There are these milk crates I have. I found 'em in an alley and when I spotted 'em I slammed on my brakes and rushed from my truck to nab 'em before anyone else could. "Freakin' sweet! Perfect condition. Milk crates!" Oh, you dumb bastard who left those in the alley. I found 'em a week before I was scheduled to move into a new apartment, and they were my cargo boxes and then furniture.
I never owned a TV until recently, and the milk crates held my entertainment. The crates carried my books. A lamp in the corner was my reading light, and my ass got waffle crosses from sitting on the crates during hours of reading To Kill a Mockingbird , In Cold Blood , and Welcome to the Monkey House .
The milk crates were my coffee tables. Drinks -- coffee, bourbon, long wet bottles of beer -- sat crookedly on their diamond-spaced tops.
The crates were my bike stands. They'd hold the forks or prop up the frames while I cleaned, greased, disassembled, and reassembled the chains, sprockets, and derailleur before a long ride to Imperial Beach or Torrey Pines.
I rarely let someone in my place. My friends would stop in for water or a liquor drink, and before I could offer them a nice comfy milk crate to sit on, we'd make an excuse to leave. If I met a girl, we'd stay out all night or go to her place because mine was "being renovated."
Then I cashed out my old savings account, the last of my dot-com bubble, because my back hurt from sleeping on the floor. I bought a bed, actual tables and chairs, and the milk crates did their final chore as step stools while I painted my apartment. But that wasn't why they were shelved. When I renovated my grungy, Spartan studio, I talked myself into buying my first-ever television.
Now the bikes are tucked away in a corner of the kitchen. The books are on a shelf in the closet. The half-empty bottles of brown booze are put back in a cupboard above the fridge.
These days what I do most is lie in bed (a real bed) with my girl, who loves trashy TV: Celebrity Duets , Rockstar Supernova , The Teen Choice Awards , and Laguna Beach .
And the milk crates sit atop a cabinet. Maybe I'll put 'em out in the alley tomorrow.
WHAT I WILL AND WON'T WATCH THIS WEEK
Thursday, October 5
Walk the Line (2005)
HBO2 8:00 p.m. When I was in jail, I shared a cell with a hard, old criminal type. He'd spent the majority of his adult life in prisons, and he was awaiting transfer to a different state lockup in my little-town clink. He popped a white balloon from the back of his overalls and wadded it up in his lunch sack and sat on the toilet for half an hour. I stayed by the front window, watching the guards walk the hallway, and he sat back there talking to me, "Warden's going to put me in solitary this time, I know it. What do I care? I'm going to be dopesick in a couple hours anyway. I'll dry up before I head to Pelican Bay. It'll be good for me."
NIK 8:00 a.m. The other day I was in the grocery store, and I saw this big-headed kid. He had a dome, boy. His eyes were squinty and low, and he looked like an old shake-on-the-stovetop popcorn popper from the brows up. It took all the determination I could muster to keep from nabbing him from the greeting-card aisle and rushing him to the ocean. I wanted to dip his noggin under the water to see if he could send out sonar messages and talk with sea mammals. But I didn't want to explain that to the police. Again.
Friday, October 6
DTIMES 7:00 p.m. When I was a kid, I had a parrot. He died and I wrapped him in newspapers and dipped him in starch. "Rawk! Give me brains!" he screeches. "Rawk! I am your dead parrot! Rawk!" Well, it's not really the parrot mummy who says those things. It's me. I made him into a puppet, and I tie him on my head and sit in the bushes outside my apartment and do the voice to creep myself out. Eeeeee! Mummy parrot. Woohooohoo.
Saturday, October 7
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
HBO 11:00 a.m. If you are male and you've seen this movie, report to my office. You can't miss it. There's a sign out front that reads, "The Brotherhood of Making Sissies Chop Wood Until They're Ready to Act Like a God Damn Man Again."
The Ultimate Fighter
SPIKE 10:30 p.m. To get in shape, I've been doing a lot of martial-arts conditioning. I hit a heavy bag like a boxer. I do calisthenics like kick-outs and bridges for wrestling. Then, I jump rope. I'm pretty good at jumping rope. I can get all the way through, "As I went down to my grandfather's farm/ A billy goat chased me around the barn/ It chased me up a sycamore tree/ And this is what it said to me/ I like coffee, I like tea..."
Sunday, October 7
Show Us Your Tats
VH1 10:30 a.m. Show me your underwear and you've got a deal. Aw, yeah. Work it. Work it. Work it. Sigh. It never happens like that. Never.
Monday, October 8
HSN 8:00 p.m. I shave mine into a heart. Wait. Is that what we're talking about?
Tuesday, October 9
The Most Extreme
ANIMAL 11:00 p.m. EXTREME ANIMALS! Milk and deodorant will blow your frickin' head off! This is the new millennium, and couches are EXTREME TO THE MAX! EVERYTHING IS EXTREME! YOGURT IS SQUEEZABLE AND WILL MAKE YOUR EYES BUG RIGHT THE HELL OUT OF YOUR HEAD! SQUIRRELS ARE TERRIBLE LITTLE ATTACK MONSTERS! Watch the hell out! Oh, my God!...well...meh...
Wednesday, October 10
Professional Poker Tour -- Bellagio: First Quarter Action
TRAVEL 9:00 p.m. Ugh. With the poker still. Every ten minutes. Poker. Poker. Poker. This is like when billiards and bowling were really huge for a week in the '70s. Let's move on to the next big thing that's not really a big thing. Can we?
Thursday, October 11
Dangerous Encounters: Dens of Danger
NGC 8:00 p.m. Repetitive Show Title: The Show Title of Repetition!