Category Archives: Adventures of Greeno

Attention Surplus Disorder: Get The Facts

Alert readers have probably noticed that I’ve figured out how to stick photographs into my blog, and that I’ve been doing it A LOT.  For most people, this is a good way to get through the tedious process of reading someone’s crappy blog – you can take a break every minute or two and look at Megan Fox or a stack of cinder blocks or Cartoon Mr. T.

But that’s because here in 2011, we don’t have terribly long attention spans.  Why would we?  There is way too much going on these days to sit around focusing on things.  Meditation is for suckers.  One hand doesn’t make any sound clapping, especially if it’s in the forest and there’s no one around except the guy whose hand it is.  And he’s deaf, stupid.

Hold on, look at this puppy dog:

He’s a big, sleepy puppy, isn’t he?  Anyway, what was I talking about?  Was it cake?

No, it was attention spans, and how short they normally are now, and so what I’m doing is I’m trying to raise awareness in the general population, regarding an affliction which affects just 1-3% of the population, and it’s a pretty serious, big deal, so you should pay attention for as long as you can, even if you have to keep jabbing yourself in the thigh with a fork. 

It’s called Attention Surplus Disorder.  I know, it’s a long three words and it’s easy to find yourself thinking about the new X-Men movie while you’re plowing through them, but just keep backing up and then throwing yourself against the fence.  You’ll get ’em.

My good friend Rebecah has ASD.  She’s always emailing me and telling me which words I spelled wrong, and I always wrinkle my forehead and give the screen a troubled expression.  You know – like I’m realizing that Rebecah never has a second cup of coffee at home. 

It’s like, Rebecah, spelling correctly all the time makes you look like a square.  I would totally lose my blogging cred if I went around doing that.  The bloggers would lose all respect – you got the South American Blogging Cartels, the Hell’s Bloggers, the Blog Bangers. 

I’m talking about survival, dawg!   

These are some cupcakes a friend of mine made last month – really good.  There were chocolate chips in these suckers, if I recall. 

Anyway, that’s part of ASD – always noticing stuff that’s wrong because of all that attention you’re paying.  It’s actually considered a form of paralysis.  I mean – get this – guess what Rebecah does when she wants bread?  She bakes it!

That’s way too much attention paid to bread, right there.  Here in modern society, we all know that the best thing to do is let giant factories churn out a white, edible-but-nutrionally-empty paste, let them flavor it with Bread Oxide Flavoring or something, bake it and then drive it around in a truck for a while, so we can spend ten seconds thinking about it while we strike a balance between which lumps are on sale and which lumps have the prettiest, brownest, old-timiest wrappers.

And that’s reminds me – Rebecah had the nerve to tell me that sometimes I’m putting so many big, hilarious, bright, distracting pictures all over my blog that it’s hard to read it, and it makes her head hurt, and that if she lived near me she’d probably strangle me, at least until I passed out.

So I’m like first of all, that’s way too much focus.  Strangling is one of the most focused forms of violence there is – and I know, because people try to strangle me A LOT.

Have you seen these cute little singing critters by the way?

Actually, she didn’t really tell me about my blog pictures, she emailed me and I didn’t know what she was talking about – it was a long email and I only skimmed it.  Bloggers are busy, you know. 

Later, I had my personal assistant and three of my attorneys (I forget their names, I just call them all Gonzo) give me the gist of it while I was blasting golf balls into Boston Harbor from the deck of my Blogging Yacht.  The middle Gonzo said, “She taunts us, Master.  She constructively criticizes our blog.   Ssssssssssssssssssssss….”

I said, “Greeno! Take a letter.”  But hell, he wasn’t even there.  I hadn’t seen him in months – what day was it?  What was a “letter?”  Where were my pants?

Hell with it, I said, tossing my five iron into the Bay.  I’ll deal with this old-fashioned Blog Style.

Look, Rebecah.  Every picture I put in my blog is directly related to what I’m typing.  I have a zero tolerance policy in that regard.  It’s a long, technical, tedious process – it can take up to nine hours to add a single image – so you know I’m not just grabbing them at random and slapping them on there like big, silly stickers.

Blogging is very hard so don’t judge until you’ve blogged in someone else’s shoes.  You don’t see me telling you how to bake homemade bread or proofread blogs, do you?

Yeah, like anyone can just log onto WordPress and then start blogging.  Some people don’t have computers or even hands, you know.  Maybe while you’re checking my spelling and counting my pictures, you could think about them for once.  Eh?  EH??

She’s probably going to need some ice for that burn.  Let’s give her a second. 

Okay.  Here’s a picture of Rebecah explaining to me how much of an idiot I am for misspelling things all the time and using too many extemporaneous images and not baking my own organic bread.  As you can see, it really affected her, and I’m pretty concerned about it. Except the alert reader will notice that for insurance reasons, both Rebecah and myself are being played by actors.

Listen:  If you know someone who has ASD, the best thing to do is Intervention-style drag them kicking and screaming into your own psychological mindset.  If it’s someone you work near all day, try making a series of impossible-to-outlaw-but-really-distracting noises all day, like sniffling or clicking your tongue or quoting Coen Brothers movies every ten minutes or so, until they snap.

And not surprisingly, this issue doesn’t get a lot of funding, so you want to click on that book over there and buy it.  I mean, if there’s nothing you can do about ASD, you might as well kick back with a book – and there’s not a single picture in the thing, so it will help you to understand your afflicted loved ones.

Yep.  And here’s a monkey wearing a hat – he thinks he’s people.


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Dear Mrs. Greeno

Dear Mrs. Greeno –

As you no doubt noticed and are probably all distraught over, I neglected to post a congratulatory message on your Facebook page, upon receiving a text message from Actual Greeno (not to be confused with the fictional amalgam), regarding your having passed (with flying colors) the Bar exam.

I know that you guys have a balcony on your sweet, billionth floor apartment in downtown Chicago, and you’re probably out there right now looking down at the street, thinking about how meaningless the Bar Exam seems without a sideways smiley face from me on your Facebook page, made out of punctuation marks.

So I thought I’d explain myself. First of all, that’s for never making me pancakes when I request them. I told you that you’d rue the day.  But the past is gone – let’s move on.

Because furthermore, my thinking was that since you’re Greeno’s meek and dutiful wife, technically that’s his license to practice law. What I did was go ahead and congratulate him via return text message, and I think I also I made a couple of crude remarks and then forgot where my phone was for two days.

So after a stern – and surprisingly detailed, very long and shrill – lecture from Marilyn about some kind of Wife Stuff (I don’t know for sure, I had Stargate Atlantis on subtitles over her shoulder and I didn’t catch most of it), I came to understand the various errors I was making – both philosophically and socially – on this matter.

For example, Marliyn says that your name isn’t even Mrs. Greeno, it’s Stephanie or Francis or something. And then she got all Women’s Studies on me about property ownership and glass ceilings and someone named Miss Odgenny, whoever that is.

I was all like whoa, hold on I’ll post something on her Facebook page already, settle down.

So then I went over there and your picture is of you running a marathon. It made me mad just looking at it – I’m supposed to go on over and tell the marathon-running, spinning instructor attorney congratulations?

Why don’t you go ahead and get your black belt and cure cancer while you’re at it – I’ll bake you a cake.

So I closed out your Facebook page and threw my laptop in the garbage and started drinking cooking wine in the closet, with opera music on my iPod and my kitty duct taped to my chest. Marilyn had to send Ellen in there to poke me with a broomstick until I scuttled out.

After some fried eggs and bean burritos, I felt much better, and I figured, you know Tom, that was pretty childish and self-absorbed.

Just because your pal Cindy or Fiona – or whoever Greeno’s married to – is kicking the crap out of Life every time Life takes a break from pounding on old Tommy C with a nine-foot length of raw cane, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t congratulate her.

Maybe old Tommy C should have thought of that before selecting the American Blogging Academy over Missus Greeno’s Law School, or the ten academic programs she had to excel at before even getting into it in the first place, while old Tommy C was running a nine ball table, collecting five bucks and thinking, “Sweet.”

After I calmed down, in fact, I started thinking about all the times it would have been awfully handy to have an attorney around. Like when me and Greeno got involved in that dogfighting racket, and the dogs turned out to be hobos locked in Snoopy and Marmaduke suits – do Chicago lawyers have their powers in Bangkok or is it like Superman back on Krypton?

So I went back to your Facebook page but there you were again, running a marathon.

You know, there’s no reason to show off, right? Slow down and smell the flowers. Make some pancakes for your husband’s wacky pal – the simple things. Your husband’s wacky pal likes banana pancakes with a pecan crusty goodness on them, and real maple syrup, by the way, FYI.

Anyway. The answer of course was to congratulate you off of your Facebook page, so I wouldn’t get so pissed off at your marathon running, and then run over there real quick and post it and run away.

Run away very noisily, jiggling, huffing, puffing, a lurching, slouching, flatulent kind of run – you see what I’m saying here.

So formally, on behalf of myself and my entire staff here at Future Tom Incorporated International, congratulations on your recent passage of the Bar Exam in Chicago, Illinois.

May God have mercy on your soul.


Tom Chalfant

P.S. In case you are hammered and can’t detect my subtle irony, I think you are brilliant and awesome and very sincerely, congratulations.  I am hiding my deep, conflicted feelings of awestruck admiration and crippling, terrfied inadequacy behind a mask of irreverant sarcasm – but I think you know that.  I hereby promise to make you some pancakes the next time I’m there, but you have to give some to Stephen.

P.P.S. – I can run four miles now. I’m gaining on you.

P.P.P.S – I think that since Stephen used to buy me beers when he lived here, and since you took Stephen to Chicago with you, and since you’re now a high-powered attorney in Chicago, that I should probably be sending my bar tabs to your firm. Please forward the address for your firm’s Accounts Payable Department at your earliest convenience.

P.P.P.P.S. – I just saw on television that you can buy the whole Ally McBeal series on DVD right now for like eighty bucks. Send me your account information so I can lock that shit down. End transmission.


Posted by on October 6, 2010 in Adventures of Greeno


Return of Greeno

Greeno swings by the convenience store to pick up a five dollar lottery ticket and a pack of smokes.  It’s 1992, so the smokes are just a couple of bucks and almost nobody yells at you for smoking them. 

He gets a little change back from the ten dollar bill and it’s no problem to light up right there on the street and walk along with it.

He thinks to himself, maybe a beer at the South Station on the way home, even though he can see his apartment building from where he’s thinking it.

South Station it is.

When he gets there he finds a few pals.  There’s Moosehead Dave and Dogboy and The Flash – all real people, despite their cartoon character names.   

And there’s Billy, a local Irishman from the days of Andy Capp.  And Chris, a bona fide crazy guy who sometimes runs out into the alley when helicopters fly over, where he pretends to talk them through a tiny hidden radio in his collar – he’s deep, deep undercover.

Greeno is not what you’d call a realistic planner.  For example, if you ask him how long practically anything will take, his answer is always twenty minutes, and he’s not joking.

He’s also very suggestible. 

Do you want to go and catch a movie?  Because if you do, Greeno will go and catch a movie with you. 

Do you want to put on suits and start drinking vodka at ten o’clock in the morning?  Because Greeno will throw on a suit and start drinking vodka at then o’clock in the morning.

And Greeno knows this about himself.  His chances of popping by for a single beer are approximately zero percent. 

Yet still after just a few seconds walking among the clinking billiard balls and haze of silver smoke and the Simpsons on television, he is surprised by his instant desire to sit down and shoot the breeze for a couple of hours, maybe play a little pool – where on earth did he get that idea?

He frowns down at the two dollars and change in his hand.  That certainly doesn’t look like a couple of hours of good times, no sir.  Greeno closes his fist around the small sum of money, and shakes it at the sky.

The bartender arrives, a blindingly cheerful force in the otherwise dreary tavern.  She says, “What can I get you, Greeno?”

“Hold on,” Greeno replies, and he looks around the room, seeing that he’s drawn the attention of practically everybody.  He slaps all of his objects – a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, a five-dollar lottery ticket, two bucks, and five or six coins – onto the bar in front of him.  He spots a folded copy of The Other Paper on the bar nearby, so he scoots it over with his objects – that’s his now.

He wishes he hadn’t bought the scratch-off lottery ticket.  Greeno scowls at it, seeing it now as three beers he could be drinking.  Unless he were to win – how cool would that be?

“Listen,” Greeno says to the room, picking up the ticket from the bar and showing it to everyone.  “Who wants to buy in on my scratch-off ticket here?  Two-fifty, we’ll split the winnings right down the middle.”

Kind of hoping the bartender would do it, maybe just slide him a couple of beers, keep it all on the down low. 

Chris slowly bows his chin to his chest, giggling – that’s normal. 

And Billy tries to tell him something but Greeno can’t understand what it is, because Moosehead Dave says something louder with swear words in it. 

A couple of other people like the idea of swearing, it really catches on.  There’s not much to do except bob back and forth on his heels, nodding patiently while it all dies down.  Doesn’t sound like he’s got any takers.

Good one guys.  Greeno shoves the two dollars forward and asks for a Budweiser.  Somebody claps him on the back and Greeno makes his mouth into a straight line, staring at himself in the mirror above the bar.  Whoever it is moves off.

He pushes two of the coins forward and asks for peanuts, as well.  The bartender takes most of his money and he pushes the rest forward as a tip, except for a single penny.

Greeno grabs his new copy of The Other Paper and sits down in front of the peanuts and the Budweiser, flipping around to the News of the Weird section.  He likes to read them one at a time and then take a nice, thoroughly-entertained swig of beer between them.  Usually his favorite beer of the week.

When he is finished, he picks up a penny and starts scratching off the lottery ticket.   He wins ten thousand dollars, and puts his cigarette out.  It’s time to go now.

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Posted by on September 6, 2010 in Adventures of Greeno


The Greeno Menace

Greeno was already in a bar, broad daylight, when I called him up and told him, some sales rep just came in here, gave me three free tickets to the new Star Wars movie, The Phantom Menace.

“I’m in,” Greeno said, gesturing to the bartender for another vodka tonic.

Greeno and I didn’t really meet until our twenties, but he was a lot like me, and it’s my story, I can change that, so we’ll just skip back in time and I’ll stick him right here, between Mike Rothe and John Liesveld, in the cafeteria at my old school.  It’s Monday, and we’re all jabbering about Return of the Jedi, which we thought was the greatest thing to ever happen in film history.

I think that was the one with the big asteroid puppet that tries to eat the Millenium Falcon, and I’m 100% positive it was the one with the warrior teddy bears, but we didn’t notice that.  We were all feverishly describing every single scene in the movie so quickly, that I don’t see how any of us could have been actually listening to each other.

Then John Liesveld dropped a real downer on us.  He explained that these three movies were actually the fourth, fifth, and sixth movies of a nine-part series, and that George Lucas was planning on making the first one next – a weird choice – but he wasn’t going to do it until the year 2000.

Okay, so we did the math.  That was seventeen years from now.  I mean, we could make a solemn promise to all go and see it together, in 2000, but what the hell were we supposed to do for seventeen years?

Well, Steve Spangler over there had big, sweet replicas of most of the ships.  Mike had a video camera.  We could make our own Star Wars movies, until the real ones came out.

“And they have books!”  Someone said, somebody who wanted food thrown at them.

We threw some food at him, and then seventeen years went by, and the movie came out, and nobody knew it was a big turd yet, so everybody was going, oh man, this is the single most important day of my life, and putting on stormtrooper suits and stapling anything round they could find to the sides of their girlfriends’ heads, and heading to the movie theatre to try and get tickets.

Still not quite to where you could get online and buy them, you still had to show up and stand in line, clomping your feet like a bunch of slaughterhouse cows.  If you can’t smell, a funny thing to do in that situation is fart and then demand to know who did it.

The sales rep guy was named Jeff Blovitz – I’m sure he’s still out there somewhere.   I’m not sure how he knew I was a big, serious dork, but it might have been from talking to me.  He turned out to have all sorts of knowledge about the Star Wars universe and could talk about it at length.  I looked at him – was he the kid we threw food at that day?

Back then you could still smoke in bars, and so that’s what Greeno was doing, while I finished working and arranged for a quick babysitter, and called the wife and said, code red, we’ve got Star Wars tickets and you’re meeting me and Greeno at such and such bar.  Bring a big purse.

And then there I was, sitting next to Greeno, not smoking but unable to imagine a world in which you could sit in a bar without getting smoked at, having an icy cold beer, thinking, it’s been a long time coming.  This is going to be more exciting than the creation of the Universe itself.

Meanwhile, Greeno was no longer half in the bag.  He had the bag up around his neck, cinched tightly, and he was going to have to hop around in it wherever he went. 

Greeno said, “There isn’t much that I can honestly say I’ve been looking forward to all my life.”

Got that right, partner, I said.  Clink!

Then came the wife, dolled up, showing some leg, a saxophone playing behind her as she walked in.  We had just gotten fresh drinks, and she said that we should go, because the movie starts pretty soon and there’s going to be a line.

So we slammed them down, and then exploded at her for not bringing the large purse.  Greeno and I like to have a six pack of beer with our movie, and that’s one thing big purses and wives are good for, in this context. 

“Now I’m going to have to smuggle them, in various pockets,” I said.

So we rolled by a carryout, and got a six pack of Labatt’s Blue, and of course, it was May, so it wasn’t like I had a big puffy coat to conceal them all in.  The wife was offering a running commentary on how the six pack of beer wasn’t necessary, and how we were too old to behave like children, and how there was no way we would get it past the door guys anyway.

We said, listen No Purse, just don’t worry about it.  There’s nothing that can’t be done.

So I slid a beer in each of the pockets of my khakis, and then sucked in my gut and slid four more right along my belt, tightening it up to strap them in place.  I couldn’t really stick my hands in my pockets, but I could cover the protruding caps with my hands, and if I bent my elbows, I would look a lot like I had my hands in my pockets.

Greeno was having trouble walking, period, so there was no way to burden him with the job of keeping any beers stuck to him, so his job was to stand between me and any usher, while the wife did all the talking.

Right across the parking lot, having to take small steps because the pants were stretched around me, clinking a little bit like a guy with six bottles of beer stuffed in his pants, and then we were right there, wading through a sea of people who were in for a serious disappointment.

But that’s the key, man.  Hide in plain sight.  The Secret Service wasn’t there or anything, and neither was Dalton from Road House, so there was not a lot of individual scrutiny.  The question really is, can you keep a straight, nonchalant face while you stiffwalk, clinking, right past ten ushers.

Yes, I could, it turns out, and Greeno could also nonchalantly run interference on nearby ushers, even if he was seeing more of them than I was.

Once we were in the theatre, the wife shaking her head, frowning and giggling at the same time, I began the trick process of getting the bottles out of my pants without anyone seeing, even though every single seat around me was occupied.

But again, no one is watching you at the theatre.  They’re watching the screen.  I got the bottles all lined up neatly under my own seat, six of them, thinking, cool, when the previews start, we win.  The rules don’t apply to us, because we’re super cool.

That’s not what the wife was thinking, not exactly, but she was a good sport about it when I slipped one of the beers across her lap, then two more, over to Greeno on the other side of her, who said, “Ah!  Thank you!”  A little bit too loud.

And then in the heavy silence that lies between the dimming of the lights, and the beginning of the first previews, Greeno popped his beer open without about as much stealth as he would in his own living room, and then dropped the bottle, which crashed to the floor like a lamp.

A bunch of chuckles erupted and heads turned around to look at us.  Not much to do but look around, as well – who the hell was that? 

But Greeno hadn’t been as careful as I was with the beers under his chair.  Just as people were starting to lose interest, he kicked one of the other bottles, and the wife and I clapped our hands to our faces as it rolled down ten or fifteen rows, bonking sharply as it dropped over each level, between people’s feet, until we could still hear it though it was very far away. 

Still, not enough to attract security.  Makee you wonder what it takes to get thrown out of a movie theatre.

The previews started, and I waited a little while to open a beer, but by the time I did, everyone was into the movie, and I really did drink my three like I was sitting in my own living room.

And right about the part where the giant fish eats the other giant fish, I started thinking, wait a minute.  Something isn’t right about this.  Greeno and I have been waiting to see this flick for seventeen years, and I can’t help but notice I’m thinking about things besides the movie.  Seems like I should be riveted to the movie.

Not riveted.  I leaned forward to check Greeno, see if he was riveted to it, but Greeno was sound asleep, mouth hanging open, kicking a little bit like a puppy dog chasing dream rabbits. 

Not the way we pictured it, way back when we were kids. 

I tapped the wife on the knee with the back of my hand, and whispered, “Sweetheart, stick your hand under Greeno’s seat over there, will you, and get me that last beer.”


Posted by on May 11, 2010 in Adventures of Greeno


Greeno Vs. The Cops, Part One

There were lots of reasons why Greeno should not have had an open bottle of Rolling Rock in his hand, as he walked down the sidewalk along Mirror Lake with a couple of his pals.  Being on the sidewalk was one of the reasons.  He was nineteen, and it was broad daylight – a bit before noon, in fact – those were a couple more. 

He was on the OSU campus and it was Earth Day, which was a big deal in the nineties.  He was headed over to a concert in one of the auditoriums, over at Independence Hall, and beer seemed to go well with the idea of a concert, and so they’d brought some beer along, in their pockets.

Greeno wore jeans and black tennis shoes, and an earthy poncho with a deep front pocket.  He’d brought three bottles of beer with him in the front pocket of the poncho – even though he knew all of the reasons why he shouldn’t – and then his rationalization for doing so anyway, well, it sort of naturally extended itself to popping one open.

On Earth Day, for some reason, the cops would let an awful lot slide; there were little clusters of hippies everywhere.  Some of them were kicking hacky sacks around, and some of them were not.  But Greeno knew, the cops weren’t going to let him stroll around with an open beer like he owned the place or anything, so he kept his eyes peeled, and perfected a method of disappearing the whole bottle into his baggy sleeve. 

Sure, you might look at him and think, where’s that guy’s hand, but Greeno didn’t think you could get arrested for that, and he was right.

But as his pals continued along Mirror Lake, Greeno didn’t like how wide open the terrain became.   It didn’t seem possible to keep an effective eye out in every direction, so he peeled off from his group, taking a set of steps up into the trees, knowing that it would put him back in the path of his gang in a minute or two.

The guys either didn’t notice he had done it, or knew where he’d end up, or didn’t care.  Greeno watched them as they slid out of view, thinking that he could explain himself to any one of them with just a single second of eye contact, but then they were gone.  Well, no worries.

Greeno turned back to watch where he was going, and nearly ran into a cop.

It was the chubby kind of cop, with the Hitchcock profile, and he was sweating even though it was a cool April day.  His skin flushed, one hand grasping a metal stair rail, the cop was five steps above Greeno, and the two of them took a second or two to size each other up.  In that frozen moment, Greeno got a really sharp image of the guy seeing the open beer in his hand, and then shaking his face, not quite believing it.  Then confirming it, and raising his eyes to Greeno’s.

Greeno thought two things:  there is no way this guy can catch me, and there is no way this guy will shoot me.

So he let out a quick, almost apologetic sigh with a shrug attached to it, and then he ran.

Back down the stairs, he sprang like a bunny or a deer, along Mirror Lake.  Past his buddies, who heard his feet pounding the sidewalk and only had time to tilt their heads a little behind them before they heard him whispering, “You don’t know me.  You don’t know me.  You don’t know me.”

A relatively common sort of thing, for Greeno to be doing, so they stopped knowing him instantly.

It sure was wide open over here, just like he’d expected.  Greeno formed a quick plan, which was get to Independence Hall, and then merge with whatever crowd was there.  Lose the beer and the pancho, buy a concert tee shirt.  He knew one of the bands, maybe get off campus by crouching in their van when they left.

The breathing and the footsteps behind him sounded like a washing machine with the lid up.  And there was a crackle of static – a radio.  The guy was talking into a radio.

Now’s the time you decide, Greeno thought, and he decided.  Dropped his chin, eyes forward, he started swinging his arms as he let loose into a full-blown sprint, straight across two lawn areas with chains surrounding them.  You weren’t supposed to stay off of them – there were people on blankets and everything, throwing Frisbees – but the chains were up, just the same.

Greeno was young.  He flew effortlessly over the chains, dodging dogs and hacky sacks and still holding the open beer, almost empty but foaming over his hand, while the other two tinkled and bonked together in his poncho.

Four sets of chains, almost feeling bad about it because there was no way that big cop back there could have caught him on level ground, but with the chains to leap over, Greeno was able to dogleg to the left, completely out of sight of the guy, and then through a few sets of shrubs, where he ditched the open bottle and the two others, in the deep weeds.

Then he emerged on Neil Avenue, taking a second to look around, see if anyone was staring or pointing.  A car went by with an old dude and his daughter in it, craning their necks at something, but not at him.  And a blonde student, with Greek letters on her sweatshirt, locking up a bike, also ignoring him.

Greeno thought, maybe lose the pancho right now, just start strolling along, maybe he could walk right out of here if he could keep himself straight, not look guilty.  But he had long hair – that was going to make him stand out.  They’d check every white guy with long hair, no matter what he was wearing.

He caught movement to his left, back down Neil toward Mirror Lake, and swung his head that way, and there was the big cop, a good two hundred yards away, but gesturing suddenly, yelling into the radio, bumbling this way.

Not sure if he was busted or not, Greeno elected to bolt anyway, turning and barreling straight north, toward the Main Library, weaving through clusters of bushes and secluded park benches, shaded by elms.  When he was almost past the library, he hooked around to the side of it, and leaned his back against a wide concrete pillar, wondering if he could pull off nonchalance, with his blood pounding.

The cop was the opposite of a ninja – Greeno could hear his breathing and his footsteps approaching, even before he could hear the crackle of the radio.  He’d seen a lot of movies, and knew there was a chance he could pull this off, if he could hug this pillar just right, as the cop passed, slide completely silently around the corner just as the radio and the breathing and the footsteps reached the opposite corner…

He’d have to hold his breath, and didn’t know if he could, and he watched the ground, seeing where to step, where the weeds would rustle, where the ground was soft.

And he made his move just a little too carefully or just a little too late.  The cop was ready for it, was watching for it, and he looked really angry with Greeno as he put his hand on his belt – not on his gun, but on a can of pepper spray – and said, “Get your hands on the wall there.”

Greeno was on the verge of simply running again.  He knew he could lose the cop by running over the chains again, but it was the radio that bothered him. 

A campus cop car jumped right over the curb and parked in the grass in front of them.  Then a second later, two more pulled up, stopping at the curb.  The first couple of cops who got out, they also looked angry, and it looked like they could catch him even if he were on a bike.

So Greeno turned around and put his palms against the concrete pillar, hearing a fourth car pull up – this one in the grass again.  They had the whole force after him, he realized, and had to stifle a giggle.

The cop was still breathing hard as he patted Greeno down, but Greeno didn’t have anything on him anymore, nothing illegal.  “Where’s your beer?”  The cop wanted to know.

Greeno knew how to play some poker.  He dropped his face into absolute neutral, and then matched his voice to it and said, “What beer?”

In the years to come, Greeno would long for a digital recording of the noise the cop made.  A very frustrated, tired sort of honking noise.

The voice of a female cop said, “I can smell it.  I can smell beer on him.”

The original cop took the wallet out of Greeno’s pocket, started helping himself to the driver license.

“I had some beer back at my apartment,” Greeno told the concrete.

They were all voices to him now, standing in a circle behind him. 

“He was just walking around in broad daylight, right in front of me.”

“I can smell it, too.”

“Look at this, he’s nineteen.”

“And he was just what?  Walking around?”

Now a square-jawed cop with his hat still on, and little eyes, leaned into Greeno’s face and said, “You’re nineteen, where’d you get the beer?  We can smell the beer.”

Greeno’s mouth made the words while his eyes watched the wall in front of him.  “There were some guys over last night, at my house for a party.   They accidentally left it in my fridge, and today, I drank two of them in my living room, without calling them to ask.”  A quickly but carefully constructed description of perfectly legal things.

“Oh, my God,” one of them blurted out.

“He had a beer in his hand.”

“Where did he dump it?  Did you see where he dumped it??

“This kid ran all over the place, I bet a mile.  It could be anywhere.”

“Hey!”  Said the one in Greeno’s face.  “Where’d you dump the beer?”

“Didn’t have any beer out here.”  He even glanced at the guy, and then theatrically looked around in the air between them, looking for any beer floating around.  There wasn’t any.

“Then why’d he run?” 

“Yeah, why’d you run, then?”

And of course, the guy in his face had to say it again, “Why’d you run from him, if you weren’t doing anything wrong?”

Greeno, finding it easier and easier – the straight face – said, “I didn’t know he was chasing me.  I was just out running, shooting the stairs.  Had no idea he was after me.”

He didn’t know what it meant to shoot the stairs, but he thought that it meant, run up and down them.

And now there erupted a chorus of honks and profanity and frustration in general.  

They told Greeno to stay right there, while they all retreated to a car except the guy in his face, who stayed in his face, asking rhetorical questions like, “You think you’re pretty smart?  You think this is funny?  This funny to you?”

But Greeno knew not to answer any questions like that, even though yes, he was starting to feel kind of smart, and yes, he was certain that this was getting pretty funny.  And for a few minutes he stood there not answering or giggling or anything, while an angry man asked him rhetorical questions, and an entire squad of campus police officers ran his name through the system, trying to figure out anything they could arrest him for.

Somehow, Greeno had no criminal record whatsoever.  Standing there trying to figure out if he had one or not, Greeno was more than a little bit surprised. 

And no one, not even the two people they called on cell phones, describing the problem, could come up with anything to charge him with.

So fifteen minutes later, he had his wallet and his hands back in his pockets, and a small gang of cops were scolding him in a very general way, and issuing him some kind of Super Warning, which they said meant he would go “straight to jail” if he ever did anything to bother a cop again, for the next hundred years.

A few minutes later, he sat down next to his buddies at Independence Hall, which turned out to  be a decent concert, and on the way home, they swung by the bushes to pick up his last two beers, and also the empty one, because it was Earth Day, and he didn’t want to leave it lying around.


Posted by on April 18, 2010 in Adventures of Greeno


Greeno, Interrupted

If you’re sitting there thinking you already know who Greeno is, you’re wrong, cause Greeno is an amalgam. 

That’s right, he’s a combination of whatever people I want to put in a story without worrying about accuracy, and I’m calling him Greeno.  And the guy you’re thinking of, the guy you call Greeno – if you know him – I don’t even call him that.  I call him something else, something secret. 

No, this is Greeno, a Guy I Know.  And every time I write a story about A Guy I Know, I have decided to call him Greeno, and my decision is not related to this other guy, the guy I don’t even call that, and you do.

Anyway, Greeno was on his way to Chicago, and he was meeting some of his old pals there.  He had been to Chicago, and he was familiar with the town.  He was a grownup, and he could just roll on up in there and grab a drink and then start banging out a Hemingway story, in real life.  Smoking and chatting up the ladies, and maybe getting into a brawl.  But he had a heart, you know?

Nevermind.  He was at a rest stop, and because it was outside of Chicago, it was a crowded one, more like an airport.  People from all over – taking care of business, moving along, chewing.  There were old ladies walking dogs outside, and kids cranking their faces against windows, and what looked like a pancake, lying in the middle of one of the drinking fountain.

Pandemonium.  Greeno went straight into a shiny, beige stall, and he sat down to do what he had to do, and he already knew there was a guy in the next stall – the way you always know.  There was a shadow of a shoe on the floor, and some grunting and shuffling and all that.  He knew the guy was there but it was crowded, so he didn’t think about it until the guy said, “Hey, how’s it going over there?”

Greeno was a careful man.  He took a moment to frown at his pants-shrouded ankles, his mismatched socks.  They were nice socks, but mismatched.  He hadn’t known about the socks, until he sat down and the guy on the next toilet started talking. 

He decided – as he frequently did in awkward social situations – to pretend as if the awkward person hadn’t spoken at all.

It was a nice couple of seconds.  Greeno got pretty comfortable in them.  And then the guy next to him, his voice kind of jocular and urgent said, “Hey!  Can you hear me or not?”

Greeno didn’t like that.  It was the kind of thing you couldn’t pretend you hadn’t heard.  He didn’t like to cause trouble, and he knew that silence could often speak louder than words. 

So he cocked his head up at the wall of the stall, and shrugged and said, “Well, you know.  Just heading to Chicago, meeting some friends.”

The guy shifted around over there.  Like he was changing his sweatshirt or something.  Greeno remembered how his dad used to feel perfectly comfortable, calling him into the bathroom for a briefing on yard work expectations or upcoming church functions, all while sitting on the toilet.  Sometimes, he would have a sandwich in there, and a little television. 

Greeno got something in his eye, started working on it with his pinky finger, and then the guy in the next stall said, “So, what are you guys doing later?”

As indicated earlier, Greeno had been around the block a time or two.  He could drop right into downtown Chicago, get a drink and a steak, and start rocking like he was in a beer commercial or something.  He wasn’t a rube.  He knew, here’s the sort of thing turns out bad sometimes, right here.

And then there was an Incident – nothing to worry about, it was just the reason he had come to the rest area and sat down in the first place.  You know.  He was a pretty healthy guy, and it was a pretty efficient Incident, but there was some noise involved.  It wasn’t a secret.

Still, Greeno felt the quiet after the question.  He didn’t want to insult the crazy man.

He said, “Well, you know, we’re going to get a steak and have a few drinks.  A buddy of mine just got a job here, and…”

Trailing off, Greeno became very conscious of the sounds he was making.  When you realize someone is listening to you, on the john, you start to think, man, pants are loud.  He didn’t even want to think about the toilet paper, and the rest of what he had to do, with his wacky new pal over there, listening in.

But then his wacky new pal said, “Listen, I got to call you back.  This jackass next to me thinks I’m talking to him.”

And as the man flushed the toilet in the next stall, Greeno nodded sadly at the floor, thinking, this isn’t the way I want introduced to anyone. 

And yet here he was, my new amalgam, ready for a full year of wacky hyjinx.

Let’s all give him a round of applause.


Posted by on April 12, 2010 in Adventures of Greeno, Fiction


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