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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Covert Approach

Thursday
February 13, 2014

"Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them however you want to"
-Anna Nalick "Breathe (2 AM)"

Earlier this morning I went ahead and locked in my return trip from Seattle to Columbus for next month. It was somewhat reckless to wait this long to do it, though I think I did end up saving a few bucks on the deal. Maybe. I can't wait; even if Vegas now isn't what it was when I booked my stopover there last month, I have a way of spinning other people's capriciousness into gold. Improv comes in handy in both my personal and professional life, and I've had enough trips to the plate to learn how to handle whatever comes my way.

Some of my best adventures have come from spur-of-the-moment opportunities. I was reading some of my old columns on here from 2003-2004 and had to laugh at some of the impromptu things I had forgotten about in the past decade. I used to be much braver with what I wrote on this website, but I don't want to post something that will cost me an opportunity or cause me unnecessary problems.

My buddy Gary compared my storytelling to retired pro wrestler Mick Foley, which I took as a major compliment. Foley doesn't have my dark side (or if he does, it isn't apparent in his writing) but his ability to recollect and tell stories is remarkable. I do have the capacity to recall very specific details about events or evenings as well, which is why I think Gary wrote that. Sadly I can't tell many of the best ones on here, though that has as much to do with protecting other people as it does myself.

It's one thing if what I write gets me in trouble -- I have no one but myself to blame for that. But if what I write brings heat on someone else? That's not being a good friend. The best advice my father ever gave me is that it's better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission, but there's a difference between that and accidentally selling out your compadres.

Sometimes I do write in completely unfiltered form, but that is kept to a select group over email. It's like I go into a trance and often when I read back what I wrote it's like someone else wrote it. But it's the truth and it can be remarkably cathartic for me. And there is an unfortunate disconnect between true, interesting stories and what is tenable and acceptable on here. And that's something I just have to deal with, and it's also why I write so little on this site compared with the old days.

One bizarre coincidence that I will share in watered-down form happened last Friday night. That happened to be the birthday of Bev, a girl I know who invited me to meet up with her and her friends at EZ Street, a bar in St. Albans, West Virginia. That's a good 35 mile drive for me, but no big deal, I've driven a lot further for things. Vanceburg, Kentucky, I'm talking about you.

Once at the bar I met up with Bev and I made a good impression on her friends, which is no surprise since I tend to do that. I realize that sounds egotistical, but it's true. People often make the mistake of thinking I'm a nice guy but I just know how to read people well and act accordingly. My willingness to walk away from anything is strong, and consequently the law of scarcity tends to work to my advantage. It also helps me to find all sorts of other fun situations that I would have missed out on otherwise by sticking around elsewhere and playing by someone else's rules.

This didn't come naturally to me, to be sure, but by not caring too much about what other people think about me I actually find myself learning much more about them -- which, in turn, makes them more interested in me. There is some counter-intuitiveness to it for sure, especially when it comes to women. But once you've learned how to spin plates and make yourself a mystery and play the game the right way, you quickly learn how much better that approach is compared with behavior that ends with you selling yourself out for those who will end up secretly holding you in disdain.

But I'm getting off track here with my riddles, the business end of the ADHD that keeps ideas and thoughts and memories and details cascading through my mind. I'm up against the clock to get some sleep, but the Adderall that makes me a better news producer yet paradoxically also limits my creative writing skill has worn off. Gotta strike while the iron is hot, right?

So I was the outsider having fun at the bar, limiting my drinking since I knew I had to drive back home, and out of nowhere I heard my name. I turned around and, lo and behold, it was Jeremy and Michael from work. They are based out of the Charleston office, which is closer to St. Albans than Huntington for sure, but the odds of them being at that bar that night were unreal. Seriously, what are the chances of that happening? It's not like EZ Street is a common hangout spot for them.

I wrote on Facebook and Twitter that I wasn't able to avoid breaking kayfabe even by driving 35 miles, which is pro wrestling carny for not protecting the business. In my case that's the breaking down of the firewall between my professional side and my personal life, a When Worlds Collide scenario that I usually try to avoid. I work with some great people, but the person I am on the job and the person I am in real life are very different.

But fate had intervened so I went with the flow. After anchoring our late news (which went on even later that evening due to the opening night of the 2014 Winter Olympics), Amanda came down from the Charleston studio. A few of Bev's friends marked out a bit when Amanda got there, but to her credit she was amazingly gracious about it all. Like I said, I work with some great people.

Your 2014 WSAZ mini-bowling champions!
(Me, Jeremy, Amanda, and Michael)

Soon after, Bev (who was several birthday drinks deep) spotted some friend of hers who she wanted to say hello to, which freed me up to play this interesting mini-bowling game that they had set up at the bar. The three of them were already playing a game, so I agreed to get in on the next one while I watched and learned how mini-bowling worked.

Before long it was time for me to play, and they were using fake names for fun and somehow I ended up with the name Jordan being entered for me the computer screen. We were a few frames in when Bev spotted me from across the bar and abruptly made her way over to me. You could imagine my surprise when, out of nowhere, she started aggressively kissing me. That was unexpected.

Now this wasn't exactly the first time I've made out with a girl at a bar, but this one threw me because it came out of nowhere and, awkwardly, it was right there with my three co-workers nearby. They all were looking away, either an incredible coincidence or because they briefly saw what was happening and decided not to watch.

I managed to pull myself away and bowl a few more frames, but then Bev came around for a second round. Once again, my co-workers, who like me notice things for a living, were all averting their gaze. It felt like a weekend back in Ybor for a moment, but again it was too much with the When Worlds Collide factor. After extricating myself for a second tiime I got back to mini-bowling, and that was it as far as the craziness at the bar went that night.

The postscript the next day was amusing to me in that Bev said she didn't remember kissing me, which is a crazy dynamic considering we hadn't made out before, a one-sided memory for me of something instigated by the girl. I don't think I've been in a situation like that since college.

And, with that, sleep sounds like a fantastic idea.


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