Streets of Fire

Some things written by Jeff Kelley, a man in Richmond, Va. He likes aircraft carriers but doesn't really know the intricacies of them (weight, length, etc.)

Sees Guy Selling Doughnuts

  • Me: How much for a box of Krispy Kremes?
  • Guy: Five dollars!
  • Me: Hell yeah! What's the cause?
  • Guy: Fundraising for our church.
  • Me: Heck yeah, I mean!

Haven’t posted on here in a while so here’s a video from tonight of Olive going apeshit for a squeak toy.

Great To See You

It’s so great to see you!

I mean, under the circumstances, it is great to see you. There are certainly times when it would be greater, in terms of the context of where we are seeing one another at this very moment, to be in your presence. I don’t want you thinking I am having a great time right now, as this is not a happy occasion and we are here as a showing of respect for the deceased and the benefactors of those the deceased has left behind. Benefactors. Wrong word there, “benefactors.” I meant whatever the term is for those here who are directly impacted by this death, is what I should have said. I didn’t really know the guy, to tell you the truth. Although I hear he was pretty rich so there is likely some new money in the room right now. But wealth is not important at a time like this, although to be sure, technically my use of the term benefactor would be correct after all, so I wasn’t too far off. Just the wrong place. Anyway, great to see you.

And you look great! 

For the occasion, that is. There aren’t too many clothing options besides black, particularly for such a violent end as the guy met, you know? I might pull out a gray or even dark blue suit for some of these things, particularly if the person was old and it’s more of a bittersweet life celebration. But a flaming jackhammer through the windshield? Black is really the only option for something like that. But you do wear the black well. And you also look great in terms of weight and skin-tone, too. Kind of an overall looking-greatness about you, although black is rather slimming so that could be it.

Fuck, I didn’t mean it that way. Shit, I didn’t mean to swear in church just then.

Anyway, I hope you understand that this time right now is not fun for me, and that I am here out of respect, and that it is great to see you (under the circumstances), and you look great (even though you had to wear black due to the manner of his death, which was a flaming jackhammer to the windshield), and that my swearing just now was completely unintentional. 

So, are you going to the dead guy’s post-funeral party afterward?

Horse meat and Americans, why it is taboo

mediainquiries:

A horse is a horse of course of course, unless it’s served up on a sesame bun. Why do meat eaters refuse horse yet eat cow in the USA? Looking for educated opinion on cultural standards on this.

During my job I see many media inquiries for various stories on a number of topics, so I’ve decided to start compiling some on a blog. These requests sound a lot weirder when they are taken out of the context of a mass email and the sender information and publication is removed. The title is the same as the inquiry’s subject line, and the body is the same, minus a sentence or two if the request drags on.

Anyway, I’ll try to post a handful of the more bizarre ones each day.

Toplessness And Her Father

It’s a wonder to think that only seconds prior to seeing the olive-skinned French woman remove her top with both hands - the way women do seemingly only in movies, each hand on the opposite hip, arms rising slowly above the head in an almost ballerina-like motion - I’d fortuitously positioned my beach chair in a direct line of sight to capture the moment. No pretending not to stare, no secret glances when I thought she wasn’t looking, just a free front row seat to a pair of supple, twenty-something breasts on a white-sand beach.

I’d heard and listened intently to all those stories of topless beaches containing the type of nudity that one doesn’t want to see, and in most cases that claim rings true. Still, I hypothesized going into this foreign land, at least one in 10 women must be worth ogling a bit, and I found my own speculation to be equally as accurate. On this particular vacation day I’d seen eight or nine unsightly half-nude bodies, so I knew it was only a matter of time. And sure enough, moments later, directly before us, was the one in 10 - who also happened to be a solid 9 - standing in the calm blue waters of Anse Marcel. The mountains rose from the Caribbean behind her as if torn from a page of Travel + Leisure or, at a minimum, a trashy convenience store postcard that you might send home as a joke. And then there, on the shore, kicking a soccer ball to the young topless woman in the sea was her equally shirtless father.

While I knew the French were casual with female toplessness, I didn’t realize such a lighthearted attitude extended to doing so in front of family members. In particular, dads. And while decent in some areas of life, my maturity level will never rise to the threshold of viewing breasts as anything other than excellent, sexy things. No matter how abstract or impressionist the piece, I giggle in art museums. I have no idea how male plastic surgeons do their job with professionalism, once asking a breast augmentation specialist, after I’d had some drinks, if he ever openly gapes when he creates a particularly great set. He walked away immediately thereafter. And while I was having a difficult time attempting to see the innocence in this beautiful French girl goalie-diving in the sea as her father attempted to slip one past (I was equally impressed with their soccer skills), the scene became even harder to comprehend and more bizarre when mom emerged and began taking pictures of the two. Where are those photos going to end up?

I imagined a dinner party in a few years at their house back in Toulouse. “And zis vas in tventy-certeen, vhen ve took Sylvie to ze islands,” the mom would say in actual French, showcasing a photograph of her now late-20s daughter, mid-air, falling horizontally into the water as her long brown hair and olive breasts flew gloriously skyward. And if the viewers of this photo looked at the picture close enough, in the background they would notice an American couple with mouths fully agape. Both would be wondering how two cultures separated by one sea could be so radically different, while one would also be thinking about how awesome the whole thing was.

Coffin Face

After a long day that included a white chicken Crock-Pot chili that cooked for six hours and smelled amazing yet ultimately tasted like inedible garbage and ended up in it, I found myself in a bad mood. It all started earlier in the day, when I’d been, well, actually the rest of day was fine. Great, even, come to think of it. Honestly, the only reason I was in a bad mood was because the chili I’d been thinking about all day tasted like garbage. I guess there was also some heavy traffic on the way home, which I was not fond of. But mostly it was the chili-in-the-garbage issue. I also read that there has been abnormally bad smog in Beijing lately, so things really could have been worse.

After I dumped the taste-free pot of chili into the trash can, I laid down on the sofa. I let out a few audible sighs to get attention and claimed to wish I was dead due to the chili I’d so desperately wanted to eat; plus, claiming you want to die is a superb attention-getter, even if you don’t mean it. Yet as I laid there sprawled out we started wondering why dead people are always buried with the same face: serious, straight-laced, and rather sad looking, as they are dead. “Not my face,” I told my wife. “I’m want to lay there like this,” I said, unfastening my jaw and opening my mouth agape as I slapped my hands to my cheeks and widened my eyes. After a bad day that mostly involved a single instance of bad white chicken Crock-Pot chili but could have involved Beijing smog or, say, an escaped zoo lion entering our home and mauling us, we laughed.

We decided that, at my funeral celebrating a long, lustrous life that ends at age 111 and includes many opulent vehicles, I will lay in an open casket with my hands on my cheeks and mouth agape with eyes wide open. People will want laugh at my face, but, as it is a funeral, that won’t be allowed. “Please,” my wife will tell my last two remaining friends as she feigns sadness, “don’t laugh. This isn’t funny. He wanted it this way.” But of course, my coffin face will be our last little joke, born decades earlier amid a good day that ended with a bad batch of chili.

You two are the two worst possible people I know to have in this hospital room right now.

—Sister-in-law, who just gave birth via C-section and therefore is not supposed to laugh as it causes abdominal pain, to me and my wife.

Hard Times

The other evening there was a knock on our front door after dark. We’d ordered a pizza not more than 10 minutes before, so I figured it was the delivery man and thought perhaps I’d called the wrong Papa John’s: not the one down the street, but the one in the future, which already knew our order before we’d even placed it and was able to deliver in less than 10 minutes.

Even though I didn’t see the standard markings of a pizza-delivery driver on the young black woman standing at our front door, I remained unconvinced she wasn’t harboring a half-pepperoni, half-cheese pizza on her someplace, or alternatively, from the future to kill us in order to prevent a nuclear apocalypse.

She introduced herself and said she was with a group called Guiding Light, or Guardian Angels, Grieving Hands, or some two-term phrase starting with a “G” that could have either been a hard-nosed biker gang or an inner-city youth organization, the latter of which she claimed to be a part. She also told me her name, which went into my left ear and directly out of my right, but I clearly recall that it didn’t sound - nor did she look - as if she was in a biker gang. I bought the inner-city youth group organization story, but remained hopeful that she also had some pizza in her knapsack.

She jumped into a chronicle about all the struggles she’d experienced through her life - hard times - and I believed her. In fact, I didn’t mind giving her a few moments to tell me her story. After all, I had nothing to do but wait for our pizza, and to obtain the pizza I would’ve had to step out onto the porch to meet the delivery guy anyway, and I was already out there, so I may as well listen to a stranger talk about her hardships growing up in the projects. But if the pizza arrived during her monologue, I’d have probably cut her off. “Pizza before some stranger’s hardship stories,” as grandpa always taught me.

She told me she had dreams of becoming a teacher. I think. Or was it “barista?” Maybe she said she wanted to be a pizza-delivery man. I’m not entirely certain, as I was pretty hungry and thinking mostly about the pizza en route to our house on the edge of suburbia. And I was tired, and it was dark outside, and I didn’t know this person’s name even though she told me. But mostly, I’m a horrible listener. Also, did I request an extra garlic sauce when I called Papa John’s? Was I going to have to share one little cup of garlic sauce between two people? Because sharing a single garlic sauce, even with one person who you’ve sworn to stay with until you die, is complete agony. Continuing to carry on about her hardships, she then put the question to me.

"Could you share with me the types of struggles you’ve been through?"

Now I was stuck. She’d just told me stories of witnessing drug deals and watching people she knew die from drive-by shootings. I couldn’t really compete. Going to high school in southern New Hampshire, I didn’t experience much gang-related violence or a single bullet through the front window of our Cape Cod style home. My biggest struggle growing up was the frequent blanket of white snow that shut down our quaint New England town and forced us to stay home from school and go sledding at the nearby golf course, oblivious to the realities of the less-fortunate. Several times I was bullied, but never with a weapon, and nothing so severe that I’m still haunted, even though I still think John Hames from 9th grade was a complete asshole.

I considered bringing some levity to the situation in order to get the girl to laugh at my own personal “hardships.” That morning, I’d forgotten my sunglasses at home and had to go through an entire day squinting, which gave me a headache. It wasn’t such a bad headache that I had to take aspirin or anything. I’d had worse headaches. Migraines when I was younger, even. Does a headache count as a struggle? Oh, and as it turned out, my sunglasses were in my car the whole time! I’d just put them in the arm-rest compartment, not the drop-down case in the roof where I typically store them. “Can you believe that?” I could have told her. “Times were tough.”

But I didn’t tell her that story, and asked how I could help out. Of course, help came in the form of giving my credit card information to her to write on a little form in her hands and take to a place I did not know. On my doorstep was a stranger who I’m sure had gone through many personal hardships, but she also told me she wasn’t from inner-city Richmond - five miles away - but rather, New Orleans. I apologized sincerely and wished her good luck, but said I could not in good faith just hand out a credit card number to someone I didn’t know. I mentioned I’d take a look at her organization and consider donating, but by the time the front door had closed behind me, I couldn’t remember the name of her group, or what her face looked like, but man, how I wanted that pizza. Plus, Seinfeld was on TV, and it was one of the few with David Puddy. 

Inner-city life is tough. Mine is decidedly not, and to her level will never be. I didn’t blame her, just the questionably legit group that sent a struggling black youth out to a random middle-class mostly white neighborhood in the late evening, on the edge of suburbia, in a dark town that wasn’t her own, to ask a stranger anxiously awaiting a pizza for money. There’s a better way to overcome.

Coincidence

  • [Sitting at coffee shop]
  • Dude: "Hey, are you Jeff?"
  • Me: "Yes, hi!"
  • Dude: "It's me, Matt."
  • Me: "Hi, Matt."
  • [Awkward pause, as if he's waiting for me to acknowledge who he is]
  • Me: "Sorry, have we met?"
  • Dude: "On the phone. We had a meeting this morning, yes?"
  • Me: "I don't think...what now?"
  • Dude: "You're Jeff [last name that wasn't mine], right?"
  • Me: "No, Kelley. Ha!"
  • Then we giggled for a little while, realized we had some mutual friends, and who knows, maybe we'll grab that coffee some day.

Inspiration

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Although, if you think about it: most stars are pretty far away from the moon, many times with distances measured in light years and like 20 zeros on the end. “Among the stars” is more of a misnomer. Should you miss the moon, you’ll be nowhere near any of the stars, marooned all alone to mostly suffer what will likely be a slow and painful death as you tumble and twirl throughout the depths of the universe and into utter oblivion. The truth is that unless you have some sort of rocket or otherwise fast spacecraft, you’ll never make it among those stars in your lifetime. Better make sure your coordinates and directions to the moon are accurate, and that you’ve practiced sticking the landing, because you sure as hell don’t want to miss that thing.

It’s also a good idea to pack some extra oxygen, just to be safe. You’ll of course need enough to make it to the moon, as there is no oxygen in space (nor are there any fill-up stations on the way out), and you’ll need lots more if it should you fail to negotiate the moon landing and find yourself attempting to navigate the highly treacherous environment of outer space. Bring some extra food, too, because there’s only one McDonald’s up there, and it is on the moon.

(There is a 7-Eleven around the corner from HR-1855, but they are always out of hot dogs and their chip selection blows.)

You also need to worry about space junk shooting around everywhere, which I saw on TV once actually put a gaping hole in piece of steel. I’m not sure why the steel was up in space. It may have been part of the space station, or the steel was perhaps another piece of space garbage clanking into some more space garbage, thus causing a gaping hole. The point is that space junk can kill you, and so can aliens with their futuristic flying saucers and hulking gunships, which will also be milling about, should you miss the moon.

For this reason, it’s important for dreamers who shoot for the moon to equip their rocketships with a little black pill, just in case they miss and go tumbling uncontrollably into the cavernous, unending and supremely terrifying depths of the Milky Way. Pop just one pill, throw on some Speedwagon, tightly clutch that locket of your mother and close your eyes. If for some reason the pill doesn’t work - about 2 percent are unaffected by it - there’s a revolver with eight bullets in that locker to the rear of the lunar module.

Shoot for the moon. If you miss, the outlook honestly isn’t that great. Though I guess you could also just save enough gas for a return trip home.