companies don’t want to see the attorneys working for them driving fancy cars or wearing nice suits. The insurance claims adjusters report back to headquarters, “Hey, Clune seems to be living high on the hog.” Then you get the call from the CEO telling you to cut your fees or they’ll move the account to a cheaper law firm.

All of that changed when I switched to the other side to do exclusively plaintiff’s personal injury cases.

. . .

When you’re a plaintiff’s attorney, the clients want to see you have a nice car

Nearly fifteen years ago, I switched away from defending insurance companies to exclusively representing people injured in accidents, making claims against the insurance companies.

One day, I got a call from a man injured very badly when he fell in a poorly lit area outside a business. Both his arms were broken- so before you make any smart-ass remarks, this was no “Brady Bunch” episode about a fake neck injury. This man was very seriously hurt, and missing time from a high paying job, with his benefits running out.

On the way to the man’s house in my Mazda Protégé that evening, I was nervous and excited to sign up one of my first personal injury cases. I pulled up to the stately mansion in the fancy Banker’s Hill neighborhood. The city skyline lights of San Diego twinkled in the background. I saw a curtain draw back, and two men were staring outside at me as I approached the front door.

Photo by Ján Jakub Naništa on Unsplash

The potential client and his older husband looked me over in the foyer.

“What kind of car is that you drive?” asked the older man, dressed in a silk evening jacket.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“What kind of car is that?” he asked again.

“Um, it’s a Mazda Protégé,” I said. “Limited Edition, with the rubber floor mats.”

“A what?” asked the younger man, whose arms were in two casts, popping out from his silk robe.

“A Mazda Protégé. Silver.” I said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of that kind of car,” said the older gentleman, with a mildly disgusted expression.

“It’s sort of a hatchback. A sporty hatchback. It’s really good for my surfboards.”

“Oh, . . . “ the older gentleman said with a withering eye roll and a side glance at the younger gentleman.

They signed up with me, but I felt like I was on my heels the whole time. I knew I needed to get a nicer car.

. . .

When I decided to get the BMW GT, my wife Tracy was unusually supportive even though it was expensive

“Yes, that’s a perfect car for you,” said Tracy, lying in bed.

I was leaning over, showing her the YouTube video on my phone. The car reviewer was explaining that even though lots of people thought the BMW 3 GT was ugly, the car had amazing storage room and was fun to drive.

Something seemed off.

“I’m not going to lie, the monthly payments are going to be way more than the Protégé,” I admitted.

“Well, you’re a plaintiff’s attorney now. You said the clients want to see you drive a nice car — otherwise they think you’re not successful,” said Tracy, turning up the T.V. volume way too loud.

It’s true. I had said that. But now that Tracy was saying it back to me, I didn’t like it. Or I was suspicious, I should say.

“And plus, you’ll be able to fit all your crap in it. When you go to the beach.” Tracy said, over the T.V.

I turned back to my side of the bed. I could not believe how easy it was to convince Tracy I needed to upgrade my car.

“Now Shhh! This is the Housewives Reunion Finale. No talking! This is important. I need to hear this.” said Tracy.

. . .

It’s a very niche audience who likes my car

On a former friend’s advice, I used a car broker to help me lease the BMW GT the first two times. That’s a story for another day, though. Sadly, the story ends with my broker declaring in a very public place that he wished I go blind and develop low testosterone. I thought that curse was very Old Testament, and way too extreme of him.

The first few weeks driving the BMW GT, I got a couple of compliments- but far fewer than I expected, quite frankly.

“She’s a beauty!” came a gruff voice from behind me.

I was at the car wash, leaning in to grab the three or four straw wrappers off the passenger seat before I turned the keys over to the guy to vacuum the interior. I turned to face a gentleman who looked very much like Yassir Arafat.

“That’s the one with the big back seat- eh?” said the gentleman.

“Yeah. Yes sir,” I said.

“Very nice, very nice. We don’t get many of those here,” he said, making clear to me he owned the car wash and mini-mart.

“BMW’s, yes! Hatchbacks, no!” he said, laughing uproariously.
. . .

A few weeks later, I was pumping gas. Again, a male voice came from the distance behind me.

“Is that one of those new hatchback ones?!” said the voice.

I turned to look, and it was a guy who looked sort of like Brett Favre. He was in a work uniform, coming from a tanker trunk, which said “Danger! Explosive Contents Under Pressure! Stay Back!” on an odd-shaped storage tank.

“I ain’t seen one of these in person yet,” he said, wiping his hands with a small towel as he approached.

“Yes sir. It’s the ‘GT’,” I answered.

“You mind poppin’ the hatch for me to see?” he asked.

I proudly pushed the button on the key remote, and the hatch opened smoothly.

“Oh yeah, look. It’s got plenty of room!” he said. “Plenty of room.”

“Yep,” I said.

“And you know what?” he asked, putting a piece of gum in his mouth.

“What?” I responded.

“It’s not half as ugly as they said it was either.”

. . .

The day my whole world came crumbling down

Around the time I leased my first new BMW, a colleague of mine leased a new car too, so he called me to come and see it. Michael got a Jaguar, one of the real sleek, sporty two-seaters, and he was eager to show it off.

“I’m here, where are you?” I asked Mike, talking to him on my cell phone as I got to the office building downtown.

“I’m in the parking garage, coming up through the gate now,” he said.

Sure enough, there was Michael, rolling up the ramp to the street in a silver Jaguar that looked more like an Aston Martin “supercar.” The car was sleek and elegant, but like its namesake, it looked like a predatory animal. It really did look like a Jaguar on its haunches, doing that scary stalking thing that a cat does before it explodes off running to catch its prey.

Mike is about ten years younger than me. He’s a bachelor, and he’s about six feet two inches tall, dark-haired and handsome. Mike speaks with a syrupy Texas drawl, kinda like Matthew McConaughey.

Mike pulled the car up to street level, then he opened the driver’s side door and stepped out, dressed to the nines in his lawyer suit. I could not believe he even fit in the low slung car. The overall impression Mike gave made me think of just two words. Tom Brady.

“Why are you getting out of the car?” I asked.

“You wanna drive?” he said, smiling.

“No, I’ll ride shotgun. I want you to show me what this thing can do.” I said, teasing.

I scooted around the front of the car and got in the passenger seat.

. . . 

My God, this is such a tight squeeze, I thought.

I can barely fit. And the center console is so big and bulky. I can’t even get my left arm all the way up on it. I feel like I’m in a race car. I’m glad I don’t have this car! It’s uncomfortable! And I feel so low to the ground. Whew, Thank God! Thank God I didn’t buy a car like this! If I were in my car, I’d run right over the top of this thing.

Mike made a quick right turn onto a busy downtown surface street, then he accelerated fast through the first green light.

“Wow, great acceleration, this is awesome! It’s like the Batmobile!” I said, feigning enthusiasm, but really secretly happy that I liked my car better.

“What kind of wood is this?” I asked, running my finger along the lacquered wood trim on the dashboard.

“Dude, hold on a second,” said Mike. “Check this out.”

As we pulled up to a stoplight, three young women in office attire were standing on the right-hand corner, seemingly on their way to lunch. 

 “Watch what happens here,” said Mike.

The women gradually took notice of the car. Soon all three were all staring directly at us inside the car. One of the women lowered her sunglasses and made eye contact with Mike.

“Dude, what the hell is going on?” I said through my gritted teeth.

“Yeah, funny isn’t it,” said Mike. “This car’s a babe magnet.”

One of the other girls bent down to look past me and get a better look at Mike.

The light turned green, and Mike peeled out, chuckling and looking in the rearview mirror, smiling.

I looked in the side-view mirror and saw the women all turn to each other and start talking. About Mike, no doubt.

“Awesome, isn’t it?” said Mike.

. . .

At the next light, a car pulled beside us on the driver’s side. Two middle-aged African American women were in the car, and the passenger rolled down her window.

“Hey there! That’s a very nice car you have!” shouted the woman.

Mike pushed the button, and the automatic window rolled down smoothly. The driver of the other car waved at him from behind the passenger.

“Thanks! You ladies havin’ a nice day?” said Mike, with his smooth, goddamn Huckleberry Hound voice.

“We sure are. Did you just get this beautiful car?” the passenger asked Mike.

“Oh, I’ve had it for a little while now. You know, I’m just being lazy with putting the license plate on.”

“Well, that car looks really, really fine on you,” said the passenger, batting her eyelids.

I found myself blushing behind Mike.

“Wow! That’s very kind of you to say,” said Mike. “Well, the light’s green. Sorry to have to say goodbye, ladies!’ said Mike, as he slowly pulled into the intersection.

I thought I saw the passenger blow Mike a kiss, but I might have imagined it.

. . .

I was in complete shock. I felt like the curtain was ripped open to a secret new world I never knew about, or like someone had slipped me a tab of L.S.D. Not that I’ve ever taken L.S.D- but I have seen Yellow Submarine.

“Dude. Does this happen everywhere you go?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s kinda nutty- huh?” said Mike. “I call this car the ‘Panty Dropper,’” he said, looking over at me smiling in his aviator glasses.

I don’t have any nickname for my car. It never occurred to me to give my car a nickname. What would I even call my car?

‘Bubble Butt?’ ‘The Pack Mule? ‘ ‘Daddy’s Home? ‘ ‘The Surfboard Stuffer?’

“How much is the lease on this car?” I asked Mike.

It was about $150 less per month than my car.

Now I’m pissed.

. . .

Confronting Tracy to get to the truth

“Tell me again why you think my car is so good for me?” I asked Tracy, in the kitchen.

Tracy was opening the mail, not paying attention to me. Finally, my question registered in her brain.

“You can fit all of your crap in it,” she said, distracted by whatever bill she was looking at.

‘Yeah, and what else?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t know, your car is just like you. It suits you perfectly,” she said, opening another envelope.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.

“You know, it’s kind of oblong and chubby. You can shove a lot of crap in it, but it still looks presentable. You know, like when you put on a nice suit and go to court.”

“You just wanted me to buy that car because it’s not sexy!” I screamed.

“What?” says Tracy, looking up at me now.

“The only people who like my car are middle-aged Middle Eastern men!” I shouted.

“What are you talking about? Are you insane?” asked Tracy.

“Nobody compliments me on my car! Nobody except car wash owners!”

“You’ve seriously lost your mind!” said Tracy, now yelling back at me.

“Do you think my car is sexy?!” I screamed.

“What do you need a sexy car for?” Tracy yelled, now standing and folding her arms across her chest.

That’s when I was especially glad I hadn’t told Tracy that Mike called his car the “Panty Dropper.”

“That’s not the point. Don’t turn this around on me! Just answer my question, is my car sexy?!”

“No, it’s not sexy. Of course it’s not! It’s not sexy at all,” Tracy admitted.

“Ah ha! That’s why you encouraged me to buy it isn’t it?!” I asked, indignantly.

“What the hell is wrong with you? You bought that car to shove your dumb surfboards in it. The ones you use once a year!” said Tracy.

“Well, maybe I wanted a sexy car too! Did you ever think about that- huh? Do you realize how expensive the lease is on that car out in the driveway?” I yelled.

“Buy whatever car you want, what do I care? You buffoon!” shouted Tracy.

“Well, maybe I will next time!” I said.

“Good! ’Cause my lease is coming up in two months, and I’m definitely buying whatever car I want!” said Tracy, leaning into me and staring me straight in the eye.

Oh, God. I thought to myself. Oh, God, no. What sort of trap did I just walk into here?

“And my car’s gonna be real sexy! Real, real sexy. In fact, I’m thinking about getting a Maserati!”

Oh shit! Oh, God. Oh please, God, no. No!

“And guess what?!” said Tracy.

“What?” I asked timidly.

"I’m gonna nickname my car the 'Pole Position!' said Tracy with a wide grin.

Copyright © 2020 Jack Clune

Friday, July 10, 2020

Selfish Shoppers, Empty Kegs, and Member Card Hell

Selfish Shoppers, Empty Kegs, and Member Card Hell

Cutting edge solutions to major societal problems


During the Pandemic, I've had time to sit and think of solutions for some of the serious problems with our society. Here's what I have come up with so far.

1. People at the grocery store, who come up behind you with only two (2) items

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I load up my cart to the max and head to the checkout stand.

Inevitably, some person lines up behind me, with only two (2) items in their hands. Then they give me the puppy dog eyes to let them cut in front of me. Why don't these people go to the Express checkout line where they belong? Because they are trying to drive me insane, that's why.

Who goes to a grocery store for just two (2) items? Those people need to be charged extra for their groceries, and the difference should be credited to me. Or they should be permanently banned from the store. Unless it is me and I'm in a hurry.

2. When the keg runs dry

You order a beer in a restaurant, only to have the waiter come back and tell you:

"I'm sorry, but the keg just went out, and they're changing it. It'll be a few minutes."

Then the waiter puts everyone else's drinks on the table, and turns and runs away as fast as he can before you can change your order to another brand of beer.

So for ordering "the wrong thing" you are now thrown into the Purgatory of delayed, forgotten, and misplaced orders.

Everyone else gets their order and is having fun. Everyone tells you

"Geez, just have some patience!" or "What's the big deal?"

Because it's you that is suffering, and not them. They usually finish their drink before yours even comes.

Why not turn this most tragic of situations upside down, and make it a special occasion? Don't the restaurants make like 1000% profit on every beer sold? Couldn't they afford to turn the "tapping of the keg" into a joyous occasion, rather than a tragic one?

What should happen, from now on, is balloons and ticker tape should fall from the ceiling, and the waiter should announce with a bullhorn:

"HUZZAH, my fine fellow! Your beer is on the house, lucky you!"


"Is there any other item on the menu I can bring you for free, you Lucky Bastard, You!?"

That's what should happen.

3. "Member Card" Hell

"Do you want to sign up for the Catheters Plus member card and get 15% off today's purchase? You would save $27.00!"

Every time I'm just trying to buy a "Hola!" magazine, or a pair of pants at a brick and mortar store, they want me to apply for a "Member Card." They want me to give them my email, and social security number.

Then the store promptly turns around and sells all my information to teen hackers on the dark web, making $2,700 on the $27.00 I saved.

To rub it in, they train the cashiers to roll their eyes at me, and actually make me feel guilty and stupid for not applying for the card.

The new rule should be, any time a store asks you to apply for their "Member Card" and you decline you automatically get 65% off your purchase.

That's all I have for you now. I've got to go to the store. We're out of whipped cream and peanuts.

© Copyright 2020 Jack Clune

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