Sort of Borrowed Goods

Two or three times a year I leave the house without any deodorant on. I don’t do this on purpose; sometimes I just forget.

I have a very short attention span.

So short in fact, that I will walk from one room in my apartment to another room only 10 feet away to do something, do something else entirely, and not realize until hours later that I never did the thing I set out to do.

This has always been the case since I was a kid. My parents used to yell at me for not paying attention. But that’s not the case. I always paid attention. I paid attention to everything. That was the problem. I couldn’t pay attention for long because there was always something new I had to pay attention to.

It’s difficult being me.

So it is understandable that in the daily routine of getting ready in the morning, sometimes I leave out a crucial step like putting on deodorant.

If it is a normal workday it’s not a problem because I keep a stick of deodorant in my desk at work. I do this for my forgetful days or if I need to re-fortify the pits before leaving the office for what I anticipate being a particularly sweaty night.

However, if I am headed to any place but work, well then I have an issue. It’s at this point that I have to do some calculations.

How long I will be out + how much I like the people I will be around = Whether or not action must be taken

If that formula adds up to equal the fact that action must be taken, I head for the nearest drug store.

Now before you judge me, I will say no, I do not grab a brand new stick of deodorant from the shelf, open it, apply it to myself and then put it back on the shelf. That would be disgusting and also morally reprehensible. I’m not a savage after all. I understand that is completely unacceptable. I would never do that with a stick of deodorant.

That’s why I use the spray.

It’s not something I do a lot, I’ve probably only done it two or three times in my life. And it’s been necessary. Stinky times call for desperate measures.

The toughest part is doing it discreetly. It would almost definitely be easier to actually steal the entire bottle of deodorant spray than it is to use it without anybody noticing. I have to pretend to read the label of the bottle, discreetly look up and down the aisle and then… shove the bottle under my shirt so I can give a quick blast of chilly pressurized mountain fresh air into each pit.

You might not approve of this, but I can assure you the people I saw on those occasions certainly did.

And since I’m forgetful, it’s not only deodorant that’s gets left behind. Sometimes it’s something much more important like sun block.

Last year I was in Chicago for a conference.



I had a whole day to myself before the conference started. It was a brilliantly sunshiney day and I wanted to spend it outside eating and seeing the city.

I signed up for an Architecture boat cruise. And it wasn’t until about an hour before the cruise that I realize… I haven’t brought any sun block.

Again, predicament.

Now I could have easily have just purchased a bottle of sunscreen but they only had bottles over three ounces, which means that I was going to use it once, and then I would have to leave it behind since I wasn’t checking my luggage back to New York.

I didn’t want to waste all that sun block.

So I utilized my deodorant strategy and I located a drug store.

I walk into the drug store and locate the sun block aisle. There was no way I could effectively apply a cream to my body efficiently with enough time to actually protect myself and still not get caught at the same time. So I look around and I find the aerosol spray cans (which function very similarly to the spray deodorant I was familiar with pirating).

I take a look up and down the aisle… and then I panic.

This was going to require way more than two discreet sprays. I have a face and ears and neck and arms to cover. This drug store is far too crowded and there are too many people coming in and out of the aisles.

So instead I start a sort of walk-and-spray tour of the store. I walk down an aisle and when I think no one is looking I launch into what looks like an epileptic fit trying to cover as much of my body as I can in three seconds.

And I can’t do it for longer than that because sun block is fragrant. You always know when somebody is applying it.

So I’m walking up and down aisles, sporadically sun blocking myself, and the longer I do it, the faster my pulse races.

I finally think I have enough coverage and return the bottle to the shelf and walk out the door. But my hear was pounding so hard as I thought a security guard was going to full out tackle me before I got to the door.

But I made it out the door without any violence, and even better, I didn’t get burnt on the cruise.

I know it seems like I wasted a whole bunch of sun block, but don’t blame me.

Blame the TSA.

Having Somebodys


I have somebody who might be interested in renting your apartment.

As far as I’m concerned those are pretty much famous last words by this point, but any time somebody says that I have no choice but to ask who.

Typically it’s the friend of a friend who just moved into town, or somebody who is in some unique situation. I know everybody means well but it’s the way the news is delivered that makes it so misleading

I HAVE somebody who etc.

They have, only them. It’s like every one of my friends suddenly became a broker. They are always so confident that they have fixed solution. They’ve done it; they figured it out, case closed.

I HAVE somebody who is interested in renting your apartment; she’s got an internship in the city for 3 months.

That’s awesome for her, congratulations and all, but unless she’s going to have 4 consecutive internships that pay her the salary of a real employee I don’t think you really have somebody for me.

Once in a while I’ll get the semi-brazen friend who declares:

I think I rented your apartment for you.

Everybody is so excited to jump right to the end. Just because you have somebody who really wants an apartment and says a bunch of things, doesn’t mean they will pass a background check, and a credit check, and will actually come through.

You can’t take everybody at his or her word. After all, this is the city where the phrase “voted best pizza” exists on half the pizza places in the city.

Oh yea? Voted by whom? Your mom?

So you could understand how I might be slightly less than eager to jump when somebody says they have somebody to rent my apartment. But nonetheless, I must continue to jump.

Like last week.

A colleague of mine told me they had somebody.

“My wife knows him but he’s Italian and doesn’t speak great English and wants to communicate via text.”

I thought about making some hilarious stereotype joke about it being impossible to talk with your hands via text message but deferred and texted him anyway.

What follows is not an exaggeration. All punctuation actually happened. The name has been changed to protect the ridiculous.

Hi Luigi this is Rich I hear you were interested in my apt. You can email me at ______.

One minute later he responded.

We can txt????

I figured what he meant to say can we text, but the typical Italian language format made him confuse his statements with his questions. That really didn’t bother me. Though haven’t somebody who’s English was that poor could potentially make for some really awkward landlord conversations.

What if a pipe burst or there was an emergency, was I going to have to text him to figure out what the hell was going on. But I was getting ahead of myself.

I was more concerned about the amount of question marks he used. Was he really that inquisitive? Maybe. I just conceded realizing this conversation would probably be easier (barely) over text message. I wrote back.

Sure.

Two minutes later Luigi responded.

Okok yes I m interest of your apt!!!! When can I see u to talk about it!!!! Please let me know

At this point I realize this guy not only overuses punctuation but he has no idea how to use punctuation. He’s mistaking exclamation points (which he uses far too many of) for questions marks, and disregarding periods all together. I mean 8 exclamation points in two sentences.

I once had a writing teacher who told me for the entire semester we got 3 exclamation points.

I think by this point my teacher would have thrown his phone out the window.

I also realize that I am not going to just invite this import over to look at my apartment unless he meets the bare minimum criteria I have for renters. So I decide to check something quickly with him.

Can you answer a couple questions for me? Do you know what your credit rating is?

As soon as I send the text I realize there is no way this guy knows what a credit rating is, and even if he does, he probably doesn’t have one.

Two minutes later my suspicions are confirmed.

Im sorry about I just come here!!!! I have

New text message

I have few months here but I really iterest in ur apt!!! Im a good guy !!! U gonna have the rent on time trust me

How the hell is this guy really iterest in my apartment? All he knows is that I have an apartment and by that logic he would be iterest in every person in New York’s apartment. As far as I’m concerned I’m not that special to this guy.

I feel cheap.

U gonna have the rent on time? TRUST ME? This guy could not be more of a stereotype if he tried. I know he only has few months here but is this guy negotiating everything like this?

Is he buying mozzarella at the market with a post dated check and saying:

You gonna cash this check on Tuesday and it gonna work. Trust me.

 I call on the depths of my Italian heritage and my College minor in the language itself but still cannot remember the word for “balls.”

I call Luigi on his bluff.

What is your salary?

Two minutes later…

2000 dollars a month!!!! But we r 3 persons so I don’t think that we gonna have anyproblem

One minute later…

What do u think about it????

What do I think about it? I think you have some serious issues conceptualizing the New York City housing market to start. I also think your punctuation use is driving me batshit. And last but not least I think you are out of your damn mind if you think that you can survive in this city on 24,000 dollars a year.

Just to confirm, you want a one bedroom apartment for three people?

Two minutes later…

Actually we are two guys only!!! But my friend just came to visit me!!!!

Now I’m positive I don’t want this human anywhere near my apartment. So I just text him back to get rid of him.

 I need a tenant who makes at least 60,000 a year

Fourteen minutes later he responds.

Thanks so much im not the right persone!! I just came!!! I don’t make that money yet!!!!!

(Side note: He used 5 exclamation points for this statement, the most of any of his sentences which I thought appropriate considering I felt it really was the most important of all his texts.)

I hope u find some one !!! If u don’t find  no body let me know!!

!! Thanks have a great day

I did have a great day. And I really hope I don’t find no body soon.

Unaffected Pie Eating


Where I grew up, the Junior High and High School were in the same building. There was really nothing that differentiated being in 8th grade versus being in 9th.

My school had plenty of events to generate spirit; pep rallies, dances and such. There was one event that was held just for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. It was a class war of sorts put on by the upper classmen.

I remember the one we had my first year, when I was in 7th grade.

It happened one evening in the fall after school in the gym. The events were all absurdly fun things that required no actual skills, unless you were the kind of person to pack a suitcase full of clothes, run down the block, put on all of those clothes and run back home on a regular basis.

There were hula-hoops and traffic cones, jump ropes, balls and many other fun elements.

The evening capped off, however, with a pie eating contest. A representative from each grade was chosen (or more likely volunteered) to consume as much of a pudding filled pie as possible in the allotted time.

The selected volunteers were given garbage bag ponchos and were lined up in front of a table, one pie per person. An upper-class girl, somebody who was already in her Senior year, instructed all participants were instructed to put their hands behind their back. All eating was to be done by thrusting your face into the pie. There would be no cheating tolerated.

The senior girl counted down 3…2… and the pie eating began.

As was expected it was a sloppy ridiculous hilarious mess of people making fools of themselves for… class pride? Whatever it was, we all loved it.

The competition ended and everybody was told to step away from his or her pies, or what was left of them.

One of the kids still had a mouth full of pie and didn’t know what to do with it. He looked around frantically for a garbage can, which, of course, was not to be found. He looked panicked.

And then the senior girl walked over to him, put her cupped hand in front of his face and said as sweetly as one could imagine saying such a thing to a person with a mouth full of pie:

Spit it out

The boy shook his head, embarrassed, but the senior persisted.

Just spit it out, it’s fine.

Eventually he did. Releasing a clump of pudding and crust into her hand, which she then left with, in search of a trashcan.

I remember being amazed, kind of confused, but for one reason or another, I just remember feeling impressed, though I wasn’t really sure why. In fact it took me a while of mulling it over in my brain to get to a point where I could understand why I was so connected to that moment. Why I… why I loved it so much.

I realize it was that senior girl’s complete lack of concern, her inability to be grossed out, and her sincere concern for this other kid. It does make sense, as a death from choking would have put a serious damper on the pie-eating contest.

But it wasn’t until later in my life, having seen similar moments, or experienced them myself that I started to tie them back to that pie eating contest.

As I have grown up (kind of) and evolved (barely) I have become fascinated by people who are unconcerned with trivial matters. I am so interested in the people who manage to see through nonsense to the core of the matter, like they’ve been through it before.

I think it’s the opposite of blowing things out of proportion. I see the same things in mothers of young children. They are so used to spitup and snot, that the appearance of it doesn’t make them freak out, it’s just another grouping of seconds in an otherwise normal day.

I have seen that same quality in my friends who completely keep their cool when I seem incapable of regaining mine. I have seen it in the people around me who seem nearly oblivious to the things that seem to constantly embarrass me. When they have questioned me as to why I was embarrassed, I have blanked.

I don’t know really, I guess just… because I always have been?

It is perhaps, in time, easier to distill the significance of moments, or lack thereof. But when in that actual moment it is far more challenging. At least it has been for me. And I will constantly be impressed by those people around me who are able to accept the passing events of life as completely expected and normal, even when others may not.

The pie-eating contest happened over 15 years ago, but the moment is still as clear in my mind as it was when I watched it happen.

I think about it a lot. It’s not a tremendously impressive story, especially since I watched it from the sidelines, but in many of ways, it is my favorite story.

I tell it to people once in a while, trying to get them to see the series of events the way I see them, the things that I love about that moment. Many times though I fall short in this endeavor. For whatever reason, the people I tell this story to just don’t see it the way I do.

And that’s probably fine, since sometimes my storytelling is devoid of crucial elements, like my understanding of why the story should be interesting in the first place.

But that silly moment, where a seventh grader spit pie into the hands of a 12th grader on a random Friday night in October, sits in the middle of my memory as both history and guide. It is a moment that might never mean anything to anybody else.

But it’s something that will stick in my memory the way my favorite parts of my life do. And I will always revel in how I loved that moment before I understood it, and for a long time after I did.

A New York Story


It was a Saturday. My friends started showing up a little before 6:30 pm. They were gathering at my apartment to do a reading for the web series I’ve been working on. After almost a year of delays we were getting the cast back together, along with some new additions, and I was very excited.

It’s the kind of gathering that drives my soul. Take one part creativity, five parts friends, three parts wine, and you have a tremendous evening on your hands.

As I opened the door to let my friends into my apartment I noticed there seemed to be a scent of bad cooking in the air. I am very fortunate to live above somebody who frequently cooks delicious smelling meals. However, every once in a while they have a miss and what they prepare smells less than extraordinary. I though it unfortunate that it should coincide with my reading but once in the apartment we couldn’t smell it anymore.

The reading goes tremendously. There is laughter and stories and more laughter. A couple of people take off early but we sit around drinking and talking.

At around 10:30 my buzzer rings. Through the peephole I can see police officers. I am confused because we aren’t being that loud at all. I open the door and the officer asks me if I know the person in the apartment across the hall. They point to the apartment of the guy who I’ve seen maybe twice. The guy who plays his TV way too loud.

No I say, I don’t.

He says my neighbor called them because there was an awful smell coming from his apartment. He tells me that heard us talking in my apartment and wanted to see if we knew anything. I tell him no and he wishes me a good evening.

The evening continues. We joke about the smell. We make extremely lewd jokes about it. The jokes continue as everybody files out and heads home.

The next morning, slightly hungover, but extremely satiated from wonderful time with my friends I am awoken to the sound of drilling.

I make my way to my door and look through the peephole to see my two Supers drilling into the apartment across the hall.

It is at this point that I realize the smell is much stronger than the previous night and has infiltrated my entire apartment. It’s not just bad it’s excessive. Somewhat like rotting fish but far more significant, as though this smell has the ability to reach more corners of my nose.

On my way out to get a bagel I ask my Supers what’s going on but they don’t respond, caught up in their seemingly amateur approach to opening this door. Why don’t they just call a locksmith? Wouldn’t that be simpler?

As I walk out of the building I pass my neighbor who called the police. I ask him what’s going on.

The smell is awful, it’s gotten into our kitchen, and it stinks.
Well, I’m glad you called the police then.

And then I am off to get my bagel.

I return about 90 minutes later. And since I have recommitted myself to living a healthier lifestyle, I climb the six flights of stairs to my apartment. By the time I get to my floor the smell is just as bad if not worse, and my supers are still there however they have stopped working.

Their tools are on the ground.

The lock has been pushed through the door leaving a hole no more than three inches in its place. And Raul, in his mangled English, calls to me.

Richie, look. Look here.

He points to the hole in the door. He gestures the way you might tell a child to look into a bird’s nest to see the new eggs. I lean over slightly to look through it. He urges me on again.

Look, look!

Hesitant I inch closer, feeling slightly like this is some sort of antique peep show where you pay a quarter to look at a strange picture inside of a box.

Bending over to peer through a tiny hole, which leads to the location of an unbearable scent makes me physically, visibly nervous. I hesitate again before getting closer, not sure what to anticipate.

But I do get closer. I bring my eyes to the level of the hole in the door. And I see it.

A body.

Lying on it’s back, visible from knees to chest, belly protruding from the shirt.

Dead.

He dead Richy.

And then it hits me; the worst fear of some of my friends, something that we laugh at it when we see it in movies has come true.

Suppose nothing happens to you? Suppose you live there your whole life and nothing happens? You never meet anybody, you never become anything and finally you die one of those New York deaths where nobody notices for two weeks until the smell drifts into the hallway.
-Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally

I’m suddenly part of an urban legend, the plot line of an episode of Law and Order. Overheard in the city. All of that. Except real. Realer than I could ever imagine.

I move quickly back into my apartment. Trembling. Shaking. I call one friend, I text another. I chat with others online. Somebody contextualize what this means. Somebody explain this.

The smell is no longer just bad it has taken on a whole new level. It haunts me. It makes me over think things. I am spooked. I am disgusted. I am terrified.

I light candles. One, two, five. I spread them around the room. They don’t mask the smell with it. They mix with it. Infuse it. I try to sit next to the window. I make phone calls. I try to distract myself.

There is nothing on the planet powerful enough to distract me from the smell of a dead body. Words flash through my head.

Rotting.

Corpse.

How long was he there? How long had he been dead? Was it drugs? Alcohol? Certainly not foul play since the door was still locked. It takes the coroner 7 hours to finally remove the body from the apartment.

In that time no less than 3 different detectives and police officers ring my bell. Two different ones ask me questions; one asks to use my toilet.

They ask me if I knew anything about my neighbor. I tell them all the same thing, only that I never saw him but he played his TV loud all the time.

And that’s when it strikes me. Of all my neighbors he was the only one I thought about every morning when I left for work and every night when I got home.

What is he watching? Why is it so loud? Why is he watching TV so early? Every day, never a change.

His body leaves and eventually so does the scent, replaced with a broken door with a duck taped over hole, and a green sticker that seals the door and reminds me that where I live, yet again, will never be the same.


Phantom Vibrations


I noticed it for the first time when I went to South America a couple of years ago. After 3 flights and nearly 24 hours of travel I had arrived in Santiago, Chile without my luggage. To kill time I took a walk around the city to start my day.

I was soaking up the sights and sounds when I felt my phone vibrate. I reached my hand into my pocket and… nothing. My phone hadn't vibrated because there was no phone. My phone didn't work internationally and there was no reason to have it with me so it was turned off and buried in the bottom of my backpack where it would remain until I returned to the states.

So if my phone wasn't in my pocket why did I feel this phantom ring?

It happened to me several more times that trip and it was weird, kind of spooky. Like I had a haunted thigh.

I was in South America for over two weeks and by the time I left the phantom vibrations had tapered off. I had very much realized that there was no phone in my pocket and the only vibrations were in my brain. But since that trip phantom vibrations happen to me regularly.

Part of it makes sense because I rarely have my phone on anything but vibrate. I used to have specialized ringtones for all of my friends but stopped doing that when I realized how much effort it was.

It's not saying that I don't love my friends and think they are all deserving of individual recognition... it's just that they are all equal in my eyes.

Ahem, moving on.

But what started as a coincidental observation in South America has turned into something more. I check my phone way too often. Sometimes it does vibrate but I don't feel it. I use this as a reason to justifying checking my phone every other minute. Perhaps it is not hyperbole to call it an addiction. What else do I do 20 or 30 or… 50 times a day?

It's the only activity that's normal to do that frequently. If I wanted to know if it was raining, I might check online, or look out the window. But if walked over to the window 30 times a day to see if it was raining, people would think I was a mental patient.

If my phone were a person, our conversations would go like this.

Hey do I have an email?
No.
Hey do I have a text?
No.
Hey did somebody tweet at me?
No.
What about an email?
No.
Are you sure?
Yes.
And still no texts?
No.
Do you want to check if I have any emails?
::punch::

Yes from time to time I do get some important emails. Perhaps my bank balance is low, or somebody needs a last minute favor, or a friend is unexpectedly in town, but on the whole as embarrassing as it is to say… my life isn't that important.

There aren't teams of people running around asking each other

What would Rich Boehmcke do? What does he think? We should email him immediately and find out.

And now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I don't want teams of people wondering that.

Sometimes I will pull my phone out of my pocket and if the little green light in the upper right hand corner isn't blinking I will just put it back in my pocket. And in my head I will congratulate myself for resting the temptation to turn on the screen just to make sure.

Like this is some kind of great life accomplishment.

I pretty much did the same thing when I was down at my parents house this weekend. They live in a quiet part of South Carolina and going down there is absolutely relaxing. Their development is super quiet, nobody has anything to do, I just sit on the porch and chill.

I take this as an opportunity to not carry my phone around all the time. An added bonus of this is I no longer have a super hot nuclear generator toxic electro wave distribution power plant pressed up against my leg for much of the day. I am absolutely terrified of the as yet unknown effects of carrying a cell phone around all day so the chance to have it not pressed up against my flesh 2/3 of the day is a welcome relief.

But even when I take my phone out of my pocket and leave it in my room, throughout the day I will still walk past my phone and glance at it.

WHAT AM I EXPECTING TO SEE?

Even when I do have an email, 999 out of 1,000 times it is some unenlightening mailing list I subscribe to, or a bank update, or something else I don't even care about. But somehow that little frigging green light makes me feel validated. Like every time it blinks it says:

Richyouarespecial Richyouarespecial Richyouareloved

When I was in South America, or any of the other times I've left the country, I have had no problem leaving my phone in my luggage until I get back home. Because I WANT to unplug. I like stepping away from technology and connection. I like being off the grid for a while. I like taking the time to soak up things like conversations and scenery and ya know… life.

And when there is no chance of being contacted, I don't worry about what might being going on elsewhere. I went to Fiji earlier this year and not only did I not care about email or Facebook or texts, but I also couldn't stay awake for the entire day and I fell asleep every night by 10.

But for some reason, if there is even a remote possibility that somebody might potentially have a fraction of a reason to get in touch with me… man it is all I can do to avoid checking my phone every 90 seconds like I am about to get a text from Jesus.

What I really need to do is realize that if there IS actually something important about to happen, I can always just take out my phone and hold it in my hand, crank up the volume and wait for said event to occur.

But again, the chance of that happening is pretty slim. Considering there are no Victoria's Secret Models, Hollywood Producers, or Renaissance patrons of the arts who have my phone number.

So if there is a chance, a slim, fractional, remote chance that somebody… anybody, wonders what would Rich Boehmcke do?

Well, I'll answer them now. He'd probably just check his email.

Train Science

I am on my way to my birthday dinner in Manhattan. I enter the subway and get down to the platform just as an F train is pulling into the station. I hop on the train and grab a seat between a couple of white college looking kids and a middle aged black man.

The train has barely left the station when a homeless man enters the car and starts singing a song about chicken.

Kind of.

He is “playing” the harmonica and I can’t really tell what he is saying but it sounds like he is singing the song “Feelings” except every time the word ‘feelings’ should appear, he is using the word ‘chicken.’ It is apparently an appeal for somebody to give him some food.

Typically in this situation I don’t make eye contact, I just look down, which is what I am doing now.

I have my legs crossed and am staring at my knee as the homeless man works his way through the train asking people for money. Of course I was the only one he touched on the knee. I can’t stop staring at my knee praying for something else to happen.

So he passes through our car and moves on to the next. The black man to my right takes this as his cue to rant about how dumb it is to sing about chicken.

I have no iPod with me, no reading materials. I can’t even pretend to be immersed in anything. I had planned to lose myself in self-reflective birthday thoughts, but instead I am suddenly part of a conversation I am not participating in.

The black guy next to me is cracking jokes and being extremely loud about the homeless man who just left the train. He is hitting me on the arm like we are old buddies. It is when I turn to acknowledge him that I smell the hot wind of brandy.

And sure enough he pulls out a fifth of V.S.O.P. wrapped in a black plastic bag and takes a big sip.

I don’t say anything, I just smile politely and nod.

The two white kids to my left however, see this as an opportunity to make a new friend. So now drunk guy on my right, and white kids on my right are talking. The white kids start using slang they hadn’t been using before, saying things like “you gotta do what you gotta do” and using words like “hustle.”

My mouth remains shut. And then the drunk guy starts talking about his career in Mortuary Science.

Yep that’s right, he’s a mortician.

And anybody can do it too. Do you know how I know? Well because my new friend tells me right off the bat that he did ten years in prison before getting his Mortuary Science degree and if he can do it, anybody can do it.

He says other things as well but all I can focus on is the fact that I have never sat this close to anybody who has been to prison.

But he goes on. Being a mortician is quite easy. He shares that all you need to do is take the glue and plug the holes.

It’s just all holes. Nose holes, ear holes, pee holes.

At this point the white kids are just eating this stuff up. I have yet to speak but they are asking all kinds of questions. Where he went to school, when he went to school, etc.

And he's not quiet. He is talking loudly, not yelling exactly, but the train is quiet and his voice carries. And I imagine the rest of the train is just as eager to hear his story as we are.

He then tells us a story about how when you die it is possible to die with an erection. How does our friend know this? Well apparently a girl in his Mortuary Science class got kicked out of school for having sex with a cadaver.

And then he makes gigantic masturbatory gesticulations while laughing wildly.

At this point my insides are folding themselves into origamied discomfort.

I also learn that he loves being a mortician it because the gas that preserves dead bodies gets you high:

Ya know because it’s basically just Angel dust. That’s true!

He says that aside from the fact that he gets high, a dead body is

The worst smelling shit of your life. And women stink more than men because…

I’ll spare you the details on that one.

I still have not spoken but the white kids keep egging him on and making puns, acting like this was the first black person they have ever spoken to in their life.

You know what they say about Mortuary Science, people are dying to get into it.

I am so uncomfortable yet I am about as still as a cadaver, somehow thinking that will make this stop. But it doesn’t.

He’s doing quite well for himself. Apparently he is making $120,000 a year but he really wants to go back to school for autopsies.

Because you know, basically I’m a doctor then.

I nod. Because that is the only thing my body will let me do. But now I’m straining my neck trying to see what kind of watch he has on, trying to indiscreetly check out his sneakers. I am trying to gage if this guy is making six figures why is he sitting on a train drinking a fifth of brandy.

He touches on other topics like how he has no idea how to use a computer. And then, he asks me a direct question, which means I have to actually speak. He asks me what I am in school for. I tell him I have been working for six years.

The only benefit of this is he can stop telling me to major in Mortuary Science. But he doesn’t stop leaning into me, over me, exhaling his 80 proof beliefs upon my ears.

Eventually he tells me it makes sense that he hangs out with dead bodies because:

You know, I done killed some ninjas.

Except he didn’t say ninjas. Understand?

So now my heart is in a full out rave panic mode as I try to comprehend when this train ride is going to end and how I am going to get away from the mass murdering mortician who spent a decade in prison.

The train pulls into Queensbridge and he tells us this is his stop. He then gives us all five and leaves us with this piece of advice.

Get into mortuary science.

Then he stood up and I saw he was wearing a Spider-Man t-shirt.

The Dump

Slang words are funny. They sometimes arise unintentionally. Nicknames are the same way. One day all of a sudden everybody has a new name for something you’ve always known as something else. Maybe people do it because it’s easier or shorter, but then again, maybe they shouldn’t do it at all.

In South Carolina where my parents live there is a recycling center. It is a place where people from the local community can bring their bottles, cans, newspapers and other recyclable items, deposit them, and know they are helping the environment.

The facility is outdoors and is quite large. It is basically a big loop that has over a dozen different large size waste receptacles to accept all of the items people bring. People drive in and park next to the bin they need utilize and then move on to the next one, or go home, or go to lunch. I don’t know, I don’t follow them.

The official name of the facility is something like the Municipal Recycling and Waste Facility. But my parents, as well as other members of the community, refer to it simply as “The Dump.”

I imagine the person or people who work at the Municipal Recycling and Waste Facility don’t refer to it as the dump. I mean it’s really just a pride thing I imagine. I just can’t see somebody deliberately explaining to people that they work at a dump. Or not a dump, the dump.

THE DUMP!

It’s not a term that is completely new to me. Growing up my family would use that term to refer to several different locations. One of which included a house on our block belonging to the crazy guy who collected newspapers.

Now while he collected newspapers, I wouldn’t call it “a collection” by any means. You see his house was kind of the blight of our block. In a very suburban neighborhood filled with modest sized homes with manicured lawns, this crazy man was an anomaly. His house was probably the same size as every other, though nobody could really be sure because the bushes outside his house had grown to such epic proportions it actually looked like he lived in a hedge with a door.

I don’t know what the inside of his house looked like… because I value my life. But if the inside of his car was any reflection of the inside of his house, then yes, his house was a dump.

His car was a shitty light blue Honda so packed with newspapers and trash that I find it hard to believe a normal human being could fit, or would want to fit in it. But to call crazy guy a normal human would be a drastic overstatement.

I never got really close to that car because I was terrified of what might happen to me if I ever got within sniffing distance, but I remember as we would drive by I would just stare in disbelief wondering what the hell he was doing with all of those newspapers.

Whenever I saw crazy guy he was always carrying newspapers under his arm, like they were files and he was off to a very important meeting. And he was always in the library too. I remember somebody telling me that he was a college professor. But even if he was a professor of current events, I find it hard to believe that such a position would require such an extensive permanent collection of current events.

Or perhaps he was a professor of newspapers, or crumpling up stuff. Regardless, there was always infinitely more going into his house than ever came out. And thus my family referring to his house as a dump seemed justified.

Even still, we would never use that place to benchmark where our home was. We lived near a school, or the pizza place, or the park. We never said we lived by his dump of a house.

This however, is not a theory that one of my friends subscribes too. This friend of mine lives in South Carolina near the Municipal Recycling and Waste facility. I was unaware of this. So I was surprised that upon asking her where she lived, she responded with:

Do you know where the dump is?

I stopped her right there. Wait a minute. First of all, I did not know where the dump was, but at this particular moment that fact was extremely irrelevant.

Even if you do live near the dump, around the corner, down the block, underneath, above, hell, even if you live IN the dump, you do not tell people that. You tell them that you are in the vicinity of the Municipal Recycling and Waste facility. You tell them that you are not far from the recycling plant. You reframe it in a positive light. You do not tell people you live near the dump! Unless of course you don’t want people coming to visit you, which could very well be a great strategy for keeping people away.

But let’s say there is no other name for the facility. Let us say that you live near an actual dump with a sign outside that says:


Dump
(There is no other name for this place)

You find another landmark! Even if it is just you and the dump for 50 miles in every direction, you say:

Oh do you know where the Burger King is in downtown Atlanta? I’m about 250 miles north of there.

Hell, make up a landmark. But for Pete’s sake do not tell somebody you live behind, next to, near, around, close to, in the vicinity of, or remotely close to: The Dump!

Because you know what? That guy on my block, the one who collected newspapers and rifled through other people’s trash, the guy whose hair looked like he had always just woken up from a nap, with the shrubs outside his house the size of national monuments, that guy did live in a dump but I bet you he sure didn’t tell people that.

Or maybe he did. He was pretty crazy.

Musical Stinkeye

Nothing makes me more likely to give somebody the stink eye than overhearing their mp3 player blast music at ridiculous volumes while I am riding the subway.

Now it’s not because I don’t like music. In fact I love music. I loooooooove music. It helps me write, it helps me think, it is fantastic. But that is my music. Not your music.

The longer I live (and subsequently the closer I come to being a crotchety old man) the more it seems people are listening to their music at absolutely intolerable levels.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell who it is too. It’s not the person grooving around and jiving in their seat. No, that person is just crazy. I’m fine with them.

The person blasting a concert into their noggin is the person who is completely still and facing straight ahead of them barely even acknowledging that there appears to be a live performance going on in their cochlea.

Logic says that if somebody is doing something that annoys you, you should say something. But I don’t use a logic based approach, I use a fear based one. And the fear based approach says don’t say anything because this person might stab you.

Even though it’s quite possible this level of volume is affecting many people not just myself. So why should I be the only one who gets stabbed? But then, if the person did stab everyone on the train, then I would probably be held responsible, and that’s just something my conscience can’t take.

But my desire to make it stop has actually been replaced by a different desire… to ask them if it bothers them.

Listening to music at that level can’t be enjoyable can it? Unless they are dead. And judging by the lack of movement that’s entirely possible.

Because I just honestly believe there isn't a need for 285 decibels of meringue music at 7:15 in the morning. But hey maybe I'm the crazy one. I want to say:

Excuse me sir, but you are going to go very deaf very quickly! For your own sake you should turn that down.

I mean it’s not that I don't enjoy hearing a tambourine from 50 feet away (honestly it’s great, thank you for that) its just, well, is it really necessary?

I can understand how people may not always want to listen to other people’s conversations or hear the sound of the train on the tracks. But its 2011, and while the train can be noisy, and at times, very screechy, there has got to be a better answer than hearing somebody rap so loud it makes my clavicle shake.

Sometimes I do want to hear music that loud. Maybe say, when I am dancing out the weeks frustrations at 2 am. But there is a huge difference between 2 am, and 7:15 am.

How come the person blasting their music is never listening to like... Beethoven or... a really hilarious comedian, or.... sounds of the enchanted rainforest.

No its always like, 'guy screams curse words outside an exploding car horn factory.' Just once, ONCE, I would like to hear a waterfall, ocean waves, hell I would settle for 'sounds from a leaky pipe' if just to get a bit of variety.

But knowing my luck I would probably get the guy who bought ‘dogs barking at nothing' because he misses his time growing up next to the pound.

Isn't music supposed to relax us? Frankly it seems like the people on the train who are listening to music are trying to get amped up for something.

But what? We are all trapped on this same tramped train for the next 45 minutes. We are not going to start moshing. There will be no tickle fights. What are you getting so excited for? Relax. RELAX DAMN IT.

The sheer volume and duration of exposure has to be harmful. I mean, it has to be causing brain damage... right? I mean in 5 years you almost are going to have to be stupid. I mean, I know you are in high school but by the time you get to college I have a feeling you won't be worrying about things like passing calculus you will be worrying about things like… how to zip up your pants. I can't imagine brain damage is going to be cool. I imagine these individuals saying things like:

Look how much times I can shut the door on my hand without cryings.

I have yet to mention the people who listen to music on speakerphone. They don’t even utilize their headphones. They must think to themselves:

Hey ya know what? I like bad music. I bet everyone else on this train does too!

And perhaps the worst of all are the people who don’t have headphones or even have a song to listen to. So instead of just engaging in something productive like thinking or drooling, they take the time to cycle through and test (aloud) every single frigging ring tone on their phone.

Seriously? I mean are you completely unaware of your impact on the universe. I surprised that you are not also walking around with a bag full of live squawking parrots while blowing a whistle.

I am sure you had a rough day madam. And that sampling all of the ringtones on your pink bedazzled phone that looks like it belongs to a cacophonous 14-year-old girl relaxes you. But ironically and amazingly it does not relax me. In fact it does very much the opposite. It makes me to rip the sparkles off of your phone one by one and then check your phone into the sea.

But hey maybe I just don't understand the future. I mean it’s quite obvious I don't understand the present. I can hear it though. That is for damn sure.

Interweb Confusion

Based on the kind of communication I’ve experienced I’ve come to the conclusion that the Internet is kind of like a bar. There are people from all different walks of life, it’s really too dark to see anybody’s face, and everybody is drunk.

There is no filter on the Internet, people can just say whatever they want. Add into the fact that there are tons of people spamming you; the confusion of tone in emails and typos, there is nothing but nonsense in store for you every single time you log on to the Internet. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s not, but it’s almost always ridiculous.

I received one of my favorite spam emails recently. Not to brag but I regularly receive emails from women in other countries looking to start a relationship with me. I mean rumors of my charms have obviously spread far and wide over the web. Why else would I receive the following email?

Hello!

My name is Anastasia.
I want to search my love. I want to search the man for long relations. I want to have serious relations and the real love. Therefore if you do not want it that you should not answer my message. Maybe learning more about each other we can have real relations. I shall write more about myself and send you my photo if you will interest on my letter.

You can answer me to my address:peefoy@yahoo.com
Earlier I do not use dating service, therefore I want excuse for you if I have made it not good.

I hope to speak with you soon,
Anastasia.

I had to laugh because even though Anastasia was probably a robot, she still knew that what men really want is “long relations” whatever that means. It made me think of an email I got back when I still worked at the magazine.

I was a part of a small department that was not hiring at the time. We received a job application directly to our department from a young woman who lived in Georgia… the country. Granted this young woman wasn’t applying for a particular position, she just sent us an email unsolicited. It was quite a, let’s say “unique” approach.

The email included a resume that was a hodge podge of very confusing schooling and experience. Not only because all of her experience was from Georgia, but also because her English was beyond awful. It was like trying to decipher an Eastern European puzzle.

Oh and she included 2 pictures of herself.  In a bathing suit. Which made me believe she either didn’t know what we did, or, the job application process was extremely different in Georgia.

We might have ruled it out as a simple spam had she not applied 2 more times. We didn’t respond because, well, what do you say to a woman in a bikini from another country that doesn’t speak English?

Sorry, you don’t have 1 single qualification.

But sometimes our communication gets skewed because we try and pass it through one too many filters. My favorite example of this is my experience with Google Voice.

For those of you who don’t know, Google Voice is a free service that translates your voicemails and sends it to you in an email and/or a text message.

I admire Google’s advances in all things Internet. But I must say that their advances in speech recognition are slightly behind. Instead of helping me to understand what the voicemail actually says, it just makes me laugh. Here are a few examples of voicemails (according to Google Voice) that I have received.

Office attacks you back. I think like 2 minutes.

I’ve had bad days at work, but my entire office has never attacked me before. And I had never attacked it. This was a false alarm.

Hey Ricketts

Hands down the worst mispronunciation of my first name. Ever.

R. E. T. V I totally with the big grid from 1,008 9 Y contact with the kind of highly disappointments. It's like read something your time now. We have a fact. So I don't know if you have. Maybe later. My name is HI. Thank you, such. Okay, good to everybody Obviously, the speed about your What your area. I'm concerned, since I read about it. I don't talk to you. I hope you are internet possibly happened. And hey. Seriously, hope you have a great birthday. Her, Cleo soon. If I see.

The only thing I managed to gather from this lengthy email was that it was my birthday. Even though I’m not sure I even got this on my birthday.

A lot of wonderful please and fabulous trip lots of putty in your future.

Lots of putty in my future? That sounds like a fortune cookie from a first grader’s birthday party.

8 minutes of ceiling.

Oh… OK.

I know if you're still gonna be crazy in that. So I totally get that Shannon who. If you are now have a free time. Anyway, call me, feel free. Otherwise, you can just chat when you look after 10. Now I'm going to so excited for you and I can't wait to read your baby. So Arthur, I'm if for some reason you could give me if I get from now. I read it on my 3 on a flight on Thursday and hit the meaning of her the changes. I'm sure I can get the gist of it. So think about it. Consider it. I'm pretty. I'd like to. Thanks.

My baby? I don’t have a baby. Nor would I want someone to “read” it. And I am glad you are pretty. This is key to friendship.

I feel like I've had like 22 batteries in South.

Don’t we all.

It seems the longer the voicemail the more absolutely incomprehensible it gets. Its almost like the machine just says, oh screw it, there’s no way I’m going to get all of this. But I still use it, because it makes me laugh.

I think a voicemail I actually left for my friend actually sums it up best.

Friday refuse. I meet you. I'm trying to teach english well. There's a feeling. Pretty good.

I’m not sure what that feeling is but as long as it is pretty good, well, I’ll have no need for those long relations.

Is That A Camera In Your Pocket?


The shift from summer to Fall in New York City is always different. Sometimes it is abrupt, sometimes prolonged. But one thing always makes it easy to tell that summer has left is the fact that the 750 Billion tourists who visit New York with their cameras, are gone.

I’ve been doing a lot of filming around the city lately. Not in the touristy way of “Oh my gosh those people are doing hip hop dancing on the street, I have to film this!” And not in the “QUIET ON THE SET” type of way either. The filming I have been doing is more project based. Videos for contests, friends’ companies, and things like that.

I mean I still stop and watch the hip hoppers, I just don’t film them.

Filming in the city is a very interesting experience. If you spend any amount of time walking around the city you will see 2 things. The first is a movie set. You see them all over the city. I have seen the set for Gossip Girl nearly a half dozen times… which is kind of unrewarding because I don’t even watch Gossip Girl.

Seriously I don’t. What? Stop looking at me like that.

But if it’s not professional big budget movie/tv sets that you see, its amateur photogs, film makers, and students shooting every square corner of this fine city. I suppose it makes you feel like you are really somebody walking around the city with a camera. But as a passive observer, when you look at some of the other people walking around this city with cameras, you realize carrying a camera may not necessarily make you look like somebody.

The amount of tourists that roam around the city in Summertime seems to increase every year. But the amount of tourists that meander around Manhattan with digital cameras that cost thousands of dollars appears to have dramatically increased in the last couple of years.

And its not just expensive cameras, it is the expensive cameras with gigantic telephoto lenses attached.

Now you might be saying, but maybe they are press. Maybe they are here to take pictures of professional athletes. Maybe they work for the news.

I considered that. But press photographers typically don’t walk around 5th avenue with 7 Abercrombie bags wearing an I Love New York shirt and a camera lens so big it looks like it could tell the last time there was a high tide in the Sea of Tranquility.

What is so far away that they need to be taking pictures of? The whole point of coming to New York City is so you can see these things up close. Who comes to this city to get pictures of things that you want to stand far away from. That’s like going to a strip club to stand outside. I mean, like, other people. Not me, I’m, ya know… uh… moving on.

Like this guy whom I saw outside a taco shop near Union Square.


He stood there for a good 10 minutes looking around with his monstrosity hanging from his neck. I’m not sure if he was lost or just looking for something to take a picture of. Maybe people from other countries have stronger neck muscles than Americans. I don’t even like having change in my pocket. Anything heavier than a granola bar and I want a wagon to pull my stuff around town.

I mean lugging a 4 pound camera around a city all day just doesn’t seem like my idea of a good time. That is why I bought a video camera that I can fit in my back pocket.

Well, I mean that and the fact that I don’t have a couple of thousand dollars.

It is with this camera that I have recorded the last 6 or so videos I have posted up on my YouTube channel.

Recently I was working on a video in Central Park. Now I haven’t filmed a video in a park since the very first video contest I entered.

And the main reason is I am terrified of being arrested. I mean currently I owe the library some money and that is causing me massive stress. And that’s just the library. But New York City has very specific rules about filming in certain places and requiring permits for certain types of filming in specific locations.

So the last time we went to film I was very discrete about my tiny little camera and my cast of 7 that I was filming with. No giant telephoto lenses for me. It was guerilla film making at its finest. Well, as much as you can call 7 people lounging in the middle of the Sheep Meadow on a September day “guerilla.”

In fact the greatest threat came not from Johnny Law himself, but of the Asian Jungle Jim who was throwing a rather large glider plane around the meadow. He was dressed in a vest and explorers hat just hanging out by himself throwing a plane around, nearly hitting small children and unsuspecting loungers. He didn’t hit us but he came close.

But filming with a pocket sized camera doesn’t make you feel like some kind of fancy professional. It actually makes you feel kind of goofy. Like you are trying to fool people into believing you actually have a camera. Which in some cases, actually enhances the quality of your work so that you're not focusing on trying to appear like some fancy pants, but rather actually trying to make something decent.

But we actually succeeded in completing our Central Park project. I was happy with the way it came out. Hopefully it will lead to more projects doing videos for companies. And that way, maybe I too will be able to afford a 4 pound camera. And a wagon. I will need a wagon too.

But either way, enjoy the end result.




Toothpaste, Margarine and the Toilet Seat

I will honestly state that I do not make the best decisions. I regularly base my actions on ideas that seem to make sense to me but in hindsight appear to never have really made sense to me at all.

This is not a new thing. In fact there are several instances within my life that I can point to as being extremely ridiculous and lacking any intelligent base. There are 3 specific time periods in my life where I was making different poor decisions on a recurring basis.

The Toothpaste

When I was very little, back when my sister and I were still brushing our teeth at the same time to get ready for bed. We had Crest or Colgate toothpaste, and we’d stand in the bathroom scrubbing our chompers in our pajamas.

We’d put the toothpaste on the toothbrush first, then rinse it under water (and don’t you dare tell me you rinse the toothbrush first) and then commence our brushing.

Now the natural completion to brushing your teeth is to then spit that mouth full of foam into the sink and wash it way.

Not lil Richy Boehmcke. Nope, so sir, that was a mouth full of tasty I was processing. No I wanted the full experience. So I would swallow it.

I distinctly remember my sister yelling at me telling me not to do that because it was wrong. I didn’t understand why. How could something so delicious be wrong? Certainly she was mistaken.

She even told our parents. I think she told my father specifically who came in to the bathroom and wasn’t quite sure about what to say to me. I mean, it may have been gross but it certainly wasn’t a mean-spirited thing to do. It was my mouthful of toothpaste to do with as I wished.

Upon further research it would appear that swallowing toothpaste that you have used to brush your teeth is NOT advised, but that was not what stopped it for me. I guess I just lost interesting in swallowing the nasty I had just removed from my teeth… even if it did taste minty.

The Margarine

My family used to buy margarine. Specifically we bought a brand called promise. It came in a plastic tub with a swirl in the middle. I loved that swirl. I loved that swirl more than anything else in the fridge. I loved that swirl so much that I would get jealous as well as angry any time somebody would get to the swirl before me.

I’m sure my parents and sister thought there was something wrong with me. I mean, not just because of the way I looked, but also because I would throw mini tantrums any time I discovered a missing swirl.

It was for this reason that I started eating this swirl before the rest of my family could get to it. And I don’t just meeting being the first to spread it on toast. No, I mean I would sneak into the fridge and eat the swirl out of the tub of margarine before somebody else got to it.

Now I will be the first to admit that eating margarine straight from the tub is not a good idea. It is a very easy way to become the world’s fattest man. That was not my goal, I just needed that swirl.

I don’t’ even know how I fell in love with the swirl. But it’s kind of like falling in love with somebody from across the room and then immediately hating any man that talks to her. It was like that for me.

I’m not sure if I stopped eating that swirl first, or if we just stopped buying margarine. Either way it was for the best because I still think fondly off that swirl.

The Toilet Seat

And finally, there were about 4 years of my life where I did not sit on the toilet seat.

And trust me, I am well aware that nothing I can write here will make this make sense to you. I know this. But from about the time I was 7 until I was about 11 the toilet seat and my butt did not have a close relationship.

I don’t know how it happened or what cued up the initial thought. I just remember looking at the hole in the toilet seat and thinking to myself, “that doesn’t seem big enough.”

Granted a very cursory knowledge of the human body, and toilet seats for that matter, would make it easy to see that the toilet seat was working for the other 8 billion people on the planet, surely it would work for me.

But defying logical though is something I excel at and this time was no exception. I just didn’t feel comfortable sitting on a toilet seat. The confidence I needed to exist on that flat surface was just something I did not have. I don’t know how I lost that confidence, where it went, or why I didn’t think to speak to somebody about this.

What I do know, is that those 4 years of bathroom use were hands down the most stressful of my life. The threat of falling into a toilet was ever present as was the discomfort of that hard porcelain.

I imagine it is similar to being afraid of the dark. You don’t really remember when it started, or when it ended, you just are one day no longer afraid of the dark. Except, I am still kind of afraid of the dark, and any time I am in a dark completely black room I see that creepy chick from The Ring climbing out of mirrors and TVs and accosting me, and that’s something I absolutely cannot handle, so maybe this metaphor isn’t really doing the trick right now.

So my point is I just remember one day thinking to myself, well, let’s give the toilet seat another try. And just like that, after being estranged for 4 years, the toilet seat and I rekindled our relationship, thereby ending a string of extremely poor decision making that included consuming the inconsumable and poor hygienic decisions.

Granted it would be another 10 years before I had the experience of going #2 into a hole in the ground. That’s a story for another day. But even that wasn’t my poor decision making that was just a poor decision I was forced to make. Big difference.

Julie of J. Crew

I operate under the assumption that every customer service representative everywhere in the world, hates their job. I think it’s a pretty fair assumption. I mean if you think about it, you never call customer service to be like

OH MY GOD I LOVE YOUR PRODUCT

No, you call because the item in question is a piece of shit, doesn’t work, is broken, costs too much, didn’t do what it was supposed to, or gave you a splinter. So the people who work in customer service must anticipate nobody wants to say nice things to them… ever.

Hi thanks for calling customer service. What’s that you say? Oh you have a problem? Wow, I’m shocked, please, proceed to yell at me for the next 20 minutes.

In fact everybody in America is so fed up with dealing with everybody else in America that there is literally nobody left in America to be mad at you. We had to outsource that to another country that isn’t yet fed up with us calling to be pissed off.

Most of the times those calls are really confusing and don’t accomplish much since yelling at someone 5,000 miles away is probably not going to get you to speak with their manager.

But recently when I have issues (which, who are we kidding, I have issues daily) I have been redirected to the online chat feature. I don’t mind this so much. Most of the time it is some robot sending you a link. But sometimes, you get a human. And when I do get a human, oh man, I become about as ridiculous as humanly possible.

Like when I had questions for J.Crew recently. It was extremely late at night so I was a bit loopy, but as you will see, the woman on the other end of the chat was fantastic. Naturally I saved it.

Richard: Hi Julie how is your evening going?
Julie: Hello...fine
Richard: lol that doesn't sound too wonderful
Julie: Sorry, I am doing well.
Richard: You don't have to lie on my account, we all have those days no worries.
Richard: Tell me Julie, how is your knowledge about shirts?
Julie: Thanks for waiting--will be with you in just a moment.  
Richard: Oh no worries at all. I'm sure there's not many people around to answer questions at this hour.
Julie: I'm sorry for the delay--will be right with you.  
Richard: Please, please, take your time. Like I said, they are just shirts. They are not going anywhere. Well, I mean, hopefully for your business sake they do get sold ya know?
Julie: Thanks for your patience.
Julie: Are we speaking of men's dress shirts?
Richard: Indeed we are Julie!
Julie: I do have some knowledge and I also have exact measurements for each garment we sell, except for shoes, that is.
Richard: Well quite the good thing I am not in the market for shoes tonight, at least not shoes from J Crew
Richard: I am curious about shirts that are slimmer than your classic fit.
Julie: I'll be right with you.
Richard: Oh absolutely Julie, like I said, this isn't a shirt emergency.
Richard: I have very few of those.
Julie: You would then be looking for those listed as 'Regular Fit' which is a more tailored fit.
Julie: By the way, my software sends those messages automatically. I hope they aren't annoying you.
Richard: Lol no not at all.
Richard: I find them quite entertaining, I'm actually surprised you are a human.
Julie: 100% human guaranteed.
Richard: I bought furniture from a site that was all automated responses. It was like talking to Rain Man.
Julie: :)
Julie: We also sell a Men's Slim.
Richard: Now about these regular fit shirts, do you know what the actual different in inches is from the classic fitting shirts?
Richard: Ah yes, my question also applies to those slim fit shirts.
Julie: If you'll bear with me for just a minute, I will give you some details. OK?
Richard: I will bear with you Julie.
Richard: I place my complete shirt trust in you, Julie of J. Crew.
Julie: What size would you normally wear? S,M,L,?
Richard: I usually fit into a medium comfortably
Julie: Great...just a few moments.
Richard: Fantastic
Richard: I imagine you have quite the shirt handbook over... well... wherever you are.
Julie: I'll be right with you.
Julie: Ok...I have some numbers.
Richard: Fire at will.
Julie: For the Regular fit medium the chest circumference is 45", waist 42.5", sleeve length-shoulder seam to cuff-25.875" and neck 16.25.
Julie: For the SlimFit medium chest is 43.5", waist is 41", sleeve is 26" and neck is 16.25".
Julie: So, I guess it's 1 1/2 inches slimmer.
Richard: and what is the classic fit, if you have that number?
Julie: Ok...another minute please
Richard: Quite the wild goose chase if you will.
Julie: I'm sorry for the delay--will be right with you.  
Julie: Ok...classic fit medium is chest 47", waist 44.5", sleeve 25.5" and neck is the same 16.25".
Richard: So I guess no matter how skinny you are we all have the same size neck huh?
Julie: Looks that way...sorry.
Richard: Oh no worries, you didn't make the shirt...necks.
Julie: Does that help you determine which one you need?
Richard: It certainly does Julie. I can't thank you enough for your diligence and your commitment to problem solving.
Julie: It's my pleasure, especially for such a nice gentleman.
Julie: Is there anything else I can help with?
Richard: If I knew how to do some sort of virtual bow, I would.
Richard: No, alas I believe our time here has come to a close.
Richard: Unless there is some question you have that I can answer.
Richard: I can't imagine what that would be though.
Julie: Well, thanks for taking the time to chat with me and for shopping with J.Crew. Anytime you need help, just ask.
Richard: Brilliant. Enjoy your evening, I hope it continues well past more than just... well.
Julie: Thanks for waiting--will be with you in just a moment.  
Richard: lol naturally.

Quite a pleasant exchange we had. My only regret is that I didn’t get her phone number or email. I could use a new friend. Especially one who knows about shirts.

What the Beep?!

What makes you crazy? I’m not talking about disgruntled or upset. And I’m not talking about just a little bit crazy. I’m talking crazy crazy. So crazy that you want to physically express your crazy in a way that is not socially acceptable. I’m talking so crazy that you want to rip a manhole cover out of the street and chuck it through the display window of a GAP.

Is it something that people do to you?  Is it rudeness? People who are impolite? Maybe its poor manners or poor hygiene that makes you want to lose your shit so badly that you turn green and rip your purple pants.

Maybe it is a combination of things. There are dozens if not hundreds of things that annoy us as human beings, and I am no exception. I get pissed off over dumb stuff. I’ve mentioned many of them here, but most of them I’d rather not admit because, well, I like to pretend I’m a better person that I actually am. But there is one thing that I cannot deal with.

It is not an emotion, or a behavior, but a sound. It is a sound so detestable and awful that it makes my blood pressure spike. It makes me want to clothesline bikers as they ride past me and knock out crossing cards with my backpack. It’s not nails on a chalkboard, or breaks screeching, or a baby crying. No, the sound that makes me bat shit crazy is the sound of horns honking.

Now I haven’t had a car for several years now and it has been equally as long since I drove regularly. And as I have mentioned several times before, I really don’t mind not having a car. Looking for places to park, general maintenance, paying for gas; I don’t miss any of that. But I didn’t realize until recently is being a regular driver had given me a kind of immunity to horns and horn honking.

But being a pedestrian, a human not protected by the security of a 4 wheeled transportation device, has made me realize how much I hate horns.

I could be having the best day ever, crossing the street wearing an Armani suit while eating a free ice cream cone given to me by a Victoria’s Secret underwear model I met on a first class flight back from Bali.

But if in the course of eating that ice cream cone, some superturd leans on his horn for more than an 1/8 of a second, my immediate reaction is that I want to kick in his window and jam my ice cream cone (cone first) into his eyeball.

It brings forth an anger and intensity in me that should be reserved for chucking a keg over a 20 foot wall in a strong man competition or fighting off Orcs in Middle Earth.

It is like an “instant crazy” button I don’t know exists until it’s pushed and then all I can think is;

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I think the large majority of the population has come to see the horn as a necessary part of driving, kind of like a hand gesticulation, as opposed to something that should be used sparingly.

I can understand that in the beginning of cars, there was not much technology so the horn could only do so much. But we have come so far over the year. I think its time we made some changes. I have a couple I would like to see put into play immediately.

1. Every car should come with a horn max limit. This limit would be certain time limit of horn honking a month. Let’s say 10 seconds. So every time you hit your horn, the amount of time you stay honking your horn is deducted from your monthly limit. If you don’t hit your monthly limit, you are fine, and perhaps the National Transportation Bureau mails you a little ribbon.

But if you however pass your 10 second horn limit… your car automatically explodes.

I think this would keep people to more honest horn honking. Right now there is wasteful horn honking. If you know you only have so much horn to honk, perhaps you would ration it better and not go honking willy nilly.

Also, the threat of imminent death helps.

Now I know that there are times when you don’t always want to honk. The sound of the horn, no matter how quickly it is pressed can be quite abrasive, and you might not want to use it if you are a kind and decent human being that doesn’t suck.

Sometimes you just need to give people a little nudge to wake up or pay attention.

That is where my second suggestion comes in.

2. I would implement a new button on the steering wheel. This button would be called the “Suggestion Beep.”

While the horn might be used for alerting civilians when you are about to crash into a bicycle with a basket full of golden retriever puppies, or if somebody is bearing down on you on a one way street, the Suggestion Beep would be used in situations of lesser danger.

Perhaps the light turns green and the person in front of you is not paying attention. Then you could push the Suggestion Beep and your car would see in a delightful British lilt;

Pardon me

Or

Hello there

Something nice and light just give the car in front of you a heads up.

But I am aware that the Suggestion Beep could be abused as well. Kind of like somebody who says excuse me is nice, but somebody who stands next to you saying “Excusemeexcusemeexcusemeexcusemeexcuseme” is someone you’d like to slap.

That is why we must create a reward system for the Suggestion Beep as well.

Those people that have a positive ratio of Suggestion Beeps to regular horn peeps would receive a ribbon in the mail every month.

Those people that overuse the Suggestion Beep, well… their cars would explode too.

And forgive me for not knowing what the limit of Suggestion Beeps is yet, this is an imperfect system and we are working on a trial and error basis. I would just recommend you take it easy on the Beeps until we have ironed out all the kinks.

And oh yea if your car explodes and you happen to survive it, you have to ride a unicycle. With a flag on it. No exceptions.

Does This Man Look Crazy?

I called 911 last week because I saw a crazy person.

I live in New York, no big whoop right?

OK well I didn’t call 911 exactly, but rather I was transferred to them. Here is how it happened.

I was leaving work on a summer Friday and was strolling along Central Park South, enjoying the sunshine, heat, and smell of horse manure from the handsome cabs lined up to squire tourists through the park.

I was walking amongst said tourists when I saw him heading my way. It was obvious he was very out of place.

He was a tall fellow, with long hair, a beard, and eyes that did not seem to be in agreement on which way to look. He was shuffling his feet and appeared to be extremely out of it.

What was most noticeable about him however was the fact that he appeared to be wearing 2 hospital gowns and he had a very recognizable hospital bracelet on his arm.

I couldn’t help but stare at him as he shuffled toward me. In passing I was able to absorb everything I just mentioned, while also at the same time taking an extra step or two away from him because the guy just looked crazy.

I passed him in a few seconds and looked over my shoulder to stare for a few seconds more. The hospital gown in and of itself could have just said homeless person to me, but the bracelet, that really through it over the edge.

And I started wondering if I should do something or call somebody.

Now, New York promotes safety and awareness by proliferating the phrase “If you see something, say something.” It is a great slogan, but this is a busy city. There is a LOT to see. So much so that it becomes hard to distinguish what you should actually say something about.

There are many things to see in New York. For instance, when I saw that man who was walking a dog who had a cat sitting on its back who had a mouse sitting on it’s back, I felt inclined to say something.

The time I was walking through Times Square and the black superman selling t-shirts pulled me in for an unexpected hug and I accidentally bit his head, I felt inclined to say something.

And recently, and perhaps most horrific, was the 300 pound woman I saw in Brighton Beach wearing a bikini. That was like 5 something’s, and I really wanted to say something.

But a man in a hospital gown with a hospital bracelet? Now that seemed like genuine cause for alarm. You don’t see that every day on Central Park South, or anywhere for that matter.

I had walked another 2 blocks before my paranoid conscience got the better of me. I figured it was best to do something as opposed to just wondering if the guy shuffling down the street was a violent criminal.

So I called 311.

For people living in New York, 311 is like the Google of questions and complaints. New York City promotes the number as pretty much a go to for anything and everything. Need the city to fix a pot hole? Call 311. Not sure when the buses are running? Call 311. The posters are everywhere.

So I figured I would call them.

After a fairly rigorous automated menu I finally got an operator. Seeing as this was my first time calling 311 I tried to keep a pretty level head. The conversation went something like this:

Operator: Hello 311 assistance how may I help you?
Rich: Hi, I was just walking on Central Park South and I saw a man in a hospital gown with a hospital bracelet and he looked pretty out of it shuffling along and I didn’t know if that was something I should tell you about.
Operator: You saw a man who looked like he escaped from a mental hospital? Yes absolutely.

So immediately I got a little nervous because the operator was kind of putting words in my mouth. I myself did not know if he had escaped per say, but rather, just maybe he was just not in the hospital where he should be currently residing.

Maybe he was one of those patients they let out for walks and he just got confused and walked out an open gate or something.

So the operator asked me some more questions before deciding that this was a police matter.

Operator: OK this is a police matter so I’m going to connect you to 911 and speak when they pick up and transfer it to you.

Whoa! 911? Really? Did we have to call them right away? That seems pretty serious. Couldn’t they just send over an intern or somebody in one of those 3 wheeled police cars to check things out?


I mean it’s not like the guy was running anywhere, he was just… shuffling.

So the operator connects to 911 and immediately starts off by giving them my phone number.

Now I’m really panicking. What if they can’t find this guy? What if they do a couple laps around the block and decide this was all a hoax and then track my phone number to my apartment? Then what? Am I going to be arrested for… I don’t even know what!

Fake seeing an escaped mental patient?

So the 911 operator comes on and now it’s my turn to speak. I give my spiel again and tell her it looked like this guy was out of it.

911 Operator: So you saw a man on drugs.

Whoa operator lady! Again, stop with the putting of the words in my mouth. I did not say he was on DRUGS, I just said he was out of it.

I mean there have been a couple of times I have walked around this city after a night on the town when people could have said I looked out of it. Maybe a little bleary eyed, limping a bit from dancing too much, and wearing a drink bracelet and some shirt that looks a lot cooler at 11 pm than 9 am.

Person: Yea I want to a file a report.
Operator: What did you see?
Person: Well I saw a fairly gangly German walking up 2nd avenue in what appeared to be a sparkly shirt carrying 2 umbrellas.
Operator: Yes that’s definitely something you want to report, tell me your location.

I know nothing about drugs. I don’t know my opium from my oolong. So now I’m stuttering.

Rich: Well I mean, I don’t know that he was on drugs, just, I mean, like, he just looked out of it, and I mean I just saw him in passing, but…

I started looking around me halfway thinking I was going to be the one they were looking for.

911 Operator: Alright we are going to see an EMT truck to that location and have them check it out.

At least I had been downgraded from a police officer to an EMT person. I was pretty sure an EMT couldn’t arrest me if the situation called for it.

Did they ever find that possibly crazy man? I’ll never know. But I can be proud that when I saw something, I said something.

And also that nobody has reported me to the police… yet.

Hot Town Summer in the Subway

With the temperature about to top 100 degrees in New York this week, denizens of this fine city, and those visiting are about to get a Howyadoin pimp slap in the face of what it is like to ride the subway in the summer in this town.

And it ain’t gonna be fun.

Throughout the year the train is a place of delays, reroutings, failures, breakdowns, and other such happenings. But in the summer, oh boy, the summer is when people go 7 kinds of bananas on the train. And that is when things are going RIGHT!

For the most part, people try to get out of the city in the summer. People with houses in the Hamptons, or a yacht, or a yacht named “The Hamptons” go do fancy shmancy things.

I do not have such luxuries. So I am subjected to the wall-sized-map-wielding tourists, and sweaty New Yorkers that cram the train for a ride to anywhere but here.

I would say for the most part, the subway in New York is well air-conditioned. It is often way colder than it needs to be. I’m fine with that. I have no complaints. It feels great when you’ve been outside in the ridiculous heat to step into a Dentyne Ice commercial.

Another fantastic thing about the New York subway system is the trains are equipped with windows. It is because of this tremendous value-add that all people on the subway platform can tell whether the train pulling up to the station is a half empty one you want to get on, or one so crammed with people you want to place a hex on it, hoping you never have to ride such a cattle car.

And you would think since its cramped full of squishy, hot, sweaty, smelly humans that people would not want to be a part of that. You would think that people would be so turned off that they would wait until an empty train came along.

You would think that and you would be wrong.

No matter how packed you may think the train is, there is always one person at the next stop who really wants to be a part of your sardine convention.

It never fails, that any time I am the last person to board a packed train I have no choice but to get on, and the doors close behind me nearly amputating my ass… some lunatic with 11 shopping bags, a stroller, and a backpack full of monkeys comes running for the doors as though someone announced that THIS was the train taking everyone to Tahiti for a month of massages and fruity drinks.

I understand that New York City is a place of very busy people on very tight schedules; I even like to pretend I’m one of them, but the trains come every 4 minutes during rush hour. How can every single person in the entire city be late every single morning? Are any of you reading this that excited to get to work that waiting another 4 minutes would absolutely kill you?

Here’s a hot tip for you: Instead of thrusting your now glistening corpus onto the train like its an Olympic event, why don’t you take the next 4 minutes to A. Catch your breath on the train platform, and B. Stop. Dripping. Sweat.

I understand people sweat. I admit it all the time. I am a sweaty human. It happens. I am not cool. I do not have dry armpits in times of great duress. But for the love of Snuggles, can you please turn the faucet off on your leaky face? I know to allow myself some extra time to cool off before I start sharing my salty epidermal rejection with 250 strangers on a shaky cart that makes Disney’s Runaway Train, look like a Radio flyer pulled by a mere cat.

Nobody is happy on the train. And the closer you get to your stop, the crazier you get. Everyone is breathing way too loud for everybody else’s comfort, people continuously touch your butt accidentally, and even though you know it was probably an accident, it still freaks you out and makes you want to scream like you were stabbed with a katana.

Even if you don’t get bumped into or touched, you are still pressed up against other people so you just start hating them. If there is a girl with a ponytail in your face, you start thinking every horrible name to call that ponytail. If she has a purple clip in her hair you start imagining 2012 like scenarios where that purple clip will cause cataclysmic events.

The other reason I have deduced that people love crowded NY subways in the summer, is the fact that even when a train has no air conditioning, that train will be completely packed.

Sure there might be one or two people who step on and then step off, but the rest of the people continue to stand on the train while fanning their faces so intensely you believe it is only a matter of time before there hand snaps off and smacks you in the face.

Nobody would stay in a hot sweaty room with no air conditioning, so why do people stay in a hot sweaty room on wheels with no air conditioning?

But for as bad as standing on that train is, it is far more dangerous actually trying to get off that train. People panic so instead of just an “excuse me kind sir, would you mind relocating your body so I might gingerly slide past you?” I get shoved so hard I am surprised the person behind me doesn’t get a penalty for an illegal block in the back.

It just becomes a big shove fest, and nobody can move fast enough. It makes me crazy I just want to leap off the train and scream at them that I am sorry I did not launch myself off the train like I was shot out of a potato cannon. I am man, not potato.

All insanity considered it is amazing people don’t walk more. But the possibility of a seat and some air conditioning is enough to make people forget rationality.

You would save more energy and stress by walking calmly in a straight line than running up and down stairs to spend time on a fully clothed Turkish bath wagon that will only make you more stressed out. So the next time you find yourself in such a situation, please, I beg of you, just wait for the next train.


A Good Reason to Go Crazy



Hey you! Yes I’m talking to you! The one sitting at your desk slumped over like the hunchback of Internet Explorer. I know exactly what you’re thinking!

You are thinking,

Man, I have way too much free time and money on my hands. I am looking for a way to be stressed and really alter my life. How can I do that?

Well lucky for you I have just the way! It’s new, it’s exciting, and it will also possibly help you lose all of your friends in the process!

HOLY CRAP THAT’S AMAZING!

Yes. Yes I know. So what is this amazing activity? What should you be doing? Or more specifically, what should you do now?

I’ll tell you, you should put on a play!

What? Rich Boehmcke that is ridiculous.

No, YOU are ridiculous.

No seriously, stop it. You should go back to doing what you do best, eating cereal and tripping over your own feet when you make eye contact with women.

Trust me. It’s so much fun. I’ve been doing it since I was 10 when we put on a dancing lip-synched version of Aladdin in my neighbors backyard.

Well, I mean if I’m being honest, that show never made it out of rehearsals. It was fatally flawed from the beginning.

Perhaps it was the fact that half of us had not hit puberty yet, and the other half had no theater training greater than the part of Protractor #3 in Mrs. Fink’s 5th grade production of The Case of the Missing Bookcase.

Or it could have been something more specific, like how none of us could figure out how to make a turban out of a bath towel and a safety pin. Or maybe it was the fact that none of the background dancers (Read: Neighbor kids) could say: He’s got the monkeys; let’s see the monkeys, without bursting into hysterics.

Now some might say I was a bit of a diva, starring of course, as Aladdin. But I only was seeking perfection for my cast. I mean we weren’t really organized. My sister was a good director and all, but a dozen kids acting like maniacs in the front yard of your house to the repetitive sound of Robin Williams' voice on a Disney CD isn’t exactly a well-oiled machine.

It wasn’t so much a musical as it was a summer mental asylum for ADD lunatics.

But I digress.

Three years later (tired with the musical theater industry… of my front yard) my friend John and I produced the first (and subsequently) last season of 2 very prominent television shows.

The shows I speak of are of course “The Rich Boehmcke Show” and the “Joe ‘The Hunk’ Shmo Show."

The shows basically consisted of John and myself taking turns hosting a talk show at my kitchen counter in front of the video camera. We used some cheesy wedding reception noise maker as applause, a ska CD as our intro music, and we dressed up in a variety of clothing from around my house to resemble different guests.

OK, basically it was really us putting on my mother’s old wigs, shoving pillows in our shirts, and pretending to be Pamela Anderson or Carmen Electra.

Again I know what you’re thinking.

RICH THESE SHOWS SOUND AMAZING! WHERE CAN I SEE THEM?

Alas, like all great television shows, the originals have been lost. Rumor has it that they may be somewhere in a box in my parents house in South Carolina but only time will tell.

But again, I digress.

I took roughly a 13 year sabbatical from TV and musical production to focus on other more productive activities like getting an education and staring at girls I was too afraid to talk to.

But alas, last year after attempting many different pursuits I came upon the brilliant idea to write and direct 2 shows. And being the charming individual I am, I coerced  my friend Andrea into assisting me assuring her it wouldn’t ruin our friendship, even though I was almost positive it would.

The shows, which were written, rehearsed, and put on in less than 4 months were an excellent study in budgeting, sleep loss, and extreme stress.

Sounds amazing right?

Well it actually was. It was maybe the most fantastic experience of my life, including the crying. And then afterwards I went back to work, and life, and just being a normal Rich Boehmcke.

Things kind of rolled along as usual, took a dip south towards crappy for a while, but then the spring happened and things were going really well for me. I was happier than I had ever been. And I realized…

Something was missing.

I realized it was the sleep loss, the stress, the neuroses and all the panic attacks that come with putting on a self financed production based around your own writing.

So we decided to do it again!

Well not so much “we” as “me” and I kind of just told Andrea I wanted to do it again. And I think I did it while she was sleep deprived or not paying attention, thereby confusing her into saying yes.

So you too should join me in this endeavor. Keep your eye (or both eyes for that matter) on me in the next month as I get ready for our next show. As over the next 4 weeks I forget to eat dinner, wear one sock at a time, and walk around town with my fly open as I commit all available brain cells to our next play.

Wait, what’s that you say? What is the next play? What the hell is it all about? Where can I buy tickets? Is there a trailer?

First of all, stop asking so many questions. You are stressing me out.

Second of all, all your questions can be answered here…




Thrillist Miami - The Beginning of the End


Today, right now, as I write this to you, I am in considerable pain.

And I know what you’re thinking. Rich went to Miami with Thrillist and drank too much and now he is hungover.

But honestly it wasn’t the booze that did it. Not that there was any shortage of booze!

I mean it was possibly the swag, the yoga, or the 100 degree sun, or the Nerf Football chucking, or the pool beachballing, or maybe it was the massage, or the dancing in the pool, or the dancing next to the pool, or the dancing at dinner, or maybe the dancing at Club LIV, but really… I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Friday morning I boarded a flight to Miami. I didn’t know anything except that when I landed I would be escorted to, what was promised to be, 36 hours of awesome.

I landed and immediately met a bunch of great people who were ready to get it popping. We get to the hotel and instantly the Thrillist special check-in had gift bags with so much swag that as it was handed to me I think I felt my bicep rip.

As I plowed through my swag and mugged it up for Nick McGlynn, the best damn photog in the business with my new homey Kim from Chicago, I realized the gift bag alone was worth the trip! But more details on that later on.

So then we said alright, cool we’re in Miami, let’s get our bathing suits on and go poolside! A quick room change and we got to the pool where I immediately grabbed an icy Corona and a fish sandwich.

I know what you’re thinking, Rich, a Fish Sandwich to start the weekend? Did you learn NOTHING in Istanbul? I know, I know. But it was worth it.

And that’s when the wind picked up like CRAZY and it started to rain. For an idea of how bad the rain got, take a look at my special (and slightly dark) report with Number 1 stunner himself, Todd the Weather Stunner!




In fact that chief weather expert eventually lost it and went for a swim should have pretty much clued me in that this was going to be my buddy for the weekend.

So we went back to our rooms again and showered and got ready for dinner and drinks and looking our best.

Here’s what I learned about a 495 dollar a night room with a beachfront view in a 1.3 Billion dollar hotel: It is hard to leave. I mean the TV in the bathroom was enough to gather my love. But the phone next to the toilet I mean, I wanted to make a long distance phone call while sitting on the bowl just so I could tell the person on the other end of the phone:

Hold on I’m watching the game.

But I eventually got my life together because after all, there were 200 strangers I needed to meet for free drinks.

The great thing about meeting 200 people for free drinks is nobody really knows each other. So you can do one of 2 things. You can sit on the side and only talk to the people you know, or you can walk around and try to toast every person with a drink.

Guess which method I use?

So we had some Coronas, some vodka shots with warm pineapple (incredible) and the drink of the weekend which was Bacardi Torched Cherry. And if you haven’t tried this beverage let me tell you, it will get your engine started.

We had dinner and it was incredible. One of the best meals I ever had. All the hotel restaurants contributed just phenomenal things. Truffled this, braised that, I mean it was unbelievable, but the highlight, was far and away, the corn.



I wanted to tip the guy who served me that corn it was so good.

Mind you the whole time we are eating, there is a band playing with a guy playing the conch, and not just one conch… TWO CONCHS!




I mean if that guy doesn’t have groupies there is something wrong with the universe.

From there we went to Club LIV. We all got VIP wrist bands, but by the time I got to the actual entrance, there were already 200 people in an unruly crowd around the 5 very large bouncers guarding the velvet (possibly felt, I couldn’t tell) rope. So with no better ideas, I just put my wrist in the air like I was Wonder Woman trying to stop a very poorly aimed bullet.

And ya know what? It worked. I pushed my way to the front of the those saps and got into the club where there was much drinking, much dancing, and very low lighting so I wasn’t entirely sure who I was talking to or what was going on for most of the evening.

We danced until the wee hours of the morning and I got back to my room in need of some water and that’s when I figured out what 495 dollars (or in my case, 0 dollars) a night DOESN’T buy you… glasses.

There were no glasses to drink out of, and the hotel water was like, I think 482 dollars, so being the inventive invention genius I am, I filled up the ice bucket and drank out of it like I was some kind of peasant.

I woke up the next morning feeling slightly injured, and reached for my water bucket, and as I got to the bottom of it I saw my reflection and it was not good. I looked like Frida Kahlo after a slap fight.

But that couldn’t stop me. I hopped in my awesome shower, used my awesome hotel soap, popped some Advil, and made my way to buffet breakfast outside where it was already in the high 80s. And there I feasted on fruit, donuts, and truffled eggs.

What? Yes. I said truffled eggs. They were so good it made me angry. But I didn’t have time to be angry; I had to get to beachfront yoga.

There are few things that are more awesome than doing yoga on the beach. It was my first time doing yoga. I realized I am not good at yoga. For an hour we breathed, stretched, and contorted ourselves into poses like Sun Warrior and Wild Thing which really could have just been called “Wedgie” and “Bigger Wedgie.”

This is were I probably started trying too hard because I stretched parts of me that I have never used, including trying to get myself into “Pigeon Pose” which I have chosen to rename “I don’t want to have kids pose.” Awesome.

But it was still an awesome workout and then I jumped into the ocean to refresh. And it felt amazing but it was the warmest water I’d ever been in. I could have stayed in it all day, but there was a pool party to go to.

Poolside I met the awesome ladies of Nerf who supplied me with footballs which I then tried to throw 50 yards. I was nearly successful. I then thought the only thing better would be to punt one, and that is when I hit some woman in the back of the head. That is when I decided I was probably less dangerous in the pool.

And that is when things got RI-DIC-U-LOUS!

To Be Continued…

How Stupid Do You Think I Am?

Ok don’t answer that.

I am aware that I don’t always make the best impression on people. It could be the reflection off my skin or the way I like to pretend strangers are my long time friends. I’m not sure what it is but I am used to getting a stare that says, “Are you stupid?”

But sometimes people have actually followed up with a question by actually asking,

“Are you stupid?”

OK, OK those things I can handle. But that’s just me. I think we as a society, and more specifically the people who are in control, are starting to think everybody else is stupid. And not just a little bit stupid… a lot bit stupid.

It’s not an aggressive assumption of stupidity; it’s a bit more subversive. You really only notice it if you are paying attention. And if you are stupid, you probably don’t pay attention, so you probably don’t realize that the people that think you are stupid are… well… thinking you are stupid!

The first time I noticed this was a couple of weeks ago when I had some friends stay with me. My friend was brushing her hair with a fine piece of hair management equipment.

I was quite impressed with it and picked it up to take a closer look when I noticed the handle was extremely squishy. It was quite a nice feeling. I am not one to brush my hair really, but this was a brush I would make an excuse to use so I could feel the squishiness of the handle. I took a closer look at the handle and noticed this:


Plasmium gel? What the hell is plasmium gel? I don’t even know if I am supposed to capitalize it, and in fact Microsoft Word is underlining it in red right now to let me know it too, has never heard of it.

Plasmium Gel? It sounds like something Astronauts rub on themselves so they don’t get a space rash.

Jim: Hey Connor my feet are itchy as hell, do you have space rash too?
Connor: Nope, I put 2 scoops of plasmium gel in my boots this morning.
Jim: You are so wise.

It’s not like hair brushes come wrapped in air tight containers where you can’t touch and feel what they are made of. The advancements in hairbrush technology have been quite limited over its lifespan. You don’t really need to oversell a hairbrush, which perhaps explains the ridiculousness of this marketing.

I have to wonder what kind of clientele they were expecting to lasso with that bit of marketing. It’s a hairbrush… not a rocket ship.

They could have just written “Feel Good Squishy” and that would probably have been enough. I don’t know what plasmium gel is so I’m not sure I would want to touch it, but feel good squishy? Oh yea. Give it here.

Recently I was down visiting my parents in South Carolina and I was hanging out at the pool. I have already detailed some questionable poolside activities here before, but I was not expecting to run into it again.

I was lounging in a chair and soaking up the sun and trying to not burn my lily white skin to an unrecognizable crisp. I decided it was about time to cool off. So I sauntered over to the edge of the pool.

Now this particular pool had a graduated entrance. So basically there was a dry ramp for about 15 feet before the water started and then it went down slowly to about 5 feet.

I was just about to make my way down the ramp when I saw this sign.


Wow.

Who the hell is diving into no feet of no water? That doesn’t even qualify as a pool. I mean is this a risk that people face daily? Are there people around the world just jumping headfirst into pavement?

I mean, by that assumption we should start putting “no diving” signs in parking lots, grocery stores, and car dealerships.

I can even understand the no diving sign in the 1 foot of water because OK maybe your eyesight is bad and you think it is deeper than it looks. But 0 feet of water. I mean if you can’t tell there is no water there you either don’t understand the concept of swimming or you are blind. And if this sign were in fact intended for blind people, it would have been in Braille, but it was NOT in Braille. I checked.

So I was left with the conclusion that either somebody had dove headfirst into the no water before, or the management did not think the swimming public could be trusted to not dive into the no water.

Shortly thereafter I was about to open up a new toothbrush (yes I know, I enjoy good dental hygiene) and not really paying any specific attention to the packaging. It was a normal toothbrush. In fact I even took a picture of it.


I was struggling to open it (sometimes I have issues) when I noticed a tiny, tiny bit of writing in red right near the base of the toothbrush. And do you know what it said?

It said, in tiny nearly unreadable red lettering: “toothbrush.”

Ohhhhh OK. Thanks for that.

What idiot is turning this over in their hand wondering what it could be? Who is this writing for? Aliens? Distant tribes who just happen to speak English but don’t recognize toothbrushes? I can only imagine the conversation taking place in the grocery store.

Jeb: Hey ma, I wanna buy this here thing.
Ma: What all you got there?
Jeb: It’s like a stick, but it’s got like some bristly things at the end.
Ma: A bristly ended stick? Sounds like the devil’s work. Does it say anything on it?
Jeb: Don’t know, I can’t read good.
Ma: Give it here. OH OK, see here at the bottom it says, Toothbrush.
Jeb: Ohhhh… does it have a plasmium handle?

Or something like that.

Dial 1 for Confusion

Cell phones have allowed us a tremendous amount of freedom. We can talk to our friends wherever we may be, make dinner plans, chat with our relatives, and yell at our cable provider from any place in the world. They have freed us from the bondage of land lines and the tyranny of the corded telephone. But there is something cell phones have not been able to free us from.

And that is the wrong number phone call.

I got my first cell phone in college. I was actually studying in Italy and it was more for emergency purposes than anything else. Nobody except a couple of friends back home and my parents knew I had one. I didn’t really get many wrong numbers. And if I did, they were in Italian and I couldn’t understand them anyway.

When I got back to the states I got my first brand spanking new cell American cell phone with what I thought was a pretty random Arizona cell phone number. Little did I know that number was 1 digit off from the Sunburst Resort.


People would call me and the conversation would go like this.

Hello?
Hi I’d like to make a reservation.
What?
I’d like to make a reservation for the 26 through the 30th of next month.
Um…. What?
Is this the Sunburst resort?
Oh. No.

And then they’d hang up on me all frustrated. Like I was the idiot. Like I’m running around town scratching the last digit off the phone number on the printed materials of hotels through the Phoenix metropolitan area. Some nerve I had, not taking their reservation over the phone for the hotel they didn’t call that I don’t work at.

It started happening so frequently that I thought about actually just taking the reservations and letting them fend for themselves. Hey, it’s not my fault they screwed up. But by the time I came to that resolution they stopped calling.

I also used to get calls for somebody whose nickname was “Golden Boy.” This would not have been nearly as confusing had his real first name not been Rich.

Hello?
What’s up Golden boy?
What?
Is this golden boy?
I don’t think so?
Is this Rich?
Yes.
Rich Gulden?
Oh. No.

My dad’s cell phone number used to be 1 off from the towel department at Bed Bath and Beyond. People called him on more than one occasion to get a conversation that went like this.


Hi this is Fred.
Hi can I have towels please?
What?
Can you transfer me to towels please?
You have the wrong number.
This isn’t Bed Bath and Beyond?

No you idiot face, I’m playing a prank on you. You know us folk in the bedding department, always screwing with the guys in towels. What the hell do you think?!

Did they think my dad misheard them?

Oh TOWELS. I thought you said trowels, and I was thinking to myself, man, we don’t sell any shovels.

You’d think the wrong number would result in more hilarity and less anger and frustration. People always end the calls so abruptly. As though I am going to keep them on the phone just to make fun of them.

Like my friend Julie who got a call from some guy freshman year looking to rectify problems with his girlfriend. Julie was not his girlfriend but after hanging up and trying to call his actual girlfriend only to get her voicemail, he called Julie back to ask for her advice.

Perhaps he was a womanizer of wrong misdials; perhaps he liked the sound of her voice. We all found it quite strange that he called her back for relationship advice. Perhaps he didn’t have any friends of his own. Maybe he really needed a (very) impartial third party to help solve his problem. Maybe he was really in a bind.

This must have been the thing because he called her back a third time to ask some follow up questions. And Julie, bless her heart, stayed on to chat with him to humor him and engage in a story. She really commits to the fun. And it was her thought process that I channeled recently when I had a similar scenario pop up in my own life.

Last week I was out with my good friends Josh and Marissa whose wedding I attended 2 years ago. After a dinner full of delicisiousness and more than our fair share of wine, we headed out to a pub to keep the night going. Well a couple drinks later Josh’s phone rang with an unknown number. He wasn’t going to answer it so I asked if I could. The following conversation is not exaggerated or made up.

“This is Ramon” I said as I picked up the phone.
“Oh I’m sorry I think I have the wrong number.
What number were you looking for?
(She gives some number that is not Josh’s)
Oh no that is not this number, who were you looking for?
Oh I was looking for my daughter.

It was at this point that I wondered about this woman. A. Why is she still talking to me? B. How much does she really care about her daughter if she can’t even take the time to put her on speed dial?

Where is your daughter?
She’s in her room.
Where are you?
I’m in my room.
Are you in the same house?
Yes.
You are calling your daughter from inside the house?
Yes, her music is too loud and I was going to ask her to turn it down.

It was at this point that I realized this woman must really not like her daughter if she doesn’t even want to see her face to tell her to turn off her music! How far could she be away from her? Close enough to hear the music but not far enough away to need to call her?

Oh, do you usually call your daughter from inside the house?
Sometimes.
Oh OK, well, I hope she turns down the music.
Yes me too.
Take care have a good night.
Thanks you too.

And that was it. We will never know if her daughter turned down the music. Perhaps I could have been more helpful, given her more guidance, suggested more solutions.

Or maybe I could have just transferred her to towels.

May I Take Your Coat?

I know it’s a little late for New Year’s Resolutions. But I actually make Chinese New Year’s resolutions so technically this is coming in early.

This year I made a life resolution:

Never check my coat anywhere, ever, ever again.

A coat check is a good idea in theory, but based on several bad encounters and 1 extremely awful experience on New Year’s eve/day. I have resolved to just keep my coat with me as opposed to subject myself to the insanity that comes with trying to retrieve a checked coat.

The first time I checked a coat I was living in Italy during my college years. It was winter in Florence so we would head out to the dance clubs all bundled up and ready to party.

Invariably every single person would leave the club at the same time and a gaggle of drunk Americans would converge on the coat check like they were trying to get a peak at a bearded lady or a unicorn. The process was always cumbersome and pushy and way too exhausting for my liking.

Going to school in Arizona I never had to check a coat… I never even had a coat. And then when I graduated and moved in with my roommates (my parents) I didn’t have what many people consider to be a thriving social life. I honestly don’t know if I checked a coat between 2006 and 2009.

But I went to a friend’s birthday party in Manhattan last year in a bar that had way more feet than square feet and against my better judgment, I checked my coat. I quickly forgot about it but was given a brutal reminder of the awfulness that comes with a coat check when I tried to leave.

The coat room was empty but for a giant black wooly mound on the floor. With terror in her eyes the coat check lady looked up at me and said:

“The coat rack broke; all of the coats are on the floor.”

Thank you coat check lady. I can see that.

I think it’s fair to point out that this is why I rarely pre-tip the coat check lady. It seems to me that any time I put a dollar in the coat check ladies bucket at the beginning of the night, it says to her,

Hey do me a favor and make my life a living hell when I try to get this back OK?

Amazingly that night ended with me getting my coat back but I was pretty sure that was my last interaction with a coat check.

Not so much.

Flash forward to New Year’s Eve 2009. Chicago! A swanky price fixed bar! Fancily dressed ladies! A bow tie! What could go wrong?


Everything.

As we checked our coats downstairs at MARKET BAR in Chicago I felt hesitation, but knew that I was planning to dance and dancing with a coat in hand would inhibit all of my sweet moves.

So we hand off our coats. Megan is number 84, Jen is number 85, and I am number 86. Brilliant. Ticket goes in my pocket. And we go upstairs to celebrate the New Year.

The night was a smash hit (to say nothing of the bow tie) and we had a blast. Around 12:45 we decide we better round up the cattle to go. The line going downstairs for the coat check is understandably long… perhaps 40 or so people. But I figure it should move quickly since it is only a coat check. I give you number, you give me coat. Right?

Wrong.

I’m not sure what happened while we were upstairs dancing but apparently there was seismic shift in the space time continuum because 45 minutes later, the 3 of us still had not gotten our coats and we were now only in the middle of the line.

Why were there no coats to be distributed? Where had they all gone?

Had Rumplestiltskin come by at midnight and spun all the coats into gold? Had there been a coat heist? Had the coats been thrown so far into the closet that they ended up in Narnia? Where the hell were the coats?

Of course it only got worse as drunken idiots from upstairs got on the line. And of course nobody was yelling, or pushing, or being obnoxious.

But the dramatic idiocy of the coat check fiasco got even worse if you can believe it. Every 8 minutes somebody would come out of the closet and say something like,

Does anybody have number 146?

Are you effen kidding me? This isn’t coat bingo. I wasn’t hoping to impress my friends with the sweet ladies pea coat I won on New Year’s, I want my coat!

Does anybody have a Banana Republic coat?

You know who has a Banana Republic coat? Half the frigging yuppies here. Give me my damn coat!

What does your coat look like?

What do you mean what does my coat look like, its black and made of wool like every other winter coat in the known universe. GIVE ME MY MOTHER @#$*% COAT!

Megan finally gets her coat. Soon to be followed by Jen and myself right?

Wrong.

We waited another 20 minutes for Jen to get her coat. So then there was just me in the middle of a frigging riot. I felt like I was battling to get my rice rations from the Vietcong. People are screaming, there are multiple idiots from the Market Bar trying to make things worse for everybody including one dooshbag manager who looks like a pre-pubescent Muppet who starts screaming:

Do you want people to start dying? No? Then back up.

Now I know my training in crisis management is minimal, but I am pretty sure telling people that they might DIE while waiting to get their COAT is not a best business practice.

During the 90 minutes it took me to get my coat I was pushed, prodded, shoved, condescended to, ignored, yelled at, screamed at, and cursed at.

And do you know how I finally was able to get my coat back?

I said to the coat check guy; I am looking at my coat. I can see it. Can you please give it to me?
Finally with coat I thought I was free. Hooray.

Except of course for the drunk girl sitting on the steps who would not let me up, the 45 minute wait in 0 degree weather to catch a cab, and the cops who refused to let people wait inside the bar.

But hey at least I got my coat back right?

At least.