Friday, January 24, 2020

My Special Own Bully

Back in the day, there was a kid who chose to bully me for being overweight from seventh grade up through twelfth grade. At that time, I lost about 100 pounds, so he stopped bullying me because clearly, it just wasn't fun any longer. Tough crowd.

Let's call him Jimmy Mohawk.
Man, did Jimmy freak me out. Scary with crazy eyes and a pinched, fox-like face, the guy had several screws loose. I'd always suspected it, but one night he proved my theory particularly well. I was with a friend, walking the mean streets of Mission, Kansas (so, soooo mean) one night, when we ran into my nemesis. Screaming at the top of his lungs with his cohorts, he found a metal pipe and began bashing it into a light-post, threatening to kill me. We just kinda walked away hoping he wouldn't follow through with his death threat.

Turned out the buddy I was with was Jimmy's hesitant locker partner. Jimmy Mohawk played his particularly insane brand of cray on him when he assassinated my pal's lunch sandwich and spread it all over the locker. Fun in junior high!

Oh, I could take Jimmy's constant name-calling and threats. I could even handle his sticking his leg out in classroom aisles, trying to trip me. And since he never succeeded in tripping me (I always high-stepped over the jack-ass' leg), that just pissed him off more. He came after me with a vengeance.

So, desperate, for the first time ever, I went to my big brother for help. He said, "Just go up to him and tell him you're not gonna take it any more."

I thought about it. The next day, in the gym locker room, I took in a deep breath, and did just that. I couldn't believe Jimmy's response. He acted like I was nuts, said he never bullied me, didn't know what I was talking about. But he was clearly shaken.

I went home, had a great weekend. King of the world! Until Monday. When Jimmy came back harder than ever. Absolutely psycho nuts, because no one had ever talked to him like that.

Sigh. It was a long, hard five years of terror. And it was the last time I ever went to my older brother for advice.

Now, through the miracle of technology and writing, let's jump ahead to 2019!

Here's the best part of my tale of teenage woe. Several months ago, a fellow high school graduate (a year below me), asked me to become a part of her Facebook page based on crude humor. Who else was a member of the group?

Why, insane, bullying, prince of prickery, lil' Jimmy Mohawk! I called him out on the site, because, you know, it's the internet and that's how you're expected to behave.

I wrote, "Jimmy Mohawk! My own personal bully of five years! Hah!"

Quickly, he befriended me and claimed he'd never bullied me, never did any of the things I detailed, and here's the funniest part--get this...you ready for it?--he said he ALWAYS stood up for the underdog!

Wait...what?

Delusion can be a powerful tool utilized by "tools" to rewrite themselves as the hero of their own tale.

I tried to get him to come onto my blog so I could interview him. Wouldn't that have been something, a first, I think. Of course, he had no interest in doing so. I'm pretty sure he didn't even know what a blog was.

He did, however, keep asking me to call him and talk things out. No interest on my part. Once crazy, always crazy. Alas, our rekindled "friendship" was meant to be a short-lived one.

Speaking of crazy-ass bullies, Jimmy Mohawk is featured in my young adult Tex, the Witch Boy series (under the name "Johnny Malinowski"). Based in part on my experiences of being bullied, the books should be read by any teen (or parent) who's ever been tormented in school. Hey, I have no shame!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Trauma-Laundry-ama

Actually I'd like to open up a "Trauma-Laundry-ama" for men who don't understand the rules of laundry.
Ladies (and men who know better), please keep in mind a lot of us lumbering, dumbering males weren't taught anything about appropriate laundry methodology. Our mothers were perfectly content on just washing our gross clothes--different era, different beliefs--and topping it off with a June Cleaver smile (look her up, Millenials).

When my wife moved in with me, I took it upon myself to do a load of her laundry. Trying to do a nice thing. 

I found out it was close to clothing treason.

Her clothes were chameleon like, changing colors. Sweaters and blouses oddly grew smaller.

In my defense, I said, "But, honey, my clothes constantly shrink all the time. It's weird, but it's the circle of life.  Hakuna matata, right?" (Um, my clothes' shrinking might have to do with other things--cough*weight gain*cough--but that's another blog post for another day). Regardless, she didn't buy into my half-arsed non-excuse.

She proceeded to tell me the Proper Laundry Rules. Who woulda' thought it'd be so complex? I mean, I used to throw everything in the machine, wash the bunch, crunch the clothing into drawers, dust my hands, hey, I'm a modern man, taking care of myself.

Or so I thought.

Who knew you were supposed to separate colors? And clothes by texture...and weight? Good Gawd, you need charts and process maps to steer you in the right direction. Plus, it'd take me days, I tell you, DAYS to wash a weeks' load of laundry, if I did everything by the book.

I lived for many years doing things my way (cue Frank Sinatra...again, Millenials, if you're reading, don't sweat it, go to Wikipedia). Okay, admittedly, my clothes aren't in the best shape.

My wife tells me I can't wear certain shirts or sweaters if we're going out.

"Why?" I ask, putting on an upside-down smile.

"Because, the shirt's stained..." She'll poke at a couple of heretofore unnoticed spots.

"But...they're beauty marks!"

Well. Apparently, it's just not my wife who believes in proper laundry etiquette. Even my father-in-law got in on the fracas recently. During I last visit, I put on a sweater and my wife said I looked terrible.

"What? This sweater looks great!" I said.

She said, "It's got pills everywhere."

My entire world went topsy-turvy. I'd never heard of sweaters having pills. I was so confused, I felt like I'd taken too many "funny" pills from the '60's.

My father-in-law piped in. "You don't look terrible..."

"Well, thank y--"

"But your sweater does."

Man, no respect.

Speaking of respect, do you all (Midwest speak) have respect for any or your bosses? Or ever had? Neither have I? 'Cause they're the WORST. They've been so bad, I had to write a satirical, horror, mystery, thriller book about it. Check out Corporate Wolf and live vicariously! Because work sucks and Monday's just around the corner. You're welcome!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Rollin' Down the Supernatural Highway with Author Kevin David Anderson


Yee-haw, y’all! Gather ‘round, pop your boots up, grab that bag of greasy sliders, pop a cold one and join me as I grill (hope I don’t overcook him) comical horror author Kevin David Anderson. Kevin’s got a new book out from Grinning Skull Press entitled Midnight Men: The Supernatural Adventures of Dale and Earl and it’s a rollicking good time. 

Check out his super-cool trailer if you don't believe me!

 I knew I had to chat him up on my blog. Let’s see what Kevin’s all about…


SRW: Welcome Kevin. So… let’s get the necessary hyping and explaining outta the way first. What’s Midnight Men all about? And you must describe it like a country ballad. None of that sissy, namby-pamby, fancy-pantsed, modern pop country stuff, either. Nosirree, Bob! I’m talking a manly man’s country and western song, the kind Dale and Earl cruise to.

KDA: Well, I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel so I’ll throw out some of my favorite Waylon Jennings lyrics from the television show that is really just a country version of Masterpiece Theater:

Just the good ol' boys
Never meanin' no harm
Beats all you never saw
Been in trouble with the law
Since the day they was born
Staightenin' the curves
Flattenin' the hills
Someday the mountain might get 'em
But the law never will

Now if Mr. Jennings were to just change a few lyrics, substitute the young, good looking Bo and Luke Duke with two heavyset, not-so-good looking rednecks, trade out the General Lee for a Mac truck, season it with a few monsters, and that right there would be Midnight Men

SRW: Kevin, let’s tackle the burning question I’m certain is on everyone’s mind.  Are you, sir, a redneck?

KDA: Well, in the affirmative column we have my blonde mullet I wore for a brief time in the 80s, my Willie Nelson record collection, and the fact that I did live in Texas for three years. In the not a redneck column I have, never owned a pickup truck, lived in a trailer park, or dated a relative. I don’t care much for Pabst Blue Ribbon, beer nuts or motorsports. So, if I tally that all up and look at the convention chart, I think that puts me in the Not a Redneck category. 
An American Mullet in Paris (Anderson circa 1985)!
SRW: Then, why write about them? After all, haven’t you heard, write what you know?

KDA: Yeah, I’ve heard it. It seems to imply that if you’re not a redneck you couldn’t possibly write about’ em. But yet I also write about werewolves, demons, zombies, necromancers, witches, vampires, serial killers, human traffickers, ghouls, sadists, Satan worshipers, and monster killin’ truck drivers and I’m not at least half of those things either.

SRW: Here in godforsaken Kansas, Dale and Earl wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow. Let’s talk about Dale… He’s a man of mysterious background and since he’s also a man of few words, we don’t learn too much of that background. Do you know his full story? Or are you winging it?

KDA: I have his background story, the details are not etched in stone, but the basics are there. I will put it down on paper if and when there are enough readers asking for it. 

SRW: And what about that shadowy organization he sometimes works for and tries to keep at distance from his pal, Earl? 

KDA: Yeah, those guys. I like the idea of keeping them in the shadows, but what I will say here and now, assuming Earl and Dale’s story continues beyond Midnight Men, is that the organization exists on every continent, they’ve been around since before the Roman Empire, and its membership does not discriminate against the non-human or the dead.  

SRW: On the subject of Earl… He’s huge, he’s good-natured (when he’s not breaking skulls), loyal, and more than a little dense between the ears. You’ve dropped that he was adopted by a Native-American family and they brought him up on the reservation. Is there any chance of getting his “secret origin” story in the future?

KDA: Just like Dale’s background, Earl’s origins have been sketched out in my mind, and should the redneck duos adventures continue, then his story and his adoptive tribe will play a big part.

SRW: Earl appears to get love-struck fairly easily and I’m betting it happens often. Dale, on the other hand, is as celibate as a priest (wait…let’s try that again…)… Dale’s as celibate as a eunuch. Sure, he pines after his ex-wife (even though he has nothing kind to say about her), but surely that’s not the only reason he doesn’t seek companionship. Life on the road’s tough, I suppose, especially with spider-monsters and such coming outta the woodwork, but come on!

KDA: Funny you should ask. I have started a story in which I explore that very aspect of Dale, and what I know so far is that his relationship with his ex is much more complicated then I ever realized. Vile disdain can come from the heart and if felt deep enough can translate into physical passions. Not necessarily positive passions (there may be gunfire) but passions none the less. 

SRW: Okay, was the tv show, Supernatural, an inspiration? I kinda like to think of Dale and Earl as Sam and Dean gone to seed. But don’t go buy a yacht yet, Kevin. I don’t think people would want to turn into a TV show with Dale and Earl as the stars? I just can’t see it on the CW, home of the pretty, pretty poster people.

KDA: I see and understand the comparison, and I do like their black 67’ Impala (damn that’s a fine automobile) but they didn’t inspire Earl and Dale. The idea of truckers fighting darkness came from one of my favorite John Carpenter movies, Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is the original inspiration for it all, and although my two characters might hardly be recognizable in the comparison with Jack, if you look closely, squint your eyes a bit, you can see the similarities. As far as Earl and Dale on TV, I think they might fit on networks like USA, FX, TBS, TNT, and of course PBS. 

SRW: Horror and humor, two of my favorite things. I, too, dabble in this tricky genre. Let’s chat about that for a bit… We know humor’s highly subjective, yeah? For instance, my wife finds me painfully unfunny.  Others do. I think it’s particularly tough to write humor. You miss the cadence, the awkward pauses, the double-takes, etc. Now, when you stir horror into the mix, it becomes doubly hard. Yet I keep doing it. Don’t ask me why. Does it come naturally to you (I would hope the answer is “YES,” for there can only be one)?

KDA: I believe the answer is yes. But that’s not to imply that it is always easy. Sometimes the humor comes so fast I can’t write fast enough. Other times it's like trying to teach a chicken to whistle. Not much being accomplished. So, I think the key is to make yourself available to write when the writing is good, and when it’s not good, don’t force it. Go for a walk, shoot some hoops, kick the aforementioned chicken, whatever it takes to fill the creative well back up. 

SRW: I’ve noticed a particular aversion to humorous horror from the hard-core horror crowd. Whenever you mention humor or comedy (even dark as night), you can see their beady lil’ hardcore eyes glaze over and the derisive sneers form. Methinks they’ve had bad experience with the sub-genre and I can’t blame them there. It’s a tricky fence to straddle. I always put the characters, plot and horror first, with humor added as dashes of fun. I can’t help myself. But it’s easy to tip the other direction into spoofery (like “Scary Movie” and alla that junk) and nobody likes that. I mean, really, if it’s obvious you’re not taking your story or characters seriously, than why should the reader care? Thoughts?

KDA: Nope. It’s a really good question though. I can tell you gave it some thought.  

SRW: (Man...what a cop-out!) Finally on the last topic of humor in horror. When in doubt, scatological it out. Agree or disagree? (Earl does a lotta belching and projectile vomiting…what a guy).

KDA: Well I won’t say it's my go-to, but watching a character slip in someone else’s vomit is never not funny. 

SRW: I think you straddled the fence nicely, Kevin. Congrats on the most frowned upon sub-section of horror you’re likely to find.

KDA: Thank you. I endeavor to straddle. 

SRW: Um…does your wife find you funny? Or is it just me and my wife?

KDA: I don’t know what the marriage laws are where you are, but here in California my wife is legally obligated to find me funny. I’m legally obligated to compliment her shoes, even if she isn’t wearing any. It doesn’t make sense but it works for us. 


SRW: Do you intend on continuing Dale and Earl’s adventures? I want a novel detailing background, you hear me?

KDA: It's up to the readers. Midnight Men came about because of the calls, emails, and comments I was getting to continue the story that began with Earl and Dale’s adventure described in the short story Green Eyes and Chili Dogs. I’ll wait to see how Midnight Men is received before I consider continuing their story. 


SRW: What’s up next on your keyboard, Kevin?

KDA: Before the end of the year I will release my second joke book for kids, Jurassic Jokes: A Joke Book 65 Million Years in the Making under my pseudonym, Giggles A. Lott & Nee Slapper. And currently, I’m working on a follow up to my most successful novel, Night of the Living Trekkies. No zombies in this one, but it will see a few returning characters and will mashup Star Trek fandom with a popular international franchise in the thriller genre.

SRW: Tell the fine folks where they can stalk you on social media and give links so I don’t have to.

KDA: That would be my pleasure. Let the stalking begin!
www.KevinDavidAnderson.com


Facebook – Kevin David Anderson

Instagram – Kevin David Anderson


Goodreads – Kevin David Anderson

Letterbox – Kevin David Anderson

News Blog – Kevin David Anderson


SRW: Alrighty! Thanks heaps, Kevin, for being a good sport and hanging out. Y’all need to hop on over to Amazon and pick up a copy of MidnightMen: The Supernatural Adventures of Dale and Earl stat! It’s recommended. Me? I’ve gotta get back on the road, roll down the window, let the wind blow back…blow on my scalp, put the pedal to the metal and let this trucker roar, ten-four!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Computer Store Clerk Melt-Down!

I suppose it's my fault, really.
In what kinda world would anyone be dumb enough to go to the computer store to buy an external disc drive on Christmas Eve? A fool's world, I tell ya. 

Not only did I brave the menacing crowds, the insane drivers, and waits that made the lines at Disneyland seem like a cakewalk, but I had to go back to the store twice. (No one ever told me that a "floppy" external disc drive is different from a DVD drive; even with a hundred salesmen milling about and it'd be a cold day in Hell before I'd ask someone for help). Anyway, I brought the wrong disc drive home, plugged it in, cursed, drove back to the store, this time taking twice as long because of the congested streets.

But here's where things turned really dangerous...

After waiting my turn in line, the meek, older than me, bespectacled bald man waved me to the counter.


"Well?" he said, clearly as sick of the Christmas crunch as I was and assuming the onus should be on me to start the give-and-take without the need of opening pleasantries.

Ashamed of my computer illiteracy, I explained the situation.

His brow furrowed as he appeared to be looking for something he'd lost. "Where are all of my pens?" he barked.

"Um...I'm not sure," I mumbled.

"Fine, whatever." He jut his arm out, pointed toward the back of the store. "Go get what you need and come back."

I did. The line had doubled. As I slowly inched closer, I noticed Mr. Personality's color had darkened, an explosive  bouquet of mad-as-hell red.

Finally end game was in sight! The surly clerk snatched the proffered disc from my hands, slapped it down, sighed, and said, "Look, is this just a purchase?"

I scratched my head. He scratched his. "No, I'm returning one drive for the other. Ah...remember?"

Befuddled (one of his two emotions, the other being Explosive Anger), he closed his eyes, shook his head, and said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah..." When he opened his eyes, immediately he began searching for something again. This time I knew it was his lost mind.

"Dammit," he blurted. "There were four pens before I went to lunch! Not even a lousy half hour! And there were four pens! Four! I come back and there's not one!" He starts swatting the register and knocks over an empty coffee cup, presumably the abandoned home of runaway pens. "Never a single Goddamn pen to be found when you need one!"
Okay, by this point my collar inexplicably tightened. Eyes lasered in on me, Lookie-Loos wanting to know why I'm torturing the "nice" old man behind the counter. 

A woman rushes over, possibly the assistant manager. "What's the problem?" she asks me.

"Um, well...there's no problem, just--"

"Somebody keeps stealing my pens! I had four of 'em! Four pens! I'm gone for 25 minutes for lunch, I come back, and they're all gone!" He throws a knick-knack at the register. "Is it too much to ask for just one pen?"

I pat down my coat pockets, hoping to find a pen to ward off the visual daggers being lobbed my way.

Clearly addled, the assistant manager begins playing peek-a-boo behind the counter, popping up and vanishing down again, on a futile pen search.

Finally, the manager goes behind the "returns" wall, and mercifully brings back a pen.

Mr. Congeniality snags it from her and clutches it hard. No one's gonna pry that pen from out of his death grip or God help them if they try.

He finishes the long drawn out transaction and releases me with a friendly, holiday bark. "Next!"

I rush from the store, heart hammering, thankful I escaped with my life. Watching a man melt down over pens was scary. Shooting spree scary.

After I settled down and settled into traffic again, it finally dawned on me: the guy never used his pen for anything, not a single drop of ink spilled. I guess it's the principle that counts.

Happy holidays!

Speaking of crazy people, if I were you I'd probably avoid those folks stranded by a Winter storm at the Dandy Drop Inn. But, by all means, do read about it: Dread and Breakfast can be purchased here!
 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Foodie Sadists

So, it's come to my attention that "Foodies" are sadists.


Wait, wait, wait, hold on, wait. Don't leave! I have empirical evidence to hold this theory up. And I'm not just talking about Gordon Ramsay ripping into some poor novice chef, either.

Okay, it's bad enough that Foodies are food snobs, turning their noses up at *sniff* tacos or whatever. But they also have created different uses of language just to drive people crazy.

I mean, honestly, is "Foodie" even a real word?

But it doesn't stop there, nosireebobcattail!  Let's take the carrot for example. To me, a carrot's a carrot no matter what you do with it. You can cook it, boil it, shave it, or just go full-on Bugs Bunny and gnaw away, but it's merely a carrot. But Foodies insist "au contraire (pinky finger extended)!"

There are carrots called Thumbelina, Little Fingers, Purple Dragon, and my favorite, Solar Yellow. Do they taste different? Probably not, at least from this guy's Taco Bell-raised taste buds.

Here's where things get really interesting... We all know there're "baby carrots." Why aren't there "adult carrots?" Furthermore, can anyone explain to me what a "fancy carrot" is? Is it a carrot in a top hat? And here's where my theory of foodie sadists really comes into play. Some time ago, we were at a restaurant and the menu proudly proclaimed they were offering "tortured carrots." Yep. Poor lil' orange sticks.

What'd I tell you? Sadistic.

Furthermore, you can crack, beat, whip, boil, scramble, slice, dice, dredge, slash, punch down, knock down, peel, trim, mince, dice, scrape, scald, grate, chop, debone, grind, pierce, pound, prick, shred, skewer, sliver, strip, sweat, and hang various food items! Notice there's not a whole lot caressing going on in the kitchen. Buncha sadists.

Then things really get sick and twisted when talking about Olive Oil. Okay, sure there's "virgin" olive oil. But...how can olive oil be "extra virgin?" It boggles my mind. It's kinda like a doctor proclaiming a patient "extra dead." You either are or you aren't. 
On occasion, I've attempted to be a "Foodie" and beat up some food in the kitchen just to feel what it's like. Once I thought I'd make chicken cordon bleu for my wife. The recipe called for "whipping cream." I thought, great, I've already got "Cool Whip" in the frig, no need to whip it senseless since it's been pre-whipped for me. 

That night, disaster struck our palates. I'd made a big mistake. Cool Whip apparently wasn't the same as whipping cream. Chick cordon bleu shouldn't have tasted sweet and marshmellowy.

So, I ask you, foodie sadists of the world, why can't you quit beating on your food, stop with the confusing and violent language, and give food a chance? Some of it used to have faces, after all.

Don't make me tell you this again.

Speaking of sadism, something's just not quite right at the Dandy Drop Inn, where folks check in, but don't check out, if you know what I mean. See for yourself. This Winter, cozy up with Dread and Breakfast.
 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Christmas Caroler Massacre

Okay, now that I have your attention via my unashamedly titled post, I'm in a quandary...
Not too long ago, my daughter moved into her first house. I'd asked her if she'd had any trick or treaters during Halloween.

"No, I don't think they come down my street," she answered.

As a parent, that didn't set too well with me, just add that to my worry-list, but that's not for now. I said, "Wait until you get your first Christmas carolers."

Ah, I remember mine, lo, forty-one years ago, and how awful it was.

I shouldn't have answered the door. I really shouldn't have. But I did. Before me stood  a fully dressed, Dickensian group of carolers. I recognized the head singer, all teethy smiles and glazed eyes, the God-Squadder who lived caddy-corner from me, the guy who wouldn't quit pushing The Word to me.

Absolutely, inevitably quicksand-stuck, I wanted to slowly close the door, tell them they'd made a big mistake. However...even though I'm a bit of a curmudgeon and a hermit, I still have a heart.

They proceeded to sing. It was the longest Christmas song in history. My forced rictus grin stretched, ached, began to tremor, my upper lip twitching and forcing my tell. I felt like the Joker while constipated, not a lot to smile about, but you kinda have to muscle through it. 

Finally, the song finished. I wondered what I should do. Should I tip them? Give 'em a ten-spot, tell them to call an Uber and get the hell outta here? Invite them in (never a serious option)? Offer them cookies? I had no cookies. But I had cigarettes and chips and beer and NyQuil, the important ingredients to a young and dumb bachelor's lifestyle.

While I was pondering the proper response, they launched into yet ANOTHER song.
 I felt like a turtle on his back, legs slowly flailing, a car hurtling down the highway toward me. 

At long last, they completed their epic three-hour (at least it felt like it) performance. All smiles on their end. My face twitched, unused smiling muscles taxed, craziness taking over.

I hollered, "YAYYYY! Thank you, thank you very much. Happy holidays."

After shutting the door, I nearly passed out.

I like Christmas. I'm not a Scrooge. I just kinda have invasion of privacy issues. Especially when people want to sing at me. One of the roughest work-outs I've ever been through. It's truly weird.

Happy holidays, everyone, no matter what you celebrate. But, please, don't sing on my doorstep!

While I'm talking about cold, wintery work-outs, why not--during the holidays--check into the Dandy Drop Inn. I understand there's a huge winter-storm brewing and if you're caught out in the midwest, the Dandy Drop is a fine, fine place to warm your toes. Maybe lose your head, too, but not every place is perfect. Make a reservation with Dread and Breakfast, the perfect winter holiday thriller.
 

Friday, December 13, 2019

School Dazed!

To supplement my income as an author--and since we'd just had a very expensive year--the time had come to get some sort of part-time job.
But there was a huge, honkin' obstacle. No way would I ever go back to the Big Business world. Also, I had no real desire to work for The Man ever, EVER again. Basically, I wanted a job where I didn't have to interact with people, where I could sleep in, one where I didn't answer to anyone. And one that wouldn't require me to do any work.

I'm still looking for that dream job. (If you guys have any ideas, hit me up; I've already tried writing).

Then, a good friend dropped (what I took as a joke at first) a bomb on me. Via text, he said, "Go get your real estate license so you can become my partner and open up houses for me."

The more we discussed it, my wife and I became convinced it was a really good idea. I could work on my own terms, set my own hours, have plenty of time to write. Sure, I had to deal with people, and put on a happy face (and, maybe if I'm lucky, one of those stylin' gold jackets!), but I could do it. Probably.
Two problems, though: 1) The more I got into it, the more I found out it wasn't really gonna be an easy part-time job; and 2) It meant going back to school.

Gulp.

I hadn't entered a classroom in over 35 years. For that matter (outside of the use of the right side of my brain in writing), I hadn't utilized my brain in years. Even back in the corporate sector, I was on auto-pilot, just going through the motions. I feared that I'd lost my mojo for studying, that my gray matter had devolved into a slushie. Yet I couldn't become a realtor without passing the notorious real estate exam.

I took these fears with me right into the classroom. Glad to see I wasn't the only oldster in the classroom, I found a seat, fairly confident. However, that confidence quickly blew away like an untied balloon. For the first time, I felt like the dumbest guy in the classroom.
This was a crash course in real estate. One thousand new terms were lobbed at us over four days, plus we were expected to be able to do complex math equations. What little brain I had left felt like it would explode. The hot-shot, young whippersnappers ("Get offa my lawn!") rattled off answers as I tried to sink into my seat. I'd also made a huge mistake sitting at the front table where the old guy teaching the class learned my name, kept winking at me, and couldn't keep his tongue in his mouth. For four solid days, he yelled and berated us, doing his best drill instructor routine. And that's exactly what it felt like: boot camp for realtors.

Finally, class ended. It was time to take the real estate exam. So, I studied. Damn, did I study. For four days and three nights, I studied. Or at least made a good effort at it.

Exam day! Nervous, I stumbled into the top-secret testing compound. I was searched, asked to pull my pockets out, pirouette for the bored security woman, poked, prodded, studied, had my picture taken, identified three times, and escorted into a quiet room.

Three hours later, I emerged exhausted and terrified. I hadn't done anything that grueling since my first (and only) prostate exam. The woman handed me several sheets of paper as I looked them over. Finally, near the bottom, in teeny-tiny print (much too teeny-tiny for my beady lil' ol' man eyes), it said "PASSED."

Whew.

Um...now what?

Speaking of crappy corporate jobs--and if you've ever worked in the white collar sector--check out my novel, Corporate Wolf. It's a satire about big business. But, um, you know...with werewolves and murder.