Dream on, Cranky Man …

Looking for a little help interpreting a dream I had last night.  Please help me to understand this, as I am sure there is a message in there somewhere.

When people ask if you dream in color, I certainly do.

SETTING:  I am bike-riding (first definitely a dream clue!) in a semi-rural area with a well maintained bike path. The area is not recognizable to me (post-dream analysis).  I come to a bridge obviously under construction with concrete pathways both around and through the construction zone.  For some reason, the temporary path has several rather steep drop-offs that I can barely navigate, but do successfully.

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Dr. K (Gerald McRaney)

At one such drop-off  another biker joins me, an (much) older guy dressed for some reason in white shirt and dress pants.  It wasn’t until I woke up, replaying the dream that I recognize the gentlemen as none other than Dr. Nathon Katowski – Dr. K – from the NBC series This is us“.

 

Potential Predilection Admission:  OK … OK … Yes, I have been playing catch-up on the new NBC series I had been hearing so much about. But I can see no basis for a connection between the TV show and my dream.

Gerald McRaney really has nothing to offer in the way of fatherly physician advice or insight.  He simply looks at one of the drop-offs and mutters, “What the f—!”  (Apparently I also dream in expletives.)

As we emerge from the bridge construction site, we come onto a broad field strewn with rough boulders about the size of basketballs.  (Is this a detailed dream or what?)  Here the path separates left and straight across the clearing.  Dr. K goes straight; I go left!

MEATY DREAM ACTION:  As I pedal off, I glance over the good doctor’s way.  He’s about halfway across the field.  Then I see them!  Two … then three cute little bear cubs pop up right in the midst of Dr. K’s path.  He’s off his bike, so I shout to him a warning to “Stay away from the cubs!” … even though at the time I see no momma bear.

momma-bearNot sure if he hears me or not, but at that point one of the cubs breaks off in a run and the stupid doctor (We all KNOW better, right?!?) runs after the cub.  And suddenly, there is momma bear on hind legs though only slightly taller than the now-doomed doctor!

I’m too far away to do anything but yell for help.  Besides, I’m certainly not stupid enough to go bear fighting.  Meanwhile the bear and Doctor Doomed are kick-boxing (I kid you not …).  The bear then grabs Dr. K around one shoulder and starts body punching the crap out of the helpless human.  (For the record, I do like the Dr. K character. So that’s one theory out the window.)

I am reduced to waving my arms (not at all sure what that accomplishes) and screaming for help.

After what seems like an interminable period of time, some guy comes out of nowhere with a handgun – not a rifle or shotgun – and proceeds the shoot THE DOCTOR!!  Then he shoots at the bear …

The last image I had – probably before being elbowed awake for snoring – was Dr. K on the ground, but still alive.  Heck, he wasn’t even bloody, just lying there on the ground.  His shooter/rescuer was standing over him and firing at something unseen in the near distance (likely NOT Mandy Moore).

Please provide your Dreamy Interpretations as a Comment!  One important factor I neglected to mention … This dream occurred in the wee hours of Valentine’s Day morning. (That doesn’t mean anything, right?!?)

Be advised … All first-time commenters must be reviewed and approved before their comment will appear. Thanks for listening!  – Cranky Man

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Bad Santa

bad-santaChristmas is definitely more memorable when your kids are young. We had some fun traditions back then, including a few that might now qualify as “psychological abuse” in 17 states.

The first would occur after attending Christmas Eve Mass.

Our tradition would be to ride around the local area to check out the Christmas lights and displays with the Christmas songs turned up to ‘hood bouncing volume, before heading home and allowing the grandparents to give the boys early Christmas presents.

The boys, feeling the freedom of having the church obligation completed, and knowing full well that grandchild presents awaited, were usually quite patient and relaxed as our search for Lights of Christmas progressed. But after 30 minutes or so, their facade of patience would start to crack.

So I would start heading our old Dodge Grand Caravan towards home.

Of course when the kids recognized the more familiar streets and neighborhoods; they would know we were getting close to Christmas Present Time.

So each time we got really close to our house, I’d go right past the street or turn in the opposite direction, announcing to Mom that here was a house up the road I wanted her to see. If I turned down our street, I would make several loops around the neighborhood, sometimes slowing as we approached the driveway, then going right on past to the accompaniment of much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

By the time we got home, the kids were near emotional wrecks, and Mom and I could hardly keep from laughing out loud.

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Our next fond memory of “enhanced interruptive techniques” was experienced on Christmas morning …

Every Christmas one of the kids (usually that Mischievous Middle Child) would bounce onto our bed at 6:30 sharp. We had no illusions that the little termite hadn’t already been downstairs peeking, so we would waited to exact our own little brand of revenge.

After our MMC crowed one Christmas Eve about how early he was going to wake me up, I felt the dawning of a brilliant idea!

That night once the Children were nestled, all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads, I stealthily tied bungee cords from their bedroom doors to the stairway railing across the hall!

(Yes … Four out of five firemen would probably not recommend such a prank, but our house was virtually new back then. Very low risk, trust me!)

That was a fun Christmas morning with Carol and I giggling like sixth-graders as the wails from the MMC’s bedroom went on for roughly 10 minutes. Finally our resourceful little termite pried his door open just enough to squirm his body out his bedroom door. To his credit though, he immediately went downstairs to snoop at what was under the tree before heading back upstairs to free his fellow inmates.

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Most Christmases we made the boys wait at the top of the stairs as Mom and I prepped for the morning’s cyclone of torn wrapping paper and discarded bows. We took our grand old time getting our faces ready, usually with one keeping an eye on the inmates while the other was brushing their teeth.

Then I would head downstairs for the Official Opening Ceremony.

You may think I’m kidding, but that’s exactly what it was!

I would prattle around for 20 minutes, getting the coffee going; lighting the tree; fiddling with the old shoulder-held VHS recorder; and putting the dog out for her morning constitutional. All the while the kids are pleading, “Dad, hurry up!”

Which of course that just made me move a little slower.

Finally, I would have everything ready, the VHS recorder in position; and the kids would start creeping down the steps. And then I would launch into my Christmas Morning Speech

It was usually a thing of beauty. Like a condensed senatorial filibuster …

“Mom, he’s doing this on purpose!”

I would set the stage for the day’s event and provide the viewers with an elaborate description of the tree, the number of presents (with a few “Oohs” and “Ahhs” thrown in to turn the screws a little tighter), that day’s participants (by now the boys were pleading with their mother to shut me down), and then a lengthy description of the weather.

Once the wailing had subsided, I would end my speech with a “Merry Christmas to all!”; and the boys anticipation would be at peek levels …

Then I’d say, “Dammit, somethings wrong with the camera/tree/coffee maker.”

The cacophony of wails was both heart rendering and side-splitting funny.

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Now for those who might think such acts qualify me for The Grinch that Stole Christmas, let me assure you that these stories are repeated year-after-year during our holidays together. Like it or not, like me or not … They are a small – but funny – part of our family’s Holiday tradition!

Merry Christmas to all, and make sure you can get out that door before you Sugar-Plum Dance!

Experience the Couples Massage!

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Not us pictured … Divorce might result if it was!

Hope you enjoy this very carefully, very tastefully written review of our first couples massage experience.  Hopefully I will not end up sleeping on the couch … again, when the incredibly lovely Carol stumbles across this post and discovers I shared an semi-intimate moment solely as a way to promote tourism to the Dominican Republic.

OK … and for the laughs.

As I see it … at my age … any day that starts off with me in a pool with a naked female is a Very, Very Good Day!

When it comes to the massage, one must acknowledge that the ability to render a proper massage is an Art!  The techniques are to be admired and enjoyed, but require training and experience.  Although many an intimate couple will play at the Art of Massage, without the proper knowledge and experience, the massage is just a means to an end.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that ….

I will be the first to admit my skills at massage never advanced beyond the clumsy basics.  After this experience while in Punta Cana, I can honestly state that I had no idea just how inexperienced I was.

The Couples Massage package was an extra to the all-inclusive concept at Barceló Bávaro Beach.  But it’s worth every penny!  The spa is located within the Palace Deluxe Hotel complex. and is accessible at any time by Premium Club members.  Besides the quiet, fragrant massage rooms, the spa includes a large outdoor pool and jacuzzi, indoor jacuzzi and small pool, but no drink service.  (You can bring in adult libations if you so desire.)

The experience begins in the gender-specific locker rooms where one can shed all the decorative physical trappings of modest society … at least on the female side.  The men however were encouraged to keep their swimsuits or shorts on …

Bummer … Completely understandable, I guess … Still a bummer …

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Draperies are closed to enhance the romantic mood, and were opened only after the massage was completed.

Once ensconced in a fluffy terry cloth robe, Carol and I met up in the couples suite.  Quiet, dimly lit by candles, with a romantic arrangement of towels in the shape of a heart and two obviously smitten terrycloth swans, richly appointed with fragrant flower petals.  The atmosphere exudes everything you need to slowly slip into a coma of complete relaxation.

What caught me off guard was finding Carol sans ALL Decorative Trappings of Modest Society, while I was still in a swimsuit.  WT … ?!?

But I guess the presence of two female masseuse explains the discrimination to which I was unexposed.  Not that I’m complaining …  At least one of us was completely stripped of all Decorative Trappings of Modest Society!

Even funnier was the experience of the gentleman in the couple who accompanied us to the DR.  He was instructed to shed his swimwear and sling his … uh … male-hood in a “banana hammock”!

When I heard of this AFTER our massage, I was relieved I wasn’t required to sling The Hammock!  Otherwise Carol would have been laughing throughout the entire massage experience!

The massage itself starts with an exfoliation, cleaning and massage of the lower legs and feet while reclining peacefully and blindfolded, which simply makes the experience a bit more mysteriously unsettling.

“What the heck is she doing?  What’s that stuff??  Oh, that’s nice …”

Next comes the main massage event, complete with security-inducing sheet and coverlet on the traditional massage table.  It was during this transition that I noticed Carol and I were differently dressed.

Have I mentioned that already???

To make a long post shorter, I will not go into a detailed playback of the massage itself.  Rest assured it was expertly applied and deeply relaxing.  This being my first professional massage experience, I can say without reservation that the good masseur at Barceló know what they are doing!

champagnesetup02Once the experts were done, the drapes to our private couples room were thrown open to reveal a small pool set off in an equally private walled-off courtyard.  And when we slipped out the door, we were surprised by the presence of two lounge chairs, a bottle of champagne and two glasses!

As one masseuse bid us farewell and drew closed the drapery, she made a very clear pronouncement, “I will be back in 20 minutes!”

That’s when the light went on!

Hmmmm … Carol still au naturel … champagne … massage oils … a pool and complete privacy … for 20 minutes!?!

Well, I appreciated the optimism, especially as to my personal stamina, but that presumption was a bridge too far.  We did however enjoy the personal intimacy of being secluded in an extremely relaxed state in a very cold pool, and enough bubbly to liberate one’s inhibitions.

But that water might have been a bit too cold …

As it turned out, it was one of the best days of the vacation.  The couples massage is definitely worth the price of admission, assuming of course you get a masseuse who knows what they’re doing!

For me … I hit the daily Double the next day with ANOTHER naked female in the pool.  But it was a dolphin …

Cranky Man’s 5 Stages of the Gym Mourning

‘Tis annoying when one goes to the gym or “fitness center” and encounters those “lunks”, as hopeless gym rats are derisively described by such authority figures as Planet Fitness.  Face it, some people were born to spend copious amounts of time in the gym.  They actually look forward to it!  Enjoy the hard work and sweaty toil … the Pain needed to make the Gains … the form-fitting workout gear only the lunky or curvaceous gym apostle can wear.

Bastards …

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For the rest of us – which I would venture is the most of us – going to the gym is three rungs above a Dental appointment and one rung below dinner with the In-Laws.  A sad – but honest – admission …

As for me, I go through my own personal 5 Stages of Gym Mourning just to get out of bed and through a workout.  Similar to the more infamous 5 Stages of Grief, the stages to my gym morning are saturated in emotion and the desire to hide from painful Truth.  A sense of Loss lays the foundation for both.  In the case of anti-gym types like me, it is the Loss of Youth, the Loss of Leisurely Morning Routine, the potential Loss of Health, the Loss of Body Form and Image, the Loss of Laissez Faire Eating Habits, the Loss of Hair …

Need I go further …?

gym rats

No one likes the pretty gym people … except other pretty gym people.

After all to morning anti-gym rats, “grief” fairly accurately describes the process of hauling our sleepy bodies from our warm beds for the purposes of strapping ourselves to Machines of Torture!  For me, that’s 2-3 mornings a week depending on Mood, Physical Health, Weather, or if I absolutely have to fit into those pants I bought when I was oh-so-proud about recent weight-loss.  There are few things more demoralizing than your Significant Other perusing your chosen evening wear and saying, “Those pants have gotten a little tight there, chubby.”

So for all those reasons, I subject myself to the following Cranky Man 5 Stages of Gym Mourning pre-workout routine …

0515 hours … “What is that incessant noise?!?  Who the hell set the alarm clock on a Saturday?!?  This is freakin’ ridiculous!”

“OMG … It’s only Thursday.  You have got to be kidding me!  There’s no way I’m getting up this early.  This is stupid!  Who does this every morning???  Son-of-a ….”

ANGER … is always the first response.

0524 hours … The alarm again … “Oh c’mon … I can’t do this. This is inhuman!”

“No, you have to do this. You can do this!”  And rounds of BARGAINING begin.

“OK … If I go today, then I don’t have to go tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s Friday … You can sleep all the way to 0630 tomorrow if you just go to the gym today.”

“No … No way!  This is stupid!”

“Now, now … Listen!  There’s a half-gallon of Breyer’s Ice Cream in the freezer, Slick.  Go to the gym today and maybe – if you’re good all day long – you can have low-guilt ice cream tonight!” 

“OK … OK … OK … I’m getting up!”

(Now of course such a thing as “low-guilt ice cream” is impossible, as any reluctant prisoner of the Healthy Gym Workout cycle can tell you!)

gym-rat+treadmill+wheelA Bargain will eventually be reached.  And you will drag yourself from that warm bed  … unless the Bargain was reduced to sleeping in today for “guilt-filled ice cream” and a workout tomorrow.

The majority of those who go the gym, do so because they can eat whatever they want with little in the way of Rationalization.  That and a lighter load of Bad Food Guilt is as good as any endorphin buzz a workout can give the reluctant gym denizen!

ACCEPTANCE is usually the easiest phase to live through.  By this time, I have dragged my weary body from my soft, warm bed … one appendage at a time; pushed myself squint-eyed through the morning bathroom routine, bouts of resolve-strengthening mental cheerleading, and perhaps a few additional rounds of Bargaining. Then, once prepped in my gym-enduring workout clothes, primed for another day of attempting to fool Mother Nature, I resolutely head out the door.

Truth is the warm months of Summer make the Acceptance process all the easier.  Being able to roll out of bed and head off to the gym in the same clothes I wore to bed the night before makes all the difference in the world.  I can do everything up to climbing into the car with my eyes still barely open!

The biggest difference from the more well-known 5 Stages of Grief is the feeling of ACCOMPLISHMENT one gets from completing a strenuous, exhausting, and sweat-filled workout.  Let’s face it … The biggest reason many of us hit the gym is that feeling of doing something entirely for yourself.  Improving your health; increasing your Stamina; sharpening your Focus … blah blah blah …

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I don’t really look older when you work out. I just feel older … a lot older.

Yes, it’s a good feeling … That lasts all of 20 minutes until you realize you have to repeat the process in a few days ….

Forever and Ever and Ever!

That’s the realization that sends this Cranky Man into the final stage of his 5 Stages of the Gym Mourning …

DEPRESSION!

 

No, I don’t … Honest!

49370Dear Sam’s Club Shopper:

I want to be completely open and honest, now that you’re not standing in front of me with that inquisitive look, no doubt thinking to yourself, “Does he use these things?!?”

I don’t … honestly.

I know you saw me perusing the selections and placing the Bulk Economy package (Then again, what else does Sam’s Club sell?) into my cart.  I know that you were only looking for a recommendation … from a guy … who MIGHT use them, even if you can’t come right out and ask that question without running the risk of insult or embarrassment (mine, not yours).

I know I shouldn’t feel awkward or uneasy discussing what has become a more frequent, open, and necessary product.  Of course I knew that whenever Carol asked me to pick up “feminine needs”.

I know there’s nothing odd, weird, or emasculating about running such a loving errand. Still it made me a bit skittish and self-conscious.  Just like our conversation today.

I swear … I really was buying them for another family member. I swear …

Just stop looking at me like that!

Or was that just my skittish, self-conscious imagination?  Maybe it was the fact that I had mumbled to myself … right before you walked up to me,  “I wonder if anyone who sees me thinks I need these things?”

Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

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By the way, your father seemed like a very nice man when he rejoined you and we exchanged knowing glances.  He’s lucky to have someone, who is looking out for him and doing everything they can to maintain his dignity in a difficult, but thoughtful way.

My wife, Carol, could teach a few things on the subject of taking care of our parents.

I hope I helped what little I could.

It’s never easy to confront the ravages of age.  Most of us will get there in due time.  Let’s hope we have those to take care of us when the time comes.

Mao Lives!

Normally, I don’t pay a lot of attention to cars with vanity plates.  I find many of them too difficult to decipher … especially when tailgating … in traffic … trying to just read them.

But today, I stumbled on a discovery that shook me up …

Mao is alive!  And he has a LiMO!

But, Mao …. a Chevy Equinox?!?  How very proletariat!

 

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

For years now, I have had difficulties understanding the attraction of a song we never hear at any time other than the Christmas season. That’s kind of weird really, because whenever you listen to the song you never hear a reference to Christmas or the holidays in general.

Yes … Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

But to be honest, I hadn’t really wondered aloud about why it’s considered a “holiday tune” until I downloaded the song – in one of it’s many, many versions sung by many, many artists – to my iPod. Then, after a few years of hearing it only during the playing of my Christmas playlist, thinking to myself, “What the hell does this have to do with Christmas?”

And in these Days of Enlightenment, the lyrics are simply creepy! At least in Neptune’s Daughter, the movie where the song made it’s premiere wide distribution, the women get a bit of a turn-around in the second part of the song, which featured the comical interpretation by Red Skelton. But it’s the first part of this popular song duet, as sung in the movie by Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams, that most listeners connect with.

Unfortunately, and for good reason, that connection – as Jessica Cantrera writes in The Washington Post– is “icky”.

The song obviously is the whimsical version of the classic late-night attempt at seduction. The wily male working his mystical – or mythical – charms to seduce the seemingly attracted, yet uncertain, female. Plying her with compliments, alcohol, and his “worries” she might suffer hypothermia due to the rampant Winter weather.

But in this day and age, when we consider ourselves so much more enlightened, critics point to the female’s repeated desires to leave, although she seems unwilling to “break the spell”, the phrase “Hey, what’s in this drink?!?” (and flashes perhaps of Bill Cosby), and the females pointed, “The answer is ‘No!'” as indications of something more sinister.

Maybe they are right …

Now I have a theory about the hows and whys the song became and remained so popular. It’s my own personal theory, which I do not recall ever hearing discussed, so I’ll lay it out there for you to consider. But first some history on the song itself

Frank Loesser

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written Frank Loesser – an accomplished Broadway composer (Guys and Dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) – in 1944, and performed by he and his wife, Lynn Garland at their house-warming party. They performed it together for years before Frank sold the song – to his wife’s consternation – in 1948. The song appeared in Neptune’s Daughter (1949) and won an Academy Award that year for Best Original Song.

Now my theory is wrapped in the biggest event circling the globe in the year Loesser wrote the song, 1944 and World War II.

It’s not hard to understand the attraction the song may have had for those in our parents (and grandparents, great-grandparents) generation. At a time when the song was published (1949), many men had come home just a few years prior after witnessing and participating in one of the largest, most tragic periods of American history. Many of these men may have witnessed the deaths of friends in the most grisly of manners. Many had killed men themselves in the most grisly of manners.

In my mind, it’s not very hard to understand a mindset that suggested living Life to its fullest; refusing to allow opportunities for Life, Love, or Fun to pass by. Perhaps the song touched that chord that suggests living for Today and being bold enough to pursue such pleasures.

The same chord might have just as easily been struck in the women of the day as well. Many of them fresh off the assembly lines of the war, building tanks, trucks, airplanes, bombs, etc. Some say the female subject of the song was exercising a form of liberation by not conforming to the expectations and standards of a society after shouldering the burden of liberating the World from fascist oppression.

She earned many a hefty paycheck and the Independence that goes with financial power. Perhaps she is flaunting social convention as held by her parents, siblings, maiden aunt, and even her neighbors … She simply doesn’t sound so sure that’s a good idea!

Maybe … After all the sexual revolution would be just 15-20 years away in 1949; and certainly some of that rebelliousness would have been felt by both sexes coming off four years of liberating responsibility!

Then again … The fact that the original song score referred to the male role as the “wolf” and the female role as the “mouse” coats the entire subject once again in potential ickiness.

Only you simply cannot get past the fact that the song has amassed incredible popularity for those generations that preceded us! You only need look – even now – at performers still singing the song every holiday season: Seth MacFarlane and Sara BareillesIdina Menzel and Michael BubléDarius Rucker and Sheryl Crow. And that is in just the last two years!

But certainly, it seems the song has outlived its playfulness.

Heck, I still can’t get passed the fact that it’s considered “holiday music”. And for the past few years, every time it came up on the iPod rotation I would mention this to whomever was sitting next to me who might – or might not – care. It has gotten to the point where Carol now will immediately say, “Yes, I know … Why is this a Christmas song?!?”

I can be a bit redundant. Surprise!

Now it’s becoming common to drag the song out into the light and bludgeon it with images of Bill Cosby (as Saturday Night Live did recently) or date rape as “Funny or Die” portrayed the song.

Personally, I think that’s a bit unfair as parodies seem to be sometimes. After all in all versions of the song, we are left to imagine what the outcome was. Can any of us say it was Good or Bad? Who are we to judge?

I do have a healthier respect for the song now that I have read of its origins, the man who created it, and its initial purpose. And frankly, until today I had never seen its basic premise turned around 180 degrees, as it was in the second part of its Neptune’s Daughter version.

One must concede that its imagery and language are dated and present complications for a society firmly ensconced in no-pressure sexuality, where slick talk or chemical gimmicks are rightfully seen as robbing individual choice. Yet I can not ignore that initially it was simply a quaintly mischievous song, written by a renown composer to be sung with his wife to family and friends as a way of saying “Good night, the Party’s over.”

Now, someone needs to explain to me how this duet became associated with the Christmas holidays!