Sunday, October 25, 2009

That'll do it, folks

Alright, I'll break the silence. I know it's been a couple weeks since my last post, and I assume you all know what's coming: I'm done.

It's been a heck of ride, writing columns here on Funny columns, stupid columns, confusing columns, offensive columns... Now it's time for the last type of column: the terminating column. The clincher. The closer.

It lasted longer than I thought it would, to tell you the truth. Looking at my stats I put up a hearty 86 posts, the first one going up on March 12, 2008. Also, 7,200 people visited this site, although 6,000 were probably lost deep in the Internet when they stumbled in. "What the hell kind of a blog is this?"

I thought blogging was pretty dumb, before I started. And I often thought it was dumb while I did it. But you've got to love what the Internets come up with these days, and the blogging platform--where any idiot can publish their words for the world to see--is something novel.

Well, I've written what I've wanted to write on this blog. Now it's time for me to chase other pursuits. Maybe I'll take up Twitter. Maybe I'll start a blog about what Michelle Obama is wearing these days. Maybe I'll see if AARP The Magazine is looking for any under-age columnists.

Whatever I do, this thing will just sit dormant. So consider this blog for sale. I checked out, and it said this website is worth a whopping $876. WebsiteOutlook must be run by the same people that price out theme-park food, because it just ain't worth that much.

Tell you what. Offer me $10 and a cold ginger ale, and you've got yourself a deal. Actually, I'd let it go for just a ginger ale--warm or cold.

Thanks everyone!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I took the trash out and almost went with it

Listen up, men with a girlfriend or wife: never, ever, ever criticize your significant other's outfit. If you have anything less than positive to say about something she's wearing, punch yourself in the head before you open your dumb yap. With any luck, it will alter what comes out for the better.

Yesterday my wife had to leave for a hair appointment. The trash needed taken out (it has always been my job to take out the trash; probably because I relate to it more than she does), so I followed her out the door on her way to the car.

As she walked away, I asked--and this is where I should have punched myself in the head--"Are you going to wear those pants?" I don't know what I was thinking; the pants looked fine, I just hadn't seen them before. Let's just say it wasn't the time or the place for such a critique. She drove off, probably furious for having married such an idiot.

As I stood in the middle of our condo's parking lot, feeling like a jerk, I realized the door was locked and I didn't have the house keys. It was the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday, and I hadn't showered or shaved. An October chill was in the air, and I was just wearing pajama pants, a t-shirt, and flip flops.

To make matters worse, right before I followed my wife out the door I had thrown a burger on the George Foreman grill. It was going to be more than well done.

I decided to go sit in my car and wait it out--I'd let the burger turn into jerky. I sat in the driver's seat for about 15 minutes, wishing I knew how to hot-wire a car so I could at least have the radio for comfort. Luckily I found a tin of mints in the center console, and found solace in them.

Then I started to wonder how long a hair appointment normally lasts. An hour? Two hours? A day? (Note: I've rocked a buzz cut for the past three years, so I have no idea how long it takes to cut hair when scissors are involved.)

Deciding I needed to do something about my situation, I got out of the car and walked back up to the front door. I thought about going in a window, but we live on the third floor. And flip flops aren't great for scaling the side of a building. A mishap would mean an 18-foot fall.

I started knocking on neighbor's doors. A nice couple that lives across from us was home and took me in. They let me watch TV in their living room, in all of my just-got-out-of-bed glory, until my wife got home. Luckily there was enough love in her heart to let me back in the house.

I like to think that I've learned a few lessons from this experience; 1.) A burger is no good after an hour and a half on the Foreman, 2.) Shower and get dressed in the morning, even if you're not going anywhere, 3.) Say nothing but complimentary things to your wife--and be extra kind because without her you're nothing more than the trash you just took out.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Anything can happen at Walmart

If my printer were a vehicle, it would be a big-ol' SUV. It seems like it slurps up about a cartridge of ink for every 10 pages of print. For that reason, I stopped by Walmart the other day for a new ink cartridge.

After getting the ink, I made the usual rounds: $5 DVD shelf, fish tanks, BMX bike display, etc. At last I ended up in the produce section, where I began picking out some grapes. Just as I found a firm variety, an old lady came up and grabbed me by the elbow.

"I'm not sure about something," she stammered, while leading me to the broccoli stand. I was wearing shorts and flip flops, so she couldn't have mistaken me for a store clerk. Nonetheless, she pointed to a sign that said "$.99 ea," then proceeded to orate a 2-minute lecture on why broccoli should be sold by the pound, not by the unit.

I had to nod repeatedly and slowly walk backwards until the lady forgot she was talking to me.

Certainly crazier things have happened at Wally's Mart, though. When I was a teen, my younger brother and I got in a full-fledged fist fight over who's turn it was to play the Nintendo 64 that was on display. I eventually dropped him with a knee to the soft part of his thigh and regained command of the controller.

I'm also fond of the time I got recruited by a scammer at the $5 DVD stand. I was standing there looking for something that wasn't an old box-office flop when I noticed a guy start to sidle up next to me. I continued to scan the titles, with him breathing over my shoulder, until eventually he spoke up. "Don't I know you from somewhere?"

I looked at him, and said "No, I don't think so." He replied, "Oh, you look familiar. Well anyway, what do you do for work?" Confused and surprised, I told him I operated "heavy equipment" (little did he know I was referring to my 4-cylinder car out in the parking lot).

He said that sounded cool, then chirped up, "What if I could help you make 10 thou a month by working just 20 hours a week?" I told him I wouldn't wander Walmart to Walmart, preying on people at the $5 DVD stands, for any amount of money.

A lot of people don't like to shop at Walmart because of incidents like the ones I've mentioned. And some people say a few of the folks that shop there are too--what's the word--peculiar? ( As for me, those are the very things that keep me coming back.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Challenge

Had a little chat with my wife tonight... I have a new goal that I wanted to discuss, and hopefully get her approval on. As many of you know, she's with child. Assuming a normal pregnancy, she has 24 weeks left. So just under two trimesters to go.

OK, enough pregnancy talk. My goal is to keep up with my wife's pregnancy weight, pound for pound. A credible source tells me that the average woman should gain about a pound a week during the final two trimesters.

So... can I gain 24 pounds by the time the baby arrives?

Wait, before you answer that question you need to understand my body type. I'm 6'1" and I currently sit at a buck fifty-five. Been at that mark a long time, too. I've got the metabolism of a chipmunk and the build of a greyhound (the dog, not the bus).

Also, I will make the attempt without supplements, pills, or protein shakes. Save the creatine for high school jocks. I'm a man of the land, and I'll be consuming meat, potatoes, and country grits.

Surprisingly enough my wife said she doesn't care if I make the attempt, just because she doesn't think I can do it. What do you think? Feel free to cast your vote in the sidebar.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Goodbye old friend; hello repo

I parted ways with an old friend last week. We met On-line, just over five years ago. In our time together things didn't always go smoothly. But we had to learn to get along, considering we spent time together every day. We traveled together, ran errands together, and got our pockets rifled by the same sleazy mechanics.

I think everyone loves their first car, whether it's a piece of crap or not. If it moves, it can get you to the local burger joint. If it has a passenger seat, well, it's a whole lot better than picking up a date in your mom's minivan.

I think everyone cherishes the memories of their first car.

Once I thought the time with my first car was going to be cut very short. I had just bought the thing, and shortly thereafter moved into my new apartment at college. I normally kept my car parked in the lot behind my apartment complex, and I could see it from my window.

One morning I woke up, and it was gone. I ran outside and searched up and down the neighborhood. I ran back inside and checked my roommates' bedrooms, thinking maybe one of them took it for a late-night joy ride and ended up parking it in a canal, or something. But they were all cuddled up in their beds, sleeping like slugs.

With no other options, I called the police. Just as I was talking to an officer, the receptors of my brain finally connected; I had parked my car on campus the night before. "Sounds like someone had too much to drink last night," the officer stated. I certainly wished I could blame my stupidity on strong drink.

I'm glad my car never got stolen. It had a full future with me, lying in wait. It would take me and my roommates to the Mexican border so we could buy fake Oakley sunglasses. It would rear end some dude's car on University Avenue. It was going to take me on a first date with my future wife... and apparently my car and I did enough to make me look like husband material.

I passed my car onto my younger brother a few days ago. I always wanted to drive it till its dying day, and sometimes it seemed like it was almost there, but now that honor is left to him.

My new ride is a bank repo, at least that's what struck my eye when I looked at the Carfax report. Since my new car came from an owner that told the bank to stick it, it must be plenty rebellious at heart. We should get along just fine...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It takes time to absorb big news

It was a normal day. I had just gotten home from work and I was walking into the kitchen. There on the table sat one of those little pregnancy timeline discs, showing important dates at each trimester.

Many things go through a man's head when his wife tells him she's pregnant (although I'm sure many more things go through a man's head when it's not his wife). Here's what went through my mind, in order of occurrence:

"_______ (brain lapse; 4-5 seconds)."
"Wow, cool...."
"No, not cool. How can I get out of this? Is this reversible?"
"Actually, having a kid could be really cool."
"I wonder if she's going to let herself go."
"Oh crap, I'm not ready to be a dad!"
"She's going to make me paint the second bedroom like an Easter egg."
"Wow, I'll be a dad!"

A woman can only stand silence for so long after she bears that kind of news. Eventually a man has actually got to say something. All I came up with was, "How do you know it's mine?" Women aren't really looking for a joke at a time like that, I found.

Women just take the news of pregnancy a lot more favorably than men. Which shouldn't surprise anyone. For example, men take the news of a hot-dog eating contest winner more favorably than women: "Cool!" vs. "Eew, gross."

Pregnant women are excited about staring their new role as a mother, e.g., buying children's clothes, rocking a baby to sleep, and reading nursery rhymes. Guys, however, are worried about losing their comfortable role as an idiot. As a father, can I still paint-up my bare chest and go to football games? Can I still watch Rocky I through IV all in one day, once a year? Can I still, well... you get the point.

I hardly know a thing about pregnancy, but so far I know that women are either really hot or really cold after they first get pregnant. And that changes on the second--not on the minute or hour like with un-pregnant women. I'm either being ordered to crank on the A/C or to bring out the space heater. Sometimes they want both going at the same time.

I also know they can hurl at any moment. And what makes them nauseous is as elusive as what makes them hot or cold. One day it's the smell of butter. Then it's the interior of a car. Next it's the look of my toenails.

It's all fun though; part of life's journey. Your beautiful wife goes through all that, then in a matter of months you're rewarded with a mini version of yourself. Except the little guy/gal will have some of the wife's genes, so it's bound to be an upgraded version--thank goodness.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How long should we mourn celebrities?

Look, I'm all for being sad about someone dying. When a loved one passes on, mourning is expected and called for. Same goes for a respected leader or role model.

But what if it's someone you only know through pop culture; someone who's house you were only invited in when you watched that episode of MTV's Cribs? What if it's someone who didn't know you, nor would they have wanted to? What type of mourning is expected of you when they die?

I'm talking about celebrities here. People that have done no more for humanity other than star in a couple films, hang out at oxygen bars, and sit courtside at Los Angeles Laker's games. One day they're found dead in a hotel room with a bottle of pills on the carpet, and suddenly they become nineteen times as famous as than they were the day before.

The TV networks then scramble to find a few photos of the dead celebrity that can be aired to the public. But that's difficult because the only photos they have are the ones that made the tabloids. Generally a DUI mugshot looks tacky when it's used in a eulogy slideshow on CNN.

Then we, the TV-watching or newspaper-reading public, have to suffer through endless questions raised by the media over the next three weeks: Is the celebs doctor at fault? What's going to happen to the celeb's illegitimate child? Which celebrities will attend the celebrity's funeral?

Eventually the controversy and the discussion dies down (no pun intended), and the funeral is finally had. Again, every major news network is roped into airing the funeral procession, then it's replayed several times over the next few days in case you only saw it twice.

It's unfortunate when a playboy bunny that ODs on pain killers gets more press than a life-long philanthropist that dies of a stroke. What's the saying? Live by the sword, die by the sword? Same goes with the flashbulb, I guess.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My worst enemy dwells in my car

My greatest enemy is not the state's safety & emissions test (but it is a close second, since it has conquered me and my car every year for the past three years). And my greatest fear is not fear itself; as much as Mandela suggests. My greatest enemy and my greatest fear is actually the spider.

Spiders scare the heck out of me, and just writing the word gives me the hebejebes. Give me snakes, scorpions, or socialists, just don't give me spiders.

A couple weeks ago my wife and I had pulled into the church parking lot. After I put the car in park my wife suddenly stiffened against the back of her seat and her face went blank, like she was staring at death's door. I'd try something like that as well, to get out of church, but she had real fear in her eyes. "Oh my gosh!" she yelled, pointing at the dash above my steering wheel.

There, perched above my speedometer, sat a spider the size of a small frog. In one fluid motion I flung open my door and army rolled out onto the pavement. My wife then made a few attempts to get it out of the car with an ice scraper, but that only made it retreat into the air vent.

I've been driving on pins and needles ever since, not sure when the spider would make another appearance. If texting while driving increases your chance of an accident ten times, I bet seeing a spider in your car while driving increases it a thousand. So I've been hoping it wouldn't rear it's ugly face when I'm doing 75 on the freeway

Well, last Wednesday I was running a bit late for work. I bounded down the stairs from my condo and hopped into my car, trying to make up time where I could. As I turned the ignition and backed out of my parking spot, cranking the steering wheel like crazy, I felt a stringy substance cross the back of my hands.

I looked down and saw the last thing I wanted to see: a giant spider, dangling above my knees. My hands had just mauled the web it had worked up overnight. In the heat of the moment I duplicated the move I made in the church parking lot, weeks earlier. Only this time I had to get my car into park before the army roll onto the parking lot was made.

As I knelt on the pavement with my heart threatening to pound out of my chest, I tried to figure out how I was going to get back in my car and on my way to work. I ran into the house and fetched a broom, and after a few minutes of gladiator-like battling I got the wretched thing out from under my steering wheel column.

I've got a re-inspection for the state safety & emissions test scheduled for later this week, after I get some brake thing replaced. I'd really like for the evil spider to crawl out onto the safety & emissions guy, while he's re-inspecting my car. It would be nice to have my first and second worst enemies meet, and see if the second is any good at the army roll.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A happy wife is sweeter than soda

A couple Sunday's ago my wife and I were taking an evening stroll through our neighborhood. I picked up an empty beer bottle on the side of the road. My wife scolded me to put it down, but I wanted to take it home.

I wasn't exactly doing a good turn by picking up litter, I just wanted to start working on my bottle collection. I then told my wife about a plan I had to start brewing and bottling my own soda. My plan was not well received, and she threatened death if I didn't put the bottle down. I argued my case until she gave in with an "OK, fine."

As my wife and I approach our third-year anniversary, I thought I'd pause for a moment and jot down the few things I've learned about women and marriage in that time. I know three years is child's play to some of you veterans, but sometimes rookies have good things to say...

First off, women don't like men to stay in their "caves." Men are naturally cavemen, not only in manner and eating habits, but also in how they deal with the day-to-day. Their cave is usually a hobby, an escape from the responsibilities of work and family life.

There are a lot of cave options out in the world; golfing, hunting, fist fighting, soda bottling, etc. Women hate all of them, but they can learn to deal with a few--as long as they don't become too time consuming and they don't prevent their man from bringing home the bacon.

Secondly, women are always lying.
  • Example 1: "I made this casserole, but I don't think it's very good; you don't have to eat it if you don't want to." That's a lie.
  • Example 2: "You don't have to get me anything for Valentine's Day." Another lie.
Thirdly, not only do women lie, they also expect men to read their mind.
  • Example 1: If a man asks "Are you mad?", she'll respond with "No, I'm fine." That means she's mad, real mad. Just don't ask, "Why are you mad?" You're supposed to know why she's mad.
  • Example 2: If a man asks "Honey, me and the guys are planning a road trip to Montana. Can I go?" She may reply with something like "Um, I guess so." In reality, the deal is not yet done and you don't yet have a valid passport. Go off to Montana on an "I guess so," and she'll curse your name the whole time you're gone.
Normally I would have taken an "OK, fine," and clung to that empty beer bottle, keeping alive the dream of bottling my own soda. But at that moment, I realized no bottle of homemade ginger-ale was worth my wife's discontent. I dropped the bottle into the nearest garbage can and walked on.

Now I just need to work on having more of those kinds of moments.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

You're never too old for hand-me-downs

Sometimes I'm glad I didn't have an older brother. If I did, I know I would have never worn a new article of clothing. Nonetheless, my mom still trafficked most of my clothes down from older cousins or neighbors.

I'm sure my parent's thrift had a lot to do with that, but so did the way I treated my clothes. In less than half an hour of recess I could blow a hole in both the knees of my pants and have grasshopper guts on the front of my shirt. Buying me a new pair of Levi's would have been like giving a white suit to a chimney sweeper.

Now that I'm done growing, and so are the people I associate with, I don't see many hand-me-down exchanges. After childhood, if someone gives over a hand-me-down it's usually not because they got taller... it's because they got wider.

The other way to get a hand-me-down, though, is if the previous owner doesn't think it's in fashion anymore. That's where I come in.

A couple weeks ago my wife and I were visiting my wife's family. Her uncle was ready to get rid of a fine corduroy suit with leather elbow patches, and I was ready to acquire a fine corduroy suit--with leather elbow patches.

The thing is, I know it's a darn-good suit. It's been around for at least 25 years but is still holding up like a champ. Those suckers buying a suit down at Men's Wearhouse only know their suit has made it through a couple trips to the dressing room.

I suppose the biggest qualm people have about taking ownership of a hand-me-down or thrift store clothing item is not knowing where it's been. How do you think new clothes feel, not knowing where their wearers have been?

Whatever the case, I've never grown out of ruining my clothes (you should see me after a spaghetti dinner, I can give a white shirt polka-dots). But that's something I'm going to have to change. If I blow a hole in the knee of my "new" corduroy suit pants, I'll have to wait another 25 years before something that good shows up in my wife's uncle's closet again.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Things we shouldn't give up when we grow up

I sat through a city council meeting a little while ago, I was on assignment for my job. In such a meeting, or most any kind of meeting, it doesn't take long to realize that some people can be very boring.

In fact, while I was enduring the agenda, I started thinking about why it is that as we grow more mature, we also grow more boring. Adults in the workplace are like bread out of the bag; they go stale too quickly.

There are some particulars of childhood that--unfortunately--we grow out of. I think it would be good for human resource departments to look back at some programs enjoyed in elementary school, and consider implementing a few of them:

1. Yearbook signing. Sure, most full-time jobs don't have a summer break. But how great would it be if at the end of the second fiscal quarter co-workers met in the conference room to sign the back of each other's employee manual?

"Stay cool, Dean... work sucks but you don't!" or "You should have used up more sick days!"

2. Nap time. It's a no brainer. Nobody would object to rolling out a mat by their workstation at 2:00 PM and shutting off the lights for 15 or 20 minutes. If smoke breaks are OK, what's wrong with a nap break? But it seems only former presidents can nap on the job.

3. Show and tell. It would really improve employee relations if workers were able to bring something from home and show it to everyone in a formal setting. Granted, depending on employee makeup this may be risky; you don't want Deedee from mail services showing up with a bong. But it might be good for everyone if Chuck from accounting was able to bring in his tap dancing shoes and do a little jig.

4. Reading time. For HR manuals or policy guides that are never read, it might be a good idea to implement a time to gather together and take turns reading paragraphs. The lady from PR could help out anyone getting tripped up on big words like "harassment."

5. Last but not least, a shorter day. Start at 8:00 AM, but ring the quittin' bell at 3:00 PM. Just because you get older doesn't mean it's easier to stay put at a desk for another 2 hours.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How to slow down the fast-paced city life

I can only listen to country music when I'm driving alone--my wife won't let me listen to it when she's in the car. It's not just that she doesn't like country. It's her incessant fear that one day I'll turn out to be a hick, and I guess she thinks country music could increase that chance.

She grew up in a small town and didn't care for the 4-H guys. The dates she hated most were the ones where she was picked up in a camo-colored 4X4 with a gun rack on back. I'm from a small town as well, a farming town, and I used to drive an old truck. To most men where I'm from, a "car guy" is an oxymoron.

My married, male readers will understand that you've got to promise a lot of ridiculous things to get a girl to marry you (e.g., eat less fried chicken, stop wearing a particular shirt, quit cussing). Before we exchanged vows, my wife made me promise to always be a "car guy."

I actually didn't listen to country music growing up, in fact I currently like a lot of rap. And I drive a car. But now that I'm living in a faster-paced city environment, I've come to really enjoy the slower-paced lifestyle found in country music's lyrics.

So my wife putting the kibosh on that genre has been difficult. But, I've come up with other ways--that are harder for her to control--to get life down to a Willie Nelson pace:
  1. Say "I'm going into town to get ____," when speaking of running any errand, even if you already live "in town" and are just walking to 7-Eleven for a churro.
  2. Drive with the window down and your left elbow sticking out the door. Cowboys don't use A/C, and they drive with one hand on the steering wheel.
  3. Use "'ol'" as a prefix whenever possible: "I'm heading down to ol' Buck's place to watch the game," or "I've got to stop by the ol' supermarket after work."
  4. While driving, deploy the four-finger wave whenever you're passing someone heading in the other direction, especially at a 4-way stop. (If you don't know what that wave is, click here)
  5. When talking about any automobile that isn't a Ford, Chevy, or GMC, use the term "foreign job."
I can do all those things and more from a car, so I'm still keeping the promise I made to my wife. You can take a guy out of the small town, but maybe you can't take the small town out of a guy.