Tuesday, June 19, 2007

SHORT TAKES AND SUCH:
On Being Mean and Green, Dinners with Cougars, and Other Pointless Things

OXFORD, Ohio (ZP) -- Saving the planet isn't rocket science.

It's not something that other people need to do, not something any activist is going to accomplish with anything even remotely resembling a protest. Activism requires action, actual measurable movement.

Quite a few folks understand that concept. Every day, more and more Americans - the single group that wastes more of the world's resources than it actually produces - are switching to alternative energy sources to heat their homes, to run their vehicles, and to, well, try to save the world.

So why aren't more people, well, taking the next step, simply changing how they actually live on a day-to-day basis? Really changing how they live, redefining their levels of comfort and lifestyle?

It's called Global Climate Change, people. And if we all don't really change how we live, we're all gonna be in some seriously deep shit. It's time to just, well, cowboy the fuck up.

Last year, I decided to quit being one of those stereotypical, organic-food eating, tofu loving hypocrites and to turn myself into a bit of an environmental science project.

And the result? After one whole year?

According to my calculations, I cut my annual energy costs by almost 70 percent.

That's right. Seventy fucking percent.

And it wasn't rocket science. It wasn't even information science. Sadly, no hippies were killed in the process.

I gave up a three-bedroom, two-bath townhouse and moved into a more bachelor-friendly loft apartment near work. I sacrificed the peace and tranquility offered by a more family-friendly neighborhood to live in the belly of the Local U. Beast.

And I intentionally moved into a place with no central air. The cost of running five old-fashioned box fans, year-round, has proven to be the equivalent of running the AC in my old place for two weeks.

During the winter, my new apartment is heated by a communal radiated steam system, fed by a primary boiler that also heats the building's water supply - still one of the most efficient means of warming a home. The result? My winter heating expenses were cut in half.

I leave my truck parked at work, only operating the rather fuel-efficient Ford Ranger approx. three to four times a week, an average of about 50 miles monthly usage. I hump 12 blocks a day to work, round trip, at my normal brisk pace, rain or shine.

And back in 1999, during California's rolling blackouts, my immediate family started to adopt compact fluorescent bulbs to help conserve energy. I completed the switch first. I light my entire apartment with the roughly the same amount of juice used by one 100-watt incandescent bulb.

Hmmm.

I wonder how I managed to put a dent into my student debt last year? Or how I was able to up my charitable donations?

I mean, where did that extra money come from? It's not like I'm rolling in the dough here...

Could it be... ?

Pfft. Nah. It couldn't be that simple.

Saving the environment couldn't really be tied to saving money, could it?


- MORE -


CINCINNATI (ZP) -- I sat in the hotel lobby, staring like an idiot, just like every other guy with a pulse, as a lone woman crossed the floor towards me.

Her cowboy boots clicked against the tile as she walked. Her jeans were just about as tight as humanly possible, every inch of Texas Chicana protruding from beneath the dark denim, in all the right places.

I almost laughed out loud as two guys admired her ass, staring at the damned-near-perfect thing with glares that could cut through steel.

Well, there are worse women to spend an evening with, I guess.

Her death-black hair hung over her shoulders and down over her breasts, her western blouse unbuttoned below her bra line, well outside the bounds of what's considered proper Sunday dress in the Queen City.

I stood so she'd recognize me. The last time she'd seen me in person, I was sporting a shaved head, a long goatee, and nine earrings, not to mention the additional 75 pounds of flesh. I'd sent her a photo to help her pick me out, but, well, part of the reason she wanted to have dinner in the first place was she was worried I wasn't eating right, like a man, and that she was afraid that I'd become unrecognizable.

Still babying me, treating me like a stupid 19-year-old. But as we embraced, I could've cared less; I put my hands on her hips, kissed her right on the mouth, suggested we just go right back up to her room and make love like animals.

She giggled like a high school kid, winked, and slapped me (gently) for still being so fresh, so downright wetto vulgar in public. She reminded me that if her husband had been there, he would've beaten me to a pulp for even touching her hips.

Ten years, I said to myself. In ten fucking years, I've aged more than she has.

One of the most sensual women in the world got off a 757 at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport last week, instantly improving the scenery for at least a thousand miles.

Texican women from the Rio Grande Badlands tend to do that.

You are simply ravishing, lady. Muy, muy, caliente. I just couldn't control myself.

You know, I still can't think of a better compliment to give a 64-year-old grandmother of five, a woman for whom the biological clock seems to have stopped somewhere in the 1970s.

And my advances? Dear lord, I was only half-joking. They just don't build women like that east of the Mississippi or north of Tennessee. Here in Ohio, I think women like her are actually banned by some ancient and antiquated state law.

In the sea of Germanic-looking sameness, her flawless, ageless Mestizo features simply fractured reality in that pricey hotel lobby. It reminded me of a theory of mine, that there are American women who secretly want to lock down the Mexican border not to save jobs but to keep women like her, women born somewhere between Texas and Chihuahua, from ever being allowed to become sex symbols.

M____, at one time, was a candidate to be my mother-in-law. Her daughter, an ex of mine, has the same blessed genetics, that damned curse of the women from northern Old Mexico. I call it a curse, of course, because to look that good from cradle to grave must hurt like hell.

Over dinner, in between her virtually demanding that I give up on this silly librarian foolishness and discussing my seemingly perpetual ability to make some women laugh, when she wasn't nagging me about my still being single (she tried to set me up with our waitress) or trying to get me to take her out dancing, I realized why I quit taking relationships seriously.

Holy hell, this woman has me pegged. She knows every damned stupid thing I'm doing with my life, every mistake I've made in ten years. And she's just so damned chill about it.

Fucking creepy. Like ... oh God ... like my mother.


At one point she asked me about this slang term she'd heard recently, somewhere along her multi-state business trip.

"Honey, I keep hearing people talk about these cougars running around, eating up men. You know slang - is this something new? J____ [the woman's 40ish second hubby] won't tell me, and the kids all think its just funny."

It was three in the afternoon.

I flagged down the waiter, ordered a second bottle of wine. M_____, still treating me like one of hers, didn't want me to pay for anything, so I slipped the woman a pair of 20s to bring the second bottle out as quickly as possible.

And a double of whatever Scotch she could find, no water or ice.

Something, anything, to kill the pain.

- MORE -

OXFORD, Ohio (ZP) -- The words just came out. From where, I'm not sure, just random unsolicited commentary offered to a complete stranger on a balmy afternoon.

Yup. There's not much to do in this town besides drink and fuck. Only college town I've ever lived in where the two have become the only sports anybody seems to wanna play.

Standing on the concrete stairs outside of a watering hole, just smoking away in the heat, I felt as if my sense of basic decency had suddenly flown out of the window.

I don't know what inspired the phrasing. I wasn't trying to shock the woman I was talking to, wasn't even trying to suggest that there was anything wrong with that sort of thing.

The words just came out. And it caught the poor woman, who'd been scratching at her probation-mandated anklet contently, by complete surprise.

The sad part is the fact that there's too much truth in that statement about everyday life in Oxford Fucking Ohio, the unspoken horror that goes along with being lost between 20 and 30, without the excuse that you're just here to earn a damned degree, here instead to live like an adult and find adult things to do.

Drink and fuck. Go camping, read a book, attend a Bible Study, watch a movie, or... drink and fuck. That, well, just about sums up Oxford Fucking Ohio nightlife.

Could be worse. I've heard stories about places like Casper Fucking Wyoming, seen the reckless tedium that is Green River Fucking Utah. In places out west, like Green River, some towns have only a Watermelon Festival and a prayer to keep their single 20-somethings from screwing and boozing away a summer.

At least Keysville, Virginia, had its annual Dixie Days festival, and in Plaquemine, Lousiana, they hop the ferry to cross the Mississippi, bound for Baton Rouge or Gonzales or New Orleans, or stand out in front of the Dollar General and drink cheap wine.

Oxford? We get tons of artsy-fartsy shit, but nothing, nothing, that would appeal to anyone who thinks classical music boring or folk art shows repetitive. There's only so many times one can stare at the same faces at the farmer's market, or listen to jam bands in the city parks.

The blonde, instead of being shocked and dismayed by my vulgarity, simply shrugged.

Yup. This town sucks. Fucking, drinking... fuck it, dude. I'm getting the fuck outta here as soon as I can.

What the hell am I still doing here, anyway?

- # # # -



13 comments:

Cat. said...

You've got Casper pegged, dude.

And I guess I'm one of those women you can make laugh.

I'm not even touching the whole environmental part, except to say Good for you! (how condescending that sounds, but I mean it)

The ZenFo Pro said...

Cat:
Lol, well, Casper's at least slightly better than Cheyenne, much cooler than Jackson, and at least Laramie's got something.

Crap. Now I'm ready to move to Wyoming. Dammit...

Muchas gracias!

Cat. said...

Ya....no! Do NOT move to Wyoming. C'mon, really now.... There's desperate, and then there's stupid. If you have to go, hit Thermopolis or Wheaton, or even the Ft. Washakie area! I have many relatives who spent many years in Casper, so I know whereof I speak.

Btw, I was behind a Weld County jeep on the way home from work today. QUITE the oddness around her.

Cat. said...

her=here. erk

coyotemike said...

STOP LIVING MY LIFE!!! Seriously, you live in the same sort of apartment, in the same part of a University town (although your town and school are much larger), our buildings are heated and cooled the same way, and live almost the same distance to work (9 blocks each way for me). We drive about the same amount per month, and even both drive Fords! (mine's a Focus) But you get hot Texicana women on your hands. Dammit!

Out of boredom one day, I joined in on a pickup soccer game and learned a valuable lesson: Never play against Brazilians! There are things to do in college towns, but they might end up bouncing a leather ball off the back of your head.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Cat:
Lmao, nope. The insanity has passed :)

Heh. There's a reason why Weld Co. serves as the home of the University of No Credit...er Northern Colorado.

Back in the Broncos Training Camp Days...lord...

Mike:
Lol, well, I think that's because they all start looking alike after a while :)

xboxgirl said...

I've known a few people who were in their 70's that looked easily half their age and were pretty spry [speaking of spry, my father {who turns 60 tomorrow} is one very very spry one and can physically out do trained 20something year olds] , it definitely has to be mostly the genes.

And I'm not really sure why you are still there.

Xmichra said...

My ex's mother was like that. She just stopped aging after 30. Amazing.

And why are you still there?

The ZenFo Pro said...

ALL:
Well, seems somebody else dug my idea about creating an Uptown Oxford version of Walden... and rented my apartment from underneath me.

Not the property manager's fault - I forgot to stop by and formalize my lease renewal, and quite a few folks knew of my grand experiment.

Learned just this afternoon that every single one of the units in my current building has been rented out.

So I'm a'hunting for a new home. (sigh.)

Xbox:
Yeah. I'm starting to think some Baby Boomers are a bit like cockroaches. They'd be the only thing to survive a nuclear war.

Of course, I blame it on all of those "Duck and Cover" drills they did during the Cold War :)

Xmich:
No friggin' clue.

cooper said...

compact fluorescent bulbs - I at least do that and am purchasing a Prius as my whole family uses them. The apartment building I live in was redone several years back and is heated partially with water through floorboards.

My mother wears twin-sets, it's her concession to the mundane and normal or maybe the thing which pulls her back from fucking all if Italy on her bi-yearly trips to "paint".

I think there is not much to do in life but drink and fuck at least according to some people Jason.

I wonder, does it really matter?

What are you doing there Jason?

I shouldn't ask that really because I think it makes you write well to live in such a place, Can't say the tales aren't entertaining.

Cat. said...

Yo, wait: you're being evicted?

Dang. At least you don't have to fight all the undergrads right now....

The ZenFo Pro said...

Coop:
You know, I think you're right about the writing.

Lol, your mom has her sights set on fucking all of Italy? Tell her to burn those twin-sets :)

Cat:
Yup. Sorta.

The property manager promises me they'll help me find another similarly-priced place. My SNAFU, but in a college town, I'm one of the few people they don't have to worry about leaving beer cans in the stairwells or pissing in the closets...

Woeful said...

Didn't you write recently that you decided to stick around? LOL!!