Friday, February 28, 2014

Chapter Three in my Diary of a Fat Man: Death before Dishonor!



Yes, I know—it’s not pretty.  After I awoke this morning and waddled into the bathroom, I stepped on the scales (morbid curiosity I suppose, haven’t dared to check since Thanksgiving) and came right back out here & posed for this angry selfie.  That’s my favorite Klingon warrior sleep-shirt and I’m not fit to wear it.  I look like a big plate of gagh!  (To you humans, those are fat serpent worms that us Klingons like to chow down on.)

The holidays are over, no more excuses, no more long-winded blogs about finding new inspiration. 

I need to stop talking about it and just DO IT.


Date Weight Gain/Loss Total
Feb 28 238.50 0 0
Mar 07 237.00 -01.50 -01.50
Mar 14 236.00 -01.00 -02.50
Mar 21 237.00 +01.00 -01.50
Mar 28 235.00 -02.00 -03.50
Apr 04 236.00 +01.00 -02.50
Apr 11 236.50 +00.50 -02.00
Apr 18 235.50 -01.00 -03.00
Apr 25 235.00 -00.50 -03.50
May 02 235.00 0 -03.50
May 09 233.00 -02.00 -05.50
May 16 233.00 0 -05.50
May 23 232.50 -00.50 -06.00
May 30 233.50 +01.00 Sad smile -05.00
Jun 06 234.00 +00.50 Sad smile -04.50
Jun 13 235.50 +01.50 Sad smile -03.00
Jun 20 237.00 +01.50 Crying face -01.50
Jun 27 238.50 +01.50 Crying face 0


HeghwIjjaj nung quvwIjHu! 

(That’s Klingon for “Lose it or else”)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ralph Waite: It was his time to go, but perhaps this isn’t the end

Last night, as I was doing the customary things I always do before going to bed, I came here to turn off my computer and saw this headline on my screen:  “Ralph Waite dead at 85.”

It took me by surprise (as most deaths do with most people), but later as I lay in the darkness, feeling a real sense of loss for someone I didn’t even know outside of his role as John Walton on “The Waltons”, I tried to put it into logical perspective and just couldn’t.  Someone I felt both love and respect for, and have known for many years is gone.

For some reason, this news reminded me of one of my favorite episodes of “The Waltons”.  In it’s seventh season, it seemed the end was near; Richard Thomas (who played John Boy) had left a couple years prior for greener pastures.  Shortly after, Ellen Corby (who played Grandma Walton) suffered a stroke and was also gone (but did return a year or so later in a handful of episodes, in a non speaking role).  Will Geer (who played Grandpa) died in the spring of ‘78, and Michael Learned (who played Olivia, the mother) left the show to star in her own series “Nurse”.   Ralph Waite was the only adult left.

The producers of the show saw the writing on the wall, and assumed CBS had no choice but to end the series.  They wrote a final episode called “Founders Day”, which aired in March 1979 and concluded with Earl Hamner, the creator & narrator of the show, delivering the loveliest goodbye I’ve ever seen.  (I included it below.)

But that was not the end; in a move that surprised everyone, CBS asked them to continue producing more episodes.  I’d like to think such possibilities happen elsewhere as well.

Rest in peace, John Walton

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The woman at the bus stop, and other people you don’t know



When you ride the bus, and see many of the same people every day, you get to “know” them over time, or at least you imagine you do.  You see the same faces at the same stops and you begin to form an idea of what type of person these people are.  That man in the suit will fold and refold his newspaper to get the crease just right, look at his watch at regular intervals and frown out the window.  I bet his life is a very orderly one.  You’ll see that young man waiting at the next stop, wearing earphones and bobbing his head up and down, and you know he’ll be patting himself down for his bus card only after he climbs aboard, he’s not worried.

But it’s the same people, wearing the same faces and doing the same thing everyday.  The angry or tired faces are always angry or tired.  That tall, skinny nurse will glance about nervously during the trip downtown just as much tomorrow as today.  There’s the talkers, the sleepers, the readers, the watchers. 

I catch the bus in the morning in front of Lincoln Bakery.  We proceed up Main Street and pick up 3-4 more passengers across from PNC Bank, maybe one or two in front of the laundromat, and then there’s CVS.  It’s at that third stop where the largest number of riders are waiting, and one of them is a short, round young woman.  I’d say 30, 31 tops.  She has straight ash-blonde hair, and (depending on the weather) wears a coat or light jacket that is too short or too tight.  Maybe that’s the fashion, I don’t know.  She wears a troubled face too, she’s one tough looking customer.  

Lincoln-Bakery-BellevueLincoln Bakery, you’ll find me here every morning—waiting for the bus

She wasn’t always tough, though. When she began riding my bus, she always got on with a young man around her age, not much taller than her, a beard & glasses.  He always had a scowl on his face, but this didn’t put her off.  She’d make every effort to sit in a seat near him, and if by chance she got one beside him, she’d lean in during the trip downtown and whisper on occasion, while he stared straight ahead with his poker face and furrowed brow.  They’d ride in silence then, together but not together. 

Our bus would arrive downtown, stop at the Highmark Building, then proceed up Fifth Avenue, stopping again at the corner of Fifth & Wood, then Macy’s, then Mellon Plaza.  The young man exited the bus as quickly as he could and she would be careful to exit behind.  I would still be on the bus (as I get off at the next stop, at US Steel) and I’d watch them as we pulled away.  Sometimes I’d see her make a cautious attempt to approach him on the sidewalk, but he would have none of it.  He wasted no time marching up those steps leading into Mellon Center and hurrying inside, and she would stand there for a moment, as if deciding what to do next before walking alone down Grant Avenue.  I watched this scenario play out over & over again, hoping just once he’d turn and talk to her or just wave bye or something.   

Then a year ago, the young man with the beard disappeared and she began riding the bus alone.  She got on the bus in the morning, scowling, as she made her way to the back.  I noticed she no longer got off at Mellon, but continued riding with the few of us remaining to US Steel, the last stop.  She’d exit the bus and be half a block down the street while I was just standing up.

I see this girl in the evening too.  Our bus stop home is in a different location, up the street from US Steel, beneath an overpass right across from the old Allegheny Jail.  You can get there faster by going beneath the Steel Building, a quick jaunt thru the subway station and up a steep escalator to the street.  It’s a noisy place to wait beneath that overpass, but you’re at the bus’ first pickup (a guaranteed seat) and you’re protected from the elements. There’s usually only one or two people that wait there with us, but I often stand there alone with her, watching the evening crush of cars and people.

We’ve never spoken to one another.  When our bus arrives, I automatically take a step or two back, allowing her to get on first.  She doesn’t look in my direction or say thank you, and I don’t expect her to.

And so today, I told my coworkers I had to leave a couple minutes early, I needed to stop at one of the PAT machines in the subway terminal to add some money to my Riders Card.  I got down there and approached one of the machines, waving my card at the screen (which should produce a bonging sound and a prompt asking how much do I want to add) but nothing happened.  I waved the card at the screen again, again.  Nothing.  Now what?  I stood there for a moment, waiting to see if someone else would try (and if theirs failed too, then it wasn’t me).  And then from around the corner, the girl at the bus stop appeared, hurriedly fishing her PAT card from her purse and went to the machine, waving it at the screen and also getting nothing in return. 

She shook her head in disgust.  I said “Er… it’s not working for me either”.  She looked at me then quietly said “I only have one ride left on mine.”  I said “Me too.”   She said “So what are you going to do?”  I said “I don’t know… mug someone for their card I guess.”  She laughed, and in an instant, I mean in the blink of an eye her face seemed to change.  And I thought Holy smoke, she’s beautiful.  I said “Hey I think I know where there’s another one of these machines, but we’ll have to hurry” and she said okay and followed me thru the terminal (and I said a quick prayer that my memory wasn’t on the fritz.) 

We found it quick enough and I told her to go ahead.  She waved her card and we heard the bong; she turned to me and we smiled at one another.  She added some mileage to her card and waited as I did the same.  We walked thru the terminal at a slower pace now, back towards the escalator that takes us up to outside.  Along the way she said “Yesterday there were fifteen people lined up at that other machine, and this one guy kept saying ‘it’s not working…’ and this guy WAYYY in the back said ‘you numbskull, you don’t know what your’re doing!  Let me up there and I’ll show you how its done!’   Someone said ‘wait your turn!’  but then the next person tried it and it didn’t work for him either, and the ones in line went right on waiting!”  I laughed out loud, and she did too, and I suddenly ached to be 15 years younger. 

Her soft voice and laugh had transformed her, and I suddenly stopped feeling sorry for her and felt sorry for myself instead.   This girl’s a real catch. 

young woman