Monthly Archives: April 2005

This has all the trappings of a sitcom plot:

Two men who sued more than a half-dozen strip clubs because of extra fees charged for lap dances got some good news from a Houston appeals court.

But that could be bad news for other lap-dance fans, who may want their appreciation for that art form kept confidential. {…}

A lawyer for Meekey and Fulmer said the lawsuit may be made a class-action.

That could mean notifying a lot of other men who used credit cards to pay for lap dances in recent years.

And that might not go over very well in some households.

It reminds me of an incident many moons ago regarding the Skycap Inn.

My girlfriend Julie and I were sexually active at the time. Though we were consenting adults, we lacked a location once her parents nixed her bedroom at their house.

So one time we decided to get a hotel. Now women have this strange thing about wanting a hotel room they’re staying at not to be “dingy”, “dirty”, or “disgusting,” so we ended up staying at a pretty nice hotel near the airport named The Skycap Inn.

I paid cash for the room, but they still wanted a credit card in case of damage. I gave it to them without thinking about it.

Six months later I got a call from Mom. “Do you know anything about the Skycap Inn?”

“Not sure. Why?”

“Did you?”

I thought about denying it, but she wouldn’t pick that particular hotel out of thin air if she didn’t already know something. “Yeah. My friends and I needed a room to shoot a scene for a little film we’re making.”

I don’t know if she ever bought it, but I think she did. She didn’t challenge me on it. A few weeks later she felt comfortable enough to tell the story to some friends from church. I think it was one of those “we don’t want to know” things where she wanted to believe my story.

It turns out that they sent a “Did you like your service?” questionnaire and they’d taken the address off the deposit credit card.

In the end it was very good that I (half) came clean about getting the room there. Not only did I get away with it, but her first thought was that William Truman was my father: Bill Truman.

When the subject last came up, Mom and I wondered aloud how many cheating spouses had been busted by Skycap’s Quality Assurance team.

Category: Downtown

Interviewed by Barry.

1) You’ve decided to throw caution to the wind, empty your bank account, and do something you and your wife have never done before. What do you do, and where?

Her answer would probably be quite different from mine. Mine would probably include staying in some interesting (but expensive) places like London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. Hers would involve something with nature, I’d wager.

2) Living around the Mormon community, do you find yourself subconsciously thinking or acting as they do?

Probably the opposite, if anything. Had I been raised here I’m sure it would have had a more benign influence by limiting the social allure of cigarettes and alcohol. But being that I already partake in both and that this puts me on the opposite side of the morality line they draw in the sand, it makes me a feel a kinship with other sinners. Including people I would probably disdain back in Colosse.

My reaction probably isn’t right or appropriate, but there ya go.

3) What is one of the most memorable things about your home town?

If we’re talking about the large city, it’s probably the skyline. Whenever I’d leave town, it was those buildings rather than any green sign to tell me that I’m home. My little suburban neck of the woods would have to be Riverside Drive. Dad and I used to have breakfast at one of the fast food joints on that road every Saturday morning.

4) What was the situation surrounding your first real kiss?

It’s actually a long story, but I’ll give a few short highlights:

  • She was drunk. Very drunk.
  • The girl I wanted more than anything to be with was upstairs fawning over some other guy, so I was pissed off
  • She kissed me four or five times before I finally kissed her back
  • She was probably more attractive than the girl upstairs
  • I’d later introduce her to the guy that became the worst thing that ever happened to her.
  • She never blamed me because I didn’t know. I blame me because I should have.
  • It was the most depressing night of my life up to that point.
  • Nine months later I would kiss her sister. That time I was drunk.
  • My life is rarely as dramatic as the circumstances surrounding this particular incident.

5) Talk about what you love most about your wife…if you’re brave, tell us what you dislike most about her…

There are a tons of things to admire about Clancy. The biggest is that she is always striving and pushing herself to be a better person. I have a history of being surrounded by people who “shoot out the lights then curse the dark” whereas she is always looking at what she can do to improve a situation.

She’s very opinionated. I like that about her most of the time. However, from time to time this can be problematic because I’ve lived my life doing the things and living my life in a way that she considers harmful.

Here are the rules:
If you would like for me to ask you five questions…
1. Leave a comment saying “interview me” if you’d like to be interviewed.
2. I’ll respond by asking you 5 questions here. They’ll be different than those above.
3. Update your blog with your answers to the questions.
4. When you do so, include this same explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same manner.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you’ll ask them five new questions.

Category: Elsewhere

Barry’s comments about southern Baptist hypocrisy reminds me an interesting story about the Southern Cross University, a conservative Christian university in Delosa. While this story doesn’t concern Baptists, per se, but another denomination known for its conservative membership.

Delosa doesn’t have an unofficial official religion like Deseret does, but charismatic conservative denominations run rampant throughout the south and Delosa is no different. One of the peculiarities of southern-style religion is how often it can break down into one-upsman-ship to faith amplification.

“I love Jesus so much!”

“But I love Him more!”

“No way. I totally love Jesus more! I’ve been Saved like six times!”

Coming from a more liturgical background, I’m not as impressed by it all as they seem to be. But to each their own. It’s only when it becomes moral, rather than religious, posturing that I start getting annoyed. While I hate to sound like a relativist, morality can be a somewhat sketchy thing, everyone is a sinner in someone’s eyes, one of the points of the Bible is accepting this fact and moving on, and even those that do walk the straight and narrow are guilty of excessive pride when they can’t shut up about it, which is a sin all its own.

At lot of this attitude is exemplified by the SCU. My best friend went there for seven years or so. He went in a Jesus-loving Christian and came out an annoyed atheist. I visited him regularly up there and got a good feel for Cross and Gilead, the town that houses it.

-{Southern Crosshairs}-

Category: Church

My ex-girlfriend Evangeline’s former best friend Tara got pregnant in high school by a boy named Cody. Since she and Cody were on the outs at that point, she was by nearly everyone to have an abortion or put the baby up for adoption. Seeing the child as an opportunity to mend fences with Cody, she elected to keep the child.

Cody, meanwhile won a scholarship at Cross. Interested in a new life, he left Colosse and found Jesus.

There was one little problem: His son back in Colosse. The whole ‘child out of wedlock’ thing didn’t particularly fly with his Super-Christian peers, so he decided that in order to be a good Christian kid he would have to pretend that his son didn’t exist, which he did.

It took Tara a while to figure out what was going on. Whenever she’d go up to Gilead, he’d meet her out of town. Generally he’d take trips to Colosse instead. This was mostly a tapering off mechanism to stop seeing his son entirely so that he could get a new start with his Born-Again status.

Neither Tara nor Evangeline are particularly religious, so they were not particularly understanding when they put the pieces together. Rather, they wanted blood.

And they got it.

The next weekend they drove up to Gilead armed with 100 flyers. Everywhere they could they put flyers containing a picture of Cody, a picture of Cody’s son (the resemblence obvious), and below it the words “Have you seen my Daddy? I haven’t seen him in six months.”

Cody stopped speaking to them for a while after that, so they never found out how that went over with his peers.

Category: Church

“I need your help.”

“What’s up?”

“What should I major in?”

“What do you want to do with the rest of your life.”

“I’m not sure, but I have to register for class in an hour and I need a major.”

Category: School

On my Good Boys & Girls post, Becky made an astute observation:

My parents were kind of overly strict in many ways, and I think part of that backfired in a couple ways. One is that my siblings all went completely rebellious. Two is that although I followed the rules, I still have a slight trepidation whenever I’m around them.

That’s a subject I should have gotten to, but didn’t. And a real concern for any parent who wants to instill any discipline on their children.

The success of the Himmelreich girls took its toll on family relations in a such a serious way that they’re only now recovering.

Dr. Himmelreich can be a pretty forceful man and his relationship to his daughters (particularly his older two) suffered a great deal because of that. In fact, one of Clancy’s great motivations for academic success was the ability to get a full-ride scholarship so that she could get out of the house, the city, and the state.

And, compared to her middle sister, she was the more moderate one. Someone recently remarked about the sister that she’s spent so much time being “not Dad” that she’s only recently begun figuring out who she is.

That, obviously, is something that any parent wants to avoid. With the help of time, distance, and medication things have gotten a lot better recently. But even so, it’s a tragedy all its own.

I think – or I would like to think – a lot of it has to do with style more than demands. Clancy and I each have a parent that we’ve had rocky relationship with. In both cases I think a lot of it had more to do with attitude than strictness. At least in our cases.

A case-and-point, we’ve both resolved never to yell at our children. More than just damaging to our relationship with our respective parents, it wasn’t helpful. My father solemnly saying “I can’t trust you after this” had ten times the effect of Mom yelling “What the hell were you thinking?!”

Given some of the problems that run through the Himmelreich (her father’s) family and Hertzog (my mother’s) families, some of the problems were unavoidable. It’s possible that Clancy’s sister, a provocateur by nature, would have rebelled against any rules she didn’t fully understand (and what 16 year old really understands why the rules are what they are?) no matter how they were expressed. It’s something I think any parent would have to keep an eye out for.

But kids like Clancy’s sister can also get a rise out of bombastic conflict. Kids like Clancy and I are more likely to wilt and retreat into a more depressive state. I’m not sure how many cases yelling and screaming helps anyone except as a release valve for the parent (which, if that’s its own purpose, is not sufficient).

Backlash can also come in the form of secrets. Kids will always necessarily have secrets from their parents. A truly honest and open relationship is practically impossible (and actually could be indicative of problems, a subject for a later post perhaps?) throughout the teenage years.

A parent that says his 16 year old kid can’t go out after 8:00 runs the risk of the kid sneaking out. One problem becomes three: the kid is out late, the parents don’t know where the kid is, and once people ‘cross the line’ they’re more likely to be cavalier about their actions because they’ve already crossed the line.

On the other hand, the answer to that is not to let them go out whenever they want because that’s giving way too much power to kids who are not yet ready for that power.

To use the sex example, a parent that refuses to acknowledge that their kids are sexually active are more likely to discover that their kid has been sexually active under unfortunate circumstances (pregnancy, for example). But there is an unavoidable wink-wink aspect to sex education and giving twelve year olds condoms and the pill.

The less you expect, the less you’re going to receive. The wider you put the boundaries out, the further they will explore.

Between Clancy and I, I’m likely to be the more permissive one. Some of my most important lessons in life were learned doing things that Clancy wasn’t allowed to do. On the other hand, she’s a doctor and I’m a $9.50/hr codemonkey.

But Becky is definitely right. You don’t want to build up too much resentment. Not just because of the developmental problems a constant state of rebellion cause, but because I don’t think any parent wants to wake up and realize that while their kid may love them, he or she doesn’t like them very much.

Category: Coffeehouse

Becky has a post on relationships and stuff. I have mixed and unintelligable thoughts on the subject itself, so I will instead throw my two cents on one little portion:

Receiving Gifts – Gifts are visual symbols of love, whether they are items you purchased or made, or are simply your own presence made available (ahhhhh…I do believe I hear a massage in there).

I have some bad experiences with this one that ultimately caused some bad blood in a previous relationship. So I’d like to yell this advice from the highest mountaintop:

If a guy gets you a gift, do not criticize it!

If he gets you jewelry, don’t immediately point out what would have been a better pick. If he gets you flowers, don’t get angry cause he didn’t know that yellow roses were symbolic of non-romantic love. If he gets you a coke, don’t complain that he should have gotten you caffeine-free instead.

There are ways to communicate how he can do better rather than pointing out what he did wrong (particularly within an hour of the gift presentation). If yellow roses are inappropriate, let him know at some point in the future. Instead just assume that he didn’t know and be appreciative that he was thinking of you.

And that’s the big thing about gifts: it doesn’t matter what they are, it only matters that he was thinking of you when he got it.

A guy finds out enough times that getting her a gift will result in something negative (a lecture on what color roses mean what, for instance) or why flowers from this shop are better than flowers from that one), he will eventually stop doing it. Then you’ll wonder what’s wrong. Then you’ll start to pine for the days that he got you gifts that you used to criticize.

[I’ll probably tell the story behind this one, which is a little less one-sided than presented above. And in case anyone is concerned this has nothing to do with Clancy]

Category: Coffeehouse

Barry has a heart-breaking post about his son’s difficulties fitting in at school and the role that his strict (compared to other children, anyway) household plays in that. It is, unfortunately, a very familiar story. It’s also likely to be the source of an inevitable conflict between Clancy and I should we have children down the line.

Clancy is one of three super-children. Clancy is a doctor, her middle sister is a lawyer (married to a doctor, no-less), and the youngest just got out of college with 4.0 GPA honors degree from the University of Carolina. Only the youngest doesn’t have an upper-level degree and she’s only 23 and I’m sure will get one someday. Her parents, a college professor and a CPA, expected no less.

I come from a slightly less ambitious family. My brothers and I are all middle-professionals just as Dad was. The oldest works with databases, the middle is an engineer like Dad, and I am a general IT person. We all graduated from college (middle bro has a master’s). This was expected of us as well.

I am disinclined to criticize my parents because all things considered they did a phenomenal job. Our successes are theirs and our failures are our own. But if I am inclined to do anything differently than they did, it’s to push them a little harder. I’m not sure if there’s any reason my family couldn’t have been as successful as Clancy’s. Not successful in the monetary sense, but in the sense of living up to our full potential. At least two of us Truman boys haven’t. Instead of living up to our full potential, my oldest brother and I have instead lived up to our parents expectations of us. Had those expectations been set higher, we would have achieved more. Had they lower expectations, we probably would have achieved less. Even successful middle brother got where he is by following in Dad’s footsteps. No more, no less.

While there are exceptions to every rule, this is the case more often than not.

I won’t speak for my brothers any further, but I will say that I was a problem child waiting to happen. I like to push all the wrong things. I have a scientist’s curiosity to find out “what would happen if?” Add a peculiar personality and more difficulty reading than a lot of people my age. Drugs, alcohol, and quitting school were all waiting for me, but by the grace of good parenting.

My parents wouldn’t get me a Nintendo because my grades were bad. I couldn’t watch Rated R movies. We didn’t have cable except in the main room and even then not until I was in the fifth grade. Dad sat with me every night after dinner to walk me through the homework that was giving me great difficulty. Small disciplinary infractions were treated sternly and so they never became larger ones.

But I look back at how hard I didn’t try in school and how well I did (better than “smart” people that tried a lot harder). Maybe I could have been a lawyer or a doctor instead of in the middle of a dead-end career that stopped interesting me long ago. Don’t get me wrong, I like my life, but I would want better for my children. Isn’t that what every parent (or in this case would-be parent) wants?

Which brings me back to Clancy’s family and what it took to get them where they got.

The Himmelreich family wasn’t allowed to watch television to the extent that most families, including the Trumans, were. School was their job, as their father used to say. Clancy is an avid reader, but most likely couldn’t tell the Star Trek from Space Ghost. Also, intense focus on academia necessarily diverts energy away from socializing and acculturating yourself with your social environment. There are some people who can do it all (including Clancy’s youngest sister), but it requires a special gift that very few people have.

Clancy doesn’t have it. Her childhood was miserable. To this day I want to go back and kick some junior high butt because those kids were so cruel.

Now Clancy is an odd duck like myself. Even if she had been availed of the newest games of the day and popular television shows, while she might not have her current animosity towards it, she would never have completely bought in to pop culture.

While I think there’s a lot that Clancy would do differently than the way that she was raised, those are the values (work hard, play productively) she was raised with and she’s taken to them. I definitely get the sense that she would want similar guidelines in any family that she’s raising. It’s certainly hard to argue with the results.

But I don’t want any children we have to go through what she went through. While I don’t want them to be cheerleader popular, I don’t want them to be unpopular either. I don’t want them to go through what Clancy went through, what I went through, and what Barry’s son is going through.

And yet what choice do parents have? Do they let the kids buy in to the superficial, materialistic culture that is leaving a lot of kids emotionally unequipped for the “real world?” Do we let them slide on grades so that they can spend more time on frivolous activities just so that they can conform to the backwards priorities of youth?

Barry’s right, what the other parents let their kids do has a direct bearing on those households that won’t buy in to that. So do you give in? Do you fight it, letting your child take the brunt of the damage?

It’s really a no-win situation.

I may not be as concerned about violent movies as Barry is, but the older I get the more puritanical and less of a libertine I seem to be becoming. I’ve seen what permissive parents, overly accomodating teachers, sexual promiscuity, drugs (including alcohol first and foremost), and sexual promiscuity have done to a lot of my friends. I consider myself lucky to have (mostly) moved beyond that. I admire the wall that Clancy has managed to built between herself and all of that. I’d want the same for my children.

But at what cost? And to whom?

You give in a little and it doesn’t do much good. My classmates didn’t care that I finally got to see Nightmare on Elm Street 13. They just noted that I’d missed the first twelve. They didn’t care that I managed to get ahold of one killer trendy outfit, they just noted that the rest of the time I wore slacks and polo shirts. They didn’t care that I finally started wearing jeans because their opinions had been formed by my stubborn insistence of wearing slacks until I was thirteen.

It doesn’t even seem like compromise is possible. You have to buy in. And by that point, instead of being what your (older and theoretically wiser) parents tell you to be, you’re what your young and stupid friends tell you to be.

But you do have to acclimate yourself to your surroundings. No matter how much sense it might make to wear an African robe in the desert heat, you wear pants because you’re expected to. It keeps society going. No matter how smart a supergenious kid is, it does him no good if s/he isn’t understood by those around him/her and doesn’t understand the world around him/her.

And somewhere in the midst of all this is an answer that eludes me.

Category: Coffeehouse

The missionaries stopped by again tonight. Each time it seems to be a different set. I think I might have been too rude to the last set. They never should have changed sets to begin with. I had a cordial relationship with the first ones and a sorta understanding (to the extent that a missionary can graph the concept of someone being somewhat interested in learning about the religion but very much not interested in converting). But since those two were pulled in favor of the others I’ve been a little more rude.

But even so, I can’t be too rude even when I need to be. I am also sympathetic to the fact that being a missionary isn’t easy (though it’s gotta be easier in Deseret than Somalia).

Right now I just need to buy a little bit of time. They often don’t take “I’m busy right now” for an answer (last time I was clearly on the phone). But how can they not take “It’s April 15th and I haven’t finished my taxes!” for an answer?

Quite possibly the best excuse to weasel out of anything that I’ve ever come up with in my entire life. Ever. In my whole life.

Category: Church

Becky tells an interesting I-met-a-celebrity story. The only celebrity I’ve ever met (outside of a convention of place you’re supposed to meet celebrities) was Sherman Howard, the actor for Lex Luthor in the old Superboy TV series (at least I think it was Howard, it might have been the other Lex Luthor from the first season).

Our conversation consisted of him saying “Excuse me” and me saying “sorry” and getting out of the way of the door to the beachside condominium we were each staying at.

But my middle brother’s ex-girlfriend’s mother has a much more interesting story, which I will recount to the best of my abilities. I have no verification that this is true, but she not an inveterate storyteller like my mother and I are, so it holds a bit more credibility. And, whether true or not, it’s amusing, which is what counts.

Mrs. Douglas was in a casino/hotel elevator in Las Vegas when it stopped and three black men – two very large ones – entered. One of the men said “Hit the floor.”

She dropped to the floor. One of the men clarified “The ground floor, ma’am” as he pressed the Level 1 button on the elevator.

She was understandably mortified.

For the rest of the trip, the hotel restaurant and bar declined her money. Everything, they told her, was paid for. When she was checking out, she was informed by the hotel that her room had been paid for. She asked “by whom.” The attendant said that she didn’t know, but gave her an envelope.

It read: “Thanks for the biggest laugh we’ve had all month. Best, Eddie Murphy and his two bodyguards.”

Category: Downtown