Tag Archives: humor

Memoir: Roller Skating

I love to watch Gene Kelly dance. He’s so smooth, so confident on his feet. When I saw this video I was totally amazed, especially considering my own experiences on roller skates. How could anybody tap dance (at the 2:18 mark) on four little wheels?

My father met my mother at a roller rink, so I was excited about a date with Beth, a girl I’d just met. She and I were talking and she asked if I liked to roller skate.

“I’ve been on roller skates just once in my life when I was about twelve. Fell off them, slammed my shoulder into the sidewalk. Hurt so bad I never dared get on them again.”

“Too bad,” she said puckering her lips in a way that seemed to say she was sorry I got hurt, but that I wasn’t the kind of guy she could be interested in.

“I take it you skate a lot.”

“A couple times every week, maybe more.”

“Do you think maybe you could teach me to skate?”

“That would be fun,” she said and the smile on my face told me it was worth the taking a chance

“Maybe tomorrow?” I asked.

“About six,” she said nodding her head. “We could get something to eat, then I’ll teach you how to skate.”

I thought because we were going to go roller skating for our first date it had to be a sign from the universe that this girl was the one I’d been waiting for. I thought I was in love.

When I picked her up the next day I thought she looked more beautiful than she ever had before. Of course, I’d think that. Doesn’t every guy who thinks he’s in love think the girl is always more beautiful than she was the day before?

Since it was a Saturday night, the restaurant was crowded and the skating rink was crowded. At least the food was good and we talked. I think we could have spent the rest of our date at the restaurant, but she loved to skate and wanted me to like it, too. If I’d known what was going to happen, I’d have tried to talk her into having a desert and use that to keep us away from the skating rink.

When we got there I was immediately intimidated because there were so many people there, going around and around, obviously knowing what they  were doing. Most of them were skating in a counter-clockwise circle. Some were skating backwards. Some were doing spins and twirls. Others seemed to be dancing to the music. I thought if I was lucky I might be dancing with Beth before the night was over. As I laced up my rented skates I thought I might see someone who looked like he didn’t know what he was doing. I didn’t want to be the only one. A few people wobbled here and there and some looked a little unsure of themselves, but no one looked like they were in the midst of a disaster. I would soon to be the only one.

I carefully shuffled out onto the rink, holding onto anything that seemed to be solid – mostly the benches and walls. Beth held my arm and guided me toward the middle of the rink. I don’t think I’d been out there more than twenty seconds before my skates moved faster than I did and I crashed. Beth helped me up and I fell again and again and again. Every time I managed to shuffle a few feet she tried to encourage me by telling me I was doing really well.

After I fell for the eighth or ninth time she said, “Wait here.” as she skated away she turned back toward me and said, “I’ll be right back,”

The ice was old. My hands and knees were wet and I was starting to shiver. I decided I was going to get up on my feet and try to move a little on my own. I thought she’d be very proud of me if she returned to find me back on my feet. That as my plan. I probably fell another half dozen times before I managed to get back on my feet. I stood there with both hands on my knees.

Maybe I was up about ten seconds before I thought I might try to move. It was a good thought, but I never got a chance to act on it because someone slammed into me, knocking me to the ground. I was face down on the ice. Someone was standing over me, laughing. “Here let me help you,” the laughing voice said. Someone grabbed my arm and started pulling me up. I could see it was a boy, about eleven or twelve.

“Thank you,” I said, but just as I managed to get one foot under me he shoved me, spinning me away. Again I was on my face. Again he was laughing. I tried to get up again, maneuvering myself into a half sitting, half lying down position when he skated around me and shoved me again.

That was it. I was finished. It was bad enough not being able to stay on my feet, but I was not going to be embarrassed by a ten-year-old kid. As I crawled toward the wall he pushed me again. Then skated off. I think he saw Beth returning. She was carrying some kind of support thing.

“Here,” she said, “This should help.”

“Thanks, but I’m done. I’m not going to skate anymore. I’ll just sit there and watch,” I said pointing to the small cafeteria I was slide crawling toward.

I told her about the kid. She wanted me to point him out so she could ask the management to tell him to leave, but I’d never gotten a look at much more than his feet and in roller skates, they all looked about alike. She thought it might be good for me to rest a little before I tried again. I rested, but I never tried again. It was embarrassing enough to be falling every minute or so, but to have a ten-year-old kid relish in my embarrassment was too much for me.

Beth and I dated for almost a year and she still skated a couple times every week. Sometimes I watched. She was really quite good, but I never put roller skates on my feet again. That’s probably too bad. I like to dance. Maybe I could have gotten good enough to tap dance, a little.

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Bloopers: Radio and Others

This blooper video brought back memories of terror, embarrassment, and laughter. Having worked off and on for more than 20 years in broadcasting, mostly as a radio announcer and newsperson, I’m well aware of how embarrassingly funny a blooper can be, especially when an audience gets to enjoy them.

Watching this you might wonder how these people could possibly mess up a simple six-word phrase not once, but about a dozen times. What, are these people idiots? Nope… but this sort of thing even happens to professionals, that’s why we enjoy blooper outtakes so much. It happens because when a person is not talking in a way they would normally be talking or because they are concerned about something other than the words they are saying, such as the way they look, the way they are pronouncing the word, or the way they are saying a word or phrase.

I lost my first radio announcing job (at WBYS in Canton, IL) because of a blooper, not mine, even though I did make a few that could have gotten me fired had they either been recorded or heard by anyone in management. I mispronounced names or people, places, and things. I stumbled over various words and phrases. Once I thought I’d turned off my mike, but hadn’t and treated the audience to my side of a phone conversation while a record was playing. A couple times I said s**t on the air. Another time, knowing my microphone was off, but not realizing the phone line was not, I called a listener an a**h**e on the air. Perhaps the worst was when I misread the word duck.

 

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Magnetic Tape Cartridges (Carts)

At that time commercials were recorded on tape cartridges similar plastic 8-track tape cartridges that in radio jargon were called, Carts. We put a Cart into a recorder, read or produced our commercial, and put a label on the Cart to identify it. If we made a mistake we removed the Cart from the recorder, put in a new one and started over. We continued this process until we had a broadcast worthy commercial.

 

One of my jobs was to erase the Carts. In the production room, the small studio where commercials, promos, and other pre-recorded announcements were made, there were three cardboard boxes where all the mistakes were dumped. I had to run each cart over a magnetic eraser and put the Carts back in the rack according to size ( 30, 60, or 90 second or 2, 3, 5, 10, or 30 minutes long). It was a boring, tedious job.

 

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Magnetic Tape Bulk Eraser

One day, after I’d been doing it for a few months I noticed that one of the newsmen had ‘dirtied’ more than 50 Carts. I thought it would be funny if I acknowledged his accomplishment, so I printed a small banner announcing the winner of the “Who Dirtied the Most Carts Contest.” Everyone thought it was funny, including the newsman so I decided to continue it, even giving myself the award a couple times. Giving the award made the task of cleaning the Carts even more tedious because it added a couple steps to the process. Instead of just removing the label, erasing the cart, and putting the cleaned cart back into one of the racks I now had to first listen to the Cart, then put a tick mark next to the culprit’s name before I erased it.

 

When I was fired a couple months after starting the “Who Dirtied the Most Carts” contest, I was told I had not been getting the job done. Two for instances were given: I rarely wrote more than three news stories and usually, only two every night, whereas the person who’d been doing the job previously always turned in at least three. Second, I spent about twice as much time as my predecessor cleaning the Carts. Both accusations were true. In my defense, I was a one-finger typist, and I was too young to know that my joke was funny once or twice, but not every day.

The truth is the real reason I was fired was not because I didn’t write enough news or because I spent too much time completing a monotonous task, but because three days before I was fired I gave the award to the radio station owner. Maybe that was a mistake. Apparently, he didn’t have as much of a sense of humor as I thought he did.

 

A Chicago Winter Prayer

Since there isn’t much going on in the world of sports or Chicago that I want to write about, I thought I’d turn to something funny.

I could write something about the Blackhawks or Bulls, like maybe about how Derek Rose seems to have turned a corner and is getting back to being the basketball player he was a couple years ago, but you know that already.

I could write about how the Blackhawks are the Chicago team most likely to win a championship this year, but you already knew that too.

I could write about Chicago style pizza, but I’m simply not that hungry right now. SoooooWinter Weather NY

The Chicago Bears Walter Payton Had a Great Sense of Humor

If I had a little money to spare I’d buy this film reel lithographed print of Walter Payton pulling down Matt Suhey’s shorts.

I’ve always thought it was one of the funniest sport pictures I’ve ever seen Walter Payton having some fun with Matt Suheypartly because it’s just funny (I’ve always wondered what happened to Suhey’s shorts when the ball was snapped) and partly because it makes Walter Payton more human.

Mike Ditka called Payton the best overall football player to ever play the game. The argument will go on forever about whether he was the greatest running back, mostly because he sits behind Emmit Smith, second in all-time rushing yards with 16,726. He still holds the records for consecutive starts in a regular season by a running back (170), most games in a career with 100 or more rushing yards (77), and most all-purpose yards in a career (21,803), and the most touchdown passes by a non-quarterback (8).

No matter how hard he played the game, no matter how hard he trained, Payton liked to have fun. Sometimes in practice he would stop in the middle of a play to dance with one of the linebackers. At least once, while lying at the bottom of a pile-up he reached out to untie an officials shoes.

In 1987 I was living in Cary, IL, a little town northwest of South Barrington where Payton lived. I was driving home from a Bears game when I saw a car coming flying up behind me. I moved to the right hand lane to let the ‘crazy driver’ go past in his Porsche, but as he went by I managed to look into the car. The driver looked like Payton, but I doubted that because the game had just ended less than hour before. I wouldn’t have been so doubtful if I had known then that Payton loved fast cars and that he was pulled over more than 50 times for speeding in Chicago). Nevertheless, I knew the driver was Payton when I watched the car speed down the highway and exit at Barrington road. That was about as close as I ever got to him.

#football #WalterPayton #ChicagoBears

Don’t Swing at a 3 – 0 Pitch

baseball- 3-0Baseball season, my second favorite season is about to begin. Of course we have to get through college basketball’s March Madness, the NBA and NHL finals before baseball becomes THE sport, the one being talked about more than most others. Nonetheless, for me there are two sports that I follow year round: Football and Baseball.

That being said, it’s just about time to step up to the plate and to remember not to swing at a  3 – 0 pitch.