Okay, back from Mexico and, just as I suspected, that country still knows how to kick it. Today was my first day back at work and it felt really, really strange to walk around someplace without a plate of garlic shrimp and a Sol. It also felt very strange to speak a sentence to someone and know that it made absolute sense. I have a few set phrases in Spanish (what time is it, where is the bathroom, I'm friends with the President so you may not hurt me), and once I deviate from that list, for all I know, I'm asking people if I can hurl bologna sandwiches at their grandmother. And even if I wanted to hurl bologna sandwiches at someone, if I tried to say it, I'd probably ask for directions to the wig factory. Spanish, you are a slippery diablo!
The entire trip was great. The food was excellent, almost too good. (Playa del Carmen recommendation: Carboncitas.) Yesterday morning, when I began the whole packing process, my stomach let me know just how it felt about the upcoming months of Funyuns and vienna sausages. I spent the rest of the day in transit, trying desperately not to soil myself or use the Skymall catalog as an impromptu vomit bag. Yeah, it was a little uncomfortable and I'm not quite over it, but it was worth it. I didn't expect my stomach to take the booze and grease bath without a little kicking, and the fact that it's complained so vociferously leads me to believe I'm probably not about to die.
Another great thing was the snorkeling expedition we made. Although I typically smell like I haven't been near water in weeks, when I am near an ocean, I turn into a snorkeling fiend. The trip we made this time was excellent. I got to see a sting ray, perhaps a barracuda, and some great, big sea turtles. In fact, I was so close to one of the turtles, I could've slapped him on the butt, or at least the shell covering the butt. It occurs to me now that I should've. Just imagine going into work after a long holiday with a huge chunk of your head missing. "Were you in a car accident?" they'd ask. "This thing? No, this is from a giant sea turtle attack in the Atlantic. If you think this is bad, you oughta see him."
What else did I do on the trip? I went to see some Mayan ruins, read several books (including How To Desecrate Mayan Ruins), and spent a lot of time with the family. There was some alcohol involved, yes. I don't feel I need to elaborate on my feelings for Mexican beverages here, but I will say that I found another delightful one called, no kidding, donkey semen. Was it actual donkey semen? I'm at least 60% sure it was not. If it was, well, then that stuff has gotten a bad wrap. Not to point any fingers, but after a shot of that, a certain family member of mine declared with gusto, "Whoowee, I think I like that donkey semen!"
Pictures and such to follow, assuming the DS didn't rob me of my ability to work a digital camera. Vaya con dios, amigos!
I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but bachelor time is over, as Laura has ceased her globetrotting. She immediately got down to business, saying that now she was back, she wanted to get a car. I pointed out to her that she already had a car, the big, gold hunk of crap that's rusting away in the driveway. (And when I say hunk of crap, I emphasize both 'hunk' and 'crap'. The only good that could come from its existence would be to catapult it at your enemies. Back to the story.)
"No, a NEW car," she said. "I know what I want and I want you to come with me to the dealership to help me with the salesman."
From that brief bit of dialog, I have two observations.
1) She just gets back from several weeks of travelling, and the first thing she wants to do is get a new car. That cemented it for me: Laura isn't a teacher. There's no way could afform such a lavish lifestyle on that pay; she's either a jewel thief, an assassin, or an Asian soap opera star.
2) She wants me to help her with the car salesman? When I went to buy my car, I came out of the deal with a 180 month loan at 27% APR, a warranty that included protection from any damage caused by pirates dragons, and I somehow forgot to buy tires.
I played it cool on both counts, though. I continued to play along with the teacher sham, and I went to the dealer with her. She certainly didn't need my help as I could only ask "This car is made of metal, right?" and other such inanities. I did come in useful for one thing: I told her to play hardball with the salesman. She actually took that piece of advice, and after much wrangling over the financial details, made the salesman go ask his boss to knock $50 of the price. That was pretty great to watch. And as a result of doing most of the thinking for herself, she ended up with much decent payments and a modicum of self respect, two things I somehow missed when I bought my car.
Conclusion: the hunk of crap is out of the driveway, and it's been replaced by a sleek, stylish buggy that I wouldn't object to too mightily if it happened to run me over.
Just to let everybody know, I'm going to be in freaking Mexico for the next several days, acting questionably while trying not to incite an international incident. I will most certainly not be updating Goulash during that time. I expect everyone to live through it.
Okay, Game 6 of the NBA Finals tonight and the Mavericks are a loss away from elimination. People of Miami, stay away from my house; I ask this for your own good. It took me a while to get wound up about the Finals, but now that I am, I am insanely gung-ho. In case you're wondering just how gung ho, I spent the afternoon driving around town, ripping up posters for the new Miami Vice movie. Then I fed-exed Dwayne Wade a jug of 8 year-old milk with a hand-painted label on it that read, "Basketball Medicine". I can't imagine how I'd react if I came face-to-face with an actual Miamite, but the next day, you might find a freshly-dug hole in my backyard and suspicious claw marks all over my face.
Since this could very well be my last chance to write about basketball for a few months, I feel like I really need to work the mojo tonight. I would never risk the a jinxing before such an important game, but I predict the following for tonight:
- Mark Cuban, who's been up for 48 straight hours sending death threats to David Stern via MySpace, stumbles his way to the arena before the game
- Cuban corners Dirk in the trainer's room and says, "Win or Stern's putting a bullet in my head!"
- Dirk, unable to handle the pressure, breaks down in uncontrollable sobs in front of his teammates
- Dirk then insists on spending the first half of the game alone in the locker room, listening to the Indigo Girls and eating Cherry Garcia ice cream
- Meanwhile, the rest of the team adopts the chant "Win one for the Euro Pansy".
- While outwardly excited, each player is a little conflicted at the thought of calling their star player a Euro Pansy
- The Heat take advantage, ringing up a 52 point first half lead
- When the team gets back to the locker room, Dirk meekly asks, "Does anyone have any more Cherry Garcia?"
- His teammates refuse to look at him.
- Avery Johnson, seeing his last chance to rally the team, tells Dirk, "Shaquille O'Neal stole it. He took it and then he said, 'They don't make ice cream like this in German! And their women are very homely.'"
- Dirk, overcome with fury, rips his jersey in two and throws a basketball through the wall.
- The second half begins and the Mavericks stage an improbable rally.
Will they win? I refuse to say. All I will say is that you don't touch another man's Cherry Garcia.
Today is Juneteenth, which celebrates the day that the Union army emancipated all of the slaves in Texas back in 1865. As the whitest man on the planet, it doesn't really affect my life too much; I don't attend any parties or have a special pair of Juneteenth suspenders that I wear. However, I think it's a cool holiday. If there's one day worth celebrating, I think this day's a good one; they could even rename it to "The Day that a Majority of the Population Stopped Being Complete and Total Bastards". No matter how controversial a stance this is, I am and will remain firmly in the anti-slavery camp. (Note: this only applies to one human enslaving another. I firmly support humanity's right to enslave animals, aliens, nature in general, robots, and most inanimate objects.)
Now, to my little Juneteenth anecdote. As I've established several hundred times, I live in Texas, and most of the time, I think our state gets a bad wrap. If your opinion were based solely on movies and television, you'd think we settle parking tickets with shoot-outs, wear earplugs to muffle the jangling of all of our spurs, and clad ourselves in rawhide ponchos in case we get sprayed by one of those frequent gushing oil wells. Of course, all of this is ridiculous; I'd only wear a leather poncho at the behest of an armed lunatic and only if he agreed not to photograph me. Another popular idea of Texas is that we're all racists. I don't want to believe this, but my fellow residents aren't doing us any favors.
Growing up, it didn't seem to me like the people of Texas were particularly racist. My immediate family was full of maniacs, and as a result, we were tolerant of all kinds of stuff. But other people weren't necessarily, and it's from this group that I learned about Juneteenth. I remember back many years ago, I was a little kid, listening to some adults talk. For whatever reason, the topic of Juneteenth came up. I still didn't know what it was. The adults were just jabbering back and forth about it, and I recall one woman there saying, "I remember when Juneteenth rolled around a couple of years ago. I was pregnant at the time. I worried that I'd go into labor on that day, and I prayed it wouldn't happen. I just couldn't handle having a child with a birthday on that date." And then she used some other, unsavory terms and the conversation shifted to another topic.
As I said, I had no idea what the holiday was. Based on what my esteemed elder said, I assumed it was some terrible day, and that perhaps dragons swooped down from the sky, bit old people in half, and spit their bones on the Constitution. Later that night, though, I asked around and found out what it actually was. The truth disturbed me. I already knew about slavery and everything, but it shocked me to learn that there were people around me, lots apparently, who construe a day like that as a negative, horrible thing, a day on which you'd be ashamed to have a child. Man. Maaaaaaan. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaan. Do what now? I felt like writing Chuck Norris a letter, asking him to move Walker, Texas Ranger to a less horrible state and please, if he could, take me with him.
As usual, I have no conclusion here. Texas is full of crazy people, just like any other state. Some of these crazy people bottle their urine and throw it at the trash man because they think he's the devil, while others hate people of different races. Just because there's no hurled urine involved, it doesn't make their beliefs any less crazy. Juneteenth, Goulash salutes you.
Have you noticed how I haven't been obsessing over the Mavericks, even though they're in the freaking NBA Finals? That's because recently, I started up a whole Zen Buddhist thing and my life is as smooth as wrinkle-free pantaloons. In fact, neighborhood ruffians regularly come up to me and start beating me in the head with folding chairs, and I don't even give a crap. It's because I'm zennin' it, big time.
Actually, I'm just a little disgusted by any sporting event that takes 2 months to decide. Can't they just have one big game with all of the teams playing at once? (Would there be multiple balls in play, you wonder. Yes, I'm willing to allow it.) Something that takes this long to decide is mere millimeters from being a tie in my book, the most un-American outcome possible. So, in case anyone is wondering why I'm not worked up over a big thing when I'm usually apoplectic over the barometric pressure, I guess it's because I'm protesting. Protesting for America, I'd like to add.
(Draining day of work today, this is all you get. Deal with it!)
Alright, I can't think of anything good to talk about here. How about a list of things that, as a child, I expected to accomplish by the age of 30, but seem unlikely now?
LIST OF THINGS THAT, AS A CHILD, I EXPECTED TO ACCOMPLISH BY THE AGE OF 30, BUT SEEM UNLIKELY NOW
by Cody Powell
1. Live on the moon. I still have total faith that I will one day live on the moon. Not only will I live there, but I will probably be King of the Moon. My plan for this is simple. When I first show up, I'll ask, "Who's in charge around here?" Some fellow or lady will answer, "I am." I'll grab a moon rock, throw it at their space helmet, and say, "Not anymore." Like I said, I expect all of this to still happen, just not by the age of 30.
2. Win a gold medal in the Dodecathlon (an event I'd create). This one is really in the IOC's hands. Maybe if they started responding to email proposals, I could start crossing some of this crap off.
3. Take a bullet for the President, not a fatal one or anything, more of a flesh wound. Maybe it was my choice of reading material, but I seem to remember reading a lot of books where the protagonist single-handedly foiled an assassination attempt on the commander-in-chief. In real life, does this ever happen? So, not only is the event I'm supposed to thwart exceedingly unlikely, but there's the fact that I'd be taking a bullet for George W. Bush. That's not going to happen, unless it's some sort of nerf gun.
4. Win the heavyweight boxing championship by pummeling a surly Russian into submission. First, the Russians aren't our enemies anymore, so this needs major reshaping; now I'd probably have to defeat a North Korean. However, not only am I nowhere near heavyweight status at 160 lbs, but I doubt many North Koreans are either. Those that are would certainly destroy me. But would any boxing organization sanction such a match?
5. Own a house with a moat. This is one that I've put some work into, and I'd actually stand a chance of succeeding if realtors started to advertise these things. When a moat-equipped place comes up for sale, I want an immediate email. Is that so hard to follow? The potential problem here is that, if you have a house with a moat, you're almost certainly rich and crazy, and the house itself must be large and expensive. Hopefully this person is so rich and crazy, they'd forget to ask for a check.
When the cab dropped me off in in Brooklyn, right in front of the hostel, I noticed something: the neighborhood was chock full of Hasidic Jews. I don't know how most people would interpret such an observation, but in my book, it's a great thing. First, it seems pretty unlikely that a gang of Hasidic Jews would mug me and set my pants on fire. Second, I'm a big fan of Judaica. For proof, I point to my local Half Price Books. In it, you'll find absolutely no Saul Bellow, Isaac Singer, or Woody Allen; I absconded with all of these works long ago. Third, it seems distinctly New Yorkish to stay in a hostel in a Hasidic neighborhood.
I thought all of this as I walked up the steps to the hostel, and a fourth thought even slipped in there. It was, "How could I ever have called this place the Hobo Dungeon? Boy, was I way off!" Five minutes later, after seeing the clientele and being shown to quasi prison-cell, I had changed my mind entirely. Hobo Dungeon? Yeah, that was pretty much a nail-on-the-head situation.
No matter how cool the neighborhood was, it didn't change the fact that the hostel itself was dirt cheap with incredibly little adult supervision. That's roughly equivalent to placing a blinking, neon sign on the roof that says, "CRAZED DERELICTS, WELCOME HOME." The way other hotels advertise their continental breakfast, this place basically advertised the guest's ability to poop the bed without getting into any trouble. Add to this the fact that the rooms were basically prison cells, maybe 6 by 6 by 6, with only a bed, a dresser, and a padlock for the door. If you're following at home, the elements add up like this: Hobo + Dungeon.
The great thing about it was, absolutely nothing dangerous happened to me while I was there. If anything, the people were actually pretty friendly towards me. I think that's because they took a look at me, Mr. White Bread, and concluded as a group, "That'd just be too easy." Or maybe they all thought I was some sort of communal hallucination; whatever it was, it worked. The only disturbing situation was on Sunday morning when I was getting ready to leave, and I was greeted in the bathroom by an obese, dripping, nude man, singing Steve Wonder and looking for a towel. Even that was more amusing than scary.
In the end, it was more of a Hobo Dungeon Summer Camp. Yes, the settings were correct, but I was never in any real danger. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures while I was there. Perhaps I was a little afraid that the flash would set the locals off. I did take a lot of other pictures, and you may view them right this-a way.
People of the Internet, I have returned. Contrary to popular opinion, New York did not chew me up and spit me out. It tried; at various points in the weekend, I thought I was mere seconds away from being mugged, bamboozled, assaulted in my sleep, and/or punched in the nose by a crazy Scottish lady. Did it stop me? Did I raise the white flag and crawl back to the Hobo Dungeon with my pacifier? Or did I box the city on its ears and say, "Listen, we've got a common enemy here: my American Express card. Let's see how many Rewards points we can wrack up before they send their death squad"? I will leave the answer for my bankruptcy proceedings.
I was only there for 48 hours, but I did an insane amount of crap. From CBGB's to Yankee Stadium, I rocked that city. I must credit the hostesses, Laura and my sister, for that, as they proved more than willing to haul my ass all over that city, showing me everything I had even the slightest interest in seeing. I'm not sure how they did it, but they even arranged a bona fide celebrity sighting. Ladies and gents, yours truly was a mere 50 feet away from MISS CARLY SIMON! My heart stopped then, and I don't think it's restarted since. You know what they say: you haven't truly lived until you've seen someone who may be Carly Simon enter a taxi cab from a great distance.
I tried to inject myself into some true New York situations while there. I haggled with a scalper in front of Yankee Stadium, bringing us a net savings of $20 on the tickets for Saturday's game. I got into an interesting conversation with some Hasidic Jews about their hats (the big furry one is called the Shtreimel). And finally, and most terrifyingly, I willfully spent two nights in the Hobo Dungeon. There, amongst the derelicts, I slept, brushed my teeth, and refused to shower; I was part and parcel of the Dungeon, more hobo than man. (Tomorrow, I'll have to do a whole post on the Dungeon. It was ... quite a scene.)
Forty eight hours later, I'm back. I'm sleeping in my bed, figuring out how to bathe myself again, and putting my wallet in my back pocket, just where it belongs. It was one heck of a trip. In the future, I plan to go back, and that time, I will try to find even more dungeonier lodgings.
A quick announcement: in case anyone needs me at 4 AM tomorrow, I'll be at the airport. This is a distinct departure from my usual 4 AM spots: my bed, the bathroom, or the flower bed of the neighbors' yard (I'm a sleep gardener). And then if anyone needs me for the next several hours after that, I'll be wedged in the corner of a plane, praying that the person next to me stops calling me Sugar and talking about her all-raisin diet. And then if anyone needs me when I land, I'll be crying in the backseat of a cab while a man from Cameroon berates me for not knowing the difference between Brooklyn and the Bronx. And then if anyone needs me after I get out of the cab, I'll be in New York City, kicking it at the Hobo Dungeon. Woooo!
I am excited about the trip. Part of this is because there's a lot to do in New York, and the other half is because I know that the Austin airport has a Cinnabon inside of it. A $5 cinnamon roll isn't such a good deal, but it's probably a steal where I'm headed. I intend to load up. Bag of peanuts on the plane? No thank you, I happened to pack 85,000 calories into my carry-on. Hot dog vendor in the city? I would normally, but I've got a pastry back at the Hobo Dungeon that's just waiting to be dug out of my underwear. (That's the single worst sentence ever written here.)
I'd like to elaborate further on that ingenius idea, but a certain basketball team is playing in a certain NBA Finals right abouts now. When I return, I will be a battle hardened, street savvy SOB. I will not, however, like falafel. I just don't get that stuff.
As part of my seat-of-the-pants tour of New York this weekend, I have purchased some Yankees tickets for Saturday's game against the A's. Yankee Stadium! I am excited about this. When I was little, my major goal in life was to visit every major league ballpark. Unfortunately, my family was unwilling to plan our vacation around the Milwaukee Brewers home schedule, and I never got past the Rangers' stadium. However, like some codeword that's lodged in my subconscious, which, when activated, transforms me into an assassin, this dream has stuck around the ol' Powell noggin.
Not only do I get to see the famous stadium, but I get to see some of my fantasy performers in action. When I say fantasy, I do not mean the baseball players about which I fantasize; if any fantasies of mine involve Robinson Cano, you have my permission to put me down. Instead, I mean the players that I, the world's worst fantasy sports player, drafted after a questionable amount of Robutussin and a lot of advice from Boj. Three of my guys are playing on Saturday, and I'm really hoping I can get them together for about 10 seconds. I don't need a lot of time with them, I just need enough to tell Frank Thomas to kill Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. Since those two gentlemen are apparently incapable of swinging a bat, I don't like their odds of defending themselves.
The one unfortunate aspect of all of this is that it resulted in my first New York screwgee. Due to my distate for planning and general organization, by the time I wanted tickets, they were already sold out. I had to resort to some scummy ticket broker. I don't want to reveal what I actually had to pay for tickets marked as $10 seats, but I will say that I pray for humanity's sake that these people never come to control the Polio vaccine.
Alright, people of New York City. It is my distinct pleasure to announce that I will be rocking your fair city this weekend. Right when I get in town, I'm going to lunch with Giuliani. After that, I'm taking batting practice with the Yankees. I should be free the rest of my time there, unless I'm pressed into emergency duty at the stock exchange.
Not being much of a world traveler, I've never ventured to those parts. And while I won't step foot for another 64 hours, I can already tell you my initial estimation: expensive. Here in the Red States, we have a little place known as Motel 6. In exchange for a door that locks and a toilet that flushes, you give them $50. I suspect that in New York, the Motel 6 rep must've been mauled at the airport by a crazed playwright or something: there is no place in that city to stay for a non-millionaire. Given the prices, I'm curious what these rooms are like; I imagine dolphins in the pool and bidets every 10 feet.
Needless to say, I'm not staying at one of those places. No, I'm staying at a place I like to call the Hobo Dungeon. From what I've read about it, it's a nice place. However, every time I think of the price, I think to myself, "Yep, definite Hobo Dungeon." It's a hostel, and I've never stayed at one of those (again, not a world traveler). I'm not really sure what it is. What separates hotel from hostel from homeless shelter? At hotels, they give you soap and at homeless shelters, lots of people pee the bed; tell me I get the best of both at this place.
So, New York this weekend, because I like to live by the seat of my pants. If anyone has any NYC experiences that I need to jump on, point it towards the comments and may the Lord have mercy on that poor city.
The Mavericks are in the NBA Finals. So the liberal media is telling me, at least. I don't know what to make of this, exactly. On the one hand, I support my team and everything, but at the same time, it's sort of like the plot from a sci-fi movie. Imagine this: Johnny is a reckless, rebellious teenager. Instead of doing his homework, he's playing those damn video games and riding around on his dirt bike. Then, one day, he becomes a model student; he's tucking in his shirt, he's saying 'Yes, sir', and he's leading a Bible study. Of course, one month later, aliens invade earth and we discover that... Johnny is their leader! Aggggggghhhh! In much the same way, in only a year, the Mavs turned from a group of no-defense headcases to a team of gutsy, battle-hardened, nasty SOBs. I, for one, am not buying it.
(An aside: I've been reading a lot of articles about their victory, and in almost every one, I've read how a certain player 'willed his team to victory.' In the list of sportswriting cliches, this has to be near the very top. Doesn't it seem to you that every single player on the court is trying pretty hard to win? The way these idiots write it, every single player except one is running around thinking to himself, "Man, I wish we would just forfeit so I could go back to my hotel room. Miss Congeniality 2 is on, and I've got a hankering for taco salad." Luckily there's that one guy a game who's actually trying to win; they should pay him extra.)
Now the Mavs play the Heat. According to ESPN, Dwayne Wade shoots lightning bolts out of his fingers, bounces them off the backboard, and slam dunks them. Good, I says, he's going to need it. There's not enough Wade magic, Pat Riley hair gel, or old, hobbled centers they can throw out there to slow down the alien team of destiny known as the Dallas Mavericks.
An acquaintance of mine died recently. I say acquaintance because we weren't exactly friends anymore; we weren't on a first name basis and I wouldn't have known how to contact him, but if we saw each other on the street, we'd be happy to catch up a while. He was a great guy, both smart and funny, and he was quite young. I don't know how he died, just that he died. Healthy, young men don't just keel over, so I've been making lots of wild assumptions and, in the process, getting myself very worked up over this nightmareish demise that I've concocted.
I'm not much on being a role model. I get along with kids, I think, because I never, ever try to impart any knowledge or wisdom. I go the other way entirely, and try to share with them as much blabbering stupidity as possible. I figure they're surrounded most of the time by adults trying to do the exact opposite, so they probably enjoy the change of pace. I really think this works. As I mention from time to time here, I'm involved in the Central Texas Big Brother Little Brother program and I get along smashingly with my Little Brother just because of this. Less talk about isosceles triangles, more talk about Family Guy and Dance Dance Revolution: this is the Powell Parenting Principle.
Like I said, the recent death of my friend troubled me. It troubled me enough that I began to wonder, "Should I temporarily eschew the Powell Parenting Principle to impart a lesson on the fragility of life?" I felt obligated to share this with my Little Brother, but I didn't know how. It's hard to transition from a let's-see-who-can-eat-the-most-cupcakes contest to a sober discussion on the finality of death. I brainstormed.
What if I "accidentally" ran over a squirrel while he was in the car, and then attempted to explain what happened to the squirrel?
What if I showed him that scene in Terminator 2 when they lower Arnold into the molten steel?
What if I took him to a taxidermist and showed him a stuffed perch?
All of these were bad ideas, and that's a shame because I had something to tell him. I wanted to say, "The world is chock-full of mysterious and fascinating things. Some of these things will interest you, and you'll want to experiment with them; everyone is curious and everyone does it. The thing is, there are boundaries. Whatever you do, you have to recognize that boundary and stop when you reach it. If you don't think you can do that, find someone who can and ask them to help."
I realize now that such a speech would give him carte blanche to go out and harrass prostitutes or chunk whiskey bottles at wild animals, as long as he took neither to a dangerous level. It is a good thing I didn't say any of that.
I hung out with the Little Brother yesterday, and I wanted, for one, to be wise. I looked for the opening, but I just couldn't find a spot in which I felt comfortable pontificating like that. I mean, X Men 3 offered some pretty weighty moral dilemmas of its own, he certainly didn't need me adding anything after that.
On the way home, I silently berated myself. There I was, with perhaps the one bit of adult wisdom I will ever come across, and I couldn't find the way to share it. As we approached his house, I decided that I'd just write it all down, tie it to a brick, and throw it through his window later that night. That ought to get his attention. Thankfully, before I could begin to put this plan into action, he started talking.
He said, "I like your car." Perhaps he had more to say than that, I'm not sure. I did know that maturity was tugging at my shirt sleeve, and I had to speak up.
Allowing my 25+ years of experience to guide me, I said, "Yeah, it's a good car. It's just a car, though. If someone stole it or I wrecked it, I could save more money and get another car. You can't do that with everything, though." I began to say, "You know, like a taco." Luckily, before I opened my mouth, I remembered that a taco WAS INDEED something you could replace. I immediately formulated a better example. "You know, your friends, your family, yourself. You can't buy those things."
True, it was the sound-bite version of what I wanted to say, but I was astonished I made it through without injecting any profanity or launched into a diatribe on Yoda. It was a rare moment of clarity, and I needed that to count. "Does that make sense?" I asked him. He nodded. In all likelihood, he was nodding to get me to shut up. I have no problems with that; roughly 11,000 more of these moments, and I may know what I'm talking about. Sometimes, you've got to give it a shot.