Fuck you, Al Roker
Let me just start this yarn with a disclaimer, I think weather men, rather, weather people are horrible. I don’t see any reason to get into their ridiculously bad track record, and I think those of us who reside in the northeast part of the country are more sensitive to their inaccuracies than the rest of the country that lives in Valhalla comparatively.
Weather people are suits. These days they’re good looking, fake and emit a glimmer of mind numbing stupidity which is probably why they appeal to most of the populous as they share those attributes, not the good looking part as most people are pretty much gross. I mean what is a meteorology degree anyway? My own sense is that most of these people come out of college armed with a major in communication and are hired to lull us into a false sense of security in them mostly based on wanting to bang them. Most of the weather people, at least in my town, are hot chicks. I think I’m more inclined to be forgiving when it comes to a ruined day at the beach, and let me say that by beach I mean ground up rocks poured on the shores of Lake Erie, if the bullshit forecast came from a “meteorologist” whose wearing a tight skirt and a blouse with a button undone.
In my day, the 70’s, the weather person was a guy, an old guy, and you trusted him. He slid giant wooden boards around to show you what carnage he thought was coming. There’s a guy in my hometown of Cleveland who has been doing the weather for longer than I have been alive. In the last 10 years or so he has become an inaudible, curmudgeonly old geezer who a few years ago received a beat down with a glass ashtray from his younger unstable wife and this valiant weather warrior was still doing the weather, bludgeoned face and all! That’s fucking heroics, man! Can you imagine taking an ass whooping from someone with an ashtray and still rallying to give the people their forecasts?
Turns out that this crazy chick actually made this greasy old farts career even bigger than it was before. This guy was already an icon, a hero of 35% accuracy. He hosts an annual festival to a fucking caterpillar every spring here in northeast Ohio and literally draws tens of thousands of people most dressed up as their favorite larval lepidopteran. But standing there gloriously delivering us our seven day forecast with his swollen and blackened eye, chipped tooth and fat lip actually endeared this guy to the community even more. I mean come on!
In reality, this chump should have been off the air decades ago, is (was?) married to a crazy thug half his age who clearly was not in it for his looks or charm, hosts a caterpillar festival and most importantly is wrong 70% of the time!! Icon? I think not.
My friend Howard, who has a dream of living out real life Celebrity Death Match type brawls with aging icons, is chomping at the bit to get ahold of this guy. We frequently will play the “what if” game with Howard and propose cage match scenarios like, “You against today’s 100 year old Clint Eastwood but you have both arms tied down and can only kick him. Would you beat him?” A strange sense of palpable anger comes over Howard’s face when the best of these proposed geriatric pugilistic grudge matches are offered and he will make grandiose claims of being able to roundhouse kick Mr. Eastwood into oblivion. “Muhamad Ali, with Parkinson’s, all shaky and shit but you can only spray him in the face with floral scented Lysol but I will allow you to beat him with the can once the contents are emptied.” You get the idea.
Which all leads me back to the point, Al Roker.
In spite of all of the vitriol about my animosity for weather people, I hold no particular grudge against Mr. Roker that I wouldn’t hold up to any other so called “forecaster” because I am, as you now know, the self-appointed meteorological Diogenes. In fact, Al is the only person doing the news that I have ever met.
Upon further review my prior statement about Al Roker being the only newscaster I’ve ever met is not true. I have actually had encounters with two other local news celebrities but nothing on the level of Al.
Back in the early 90’s I was a father of three and thought it would be a cool idea if I bought a Porsche 911 that was for all intents and purposes a two person car. There is a back seat but it’s apparently not intended for child car seats. Brilliant move but chicks dug it and that was important. I quickly noticed that in this car I could be a syphilitic, one eyed drooling mongoloid and girls would stare me down like I was fucking Paul Newman or something.
So I pile my two oldest into the back seat of this chick magnet and head up to the bookstore. Fortunately, they were small, something like 5 and 3 years old and they couldn’t be seen. I pull into a parking space get out and see the brand new news anchor who coincidently worked and still works for the same channel as that old weather disaster mentioned earlier, and she’s wearing short pant overalls with a wife beater t-shirt underneath and no bra. Yes, I picked all of that up in less than 3 seconds. Obviously attracted by my car and not me, she immediately comes over and strikes up a conversation with me. Nothing big but enough to show interest until my two kids come piling out of the car screaming “shut up” at each other as loudly as possible. By the time I had turned back around, she was gone. I guess there are limits to the pull of the Porsche.
My third encounter with local celebrity came when I was selling Christmas trees in the parking lot of my kid’s catholic elementary school. Never one for community sales drives, I would rather just write a check to make up the difference and spare myself the whole humiliation of asking my family and friends to buy magazines and fruit, I reluctantly joined in because my brother-in-law at the time said we could drink beer while we did it. What he failed to mention was that the church frowned on us drinking beer and felt no need to leave the doors to the bathroom unlocked. So, it’s 15 degrees, snowing and I’ve been pounding beers in order to numb myself from this hell and now I have to pee. There is no place to relieve myself so I pick a spot in the back where the extra Christmas trees are stored and unload. Not on the ground, mind you, but on the trees themselves. I know, gross and pretty mean. I feel badly about it to this day. I mean it’s not like it keeps me up at night but it has become a story I tell every Christmas to help assuage some of my guilt.
This loudmouth blowhole from, again, coincidently, the same station employing one Al Roker at the time, shows up and wants a tree but he wants one from the back, the fresh ones not the picked through garbage we were trying to sell tonight. This guy is a real prick to us. I’m out here schlepping fucking trees so I can afford to get my kids a proper education and this asshole finds it copasetic to treat me like I’m his man-servant. Eat shit you douche! So I took him to the back of the lot and showed him some of the brand new trees we just got in and won’t be for sale till this weekend. Of course he says something to the effect of, “please see that you do, you know who I am right?” And I’m thinking, yeah I know who you are, a fucking elitist shithead who’s about to get a tree covered in my fresh urine.
So I head back to the spot where minutes earlier I had just finished relieving myself and grab the very tree which now has yellow pee icicles hanging from it. They seemed to twinkle in the moonlight and it gave it a glow that says to a man, yeah, that’s right, this is my tree.”
The best part to me was when I was strapping his pee tree to his car he commented that the freshest trees always smell the best and that’s why he wanted a new one. Meanwhile shards of frozen pee were breaking off the branches and making the most delightful noises when they pinged against his car and all I could smell was beer soaked urine.
Back in the early 80’s Al Roker was the stout, portly, or, let’s just say, fat weatherman for the NBC affiliate in Cleveland. He was the cheerful and jovial kind of fat that you like in your overweight people. Not like those mean and fat people who hit the grocery store counter out of breath from carrying a twelve pack of Keystone Light, a bag of FunYuns and a pack of unfiltered Camels. Not this guy, Al had talent which is probably why he flew up the charts and is now the weather baron for NBC’s The Today Show as I type this. He’s tightened up his health game too since making the move to NYC and is not the stout young man I remember.
Anywho, I had wrecked my car in the spring of 1982. It was a pretty sweet machine too. 1973 Buick Century, black with an awesome red pleather interior. I had a rubber Gumby figure on the dashboard because Gumby was sort of retro cool thing in my mind at the time. I don’t think anyone was ever really impressed by my appreciation for Gumby and probably just further cemented in their minds that I was, in fact, a giant dork. Well, I had been going out with this horrible girl, Debbie for a few weeks. Debbie was what we would call today, a whore. I, on the other hand, was your typical, run of the mill, inexperienced d-bag with nothing but sex on my mind but absolutely no game to get anything. I benefitted from Debbie’s whoredom though as she easily made up for what I lacked in game with a steaming look of carnality that said, “I know you have a car and because I hate riding the bus to school, I’m willing to trade sex for a lift.” I will say, in my defense, that, and I think anyone who can remember what it’s like being a horny 16 year old kid, that if she was willing to give it up to me for a simple ride to where I was going already anyway, then count me in! Debbie was also and I’m sure to this day still is a gritter. What is a gritter you ask?
A gritter is a just a quick step above the classification of hillbilly. It’s like a hillbilly with a union job. My friend Pete and I invented the term a few years back while working a straight commission phone sales job. We labeled three tiers of gritter-dom back in those days. Your Tier One Gritter was like gritter-lite, had some money but still held onto the things of the gritter like tight cuffed jeans tucked into a pair of white Converse high tops. The most serious of the gritters were the Tier Three’s. These people were fresh from the hills but somebody in the family had some money and was able to buy their way out. They name their daughters things like Tiffany or Angel. Their boys were named DJ or some assortment of initials and until the age of 8 all had rat tails on the backs of their heads. A typical gift you might want to score for a gritter mom would be one of those Time Out Kids you find on those Amish buffet restaurants or even you really want to take it up a notch, a cinnamon broom.
So this bitch, Debbie thinks it funny if she takes her cigarette and jams in into Gumby’s crotch and proceeds to stick him back on the dashboard with his junk, now, melted into a greenish black mess. Well, it wasn’t more than another day or two that my buddy Scott and I are tooling around in my badass 73 Century with this 350, 4 barrel engine, whatever that is. I know absolutely nothing about cars. I hit a patch of wet leaves and slide head-on into Craig Milovich’s tree-lawn oak tree. Apparently there are over 400 different types of oak tree. Bet you didn’t know that. Anyway, this was clearly Debbie’s fault for burning Gumby who apparently has god-like divination capabilities given him by his creator Art Clokey. The Wrath of Gumby, in essence. If you asked my friend Scott, to this day, all of this happened because of that gritter Debbie and her sacrifice of Gumby’s genitals. Gritters think stupid things are funny like that fat lummox Larry the Cable Guy.
I had a lump on my forearm from smashing it on the rearview mirror that looked like I had an extra elbow and the car was a total loss. My parents told me that walking to and from school for a while would be a good lesson for me to not drive like an asshole anymore but I’m sure they were just terrified to turn me loose as a rider on their insurance policy. So I was walking now. School was three miles from my house and to top it all off, Debbie, for some reason, was no longer interested in me. By the way, not only did I have to drive her whore-ass everywhere, she burned my Gumby and I never got so much as a hand hold.
Scott was now equally immobile because of my loss and I took to walking to his house as it was a mid-point respite on my walking “lesson.”
I swear to God that this story has something to do with Al Roker….
As we round the corner to the last street before Scott’s we began to take what amounts to about a ten second shortcut over the corner of someone’s front lawn; shortcuts are big to kids. I swear, the first time we dare to take this time saving path, we hear, “Hey! Hey, mother-fucker! Get off my god-damn lawn!”
Now we both had noticed the acrid scent of bad weed some three houses earlier and had made comment of it. I, having absolutely zero experience with marijuana, pretended to know with some stupid remark like, “Wow man, buy some better stuff.” As I said, I was a dork.
Now, being called a mother-fucker is always a starting experience and as our heads snapped back in the direction of the verbal hostilities we see two older looking black gentlemen sitting on the porch sharing a spliff the size of a paper towel roll both now getting up from a pair of cheap aluminum lawn chairs in what looks to be our demise. Both of these men were enormous and not because I was an undersized 16 year old, they were freaking huge, mid six footers.
Both Scott and myself were and still to this day are rabid basketball fans. I’m not sure how many school days were in a semester back then but let’s just say in the area of about 80? I, to impress my father, and because I had to have language credits, enrolled myself in Ancient Greek. I had rampant dyslexia as a child or some kind of fucking learning disability and could barely speak the English language but I somehow thought I could handle learning a language that had died our over 2000 years ago. I quickly gave up and spent my Greek class time sitting in the cafeteria playing paper basketball with Scott.
We folded about one inch of both ends of a sheet of paper up, cut a hole in the middle of that fold and wrote in the names of our favorite players on this pseudo court. Scott was a giant Sixers fan and I was obsessed with the Lakers. We used a pencil to flick at a paper wad to shoot it through the goal. I was mind numbingly entertaining. Blah, blah, blah, when I got my report card it had, and can remember the number to this day, 63 absences from Ancient Greek; I failed.
My point here is that we immediately recognized these two foul mouthed giants the second they emerged from their hookah den of a porch. Now I don’t mind bring Al Roker’s name into this scenario as he was nothing but a fine upstanding gentlemen, more on him later, but these two idiots might object to having their names brought into print for being stoned and verbally accosting two boys who had just lost their car, Gumby and Debbie all in the same week.
Suffice it to say that they were both highly recognizable names from early 80’s NBA ball. One played for my hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and the other for the San Antonio Spurs, both of quite renown with their respective teams. I even had a poster of the Spurs player on my bedroom wall! Regardless, it was late April and because the two of them were getting high on the porch, it should be a pretty good indicator of just how shitty their teams were at the time. Neither one in the playoffs that were going on at that time which might explain their “mother-fucker” outburst.
We profusely apologized for our intrusion on the grass and ran home scared shitless and Al Roker had witnessed the whole thing! You see, he lived smack in the middle of Scott’s house and the pot heads house. Al was a nice man and I’m sure he still is though I don’t know what gastric bypass surgery does to a man personality. Al told us to stay away from those men, that they were “doing dope” and might be dangerous. To this day, I’m not sure if Al knew who these guys were. I mean he’s a weather guy.
As the days passed, I noticed Debbie in the school cafeteria making a move on another tard with a car and I was not happy about it and walking most of the way to Scott’s house that afternoon in the rain didn’t make things any better. By the time we reached the pot-head b-ballers house I was irate. They noticed us coming and offered fair warning that we were not to touch the lawn. “Hey you two dumb mother-fuckers, don’t touch my mother-fucking grass!”
In a moment of blind, misguided badassedness, clearly not a word, I turned and purposely picked up my foot and stomped it onto their lawn while keeping fuck you eye contact with one of the greatest basketball player of all time. A hero of mine. That was it, it was on now. I’m carrying a twenty-five pound backpack full of books for homework that I had no intention of every doing, was soaking wet and was about five foot seven at the time. I was being chased by two six and a half foot world-class athletes, saddled with nothing but sluggishness, the munchies and professional disappointment who both happened to have a stride longer than my entire frame.
They never caught us, though I sure they could have if they really wanted to. I mean, what were they going to do? After that day we took a different route home and never saw either of them again.
But we did run into Al Roker as we sped away and he grabbed us and said, “I thought I told you two to leave those gentlemen alone?” Al was pissed. As I look back on it today, Al, at that time, was the spitting image of Stanley from the movie Friday. I yanked my sleeve out of Al’s hand and said and this is the part I feel badly about, “man, shut the fuck up!”
Yeah, I know, its shitty. Al didn’t deserve that, he was just looking out for us. But, and I pride myself on this, I might be the only person on the face of the Earth to have told Al Roker to his face to fuck himself and that makes me feel good about me.