Unnecessary Upgrades

There are few things in this life greater than an unexpected bonus. You know what I’m talking about.

Buy one get one FREE!

Now with 20% more!

Same great formula, new low price!

And so on and so forth. It is our natural instinct as human beings to seek out more for our money. Value is king, and we seek the throne.

But recently I have noticed some products and advertisements of, shall we say, questionable value. I refer to those brands that use cunning creativity and clever messaging to make us think we are getting more than we paid for.

Example A.

Due to the dental trauma I have had in my past, I have become a prolific flosser.

Thus I floss. I keep floss in my backpack, the pockets of my coats, at my desk at work, everywhere. I am paranoid. I even throw some in my pocket if I’m heading out to something like a Corn on the Cob party… if such a thing exists.

I use some brands that have a flavor, and some that don’t. But I’m not generally picky. Though it wasn’t until I visited my sister’s apartment on Easter that I really began to question floss.


The picture is blurry but trust me, you are reading it right.

High Tech Dental Floss.

High Tech? Really?

What makes this dental floss high tech? Was it made by NASA? Is this the preferred floss of astronauts in the Apollo program? Do they regularly get together for Tang cocktails at the end of the day and make fun of the proletariat who subject themselves to regular floss?

Neil: So Buzz I was using some floss the other day.
Buzz: Woah woah woah Neil, regular floss? Hey Other Astronaut that nobody remembers the name of, Neil was using REGULAR floss. What an amateur move! I can’t believe he didn’t crash our ship into The Sea of Tranquility.

High tech dental floss? Really? I turned the package over to see if I could scope out the deets of what made this dental floss so fantastically high tech but I found nothing. If only I had seen the packaging I could find out why it had been called high tech in the first place. Because I have to admit, to me it looks a lot like A PIECE OF WAXY STRING. And if it were “regular tech” or “low tech” dental floss it would just be A PIECE OF STRING.

Unless of course you are referring to the fact that it has a mint flavor that makes it high tech? In which case my toothpaste is high tech, so is my favorite ice cream, and those odiferous markers we were all so keen on huffing in elementary school, which is why I’ve got so much goddamn brain damage.

High tech, psha. Yea. Whatever.

Example B.

I was out in my neighborhood recently, walking to the store when I passed a food cart which is regularly parked, on the sidewalk on the corner of my block. It is Halal food. It is usually made by one guy in a big metal wagon that can hitch to the back of a truck and be pulled away. They prepare things like chicken and lamb shwarma. Shaved meats served in a pita with lettuce and tomatoes and one of either “white” sauce or “Spicy” sauce.

Side note: I have been to many of these vendors around the city and I have never heard these called anything except “white” sauce and “spicy” sauce. Which leads me to believe, nobody has a clue what the hell is in these sauces. But I digress.

So anyway I was walking past it recently when I noticed this sign.


Hrm. Interesting.

Now for those of you who have never eaten from a truck such as this let me give you a little knowledge. I have never ordered anything from these guys that has taken longer than 90 seconds to prepare.

Whose life is so busy that they can't afford the 90 seconds to eat some shwarma, or as it is otherwise known; Street Meat?

Listen, this isn’t The French Laundry, this is not El Bulli, this is chicken on a stick, scraped off with a glorified Mach 3 by a guy in a truck and thrown into a pita with some extremely ambiguous sauce. What kind of lifestyle are you leading that you can’t spare the 90-second wait for that indigestion you are most certainly going to get?

I have thought long and hard about it and the only person I could think of is somebody mid marathon who is jonesing for some lamb. And that is fine. But if you are running a marathon and think eating street meat in the middle is a good idea might I suggest you save yourself some time and just start throwing up now.

The other feature, “we deliver”, made me wonder how he would deliver. Would he just book it from his truck and hope nobody stole it while he was out? Or would he just push his whole “restaurant” to the person’s house? Just move his wagon to their front door.

Hey honey there is a Halal restaurant in our yard. Do you know anything about this?
Why yes I do sweetheart! It’s our lunch!

I figure this guy has either made 0 or 1 delivery in his lifetime. Maybe it was just put up to scare the competition, not that this guy has any competition in my neighborhood. Unless of course you consider restaurants without wheels to be competition. In which case, yes, there is plenty of competition.

Example C.

I mean, really I just have to show the picture.

  
And really I don’t know what else to say here so let’s just go through the logic progression shall we? OK.

1.     I have some jewelry I no longer want and would like to sell. OK cool.
2.     I would like to find a place that will give me money for my gold and diamonds.
3.     Hey you know who might give me good money for my gold and diamonds? The guy who uses a scissor to cut my hair off for 10 dollars whose shop is in the entrance to the subway. Now THAT is a guy I want appraising my jewelry.

Oh and by the way. He also shines shoes and replaces watch batteries.

BONUS!

Can you imagine if there was a Halal truck that bought diamonds, cut hair, and sold high tech dental floss? Now that is a value add I can believe in!

Chairman of the Bored

I needed to buy some chairs.

It always starts out so simple doesn’t it?

I needed to buy some chairs because I have been living in this apartment for 2 years now and I have been sitting on folding chairs at my kitchen table.

I use that term “kitchen table” lightly because my kitchen is so tiny that I can’t open the fridge and have a thought at the same time.

My kitchen table actually sits in my living room.

Whatever.

So anyway folding chairs are extremely uncomfortable. I am a fidgety human as it is, but sitting in a folding chair is awful. I have to shift around every 3 minutes until I finally get comfortable with my feet on the lamp and my head under the couch… and then my butt goes numb.

I was getting so angry, not at myself for having not purchased chairs, no, I was mad at my chairs. I was starting to yell at them.

Rich: Man you suck, you know that? You just suck so bad. You are so awful I hate you.
Chair: (Blank stare)

So I decided to buy some nice, new, comfortable chairs.

Having no car and not really wanting to bring chairs on the subway (though that would solve the challenge of finding a seat), I decided to do it online and have them delivered to me thereby saving myself time, stress, and inconvenience.

What I didn’t realize was that I probably could have built my own chairs in the time it was going to take for me to get them in the mail.

I get online and I do my normal dance where I over research something, then order it, then have second thoughts, then cancel it and buy something else.

So by the time all that dust settled I had ordered a pair of this chair.


Exciting right? Yes quite.

Click, buy, confirm, woohoo.

I received an email telling me that the chairs had been shipped from Stockton, California. Hooray! My chairs were on the way!

On March 5th I checked the tracking website and saw that my chairs were “In Transit” in Reno.

And that is when the communication stopped. I went a whole week without hearing about the status of my chairs. I started to worry.

Had my chairs gotten off the truck in Reno to stretch their legs? (Rim shot!)

Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a lovely audience!

But back to my chairs.

Had they stumbled into a casino and lost all of their money? Were they sitting at a craps table with a couple of rough necked barcaloungers with cash to burn? What the hell were my chairs doing in Reno that they couldn’t’ be reached?!

Or maybe the delivery truck driver had lost his mind and decided to keep all of the furniture on the truck for himself. I could see him driving across the country on Route 66 blasting Lynard Skynard with his head out the window laughing like a maniac as he chomped on a cigar.

Sometimes my brain runs wild.

I pictured my chairs sitting on the back of a truck writing me a tear stained letter,

Dear Richard,

We left Reno days ago. I’m so scared. This truck is so dark. I haven’t been sat on in days. I can’t see anything and there is some ottoman in the truck somewhere that keeps screaming in the night. It is so lonely. Help me!

Sincerely,

2 Red Chairs

But then good news my chairs had arrived in Jersey. And then Long Island! And then while I was at work one day I saw my chairs were out on the truck for delivery! And then I got home and… I still had no chairs.

What?

I checked the tracking website to find this awesome tidbit.


Wait why?

What did they mean by undeliverable?

I watched as my chairs went back to Long Island, and then Jersey, and then California (curiously skipping Reno on the way back.)

So now I am seething. I am angry. My blood is boiling, I am red. Red like my chairs, which I don’t have because they have been sent, back to California.

So I call the shipper. The conversation went something like this;

Rich: Yo fool! Why you send my chairs away?!
Shipper: Chill playa, the vendor requested them back.
Rich: Word?
Shipper: Word.

So I call the vendor who sold me my chairs. Now I am really really red and trying to control my voice because despite my best efforts, when I get angry my voice doesn’t sound scary, it just gets higher and sounds like I am about to cry.

So I call customer service and I meet my undoing;

A syrupy sweet lady with some southern drawl who is just a pleasant as a peach. And apologizing her head off for the transgressions enacted upon me.

So instantly I feel all bad, but only for a minute because then she asks me;

Well we can have them resent to you or would you rather just cancel the order?

What do you mean would I rather just cancel the order? What kind of logic is that? Well ya know, I really wanted to start sitting on these chairs in early March, and since I’m not going to be able to sit on them until late March, well, jeez, I mean I just don’t know if I can use them then.

OF COURSE I STILL WANT MY CHAIRS! It’s not like these chairs are going to be stale when they get to me. Unless these chairs are made out of bread… are these bread chairs?! Did I accidentally order the Sourdough Dining Set, because if so, let me know and I will cancel.

But as it turns out my chairs were made out of wood, not bread. And they were resent. And they arrived. And they are beautiful. And I am sitting in them as I write this.


They are comfortable too! So comfortable that I don't have to rearrange my existence every 3rd minute. And my butt hasn't fallen asleep either... yet.

26 Looking at 30

Whenever I tell people I have a sister they always ask me two questions. The first question is if she is like me. “No” I tell them, “we are very different.”

“Thank god” they say.

Then they ask if my sister and I are close. I always say yes but I’ve been thinking about that question a lot lately. At the time I am writing this my sister Dana is hours away from turning 30. An event so surreal I can hardly wrap my head around it. I have a 30 year old sister and we are close. What does that really mean?

Are we close in age? Not really. We are 3 and a half years apart. Our Junior High and High School were in the same building so we got to share a couple school years together.

Are we close in location? Well we both live in Queens though we are still 2 trains away from each other. We both work in Manhattan but she’s on west side and I am on the east.

Are we close in looks?


Well I think we look like brother and sister. We both have brown hair though hers is a little lighter and mine is a little thicker. And of course she was blessed with skin that actually tans while my skin color only comes in 2 options, white and red.

More than once people have thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend.

Nothing in this life will make you feel more cosmically uncomfortable than having somebody infer that you are dating your sister. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister, but ya know… gross.

We both lead busy lives and she has a job that sends her around the world several times a year. So while we talk regularly we only see each other a couple times a month if we’re lucky.

So how are we close? What makes us close? If I had to stand before a court of law and proclaim that my sister and I were close and the judge said to me, “What proof do you have?” What evidence could I offer him?

Well as a child being close to my sister was very much a spatial thing. While we had our fights and frustrations with each other, I just liked being around her. She was older, and wiser, and just knew more things. I felt like she had a better knowledge of the world around us and I just wanted to be a part of it. I just wanted to be in her orbit.

Perhaps that is why I spent so much time sitting on the floor of her bedroom reading old issues of her Seventeen Magazine while she sat on her bed sketching dresses. We may not have been having a conversation, or learning every single word to every single Boyz II Men song at that point in time, but I didn’t need an activity. It just felt good to be around her.

The same thing goes for when we would watch TV together late on Friday or Saturday nights. Our parents having gone to bed we’d stay up watching Saturday Night Live or a crappy TV movie.

Sometimes I’d go to bed before she did, but often when she would say she was going to go to bed first, I no longer wanted to stay up either. Even though we were doing nothing on the couch, it didn’t feel like nothing until she wasn’t there any more.

Maybe what has made us close are our shared experiences.

There have been difficult ones, like our ill fated decision early in childhood to splatter paint the basement ceiling one afternoon before my mother came home from work. While history has blurred the fog of truth on whose idea it really was, by the end of that day it didn’t matter as we all ended up in tears on the floor of my bedroom with my mother swearing none of us would tell Dad.

But there have been great ones as well, like stumbling around Rome late one night after a huge dinner and copious drinks. We ran to catch a train to France while my sister insisted on stopping to take pictures of every single Roman ruin… without a flash.

Amazingly we did make that train.

But maybe there is more to that trip she made to Italy than just a funny story. I was in Italy studying abroad and she used up her vacation days and airline miles to spend a week with me bouncing between Rome, Florence, and the south of France on my spring break.


Perhaps it is that willingness and desire to be part of each other’s lives that has defined our relationship the most. A precedent that she has set and I have attempted to emulate in the 26 and a half years I have known her.

While we are very different people we also have very similar interests. Be it food and restaurants (though I will never forgive my sister for deciding to start liking ketchup. I can’t believe she abandoned me on that one) music, or just a unique activity, there are so many things that we both enjoy.

So many of our conversations with each other start out, "I found this awesome thing you'll love." And we both know that we’d rather have the other join us in doing something fun than not. Something I have always appreciated, especially in those first few months after I graduated college. I had arrived back home completely naked of confidence, security, or the knowledge of what was to come next.

I found myself mulling the aftertaste of a formerly exciting life from the confines of my childhood bedroom. But Dana would invite me out with her friends, helping me experience a sampling of a life I’d hopefully be able to create for myself soon enough.

So what is it that makes me sister and I so close? What proof do I really have?

I really don’t know. I just know that I love her. And if a couple of times a year I find myself watching TV at midnight and I can look over to my left and see my sister sitting on the same couch as me, well…


That is all the proof I’ll ever need.

Snow Problem At All

Just in case you’ve been in an isolation chamber for the last week, I would like to let you know that the world almost ended this week because of a snow storm.

Well, kind of.

Here is an observation for you: The amount of snow you can tolerate is directly proportional to how much physical space you have in a city. If you are in some place like the Italian Alps, bring on the snow. Gallons, tons, oodles of it!

If you are in a cramped place like New York City? Eight snow flakes fall and every grocery store turns into a Black Friday sale with people killing each other to get milk and bread into their wagon.

Why?

Why does 1 snow storm make people feel they need to go out and buy enough groceries to last them through the end of the next decade?

It snows every year in New York. But some winters are worse than others and when the hype surrounding a snow storm starts, people go bat guano crazy.

That is assuming of course, that the snow actually comes.

If, like last week, the blizzard actually comes, congress shuts down, crime stops, and there is nothing to report about except the snow. So you have these ridiculous news reporters out in the snow demonstrating to us just how snowy the snow storm is.

Reporting at its finest.

First of all they feel the need to take a ruler and put it in the snow to show you how much snow is out there.


As though we wouldn’t believe them otherwise. Like this idiot is going to get on camera and go;

Uh yea so far today we got about… umm…like… 200 feet of snow.

Then they do things like pick up the snow and have the cameraman zoom in as they mash it between their finger tips to show the texture.

They also get a shovel and shovel 1 scoop of snow and toss it into the street to show how heavy the snow is.

Thank you for that. I was just sitting here wondering what the procedure was for shoveling now but you went and showed me.

Meanwhile some poor shmo is standing off camera waiting to get his shovel back so he can continue cleaning off his sidewalk in peace like he was before the van full of Cronkites rolled up to give in-depth interviews with the snow.

Last week, not even exaggerating here, I saw a newscaster crawl through a snow igloo some 8 year old had made.

How does this help anybody?

I can imagine the conversation going on off camera that led to this Journalism school graduate to risk being crushed by 50 pounds of snow to demonstrate that… the snow is real?

As though there is some couple in New York watching TV as they get ready in the morning;

Wife: Hey hunny what does the weather forecast say? How bad is the snow?
Husband: Well, it’s enough to build an igloo that you can crawl through.
Wife: Enough to build an igloo?! Well then I should put on my “Enough snow to build an igloo boots” then.

Every newscast goes into crisis mode using the same huge news fonts and dramatic music they would use if there had been a terrorist attack.

Might I point out that what is falling from the sky is snow… not grenades.

I understand that bad things can happen with inclement weather, and it can adversely affect people but you do not need to bring me 24/7 coverage of the snowstorm 2010 as it happens. Here is how the news broadcast could actually happen.

We apologize for interrupting your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this late breaking story.

It is snowing. Bad. Stay home.

Now back to CSI Sheboygan.

Much like last year I was able to get a snow day off of work when the Snowpocalyptic Snowmaggedeon hit. Seeing as I was out of groceries (big surprise) I made the decision to go out and get a couple of slices of pizza from the place around the corner.

Well of course since I had stopped watching the idiots on TV I didn’t realize that this was probably the worst time to go. Just walking the 200 yards to the pizza place I felt like I was trying to return the one ring to rule them all to the depths of Mordor. The snow was blowing 100 miles an hour up into my nose. The walk isn’t shoveled. And I’m running, like an idiot, in snow boots because I’m starving and really want pizza.

And running through that much snow, in boots, there is really no way to not look like a complete idiot because you have to move every single part of your body just to generate enough momentum to keep going forward. Add a pizza box into the mix and people driving by must have though I escaped from a mental pizza institution.

By the time I got back in my apartment with my soaked pizza box I felt like I had just run a triathlon.

I was outside for 3 minutes tops and I was exhausted. It reminded me of when I still lived at home and had to shovel out my car.


Most snow is fun up until the point at which you have to relocate it.

I definitely do NOT miss that about living in the suburbs. Shoveling snow. Jesus. That is about the worst thing in the world. I used to really like going outside in the middle of the night to shovel the snow as it fell. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. And it’s easy when there is only 1 or 2 inches on the ground, its pitch black outside, and you are the only one around. It’s all very Zen.

But then the next morning there is 96 inches of snow, your cars have been sealed into the driveway by 3 different snow plows and you’re trying to move tons of frozen white shit with a 15 year old chipped piece of plastic attached to the end of the stick. You pull a muscle in your back, your sweating; so you take off a coat, and then your sweat is now freezing.

Yea, that I don’t miss.

Cold Hard Facts

I don’t want you to think that I hate winter. I really don’t. But February is about the point in the year in New York when dramatic frustration starts to set in. Here is why.

The cold is getting annoying.

I know I don’t live in some frigid place like Chicago, or Canada. You guys have it way worse. I get that. But it’s all relative, and as far as New York goes, the last 2 weeks in this city have been frigging freezing.

All this super bowl coverage of Miami isn’t helping either. I wake up and watch a special report from the pretty people pool at the Fufu Shishi hotel with all these tanned and glistening bodies in the sun.


 And then I go outside and the cold hits me in the face like a frozen punch of awful.

It’s been so cold in New York lately people won’t even walk down the streets. They are outside mind you, but they aren’t walking. They are running. But not just running, they are running down the streets screaming curse words at the top of their lungs.

Specifically the F word. That one is extremely popular.

So I’ve started doing it too. I first tested it out in Chicago over New Year’s. And let me tell you, it really does help. In fact while you are doing it, it feels kind of cathartic. It is the only thing that makes sense when it gets this cold outside.

Before I go any further I would like to tell you about a scale I have invented to determine how cold it is outside. The next time you go outside start counting. The amount of seconds it takes you to curse is equal to how awful it is outside.

If it takes 10 seconds it is pretty bad outside. If it only takes 4 seconds, it is really bad.

I went to a play last week with some friends and we had a dinner reservation at a restaurant about 5 blocks away.

Well I couldn’t even count how cold it was outside because before I even left the theater I was swearing up a storm. It was so $#&@%’n cold I thought about just lying down in the street and calling it quits because I didn’t think I could make it.

But I didn’t call it quits. I started sprinting and shouting. And in my sprint I passed other people doing the same. We were like a bunch of screaming fireworks passing each other the middle of the street.

But it’s not just the weather itself. Cold all the time always, ok, it’s awful. But it is the putting on of hats, gloves, dickeys, etc. that I find so exhausting.

Here is what you need before you leave the house in the summer.


Step 1. Get dressed.
Step 2. Leave the house.

I remember finding out that I had gotten a scholarship to Arizona State University. Tempe is known as the Valley of the Sun and temperatures regularly reach 115 in the summer and winters are extremely pleasant. I remember telling all of my friends that I was getting rid of all my pants. Arizona State University was going to pay me to not wear pants.

NO PANTS!

A couple winter weeks at home during break was easy. Plus it was Christmas, it was New Years, there were friends to catch up with. And just when the cold started to get annoying you were headed back to school for one of the 330 days of sunshine that Arizona provided every year.

But I am going on my 5th winter living in New York and it sucks. I mean waiting outside on the train platform is enough to make you go crazy. Now I understand why people carry flasks.

Here is what you need before you leave the house in the winter.


Step 1. Get dressed
Step 2. Select coat from your winter assortment.
Step 3. Put on scarf. Tie yourself some sort of Boy scout/sailor knot hybrid
Step 4. Button, zip, and cinch your coat
Step 5. Put on gloves
Step 6. Put on hat

Then you hustle outside, and get in a car or a train where you stay bundled until you get too warm so you take some of your accoutrements off. But then you arrive at your destination so you have to put them on again. So you rebundle and make your way to work where once inside, you unbundle.

I am not even including all the other ridiculous things you need to do like put on skin moisturizer, and lip balm, and special hand crème that smells like something used to lubricate jet engines because your cuticles are shot and its so frigging dry out you’ve got dandruff and your back hurts because you’re a decrepit 26 year old who tried to squat press his friends when he was 15…

Ahem. I digress.

So by 9 am you’ve gotten dressed and undressed like 4 times already.

God forbid you have to go out for lunch, or you need to run an errand. Any trip outside means bundling and unbundling again. And unless you plan on spending the night at work you have at least 1, possibly 2 bundle/unbundlings ahead of you.

By the time you get to the end of your day you’ve bundled and unbundled 12 times. And for what? Just so you don’t die? I’m honestly not sure it’s worth it. I mean that’s like 60 times a week for at least 3 months. That’s over 700 times a season. No wonder everyone is so frigging tired in the winter. I’m surprised more people don’t end up in the doctor’s office because they pulled their “coat muscle.”

And god forbid you have to wear those modern earn muffs they call 180s that wrap around the back of your head. Now admittedly they work, so I own a pair. But so do half the people on the street. They are an awesome invention. But something must be wrong when half the city is walking around looking like they got their head stuck in a clamp.

If I wasn’t so damn pale I would just move to one of those islands in the Caribbean where guys walk around in a bathing suit and no shirt and make a living unloading the shrimp boat.

Granted I’d probably get melanoma after about 40 minutes. So yea that’s out.

I guess I’ll just stay here. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go finish tying my scarf

I'm Done

I've come to a decision: I'm ready to retire.

Now I know what you are thinking. "Rich you are too young and full of pep and zest to head south for the rest of your life!" But I really don't think I am. I've taken stock of the things I enjoy in my life, and the things I would be able to do as a retiree, and aside from the fact that I have no idea how I would be able to support myself financially... I really do think it is about time for me to retire.

As I cross the hump from my early 20s into my late 20s, I have started to wonder: shouldn't I be a millionaire already?

When I was in my teens I looked at 25 as the pinnacle of my life. That would be the year of my prime, the year in which I was wanted by gorgeous women, making tons of money and reveling in my success.Well since rounding 26 and heading deeper into this decade of my life, I realize the only gorgeous women who want me are those who need a jar of jelly opened. I certainly don't make tons of money. And after some unmet expectations, I have redefined success as getting through the whole day with my fly closed.

So if I can't have the life I had anticipated, I might as well fast forward to the end of this movie and head right into retirement. I think it is really the best option at this point.

My parents are retired and living in South Carolina. This is a fine place to retire. Visiting them makes me realize that while I may have to give up certain things I enjoy to live in a place like they do, the benefits to my life would far outweigh any losses I would suffer.

Here is why I think I should retire.

While I enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle I also really like doing nothing. Not the kind of nothing that involves bumming around the house, fiddling with this and that. No. I mean nothing! Staring out the window at a tree kind of nothing. Doing so much nothing that I fall asleep because I am so relaxed. That is the kind of nothing I can really sink my teeth into.

Here is a rough itinerary for the days I typically spend visiting my parents.

Wake up, eat, golf, eat, nap, eat, watch TV, read, eat, sleep.

This is by far the most beautiful schedule I have ever seen. Picasso couldn't have painted a better schedule if he put its nose on the side of its face. Now the activities may switch place or occur in a different order, and once in a while there will be something additional like "shopping" or "visit Savannah" or "eat thirty cookies" thrown in. But for the most part, the schedule here is pretty accurate.

I would like to take this moment to point out that the golf is not a fixed structure on the calendar. While I generally enjoy golf I am so bad at it I really do question why I continue to play. It is a sport that entails a fair amount of adding. And the way I swing the club I have to do a lot of adding. The ball never goes in a straight path. And I usually end up spending half the day walking around the woods like I'm trailing Sacagawea.

Retirement relaxes you... I'm guessing. At least I feel relaxed when I am pretending I am retired. The only reason I even wear my watch when I visit is to make sure I didn't miss my tee time. Otherwise who needs a watch? What was I going to miss? It is always time to eat a cookie and take a nap. Always.

And as for my phone I just leave it in my room. Nobody calls me. The only person that calls me is my friend Megan and I'm pretty much the only person that calls her. So if we both walked around without our phones the only thing we would be wondering about is what the other person is doing.

In fact a lot of the time I turn my phone off. Why not? Nobody is going to call me to ask me to have dinner or hang out or anything like that. All my friends are 800 miles away. Who is calling me? Phone, you can be turned off.

I want to lead a life like these dogs I saw in the backyard of one of the houses on the golf course.


Any place where dogs hang out on lounge chairs has to have something really special about it.

Now maybe you think I am going to miss out on some really important things by skipping right to retirement.

Like what?

Working for 40 more years? Pass. Fighting commuters, crazy cab drivers, and mass hordes or tourists? Pass. Battling the freezing cold? Really pass.

The only concern I have is how I will support myself financially. And to be honest I really don't know how I will do it. But I'm sure there is a lot of money to be made in the untapped market of opening jars for old ladies. And as long as my fly stays up, I will have all the success I need.

Be Nice and Say Cheese

Manners: They are rare and elusive like a good doctor or a unicorn. While I would like to think I am a patient and loving person, I constantly find myself bemoaning the lack of manners and politeness in society.

For instance, I get all silently bitchy if I hold open the door for somebody and don't receive a thank you.

"You're welcome" I'll mutter extremely sarcastically to myself like a cranky old woman before storming off, all the while complaining about the deteriorating quality of the human race.

Now I know I can be a bit extreme about some things but I don't think I'm alone on this one. If you are looking for a conversation starter just mention how somebody was rude to you recently and you will light one hell of a fuse. The funny thing is those people who love to talk about their personal indignation were probably the same people who didn't say thank you when somebody else held open a door for them.

Bastards.

But I digress.

Now I think big cities get an unnecessarily bad rap, especially New York. Something about the hustle and bustle and the constant motion can be a little off-putting to people who are not used to it. Eight million people in a hurry to get where they need to go can come off as rude.

And aside from the staff at Trader Joe's (the people there are so dang friendly) I rarely walk out of a clothing or grocery store and think to myself, "Wow, the friendliness and eye contact of the sales staff in there was incredible!"

And I love living in New York. The energy, the opportunities, all of it is fantastic. But as I have detailed several dozen times in this blog, sometimes even this native New Yorker can lose his cool living there.

It usually happens on the subway when I'm in a pissy mood because I burnt my Ego or something. I'll be standing on the subway and some Neanderthal is pushing thorough the train car without regard for anybody and I think "If I just leaned my knee out a little bit they would trip and it wouldn't really be my fault."

Then I catch myself and realize I am a bad person. And I realize I need to get away.

I then usually take some time off to visit my parents in South Carolina where things are quite the opposite of what they are in New York. Things move slower. People are good natured and jovial. OK maybe not jovial, but the sales staff in stores are strikingly friendly. So friendly in fact, that it confuses me sometimes.

My dad and I went into the grocery store to get some lunch meat for, well, lunch. He was already at the deli counter when I met up with him and as I walked up to the counter the meat slicing lady said, "I will be right with you sir." I paused for a moment and looked around slightly confused. Who was she talking to? Was she talking to me? I hadn't even spoken to her. Why was she acknowledging my presence if I hadn't made some sort of a complaint or yelled at her.

I smiled to myself and just enjoyed the moment. It was so polite of her to acknowledge my presence without any precursor. Just, oh there is a human, let me make him feel welcome. This is a stark contradiction to when I normally go buy lunch meat and have to throw multiple bags of pumpernickel in the air just to get someone to notice me.

After I got over my flusterment I watched as the deli lady sliced a half pound of yellow American cheese for us and do something extraordinary.

First of all she sliced one piece of cheese and then asked me if I would like a sample.

Of course I would like a sample!

In the history of my life there have almost no instances where I didn't want to taste a sample. In fact when I was a kid, my friend Mike and I would walk around the food court at the mall feeding ourselves exclusively on samples.

I did this same thing in my college years at Costco around lunch time. But there you have to battle the old fogies who line up 20 minutes early for a cocktail weenie or a crab puff.

So back to my deli lady who is offering me a sample. And not just one sample, but for every single meat and cheese we ordered (4 in total) she offered up a sample. I should have just held up a sign like Wile E. Coyote that said "Yes I would like a sample" so she didn't have to ask.

But then she did her most magnanimous act of all. She finished slicing the cheese and put it on the scale to make sure it was indeed a half pound like we had ordered. Seeing that the weight was just slightly over the correct amount she took 2 slices off the pile, weighed it again, printed out the ticket, and then added those slices back onto the pile.

In essence what she had done was not charged us for some cheese.

She had given us FREE CHEESE!

This woman was a vision. A meat slicing prodigy. I wanted to take her home with me and install her at my local grocery store where they don't even look at me unless I happen to actually be laying down on the counter.

Now I'm not saying people in New York aren't friendly. You meet plenty of sparkling personalities in my dazzling city. But sometimes you forget just how nice people can be.

And you certainly forget what it is like to get some free cheese!

I really shouldn't' have been caught off guard by such a small gesture. I shouldn't have whispered to my dad, "Hey dad did you see what she did? Did you see?!" But I did. Now I'm not suggesting that everyone give away free delectable sandwich products. But I think it does say something about a slower pace of life where people are friendly and go the extra mile with you.

So for these reasons and several more, I have decided I am ready to retire.

To be continued...

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...

The Heat!

New York City is a fiesta for your senses. Be it your nose, your ears, or your eyes, there is always something potent to be aware of. It all varies by season, but summer is by far the most intense experience. The heat multiplies everything by a factor of 100, bringing about an attack on your senses so profound it is almost unbearable.

During June, July, and August the heat in New York City starts climbing, threatening people's mental health and changing them for the worse. On some days, the temperature and the humidity rise to heights previously thought impossible. And once subtle smells become unavoidable. It is on these days that the whole island seems to reek of rotting milk and hot pee. And no matter where you are or where you go, you cannot escape that scent.

These heat waves almost always peak on garbage day, when thousands of denizens throughout the city have taken their decomposing filth and trash from inside their home and deposited on the curb for pickup. Heat, Trash, Milk, and Pee, I mean, that's like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse right there. On these most magical of days I am almost hoping for the meteor to hit earth and put us all out of our misery.

The heat is nearly inescapable. Breezes don't exist and shade is a joke. And in effort to draw people into their establishments, many stores will leave their doors wide open using thousands of dollars of electricity to blast their air conditioning onto the street as if to say, "Not only are we cold inside, but we also hate the earth!"

But it works. It doesn't matter if it is a lingerie store or a fruit market, people like myself walk in without paying attention to the sign outside just because the arctic blast is so refreshing it is damn near impossible to think of anything else.

It reminds me of the time I was walking around St. Kilda in Australia. My bag with the good sun block had been stolen, so on this particular morning I had to buy a new one. Unfortunately I couldn't find the one I liked, and the one I purchased was apparently made from corn starch and paste.

Not only did it go on thick, but it completely clogged my pores. So when I began to sweat, and sweat profusely at that, my whole body took a whitish tint. And with not even a stitch of cloth to dry myself off, I very much resembled a lanky German geisha.

I sought refuge. Coolness, where art thou? This is summer in Australia; surely they must have "Air Con" everywhere, right? But there were no such places around. After much searching, this clothing store was the best I could do.


















Under the guise of being a paying customer, I actually took a couple of shirts into the dressing room. But really, once I closed the door I just stripped, sat down, and hoped to cool off for a bit.

I probably was in there too long because after a bit I heard;

Is everything OK in there sir?

Uh... yea. Just um... checking the stitching on this shirt.

I actually did end up buying a shirt with no sleeves which I still own. Which makes sense for me and not just because I have huge biceps. I sweat a lot in all seasons. this probably isn't going to win me any female fans but it is a fact.

And even though I sweat, I still maintain a high standard of hygiene. Through the use of soap and modern deodorant, while I may sweat, I certainly don't stink.

This is not the case for some of the people in my city.

Scantily clad shower haters are all up in your business. Especially when you are on the train. I don't want to touch anybody else's skin to begin with . But your sweaty, smelly skin?

Oh my god gross.

And as a side note, I will never understand that if hot air rises, and cold air sinks, how come when I am 50+ feet underground in the subway, I feel like I am on a conveyor belt going through the oven at Quiznos?

The other day I was on a train that a couple of kids ran for. Lucky for them they made it. Unlucky for me they smelled like fart. A pair of farts. A pair of farts sitting next to me on the train.

Awesome.

Part of me thinks we, as a train car, should be allowed to vote people out of the car if we have a majority. But I think a power like that is kind of dangerous. And also, thinking back, I probably would have been kicked off that day I had to ride the train drenched and topless. (Story for another time.)

I know this is mean, but often when I am on the train and I see somebody running for it, I kind of hope they don't make it. I know it's not nice, but from experience, 9 times out of 10 the person running for the train isn't gorgeous, jolly, or smell like a peach cobbler. No, in my experience the person running for the train contributes one or all of the following.

1. Stink
2. Sweat
3. Frigging Crazy

Just please sit down, relax, cool off, have a mountain dew, and catch the next train.

When I lived in Arizona, the summer would get up to 115 degrees regularly. And I swear to god if you even say something dumb like "But it's a dry heat" I will karate your face right off of your head. Because you know what? Dry or wet, heat is heat. And when people die of exhaustion, nobody ever asks;

Well was it a wet or a dry heat exhaustion?

Dry heat. You want a dry heat? Put your head in your oven for a half hour and see how that feels.

But what made AZ tolerable was the fact that every building had air conditioning blasting at gale force levels. So on a day full of classes, I would walk outside where the temperature was 108 and then walk into a room where the temperature was like ... 8.

And despite how hot it got out there, sometimes I kind of miss Arizona. maybe it's the reliability of the AZ air conditioning. or it could be that even thought it got up to a million degrees out there... it never smelled like pee.

Yea, maybe that's it.

It's Raining, Lesbians!

I had been trying to get together with a friend of mine for a couple of months with no success. Work and prior obligations prevented us from finding a date that worked for both of us. But a couple of weeks ago I got an email from her.

She told me that a friend of a friend of hers had a yacht. And every summer this fine individual rents out said yacht to a group of 50 people for a nighttime sail around the island of Manhattan. The price was 50 bucks for a spot on the boat, snacks, and all the beer and wine you could drink. It was first come first serve.

I was all aboard.

Normally I don't get too excited about boats (several different motion sickness experiences) but I was pretty pumped about this boat trip. I had hit a lull in my life lately. I hadn't done anything new or made any new friends in a while and I was hoping for something to bring some new energy to my existence. The boat held the promise of that.

Aside from my dear sweet friend who invited me, I would know almost nobody on the boat. Perfect! A bunch of strangers would be trapped at sea (or river) with no escape. They would have to become my friends. I would make them love me. Be my friend or walk the plank.

Now, I've done boat cruises around Manhattan before and they are nice enough. But be they after proms or other special events you often end up trapped on an abused, cramped, indoor, megaboat with a bunch of hideous Jaeger swilling folk from the suburbs.

I mean no offense because I used to be one of them... from the suburbs, not a Jaeger swiller.

So when the day of the yacht trip came I was excited to be on a small boat full of beers with a bunch of good people that had come pre-recommended by my friend. To get to the yacht though was actually quite involved.

I had to leave Manhattan, the island I was currently on, to get on a boat to go to New Jersey, where I would get off that boat and get on our yacht, to sail around the island I had been on in the first place.

When my friend and I arrived at the dock, she saw a large group of her friends had already gathered. The girl coordinating the whole trip had a mohawk. How could you not like that?

But as I was introduced to people and started shaking hands, I noticed something. There were a lot of girls. I mean that didn't really surprise me because no matter what I do, many women have chosen to do the same things. All of my jobs since college have been in departments of all women, the writing classes I take are largely female, heck, even my knitting circle is all women. I mean come on!

So I shook every woman's hand, all 20 of them. Very nice girls, smiling, laughing, holding hands, kissing.

Wait, what?

I think this is a good time to point out that my friend who invited me is a lesbian. So when she said I would be seeing a lot of her friends I figured I would be meeting some lesbians. I did not know that everyone would be a lesbian.

So myself and the lesbians all headed to New Jersey to meet up with some more friends who would be joining us on the yacht. We arrived and found them. More girls. Standing in pairs. Holding hands.

So we get on the boat and find some spots and get ready to set sail, but we can't leave because of the threat of lightning. Apparently lightning is bad for boats. I had already paid my 50 bucks so I wasn't going to go home at this point.

While sitting and waiting, myself and the lesbians quickly went through all of the beer that had been put out. We started discussing what the owners of this boat had meant by "all you can drink." I'm no redneck but I can drink more than 1 beer. I mean is that all they thought I could do? Just because I was on a boat full of women didn't mean anything. Let's not start judging others. OK boat people?

As I glanced around at my shipmates, some 30 lesbians, a trio of straight guys, and 1 straight girl, I started getting the feeling I was filming a spot for an alternative lifestyle cruise.

"Hey there, are you tired of being straight? Do you hate being around people of the opposite sex? Try hanging out with a boat full of lesbians! Set sail on the Lez-Boat! It will change your perspective."

This was becoming a recurring theme in my life.

I had come out to make some new friends and have a good night. I wasn't looking for anything more. Certainly I wasn't hoping for a Match.com boat or anything. But as I looked around the good ship estrogen, I noticed something else. There was only 1 other single, straight, male on the boat and I felt bad for him. Because while this boat was full of women, this was the worst place on earth to actually flirt with one.

You see every guy has had feelings for a girl in a relationship. Somewhere in our hearts we harbor (boat joke) some hope that these women will abandon their dooshy boyfriends and date us. That is always a possibility in our minds. Chances are slim, but they are still there.

But girls in relationships with other girls, even if they break up with those girls, they are only going to date another different girl. It doesn't matter if she is single or married, or a swinger, you my straight friend are not even part of the equation.

Thankfully another cooler of beers appeared which squashed my existential thoughts of dating. And we also left the dock at the same time. So I forgot my theorizing and threw back some beers as we sailed on the low seas.

Though muggy it was a beautiful night and we were starting to really enjoy the night.

Until of course, it started to pour.

I'm not sure if there is a speed limit on the Hudson River, but the speed that makes casually cruising around Manhattan on a summer night a delightful affair, is not nearly fast enough for avoiding a squall full of wet thundery lightning.

On the boat there was a flurry of activity as we grabbed our jackets and hoodies and ponchos and huddled around each other trying to stay dry. And the boat sped off into the night... at 4 miles an hour.

DAMN IT BOAT LET'S GO!

It was like being in a geriatric episode of Miami Vice. It was like if you were completely engulfed in flames and tried to put yourself out by walking leisurely around the park.

I came to terms with the fact that our boat was not going to break any sort of speed records and resigned myself to just getting drenched with the rest of my new lesbian friends. In fact by the time I got back to the dock I was soaked to the bone and completely gross.

But it didn't really matter because no woman would have found me attractive anyway.

I do love my life.

FREE WAFFLES!

People love free. It doesn’t matter what the free thing is. When presented with the concept of “free,” seemingly rational humans will turn into raving lunatics, crowding into fire hazards and acting like flailing 4 year olds for stuff they are not even sure they need.

It’s no better in New York where you need a home equity loan just to afford a decent martini. There are plenty of free things in this city, but there are 8 million people here trying to take advantage of them so the competition is intense and frankly, chaotic.

So you can imagine how surprised I was to find myself hustling across 13 blocks and 3 avenues to stand on line for 20 minutes to get half a free waffle.

Bear with me on this one.

I love waffles. They are in my top 3 favorite foods along with donuts and my mother's Chicken Parmigian. I have quite the discerning waffle pallet. I’ve made my own, I’ve eaten at Waffle Houses, and I’ve done waffle hopping in Belgium. I am a connoisseur.

So you can imagine my elation when I heard about a waffle truck that journeyed around Manhattan selling happiness to eager patrons. It is a simple concept; a beautiful yellow truck complete with a waffle making kitchen and chock a block with all the toppings you could hope for.

The truck makes stops in different areas, and rotates semi regularly. My first and so far only encounter was last summer when my boss and I emerged from a meeting on Park Avenue and happened upon the truck.

It was like a DHL truck filled with awesome. We pooled our cash to purchase some light and crispy quadranted happiness. Walking with a briefcase and a waffle covered in strawberries and Nutella turned out to be dangerous. And my boss had to save me from getting hit by a car twice as I couldn’t bring myself to concentrate on anything but this Midas touched breakfast treat.

The waffle truck and I had not seen each other again until last week. My sister knows of my obsession with the mighty waffle and sent me an email that said.

“Waffle truck giving away free waffles from 12 to 1pm at 45th and 6th.”

This was at 11 am.

Now remember I am the guy who shows up 20 minutes early for movies nobody wants to see. So you can imagine the instant anxiety I felt about a waffle giveaway.

My heart started pounding. How many people had heard about this phenomenal occurrence? Was it worth the trip up there?

When engaging in ridiculous activities you usually want somebody to accompany you so the two of you can laugh about how ridiculous it is.

But sometimes, an activity is so ridiculous that you want to engage in it by yourself so nobody will see just how incredibly excited you are.

I thought this activity was the former… as it turns out, it was the latter.

I called a couple friends that worked where the waffle truck was making its magical appearance but they were unable to attend. So, unable to attract a cohort, and with my pulse approaching record speed as the clock struck 11:36, I fled my office on a crusade for waffles.

I was so excited I actually ran out without my umbrella even though the forecast called for a 173% chance of rain.

No time for worries!

It struck me as I was practically jogging down the street that maybe my love of waffles and my quest for a life of frugality had led me to what an uneducated bystander might refer to as “desperate” or “pathetic.”

So as I speed walked 3 avenues to take a train one stop so I could walk 4 blocks to a giant yellow truck that sold waffles out the side… I thought to myself, am I going to be late? Will this place will be mobbed? Will people wait until 12 on the dot to get on line? What about the guy who bought one at 11:59? Was he going to be pissed off that if he had waited 38 more seconds he could have saved $4.50?

And was he terrified at the strangely large group of people that were just encircling the van like a bunch of breakfast hyenas? As though they would jump him as soon as he bought his waffle.

“He’s got the waffle…. LET’S GET EM!”

But I got my answer as soon as I arrived. The truck was parked near the corner and there was already a feeling of excitement in the air. Or maybe it was poverty. Either way, at 11:45 there were already 25 people on line. I was kind of surprised but I felt relieved. I would probably be guaranteed a waffle while still not appearing to be a super dork by being first in line.

I helped pass the time by talking to the “King of Belgium” who had flown in for the occasion.

By 12:02 there were 30 more people on line behind me. And as more people walked past me to get on the line my feeling of pride devolved into that of dork. I went from feeling like I was online for a free tasty treat to feeling like I was waiting for the pocket protector store to open.

I averted my eyes as everyone passed, and not having anyone with me, and unable to strike up a decent conversation with the people behind me I was forced to kind of look up at the sky with a constipated smile on my face while the line moved slowly along.

Eventually I got my waffle with blueberries and Nutella (because nothing says “healthy” like covering your fruit in spreadable heart attack) but it was only half a waffle. Pitifully sized at that. But I wasn’t totally upset. After all it was the only way they’d be able to serve such an excited crowd.

And besides the waffle was delicious, I passed on the knife and fork opting, small as it was, to eat it like a slice of pizza. I probably looked like I had just come back from the state fair eating a waffle covered in nonsense, but hey I was happy. Plus I got to meet the founder, the waffle king, and I got a story out of it.

So it was totally worth it. Kind of. Not entirely. But the good news is I learned a little something about waffles, and a little something about myself. But I know I’ll never do that again.

Unless of course somebody opens up a donut truck…

Airports Part 2 - Depression

My favorite thing about visiting my parents at “the resort” is the fact that I have an entire wardrobe and nearly all my necessary toiletries down there, so I don’t need to pack much to go. I just grab a backpack and I’m off.

I though this would simplify the entire process thereby eliminating things that could go wrong during travel.

Incorrect.

My 6 am flight from Savannah was due to arrive in New York at 8 am. But due to inclement weather we were forced into a holding pattern.

After 30 minutes of essentially flying in circles the pilot came on the speaker and basically said, “We’re about to run out of fuel so we’re going to go ahead and land in Baltimore.”

This began my 12 hour delay.

On this particular flight there was an especially annoying individual wearing a Bluetooth headset the whole time. I will refer to this gentleman as a WMD or Weapon of Mega Dooshdum.

I’m almost sure he would have been sitting in first class had our plane been larger than a hot pocket.

After we landed in Baltimore, everyone was worried about whether or not would be taking off in this plane again or getting on a new plane. This is when the WMD spoke up and said, “I just got off the phone with the platinum desk, this plane isn’t going anywhere.”

Ooo you got off the phone with the platinum desk? Everyone come and listen, Ezekiel is back with tales from the Platinum desk!

What else did the platinum desk tell you? How to solve the sub prime lending crisis? The name of the next American Idol? When Jesus would return?

I would have continued to focus my hate on him but of course, the woman sitting behind me was screaming in Spanish into her phone. The plane was completely still, no engine noise, there was no crisis and no need for yelling. But she apparently felt her speaking voice Spanish was not appropriate and instead was using her tornado warning Spanish.

I then realized what I don’t like about flying.

It’s the people. They are everywhere. Being weird. Being abnormal. Being creepy. I would not be bothered by flying as much if I got to do it, say, in my own plane, by myself.

I hung out in the airport for a couple of hours while angry passengers yelled at unsuspecting gate agents who were doing their damndest to help them. One woman was yelling at this particular gate agent about how this was the 3rd time this happened to her and blah blah blah.

She kept yapping until I said;

“SHUT THE HELL UP AND GO LAY ON THE TARMAC!”

Well not quite but I did tell her to leave the poor gate agent alone. I am so very brave.

If you take a look around an airport you realize this is no longer the golden age of travel. People don’t travel in suits and elegant leisurewear. They travel in whatever they found on the floor when they woke up that morning. I saw a man in a purple t-shirt whose belly was so big I thought he was wearing a prosthetic.

Perhaps he had some sort of silicone belly implant? There was no way one belly could stick out so far. It was only for the fact that his shirt stuck out so far I could see his bare flesh exposed underneath it that I realized this was no prosthetic. It was like a belly penthouse.

Beautiful.

I found out I had 7 hours until my new flight to New York, so I decided to take a shuttle bus to a train into D.C. to go see the Cherry Blossoms. I figured this would get me away from the crazies and the hideousity.

Incorrect.

In the fully packed Amtrak waiting room I came across another prized individual.

This gentleman sat across from me (also with a belly penthouse), directly in front of a brightly lit vending machine. He sat there cross eyed and absolutely transfixed by the colorful offerings available inside that magical glass box. I thought he was going to try and make a withdrawal from one of the many shelves when he made another decision.

You know how sometimes you cough up a little bit of phlegm, but you just deal with it because you are not in a place where you can get rid of it?

The gentleman sitting not 4 feet across from me in the Amtrak station waiting room did not think this was one of those places. So I watched him, cough, gag, and then let loose a horrific dribble of phlegm that fell like an autumn leaf and landed between his feet on the floor.

Beautiful.

He didn’t even try to hide it. His basic philosophy appeared to be, “I’m gross, everybody watch.”
So I took the train into Union Station in D.C. and in an effort to save money (I’m becoming cheaper by the day) I walked 45 minutes to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms, and the sun came out and it was beautiful. I sat strolled and took pictures such as this one.




And then it started to pour on me. I didn’t have an umbrella. So I walked the 45 minutes back to Union Station where I bought an Amtrak ticket back to Baltimore, which I then immediately dropped on the floor and didn’t realize until I heard over the loud speaker;

“Would Mr…. Bo-em-key please pick up his ticket at the information desk.”

Damn it.

Back on the train to the shuttle bus to the airport where I checked in for my 6 o’clock flight, and went through security. I sat down in the waiting area for a while, and was walking to my gate when a woman ran up to me and said, “Sir! You dropped this!”

It was my plane ticket.

Double damn it.

I was starting to think maybe someone or something was trying to stop me from going home. But 14 hours later I made it. Which means it took me an hour LONGER to fly home than it would have to drive.

Forget airplanes. Forget travel. Next time I’m just going to stay home and grow a belly penthouse.

And the Pretty Shall Inherity the Earth

The apocalypse is coming. The talking heads are discussing the failing/failed economy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The planet needs a bailout. Companies, states, and even entire governments (Iceland…who knew?) are failing. It’s affecting the middle class, the working class, and everybody in between. But I have news for you America. It isn’t who you are or what you do that will determine how you survive this recession. No, the only thing that matters is what you look like. The people who are in most danger are the unattractive. Ugly people, you are on notice. This crisis will affect you worst of all.

Consumers are cutting back spending and employees are being laid off. There is a bit of palpable hysteria in the air. It’s kind of like the worst thing ever. People are worrying about what would happen to them if they lost their jobs, myself included.

So I thought about what I would do if I got laid off. I can’t imagine the frustration of looking for a job while the unemployment rate is rising. I considered all the jobs I’d had in the past. And while it is quite an impressive portfolio of random jobs, most of them are pretty impractical or just not possible. (Being a summer camp bus driver doesn’t really translate into a full time job)

I honestly believe if I got laid off tomorrow I would just look for a full time bartending job until the insanity died down. I remember when I first started bartending all of the jobs required that applicants have at least 3 years experience. It was kind of frustrating at the time. But that was almost 4 years ago, and I am now properly experienced to get a prime bartending job.

So I went on Craigslist to see if there were any jobs available. There were tons! I came across this posting. This is real.

-3+ Years NYC Experience
-Smart and Intelligent
-Fairly attractive
-Witty and Charming (for the customers)

The hilarity of the posting speaks for itself.
Fairly attractive? How does one go about figuring that aspect out? It’s kind of like how I refer to myself as “relatively good looking.” To me, “Fairly Attractive” is what you say about somebody who is NOT attractive. Imagine a conversation where that description would be used.

Mike: Hey Rich I know this girl you’d like.
Rich: Oh really? Is she cute?
Mike: Well… she’s fairly attractive.
Rich: Does she also have a GREAT personality?

Fairly attractive is what you say about someone who cannot get away with just being called “attractive.” On a scale of 1 to 10 I have to imagine fairly attractive is like a 6 at best.

I suppose its better than unfairly attractive. People like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are unfairly attractive. They are the kind of good looking that pisses people off. Unfairly attractive doesn’t pay for drinks, gets out of speeding tickets, and gets gift baskets for just showing up at places. I would love to be unfairly attractive. Unfortunately I am just Theoretically Handsome.

I am very happy that this bar is an equal opportunity employer that doesn’t very much care what its employees look like as long as they are friendly, but that is cancelled out by this establishment’s next requirement.

Witty and Charming (for the customers). Only for the customers? Yea good point, forget everybody you work with. Be a complete and total a-hole to your boss and coworkers. Curse, swears, and be inappropriate as much as you like. As long as you’re Witty and Charming for the customers, all is well.

That posting was a little silly, but the more posts I looked at the more I realized a trend. Looks are extremely important for bartenders. All the posts wanted people to send a picture or apply in person; if you didn’t do either or both they were very clear you were not welcome to apply. It makes sense that good looking employees would probably sell more drinks, but these bars weren’t even being subtle about it.

“Resume sent via email must have picture.”
“Resumes with PHOTO will be answered first.”
“Italian restaurant looking for a good-looking waiter.”

But what if you are not good looking? What are my people supposed to do if we can’t pass the test of non-ugliness? Will I not be able to bartend to support my livelihood?

Not necessarily. There are still some options for bartenders; however they do require some other more… obscure skills.

OYSTER SHUCKER/BARTENDER
BIKINI DANCERS/BIKINI BARTENDERS (FEMALES) NO EXP NEC

I became a bartender to make money and meet people, not so I could get stinky and meet shellfish. I imagine the amount of Oyster Shucker/Bartenders in the city are quite limited. Its kind of a niche market.
And as for a being a no experience bikini bartender, well, I’m kind of confused this post did not require a photo. But then again, I suppose if you look good in a bikini, it doesn’t really matter what your face looks like. Lucky for me I look great in a bikini

So I will continue to do my best at my current job while still keeping an eye on the craigslist postings for “Goofy looking individuals with extreme ADHD who bear a striking resemblance to Guy Smiley.” That job I know I could get.