Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Le'ts Get This Party Poter Started

Ever since that very special episode of Jackass, the one where Johnny Jackhole decides to strap himself inside a feces filled box and flip it upside down, the mere sight of aPorta-Potty makes me want to wretch. I've never actually even seen that show, but somehow I think most of North America has stumbled across footage of that portable toilet stunt. In case you haven't, for some reason, some jackass (hence the title) barricaded himself into a completely full Porta-Potty and with a crane, had the thing turned upsidedown while he was in it. Why? A very good question. Even thinking about it makes me sick.

An extreme, MTV related, aversion to portable bathrooms now makes my life very difficult, because my neighborhood is new construction, and there are Sani-Stops strewn about everywhere. I can't escape them.

Actually, once, while our house was still being built, my wife had to use one that was oh so conveniently located in our driveway. I'm sure that she had all the standard complaints about this particular Tidy-Toity visit; smell, heat, insanely high humidity that always makes me believe that relieving myself smack dab in the middle of a shit cloud (Run for the hills everybody, there's a giant shit-cloud coming -- bonus points for anyone who can name that quote), the lock, the cleanliness (or lack there of), and of course, there's the view. BUT, my wife actually came out of this particular hot box laughing that day. Why? Because some bored construction fella, with his pants around his ankles and a mean one a brewin', found a Sharpie marker in his pocket mid-dump and decided to brand the plastic wall with his personal brand of poo related humor. My bride was amused to the point of "you need to go in there and see this" when she saw an arrow pointing into the bowl partnered with the words "John's Lunch Box."

Everyday now, on my way out, I pass John's lunchbox. Now that we've moved in, it's no longer in my driveway, but it's still close by, as are several of its closest friends: Sal's brown bag (one block down), Frank's Thermos (2 1/2blocks away behind and aptly named dumpster), and Big Earl's Lipton Cup O'Soup (right at the edge of the neighborhood). Each time I pass one of these fellas and their noon-time meals, I can't help but think of all the great porta-potties of my past.

Like, the one on the Thunderbird Golf Course. I don't like golf. Don't like it. Many reasons. Too boring. Too much walking. Not enough hitting. However, golf seems to be one of those things you need to partake in to succeed in business, probably reason number seventeen for Mike leaving the business world.

Back in my days in sales, golf became one of those things that Icouldn't avoid on occasion. One particularly lovely afternoon (the same afternoon that I got hit in the back of the head with a golf ballwhile leaving the 18th hole), I went golfing with my boss and a couple of other sales guys. Much drunken hilarity ensued, the highlightbeing a 6' 10" bean pole using the Sani-Stop on hole ten, and my boss urging me to park the cart in front of the door, blocking any hope of exit from the poo scented box. Scott, the beanpole, was not very happy, but the whole office enjoyed the snapshots of him almost tipping the outhouse over in an attempt at freedom when they were posted on the office bulletin board Monday morning.

Another winner was the row of Porta-Lets lined up at the top of a hill during one of those weekend long festival concerts that I attended about fifteen years ago. The gates were crashed, the crowd was larger than expected, and the guy whose job it was to calculate the amount of poopie ka ka generated by a throng of music lovers was off by a few metric tons. Pretty soon, there was a human waste Slip N Slide (not sold in stores) running down the hill.

People, drug/alcohol induced lacking of their mental faculties people, decided that slipping and sliding indeed did look like fun. I had never been happier that I'd just said no, but that didn't stop me from watching the festivities as a great mass of twenty-somethings stood in line to repeatedly slide on their bellies through human feces. Watch? Hell yeah, it was hilarious, and I was upwind.

There's also a portable restroom adjacent to the baseball field I hold my practices at in the summer. A two hour practice is way too long for a sixth grader to hold it, so I'm often asked, "Coach, can I use thebathroom?"

This past season, however, one particularly pronunciation challenged second baseman repeatedly asked to use the "Party Poter" (poe ter, not potter). As soon as one teammate overheard his request, the rest of the season, "Party Poter" trips were all the rage. No matter where we played, home, road, a trip to the bathroom was "Party Poter" time. I even had to stymie a dugout chant of "Par Tee Poe Ter, Par Tee PoeTer..." when good ole #2 hit a clutch double.

They were about to begin again during his next at bat, but a quick glare put a stop to it. Instead, an unintentional (?), but equally toiletriffic chorus of "Go Number Two, Go Number Two" got going.

So, whatever name you have for it, Porta-Potty, Sani-Stop, Sani-Spot,Outhouse, Porta-John, Sani-Flush, Porta-Let, Tidy-Toity, John's LunchBox, remember, take a deep breath, flip the lock to occupied, have a seat, and go #2.

Monday, September 29, 2008

He's All Growns Up and He's Growns Up

These are things my friend Rob used to like.

Large breasts.

Larger breasts.

Large bare breasts.

Breasts that are larger than the previously mentioned breasts.

Vapid obnoxious women with large breasts.

Things that remind him of large breasts.



Watching sports and eating while looking at large breasts.

He's not a bad guy. In fact, he's a really good guy. The only problem that most people have with Rob is that he is a guy, and he makes no excuses about it. He doesn't pretend or play games or try to be something he's not. He's Rob, and if you don't like that, tough noogies. A quick example to let you understand who Rob is. For five years, not five months, or five weeks, FIVE YEARS, Rob dated this girl. They had this much in common...

See that vast wasteland of emptiness? That's it. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not even buzzards circling overhead. For crying out loud, they didn't have buzzards. Although, I guess they should have, that would have been an incredibly appropriate symbolic kinda dealie.

This girl was, without a doubt, the most stuck up person I have ever encountered. She was so full of herself that she would thumb through magazines and tell us how much hotter she was than any of the movie stars or models in there. And, not only was she arrogant, she was crude, disrespectful, and insensitive as well. I attended two, yes two, weddings at which she informed the bride, to her face, that they didn't look as good as she would on her wedding day. I know all you women are gasping right now, go on, gasp. This is a very gaspworthy moment, and I know all you men are thinking, damn, this chick must be smokin'.

That's the thing, she wasn't. If I was forced for a moment to be superficial, I'd give her perhaps a seven. Although, if you're into cut-rate breast implants you might give her an eight.

My wife and I talked the other day and the only redeeming quality we could come up with was that she has nice posture. (As does my dad's cardiologist, posture so good you can't not notice it. It's remarkable really, it's like he has a two by four for a spine.)

I already mentioned mean, rude, insensitive, and stuck up, but the kicker is that she was also stupid. I'm pretty certain that I've taken more intelligent craps. I'm talking cat getting itself stuck to a screen door with no idea how to get off level of stupidity. Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with foreigners. I'm into that whole America as a melting pot concept. I'm only second generation USA myself, if the borders were closed, my grandma in Sweeden and grandpa over in Ireland would have had a heck of a time making my dad, then where would I be? My problem with this particular foreigner was that I rarely understood the things she was saying. Every conversation I ever had with her left me in a perpetual state of "huh." The slang terms didn't quite translate in her tiny little mind (how come the people with the big head always have the smallest brains?), so you were left with some really odd combinations of words. All the words were English, but the order in which she used them didn't quite make real sentences. "You're lights are open," she once said to my wife. Wife replied with a polite smile before turning to me and mouthing, "what the hell?" I shrugged, cuz I had no idea.

Another time I heard her comment on a movie we'd just seen by saying, "I'll hit it with the butter." I think I heard Ebert say that once too, but I don't recall if the thumb was up or down.

I would understand if she'd just fallen off the boat, but she'd been here seven years and claims to have spoken English back in Bimboistan as well. This woman is in medical school for God's sake. That frightens me.

At one point in their five year relationship, I asked Rob where he saw them going. He guessed they'd eventually get married. I threw up in my mouth a little, but I think I covered it up well by saying that I'd swallowed my gum. "Seriously," I asked, "why are you with her?"

"She's hot," he admitted, "and she hasn't broken up with me yet."

"Yeah, but she's an idiot," I answered, as only a friend of more than twenty years could. "Doesn't she annoy the hell out of you?"

"Of course, what am I deaf?" Rob answered, "But all women annoy me. It's just the way that women are. They do stupid things and whine and buy trinkets for the bathroom and get upset about idiotic things that make no sense." (Don't get mad at Rob, faithful female readers, he has an epiphany soon).

"There not all like that," I tried to explain for about the four hundred and sixty-eight billionth time. You see, we'd had this conversation before, not just about this girl, but about all of them. Candy and Renee and Dina and Sylvia and Patty and Delia. They all annoyed him, but he stuck it out, just waiting to be broken up with.

"Well, every girl I've ever met is," he stubbornly replies every time, "Dude, (Rob never actually says dude, but I felt it worked for this little dialogue) I hope you're right, but I don't see it ever happening, women are just annoying. That's the way it works, dude (alright, dude overkill, I know).

Inevitably, she broke up with him. This time it took five years, and of course the sense of relief he should have felt was more like remorse, depression, and anxiety. I felt bad for him, but this was one of the best days of my life. (My wife knows that this day may actually rank higher than my own wedding day. She's ok with that. She has to be, her lights are open). I had my friend back and we could hang out again. For months he was kind of depressed, but that's the way Rob is. I don't think he's happy unless he's sad.

Then it happened...It started innocently enough. One of those speed dater nights. He'd gone a few times before, but he only met regular women who "liked buying candles" up to this point. This time was different. Not at first. At first it was nothing. He got a few phone numbers and a few email addresses, but nothing to write a blog post about. He called a few of the women, made a few dates, wrote a few emails, but then he went out with her. Yeah, Her. The Her. Not just a her. How do I know? Listen..."So, I went out with this girl last night," Rob tells me.

"Oh yeah, how'd it go?"



"Yeah, great. I really like her. We really hit it off."

"That's good."

"No, really. We really hit it off. I think I really like her a lot, dude (Ok, I know I'm getting carried away with the whole creative licence thing).

"Why do you say that?"

"She was so cool. It was like hanging out with one of the guys. We had a ton in common. We talked almost the whole night, then she wanted me to call her this morning and we talked for another couple of hours."

"Aren't you supposed to wait a few days to call?"

"Are you?"

"I don't know, I'm married, I never call anyone."

"She told me to call."

"I guess it's alright then."

"Are you sure?"

"How the hell am I supposed to know?"

"Anyways, I didn't want to hang up. I just had so much fun talking to her."

"She didn't annoy you?"

"No. Can you believe that?"


Awkward pause during which I tried to think of a football question to ask him.

"Is she hot?" That has nothing to do with football, but I'd decided to test him.

"She looks pretty good, but that's not what was so cool about her..."

An interesting response that threw me for a second.

"What about her breasts?" I interrupted.

"What about them?"

"Big?" The test continued.

"Well, I'm sure she has two of them, but I really wasn't thinking about that. Oh, we had this awesome conversation about...."

This is not the Rob I know.

"Did you talk about doilies?" I interrupted. Doilies are one of Rob's biggest pet peeves, I think he actually has some sort of doily phobia. I've never seen him look directly at a doily. They make him nervous.


"Small porcelain collectibles?"

"No, why are you asking..."

"Did she insult anyone?"

"Dude (this time he really did say dude), stop with all this, I'm trying to be serious. I really like this girl. I really want this to work out. I think she's really into me too."

He went on to answer all of my questions and even knew the answers to my wife's inquiries, and hers were much better than "did you talk about doilies?" Maybe it isn't translating here, but my little Robby is in love. No, he didn't come out and say it, but I've known him for twenty-five years, and he's never talked this way about a girl before. I've been telling him for years, there's someone out there for him. I explained a million times, you have to stop worrying about cup size and start looking at who a person is. There is someone out there that will make him forget about all that superficial stuff, someone who fits his hefty criteria. Don't settle for just any bimbo who didn't break up with you yet, find the one. Find Her, not just a her. I don't know for sure yet, it's way too early, but I think he may have done just that. Maybe, just maybe, his lights are finally open, dude.

Give a vote to true love at humor-blogs.com.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Stick of Butter Will Do Just That If You Toss It at the Ceiling

Ceilings. That's what they came up with. That was my topic. What could I possible have to say about ceilings?

During a lesson yesterday about expository writing, I asked my students to come up with a topic for me. I was going to demonstrate how they could come up with good attention grabbing openings for their paper. I taught them this whole long system and was about to model
how it would work, all I needed was a topic. I figured those innocent little sixth graders would give me something easy, something like kitties or football or school lunches or fast food restaurants. I figured they'd play along. Nope. They gave me ceilings.

I thought for a moment, which is way too long to pause in front of a group of rabid eleven year olds, and my mind went blank. I was empty. I had nothing. Crap.

Uh oh, here comes something.
Oooooo, there's something else.
And another.

Suddenly my mind started to fill with ceiling facts and ceiling information and ceiling quotes, ceiling questions, and even ceiling related anecdotes.

Then I realized that one of the most remarkable things about my life is the extraordinary number of strange ceiling stories I have. Literally dozens.

Ceiling fan stories poured in. They're the easiest, every one has a good ceiling fan story. I remembered using my parents’ fan to launch Nerf basketballs, stuffed animals, and rolled up socks around the room. A vivid picture of a party where I threw handfuls of pretzels at my friends through the spinning fan blades from the room above. My brother-in-law jumping up to celebrate a home team touchdown and accidentally reaching through the fan blades, quickly putting the kibosh on the end zone dance. My buddy Owen, intentionally reaching up to check if the fan was even on, during a high school strobe light party. The ceiling fan that sat half assembled in my bedroom, because I couldn't figure out how to wire it, for a year. I could go on and on about fans, but the memories kept coming.

I recalled a very disconcerting brownish colored stain that always gave me a feeling that something was looking at me on the ceiling of my first apartment's bedroom. I'm almost positive I saw it move once. There was also a particularly disturbing looking rust/water/jungle
rot stain in a Memphis motel bathroom. When I was student teaching, there was a waterlogged ceiling tile in the classroom that sat just below a leaky pipe. The tile soaked up and collected so many drips and drops that eventually it began to sag, making it look like my ceiling had a tumor. It eventually burst on a particularly rotten student. That was funny. They were all funny.

Even with all that, things that have been stuck to my ceiling seem to be the most prominent memories.

I suddenly remembered the picture of my friend Jim, an incredibly skinny, pasty white guy, standing in the hallway of my dorm in his cartoon heart boxers, striking an ridiculously feminine looking muscle man pose, a goofy "I just left nickle night at the bar" grin plastered across his face. I remember my roommate Ted and I laughing hysterically, to the point that we were rolling on the floor, crying, and holding our sides, when that one came back from the photo lab.
For some reason (probably alcohol), we decided to shove that picture into the tight space between the ceiling and the wood molding around the window. A little tiny bit of the corner stuck out so that some one off in the distant future might be able to enjoy Jim's moment of
shame as much as we did.

The next year, for some reason (alcohol, no probably, I'm certain this time), we decided to call our old room and tell them about the picture. When they answered the phone, we realized right away that there was a small party taking place in #1406. With the loud hip-hop music blaring in the background, as well as the carrying on and laughing in the room, it didn't take long to realize that the entire populace of the room was drunk/high, but I managed to direct them to Jim's glamour shot anyway.

Two seconds later, the phone dropped to the ground, and all I could hear was the cackling of a roomful of chemically altered college students as they screeched and hollered, one especially memorable (read: loud) voice repeating over and over, "white boy in tha unda wear, white boy in tha unda wear..." The maniacal laughing and "white boy in tha unda wear"s went on for a full ten minutes before someone over there picked up the phone, said "thanks, you crazy" and hung up.

Closely behind that gem, the memory of my childhood friend Aaron swearing that you could turn Diet Pepsi into regular Pepsi by simply adding sugar. One night, during a sleepover, Aaron refused to drink diet pop, but since that was all we had in the house, we had to self alter the recipe in order to satisfy my guest. A funnel was retrieved from the garage, sugar was brought in from the kitchen, and the sixteen ounce glass bottle of Pepsi sat open on the table, waiting.
We weren't sure how much sugar exactly needed to be added, so the plan was to do it gradually, stopping and tasting as we went. This was a bad idea.

The first tablespoon of sugar created a carbonated volcano. A violent burst of Pepsi foam shot six feet in the air, spraying and soaking the ceiling, the light fixture, my sister, a very unhappy cat, and an incredibly surprised pair of would be non-Diet Pepsi drinkers. It was unexpected to say the least, but it was so cool. We did it three more times.

The next day we were painting the ceiling while my dad lectured us about the physics of soft drinks.

You'd think the Pepsi incident would have taught me a lesson, but back in the day, I was not too good with the learning. Another buddy, Eddie, and I were rooting through the fridge during a sleepover. This is the same kid that helped me come up with the plan to use the back of the bubble gum cards and long distance 411 calls to find out the home phone numbers of our favorite ball players. It seemed like a good idea until one day my mom opened the phone several hundred dollar phone bill. Somehow I convinced her it must have been a mistake on the part of the phone company, but I never did get to call Jody Davis or Ron Guidry.

Anyway, that night, with the phone pulled off the wall and safely hidden in my parents' room, Eddie and I decided to see what happens when you throw a stick of butter at the ceiling. Let's just say that a stick of butter is aptly named.

The next morning we were painting the ceiling while my dad lectured us on the proper use of dairy products.

Finally, slamming into the back end of all these other memories like the last car in a highway pile up, I remembered the story of "My Dad and the Infamous Ketchuplosion".

For the life of me, I can't remember what we did to make him so mad, but one night at the dinner table, while eating something that required the giant Sam's Club "you could take laps inside of it like an Olympic swimming pool" bottle of ketchup to be on the table. One of the kids was probably making fart noises, because nothing got him madder than fart noises. I can't quite comprehend that, because even typing the words fart noises makes me kinda giggly. But, fart noises at the dinner table was his pet peeve. It drove him batty. One night he just had enough of them and he blew up. He grabbed that jug o' tomatoey goodness and slammed it on the table so hard the top shot off and the neck of the plastic bottle shattered in his hand. My dad is
normally a pretty calm guy, so this took everyone aback. If he hadn't been sitting there with an overflowing handful of Heinz, we probably would have even been surprised enough to stop laughing. It looked like there was more ketchup spread around that room than could have
possibly been inside that bottle. It was everywhere. The light. His glasses. The dog. The floor. A giant glob of it on his neck, A good portion of the table. My plate. Laps, faces, arms, the wall. Everywhere. Yes, like a thick goopy red cloud, there was even a gigantic splotch of it on the

The next day, he was painting the ceiling with my mom lecturing him about the detriments of condiment abuse.

Those rascally students. They probably planned this. I'm sure they conspired to come up with the most difficult topic ever. Why couldn't they have picked spatulas or bobcats or anvils or tuna salad sandwiches or something easy? Those are topics I could write a whole paper about. Ceilings? I don't have anything to say about ceilings. How the heck am I supposed to write a sample paper on ceilings?

Oh. I guess I just did.

To see what else will stick to the ceiling, vote here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

PlainOleMike's Philosophy of Dance Club Psychology

I'm a pretty shy guy. I've gotten better over the years, in high
school the shyness was almost crippling, but I'm still pretty quite
and reserved. In my element, I'm golden. I can talk to anyone
anytime. Around friends, I lack an embarrassment gene. However, in
an unfamiliar environment, I become pretty closed off. I don't feel
comfortable with strangers. To me, a party where I don't know anyone
is hell. The only thing worse is a dance club.
This one girl that I dated for a while way back in the day was always
trying to get me to open up, relax, become more outgoing. She wanted
to help me with my problems, and I suppose that's a pretty nice thing
for someone to do, but her objective was not so much with the
niceness. She just wanted to get me out on the dance floor so she
could dance all seductively and suggestively and draw attention to
herself. All the while she'd be flirting with and making eyes at
other guys. I knew all about her little dance floor scam, cuz that's
how she piqued my interest in the first place. I really didn't care
about her game though. I was only with her, because it was better
than being alone, and it was the same for her. So, to avoid this
whole dance floor thing, I explained this little theory to her.
There are, in this world, eight different kids of people. These eight
categories cover nearly everything there is a bout a person's
psychological characteristics in very simple terms. By what category
a person is in, you can tell just about everything you initially need
to know about them. You can categorize anyone with this method by
simply putting the on or near a dance floor.

First we have "Dancers." Dancers are people who like to dance, are
good at dancing, and do dance. They're outgoing and uninhibited,
popular and usually up for a good time.

On the other hand, there's "Not Dancers." These are people who, for
some reason or another, do not enjoy dancing, and therefore, they do
not dance. These are perfectly normal individuals who just may be a
bit introverted. They'd much rather sit and talk or rent a video than
spend a night out on the town.

Now, here's where it starts to get a bit fuzzy. Next, we have
"Dancing Not Dancers." These are Not Dancers who are dancing. Like
Not Dancers, they do not like to dance, they do not want to dance, but
for some reason, they've chosen to dance anyway. In most cases
they're pathetic lonely souls who are usually out on the dance floor
in a misguided attempt at impressing the opposite sex.

Closely related, we have "Not Dancing Dancers." This is a rare breed
that wants to be out on the dance floor, but for some reason,
unbeknownst to us, they feel bound to the bar, their table, or their
game. This unhealthy attachment to inanimate objects does not stop
them from dancing. No sir. Often involved in tragic beverage
spilling incidents, they can always be found off to the side
somewhere, dancing with a pool cue or a chair or something. They
could be sitting down, and they'd still be dancing. For some
inexplicable reason, they leave us with the unanswered question: Why
the hell don't they just go out on the floor?

Our next category is usually male. They are the "Forced Dancers."
The do not enjoy it, they are most often not very good at it, they
don't want to be doing it, but there they are...dancing. Sadly, these
creatures are not dancing of their own free will. They're being
forced. By forced, I'm politely saying they may be dancing because of
obligation to a significant other, out of fear of pissing off the
significant other, or the threat of loss of intimacy with said
significant other. Also common, use of physical force Not even the
Bill of Rights can help these poor folks..

Next is a group of potentially dangerous people called "Should Be
Forced Not Dancers." These people flat out can not dance. They are a
hazard to the well being of those around them, they should be forced
off the dance floor. At times, they are an embarrassment to mankind.
Strangely enough, they're usually the most spirited of dancers.
They're commonly found spinning and gyrating violently about the dance
floor. Often times they're found dancing at entirely inappropriate
music, such as Muzak at the grocery store or in between inning filler
at a baseball game. These are also the same people that you can find
outside talking to trees and trash cans and chasing things that only
they can see.

That brings us to "Once Were Dancers." These people love to dance.
They couldn't be having more fun than when they're out on the dance
floor. They, in no way lack the ability to dance, but unfortunately
it seems that time has passed them by, and they appear to be dancing
in some sort of demented time warp. They may not be happy with their
lives and are subconsciously escaping to better times, often
demonstrating this by appearing at modern dance clubs steppin' like
the New Kids, groovin' to the Mashed Potato, or showing off the moves
they learned on American Bandstand back in January of '71.

Last, and in no way, shape, or form least, we have a category of
people that under normal circumstances would fit in somewhere else.
But, things are far from normal circumstances for "Cuz They're Drunk
Dancers." It seems that these folks have indulged a bit too much in
the intoxicating beverages, and this, strangely, has led them out onto
the dance floor. Beware. Do not make eye contact with or feed the
Cuz They're Drunk Dancers.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my theory on human psychology as
manifested in dance floor activities.

That girl that I used to date, she told me that I was pretty much nuts
upon hearing my theory. She went back out on the dance floor alone.
She wasn't alone for long. Oh well.

Me, I'm strictly a "Not Dancer." I just went back to the bar and got
another drink.

Dance your way over to Humor-Blogs.com and throw a vote at this not dancer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Went to College For This?

I feel bad for substitute teachers. They get all the bad sides of education: the unruly kids, misbehaving, attitudes, discipline... and none of the good: a sense of accomplishment, pride, self respect, dignity, health insurance... Day after day of on the job walking into
the unknown. A sub can't prepare. A sub can't plan ahead. Most often, a sub is called in that morning, completely oblivious to what they're about to undergo.

I have such empathy for them, because I was a sub for two years. I left the wondrous riches of the business world for education, but before I fully committed to being committed (and committed) I wanted to see what I was getting myself into. So, while I finished my last few classes, I registered to be a substitute.

Being a sub is the hell that you imagine it would be, but not for the reasons you'd expect. Most folks probably picture walking into a classroom with thirty screaming brats punching each other and putting tacks on your seat. I never encountered anything quite like that, although I did once walk into what a guilty looking student called "the semi-annual paper storm." In actuality, the adults at the school are what make a subs life about as pleasant as being tied to a post and repeatedly poked with plastic sporks. (of course their plastic, I don't know if they even make metal sporks). The grown-ups are what make a sub’s life hell.

My first day as a professional educator actually involved very little educating, in fact, I don't think any one was educated in any way what so ever.

My first call was for East High. Great. East High does not exactly have the best reputation. Unless by good reputation you mean "has 911 on speed dial" or "most likely to have a day end in blood shed." Why would you do this to yourself, you may ask. Simple. I wanted to see if I had what it took to be a teacher. To do that, I had to put myself in the most difficult situation I could. That was East High.

That first day began innocently enough, with me wondering where I should park my car. It wasn't something I thought to ask the night before when the district office called me, but suddenly it was a concern. Do I park on the street, in the student lot, in the faculty
lot? I had no idea. My biggest concern was how do I avoid my car being stolen or vandalized.

Then I arrived at the building my car was no longer in my top ten list o' concerns. It was obvious where school property began and public land began, it was the line of uniformed ROTC students and the eight foot fence. Just outside the fence, up and down the sidewalk were the extras from a Public Enemy video. I probably would have made
assumptions and stereotyped them as drug dealing thugs, but I didn't have to, they just went right ahead and sold the drugs right in front of me, which made me feel better about my racial profiling, but not much else. I felt better about having judged them, but that immediately took parking on the street out of the equation.

I found myself a space just inside the fence and walked through a very crowded sidewalk to get to the front doors, very aware of the fact that most of the student body found my shirt and tie rather amusing. It felt kind of like one of those prison movies where the bus load of young wide-eyed convicts is brought in and they have to walk through the cell-block, past all the other inmates, to get to their cell. Only, at least for that moment those new fish have the guards to back them up. I had no guards; I had a really pointy house key and a frozen Hot Pocket in my lunch bag.

Once I got inside, I stood in line to walk through the metal detectors. I didn't beep. I felt safer for those being there, but apparently there's a problem with non metal weapons as well, possibly those dangerous sporks that are all the rage with the gang kids, because in addition to having my metal detected, Gigantor the security goon patted me down. Satisfied that I'd left my glock at home, Gigantor led me over to a check in table. He was very pleasant, if by pleasant I mean he didn't punch me in the neck while he grunted responses to my very simple questions.

"Could you tell me where subs check in?"

"Eeeeehhhhh," Gigantor snorted while pointing a fat dirty finger down what looked to be a very long hallway.

"Is that the office?" I dared to ask.

"Uh, Eeeeehhhhh," I'm not sure I'm getting across the gravellyness and the disdain in Gigantor's grunts, but I was quite proud of our public education system that he'd muttered two syllables this time.

"Thanks," I smiled as I took my shoes back and headed towards Eeeeehhhhh.

A looooooong way down that hallway, I found the office. There was a line, so I waited patiently to talk to the secretary. Eventually, I was up. I don't think that she knew that. She went about her business, flipping through papers, straightening piles, typing something into the computer... I was OK with it, figuring that she had something she wanted to get done before it slipped her mind, but when she got up and left the room without so much as acknowledging my existence, I started to wonder if maybe Gigantor's special X-Ray beam had made me invisible.

I moved up closer to the counter, so there was no missing me when she came back, but when she did, she re-straightened the same piles of paper and typed something else into the computer. I wanted to lean over and see what she was typing, but I didn't need to, I already knew she was IMing her friend, updating her on how long she could make me
stand in a high school office and make me feel as important as a coat rack. I take that back, coat racks serve a purpose, I was more like Paris Hilton (only slightly less slutty).

Finally, I said, "Excuse me." Which I know is a huge intrusion for most folks whose job it is to acknowledge people at their counter, but I dared to be rude anyway.

"Sub," she asked? I assumed she was asking. It's difficult to tell if it was actually a question based on the inflection she put on that one lone syllable. I shouldn't complain though, at least her syllable was a word, she definitely had a leg up on Gigantor.

"Yes, I'm a sub. Wha..."

"Go to the sub office," she interrupted.

"Ok. Do you think you cou..."

"Room 401b," she answered my unasked question with a tone that's usually reserved as a response to questions like "Can I buy your first born child with this Chicklet?" or "Hey, how'd you like to help me move?"


All I got to that was "Eeeeehhhhhh," and a point further down the hall.

Now, I'm a pretty smart guy, so I went ahead and assumed that room 401b would be somewhere in the vicinity of 401a and if there was one, 401c, and I went ahead and guessed that the whole four hundred family would be found on the fourth floor. Proud of my Magellanness, I headed down the corridor to find some stairs.

I know this is going to shock some folks, pregnant women, those with heart conditions, and children under three feet tall should skip ahead a bit, but when walking up the stairs, I quickly realized that there was no fourth floor. That made the location of room 401b quite a mystery. Normally I love a mystery, guessing that it was Colonel Mustard in the Conservatory with the lead pipe always gives me a warm feeling, but that morning, looking at the clock tick closer and closer to the "I'm late" hour, I wasn't in the mood.

I went ahead and guessed third floor and kept heading the way the Eeeeeehhhhhers told me to. To this day, I can't get the smell of that hallway out of my brain. It must have been the remedial science wing, cause it stank like dissected pigs and burnt toast. How would I know that smell? Someday I'll tell you the story of my 10th grade biology lab partner, Bob Spears, who used the Bunson burners to make a mid-morning snack most days.

Eventually, I reached a dead end. No 401b. I'd checked every room I'd passed in the entire corridor, and I'd had no luck. I left stinky pig toast hall to explore the rest of the school. In Benny Hill getting chased by a man in a gorilla costume super high speed, I
searched the rest of the building for room 401b.

I'm pretty sure that I would never have found it on my own, but after thirty minutes of fruitless searching, I ran into Joe. Based on his attire (ripped jeans, holey concert t-shirt, no shoes, no socks), I assumed Joe to be a homeless man who had wandered into the building, maybe he lived in the ceiling or something, but he was in fact, the head of the Math department. No dress code must be nice. I was suddenly very self conscious about my tie, but at least I had an escort to the sub office.

Where was it? In the stink pig toast hall. The office was tucked away into a little alcove. I had passed it three times earlier.

Finally. I thanked Homeless Joe for his help and reached for the door to the sub office. It was locked. I jiggled it. Nothing. I jiggled it again, for some reason expecting that moving the door handle in directions it isn't supposed to go will make it magically open.
Nothing again. I looked around to see if anyone was nearby and even tried the "open sesame" trick. Apparently Ali Baba didn't run the sub office, and the people who did, the people in charge of getting the subs to the appropriate rooms before school begins, don't think it's terribly important to get there on time. I waited.

and waited.

and waited some more.

The bell to let the students in rang, and at almost the exact same moment, the door opened. I must have passed through a dimensional portal on my way in, because I was instantly in line behind five other people. Never having found another door into that room, I'm still slightly confused how they got in front of me.

Outside, I could hear the hallway flood with students. Laughing and stomping and locker opening and closing filled the air. I waited some more.

When it was my turn, the extremely nice woman (who did not at all resemble Ali Baba), and by extremely nice I mean spoke to me in complete sentences, handed me a clipboard. I mimicked what the person above me had done and Ms. Sunshine told me I'd be in room 104. Even though I'd passed every room in the school once already, I was kind of apprehensive about trekking out on my own.

"Uuuuuhhhhh," I said, which thankfully Sunny took to mean "where in the holy heck is that?"

"Uuuuuhhhhh," she mocked, shoving a map of the school in my face. "You're here. 104 is there." Really quick imprecise pointing, but I thought I had it. If not, I could look for Homeless Joe.

Once I got into the hall, I realized the path to 104 was pretty straight forward and simple. There were still plenty of students clogging up the corridor, so I also figured I had plenty of time.

East High was apparently built in sections, part one decade, another wing some time later, the next chunk added by another generation, and so on, because I quickly found out that hallways that logically connected on the map, in reality did not ever come in contact with one another. I had immediately gone down the stairs to the first floor, but in my efforts to get across to the other side of the school, I had to go back up to two, down to one, up to three, across, down to one to avoid the theatre, back to two to go around the gym, and down to one to my assignment room.

By the time I got all the way over there, the hallways were pretty much devoid of any students, and I took that as a blessing. I wandered and wandered. I made a plan to never leave the room once I found it, fully intending to hide in there the entire day. Lunch, in
the classroom. Passing periods, in the classroom. Plan periods, in the classroom. All I had to do was find the damn classroom.

I did. Ten minute after the late bell had already rung.

It was Home Ec. Yippee, just what I wanted to do, give kids with this kind of reputation needles.

For some reason, when I got there, all the students were lined up in the hallway, and by lined up, I mean a big mob of kids hitting each other with rulers and scientific calculators. I found out real quick that they weren't just polite obedient students waiting for the teacher to get there before they went in the room, they weren't in there because the door was locked.

I sent a few kids a couple different directions to find a custodian with one of those gigantic key rings, I really didn't care if they came back or not, at least there would be less kids in the hallway smacking each other with rulers when the principal wandered by and fired me.

Eventually, a custodian did show up. Not to help, but to let me know that she couldn't let me into the room because she didn't know who I was. Not caring that there were thirty kids missing out on an hour of education, she told me I'd have to go to the office to get help if I wanted it. I wanted it. However, I didn't have any bread crumbs to trail behind me, so I let the kids know that if I wasn't back in five minutes they should all head to the witches house and let me out of the oven. Literary references were lost on them.

Ten minutes later, in the wrong hallway, way the wrong hallway, one of the student scouts I'd sent out found me and guided me back to the room. I never did find the office, but somehow someone had been convinced that the room needed to be opened.

Now came scavenger hunt number two. Find the sub plans. That, also, was a chore. You'd imagine most teachers would leave them on a podium or a clearly defined space on the desk. Not this one. These plans were inside a folder labeled "If I'm Not Here" neatly tucked (by neatly tucked I mean completely hidden unless you ransack the desk) into one
of those plastic desk organizer things. I found them, but it was fourth period by then.

I felt that the first three hours of the day went smooth even without plans, because I'd found a video about drugs for them to watch. It was a great video (if by great I mean incredibly irritating, poorly produced, and actually made me want to do drugs). It was a movie of the week starring Drew Barrymore and Corey Feldman. Yeah, those are the two to listen to regarding intelligent life choices.

For fourth period I had plans. There was a problem though. I couldn't decipher them. First, I thought the teacher just had really bad handwriting, and she did, but I quickly realized that her really bad handwriting was really bad handwriting in Spanish. I don't speak/read Spanish. We watch Drew and Corey smoke crack again fourth period.

Fifth period was lunch time. Lunch was like an oasis of relief. Not from the kids. They'd been no trouble at all, what I needed a break from was Ms. Barrymore's acting chops.

I unpacked my lunch and started to spread it out on the desk when a teacher, followed closely by fifteen or twenty obviously special needs kids, wandered in. Wait a minute. I have to teach special ed too? I could have sworn the schedule said fifth period lunch.

Well, it turned out that the special ed kids had home ec while that teacher was at lunch. That killed my hide in the room all day plan. I had to find the lounge.

I had a plan. I followed all the kids that were still in the hallway. It was lunchtime; they were migrating towards the cafeteria. Once I got there, I looked for an adult in line, hung back, waited for them to get their food, and watched where they went. The lounge. I was a genius.

Geniuses are scorned by their peers, aren't they. If so, I must have been the genius of the century. I walked into that room and got looks that are usually reserved for pedaphiles and Jehovah's Witnesses. I can't recall ever feeling less welcome in my life. Unfortunalety, most of the room was full. There wasn't anywhere to sit at the main table in there, but there was a little side table over by the window. To get there, I'd have to squeeze between the wall and all the teachers. I tried. I shuffled around them, sucking in my stomach and carrying my lunch up over my head to avoid knocking into anyone. I must have said, "excuse me" a thousand times, but no one responded. Jerks. After that, I
somewhat intentionally kicked the chairs of any of them who wouldn't scoot out of the way. The glares they were burning into the back of my neck made me glad that none of them had laser beam vision like Superman.

I finally got to the little table and sat. Now they wanted to talk to me. Up 'til then you'd have thought that substitutes were lepers. "That's George's seat," one of them informed me.

I looked around for somewhere else to sit, but there wasn't anywhere. I smiled an apologetic smile and shrugged, but didn't budge.

"Did you hear me? That's George's seat. He sits there everyday."

"OK, well, I'll eat quick, and maybe I'll be gone before he gets here," I replied.

"George is going to be upset," another one shout whispered.

"George is going to be angry," the first one reminded me. All I could think about at that point was the Seinfeld episode in which George decides to refer to himself in the third person. 'George is getting angry,' and I couldn't stop giggling.

The rest of lunch was me eating, them in really loud whispers mentioning George's ownership of the plastic chair I'd dared to sit on, George's anger issues, George's dislike for change... George never showed. Apparently George didn't like to eat near them either.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. I went out for some air after lunch and on my return trip to the home ec room Gigantor gave me another very special frisking. I got to watch the less attractive Corey make it all the way to step twelve and kick the habit, five more times. I even learned a few Spanish swear words. I would have sent them to the office for that, but I didn't have any bread crumbs to make sure they could get back.

For the most part, the kids at East were pretty nice. They helped me work the VCR, they found me when I was wandering aimlessly through the halls, and one even drew me a picture of what I think was a duck. No thanks to the adults there, I made it through the day. My car was even in the same condition when I got back.

I survived, and I continued to substitute teach for two years before getting my certificate. However, I never subbed at East High again. Just to end that day on a particularly fitting note, though, I did get lost in the neighborhood while driving away. I stopped at a gas
station to get directions back to the highway. All the kid behind the counter, who must have gone to East High, said was "Eeeeeehhhhhhh" as he pointed up the road. Mental notes about never forgetting the bread crumbs again were made.

Be sure to check out my guest post later today at A Guy's Guide to Oprah, and if you feel bad for the subs, vote at Humor-Blogs.com.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Someone’s Subconscious is so Snot Saturated that it’s Seeping out My Scalp

Thanks to a recent story over at Bee’s Musing’s, I’ve got boogers on my brain. I don’t mean that in a literal sense – although I have had stuffy enough of a head lately that the boogers may have actually escaped the boogery zone, the place where all head phlegm is quarantined, and rubbed themselves up against the gray matter up in there. Regardless of whether my recent bought with the sniffles has made it so little blobs o’ mucus get all touchy feely with my cerebral cortex, there’s no denying that I figuratively have boogers on the brain.

The first booger was a little green nugget that’d lodged itself in my cranium long long ago thanks to my childhood next door neighbor who had the misfortune of having a runny nose for the entire seven years I knew him. Eddie Mayer, known to the other kids in the neighborhood as Booger Ed, is forever burned into my mind as an eight year old misfit with a gelatinous strand of green goo hanging from his nose. Somehow that kid was able to dangle his snot drop just millimeters from his lip, without it ever breaking, dripping, or actually entering his mouth – all seemingly while he was painfully unaware of its existence. Seriously, you should have seen this kid, he would play baseball, football, soccer, or basketball, and that oopy loogilicious snot would just dangle there, blowing in the breeze like a kite tail when he ran, never breaking, never fully dripping, as if it were an actual extension of his body. I even recall him once emerging from a swimming pool, snot still in tact, and shaking his head like a hair model in a Prell commercial. That snot strand had as much luxurious shine as Marcia Brady’s teen model hair, and as Ed shook his head, that booger moved with a bounce and wave that you’d swear he was using conditioner on it. It fwapped and flapped along with his shaking head, and like some sort of extendo-boog, it grew in length as he shook, but shot right back into it’s dangling above his lip place when he stopped. “Huvvuvvuvvuvvuvvuvv,” was the sound the chill running down my spine made every time that booger waggled itself at me.

Around the same time in my life, I hung out with a kid named Mitchell. Lil Mitch was not your typical eight year old. He marched to the beat of a different drummer, and that drummer didn’t have a drum, instead he had one of them big buckets the street kids like to bang on, and in place of proper drumsticks, this drummer had a potato masher and a dead raccoon’s severed leg, and in lieu of actually beating on the drum/bucket, this drummer whapped said drum/bucket against the side of his head repeatedly, but with a pretty nice rhythm. Mitch had his own ideas about what was cool and what wasn’t, and those ideas rarely correlated with anyone else in the entire universe. When it was time for the neighborhood boys to play baseball, Mitch would build elaborate hamster tube villages in his basement. When it was time to all go to the park, Mitch would decide he’d rather stay inside and learn Japanese. Nevertheless, we liked Mitch, so we’d often go ring his doorbell and see if he wanted to come out and play. On one such occasion, Booger Ed and I were the ringers. We walked up to Mitch’s front stoop, rang the bell, and waited. And waited. Then we waited. Knowing full well that Mitch was in there somewhere, we rang the bell again. Finally, Mitch opened up. I wish he hadn’t. I wish my lifelong mental pictures of Mitch were the pure and innocent ones of him digging a trench around his backyard or deciding that no matter what he was going to catch himself a squirrel, but no, he had to open the door that day, and he had to open the door with an unbelievably large booger resting oh so gently on the underside of his upper lip nestled in a little puddle of saliva. It was impossible not to notice, and even more impossible to ignore. This thing was huge and it was staring at us. It takes a lot to disgust a kid who people call Booger Ed, but even Booger Ed was like, “damn, that’s a big freakin’ booger on you lip, Mitch,” only he didn’t say it out loud, instead we both stared at it like it was speaking to us in some fiendishly hypnotic boogerese language, saying things like, “I’m so big and boogery that I have my own zip code,” and “don’t you wonder how I got here and why I look quite a bit wetter than I have any right to look.” Then, just then, just as Bartholomew W. Booger was about to spill his guts and tell us his life story, Mitch’s tongue shot out like a gnat seeking toad and pulled that booger right into his mouth. “Hrlugghrlrgghhg” was the only thing that could come out of my mouth when Mitch swallowed and asked, “What’s up guys?”

In my high school days, the gold medal winner of nose gold disgust goes to my friend Stan, who had a habit of picking his nose while driving. Now he wasn’t a terribly good driver in the first place, having totaled three different cars by his 19th birthday, but he found that concentrating on the depths of his nostrils made him focus on the road more often. As you can probably guess, there were several reasons I was uneasy about getting in a car with Stan, but on occasion, I found myself there in the passenger seat. Refreshingly, or disturbingly, or both, Stan was very open about his hunt for nasal oysters. He let you know exactly what he was up to, almost like a sportscaster’s play by play of the events: “Stan gets to the second knuckle, sure that a beauty awaits him some where in the left nostril. He’s reaching… reaching… I think he’s got something… No. It has evaded him; he’s pulled the pointer finger out. Is he giving up? No, he's not!!! Oh, look at this ladies and gentlemen; he’s gone to the pinky. Oh my goodness, this man will stop at nothing, a pinky pick. I don’t believe it, a pinky pick. Folks, you are witnessing snotlunking history here.”

While Stan enjoyed the hunt, he did not eat his prize, instead he proudly mounted his catch for all to see – sort of. Any prize Stan was able to pull from his face; he’d wipe underneath the driver’s seat and proudly proclaim, “Add that to my collection of nose goblins. Wish I could see what happens after I sell this car. I bet they get crispy, someone drops a quarter, reaches underneath and gets all scratched up.” “Whhhhhuuuwwwaaattt,” was the noise that erupted from my esophagus. So, take heed if you’re driving an ’86 or ’89 Camero, a ’91 Thunderbird, or a ’96 Saturn, there may be nose goblins under your seat.

The final boogtastic event I feel compelled to disgust you with was just a few short days ago. Allow me to set the stage: My brother-in-law’s basement football sanctuary. Sunday. Four TVs all tuned into gridiron mayhem. All my football loving friends wrapped up in football games they normally wouldn’t have cared one iota about, except… Fantasy football scores scrolling across the lap top computer. Discarded beverage receptacles, hot wing remnants, and that last slice of pizza that no one will take all beginning to stink a bit over in the corner. Three highly energetic toddlers enjoying the action, the camaraderie, and throwing Legos at one another. My team down by a handful of points, driving down the field, ready to score. My nephew, with the head cold of the century, excited to see me excited, wandering over with a disproportionately big smile on his little face. “Touchdown,” I yelled. “Achoo,” the toddling snot machine countered. In case you’re not getting the idea: me + mouth wide open + him + sneeze directly at me = the wettest slimiest most voluminous glob o’ snot you could possibly imagine landing right on my tongue.

There was no noise for that. I couldn’t yell. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t even vomit, although I wish I could have, because the bile would have probably disinfected my mouth. Natural acids are the only thing that could have done the job effectively. I’m not sure all the SOS pad scrubbing fully did the trick.

I told you earlier that I had boogers on the brain. It was a figurative statement, but now that I think about it, maybe my nephew sneezed a bit harder than I’d initially thought and got one or two through my skull and there’s a glob of the green stuff all mixed in with the grey matter – maybe it’s Bartholomew J. Booger’s great-grandsnot that’s up in there. Either way, “Hrlugghrlrgghhg.”

Waggle and fwap your way over to humor-blogs.com to vote for Bartholomew, and be sure to check out my guest post over at A Guy's Guide to Oprah later tonight.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Remote Control of Life

Tivo has changed the way that I look at the universe. I am a Tivoholic. I admit it. I can no longer live without it. I go to other people's houses to watch the game or a show and I can barely tolerate it. I find myself absently going for the remote to fast forward through commercials, to rewind something I missed, or to pause and get a snack. What do you mean I have to wait til the commercials for a pee break?

I'm so used to my Tivo controller that in normal, everyday social situations, if someone says something funny, and I miss it, my reflex is to move my remoting thumb to where the rewind button would be. On more than one occasion I've walked back into a room and missed huge chunks of a conversations. My immediate mental response is to curse myself for not pausing them before I got up. Heck, there's even been boring car rides, long lines, or phone conversations with my mother that just scream out for a fast forward button.

Last night I utilized that pause function in the middle of a show to answer the phone. It was my sister. "Guess who I just ran into at Wal-Mart?" she asked.

"John Laraquette?" I guessed.

I know it wasn't a very good guess, and the odds were against my sister running into Mr. Dan Fielding himself in a discount retail store. But, I hate that "guess who" game. Of all the people in all the world, how in the heck am I supposed to randomly guess who you saw buying cough suppressant and paper towels?

"No," she replied.

"Markie Post?"

"Come on, really guess."

"Richard Moll?"

"It's not anyone from Night Court."

"Oooooo. A clue. John Ratzenberger?"

"You're an idiot."

"Who did you run into?"

"Mitchell Bournik."

"Really?" Mitch Bournik was a good friend of mine when I was a little kid. One of my best friends. There were several years there that we were pretty much inseparable. The playground, the ball field, the ole climbin' tree, the big dirt hill, the creek. It didn't matter where,if you found one of us, you usually found the other.

That all changed when we were about ten or eleven. His dad got transferred to Massachusetts, and I'd never heard from him again. I'd always wondered what became of him, sometimes catching myself looking at people in the mall that look like he might look if I could push the ultimate fast forward button and use that cool age progression software the police and FBI have.
I got lost for a minute in old memories of me and Mitch. Football in the back yard. Epic games of ghost in the graveyard. His goofy no-tooth smile. The crazy trick paper airplanes he made...
When I tuned back into reality, my sister caught me up with Mitch's life. I was glad to hear that she'd given him my phone number. Wow,little Mitch. I hadn't seen him in almost twenty years.
Not two minutes after we hung up, the phone rang again. It was him.

We chatted for almost an hour. He was different. Of course he was different, twenty years had passed. We'd both grown up. We'd grownup different though.

He's a lawyer. A litigation lawyer. He's married. He has a house.A nice car. A good life. A family. A little baby girl. He was kinda snobby. Kinda rude. More than just a little bit arrogant.
This was more shocking than when I found out my former college roommate had furniture in his apartment that didn't belong in the lawn or have a valve stem to blow it up with.

This was monumental. A wife? A kid? A mortgage? Not little Mitch.He's eight years old. He has a boogery nose. Constantly. He laughs hysterically when the "gophter" (yeah, that's how he said it), in Caddyshack, does his little gophtery dance. He's the one next to meat the baseball games, actually tossing his little plastic glove into the White Sox dugout once at Old Comiskey Park. He doesn't care if it's the middle of the game, he figures they have to give him an autograph. He runs up and rolls down the big dirt hill by my house.He wades in the creek to catch "tabapoles." He's the little kid that got lost going to the bus stop. The bus stop that's half a block from his house. The bus stop that you can see from his front door. He also forgot to get off the bus in the afternoon. Twice. He races his bike down our street, jams on the breaks as hard as he can, and measures to see which of us can leave the longest skid mark. He lays on the kitchen floor to play Crossbows and Catapults. He falls out of the tree, plays Star Wars and hide & seek, and sneaks around in the bushes with us to spy on the neighborhood girls. He is the worst wiffle baller in the history of wiffle ball. He's been hit in the face by a fourteen mile an hour wiffle curve ball. Twice. He's my friend. My best friend.

Old Comiskey park was torn down more than a decade ago. That dirt hill we rode our bikes up and down is now the site of town homes. The memory of that dancing gophter was forever tainted by Caddyshack 2.The creek was filled in for a strip mall, tabapoles forever replaced by ninety-nine cent shirt cleaning, Chinese take-out, and four dollar convenience store jars of mayonnaise. That old climbing tree was chopped down. They even pulled the stump. Our long forgotten time capsule probably gone with it.

Everything comes to an end, even childhood memories. In a moment he went from my childhood best friend, he never grew up in my mind, he was always little Mitchy, to some thirty year old guy. From boogery nosed tabapole hunter to dad. From kid who couldn't pronounce gopher to litigation lawyer. From a wide eyed little boy that'd eat any bug you could find for just a dollar to kind of a pompous jerk. All in an instant. Twenty years for me, twenty years for him, but one split second for us.

It altered my world. Next thing you know, people are going to tell me Jay Wilson and Eddie Mayer and Aaron Blum are all grown up too. I don't care if it's been two decades, those people need to stay kids.

When I hung up with him, making vague plans to get together for lunch, I needed my Tivo remote. I needed to stop. I needed to hit record and save things the way they were. I needed to go backwards somehow.OK, maybe rewind and pause are a little ambitious, but this is all going way too fast, would someone please at least invent a slo-mo button?

Old friends who stayed like you remember them would vote at Humor-Blogs.com.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Awards Are Falling From the Sky Like Diseased Birds

Just the other day I found that I was the recipient of another fantastically shiny award. Either people like me or there's some kind of underground movement to bestow pity upon me or my name is just easy to spell. No matter why, I'm grateful - mostly because I don't have to write a real post today now.

This particular award comes from Eve Cleveland, who is my second favorite person named after a city in Ohio with a distasteful smell about it (first being Rolando Toledo, a prominent horticulturist in my 'hood). Eve runs a hilarious site called Thats Funny Because, which makes milk come out my nose even when I haven't been drinking milk. She's that funny.

Of course, like any thing cool I receive from a woman, this award came with strings attached. However, I'm more than happy to follow the rules and give a shout out to a few blogs I feel are deserving of this award. These folks should be honored, because my one reader will be sure to click on their site - so thank you for making me laugh, and thanks to me for increasing your traffic by 1.

First, A Guy’s Guide to Oprah – for making it so I never have to actually watch the first lady of television, but can hear the latest escapades of the "Godfather of TV" anyway.

Next, Bee’s Musings for keeping me on the edge of my seat over the fate of a booger. Sorry Bee, since you're my one reader, you won't get that huge traffic spike everyone else will get, but no one else on this list had a booger on their sweater, so you're a double winner anyway.

The final three awards go to three blogs I like to lurk in the background on and stalk. Poo zen cracks me up. It's so simple that you think, "I could have done that," but you didn't because you're not funny enough and you aren't committed to the comedy gold that is poo. Mental Poo
which is less poo related than it would seem it should be, but chock full of those hilarious motivational posters. Finally, Out of the Mouth of Dave has a twisted take on just about everything which entertains, enlightens, and educates all at once.

Of course, all of you are supposed to play along now and award five fantastic blogs with this honor. Sorry, I didn't make the rules.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and the Creation of the Universe

Religious revelations aren’t rare now a days, even though my friend Owen walks around wearing a t-shirt that reads, “I found Jesus. He was behind the couch,” not everyone’s spiritual awakenings are quite so sarcastic. A good friend of mine recently found religion, which has led to some interesting conversations and deeper thoughts than I usually allow myself to have. Deep thoughts are dangerous, because it usually leads to writing, and writing contains typing, and with typing I risk carpal tunnel. And there lies my dilemma, my buddy Josh is suddenly an amateur preacher and I concern myself with subsequent keyboard related mishaps, like typing so fast that a quick flick of the wrist causes the P to shoot off my laptop and strike me in the eyeball (and of course I mean the letter P key, not a stream of urine suddenly erupting from my keyboard – while both would be unfortunate, one would make for an amusing anecdote, while the other might burn like all get out and void my manufacturer’s warranty). Anyway, Josh’s metamorphosis has led to some interesting conversations and some soul searching about some very deep topics.

When it comes the battle royale that happens when science and religion meet, I’ve always had this mental picture of God as a mad scientist. Forgive me if this seems blasphemous, but as a child of the ‘70s and ‘80s many of life’s difficult to tackle topics take the form of Muppet skits in my television saturated brain. I know Jim Henson lacked the desire/balls/career-suicidal-tendencies to attempt this one, but I can’t help but conjure up an image of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (who I just now realized has a very honeydew melon like head) as our Lord Almighty. Of course that would leave us with Beaker as Jesus, which takes this concept up the ladder to a much more blasphemous, yet entirely hilarious, level. Anyway, a bumbling Christ with a test tube shaped head who lacks the ability to form coherent words aside, back in 1979, Dr. Honeydew mixing a little of this and a little of that, lighting the Bunsen burner, preventing Beaker from spilling some boiling concoction that is destined to become mankind all over the lab floor, pouring this solution into that compound in just the right proportions so that, despite the wacky antics of his meep-meep-meeping sidekick, he’s made the heavens, the Earth, and the platypus – all of this done with surprisingly nimble fingers considering the fact that he’s a felt puppet.

To me the melding of science and religion has always been sort of a no-brainer. It could be in part because Father Tom, the family priest, and Mrs. Robinson, my 5th grade science teacher, resembled each other in such a way that that statement isn’t flattering to either of them. It could also be because my mind has always had a strange gift for connecting different parts of my life – A sermon on Noah would have me conjuring up images of family zoo trips and my ridiculously huge stash of mail-ordered “Safari Cards.” Daniel and the Lion’s Den sent me straight to PBS nature shows. The concept of water into wine had me plotting midnight pantry raids to see just which herbs and spices from my mom’s cabinet would give me the same power (I never did figure out how to do it, but in case you ever wondered – chicken bouillon cubes and 7-Up, not so good). – It could also be because no one bothered to tell a curious young Mike that (just like chicken stock and lemon/lime soda) you aren’t supposed to mix religion and science.

I know there are creationists out there who deny science had any part in the origin of the world. Like Newman and Kramer insisting that Keith Hernandez was indeed the “lone spitter,” these folks seem in constant denial – concocting all sorts of “they fabricated the dinosaurs/there was no moon landing/carbon dating is a ploy to brainwash us all into buying microwave ovens, strive for the perfect robot, and subscribe to OMNI magazine” conspiracy theories to discredit science. Some of these religious extremists interpret the bible a wee bit more literally than perhaps it was intended. Really, seven days for all this?

The authors of the bible, with all their songs and psalms and tales and yarns and fables, had a bit of a flair for the dramatic. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that many of them just may have taken a bit of poetic license with their stories, and just like Hansel and Gretel is an super-Xtreme-over the top “don’t take candy from strangers” tale, some of bible stories may amp up the “wow factor” a bit to get their point across. Did God create the universe in 7 days? Well it seems kind of convenient that he used the exact number of days that mankind would later come to know as a week. Doesn’t it seem more plausible that Genesis is an allegory, a fable, a story based in fact, but written with a lesson in mind? Doesn’t a protagonist with a magic zappy finger demanding light and water and earth and sky and zebras and bullion cubes and 7-Up into existence make for a much more riveting and awe inspiring story than an faceless power that uses a cosmic whisk to stir up the flour, butter, and sugar of the universe to make “existence cake” in some sort of higher power version of 30 Minute Solar Systems? A boring story without a humanlike leading man might not have had the same affect. A moment by moment play by play of evolution doesn’t have the same zing as voices from above willing creation to begin.

Now, on the other hand, there are scientists who question the existence of God and the power of Christ. In a world where there are many inexplicable things: frogs that change gender mid-life (like an amphibian RuPaul, only with less mascara), male seahorses that give birth, creatures that regrow severed body parts, chemicals that cure disease, the sphincter, Georgie W. being elected twice… Why do so many people find the possibility of one man being able to walk on water, heal the sick, and rise from the dead so unlikely? To risk blasphemy once again for the sake of argument – say there is an explanation for Jesus’ strange abilities – say J.C. was the David Blaine of his time. Say he wasn’t powerful, just super tricky. Maybe he didn’t really reconfigure the water molecules into fermented grape juice. Maybe he didn’t really take a stroll across the lake. Maybe he didn’t have a magical bread multiplying ability. Maybe he was just a really good showman with a special knack for the sleight of hand/foot/loaf/winejug. Maybe he couldn’t heal with his hands; perhaps it was a skill with medicines. Maybe he didn’t rise from the dead, but pulled some sort of switcheroo on us all. Even if Jesus was an olden days version of David Copperfield, why is it difficult to believe that those skills, those abilities, that “which hand is the basket of fishies in” power was God’s gift? How come there are so many out there willing to believe that aliens wander the universe, artificially intelligent robots are a possibility, man-made plagues can wipe out the planet, cool black guys (with a little effort) can teach even the most uncoordinated white guy to dance, and many other Will Smith movie plots, but they refuse to accept the possibility that there was a sentient being that stirred the initial pot?

It may not seem terribly clear which side I’m arguing for or against here, and that’s the point. It’s like the concept of the egg and the chicken. It doesn’t matter which came first – what matters is how did the first one get there? Did science create it? Did God create it? Did God create science or science create God? You can’t have chickens without eggs, or eggs without chickens, or God without science, or science without God, or Dr. Bunsen Honeydew without Beaker, or bullion cubes without 7-Up. It doesn’t matter which came first, what matters is they are. They both are.

If you think God has a sense of humor, vote for me at Humor-Blogs.com, if not, go look at a platypus and rethink that point of view.

Then go visit the gods and goddesses of funny at

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Welcome to My Award Winning Blog

Yay!!! I won an award. Look at it. It's shiny. There's a thumb.

I got this awesome award from another awesome blogger, Dad the Dude, who may be the only dad funnier than me.

He also put this cool billboard picture on his site, which means he advertises for my blog in a creative and technologically advanced way that makes my actual site look like a retarded squirrel that was kicked out of kindergarten may have designed it.

You may be asking, "Mike, why would they let a retarded squirrel into kindergarten in the first place?"

To that I simply say, "Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame on you."

The Trials and Tribulations of a Technotard

As I sit here seething about my inability to make this website flash and whiz and bang and dance the Macarena and show dirty pictures of John McCain, I realize that I am nothing short of computarded. I’ve never been a computer geek, but I used to be competent, or so I thought. I used to be able to… oh, who am I kidding, back in the day, I couldn’t even turn on Tetris without help.

It’s always been like this. I’ve always had some sort of adversarial relationship with technology. It’s not just computers; it’s all circuits and wires and gyros and sprockets and gizmos and other stuff that is too advanced for me to even know the name for it. Seriously, it is as if I’m The Joker and Radio Shack is the BatCave. I shouldn’t venture in there, because if I do, the walls will close in and Radio Shackman will drop from the ceiling and beat me to death with a power strip surge protector or a remote control monster truck.

I think it all began when I was eight. My dad sent me scampering out into the cold biting wind to plug in the front porch Christmas lights. Standing knee deep in snow and inserting the frosty prongs (which would make a good nickname for someone) into the outlet, I was zapped. Now we’re not talking a major electrical storm the street lights dim and lightning shoots out my ear holes type of zap – this was a straight forward jerk your arm, knock you on your butt, make you pee a little, and let you know that fire = bad sort of event. However, ever since that day I believe I may have been cursed/blessed with a minor super power: the ability to render small electronic appliances utterly useless. What constitutes a small electronic appliance? – Anything with more buttons than my belly, more wires than a tightrope act, or enough bleeps and bloops to achieve resident status in Circuit City. I firmly believe that my power is so strong that if I happened to stumble across a pair of bank robbing super villains who were armed with a waffle iron and the remote for a garage door opener, I could thwart them by simply walking into the room and allowing those electronic devices to feel my presence.

(Why would someone rob a bank armed with only a kitchen convenience and a garage door clicker? I don’t have all the answers people. I just prevented a heist; what more do you want from me?)

The microwave oven has long been a nemesis of mine. Ever since my dad (yes, the same dad that sent me out into the snow to be electrocuted – sense the trust issues?) brought home our first microwave when I was a wee lad, I’ve had a fear of them. It seems unnatural, all sciencey and fictiony in an utterly frightening Frankenstein meets Salisbury steak kind of way. In time, I graduated from running out of the room while the waves microed my meals to merely using a cast-iron skillet to shield my privates during cooking box voo-doo. Now I’m a bit more rational, but I still won’t look directly at the thing, because I know it’s out to get me. I still have flashes of the door popping open mid-defrost, sending blue waves of molecule moving light into my eye sockets which will melt my face like I’ve been chasing Indiana Jones. In fact, the microwave was mocking me just the other day. In trying to make my Lean Pocket fall into the hot category, rather than the pastry-filled-with-ice-crystal-broccoli file, I some how agitated the microwave into locking. I was unaware that a microwave could lock, but that’s what the LED screen and the incessant beeping were telling me had happened. Why do microwaves have a lock function? Is it to prevent small boys from laser beaming household pets? That would be a commendable and responsible feature, but unlocking said oven shouldn’t require a NASA pass code and an engineering degree from The University of Confusingassshit. I was unable to unlock it, left with a Lukewarm-on-the-outside-still-a-little-bit-frozen-in-the-middle-unnaturally-chewy Pocket, and a day and a half later had to unplug the microwave to get it to let go.

My DVD player hates me just as much. Somehow my touch makes it go all wonky, and, in case you were unaware, that’s bad – mostly because if you look in the DVD player manual index you won’t find any guidance under the word Wonky. So how in the holy hell am I supposed to fix it? The stupid thing taunts me. It teases me. It knows I really want to watch a movie, so when I hit the open button to make the little tray come out – it comes out, but it shoots back in so fast you’d have to be a ninja to get a DVD onto the tray – and ninjas have far better things to be doing (lurking, sneaking, general butt whooping, ninja conference calls, sharpening of cool ninja throwing stars…) than to help me get Herbie Fully Loaded to play on my TV. Try as I might, I can’t get a disk into that machine. If I sit poised, with my movie positioned in just a way that no tray could possibly escape my DVD being deposited upon it – it doesn’t open. If I try to channel my inner-ninja and sneak it in there grasshopper/pebble style, the DVD jams the tray, gets all scratched up as the machine pushes it away, and falls to the ground. In the end I wind up with an intense desire to kick the DVD player’s face in, my son crying that Herbie must hate him, and a technology induced migraine.

I’m this incompetent and now people expect me to add a widget to this website? What the crap is a widget? Just that term, widget, gives me visions of demonically possessed Furbys and Digipets chasing me around like Dawn of the Dead meets Microsoft. When you say widget, I picture an evil robotic creature that wants to do me harm, but is more capable of injuring me than the television or the food processor, because this “widget” has legs and arms and thumbs – robotic thumbs that want to inflict upon me whatever degree of harm you can imagine robotic thumbs doing to a person. I’m imagining Satan’s Teddy Ruxpin - seemingly cute and cuddly with his story telling prowess and his soft brown eyes, but with just enough advanced circuitry that I know deep down inside he wants to kill me.

So, the bottom line – please excuse the lack of shiny sparkly doo-dads and embedded videos and streaming things which are meant to be streamed, because I don’t get it, I fear it, and it’s out to get me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go find a Rosie Jetson and give her a beat down.

If have an inherent distrust of Teddy Ruxpin and his circuit laden goons, vote for me at Humor-Blogs.com

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Adventures of Tim: Chapter 1 - The Job Interview

"Hey guys, I had a job interview the other day with this company," a friend declared to the group the other night.

A normal response to a statement like this would be, "Cool, how did it go?" Or perhaps, "Oh, what company?" or even a "what is the job?"

If the friend making the job interview announcement has been out of work for over two years, louder, more enthusiastic, and even encouraging responses may be necessary. "Awesome!!! I'm sure you’ll get it." "Way to go, this is probably the one." Even a simple, "YAY!!!" will do.

There are many acceptable replies to a statement like this, but when you’re dealing with my friend Tim (the names have been changed to protect the guilty) no response is appropriate. I'm not saying that all responses will be met with disdain and that any response is the wrong response, what I'm saying is that there should be no response. Perhaps a grunt. Maybe a nod. I'd say daring to smile is probably a very bad idea. Vocalization of any sort that recognizes that Tim has spoken, now that is ill advised.

Even Tim's own wife greets Tim related news in this manner. She knows. We follow suit. When Tim made this grand declaration the other night, she rolled her eyes and attempted to change the subject to something that would be more pleasant and less embarrassing, like serial bunny rapists or audibly farting on a train in front of a group of school children. Tim, who is far more embarrassing than audible train farts and exceeds the scary level of bunny rapers, dismissed her not-so-subtle hint that we should talk about anything, oh dear God, anything other than Tim's eternal job search.

The rest of us, having learned from Mrs. Tim's reaction, knew this wasn’t a story that would have Tim portrayed in a favorable light. (Strangely, Tim never seems to understand this about his stories). We knew that anything other than nods and grunts would be considered a follow up question. Follow up questions are strictly prohibited when conversing with Tim. You just nod, perhaps grunt, and hope that someone else can come up with a topic of conversation.

Someone always bites though. Someone always spoils it for the rest of us. Someone always feels bad for Tim, with no regard for all of us, and asks, "So Tim, how did it go?"

When this happens, the rest of us, if possible, scatter like a slo-mo bomb scene in a straight to video action movie. "Noooooooooo," being screamed in the low pitched slow motion way. In this particular instance, though, we were trapped at the table of a local restaurant. There was no where to go.

"So I took the train downtown and got off where they told me to," Tim began. "This was a small company on the North side of town, so I had to get on another train."

Switching trains is generally not Tim's strong point. He has gotten into arguments with perfect strangers on several occasions about things as simple as, "Hey, could you tell me where the Red Line Train stop is?"and, “Sir, you need to swipe your Metra Card. Sir, that’s upside down; swipe it again.”

This time, Tim got onto the next train without incident. We all breathed a sigh of relief, having expected the worst. I'm serious about this. One of these days I will get a call that says Tim was beaten to death by a stranger that was arguing over who's grocery cart was who's or that Tim was bludgeoned with a pan of green peppers after he argued with the sandwich artist that his bread was only five and a half inches long. It's that bad. This is a five foot five inch tall fella who maybe weighs 135 pounds and greatly resembles troll doll, and he has gotten into fights with...

  • A drunk girl at a college party over… a small foil star shaped sticker. This resulted in Tim rolling around on my kitchen floor getting the side of his head repeatedly punched by the drunk girl.
  • The cops at a city carnival over not being allowed to walk back through the fairgrounds after it was closed for the night so he wouldn't have to walk all the way around to get his bicycle.
  • A very large/very buff waiter at a Vegas brunch buffet over getting his money’s worth of champagne. Karl, the hulk/server, looked as if he might break Tim in two when Tim, for the eighth time, demanded that “Nazi Karl” was trying to screw him out of his fair share of bubbly.
  • A dirty looking guy with a crazy gleam in his eye at a local riverboat casino who cut in line in front of Tim. This guy looked as if he was getting ready to move to the mountains and shoot unsuspecting FBI agents as they happened past, and Tim decided to get in his face and yell, "I just want you to know that I think you're an asshole."
  • The extremely large bouncer at a nightclub over letting someone in at 11pm the night before their 21st birthday.
  • The counter girl at a McDonald's over some expired McNugget coupons.
  • The kid selling tickets at the movie theater (this one was my fault – I told Tim that we were there to see a movie called “Squanto: An American Legend,” so Tim got into a fight insisting that he wanted his Squanto tickets. The poor kid didn’t know what to do, since Squanto: An American Legend was not actually playing at that theater. I nearly peed myself when the manager had to step in and finally gave Tim a ticket to “Get Shorty,” but wrote Squanto on the front of it with a Sharpie. Strangely, while watching Get Shorty, Tim never once asked any of us why Squanto wasn’t in that movie.)
  • The DJ at my wedding, who didn't want to give him the microphone two hours after the toasts were done. Tim wrestled it away from him anyway and gave some kind of incoherent address. I have it on tape. It’s funny. My wife didn't feel that way.
  • A pair of paramedics who were tending to him after a nasty bike accident.
  • The pizza delivery guy, twice. I have no clue why.
  • The driver of a city bus who refused to take Tim a block further than the route dictated.
  • My favorite, a perfect stranger that happened to walk too close to Tim (or something) outside the hospital the day Tim’s son was born.
  • Then, finally, the reason why we all feared Tim/job interview stories, he got in a fight with a man who interviewed him for a job, but never called back. Tim called him dozens of times, telling us that employers like aggressive candidates. Eventually Tim got sick of not having his calls returned and showed up outside the guy's office to confront him. Let's just say it ended with yelling and the police (possibly the same cops Tim screamed at about his bicycle).

By now, I think it's pretty apparent why we cringed when Tim was given the greenlight to continue his story, but we were trapped, so we listened.

"I got off the train and found the right street. I had the address written on a piece of paper in my brief case, but I remembered what it was, so I walked down the road looking for it."

So far, so good. No one injured yet.

"This neighborhood was a dump. There were all these people outside and they kept looking at me funny. I didn't know why, but I think it was because I was wearing a suit. I don't think people in that neighborhood like suits."

This is where we braced ourselves for the inevitable fight over a local because they looked at Tim's suit funny. Surprisingly it didn’t happen.

"I must have walked five blocks and I couldn't find the place. The addresses kept going up and down and starting and stopping, I was getting really angry."

Ooooo, here it comes, I thought. Here's the part where Tim turns green, his clothes rip off, and he screams, "TIM SMASH."

Nope. He remained calm.

"I figured I should check my brief case to make sure I had the right address, so I sat down in one of those little bus stop thingies and spread out my papers on the bench. This little old lady came in there to wait for the bus and she kept staring at me. I thought at first that I must know her or something, the way she was staring at me, so I stared back."

"Oh no, Tim," one of our friends interrupted, "don't tell me you punched the old lady at the bus stop."

"No, of course not."

Collective "Whew!!!"

"She did piss me off though."

Collective "oh crap."

"She kept staring at me. It was really obnoxious. It was raining a little and I was just trying to stay dry while I called the company to get better directions. I called again and again and kept getting the voice mail. I don't know why they don't have someone answering the damn phones. So, after about ten minutes of calling the voice mail over and over and having the old woman stare at me, I packed up my stuff and started to leave the bus stop."

We all silently thanked a higher being for letting the old lady escape Tim’s wrath.

"Then I figured that the old woman lived nearby, she might know where this company is, so I went back and asked her."

Another collective, "oh crap."

"She told me I was a very rude young man, having my stuff spread allover like that, taking up the whole bench. I told her that I was just trying to get to an interview I was already late for. She said that was no excuse for taking a seat from an old woman. She called me a jerk."

"Don't say you hit her. Please, even if you did hit her, lie to me Tim," my brother-in-law requested.

"No, I didn't hit her, I just shouted at her that she was an old bitch and to mind her business. Can you believe she wouldn't tell me if she knew where the office was?"

"Yes, Tim, I can believe that." This comment was disregarded.

"So I went back out in the rain and looked for someone who would help me, but no one would. Can you believe people?"

"So all the people on the sidewalk who just witnessed you screaming cuss words at an old woman waiting for the bus wouldn't help you?"

"Yeah. People now a days are so rude."

"Yup. It's unbelievable."

"So I kept walking, hoping to find a McDonald's or a gas station or somewhere where they'd help me find directions. Eventually, after a few blocks I found a social security office. I went in there to see if anyone would help me. I just stood there, saying 'excuse me' over and over, but no one would talk to me. I couldn't believe it. They all acted like I was invisible."

"Are you sure you didn't wander into the window display at Macy's and were asking mannequins for directions?" I asked. This comment too was disregarded.

"Did they eventually give you directions?" someone asked.

"No. They kept ignoring me. So I yelled to get their attention. 'Hey guys, I need some help. Can't anyone tell me where the offices of this company are?' and they just kept going about their businesslike I wasn't there."

"So, did you leave?" one of our friends inquired.

"No way, they'd pissed me off now, so I kept yelling at them. 'Hey. I'd like to talk to someone. Can't you people help a guy out? Am I invisible?"

All I could do at this point was try to imagine an office full of government employees going about their daily routines when a red-faced, soaking wet, man in a suit from the 80's (yeah, I didn’t mention that Tim hasn't really updated his wardrobe since high school) comes in and starts shouting at the entire office. Normal people would be surprised by this. Not me. Not my friends. Not even my wife, who has grown accustomed to Tim. We all knew him. This was normal. This was expected.

"So, did you ever get to the interview," someone asked, hoping it would end the story before someone got hurt.

"Yeah, they finally called my cell phone back while I was in the social security office."

"Did you excuse yourself from your conversation with the social security people before you took the call?" I asked.

"No," Tim shouted, looking at me like my head was on fire, "They were assholes. In fact, I just shouted, 'thanks a lot assholes,' and left."

"Did you shout that while you had the company you were interviewing with on the phone?"

"I don't remember," Tim screeched in a shocked way that let us know he felt that was the most ridiculous question he'd ever heard. "I finally got to the interview two hours late. I think I have a pretty good chance, but I'm not sure I'll take the job. It's too hard to get to."

Just as Tim finished, the waiter brought our food. Tim order fajitas, but a steak had just been set down in front of him. He started to eat the wrong meal, when someone pointed that out to him. “Why don't you send it back and get what you ordered, Tim?"

"Oh, it's no big deal. I don't want to cause a scene."

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