The rules:

1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

I was tagged by Sean Bonner.

1) Valuable Lesson
Though no longer phobic nor as full of abject hatred for cockroaches as I once was, my previous fearful irrationality about the creatures can be traced back to the time when I  perhaps 4 or 5 years old, and not knowing any better while thirsty at La Cienega Park across the street from where I lived at the time, I picked up a can of Coke someone had left opened on a wall and when I found it still contained a fair amount of beverage I took a big swig only to immediately discover the can also contained a cockroach that was now crawling around my mouth. Needless to say I spat it out, squashed it and then for good measure jumped up and down on it until I was exhausted. Though I’ve mellowed with age these last few years, there was a long stretch of my life where I would cross a street to kill a cockroach.

2) It Is Never Better To Be Sorry Than Safe
In addition to pepper spray that I’ve carried mounted on my bike since the summer of 2007 I now carry a stun gun with me whenever I ride. I hope I never have to use either or even threaten to do so, but if such a situation presents itsel, I’m a firm believer in it being better to have something and not need it than the other way around.

3) A Cartoon Made Me Do It
Some of you may already know this about me, but that’s why “probably” is in the headline: In what’s perhaps the most brazen thing I’ve ever done in my life, I purchased a Penthouse magazine when I was 8 years old. Why would I want such a thing? Well, because of the funny pages of course. A previous visit to a barbershop had me sitting next to a gentleman who was perusing a copy and at one point he turned a page and I spied this marvelous half-nekkid busomy vixen with wild black hair in a comic called “Oh Wicked Wanda!” and I went into full-tilt WANT mode. I committed the mag’s title to memory, saw it was carried in the neighborhood liquor store and shortly thereafter, a plan was hatched.

Utilizing my freshly learned cursive writing skills I “forged” a note from my “father” authorizing the store’s clerk on the corner of Tower Drive and Wilshire Boulevard to “Please sell my son one Penthouse magazine.” Though scared shitless I nevertheless went into the place with the note and a bag full of allowance pennies/nickels/dimes, where I first pretended to be interested in the candy. When I’d milled around the place enough and it finally time to put up or shut up, I walked up to the counter with the note and the money. The clerk, a big bearded dude read it (one can only imagine how poor the handwriting was), looked at me, looked at the note and there was that frozen moment where the entire existence of the world hinged on his response. Then he nodded with a smile that I can only describe as impressed, turned grabbed a copy and bagged it. As he counted out the change I looked everywhere but at him, and when he was done, he slid the leftover coins back to me and then handed me the treasure. I did my best not to run out of the store.

The tragic end of the story is that I never got to look at it. When I got back to the apartment, my mom was home from work and all I could do was quick-stash the issue under the mattress. That wasn’t the problem, The problem was the next day turned out to be the day our twice-monthly housekeeper Bob came and cleaned the apartment. Of course he changed my bedsheets and of course he found the Penthouse and of course he called my mother at work at with “Guess what I found under your son’s bed!?”

To her credit my mother was not outraged. The way she tells it, when Bob called her in shock and surprise, she told him that she was just glad to know I liked girls and not boys. Then she instructed Bob to throw the trash out. That evening she confronted me with the news and asked me where I’d gotten it. I told her I’d found it on the way home from school because I didn’t want to give up my source, in case I ever decided to try again — which I didn’t.

4) Nerves Of Steal
I went through a ridiculous clepto phase as a kid. I would take stuff just to take it. Once I stole a treasured stopwatch from my godparents. Because it was shiny. I hid it by burying it in the dirt, which of course ruined it. In that same time frame I stole my friend’s Schwinn Stingray. He lived around the corner from me and I hid it in the back of the apartment building. As if I was ever going to be able to ride the thing.

5) Rescue Me
As an adult, I am helpless to bike by a lost plush toy without stopping and rescuing it. The most recent one found was last week during the rains. Flickr pic.

6) At The Sound Of The Beep
Most of you already know I’m a fool, here’s just the latest proof. This Sunday morning I heard an electronic beep-beep-beep that would pause and then beep-beep-beep again. I tried to ignore it, but as I took out the trash I lost it and suddenly the most important thing in the world was finding and killing the source of that beep-beep-beep. It didn’t take long to locate where it was coming from: inside the debris bin stationed in front of our house and rapidly filling with splinters and rusty nails and plaster and lathe and other crap currently being demolished as part of our upstairs renovation.

Did I go inside like the smart person I often allege myself to be and change out of my flip-flops into some sturdier shoes, while also grabbing a pair of work gloves? Maybe don some long pants while I was at it? Nah. I just climbed in and clambered to the top of this decidedly unstable pile of potential tetanus shots and pain and commenced trying to pinpoint the beep-beep-beep’s position, which was of course some unknown depth beneath the surface of the stuff and required much shifting and shoving of junk.

Eventually over the course of several minutes I moved enough of the crap to uncover the source and it was a smoke detector, whose tone was a warning that the unit had detected its hard wiring had become detached. No shit. In fact, it was the same smoke detector I wrote about last November here.

By all rights I should have stabbed/scratched my hands/feet/ankles/wrists several times over. But in there among all that injury potential, ironically the only wounds I suffered came when I was unsuccessful in opening the device to get at the 9V battery so instead I bashed at it with my left fist lacerating a knuckle until it cracked apart and I was able to yank its guts out and triumphantly put an end to the beep-beep-beep.

7) Ride The High Country
I am harboring delusions of going to Death Valley this March, but the nutso part isn’t in the going, it’s that when I get there I want to get a dawn start from Ubehebe Crater and ride my bike the 26 miles of really bad road to Racetrack Playa where my wonderful wife Susan would then meet me and we would camp out that night on the Grandstand. That’s been at the top of my “To Do In Death Valley” list since my first visit in February 2003. If I don’t do that this March, then it’ll be November. Defintely going to cross that off in ’09.

Who I’m tagging: Susan Campbell, Bryan Frank, July Frey, Joel Ordesky, Liz Rizzo, Mike Schneider, Heather Schlegel.