Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Thanksgiving I'll Never Forget

One of the many benefits of living in Florida is of course the weather.  A couple of years ago during Thanksgiving week, we saw very warm weather in our area.  In fact, it was so warm that the day before Thanksgiving Derek (my son) and I decided on a whim to break out the jet skis one last time before winter so we loaded up and headed to St. Augustine to play in the ocean.

We stopped at Subway along the way and got a couple of sub sandwiches.  We then stopped at a gas station, gassed up the jet skis and filled the onboard cooler with drinks and some ice.   There is a small island we would stop at to have our lunch, catch up and then head out again on the water.

We got a late start that day.  On the way out we debated about putting the ski's in 20 miles north of St. Augustine.  The ice was we would skip the ocean and just playing in the intracoastal.  After a few minutes we decided to drive the extra 20 miles and go to the ocean - that decision would change our lives forever.

We jetted around the fort (Castillo de San Marco) and then headed out to jump the waves off shore.  The tide was going out so the current leaving the channel was intense.  The channel markers were actually leaning over - we sat on the jet skis and were laughing at how fast the current was taking us out to sea.  We also commented how cold the water was getting - neither of us wanted to get totally soaked today!

After about 20 minutes of jumping waves and splashing each other I was exhausted and decided to head back.  I wanted to rest up so I was going to ride along the fort again and wave to tourists :)  Derek continued jumping while I headed back.  As I was entering the channel I stood up on the ski to stretch my legs (we had sit down type jet skis).   I am about 100 yards from shore when I notice a small group of people are crowded together on the beach.  There are a few that seem about waist high in the water.  As I get closer they seem to be waving to me so I turn the ski towards them.  When I'm about 40 yards away I notice they aren't waving - they are pointing - and they are shouting.

I turn off the jet ski so I can hear them over the noise of the engine.  That's when I hear the first cry of  "please save my babies!"  I turn around and see a young girl 7-8 years old being swept out to sea by the strong current in the channel.  She is directly in the path of parasail boats, charter fishing boats.  I turn on the ski and race towards her, I'm there in seconds.  She is so tiny that I'm able to easily pull her on to the 3 person jet ski with one hand.  She's trembling from being in the water (for 10 minutes I later learn).  She's crying and is clinging to me for dear life.  With quivering lips she says "do see my sister?"

My heart drops at the idea that another child is in this water.  I stand up on my ski and scan the horizon - a good 50 yards away I see the girl.  I tell the little one to hang on as I gun the jet ski and head to get the other girl.  This girl is older, maybe 12-13.  At first she refuses my help and I can't understand why or what she's trying to say as the water is lapping around her.  Then I clearly hear her say, "don't worry about me, save my little brother!"

I wonder "can this get any worse?"  I tell her that I'm not going to leave her and I need her help spotting her brother.  I pull her up on the jet ski and we put the smaller safely between us.  The older one is crying as is telling me the story as I scan the horizon for her little brother.  She tells me that they just got to Jacksonville that morning.  They came to visit family and came straight to the beach.  The little brother got taken by the current and she was trying to save him.  The little sister didn't know what was going on so she followed the big sister.  She kept saying "this is all my fault" as she was crying and trembling from the cold.

I decided to just follow the current - a cold, tired, and undoubtedly exhausted little boy should be here in the channel somewhere.  As I look around in the swells I see him.......well I see his hands.  He is bobbing underwater then popping back up.  I tell the older girl to hang on to me and I open the throttle wide and race to where I last saw him in the swells.  As I approach he is underwater with his hands reaching up.  I reach into the water, grab his wrist, and pull his body up on the jet ski.  In this action I actually slam his chest on to the console of the ski.  He is spitting water, coughing, gagging and like music to my ears - he starts to cry.  I turn off the ski and just hug this complete stranger.  For a few seconds the four of us on my ski in a group hug.

It's now time to get these kids back to their parents.  I'm a good 200 yards away from shore at this point.  How the little boy survived out here (I later learned he was in the water for almost 20 minutes) is beyond me.  I put him up front with me - I tell him he can steer the jet ski for me - this calms him and he seems to forget his brush with death.

As I approach the shore I ask the older girl where her mom is - and then I see her.  On the beach I see a woman on her knees.  The woman has her face is in her hands and she's rocking back and forth.  I gun the jet ski and head right towards her.  I gun the jet ski one last time and then kill the engine as I beach the ski.  I'm immediately flocked by family members who pluck the kids from the ski.  They are hugging and crying, some are almost hysterical.  I hear someone on the phone (with the coast guard) saying "cancel the helicopter, he saved them! he saved them!"

I'm crying, they're crying, total strangers are crying - it was surreal.  The mom and dad and 3 kids are all in a circle on the beach in a big embrace - they will not let each other go.

After everyone has taken a deep breath and realized the kids are safe - attention turned towards me.  The father was trying to give me his wallet - literally.  It made me laugh - but I understood what he was trying to say.  He hugged me so hard I almost could breathe.  He thanked me for giving him back his kids.  The "somewhat large crowd" was now very concerned with who I am.  They kept asking for my name, address, where to send money, etc - I graciously declined.  I refused to tell them who I was - I reminded them this wasn't about me.  After a few seconds I said "actually I do need to ask one favor of all of you".  As a group they eagerly accepted my request to do me a favor.  I said "this jet ski weighs 700lbs and I beached it - any chance a few of you can help me get it back in the water?"  I was pushed aside as the mob move as one and got my ski back in the water ready to go.  I jumped on, put the key in, started it up and waved good-bye.

So that's the Thanksgiving I'll never forget - and I'm thankful you took the time to read - feel free to share or follow this blog - more to come!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Father/Son Secret

The YMCA has a fantastic program designed to build the relationship between father and son. It was once called the "Indian Guides Program" but due to political pressures, I think they have since dropped the word Indian and just called it Guides. Nonetheless, I was once in the guides with my son and as part of the experience, we would go camping twice per year.

The Jacksonville Guides program is huge so there were no less than 200 dads and sons at the campgrounds for the big 'Pow Wow' (Indian word for campout?).

As usual, the dads sit around and drink 'fire water' at night and go canoeing, shoot bb-guns, archery etc. in the day with the boys. We camped at a place called Camp Immokalee, that's an Indian word which loosely translates to "dry sandy campsite with dried up lake bed".

It was customary on one of the nights for our Federation to organized a big scavenger hunt. This consisted of cordoning off a big part of the common areas of the campground with yellow ribbon. This area was then scattered with various trinkets of about the same quality as crap you get out of a box of cereal. Included in this area however they also hide three arrow heads; a red one, a blue one and a white one.

Now keep in mind that this all takes place at around 9:30 at night. The campground is pitch black, save a few camp fires in the distance. At precisely 9:30 the boys gather around the perimeter of the taped off area with a flashlight in their hand, the flashlight is off. At the sound of a whistle, the kids turn on their flashlights, rip down the ribbon and run around like banshees picking up trinkets but also looking for the coveted arrowheads. The child that finds an arrowhead will have an opportunity to turn that in for a BIG prize in the morning.  Typically it is a bike, remote control vehicle, etc.

Now that you have the history, this is where things get interesting. Seeing that we are at our SECOND camping trip, my son was less than enthusiastic about the hunt. I can still recall the disappointment on his face when he did NOT find an arrowhead and did NOT get to exchange it for a big remote control truck last year. Things would be different - this year I had a plan.

At about 9:15 the evening of the scavenger hunt I found my son standing near the fire throwing sticks in it (a male right of passage).  Our conversation went like this:

Me: "Hey buddy, it's time for the treasure hunt, go get your flashlight."
He returns with his only flashlight. A small plastic frog.  When you squeezed the legs together the mouth opens and a faint excuse of a yellow light shines from its mouth. His shoulders are slumped, he's already a broken man.

Son: "Ok Dad I'm guess I'm ready for the treasure hunt."

Me: "Not so fast, do you have the flashlight?"
Son: "Yes sir."

Me: "Let's see it."
Son: "I brought my frog one."

Me: "Well I bought you a new one!"
Son: "You did! Where is it?"
Me: "Hang on." (I go get it from the van - below is what I handed him - a 1,000,000 candle what cordless flashlight).

Son: "It's big, is it really mine?" (I'm about to cry I'm so happy right now)
Me: "Yup and here's what you're going to do. When they blow the whistle turn it on, but instead of shining the ground and looking for the arrowheads, take few minutes to shine it around in the eyes of the other boys."

Son: "But dad, if I do that they can't see."
Me: "Yes, and if they can't see you'll be the only one to find the arrowheads." (HE GRINS EAR TO EAR)

Son: "Dad, is this going to be another one of those things that we don't tell mom?"
Me: "You learn fast let's go!"

He wound up finding two arrowheads and gave one to his best friend. They both got a gigantic remote control dump-truck/digging thing.

No more sad-face puppy dog eyes for my boy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Reap What We Sew

Several years ago when my oldest daughter was just beginning the 3rd grade, the time came for parents to visit the school. This is a visit done in the evening where parents get to meet the teacher and discuss the curriculum for the upcoming year. Proudly I’ll tell you that all of my children are in gifted classes and have tested with genius IQ’s. To prove that point, read on.

As my wife and I were getting ready our daughter was apprehensive about us visiting. Were we invading her territory? Was there some dark secret she didn’t want revealed? Given her anxiety we definitely had to go visit the school! We left her with friends next door and went to the meeting. The teacher took the time to discuss the yearly curriculum as well as explain the grading rubrics. Before we left we were asked to write our child a note and leave it in their desk for the next morning. It was an informative visit; my only complaint was that we had to sit in those tiny chairs – I’m not built for those chairs anymore.

When we got home and picked up our daughter she was eerily quiet. Once inside our house she opened up and began asking questions.

Daughter: “Did you meet my teacher?”
Me: “Yes, she was very nice.”

Daughter: “What did you do, you were gone a long time.”
Me: “Oh, we had to install the security cameras.” (wife shoots me an evil glare)

Daughter: “Cameras? What cameras? For what?”
Me: “The parents installed cameras so when we are all at work we can check in on you and make sure you are being good and learning.”

Daughter: “Did you really put in cameras?”
Me: “You can ask your teacher if you want, I’m sure she’ll tell you.”
Me: “Anything else? If not it’s time for bed.”

Daughter: “No. I’ll go brush my teeth and climb in bed.”
Me: “Mommy and I will be in to kiss you good night.”

As soon as my daughter was gone my wife was ‘in my face’ wanting an explanation.

Wife: “Why did you tell her that we put in cameras? Her teacher is going to rat you out!”
Me: “Never in a million years, this plan is fool proof.”

Wife: “How? Did you tell the teacher what you were going to say?”
Me: “No, but I didn’t have to. Imagine it is tomorrow morning, the kids are all together talking about the night before. Our daughter tells all the kids that the parents put in cameras to make sure they are being good. Now, class begins and the teacher will naturally have a Q&A session with the kids after they read their parents notes. Our daughter will raise her hand and say something like, “our parents said they put in cameras to watch us and make sure we’re being good, is that true?”

Wife: “Exactly, the teacher isn’t going to lie to the kids.”
Me: “She doesn’t have to. Look, she teaches bright children, therefore she is bright. If the 19 kids you teach are under the impression that their parents are watching them, isn’t that in your favor? Why would she say “no, your parent’s can’t see you.”

Wife: “Well have to see what the teacher says when our daughter gets home.”
Me: “Yes, we will.”

Later that evening as we sit around the dinner table and have the usual family discussions I ask our daughter about her day at school. Specifically I ask her if she asked the teacher about the cameras. “Yes” she said, “I did ask our teacher about the cameras.” “And what did your teacher say” I ask. “She said ‘If that’s what your parents told you then it must be true’”. I was now grinning from ear-to-ear at my wife. The teacher did NOT let me down, she avoided lying to the students AND she reinforced the notion that we could see what was happening. My experiment in predictive human behavior had worked.

Several days go by and we again are at dinner and I have all but forgotten about the camera incident. After my wife shares her day with us and I share mine, I innocently ask our daughter what she did today at school. Without skipping a beat my daughter says, “You have the cameras daddy, you tell me.” About this time it was my wife’s turn to shoot me an evil ear-to-ear grin as my experiment blew up in my face. I deserved it. When I didn't have an answer but instead was choking on my food she quickly figured out there were no cameras and my credibility was shot. I can only imagine how happy the rest of the kids were to learn this news the next day!

Friday, November 05, 2010

My Son Loves Tacos

Do you remember when you started using deodorant? Personally I don't remember but I know when kids SHOULD start and that is somewhere around 10 years old or the 4th grade (whichever comes first). Let me explain.

One summer day, like any other hot, muggy Florida summer day our twins (boy / girl) came home from school. The bus drops them off right in our driveway so walk is a short one.

Always the gentleman my son lets his sister walk in first and then he closes the door behind the two of them. My wife was in the kitchen when they came in and she asked how their day was. Emily had the usual to report - some boy pulled her hair or otherwise flirted - apparently being beautiful is a curse she must live with :) Our son on the other hand had great news to report.

Wife: "So how was your day Derek?"
Derek: "It was great!"

Wife: "Wow, you're in a good mood."
Derek: "I am - guess what!"

Wife: "What?"
Derek: "My underarms smell sooo good - they smell like tacos! I can't stop doing this."

At this time he proceeds to cup his hand under his arm, stick his nose inside this hand made cup, and then inhales like it is his first breath from the womb.

Wife: "That's gross, you need deodorant."
Derek: "What? Noooooo....I love tacos, here - you smell!"

At this point he tries to get close to her so she can take a hit from his cupped hand.

That's about the time my office phone rings and I'm advised of the situation. I stop by the grocery store and get him is own personal Axe deodorant and a can of their body spray.

When I got home I briefly explained the proper use of his new tools and sent him into the bathroom to washup, put on deodorant and the optional body spray. He passed the deodorant test, the body spray turned out to be a bit too advanced.

Naturally like any child does, he made it my fault that the body spray experiment was a failure. IT seems that I failed to mention two things, 1 - it will burn your eyes and 2 - if the bathroom looks like a fog machine has been turned on, you used too much.

He's in the 5th grade now and smells great. Now if I can only get him to understand that his breath should smell better than the dog's we'd be OK.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's In a Name?

Several years ago my wife and I were talking and she was sharing a tragic story about a lost puppy. It seems a neighbor of ours that owns a contracting company was working on a house in the woods down a very rural road. While my neighbor was at the job site cleaning up his tools after a long day, a dachshund puppy came walking out of the woods. The puppy ran up and was licking the man’s hands and climbing over his work boots. My neighbor picked the puppy up and walked into the woods looking for the owners. There wasn’t another house within view – the puppy was lost.

My neighbor brought the puppy home but couldn’t keep the puppy for long. It seems his wife is allergic to a few animal furs so they kept it for a few days while the looked for a home. One morning my wife started telling me this story about a lost puppy and I said ABSOLUTELY NOT to the idea of taking the dog in. We had two dogs already – three would be INSANE – was she CRAZY????

That morning as I was driving to work I saw the man outside with the tiny dog in the front yard. I turned the car around and went back home and said to my wife, “I guess it wouldn’t hurt if we just went and looked at it”. Before I continue I should tell you that people who know me know that I LOVE puppy breath. In fact, I’ll go to a pet store today to get my puppy-breath-crack-fix. It’s intoxicating. Have you ever noticed that puppies and helium have the same effect on people? By that I mean that both of those things seem to make you talk in the stupidest high-pitched voice that you would otherwise never speak in. Strange how we do that – ok, back to the story.

After holding this puppy for 15 seconds while getting licked and smelling his puppy breath, I ate my own words – we took the puppy. How could you not? Puppies are cute and dachshund puppies are the cutest of them all!

We decided to keep the dog for a couple of days and observe him before we named him. I thought this would be a ‘no-brainer’ but the kids wanted to name him Joey because he hopped around in the grass like a kangaroo and what is a baby kangaroo called? Joey. I on the other hand wanted to name him Woody – like the dachshund on Disney’s Toy Story movie. We were at an impasse, I hated Joey and they thought Woody was ‘dumb’. The only way to solve this was democratically so we voted. Each of us put in 3 names. The rules were you had to use three different names. The kids put in Joey, Peanut & Buttface (can you guess which one my son contributed?). I put in Woody, “The Woodster” and “Sir Woodmeister”. When “The Woodster” was drawn from the hat by a neutral party (the wife), the kids revolted. They said my 3 weren’t different because all of them would result in him being called ‘Woody’ for short. I was disqualified for ballot tampering.

We then moved onto something a bit more fund and suggested the dog decide his own name. It went like this:

Me: “We’ll write down each name on a separate piece of paper. That means we’ll have Joey, Peanut and Woody each on a piece of paper. I think we can all agree that Buttface isn’t in the running. Next we’ll ball them up and place them a few inches apart on the floor. Whichever one the puppy picks up or chews will be his name. Do we all agree?”

Kids: “YEAH!” (they were really into this idea)

At this time the kids left to go find the puppy while I prepared the pieces of paper in the kitchen. I could hear the kids running back with the puppy so I quickly returned to the living room and balled the papers up and put them on the floor. I suggested to my oldest daughter that she hold the puppy just inches above each piece of paper and let him sniff them so that each name got a fair evaluation. The kids agreed this was a good idea. My daughter then put the puppy near the floor and let him go. He barely had all 4 paws on the floor before he took off and made a bee-line for the ball of paper in the middle. He didn’t just sniff the paper, he began to EAT it! We had to grab him and hold his mouth open and pull the paper out. Soggy with dog saliva we un-rolled it and despite the running ink you could clearly see it said WOODY!

The kids were heartbroken. About that time my wife came into the kitchen and after a quick glance she was immediately upset by something. She said loudly, “OK WHO LEFT THE HAM ON THE KITCHEN COUNTER!” My oldest daughter (in gifted with a genius IQ) pointed at me and said, “Dad! You cheated, you put ham juice on yours!” I said, “Alright Nancy Drew, you caught me!”

I then picked Joey up and continued to smell his puppy breath. I still think Woody would’ve been a cool name.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Like father, like son

If you didn't notice yet, I have what some call a 'warped' sense of humor. I'm not sure what that means, perhaps I find things funny that others don't. I think I just do a good job of finding humor in things others don't. Nevertheless, here's a little life story that I kept in my memory bank.

I'm sure that at some time in your educational experience, highschool or college, you have been or encountered a cheater. If you do work hard, it can piss you off at times to see cheaters skate by. Sometimes they get caught but usually that squeak by. One night at dinner my SEVEN YEAR OLD son shared this with me. It should be a lesson for you all....and it makes me a proud father.

Me: "So what did you do in school today?"
Son: "I played a trick on Martha". (being a practical joker, I'm skeptical of his ability to 'trick')

Me: "Really, what kinda trick?" (being a practical joker myself, I was skeptical of his ability to 'trick')
Son: "We took a math test today and I could tell she was cheating off me."
Me: "So how did you trick her?"

Son: "Well when I saw her trying to cheat off me I started counting and saying the wrong answer kinda loud, sorta like I was talking to myself. After I saw her write the number down, I wrote the right answer on my test."

Me: "Do you know how proud you just made me?" (tear, gulp!)
Son: "Can I get Mech Assault now for Xbox."

Me: "Consider it done".

Yesiree---that's my boy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Almost Garage Sale

I love garage sales. I go to them almost every Saturday morning and what I find goes up on eBay. It's become a nice revenue stream to satisfy my other habit - buying electronic gadgets for no apparent reason. In any event, the following happened to me one Saturday morning as I was heading out.

While driving out of my neighborhood I saw that a neighbor was having a garage sale, stuff was all out in the driveway and one of their cars was parked on the street in front of the house. People do this to keep the shoppers from driving in their grass.

One of the homeowners must'e been out putting the signs up in the other car so I whipped into their driveway to get the early bird deals. No one was outside but that didn't matter, I've been to many garage sales where the homeowners were going in and out of the house to get more stuff.

This particular sale was mostly tools. I don't have many tools so I snapped up a 'like new' wet-dry shop vac and was going through a tool box when the guy came out. It went like this:

Neighbor: "Can I help you?"
Me: "Yeah, how much for the shop vac?" (I was holding it)

Neighbor: "The shop vac isn't for sale."
Me: "Oh, sorry, what about this socket and ratchet, it looks new!"

Neighbor: "It is. Do you think this is a garage sale or something? It's not, I moved everything out of the garage to seal the garage floor, we aren't selling anything."

Me: "Oh........uh.....ok."

Needless to say I put the stuff down and left feeling like the total loser I was :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Death In The Family

We are a family of pets. In fact - my kids have had almost everything: dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, turantula, hermit crabs, gerbil, rat, gecko & fish. We are down to three dogs and 2 cats. One night, after my wife finished folding some laundry, I delivered it to the kids' rooms so they could put it away. When I walked into my oldest daughters room I opened the door to be greeted by a rather noxious smell. She (my daughter) had been at the kitchen table doing homework and hadn't been to her room since getting home from school. Therefore my opening of the door at 7:00 p.m. was the first time it had been opened since she left for school that morning. I quickly closed the door and went to get her.

Me: "You need to come with me to your room."
Her: "Why?"

Me: "There is a smell."

Her: "What kind of smell?"

Me: "Well it isn't flowers, now get up and come here."
Her: "Fine". (then she exhales like only a teenager can - that huff that says 'please die')

Me: "Open the door and take a whiff." (she opens and steps in, I stay back)
Her: "Ewwww, that's gross. What did you do?"

Me: "Nothing! What did you leave in here? Something is rotting."
Her: "I didn't have any food in my room." (at this point, she walks over and taps on the aquarium that is the home of Socks, her pet rat)

Me: "How's Socks?" (I notice he didn't jump when she banged on the glass)
Her: "He's ok, he's just sleeping."

Me: "How do you know he's sleeping honey? Shouldn't he wake up when you tap on the glass?"
Her: "He didn't wake up but I see his chest moving, so he's just asleep."

Me: "Honey, as surpsing as this may be to hear, rats don't get 'dog tired' to the point that you can't wake them." (I walk over and look closely at Socks' chest - it is moving, but not from him breathing)

Her: "See, he's breathing."
Me: "I'll agree something is breathing, but it isn't Socks, see honey, those are maggots under his skin moving around as they eat his body. He's dead and has been for some time. "

Her: (now she is inaudible through the crying and sniffling) "......blah, it is your fault because I was going to feed and water him Saturday but you let me go spend the night with Christy so I couldn't feed him dad so it's your fault he did!"

Me: "Let me get this right, because I let you go to a friends house, it is my fault your rat died?"
Her: "Of course."

Me: "Your mother has trained you bring the cage to the garage so we can bury him." (while she is walking I start humming 'Taps' as we parade out the house)
Her: "Stop making fun of me!"

That was the end of rodent pets - I think PETA has banned my family from owning anymore of them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Joke That Backfired

If you didn't know it, I have 3 childern, two girls and a boy. A couple of years ago, when my son was 8 I thought I'd play a joke on him. He was at that age where it is important to be a 'big boy' and do things by yourself. Thus he always wants to go to the bathroom whenever we go somewhere. Something about being away from home makes his bowels quite active. At any rate, we were at a restaurant one evening and he had to go to the bathroom. Having proven his ability to do this himself I generally let him go back there but I follow him closely for his own safety. On one such occasion I had an idea that thought it would be fun. Immediately after he went into the bathroom to go #2, I went in after him.  I then balled up several paper towels and threw them over the stall at him.

I have to tell you, it was hard not to laugh out loud. I was getting a cramp from holding in my laughter when he came back to the table and said, "Dad.....somebody was throwing paper at me when I was going potty." This scenario played out several more times over the next couple of months, everytime he would go to the bathroom when we went out, I'd go and throw the towels again. Soon he would just come out to the table and say, "That man is here, the one that throws towels". By this time, my wife is telling me to stop before he gets a complex.

This brings us to the night I stopped throwing towels. We went to dinner and as usual Mr. Bowel Boy (my son) had to go #2 and so as usual, I waited a couple of minutes and went in and begin making nicely packed paper towel balls and throwing them over the stall door at him (that's what cool dads do). That was when I heard in a very deep voice say, "I'm going to kick somebody's a$$ when I get out of here. I see your shoes buddy and you won't be hard to find."

It turns out my son had already left the bathroom (false poopy alarm on his part) but he doubled back to the table via a different route. I must've missed him when I was going in so the occupied stall was NOT occupied by him. I made a quick exit, threw down way too much money on the table, grabbed the family and left.

I can tell you this, the man that throws towels doesn't come around anymore :)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Gorilla Suit Story

As you may or may not know, the SuperBowl was coming to Jacksonville, Florida on Feb 6, 2005. I had an idea to get myself a big gorilla suit and stage some genuine 'Bigfoot spottings' along some very rural roads in the Jacksonvilel area.

My plan required an accomplice so over several lunches - I discussed my elaborate idea with a good friend. He too thought it was fool proof. The idea was to position my friend (we'll call him Rob since that was his name)up the road a bit on his cell phone. As a car was approaching I would be down the road in position in my gorilla suit. The plan was that I would be crossing the street or walking into the woods at just the right time so I would be seen at a passing glance.

After doing this for several months we thought it would be necessary to step it up a bit so the next level would involve roadkill. This required us to be 'mobile' and ready to act at a moments notice. Rob and I planned to canvas certain roads looking for an unforunate but always inevitable roadkill victim. In this staged siting, the idea was to have me crouch down as if to be feeding on the roadkill. Again, with Rob as lookout I would 'look up' into the oncoming headlights and then dash into the wood, Bigfoot style.

I know what your'e thinking - what about the footprints. Well we considered that. Rob was researching how to make giant gorilla/humanoid plaster feet casts that I could step into and wear like sandals. This way when I ran off I would leave foot prints. We also planned to just stamp the feet in the soft earth near the 'sighting' areas so that the wackadoo Bigfoot believers could announce thier findings.

If all went according to plan, by the time the SuperBowl hit, the entire Jacksonville community and perhaps even the nation would be aware that Bigfoot was in Jacksonville.

The best part the planned hoax was this:Rob was going to be one of 'those' people who not only saw Bigfoot but was going to be lucky enough capture some 'digital pictures'. We were convinced we could sell them to a tabloid paper for crazy money. The big unveiling was going to happen Superbowl week - after we cashed the tabloid check.

So why didn't we do it? Well I was on eBay shopping for Mascot costumes, gorilla suits, etc - I was working on phase one - acquisition of said ape suit when my wife peeked over my shoulder. I told her in so many words what Rob and I were up to. She walked away for about 10 minutes and then came back into the room. The conversation went like this.

Her: "So you think this Bigfoot thing is really a good idea?"
Me: "Hell yes. It can't fail."
Her: "Yes it can fail, and it will fail."
Me: "You're just jealous because you don't get to play a part."
Her: "Did you every consider this? Every road you're thinking of doing this on is inhabited by rednecks."
Me: "So what?"
Her: "Rednecks = Truck, Truck = Gun rack, Gun rack = Gun. This means that I don't think you can run as fast in a gorilla suit as a redneck can draw his rifle and shoot your ass while you're giggling like a girl and running in the woods. I think your carcass would be tied across the hood of his truck and the joke would be on you."

(this moment of clarity gave me great pause - I knew she was right, weeks of planning were wasted in that very instant - my plan was doomed.....or was it?)

Me: "What about a martian theme then?"
Her: "Go to bed."

She's too damn smart.......I still think it woulda worked.