Category Archives: Random Story

Being Judged At The Check-Out Line

On Monday nights, my night off, I like to go the grocery store, get my snacks for the week. My wife does most of the shopping for the family. We go to Whole Foods, get the good stuff. But when I go to the grocery store,

I mainly buy junk.

I try to even it out, you know. I grab raisins, then cookies from the ORGANIC SECTION. A good local granola for my cereal, and chips. Newman’s Own Fig Newman’s, and randomly, eggs.

I finish, head up to the front. It’s midnight, not too many shoppers, only one lane open.

And they’re never there! You have to look around. HELLO?!?! NEED HELP.

Looks like cashier’s been stocking, she runs up. She says, how you doin’ tonight? I say, good good.

I place the items on the conveyor belt, and then I look away. OH SHE’S GOING TO JUDGE ME. Well, would you look at this guy, and how UNHEALTHY he eats. Sweet and Sour pretzels, AND chips? I’m surprised this guy’s so skinny.

The final item goes through, I get out my credit card, swipe. I really want to say NO at this point, because I know what she’s going to say to me.

But I let her have her moment.

Do you have a Hy-Vee Fuel Saver card?

I say, no.

-Clint Curtis

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We All Think The Same

I’m preparing to go on a walk. I get dressed, put on a comfortable workout outfit. Sweat jacket, sweat pants, running shoes. I go outside, unfortunately, it’s drizzling out. But not that much. Not enough to not take a walk. I get going, start walking down the street.

Contemplating the rain, I think, well, this’ll be good for my grass. After thinking that, I thought, that might be a universal thought. Especially with homeowners. The reason I think it’s a universal thought is because I’ve thought about it numerous times. It rains, I think, it’ll be good for my grass.

I have kind of a formula when I write. I try to write funny, concise, thought-provoking stories that people will relate to. The formula is simple. If I’m talking to someone, and they make me laugh, out loud (sorry, kids. LOL), I think that could be a universality. The reason I laugh, a lot of times, is because I can relate to what the person said to me. Something funny that I may not have articulated myself before. That’s a lot of what comedy is. Universal thought. The comedian gets up on stage, talks about what subculture they fall under, they’re overweight, they’re a lesbian, they’re black, they’re Jewish, and tell jokes people under that subculture will find relatable. And hopefully, maybe, people outside the subculture will find funny, because maybe they’ve felt the same way, or have a Mexican friend for example that they’ve identified these traits in what the comedian is telling the joke about. The key thing to this is, the comedian tells jokes that people will relate to. Oh my God, the audience member thinks. I’ve thought about which way the toilet paper goes too. I’ve thought about where I should put my nail clippings. I’ve thought about how when it rains, it’ll be good for my grass.

Writers that understand people, see universals, see trends, and realize the things that haven’t been spoken, and speak them, follow a set formula. Another formula writers/comedians follow is self-deprecating humor. But this also ties into relatable material. I sit on my couch all day, smoke weed, and eat tons of junk food. We’ve all been there on the couch with a pint of Haagen-Dazs, and a bong. If you haven’t, you haven’t lived.

Many writers will write material that is non-specific. They stray away from the now, material that is hot in the moment. I’m talking pop culture. The great writers imagine their book being read in 100 years, and not want it to be dated. Who the hell is Johnny Carson, and why should I care about him? It’s very simple. A great rule should be to not talk about famous people, or material taken from the news, unless it has to do with universals, and you can make it non-specific. Did you hear about Kim Kardashian, and the stupid things she says on her show? No. Instead, talk about how TV shows nowadays are… Maybe, perhaps, you want to be generational specific. Art is like that. Get out a book featuring artists of the 20th century. You’ll see a progression. In the 1960’s, art was like this. Warhol was at the forefront of a movement called Pop Art. These are artists who fell under that category. This is art that represent the times.

Ah, but the geniuses in art, in music, in writing, capture universal, timeless, non-specific thought. A perfect example would be Shakespeare, a man who wrote plays hundreds of years ago that can be relatable today. That is an extraordinary feat. He was able to capture universal thought, action, perception, emotion, on a GRAND SCALE almost like no one has ever achieved. The Beatles are another example of material I believe will be listened to for centuries to come. It is that timeless, no matter how out of date the production value is. The Beatles, with their words, and their music, produced material that will be relatable to everyone on the planet. All you need is love. I want to hold your hand. Songs about loneliness. Masterpieces that will hang in the great museums to come.

This is where I’m going to. What is universal thought, and why is it prevalent? What does it say about us? I don’t want to sound conspiracy-like here, but I believe we are all programmed, on a base level, to think the same way. We feel the exact same emotions as everyone else. Why are our brains programmed like that? Let’s think about the opposite for a moment. What if everyone thought differently, what would life be like? One possibility would be that the world would be in chaos. In society, their needs to be some sort of cohesion. That’s why laws exist. Everyone basically has to follow one primary law. If not, you won’t fit in society, and may be incarcerated for it. So by everyone thinking the same thing, perhaps, it creates ORDER. It creates civilization, civility. Which I believe is a good thing. And getting back, what would we laugh about, if none of us shared a similar mind-set? And humor, in the end, is what gets us through today, and to tomorrow. If none of has any humor, there would be no happiness. We would just be like drones going through our day. So the programming we experience, may not be such a negative thing.

To end on a personal note, when I’m watching a movie let’s say, I’ll give the example of Toy Story 3, and I find myself at the end of the movie, crying my eyes out, I get embarrassed, and a bit angry, that someone created something that was able to manipulate my emotions so much, that I would act like a child. The ending was all about the end of innocence, going off into the real world, and putting away your toys. Growing up. EVERYONE goes through that, that is one of the biggest universal experiences, even though I fight against it every day. I mean, look at me. I’m 43 years old, and I’m still working a 20-something job.

I get really angry when I hear the phrase, everything has been done before. It really bends me out of shape. No, we haven’t even scratched the surface about what original things mankind can accomplish. This is what I want to do in life. Produce something that is TRULY ORIGINAL. Maybe realize the universal thought, and keep on going beyond and beyond and beyond that. To go to a place in the mind that no man or woman has ever gone before, and then put it into some kind of work. Something tangible. Or maybe not. Maybe that’s where I need to go. To create something that’s actually intangible. I don’t know what that might be.

You’ve heard of the phrase, thinking outside the box, and that’s a good start. But what is the box? What is actually the box, and what are we doing with it? It’s about realization. It’s about seeing what REALLY IS,and what we’re doing with our life.

And on that note, I think I’ll go outside again,

And watch my grass grow.

-Clint Curtis

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12 Cameras

I’m upstairs in my seven year-old son’s room.  It’s almost bedtime, my wife Carole is reading to the boys.  Something about sharks, I’m not really listening, just spacing out.

My son’s have drinks in a kids cup, they have a bowl of pretzels in front of them.  They’re both eating from the same bowl.  I watch my youngest son, take a pretzel, one of the long stick kinds, put it between his toes, lift up his foot, then eat it.  I’m actually pretty impressed.  I wish I was that limber, I could get my foot up to my mouth.  I can barely go half-way, if I can even do that.

After his magic trick, I started thinking how kids are.  You know, they can’t just walk from one place to another.  They have to walk the curb as if it’s a tight rope.  They have to run up the hill beside it, jump on an embankment.  They can’t just eat food.  They have to put it in their toes, bring their foot up to their mouth, eat it.

We lose that somewhere, don’t we?  The having fun when doing mundane things.  Is it just laziness?  We want to get this meal over with as quick as possible.  We want to get to our destination that much quicker.  But kids, see, are all in the moment.  That’s all that exists, their plate in front of them.  Ok, they’re probably thinking about their video game, a TV show, going to Target.

I think we should ALL hold onto that kid inside us as long as possible.  Do you want to just get all boring and stuffy and have no fun?  Please say no.  I know when we’re adults, we have to play by adult rules.  I mean, you act like a kid at the dinner table, people are going to wonder if you have mental issues.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I saw a guy, on my way to play racquetball today, he was in the middle of traffic.  I see him go up to a truck stopped at the stop light in front of me, start talking to the driver.  Does he know the guy?  Seems strange.  The light turns green, the truck just stays put.  The people behind him are probably getting annoyed.  I know I’d be.  I pass by him, go into the parking lot, get my ticket, find a parking spot, get out, walk down the stairs, out the door, across the street, and I see the same guy, walking away from the entrance of the Y.  He’s yelling at a guy.  Seems incoherent.  I walk in with the guy he was talking to, I say, you know that guy?  He says, no.  He came up to me, and said, do you know there’s twelve cameras watching us?  The guy’s on drugs.

I check in, walk upstairs, go play racquetball.

I play good.

-Clint Curtis

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A Perfect Day In San Diego

Had an amazing day today in sunny San Diego.  Woke up before noon (still on bartender time), had breakfast, then drove to the Sorrento Valley Racquetball Center for my second private lesson with Aaron Embry.  If you’ve been following my stories in the past, you’ll know that I’ve been geeking out on racquetball.  About two months ago, an acquaintence of mine sent me a link to a Youtube video racquetball tutorial.  In the first one I saw, the instructor, Embry, mentioned that he was filming at aforementioned club, and for some reason, I Googled where the club was located, and it was in San Diego!  I’ve been visiting San Diego twice a year now, my father lives in a suburb of San Diego called La Mesa, so, with the power of the Internet, I got in touch with Embry, and set up a couple lessons when I was going to be in town.  I had the best time at the lessons, and they were a real eye-opener.  One of the first things he taught me was to watch your oponnent when he’s taking his shot, so that you can predict better where the ball will be going.  Well, for the last year, I was conciously NOT doing that.  Mostly, so I wouldn’t be hit in the face with a ball going 100 mph.  He showed me how to cover your face with the racquet, while watching where your oponnent is going to hit the ball.  He walked me through some drills I could practice on my own, which will be helpful in the future.  He taught me a really good lob serve to the backhand, and how I need to reach out for the ball, instead of getting too close to the ball, when hitting.  What an amazing experience!  I recommend to anyone when they want to take what they’re doing to the next level, take a lesson from a pro in the field, or your progress will just plateau after awhile, and you’ll never get better.

After my lesson, I went to a coffee shop called Filter.  Funky place, the front area, and side area, both open to the elements.  There was a wonderful breeze coming through, so it was quite delightful.  I ordered a Vietnamese coffee, and a slice of Apple Pie a la mode.  Hey.  When on vacation.  I sit down between a guy and a girl with laptops open.  I got out my book, sipped at my coffee, took a big bite of my apple pie, and relaxed.  It felt amazing.  This is my kind of vacation.  Forget going to this thing and that thing, seeing this, seeing that.  Give me a good book, a cup of great coffee, a beautiful day, and I’m in heaven.

After about an hour at the coffee shop, I take off, and go for a walk.  Bars, sushi restaurants, up and down the street.  I see a tennis shop across the street.  Hey, let’s check that out, why not?

I go in, and the two-room place is jammed with stuff.  Tons of racquets on one wall.  Tennis shoes, hats, five racks of work-out clothes.  An Asian woman behind the counter is stringing a racquet.  I strike up a conversation with her.  Seems like a nice lady.  We talk about how popular tennis is in San Diego right now.  I tell her I’m a racquetball player.  Looks like she has a total of five racquetball racquets on the wall.  Not so popular.

I look through the clothes, go to the medium rack.  I’m pretty happy with myself.  I’m 43, and can wear a medium shirt/jacket.  I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

I find a jacket that catches my eye.  It’s by Sergio Tacchini.  When I was in high school and played tennis, Sergio Taccchini was the shit.  Really expensive.  I look at the price tag.  Hey, the jacket is on sale for $48.  I’m on vacation, I need a memento, why not buy a jacket?  Even though right now it’s 85 degrees out.

I try it on, I love it, buy it, say good-bye to the lady behind the counter stringing racquets, and take off.  I walk to my car, hop in, get out my cell phone, open up my Maps app, type in my Dad’s address.  How amazing is the GPS on the phone?  I am floored how incredible it is. Hmm.  I’m hungry for ice cream.  You type in ice cream, bada-bing, bada-boom, here’s ten selections in a five mile radius.  No more stressing about getting lost.  It’s a game changer.

I hit a little traffic, no big deal.  I take in the interstate scenery.  Your usual billboards on the side, but there’s a lot more twists and turns than in Iowa.  It’s almost more fun.  I love driving, always have.  When I turned 14, on the dot, that day, I got my learner’s permit.  And on my 16th birthday, I started driving by myself.  It’s especially enjoyable when you’re alone.  I very rarely even listen to music.  It’s a perfect time to reflect, relax, drive.

I get home, my Dad’s gone to the driving range to hit some balls.  I have a really nice chat with my Stepmom Mary.  She’s awesome, and an incredible cook.  She made a cherry pie this week that was beyond words.  The damn crust was scrumptious!

I’m back in Iowa tomorrow, as long as my plane doesn’t go down.  I hope that isn’t one of those things that comes true, then millions of people go to my blog, and see that I wrote that, and think, omg.  It actually happened!

Really excited to tell more bar stories in the future.  There’s always something going on.

I’ll leave you with this.  After my first racquetball lesson was over, I was talking to my teacher, Aaron Embry, and I was telling him how much I loved the game of racquetball.  He says, yeah.  In the end, we’re just like dogs.

We like to chase a ball around.

-Clint Curtis

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Sneaking Into The Playboy Mansion

I’m behind the bar, it’s martini night, guess what? I’m making. A lot. Of martinis.

I approach two customers at the bar. Guy, with a huge beard, and a nice young lady. The guy exclaims, Clint! Holy shit, I know this guy. But at first, I can’t put my finger on WHERE I know him from. I say, hey, my man!  I didn’t recognize you.

Give me a sec. It’s coming.

Yeah, he says. It’s the beard.

BINGO. Used to work with him ten years ago. Got it.

We catch up. He tells me about a creative project he’s doing. A pubcast. Ok. Good for him. He says, I know you tell bar stories. Love for you to come in, tell some of your stories.

He turns to his friend, says, Clint has a story that transcends other stories. Every walk of life can appreciate the story.

Ok. What story is he talking about?  I’ve written about 900 of them in the past two years.

He says, Clint. You know which story I’m talking about. You rip open your shirt, and there’s the tuxedo.

What the hell is this guy talking about?  I’ve never worn a tuxedo. Ok, maybe in my wedding, and swing choir.

I don’t want to be rude, so I go along with it.

Yeah, I say. That’s a good one.

He says, good one?!?!  That story’s epic!

Damn it. What the hell story is it?  Now I’m screwed. I can’t go back and say, actually I don’t know which story you’re talking about. But now, I REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHICH STORY HE’S TALKING ABOUT. I mean, there’s something that must be done. An epic story?  With a shirt and a tuxedo? The only thing I can visualize is Superman.

But that’s not right.

He turns to his friend. He says, I will tell you later which story I’m talking about. I’m thinking, no, please tell her. Because I WANT TO KNOW.

After the guy leaves, and I’m none the wiser to the so-called epic story, I turn to my fellow bartender, and say, you know that guy?  He says, yeah. I say, he said one of my stories was epic, but I couldn’t figure out which one he was talking about. It was something like I ripped open my shirt, and I’m wearing a tuxedo?  My fellow bartender says, I know what he’s talking about. I say, excitedly, WHICH ONE? He says, sneaking into the Playboy Mansion. Ohhhh, I say. THAT one.

My buddies and I got together, and devised a plan. We’ll rent out a couple camcorders, and film us sneaking into the Playboy Mansion for the Millennium Party. My friend learned from a friend how to sneak in. You have to go through his neighbor’s yard, climb a few fences, get in from the backyard. We go out, buy those coveralls mechanics wear. All one piece, long zipper in the front. We put on our suits, then put the coveralls over it. The night comes, we park a block or so away, start filming. We crawl on the wet ground, through Hugh Hef’s neighbors front lawn for a good 45 minutes, and we can see the guards, standing a stone’s throw away from us. We finally get to the last fence to Hugh’s backyard, zip open the coveralls, take them off, and throw them all on top of Hugh Hefner’s neighbor’s house.

Can you imagine, months later, the guy says, oh, I guess it’s time to clean out my gutters, getting up on the ladder to the roof, and seeing those clothes up there?  I bet he freaked!!!

We got in, had an amazing time, filmed all of it, and the rest, as they say, is EPIC.

After we were done with the short film, we had a friend that grew up at the Playboy Mansion, we give him a copy, and ask him if he would give it to Hugh. Weeks later, we got a letter from the man himself. And it said, in a nutshell,

I appreciate what you did, but don’t EVER do it again.

-Clint Curtis

(Followers: Video posted on site)

Shamrock Shakes

I’m in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a dental appointment. Cedar Rapids is about 2 1/2 hours away from Des Moines. Why do I go all the way to Cedar Rapids for a dental appointment? Well…my uncle is my dentist, I get to see him, then I go see my 94 year-old grandmother. Always love seeing her, and spending time with her.

While driving around Cedar Rapids, I go by a McDonald’s, oh hell yeah! Guess what they have? SHAMROCK SHAKES!!! I love Shamrock Shakes, who doesn’t? They’re delicious, and hit the spot once a year.

I decide it’s not the right time for my yearly Shamrock Shake. Probably not a good idea for right before you have a dental appointment, know what I’m saying? I decide to wait until the evening when I’m back in Des Moines.

I think about that Shamrock Shake all the way to Des Moines. Where I’m going to drink it. Where I’m going to buy it. Will I be able to get it, and wait until I get home? Or just say, hell with it. Drink it right there in the parking lot.

I get to the McDonald’s around 10:30pm. Just got back into town. I get to the drive-thru. Can I get a Shamrock Shake, please? She says, through the intercom, sorry. Our machine is broken. We can’t do Shamrock Shakes. WHAT THE HELL?!?! I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR A SHAMROCK SHAKE FOR A YEAR NOW!!! THIS IS BULLSHIT!

I take off, not waiting for a response.

I call a buddy of mine, who knows everything about everything. Do you know where there’s a McDonald’s open right now? He says, on Fleur. I think for a second, then say, hell yeah!! I’m driving there.

I get there, 20 minutes later, their machine is working!!! I get my yearly Shamrock Shake, scarf it down.

The next day, I’m talking to my wife. I tell her my Shamrock story. She says, I can make Shamrock Shakes. I say, what the hell? Really? She says, yeah. I’ve got the recipe.

Well I’ll be a son-of-a-gun.

She makes it the next day, and it’s delicious! Just as good as one at McDonald’s. And it’s pretty simple. I’ll leave you with my wife’s recipe, so you can enjoy Shamrock Shakes year round:

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Shamrock-Shakes/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Thumb&e11=shamrock%20shake&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page&soid=sr_results_p1i1

-Clint Curtis

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One Night

I’ve been feeling good lately. You know, really good. Like everything is right with the world. I’m getting along with everyone I should.

I recently had an amazing experience. I can’t really go into the specifics, but let’s just say, I wish it would happen again.

I feel like I can be really greedy sometimes. I know, if you think about it, you do too. Something great happens in your life, you want it to keep on going. BUT WHY?!?  Why can’t you think, wow, that happened, it brought me so much joy, and now, I’m going to count my blessings, and walk away. Why can’t we do that?  Be happy with the gifts we’re given, rather than seeing what we didn’t get, and what we don’t have.

This is why we’re greedy. We want MORE. But let’s just TRY to change our thinking. It was a GREAT DAY, but it’s over, let’s move on. Instead of being bothered that it doesn’t keep on going.

You meet someone one night. You have a great time. Now. LET IT GO. Walk away. Be happy with that one night. Appreciate it, damn it!  Why does it have to go on to be a gift?

Because tomorrow comes, you don’t know what it will be, or what’s supposed to happen.

-Clint Curtis

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