A few years ago a local television station did a feature on a man who was legally blind. He had caught their attention when he joined a search for a neighbor who had been missing for over a week, mounting a 4-wheeler and scouring rugged terrain searching for a body. A young and very attractive reporter sat across a table interviewing the man and she finally asked the question that had been on my mind.
"So, how does a blind man such as yourself search for someone?"
He took a breath and smiled, looking her straight in the eye, and responded, "Well, I'm legally blind with 20/100 vision but I can still see blurry images. Take you for example. If you were sitting over there completely naked, I could tell you were naked. I just wouldn't get the full effect."
I fell out of my chair laughing. That man must surely be kin to me for I could see myself saying something stupid like that. Now, I told you that story to tell you this one:
I had cataract surgery last week. Everyone said it was no big deal. Wham Bamm and it's over. Liars, every damn one of them.
I showed up on time that morning and seated myself in a small crowded waiting room where a dozen or so other victims sat nervously waiting. One by one they disappeared behind a wooden door, escorted by a ravishingly beautiful blonde woman wearing bright blue scrubs. Finally, she appeared at the door and called my name, pointing to a small restroom just a few steps past the wooden door. She instructed me to remove my shirt and don one of those infamous backless hospital gowns. I spent fifteen minutes trying in vain to tie the thing behind my back when a knock came at the door.
"Are we doing alright in there? Do you need me to tie your gown?"
Well, this affair was starting out nicely, I thought as the nurse tied my strings much like a kindergarten teacher might do. She then led me to a staging area, telling me to make myself comfortable in a recliner of sorts, where a barrage of blonde nurses swarmed toward me.
" Do you have any dentures or partials that you need to remove before surgery? Are you wearing any contact lenses?"
Well, I put one in my good eye this morning so I could see to drive up here."
"You drove yourself to surgery? Take the contact out. Did you bring some glasses to wear?"
"No," I shook my head, "the last pair of glasses I bought was back in nineteen-ninety something. I still put them on when I go pee in the middle of the night. Never know when there might be s scorpion lurking about."
I obediently removed the contact and placed it in the container I had remembered to thrust into the pocket of my jeans just in case. And that's when everything went fuzzy. Another blonde nurse approached me, seating herself on a stool beside the recliner. She was close enough that I could tell she was even more attractive than the nurse that had tied my strings. Informing me that she would be putting a variety of crops in my eye, she reached toward me, digging her fake and very sharp fingernail into my eyelid. I let a whimper escape as she flooded my eye with one drop after another.
"Now I am going to place an IV in your hand for the anesthesiologist You might feel a little sting."
I let out another whimper which turned into a yelp as I felt her twirling the needle beneath my skin, trying to hit a vein.
"Nope, we will have to try again," she said as she again jabbed the needle into my hand. I screamed in agony and began kicking my legs as she floundered again with a needle buried deep in my flesh.
"There, all done. You can quit your kicking and screaming now. They will come and get you for surgery shortly." she muttered sarcastically as she rose and sauntered away.
I sat in my recliner and surveyed my surroundings, futile to say the least with my contact in my pocket. There were at least twenty nurses scurrying around, all wearing bright blue scrubs, all 5'2", all one hundred twenty pounds, and all with long blonde hair. I found myself utterly frustrated. Here I sat staring at what might be a collection of some of the most beautiful women on earth, or at least in Texas...and I couldn't see! That's when the blind man on the four-wheeler came to mind. I found myself wondering if more blondes choose the nursing profession or if this particular doctor just prefers blondes. I didn't finish my train of thought. A possibly beautiful blonde nurse suddenly appeared from the operating room, wiggling a finger which I could hardly see, summoning me. My time had come.
The surgery itself was much like waterboarding at Guantanamo Bay. Not that I've ever been to Guantanamo Bay, but there surely must have been some blonde nurse standing over me with a fire hose, flooding my eye constantly as the surgeon removed my cornea with a dull pocketknife. Pain seared through my body as I wondered if maybe the anesthesiologist had called in sick, or if perhaps the blonde nurse had just given up on hitting a vein. Between the waterboarding torture, I could feel the surgeon attaching a new cornea, wondering if it was manmade or if it had been lifted from some unsuspecting dead corpse. I bit my lip as I felt a needle suture the thing onto my eyeball.
"There, all done!"
A green veil was lifted from my face and what might have been my doctor peered down at me with a smile as some blonde nurse unstrapped my head from the gurney.
See, that didn't take long, did it?"
"Neither do executions," I muttered under my breath as the blonde nurse taped a clear plastic patch over my eye with duct tape. Not sure about the duct tape since I couldn't SEE!
Fifteen minutes later some blonde nurse pointed me in the general direction of the door, giving me a wave goodbye. I stepped out into the bright sunlight and withered like a vampire, a terrific pain shooting through my eye. Of course! The evil blonde nurse had dilated my eye, and a mighty fine job she did at that.
I felt my way to my vehicle, stumbling inside and groping for a pair of sunglasses, which wouldn't fit over the patch. I finally found reverse and secretly hoped I wouldn't back into anything. Just forty miles to the house, I thought, crossing my fingers. And off I went in search of home, blinded by the bright sunlight and the glare on that blasted plastic patch. A pirate patch...I've always wanted a black pirate patch and what do they give me? It might have been worth going through all this for a pirate patch! I mean, a plastic patch? You just don't get the full effect...
It's fairly common knowledge to those who have followed me for any length of time that for the first several years of my writing endeavors that I exclusively wrote under the pseudonym of The Rusty Goat. I've explained many times I felt the need to do so because of those early stories I penned about all those crazy women I was dating. It was a safety measure. I couldn't afford a bodyguard so I wrote under an assumed name. I really don't feel that any of those loony chicks would have brought me bodily harm...except for that preacher's wife, who intended to kill me there at the end but she inadvertently left her gun at home. But that wasn't because I was telling stories about her.
I haven't been completely honest, however. The women were only part of my decision to write under the pen name of The Rusty Goat. Just as some of you, I had an employer who felt the need to keep tabs on my activities off the clock as well as on. I worked for an agency within the state of Texas, perhaps the largest employer within its boundaries with the exception of Walmart. Given the nature of the job, I can concede there may have been some merit in their actions. When one accepts employment with the Texas penal system, one assumes some responsibility of professionalism. There are matters of confidentiality and there are matters that may compromise one's ability to do their job. With all that at stake, we as employees had to accept the fact that our employer at any given time might be stealthily creeping around our Facebook pages to see what we were up to on our free time. Hells bells, we could have former inmates poking us on Facebook, or their wives checking in to see how their incarcerated husbands are faring behind the fence. We could be dating their mamas. There are a lot of lonely mamas out there, you know.
And that, my friends, was the primary reason I chose to write under the guise of The Rusty Goat. Yes, social media can be used irresponsibly and has gotten probably millions of folks in hot water throughout the years. I'd wager old high school girlfriends is the number one culprit. I've been down that road myself but hey, I'm a single man and have no control over whether she confesses she's married or not.
It disturbed me to no end that somewhere in the state was an entire task force lurking through our social media tediously day after day in search of any infraction we may be guilty of. Unfortunately, the boundaries had been stretched beyond the original purpose of maintaining security within our department. Employees mysteriously disappeared after posting less than flattering comments about their boss on their Facebook pages. And...Oh, here's a picture of you sitting in your recliner after a hard day's work, wearing your uniform and drinking a beer. You're fired! It's much like they are standing on the other side of the wall with a drinking glass to their ear.
To be fair, we were warned at almost every staff meeting that there are eyes on our social media, and I had no problem, really. I just assumed an alias and went about my business. But I was prudent in my actions. Not once did I ever mention my employers in the ten years I published my work. Even in my books, if a character happened to find themselves in jail, you can bet the farm it happened in some other state. I refused to write anything that could get me in the hot seat with my employer should they discover what I was up to.
It's not so easy to control your social media accounts. With thirty-one thousand Twitter followers on my Twitter account, there is a good possibility there is a deviant or two lurking in the shadows. It's possible there is an ex-con or a drug dealer or even a murderer on my list of followers. Might even have a terrorist reading my tweets or Satan himself, who knows. But, hey boss, it wasn't me...see, that's some guy who calls himself the Rusty Goat.
As you might guess I am somewhat of a rebel. I am also a staunch advocate of the freedom of speech. It is the scales of balance for our nation. I question to this day the legality of an employer terminating anyone because they spoke out about their working conditions, or their unruly supervisor, or the need for a raise. Or time off...don't get me started on that. An employer who sees the need to scope out your children's pics on social media, or what you and your spouse did on that vacation that you finally got some time off for...I used the word 'creepy' earlier. That's not even a fair assessment. It's stalking, plain and simple. I suppose if one has an issue with that, the easy fix is to not have any social media or assume an alias.
There are companies who operate with the mindset that if you work for them, they own you. That's the definition of slavery in my opinion, not that anyone wants to hear my opinion. That is another story to tell some other time but I believe this topic falls squarely under that umbrella. My belief is that when I punch that time clock and walk out the door at five, what I do afterward is not your business, boss.
I've ranted myself silly. I have retired and no longer have to be the Rusty Goat. I can return to my Facebook page and post something, I've not that done in years. No, shaking my head, the State Gestapo may come after me anyway. They could probably take my retirement check away! This post may be all it takes for them to send in the swat team.
Naw, I'll just tell them The Rusty Goat wrote this. Me, I've been sitting here watching Netflix the whole time. I've got an alibi!
A heavy steel door slammed behind me, causing me to flinch as I stood obediently before a gate, waiting for it to open. I stared through the heavy gauge chain link as a dozen or so men dressed in white occupied themselves with a game of basketball on a concrete slab some fifty yards away. I glanced over my shoulder at a woman behind bulletproof glass and concrete nonchalantly taking a bite of a breakfast burrito before stretching a finger toward a button on a control panel in front of her. The gate made a loud buzz and a uniformed officer standing beside me gave it a push. I stepped through and paused as my eyes surveyed unfamiliar surroundings. Stark metal buildings framed a compound contained within boundaries outlined by more chain link fence reaching ten or twelve feet high. Atop the forboding fence ran a menacing ribbon of razor wire.
The officer beside me grinned, "Welcome to prison."
In all my thirty-seven years on earth, this was the last place I ever thought I'd find myself. As I stood there on that bleak day in March of 1995, had someone told me that I would spend the next twenty-three years behind that fence, I'd have never believed them.
I had worked for a supermarket chain for fifteen years, working my way up to store manager, a lucrative position for a small town boy with a limited college education. The company had given me the daunting challenge of managing a store in the community where it all began. The founder of the organization had opened his first store there and over the decades the company had expanded throughout west Texas. The corporate office had been relocated to a city three hours away long ago, but the widow of the owner had firmly refused to leave the town she had always called home. So, I was under the gun. She shopped there. Her friends shopped there. The women in her Sunday School class shopped there. There was no room for error on my part.
The pay was exceptional but it came with a price. I lived at the store almost day and night, not because I wanted to but that's what it took to cling to that coveted position. My wife and children were strangers. David Letterman was my only friend as I slumped into a recliner in a darkened living room late at night with a supper that had been left in the oven for me. The money and eventually the job itself meant little to me. I had no time to spend the money and the job had become a life I detested. Divorce loomed before me and I realized there was only one way to save it. Even as I began making preparations to try to salvage my personal life, I knew it was already too late.
The store was located in a community whose primary employer was an agency of the State of Texas. As I contemplated my next move, I began to observe the people who worked for the state. Both my mom and dad had retired from state employment. They had a motor home and took several vacations a year. They seemed to want for nothing. Same held true for my neighbor who had his own camping trailer and seemingly plenty of time off to take it to Colorado numerous times a year. Other folks around town who were employed by the state seemed to be doing just fine financially. I pondered the possibility.
It was about this time that the State of Texas found itself in hot water with a federal judge over overcrowding and other violations within its prison system. With Governor Ann Richards at the helm, the state set out to build more prisons...lots of them in what seemed every little podunk town in Texas. During a conversation with a close friend where I divulged my fear that the time had come for me to change careers, he suggested that perhaps I should look into job positions with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I scoffed at the thought, yet stored it away for future reference.
It was just a few weeks later that my life became completely unraveled. One night I loaded up very few of my personal belongings into my pickup and set out in search of a new life, leaving behind a six-figure income and a wife who had grown accustomed to spending every penny of it. I took a job with the State of Texas, making a third of the salary I had been earning. I was terrified.
I set here tonight reflecting.
With that piddly state job, I was able to by a spot of land with a pecan orchard on it. Throughout the years I sold pecans all over the world. I got into the goat business at the height of the South African Boer goat boom, breeding some of the finest registered Boer goats in Texas. When a three-year drought hit, I set all that aside and picked up a laptop and wrote a book, and another, and a few more. I paid off my house and two vehicles. My daughter's down the road at college and I'm not losing sleep wondering how I'm going to pay for it. And I've retired from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at the age of sixty. Yes, after twenty-three years I made parole! Looking back...I wouldn't change a thing. I am a blessed man.
Did I like working in a prison? Ah, hell no! But it was an adventure and good or bad, I thrive on adventure. Now that I've retired I might share some prison stories with you. Like that inmate who called himself Punkin. I do believe the best set of boobs I ever saw were on a man. I can't believe I told you that...
A man crosses many finish lines in the course of his lifetime if he's lucky to live long enough. There are literally thousands of finish lines, like when you finally learn to poop in the potty. As insignificant as that sounds, admittedly it is a notable start to many more achievements sure to come later in life. Major life-changing events such as graduating from high school or college, marriage, children, careers...are all finish lines that we cross as we traverse the timeline of life. But what is the BIG finish line?
For the past decade or so I have had my eyes focused on what I considered to be the ultimate finish line. It seemed so far away and at times, non-existent. But time passed slowly...very slowly, and suddenly one day, quite unexpectedly actually, I looked up and saw that finish line looming before me. Wow, I made it!
So, just a few days before Christmas, I gathered up my personal belongings from my workstation, which consisted of an early sixties model Sears radio and a green plastic coffee cup, and made the final fifty yards to that yellow tape. As a heavy steel door slammed behind me, a twenty-three-year career came to a close. I was retired!
One of my biggest fears in recent years was that I'd die working. I talked with a whole lot of folks the past few months who seem just fine with the idea...work till they die. I had a conversation with a man who has worked for the same organization for forty years. He plans to die right there on the job. I chatted with another who is pushing eighty! I said, "Retire!"
He replied angrily, "And what am I going to do, play dominoes?"
I am proud to say that at the age of sixty I laid it down. If I've a mind to, I'll play dominoes. Fact is, I'll do any damn thing I want to while I am young enough to do so. I have worked since I was fifteen years old and the truth is, I spent every one of those days working to get to where I am now. Yes sir, pretty proud to be here... on the other side of that finish line.
I'm not one to give unsolicited advice usually, but being the storyteller that I am, here's one to ponder:
I started working for a supermarket chain while I was still in high school, taking a break for a short stint in college before coming back with the intent of working my way up the ladder. By the age of thirty, I had promoted to the position of Store Manager, making good money. I have the Rolex in my dresser drawer to prove it. It was toward the end of my fifteenth anniversary that I had a conversation with a woman who had worked for the company for forty-five years.
She said, "I have to keep working. If I retire, my pension will only be eight hundred dollars a month..."
She never got to draw that pension. She died working.
That conversation haunted me. I began crunching numbers. Sure, my retirement check would be considerably larger than eight hundred bucks. If I stayed with the company for forty-five years, I'd bring in a whopping seventeen hundred dollars a month. It only made senc\se to commit myself to begin saving for retirement. I was only thirty-five. Surely I could amass a whopping...more crunching...wow, pretty bleak outlook. And so, I changed careers. After fifteen years...sitting at the top of the ladder...I just up and quit.
Ah, but all this talk of working is bringing me down. Allow me to gloat! For the first time in forty-five years, I am getting more than six hours of sleep every night. It was my first goal...to sleep until I can't sleep anymore. I can drink my coffee down at the McDonalds in the morning and stop by the diner in the afternoon for pie and ice cream. I went to the doctor twice this week. Well, I needed to for a long time but I was WORKING! I'll spend some time getting myself into prime shape now that I'm retired. Yes, maybe even a gym membership and some water aerobics down at the city pool this summer.And maybe I'll write. Can't promise that. It sure is hard to sit still when there's so much living to get done.
The Good Lord has blessed me. I intend to spend time passing that forward. There are folks out there that need a leg up, a helping hand, or maybe just a smile and an encouraging word. I've got the time and I reckon I should make it count best I can. Perhaps there is a reason I've found myself where I am...perhaps there is a purpose. I'm excited about that. Always ready for another adventure...and another tale to tell.
I gotta we wrap this up. Tomorrow's Sunday and it's the only day I have to set the alarm because I'm retired, you know. So, I'm off to iron some church clothes. The next time I write, which may or may not be next week since you know...I'm retired...I'll tell you about where I spent the last twenty-three years of my life. I think you will be surprised and this revelation will open up a multitude of new tales I've not been able to share until now. Good gosh, I haven't clipped my fingernails since I retired. So little time, so much to do!
Don't you just love those late spring showers? The rumble of thunder in the distance, lightning bolts streaking through the sky, and the smell of rain are some of my favorite springtime moments. As I made my way through town yesterday, catching both traffic lights green, I peered a hopeful eye toward the sky as the promise of a shower dribbled sporadic sprinkles onto my windshield. By the time I had made it past the city limit sign, the sprinkles had transformed themselves into a deluge of huge raindrops. Turning onto the dirt road toward my modest little farmhouse, I dodged puddles, taking the high middle of the road in an effort to avoid creating ruts.
I stepped into the house just seconds before the torrential downpour unleashed its fury, kicking off my boots by the back door. I shook the water off my hat and placed it on its rightful hook by the door. It was at that exact moment a brilliant flash and the angry roar of a thunder clap caught me off guard, my heart skipping a beat or two. My ears focused in on...complete silence. No electricity!
Stepping into the living room, I smiled at my daughter sitting on the couch, staring at a black TV screen.
"I was binging on 'The 100.' The new season came on Netflix yesterday and I made it to the season finale...and now THIS!"
She picked up her phone and began texting. Seconds later she headed for the door.
"Where are you going?"
"To find electricity."
And she stepped out into the storm, leaving me to deal with a darkened, silent house all alone.
Sure that the power would return in a few moments, I sunk into my usual easy chair, smartphone in hand.
I mindlessly scrolled through Facebook, then Twitter. I googled the number to the electric company just in case the electricity didn't come back on momentarily, jotting the number down on last Sunday's church bulletin. Bored with all that, I meandered into my bedroom and changed into some dry clothes. The dog danced at my feet and we both headed through the house toward the kitchen door, me stumbling over the canine a time or two in the darkened hallway.
I shooed the Boston Terrier out into the pouring rain, muttering, "You'll be sorry!"
Watching sheets of rain roll off the patio awning as the dog hesitantly squatted in a puddle, I shook my head, "I'll have to mow again!"
Letting the dog back in, a distasteful smell of 'wet dog' following along with her, I stood in the middle of the living room and raised my iPhone...a whole ten minutes had passed since the electricity had gone out. I sighed. I couldn't cook. I shouldn't even open the fridge. What if the power didn't come back on for hours? A surge of panic flowed through my body. How much charge did my phone have left? What if my e-cig peace pipe went dead? I couldn't watch TV or play on the computer! The silence in the house was deafening. Oh wait, that was the noise of the rain smashing against the window and the crack of another lightning bolt landing nearby.
I fervently dialed the number to the electric company. The line was busy! Why would the line be busy right now? I needed to call them about the power! I waited another thirty seconds...still busy! Geez! How would they ever know I have no electricity if I can't get through to them? I tried to calm my panicked mind. Perhaps someone else was telling them about the power outage. Or was it just me without power? I stared toward my neighbors' homes through the deluge. I shrugged my shoulders. My nearest neighbor was ten acres away, after all. I dialed the electric company again...still busy. Tossing the phone onto the couch, I raised my hands in despair.
Well, of course, the electricity came back on...two hours later. I had some touch-and-go moments during that time. I had time to reflect...time to think. It was a bit scary, me trapped with nothing but my own thoughts to entertain myself. But I came away from this tragedy with some realizations and some thoughts to ponder.
The Good Lord allowed mankind to live without the luxury of electricity for thousands of years. When the sun went down, our ancestors sat in the dark... or fired up a torch. For the vast majority of civilization as we know it, man has had nothing to entertain himself with except his own thoughts. There were no smartphones, no TV's, no internet. For thousands of years, the human race survived without the convenience of electricity and here I sat for two hours practically going out of my mind.
The luxuries and conveniences of today have weakened mankind. We have spoiled ourselves. I, an off-the-grid survivalist sort of guy, struggled with the concept of living without what we all truly believe to be a basic necessity for survival...electricity. I have told myself in the past that if by some natural disaster or even a nuclear attack the world fell into darkness, I would be one of the few that could pull myself through should the lights go out for days, weeks, or months. Perhaps I've been keeping myself in the dark about living in a darkened world. Two hours in the dark was enough for me! Note to self: Need batteries for flashlight.
Shreveport, Louisana has never been on my bucket list of 'must-visit-before-I-die' places, but it should have been. It was a spontaneous whim that brought me to this culturally overloaded historic city last week where I found myself smack-dab in the midst of something called the 'Mud-Bug Madness Festival.' Apparently folks around those parts refer to crawfish as mudbugs, and obviously, those same folks believe mudbugs are meant to be eaten...with an ample dose of, what else, Louisana Hot Sauce.
I have dined on crawfish, or mudbugs, or what we called crawdads when we were kids. As long as you remove that little poop-vein, crawfish are fine eating. With crawfish in every imaginable form and fashion available at the Mud-Bug Madness Festival, I had every intention of devouring a few of the little critters, but my first stop was at a concession stand hawking alligator sausage gyros. Admit it...you'd have to try alligator sausage, too, right?
While those crawfish enchiladas at the next booth looked amazingly delicious, there is just something manly about scarfing down alligator sausage. Throughout the night I sampled foods I couldn't even pronounce, all-the-while fully intending to round it all off with crawfish. And believe it or not, I just never got around to it. I was having too much fun!
Music and festivals go hand in hand and two stages offered an awesome sampling of local musicians dishing out music as hot as that Louisana Hot Sauce. My group of revelers finally settled at a table, listening to some pretty little lady wearing a peach colored dress, accessorized tastefully with a fiddle resting on her shoulder. As I sipped on that one beer I had allowed myself to indulge in and grazed on something I couldn't even pronounce, she sawed that fiddle into a foot-stomping rendition of 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia.' And that's when it hit me...
I was having fun! I had inadvertently let my hair down, what hair I have left. It was something I'd not allowed myself to do for some time. The last time I had this feeling sweep through me was on some beach on Padre Island, and that was some years ago. Yeah, I dunno...I'm just twisted a bit differently than most.
I am a driven, goal-oriented, focused person. Throughout my life, my primary goals have been survival...not to starve and to keep my nose to the grindstone so I can pay the bills. I have been cursed with an old-fashioned work ethic. Cursed with a mindset that 'fun' is simply not in the budget. Nickles and dimes still mean a lot to me, and you can't even fathom how much twenty dollars is to an old goat like me. Sweat beads on my forehead and my heart pounds inside my chest whenever I lay a five dollar tip on the table of some diner. It's from years of scraping to get by. It is perhaps my biggest curse.
I've not missed a meal since those 'young and dumb' days back when I first set out on my own. There were times back then when I flicked the piss-ants off a stale saltine cracker and diligently scraped the last spoonful of peanut butter from the bottom of a jar. I learned the hard way that hunger is real. I learned to survive. I learned that a dollar is a whole lot when you don't have one.
So, fun has always been on a back burner for me. Fun costs money and I might need that money someday for a box of saltines and a jar of peanut butter. I can't shake the curse. I am not financially successful by many peoples' standards, but I do better than some. The house is bought and paid for, as is the old pickup. I have very few bills compared to most of you. I have free health insurance for the rest of my life and someday when I wise up and retire from a job I've clung to for over twenty years, I'll have a respectable retirement check. But still, I scrape for every nickel and dime I can.
But, as the old country song says, you'll never read on a tombstone, 'I wish I'd spent more time at work.' I am at a threshold in my life. I yearn for the enjoyment that life has to offer. I'll need counseling to achieve it. Lucky for me, my daughter wants to major in phycology in college. Did you know colleges don't take nickles and dimes...or twenties, for that matter? That is my final financial hurdle.
Shreveport, you found a place in my heart. I will come back. I have to...I never got to sample your crawfish cuisine. But there is more I wish to do. I want to catch enormous sun perch in an Alabama lake. I intend to experience mardi gras in New Orleans. I just have to walk on the beach in Myrtle Beach. I yearn to see the lights of Vegas. I dream of sitting on the porch of some cabin in Colorado and watching the sunrise.
I wish to bury that serious side of me so deep that it'll never rise to the surface again. I want to laugh until my belly hurts. I have a burning passion for experiencing all that life has been saving for me all these years. I crave the notion of irrepressible impulsiveness and the adventure of unpredictability. I desire to break the curse of frugalness, with an unbridled freedom to toss nickels and dimes into any fountain I happen upon with nary a fleeting thought. Seriously...I just want to have fun!