Tuesday, August 31, 2010

20 Years Later

Over the weekend, I attended my 20 year high school reunion. I'm not gonna once again ramble on about how fucking old I am. Instead, maybe I'll ramble on about how fucking old my peers looked.

Nah, I don't want to be mean.

Although, at the reunion, some of my former classmates looked like they'd eaten their former selves. And, some of the girls looked like they'd become Magda in Something About Mary (we did grow up in Miami, after all). And, some of the guys looked like they'd become their mothers (moobs and gunts and all). And, there were more hairless heads than at the NBA draft. And, there were more wrinkled eyes than in the gallery of before pictures at the top AARP-recommended botox clinic.

But as I said before, I don't want to be mean. So...

Even though we went to North Miami Beach High School, our reunion was held in Fort Lauderdale, a good half hour hour from our alma mater. NMB's neighborhood is now surrounded by rough Hatians and even rougher Hasidic Jews. Therefore, it was probably a good idea to move the locale. Unlike in the movies where reunions are held in the school's gym or cafeteria, ours was held at a hotel. It would have been a nicer hotel, but many of my classmates are cheap Jews (not rough Hasidic Jews, who probably would have sprung for a 5-star joint).

Most high school graduates have a twentieth reunion. Whether you attend or not is the question. Most of those that do attend seemingly don't have much to hide. They're the ones who have, or at least can pretend to have, good jobs, stable home lives, and no overtly apparent major flaws. The cross-dressers, the amputees, the psychopaths, and the criminals stay at home.

We've actually been out of high school longer than we were alive when we were in high school. Nostalgia abounded. All of sudden, it was the late eighties all over again.

It was a time before grunge, before Snoop Dogg, before Tarantino and The Big Lebowski, before Saved By The Bell and reality television. Before Milli Vanilli was disgraced. Before Frances Bean Cobain (now 18) and JonBenet Ramsey (dead, but would be 20) were born.

This was a time when NKOTB and Wilson Phillips ruled the charts. Paula Abdul wasn't crazy and Bret Michaels wasn't hemorrhaging in his brain. Mel Gibson wasn't racist. Doogie Howser wasn't gay. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't anything more than a muscle-headed immigrant. It was a time when sexting and spam didn't exist. It was a time when it wasn't a pain in the ass to get on an airplane.

Ah, the memories!

Believe it or not, I was kind of an asshole in high school. Not the jock/bully/douche kind of asshole. More the short, big-mouthed, wise-ass kind of asshole. Everyone expected I would revert back to my old ways. I did.

I purposely mispronounced the names of people I've known my whole life. I stole drink tickets from the tables of people who were dancing. I taunted the class retard. I gave people nicknames based on their newfound foibles (Horseshoe Head for one of my follically-challenged buddies, Limpy McLimperson for another kid who developed Human Hip Dysplasia).

I referred to several duos of nerdy girls that stuck together tightly as "our Romy and Michelle". I walked up to other girls who were obviously not pregnant, patted their bellies, and said, "Congratulations!". I made lots of senior citizen jokes. And I occasionally threw in a racist joke or two. I was sort of like Tracy Jordan would be at his reunion, especially when I took off my shirt and sang Funky Cold Medina on the stage.

At our tenth reunion, one of my friends pissed me off. To get back at him, I told everyone he's a transitioning pre-op transexual (he's not). He punched me. This time, he didn't go (probably because of me). Subsequently, I told everyone he was in prison after being busted on To Catch a Predator (he wasn't). Best part - he couldn't punch me.

All the married girls were so proud of their hyphenated names and their kids. When I told them I was divorced, I got that look, like I had cancer. So, I texted the random girl that I picked up at a random bar the night before and had her come meet me. When she arrived, I gave her a name tag emblazoned with "CoCo Gellman" and introduced her as my wife. Believe me, she was so much more well-behaved than my ex-wife would have been.

Later, I motorboated a female classmate who somehow still had some wonderfully luscious breasts. She let me motborboat her because we had a bond, like siblings (not that I would motorboat my sister). That bond was noticeable throughout the reunion with all my former classmates.

The thing is, at our tenth, we were still young, we hadn't lived, we hadn't yet been broken. This time, we had the break-ups and the illnesses and the addictions and the tragedies under our belts. We earned our wrinkles and our gray hairs and that brought us together. Overall, everyone was a helluva lot nicer and less annoying than I'd remembered them being. It was so unlike high school.

Plus, I live in this crunchy cow town at the foot of the Rockies. Culturally, it's as far from the East Coast (yes, Miami is East Coast) as you can get. As much as I like my fellow Denverites, they're not my people, my tribe. While I would never move back to South Florida, specifically because of the people, I enjoy being around those people once or twice in 7300 days. We relate in an unspoken manner that I don't have in Colorado.

Also, I've been spending so much time with young girls lately that it was nice to be around people that actually understand the cultural significance of Small Wonder and Private Resort. It was comforting to be around people that actually understand the difficulties of chronic back pain, deteriorating muscle mass, and increasing cholesterol levels.

In other words, it was a pleasurable experience.

The 20 year high school reunion is one of the few remaining touchstones in our short lives. Nobody goes to the 30th or 40th. And at the 50th, we'll really be old and look really shitty or, like me, we'll be dead. So, if you have the opportunity to go to your 20th, I'd highly recommend it, especially if you don't have any flaws that would make you the butt of the jokes of that short, big-mouthed, wise-ass asshole that went to your school.

Monday, August 23, 2010


As a Jew, I grew up fearing Germans, Germany, German Chocolate Cake, and Germs. Yes, the Germans were responsible for nearly destroying my race. That was a long time ago, though. One would assume that nearly 70 years later, these racist killers had changed their ways. Not me. I've always had the notion that Germany is still filled with Nazis that hate me because it says in some antiquated book that my people were chosen.

It's like the inverse of that scene in the beginning of Inglourious Basterds, where Colonel Hans Landa explains his disdain for Jews by comparing them to rats. I never saw a German kill a Jew, but still, I feared them. To overcome this festering fear, I decided to visit Germany.

Boarding my flight to Frankfurt, I hoped that when I landed, I wouldn't end up in a gas chamber. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once in Frankfurt, my first stop, of course, was at a hot dog stand, where I ordered a frankfurter. The vendor, who strangely didn't have a toothbrush mustache, explained that in modern-day Germany, it is a crime to deny the Holocaust or speak negatively about Jews. Also, contemporary Germans see the Holocaust as an embarrassing blight on their collective history, much like white Americans see slavery. Subsequently, my meat dispensing friend continued, Germans go out of their way to be extra nice to Jews. Wow - talk about shattering preconceived notions!

Reluctantly relieved, I removed from around my neck the crucifix I had put on before leaving the U.S. so I could deny my Hebraic background if things got extra heated. Then, I headed to my hotel. I expected it to look like Auschwitz or Dachau. Actually, it looked like a Ramada. And there were no genetic experiments going on there. They even had food. I was pleased.

The next couple of days were spent roaming the streets of Frankfurt meeting the locals. It seemed that the hot dog vendor was right. I was treated like gold. The only words I knew in German were "mein" and "kampf". That was OK, my hosts spoke English. When they asked why I was in Frankfurt, I answered, "I wanted to see where my ancestors were brutally murdered." They responded matter-of-factly without an iota of sarcasm, "Yes, many Jews come for the very same reason. I hope you find what you're looking for." It was almost as if they thought I was going to rat them out for their deep seated anti-semitism. I liked that!

The bars of Frankfurt were fantastic. They had Manischevitz on tap and Gefilte Fish Martinis. For Jews, the first shot was free. The German ladies loved me. I was like an African-American football star in a Southern redneck town. I had my pick of "white" girls. On the off chance that I was rejected, all I had to do was loudly scream, "Genocide!" and she would quickly succumb to my advances.

I was digging this new Germany, where SS now stands for Surprisingly Sweet.

Next stop was Hamburg, a delightful sea-side town that once played host to the Beatles and was also home to numerous ravenous Jew haters. Not anymore - The Fab Four and the Nazi sympathizers were nowhere to be found. Y'now what was to be found? Hamburgers! I must say, they were every bit as delicious as I had hoped.

My home base was in The Reeperbahn, Hamburg's red light district. It was clear that they too had made some changes to accommodate the recent influx of Hebes. The strip bars and fetish clubs had special Jewish sections, with hairy, big-nosed, chubby women that whine instead of moan. Ecstasy! They even had a discount whore house, called Geizhals which, translated to English, literally means The Miser.

Elsewhere in Hamburg, I visited Miniatur Wunderland, the finest miniature museum in all of Hamburg. If you can believe it, they had miniature temples and miniature bagel shops in the miniature towns, and not a swastika in sight. On the U-Bahn, I got off at an area called Schlump, which is the plum capital of Hamburg. Serendipitously, they happened to be holding the Annual Schlump Parade of Plums AND I was made grand marshal!!

Before leaving Hamburg, I had a few drinks at Meyer Lansky's Bar, named after the second most famous Jewish-American mobster, who also happened to be the prototype for Hyman Roth in The Godfather. They don't even have a bar named after Meyer in New York or Miami, where the guy actually lived.

Germany just kept getting better.

Next stop was Berlin. Sadly, I couldn't find a food named after the city. The official foods of Berlin are Currywurst and Doner. I didn't care for either, but I did like saying doner because it rhymed with boner. Luckily, the markets were filled with Jew-friendly foods like whitefish and lox. They even had pork-free schnitzel and challah pretzels.

Berlin was welcoming. I could wear what I wanted. No need for a yellow Star of David on my shirt. At The Berlin Wall, I davened in plain sight and nobody shot at me. There was a tattoo parlor in Alexanderplatz, where they etched pictures instead of numbers. There was a tallis store in Potsdamer Platz. At night, I partied in a bombed out building called Kunsthaus Tacheles, which was now an art complex/nightclub. By instinct, I felt the need to hide in the attic. Instead, I danced like a Sprocket. Later, I got up on the stage and sang the Hora. Who was gonna tell me not to?

The more I became acclimated, the more I realized that the pro-semitism in Germany was for real. The only time I heard a negative comment about a Jew was when I, myself, made fun of a nebby Hasid for wearing a yarmulke at a bar. I actually got yelled at...by a German!

The only Germans that didn't kiss my ass were the German Jews. My grandmother had always told me that German Jews looked down upon Russian Jews because they thought they were trashy. I am kind of trashy. And, I did make fun of them for wearing yarmulkes at bars.

Sadly, my trip came to an end. I didn't want to go home. Why would I? In America, I get no special treatment whatsoever for being a Yid. Overall, I more than accomplished my goal of overcoming my fear of Germans.

I assume some people will be offended by my liberal use of Holocaust references in this piece. That's not my intention. What the Germans did during World War II was horrible. If 10 million of my people hadn't been killed back then, our world would be a much better place. We'd have more lawyers and doctors and entertainers. Plus, I'd have an easier time finding a Jewess to bear my children in Denver.

I'm definitely not trying to make light of what was truly a tragedy. All that Nazi bullshit did happen a long time ago though. Germans are really nice now. Who cares if they're forced to be? Forced niceness is a real luxury. The Jews never really got reparations for The Holocaust. Our reparations can be the wonderful times we'll have visiting the country that almost caused our demise. Guten tag!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Behold the Old

My peers, the men that were born in the early part of the 1970's - what the fuck happened to us? How did we get so goddamn old? Wasn't it just yesterday when we were snot-nosed pre-teens shooting the bird at the establishment? Now, we're hairy-nosed pre-geriatrics kissing ass to the establishment.

Wasn't it just yesterday when a bright future awaited us and optimism boiled in our blood? Now, we're regretting the choices we've made and hoping nothing negative (or positive) shows up in our blood.

As of today, I've been alive for 3.852 decades (yes, I've done the math, and I do it everyday). If I'm lucky (or unlucky, depending upon how you look at it), my life is half over. The saddest part about that is that for the rest my life, I'm gonna be old.

Our idols when we were kids, guys like Jimmy Page and Reggie Jackson and Jack Nicholson and O.J. Simpson, were the age we are now back then. Now, they're really fucking old. Roger Daltrey, the man who sang (and still sings), "I hope I die before I get old" is 67 and looks like Diane Keaton. He's so old, he's in nobody's generation.

We're at the age where we're beginning to be considered by Chelsea Handler-loving, Eat Pray Love-seeing ladies as "manthers or "men of a certain age". I don't deny that. Shit, I have grey pubic hair. I actually have pubic hair which, from what I understand, is a faux-pas in these manscaping times.

The women (and I use that term loosely) that I see at the bars these days were born three years after I became sexually active, which means that I technically could be their father. Most of them are creeped out by my antediluvian presence. The ones that somehow aren't pursue me either as a way of dealing with unresolved daddy issues or as an experiment, like college lesbianism. They don't have pubic hair. No women have pubic hair anymore, which is sad because, like Hank Moody, I think "an abundance of pubic hair" is nice.

I'm too old to join the armed forces (Bill Murray was supposed to be 27 in Stripes). I'm older than Shaq and almost as old as Brett Favre, two of the oldest players in sports (not including golf, which isn't really a sport). I'm not gonna harp on either of these issues though because as a diminutive Jew, there was no way I was gonna join the Marines or play for the Yankees anyway.

My joints hurt. My hangovers are brutal. I have wrinkles on top of wrinkles on top of veins. I'm tired. My libido is waning. I no longer have stamina. I get out of breath in the missionary position. I'm at the beginning of the male decline.

As much as I complain about being old, at least I'm not old AND female. While men of a certain age are described as "distinguished" or "worldly" or "Clooney-esque", women of a certain age are branded with descriptors such as "pre-menopausal" or "rode hard and put away wet" or "Aniston-esque".

If they're single, they're stuck going the cougar route, pursuing young men who are only banging them so they'll have a story to tell their fellow valet parkers. Otherwise, they're going after men that are way older than them (Daltrey-aged) because, like myself, any self-respecting man who hasn't yet hit his forties would never date a woman his age. Why? Because after their early-thirties, they're done. Just look at Kim Deal or Kim Gordon (or anyone named Kim for that matter).

If they're not single, they're maternal and frumpy and are suffering through shitty marriages with shitty kids. For them, it's probably better than being single for though.

I'm sorry to point out the sad but obvious truths of aging. However, we must get used to it because we're gonna be old for a long, long time (unless we're spared by an act of divine intervention). Let's make the best of it. No, let's not botox or dye or manscape. Let's not wear "hip" clothing that makes us look like we're desperate to fit in with kids who wouldn't have liked us even when we were their age. Let's not DJ or listen to techno or become a Juggalo. Let's evolve.

Let's become The Most Interesting Man in The World (or at least Anthony Bourdain). Let's become Alec Baldwin (not Stephen Baldwin). Let's put the past behind us and come to terms with the fact that our best days are long gone. Let's try to use what little youth we have left to better the Autumn of our years. Or, we could just be bitter. Isn't that what old men do?