The wife and I dined at Shoney’s for Sunday brunch, both because we were very hungry, but also because I’d been suffering from a bit of constipation. Shoney’s buffet, we knew, would cure both.
Shortly after we were seated, a family consisting of a grandmother and four children–two boys and two girls of the age range of 7ish to 15ish–were seated at the table next to us. Eavesdropping on their conversations quickly became our mealtime entertainment. For instance, when the waitress explained that Shoney’s Sunday buffet contained both lunch and breakfast items, the youngest girl beamed with amazement and proclaimed “I like lunch and breakfast!”
“Yeah, I think she’s my favorite human, now,” I told my wife. For I also like lunch and breakfast.
We got some lunch and breakfast for ourselves from the buffet and a few minutes later the family members filtered up for their own grub. When the kids returned to the table, they were all atwitter about something. It was hard to determine what exactly they were excited about, but eventually we got enough clues to start piecing things together.
“Who is Tiger Woods?” the younger brother said.
“You don’t know who Tiger Woods is?” the older brother replied.
“No,” younger brother said. “Who is Tiger Woods?”
“He plays golf,” the older sister said. “Professionally,” she added. “At the Greenbrier,” she finished.
Oh, I thought. maybe they had watched some of the PGA Open a few weeks back. I assume he played in it, but I didn’t go and didn’t even watch any of it on TV, since my sports intake is pretty much limited to the Olympics and American Ninja Warrior. Then the older sister threw a wrench into my theory.
“He looks really young. I can’t believe I was standing right next to him,” she said. At first I thought she meant that she’d attended the PGA and must have somehow stood beside him there. Why this would come up again so long later, I wasn’t sure, but that was my working theory. My alternate theory was that he was in town again and was playing golf at the Greenbrier and the family had somehow seen him there. However, the way the two sisters on the opposite side of the table kept craning their necks to look toward the buffet in the room behind me gave me pause. I knew it was possible that Tiger was in the area, but was it somehow also possible that he was dining at Shoney’s? The girls kept craning to see.
“Do they mean Tiger Woods is here?” I whispered to the wife.
“No,” she said. “Tiger Woods would never eat at Shoney’s.”
“I dunno,” I said. “I think he’s demonstrated something of a taste for diner waitresses.”
The wife was not amused by this. She added that if Tiger Woods was really in the restaurant there would be far more excitement and whispering and craning among all the other tables.
A few minutes later, the waitress returned to the other table and the Tiger topic was still going strong.
“Did you know Tiger Woods is here?” the youngest girl asked the waitress.
“Oh, is he playing at the Greenbrier?” the waitress asked.
“No. I mean he’s here! He’s in Shoney’s!” the younger sister replied excitedly.
“We stood beside him in line,” the older sister confirmed.
“You did?” the waitress said in a confused tone. She looked around, but didn’t seem to see him.
My wife shook her head. “See, if Tiger was here the staff would have been told in advance about it.”
I wasn’t convinced they would, but I was also far from convinced Tiger Woods was breathing the same air as me. I finished my last bite of cheese grits and decided to go back to the bar, both for round two and for a scouting expedition to see if I could figure out who it was in the restaurant that those girls thought was Tiger Woods. I looked all around, scanning the horseshoe of booths near the bar, the double rows of booths stretching toward the cash register and front door, and the back room where gatherings are sometimes held. They were all full but I didn’t see any customers who could remotely be mistaken for Tiger Woods. In fact, the only African American male I could see in the place was a waiter, who in no way resembled Tiger Woods. Maybe these kids were racist and couldn’t distinguish between different black people.
Throughout the rest of our meal, the kids continued to talk about Tiger Woods, and crane their necks, and go back to the bar. Each time they returned they seemed to have a new story about seeing him again. I was on the verge of asking where he was, but decided that it would just lead to the kids’ illusions being shattered when I pointed out that whoever it was they thought was Tiger Woods was not really him, which was the most likely scenario to me. Let the kids keep their story. It was time for us to leave. Shoney’s had done it’s job.
The coda to this tale is that days later, while attending a public event in town, I was SHOCKED to my core to see a dude at the same event who was the spitting image of Tiger Woods. The guy was clearly 20 years younger than Tiger Woods himself, so I knew he wasn’t the genuine article. But he was dressed in a collared golf shirt and was wearing a ball cap much like ones Tiger might wear, and looked to all appearances like a long-lost Woods son. Just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, I asked a friend to take a peek for confirmation that the guy really did look like Tiger Woods. He confirmed it. Now, I don’t know for certain that this was the guy the kids saw during lunch and breakfast that Sunday, as I didn’t see him myself, but now I have to think it was highly probable. Of course the only way to know for sure would be to ask him, or to subtly inquire as to the regularity of his bathroom habits over the previous week. But I didn’t want to have that conversation. And so it will remain something of a mystery.
That feeling you get after you’ve spent half an hour editing the first few minutes of an audiobook file you recorded four days ago only to then hear your own voice on the recording say “Yeah, I kinda want to do this thing all over again” followed by sounds of coffee drinking, the humming of a solid note for several seconds designed to visually mark the recording to signal your future self as to where to begin the edit, and then your own voice starting the story anew.
It’s only due by Friday.
With my latest audiobook narration Mississippi Nights freshly released, I want to draw your attention to a future release coming later this summer.
I am currently recording the narration for the audiobook of How to Carry Bigfoot Home, by Chris Tarry. I can safely report at this point that the stories within are just as impressive, funny, heart-breaking, and poignant as you would hope for a collection with a title like that.
Which is to say, it’s fantastic and I highly recommend it. The style of the stories varies greatly between each, but Tarry always has a clever turn of phrase, with equal parts comedy and tragedy, often within the same story.
It has also been one of the more challenging audiobooks I’ve recorded, as I’ve had to learn how to approximate a few different accents that I’ve never attempted before (Newfoundland Irish, for instance.) My hope is that they will be true to the emotions of the characters at all times, slavishly accurate secondarily, but I’m aiming for both.
If you enjoyed my own, A Consternation of Monsters, you’ll love this.
Look for How to Carry Bigfoot Home in August 2018.
From my office upstairs, I heard a cry of anguish from an animal downstairs. I knew instantly it was not any of our crew of dogs and cats. Tragically, the cry of anguish I had heard was the chirpy squeak of a baby bunny.
This is, unfortunately, not an unfamiliar sound in the Fritzius household. Our cats have a cat door and are quite fond of bringing live animals, such as mice, and chipmunks, and squirrels, and baby bunnies into the house through it. Especially baby bunnies. I don’t know why they bother, because in 100 percent of cases so far, our dogs immediately take the baby bunnies away from the cats and then cheerfully devour them. Oh, we try our best to stop it. We scream “Leave it! Leave it! Leave it!” followed by “Drop it! Drop it! Drop it!” followed by “Eww, God, noooooo! Just… just take it outside! Outside!!!” It’s a grisly business. The cats refuse to learn their lesson.
Hearing the anguished squeak downstairs, I cursed at the inevitable devouring that was about to befall the owner of the squeak, but I went out to see what little I could do about it anyway. From the landing, I could see the doomed baby bunny on the downstairs floor below. It had escaped from D.J. Kitty—the usual feline responsible for bringing bunnies in—who remained nearby, awaiting the chaos. The bunny didn’t seem to be grievously injured, though, which was a plus in the bunny column. Then it scurried across the floor and then over behind our entertainment center, where it was spotted by our middle-child dog Moose. This put a very big minus in the bunny column, `cause Moose loves him a baby bunny. He zipped after it. What Moose failed to notice in his haste, but which I could see from my perch above the living room, was that the rabbit was no longer behind the entertainment center. It had dodged beneath a low shelf and then moved swiftly along the baseboard of the back wall, passing the closed back door, across the rest of the room, and had then disappeared between the wall and the arm of a piece of furniture we call “the dog couch.” (The “dog couch” is so named because it’s a ratty old sofa tucked in the corner, primarily used by the dogs, and not to be confused with the “good sofa” which we reserve for ourselves and also often the dogs.)
I sighed and trudged downstairs to begin the no doubt futile process of trying to catch this stinking rabbit. I crept in the direction of the dog couch so as not to draw Moose’s attention to the bunny’s hiding place. Moose was still behind the entertainment center and had been joined by our other two dog-children to form a bunny search party, sniffing everything and no doubt stepping on all my stereo wires. Meanwhile, our other cat, Fatty Lumpkin, was dimly investigating the end of the dog couch where the bunny was hiding. He knew something was there, but wasn’t all that excited about it, owing to his being a remarkably dumb animal. As Fatty approached the end of the couch, the bunny popped suddenly out of his hiding place right in front of him. This startled Fatty, who turned and fled the room. Fatty’s flight, in turn, startled the bunny, who ran back behind the dog couch. Great.
I stepped over and cracked open the back door, creating an escape route opened in the direction of the bunny’s hiding place. I then slipped over and began rattling the strings of the Venetian blinds that hung down behind the arm of the dog couch in the hope of stirring the bunny. Yep. He popped back out into the open and toward the back door. He then completely avoided safety and escape by hopping past the open back door and deeper into the living room. In fact, he hopped in the very direction of the dogs, who were still looking for him behind the TV. I was pretty sure I was about to witness natural selection in action. However, the bunny then scurried on past the oblivious dogs, past the “good” couch and over to the still closed front door where he cornered himself at the juncture of the door frame and the adjacent wall.
I walked toward him as calmly as I could. As I neared the tile in front of the door, I bent over and grabbed up the soft green rag carpet we keep there and tossed it into the air in the bunny’s direction just as he bolted. He didn’t get far. The carpet landed right in his path on the far side of our coat rack and he dove beneath its folds. I stooped over and gently wrapped the carpet up, creating a bunny burrito, which I then took outside, closing the door behind me. I prayed that the dogs had not noticed any of that. Or, if they did, that they would then not remember the back door was still open. It usually takes them less then five seconds to round the house when they’re motivated by the sweet taste of baby bunnies.
Hearing no thundering canine approach, I deposited our guest onto the patio. He looked dazed for a moment, but hopped off into the night without so much as a thank you. I watched him go, content in the knowledge that we finally helped score one for the bunnies.
Not that the dogs noticed. They kept searching for him behind the TV for another five minutes.
I’m pleased to announce that my latest effort as an audiobook narrator, Mississippi Nights by D.M. Webb, is now available. It’s a Christian fiction romance/thriller set in my home state of Mississippi.
I had a lot of fun narrating this because, in addition to getting to voice some colorful characters, I was impressed at the how the author deftly and playfully lampoons many of the tropes of the Nicholas Sparksy-style romantic fiction genre while still writing a legit romantic thriller. I also appreciated that the book tackles some serious real world issues in a way that does not suggest easy answers to the problems.
I can also report that it got a little dusty in the ol’ recording booth at times, as I, the narrator, was sometimes unprepared for the emotional impact of the story. (While I admit to bawling my eyes out watching movies, I rarely cry reading books. This one got me more than once.)
MISSISSIPPI NIGHTS– Two brothers, one death – the bond of brotherhood and family faces its greatest challenge. When firefighter David Boyette’s fiance perishes in a car accident, he blames his brother, Sgt. Jeremy Boyette, for her death. Three years later, David returns home with a dark and devastating secret. With the help of family, a woman’s love, and a child’s devotion, can David overcome insurmountable odds as he and Jeremy face the bitterness that enslaves him?
(An ongoing writing project in which I catalog and quantify my extensive TARDIS collection.)