Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let The Day End, Let The Year Begin

Hear the music in the street it's the end of another 
Blue lights flash in the night
Sirens wail
Feel the rhythm of the beat it's the start of another 
Blue lights flash in the night
Sirens wail

Perfect strangers toast each other
Partners acting with ice cold grace
High-five cheers, love you like a brother
Maybe we should have stayed at home
Let's crank the music up let's turn the lights down 
Is resentment starting to creep in?
That girl's been giving me the eye
Feeling nervous and a bit distracted
I really think she's giving me a sign

Hear the music in the street it's the end of another
Blue lights flash in the night
Sirens wail
Feel the rhythm of the beat it's the start of another
Blue lights flash in the night
Somebody's spending the night in jail

Everybody singing without knowing the words
Drums and cymbals crashing hard
Singing about memories and times to forget
Maybe this next year we'll go out more
Slap you on the back and call you the best of friends
It's a pure and honest mistake
Clink a glass to yours and laugh
A silent nod of recognition
This is the night where everybody wins

Hear the music in the street it's the end of another 
Blue lights flash in the night
Sirens wail
Feel the rhythm of the beat it's the start of another
Blue lights flash in the night
Sirens wail

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Build Yourself A Glorious Past

            Rob, Mike, Me and Rick, Rosarita Beach, Baja California, Mexico January 1987

There may be nothing more difficult to convey
Than the value of any particular moment
We live our lives, day by day
Usually without reflection
Times are good or bad
There is sadness, there is enjoyment
And everything in between

It is excruciatingly difficult
To recognize 
A golden moment as being magnificent
There are no prompts to memorize
The words and actions we create
As we interact with family and friends
When the days pass

It is only later in life that we learn
What relish the moment truly means

It can mean everything 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

She Couldn't Dance But She Did

                                      First place...oddest Christmas diorama 2013

She considered herself
A beautiful dancer
Though no one was known
To agree with her opinion
Still, she was never there 
To be fashionable
Not one night
Did she dress to maim,
Much less thrill
Surprisingly, or maybe not
She never danced alone
There were always plenty 
Of men who wanted
To dance with her 
Men who only wanted to
Nothing else
They would buy her drinks
Just to dance
And though she was
A less than graceful dancer
She really loved to move
She loved music
Any music
That she could move to
The men appreciated that
And always they too would dance
To whatever was being played
She would move her hips
Like they were sacred charms
Shake her legs
Weave her arms
If it made her feel
And the best part
The very best part
Was that no one expected
Anything else
It was very liberating
Not to have to deal with
Other than the one
Of being on the dance floor

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Day At The Indian Wells Apartment

Because we had no other plans for that Christmas day 
Thirty-odd years ago

The decision was made, somehow, to wear shorts
And Hawaiian shirts

It was one of those beautiful spontaneous decisions
That only come from being still drunk from the night before

There was a bottle of Blue Hawaiian mix in a cupboard
And a bottle of vodka (mostly full - no one drank vodka then)

The memories of that day are far from crystal clear
We drank, TJ, Greg and I, and ate TJ's homemade pizza
And everybody who came over, Penny, Greg's Hawaiian friend, Decker, maybe even Donna

Put on Hawaiian shirts and drank with us
And we watched VHS movies we had rented from Hastings

To this day I still have no idea what a Blue Hawaiian is

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tinsel, Tinsel

My Mother was a depression era child
Which meant nothing in our home was ever thrown out
Until it was completely, utterly, undoubtedly 
Used up, worn out, beyond repair

Christmas, we carefully peeled tape from our presents
And delicately removed the wrapping paper
Which my Mother would flatten out in order to save it
For the next year's presents

The week after Christmas was always spent
Carefully removing single strands of tinsel from the tree
And placing them in between the folds of a newspaper
So they could be used again to decorate next years tree

The first Christmas I celebrated on my own
I tore the wrapping paper off my presents with abandon
And when it came time to take down the tree
I removed the lights and all of the ornaments 
But I left the tinsel on
When I tossed it into the dumpster

I don't even buy tinsel anymore

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Screw Yoda, Try Until You Do

                2013 Christmas tree (Most of the gifts are for the neighbor's year-old son)

Think of everything you ever wanted to do, ever, but didn't do, and then try hard to remember why you didn't do those things.

Think very hard - force yourself to remember what excuses you came up with, the convenient rationale, contorted logic or pathetic self-defeatism you employed to convince yourself that whatever it was you wanted to do was going to be too difficult, or was unattainable, or was going to be too much of an investment or required too much patience, or you didn't possess the talent, skills, or ability necessary and it was just too far out of your reach. 

Then think of all those people who did exactly what you wanted to do. You most likely know of several people personally who have done or are doing something you have always wanted to do and you have compared yourself to them and their efforts, and have said: "I can (or could) do that" Probably with an exclamation point added for emphasis.

You probably lost count of how many times you have said to yourself, "I could do far better than that" when witnessing some successful person's accomplishments - we've all read crappy books, watched crappy movies, looked at crappy art, listened to crappy music, worn crappy clothes, endured crappy performances - all while the crappy stuff was earning their creators a comfortable living if not outright fame and fortune.

Or at the very, very least, rewarding those creators with the satisfaction of knowing they did exactly what it was they set out to do.

So why haven't you done any of those things you've always wanted to do? Why have you allowed yourself to be talked out of adventure after exciting adventure? (Usually by yourself) Why have you failed to follow through with all those dreams? Is the risk that much greater than the reward? Hell, if what you have always wanted to do is simply write a book or take up sculpture, how high can the risk be? So you write a book no one wants to read - at least you wrote a book! That's more than a whole hell of a lot of people who have ever set out to write a book ever accomplish!

BTW, the figure "whole hell of a lot of people" is probably a lot, but seriously, there is no way to accurately determine that number, so the vague "whole hell of a lot" will have to suffice.

The thing is this. At some point you are going to have to realize that procrastination, excuse-making, living in fear, etc., is something you actually can stop, and you are going to have to just knuckle down and go all Nike commercial - just do it.

Look, there is no person on this planet who doesn't better understand how difficult it is to "Just Do It." For years I've wanted to shove that slogan right up Phil Knight's ass, but the fact of the matter is, there is a ton of truth in those three simple words.

Dealing with ADHD or OCD, struggling to just get through the business of staying alive on a day to day basis, being limited by lack of funds, resources, time, ability, etc., those are all legitimate concerns...but time after time people have overcome those and many more limitations and accomplished good things, great things.

Making the jump from dreamer to doer doesn't require magic or extraordinary good fortune. It does however require taking action, which, yes, means you might have to work.

Yeah, you have probably worked hard in the past in trying to accomplish something and think you failed at it, but remember that old saying "The only failures are those that stop trying?" That old saying is true. Pick up at wherever you left off on what it was you were trying to accomplish, and just continue trying. 

Or start fresh - whatever works for you. Just continue trying.

Continue trying. Trying leads to doing. Doing leads to accomplishment.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Ailing

                                                             Main Street, Littleton Co

Somewhere out there is a Chinese Restaurant open tonight that will have more than just duck on the menu. It will feature several delicious items that on any other Christmas eve I would be happy to consume.

But not this Christmas eve of course, 'cause I still have that horrible flu thing. It's a gut-wrencher, that. Makes me wonder how the hell the human race has survived this long when a microscopic organism can do this without warning.

So here I sit wondering what to do on this lovely Christmas eve. I made the rounds with presents earlier today, quickly, not staying at any one place for more than a few moments as I don't want to be responsible for anybody catching this damn thing.

Traditionally, I spend Christmas eve with friends and/or family members. Not tonight though, due to the aforementioned desire to be responsible and not infect anyone else with this.

So I'm downing Nyquil and watching Oregon State decimate Boise State. The latest Star Trek movie is sitting on the coffee table, and if I don't pass out, I'll watch that after the game.

Jingle all the freakin' way my friends - because no-one likes a half-ass jingler. 


Monday, December 23, 2013

The Dogs Look To Be Feeling Good...Me, Not So Much

                               That's  lot of work getting the trees done. Sweet!

Most of us have heard the ol' saw "Sick as a Dog." I'm looking at both of my dogs right now and they look to be the picture of health. In fact, I can't ever remember either being sick at all, ever, not even Lucy Loo after she ate half the club chair.

Me, I am as sick as...a really sick guy, somebody with the flu. Fever, coughing, running nose - that type of thing, 

I have Sore Throat Spray, Non-Drowsy Cold & Flu Multi-Symptom Relief, Alcohol Free Cold & Flu Nighttime Relief...and still I feel crappy. Fast relief my ass.

I've got the flu that's been tearing through work. Everybody caught it, it was just a matter of time before I did. It appears to last about four days, so yeah, I'm really going to enjoy the Holidays this year.

Oh, and one other thing. This morning as I was returning from the gym my car slid on ice at the intersection down the street...right into a car turning left. It was a two, maybe three mile an hour kiss, no dents, just enough to scrape paint. That was a beautiful start to the day.

Man, I should have bought the alcohol-plus cold & flu relief.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Away We Go Over Ice And Snow

                         Dogs resting, Iditarod checkpoint, Unalakleet Alaska March 1993

Through the blizzard I drove, pressing my luck
When I was passed by a 4X4 lifted pick up truck

Blowing by all traffic with reckless abandon 
With a big V8 it could really go

The driver seemed hellbent for armageddon
And either ignored the fact or just didn't know
That a lift kit means nothing when it's time to slow

A mile down the road I came upon the big yobbo
That 4X4, so high off the ground 
                                      Was now on the side of the road

Buried up to it's doors in drifiting snow

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chance Meeting Between Two Old Aquaintances

                                                     Giving it the ol' college try

The sidewalk was crowded. It being the lunch hour people were clustered around hotdog carts and other food vendors, creating bottlenecks that pedestrians had to slowly shuffle their way through. It was while negotiating his way through one of these bottlenecks that Dan Lonnes ran smack dab into the face of a friend he had not seen in nearly twenty-five years.

"Frank!  Frank Sorenson! What the hell are you doing here in Denver!"

Frank Sorenson stared in surprise at Dan Lonnes. His face bore a momentary look of incredulous shock that was quickly replaced by one of happy recognition.

"Dan! Holy freaking crap! What the hell are you doing here!"

Both men instinctively shuffled out of the human river that filled the sidewalk and quickly found themselves standing side by side in a doorway. Both men took a few seconds to look one another over before speaking.

Dan fired the first salvo. "I live here man, I've lived her for nearly 12 years - got married to a girl that owned a hair salon back in '94, came out here after we divorced in '97. I live in Arvada, just north of Golden."

"Oh wow dude, you got marrried?" Frank's eyes were wide, the disbelief being genuine. "No one ever thought you'd get married! She must have been one helluva woman!"

'Well, yeah, she was...she was, but I found out too late that she liked to spread it around, ya' know? Had to bail when that hit the fan. Came out here when I took a job with Coors. How about you man, you still married, still live in Chicago? 

Frank's face visibly paled as Dan looked at him. For a moment there was a dull silence between them. 

"No, no, don't live in Chicago anymore...moved back to Cleveland after...after Melissa died. I'm a widow now, been about six years. She was in an accident, died after a few days on life support. It was tough for a few years, but I'm fine now, have a nice place in Cuyahoga Heights, both the kids are in High School now." 

"What? Melissa died?! Oh man, I am so sorry to hear that. Wow...hell, that sucks man..." An awkward silence descended between the two old friends for a few moments, then Frank cleared his throat.

"Uhm, eh, hey, this is great, I mean, impossibly great running into you after all these years! Don't let's make this a downer! We need to get together for dinner - I am actually on my way to an account I manage now. Let's exchange numbers, and if you're free tonight or tomorrow, let's get together for dinner somewhere - I can expense it!"

The two men pulled out their phones and Frank gave Dan his number, which Dan immediately called so that they would both have each other's numbers in their respective phones.

"Hey, let's do that. I have to get going too - I get off at 6:00, I'll call you and we'll met up. Man it's weird running into you on the street here in Denver after all these years! It's fantastic, really!" Dan grabbed Frank's hand and shook it firmly, warmly. "You look terrific by the way - still got a full head of hair you lucky bastard!"

Both men stared at each other for a few seconds, then grabbed each other in a bear hug. They looked at each other intently again as they broke off the hug.

"Okay man, it's great to see you - I'll call you in a few hours - you staying downtown?"

"No," Frank replied, "I'm in a place out by DIA - damn they practically built that airport in Kansas! Got a rental with a GPS though, so I can meet you anywhere." 

"Cool - I gotta get going - I'll call around 6."

The two men turned and walked in opposite directions, both of them marveling to themselves about bumping into each other on the street in a city neither of them had ever dreamed of being in when they were growing up together in Cleveland all those years ago.

As Dan walked back towards his office he started a conversation in his head that detailed how he ended up marrying a woman he met over the Internet and moving to Denver from Lexington after the divorce.

Frank walked briskly towards his appointment, having a similar conversation with himself. Except his was a bit more somber as he tried to figure out a way of telling his old childhood friend how he accidentally shot and killed his wife when they wrestled for control of the gun she was waving at him after she had burst into his office as he was In flagrante delecto with her sister on his desk.

This wasn't going to be one of those dinners of shared warm and wonderful memories.

Rant For Myself

Who do I owe for giving me the chance
To get up in the morning with a little song and dance
Able to leap small boxes in a single bound
I'm every bit as good as I ever was right this minute
I'm not through
I'm not through
I'm not through
Can you hear me?
I'm not through!
What do you have to say to that?
I am not looking to play point guard for the Lakers
My ambitions never included playing center field for the Yanks
I do not desire to be the president of a bank
Don't want to be an astronaut
Just want to live in Camelot
Like anybody else
I'm not keen on surrounding myself with people
Who agree with me
I'd much prefer to have those that would argue
My point of view
I'm on the fence when it comes to the pets
That neighbors should be allowed to keep
Maybe a man-eater is just a bit too much
Monkeys and Pekingese 
Friday and Saturday night in the bowling alley
It's abject nonsense
I can't bowl to save my life
I'm an extraordinary buffoon
I can play the mandolin (three chords)
I don't wear a beard, it's a goatee
My face is less than flawless
I'm an idiot
No, no, I insist I am
I'm an idiot
You have no idea how much so  
How am I a captive?
I won't be a captive
Leave me free
I don't understand the concept of God
Yet I understand it's necessity
I cannot comprehend true believers
Because I do not have that experience
I believe in the Ten Commandments
Because they make perfect sense
I eat like an animal
I eat far too much most days
I have no patience for Tarot
I have yet to visit Rome
I'm an unapologetic agnostic
I'm a raging skeptic
I don't believe in Scientology
I like to think I'm an internationalist
I like to think I'm universalist
I'm a renaissance man
Who likes twentieth-first century conveniences
I'm just a simple, albeit very lucky human being
My house is painted empire yellow 
Because it reminds me of the sun
I own a Ford F-150 and a Lexus RX350
My bed has a real box spring
Not one of those crappy foundations 
The mattress weighs a ton
I have never flipped it once 
My dining room is just a breakfast nook
With a small table and four chairs
I have an Indian made hand-knotted rug 
On the floor of the front room
I know a few words of French
I know a few words of Spanish
I speak English with a Southern California accent
Whatever that is
I have read Charles Dickens 
Just to say I have read Charles Dickens
Much prefer Ray Bradbury 
Or even Michael Crichton
Agatha Christie 
I listen to the Beatles and the Clash
And Bruno Mars 
I once subscribed to Spy Magazine
And the Skeptical Inquirer
I own a complete collection of the works of Phillip Roth
Even Our Gang (plodding read, that)
I have studied Architecture, English, Art History
Even took a stab at math 
I've got Lithuanian blood flowing through my body
As if that makes any difference as to who I am
It could be Ukrainian blood
Or possibly Belorussian blood
Polish blood
Maybe even Russian blood
Eastern European blood
The blood of my forefathers
My mother's mother's mother's blood
Everybody's blood
Family tree tells me there's Norwegian blood
And I've been told there's a bit of German blood
As well as Irish blood
And what-all not
It's just an accident of birth
I am fortunate enough to be an American
Though I don't suppose I'd mind being
French, Andalusian, Japanese or Australian
I pay my income tax, sales tax, property tax
And many more taxes I don't understand
I have been to court on a few occasions
But I have never served on a jury
I have voted for the sheriff
Mayor and councilman too
And of course the President
I never had to go anywhere and fight the enemy 
In a Great War
I am a Republican
I am a Democrat
I am a Libertarian
I am an Independent
My hair has decided to break up the gang
And leave for parts unknown
My nose may be just a bit askew
And my shoulders not as broad as they use to be
But I still like Baseball
And sometimes Football too
I am glad to be alive
There's so much to enjoy
I am glad to be alive
This is the beginning of it all
Join me

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Prayers Of Cats

                                           Moon over Colorado, December 2013

The cat, looking for all the world like a statue
Of a gargoyle perched atop a Gothic cathedral
Stared intently at the world below him
Watching the birds
And the squirrels
Patiently waiting
For just one little
Field mouse
To make a move

"C'mon, c'mon," 
It seemed to mouth
"C'mon, c'mon"
The Juniper bush
But the mice
Didn't move

They knew

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Anyway

                                               Goin' all Griswold in Littleton, Colorado

Let's just say we do away with the little fat cat in a bright red suit. No Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, jolly old elf, etc. Let's also just say there is no babe away in a manger, no festival of the nativity, no Gloria in excelsis Deo.
   However, lets keep the tradition of wishing each other Happy Holidays, and peace on earth, goodwill toward men. It doesn't hurt the world one bit when we all spend a few days sharing smiles and treating each other with a little mutual respect, even if it's not as honest a feeling as it could be - let's call it "practice"

   It doesn't have to be a specific holiday we wish someone to be happy about, either. We could just go around wishing each other a "Happy Happiness Day" or a "Happy Peace Day" - whatever works for you is fine with me. I just think it's important we have at least one day a year where the human family pauses for a moment and expresses something other than "Fcuk You" to one another.

   The sending of cards is also a tradition that should be kept. It's nice to get some real mail at least once a year, as opposed to bills or adverts. Some of my friends are pretty creative with the cards they send, which is pretty cool. I get a few letters with some of the cards too, which convey information about friends and family members that I find interesting, so we should keep those too.

   Decorating the houses has got to stay as well. It gets dark early at this time of year, and all the bright lights and elaborate decorations brighten things up in a manner that goes far beyond mere illumination. Plus, it's a creative outlet for some people that have no other creative outlets (at least among my circle of friends).

   Gift giving, especially to the wee bairns, needs to stay. Sure, kids these days have everything already, but maybe setting aside one day a year when they are shown some real affection and attention, and given something that comes from the heart, something other than a video game, maybe that will reinforce the notion that they are loved and valued a little bit.

   Gift giving should be continued between adults, too. It is extremely important that adults convey affection between one another in the form of gifts, especially if one of those gifts is a lovingly bequeathed bottle of Breckenridge bourbon from one neighbor to another.

  Holiday parties, if they are not mandatory and are not put together on the cheap, need to stick around. The tradition of getting together with family, friends, co-workers, etc. to exchange gifts and pleasantries, eat lots of good food, share in fond memories, and generally have a good time - well, there's nothing wrong with that at all.

   Hmmm...maybe a community gathering of sorts might be in order to celebrate all this generosity and good cheer. Possibly an assembly at which a community leader (or leaders) could give a speech that elaborates on all that we have to be happy about or grateful for. Nothing too involved, just an hour or so, maybe everybody could sing a few happy songs together at this dealio.

   If every little community in the world could somehow find a way to make this happen, this "National Peace Day" or "National Stop Trying To Kill Your Neighbors Day", just imagine how much nicer the world would be.

Just for a day or two, maybe a week. Then we'll all go back to business as usual.





Monday, December 16, 2013

Blighted Affections And Blackberry Tea

           The drunken leprechaun wearing Oakley shades
                    Dodging cars while juggling hand grenades
Dancing with the blonde doing cartwheels on the highway
           With her thumb stuck out hoping for a ride
           Still wearing the dirty white dress of a jilted bride
Clears her throat gargling with razor blades

           She calls him her old boy romper-stomper
           He's still got a quick left he named the big bopper
When you see him comin' better set off the alarm
           Just a mention of his name is enough to utterly terrify
           Some say his father was a Nazi hiding out in Uruguay
Giving birth to him caused his mother to buy the farm

           The blonde set up shop calling herself an oracle
           She told everyone the truth, it was absolutely horrible
She was arrested, tried and convicted of predicting a false
           Told one poor soul he'd die by the sword
           When a Samurai took a katana to his spinal cord
Fainted dead away they had to use smelling salts

          Most nights they spend calling each other crazy
          Driving around in circles in a battered old Mercedes
She cranks down the window and lets out a howl
          While he babbles on about miracles of science
          And how one day they'll breed giants
Looking lecherously at her he purrs with a low growl

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let's Do A Lifetime Of Lunches

             Trail of lights at Chatsworth near the intersection of Wadsworth and C-470

There are the friends you have you're always happy to greet
   The people with whom good times intertwine
On days very ordinary and days very unique
   By your side in the dark, by your side in the sunshine
The ones who are able to make a cold day warmer
   Never a moment with them when you feel shy
In castles or slums, aristocrats or glorious bums
Those who say arrivederci, sayanora, adios, adieu 
  But never goodbye

Friday, December 13, 2013

Life In A Universe Of Golden Sunsets

Thursday Night Football In Denver

                                    Sports Authority Field at Mile High is a rockin' 

Not the biggest fan of the NFL, but when the team that represents my hometown by birth comes in to play the team that represents my hometown by choice...well, I gotta go.

                     Early 1st quarter action - things looked good for the Broncos at this point 

I don't want NFL Lawyers parachuting in like commandos, so the only account, pictures, description, etc., of the game I'll give without explicit permission of the NFL is...it looked good early, then...

  Chargers DE Sean Lissemore congratulates OLB Thomas Keiser on nailing the Bronco's coffin... 

The Broncos did nothing in the second and third quarters - and by nothing, I mean nothing. Zilch.

                        The fourth quarter saw the Broncos on fire...too little, too late...ugh.

This was probably the worst game I've seen the Broncos play since Kyle Orton was the starting QB. It was just...horrid. This game wasn't a kick in the butt, this game was a kick right to the sack.

BTW, all pics were taken with a Nikon Coolpix S4100 - that is one sweet little camera.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Telephone Number On A Matchbook

Twenty years of age

Thinking the world was a stacked deck
She walked into the room
Straight from Mississippi
Thick black hair, curly
And a lit cigarette
Twenty three
With a wicked twist
Loved to dance 
Loved a heavy bass
Ran her tongue across 
Her upper lip
Made me stare
Like I was in a trance

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Homesick For Nowhere

It wasn't one of those places
    Where initials were carved into tree trunks
    Circled by a crude heart, pierced by a crude arrow
It was one of those places
   Where everyone knew someone
   Who had been taken away
It wasn't one of those places
   Where friends called each other clever nicknames
   Unless Asshole counted as a clever nickname  

It was one of those places where
     Eventually, someone would steal your bike
     Eventually, you were going to have to fight
     Eventually, you ended up carrying a gun or knife
     Eventually, nothing would ever feel right 

Hard to feel homesick for a hole in the ground

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Kid Wanted Tacos

"So," the woman said after she had taken a small sip from her cocktail, "How long have you considered yourself a Positivist?"

    The man seated next to her placed his hat, one of those British trilby's that frequently gets confused with a fedora, on the bar next to his phone and started to speak, then stopped as if he was mentally rechecking his math, and then said, "I think it was near the end of 11th grade, so I was probably 16 going on 17. That would make it about 17 years now."

   "Seventeen years. Have you discovered any solutions to the world's problems yet?" Her eyes focused on the hat as she spoke, then moved up to the face of the owner of the hat.

   "No, not really. About all I have been able to conclude is that everything we humans have come up with over the centuries to try to create egalitarian societies has been just as worthless as the systems that they were designed to replace. No matter how good the intentions of the people in power, all any of them ever did - Lenin, Mao, Castro, whoever, was use the threat of or actual implementation of imprisonment or death to do whatever they wanted to do regardless of how detrimental it was to anyone else."  

   "Sounds to me like you've been disillusioned and have abandoned the convictions of your youth. Did that happen in college?" As she said this her phone started to ping with the alert that a text was coming in, and she picked it up off the bar to look at the screen. 

   The man took a long draw off his beer as she read the text message. With an affected gesture he wiped the foam from his mustache as he set the beer back down on the coaster. The bar was half-full, which wasn't bad for a Tuesday evening. The TV's were all switched to a sports channel that was currently showing highlights of an English League Soccer match from the past weekend.

    "Sorry about that, my kid wants me to pick up some Taco Bell on my way home. Where were we? Oh yeah, I was asking if you became jaded to your ideals in college."

   With a slight smirk the man looked at the woman. "I didn't really go to college. I mean, I spent a few semesters going to community college, but I really didn't like it. Nothing interested me much, and everyone seemed to be either in full-on party mode all the time or just full of themselves."

   "Didn't you tell me you worked in IT? How did you get a job in IT without going to college?"

   "I started building computers when I was in High School. What I do is really not much different than repairing a car. How many mechanics do you know that went to college? Most of them just started working on cars when they were kids, just like I started working on computers when I was a kid."

   "But don't you have to write code and find viruses and stuff like that?"

   "Not really. I'm a hardware guy. Those are things the software people do."

   "Oh. Well, then what was it that changed your mind about twentieth century political philosophies?" Her left hand cradled her phone while she lifted her drink with her right, and when she set the empty glass down the barkeep cast a questioning glance her way. She nodded her answer to the unspoken query.

   "When I was 22 I left the states and hitchhiked around Europe. I lived rough for a little over two years, finding under-the-counter work in Internet cafes or small computer stores. It was quite the education. For an area of the world that claims to be enlightened, Europe is chock full of class separations, racism - ethnic and secular divisions, the same haves and have-nots and posturing elitists with bullshit solutions that we have right here in the States." 

   As the barkeep placed a fresh cocktail in front of her the woman said, "Wow, it sounds like you had a lot of fun seeing the world. Didn't you find one place that you liked?'

   "Oh yeah, plenty of places actually. I mean, it's not like the average person I met in France or Portugal was an asshat, It's just that I went over there with the idea that the whole of Europe was some culturally and socially enlightened place, and it just wasn't. It was pretty much exactly like the States - all kinds of different people with all kinds of different ideas and attitudes, some good, some bad. The form of government had little bearing on the character of the people. It's not like greed or selfishness or inequality disappeared once a socialist government was in place. The people might have had affordable healthcare, but that didn't mean that they were all walking around the picture of health, you know? People treat themselves and each other great or shitty depending on who they are, and the system of government they live under really has no bearing on that."

   The woman finished her second cocktail and set the glass down, then got up off her seat. "You are truly an interesting person, but I have to get going - the kid wants tacos. Maybe we'll run into each other here again sometime. Have a great night."

   She placed $12.00 on the bar and walked out with one quick glance back. The man picked up his beer and downed it in one big gulp. The barkeep walked over and collected the $12.00 the woman left for the $11.00 check and asked the man if he wanted another. The man said yes and started reading the menu. It was going to be another night of bar food, but what the hell, you only live once.