Family Time: My Daughter Is A Genius.

Of course, many geniuses become mad scientists…

A Living Room Conversation Between Father And Daughter

My 15-year-old:  Hey, Skippy?

Skippy (That’d be me.):  (Sighing.)  If you need money, you’ve picked the wrong summer.

Sarah:  No kidding! I have more money than you do this year – and I don’t even have a job! I have a question.

Me:  In that case, what can I do for you, kid?

Sarah:  The word “extraordinary”, what exactly does it mean?

Me:  Let’s put it this way, your mother never uses it when she speaks of me.

Sarah:  So it means above average?

Me:  Yep.

Sarah:  But when you break it down, it actually means “extra ordinary”. So shouldn’t it actually mean twice as ordinary?

Me:  (Pondering just where the kid’s genius sprang from.)  Well, when you put it that way… yes. But according to every teacher you’ll ever deal with… it doesn’t.

Sarah:  How do you like that? For once I didn’t have to leave the room to find Mom while you sat there with a strange look on your face. Good going, Skippy!

Me:  You do realize I’ll be mobile again someday, don’t you?

Sarah:  You don’t scare me, Skippy.

Me:  I know where you sleep and I stay up later, kid.

Sarah:  Good luck. By the way, I read your book again last night.

Me:  Oh yeah?

Sarah:  Yeah. It was extraordinary.

In that moment I realized how razor thin the line between pride and revulsion is…

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

I’m On The Mend, But I Still Suck At Titles.

A collection of magazines and puzzle books. Tasty confections. Toy cars. A kazoo. Jumbo playing cards. (They maybe mutant playing cards, which would be super cool.) Pencil crayons and modelling clay. Trail mix. Assorted goodies. And lest I forget, a harmonica which I’m expected to master this summer. (Lord knows I’ll have the time.)

They arrived by courier early this morning as I sat on my front porch, my fractured form weighed down by self-doubt and depression. It had been a morning ruled by contradictions: I saw no reason to leave my bed and yet, a senses of pride poured into my consciousness as I tackled household chores. Granted, my circumstances dictated my actions; soiled laundry was delivered to the machine on my lap as I slid across the floor. The bathroom was cleaned in stages – on one leg, of course.

As I slumped on a deck chair, however, my mood began to spiral downward once more.

Then, salvation arrived in the form of the squeaky brakes of a delivery truck and a jovial delivery woman. Christmas in July unfolded on my porch as I tore the cardboard apart with my superhuman Canadian hands. A card, dressed with simple sentiment but oozing with friendship and coolness, told the tale.

The bonds of friendship in its purest form, are limitless. My patron and I have never laid eyes on one another and yet, her selfless act has touched me beyond words.

Ann St. Vincent has a heart of gold imbedded in what is apparently a chest designed by Stradivarius. She is a woman of unquenchable passion. A mother who loves and guards her offspring with equal fervor. She is a friend, although that words feels woefully inadequate when applied to souls such as Ann’s, Ned Hickson’s or Robyn Lawson’s.

But getting back to my personal Mrs. Santa, her gift has been the catalyst for a wonderful day for my little family unit:

  • My wife scarfed the trail mix with athletic zeal.
  • Sarah and VampireLover fought to the near-death over the chocolate goodies.
  • My father-in-law has lost himself in the various magazines.
  • My daughter has been giving me coloring tips. (She’s the Scooby-Doo expert, after all.)
  • I’ve got my mojo back.

I could go on about Ann’s many fine qualities – inside and out – but here it is in a nutshell: With the exception of my family, no one has stepped up to elevate my spirit like Ann St. Vincent. If you ever need an organ, Ann (quit giggling), I’m your guy.

(It won’t be one of my organs, of course, but as a bellman, I know a guy.)

You have a special day coming up this summer, Ann; I hope it brings you all the happiness and passion in the world.

As for the rest of you, be well, my friends. You rock.

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , | 31 Comments

I Suppose You’re Wondering Why I’ve Called You All Here…

I’ve always wanted to say that…

Moving on…. I hate to disappoint anyone – outside of the bedroom, that is – but my blogging generator is still chugging along at half-power.

Our buddy, Ned Hickson is setting the world on fire with 4,000 followers and I can barely hobble together a post. The good news is, I’ve been able to start another writing project, but the bad news appears when I try to transfer the chicken scratched contents of a Hilroy notebook to my computer. I’m able to set my thoughts to paper but when it comes to transcription I ‘d rather give Kris Jenner her hourly bikini wax than sit in front of my laptop.

But I shouldn’t complain… then again, I’m so good at it, how can I resist?

THINGS I HATE AT THE MOMENT…

1)  Not being able to walk to the bathroom.  These days, it takes at least ten minutes to relieve myself. That may not seem like an extraordinary amount of time but when you’re crawling across the floor on your ass and self-doubt is weighing you down, it’s a fuckin’ eternity.

2)  Not being able to earn.  I am… no, scratch that, I was the breadwinner at home. Now I can’t even provide crumbs. We’re getting by – hot dogs on bread and baloney sandwiches as a steady diet isn’t so bad – but my sense of self is keyed into my ability to provide for my family and I miss being able to do so.

3)  Going without comic books.  I miss my weekly visits to the comic store with my daughter. The day when she has better things to do than hang out with her old man is just around the corner – damn it – and this mess is cutting into what remains of our father/daughter time. I miss being the cool dad. Yes, a comic book nerd can actually be the cool dad. Shut up.

4)  Having a reason to get up in the morning.  My family is still the light of my life. They accept me for the dumbass I am. They’re not exactly pleased about it, but they accept it. However, every day is the same:

  • Get up, crawl downstairs.
  • Get cleaned up – on one leg.
  • Sit on the couch – for hours.
  • Switch to the porch.
  • Come in and eat.
  • Sit on the couch.
  • Crawl upstairs.
  • Go to bed.
  • Pray for a bolt of lightning to penetrate my bedroom window.

5)  Not being able to finish a post.  Seriously, I’m done.

Not to worry, folks, I’ll be The Hook again soon, I’m sure. This is Robert, signing off.

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

This is a Post.

To be honest, friends, I have a new writing project that deserves my attention but my creativity is as fractured as my mind and body are at the moment.

So here’s hoping blogging is as therapeutic as the non-licensed therapists claim it is…

Things I’ve Been Taking For Granted

The Incident, as it’s come to be referred to in my house, has opened my eyes to all the little things in my life that I’ve never considered valuable/important – until I could no longer accomplish them easily.

Getting in and out of a car:  The front seat of an automobile was designed for someone who can bend both of their legs. I’m spending the summer in a leg brace. I’ve been spending more time in the back of a van than a wannabe actress during her first summer in Los Angeles. And I’m pretty sure the actress is having more fun.

Climbing stairs:  Actually, that term is misleading. Most of you walk up and down stairs. I’ve been climbing them – on my ass. Staircases with sturdy railings that can easily support my 225-plus pounds of girth aren’t too bad but I look like a human pogo stick while navigating them.

Being able to change seats:  In the last several weeks my world has shrunk faster than Bruce Jenner’s manhood. Now that my mobility has been severely limited my days are spent in one of three places:

  1. Bed. I’ve done many thing in my bed: Devoured snacks while enjoying my favorite mind-numbing shows, contemplated a plan of attack for the day ahead, apologized – Lord, have I apologized – but I’ve never been a prisoner. Until now, that is. (Actually, I have been a prisoner before, but “Sexy Librarian Disciplines The College Student With Overdue Books” doesn’t count, right?)
  2. The living room couch:  Daytime television is a vast wasteland populated by bar rescues, repo games, retro game shows, something called The Chew (I was praying a jet engine would fall through my roof after the first five minutes), and other programs too banal to mention. And summertime prime time is no picnic either. Thank God – and Stephen King – for Under The Dome. But the couch is comfy – though not after ten hours – so there I sit, day after day, after day…
  3. My front porch:  Someone put me some kids in my yard so I can shake my fist at ‘em, please. Seriously, my father-in-law and I have spent hours on my porch this summer. We’ll engage in stimulating conversations that involve the following phrases:

“Looks like rain today. They said it was going to be sunny, but they appear to be wrong.”

“Whatever happened to (insert name of an old family friend here)?”

“The damn government!”

“Looks like the foul-mouthed, randy divorcée across the street snagged another one. Poor bastard.”

Yep, welcome to my world. By the way, these days the answer to whatever happened to most of our old family friends is the same: they died.

Bow chicka wow wow:  Want an extended break from the ole “in and out”, fellas? Break a fuckin’ leg and you’ll be in sexual limbo before you know it.

Going to the bathroom:  This is the Big One, kids. When all is said and done and my leg heals fully (hopefully), I’ll never forget my summertime trips to the bathroom while in a leg brace. Urinating can be a chore on a good day – if you’re drunk, tired or sick – but when you can only bend one leg? Well, then it becomes an energy-sapping exercise worthy of a Navy SEAL.

During the day I can use my crutches, although they’re pretty much useless when it comes to actually sitting on the throne and doing your business. In the middle of the night, however, all bets are off.

Our 2nd floor bathroom is right across from my daughter’s room and it’s about 3, 000 miles – give or take – from my room, so in the interest of maintaining the evening stillness… I crawl on my butt… every… single… night. Half of my knuckles resemble uncooked pork chops, my home’s floors have been polished to a nice sheen but only in a very specific path, and my dignity is deader than Lindsay Lohan’s career.

And sine we’re down the Rabbit Hole anyway… Have you ever tried to wipe your behind while perched on one leg? My hands are far too large to fit in-between my legs which I’m unable to spread far apart, so I have to hover – again, on one leg – while cleaning myself.

Bathing sucks too. At least we have a bath chair. I refuse to imagine a scenario where I’d have to rely on someone else to clean me that doesn’t involve me as a 103-year-old man.

No matter how strange your life is at the moment, I’m guessing I have you beat.

Feeding myself – at the kitchen table:  The healing process dictates I keep my leg elevated, so I eat my meals – which I cannot risk preparing on one leg – on the couch. Having a sexy butler/nurse sounds great on paper but I die every time I see the exhaustion in my wife’s eyes. And so there I sit, day after day, munching away in front of the tube.

And speaking of my wife, and for that matter, the rest of my clan and my friends, both in-person and virtual…

Thank you, everyone who has reached out to me these last few weeks. Your support, love, jokes, good wishes and other acts of kindness have touched me. And after a few weeks of celibacy, I really appreciate being touched…

See you around, folks…

 

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , , | 37 Comments

The Only Birthday Gift I Can Afford On My Current Salary…

On the surface this has appears to have been an ordinary day; The Biebs has escaped true justice once more, my all-too fragile form remains broken, Ned Hickson is still a putz, Ann St. Vincent is still steaming up computer screens everywhere and Robyn Lawson and The Bloggess are still making people wet themselves with laughter.

But the truth is, this is a special day. Five years ago, as we humans mark the passing of time, my fractured (in more ways than one), clan was blessed with an addition that would change us beyond measure.

IMG_0521

(I was fully prepared to follow “blessed” with “cursed” but a certain fifteen-year-old member of my family would have my Canadian, comic book readin’, guts for garters. And her progenitor would have a field day with the rest of me.)

Growing up, I never felt that special bond that exists between man and domesticated beast. As a father I have had the privilege of witnessing what happens when you introduce a canine companion to the life of a quiet, introverted young lass. My daughter, Sarah, has spent most of her life thus far a victim of relentless bullying and an educational system run by incompetent blowhards.

But Chelsea and her sister-from-another-bitch, Tiffany, changed all that. Tiffany is chasing squirrels and humping legs in Heaven now, but her sibling has kept the faith in her place. Chelsea remains dedicated to the fulfillment of a singular mission: To enrich our lives with her special brand of crazy.

(I remain convinced, however, that her true mission is to usurp me as the head of the household, but no one around these parts cares what Dad has to say, so disregard this statement.)

 And yes, Sarah, I know exactly what you’re thinking right now:

“You were never the head of the household, Skippy, so give it up.”

Let’s return to that special link between a sassy. modern-day girl and her dog, shall we?

Chelsea is no mere Shih Tzu, my tailless amigos, she is a human whisperer. Sarah’s sidekick knows people better than they know themselves. When Sarah is ailing Doctor Chelsea is there to sniff her weakened form and prescribe a custom treatment. Of course, it’s always the same treatment: An extensive round of face-licking followed by sleep therapy. By that, I mean Chelsea falls asleep on the patient until her heart melts, thus distracting her from her ailment.

When any of us return home after an extended absence we’re greeted by a panting, drooling animal with an offering of a stuffed toy in its heaving mouth. This is, of course, the ultimate symbol of reverence in canine culture and is guaranteed to result in a “Aww, how cute!”, every single time.

However, when I greet my wife while panting and drooling, the results are quite different, to say the least…

And if a fight breaks out? Well, Chelsea becomes a canine version of the United Nations – except that, in her case, she has the bite to back up her bark. And Dog help any prowler who ever decides to cross our threshold.

Truth be told, Chelsea has many gifts but her greatest talent leaves any of The Dog Whisperer’s furry charges in the dust. I’ve never discussed this publicly (I have no desire to spend the rest of my days in a hospital ward wearing a jacket with pockets in the back), but we share our little homestead with… shall we call them, the living-challenged? 

I know what you’re thinking: Yes, my doctor provided me with some kick-ass painkillers, but no, I haven’t been chasing them with paint thinner.

Every member of my family has heard the playful meow or our long-departed cat, Felix. We’ve caught glimpses of forms and shadows that don’t belong to the living. But these incidents are rare and fleeting – and have never been influenced by fever, drugs or alcohol.

Chelsea sees spirits every day. And she quit drinking years ago. She’ll spend hours staring at various points on different ceilings in our home. I’ll join her and I won’t even spot a cobweb, much less a ghostie.

Our little four-legged Ghostbuster is currently enjoying a well-deserved spa day. I can just picture her now: Her neatly trimmed fur glistening under the fluorescent lights as she regales her brethren with updates on her family’s shenanigans.

“You’ll never believe what that two-legged dumbass did this time! I woke up the other night, looked down from the bed and there he was, crawling along the floor on the way to the inside bathroom they use. We don’t even crawl! It’s bad enough he has two extra strange-looking legs these days, but now he’s doing things that cats would find strange!”

And there you have it. kids, my tribute (?) to the greatest compact doggie in all the land. To be honest, Chelsea and I have had our moments; I’ll never forget the night I returned home after a twelve-hour shift to find my wife preparing a delicious repast of chicken and rice – for Chelsea.

My grill-cheese sandwich was a feast for the taste buds, by the way.

Happy Birthday, Chelsea. You’re a steadfast companion, a credit to your race and a worthy adversary. Enjoy your day, furball.

And on a personal note, thank you for drawing me out of my tibial-plateau-fracture-induced funk. I’m not back, but I’m on the right track, at last.

Posted in Hotel Life | 33 Comments

I Am A Dumbass. Here’s Why.

Where to begin?

It is a question, no, it is the question that has plagued everyone who has ever tried to communicate, from the most brilliant writer to the first caveman who scratched up a perfectly good cave wall with messages that appeared to be insane ramblings to the rest of the tribe.

Speaking of that original set of markings, can you imagine all the information the first writer/artist wanted to convey?

  • “Females are soft and warm. After you bang them over the head with a club? Not so much.”
  • “Fire… good for making dead animal taste better.”
  • “Fire… HOT!”
  • “Beware the Kardashian tribe. Me get bad vibe from them.”

But enough about the distant past, let’s talk about recent events and how they have impacted my present… and the damage they’re going to do to my future.

First of all, I am still currently employed as a bellman. My write-up and the events that led to it are irrelevant in light of… well, you’ll soon see. Let’s just say that a really bad day effects everyone, no matter how professional they normally act, and that sometimes you run into vindictive, frigid tour guides who feel compelled to make your life a living hell even though they receive exemplary service. Long story short, I lost my temper in front of, not with, a tour guide who complained to the front desk. I was written up. My career will continue. End of story.

That story, at least.

 If you’d like to read about another story, well then, you’re in the right place, friends.

You see, there was once a young man named Robert who always felt he didn’t measure up in the home improvement department… probably because he didn’t. And so, his lovely vampire-lovin’ wife, who was raised in  a home of home improvement masters, did most of the heavy lifting when it came to the handyman role.

Long story short – again – Jackie has always been the one to handle the home improvements but she’s grown tired of her role and so last Thursday, while attempting to up my handyman game, I did something ridiculously stupid that I’ll be paying for, well, for the rest of my life.

Two rotten fascia boards needed to be removed from the front and side of our garage. Sounds simple enough, right? Not for me, kids. Despite the areas of rot, these suckers were nailed in tight and so, in an attempt to gain more leverage, I climbed onto a wooden sawhorse and began to bang away with a hammer.

And that’s where everything began to spiral out of control.

My hammer bounced back. I did the same. My left knee twisted and emitted a crack that filled the air. I fell to the ground, but even though I landed in a standing position, I continued to fall.

The fall wasn’t the problem, though. That crack I mentioned earlier? That was part of my left knee impacting the other with enough force to cause it to fracture.

I didn’t know any of this until the next day, when my x-rays and a CT scan revealed the truth: While the damage wasn’t serious enough to warrant surgery – but just barely – it was serious enough to force me to wear a brace for two to three months. If I place more than a feather’s weight on my left leg, I’ll be placing my health in jeopardy.

Speaking of jeopardy, do you have any idea, my friends, what happens to a bellman who cannot work in the summertime? He can’t feed himself. He can’t shower properly. And worst of all, he can’t support his family.

I had a ladder readily available, but since the boards were a mere foot above my head, I felt confident the sawhorse would do the trick.

Clearly, I am a dumbass.

Now everything has changed. Jackie has had enough to deal with over the course of the last few years but my actions have compounded her misery immeasurably. For the Niagara region’s hospitality industry, summer is the most profitable time of the year. But not for me.

Right now, as I’m sitting in bed typing away, my wife, daughter, and father-in-law are hard at work cleaning his house next door, in preparation for an imminent sale – maybe. The truth is, my family’s future is uncertain, I’ve seen to that.

There is so much I want to say, so much I want to convey, but my mind is a maelstrom of regret, anger, failure and a million other emotions. I’ve said enough for now. In spite of my physical inactivity, I won’t be blogging for the foreseeable future.

I need time to heal. I’ll be returning to the orthopedic surgeon on July 9 with my super-hot, live-in, vampire-lovin’ nurse and hopefully, my patented brand of luck will bring good news. If my body heals quickly, I’ll be able to return to work sooner than expected. If not, well, I’ll survive but my leg will never be the same. For that matter, neither will my spirit.

The truth is, I feel like a complete and utter failure. Not only have I let down my family financially, I may have ruined my daughter’s summer. Sarah can’t even enjoy a good night’s sleep without the sound of her old man hobbling his way to the bathroom. The seemingly-simple act of urinating has become a major operation.

I can either crawl across the floor or I can bounce along on crutches, shattering the night’s silence with a series of metallic clicks. Either way, once I reach the toilet, the real fun begins. Pulling one’s shorts down with a brace in the way is not fun at all, kids. Once the deed is finally done, I have to pull myself up, putting further strain on my good leg, and repeat my pathetic shuffle back to bed.

But enough wallowing, my family has returned and so I must take my leave of you, for how long, I cannot say. In the meantime, thank you for your time and friendship.

Be well, and stay off those sawhorses, they’re killers.

 

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , , | 71 Comments

Don’t Blog Angry? Yeah, Right…

Well, I’ve been at work for an hour-and-a-half and so far all I have to show for it is the news of an impending write-up and a bagel (a guest call that ends with zero dollars in the bellman’s pocket), from a Middle-Eastern douchebag.

Go, Team Hook.

Posted in Hotel Life | Tagged , | 34 Comments