Friday, July 16, 2004

That Sandy....

My mother is a very entertaining woman. I can't say that she'd be able to open in Vegas or Branson, but she's always been a funny person to me.

The tricky thing about her is that I don't think she means to be entertaining half of the time. She's just telling a story that isn't all meant to be a joke in any way, but she'll say a few key things that always make me laugh. It's one thing to plan to make people laugh, but it's another when you're laughing at someone because of a specific quality they have.

Mom has worked in the insurance industry for quite a while now. She's found her own niche in the industry and has worked in claims departments for various companies over the last 20 years, and up until recently she worked where I am currently employed. I mention this because I was finally able to verify a few things that I wasn't quite sure about from her previous stories when I started working with her.

As long as I could remember, there were always people that she had issues working with. Know how I could tell? When she would talk about a friend, it was Cheryl or Debbie. When she was talking about someone that she didn't like, it was "That" Sue, or "That" Cindy.

I guess she went with "that" instead of calling them by other things like, "I can't stand Smelly Bitch Carol." I guess she just thinks she's being nicer this way.

One of the more entertaining things about these women is the fact that they seem to keep following her around. Every place she's ever worked at has a few "that" women, so I had to begin to wonder if it's actually those people that have the issues, or if my mom is a problem child. It's either that or there is one person that has the ability to take the form of other women and go completely bitch cakes whenever she's around. Both are possible, the former is more likely; the latter is a more entertaining thought. (I bet that polymorph lady has some sort of evil lair, with a flock of dastardly monkeys. That would be cool.)

I even saw the evolution of one of these people at my workplace. One month she was a friend of my mom's, having lunch with her just about every day, and then BAM! Out came the "that" title.

I think a good part of it has to do with cliques. Each workplace seems to have them and it seems as though my mother falls into one, finds that it's not for her and then those people become her mortal enemies. It's a lot like the beginning of Harry Potter, Draco wants to be Harry's friend at first, but Harry sees the person that he really is and they become enemies.

So, I guess my mother is a bit like Harry Potter, except that he's fictional, and a young boy, and I bet she'd really suck at Quidditch.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The last guy

3.... 2...1... My feet line up behind the three-point line. I raise the ball. The ball flicks off of my fingers and is launched at the hoop 19 feet - 9 inches away. It looks like it might actually go in.

I love playing sports. I'll never get tired of suiting up for any sport, just to try and see what I can do. I've never really excelled at any particular sport, but when I was younger I really loved playing basketball. I couldn't dribble well. I really couldn't run or jump as well as the rest of my friends, but I really enjoyed playing. So, as a result of my lack of abilities, I was stationed at the end of the bench. Honestly, I felt like Ollie from Hoosiers. Even when my name was called, it was something that didn't register. I always felt like the coach was just joking when he yelled, "HAAG!" He couldn't really want me out there; he just wanted some comic relief.

The Cambridge JV basketball team in 1989-90 was a pretty good one. We had a few pretty good players and we were, as I recall, the best team in the league. For some funny reason though, the games were always too close to let me get to play though. 20 points up with 30 seconds to go? Best to leave Glen on the bench.

So, when I got to Dodgeland I never really thought that I would have an impact on the game. I knew that this was going to be one of the easier teams for our team to beat this season, so my chances of getting into the game were decent.

Our team came out and looked absolutely awful. They were constantly making the same mistakes over and over again. It was an incredibly ugly game. After a while my bench warming cohorts and I noticed that there were some chains that were hanging on the walls. I mean, what else can you do when you are wearing a uniform, but don't really play for the team.

I still can't figure out why there were chains there. It was rural Wisconsin, so maybe they were planning on stringing some people up after the game... who knows?

The second half began better for our team. We started to put a bit of distance between us and the other team, and the pine riders started to become a bit restless. Before we knew it, a few guys had actually found there way onto the floor, but I still lingered at the end of the bench.

Then I got the call. "Haag, get in there, small forward."

I have to love small town basketball. Only there could a 5'8" kid play forward.

The 3rd quarter ended with a whimper. No shots for me, no points, no rebounds. I was doing my best to try and keep up to my averages. It's pretty damn hard to keep a 0.1 points per game average, and it took a player of a certain skill set to do it.

One thing that I found out was that the clock seems to move quite a bit faster when you're actually playing in a game. I hadn't ever really gotten to experience this before, so when I noticed that the clock was down to 3 minutes, it was pretty surprising. The clock stopped when one of my fellow benchwarmers managed to foul out. Let me make this clear, he fouled out in 6 minutes. That's an impressive feat, one that I've yet to see repeated.

I got fouled taking a shot and got sent to the free throw line. I wasn't a good shooter, so it wasn't too shocking that I missed both shots and the clock continued to run.

Before I knew it, there was only a few seconds left on the clock and I was set to inbound the ball to one of my teammates. There was only 5 seconds left in the game, and I was the only player who hadn't scored. 13 guys had call put the ball in the basket, 1 couldn't manage to have the ball drop.

I threw the pass in and streaked down the sideline, and noticed that no one was covering me. The ball was passed back to me and I set myself to take a final shot, as the clock would run out. I never thought for one second that the shot would go in. Not for one nano-second did I think I would make that shot. Strangely, that's what happened.

I've often wondered what the players on the other team thought as the game ended. All I remember is that the referee's arm went up, and the shot fell in, and then I was carried off of the court by my teammates. A career 0.1 points per game player, carried off the court like he just hit the shot that won the national championship.

Did I mention that we won the game by 30? If anyone ever wonders how good I am at sports, that's the first thing I ever tell them. I hit a three pointer at the buzzer for our team to win... by 30.

My coach seemed to be looking to me for comic relief. I did my best to provide that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Ass Cleavage

I'm not really a morning person. And by "really", I mean that I hate them with a passion. If it were up to me, my day would start 3 or 4 hours after the sun rises and would end 5 or 6 hours after it sets. The sheer thought of waking up before the sun comes up fills me with a sense of dread. Strangely when I have to deal with waking up early in the morning, I combat it by staying up very late the night before. I tend to stay up too late as it is, but of course it's amplified when I have to wake up three or four hours after going to bed.

I used to rationalize my staying up late by saying, "I do my best thinking at night." This excuse, by all accounts, is complete and utter bullshit, seeing as how I have to do very little thinking in my chosen activities at that point in the, by most people's definition, morning. I usually stay up watching a movie or playing a game, neither of which require a great deal of brain activity. More often than not it's just a test of if I can keep my eyes open or if I can press a button fast enough, so it's not like I'm up trying to create drugs to cure cancer, typically I'm just swearing under my breath because my character was just killed by a Vahzilok.

So, I think we've established that mornings are not great for me. Today I woke from bed, quite bleary eyed, and hopped in the shower. I only had one errand to run before work and although it was a short one, it would take me nearly an hour to get there, and from there it would take me another hour to get to work.

As I was driving down the interstate, I noticed the flashing lights from a police car in the distance and, of course, slowed down about 5 miles an hour and began to stare. I really try not to do this when I see something on the side of the road but being a human being, somewhere deep down, I am endlessly curious.

When I got a bit closer to the car I noticed that it was clearly a flat tire that was the source of the problem, as I saw the driver and the state trooper working on the left front wheel well of the car. It was the bending over, that the driver was doing, that became the source of an awful moment that I'm not soon to forget.

This was obviously a young man that was (insert trendy phrase of the day. Hip to, down with tha', etc.) clothing trends of the day. If I had to guess, he was about 20 to 25 years old judging by his dress. The first thing that I noticed about his attire was that he was wearing a "do-rag."

I've never understood why young white kids feel the need to wear something like that. I wear one when I'm exercising, but I have valid reasons to do so. I'm balding and anything that covers how bad my rapidly evaporating hair looks when I'm sweating is a very good thing. Also, it stops the sweat from streaming into my eyes.

Both of those are valid reasons, in my opinion. But I fail to see the reason to wear one when you're cruising around at six in the morning. Unless he's a member of the Cheesehead Crips, which I sincerely doubt, (the secret handshake involves a milking gesture that's very difficult to mime) he's going to get mocked by me. Not in person by any means because I'm sure he would kick my ass two ways to Tuesday, but here.... most definitely.

After noticing his choice of cranial accessories, I realized that that was not nearly his most egregious clothing issue. He, like many other kids his age, had chosen to wear pants where the waist size was at least three or four sizes bigger than he needed to be wearing, and as a result of this (deep sigh) I was forced to witness what had to be the worst display of plumber's crack that I've seen in my 30 years on this earth. Given another 5 to 10 seconds his pants would have just fallen off on their own and the whole group of early morning commuters would have been treated to a mooning by a person standing right next to a police officer.

My first reaction was to turn away to avert my eyes from having to gaze upon it any further. Thankfully, I was driving on the interstate and at seventy plus miles per hour, the whole incident only took a few seconds, but it did get me to thinking.

Rubbernecking is a very large issue with just about every accident, and there never seems to be a way to stop it. I now have THE solution to this. Each time there is an accident on a major thoroughfare, a minimum of two people will need to be stationed on either side of the road. One should stand near the accident, displaying their ass cleavage as to cause any passerby to avert their gaze. Another person should be stationed on the other side of the road, in the exact same posture, so that any person that jerks their head away from the sight of the first display of crack would be forced to stare straight ahead as to avoid seeing another "hairy" display on the roadside.

I think the whole process could be scaled to the size of the accident.

5-car pile-up?
3-crack deployment crew.

Just imagine the job applications.

Waist Size?
Size of last pair of pants purchased?
Ass Hair?

Given time, I think you would find that people would be actually speeding up when they would see an accident scene on the road.

No need to thank me for the suggestion. I'm just trying to ensure that my pain and suffering can work towards a greater good for mankind.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The way it ought to be?

I'll admit it. I'm a baseball purist. When the word baseball is popping around in my head, James Earl Jones is the voice that's saying it.

So, when I recently got an invitation to go to watch a Northwoods League baseball game in Madison, I jumped at the chance. The town of Madison has an interesting baseball history, including having guys such as Jose Canseco pop through here (as well as a few strip clubs, I'm sure) when it was an Oakland A's minor league town.

Since then, quite a few franchises have come and gone. We've had the Madison Hatters, my personal favorite franchise name, as well as the Madison Black Wolf, and currently Madison is the home of the Mallards.

The Mallards are in an interesting league, as the teams are filled with college players that are just looking to get more experience and play every day. They're allowed to do this, as they don't get paid to be one of the "boys of summer". Sounds great, right? Over the past few years, I'd heard a great deal about all of the promotions that were being run to make this a great product for the fans. How could it go wrong?

My friend had gotten four free tickets for the game through some promotion, so we weren't out a cent to be at the game. The tickets were general admission, so we grabbed the best group of seats that allowed the four of us to sit together. We were on the 3rd base line, right behind the home dugout. It should have been a great place to watch a game.

That's when the wheels came off. Apparently the baseballs they were using were a premium item, and we found this fact out pretty quickly. After the first foul ball of the game, which happened in the first inning, we were informed via the public address system that if you caught a foul ball, you could take it to the concession stand to get a free Oscar Mayer hotdog. "Not a bad deal," I thought. I wouldn't take them up on that, but I could see how someone might think that getting free food would be a nice trade for a baseball. Then it started...

Foul ball.

"WEINER!" said the announcer

Foul ball.


Then it got even more odd.


"Vavavavavavava.... Wiener."

What?!? There isn't even a 'v' in Weiner. Honestly, he must have said weiner, or one of his more clever derivations of the word, at least 30 or 40 times throughout the game. It got to the point where that my friend that invited me started to cringe and then apologize each time there was a batter fouled one off.

After the 2nd inning, for some unknown reason, I decided to go for a hot dog. I made a short stop at the rest room and as I was walking in, I heard a man talking.

Let me try to explain something for the women in the listening audience. A men's room is a very quiet place. We don't talk to each other. We don't look at each other. If it were possible, without risking injury or an unfortunate bumping incident, we would get earplugs and a blindfold as we walk into a rest room so that we wouldn't have to talk to or see another man while we're taking care of our individual needs.

Without getting too graphic, which is probably not possible at this point but I must soldier on, he continued to talk while I was in the rest room.

"Get down there."

That's never a good sign. A small part of me felt bad for the man as we've all been there before or, then again, maybe we haven't. I'm still not sure what he was talking to (I have a few ideas. Send me an email if you're curious) but regardless, he deserved a bit of pity at that point. I say a bit, because he then walked out of the stall and right out the door. When he made the decision not to wash his hands, all pity went to anyone who had ever shaken one of his soiled hands.

The next few innings of the game were a sensory overload. The announcer, and whoever was running the music system, began to openly mock the other teams players by either making fun of their last names or by playing songs that poked fun at them. One of the shorter players on the other team was greeted by a song that included the lyrics, "I wish I was a little bit taller." Another walked to the dish and had to hear Abba’s "Dancing Queen", as if they were suggesting that he was a friend of Dorothy. Lastly, one of the player’s names was Mueller. So, three times during the game we heard... "Mueller....Anyone? Mueller?" Oh, that Ferris Bueller line was never used so cleverly before.


Add all of those things in combination with the fact that each half-inning interval had some sort of activity going on. Whether it was a t-shirt toss or a faux sumo wrestling competition you never had a chance to sit back in your seat and relax and enjoy the concept of being at a baseball game.

It’s just a matter of time before they’ll just take a random fan onto the field and let people beat him with a sock full of quarters for a good between inning giggle.

The motto of the team is, “Baseball the way it ought to be.” If this is the way it’s supposed to be, then I think I’ll be lining up for WNBA tickets sooner than I ever thought possible.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

It can't rain all the time.

I can't try to be funny all the time either. Well, actually I do try to be funny almost all the time. So here's my first attempt at something else.

I got punched the night before I got married. I'm still not sure why he hit me. It wasn't like he punched me in the face or anything, but rumor has it that this it how it went down. Someone bumped me, I spilled water on my best man, and the next thing I knew it I got punched. Shortly after that I felt the need to throw up. Go figure.

I've always been a big believer in signs. If you're going to start writing and your computer crashes, it probably won't be your best day. If work calls you ten seconds after you wake up, it's not going to be a good day. If it's 98 degrees outside with 99% humidity on the day you get married, there might be someone hinting to the bride that this might not be the ideal guy to hitch on to long term. If weather like that occurs in the coldest city in the continental United States, it might be time to get a lawyer on speed dial.

For some reason, that I have yet to understand, Sarah still went through with it. That was seven years ago, tomorrow.

I know everyone, for good or bad, says that they remember everything about their wedding day. I'll be the first to admit that I can't remember it all.

Sometimes I have a hard time remembering parts about last week, so I figure that there is a good part of my brain that is missing. Either that or it's clogged up with some other crucial information like how many homers Ben Ogilvie hit on May 14th, 1983. (3, is the answer) Or it contains the code to get 30 free lives in Contra on the NES.

But I do remember the some very important things.

I remember getting the pictures taken with both of our families. I remember sitting by myself in the little room just to the right of altar by myself, for what seemed like forever before they let me go and stand in the church. I remember sitting with Sarah during the ceremony with the only fan, in the un-air conditioned church, blowing on us and watching everyone sweat profusely as we sat there quite comfortably. I remember that we were never introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Glen Haag. I remember that we never got to kiss. I remember that we didn't have any of our own wedding cake. I remember how disappointed that I was that I didn't get to dance with my mother because it was so hot that she had to leave before they played our song. I remember being embarrassed at how drunk my father was by the time the reception ended. I remember getting to the hotel with my wife, still in her wedding gown, and having them ask her for ID to prove that she was the one that got married that day. I remember seeing Sarah sitting on the ground in front of our honeymoon suite, since she had to wait for me to go find my wallet for ID, so we could get into the room.

There are some other things that I remember that are more personal, and I’d like to selfishly keep those ones to myself.

I remember how much I loved her on that day.

Seven years later, we're on our way to having our first child, and I love her more than ever before.

It’s taken me a while to figure out what sign I should have picked up on from that day, but I think I have it now.

10 hours in those outfits, in a hundred degree weather?

Don’t ever get a job in the Tuxedo rental business. Boy, did I ever stink. Whew.