The Diablo Sandwich

In Smokey and the Bandit, Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) stops at a restaurant and orders a “diablo sandwich”.

Everyone in metro Atlanta knew the restaurant in the film was an Old Hickory House, a locally-famous barbecue chain. Problem was, Gleason improvised the “diablo sandwich” name. Old Hickory House never sold such a thing, but once the movie became a huge hit TONS of people started asking for it. So they retroactively invented one: their standard pulled pork sandwich with two pickle chips, liberally doused in Texas Pete hot sauce. Not Tabasco or Crystal or Frank’s. Texas Pete.

Old Hickory House used to have over 20 locations.

Atlanta folks may remember that the (now closed) LGBTQ-friendly Cowtippers steakhouse at 1600 Piedmont Road was once an Old Hickory House. And the Atlanta Fish Market – somehow STILL open at 265 Pharr Road – was also once an Old Hickory House. There was the 2655 South Cobb Parkway location, which has been Swapna Indian Cuisine for some time now. Or the 6420 Roswell Road location, which was a strip club called “Flashers” for some time but has been empty for years. My family ate at the Scott Blvd. and N. Decatur Road location often; the building still stands as the Wheelhouse Pub. When I lived in Dunwoody I tried to eat at the Dunwoody Village location at least once a week. It closed in 2014, long after I moved to Charlotte.

Speaking of, there were Old Hickory Houses outside Atlanta, too. There were allegedly locations in Athens, Tallahassee and Chattanooga, although documentation is hard to find.

And also: Charlotte! Originally opening where else – Freedom Drive! – in 1957, the restaurant moved to 6538 N. Tryon in 1972:

It was unusual in that T. Jack Black and his wife Ann, owners of the chain – didn’t own any of the Charlotte location (not even a fraction), and perhaps never even visited it. It’s said that Black’s father, William, came up here to help his cousins, Bobby and Gene Carter, get the restaurant up and running. I ate there once, the day after its upcoming closure was announced. The food was just OK. It was probably coasting on its reputation for years. It’s fair to say the Charlotte location had little contact with the other locations.

The Old Hickory House in Forest Park.

Sadly, the Old Hickory House featured in film – at roughly 151 Main Street, Forest Park, Georgia – no longer exists… at all. It was knocked down decades ago and is still a vacant lot, although a newish Wendy’s now occupies part of the property. The Wickes billboard seen in the movie is still there, although according to Google Maps as of November 2022 it was advertising a local Chinese buffet.

There’s only one Old Hickory House left, at 2202 Northlake Parkway in Tucker (near near Northlake Mall, obviously) . And the “diablo sandwich” is still on the menu if you want one!

“Smart Alec”

The term “Smart Alec” is thought to have come from the misadventures of 1840s New York City criminal Alec Hoag.

Alec was a pimp and thief. Originally his scam worked like this: his wife, Melinda, would take a “customer” down a dark alley in which Alec was hidden. She’d pick the john’s pockets and hold the loot in her hand; Alec would silently take the goods and disappear into the night while the client was… “distracted”.

Most men would be too embarrassed to report the theft to the cops. But some would, so Alec started paying off local cops by giving them a cut of his ill-gotten gains. For Alec it was win-win.

I’m not quite sure what happened next. Some sources say Alec fell into financial difficulties and couldn’t pay off the police. Others say he simply decided he didn’t want to pay off the cops any more.

Whatever the case, Alec moved his scam into a rented room. Melinda would bring johns back to the room and draw a curtain around the four-poster bed. When the moment was right, she’d cough, and Alec would slip into the room through a false panel and steal the john’s wallet (and anything else of value), then quietly disappear the way he came.

It worked for a while, but when the NYPD found out that Alec had cut them out of his business they arrested him. Some cops took to sarcastically calling him “Smart Alec”, as he was just a bit too clever for his own good.

They say it took a good 20 years, but eventually the phase entered common usage near the end of the Civil War. Although the story hasn’t been proven beyond a doubt, it has consistently been the only story attached to the saying, so it may just be true!

Dishes Newer Than You Think – It’s TRUE!

Every so often, this photo makes the rounds of Facebook and Reddit, claiming that many beloved “authentic” dishes are much, much younger than you may imagine:

Dishes Newer Than You Think

Well, I did some research and yes… this infographic\photo is largely accurate:

Apple Crumble – Wikipedia doesn’t have much on the history of crumbles specifically but does note that while certain dishes go back a long way – fruit cobblers were invented in Colonial America – “crumbles became popular in Britain during World War II” due to wartime rationing of baking ingredients.

Banoffee pie – Invented by Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding, the owner and chef (respectively) of the Hungry Monk Restaurant in Jevington, East Sussex. They created the dessert in 1971, basing it on an American recipe for “Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie” from San Francisco. However, they could not get the dessert to gel correctly, so they substantially altered the original recipe into something they *could* make.

Blended Iced Coffee – This is a sketchy one. Iced coffee traces its history back to Vienna in the late 1700s, although that version of iced coffee wasn’t especially popular. Mazagran, a drink invented by French soldiers in Algeria, is likely the “granddaddy of iced coffee”, although the drink was simply made with cold water, not ice or ice water. However, BLENDED iced coffee – that thing you’d recognize from Starbucks – was invented in Westwood, California at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf coffee shop in 1987. Still, the drink didn’t become a national obsession until Starbucks started selling them in 1995.

Bubble Tea – Although two Taiwanese tea shops have competing claims for this invention – the Chun Shui Tang Tea Room and the Hanlin Tea Room – it’s clear that in the 1980s one of them added tapioca balls to tea with milk and sugar, itself a thing popularized in Taiwan by Dutch colonials in the 1620s. Taiwanese immigrants to the US brought the drink to California in the 1990s, where it spread across the US.

Butter chicken – Admittedly, this recipe didn’t appear out of thin air… curry’s been in thing in India for centuries. But this particular recipe comes from Kundan Lal Jaggi and Kundan Lal Gujral, who ran the Moti Mahal restaurant in the Daryaganj neighborhood of Old Delhi. Fun fact: they also invented the popular lentil dish dal makhani.

Carbonara – The contentious one. It’s not entirely surprising that smoked meat + cheese and\or cream + pasta would be popular over the centuries. But modern carbonara is said to have been invented by Italian army cook Renato Gualandi in 1944. He was helping prepare a big dinner for US officers, and foodwise the US Army had “fabulous bacon, very good cream, some cheese and powdered egg yolks”. Italian food historian Luca Cesari doesn’t believe that exact story, but does believe the gist of it, that US Army bacon was in plentiful supply in Rome just after liberation, and the dish was popular with American servicemen. Also, the first printed recipe for this comes from a cookbook published in CHICAGO in 1952.

Carpaccio – based on the Piedmont specialty carne cruda all’albese, carpaccio was invented in 1963 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. Harry’s, which is still open, was popular with Ernest Hemingway and Charlie Chaplin. Cipriani also invented the bellini, a drink made from Prosecco and peach nectar.

Chicken tikka masala – This is a tough one, ‘cos you’re gonna make SOMEBODY mad no matter which you choose. Tikka masala was, for sure, invented in the United Kingdom in the late 60s or early 70s. But exactly WHO depends on which story you believe: that it was invented in Glasgow by Ali Ahmed Aslam, or was invented somewhere in London by Bangladeshi chef unknown. You can imagine what the Brexit vs. Scottish Independence crowds think.

Chocolate fondant – An easy one: invented by chef Michel Bras in 1981. Bras currently runs the restaurant Bras Michel et Sébastien in Laguiole, France. The restaurant has made several “best restaurants in the world” lists and had three Michelin stars until 2017, when Bras gave them up so he could “experiment” more.

Ciabatta – Ciabatta bread was first produced in 1982, by Arnaldo Cavallari, who called the bread ciabatta polesana after Polesine, the area he lived in. The recipe was subsequently licensed by Cavallari’s company, Molini Adriesi, to bakers in 11 countries by 1999. Yes, ciabatta is a licensed style of bread.

Currywurst – Another easy one: currywurst was invented in 1949 when a Berliner named Herta Heuwer traded some sausages to some British soldiers in exchange for ketchup and curry powder. You can even go to the currywurst stand Heuwer ran back in the day (it’s still open!) and read the historic plaque about her.

Doner Kababs – Although vertical rotisseries were invented in the Ottoman Empire in the mid-1800s – leading to the Arab schwarma, the Greek gyro, and Mexico’s al-pastor (via Lebanese immigrants) – the specific dish that makes a doner kebab – rotisserie meat, salad and chili sauce stuffed in a pita – began with Turkish “guest workers” in Germany in the 1960s. Oddly, however, London was the site of the first known kebab shop, although they almost certainly came to London via Berlin.

Fartons – Yes, a hilarious name for a tasty pastry. They were created by Spain’s Polo (baking) family in the 1960s as the perfect pastry to dip in horchata, much like the ol’ biscotti & coffee combo. You can still buy them from the Polo family today:

General Tso’s Chicken – This was invented by a Hunan chef named Peng Chang-kuei. He was the official government banquet chef of the Chinese Nationalist government, and fled to Taiwan after the Communists took control of the mainland. He came to New York in 1973 and opened his own restaurant on East 44th Street. The dish was initially a dud until he added brown sugar… then it became wildly successful, spreading to Chinese restaurants across the US in months, not years.

Continue reading “Dishes Newer Than You Think – It’s TRUE!”

A Bunch of Crap!

You may be under the impression that an Englishman named Thomas Crapper invented the toilet. Sorry – that’s an urban legend.

Flushing toilets go back to Elizabeth I’s time, and for centuries before that it was common to build latrines over rivers or streams, or with a some sort of water storage tank to flush the waste away.

Crapper DID start the most famous toilet company in the UK, and he invented the floating ballcock, the little floating ball in the tank that turns the incoming water off when the tank water reaches a specific level. However, many other mechanisms had been around before that.

The interesting thing about all this is, the slang term “crap” has different origins in the US and UK.

In the UK, the word “crap” comes from Middle English, probably from crappe, which is thought to come from either the Dutch krappen (to pluck off, cut off, or separate) and\or the Old French crappe (siftings or unwanted matter). It referred to bits of loose grain that were inevitably trod on in storage, like a barn. Over time, it came to mean anything worthless in British English, and wasn’t an especially popular slang term at that.

In the United States, there is no record of the word “crap” existing before World War I: not a single known written example. However, 2 million American GIs were sent to the UK to fight against Germany, and these soldiers saw the “Crapper” name on seemingly EVERY British toilet.

Dutch krappen (to pluck off, cut off, or separate) and the Old French crappe (siftings, waste or rejected matter

His name was as ubiquitous on toilets as “American Standard” or “Sloan” is on American urinals. So GIs started calling all toilets “crappers”, which eventually became multiple terms, like “taking a crap” or the word “crap” itself for waste, which of course itself became a polite euphemism for something not very good, as in “The National’s latest album was crap”.

An Odd Tale of Digital Assistants

Mention “digital assistants” these days and most people will think of Alexa or Siri. But they’re way older than that.

When banks were designing the first ATMs in the early 1970s, they weren’t sure people would know how to use them. Consider: if you’d never seen an ATM before, would you KNOW exactly what to do?

The First National Bank of Atlanta thought about that, and created one of the first digital assistants, a friendly blonde avatar named Tillie, to walk customers through their transaction. She was such an integral part of the experience that the machines were called “Tillie the Alltime Teller”. And they were so popular with customers that within weeks of her 1974 debut Atlantans started calling all ATMs “Tillie Machines” or “Tillies”. “We need to stop by the Tillie for some cash,” you’d say.

Tillie the Alltime Teller

Banks from all over the country came to Atlanta to see how Tillie worked, and some of those banks liked her so much they licensed the technology and image from FirstAtlanta. This is why, if you google “Tillie Teller”, Google Images will return results for Tillie ephemera from American State Bank of Texas and Florida National Bank.

But HERE’s the part that will blow your mind: Tillie’s voice was that of a woman named Susan Bennett… who would later go on to become famous as… Siri!

So the woman behind the most popular digital assistant in history is the same woman behind one of the very first digital assistants!

My Top Albums Of 2023

2023 was an… unusual year for music. As far as individual tracks go, 2023 was a bumper crop! My Fall 2023 Spotify playlist had to be split in two because there were just SO MANY great songs showing up on Spotify!

But as far as entire albums go? Ehhhhhhh, not so much. I know some of you are thinking “dude, are you CRAZY? 2023 had albums by Caroline Polachek, Lana Del Rey, boygenius, Small Black, Depeche Mode, Alison Goldfrapp, Mitski. 100 gecs, Fever Ray, Sufjan Stevens… we even got a flute record from André 3000!”

I get it. I do. But while I found many, many great new songs this year, full albums seemed to elude me. Which is why I broke one of my longstanding rules this year. Oh yes – there is RULE BREAKING this year!

So let’s get to it: below are my ten favorite albums of 2023. The list comes from my stats generally; I almost always tinker with the specific order of the albums. After that are the honorable mentions, followed by the “Band of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, “Live Song of the Year” and the raw data from

My Top Albums of 2023

10) M83 – Fantasy – I’ll be honest: M83 is one of those bands I wish I liked more… especially since Spotify says “French indietronica” is one of my top genres, and these guys (with Daft Punk and Air) basically created the whole thing! Yet, M83 is a band I listen to and like the hits (but wore “Midnight City” into the ground… badly). So, while this is a pretty good LP I’d recommend to anyone, it says something that this year was so slow that a band I’m ultimately kinda “meh” about makes the Top 10.

9) Slowdive – Everything is Alive – Good to have ya back, guys.I don’t know you ended up as THE most evergreen tree in the shoegaze forest, but here we are.

8) Alice et Moi – Photographie – Alice Vannoorenberghe or Alice Vanor for short, or her stage name, Alice et Moi, has released a ton of good singles and EPs. Her song “Éoliennes” was even in a teaser for Netflix’s You:

That’s her music – slow, but with a beat… sexy… European. It’s EXACTLY the kind of music you’d see in a show like You… or a Longchamp commercial. Photographie builds on the success of all those singles, EPs and her debut, 2021’s Drama. But while I like this album, I understand the “it starts to sound ‘samey’ after a  while” criticism. Like I said, it’s a slow year for albums.

7) Munya – Jardin – Montreal’s Munya does pretty indie pop, end of story. One of the later tracks on this disc – “Un Deux Trois” – sounds like a parallel universe Madonna, where she ended up French-Canadian and in Montreal in 1983 instead of NYC.

If the French is too much for you, here’s her slightly funky cover of “Bizarre Love Triangle” (LOVE THAT BASS!)

She’s a lot of fun. This album is a lot of fun.

6) Kid Francescoli  – Sunset Blue – What’s there  to say? All of Kid Francescoli’s albums have made my “Best of” lists, excepting the first two (that predate my lists). And really, why wouldn’t his stuff be here? If “French indietronica” is something you might be into, he’s one of the biggest names. His music is fun, catchy and almost always has a beat. There’s a time and place for slow, almost ambient music… but Kid Francescoli time ain’t it. If you want to feel like you’re hanging out in a hipster lounge in Marseille… this is the artist (and album) for you! And speaking of, Kid (actual name Mathieu Hocine) is from Marseille, and he dedicated this album to the sights, sounds, smells and memories of his hometown. It’s a great album to listen to while walking, and a great album to play for a party. Keep up the FANTASTIC work, sir.

5) Cosmetics – Baby – This is the point in the list where I launch into a tirade about Johnny Jewel. And yeah, it’s a thing: Jewel, musician and producer, broke up Chromatics and ran off many of his labels most talented artists. You may remember the Italians Do It Better band Heaven, who had a indie hit called “Truth or Dare”:

Or, if you saw Chromatics on their 2019 tour, you might have seen Heaven’s lead singer Aja playing synths with Desire. Anyway, I guess as part of the IDIB fallout, she left the label and restarted her previous band, Cosmetics.

It’s just pure synthpop. And not every song works, but I really like them, you guys:

Continue reading “My Top Albums Of 2023”

Clearing Individual Jump Lists in Windows 10

Jump Lists are one of the coolest features of Windows 10. If you pin an app to the taskbar, you can right-click on the app’s taskbar icon and see a list of your most recent documents (items), and even pin ones you use the most:

Jump Lists in Windows 10

In the Spotify menu, you can see I’ve pinned Alvvays’ Blue Rev album, and have recently listened to Gorilla vs. Bears’ “Best of 2023” playlist, a couple French indietronica tunes, then my own Top 100 list. So in the future, I can just right-click the Spotify taskbar icon and choose Blue Rev and the album will play.

But while Windows offers a way to clear ALL your jump lists, it doesn’t have a way to clear them on a per-app basis.

Let’s say your boss is going to use your computer, and you don’t want her to accidentally see your Word jump list with its “UPDATED_RESUME.DOCX” and “40 Ways to Kill Your Boss.docx” entries.

Make sure the app in question is closed, then copy and paste this into the Start Menu:


If this doesn’t work for some reason, you can just open File Explorer and go to C: > Users > [your username] > AppData > Roaming > Microsoft > Windows > Recent > AutomaticDestinations. Click “Date Modified” at the top of the column to sort them by most recently updated:

Jump Lists in Windows 10 2
(click to embiggen)

Now, right-click on the taskbar icon in question and pin a document to the list, or unpin an existing one. Doesn’t matter. Refresh the Explorer window, and the jump list you just edited should be the first one on the list (check the timestamp on the file to be sure). If you’re sure it’s the right one, delete it.

Lastly, test the Jump List: it should now be empty, and will re-populate  as you use it in the future. If something’s gone wrong, you can always restore the one from the Recycle Bin if necessary. But also, if you’re sure you’ve deleted the right file and everything is the way you wanted it, delete the file out of the Bin so that prying eyes won’t see it!

A Warning About Ordering Records From Europe

So, if you don’t know me, I collected records in middle and high school… back in the 80s when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In fact, I recently got a new storage solution for my records and went through my core 80s collection for the first time in ages. I posted many of my favorites to my Instagram account – just scroll back a couple months.

Anyway, I got out of record collecting in the early 90s, when it seemed like CDs had conquered vinyl once and for all. And from 2008 until 2020, I’d buy a record every few years, be it an old favorite or colored vinyl,” just because”.

I really started buying vinyl again in 2022. I’ve ordered maybe a dozen LPs from Europe, and I’ve discovered something: European LP mailers suck. Like, almost all of them. So if you really want a record from Europe, it may be worth your time to see if anyone in the US has it. Not only will shipping be much cheaper from the US than the EU, we here in the US use proper packaging.

This is mailer for a record I ordered from Norway. The center of the mailer had a “tear here” strip, so that’s how I opened it. That part’s SUPPOSED to look bad. But the problem here is that while the cardboard is thick, it’s very soft. It feels like it was made with mostly recycled cardboard. In any case, you can see all the dents and bends the record suffered on the way here. The record arrived with a torn and dented outer sleeve. I emailed the label, who opened a new copy of the LP and mailed me that sleeve. They coulda avoided all that by just using better quality mailers.

Norway Mailer 01

Here’s another shot of the Norway mailer, at a slightly different angle, so you can see all the dents, and how thin it is on the side:

Norway Mailer 02

And this is the mailer a French company sent my copy of Alice et Moi’s new album, Photographie in. In this case, the cardboard itself is actually quite strong. But again, it’s so thin – thinner than an album sleeve – that it offered little protection, and the sleeve was again damaged in shipment:

French Mailer 01

French Mailer 02

I could email the label about the damaged sleeve, but I’ve just learned my lesson and will think long and hard before buying overseas again. Unless it’s Saint Etienne’s Christmas stuff. I’m helpless against their Christmas records.

And speaking of the UK, of the dozen overseas records I’ve ordered, Rough Trade was the only vendor who packaged their LPs well. And I know I only showed you two examples of bad packaging today. But it seems to a Europe-wide thing: I cross my fingers with every overseas order knowing it will be packaged horribly no matter if ordered from Scotland, France, Germany, The Netherlands or Belgium.

And hey… it’s easy to criticize. So tell us, oh wise one, what does a GOOD mailer look like? Well, this is what Polyvinyl Record Company uses here in the US:

US Mailer 01

US Mailer 02

That Alvvays LP was shipped between two pieces of thick, study NEW cardboard, surrounded by more thick, study NEW cardboard, and one more layer of thick, study NEW cardboard! You could STOMP on this thing and it wouldn’t hurt the record.

And here’s a mailer from Fat Possum Records out of Oxford, Mississippi. The packaging is similar to Polyvinyl’s and more than adequate for the task. But I just wanted to share their corporate motto, perhaps my all-time favorite: “We’re trying our best”

Fat Possum Mailer

The Mystery of Douglas Edgar

This is James Douglas Edgar. He was a golfer, born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1884. He won the French Open in 1914, and after WWI he moved to Atlanta, where he became the professional at Druid Hills Golf Club.

Douglas Edgar

He taught future golf legend Tommy Armour and helped Georgia Tech’s phenom, Bobby Jones, become the most successful amateur golfer in history.

Edgar won the 1919 Canadian Open by 16 strokes, still the largest margin of victory in a PGA event. He came back the next year and won again, becoming the first golfer to defend a Canadian Open title.

He had a hip condition that hampered his swing but came up with an even better swing that gave him more distance and accuracy. He wrote a book, The Gate to Golf, that described the new swing and revolutionized how golf is taught down to this very day.

Douglas Edgar seemed to be on the verge of golf superstardom. Which makes the events of August 8, 1921 all the more tragic.

Shortly before midnight, Edgar was found face down in the street, in a pool of blood, near his home on West Peachtree Street. He bled out before help could arrive. It was initially thought that Edgar had been the victim of a hit & run; Good Samaritans tried to help, inadvertently contaminating the scene. So forensics, such as it was in the 1920s, didn’t help. There were even witnesses who claimed to see the hit & run. But none of the area residents reported hearing any cars at that time, much less an accident. And when an autopsy was performed, it was determined that Edgar had been stabbed, a perfect shot into the femoral artery in one of his thighs.

The murder remains unsolved. There were rumors that Edgar had gotten into a spot of gambling trouble, but while he did gamble on matches, he wasn’t known to gamble obsessively or to wager large amounts… certainly nothing to warrant killing over. The most likely explanation, as police and journalists privately said at the time, and later researchers would agree, was that Edgar was simply sleeping with the wrong married woman.

He is buried at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.

Why I Love This Song

I screwed around a lot in high school. I was one of those kids who wouldn’t shut up in classes he liked, like history and English. Believe me, few Duluth High students held stronger opinions about the Battle of Hastings and Ezra Pound than I. However, I just.. could… not… stay… awake in classes I disliked, such as… well, most forms of math, honestly. That’s assuming I even showed up at all. After all, can’t you learn more about the human condition in one afternoon at the High Museum than you can in a whole week of Mrs. Pierce’s class?

So, not surprisingly, I had to start my collegiate career at community college.

How long ago was this? It was so long ago that Atlanta still had separate morning and evening newspapers. I mention this because I had to subscribe to the morning paper for 10 weeks for an economics class.

One morning I grabbed my copy of The Atlanta Constitution and drove to school. The traffic gods were kind that morning, so I had plenty of time to pick up a cup of tea at the Student Center. I sat in the near-empty classroom, reading the paper and sipping my builder’s tea. And there I spotted the blurb:

German supermodel Claudia Schiffer will be making an appearance from noon until 2PM at the downtown Macy’s tomorrow to promote her new Guess? perfume.

Me, having clearly learned nothing from screwing around in high school, thought: “I have a female in my life I could buy that perfume for. And meeting Claudia Schiffer sounds like WAY MORE FUN than Algebra 98.” So I went to my first class the next morning, then drove to Macy’s downtown.

The queue wasn’t as long as you might imagine. There were only 30-35 people ahead of me in line, and I wasn’t even trying to rush there. To be honest, Claudia Schiffer was always way down my supermodel list. I always have been, and forever shall be, a Christy Turlington man, with Helena Christensen as my side chick. There certainly wasn’t anything WRONG with Claudia Schiffer. She was just #18 on the list because there were 17 models I thought were prettier. Yes, even Shalom Harlow.

But then she finally came out from behind a makeshift curtain. I was a ways from her, but I remember thinking “wow, she’s a lot prettier than I expected… like A LOT prettier!” And, as the line got ever-closer I just COULDN’T BELIEVE how pretty she was. I mean, there were posters of her plastered in almost every direction of the fragrance department. I could look at those posters all day and think, “yeah, that girl’s pretty”, but then to turn my head and actually SEE her? In the flesh? Godammighhty! It was like my blood pressure went up five points every step closer I got to her.

Then the moment finally came: I was THERE, the width of a high school cafeteria-style table across from Claudia Schiffer. Imagine all the love and care and feeding and education and attention it took to make ME. The countless hours of effort of hundreds, perhaps THOUSANDS of people, from doctors and teachers to cafeteria ladies and Vince at the Pleasant Hill Jiffy Lube. All those people, just for me to look Claudia Schiffer dead in the eye and, for want of anything else better to say, said:

“You’re SOOOO PRETTY. I just wanna die!”

My “one chance” with a supermodel, and I sound like Marcia freakin’ Brady telling Jan about a secret crush. Thankfully, rather than look alarmed, she just kind of grinned, I guess secretly celebrating me officially being the 10,000th man she’d turned into a complete pile of helpless Jell-O.

“OK. But… your name… for the shirt?”

“Oh [sheepishly] Jim. J-I-M.”

She signed “To Jim, Claudia Schiffer” on a Guess? t-shirt, smiled and handed it to me. To my credit, I’d recovered enough to prove my German classes weren’t completely useless by giving her a “Tschüs!” then stepped away before making the situation any worse.

And that’s why I like this song.