Sickness, the cage and lazy eyes

I hate being sick, especially when people are having a good time around you. That was the situation I found myself in a few weeks ago when enjoying my friend McKenna’s surprise 30th birthday party. Sick as the proverbial dog, I was loaded up on enough cold pills, Advil and nasal spray to medicate most of Western Canada, longing for the time when I would be back to 100%. I must have done something right as I won my first ever live poker tourney, setting the stage for my 2010 debut at the World Series of Poker.

Between that, and the recent influx of newborns for my work pals, got me to thinking about the idea of being at 100%. Realistically, is there anytime when our bodies are truly perfect and in full-functioning form? Birth? Six years old? 20? 60? I think our bodies are like a cell phone battery. At some point, they’re perfect and in full-functioning mode. Then with time, the capacity of which it can fully charge dwindles. You randomly charge it for a few minutes in the car or at home but might not fully finish the job because you’re rushing. Without notice one day, you notice that you’re not getting a lot of life out of what normally was the medicine for recharging it. Eventually, your battery dies, drained by years of use and, at times, neglect. To me, our bodies and overall well-being are often drained and then ‘recharged’ by a long weekend, a vacation or a good book. But we never get back to what the thought of 100 percent really is and I don’t think it’s even possible.

And that’s my dissertation on how we’re like cell phone batteries. I have little-to-no idea about what that has to do with being sick, but put that in the ‘stream of thought’ column. In looking over it, I guess that could be metaphorical for love as well. In any case, I think I might be the smartest guy in the world.

—-A BIG shoutout to my buddy Matt Paul who made an appearance this past week on ESPN’s game show, “Stump The Schwab.” “Stump” is a trivia show where three contestants match wits and knowledge with ESPN’s lead statistical researcher and uber nerd, Schwab. While knocked out in the 2nd round by a kid best described by Matt as needing “a pet or a hobby or something. Anything to keep him from being damned as the eternal virgin, I was still full of pride for my old workmate at the Maine Campus. Matt is one of those people who truly is loved by everyone and has one of the greatest personalities of anyone that I’ve ever known. I look back on our college years and wish I had taken the time to know him better, but hope that our friendship can be strengthened in upcoming years. You’re a hell of a guy, Matt Paul. (But you still should have known that Jerry West was already said.)

–Something I don’t miss about the hockey season: friends that call you while you’re working in a constant effort to remind of what a good time you’re missing. The world is lucky I’m such a nice guy and don’t have a gun permit.

–What’s the deal with lazy eyes anyway?

–I’ve taken to the hardwood, so to speak, joining a group of co-workers and their friends in Tuesday Night Hockey, a weekly roller-hockey league full of spills and thrills. I am one of two goalies (no skating required) and get fitted up in full pads for two hours. Absolutely exhausting but exhilarating at the same time. It’s pretty awesome to be complimented on something that you’ve never done before. Any interested agents can leave a message on my cell.

—-I don’t think there’s any worse feeling than being let down by one of your friends. Just a thought.

—-Finally, the Triangle of Fun reunites for the first time in months on Memorial Day weekend when my buds King, Clyde and I will meet up for a holiday weekend of debauchery. Viva la memories!

I think that’s about it…enjoy the 10 Wirt Street eulogy below!

be good or be good at it,

A goodbye to a good house…

How does one begin a eulogy of a house? (Well, I guess I just did, didn’t I?)

There are structures and then, there are buildings. There are houses and then, there are homes. There are places that people go and then, there are places people want to go to. That was, and always will be, 10 Wirt Street in Westbrook, ME, which officially closes its doors this week after approximately three years of ‘business.’

A linchpin for social activity in the greater Portland area, the Wirt Street residence was a vision by one man: Rob Akerley. Rob had an idea of getting a great house to rent in the area and having a diverse group of guys to live there with him, providing a dynamic that couldn’t be beat. Akerley brought together himself, Brian ‘Sluggo’ Jacobs and Zack ‘Jesus’ Longley for the first incantation of the Wirt, immediately lauching it into a place to be and a place to be seen; a nerve center of fun. Many a Sigma Chi, friend of a Sig or otherwise walked through the hallowed doorway and many of those same people ended up sleeping there as well, due to the unofficial fourth roommate: alcohol. Plenty of beers and mixed drinks were guzzled, many a joint smoked and many a laugh shared: the Wirt’s energy was undeniable and intoxicating in its own way.

(Side note: A fact mostly held for trivia buffs, Tom Houghton also signed up for temporary living duty at the Wirt, sharing the undesirable first-floor bedroom with swing doors that wouldn’t close all the way. Tom also ushered in the two-TV era, known as the Holy Shit months. While he may never be seen by critics as having large historical implications on the Wirt, it’s important to note his charter status and his crucial role in the building’s opening months.)

While the Wirt and its unique blue sectional couch monster were inviting, the property also had its share of controversy: the legendary Akerley/Nelson taxicab shouting affair, the McMann New Year’s Eve snowbank debacle, the random water drips, the 45-minute Chris Kelley showers, the Nason-Haney Black Tar Vomit bathroom incident. But it was all part of what I call The Wirt Experience. If you wanted to embrace this two-story structure for all of its glory, you also had to accept the warts. I think it was part of the car-crash appeal of staying there: you really had no idea what to expect.

Host to dozens of eventful parties, the Wirt saw perhaps its most lucrative and controversial era when Jacobs moved to Michigan and recent college grad Chris Kelley took his place. Between his Apprentice-like infatuation to learn the ways of Rob, his explosive demeanor and his revolving door of employers, CK brought a new era of entertainment to the Wirt. Eventually, Zack would leave as well, resulting in the final permanent tenant, Rick Haney, to stake a claim in Wirt history. But all through the ever-changing faces, one solid figure remained: Robert G. Akerley, the founder of what was known in most circles as ‘Akerley’s house.’

That is why it is a sad goodbye, but a happy beginning for all of the Wirt alumni as well. Rob bought his first house, CK moved to Concord, NH, and has a bright future at a big company, Zack continues to do well in the Portland environment, Rick has found a new love and Jacobs will tie the knot this September. Perhaps it was that group of people, perhaps it was the house’s proximity to the Old Port, perhaps it was that ragged blue couch, but something about that house made you feel good. Whether it was a simple game of horsehoes, an 80s party or watching Rob wash his car for the 800th time, the Wirt wasn’t just a place but a feeling.

Now, that feeling will have to live in all of us. Thank you to the residents in helping to create memories that will last forever…except for those of us who had them erased by illegal substances.