Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fourteen Years Ago

This is a re-post from 2005-

June 28th 1997. You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you.Okay it was really a Pizzeria Uno.

I just got finished performing in a community theater presentation of Much Ado About Nothing. It was closing night and the cast was going out for a few a drinks and some snacks to celebrate. Everybody (about 12 people) decided to go to an UNO Chicago Bar and Grill.

I was working in a nightclub in downtown Philadelphia and knew I would have to get to work around Midnight. I arrived at UNO at about 10:00, before everyone else, so I could place my food order, have it served, eat it and get out of there by 11:30 so I could make it to work. I sat at the bar and ordered Pizza Skins and a club soda. The rest of the cast was trickling in and were taking seats at a large table next to the bar. I knew I was not hanging for the night so it was easier for me to stay at the bar and socialize there. I watched the bartender take orders for all the people at the table (since it was his section). Someone at the table ordered Pizza Skins.

One of the cast, PJ, sat with me at the bar and we were talking about the show and I can’t remember what else when a waitress came out with an order of Pizza Skins. “Who ordered Pizza Skins?’ she asked.

Someone at the table responded and the waitress placed it at the table, with no other food for the rest of the cast.

I turned to the bartender, “I think those were for me.” I said.

The bartender looked up and said something about they would have a runner bring up my food.

“But don’t you think the waitress would have brought out the rest of the food for that table? Besides I ordered mine about 15 minutes before everyone else.”

“Good point. She is not the waitress, she is the manager.” said the barkeep.

“Listen” I said, “I have to go to work in a little bit why don’t you just cancel my order.”

The bartender agreed but needed the manager’s approval to void the guest check. The manager/waitress asked me if everything was okay and I explained the situation to her. She insisted that she could have my food to me in 5 minutes and there was no need to cancel the Pizza Skins.

“As a matter fact they are in the oven right now." she assured me.

At some point during this exchange another waitress came to the bar area and started to change one of the “Tonight’s Special" signs. She had her back to me but she was on her tippy toes, reaching up to write on the slate board. She was wearing a tucked in, denim blue collared shirt and perfectly fitted black pants. She was holding her apron in her hand so I knew she was just getting off her shift. The slate board was black, with an impressive chalk/pastel drawing around the border of a mug of beer and a slice of pizza. There was also a Killian’s Red logo on or near the chalkboard. I know all the details because I was staring.

The manager leaves and I could not stop myself from staring at the waitress writing on the board.

PJ, sitting next to me, nudges me with his elbow and gives me the Man-to-Man, silent, raised eyebrows, head nod, secret guy code that is not so secret, that indicates, “She’s hot”.

I call her over “Excuse me, I was wondering if you could check on an order of Pizza Skins for me.”

She smiled, and said something that I didn’t hear because I was captivated by her eyes, which were smiling as well. She left.

I turned to PJ and said something about her body, her looks, and her smile.

She returned and told me that there were no orders of Pizza Skins in the oven. I asked the bartender to cancel my order, which again needed the manager’s approval. The manager came over to ensure me the food would be out soon. I told her that the nice hot waitress (I didn’t say “hot” but that is what I was thinking) told me that they weren’t in the oven. The manager looked peeved. I realized I may have gotten the hot waitress in trouble and I explained to the manger that I also managed a club and that I knew that the manager’s don’t always tell the truth to customers. UNO manager was not happy.

The Hot waitress came back into the bar area and I informed her that I may have gotten her into trouble. She explained that it was okay. At some point here PJ became the perfect wingman by not making me look like an idiot. The hot waitress and I talked about the beer mug drawing on the chalkboard. She was the artist. I was impressed.

She walked away to get her things. PJ and I talked about whether I should ask her out. She was hot and talented. She had to have a boyfriend. PJ insisted that I at least check.

The hot waitress came back I started talking and I told her that since she was done her shift she should come down to the club I managed. I handed her my business card.

She looked at it and said. "Bill Meakim? Are you related to Mike Meakim?”

“Yes. He’s my brother?”

“I went to school with him. “

In the back of my mind I was hoping that Mike was nice to her in high school.

Since she was an artist and I took art classes in high school we talked about the teachers and the school. We knew the same teachers. It was good conversation. Familiar.

“What’s your name?” I asked.


“Well, Lauren, why don’t you come down to the club tonight?”

“ I can’t. I’m tired and it is all the way in the city.”

“Okay.” I said. “Well maybe you and I could go out sometime.”

She hesitated. “I don’t know.”

I was losing her.

This is where the begging started. I started babbling. “Look let me pick you up for lunch tomorrow. Or you can me meet for a cup of coffee somewhere. Coffee is good. I can meet you here. Or wherever you like. Where do you live? We can meet somewhere close to where you live so it is convenient for you.”

Lauren rolled her beautiful eyes, “I live in A-Town.”

“So do I. Where in A-Town? So we can pick a place to meet.”

Lauren said, “I live on H-Street.”

“Get out!” I shouted. “I Live on H-Street too.”

She got a freaked out look on her face. Like I was a stalker. H-Street is only two blocks long. How was it possible that we could both live on the same street? She must have said something like “No way” or “That’s strange”. I knew fate was on my side.

“I live at 1847. Right on the corner.” I said.

Lauren looked at me in disbelief and muttered, “I live at 1828.”

I was quite excited. There were too many random, strange coincidences to pass this up.

My mouth was going a mile a minute, “That’s like 5 houses down. How come I’ve never seen you before?Look you can’t say “NO” at this point. I know where you live. Let me pick you up for lunch. I will WALK down and pick you up for lunch. It is only lunch. If you don’t like me or I don’t like you it doesn’t go any further than that. Just lunch. Look I am not crazy. You know my brother. Just lunch. I am picking you up tomorrow.”

“Okay”, she said “What time?”

And that is the story of how I met my wife. Sometime during our talk my Pizza Skins came out and I ate like two pieces.

I was also late for work.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Begatting the Powder Room

A few weeks ago Lauren told me she wanted to Begats the powder room. The powder room is on the first floor of our house and is used mostly by the kids and also by any guests or company we may have over. After being in the house for almost four years, 80% of the house has been renovated, re-done or begats some how. The powder room definitely needed a change.
As with all of make-over projects I get to do all of the dirty demolition work. I removed the old sink, tore off the old paneling and scraped the old linoleum floor, exposing the Asbestos tiles underneath which we did not remove.

 I got to use tools like a bucket, an iron, a scraper and a towel.

Once all of surfaces were exposed we laid down a new floor using self adhesive vinyl tiles.

After the floor was done Lauren went to work. My wife does all the fine tuning and decorative work. She got to use tools like, a level, a brad nail gun, liquid nails and a caulk gun, a mitre saw, paint rollers and other cool gadgets. Our neighbor and friend, Nelson, helped us with the plumbing on a new pedestal sink (if you are local to me and you need an HVAC guy email me and I will give you Nelson's phone number). I installed a new light fixture and Lauren finished the room with her decorative touches.
 I think the best part of the room is the light fixture, which is not pictured here because it is too awesome to show. I think Lauren did a nice job with the overall makeover.
She went with  a French/Paris theme for the decorations. Why French/Paris? Because it is the room you use to Oui-Oui.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Heroes and Villains

"Look how cute you all look." the train conductor said. She flashed a big toothy grin. "You are all wearing matching orange shirts."

"Thanks." I smiled back at her. "We are heading downtown. The orange will make it easier to keep track of each other."

"Oh. Where you heading?"

"To the comic book convention." I replied.
Maxfield, Wyatt and I found some empty seats on the SEPTA train. I used the train ride to prep the kids on what to expect and what to do in case we get separated. I explained that a comic convention would be filled with lots of cool stuff, there would many distractions, but no matter what we all had to stick together. I wrote my cell phone number on a pieces of paper, placed the paper in their pockets and told them if they did get lost that they could get someone to call my phone.

Not an orange shirt to be seen.

As we stood in line at the convention center someone else commented on the matching orange shirts.

"It is so I can easily spot them in a crowd." I answered. "I chose orange because no one wears orange to a comic convention."

"How's that?" he said.

"People wear red and blue super hero shirts and black Goth-y things to these events. Aquaman is the only super hero that I can think of to wear orange. And no one wants to be Aquaman." I answered.

Max and Wyatt seemed to be enjoying themselves. We met Colleen Venable the author of Guinea PI (g) comics, who was very nice and personable. We discussed the orange shirts and how I picked the color so the kids could see me and I could see them. I joked how I dress them in bright green for Fourth of July Parades. We talked with the artist and writer of Lazerman comics. We visited many booths, like the Garrison Carida, a very cool  Star Wars themed charity organization.

We even stopped by to the see the Bat-mobile, which Wyatt recognized from the 1960's  TV show that airs on the cable channel the Hub.

We made our way through aisle after aisle looking at cool super hero stuff and collecting free comics, trading cards and other things. We saw the Mystery Machine from Scoobie Doo and the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard.We stopped every so often so I could take pictures of the kids. We entered the area where celebrities were doing meet and greets and autographs.  Adam West, Burt Ward, Adam Baldwin, Jon Schneider, Billy Dee Williams and countless other B and C list stars from shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Star Gate were in various sections with lines of fans snaking in and out of the booths. It was very, very crowded.

I stopped at an intersection of rows trying to look at the floor plan map. I wanted to get out of the crowds. I turned around.

"Max, Wyatt we are going to go this way." I said pointing to my right.

Only Wyatt replied.

It took me about 5 seconds to register that I was only looking at one orange shirt.

"Wyatt, where is Max?"

"I don't know." he said.

I looked down each of the four rows at the intersection. I did not see one orange shirt. I called out Max's name. My voice did not carry far. It was dampened by the huge crowds around us. My heart started racing. I looked in the booths of action figures near us. No orange shirt. Crap. I grabbed Wyatt's hand and I started to move up and down the aisles. No orange shirts anywhere.

Should I stay put, hoping he comes back to where we got separated? Do I go look for him? Do I scream his name louder? I grabbed my phone to make sure I could hear it ring over the noise of the crowd. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of an orange shirt. I pushed my way through the crowd. As I got closer I saw it was someone wearing a General Lee "01" shirt. Who the hell wears orange shirts to a comic convention? I ran back to the intersection. A few minutes passed and I tried to calm myself down by telling myself that Max was just at a vendor's booth looking at comics. But then as I looked around the creepiness factor hit me.

People were walking around looking like this...
or like this. Creepy right?

About 5 maybe 10 minutes went by (It felt like 30 minutes) when I decided to just go up and down the aisles. I pushed through the crowds yelling his name. Nobody stopped to help. People were annoyed I was yelling too close to their ears. I was flabbergasted. With all the super hero vibes going through the place you would think someone would have stopped to help the panic stricken screaming man in the orange shirt.

As I pushed down the second aisle I caught a glimpse of an orange shirt sitting in a booth about 30 feet away. I stood on my tip toes trying to look over the heads of the crowd in front of me. I felt Wyatt's hand slipping from mine. I held Wyatt closer as I nudged past a few more people to get a better look for the orange shirt. There, sitting on a high stool in the booth of the ECW and WWF wrestling diva Dawn Marie was Max. I caught my breath.

Max hugged me and I could tell he was scared. I could also tell he was mad at me for losing him. I had a lump in my throat.  Dawn Marie stroked his hair and tried to calm him. Dawn Marie explained that Max approached her and another woman volunteer and said that his dad was lost. Dawn suggested he sit in her booth while the volunteer went to the main office. Dawn told me that Max did the right thing and not talk to anyone until he saw the volunteer.

"BILL MEAKIM. PLEASE REPORT TO DAWN MARIE'S BOOTH." boomed over the loud speakers.

I stuttered a thank you to Dawn for taking care of Max. She noticed the orange shirts and mentioned them. I explained my idea of how I wanted the kids to stand out and how it apparently failed. I noticed Wyatt was staring at Dawn and her, uhm, muscles. She had, uhm, rather, uhh big muscles and she was showing them off.

"BILL MEAKIM PLEASE PICK UP YOUR SON AT DAWN MARIE'S BOOTH." echoed through the convention hall again.

Dawn offered to let us sit in her booth until Max and I calmed down a bit. I declined. Wyatt continued to stare.  People were lining up to get her autograph and I could tell Wyatt was on the verge of saying something about her outfit. I thanked Dawn again and made a lame joke about how she was a real super hero to me. We walked away a few feet to let the lines form at her table. I asked Max why he did not use the phone number I gave him. He said he could not find it. With Max and Wyatt safely at my side, I started laughing at the situation. I took a quick picture with the camera knowing that no one would believe me.

A muscular Dawn Marie on the left. 
As we left the convention I heard my name over the loud speaker another 3 times. I felt like such the bad guy.
Me as a villain. Wyatt took this picture.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shifting Gears

Over the past year, in an effort to lose a few pounds and not die too early of a heart attack, I took up the exercise of running. Running is a good way for me to clear my head and think about the day ahead of me. When I was in the regular running routine I was always thinking clearly and at my creative best. Some of my best ideas and blog posts were composed while I was running.

In the year 2011 I have already logged in 233.2 miles of running. Some where around mile 190 I started to get bored. Running no longer was appealing to me and I found myself hitting a plateau mentally and physically. Instead of pushing myself physically I just clocked miles. I was no longer thinking clearly on my runs but rather getting lost in thought. To fix this boredom I got a bike. Not only would the bike fix my exercise boredom but it would also save me time and money. I decided by riding my bike to and from work, 6.25 miles each way, I would save the time because I was multi-tasking using the bike as exercise and transportation but I would also be saving money when gas is close to four bucks a gallon.

I cannot exercise with food in my stomach. My running routine was basic, wake up, have a cup of coffee, get dressed and then hit the pavement. When I would return I would have a solid breakfast, like eggs and bacon with toast, and then start my normal daily routine. Now that I am riding I need to plan my work-outs.  I need to prep my bike and other gear,  pack a change of clothes for the day, take breakfast, which now was a cereal bar or some granola (easy to pack in my bag) and lunch with me to work. One of the problems I run into is that after riding to work, I am so hungry I find myself eating both breakfast and lunch right way. Tuna fish sandwiches for breakfast is just, well, not really breakfasty enough for me.

The Granola bars and other types of snack type bars do not do the trick. I would still eat my lunch before 10AM. This leaves me little fuel for the ride home. Two weeks ago ProMax Energy Bars asked if I would be interested in trying their line of lower sugar bars. They said they would send me free Energy Bars for me to review on the blog.  I was having a problem they were offering a possible solution. Not only that, they said they would pay me for my honest opinion.

I am not a fan of meal replacement bars or other proteins snacks because I always feel like they are trying too hard to taste like a candy bar. Or they are trying too hard to mask something with super sweet chocolate. I think meal replacement bars should taste more like the gum Violet chews in Willy Wonka.

Let me just say that these Promax Lower Sugar Energy Bars taste pretty good, not great, but they do not seem like they are masking something. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give the flavor a 7.  I had the Double Fudge and the Peanut Butter. I liked the double fudge better. They work great for what I need when it comes to filling my belly. The serving size is a bit more than a snack but not quite a breakfast or lunch. The only thing I don't like is that the chocolate coating or peanut butter coating on the bar comes off in the wrapper. It is bit messy to open. Not a very good thing in a bar that is supposed to be used for travel. The little flecks of chocolate that end up on my desk are difficult to suck up by mouth once they are stuck to purchase order documents.
The price per Promax Energy Bar is about $1.50 each if you buy them by the dozen which isn't too bad for a breakfast. It is cheaper and healthier and less calories than an Egg Mc Muffin. Now only if they would make an energy bar that tasted like a Mc Muffin, or even better a Bacon Energy Bar. Wait a minute I may be on to something. I am having  a "Feed Tuna Mayonnaise." moment. You see that? Biking is already clearing my head.

Promax is holding a contest called the Next Doer . Promax's tagline is "Life is Go" so Go enter their contest for a chance to win a trip to Hawaii.

So far I have logged in 53 miles on the bike. After some quick math I have figured I have saved about $12.00 in gas so far. I am still trying to get the hang of the whole biking thing. Some days I feel like I am playing Frogger and some days I feel like I should be doing a paper route on my way to work. Wait a minute, hold the phone, I think I just had another idea.

I have a $10.00 I-Tunes gift card to give away to someone who leaves me a comment suggesting some decent music for me to listen to on my bike rides to work. I will choose one random comment in the next few days to win the $10.00 I-Tunes gift card. Please make sure you leave a valid way for me to contact you.

Disclaimer - I have been compensated for my time by Promax for sharing my opinion of their product with the readers of this blog.  However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards the Promax Products. The I-tunes Gift card giveaway  is not sponsored by Promax and was totally my idea to solicit comments.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How to Play Second Base

In order to play the position of 2nd base on a baseball team one must first dress the part. A ball cap, a glove, cleats and eye black are all the important parts of the 2nd baseman's uniform and equipment. Most important is the eye black. A second baseman has to look good.
A second baseman must be quick on his feet and ready to move at the crack of the bat. He should position himself between the first base bag and the second base bag for optimum visibility
It is in this gap between bases, along the edge of the infield grass, that the best bugs and dirt are found. Playing second base requires the ability to identify each bug and then determine whether it gets set free or squashed.

A second basemen also needs to have excellent hearing so he can hear his father/coach yell directions to him from the outfield. The standard baseball direction terms usually are "pay attention","look alive", "eye on the ball" and "holy cow how many times do I have to tell you to get up off the ground".

Once a ball is hit a second baseman's first moves should be towards the ball. His momentum should either direct him to a bag to cover, or to the ball itself to make a play.

Sometimes that momentum and the ability to throw the ball to the right bag results in the batter being called out. The OUT results in the coach/father to smile, run in from the outfield to give his son/player a congratulatory five.

While on offense a second baseman is also required to bat. In the event of a hit the second baseman should run as fast as he can to the base. Sometimes fast is not fast enough and the second baseman will be called out.
Being called out usually makes a second baseman sad, but that is okay, as long as long as he looks good.


We just finished our Little League season. I had a good time coaching and I think Maxfield had a good time playing. I am looking forward to coaching Wyatt next year.

All photographs were taken and copyrighted by Sharon Monaco and used with permission of the photographer.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Mary Mary

Back in the early Spring my wife decided that we were going to have some of the best vegetable gardens in the neighborhood. She planned her lay outs of all available space, comparing sun levels, watering needs and work required and matched them up to the types of veggies and herbs she was going to plant.
Along the front walkway she built wire supports for Snap Peas and Tomato plants.
The Snap Peas are coming in nicely although the yield is light due to Jackson. He keeps eating them right off the vine.
Lauren built a raised bed with protective fencing in the back yard for radishes, onions, carrots, lettuce, peppers and a few other plants.

Off of our front porch and down the side of the house, Lauren built a small stone containment wall as well as a stone path which she lined with an herb garden.

She made signs for each plant so we would know what was what. Part of her gardening process was starting some plants in pots and then transferring them to the ground. At one point Lauren told me that there were a few herbs, like Spearmint, still in unlabled pots that she was not sure where to plant in the garden.

The other day Lauren was running errands and I decided to make a special dinner using some of the fresh herbs. I made my "Best Chicken Ever" recipe with a warm mango peach salsa topping. From the garden I clipped Parsley, a small sprig of Dill and some Cilantro to mix into the salsa and give it the extra layers of flavor.

It was a beautiful bright sunny afternoon and I decided I would also surprise Lauren with a pitcher of Frozen Mojito drinks to go along with our dinner. I pictured us drinking the refreshing concation on the back porch while I grilled the chicken. I clipped a good portion of fresh Spearmint from one of the pots and threw it into the blender with the Rum and other ingredients.

Lauren was happy to see the meal, the frozen drinks and even happier that her hard work in the garden was paying off in the form of fresh ingredients. She took a sip of the Mojito and made a face.

"What's in this?" She asked.

"Mint." I said. "I took it from one of the pots."

"Oh. I already planted the mint. What pot did you take this from."

I told her.

"Oh. That is not mint. That is Basil."

I made a whole pitcher of  Basil-coladas.

Needless to say it was a lot of wasted Rum.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Over the years people have asked me what I like best about blogging. Sometimes I like the community and social aspects that blogging has exposed me to. Sometimes I like just having a forum to write and practice telling stories. Other days the best part of blogging is the feedback left by others. Whether they be negative or positive comments it is always nice to know there is an audience from what I write.

Lately my favorite part about blogging is having the ability, pretty much from anywhere I have Internet access, to look at the past six years of my life.  Every now and then I like to go through the archives and look at lucky I am to have such a colorful life.

This picture was taken in August of 2008. A rainbow over our neighbors the Jones' house. Lauren was pregnant with Jackson, Wyatt just a toddler, and Maxfield is waist high. Life was good.

This picture was taken last week. My family standing in the Jones' driveway under a rainbow. Jackson is now the toddler, Wyatt is about to go into kindergarten and Maxfield is chest high.

Life is still good.