Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Showdown in the Upper East Side, or How Ross and I Defended the Honor of My Beard

Well, another week has passed, and my beard is coming in nicely. In fact, I think it's fair to say that this is a full-grown beard. I actually surprised myself a bit this time.... wasn't sure I could pull it off this quickly. It's a personal best for me. My last record in beard-growing was back in the winter of 1990. I was 10 years old, and it was an especially cold winter.... perhaps my body just knew to kick it up a notch. I don't know.

Anyways, my old college buddy, Ross, was in NYC this past weekend. And, of course, Ross is also one of the co-hosts along with Greg and myself on the podcast Fourth Time Around. You should have been there.... the two of us were inseparable as we traipsed across Manhattan.... through the hectic Times Square, across a gorgeous Central Park, and in the upscale Upper East Side. Oh, and we also got in a bar fight.

There we were in a quiet little Irish pub.... up around York Avenue and 84th Street. Ross and I were relaxing over a tall beer after a long day of taking in the city. Some college-age hooligans were over in the corner throwing darts. Lousy bums. One fat guy and one cute little gal who couldn't have been older than 17. They started heckling me. "Hey, beard-guy, where's your blue ox?".... and "Hey, Paul Bunyan called. He wants his beard back." You know, real kid stuff. Still, I won't lie.... I was itching for a fight. I just sat there silently sizing them up. But I couldn't hide the rage that was swelling up inside of me.

"Easy, Mikey," Ross whispered to me. "Those two are trouble. One of them's got a blade."
"Thanks, Ross, but I think I can handle it." Ross always did have good eyes. That's why we used to call him Scout back in the old days.
"Just take it easy," he said. "I don't want to get arrested on this trip for putting those kids in the hospital."

I told him that I'd keep my cool, but the kids wouldn't let up. We ordered a couple more beers and two whiskeys each. There was a storm brewing, and I was preparing for the worst. Suddenly, the fat one threw a dart from across the room directly at us. It landed in my beer spraying the stuff all over my face.

I turned to Ross and calmly whispered, "I'll take the fat one. You take the short girl." He nodded. I grabbed the dart and walked up to the fat man. Ross sidled up next to the little girl. She looked cute, but I knew she could be dangerous. The cutest ones always are.

"I believe this is yours," I said to the fat guy. I could see his right hand slowly reaching for the blade in his boot.
"Yeah, well maybe it is."
"Well, maybe this!" I screamed as I jabbed the dart into his side.
I gave him a quick punch to the groin. He fell like a baby.
"Nobody makes fun of my beard!" I cried giving several round kicks to his stomach as he lay on the floor.

Seeing me stab the fay guy, Ross nimbly grabbed the nearest bar stool and swung it around hitting the girl on the back. Boom! Down she went next to the fat guy. Ross was livid, and I could see that this was as personal for him as it was for me.

"His beard is a national treasure! You hear me! A national treasure!"
"Ross, that's enough! We gotta get out of here. The cops'll be here soon," I tried to calm him down, but I could see the rage in his eyes was growing. I finally had to throw him over my shoulder and haul him out.

And that's how Ross and I got in a bar fight and defended the honor of my beard.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beard Challenge Fall 2009: Day 11, or the Day Chivalry Died

Well, I'm already on week 2 of my Beard Challenge. As per the advice I received from Greg and Ross, I've posted this week's photo in color. On last week's Fourth Time Around episode they both berated me for having a creepy, black and white photo that made me look like the Unabomber. I don't know what all the fuss is about. Still, I thought it might be a good idea to take their advice for once. As it turns out, I don't look so bad in color after all. You'll also notice that there's nothing creepy about this photo. It captures me deep in contemplation of some philosophical dilemma.... perhaps how I'm going to seduce my Hispanic laundry lady. So, no, not creepy at all.

I've been feeling a bit unproductive lately. The one day of class that I had last week was rescheduled due to Columbus Day. While I would like to tell you that I spent that time doing school work, I'm afraid that most of my time was spent watching shows on Hulu.com. If you haven't discovered this yet, you should definitely check it out: www.hulu.com. You know what I really hate? I hate it when people ask me, "Are you working hard, or hardly working?" Whenever someone says that to me, I give him a swift jump-kick in the stomach. This can be difficult for a man of my small size, especially on people several feet taller than I am. But it is so worth it. The initial shock of having just been jump-kicked usually gives me enough time to run away.

And, yes, I do this to both men and women. I always treat both sexes equally. This is why I never hold hold doors open or stuff like that for women.... but children are different. I'm not an animal. I'll hold a door open for a child, but then I'll slam it shut on the mother. I also don't walk on the traffic side of the sidewalk when with a woman. I don't quite understand that one, and I refuse to adhere to it. If you think I'm going to risk getting hit by a car, you are very wrong. In fact, ladies, if you are walking with me, I am much more likely to use you to protect myself.... that's just fair warning. I'm not sure how exactly.... probably just grab you and throw you in front of me.

I know this all must sound harsh and ungentlemanly, but I wasn't always this way. I used to be a knight in shining armor.... like the shiniest, brightest armor you've ever seen and riding on a snow-white stallion.... the strongest, purest bred white stallion ever. Do you understand this metaphor yet? But all those chivalric ideals came crashing down one day. I was in Italy.... a perfect setting for disillusionment. An American friend of mine was visiting the Rome Campus of the University of Dallas.... I know, blah blah blah blah. Anyways, short story a bit shorter.... we were walking outside in the rain, so I offered to hold my umbrella over her so she wouldn't get soaked. Well, she refused the generosity of the Mikey train. Can you believe that? She said something about how she was liberated in the '70s. So, from that time forward, I've kept a vow to treat men and women equally.

By the way, I hope you'll check out Fourth Time Around.... episodes are in the sidebar. Just do me a favor and at least listen to episodes 3 and 7. They're my favorite so far. And if you're not satisfied, I'll personally come to where you live and give you a massage as compensation for your time. So those are your options.... listen to the podcast or receive a full-body massage from me. It's what you call a win-win situation.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Beard Challenge Fall 2009: Day 4

Here it is finally. Mike for all the world to see. Fully exposed. This is both the most awesome and saddest thing I've ever done.... Well, besides that one time I punched a 9-year-old boy in the stomach because I thought he was making fun of me on the subway. It turns out he was just waving to his mother.... she was sitting next to me.

You'll notice that I'm using a black and white photo. Everything looks better in black and white. Trust me. You really do not want to see this face up close in color. It's kind of like a baby's diaper. Not used or anything, sickos.... just a very white, unused diaper.... like my face. That metaphor is actually much more applicable than I originally had thought.

Anyways, I missed my chance to post a clean-shaven photo of me for Day 1 of the beard challenge. Oh well.... maybe a clean-shave photo of me does not exist. Perhaps, it's just one of those mysterious things in life that you could swear you have seen but just can't remember exactly when or what it looked like. You know.... it's like Bigfoot or Val Kilmer. What happened to him? Wherever he is, I can almost guarantee that he has a nice, full-grown beard right now.

Now, I'm already getting some nay-sayers out there.... some who are saying that Mike Maiella can't grow a beard anymore.... that I've lost my manliness.... my mojo, if you will. Well, I'll admit.... I've lost a lot the last few years, but I'll be darned if I can't still grow the fullest, manliest, most God-blessing American beard you've ever seen. It will be the most perfect beard that it will replace the idea of beardness itself. We'll just yank that right out of the sky and replace it with my beard.

Yes, you read that right. I didn't stutter. This beard and I are going to be like one of those famous duos in history.... like the Lone Ranger and Tonto, or Turner and Hooch. I know what you all are thinking right now.... and, yes, my beard and I are going to be fighting crime. My beard will be like the scout. When he sees the bad guys coming, he'll signal me.... and then I'll come running in to arrest them. You're probably all saying, "Mike, you can't just arrest people! You don't have the authority." You'd be wrong though. I will have the authority. Every man in this country over the age of 25 who has a "full beard" has the right to own and carry a gun "anywhere and at any time." They also have the authority to arrest "bad guys." I'm using quotation marks so you can clearly see exactly how it's worded on the books. Technically, I think this is only applicable in Texas circa 1878. This would explain why I would also be entitled to my neighbor's eldest daughter in marriage.

So, maybe I'm not actually allowed to arrest anyone or shoot guns whenever I want to.... or force my neighbor's eldest daughter into marriage. But if I've learned anything from the television show Heroes, it's that time and space are no obstacle for a hero. As my old friend Walt says, "So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong. And you'll finally see the truth.... that a hero lies in you." I can never tell if he's giving me advice or just singing to himself. He's funny like that.