Archive for September, 2013

Scribbling in Someone Else’s Sandbox

This summer, a couple of potential writing projects fell on my plate. One was the newly-launched Dark Crystal website, and they were looking for authors for an upcoming prequel novel. The second was a writer “casting call” for an anthology collection called Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. I just about shit a writer’s block.

The Dark Crystal was one of the most influential movies of my childhood – up there with The Neverending Story and Krull. Clive Barker’s Nightbreed remains – to this day – my all-time favorite horror movie. (Only Cabin in the Woods comes close to tying with it.) Both of these opportunities presenting themselves seemed much more than a coincidence. And the fact that their respective deadlines were within a day of each other was far too perfect.

It was fate.

Or so I thought…

As a writer, there was one avenue I never went down. I’d never written fanfiction. Okay, both of these assignments weren’t exactly fanfiction in the strictest sense, but it was writing in some other creator’s universe. A feat I’d never attempted. There were times when I was tempted, but a sticky thing called “pride” got in the way. That and I was unsure as to whether or not I could write in someone else’s world. I’m kinda glad I didn’t. For the sake of full disclosure, I’ll air out the literary laundry.

Fanfic Idea #1.


Honorblade: A Star Trek Novel

It was no secret that Powers That Be behind the Star Trek franchise were open to new blood. Untested screenwriters were brought in all the time for the TV show(s), and new authors were given opportunities to pitch non-canonical novels. My idea, however…

I didn’t want to deal with the Federation at all, or space for that matter. My idea went back…way back. No human characters, either. Instead, I chose to focus on the Klingons.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was established the Klingon “messiah” figure – Kahless – showed up roughly 1,500 years before the 24th century – when the show took place. So, about the 9th century to humans. In Deep Space Nine, Worf mentioned in passing that his race “killed their gods over a thousand years ago”. In another DS9 episode, it was established that the Klingon homeworld was invaded by a race known as the Hur’q (“outsider” in the Klingon tongue). That also occurred over a thousand years ago.

There was a story in there somewhere.


Five hundred years after the death of Kahless the Unforgettable, and the forging of the unified Klingon Empire, Kronos – their homeworld – was invaded. Having never seen an alien race before, the superstitious Klingons believed their gods were descending upon them on the backs of metal dragons. (In reality, starships that looked curiously like bird-of-prey.)

The invading race used their superstition against them, fashioning themselves as rulers of the Klingon people. A few stood against them, however. Yivar, Son of Tarn – a young thief – was one of them. After witnessing an execution, he flees the Klingon capitol.

In his travels, he encounters a wanderer named Bul’roth. The stoic Klingon hailed from the line of Morath, Kahless’s dishonored brother. The two form an unlikely friendship and set about sowing the seeds of revolution against these so-called “gods”.

Why I Never Started It:

In 1997, author Michael Jan Friedman released a TNG novel simply titled Kahless, which…completely ripped apart the Kahless mythos. In so doing, my story was also rendered moot. Sure, even if I did want to publish it, Star Trek novels weren’t considered canon. More than one novel could contradict each other. Still, it was enough to dissuade me from even fanfic-ing the damn thing.

Fanfic Idea #2.


Serenity: From Operative to Shepherd

Like a lot of geeks in the early 2000s, I was completely enamored with a little show called Firefly. It didn’t last very long. (FOX canceled it after a few episodes.) But the DVD box set sold well, justifying the need for a movie outing to wrap up any loose plot threads. Serenity came out on the week of my birthday, and I chose to see it for my birthday party.

In short, it was amazing. Sure, it tanked at the box office, but I could think of no better send-off for that little ship that could. There was one unanswered question, though: What was the deal with Shepherd Book?

Throughout the show and movie, the mysterious preacher spoke cryptically about his past. A few moments occurred that revealed he had ties with the dreaded Alliance, but it was never established in what capacity. I had a guess, though.

The primary antagonist in the movie was a character simply known as The Operative. No name, no history – he was a ghost. And a monster. I theorized that Shepherd had been one as well.

The Plot:

Taking place during the time of the Alliance slaughter of Shepherd’s home colony of Haven, The Operative arrived to oversee the final culling. He witnessed a lone man with braided hair singlehandedly felling an Alliance troop deployer.

Shepherd and The Operative faced off. Both were evenly matched. As they parried attacks, they also parlayed words. It turned out that The Operative used to be Shepherd’s protégé. Eventually, The Operative succeeded in killing him…but with regret.

Why I Never Started It:

In 2010, Joss Whedon’s brother, Zack Whedon, and artist Chris Samnee penned a comic dubbed Serenity: A Shepherd’s Tale. It finally revealed Book’s true origins. Unfortunately, he wasn’t an Operative.

Besides…who am I to compete with a Whedon?

Bottom Line

As I write this, the deadline for Midian Unbound has already passed. I never even put fingers to keyboard. There was an idea kicking around about a night auditor who was really a member of the Breed. It involved a priest stuck on the crapper, a secret about the Knights Templar, and a Baphomet statue. But I never thought it was any good.

The Dark Crystal “author quest is still alive and well. They’re still accepting submissions until December. I have some semblance of an outline that is equal-parts Dark Crystal and The Seven Samurai. At one point, a McGuffin called a “Conjunction Cannon” shows up. I’m still not sure this novel is a good idea.

Perhaps it’s sheer laziness or stubbornness that are keeping me from playing in someone else’s sandbox. Or maybe I’m just second-guessing myself. Chances are, though – paid or not – a subconscious kernel in the back of my mind would be constantly berating me about writing fanfiction.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Monday, September 30th, 2013 Musings 2 Comments

Why I Want(ed) to Live and Work in Japan

Several years ago, I tried to submit applications to different schools in Asian countries. My goal was to use my pathetic English degree to teach the language abroad. None of that panned out, but this was my favorite submission letter to a Japanese outfit. (No, these images were NOT included in the original query letter.)

My fascination with “the rising sun” began in the spring of 1983. An unassuming precocious child, I channel-surfed Saturday morning cartoons like a pro. Perhaps it was a short attention span, or a reflex, but nothing ever caught my eye. That is, until I ran across anime for the first time.

The channel surfing stopped.

Fast-forward a few years later – by this time, a 9th grader – and introduced to the likes of Akira, thus solidifying my genre preference for all time. But not only that, I had to learn more about the culture that spawned such a dynamic art form. The bookworm in me took over.

Like any teenage male, the first word in the search key was “ninja”. That led to “samurai”, followed closely by “daimyo”, and lastly to “Amaterasu.” Film directors such as Shintaro Katsu, Akira Kurosawa, Hayao Miyazaki and Takeshi Kitano breathed imagery into my textual inquiries. However, I was still distanced from experiencing the culture firsthand.tian xiao cheng

Then came college.

Most would assume a dorm boss to be a beleaguered, tired-looking post-grad student. Mine was the exact opposite – a bright-eyed, smiling, and downright hilarious guy by the name of Hiro. He and I grew to be fast friends and embarked on weekly sushi outings. (Usually impromptu, it being college and all.)

As with all things, though, college ended and we returned to our prospective homes. Too bad his was across an imposing ocean. I heard from him on and off over the years, his same statement being, “When’re you coming to Japan?”

To which, I would shrug and say, “When I have money.”

In passing years, I also developed a palate for refined green teas, gyokuro and matcha specifically. This further fueled my desire to one day cross overseas. I wanted to smell a fresh cup of loose leaf green tea from the source, not just from some secondhand distributor. A need for authenticity barraged me.

Aside from the need to experience a culture on its own soil, another desire needed to be sated; that being, putting use to my English degree. To put it mildly, it had been vestigial at best. No job I retained over the years was anywhere near related to my field of study. Granted, I wrote fiction on the side, but what good was that to anyone? I suppose I had a drive to teach.

Having tutored in the past, I can safely say it was rewarding. Seeing someone beam with delight once they finally understood material, well, there’s no greater high in the world. What’s the point finding joy if one doesn’t share joy.

I suppose that’s what brings me to [insert language school here]. The opportunity to live and learn away from the comfort of home is an alluring prospect to say the least. Traveling is in my blood, and so is teaching. It seems only natural that both be adhered too, and with a wonderful company, no less. I appreciate to opportunity for consideration.

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Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 Steep Stories 4 Comments

Ten Hours

Image Credited to Darren Murph

Image Credited to Darren Murph

This was a travel essay assignment I wrote back in college. Found it while trying to find “filler” for the website, since I’m knee-deep in some important writing projects. Kinda glad I found it.

Many a soul have traversed the path known commonly as Highway 80, and have each had their own memories of the wonders and horrors of that stretch of road. For long commuters it serves as a decisive short cut between the infertile lands below the Sierras and the prairie-like flatlands of Central California. I, too, use this stretch to trek my way home in a grey station wagon designed for soccer moms and families of five. My vehicle and I are an unlikely pair – one, a car built for many passengers, the other, a hapless college student returning home for the first time in over eight months. Home is where the heart is, they say. I’d rather prefer to think of it as the place where I left my soul.

Oregon has the strangest effect on people. Visitors come and take in the foliate scenery, mumble incoherently about the dreary climate, and complain further about the nativist population. Granted, Oregonians aren’t the most welcoming to outsiders. However, there is a silent understanding; you aren’t an outsider anymore if you’ve been there long enough. The northwestern state grows on you like a fungus, crawling deeply in the very roots of your subconscious, latching on to the part of the brain that produces waves of nostalgia. At the very least, that’s how I’ve come to see it.

Years have passed since I was welcomed as a migratory plague from California, infesting the landscape with my “smog-ified” presence. I didn’t care to be considered one of them anyway. The city of Portland, and all its peripheral towns, mattered little to me. The scenery was intoxicating though. Long walks and bike rides caused the coniferous environment to sink in like an intravenous surge. Urbanized teenagers rarely catch the bug to return to a Rousseau-like “state of nature”. But like many unsuspecting white flight transplants, I became a native. Maybe that was their plan all along, to haze newcomers before the natural infection of comfort sank it – the diseased word known as “home.”

This time around, though, I returned not as a native, but an outsider. I still used an Oregon license, insured my grey vehicular monstrosity in Oregon, but I hadn’t been there for long stretches of time in over three years. Nevada had done its best to weed out the Northwesterner in me. As the years passed, it had almost succeeded. I referred to it as a state rather than my state. Have you ever had the feeling that you don’t know which place to call home? Or whether or not you even have a home?

However, once I hit the road, flipped on factory stereo that belted out static rock, and set upon 80 to connect with I-5 North, that lost part of me rekindled – a spark that had refused to die. The journey from the Reno to Sacramento – via the Sierras – was beautiful, but only partially distracting. The flat expanse between Sacramento and Redding didn’t even shake me as the cruise control was activated. Looming ahead, the Siskiyou pass approached, winding roads that continued for at least an hour or two. I never kept track of it. Why should I? It was just another obstacle between the desired destination and I. Then the first positive marker arrived.

The Oregon border. Ashland would be coming up soon. My eyes began to weigh on me heavily. Little sleep due to anticipation, and post-academic lethargy threatened to hinder my progress. For a time, they succeeded in curbing my journey in the form of much-needed rest at an isolated rest stop. An hour’s worth of a power nap banished the need for any more delays. Roughly four more hours and Portland would be in view.

One interesting fact I’d forgotten to mention is how awe-inspiring a night drive can be. Typically, when returning home, I leave Reno in the late afternoon so as to skip past the rush hour blitzkrieg. By then, I-5 would have already cleared up on the way out of Sacramento, and the drive would be smooth sailing from there on in. Yes, the drive is boring if one is looking for outside distractions to keep them occupied while putting along, but the obsidian blanket of twilight also has its form of shrouded majesty – as if the world had been put on hold while you continued moving. In a poetic way, the journey goes smoother.

A tune chimes in on the radio that I know all too well on the road trip cassette I’d made – Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Willy Nelson crooning away about reincarnation in “The Highwayman”. How fitting, I think. A song talking about the eternal journey chiming in as I return to the place where I believe my spirit is at rest. That song has stayed with me since I was a child, and here it plays as I return to the one place where the child in me hasn’t died.

So what if I wasn’t much of a child when I first came to Oregon – a snot-nosed prepubescent 5th Grader with dreams of aliens still dancing in his geeky little mind. Although California encompassed the greater part of my elementary school years, most of the “growing up” took place in the rainy state I’d been forced to endure. Maybe this was because the adolescent travails had begun. I’m not too sure. One thing is certain, though, the coincidence is almost too convenient – the most prevalent of my memories are from a place I’d moved to, not a place I’d originated from.

Three hours pass and the signs informing me of Salem’s approach whisk by. I look at the time – three-thirty in the morning. I peer down at my numbing legs, still pressing the gas with shaky anticipation. The gas gauge blinks at me, relaying the dire need for fuel. Pulling over at a Chevron, I curb the grey Taurus next to a fuel stand, exit the driver’s side, and proceed to remove the pump.

“Sir, what’re you doing?” a vagabond-looking attendant says from behind me.

It takes me a moment to fully process what he’s asking. His beady eyes peer down at the pump then return to me. At that moment the realization clicks. Oh yeah, Oregon doesn’t have self-service gas. Shrugging, smiling weakly, I hand the pump back to him, beckon for regular unleaded, and stop into the mini-mart to sustain me with a Twinkie. Of all the little things to remind me of home, it was a bearded man with a lazy eye asking for a gas pump back. Yes, they say home is where the heart is. I disagree. It’s where your soul rests until you go to reclaim it.


Monday, September 23rd, 2013 Prose No Comments

A Peaberry Coffee Confession

A small confession.

Okay, maybe a big one.

I’m Geoff and … *sigh* … there’s a coffee I like.

To those who know me as a “tea”-totaler, it may come as a shock to you, but I actually started off as a coffee drinker. During my latter years of college, I worked graveyard shift at a hotel. Even then, my young, supple body couldn’t stave off sleepiness for long. The mystical powers of caffeine had to help eventually.

So, naturally, I brewed a pot on shift. For many months, this worked just fine. The coffee wasn’t…great. (Up ‘til now, no coffee had.) On one unfortunate, sleep-deprived night, though, I brewed a batch at double-strength. It led do a three-day “flu”.

That put me off coffee for years.

In the interim, I became a tea guy. To some of my friends, I was THE tea guy. But even in my most snobby of moments, I admitted there was room for coffee’s existence. The occasional dark roast did make it into my cup. Those moments were rare, but they were there. Much to the chagrin of some of my tea brethren and sistren.

Still, there was nothing I truly loved about coffee. It tasted like burnt blackness with a hint of fire-swill. For the most part. Then…I encountered one that changed my palate opinion. And I have this li’l f**ker to blame.

My cousin, Jason, introduced me to peaberry coffee. What is that, you ask? I’ll friggin’ tell you.

It’s crack. Roasted. Crack. But more specifically…

A coffee “cherry” generally only has two beans (or “seeds”) in it at the time of plucking. They are usually ovular (I think?) and flat-facing. Every once in a while, though, only one of the beans is fertilized, but the other doesn’t flatten. Think of it like a normal chicken egg…but without the chick. That is a peaberry or “caracoli” bean. These are oftentimes collected to create a different type of single origin coffee. Many different regions produce and sort peaberry coffee – Hawaii and Tazmania for examples.

I’m not sure what happens between bean plucking and roasting, but whatever it is, voodoo must be involved. To a staunch tea drinker, coffee cannot taste that good. I likened it – in tea-ish terms – to a black tea from Yunnan province, China made up of gold-tipped, fully-oxidized leaf buds. The taste was even similar, if roasted.

Peaberry coffee – at least, the Ehiopian arabica, medium dark roast stuff my cousin fed me – tasted like burnt lotus blossoms by way of a burly Assam tea brewed as a concentrate. Floral, chewy, and painfully addicting. Oddly enough, it wasn’t as jitter-inducing as other coffees I’ve had. Nor was it as offensively astringent. This might be due to the anecdotal claim that the rounder bean roasts more evenly compared to its flatter siblings.

I’m convinced my cousin fed me this stuff so that I’d never ask for an actual wage when we worked together. We hammered out a book outline, and the start of a new comic project. And that was only on one cup of the stuff. Keep in mind, I was already tea-caffeinated for the day.

What can I say, I’m a peaberry whore now.

First cup’s always free.

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Saturday, September 21st, 2013 Beverage Blog 12 Comments

Killer the Third

In late June, when I was packing up for the inevitable move, I ran across some old heirlooms. Well, that’s a pretty loaded word. It was, rather, a stroll down memory lane. Artwork I’d done at the fragile/fractured age of fourteen.

When I was in the seventh grade, my cousin – Bucky – and I played one of the Bard’s Tale games on my dad’s computer. We created several characters – all with names varying in levels of cheese-factor. My particular favorite of the bunch was a warrior aptly named “Killer the Third”. So inspired was I by this ham-handed protagonist, I wove a fantasy novel yarn idea around him.

His real name was Darick Garvin, and he was a brooding knight who’d lost his ladylove. (Aren’t they all?) After his kingdom was invaded by a demon race known as the Erril, he ventures out on a quest to restore balance to his wartorn land with a questing party of other misfits. The MacGuffin for the quest was also the title of the novel – The Well of Darasia.

I won’t go into the “intricacies” of the plot; I’ll save that for a later entry. Needless to say, this was the best idea I came up with in junior high. On a family trip to a cabin in Wyoming, I even devoted the better part of my downtime to drawing out the characters for my little opus.

This was Darick “Killer the Third” Garvin.

Rediscovering him was like reacquainting myself with an old friend. In my nostalgia, I even posted the old sketch on Facebook. Response was minimal. Perhaps because it didn’t feature a cat. Or a baby. Or a baby with a cat. No matter.

It did grab the attention of my other cousin – artist Jason Norman. To the point where he decided to create his own take on the character. There were a few…changes, however. Killer the Third’s scabbard became a jetpack and his spiked hair became a pompadour.  And it was awesome.

Definitely a far cry from the brooding knight I’d originally conceived, but it helped brighten my mood as I ended my trip down memory lane. Or rather, art walk. Thanks, Jason.

Shortly after that, I began writing in earnest again. I don’t believe in coincidences. Only “Killers”.

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 Musings 1 Comment

A Lament about Dogs, Warriors and Brothers

In a prior article, I made mention of an anime that was influential in my late-adolescence. The title was The Hakkenden: Legend of the Dog Warriors, and it was based on a series of Japanese books written in the late 1700s. The story chronicled the do-gooder exploits of eight spiritual brothers destined to bring their grandfather’s samurai clan back to greatness. Of course, I’m skating over some important aspects of the plot in that brief description. (Chiefly, the reason they were called “dog” warriors. Look it up, it’s weird.)

Point being, though I never read the source material, the anime fueled my own imagination in a profound way. Some years later, I concocted an idea that modernized the old feudal tale. I envisioned a supernatural crime drama centering around young men tied to different organized mafia factions. Instead of eight, however, I opted for four, and each were spiritually tied to one another by pieces of a mystical crucifix gifted to them by their foster mother.

Said foster mother ended up the victim of a crime syndicate raid, and the four lads vow revenge. One of the centerpieces I imagined was a climactic shootout in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland. That and a priest with two sawed-off shotguns showing up. (It was the 90s. Bullet ballets were still cool.)

I even had the perfect title for this little opus – Cursed Lament.

I shelved the idea for several years, as was my M.O. back in the day. No one would dare do an idea like that, I thought. Most Hollywood types had never even heard of Hakkenden. Then, in 2005, this happened.

The premise to Four Brothers was near-identical to the adaptation I had in mind. Four foster brothers – each from different backgrounds – vow revenge on a crime lord for the death of their foster mother. What were the friggin’ odds?! I was pissed.

Distraught, I permanently shelved Cursed Lament and ignored any inkling to watch Four Brothers. The desire to still nagged me over the next half-decade, though. Until a month ago…

I noticed the flick finally showed up on Netflix Streaming. Now, I had no excuse for avoiding it, save for…well…responsibility. One uneventful night, I gave in and queued it up, all the while dreading the possibilities. A part of me held out hope that it didn’t tread on my Cursed idea.

And you know what? It didn’t. Boy, didn’t it?!

The story for the film was an absolute mess from the get-go. For one thing, there didn’t appear to be any emotional connection between the brothers. No fault of the actors involved, but rather the script. I got very little sense that there was a real bond between any of them. On top of that, no real character depth was present . No emotion wept from the screen, either.

Only the moment when the foster mother died at the beginning of the film exuded any hint of gravitas. The rest played out like a typical crime caper. Cursing and bloodletting abound. At the end of it…I was relieved.

My vision for a Mafioso Hakkenden was intact. No Lament necessary.

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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 Musings 5 Comments

The Wood Made Me Do It

Short version: It was the week of my brother’s wedding. Family was in town. And – ooooh boy – it was epic.

However, this being my blog, I can only focus on one particular anecdote from that five-day period. The only one with an actual arc. Strangely enough, it was an occurrence that happened before the wedding. It all started at the rehearsal dinner.

As mentioned above, family was in town. What I did not know was how many family members came out to see my younger sibling tie the knot. I half-thought most of ‘em showed up to see it to believe it. Can’t say I blame them. (Two weeks have passed, and I’m still reeling from the idea of my baby brother being…uh…brided? I know, not a word.)

A rehearsal dinner was scheduled for the evening prior to the wedding day, as was custom. I wasn’t sure if I would make it, due to my work schedule. My average exit time was 6PM, and the dinner itself was at 6:30. Rush hour traffic was another concern, and the dinner was clear on the other side of town.

By luck or fate, I finished my work day at 4PM, leaving enough time to feed the cat, change, and head out. I opted for a lesser-used mini-highway that ran through the ritzy part of West Portland. Not only did I arrive on time, but I was early. And that never happens. The only hiccup I ran into was…well… all of Oregon City. I’m convinced that town was designed by a mead-hopped steampunk enthusiast.

Once I finally found a place to park, I came up to the restaurant as other family members arrived. They remarked on my hunched-over stance, and I adjusted my posture to something less…gorilla. I caught a glimpse of something (or rather someone) out of place. Someone who wasn‘t family. Some woman.

My cousin (we’ll call him “Bucky”) had mentioned that he and his wife (“RB”) were bringing a friend with them on their jaunt from California. What I did not expect was that she would be gorgeous. She was tall, waif-like, with a Mediterranean – olive-to-milky white – complexion. Long, brown, wavy hair spilled over her shoulders. We’ll call her “KG”, and she instantly caught my attention.

I only talked to her for a little bit during the rehearsal din. Most of the time was spent yacking with family I hadn’t seen in years. After a couple of hours, though, my cousin, Bucky, mentioned they wanted to close the evening off at a bar or two. His sister, “NK”, also wanted in. While they were in town, this was the only night I had available for just such a debauched evening. My default suggestion was one I always gave to out-of-towners – The Green Dragon.

The five of us got there shortly after 8PM. The first question I asked the bartender was, “Anything barrel-aged?” Yes, my beersnobbery had reached that apex. The Green Dragon was one of the few places that carried bourbon-barrel-aged or cask-conditioned ales on tap. Pricy, yes…but palate-sating.

As luck would have it, they had the “Gentleman’s Club” series on tap – a collaboration between Widmer Brewing and Cigar City Brewing. There were three ales total – one aged in a bourbon barrel, one in a rye whiskey barrel, and one in a new oak spiral (whatever that is). The idea behind these concoctions was to create a “cocktail”-like feel. Lucky for me, Green Dragon was offering a sampler of all three.

I sniffed each 4oz. taster. Can’t say they reminded me of cocktails, but they were indeed what I hoped for. In fact, they reminded me of many whiskey barrel-aged barleywines and strongs I’d tried over the years. Before I could grab all three glasses, though, the phone rang.

It was my sister/roommate. She was locked out of the apartment, and she was demanding my immediate return to let her in. Our apartment was a good half-hour away. I looked at my cousin, his wife, to the lovely KG, and down at my sampler. I wasn’t going anywhere.

We made our way to the outdoor patio area, all the while, my sister was texting me repeatedly to come home. I ignored most of them. That hour was awkward as we mulled over our drinks, and I cursed under my breath. By the fifth text, and after downing the bourbon barrel-aged Gentleman’s Club, I had the solution.

I looked up our apartment’s website for a contact number, called that, and was redirected to a 24-hour service number. Emergency maintenance issues (including lockouts) could be handled thusly. I gave that number a dial.

The maintenance guy’s response was priceless. Something akin to, “Aaaw, man! I was just out there!”

My reply was a more polite version of, “Well, go out there again!”

He informed me that there’d be a service charge. I didn’t care. After that convo ended, I called my sister and told her that maintenance was on their way. She thanked me profusely and apologized for “almost ruining my evening”. Truth be told, I hadn’t even started yet.

Crisis averted, we resumed the “business” at hand. The bench we ended up crowding around had various games strewn about. I’m not sure who grabbed it, but someone whipped out a bunch of Jenga blocks.

To our surprise, these weren’t typical Jenga blocks. Bar patrons of yesterbeer had written on them – drinking game suggestions. Some of the “dare” tips were far too risqué, even for our group. Others were more pedestrian.

We formulated our own rules for the sport. If the commands on the blocks were too outlandish, the person who placed it could tell an embarrassing story instead. For members of my family, we called this “a Tuesday”. Embarrassing stories were our bread-‘n-butter. Over the course of the game, we related our best/worst sexual experiences, weirdest dates, and other unmentionables. I finished all three Gentleman’s Clubs and felt each one of ‘em permeate my skull with buzz.

Another drink was en route when my turn came up again. The Jenga piece I drew had the following message scrawled in uneven, drunken scribbles: “Kiss a perfect stranger.”

© Tanya Kang Photography

© Tanya Kang Photography

I could’ve opted out of the suggestion. Heck, I even had my embarrassing story planned. But…there was only one stranger in our group – KG. Somewhere in the recesses of my prudish mind, a little voice – one I’d long thought dead – whispered one simple message: “Go for it.”

“Well, there’s only one stranger at this table,” I said with bravado. And then I pointed at KG. “Stand up.”

She did so.

“You know you only have to kiss him,” RB suggested. “It could even be the cheek.”

But, nay, she followed my lead. And I kissed her. For awhile.

When we…uh…parted, she remarked to the group that it was the cleanest kiss she’d ever had. Not sure if that was a compliment or not. Both my cousins – Bucky and KN – looked at me dumbstruck.

I shrugged, “First kiss in three years.”

“Dude!” Bucky said. “That’s not something you say to a girl.”

But it was the truth. Until that night, I’d been on an unplanned sabbatical from anything related to dating or women. The thought hadn’t really occurred to me to make a move or put myself back out there. Somewhere amidst the brown-haired goddesses and brown-colored ales, I’d rediscovered some semblance of a mojo again.

I blame the wooden Jenga piece.

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Monday, September 9th, 2013 Beverage Blog 1 Comment

I work for tea money.


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