Some things you see in Anne Arundel are just too hard to 0) believe
I don't believe Bill Clinton didn't inhale. I don't believe Dan Quayle, period. I don't believe the Mets won the '69 Series. I don't believe Annapolis would fall into the sea if a Spider-Man sign were allowed to survive. I don't believe anyone could turn down a Chesapeake Bay blue crab -- or eat sauerkraut.
A lot of things I don't believe. And lately, it seems the more I drive around Anne Arundel County, the longer the list becomes.
Take three recent examples.
* A few weeks ago, I'm driving south on Route 170, through a driving rainstorm. I pass through the burgeoning metropolis of Piney Orchard. The ice rink looms to my left; houses appear in formation to the right.
Not that I really can see much of this, however, given the torrents of rain cascading down my windshield. About 30 minutes later, I'm retracing my route north. The rain has let up to a minor trickle. The skating rink and houses are still there.
But now a new site greets my still-moist eyes: Piney Orchard's community lawn sprinklers are running full-tilt.
I don't believe this is a wise use of water.
* I visit the Motor Vehicle Administration, always the high point of any day, to turn in some old license plates for cars I'd just had towed to the junkyard.
One set has this year's stickers attached to it; those for the second set are still in their envelope.
I turn in the plates, and the woman behind the counter cheerfully asks if I want a refund.
Surprised that this was even possible, I say yes, figuring I'd get some sort of pro-rated refund, based on when the plates expire. Instead, I'm refunded the full $27 for the stickers still in the envelope, but nothing for the others.
The lady explains you get refunds only if the stickers were never put on the plates.
I don't believe this makes much sense. I also don't believe I was stupid enough to attach that one set of stickers while on my way to the MVA.
* When I lived in Baltimore County, a little Greek carry-out up the street from me made the best Greek salad: lettuce, onions, feta cheese, oil and vinegar, spices, anchovies -- great stuff.
Sample question heard during my so-far fruitless search for a good Greek salad here in Anne Arundel County: "Now, sir, what sort of dressing would you like on your Greek salad?"
I don't believe anyplace in this county sells a great Greek salad. (Someone please prove me wrong.)
Here's a question that has more to do with zoning codes than you'd think.
What do you call the act of rubbing, stroking, kneading, tapping or otherwise manipulating another person's body tissues?
If you answered, "massage," you'd be right -- sort of.
That's how the Anne Arundel County Zoning Code defines a "massage."
But then again, in Anne Arundel County, something that looks like a massage and feels like a massage is not necessarily a massage.
Take the case of Kyong H. Smith.
Ms. Smith, who trained 300 hours with the U.S. Acupressure Therapy Institute in Rockville, wanted to offer acupressure treatments at a health spa she's opening in Brockbridge Center in Laurel.
She applied for a special exception to do so, and in March her case was heard by the county's administrative hearing officer.
She explained that acupressure, the hands-on manipulation of certain body pressure points, is a product of 4,000 years of Oriental medicine and healing philosophy.
Zoning analyst Richard Josephson reviewed Ms. Smith's plans for Pampered Lady. He decided it was a massage parlor.
But when hearing officer Robert C. Wilcox ruled on the case March 19, he decided that Pampered Lady did not need a special exception at all, because it was not a massage parlor.
The key to his decision was this: Ms. Smith's business plan stated that "female clients will be treated by a female therapist. Male clients will be treated by a male therapist."
Under county zoning law, Mr. Wilcox pointed out, a massage is not a massage until it is given "by a person of the opposite sex."
"While the applicant's facility will undoubtedly provide services generally characterized as 'massages,' the facility itself cannot be deemed to be a massage parlor," the ruling said.
"This is not to say that the proposed therapy does not constitute a massage as that term is generally understood," he continued. "We have little doubt that the mechanics involved in the 'acupressure' treatment employ massage techniques."
Playing big-band jazzis big-time happiness
The drummer clicks his sticks together to set the tempo, grunting in time with the clicks. Unh . . . ooo. Unh, ooo, eee, orrr. And we're off for another Monday night of big-band jazz.
Bill Yakaitis, who teaches music in Anne Arundel County, leads the charge of the sax section while Bill Taylor, a retired Naval Academy band member who also taught school, cuts loose one of his patented soaring trombone solos. And I'm hanging out in the middle of the trumpet section loving it.
There's that old canard about music soothing the savage beast. And for me, at least, it's true.
When I've spent the better part of my day trying to coax information from recalcitrant news sources, or staring at a blank computer screen, hoping for some kind of inspiration, little else can equal the joy I take in making music.
I've been with the Crabtowne Big Band for something like nine years. We've rehearsed in the student center at Anne Arundel Community College and played in clubs around Annapolis. At times -- mostly when personalities have clashed -- its been frustrating. But for the most part, its been pure fun.
We've played at bull roasts and wedding receptions; in concert halls and parks; and even a Chinese restaurant.
Once, we played for a Fourth of July party in Deale where hardly anyone showed up, except enough mosquitoes to carry us off to the nearby marshes.
But that's OK, because a few weeks later we were playing before a packed house in air-conditioned comfort at the National Press Club in Washington.
Now, we have a regular Monday night job in a tavern on U.S. 50 owned by a famous piano player who plays Broadway favorites on the weekends.
But it would be free advertising if I named him.
Could you make a living at this? I wonder. All I ever wanted to do was go sailing and play my trumpet.