Unlikely Women I Could Potentially Marry - Part 1


While I haven't always done well with all women, there are certain groups of women I have always seemed to be popular with. These women are almost always considerably older than me, and often... Married themselves.

Like mothers of my friends for instance. Even from a very young age I was able to turn on the charm (whatever charm a 10 year old can have) to make mothers like me.

But as I got older, I started noticing what some might call a trend. Different groups of seemingly very different women would take a strange liking to me. It was something that came out of nowhere, and at this point, I think it has happened enough to call it a phenomenon.

The first time I noticed a strange interaction with a new female audience was when I started donating blood in college. Blood donation vans would regularly be parked on different sites around campus. My friend and I would go a couple of times a year because we wanted to do a good deed. And also, it was college... We didn't really have anything else to do.


We would climb into the cramped bus full of overworked nurses who were exhausted from the ridiculous questions kids would ask. Such as the one we heard a kid ask once:

Hypothetically, if somebody did drugs, like, recently, like… can they still donate blood?

I believe the answer ended up being yes since that kid stayed on the bus. Which was interesting because I am almost positive what he meant by ‘recent’ was ‘immediately before getting onto a blood donation bus.’

My friend and I would make jokes with the nurses who largely ignored what we said, not paying attention enough to realize we were much funnier than the other silly and squeamish college kids who distracted them from their needle wielding responsibilities.

I will talk to pretty much anybody, and if I am going to be lying in a chair for an hour while vital nutrients are sucked from my body, I like to strike up a bit of a rapport with the person who is initiating and implementing that process. Most of the time said nurse was a woman.

I would joke and ask questions, receiving one-word responses, not really breaking through. Nobody would really refer to what I was having as a conversation.

That is of course, until the nurse told me to roll up my sleeve.

At which point the response would almost go something like this:

Woah!

And suddenly I was in. It was like I had been flirting with her unsuccessfully until I accidentally let it slide that I was a billionaire. Except by billionaire I mean, I had good veins. Suddenly the nurse was all about me, awake and alert as to what I was saying, telling me how most people's veins were hard to find, and often they would have to prick somebody three or four times.

I tried to ignore that terrifying image and instead focus on the newfound attention the nurse was lavishing on me.

Before disinfecting my arm for 30 seconds with an iodine soaked scrubber that felt like punishment by exfoliation, the nurse would push on my vein several times making little noises to herself saying things like,

Ohhh what a juicy vein!

In fact several DIFFERENT nurses have used that same phrase on different occasions while examining the middle part of my arm.

I didn't even know this was a compliment you could receive! In fact, it’s probably a compliment you really shouldn’t even give as in any other setting it would make you sound like a vampire.

My veins had never received this much attention. There was one time in Junior High when a girl I had known a couple of years saw my arm hanging over the desk in 8th period Italian and suddenly said:

Oh my god you have such good veins, I love that.

I was completely baffled and excited at the same time. I looked at my arm.

Really?

Here I was, three years into picking out my own clothes, cultivating a humorous personality, and using near record setting amounts of hair gel to attract the attention of the opposite sex, and the thing that finally garnered me the attention of an attractive female was... My veins?

I tried to figure out new ways to show off this sexy feature of mine but there are very few ways to showcase one’s veins without deliberately and very obviously flexing one's forearm directly in front of someone else's face.

And the opportunities for such a performance continue to be quite rare.

I was left with few options outside of just... Not wearing sleeves.

That aspect of my life retreated to become once again unknown until the blood donation nurses brought it back to my attention.

It isn't just blood donation nurses; it is any nurse responsible for taking my blood. I go from a nobody to someone of great gravitas the minute my sleeve rises above my elbow.

This left me thinking that if I ever fell on hard times, or had trouble meeting somebody, I could always try and meet a blood donation nurse.

So… do you extract blood from strangers here often?

I thought it was just a freak occurrence that an entire group of people would find me so desirable. That is of course, until I started working full time and met another group of ladies I apparently could do well with...

Middle aged women who work in Finance.

To be continued...

Leave Off the Last S for Scoliosis


My mattress is trying to kill me.

First I thought it was my yoga teacher. When he said through his thick accent:

Now we do easy peasy.

Easy peasy? I thought he was just making stuff up. It wasn’t until the third time he said it I realized he was saying “Easy Pigeon.” If you are unfamiliar, easy pigeon is a move where you sit on the floor and bend one leg under the other so you form a… oh what does it matter, I can’t do it anyway.

Never mind the fact that I had never seen a pigeon bend into the position I was now failing at.

But I thought it was yoga that was causing my back pain. Then I thought it was my desk chair. But after 4 days in a hotel I realized it might be my mattress. I started to wonder how long one should go before getting a new mattress.

I polled my friends on how long they keep their mattress fully anticipating that I knew the answer.

Apparently ... The correct answer was not 15 years.

Not even close.

Most people said around six. Some people said as long as ten. One woman said she gets a new mattress every other year. That seemed excessive. The only new thing I get every single year is a new bodily ailment.

As soon as I realized the problem was my mattress and that I should have gotten rid of it around the same time I graduated from college, I tried to fix the situation.

I flipped and rotated my mattress, which, I realize now, flipping a Queen size mattress is a two-person job. I almost knocked every single thing off my walls while simultaneously trying to avoid a hernia and being pressed to death if the thing fell on me.

After a couple of nights of continued back pain I went info full out panic mode. What could I do? For some ungodly reason I thought it might be best to sleep on the floor.

A note about my sleeping habits.

My favorite sleeping position is what I like to call the iceberg. My head is outside the sheets on the pillow on the right side of the bed, while the rest of my body cuts a 90-degree angle down to the lower left corner of the bed. This will ultimately be a problem if I end up marrying a woman taller than 4 foot 3.

The floor space next to my bed does allow for the iceberg position. It doesn’t allow for much at all.

I set myself up on the rug next to my bed, trying to give myself enough padding so as not to immediately regret my decision.

I roll out a yoga mat, a blanket, and lay out my duvet. I get onto my make shift bedding and then fold the duvet over myself so it looks like I am sleeping in some kind of flat bread sandwich.

Which I’m sure, if possible, would have been a better solution.

After 5 minutes on the floor I start to regret my decision. I try some mental calisthenics to convince myself this is good for me. I think of research I have never read. I think about my friend Sophie. 

She slept at my apartment the night before she ran the New York City Marathon. “I'm a floor sleeper she kept saying.” “That's not a thing!” I would reply.

I stand by my argument.

However, I wake up the next morning for work, not feeling like I was kicked in the back by a large donkey. Instead I feel like I received a series of soft kicks from a collection of very tiny donkeys.

As I got up and examined my bedding situation I saw that it looked like there had been some kind midnight sleepover thrash dance. Which, seeing as I can’t watch myself sleep, there might have been.

It was at that point I realized I couldn't continue sleeping on the floor.

But when I got home the next night I couldn’t bring myself to lay in my bed. It was like doing something I knew was bad for me. But it was sleeping! I had to sleep! When I eat 5 donuts in a row there’s no need biological behind that. Sleep had to happen. I couldn’t just not sleep.

So I slept on the floor again the following night. This time with an additional blanket under me which made absolutely no difference.

I was at a loss.

My bed, my best friend who had been through everything from puberty, through adulthood had suddenly become public enemy number one. I couldn't bring myself to sit or lay in it. I had gone 15 years with never a thought of a new mattress and suddenly it was all I could think about.

I found myself just staring at my mattress. It didn’t look bad. It looked fine. And when it was naked from sheets it looked new. Nothing about it said “donkey kick” yet that’s what it was delivering to me night after night.

I had planned to use my tax return for a vacation abroad but instead I was going to have to spend it on killing the donkey that kept kicking me in my sleep. I was going to have to buy a new mattress, one of the most enjoyable and confusing endeavors.

To be continued…

Everything That's Wrong With Me


My dermatologist doesn’t want to see me anymore.

I don’t know why. I used to love her. She was great to me. I thought we had a nice rapport. But in October I got a letter from her that said she would be closing her office, moving out of state, and not keeping in touch. She left no forwarding address. Her letter said this would all happen on October 14th.

I got the letter on October 15th.

The whole thing was very suspicious. Was she deported to another state? Did she lose her license? Did it turn out she didn’t know what she was doing all along? Was it me? I think it's a bad sign when even your dermatologist doesn't want to see you anymore.

Just, just leave me alone OK? Take your retched skin somewhere else!

Is my naked body really that atrocious? I mean I know it's a bit… reflective, but still. 

Luckily I found a new dermatologist. Which is good because I need a dermatologist on call. Especially in the winter when my epidermis pretty much just quits. 

If I don't moisturize my hands every 2 hours in the winter they crack and shrivel like a pair of sun-dried tomatoes… except not as delicious

So I find myself applying hand lotion regularly, in the morning, at night, several times throughout the day. However it is almost always right before I need to turn a doorknob or open a jar. So I look like a terribly stupid weakling with no grasp (literally) on modern technology.

Hey can you help me with this door?
Why is it stuck?
Oh… no.

At least I knew what to do about my dry useless hands. But then I noticed I had dry skin under my arms, both of them.

Great.

A new skin disease I had to worry about.

You see the dermatologist who left me kindly informed me last summer that I had psoriasis on my scalp. Silly me, I thought it was just a normal person problem like dandruff. No, it was something way more annoying.

My dermatologist told me I had two options for managing this awesome new addition to my life. My first option was an odorless steroid mousse that I would need to use twice a day for a week. She said that it would probably work.

Oooh steroids, maybe I'd get some muscles. But then I realized I hadn't worked out since ‘09 so that probably wasn't going to happen.

The other option was to put this incredibly stinky… stuff on my scalp every night for a week and sleep with a shower cap on. She said it would definitely work.

Having a medical professional tell me to sleep with a smelly shower cap on would probably be something that would make my wife laugh at me, something that would bind us together in embarrassment, and something that only my wife could love me for.

But I don't have a wife. Which just makes this another embarrassing addition to my private life. This would be really fun to tell to women.

Hey do you want to come back to my place? By the way I sleep in a shower cap that smells like the devil and I have armpit dandruff… More wine?

Sigh.

So aside from my lame scalp, and my deficient hands, I thought the dry armpit skin might be due to my deodorant. So I switched to a "24 Hour Natural Deodorant.” I now realize that is a phrase that should be banned by law.

When I took off the cap it smelled like lemons and maple syrup. Awesome, I support that.

However shortly after applying it I realized the label should have said "2 Hour Natural Odorant; Guaranteed to make you self loathing before lunch."

Which by the way, I looked up the meaning of the word “odorant” and it said:

An odorous substance; especially: one added to a dangerous odorless substance to warn of its presence.
And that sounds about right.

Hey guys do you smell that? Oh my god it’s Rich, RUN!

I caught a whiff of my own scent halfway through the day and almost punched myself in the face for being so stupid. The “deodorant” didn’t just quit, I think it switched sides. As though the task at hand was just too much for it.

I don’t think I can suppress this… but wait… I can make it worse!

Thank god my company supplies spray deodorant, which I then applied liberally while still wearing my shirt because I didn't want to be the guy standing topless at the company bathroom sink.

But applying spray deodorant with your clothes on is challenging. And it’s difficult to aim. So I’m pulling my shirt away from my body with the same arm that I’m trying to elevate so I can point this industrial can of aerosol stink remover at my dilapidated armpit. Naturally people walked in.

Hey Rich what are you doing?
Oh just… fumigating my shirt.

By the time I could finally get to my new dermatologist to tell him about my scalp, and hands and armpits I was exhausted. I fully expected my skin to just fall off one day like a snake’s.

I told my dermatologist about all of my issues, he gave me suggestions and solutions for all of it. Then I told him about my armpits.

He laughed and said

Ahhh, you’re getting old.

That’s not really the answer I was hoping for.

He told me that this happens at my age (28 is not that old people) and it’s due to the winter when it’s very dry and people take very hot showers. So he advised I take showers that were not as hot and moisturize under my arms.

Yea derm, twice last week I forgot to zip up my fly before I left my apartment but I'm definitely going to remember to put some lanolin in my armpit twice a day.

Sigh.

Maybe I should just see if there's some armpit mousse.

Reason # 1 Why I'll Never Be Cooler Than You

My feet are slanty.

I didn’t know this until the 4th grade. I always just assumed I had normal feet. In fact that’s pretty much how it goes for most of us isn’t it? We think everything fine until somebody else tells us it isn’t.

I had never really had any significant pains in my body before. Up until that point the worst thing to happen to me had been a fractured finger in the summer before the third grade.

Technically it was my sister’s fault. You see we were in the Poconos sitting upstairs on the fold out futons and watching Police Academy (it’s amazing what you remember) and she said something to anger little Richard.

So instead of hashing it out with words I ran at her with my arms extended like I was an athletic Frankenstein. All she had to do was put her foot out and then my perfectly straight ring finger turned into a janky swollen mess.

My mother splinted it up with the top of a band aid box. She was less than thrilled with my conflict resolution abilities.

It wasn’t too difficult to live with and it didn’t really affect my life much except it did delay the development of my cursive handwriting.

In fact I’ll just go ahead and blame my poor handwriting today on that.

But aside from that I had never had any major pain in my body. But then I started playing CYO basketball. And it wasn’t long after I started that I would feel this excruciating pain up and down my legs hours after I got home from practice.

My parents were baffled they didn’t know what to do. They would give me Tylenol and tell me to lay down on my bed. There I would lay while the numbing pain in my legs would just continue to throb.

This happened a few times before my mom finally took me to the foot doctor. I didn’t even know there was a foot specific doctor.  Imagine my surprise when my mother brought me to a house in the neighborhood next to ours.

Wait, so this “foot doctor” can just work out of his house? We’re sure he’s legit?

We didn’t go in his front door but a door next to the garage that led into his office. Immediately I was confronted with a smell of must and stagnation. It smelled liked what I might have imagined the 70s smelled like.

The décor was that of a turn of the century explorer. Animal heads and African art displayed amongst the 24 different kinds of brown that adorned the office.

The doctor himself was a nice man, nearly a relic himself with big soft hands that he used to gingerly touch my extremely ticklish feet.

The examination room was unlike any doctor’s office I had ever been. I distinctly remembering thinking there were many tools I had never seen and certainly did not understand.

But luckily I didn’t need to. The good doctor said my feet slanted in and I would need orthotics. He took molds of my feet and a couple weeks later I had new blue plastic inserts red padding and a blue leather cover that was glued to the top.

My instructions were to wear them in every pair of shoes I wore.

Forever.

That was one of my first inclinings that I was never going to be cool. I had never heard any of my cool friends talk about having orthotics. I had never heard ANYbody talk about orthotics.

As far as I knew I was the only person on the planet who had to wear orthotics.

I sought to alleviate my insecurities by sharing this latest development with some of my elementary school “friends.”

I explained in earnest that I now had these plastic inserts I had to wear in my shoes all the time because I was getting really bad leg pains due to the slanted in nature of my feet.

And do you know what my “friends” said in response?

RICH HAS RETARDED FEET!

Damn it.

I even remember the part of the hallway on the second floor just before the staircase we were walking past the first and last time I told anybody I wear orthotics.

I eventually grew used to them and became comfortable putting them in all of my shoes. They became second nature; I just switched them from shoe to shoe whenever I change shoes. I realize right away if I’ve accidentally put on shoes that don’t have them.

It also makes trying on shoes considerably more embarrassing. Like when the shoe clerk brings out a pair and instead of just putting them on, I pull out my orthotics and slide them into the shoes as the clerk looks on with complete bafflement.

It’s like I pulled my own salad dressing out of my pocket at a restaurant.

Trust me shoe clerk, this has nothing to do with you or your shoes. It’s my feet.

Most shoes don’t account for custom plastic inserts to be added later. So a lot of shoes I really like end up being way too uncomfortable to purchase.

And I suppose it’s for the best. Maybe it’s god’s way of telling me (Through my slanty feet) that I should focus on being comfortable instead of cool.

I’m 28 years old now and have been wearing my orthotics for 18 years without interruption. However my mother will still ask me from time to time:

Are you wearing your orthotics?

Trust me mom. Between the excruciating leg pain or the inability to purchase cool shoes, I’ll stick with my uncool shoes.

This Is Not a Blog

I remember growing up and hearing my parents complain about bills. Whenever the mail came I would ask what had come and my mom would say;

Ohhhh bills, more bills.

I didn’t understand why we got so many bills. As a child, you don’t get bills. You don’t really get anything. But even by the time I was old enough to get bills of my own (hooray) I could pay some of them online so the arrival of a bill wasn’t really climactic.

Today as an adult I pay nearly all of my bills online so I get hardly any in the mail but there are still some things still come in the mail. They are mostly bills for things that are not recurring, a service rendered or a doctor’s visit. And it is these bills that confuse me.

I was doing my yearly checkups not too long ago; Doctor tests, Dermatologist tests, etc. I’m not a really good patient. I don’t mean I scream and kick and bite, I mean I don’t ask a lot of questions.

Some of my friends question their doctor, asking him or her why they are doing what they are doing, referencing research and studies etc.

I’m not that… bright?

When the doctor tells me he has to do a test, remove something, or stab me with a sharp stick, I pretty much just go along with it because he’s a doctor and I, well… I’m a writer.

Plus doctors don’t really tend to ask you what you want them to do, they just tell you what they want to do. They also don’t tell you the price of things.

Rich I’d like to run this echo cardiogram… and it’s going to cost you 900 dollars.

No. They just do it, bill your insurance, and you don’t find out it actually had a cost until 4 weeks later when you play Russian Insurance Roulette to find out whether or not you’re covered for the life saving preventive test you didn’t even know you needed.

But sometimes you don’t even get a bill, you just get, well… something else.

A couple of weeks after my appointments I got a letter from my insurance referencing some diagnostic lab that apparently processed or did my tests. I didn’t understand the piece of paper except for the bold line at the top that said:

THIS IS NOT A BILL

Now that might not have bothered me if it weren’t for the lines underneath it that said:

Amount Billed:
Discount:
What Insurance Paid:
What I Owe:
You Saved:

OK so let me just get this clear. This is NOT a bill, but you are telling me how much my bill would be if this were a bill (which it’s not) as well as how much my insurance would pay on this hypothetical bill and how much I owe on this non-bill and how much I saved on the non-bill that I don’t have to pay yet.

Oh yea that’s really clear.

Why the hell am I getting a discount? I don’t recall walking into the doctor with a coupon for half off a blood pressure reading. I really resent my insurance company trying to make it seem like they are giving me a deal.

So I just put the piece of paper down (it was 3 pages of non-billdom) and just waited for the actual bill to come.

But it never came.

Instead I got another letter from my insurance that all said in bold letters at the top:

THIS IS NOT A BILL.

Damn it!

What is so hard about sending me a bill? When I go to dinner and it comes time to pay, the waiter doesn’t drop a piece of paper on my table that says "This is not a bill, but if it was, your dinner would cost." No, they just give me a bill and I pay it, and that’s it. End of transaction.

It’s like insurance is a clingy ex girlfriend that refuses to let you move on with your life. She is going to carry on this relationship until you are both so miserable with each other that the mere mention of her makes me scream like a karaoke banshee.

So I continued to wait for the bill. And of course it never came.

I got another non bill. And another. And another. Until I had received 7 different pieces of paper from my insurance, all 3 pages long. That’s 21 pages of non bills all for different things, all for different amounts owed to doctors I had never heard of!

How do I know this Doctor? Why cant I pay the doctor I know? At least he has seen me in my underwear. How can I trust a doctor who hasn’t seen me in my underwear?

And how come the insurance doesn’t know how much they will cover? It’s not like I have fancy blood or magic urine. It’s the same tests you are running on all of your other clients. Come up with a number, and stick to it.

I can appreciate the insurance companies’ desire to communicate what might happen, but at a certain point it just becomes confusing. Just send me a check, tell me how much I owe, and I will pay that amount.

Or maybe I won’t.

Maybe the next time my insurance company sends me something with “NOT A BILL” written on it, I will take out a small rectangular piece of paper and write in the amount I owe. Then, before I put it in the envelope to mail it, I will write at the top in big block letters.

THIS IS NOT A CHECK

My Bazooka of Peace - Part 2

Walking into a strange place where I don’t know anybody is something I have done many times in my life. However, that doesn’t mean that I am extremely comfortable with it. Quite the opposite, I get nervous, my heart races and I get butterflies.

So I combat that by making jokes with strangers to make friends. This works at conventions, group job interviews, or birthday parties.

It does not work at Yoga.

On my first day of Yoga I am the second person to arrive in the classroom. The only other person there is another guy who is dressed all in white. I’m not really sure what I am supposed to be doing, so I just watch him and mimic.

He rolls out his mat, so I do the same.

He then walks over to a shelf and grabs 2 heavy blankets and a pillow which he then brings back to the mat.

I have absolutely no idea what these are for, but I do the same. So now I’m sitting on my Yoga mat, with 2 blankets and a pillow. Wait, is this a nap class? Nap Yoga? Is that a thing? This is going to be way easier than I thought.

The other guy kneels in front of a small altar at the end of the room, lights a candle and says a prayer to himself. I realize now that he is the teacher and I should probably leave the altar alone.

He then busies himself with some other preparations. Other people have come into the room now. But since I have already grabbed my nap kit I'm not sure what I should be doing. So again, I try to do what other people are doing.

My immediate instinct is to start chatting with people. But before a Yoga class starts, it’s pretty frigging quiet. It is like everybody has suddenly entered his or her own personal space.

People are lying on the floor with their eyes closed, they are touching their toes,  they are standing on their head.

So right away, I’m not going to be able to relax by making friends. And I’m also not going to be able to chat out my nervous energy; I just have to sit there. And sitting still and being silent are two things I have NEVER been good at. I’ve been moving around and making noises since I was in the womb.

What’s sad is that the movements and noises are almost identical to what they were 27 years ago.

Some people are already sitting with their legs folded over each other, and since my body is incapable of that, I just lean back on my hands like I’m sitting in a field.

And I know I should be focusing on meditating and being at peace in the space, but I can’t help but stare at people and think a million things.

How old is that woman?
That chick has an intense yoga outfit.
Isn’t that guy to fat to bend?

And so on and so forth.

At this point all I can hope for is that I don’t accidentally fart during class. I know this is supposed to be a peaceful supportive environment and that is a natural bodily function but I haven’t been able to let myself fart in front of anybody I’ve ever dated, so I’m certainly not going to be able to break peaceful wind starting now.

Class starts and immediately we launch into chanting. I am immediately uncomfortable because chanting “om” out loud is not something I ever do.  And singing “hari om” over and over again takes me right out of my comfort zone. The only thing that makes it better is that our eyes are all closed.

I don’t really know what I’m saying but I’m keeping an open mind. It feels vaguely like when I would go to church as a small child. You stand there mumbling the words to prayers you hear every week without really knowing what they mean but knowing it’s supposed to be good for you.

The only difference is I never had to try and touch my toes in church.

We finish chanting and do warm-ups. And then we start doing poses. It feels good to pose. My crumpled self is slowly starting to come out of its crumpled self. This could work. I can feel the benefits already.

The class progresses and I am able to things like the fish pose, or downward dog, or sun salutation. Though the teacher first pronounces things in their native origin. So what I hear is:


Alright now we will be doing Samjamaramarubadub or Locust Pose.

I am very grateful for intro level instruction.

Then we end the class with breathing exercises and deep relaxation.

The deep relaxation is my favorite part. We lay on the ground with our eyes closes. We should be meditating, but it is all I can do just to stay awake and not add snoring to the list of bodily functions I have exercised in this class.

The breathing exercises are slightly more challenging. One of them involves breathing in and out very quickly 25 times. It’s actually quite simple but I won’t understand how to do it until the third class I take, and instead of breathing in and out, I just keep breathing out and am really shocked when nobody else is wheezing by the 10th breath.

The other breathing exercise involves closing one nostril at a time and then breathing into and out of that nostril. This makes extremely paranoid since this process is what some people use to blow what is called a “snot rocket.”

I’m just trying to get into this Yoga thing, the last thing I need to do is launch a booger onto the foot of the person next to me. I mean it was all I could do not to fart on her.

But in the end all of my boogers stayed in their cave and as for breaking wind, well let’s just say nobody heard anything.

My Bazooka of Peace - Part 1

Based on recent events (and by “recent events” I mean unbearable back pain and my doctor telling me my neck muscles look like that of an “old man”) I have started doing yoga.

Some of you may remember I tried yoga on the beach in Miami with what might be called no success. Unless you define success by sweating profusely, tipping over and falling into the sand so that I looked like a gangly sugared pastry, in which case I was the most successful person in Miami.

I made a commitment to do yoga back in January. So naturally, I bought my own yoga mat in April.

I bought my own mat because the idea of lying on the floor.... on a thin piece of foam.... that hundreds of other people have done whatever on, really, really grosses me out.
Plus I have a friend who got ringworm on her arm from the equipment at her gym and she showed it to me and it was gross. And once you’ve had/seen ringworm it’s reason enough to never ever touch anything ever again.

Plus I figured if I bought a mat, I would be more committed to doing yoga instead of always saying “ohh I don’t have a mat.”

So I got a mat, unwrapped it (It’s blue!) and placed it in the fancy yoga mat holder I purchased for it.


I then moved it out of the way and put it in the corner of my living room. And that is where it has been sitting for the last two months.

It’s not that I don’t want to go to yoga. I really, really do! I am extremely worried that my body will continue to atrophy until I walk around town at a 90-degree angle and start talking to dogs because they are the only things I can make eye contact with.

The main challenge is I don't have very much time in my schedule (what the hell takes up all my time I couldn't tell you) to go and do yoga. And also it’s expensive. I know there are super duper cheap places, but the places in my neighborhood are between 10 and 20 dollars a class.

Weekends are usually pretty full with projects I have invented for myself or I am too lazy or too busy eating two bagels at a time to get my life together enough to go sit in a room with a hunch of strangers and bend my body into a bunch of positions that could instantly snap my bones like a pile of stale churros.

And weeknights are tough because I try to use those nights to write, podcast or if I am lucky enough... see my friends.

Mornings are out of the questions because... well... because its early dude! And while I have a lot of energy early in the day, having the energy for a physical activity is different.

Sometimes I will see somebody at work with a yoga mat and say to them:

Hey are you doing yoga after work?
No, I went before work.

And then I instantly feel the need to put down the box of munchkins I am holding to tell them every healthy aspect of my life that is healthy and natural and good.

But the pain from sitting at a desk is really starting to get to me. I slouch like I’m melting into the floor. I try sitting up straight, but that is usually if I have a wedgie I can’t discreetly get rid of. I don’t try to slouch, it’s just I end up sliding down into my chair which is just more comfortable for me, but then I end up in more pain because the comfortable chair position is killing me slowly.

I tried getting one of those ergonomic chair attachment thingies that slide over the chair and give your back a natural arch. But I think it’s too severe and I can’t help but feel like it is trying to force me to try and type with my pelvis.

I tried different iterations of it, moving it up, moving it down, and turning it upside down. I can’t get the damn thing to feel good.

Since that thing is not really working, and since my doctor made me realize my body is turning into something decrepit I realized it was time to make time to get into shape.

It just so happened that my doctor visit coincided with availability of a Groupon for a month of unlimited yoga at a third of the normal prize. Before I even bought the frigging thing I was telling everybody I was going to do it. After I had told about 7 people I realized I hadn’t actually done anything yet, so I quickly bought the Groupon.

Really it was perfect timing, serendipitous even. The gods of discounts knew that I was both thrifty and out of shape. All I had to do was buy this Groupon and I could quickly become one of those people who swears by yoga, and tells everybody how amazing it is and what it does for them.

I wanted to be one of those people.

So on the day of yoga, I grabbed my mat, slung across my back and walked out the door. Immediately I felt different. I felt like I was important or something. I felt like people must be looking at me thinking, oh yea, he's bendy, he does yoga.

When in reality nobody probably gave a crap about me. I did feel kind of strangely powerful, like a was carrying a cannon on my back. Except, a cannon that made people feel better and more at ease. My bazooka of peace.

And my bazooka of peace and I went to our first class where I would quickly feel better about myself.

But as I would quickly find out, it was not going to be that easy.

Age Before Beauty

Let me be clear about something. This is not a rant about how I am so old and I know so much and my life is so full of experience etc. No. I am pretty comfortable with my position in life. I’d like to be smarter, I’d like to be more successful, but other wise, I am pretty comfortable.

My body on the other hand, seems to have different ideas about things. My body seems to be aging rapidly in some discreet (and not so discreet) ways that I don't notice on a regular basis.

The first is my gray hair. Now I have been going gray for a while, pretty much once you get your first gray hair you are "going gray." I was like 18 or 19 when I saw my first. I didn't think about it much.

But seeing as I am only 27, there is a very bit of the gray music playing its way around the sides of my hair. And people feel the need to point this out to me on a regular basis. But they always do it in a way that actually leaves no response.

Ohh going a little gray there are we?
Um... no. No we are not. This is not a joint venture. I am doing this by myself. In fact I am not doing it myself because I'm not doing anything. It's just happening.

It's like when people ask me if I am growing a beard. Well, technically by nature of being alive I am always growing a beard. But even still, it is not something I do intentionally. I just trim it once in a while so the question should be are you trimming your beard.

And did you ever stop to think that maybe I’m not going gray, maybe you are just going colorblind?

I don't notice my gray hairs as much as when I get my hair cut and notice a fair amount of the ones falling into my lap are of the silver variety.

Which brings up another point. People always say you are going gray. They never say you are going silver. No the adjective silver is reserved for the highest complement you can give an aging man which is to call him a Silver Fox.

This is something I have been called several times recently.
 
Oh Richard, you're going to be a Silver Fox.

Here is what I know of a Silver Fox. They are somebody who has gone prematurely gray and is thereby more handsome because of this seemingly bemusing appearance.

So when people say I am going to be a silver fox, what they are essentially saying is that I am going to be attractive one day, which means I am not yet attractive, which means...

Well, let's just leave it at not yet attractive shall we?

Everybody is so concerned with what they are going to be. I don't want to be a Silver Fox, I want to be a Rich Boehmcke. In fact, I AM a Rich Boehmcke. Here I am. Look at me, unfox-like as I am.

What is the opposite of a fox? What is the opposite of something compact, gray, and sleek? Maybe a... Giraffe? I guess that's what I am,  a brown giraffe. Yeah, now that's a compliment. Actually Brown giraffe makes me sound like my skin has the capacity to tan. OK, Pale Giraffe. Now we're talking.

But one way in which I am not like a fox or a giraffe is that fact that I am incredibly out of shape. I don't appear to be out of shape upon first glance. My pants fit and I don't eat Doritos for breakfast, but it’s a more covert out of shape.

When my life has gotten busy, as it is currently, I only work out like once a week or once every other week due to what is scientifically known as "laziness."

But when I go to do something extremely physical I might be able to perform at the level of competition, be it playing basketball or going for a jog. But for days afterward my body feels like an old erector set that was left out in the rain for a month. I can actually hear my joints oxidizing.

This past week my company started its softball league. We had a lot of fun but I didn't see that much action in the field and I only got up 3 times. Granted I ran like hell each time. The first two times I got up, I singled. The third time I fouled off a pitch and ran hard to first base. It wasn't until I got there that I realized it was a foul ball. So i jogged back to the batter's box, picked up my bat and immediately thought to myself:

Oh my god I’m going to pass out. There’s no way I can remain standing. Dear god give me the strength to swing this bat.

My legs were trembling. My arms were trembling. I think my ears were even trembling from the exhaustion of having to flap in the breeze as I ran like a speeding... sheep.

So I swung and hit a long fly ball into the outfield and luckily adrenaline took over I was able to make it to first base, second base, all the way to third. I was able to stop only because I no longer had the capacity to run.

We ended up losing the game, which was fine. We went out for drinks and had a good time. However, when I woke up the next morning I felt like I had been beaten by a gang in a dark alley.

In fact I was so sore I could barely walk without moaning. When I sat at my desk I couldn’t cross my legs without a winch and pulley system. This is a pain that has yet to go away.

So while I may not complain of being an old man, my body is apparently trying to beat me to the punch. So instead of striving to be Rich Boehmcke, an attractive man, I’ll just have to settle for my newest aspiration:

Rich Boehmcke: The Gray Giraffe.

Flog Blog

Undress to your comfort level.

That’s what she said to me. And you’d think that would be an easy enough instruction to follow. If I were, say, waiting for the train to come. And somebody said to me “undress to your comfort level” I would probably not move a muscle and continue to enjoy my fully clothed existence.

Whereas, if I happened to be in dressing room of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and one of the models said to me “undress to your comfort level” I would shed my clothes like they were made of bees.

But the person who told me to undress to my comfort level was actually a masseuse, and I was about to get a massage from her. She had just brought me into the room when she said it.

Undress to your comfort level. Take your time. Then get under the blanket face down. I will be right back.

I typically don’t do well with instantaneous options that involve me selecting the best course of action.

Had she said “Keep all of your clothes on, put on this winter coat, and then lay under this down comforter with your arms straight out like you are superman,” I would have readily complied because she is the expert and she told me what to do.

Just like if she had told me to strip naked and get under the covers and hum the star spangled banner until she came back, I would have also been OK with that because once again, professional giving me instructions I can handle.

But she had given me an option and I had no idea how to react because I wasn’t sure the correct protocol. I didn’t want to immediately strip naked and have her start massaging me and think I was some kind of a pervert.

But just recently I had received a massage in Fiji where I had showed up in my bathing suit and the woman just told me to get under the blanket and that was that.

Not wanting to go too far I left my boxers on, got under the blanket, and waited for her to come back to the room and judge me.

But somehow getting under this blanket without being completely naked seemed just a little bit off.

And immediately after she started massaging me, I felt like a prude, a nerd, a completely clueless buffoon. Like that kid at the public pool that wore his underwear under his bathing suit or somebody who wears a helmet while riding a bicycle built for two.

Actually just riding the bicycle built for two is enough on its own.

But it was too late. Because the only thing you really can’t do during a massage is stop your masseuse halfway through and say:

Actually, you know what? I think I want to take my underwear off for this.

That’s a great way to end up in jail.

But I had other things to worry about, mainly the fact that the Malaysian food I had consumed the night before that had given me heart burn might make an unwelcome appearance if I was massaged in just right (or wrong, for that matter) way.

It was at that point that I also realized I was glad I stuck with the basic Swedish massage as opposed to any of the upgrade options the nice woman at the front desk provided me with. I was certainly glad I didn’t indulge in any of the ones that involved a “flogging.”

And there were several.

There are certain things in my life I rarely volunteer to have done to me. Being flogged is one of them.

Even though several of the massages involved being “lightly flogged” and some included being feathered. Apparently that meant having a feather dragged light across your body to relax the central nervous system… or just confuse the hell out of you.

Somehow I knew that a feathering just wasn’t for me.

There was also one I could have chosen that would have involved 9 essential oils, coating me in sliced ginger and topped off by having my entire body “sugared.” When hearing this I almost wondered aloud if after it was finished I would also be popped into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and tender?

But those worries were behind me and I was able to just concentrate on the massage itself, which was not too light or too painful. I had doubted myself when before the massage started my masseuse asked me “What kind of pressure” I liked.

Again, if she said I am rough, I would have said, oh OK, I get it, I’m ready, bring it on.

Or had she said I have the hands of a lily, again, I could have handled that. But the fact that she asked me what I wanted, made me panic.

I didn’t want to say go easy on me.

Yes please, take it easy on the pale kid who is afraid to exit his underwear.

I also didn’t want to say, please, abuse me. Make me pay for my sins. Because in my limited experience with massages I have found it better to say, “ow” as opposed to, “COME ON YOU SISSY. PUT YOUR BACK INTO IT!”

In my opinion, challenging somebody who spends 8 hours a day everyday pushing their thumbs deep into other people’s flesh to step it up is a whole bag of not good.

But all in all it went well. I didn’t cry. I didn’t break wind. And I managed not to drool on her feet. All things that might have happened had I agreed to a flogging.

 

I'm Tattooing My Face

I’m tattooing my face.

I mean it’s not going to be a real tattoo, it will just be in pen, but I’m still looking forward to it.

You see, I’m not particularly “tough” or “edgy.” I’m more “complacent” and “ticklish.” People like me don’t get tattoos, we get screen printed t-shirts. It’s not just the needle that scares me, though lets be clear, the needle really, REALLY scares me.

They don’t even make any bones about calling it a needle. They don’t try to make it seem less painful, the way my dentist calls his scraping hook and stabbing stick his “instruments.”

As though the hygienist is in the room cleaning out his saxophone.

Ok Michelle, would you hand me my instruments… so I can play rich some JAZZ!

Nope, when you get tattooed, they use the needle. And they hold something in their other hand to wipe away the blood that comes out of you as they draw a picture on your body with a needle.

THEY DRAW A PICTURE IN OUR SKIN USING A NEEDLE!

I mean if that doesn’t make you cringe you must be much tougher than me, which actually, isn’t saying very much.

But the other reason I never contemplated getting a tattoo is because my life is always changing, as is my outlook. The things I like one year aren’t necessarily the things I like the next. I’d be terrified that 6 months after getting a tattoo of something seemingly significant to myself, I would no longer like that thing.

I did get a henna tattoo when I was 16 on my forearm that I believe meant “courage.” It was about the coolest thing I had ever done, which gives you a pretty good idea of how cool I am.

But I had an idea recently. Really I must credit my buddy Phil for inspiring this genius within me. But I (we) had an idea for how I could get tattooed and not have to cry in front of strangers!

So why now? Why am I going to get inked (washable) all over my body? Well, it’s my job.

You see I work for a pretty awesome company, and because we are a pretty awesome company, we do pretty awesome things – things like putting a ping pong table in the lunchroom, insisting that there be a giant bowl of candy at least somewhere in the office, and allowing people to wear a onesie to work.


But the most awesome thing they’ve done so far is decide that they are going to fight cancer.

Now I’ve worked for companies with philanthropic interests before. Heck, for 2 years I worked for a non-profit and spent my days in front of people who probably didn’t like me, trying to convince them to donate money, to a cause they probably didn’t care about.

But we’re doing something different. We’re not just donating money, or asking people to help out, we are going out and putting the pedal to the, well… foot.

You see a couple of years ago a good friend of our company’s founders named Jennifer Goodman Linn was diagnosed with a rare cancer. So she started a spinning fundraiser called Cycle for Survival. With 50 stationary bikes in a local gym they raised a bunch of money.

And Jennifer beat her cancer. And all was good.

But then her cancer came back. And again. And again. And today, she is currently battling cancer for 7th time. It’s kind of bizarre to see a vibrant attractive individual describe themselves as a patient, as Jennifer does. And when you think about the word itself its almost ironic seeing as patient is probably the last thing Jennifer wants to be right now.

So our company has agreed to raise money for Jennifer and her cause. And I was thinking about how I could raise money. Seeing as my goal is to raise a thousand dollars, I thought of all the ways I could do it.

-I could demand that every one of my 500+ Facebook friends donate $2.
-I could demand every person on my email list donate $2.50.
-I could demand my richest friend donate $1,000.  (After further consideration though I think I came to the conclusion that I don’t have rich friends)

But none of that would work. Giving is a very personal thing. And after 2 years in a nonprofit listening to people talk to me (and sometimes swear at me) regarding their philanthropic priorities, I feel I have some insight. I have a better idea. I’m renting real estate.

On my body.

That’s right friends I am combining 3 things – my hatred of cancer, my curiosity about tattoos, and my fundraising effort. Basically it breaks down like this. If you donate any money to my cause at THIS LINK HERE I will write your name on my body for the day of the fundraiser and take a picture of it and send it to you!

Warning: I may be wearing bike shorts.

It doesn’t matter how much you give, I will write your name on my body. If you donate a buck I will write your name. If you donate 100 bucks I will write your name. The more money you donate the bigger your name will be.

Here is the kicker. The person who donates the most money will get their name written on my rather sizeable forehead.

Studies show that people give more money during the holidays than at any other time during the year. In fact, the majority of donations come in during this season. Am I demanding you donate? Of course not. Everyone’s got their own thing going on and certainly I’m not here to judge.

All I’m saying is if you are so inclined, and if you have some bucks to spare, I would love your help in fighting cancer.

Because while I am scared of needles, Jenninfer Goodman Linn fears nothing. She’s beaten cancer 6 times before. I’d love to help her with her seventh.

 Click the logo to donate!




I Quit, You Win


I am, what some cultures refer to as, a “quitter.”

That is not to say that I quit everything I do, but I am pretty easily swayed to. I’m not real big on “overcoming adversity” or “trying really hard.” I’m more of a take it as it comes kind of guy. And if that thing is too difficult... meh. I'll just try something else.

Like tonight. I’m pretty much out food in my apartment except for some frozen chickens and vegetables. So instead of making something elaborate like pasta, or doing something difficult like defrosting chicken, I just went downstairs to the bodega in my building and bought milk and Cinnamon Toast Crunch to eat for dinner.

This give-up-type attitude is not something new. This has pretty much always been my modus operandi. In pretty much every grade I was always a straight B student. You need somebody to get an 82 on your test? I’m your man.

There is probably no greater example of my commitment to mediocrity than when I worked as a furniture deliveryman at the Oak and Brass House.

I was 17 at the time, and my job was basically to assist my boss in delivering enormous pieces of wooden furniture that needed to be assembled on site.

I was good enough at the job, I mean as good as you can be at carrying heavy things upstairs. But where I didn’t excel was the “how are we going to do this” part of the job.

Often we would be moving a dining room table, a bed, or some other massive object and arrive at a challenging point of entry. Perhaps we would have to move around a tight corner, down a narrow staircase, or over a ridiculous couch. And the conversation would always go the same way.

Boss: Hey Rich do you think we will be able to fit this?
Rich: No.
Boss: What if we angle it?
Rich: I don’t think so.
Boss: Do you want to try?
Rich: Not really.

But because this was his business and not my own, we would always try to make it work. And you know what? It fit.

Every. Single. Time.

So you can imagine my attitude when it comes to things like marathons. I have a friend who ran a marathon a couple of years ago and afterwards he said to me:

Rich, you have to run a marathon.

No actually. I really don’t.

There are many, many, MANY things I would rather do than run a marathon.Things that I hate with a fiery passion that burns like a cosmic ulcer in the soul of my soul.

So when my friend Sophie told me she would be running the New York City Marathon this weekend, you can imagine my excitement at being a part of one of New York City’s finest events, without actually having to participate.

What could be better than cheering on your friend while she runs around the 5 boroughs of New York... on purpose!

I was pretty pumped; this gave me a really good reason to watch a classic New York tradition. I was also really attached to it because I had a horse in this race. Not that my friend Sophie is a horse. In fact, she is quite the opposite of a horse. And its not so much a race as it is a massive army trotting into war, like the Crusades.

So basically it's like your friend is in the crusades. So I was very excited. Seeing as Sophie was participating in one of our civilization’s most incredible feats of health and fitness, I made sure to counter balance that by setting up shop at a pub along the route and drinking beers from 9 am until I saw her.

Now people had told me that the race was emotional.

Yea right, emotional. It’s people running. I see people running every day. I have literally seen a person running in every place I have ever been.

Except maybe church. People don’t run in church. But I did see an altar boy show up late once, so no, my original statement stands.

But running is just really fast walking. If I need to be somewhere fast, I don't run. I take the train, or a cab... or I just don't go.

So people running? 26.2 miles? I mean does anything sound more boring to watch in your life? Maybe if there was a stampede involved, and the people running had to run to avoid being impaled by a rhinoceros or a stegosaurus, yea, now that sounds like damn good entertainment. But just running?

Well, after only 20 minutes of race watching I already felt the rush. This was exciting.

We were set up along 1st avenue, which starts mile 16. We were inside the bar drinking and eating and we would pop out when a crowd came by. The first people we saw come by were the wheelchair racers. They were incredible. The feat of strength it took for them to complete the marathon was amazing in and of itself.

But I across the way from us there were roughly 25 Spaniards set up with banners, and pom poms and a huuuuge Spanish flag.

So when we saw a wheelchair racer with the Spanish flag roll by I knew it would be an awesome reaction. I didn’t expect to feel emotional. But I did. And watching the racer pump his fist as he passed the crowd, well, it kind of choked me up.

And after a half dozen more experiences like that throughout the day, I realized, I was involved in this race. And we hadn’t even seen Sophie go by yet.

 You hear it in anecdote, you see the stories in the news, but for so many people this isn’t a race, it’s a battle. A personal triumph. A vindication for a past loss. A tribute to close friend who passed away. The looks on the faces of the people who run past tell the entire story. There is nothing I can write that could possibly elucidate the significance of this race for the people in it.

They wear their names on their shirts so you can call them out and cheer them on. You scream out their country, or shirt color, or once, “HEY GUY IN A CHICKEN COSTUME!”

It’s exciting, it’s enthralling, and it’s impressive.

So by the time Sophie ran by, deep into the 16th mile of the race we were elated and super excited to see her, and vice versa. Heck, she even leaped into a beautiful jump of smiling joy when she saw us.

And while I have extremely impressive friends who do incredibly impressive things, I had never been more proud of my friend in my life. Here she was, after 2 hours of running, looking amazing, looking like she had hardly just begun.

She finished the race at a personal best that blew away her last time and we were all so excited for her.

And while it was extremely cool just to know somebody who ran the whole marathon, it is even cooler knowing that somebody did something so incredibly physically difficult and mentally challenging... and didn’t quit.

You rock Sophie.

Miami Bound Machine - Part 2

So after settling on a collection of (questionably) stylish pieces to wear to Miami I am faced with another decision to make.

Do I want to get in shape before I go?

Now I wouldn’t say I’m in bad shape but the words used by other to describe me (lanky, gangly) don’t exactly bring to mind the image of an Adonis. And this is Miami! Nobody looks crappy in Miami.

Now that I think of it that could be the catch phrase for Miami. Ya know,

Virginia is for Lovers
Georgia on My Mind
Nobody Looks Crappy in Miami.

Some of you may know that I had an unfortunate falling out with my gym last spring. I haven’t gone back to that, or any gym, since..

This is not to say I haven’t been working out. No sir, I work out, like a healthy champion. I have gone through several iterations of a workout plan with varying levels of success.

First I started working out in the park near my apartment. This was going well for a decent part of last summer. I would get home from work, change clothes, and then go do whatever routine I had cobbled together for myself. Sometimes doing pull ups on the monkey bars or step ups in the playhouse.

But then I worked out on a Saturday, and the park was full of kids and their families. I didn’t think much of it until I realized jumping around sleeveless and sweaty with a bunch of 8 year olds is a great way to live your life if you are a camp counselor.

Otherwise, it’s just a great way to end up on the news.

So I quickly put an end to my park workouts.

I decided I could just rollerblade instead. But there is a funny thing about rollerblading that you don’t notice until you are actually doing it.

And that fact is, NOBODY ROLLERBLADES.

I mean practically nobody. Apparently the year that rollerblading started getting cool was the same year it stopped being cool. And I certainly don’t look cool doing it. (Remember, gangly and lanky)

While I am blessed with a certain degree of athletic faculty, if I hit a bump while I am skating, my limbs spring out from my body like 3 different Jack in the Boxes. Which wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many people around to see it happen.

Add into the equation that dogs don’t like rollerbladers. I mean if they don’t like a biker, that biker can just ride away no problems, no worries.

But on Rollerblades, a getaway is not as easy.

Dogs don’t instantly bark, they just stare intently at you as you approach. You can see them thinking…

Herehecomes herehecomes herehecomes “WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!”

As they launch forward yanking their leash and owners arm nearly out of the socket. I usually try and laugh it off but I really can’t hear or focus on anything anyway because the adrenaline influx I just experienced is enough to bring a Mastodon back from the dead.

Plus there is a rather large hill on the way to the park. And while it is a bitch to get up, it is practically a suicide attempt to go down. I mean I am OK at stopping but there really is no OK at stopping when you are on Rollerblades. You can either stop, or you can’t.

And the hill ends at a rather busy intersection where I have to make a sharp right turn to get to the park. So I would either have to jump OVER the traffic like I’m Evil Kinevil, or just smack straight into it like… well, Evil Kinevil.

The last time I attempted this hill I was going down the hill so fast I had to jump off the side walk and jog onto the grass (in my rollerblades) to stop.

This near death experience quickly changed my view on using Rollerblading as my primary workout activity. Seeing as one of my requirements for my workout regimen is that I live through it. And as much as I’d like to be in good shape, I do not consider “dead” to be good shape.

So I’ve started working out in my apartment. I even bought one of those pull-up bars that you attach to your door frame. I bought it in Bed Bath and Beyond if you can believe it.


It seemed like an awesome way to do pull ups without ending up on To Catch a Predator.

I opened it and there were a lot of pieces. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical that the whole apparatus could be put together using the exact same tool I used to put my erector sets together when I was a kid.


But it worked and I have been using quite frequently. Granted it has been more out of guilt than anything else. Like this weekend where I eat 2 cupcakes at midnight, have a bacon omelet for breakfast and then do 20 pull ups like that is going to negate that refuse my body is now trying to process.

I tried doing pushups in my living room but every time I do pushups, the following morning my wrist gets sore and a bone starts to protrude out of it like I’m a crappy fetal Wolverine.

Again, a description I try to avoid at all costs.

I thought about joining a gym just for a month until I left for Miami but then I remembered the conversation I had with Neil, one of the prized idiot salesmen I met when I first joined my gym back home.

I was there with my buddy and the salesman says to me,

“Hey so here’s the deal, you guys like hot girls? Cuz we got a ton of them here.”

Wow Neil, nice. Very profound. In fact you could probably write slogans. How bout this one.

Miami: If you like hot girls, we got a ton of them here.

But seeing as there are now less than 2 weeks left to go before Miami and I have made nearly 0 noticeable progress, I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my body will remain more or less in the non Adonis phase as opposed to, well, you get the picture.

I have even convinced myself that taking the stairs up to my apartment can wipe out eating three chocolate croissants a day.

Desperate people come up with interesting theories.

But I have something else even more serious to concentrate on. On this trip there will be beach time involved and that means going shirtless, and that is something Miami is really not ready for.

To Be Concluded…

The Dentist

Let me be honest with you. There are few places I hate more than the dentist's office. Unlike the DMV or the library where the pain you experience is more of a general anguish. You just leave those places hating the entire human species. But when you leave the dentist's office you are often in an actual physical pain and you direct your hate at one specific person.

It is weird because up until college I actually really liked the dentist.

Seriously.

The dentist of my youth was quite a character. He'd squirt people with his little water tool, he'd make fun of you, he'd play little games. He was a person that really actually liked his customers whereas some of the dentists I've had since then, may or may not have done their dental training at Guantanamo Bay.

Also contributing to my early love of the dentist was his choice of dental hygienists. Oh man were they beautiful. The closer I got to puberty the more acutely aware I became of the various assortments of hot blondes and brunettes circling the office like a bunch of hot sharks.

They could have told me anything and I would listened.

OK hunny you need to start brushing your teeth with a used toilet brush OK?

Sounds great!

Then things changed. After I got back from college I had to get a new dentist that I instantly did not like.

While she had a pleasant demeanor and good intentions, she also had a hand like a foot. She told me that I now had a cavity in every single tooth and would be visiting her weekly for the remainder of my summer.

Here is the worst question ever:

Have you been flossing?

If you really don't know the answer to that question then you have got to be about the most awful dentist on the planet. I know you know the answer to that question. You know I know you know I haven't been flossing. So this is a power play isn't it dentist? You don't need to make me feel bad about being a horrible father to my teeth.

Kind of like asking a kid covered in mud if he has been playing in the mud. We both know the answer so just cut the crap. You just want me to admit I was wrong you sycophantic sadist with your sharp tools with their awful noises.

Who flosses? I flossed exactly 0 times a week until I got my first cavities at which point I continued to not floss. The only times I had ever flossed I am pretty sure it was the direct result of having eaten corn on the cob. I continued not flossing until I got home from college and had a cavity in every single frigging tooth.

So why can't we just skip the theatrics, you give me your 2 minute shpiel on how I should only floss if I want to "keep my teeth." And then you can send me home with a new toothbrush, some sample floss, and a tiny toothpaste and we can call it a day.

I started going in weekly, WEEKLY, to have cavities filled. I think it was something like 5 weeks in a row. Not that it wasn't a blast to go have cavities filled after my full day job at a summer camp - it really was. Sitting in the pain chair after 10 hours with sweaty, stinky, suntan lotiony 7 year-olds, so I could get a shot of Novocain into my face really is my idea of a good time.

The assistant would ask me if I wanted to watch TV and I would say yes and they would put on the news. Homicide, poverty and political scandal? Yes please. Don't mind if I do. That seems like a great appetizer before you drill the shit out of the bones in my face. Nothing puts me in a dentisty mood like the news.

I would sit or "lie" in the dentist chair the same way someone lays on the top of a 50 foot water slide, or perhaps, waiting to be shot out of a cannon.

I cross one ankle over the other, my toes crossed and curled inside my shoes, and my hands folded over my belt. I do this so that I can white knuckle (or white toe, as it were) my time in the dentist chair without too much of a violent twitch during the awfulness thereby causing the dentist to jab a sharpened instrument through my cheek.

And when I was having cavities filled back in my time of not flossing, let me tell you it was not a pretty site. The dentist was using picks, flosses, whips, chains, rotary saws, belt sanders... all kinds of tools. All the while I bled like a hemophiliac.

Which by the way, the sound of the drill... is there really nothing we can do about that? I mean you have to be some kind of sadist to enjoy using that. It sounds like the universe is being ripped in half. That sound makes me want to throw a bag full of kittens off a cliff.

My dentist would hit a nerve with her pokey tool and then ask

Did that hurt?

Oh no dentist that actually felt quite good. I was just testing your steady hand. Very impressive. Please, continue to stab me.

Or she'd start working before the Novocain started to work and then stab me again to which I would respond, "AWOOWAH."

Oh does that hurt?

Yes.

Oh well... it shouldn't.

Well I'm glad it shouldn't but unfortunately, my mouth's nerves don't work in shouldn't, they work in do's. And they do hurt when you do stab me.

Every week we worked on a different part of my mouth, so every week for the 2 hours after my appointment, a different half of my face would be frozen in what I like to call "The many expressions of Rocky Balboa."

I would go to the gym with a quadrant of my face completely numbed so that any attempt to talk or smile would result in instant drool.

But things are better now. I floss regularly and I have a dentist who is much more intelligent, kind, and friendly. I can think of few people I'd rather be stabbed by.

Now, if he could just get some hotter hygienists.

Feeling Swine

I'm not sure if you watch the news but there is a small illness going around they are calling the Swine Flu. Apparently this disease is really taking off and it could possibly get serious.

Naturally, I am convinced I am going to get it.

I haven't gotten a flu shot in a very long time. But after battling a rather lengthy germ fest last year, and considering there are 2 different flus to choose from this year, I decided this year I was going to get the shot.

So I signed up for the flu shots they were giving at my job. How easy was that? They come right to the office, I go see them, I roll up my sleeve, and BOOM, inoculated!

But then this "swine flu" really started spooking people and there was a rush and our flu shots were pushed back 2 weeks. And then they were pushed back another month. And I still haven't gotten it yet. By the time I finally do get my flu shot we will probably have moved on to the next great flu like Reptile Flu or Yak Flu.

In an effort to prevent the flu, my office building has installed automatic hand sanitizer dispensers next to the elevators in our lobby. This I think is a noble gesture but one that I believe will ultimately prove useless.

You see, after I get my free sanitizer, I still have to touch an elevator button and 2 different door handles before I am safely within the confines of my completely open half-cubicle. So to avoid touching things I have started getting creative.

Really creative.

Since the flu often gets transferred from hands, I have been careful not to put my hands on my face, and instead will rub my face with the back of my hand or my knuckles. But then I started using my knuckles or my fist to push the elevator button and push down the door handles. So now I am still wiping germs on my face, I am just using a different part of my hand.

So I moved on to using my elbow to push the elevator buttons. This was a good idea considering I can't touch my elbow to my face.

I know, I tried.

It is easy to hit the up button for the elevators the way Fonzie hits a jukebox. There is only one button and it is pretty high on the wall. Hard to screw up.

But once inside the elevator, there are like 20 different buttons. And it is slightly more difficult to bend over to hit the button for my floor with my elbow without also hitting 4 other floors, the door close button, and the fire alarm.

Especially if there are other people in the elevator and I am still trying to make like Fonzie.

It seems being suave and germ free is a tough thing to do.

Then once out of the elevator, I still have to touch door handles to get to my desk. Granted these doors push in but I still have to get that handle down... and I've already disinfected my hands. And god knows what nose picking cretin touched that door handle before me.

So when nobody is looking, I get creative.

Since I am rather tall, and when I am feeling particularly swine paranoid, I have been lifting my knee to waist height to depress the door handle and then shoulder my way into the door. Sometimes my knee slips off the handle, and my face hits the door, which from behind probably looks like I am trying to hump the door.

But even if I make it through that first door, then I have to get through the inner door. Now the inner door has a big window in it which I can see through, but the door is in a tight corner so I can't see people coming, they are just all off a sudden there on the other side.

So if they time it just right, they will probably see eye to eye with me as I thrust my crotch at the window, while trying to get my knee to a height appropriate for pushing down a door handle.

One day someone is going to catch me at just the right time and I am going to end up in a sexual harassment seminar.

But if I do get the swine flu, the train is where it will probably happen. The train is the perfect flu incubator. Plus there are so many cooties to be had.

The other day I saw a baby who was sitting on her mother's lap, put her ENTIRE MOUTH, not just her face mind you, but her whole toothless, gummy, wide mouth around a subway pole.

I almost screamed.

I wanted to say something to the mother as she let this happen, but I'm not sure what the protocol is for recommending to someone that they bleach their baby.

Winter is coming which means that I will soon be wearing gloves. This makes me a lot more comfortable touching the subway poles seeing as I have a boundary.

When I don't have gloves I avoid touching the poles at all costs. In fact, I try to make it the whole ride without my hands touching anything.

Subway surfing is the technical term for this, but with the back and forth, jumpy motion of the subway it looks more like I'm doing the hokey pokey. The only one doing the hokey pokey.

And almost nobody does the hokey pokey on the way to work.

The paranoia for the swine flu is also unbearable. Nowhere more so than in enclosed spaces like the train.

Every time I cough or even clear my throat the other passengers swing their heads toward me and look at me as though I had a bio hazard stamp on my forehead. I kind of don't blame them because I think the same thing when someone near me has a suspicious cough;

GET OFF THE TRAIN GERM!

But even more than all of that, even with the inoculations, and the Purelifications, and the warning, I am sure someone I know is going to get swine flu. Do you know how I know?

Because people don't wash their hands in the bathroom! And they will be the ones to get it, and spread it.

Damn carrier monkeys.

To Be Continued...

Stress

My body breaks down once in a while.

Whether because of sickness or otherwise, it almost always coincides with major events in my life. This will be an event that is usually preceded by a long period of anticipation and heightened excitement, followed by a very intense, exciting day or week, which immediately is followed by the complete and total collapse of my body.

Some might call this being stressed out.

I went through a short period in college where I convinced myself that stress didn't exist. I read some magazine article that said stress was only another word for fear. I decided it was the gospel truth. I started proselytizing to anybody who would listen that stress doesn't exist.

Like so many other times in my life, I was wrong.

It was perhaps because the word gets so overused that I tried to limit my reliance on it. Everybody is always stressed. This is stressful, that is stressful. I was so fed up I just didn't want to listen to it anymore. I wanted to prove to people that stress didn't exist. I could prove to them stress doesn't exist.

It did not work. And years later things have changed a lot. In fact, I have been feeling stressed lately. But in all fairness it's actually kind of a good stress.

Kind of.

Through my own personal stroke of brilliance, I made a decision this summer that I had way too much free time and I wanted a project. So, as a direct result of that thought, in exactly 3 days from now, a 2 night run of short plays that I wrote and directed will be performed at a small off, off, off, take a left and keep going, off, Broadway theater in New York City.

The plays, presented in collaboration with my friend Andrea, are pretty much self-everything'd.

And by that I mean we have rented the theater, found the actors, set up the ticketing, arranged the rehearsals etc. I started writing the 2 plays in July. And then there were multiple drafts, and editing, and reworkings and discussions before we picked and booked a theater and a date for the performance to be held, thereby giving using a deadline we could not miss.

A deadline that has been increasing my heart rate the closer it comes.

Since then we have put a tremendous amount of time into getting all the different aspects of the show together that will be necessary to make it a success. And while I feel very much that I am on the eve of the thrill of my life, my body is well aware that the end is near, and is not handling the stress too well.

In fact, a hive or pimple (we are not sure yet) the size of a hobbit house has appeared on the side of my face.

Awesome, I know.

This is not exactly a normal occurrence for me, but I can't say I'm completely surprised either. My body has a history of reacting poorly to stressful times.

When I was in high school I spent 4 days at a convention in Orlando as part of my involvement in a student organization. I was running for the highest elected office in this organization. Every day was an early morning followed by a jam packed schedule and ending with a late night.

It was crazy, it was amazing, and it was exhausting. I was so sleep deprived, and nervous, and excited, and stressed that 2 Armageddon sized zits appeared on my forehead instantaneously.

I mean I went to bed looking like snow white and I woke up looking like, well, a stoplight.

We are talking very obvious red marks. So big that it looked like I was in the sights of a pair of snipers getting ready to shoot me in the forehead.

The following year was my senior year and was capped off by the last convention I would ever attend. Emotions ran high that weekend. It wasn't stressful in the same way it had been the year before, but still there was a familiar feeling there. Again nerves, and sleep deprivation crept up on me.

That last morning I had to give an introduction speech at the closing session for a distinguished guest who had become a good friend of mine. My speech was only 2 minutes, but my body just couldn't hold it together.

My left eye, not both eyes mind you, but my left eye ONLY, decided it needed to blink by itself. Frequently.

So for the next 120 seconds, my left eye closed by itself seemingly every 3 seconds. It looked like I was trying to flirt with every single person in the audience.

Perhaps it wouldn't have been so embarrassing if my introduction wasn't being projected on a 50 foot high screen behind me... in front of an audience of over 2,000 people.

In college stress got the better of me as well. My junior year I was on the homecoming committee and after a week of sleep deprivation and late night events full of intense physical activity requiring mental alertness, my body broke down. And I got shingles.

Yes I know it is an old man disease. That didn't make it any less worse for me.

In fact, I realize that staying up late and not sleeping has caused most of these horrid outbreaks and reactions. In high school and college I was never able to pull an all nighter. My body refused to do so.

I mean I tried. I made valiant efforts to work very late into the 1 am hour, but I would put my head down on my arm for a second and then boom! Next thing I know it was morning and I had a page full of derivatives stuck to my face.

In the recent weeks people keep asking me if I am excited for the plays to get put on. And I am. A little bit. But mainly I'm terrified.

Sure it is an exciting thing, and it will probably be a very unique experience to see the words that I wrote coming out of other people's mouths on a stage in front of of dozens of friends that I had to convince, coerce, and cajole to come to my show.

And I have a feeling the end will justify the means. But I have something else to worry about.

Crying.

And let me assure you, when I cry it is never a pretty sight.

To be continued...

Second Puberty

As I continue on this meandering path into manhood, I am learning many things. One of those things is the fact that I can't spend my whole life walking around looking like I just woke up. I need to get my life in order so that as I venture deeper into my late 20s I look like a semi-competent individual instead of just, well, an idiot.

It seems that no matter how old I am, my body is always entering a new form and a new stage of puberty. And the puberty of my late 20s has brought some changes I did not expect.

The first time I hit puberty, though repugnant to girls, and with a voice like a broken cello, life was relatively easy. My personal grooming consisted of brushing my teeth and showering. There might have been some deodorant involved as well. But basically that was it.

And in terms of self-beautification, well, that was just using large quantities of hair gel and/or hairspray to shape my hair into a perfect quaff. It was not uncommon for me to spend 10 minutes coaxing individual hairs into place. They night have been stubborn but I knew that my will could outlast that of any of my hairs on any day.

Apparently that will only applies to the hairs that grow on the top of my head.

Recently I noticed a rogue nose hair. For the last quarter century of my life, these little guys stayed neatly tucked away and were of no concern to me. This fella, due to unknown circumstances, had started a slow, creeping escape from the nasal cave. I'm not sure what his thought process was. Perhaps it was something like;

I have spent my entire life in this windy darkness... I SEEK THE LIGHT!

The day I noticed my friend was going AWOL, I panicked. Wasn't this something that was supposed to happen in my late 50s? Didn't I have time until such a point in which my teenage daughter bought me an electric nose hair clipper for Father's Day?

I'm sure it was probably one of those things that I noticed but nobody else did. But what if somebody did notice? It is not like having spinach in your teeth or an eyelash on your face. There is no quick fix. There is no smooth way to hide this nose hair. I can't exactly comb him back into place.

Having no nose hair clippers and seeing the immediate peril in tying to shove a scissor into my shnoz, I opted for the tweezers.

Yea, I know. It was a bad decision.

Let me tell you, there are few sensations more disturbing than the feeling of pulling a hair out of your nose. I am not sure how to describe it other than it feel like you are sneezing pain.

The mission was successful but I was left with a predicament. Was I supposed to just admit defeat and by the nose hair trimmer now? Was I going to be that guy? The guy in his 20s with a nose hair clipper. Or should I just yank the bastard out the next time he made a break for the border?

I still have not made the decision. And I don't like either option. But let me tell you, the anxiety is killing me.

The nose hair debacle, though unexpected, came with a pretty obvious solution. Things that happen on the outside of my epidermis are easy to react to and I can usually form my own opinions about a solution. The things that happen inside my body, well, I just take other people's advice.

The more I read about what I should be doing to stay healthy, the more trusting (or gullible) I become.

For a long time I never took vitamins. Once I had consumed my last grape Fred Flintstone, I pretty much retired vitamin taking. Now that has changed. I take my multi-vitamin, a Vitamin C, and because doctors everywhere tell me to, a fish oil capsule.

FISH OIL.

Have you ever in your life heard of a more disgusting thing to eat for breakfast? If my mother told me when I was a child that I had to eat fish oil every morning before I left the house... I probably would have run away from home.

Granted the fish oil is sealed in a tasteless, easy to swallow capsule, but it is still fish oil. And every once in a while, a couple hours after I've had one, I will catch one of those burps that lets you know exactly what is in your stomach.

And let me tell you, a fish Eggo combo is not an awesome taste.

During my first puberty I don't really recall spending much time on foot maintenance either. In fact, I recall spending exactly zero time on foot maintenance.

Perhaps you are aware of my recent experience with the PedEgg. After that very unrewarding interaction I figured I needed professional help. I decided it was time to let a strange Asian woman I'd never me before, take care of my feet.

I got a pedicure.

I know, I know. I am doing the opposite of manly things. But stay with me on this.

My feet had deteriorated to the point of needing professional assistance. It's a strange thing to take a part of your body that most people find completely repulsive and shove it in someones face for them to make it better.

Here you go strange tiny Asian woman, fix them. FIX THEM NOW!

I didn't know exactly what to expect from the experience. I couldn't tell if the woman scrubbing my feet hated me or just wasn't paying attention to me because the 3 times I tried to start a conversation with her, she just didn't respond. I took this as a sign that we were not destined to become friends and that this was strictly a business relationship.

I was pleased with the results. But maybe not enough to make it a regular activity like eating fish oil daily or yanking hairs out of my nose. But the smoothness of my feet was noticeable and appreciated. Maybe this puberty wouldn't be so bad after all.

Until of course I hit my 30s. God only knows where the hair will start to grown then.

I Quit the Gym

Several years ago I read a fantastic book called "Letters from a Nut." The premise was this gentlemen would send letters to establishments and services of all kinds stating he needed special accommodations for his "14th century sword" or his "giant butter costume."
The letters were hilarious. I decided to channel him while writing the official letter I needed to write to get out of my gym membership. I get tired of the same old communication so I decided to take some... creative license with the truth. The following letter will be mailed tomorrow.
Dear ***** Fitness,
I am writing to cancel my membership to your facility at ************* that expires on June 30, 2009. I believe I am supposed to reference this number ******, I am not sure what it means but I hope you do.
I am also not sure why I am supposed to send this letter to you by certified mail. Why can't I just quit the gym... AT the gym. Are they not competent enough to handle such transactions?
Or better yet why can't I quit over the phone? I can open and close credit cards, check my bank balance, and pay the mortgage on my APARTMENT all over the phone, so how come I can't just tell you I don't want to get fitness at your establishment via telephone? Frankly it seems a bit 19th century.
I must say that while I was happy with the gym when I first started there (those full length windows are great) I believe the quality of the facility has decreased dramatically over the last 6 months. I understand that tough times require cut backs and certain sacrifices must be made, but I felt some of those made at ***** were unwarranted and saddening.
My first complaint is the lack of Zen grass in the bathroom. All of the promotional pictures and advertisements for ***** show a delightful tuft of Zen grass next to the sink. I have been thinking about becoming a practicing 2nd Tier Zen Buddhist for some time now, and I was excited at the opportunity for a moment of Zen before and after my workout.
I never saw said grass. You have towel dispensers and toilet paper that must be constantly refilled. Why not a palate of Zen grass that you can leave and let flourish? I believe this is false advertising.
My second complaint is the removal of the Q-Tips. While I understand that you cannot provide your patrons with all the necessary toiletries, and the medical research on the effectiveness of cotton swabs is divided, I believe the Q-Tip to be the most important toiletry, and I was bemused as to why I wasn’t even given notice of its impending removal.
My third complaint is the “day” lockers. These are supposed to be for use only during your workout, yet there are very few that are ever available. There are dozens of lockers and yet I have been in the gym with a handful of other people and there was nary a free locker in sight. This means that you are not enforcing your own policy. I say shame to you!
I have a better chance of getting swine flu than I do of getting a locker in your gym. This makes me sad. I am in great need of a locker during my workout as I wear several supportive undergarments during my work day which I am really not comfortable discussing here.
My fourth complaint is your towels. As an aspiring practicing 2nd Tier Zen Buddhist I maintain a hygiene of the highest order, the robes I am supposed to wear would never be dirty or soiled. I would dry clean them weekly, and my home is the picture of immaculate cleanliness.
I recently acquired a rather unsightly rash after using one of your towels. I am positive it was due to the towel because the rash appeared immediately following use. Thankfully it was treatable and no permanent damage occurred to my lily white skin. But who is to know what other diseases have manifested themselves on your towels?
My fifth complaint is about the dress code. While you maintain a code of apparel for what people may wear while they work out, it seems some of your trainers decide to ignore this dress code. While I understand dungarees provide a comfortable style of panting, they have no place in a place of fitness.
And also this same trainer consistently changes the workout music to a station that nobody likes. I've even heard people in the gym say, "Hey, this is a station nobody likes!"
My sixth point is actually not a complaint. Your desk attendant George is a citizen of the highest moral fortitude. He is both kind and friendly, never anything but professional and I appreciate his contribution to the ***** brand. When I think ****, I think George.
For all my misgivings, my time at ***** has been worth it. I have been able to lose weight, gain muscle, and when I finally start wearing my robes, I know they will fit in a way that is appropriate and calming. I actually will probably need a smaller rope belt!
I do hope that you will make the necessary changes to provide the kind of excellent customer satisfaction that your promotional materials say you strive for. I hope one day to return to your gym and be pleasantly surprised (as well as possibly a 3rd tier Zen Buddhist).
Sincerely,
Richard Boehmcke

4 Worst Food Decisions

I made yet another poor life decision this week involving food. And it prompted some thinking about my history of poor food choices. So I started making a list of the 4 worst food purchase and food preparation decisions in the history of Rich Boehmcke. Here they are in descending order.

#4 Jelly Would Have Been Better - Sometime around 10th grade

This was a time in my life when I was probably feeling a surge of confidence. I was into sports to some degree so I was hanging around a lot of guys that were going to the weight room and eating ridiculous things.

This inspired a certain courageousness and whimsy in me that was probably misguided. I remember being in my kitchen on one particular day. There were fresh cold cuts in the fridge as usual so I took the roast beef and made myself a sandwhich. I was bored with the usual condiment selection. Then I remembered there was Skippy peanut butter in the cabinet.

I thought I was being clever, I thought I was being a guy, carefree and oblivious willing to eat anything. And to be honest, the first time I actually enjoyed my PB&Beef sandwich. Perhaps I was so enamored with my incredible creativity and whimsy (lots of whimsy back then) that my taste buds completely shut down.

That is the only possible solution I could come up with.

But the second time I made this my taste buds were not fooled, nor was my judgment. Here’s a tasty morsel for you. PB&Beef in addition to having an almost entirely unchewable texture also tastes awful.

#3 The Non Stick Non Bake Pan – Fall 2005

I was living in a studio apartment my last semester in college. My living space consisted of a mattress on the floor, a walk in closet, and an oven just slightly larger than a shoe box. Most of my home made meals consisted of chips and salsa and a cheese quesadilla. But with graduation impending, I felt the need to branch out and prepare something more grown up.

I had this large nonstick pan which I used to cook my quesadillas. I don’t remember what I was cooking on this particular day but it was something on the stove in that pan.

I realized I didn’t like the way it was cooking, not fast enough or not even enough. So I heated up the oven and put the pan into the oven thinking that would do the trick. Great idea Rich!

Not so much. About 15 minutes later I noticed a faint chemical smell. Like a tiny needle of sent had jabbed itself into my nostril and then disappeared before I could process it.

But then I was overcome by the incredible stench of ammonia. What the hell was that? Where was it coming from? I opened the oven and BAM. The wave was unbearable. I quickly opened the door fearing I was going to die of toxic gas inhalation.

I pulled the pan out and put it on my stove. What the hell did I do wrong? Was I not supposed to bake this pan? I thought all pans could go in the oven. Was this not true? Where was my pan instruction manual?

I paced around my room contemplating whether or not to eat whatever I had “made.” My better judgment prevailed and I decide to throw the whole pan out in the dumpster.

So with an oven mitt on I took the burning, stinking pan out into my apartment’s parking lot, looked around for any sign of witnesses and threw the pan full of chemical warfare casserole into the dumpster and ran back into my apartment.

I then spent the next hour peeping out my window because I was sure either
A. Someone had called the cops
Or
B. The dumpster would burst into flames.

Neither happened, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t try to bake another thing until, well...

#2 The Potato Chip Incident - April 15, 2009

I bought some baby potatoes recently (Their so cute!) and decided to roast them with some olive oil and rosemary. Great idea right? So I sliced them up nice and thin, seasoned them, and laid them out on a pan to bake in the oven. Beautiful little white slices of potatoes dressed up and ready to party.

I put them in the oven on 400 degrees and promptly forgot about them until later on when I smelled them. Oh goody! You know your food is almost done when you can smell it.

Apparently, your food is also burnt to a cancerous crisp when you can smell it. I had a sheet full of black potato chips. And not chips in the tasty football game snack kind of chip. These were a pack of charcoal chips.

I was distraught. Had I wasted all of these potatoes? No, I wouldn’t let it be. So I started eating some of them. While they were crispy they were also terrible. Absolutely awful. After several I decided this was not a good idea. So I stopped and threw the rest out.

A half hour later I realized this had been a HORRIBLE idea. My chest was in pain. I felt like I had swallowed a handful of ninja stars or an Isuzu. I needed a Tums Cocktail or Zantac 836.

You know those x-rays you see of people who have a giant medical instrument that accidentally got left inside them when they were sown up after surgery? That’s how it felt. This awful pain in my chest just above my solar plexus, like one of those charcoal chips had torn a hole in my esophagus on the way down.

The pain lasted for 2 days. I no longer slice baby potatoes so thin.

#1 The Worst 36 Dollars I Ever Spent - Thursday April 30, 2009

Despite years of evidence to the contrary, I continue to think my skinny pale frame is capable of building and packing on muscle.

I attempt to do this by consuming ungodly amounts of protein in shake form throughout my day. This requires me to regularly purchase protein powder. And like all the things, if you buy it in bulk, it is considerably cheaper.

Protein powder usually comes in 2 pound containers in standard flavors like Chocolate, Vanilla, or sometimes banana or strawberry. The largest size is usually the 5 pound container. So I try new brands based on what is cheapest.

So last week I purchased 2 different 5 pound containers of protein powder from the Vitamin Warehouse. One was chocolate flavor, one was vanilla. Neither of which I had tasted from this brand before.

Eager to see if I made a good decision I brought them home and made a test vanilla shake to see if I had made a bad decision.
And in fact, I had made a bad decision.

It was horrible. No. Horrible falls short. There are things that taste off. There are things that taste bad. And there are things that taste wrong, like they go against nature. Wrong like a donkey wearing culottes kind of wrong. Against nature, inappropriate, unfathomable. This “vanilla” shake was such an abomination.

It tastes like grounded up aluminum siding. Even just thinking about the taste of that shit makes me never want to do another a second of physical activity in my life.

But unfortunately I must continue to work out and consume it because I have about 96 more aluminum siding shakes to drink.

Hey… I wonder how they’d taste with a PB&Beef?

The Derm

My cultural heritage is somewhat of a mixed blessing. While the Italian from my mother's side has given me thick brown lustrous hair, the Irish German from my father's side has given me pale and somewhat, well, delicate skin.

Having such a precarious epidermis, I must make regular trips to the Dermatologist. Unlike some other doctors, you can’t get away with keeping some of your clothes on during the examination. The Dermatologist needs to look at all of your skin. And I don’t know about you folks but I have skin everywhere.

This poses an interesting challenge for me, in that I am someone who likes to project a vibe of strength and confidence. Yet, I struggle to do so while standing around in my underwear in a room full of strangers.

I didn’t go to the dermatologist for the first time until I was in college. I had heard of the Dermatologist and was aware of their contributions to society, but on my first visit I had no idea what to expect.

The first thing I didn’t expect is what a rock star the dermatologist was! I can usually get a doctors appointment anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks out. But for the Dermatologist, we had to make an appointment a year in advance.

A year? I’ve planned international vacations in less time. Who were all these people going to the Derm? What group of humans was so intent on seeing the Derm that they were filling up every single appointment for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 50 weeks a year? When I arrived for my first appointment I got my answer: old people. They were everywhere.

I was in a small space packed with old people. Apparently the more wrinkles your skin has, the more that can wrong with it. What kind of life style am I leading that the only people I spend my free time with are the people collecting social security that is taken out of MY taxes. I felt like walking up to them and saying;

"Ya know you are only here because I’m paying for it."

I was called in for my appointment by one of the assistants who said to me;

“Strip down to your underwear, take off everything except for your socks.”

This wouldn’t have been so embarrassing had my dad not been in the room with me for our joint appointment.

The Dermatologist is so busy that I couldn’t get my own appointment. I had to be seen with a family member and we weren’t even getting a discount.

So now my father and I were standing there like a pair of potato famine thieves at the end of a strip search, waiting for a strange man we’d never met to come into our room and inspect our Irish German abnormalities.

As the assistant left the room she pointed to something on the chair and said;

“You may put on a gown if you like.”

A gown? Maybe hanging out with my dad in our underwear wouldn’t be so bad after all? My regular doctor had never given me a gown before. This place was classy!

I grabbed the "gown" from the chair, excited to put on my royal robe. But after unfolding it I realized this was no gown. This was a large sleeveless napkin complete with some kind of plastic twist tie cinching string that didn't even make it around my whole waist.

Gown?! Yea right. I put it on and was suddenly aware of the fact that I was wearing a big paper mumu. What other "clothing" did they have? Toilet paper scarves? Newspaper pashminas?

So there we we, my father and I both standing there, like we were at a Fruit of the Loom testing facility. And I realized nobody looks cool standing around in their underwear. And that is what I struggle with.

I just want to look cool, or at least normal, when the Dermatologist walks in. I want to appear confident like I know what is going on in my life, but that becomes increasingly more difficult once the examination starts.

You are just hanging out in that sterile little room with that Lay Z Boy from hell. It’s a lot like laying in the dentist’s chair… except you have no clothes on… and the dentist is using his tools to poke you... all over your body.

So I use this time to ask all the questions about the spots on my body that make me nervous.

What’s this?
That’s a mole.
What about this?
That’s a blister.
And this?
That’s your belly button.

It’s all too much to handle. So since I have become an adult I have started going to the Dermatologist by myself. And on my last visit I made a commitment to myself. I am going to appear confident if it kills me!

I will not just wait in that room with nothing to my do. I will bring my book I will sit in the chair, gownless, and project an aura of sophistication and nobility.

When I was called into the tiny experiment room. I stripped down and refused the emperors new gown. I sat there, in my underwear awaiting the Derm.

But just sitting there I didn’t look confident, I still felt uncomfortable. What do people do when they are wearing clothes and feeling comfortable? So after a brief moment of thought, I went British dandy.

That’s right. I crossed my legs in the effeminate knee over knee fashion, with my book held out in front of me as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Like I just happened to be doing a Shakespearean reading in my underwear, and what’s this, a Dermatologist has walked in? Well welcome to the reading!

Did it work you ask? I don't really think so. I think my new Dermatologist thought I was slightly confused and possibly damaged in the head. In fact the look on her face was pretty much, "Oh Jesus." But hey I tried!

And besides, it could have been worse. My dad could have been there.

Veganic

Ever since I committed myself to becoming a professional body builder, I have been paying a lot closer attention to the food I eat. I don’t just mean I stare at it really hard. I mean I have been reading the labels, looking at the ingredients, and trying to understand exactly what it is I am consuming.

And it’s terrifying. The ingredient list in most of the food we eat is damn near impossible to comprehend. But if you read enough labels, not only do you get really paranoid, you will probably will start noticing some buzz words.

For a moment lets ignore the ingredients we can’t pronounce, because I don’t know what the hell they are. They might be putting nuclear waste in my granola bar, but as long as it disguised as a word with 5 syllables I’ll never know.

But the first buzz word that is flying all around is “Organic.” I am a fan of organic; I want all of my things to be organic.

If I had my druthers, I would sleep in bamboo sheets sustainably harvested from a combine in Vietnam and wear clothes made of hemp that were woven by a bunch of tree hugging hippies living in the San Fernando valley, all the while eating eggs laid by cage free chickens that spend their days lightly jogging around the 500 square miles of roaming meadows deep in the Canadian countryside.

But the organic craze has gone too far. I recently went to an art show where the free promotional beverage being served was “Organic Water.”

Now I know that I got like... a C- in chemistry, but I am pretty sure that all water is organic. I don’t recall anybody inventing water. The cave men weren’t drinking from flowing rivers of Sunny Delight.

The funny thing about this organic water was the fact that it had 16 GRAMS OF SUGAR!

Are you kidding me? That’s not water, that’s what you add to rum to make a mojito!

I was having a major thirst not too long ago so I ran into a supermarket to grab an impulse beverage from near the cash register. I picked one that looked like one of those flavored water types. It was orange, and that is my favorite color so I thought good things.

I took a swig and BLEAH. It tasted like… well I didn’t really know. So I took a look at the ingredients to see.

Organic extracts of orange peels and flowers.

Ok, not really my first choice for a beverage. I have never said in times of thirst, “Somebody bring me a frosty beverage that tastes of fruit rinds and plants.” But I let it be; I moved on to the next ingredient and found the culprit.

Organic Extracts of cinnamon bark.


Mmmm bark. Just like mom used to make.

Cinnamon bark? Are you kidding me? BARK?! What brain genius came up with the idea to make a drink out of the piece of the fruit we don’t eat, flowers which nobody eats, and bark? Bring him to me so I can force feed him his own putrid devil nectar

I recently watched a non-vegan friend of mine take one bite of a vegan brownie. One. She did not take another bite because she could not bring herself to punish herself like that.

Now according to the dictionary vegan is defined as a strict vegetarian; someone who eats no animal or dairy products at all. And if that’s you, bless you my child. Good for you. I am not opposed to that lifestyle by any means.

However the vegans who made this brownie cheated. I wondered what would make my friend retch in such a way after eating one bite of the brownie. Looking at the ingredients I realized why. One of them was;

Vegan Chocolate Chips

Chocolate, as I understand it, is cocoa powder, sugar and MILK. So if there is no MILK, then something has been substituted. But the marketing department for this brownie probably had a conversation like this,

Gary: Oh crap I don’t know what’s in these chocolate chips
Louis: Well then we can’t write anything on the ingredient list
Gary: No we will just call them… umm.. Vegan Chocolate Chips.
Louis: Good idea because by the time they realize it will be too late.
Gary: Muahahaha we are so evil and smart.
Louis: Let’s go kick a puppy.

So wizards Gary and Louis have essentially created a product and informed us of it by explaining what is NOT in it. These chocolate chips have no milk.

Ok great, so what the hell is in them? By their rationale I could create a candy bar with an ingredient list that looks like this.

Does not include, uranium, zebras, or pieces of Mike Tyson’s face.

But I realized it’s all marketing. It doesn’t have anything to do with the actual product any more. It is only about what you think the product is. Nothing is not twisted.

Like the package of Moth Balls I recently saw. The front of it said:


Old Fashioned moth balls.

Forgive my ignorance, but have there been any major developments in moth balls since... ever? Did I miss the advent of the moth ball that came with cable television and an automatic transmission?

Is the word old fashioned really necessary? Or is this company just trying to appeal to the customer who seeks the kind of reminiscence that brings back fond memories of a plastic covered couch and Brylcream.


These words, Vegan, Organic, Old Fashioned, these are all words meant to make us feel something about a product regardless of what it actually is. But if you think about how you feel while you real those words, you'll lose your damn mind.

And that is why I refuse to read any more labels. I will go back to my life of ignorance. and continue eating nuclear waste granola bars. In fact, if you need me, I’ll be over here eating a Mike Tyson free brownie.