Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Brother's Rules to Owning a Dog

"Hey Dog, you keep it up and I'm going to drive you out to the desert and leave you there." - brother

"Stop talking to him like that." - mother

"Mom, as long as I say it in that excited voice, he has no idea what I'm saying." - brother

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"The Grandest of Grand, For The Curious Love"

"The Grandest of Grand, For The Curious Love"
a poem dedicated to jason kornfeld and written as fast as possible by jake kilroy.

A sleepy town with sleepy vixens,
bellowed the wind with all its fixings,
no miracle mile for the dreaded last call,
as no patriots wait it out after all.
So the drinkers caved and saved their coins,
strayed from bars and spayed their loins,
to keep a good walk home the tamest act,
breathing the winter's cold in their thickest hat,
squinting under the brim, to make it home,
just to feel like they were sleeping alone,
while their wife looked dapper and cozy too,
and their children slept without a waking coo,
and as they brushed their teeth in the draft,
they thanked the Lord for the Christmas they had.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Eufaula? Checotah? Owasso? Coweta? Ok, Oklahoma, I get it. You love Native American city names that make me sound drunk when I say them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Want You (To Tell Me If I'm Breaking Your Heart)

I saw an ex-girlfriend last night, which is something I suppose boys do around Christmas. This is all the more intriguing because her and I haven't been on good/speaking terms for nearly three years.

But seeing her again was like old times, no strange pulls between us. It was very genuine and very much like old college friends. I hadn't seen her since I was a 21-year-old drunk. Now, a mature 24-year-old semi-drunk, we went to a fancy New Orleans restaurant and I wore dress shoes, black slacks, a black tie and a white shirt (with rolled-up sleeves). At my very best, I looked like someone from Mad Men. At my worse, I probably just looked like some poser who wanted to look like a guy in Mad Men. I mostly dressed up because I was in South County and...something, something South County.

Anyway, it was a lot of sharing stories and vague allusions to us not speaking to each other for years. It was eerily comfortable. So, once the restaurant died down, we went to a bar to continue filling in the blanks of the last three years. I got a whiskey on the rocks and she got something called Cocoa Delight or something. She said she ordered it to drink summer in winter.

Everything was grand until she told me about a journal she kept for two years, keeping track of her sanity in law school. She mentioned that there were a number of entries about me from years ago. I said that she needed a new journal, now that we're friends again and she said, "Yeah, I'll need it for when you fuck up in 2010."

And then the whiskey felt heavy. And then the conversation seemed long. And then the night seemed blurry, like I were drunk driving through the motions of the evening.

I suppose that's what guilt feels like when it comes on stronger than any liquor you have in you. It becomes a smashing weight that you can't see. Suddenly, everything just feels spilled and tainted. Needless to say, I ordered two more whiskeys.

A short time later, the guilt slapped me around again. And it was somehow because of fruit (just one more reason for me not to eat fruit).

She had cherries in her drink. She asked, "Do you want one?"

"No, that's ok," I said.

"Is it because you don't like cherries or you just don't want them?"

"Which one makes me sound manlier?"

"Jake, I think we've known each other long enough to where you can be honest right now."

"Ok, no, I don't like cherries."

"You don't like cherries?" she said, laughing and appalled. "God, break my heart again, why don't you?"

I didn't say anything. I had a very puzzled look of remorse.

She laughed. "Oh, come on, are we not joking about that yet?"

"No," I told her, "because there's nothing funny about breaking your heart."

She was clearly beyond whatever happened years ago and I suppose I wasn't, and I guess I didn't know that until then. Over the years, I have somehow designed myself to absorb guilt like a sponge. Take the guilt into the very pores of my body and see how well it can run on guilt (and spite, probably). When I was younger, I think I saw it as some senseless sort of pride or inane badge of honor.

Look how damaged I can be, just as a 20-year-old, I probably once thought. The tortured artist of the 21st Century, ruined in a time and place where absolute wreckage does not exist. It was silly, but I had always had a secret wonderful fill of being a let down to women. God help me, I don't know how to explain it so that I sound like a real person.

But then I got my head together, got into a long-term relationship and came out the other side as a real person. For as much poetry I could find in it, I got shaky in a rather stressful way. Like an adult, I guess. When I was younger, the thrill of poetry in day-to-day life excused problems and excited me. Now that I'm older, I can see the poetic lines of everyday, but I can keep taking body blows every day. Everything about me is weaker, except for my integrity and my intelligence. When I was younger, I was arrogant and reckless, which makes you the strongest person (because you're too good to be no good and, ultimately, you don't give a shit). Instead, you churn out propaganda and let yourself laugh about things everyone takes seriously. You have no reason to be quiet and you have no interest in being a sap. You just become a barreling sound of laughter and yelling, constantly rolling until you hit something that won't move and you spend years dealing with the dizziness.

There had to be a few lines of poetry in me sitting in a bar, dressed nicely in black and white, drinking whiskey as a girl I haven't spoken to in years tells me that I'll fuck up in the new year or jokes about breaking her heart. And it made me laugh on the drive home, but for every laugh, there was a massive sigh that blew through my big city body with everyone asleep. Jesus, when I was 21, it was like my body was New Orleans or New York City during the Rolling 20s (riotous, careless and loud). My body is now in a terrible recession, as I learn to deal with the monumental challenge of adulthood.

What she said changed how I acted the rest of the evening. I was still engaged in what she was saying and I still had a very, very good time catching up with her, drinking myself into a stunning sobriety and then legitimately sobering up on the pier, but there was still a lingering quiet in me that lurks in the cold city shadows of a person's eternal night. There. There's a poetic line. I don't know where I was going with it, but...well, there's a place inside everyone where you need an old lantern to see.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Dad Doesn't Think Very Much Of Orlando

My Dad was in Orlando for his magazine's annual trade show. Here was the the opening paragraph of his e-mail:

I write to you far away in that dreaded land of Orlando where mullet jokes aren't funny and a full set of teeth is rare as a smile on a gator. It's the kind of place that Californians call weird. I'm pretty sure there are swamp guys here that smoke and chew tobacco at the same time. And there's girls who think that's sexy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thoughts On The Rocks

It's a curious place to find your thoughts when you're drinking whiskey alone in an airport tiki lounge just two weeks before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

James & I Try Out Southern Speak...And It Goes Uncomfortably Well

Here's what happened: My job had a big-everyone-in-the-company meeting and, since I don't really know anyone at this job, I introduced myself to people I talked to. The first person I met actually e-mails me a lot at this job about corrections and editing, but she and I had never met in-person. So I figured this was a regular deal. Then I introduced myself to another girl and she seemed confused. Later on, I realized that I had met her at a very small meeting the week before. So I IMed her to apologize for my poor memory and my bad manners. She didn't respond right away and I began to remember there being two girls with the same name. I was sure that I had just apologized to the wrong girl. This would make one girl with that name annoyed and another one totally confused about my IM. Anyway, James gave me some advice in a random stereotypical (and probably offensive) southern dialect over the internet and it spiraled out of control from there.

Holeeeee shiite and sunni, boy, you done gone swimmin' with no trunks on.

JAKE: I ain't neva been to no waterin' hole wiffout my trunks on! Think I just moved into these here parts, but, no sir, I been around. This whole talkin' thing is kinda new to me, so, well, I don't know, shucks, my brain is a-more slipperie than a baboon's rump after he done gone sat in butter. I'm awful red, like one of them firetrucks you see sometimes out there on that there road.

JAMES: Damn skippy.

JAKE: Shucks, they most never slow down! One of 'em gone done near took my arm off! Thank the lawrd that I was playin' my hermonica at the time.

Hey, boy, you 'bout as comfy as a bull humping a duck. Gol' dang emails and whatnot. Now here's what yer gonna do. And listen good because, as my pappy used to say, I'm only gonna tell you once before I hit you.


JAMES: Somehow, yer gonna have to get them there girls to believe they're each the wrong gal.

JAKE: But howsa I'm gonna do thayat?

JAMES: Now, some city folk don't believe this here parlor trick is possible, but believe you me, once you've seen a bull fuck a duck, well, you 'bout likely to believe almost anything. Now, first things first. Git yerself some raccoon ball powder. I would send you some but I'm running low and the corner store ain't gonna see no resupply 'til the snow melts. Sprinkle some of that ball powder right over yonder on the gal's morning corn cob. Might wanna put some salt on it with it. Raccoon ball tends to get mighty strong flavor. Once them young fillies get that ball powder in their blood, boy, you best step back a good yard or two, because they won't know if they're coming or going. Give 'em 'bout five minutes and after clucking their little heads off, both of 'em will fall fast asleep faster than a baby with a tit in its mouth. Once that happens, you git those desks rearranged, ya hear? Pictures, keyboards, pens, you name it. Put hers over there and vice-ah-versa. Blim, blam, presto.

Boy, when God was makin' you, I'm pretty sure he done gone left some screws out.

JAMES: Heh. That's what my pappy used to say right before he walloped me something good.

JAKE: I don't even know where any of them sits! Oh, and my pappy did a lot more wallopin' than talkin'. He used to say that if I didn't shut my moueth, he was done gonna let his five friyends do the talkin'! But I would always tell him, I would say, "Pappy, you ain't got no friyends. You're what the reverend calls a derelict." Oh, boy, he put me to sleep right then there, he did.

Har har.

JAKE: Was out colder than a lake in winter. Slept right there in the kitchen.

JAMES: That's some good shellackin'.

JAKE: Sure was. That's why I never held it against my pappy that he left me all them different colors, you see. I mean, he taught me a lesson right there, he did. Papa shoulda been a boxer.

Your daddy sure did know his way around a ring. Kept your mama on her toes, that's for sure. Never let her say nothing. She would open her mouth and his fist would be halfway to her face.

Mama called it "the fastest train in the world." And then I would say sumthin' like, "Hey, but now what about them Japs?" And then she would wallop me!

JAMES: Now, boy, that's your own fault now. You know what year it is? It's the future, son. You can't be runnin' around callin' them Japs or Nips anymore. This is America. Sure, they asked for it back in Dubya Dubya Two, but they're working for us now. It's "orientals." Heh. How you ever graduated all that schoolin' is beyond me, boy.

Beats me. I only showed up to school mostly just to get outta all the wallopin' at home. You know they done gave me some award for showin' up ev'ryday?

Is that right?

Sumthin 'bout perfect allegiance or sumthin'. I said, "Good, because I love this here country." And they said, "What?" And I said, "Huh?" And then, pretty soon, I thought they was gonna wallop me! It's them, Japs, I tell ya. Movin' all in, screwin' up our here schoolin'.

JAMES: Now, see, there you go again, usin' the wrong word.

JAKE: Wrong word? Boy, I ain't said a wrong word since I first got walloped.

JAMES: Boy, I swear, it goes in one ear and out the other. It's not allegiance. It's attendance. Damn, you stupid or sumthin'?

JAKE: Attendance? I ain't doin' no dancin'. I was just goin' to school or sumthin. What they gonna give me a dancin' prize fo? I just show up to skuel and they gonna tell me I'm a good dancer? Well, I am, but they ain't got nuthin' to do with it. Jesus, boy, you been drinkin' the bottom barrel moonshine too long if you think they gonna give me a dancin' prize for just sittin' there and listenin' to some teacher.

JAMES: Well, I guess yer right. I ain't never been to no classroom. Drove by it a couple times but they said all them girls weren't fit to be married none yet. So I just kept on drivin'.

Wait a minute. Now just wait a minute here. How old was you when you started drivin'?

Well, how old is anybody when they start drivin'? Ten, I guess.

Late bloomer, eh? Yea, me too. Was even worse for me. I didn't even sit in a workin' car 'til I was in the backseat of one trying to get up Mary Ellen Sue's skirt.

JAMES: Wait. I was born in the cold snap of ' that would make me....hold on now...Mama said I gots to learn my 'rithmic. That would make me 11 years old.

JAKE: Boy, you got enough 'rithmic. I seen you dance! I seen you dance with them gurls from near that there river and you hardly ever drop any of 'em. Me, I got two left hands. Can't catch nuthin' but some river flu.

Hahaha. Boy, you just like that Seinfeld fella. Hee-larious.

JAKE: Oh yeah, I saw of them shows. I laffed at the music, butI kinda missed everything else, you know. Whole time i was watchin' it, I thought, "Hey, when's that Larry The Cable Guy gonna come out here and tell some jokes?" I don't care much for that there city humor.

JAMES: Well, no shit, Sherman! The music's the best dang part!

I know, but all they do there is sit around some coffee shop like a bunch of rich people. Why em I gonna watch thayat?

JAMES: Well, goll-ee, Jake, you ever heard of sumthin' called culture?

Culture? Sure have! There's one of them that meets over there beyond Old Man Fields. They all dress up in the same clothes and talk like crazy people. All talkin' the same, all dressin' the same, bunch of hippies, that culture.


They got new ideas? Probly not. Probly just like every other culture. Man, they probly never even set foot in no church. That Seinfeld fella too. And all his friends. Probly a bunch of godless sinners, ya ask me. 'Cept for that Kramer fella. Got a funny way a-comin' inta places.

JAMES: Yeah, boy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm The Most Awkward Customer Ever (Part II: I Bleed All Over H&M's Merchandise)

Following my haircut (Part I: I'm No Good At Salon Small Talk plays a role in this story), I decided to maybe rev up my appearance. I mean, I had a haircut and I've been putting off buying new I went out and bought new shoes.

Then, I decided to keep going and finally buy a belt that wasn't falling apart and making me look like a savage or mental patient. It's stretched and falling apart and just all-around crazy. So I went to H&M because I heard they also have good deals on polo shirts, which I need for my job (people may be starting to notice that I only have six collared shirts for my five days of work every week).

I get to the H&M at the Irvine Spectrum. Once inside, I immediately realize how rarely it is that I buy clothes like a real person. I usually wait for gifts, warehouse sales or just a random thing I see that's cool. I almost never go out to browse. I try on some jackets and some sweaters, winding through all these sharper dressers. I then realize how unsafe and unhip I feel around fashionable people. It's like they know something I don't.

Finally, I get around to trying on a white polo shirt. It fits nicely, but when I put it back on the rack, I notice a massive reddish smear. It looks like make-up or something. I think, "How the hell did I not notice that when I first picked it up?" Then I worry it's from me. I touch my neck to see if I had accidentally reopened a cut from shaving or something. Nope. Nothing.

Weird. Someone just smeared a bunch of make-up on that shirt like a fucking weirdo. See, this is why I don't go shopping, I think.

Then, I try on a plain white t-shirt. I set it back down on the rack. There's blood on this one! Actual drops of blood! What the fuck is happening here? It's like a crazy part in a horror movie. I touch my neck again. No blood. It has to be me. But how? Then I somehow convince myself that I just happened to pick out the two already ruined white shirts in the store by some grand inane implausible coincidence. I don't know how I did it, but I did.

Now, in line to pay for my stuff, I'm next to a mirror, so I check out my neck in the mirror. Nope. No blood. Then I check the other side of my neck. Nope. No blood there...


I see my ear. Apparently, from the looks of it, I have been shot in the head by a bazooka and I had no idea. It looks like there is a serious fucking head wound on the left side of my head. My ear is totally bloody.


No, thankfully, I am not, and did not. I learn this as I frantically dab my ear with my a crazy person. There is now blood all over my hands. I am now rubbing them together as fast as I can, trying to mash the blood into my skin. This is, of course...insane. It looks like I'm washing my hands with soap in a bathroom...except I'm in some kind of invisible bathroom in the middle of a fucking H&M and it's blood that is clearly from the side of my head.

I don't get very far before a tall, attractive blonde (apparently, they work everywhere on Sundays) says, "I can help the next customer."

Approaching her from my "good side," I hand her my two polo shirts and belt, careful not to touch the white shirt with my hands (which I am also trying to hide, because there is still visible blood on my knuckles.

I feel very uneasy about the entire situation. My eyes go all squirrely as I try to figure out just how what happened to me...happened to me. I finally decide that the stylist had marked me earlier (after a closer inspection upon returning home, it looked more like a thin slit than a small cut). I think she sliced me with the scissors, it for some reason stopped and then pushing and pulling clothes over my head kicked it open again.

"Do you need gift receipts? Or are you treating yourself?" the girl asks very warmly.

"Oh...I'm treating myself," I respond, followed by a mock guilty look, as I struggle to appear like a normal person (you know, like one who hasn't just tried to get away with committing homicide on himself in public).

"You don't need to feel guilty," she says, smiling.

"True. I'll probably start feeling guilty closer to Christmas," I say with what could have been considered a shitty talk show host impression.

But, still, things are going well, it seems. And then a drop! A drop of blood hits my ear lobe. Oh no! This is goddamn ridiculous, I think. I can now feel my head leaking. I tell myself, "I'm like that goddamn Headwound Harry sketch from Saturday Night Live (the one where Dana Carvey just ruins parties by bleeding everywhere on everything and everyone). I have officially become a disaster." I am now a joke of a person, I figure. I have just become the character in television shows and movies that I don't think could really exist.

"Did you get this belt over there?" she suddenly asks, pointing.

I don't follow her finger. Instead, I just stare at the counter (I think).

"Oh...yeah," I say, somewhere between mumbling and speaking.

"Over there, by the jackets, right?"

She points again. I still don't move my head.

"Yeah, over there by the jackets," I repeat like this is my first interaction with a stranger.

"Oh ok. There's no price tag on this belt, so I'm going to go grab one just like it."

She leaves and I keep my head at an angle where she won't see the protruding gash I call an ear. She returns, scans the belt and finishes up. I take the bag from her, mumble something incoherent and hurry the fuck out of the store.

I still have yet to decide how I feel exactly about people that were in the Irvine H&M store tonight going home and telling everyone they know, "Holy shit, you're not going to believe this. I was in H&M tonight and there was a guy who had his ear missing like Vincent Van Gogh just smearing his blood all over the white shirts. It was total fucking insanity. This absolute crazy person just walked around trying on things, like it was no big deal, just totally ignoring the fact that he was dripping blood everywhere. He was just totally ignoring the fact that he was smearing blood all over these nice clothes. How could you possibly ignore that? And then he got in line, still bleeding to death, and bought all of these other shirts that he didn't actually ruin. I've never seen anything like it."

See, this is the whole problem with consumerism: people like me.

I'm The Most Awkward Customer Ever (Part I: I'm No Good At Salon Small Talk)

Today, I got a haircut.

I can't remember the last haircut that I didn't give myself or let my friend give me after a few beers. I usually just use the buzzer on it's highest setting and call it a day. But it was for a good cause. All the proceeds went to the Friends of Orange County's Homeless Pets. My buddy John was doing P.R. for the Cut-A-Thon / Pet Adoption event. John was there with my other friend Nikki (which is no surprise, as the two are married).

I was catching up with the two of them and updating them about single life, which is always an intriguing subject with married couples. I always feel, no matter what, like I'm either showing off or admitting that I am wildly irresponsible. It doesn't matter what the married couple does or says, I always feel this way (even though John and Nikki are one of my favorite married couples to hang out with).

Then, halfway through a sentence, some tall, attractive blonde girl at the counter asks, "Who's Jake?" I raise my hand and follow her to a chair. She leaves, so I start reading a gossip magazines. John and Nikki approach me and tell me there's wine here for the event and I should offer my stylist some. I'm halfway through an obscene response when the stylist reappears. John and Nikki leave giggling.

I follow the sylist to a sink, where she washes my hair and asks, "This wouldn't be the first time somebody's asked you if this is your natural hair color, would it?"

My response was more a string of fractured jokes and confused remarks instead of an actual sentence (just for the record, yes, for sure, that would have definitely been the first time I got that question). As she was drying my hair, she asked me what I wanted. I said, "Just, like...a trim." She said that wasn't all that special. I told her that I mostly came here for the dogs. She acted mildly offended.

Then, when she's cutting my hair, we make small talk. This was the easiest time I've had with small talk with a person cutting my hair. Usually, I'm the worst. Also, the old lady who used to cut my hair had a really thick accent from somewhere east of India.

We talk about dogs, her old job and my new job. I mention how I'm finally a yuppie in Irvine again after a few months of traveling. I explain where I've been (a summer in Seattle, a month in Austin, a weekend in Mexico...), and then she cuts me short seeming mildly concerned that I went to Mexico.

"Where were you?" she asks.

"In a small town between Rosarito and Ensenada," I tell her.

"Was it dangerous down there?"

"No, not really. I guess there were cartel problems for a while, but-"

"What about Swine Flu?"

"Oh...well, the cartel was using the Swine Flu instead of guns for a while..."



"It was nuts for a while. Everyone here was going crazy about Swine Flu for a while. It seemed like everyone was getting their shots here."

"At the salon?"

" the United States."

"Oh...I thought this was like a super gnarly full-service salon for a second."

Anyway, most of the conversation went like that. At some point, she asked how I wanted to do the back of my head.

"Do you want me to take off more back there?"

"Yeah, I like that."

"Or I could just do the sides."


"You don't even care."

"I'm sorry! I swear, I just came here for the dogs! I thought I was going to give one of them a haircut! I totally didn't understand what this whole thing was about, but I swear you're doing a good job. I don't know shit about haircuts. Whatever you think will look good will probably look way better than me buzzing my head."

Later, she's blowing drying my hair and putting product.

"This is exciting," I said. "I haven't had wax in my hair since high school. Also, this whole blow-drying thing and getting my head rubbed deal is fantastic. Now I know why dogs love this. I'm going to start doing this at home."

"Yeah, you can come in next for just a blow-dry," she says sassily. "I'm glad I taught you something special about hair care, blow-drying."

"I was just trying to be nice! Seriously, I haven't gotten a professional haircut in forever and I seriously think you're doing a great job. I might even come back in when I decide to dye my hair purple and turn it into a faux-hawk."

"You're not doing to do that."

"Ok, no, I'm probably not, but I'll tell my friends to come in. Deal?"


Little did I know that she sliced my ear. This will play a big role in the next story.