January 21, 2005

January 2005 (Vol. 4, Issue 1)

Welcome back to Truckin'! The first issue of 2005 features two new writers. Bob Respert talks about his recent high school reunion. Novice shares a touching short story called Comfort Food. We have some regulars returing with stories. Sigge and BG are gracing us with their writing ability by contributing a couple of gems. And lastly, I start us off with a Las Vegas story inspired from my December trip. Sit back, enjoy, and please spread the good word about this site. Be sweet, McG.

1. Sunday Morning in December by Tenzin McGrupp
I sheepishly answered another wake up call minutes after I had finally fallen asleep. I could have sworn that the maids were popping into the room for a "bed check" and were stealing $100 bills out of my pants pocket while I was passed out....More

2. Reunion by Bob Respert
So when you were at a random party a year or two down the road, you had to determine if they looked familiar because you walked by them 600 times, or because you actually knew them, had a study group with them, or had sex with their sister....More

3. 6-3-8 by BG
My old man used to say that running the race on the reel to reel in his head to divine the winning combination was as “complex as calculus computations with a Cracker-Jack code key” and I know he wasn’t kidding when he tried in all his efforts to partner our long afternoons in my youth at the track... More

4. Comfort Food by Novice
It is 2 AM, and I am awake. My stomach becomes cranky in the wee hours, and for some God-Only-Knows-Why reason it craves peanut butter... More

5. Shooting the Moon by Sigge S. Amdal
I have reasons to believe that the sperm that eventually impregnated my mother and caused me upon the world, the little pre-me, did not win "the competition" by regular means....More

What A Long Strange Trip Its Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

It's a new year and another new issue. I never exected to still be publishing Truckin' in 2005! And here we are still running strong without any lawsuits or death threats. I am very happy to add Bob and Novice to the long roster of bloggers/writers. I hope they can pen some more stories for future issues.

Thanks to everyone who shared their bloodwork this month. I always say that the other contributing authors inspire me, because it's true. You guys write for free and if I could pay you, I would. Your time and effort is worth a million dollars.

I ask the readers that if you like these stories, then please do me and the rest of the writers a huge favor. Tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along the URL or the monthly e-mail. I certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks again. I am grateful that you wasted your time with my site. Until next time.


"Happiness is a Dry Martini." - Johnny Carson

Sunday Morning in December

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004

Las Vegas, NV... The phone was ringing. I sheepishly answered another wake up call minutes after I had finally fallen asleep. I could have sworn that the maids were popping into the room for a "bed check" and were stealing $100 bills out of my pants pocket while I was passed out. Or maybe that was just a dream? I was greeted by a minor migraine headache, the kind that you get the morning of day three of a week long a bender, the type that never goes away no matter how many painkillers you pop or no matter how many drinks you consume to drown it out. You just have to gut it out and pray that it doesn't get any worse. Derek was much slower to get up and moving. So was I, for that matter. I had an extra few minutes to write before my shower. Short on time, we skipped a sitdown breakfast and grabbed something quick from the food court.

I remembered that Iggy wanted me to put $100 on the Bengals for him at the sports book. Since we were cutting it close on time with kickoff a few minutes away, I made the bet at Excalibur then took the tram to Mandalay Bay. When we arrived at the sports book, the spread was an extra point in Iggy's favor. Ouch. For bettors that's a huge difference. I ran up and put another bet on the Bengals for myself and got it in just a few seconds before kickoff I had them at 10.5 and 11.5 and was praying that they would not get blown out. Let's be honest. It's not that I had faith in the Bengals. On the contrary, I had been picking New England consistently all season and that was the first and only time I bet against them in 2004. And why? Because Iggy did it. Yep, I'll adapt that old expression my Mom used to scream at me as a small child... because if Iggy jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, I would too. The lowly Bengals were my Brooklyn Bridge. And I had taken the leap of faith with Iggy.

When Derek and I arrived at the Mandalay Bay sports book, both BG, Daddy, and Bob had already snagged a table. They have these really cool marble tables with comfy chairs twenty feet from the bar. We sat down and I scanned the Daily Racing Form. BG and Bob had been placing bets all morning. BG suggested a horse with the name Miami in it... a long shot at 30-1. I wandered up to the window to place my bet, and sure enough, the horse was scratched. Not a good sign. I called Miami to tell her that she was already jinxing my day.

Within a few minutes, we had a full crew soon after AlCantHang arrived and we were cracking jokes with our scantly clad waitress. She was cute as a Georgia peach and had the slow drawl to match. My notes have me knocking back shots of SoCo with ACH at the bar around 10:08am PCT. Gotta love being on the west coast for football season. Games start at 10am. I was giddy by 11am, drunk by noon, and shitfaced by 1pm. I can thank ACH for that. Derek was wicked wasted. He was audibly slurring his speech and speaking with a three second delay. I picked up some chicken fingers from the cafe to help sober him up.

Soon after Iggy wandered over with EvaCanHang. She had been up all night playing slots with Grubby. Iggy found a small piece of paper in his pocket that I had given him the night before at the poker room. It said:

Mandalay Bay sports book - Sun. @ 10am.

As soon as he discovered the note, he rushed over. I gave him his ticket for the Bengals and we just sat back and waited.

The game wasn't close in the first quarter. New England had gotten off to a quick start and the Bengals fought to hang in there. At some point they lost their starting QB to an injury and I quickly accepted defeat. Out of nowhere, they faked a punt and scored a TD. That made the game closer than anyone imagined. The Pats ended up winning, but they didn't cover. A slew of us had bet on the Bengals, and we were all winners.

EvaCanHang was at the tail end of a 36 -hour bender and she had quietly passed out in one of the chairs. I made up a Do Not Disturb sign and gently placed it on her. She slept through all the loud drunken chatter, even through the raucous chanting of the San Diego Chargers fight song.

EvaCanHang came to and decided it was time for her to crash. She got up said her good-byes. Before she walked out of the sports book she mentioned, "Don't buy any more shots Al. They're too expensive."

As soon as she walked away, AlCantHang stood up and announced to the entire sports book, "Who wants a shot?"

I went with him to the bar to help carry the multiple SoCo shots back over to the table. The bartender mentioned that his tab was somewhere near $177 for the 2.5 hour bender.
  • 15 Southern Comfort
  • 1 Soft drink
  • 4 Coronas
  • 5 JJ Irish
  • 3 Jagermeister
  • 2 Bud Lights
  • 1 Vodka rail
  • 1 Absolute Citron
  • 1 Budweiser
  • 1 Miller Lite
"Only $177? Holy shit!" screamed AlCantHang, "I thought it was $300!"

When we all had our drinks I offered up a toast for AlCantHang. He quickly interrupted and said that we should all toast for me.

"To McGrupp!" he said as our entire group hoisted their drinks and shots. At the same time, there was a huge play on the big screen, an interception, and the entire sports book cheered in jubilation just as the bloggers were toasting me. That was an awesome feeling, to hear "To McGrupp!" followed by a thunderous applause from the entire sports book.

I realized that the majority of my drinking with AlCantHang all happened within the hours of 9am and 5pm. I wonder if that qualifies as a full time job? At the least, it gets a mentioning on my resume.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.


By Bob Respert © 2004

In preparation for heading out to my ten year high school reunion, some of my friends and I got together for food and drinks. I was concentrating on the drink portion of the meeting.

I have a HUGE problem with remembering peoples names. I actually dread going certain places when I'm back in town because you can count on bumping into somebody. So I wanted a nice headstart on the booze.

Sometimes, I just can't tell the difference between people I recognize as being from my hometown, and people I actually know from my hometown. I had the same problem in college because you'd see the same people in your business classes over and over, so when you were at a random party a year or two down the road, you had to determine if they looked familiar because you walked by them 600 times, or because you actually knew them, had a study group with them, or had sex with their sister.

Of course the chances of the last scenario being the one is slim to none.

Anywho, with a few drinks in the stomach, we head out to the reunion. The first person I see is a guy named Ivan. We always joked about Ivan because he was that guy who used Fuck, Fucking, and Fuckin as much as Paris Hilton say's "That's hot."

A normal sentence from Ivan would go something like,

"Fuckin Bob! Man, I was just fucking talking about you and fuckin...man, what was his fucking name...that guy with the fucking brother in the army....Fuck!"

So I walk in the door, and he drops two F-bombs in the first sentence he delivers. Ahh, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We walk up to the desk to get our name badges, and I immediately bump into someone whose name I can't recall. Of course, to be hip, she and half of everyone else has their name tags in hard to read locations.

"Hey Bob!"

"Heyyyy, buddy!"

So I get through that without anyone noticing, and I make a break for my friend Andrea's side. We get in a conversation with some people I know, but one person I only recognize. Thus begins the phrase I mutter many times in the evening as I make an obvious attempt to read nametags.

"Sorry man, seeing everyone for the first time in ten years has my brain on sensory overload."

It seemed to be working alright.

Now there are only a few things you could do to make a reunion awkward for somebody, and one of those is to walk up and start right in on stories with somebody you were never really close with. You gotta ease into it, maybe they (me) are having trouble remembering your name.

So within 15 minutes of being in the building, a dude who looks a lot like Jack Osborne walks into the group of us talking and starts right in on me.

"Man, I thought that was you."

Then, looking at the girl next to me, he begins to regale her with stories about being my suite-mate in college, and how it was such great times. He was being pretty generic about it, and I didn't recognize him one bit. I thought he was just fucking around, cause he looked like the kind of guy with a quirky enough personality to do just that.

I actually said that I didn't recognize him, rather than pulling the "Oh yeah, how ya doin man, it's been a long time" crap.

I would have bet money he was bullshittin? me, and then he begins to tell me about the suite-mate that I do remember, and before you know it, I'm 100% certain that I shared a bathroom with this guy for at least one semester in college, and I still don't recognize the guy at all. In fact, I don't remember the other guy even having a suitemate.

To make the situation even more ridiculous, he didn't even go to my high school. He married a girl that was in my class. She was the one that I was greeted by at the desk where I couldn't remember her name.

I figured it to be a long night.

Everybody was married, mostly to goofy looking bastards. As I saw person after person from my past, I had a certain feeling that I was having trouble describing. It wasn't until I saw this guy who was still rocking the same pony tail from high school that it hit me.

It was like the scene from Old School were Luke Wilson's character is drunk and giving his best man speech. He looks into the crowd and with sincere giddiness he says something to the extent of

"I haven't seen your dad in like, ten years, that's awesome. Congratulations!"

I kept looking over at people thinking,

"Hey, he's still got the same ponytail. That's awesome!"


"Wow, so that's why Meijers is always out of Twinkies!"

It really ended up being nice to see a bunch of old faces from the past, though. I was amazed that certain people didn't change at all, but then again, I don't think I changed all that much.

Seeing that guy who was still rocking the same ponytail though, that made my night.

That was awesome. If you're reading this, congratulations on that.

Bob Respert is a pharmaceutical salesman from Michigan.


By BG © 2004

I walk with an uncertainty, except at the track, where the templates of coiled tension in gait are personified in the jocks – little men to be certain, but sinewy and aggressive in their stance, in their stride, carrying a bravado that is often as much machismo as it is the understanding that on every day and on every mount they ride straddling the bounds of daring and mortality to urge these behemoth beasts from which they might easily be thrown into a plaster cast, maybe traction, even a casket.

I watch the jocks all cool and Napoleon and self-assured and corporeally aware and carry myself with that same swaggered precision into my place in the arena - mano y mano and mano y beast-o and beast-o y beast-o on parade in trot and cantor down the center of the circumference of the dirt oval with the colorful and silky costumed pilots of these significant machines a competition of Mardi Gras colors and jackpot numbers from exotic best estimations spinning through my eyes.

It all happens and it happens in my mind first, with ten in a row behind steel bars that spring open and turn these creatures loose with jock and tack held fast but chestnut brown and muddled grey and black with white socks faster and faster out of the chute eating up lengths and fractions – and the Three and the Five are there first, passing the quarter pole, the Eight and the Six inhaling the dirt thrown from their hooves in close pursuit – and I manage a cockeyed grin because I know the crowd is in favor of the One, a beautiful and contentious gelded roan, but I can see the One breaking sharply and laboring significantly running through the soft patch trench at the rail, finding no room to move and each stride laboriously difficult in comparison to my Three, my Five, my Six, my Eight...

...The One is not the One, not here, not today.

The Three can hold steady and stride true, but my Five cannot as he pushes through the backstretch and holds his lead to that final turn but will – must – give way to those in close quarters and around the turn into the stretch it will be the Six and it will be the Eight who will close with furious fractions on the Three and Dominguez will glance under his arm atop that Three and go to his whip, insisting the brindle grey give him everything he has left in that last half furlong, but Gutierrez will have the Six at top speed in top form about three wide from the soft ground at the rail and will have enough to close on Dominguez and the grey with Cabrera and the Eight just good enough to outlast the rest for the show.

My old man used to say that running the race on the reel to reel in his head to divine the winning combination was as “complex as calculus computations with a Cracker-Jack code key” and I know he wasn’t kidding when he tried in all his efforts to partner our long afternoons in my youth at the track, digesting every last piece of arcane and useless and useful data in the form and watching these regally bred thoroughbreds pick each other off time and time again around this oval, with the one single wish I’m sure he had but never was able to adequately articulate to his son whose eyes gleamed with fascination at nine, ten, and thirty years old at the shiny strong horses and the rolling numbers on the tote board – “Son, don’t grow up to be a horseplayer.”

It couldn’t be helped.

I walk through those doors with my racing form tucked neatly under my left arm, glyphed heavily with the notations made this morning, all computations and calculations necessary to prove pace and power true and unlock the solution to each of the eleven conundrums circling the oval today – and I’m one, and there’s two, three, five dozen of us that know the faces of our brethren, but work in solitude with our systems on speed, on pace, on class, on time, or on best guesstimation lucky names, numbers, and hot jocks to isolate the winner, find the overlays and the best plays and toss together the exotic bets and the pick threes, fives, and sixes to take our shots at glory, cash and pride.

Never, ever, in that order.

I play for pride and then cash but never glory, because the old man would have wanted it that way and whatever I’m doing here it’s because of him and his singular love of the game – but don’t confuse the game with the sport, because the sport is the effort of the beast to circle the track and the effort of the jock to make sure he arrives home ahead of the others, but the game is in the numbers and the divination, and the game is played in the heads and from the wallets of the five dozen of the regulars sitting with binoculars and forms and file folders full of past performance data, digging through the arcane, the useless, and the useful to adapt a number – pace rating, Beyer figure, percent in the money – to whatever system is in play in their head today.

Make no mistake, this is war – a war in logical proportions between men and women behind their racing form, scribbling madly or watching intently or casually sipping coffee from a foam cup as they await the call to post, each of whom has already run the reel to reel in their head, unfolding the fractions in stop-motion daydream imagery, most too clouded by desire and greed to allow the images to take absolute shape and focus.

I’m smarter than all of you is the satisfaction I have as I lay the bets, taking every single combination of my Six-Three-Eight certainty I can muster, blinking back the image of the Three trying to hold off the favored Gutierrez on the Six in the final strides and the satisfied grin I’ll be wearing when I watch my Six-Three-Eight prediction perform precisely to the form, the speed, the post, and the pace I dissected hours ago.

The shooter holds the dice in slick and sweaty fingers when he needs to make his point while the blackjack player waits with an adrenaline fueled nervousness for what the dealer might toss his way when he doubles on an eleven – but the moments before they open the gates treat a true horseplayer differently than a true gambler, for they are the last moments of perfection that I can expect before the gates swing free and ten tons of brute finesse try to find daylight at forty miles an hour, they are absolutely the last moments where everything makes sense, and where the solution to the conundrum I’ve worked mightily to solve has a reasonable solution, which is – in some combination – Six-Three-Eight.

Six-Three-Eight. Dreams won’t be fulfilled with Six-Three-Eight, and Six-Three-Eight won’t bring glory to my name, but if and for the wake of Six-Three-Eight crossing the line, I can walk with the little Napoleons and carry their bravado to the window, cashing in the big bills to the envy of two, three, five dozen of my brethren who insisted on following the One that was not meant to be the One today down into the mire on the rail and chasing the dream off the wrong reel to reel, because with Six-Three-Eight I play for the pride of being the one to solve the riddle and know these creatures better than they know themselves.

My old man, against his better judgment, sired himself a horseplayer. And I’d like to think he’d be proud.

BG is a writer from a small hamlet in Western Michigan.

Comfort Food

By Novice © 2005

It is 2 AM, and I am awake. My stomach becomes cranky in the wee hours, and for some God-Only-Knows-Why reason it craves peanut butter.

I make my way into the blackness to the kitchen. My old roommate, Gabriel, has taken up residence on our couch until his fancy calls him to some other country. He is one of my best friends, and after living in the same apartment with him for almost five years, I know what happens when I wake him. I tiptoe past.

I bang my foot against one of my husband’s weights. Why is it in the kitchen? I spit a curse, and flick on the light. The peanut butter is still on the counter. It never seems makes it back to the cupboard, but oddly the box of Melba toast has. I go through the ritual gathering: plate, glass, knife (place on table), jar, crackers (place on table). Milk from fridge, pour into glass. Sit. Begin consumption.

I dull groan reaches my ear. Gabriel’s bear-like self ambles in.

“Peanu buddr,” he mumbles.

I try to apologize for waking him, my mouth is stuck. He plunks down on a chair, grabs some crackers and my knife, and helps me go through the jar.

Five minutes later my husband is also here. He is not as animalistic as Gabriel, and is able to speak coherently at this hour. He helps himself to crackers, peanut butter, and then pours milk for himself, and my other man.

I don’t mind. It was not solitude that I was after. The two men make garbled conversation next to me, occasionally reach over and pat my knee, nudge my elbow with theirs. They don’t ask why I’m up, or why I need protein at this hour. They don’t expect me to go to bed soon. They know this small thing about me. They know that it is mine.

An odd comfort comes from this, a woman with a husband and friend on either side of her, allowing her to simply be. A few years ago I realized the great amount of pleasure I get from my male friends. I have female friends, and I love them, but women tend to be needy. When you’re with a woman, and you simply wish to be silent, there is an assumption that you’re angry with her. Men do not do that. Men allow us to be selfish.

There is a wonderful feeling I get from being in the presence of a man who knows everything he is capable of knowing about me. Aware of my womanhood, but seeing me first as a person, as myself, and loving me without work. It is a feeling both liberating and soothing.

An equality and acceptance that women have wanted forever, I have here, at my kitchen table, flanked by two men that love me in different ways.

My husband looks at me, and sees my smile. He smiles back, leans over and gives me a sleepy kiss on the cheek. He then gulps the last of his milk. He rises, brings his glass to the sink, and goes back to our bedroom. In ten seconds he will be sound asleep again. Gabriel is slower to finish. Some of his milk remains in the glass. He ignores it, and gets up.

“I’m goin’ back now, Baby,” he says quietly.

“I’m sorry I woke you.” I can say now that the milk has granted me speech again.

“Mm. I’m not.”

He leaves the room. I can hear the “whumpf” as he flops back on the couch. I pour myself another glass of milk and drink it. I close my eyes. I am aware of how blessed I am.

Then I put the Melba away. Plate, knife, glass (place in sink). I go back to bed.

The peanut butter stays on the table.

Novice is a writer from East Providence, Rhode Island.

Shooting the Moon?

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2004

I have reasons to believe that the sperm that eventually impregnated my mother and caused me upon the world, the little pre-me, did not win "the competition" by regular means.

It’s not that I don’t swim fast. In fact I’m an excellent swimmer! And I run fast if I have to. I have sharpened reflexes. Why doubt my physical ability then? It’s just that I know myself too well, and why should pre-me be any different?

Prior to discharge pre-me had probably arranged quite a party, inviting all friends, friends’ friends etc., keeping busy not getting drunk. I’m sure you can all agree that it’s a plausible theory. When waiting to be plunged out into the unknown, the judgement day of sperm, one would be easily talked into having a great party.

"Who knows what’ll happen when we get out there?" pre-me would ask. No one knew, so why don’t we get drunk?

That’s what happened, and they partied like it was 1983... Which it was.


Party over, most people invited still drunk and indifferent towards the task at hand, left at least a good ten percent swimming at each other and having a laugh down by the greater, vestibular glands while the sensible and sober sperm started swimming. Pre-me among them, with a small head start.

Halfway towards the egg, not leading the race but not far from it, pre-me would collect his strengths and engage in small talk while swimming. Pre-me would strain to look concerned, asking for directions, which would weed out those who actually bore these doubts.

"Are you sure it’s not that way?" or "It’s so dark in here, but I’m positive that we missed a crossroad further down."

At counter-questions pre-me would shrug - try picturing that! - looking rather confused, saying: "I don’t know. I’m just following the guy in front of me."

As you can imagine, this strategy would put off those finding themselves smarter than the rest, taking completely wrong turns into the maze that is the female sex organ. Some of them would never be found again.

As you know there is a lot of sperm ejaculated which isn’t alive. Not to worry, there are billions upon billions of living sperm, but still there are those dead. Inevitably there would be dead swimmers pushed in front of the front-swimmers, slowly moving backwards in the desperate queue, as people pushed them away. Pre-me, having anticipated this, naturally took advantage of the situation, trying to make people sympathize or develop great fears of our chaotic situation.

"Hey! We need a stretcher for this one, He’s badly wounded!" or "People are dying like flies in the front! Save yourselves!"

Surely this would reduce the number of on-goers.

Now, then, with only a small twenty-five percent left for the final rounds, pre-me would put all his money on one horse: Himself. Having carefully dismissed the ignorant brutes physically stronger than him, whose endurance alone would have made the race a far shot, he depended now on his last physical resorts, swimming against those stubborn ones who hadn’t fallen for his tricks. Luckily, they proved to be exhausted from the ordeal, leaving pre-me as the grand winner, claiming the egg.

Which is why I’m here. Survival of the fittest? Pre-me never saw them again.

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.