Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007


“Where’s the bottle?”

“I brought it out. Set it on the bar. You don’t have it?”

“No! I saw you set it down, but by the time I came over to that end of the bar to move it to the mirror, it was gone. Somebody must’ve stolen it.”

“Ah shit. I’ll go check the cameras.”

I missed that conversation between the manager and bartender at the bar & grill where I work nights, but I heard the recap a few minutes later. My manager was looking at the closed circuit monitor, scratching his head, wondering how in the hell to use the thing without a keyboard or mouse.

I stepped into the office. “That’s my day job. Cameras, registers, digital video recorders, and so forth. I should be able to figure this thing out. If I can’t, I oughtta quit my day job. Let me at it.”

The DVR was up on a high shelf, so I stood up on a padded swivel chair, and after carefully adjusting my balance to prevent any unexpected falling injuries, I starting pressing buttons and making guesses. My manager stood on a chair next to me, his eyes darting back and forth as I rifled through several baffling menus.

I eventually determined how to assign a single camera to take up the entire display, and then I discovered playback mode. Bingo.

The culprit: male, mid-twenties, short spiked blond hair, black Fox Racing hoodie. The thief was likely some local faux-rural fuckstain who came in after taking in the motocross event at the arena across the street. He was definitely too old to be stealing cheap booze and dashing away, giggling and proud of his misdemeanor. (Like I did as a teenager. It’s okay for teenagers to steal booze from the grocery store. Hell, it should even be encouraged. Adults? Not so much.)

My manager took this positive identification back to the bar and asked his staff questions about the douchebag, eventually learning the moron asked for directions to our competitor, Chili’s, just down the street.

Cops were called. An attractive, cheerful policewoman came in the watch the video, take a report, and finally, dispatch units to Chili’s to secure the miscreants and the pilfered alcohol.

The Hoffman Estates cops nailed all four of the scumsucking bottom dwellers. I heard everything through the police radio.

The policewoman, my manager, and me were all yelling, cheering, and high-fiving. Congratulating each other.

It was nice to be on the right side of the law for 1 day out of 365.That’s my quota for the year.

11:08 AM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Thousand Icicle Knives

I’m watching titties jiggle up here in old Melrose Park. I’m inside a small private club, a brick rectangle with no windows and single occupancy washrooms. The stage has two poles, two spotlights, one disco ball, and about fifty drinking men surrounding it, the lot of them shifting uncomfortably in cheap plastic chairs.

I’m standing up at the periphery of the horny crowd. The decent seats are taken, and I don’t mind. I paid forty bucks to get in, and I intend to drink at least that much in cheap beer at the open bar. Small plastic cups won’t deter me. I’ll just stay on my feet halfway between the stage and the bar. Get myself an eyeful and a bellyful simultaneously.

Besides, there’s a mirror covering the wall behind the bar, and I can ogle the tap girl’s naked ass while she fills my cups. Hey, I’m nearsighted.

Hey, look at that! The chubby Japanese stripper just pinched that guy’s nose shut with her crotch. So tight his blushing cheeks are stretching towards the center of his ruddy face. That’s good entertainment right there! This is not as impressive as the time I saw a stripper launch a dildo ten feet away with a crotch clench, but no matter how underwhelming the feat, vaginal aerobics are always a joy to behold.

It’s an hour later and the DJ is making announcements. The main stage shows are nearly done. Now, he breathlessly intones, is time for the private dances. Get the up close and personal attention our girls have lathered on the bachelor all night!

Wallets are scoured. Middle-aged men with receding hairlines, expanding waistlines, and yellow teeth are calculating how many minutes can be bought- minutes of naked female youth writhing upon their laps, contorting and moaning and playacting. Images and moments to be saved, stored in the imagination for the following month’s morning soapoffs.

Not me. I’m better than that. I’m not married, middle-aged, or dishonest enough with myself to properly enjoy a lap dance. I can’t get past the fact that the attention is false, that the beautiful woman simulating orgasm before me is only pretending. Most guys can ignore the big picture, can forget that the woman has no interest in him. To a stripper, you’re just a wallet. The last time I had a lap dance, I couldn’t enjoy it. A ringing indictment looped in my thoughts: “She’s lying to me. This is pretend.”

When I leave a strip joint, I’m all loneliness and blue balls. I feel cheap and cheated and less than human. Apparently, I’m the only one. People say I think too much. They say I take things too seriously, that I'm uptight, or worse, a hypocrite.

All true, I know.


No lap dances for me tonight. Even if I could freeze my mental anguish and enjoy it, panting and dumb, $20 a song is farther out than I can swim.

Ten drinks later and a stripper is grabbing me by the hand, leading me into a corner. I shouldn’t follow her. I know better.

3:51 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More Altrusim


“Karaoke’s over. Finished. Kaput. It’s ten to four. Get the fuck out.”

The surly bouncer grabbed the half full beer from my clammy grasp and pointed at the door. The man obviously derived glee from hostility. He was short, fat, and wore a t-shirt with a motorcycle on the front. Or, in one word: douchebag.

With mere hours before dawn, it was time for my group to filter out to vehicles, time for us to fumble with keys, to gnaw upon handfuls of mints, and to close one eye and weave homeward.

I hadn’t arrived until three, and since I was nearly sober and perfectly capable of navigation, I decided to deliver one extremely wasted soul to his front door. No driving for him. No way, no how, not gonna happen, pass the potatoes, please and thank you.

He didn’t know where to find his home. He just moved there. We got lost in the woods of South Barrington, the dark twists of Penny Road smashing my mental compass.

“You need me to pull over? You gonna splash out?”

“Nuh-nnooooo…. I neeeeevvver puke. I haven’t puked in six years. Oh man I’m so drunk. Thanks for taking me… taking me...ulg.

He rolled down the window. Icy sharp air flooded the car, slapping me in the face.

He broke his six year puke-free streak with a barrage of tepid beer and chicken wings, which streaked the side of the silver G6 I was driving.

“Iz… iss all outside your car. I dint get any in.”

He kept rolling the window up and down, effectively squeezing his regurgitation down where the window slots into the door. I saw chicken shred and potato chunks inside the car. His accuracy and reportage were not be trusted.

After we finally found his abode I inspected the car. Puke painted the exterior all the way to the back bumper. Bile trickles dripped from the ceiling onto the passenger seat.

Fuck it, that’s what rentals are for, right?

12:57 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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