Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

13 March 2007


I'm running out of people in Guanaja to piss off! Did it again last week. Wasn't even drunk, either. Okay, well I was in a bar - but I went there to eat, really! And aside from some great schnitzel, all I'd had were a couple of rum and Cokes. I mean, I wasn't even buzzed.

There's this new bar/restaurant here called Manati. It's owned by this guy named Hansito. Nice guy - although he has a somewhat legendary reputation for partying here in Guanaja (so it's good that he owns a bar!). Staffed behind the bar and in the kitchen by Annetta and her husband Klaus, they serve up some mighty good, authentic German food and drink with that typical Bavarian good cheer. And if any group of people knows how to have a good time, it's Germans! (Must have something to do with those HUGE, dark beers they drink.) I would say that they have a joie de vivre...if it wasn't a French term (is there a German equivalent?).

Our good friends Sharon and Mike Jones have a nice piece on Manati posted in their very interesting blog, Feather Ridge (www.featherridge.blogspot.com), which is worth a look.

In addition to that, Manati boasts a brand-new pool table, and an area set aside for a band. What a place! And in fact, a couple of nights ago they had one of their impromptu jam-sessions. Klaus was manning the upright bass, some new German guy I hadn't met was playing guitar and singing, and Ian was alternating between keyboard and drums. They sounded pretty good, too, once you got past the slightly-jarring sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes sung with a German accent.

"I'f zeen, zee bad moon rrrrri-zink,
I'f zeen, zee trrrrouble on zee vay..."

(I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea.)

Ian is British ex-pat...how he came to be here I do not recall. I met him at a party once and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. And you know me: If I meet you once we are friends for life...or until I do something to piss you off. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Ian is talented, too. Heck, I wish I could play one musical instrument, much less two. That's pretty incredible.

It was a nice, multi-cultural crowd, maybe a little boisterous but you know how bars can be. Or maybe you don't. But they can, trust me. People were calling out requests. As usual, I was "sort of" heckling the band in that light-hearted, good-natured way I have that is so endearing.

Or so I thought.

I may have made a comment. I may have said something totally innocuous like, "Hey, the only thing worse than your keyboard player is your drummer!" You know, as I said, light-hearted and good-natured. But I didn't mean it! Did I cross a line? Don't answer that - it's a rhetorical question. I've been known to cross lines. Is it possible that I'm not as funny as I think I am after a couple of rum and Cokes? Don't answer that either. Shouldn't I have learned this by now? Okay, you can answer that one.

The thing is, this band that night wasn't really a "band." Bands that perform in public get used to audience, um, "interaction." These were just a couple of guys who play instruments and happened to be playing together. They didn't have an "act," or a stage persona. But they did have me in the audience. Look out!

Well anyway, Ian - don't ask me how - took my comment wrong. "You've got a big mouth!" he yelled angrily, dropping his drumsticks and storming over. Now, I've been in my share of bar-fights (okay, one, which is my share), and I'm thinking, "Where is this gonna lead? Bar-fight number two?" Well it didn't lead anywhere; Ian was just pissed.

After a while, he cooled down, came over and we both apologized and shook hands. Thankfully, we stopped short of the drunken, "I love you, man" hug (I hate that). He graciously (and cagily) invited me to play the keyboard while he accompanied on the drums. But I had to decline. I explained that while I love live music, I cannot play a note. But I really admire those who can.

I seem to have made a profession out of pissing people off. No - strike that - "profession" implies a thing someone one does during the "adulthood" part of their life. Me, I've been pissing people off all my life since birth (ask my siblings, ask my friends!) - and we're not entirely sure when the "adulthood" part is going to kick-in, if ever.

I've got to be careful though. If Ian and the mayor ever get together, we might find ol' Bob ridden out of town on a rail. Which would be quite a trick, considering that it would have to be an underwater rail line, and I don't think those have been invented yet.

I really have to try to be better. Seriously, I need to keep a lid on it. But it sure ain't easy for this gringo to adapt to this very foreign land.


Hal Johnson said...

I laughed hard at this one, Bob, and man, can I ever identify. I've often felt that I should carry around a spice kit for my foot. I've had my share of those "crossing the line" episodes in writing, too. I'm known as an easy-going guy, but I'm also sort of a terminal smart-ass. So, when I express myself in writing, without the benefit of voice inflection or facial expression . . . Well, you get the point. (But hey, it's good to have an excuse.)

Gene said...

Keep Your Mouth Shut (For Once)
Listen and Enjoy...I mean what if you where the one on the stage.

But..Still some people down there need to RELAX and STOP BEING SO UPTIGHT. It's ok to joke..Just let people know you're joking!

Bob Barbanes said...

Hal, my problem is that even when people *can* hear my inflection and facial expression - I'm still a smartass!

And Gene...leave it to my friends to cut diretly to the chase. Me? Keep my mouth shut? Me? Shirley, you know me better than that.

island girl said...

Hey Bob - don't sweat it.....it is a Virgo thing. Virgos are known for being overly critical. No matter how well intentioned your comments are or how much you think you are just joking, it always seems to come out wrong. I am a Virgo too and I always seem to say the wrong thing. I say lots of things in jest that get taken the wrong way. Why does no one seem to understand my sense of humour???

So unfortunately your talent for pissing people off is caused by your month of birth and there is not a lot you can do about it.

Hal Johnson said...

Island Girl wrote, "So unfortunately your talent for pissing people off is caused by your month of birth and there is not a lot you can do about it." That's right, Bob. You might just look at your personality traits as components of your life's mission: to keep things spiced up, and to keep folks from getting complacent. I have no idea where that last thought came from, but I'm goin' with it . . .

David said...

How long have you been in aviation? LOL!
You've been struck a with G.A.D., General Aviation Disorder!
Maybe we should hold a fund raiser? Raise cash for 'foot spice'.

Hal Johnson said...

My son's godfather, Claus with a "C," was born in the U.S., but barely. He actually didn't learn English until he was three or so. He says one German saying that comes close to the meaning of "joie de vivre" is "lebensfreude." It's pronounced lay-bins-froy-da, or something like that, and translates literally to "love of life." Golly, now ain't ya glad I read your blog? You can quit losing sleep over that question now.

Bob Barbanes said...

Zzzzzzz...wh, whaaaat?

Oh, sorry Hal. But that's the wonderful thing about the internets. Ask a question or misspell a word and you'll quickly bet set right. "Lebensfruede!" Thanks for the info!