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The Curious Case of Andre Guantanamo

My Friends,
   It seems as time passes I am getting less and less mature, or at the very least losing some inhibitions regarding proclivities of mine which are not seemly for a 27 (going on 28) year old male.  Why just an hour ago I came in from my first ride on my new skateboard.  I don’t mean to knock skateboarders who keep enjoying their pastime as they get older, but how many people do you see in their late-20s up and decide that what they have been missing all these years is the chance to hop on a plank of wood (aluminum in my case) and potentially break their clavicle?  As far as I know I am the only one.  If I think about it, it actually kind of makes sense from a causal perspective: growing up I was a huge fan of (the idea) of skateboarding.  My favourite show and video game was Ninja Turtles and they were all about that shit:

Pretty Sure I Used This Pic Recently

Being such a superfan, you can only imagine my heartbreak living out in the country with only dirt roads and no sewers.  It was not a really conducive environment to practice in, so while I got a Tech Deck in high school and became a decent fingerboarder in my own right, skate-boarding proper got shelved.
Until recently…
   A few weeks back some friends of mine dropped by with their longboards and they let me try their boards out on the rail trail near my place.  While I had trouble getting balance I gradually got more and more comfortable with it and seriously pondered the idea of getting some kind of plank with wheels on it.  But alas, none of my day-to-day friends skate so the idea saw no reinforcement.  However, this past weekend I happened upon a open-field garage sale in downtown Hamilton.  While looking through the incredibly cheap awesome trizzash I found a board with an aluminum deck for $20 and called my aforementioned longboarder friend to ask if this was indeed a good deal.  She informed me that it was and I copped that shit.  I gotta say I felt pretty rad biking around the city with my board tucked against my back through the armholes of my knapsack.  I’m all kinds of extreme X-treme athlete it would seem.  During lunch I kept admiring my new purchase…
In case you missed this pic when I tweeted it

But in spite of the initial enthusiasm, the board didn’t see any action all weekend.  In my defense I was busy.  But still, sometimes it takes a little push to do something you are anxious about.  
   That push came today after work when I started watching The Amazing Spider-Man (boot-legged of course).  In this latest reboot, Peter Parker, after getting spider powers, decides the best way to test them is to shred radly on his skateboard in an abandoned warehouse of some kind.  It reminded me of the rad skateboarding dude I wanna be and served as the impetus to get me outside.  
I threw on a dirty wife-beater and tossed my hat on sideways.  Then I put on the most skaterish shoes I had.  As I noticed my reflection walking out of my building, I realized that as long as I was holding my board, I looked pro; like I had in fact skated out of the womb.  
Not so much when I actually got on the board.  
   Not gonna lie, I was shaky and wobbly like a motherfucker and people who saw were most certainly perplexed when they saw this authentic-looking chap in a trucker hat having trouble keeping his balance at low speeds.  My board needed some adjustments to be sure, and luckily my bike wrench did the job of tightening the trucks
(Note: “trucks” is how rad skaters such as myself say “axles”)
With adjustments made I was off to the races and I don’t mind saying that I wasn’t half bad.  I managed to stay on, achieve some decent speeds and not lose my balance when I hit cracks and dips in the road.  Towards the end I even started getting a little saucy with my styles, weaving back and forth slalom-style and crouching low to touch the ground much like a surfer (the rad aquatic cousin of the skater) touches the cresting wave as it curls over him.
 I looked pretty much exactly like this, except it was asphalt curling over my head
True Story

   Now emboldened by this successful first outing I will attempt to incorporate the wheeled-plank into my commute tomorrow so I can walk into work like a boss holding my raddest of conveyances.
   Now all this skateboarding tomfoolery is all well and good but it is really only one aspect of the immaturity (and I use that word in the best possible way) I have been indulging in as of late.  There has also been lots of cartoons…
and Beast Wars primarily.

These shows were awesome back in the day and still hold up today in subject matter, maturity of humour and character depth.  And while my woman doesn’t really appreciate these shows, she used to watch Barney, so really, who the fudge is she to talk shit?
   And on the topic of things my woman doesn’t appreciate, we come to the last glaring sign of my lapse into adolescent puerility.
A picture says a thousand words. One of those thousand words is “Gay”

   Yep, thats a beautifully-rendered 12″ stormtrooper doll fucking and equally beautifully-rendered 12″ Boba Fett.  In truth, my friend put them in this pose while I was in the bathroom before heading out to a bar, but I am at fault for having these things laying around in the first place.  They had actually been in storage for years, but I had the idea to do some video stuff on youtube with them and so they have been sitting around my apartment for the last little while along with my lego.
See my tweets 24 July 2012 @dreguan.
But rather than satisfy my inner-child, this abundance of toys at my finger-tips has actually made it demand MOAR!!, and so I have been making regular trips to Wal-Mart and Toys R’ Us to satisfy the toy-craving beast within.  Here are some of the results of this policy of appeasement:
From L to R: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Motherfucking Maul, and Qui-Gon Jinn
From L to R: Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes

As you can see, I’m buying some cool shit.  All of these figures have awesome articulation and pose-ability and more than that, just having them guarantees I get laid***  
   But there are some who would take my precious’s away from me: A “friend” (the same one who posed Boba and the stormtrooper to resemble the abominable act of homosexual love-making) actually threatened to jack my prized possessions at a party this weekend if he crashed on my couch and I didn’t turn the A/C on for him.  I realize now that my so-called friends are not to be trusted and so I must pursue and isolationist policy which will ultimately result in the removal of my woman from the equation as well.  
   But its okay.  I don’t need friends or a woman.  I have my cartoons, my action figures, my legos and my skateboard.  And anyone who doesn’t like it can eat my shorts.
Stay Thirsty,
Andre Guantanamo
***It would be more accurate to say that in spite of her misgivings about an apartment full of toys, my woman still consents to lovemaking.  In spite of/because of…semantics.

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Adventurer’s Remorse/I Still Love Porn

My Friends,
   So I took a trip around the world and all anyone asks me about is the guy who jerked off beside me on the train.  That is the sum total of my meanderings de la monde.  Apparently the most eventful thing that can happen to you in the world is to have a quasi-homeless dude tug his crank beside you.  It bugs me but its also partly my fault; after all, I didn’t have to make it known that this event happened.  Yet somehow I knew it would make a good story.  Little did I know how right I was.
   Other experiences which may have had a more profound impact on me just don’t translate well into storytelling on the blog or around the lunch-table at work.  So as an easy out I just told the story I knew would elicit the desired response (mirth).  And to my credit I have got pretty good at telling the story and its much better than it originally was.

I always wanted the story of “The Masturbator on The Train” to have a dewback in the background.  And now, with “The Masturbator on The Train: Special Edition”, its finally there.

   As much as I hate having my adventure reduced to one (sordid) incident, this isn’t even the first time its happened.  For example, I spent a summer out in B.C. a few years back and although it was in many ways an experience whose greater effect on me cannot be encapsulated in words, when the topic of B.C. comes up, I inevitably talk about the size of the salmon I caught and “the Spirit Bear”… 
…which I saw.
Ditto for two months of backpacking in Australia.  Being in the outback was an experience which defies words, but if anyone asks I will almost certainly reference getting stung by a scorpion.  
Its a cool story, after all  
   Finally, my time in my other favourite desert, Afghanistan, is typically summed up with a story about the heat or the IED we drove over that didn’t blow up because it was water-logged.  Its unfortunate that our most important experiences must be reduced/distilled to the most communicable/relatable stories.  The more esoteric and meaningful aspects of our lives and experiences are either too difficult to communicate or not palatable to others.  Like if I’m at work shooting shit the shit with the boys about travel, am I more likely to bring up the beautiful mixture of feelings I felt while on the road; happiness to be free pursuing what was my highest aspiration yet also sadness for all that I had left behind, or will I bring up the topless beach I went to in Spain? (Protip: I’ll prolly bring up the story with boobies in it)
   Why does it have to be like this?  I think its a result of the society we live in; we tend to value the whole less than the interesting/marketable/sexy (i.e. exploitable) parts.  This is why we tell anecdotes instead of sharing feelings. This is why people visit resorts and not the rest of the country the resort is in.  This is why Hustler et al. show extreme close-ups of women spreading their vaginas.  
This is actually a brilliant cover

   Its just that, pornographic; we like to reduce things to their constituent parts for ease of consumption.  Yet something qualitative is most certainly lost in the process.  When you’re bombarded with all these images and no discernment or thought is required on your part, you will inevitably devalue what you are being bombarded with.  I don’t blame you, you get bored.  
   Everything (people, products, and our most cherished experiences) is for sale in our society, but people don’t want the cow, the woman, or the life experience.  What they want, respectively, is the filet, the vagina or the sleazy story about public masturbation.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Mundane Conversations

My Friends,
   In keeping with my commitment to being open to new experiences, I agreed to do some bar-tending at a local music festival this past weekend.  I had visions of mingling suavely and charmingly with well-endowed and predatory older women and refined gentlemen such as myself while I served them drinks and collected large sums of tip money for my troubles.  Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to the email which specified that I would be working in a beer tent.  It was a somewhat more…how do I say, plebeian affair than I had imagined it would be.  I do not wish to sound elitist; I am the last person who should cast stones in regards to drunken messiness, but I have to say I was a little crestfallen when I realized I would be doing less schmoozing and more beer-can opening.  In fact, three straight hours of beer-can opening.  In their quest to attain Henry Ford-like levels of efficiency and expediency, the organizers of the festival had broken down the serving of beer into three discrete phases:

1) The first group kept the coolers stocked with cans of Brava (it really is “the beer of summer” apparently)
2) The next group took the cans from the cooler, opened them, then placed them on a table
3) The final group (two older woman of above-average endowment, although I can’t speak on their predatory nature) picked up the open cans and presented them to the customers after receiving their drink tickets.
   And so it was I was thrust into the center of this well-oiled machine, given the lofty task of expediting inebriation by popping the tops off of beer cans, the veritable linchpin of the whole operation.  Being something of a roguish anti-hero, I was less than thrilled with the monumental responsibility which had been thrust upon me; kind of like Han Solo on Hoth.

I had decided to stay and open beers, but the bounty hunter I ran into on Ord Mandell changed my mind.

But, like Han, I ultimately decided to aid the rebellion/festival organizers and I was similarly frozen for my troubles.  Let me explain: we all love to reach into a cooler full of icy water, grab a beer and crack it.  But do you have any idea how cold icy water is?  Let me tell you: it’s cold as ice.  And when you reach into it several hundred times over the course of a few hours, it makes the whole concept of grabbing a cold one become a chilling shitty prospect.  In fact, some years ago, Men’s Health had an article about pain and suggested that a good way to test your threshold was to reach your hand into similarly icy water and see how long you could hold it there.  So maybe I’m just a pussy, but after a few minutes I was in a bad way: my fingers managed to be both numb and in pain simultaneously, and the repetitive action of popping the tabs only served to exacerbate the situation.
   But what was most notable about the experience was the company.  Now, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret here: popping beer cans is monkey-work.  With my university degree and professional training I was incredibly over-qualified.  Not so for my partner in this endeavour.  Not to say he didn’t possess the mental faculties for repetitive labour (on the contrary he seemed to be expert in many matters irrelevant to the job at hand), but he could not work and talk at the same time, and faced with the choice between the two he opted for the latter every time.  What was worse was that he was an up-close talker and stared at me while he talked with all the intensity of a simian eyeing a banana.
   For my part I really did try to be interested in what he was saying, but you can only hear about one’s guitar-strumming calluses and their benefit in the realm of beer-can opening so many times before you just stop caring.  And then to be shown these calluses repetitively, well it was all I could do to keep an interested smile pasted on my face.  Relief came when he went on a poo-flinging smoke break which lasted the rest of the evening, leaving me free to observe the endless parade of drunk, middle-aged men trying to be smooth with the bartenders while ordering their Nth beer.  
   Now I don’t profess to be a “people-watcher,” mainly because it seems like a pretentious claim to make, as if the people-watcher is somehow above the drama of day-to-day life, watching the mere mortals from his privileged position at the right hand of God, he alone privy to some masterful and benevolent design from the almighty.  However, I do sometimes watch people, and in this case I viewed many a drunk/fat/short man make overtures to the cougars I was working with.  Asking for Molson Canadian or Heineken when they fully knew we were only selling Brava may have been funny the first time but it got stale quick.  I admired the ability of the ladies to act as it it was the first time they heard it every time.  Then there was the gentleman who played the psychic, putting his beer ticket on his forehead and divining that he was there for a beer.  Now I’ll admit that this approach was somewaht more original and even amusing….the first time!!  After five times, I was thinking “Jesus dude, go sleep it off!!”
   My reverie was interrupted by the approach of a young lady with a bottle-opener tucked in the strap of her tank top.  After seeing it in my peripheral I looked at it, then at her, then back at it, finally discerning what it was.  It was a harmless glance to me, but to her an invitation to accuse me of giving her a weird look.  Now, being no slouch at chatting people up, I can recognize that she was attempting to use the most insignificant little gesture as a segue into a conversation.  Friendly guy that I am though, I bit, not knowing that her accusation would be the most interesting thing she was going to say.  
   She proceeded to regale with me with her master plan to buy the 32 American dollars in the tip pool at a 1 for 1 rate, not only saving money in the exchange, but also screwing the banks out of their surcharge in the process.  I congratulated her for her business savvy.  Then she told me how her Grandma had just given her $100 USD in birthday money for her upcoming trip to Connecticut and that how when that sum was added to the tip money it would “pretty much” be $150 USD.  I congratulated her on her math savvy.  THEN she went on into further detail about how if she didn’t spend her $132 USD $150 USD over the course of her four-day trip she could always sell it to her neighbour at a premium, as her neighbour was of course planning a trip to the states in six months.  I wanted to remark at that point about how strong her hustle was and how if she stayed on her “grizzy” in that manner she’d be pushin’ Bentleys and Maybachs in no time.  
Pictured: The girl I was talking to and what $150 USD can get you.
But all I could muster was a nod of approval, and a slight one at that.  I couldn’t help it: I just didn’t want to encourage her into divulging more secrets of the game.
   I left not too long after that, wallet a little heavier for the tips I received, brain a little more clouded for the banal nonsense I was made to endure, but happy that I went out, met nice (if uninteresting) people and tried something new.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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