I received a text from Benny Jay the other day.
The text read: “Fuck face, meeting at my place later tonight. Bring Popeyes.”
So later that night I made my way to his lavish 15,000 sq. ft. north side mansion.
The damn thing is huge. ‘Dang,’ I thought as I made my way up the drive way and to the massive front door, ‘being a blogging mogul sure gets you paid.’
I rang the bell and his butler let me in and led me to Benny Jay’s study.
Benny Jay was seated behind a large mahogany wood desk. Matching floor-to-ceiling book cases lined the four walls of the study.
I noticed that aside from Milo, who was seated off to the side of Benny in the corner of the room, the only other writer there was No Blaise. She was seated on one of the two chairs placed in front of Benny’s desk.
“What’s up guys?” I asked.
“Sit down fuck face,” Benny said. “We got work to do.”
I sat down next to No and Benny got right to it.
“We asked you guys here tonight because we want your help,” he said
“Sure, Benny,” I said.
“Anything you need, Benny,” No said.
“Good. We want to switch things up here at Third City. We want to appeal to a younger crowd.”
“What’d you have in mind?” No asked.
“We need some swag,” Milo said from the corner of the room.
“Did you just say we need swag?” I asked, not quite sure if he was joking or not.
“Yeah,” Benny said. “We think swag is the way to attract a younger readership.”
No and I simultaneously busted into laughter.
“First of all, I’m pretty sure swag isn’t a thing any more. Like, no one says it,” No said. ” And second, we’re the youngest writers you have. Everyone else is old as shit. And they certainly don’t have any swag.”
“Yeah,” I said. “You guys shouldn’t even be saying swag. Do you know what it means?”
“All I know is that a little swag can go a long way,” Milo said. “Look what it did for that VCU team that made the Final Four in 2011.”
“Yeah,” Benny said. “Their coach told them they need to play with swag and they made it to the Final Four. If it worked for them, it can work for us. You guys need to get us some swag.”
“Benny, swag isn’t something you can get,” I said. “You either have it or you don’t.”
“Yeah, I mean swag is stuff that you can buy like clothes, cars, jewelry, shoes and hats, but owning that stuff doesn’t mean you actually have swag,” No added.
“You guys don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” Milo said. “Right, Benny?”
“Yeah, we got plenty of swag in this bitch,” Benny said. “Look at my crib and tell me I don’t have any swag.”
“Look at the man’s damn crib and tell him….” Milo said. “Respect the mahogany, fuckers.”
“Saying crib, or having a nice one doesn’t mean you have swag, Benny,” No said.
“Well, if we didn’t have any swag, would we be able to do this?” Milo said.
“Uh, oh…. Swag-swag-swagger-swag-swagger-swag…. We got swag,” they chanted in unison as they gangsta bounced their shoulders side-to-side. “We got s-s-swag-swag-swag…. Uh, oh.”
We were stunned as we watched them chant “swag” as they gangsta bounced around the study back-to-back.
Milo, inspired by this display of swag, began Crip Walking, which sent Benny Jay into a frenzy. He was so amped, that he began doing The Dougie. The chants of “swag” got louder and louder.
Later, after they had calmed down, we left the meeting having learned something about Milo and Benny that we never knew: They do, indeed, have swag.
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I was online earlier this week looking for some event or concert to go to this weekend when I came across an advert for the Chicago Blues Fest.
I hadn’t been to the Blues Fest in a couple years, so I decided to check it out this year.
Now, I’m not a big Blues fan–aside from Muddy Waters and B.B. King, I couldn’t name any Blues musicians off the top of my head–but I do enjoy the music.
So I looked at the schedule and started skimming for names I might know. Then I saw it: Bobby Rush.
‘How do I know that name?’ I thought.
Then it hit me. I used to work with this old black dude who loved the Blues when I was fresh out of high school. He swore Bobby Rush put on the best Blues show ever.
The man, the legend….
“Rolando, man, I’m telling you the man can put on a show,” he’d say. “Not only can the man blow, but he’s always got these big booty girls on stage doing all kinds of dancing.”
“Kevin, so you’re telling big booty women is your idea of a good Blues show?”
“Well ain’t it yours?” he asked. “It ain’t just the booties, boy, the man is a true Bluesman. He’s old as shit but the man tears it down. Do your self a favor, and go watch the man perform when he’s in town.”
Thirteen years later, I finally decided to follow up on Kevin’s recommendation and go see Bobby Rush.
Boy was Kevin right. The man put on a hell of a show. Not only was his band jamming, but he was on point with his vocals and harmonica playing.
And, of course, there were the two big booty women on stage, dancing and gyrating to the rhythms.
It was quite the sight. It appeared that after more than 50 years of performing, he was still loving the ladies.
They flanked the 79-year-old Bobby Rush. They had to be half his age. During every song, he’d let each of them have 20 or 30 seconds to showcase their moves.
Bobby loves him some booty….
During one of his songs, Bobby sung for at least two minutes directly to one of the girl’s butts.
“I love this woman, I love this woman,” he sung as he pretended to rub her butt. “I stand right here and I look at her… Nice. I stand over here… Nice. I see her from the back… Nice.”
If you’ve never had the chance to see Bobby Rush live, I can assure you the man loves his Blues and he loves big butts. And fortunately for him, he’s been able combine his two loves into a five-decade career.
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A couple weeks back, the Powerball Lotto jackpot had reach a historic high of close to $600 million and the usual hopefuls in my ER were at it again.
“You have your two bucks,” our designated Powerball money collector walked around the ER, asking everyone in sight.
“Come on, two bucks, the jackpot is over $500 million now, could be close to $600 mil by the drawing.”
One after another, everyone paid up.
Then he came up to me: “Ro, come on, man. Give me two bucks. Don’t miss out.”
“Nah, I’m good, thanks, John,” I said.
“You’re missing out, Ro. What if we win and you’re left out for two measly dollars.”
“I’m good, I don’t gamble. Besides, the odds are out of this world.”
“You know what you are?” one of the nurses said as she walked past. “You’re one of those stupid assholes that brings bad luck on the group, with your negative attitude.”
Now let me stop here for a second to explain something. I don’t gamble because I generally have bad luck.
I mean, I’m about as unlucky as that Billy Goat curse is to the Cubs–which is to say, never in a hundred years would I win anything big.
Back to the story….
So they finally persuaded me to dish out the two bucks and join in with their pool.
So anyway, the guy went out and bought all the tickets and made copies for everyone.
Some of the more superstitious of our group started to pour over the numbers, trying to find any lucky connections.
Others, like myself, just folded up the sheet of paper and tucked it away.
After our shift ended, we decided to go to a local bar and talk about what we’d do if we won.
“First thing I’m doing is packing my bags,” a nurse said. “Going somewhere warm.”
“Oh, honey, you have no idea,” another said. “Somewhere tropical on the beach with little umbrellas in the drinks.”
“Shit, you guys got it all wrong,” one of the techs said. “The FIRST thing I’m doing is quitting. I plan to do the quitting scene in Half Baked.”
Most of the older nurses had no idea what he was talking about. But it was hilarious. He was referring to the scene in the movie Half Baked where the character, Scarface, quits his job (Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/6hm3h2).
“Well I’m buying my mom a house, my brother one and a couple for my grandmas,” another nurse said.
“Hawaii, I’m moving straight to Hawaii and starting an avocado farm,” another said.
“Man, wouldn’t it be nice, guys? I mean, not to have to worry about anything anymore and to be able to whatever you want.”
One by one they all chimed in with a “yeah” and “man that’d be great.” Some even called out “God” as they all sat there with dreaming eyes.
“Let’s hope we win guys.”
Again, agreement and calls to God.
You could feel the hope in their voices and the longing in their hearts.
“What are you going to do if we win, Ro?” a nurse asked.
“Well, nothing, because we’re not going to win….”
As soon as I finished that last word I got bombarded.
“God damn you, Ro, and you’re negative attitude….”
“You dirty, no good bastard, you’re costing us our jackpot….”
“If we don’t win, it’ll be your fault….”
“Filthy, plantain-loving Puerto Rican….”
I dropped some cash on the table and slipped out. If they were mad at me then, imagine how pissed they were going to be when they realized I was right and had to show up to clock in for another shift the next day.
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During the years I’ve worked in an ER, I’ve developed a unique set of skills.
These skills are things that most people who work in ERs have also developed, and while they may be important in an ER setting, the truth is that they’re of no value in any other setting.
This skill set is one of the things that set ER people apart from your everyday regular folks.
It all has to do with our noses–our sense of smell, specifically.
I remember the first time I saw it in action…..
Paramedics dropped a patient off who was brought in because her mental status was altered. We began undressing her and putting one of our gowns on her.
When we took her pants off, there was this pungent stench coming from her diaper.
I’d never smelled something like that before, it was uniquely over powering, in a bad way. I twisted my face and held my breath in an effort to avoid the stench.
The nurse I was with didn’t even bat an eye, she just kept doing her thing.
“What’s that smell,” I asked on the verge of vomiting.
“Huh? Oh that’s her urine, she’s got a urinary tract infection,” she said as she established an I.V. line. “That’s why she’s acting out of it.”
We did a lab test on her urine, and sure enough, she had a UTI. The nurse called it way before we did a single test on the lady.
Now, I’m not sure when I honed my skills, or when I made the full transition from a regular everyday guy to an ER person.
I just kind of happened with out me realizing it.
But now I can tell you if a person has a UTI based on the smell of their urine.
I can tell you when someone has a gastro-intestinal bleed just by the smell of their poop–I don’t even have to look at it.
I can walk into a room blindfolded and can tell you if someone in that room is bleeding out.
I know what C Diff (it’s a bacteria that causes severe diarrhea) poop smells like.
And I can tell you when someone has been sitting in their own piss for more than a day.
They all have very distinct smells, and over my 4 years working in an ER, I’ve developed a sensitivity to them.
What that’ll get me in the real world, I”m not sure. But in the ER world, that puts me in the know. It makes me a connoisseur of sorts.
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I get a lot of weird looks and odd questions whenever I tell someone my last name.
We prounounce it ih-thee-err.
Typically, the first thing people ask is, ‘What kind of last name is that?’
To which I usually respond,”It’s French, from the south of France, specifically.”
What usually follows that question is, “But you’re Puerto Rican, aren’t you?”
To which I reply, “Yes, I am.”
Now the questions that follow after those initial ones depends on the person I’m dealing with.
You get those types that speak a little French that try and correct the way I pronounce my last name.
“It’s pronounce ih-tee-ay,” one such douchebag said to me the other day. “You’re mispronouncing your name.”
“That’s one way of pronouncing it,” I replied.
“No, that’s the proper way, the French way.”
“Well I’m from Chicago, and it’s my name, so I’ll pronounce it the way I want to.”
Then you have my fellow Ricans, some of who tend to not focus so much on the pronounciation of my last name, but on the fact that I’m of Puerto Rican ancestary and I have a French last name.
“That doesn’t even make sense, bro” one of my childhood friends said to me when he first learned my last name. “You’re Puerto Rican, you’re brown and you have a French last name?”
“What can I say? I didn’t choose it.”
“Do they even have Puerto Ricans in France?” he asked. “Do they even have brown people?”
“I’m sure they have a couple,” I said amused by his line of questioning. “I’m sure they have black people too.”
“That’s crazy, bro,” he said in disbelief. “Brown and black people in France?”
“I know, right?”
“That’s cool, bro. Your like a Puerto Rican French dude.”
I just let it go. It’s amazing the hassle a French last name can cause
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It’s Friday, May 10th, and it’s game three of the Heat vs Bulls playoff series. I’m thinking about the game all day–being that the dastardly Heat embarrassed the hell out of us a few nights before during their game two blowout of our boys.
Tip off was set for 7 p.m….
I couldn’t wait to watch the game.
If the previous two games were any indication of how the two sides were expected to play, it was going to be a real fight.
Our boys were playing that real rough-and-tumble basketball, that old school, beat-you-up style of ball. And I love that style.
I don’t own a television, so I met up with a friend and we went to a local bar to get some beer and wings, and watch the game.
I was pumped to watch the game; All my energy and attention were focused on watching this game.
Our boys were going to get the win, and I didn’t want to miss any bit of this game, which was no doubt going to be another rough battle.
So we sit down, put in our orders and wait for the game to start.
We’re talking about the game and how exciting it was going to be, when I hear this little, high-pitched voice behind me say: “I’m so excited about this game.”
The frequency and pitch of her voice makes me cringe. I think, ‘Dear God, that voice is annoying as hell.’
I brush it off and refocus on the game. The game starts and everyone in the bar is focused on the intense battle that is unfolding in front of our eyes.
Both sides are at each other, Noah sets the tone after getting a technical for shoving Andersen.
This game is really intensifying…. I love it.
“Go Bulls, you got this,” the annoyingly high-pitched voice squeals behind me as Belinelli drains a three.
Again, I cringe at the sound of it. ‘Shut the hell up,’ I think to myself as I try to forget about the annoying voice and focus on the game.
Butler gets called for a bullshit foul and everyone goes crazy in the bar. I’m besides my self. I’m screaming at the television, the black dude next to me is screaming at the television, the white boy next to him is screaming at the television.
It’s a complete bull shit call….
Then I hear it again, “What happened,” the squeaky voice says. “I don’t understand, why did he get a foul? That’s just horrible.”
I fight the urge to turn around and tell her to shut the hell up.
Our boys are getting a rough deal and the last thing I need is her annoying-ass voice in my ear.
But I play it cool….
My friend looks at me and I know we’re thinking the same thing: ‘Shut the hell up, asshole.’
Then the chants for defense at the stadium start to ring out. If you’ve ever been to a game you know the drill: “Defense. Clap-Clap. Defense. Clap-Clap.” And she starts cheering along in her squeaky voice.
And I’m thinking, ‘Chick, they can’t hear you in the stadium, you’re contributing nothing to the team. On the other hand, I can hear you loud and clear, and you’re driving me nuts.’
The games goes on, and we all know the result. It was disappointing to have lost that game the way we did.
But when I think about that day in the future, it’s the memory of squeaky voice that will bother me the most.
I got a call from a very energetic and nervous Benny Jay this morning.
“Hey, Benny,” I said. ”What’s up?”
“I don’t have time for your small talk bull shit,’ he said. “Do you own any Bulls gear?”
“What?” I said. “Why?”
“Fuck face, do you have anything?” he asked as if it were the most important question ever. “An old Jordan jersey, a jacket or shirt, anything with a Bulls logo?”
“I don’t know, I might.”
“Well check, asshole.”
I wasn’t sure why the hell Benny Jay was asking me if I had any Bulls gear, but it seemed important enough to him, whatever the reason.
“Alright, I’ll go check,” I said as I put the phone down to go check my closet.
After about a minute I picked up the phone and said: “Yeah.”
“Yeah, I have some gear.”
“What’d you got?”
“Uh… A couple of shirts and a warm up top,” I said as I looked at what I had in my hand. “Benny, you still haven’t told me what this is all about.”
“Put them on, right now.”
“What, all at once? No.”"
“Hey, asshole, my beloved Bulls tip off for Game 7 tonight and we need all the good vibes we can manage.”
“So you’re saying that by me putting on all this gear, that’ll help the Bulls win their Game 7 tonight?”
“Yes, it’s a little playoff juju,” he said. “Every little thing helps.”
“What are you wearing?” I asked, curious to see to what length he was willing to go to support the Bulls.
“I have a Pippen and Jordan jersey on, a Bulls shirt over that, a warm up jump suit, a Bulls cap and a pair of Jordans.”
“Jesus, Benny, that is a whole lot of gear,” I said.
“No such thing as overkill with this,” he said. “I even have the wife and kids done up the same way.”
“You really think it’ll help?”
“Oh, it’s going to work,” he said. “Now put that shit on and spread the word.”
What the hell? I don’t want to be the guy to blame for not doing his part.