Posts Tagged ‘greensboro’

i’ve got ninety-nine sense, but a food lion ain’t one.

12 February 2011

dear carol herndon, chief administrative officer of delhaize america,

i haven’t been to one of your food lion stores in perhaps a decade, even though there is a location, on the corner of fleming and inman roads, within five miles from my house. i recently broke that streak because the nearby lowes foods does not carry the welch’s fruit snacks that i was craving. you do. however, i imagine this will be the last time i enter a food lion.

first, i’ll explain why i’ve avoided your grocery for so long: the darkened interiors of your stores remind me too much of the movie the salton sea, specifically the big meth deal scene that ends in a gunfire massacre. it’s difficult to concentrate on shopping when you expect to bump your cart into a prosthetic-nosed vincent d’onofrio with homicidal tendencies as you round the cereal aisle.

obviously i was able to fight back these images on my latest trip, so you are probably wondering why i’m so adamant about never returning. well, your employees kind of treated me like i had been caught videotaping them bleaching expired pork with a camera hidden inside my wig. in the checkout line, with a single box of welch’s fruit snacks, berries ‘n cherries, i marveled at how the woman in front of me had the storage space at home for the nine two-liter bottles of soda, thirty hungry man dinners, and six bottles of salad dressing (mostly variations on ranch) she was buying. another lane opened and the cashier (sorry, i didn’t get his name but he looked like legoland’s redbeard the pirate without the extreme case of jaundice) glanced at me, as i lifted my box to signal him, before calling to the woman behind me to join his line. he then called the woman behind her.

i continued to wait, watching the two women and a man pay for their items, load them in their cars, and drive home, before it was my turn. the cashier, jody, failed to tell me about the mvp special, which would have brought the price from $2.79 to $2.50. this detail is important because i had three dollars in my hand and, after tax was charged, i was a penny short. when i told her that i didn’t have the extra cent, i waited for her to say, oh, honey, it’s fine, as she handed me my purchase, since that is what would happen at any other business. instead she held out her hand to receive another dollar.

please help me find something to do with ninety-nine cents,

scott lefaive

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bumper 2 bumper.

31 January 2011

it’s always exciting when, after over twenty years of living in the southern united states, i discover a new manifestation of that area’s culture. this past weekend i learned that adults race matchbox cars for cash prizes. i was not able to find anything about this league, even though it was founded some ten years ago, on the internet. this fact boggles my mind, though maybe it’s due to another aspect of southern culture: for example, no room for cable modems inside the trailer park. anyway, i’m again charged with the duty of explaining our entertainment choices to the rest of the world.

the event begins with participants throwing dice in order to get their car’s position in qualifying. then the cars are moved to a track painted on plywood and take turns throwing the dice again, one when they are in pit row (you were forced to make a pit stop once a race) and two at other times. after four laps, they write down the top five finishers because points are awarded throughout the season. there are races at least four times a week: fridays and mondays at bars, wednesdays and sundays at people’s houses. cars can blow up if their driver rolls snake eyes and then rolls a six or an eight (i saw it happen twice).

you may be inclined to think that the game is all luck but there is strategy involved as sometimes people have to decide if they want to simply follow another’s lead and draft behind them or roll the dice themselves and hope for a better result. at other times, you have to choose in which of the three lanes to place your car. this seemed like a really important decision to the veteran drivers, much less for us rookies, who nodded our heads saying, yeah, there, there, okay, there then, that’s fine, whatever, whenever the choice was ours.

still, it was really amusing when a woman straight out of winter’s bone pushed by me, looked for her husband, then stopped, muttering, i’m not going to bother him when he’s racing, as if the man with tattooed script across his neck was behind the wheel of a vehicle nearing two hundred miles per hour while jimmie johnson tailgated.

the widow maker.

1 November 2010

i found a black widow spider, circled below in red, inside an old grill.

i attempted to capture it in an empty apple juice bottle, and resettling it elsewhere, as i didn’t believe trespassing on abandoned territory was punishable by death. also, i hoped it could teach me something about grief. with gloved hands, i picked up a long stick to guide it towards its new home, but it was too quick. i slowly removed the grate and pieces of charcoal so i could view its hiding places.

few things are more invigorating than tracking something using insufficient weaponry. it would only take a couple quick movements on its part or a couple blinks of the eye on my end, to allow it the opportunity to knock me onto the grass where i would convulse and foam until death permitted me solace. for a brief time i felt like a fencer, parrying and riposting, performing balestras and fleches across the field, fighting with the grim reaper.

i thought about life and death, about how close they are, and about how we take things for granted, because you never know when you’re going to have to remove something as dangerous as a black widow from your backyard. later i read that the mortality rate from the spider’s bite if not treated with anti-venom, which i would have likely avoided, was around one percent, so all of my ideas about heroism, the flash of the sword, and impending doom, were false, as it would no doubt take a better war to kill a college man like me. the red hourglass on its abdomen, i learned, was less a symbol of the sands of time quickly slipping through our hands and, instead, more like the end of a game of boggle.

needless to say the spider passed away after i accidentally broke off one of its legs. in addition, there was still a bit of juice in the container, so as it labored, pulling itself across its prison’s floor in a horrifyingly depressing display, it drowned.

the next day i returned to the spot to say a few words of condolence. before me was a web with a hastily scrawled message, woven with seemingly-benign pink thread, evidence both that the spider has a sense of humor and that it mocks our feeble attempts at superiority.

flat on the track.

25 October 2010

i attended a roller derby bout. previously i thought i understood the sport, having attended a match a few years ago and watching it on television, as a boy, with my grandmother, not to mention somehow sitting through the entirety of whip it, but being so close to all the blood, sweat, and tears made me question a few things (one being, why weren’t there more tears?).

the point system: i was trying to keep score, knowing that a team gained a point with each girl that the jammer passed, but after each jam i looked at the scoreboard to find i was off. it seemed arbitrary, like a drinking game where you start changing the rules in order to drink more (for instance, while watching the hills, drink every time you see a white person). when one team was up by twenty one, it was as if the scorekeeper thought, their opponent was good that time, okay, lets give them nineteen. the crowd loves a close game.

players’ numbers: i picture everyone lining up to choose jersey numbers, and the first couple of girls pick sixteen, nine, and twenty eight, and then the fourth one selects 1464. sorry, i thought we were limited by the numbers that could fit across our backs.

one of the most memorable parts of the exhibition actually occurred at the after party when i was introduced to whiskey slaps. participants find a partner and take turns downing a shot and receiving a slap to the face. that’s really all there is to it. it’s simple, yet elegant, much like the universe.

i can imagine after reading this post some of you are interested in starting your own team or joining an existing one, so in parting i’ll suggest a few names for your newly-created alter ego: skate moss; mary flay blige; queefer sutherland; the cast of that 70s show, tokin’ grace, laura preponderate, ashton krusher, and, um, kill more valderrama (if i looked at a list of the cast i could no doubt get you an entire team); emma hotsun and scary (or fairy or mary) potter and volde-court (for a girl named courtney who must not be named); scimitara banks; michelle o’ bomb ya; sarah impalin’; chelsea manhandler; amanda binds; nicki minaj a trois; kim karcrashian; scarlette fever. if you want to adopt the famous new york yankee idea popularized by babe ruthless, then you have mickey dismantle, joy dismashio, or als, which could stand for many things other than amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

what i’m saying is that the naming process is not as difficult as some of you are making it look. i’m certainly not insisting that all the names i’ve suggested are amazing, but i came up with this list mostly by browsing maxim magazine’s website for twenty minutes, while you’re supposed to be passionate about this sport.

the decline of the american empire.

22 September 2010

decorum dictates that i update you about the house next door since it’s been almost two years since i’ve written about it.

both parents moved out (he took their younger son to his partner’s pad; she moved in with her new boyfriend), leaving the house to the older son and society’s rejects. more cars appeared at night, more kids stood on the front lawn during the day, and i continued to avoid them while simultaneously hoping they would talk to me.

soon after, the house was raided, the officials leaving a list of things that had to be completed to bring the place up to code. for a few days, the kids loaded a pick-up truck with garbage bags, before retreating to the roof of the shed to smoke. one night, as i stood outside, hiding myself behind the garbage can, i watched a car slow down and then stop as it was passing the house. the older son and a friend approached through the shadows towards the front door. another car stopped before continuing its route when the older son chased after it with a baseball bat.

apparently their efforts at renovating weren’t sufficient, as a large lock appeared on the door one day. they returned once to carry off the trampoline, presumably the only item necessary for starting their new civilization. the police who visited the property advised us to call if we witnessed anything suspicious. they brought us inside to view a museum of trash and damaged furniture. the carpets were stained. clothing burst from the closet like a glutton who had eaten too much. the smell was overpowering, like a roomful of corpses that had vomited themselves to death after eating a roomful of corpses.

boards were placed over the front bedroom window and a blue tarp over most of the roof to prevent further leaking. i took a bird bath and feeder from their back yard, gifts for my dad; he took one of those gazing balls for his garden. i offered the grill to my friends but it was too rusty to be of any use. when i went to check on its condition, i found a bong sitting on its side shelf.

everything i’ve described above has taken place over the last three months. a few days ago, i discovered that the back door to the garage is unlocked, so maybe there’s a part three to this story.

296.32.

30 August 2010

i cut myself a little over a week ago. i assure you that i wasn’t trying to kill myself. it was more like a young girl, locking herself in her room, music blaring, while she runs a razor across her inner thigh just so she can feel something in this terrible world. honestly, i’d rather be dead right now from self-afflicted wounds than admit that i’m a pathetic little teenager seeking attention, but it’s the truth, sort of. at least the sentence about cutting myself and the next one about not trying to kill myself are true: i mean, i barely even broke through the skin when i slid the knife back and forth across my upper arm a few times, i merely wanted to see how it felt (i’d remembered from years ago not feeling anything when i tried the same thing and this experience was consistent — the cuts produced a small crease, and the following day a scab formed, making it seem worse than it actually was).

recently i told someone that while i’ve had suicidal thoughts for most of my life i would never be able to carry it out. my ideas of death over the years have been focused on hoping something would happen, like a satellite falling out of the sky to crush me or an errant hoof hitting me square in the temple (you know, when i’m cleaning out the family stables).

i came across something i wrote over eight years ago: every time i breathe, the earth’s supply of oxygen is depleted to such a degree that other people begin to gasp and, after the blood vessels in their eyes burst and form branches, die. a couple of years ago, while walking between the lines of a crosswalk, i started to become plagued by the thought that, instead of pavement, the road was composed of babies, staring unblinkingly into the sky. no matter how gingerly i stepped, my footfalls crushed them, suffocated them. since then, i haven’t been able to walk through the full length of a crosswalk. i wonder how much longer it will be before i decide that breathing is not worth the possible fatalities.

i want to draw lines across my back yard, forming a grid. in one square, a land mine would be placed. if i were feeling especially charitable, i’d take bets (in which square resides the blast? how many steps before i choose poorly?) with all proceeds going to a worthy cause, like my parents’ son’s funerary preparation fund.

i know what you’re thinking — how is it possible that this guy used to be even more melodramatic? — but let us try to overlook this stunner. the fact remains that i’ve obviously been failing at treating my mental health on my own, and pretending that sometimes-debilitating depression and suicidal ideation is somehow necessary for creativity has robbed me of a good number of satisfying endeavors. and it goes further back then the text above: it’s just that my writings from the womb have been obscured by amniotic fluid and such.

it’s not too late to change. life is what it is, not what it was (yes, that is a conor oberst quote, evidence the melodrama is still present).

an apple a day.

24 August 2010

i had an interview with a marketing company. i may as well tell you the name, because even if they call me i’m not going to take the job — and, also, i really want to show you their website. break point marketing.

(questions regarding the website: what’s with the shadowy figures with briefcases approaching x-files style? is business really just about globes and handshakes? why is the m in marketing a fleur-de-lis (you would think i’d have a leg up having a french surname)? on the contact us tab how did the shadow of an at symbol become a dollar sign?)

i’ve been to interviews before where i’ve arrived early to watch thirty people or more, resume in hand, walk into a nondescript building. i was thinking this would be the same, with depressed people being herded through as if on a conveyor belt. there were only four others in the reception area when i arrived, one of whom, who looked like he was on his lunch break from his job on wall street, kept shifting between looking at me and checking his watch.

i was the last applicant to make my way up the elevator to the second floor and mr. apple’s (yes, his real name) office. he was very short, small enough that he should have probably been buying his clothes in the junior’s department, the neck of his shirt gaping beneath his tie.

he started off by asking why i wanted to get into marketing. then he asked me if i had seen their website. i said, yes, fighting back the urge to giggle. speaking very quickly he told me the company set up shop in large stores like costco (he named half a dozen other places, finishing with, big names! you’ve heard of ’em) where they told customers about vizio and directv, though i’m not sure if they had separate or combined kiosks. the first step on the corporate ladder was entry-level marketing manager. at this point you were making six to eight hundred a week. then you were promoted to training manager, where you made the same amount of money, but had a lot more responsibility, managing a few locations and conducting the training at each. the next step you were promoting guys you had initially trained, firing the weak, and hiring those that were eager for success. at this point you’re making over a hundred grand, something to do with residual income from those under you.

the first promotion was guaranteed after twenty-four to forty-eight months and the second — get this — just four to six months later. the reason for the accelerated timeline, he said, was because they were way behind their store goals. they were a burgeoning company with a ton of opportunity for the motivated self-starter.

he asked me if i would be interested in such a position, but he didn’t seem too impressed when i answered that he, mr. apple, and i would make a great pair. i asked if he’d heard that one before and he kind of smiled, replying, not today, as he shuffled me out of his office, adding that he would be contacting candidates later that evening if they qualified for a real interview.

outside his office was a room that looked perfect for a children’s nursery (grey carpets, white walls, nice size), except there was absolutely no furniture. on one wall was a dry-erase board, full of numbers, like a scene out of a beautiful mind. there were three guys in navy polo shirts and black pants, talking to two others wearing earth tones, obviously in some sort of training. i heard one of the former group, pointing at an equation, say, see, right there? you’ve got it. that’s it. that is how vizio televisions are sold i presume.

as i waited for the elevator, i pictured mr. apple huddling with the others to come up with a stratagem for their after-work trip to the bar. it went something like this: if we all go for the blonde and block each other, not a single one of us is going to get her. so then we go for her friends, but they will all give us the cold shoulder because no one likes to be second choice. but what if none of us goes for the blonde? we won’t get in each other’s way and we won’t insult the other girls. it’s the only way to win. it’s the only way we all get laid.

q without u.

21 August 2010

today i saw a psychiatrist, and i don’t mean i watched an episode of fraiser, and i began taking the following medication. currently it has just made me feel extremely anxious, which i’ve read may continue for another week or so. more on this soon if i can succeed in winding myself out of bed (see, that was a really funny joke. geez, just watch the commercial).

i really like the thought to work???? caption. i mean, thanks for testing the drug so vigorously, wyeth pharmaceuticals.

unbiased self appraisal.

1 June 2010

i had a dream where you cut off my arms, starting with the hands and working toward the shoulders, slicing me into sections a couple of inches at a time. then you moved to the legs. i woke up and instantly called you at seven am, and you told me you would be right over. i didn’t expect you, knowing you would fall back to sleep as soon as you put down the phone. i showered and ran some errands, returning home before you called again to say you had just woken up.

i’ve realized that you’re not to blame. i’ve been cutting myself, keeping myself from succeeding. every time something is within arm’s reach, i pull back and make excuses for why i cannot continue. you’ve made me realize that i should hold myself accountable and that the struggle can be worth it. you’ve taught me that i’m better than what i’ve allowed myself to become and that i’ve underestimated myself. i’ve been oblivious to this and the ways it’s hurt you, and i greatly regret that.

when i was younger i subscribed to mensa magazine for a short time before deciding that it was pompous to display one’s genius in such a way. i’ll remember two things from its pages though. one, that puns are the highest form of humor. this declaration was accompanied by photographs from a halloween party where everyone dressed as their favorite pun (yes, reader, i’m also glad i didn’t attend). one couple was chicken catch a tory, the woman in a chicken suit and her husband in long-flowing wig and cavalier garb. two, an article about low-end jobs and reasons why some people of such advanced intellect would undertake such demeaning labor. those highlighted answered that they were just looking for something that paid the bills so they could use their ample free time to work on philanthropic and creative projects about which they were passionate.

in my own life i forgot the second part. sure, i’ve gone through things that required my full attention, but my complacency and lack of dedication is a mind-numbingly egregious offense at best. i put myself on a pedestal, pretending i had a reason to be there. to use the vernacular of dream analysis, i cut off my legs, piece by piece, but still told everyone i was running. i wore this starving artist tag like it was a badge of accomplishment, as if jotting down a few words every now and again is a form of artistry. i clung to the city of charlotte, as if failure in a large city is better than potential in a smaller one.

i bet you knew i was eventually going to address you again, and i am now. you couldn’t comprehend why i was comfortable treading water. at this point, it baffles me also. you stood by me though offering encouragement, and i will forever appreciate that. i’m trying not to make promises because, without action, they’re just a bunch of nonsense words, but i know a few are going to creep in. you know, something along the lines of first acknowledging that i’m a deeply-flawed individual, then adding that i will make sure that you are always happy, every single day, even if i have to do something outrageous like descend niagara falls in a barrel or bring back a fer-de-lance from costa rica (by the way, please consider other options).

i’m remembering that each day is a new day to make oneself better. and one day builds onto the next.

fall from grace.

21 May 2010

two days ago i almost broke my ankle…playing disc golf.

almost is pretty subjective, i know, so i’ll set the scene and let you judge for yourselves. the course was predominantly in the woods with creeks running through practically every hole. i wasn’t wearing the correct shoes for the terrain — it was soft and wet, and i sometimes had trouble gaining traction. the particular hole where i suffered my injury was bordered by trees, and my first shot was regrettable, so i remained at the tee with another frisbee to see if i could improve my distance and control. i stepped beyond the concrete box on the throw and my front foot, my right, slid in the mud, the momentum carrying it over a railroad tie and down a small slope. i fell backwards, landing on my left leg which was bent behind me. i heard a small pop and felt the most intense pain (granted, i don’t have a lot of experience with physical pain). i couldn’t put weight on the foot, having a friend lift me and act as a crutch, assisting me to a nearby bench.

seated, i pulled back my sock hoping not to see a protruding bone. i didn’t. in time, i was able to stand and walk, with a limp, and we finished the rest of the game.

i’ve written before about my lack of health insurance, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but, the truth is, it’s pretty inexcusable for someone of my advanced age not to be able to see a doctor. sure, it’s easy to say that i’m out of shape and that my injury was a result of lassitude, but freak accidents happen regardless of athletic ability or amount of time one spends working out. that’s what worries me the most, the fact that trauma can occur at any time and that it is not merely a symptom of poor conditioning.

for instance, wade boggs, member of the baseball hall of fame, missed a week after falling into a couch after losing his balance while attempting to put on cowboy boots. kerry wood, who once struck out twenty batters in a single game, was sidelined after slipping in a hot tub and bruising his ribs. soccer player paulo diego jumped onto a fence while celebrating a goal, catching his wedding ring upon dismounting and severing his finger (yeah, that sounds more painful than anything i did to my ankle).

glenallen hill, as a centerfielder for the toronto blue jays, had a nightmare about spiders that put him on the disabled list when, while still asleep, he bumped into a glass table and fell down a staircase in an effort to avoid the arachnids that plagued him. for the rest of his career, he was called spider-man.

i guess what i’m trying to do is caution against this feeling of invincibility we all have, as if nothing can happen to us so long as we take precautions and prepare. sure, i was likely saved from something more catastrophic by being incredibly flexible (seriously, my joints have their own joints), but i also know that, without warning, my synovial fluid will eventually dry up and that i won’t be so lucky.

i guess what i’m saying is that we (obviously i mean, i) have to make changes, not to eliminate the risk, because the threat will always exist without abatement, but to lessen the potential financial burden afterward — and also the ambulatory one, if possible.


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