Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hello? Who is It?

My house phone rang at 10 AM.


"Is this Salon Cutz?" the female voice said.

"Um no, sorry, you have the wrong number."

"What number did I dial?"

"How the hell should I know, I wasn't watching you."



When I moved into the house I'm currently living in, I was assigned a phone number that had previously belonged to Salon Cutz hair stylists. I didn't know this at the time, but a never-ending parade of wrong numbers clued me in almost immediately.  The phone company never changed the number in their directory.

I tried to rectify the situation by calling the phone company myself, letting them know that their listing for Salon Cutz was incorrect. 

For some reason, the douchebag from Verizon didn't believe me.

"I'm checking here, sir, and the number we have for Salon Cutz is 867-5309."

"Yes, I know that," I replied, "but see, that's my number. That's why I called, the listing is wrong."

"That's the listing we have and no one has contacted us to change it."

"I'M contacting you. You need to change the listing, I'm getting wrong numbers all the time."

"I can only change the number if the business owner requests it."

Now I was getting angry. "I'm not asking you to change their phone number, I'm just asking you to fix the listing, changing it to the correct number!"

"Well, as far as I'm concerned, the number we have is correct."

"But it's NOT! That's MY number!"

"Can you verify that?"

Verify it? Like I don't know my own phone number. But I had another idea.

"How about if we hang up, you call 867-5309 and see who answers?"

"Oh, good idea. Okay. I'll call right back."

I hung up the phone and waited.


"Hello, this is Salon Cutz, can I help you?"

"That's what I thought, is this the owner?"

"Nah, I'm just fuckin' with you, I'm the guy from before."

"Oh. I guess this IS your number, then. We'll go ahead and fix the listing. Sorry for taking your time."

"Thanks, I appreciate it. Bye."


To the complete and utter surprise of no one, the problem was not taken care of and to this day, seven years later, the phone book still lists my number as the number for Salon Cutz. I get, on average, five or six calls a week from those in follicular need. For a while there, it was driving me batty.

But then . . .One day, I decided, screw it. If the phone company isn't going to work with me on this, I'm just gonna have some fun.

So I started taking appointments.



"Is this Salon Cutz?"

"Yes it is, this is Francois speaking, how can I help you?"

"Do you have any appointments open for this Saturday?"

"Let me check." I put down the phone, went to the fridge, and got myself a Diet Coke. "Yes, we do. We have a two o'clock and a three-thirty."

"Two would be fine."

"Your name?"


"All right, Stephanie, we have you down for two o'clock on Saturday the 12th, and you'll be taken care of by Chantelle. See you then."

"Thanks, bye."

Okay, before you imagine poor Stephanie driving aimlessly around our fine city and think to yourself, "Man, Chris is a complete JERK," I need to tell you that Salon Cutz still exists, in the same location it's always been. They just changed their phone number. So Stephanie did indeed have an appointment.

It's just that the Salon Cutz people didn't know it.

I don't know how my little jest played out, but I'd guess it went something like this:

"Hello, can I help you ma'am?"

"Yes, I'm Stephanie, I'm here for my appointment with Chantelle."

"Um, we don't have a Chantelle here. Are you sure you're in the right place?"

"This is Salon Cutz, right? I made my appointment on Monday. I spoke with Francois."


So yeah, I've taken the odd appointment from time to time. I've also been known to quote prices on conditioner, dye kits, styling gel, all sorts of things. And let me tell you, Salon Cutz has VERY reasonable prices.

Okay, maybe I AM a complete jerk.


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Ever Happened To . . . Davey Hansen?

Davey Hansen was raised by devout Lutheran parents who spent hour upon hour schooling their children in upright Christian values. Davey, along with his faithful dog Goliath, spent many a weekend cleaning up neighborhood parks, working with the elderly, and raising money for the underprivileged.

On the rare occasion that Davey misbehaved, like the time he disobeyed his mother and went ice skating on the lake, his parents sat him down, talked nicely to him (with only a moderate-to-high amount of guilt-tripping), and reminded him that he should always do God's work and follow His word.

Being raised in such a controlled family structure, Davey's high school years went pretty much like you'd expect.

He snapped like a wooden stool at a Jenny Craig meeting.

During his childhood, Davey and his friends formed a "no girls allowed" club called "The Jickets." Although they seemed harmless at the time, when they were sixteen or so, this "club" evolved into what could be more accurately described as a "gang." In fact, in the aftermath of what would later be known as "The Incident," Officer Bob determined that the seemingly non-sensical word "Jickets" was actually an acronym for "Juveniles Infiltrating the Christian Kingdom with the Eternal Teachings of Satan."

This explained a lot.

On the morning of April 13, 1977, the Jickets, armed with assault rifles, pipe bombs, and grenades, descended upon Clokey High School in Savannah, Georgia. Despite the warnings of the dog Goliath, who was overheard saying, "I don't know, Davey," Hansen and his gang stormed the school and opened fire on the students and faculty.

When the smoke cleared, 28 students and 14 staff members were dead.

Davey and Jimmy decide who's going to run the Jickets.
As agreed upon prior to their assault, the Jickets returned to their clubhouse, drank Jack Daniels' until they puked, and then engaged in a game of Russian Roulette. Davey Hansen survived, but Jonathan, Teddy, Jimmy, and Mickey all blew their own heads off.

When Davey returned home that evening, his parents John and Elaine were watching the evening news, aghast at what had happened at the high school. When their drunken and disheveled son stumbled through the door, John clicked off the TV.

"Davey. Is there something you'd like to talk about?" he asked.

"Piss off, old man."

"David Hansen!" scolded Elaine. "You are not to talk to your father that way!"

"Whatever," he mumbled, lighting a Marlboro.

"Davey," said John, "we saw what happened at school today. Is something bothering you?"

The Hansen Family in happier times.
"Ya think? Jesus Christ, Dad, you haven't noticed that I've been rebelling against you for the past six years? I'm tired of all the holier-than-Davey bullshit going on around here. I wanted to make a statement, show that the Jickets aren't just a bunch of choirboys.  Looks like we did pretty good, huh?"

"First of all, your mother and I would thank you to not take the Lord's name in vain. And Davey, killing innocent people is not the way to prove yourself. It's not your place to pass judgment upon others, only God can do that."

"Then why have you been judging me my whole damn life? Answer THAT!"

Silence hung in the room like smoke in a seedy jazz club.

"Where are the rest of your Jickets now, Davey?"

"Their brains are splattered all over the clubhouse." Davey put out his cigarette on the sole of his Doc Martens.

"Well, you be sure to clean that up in the morning," said Elaine.  "Remember, cleanliness is next to Godliness, and doing chores is a way that we show our family that we love them."

"Mom, do us all a favor.  Get a friggin' clue."

Later that evening, Officer Bob and Officer Dan stopped by the Hansen residence. Despite John's assurance that his son had Learned a Valuable Lesson, the officers arrested Davey and booked him into the Dick Beals Juvenile Detention Center. On his eighteenth birthday, he was transferred to the Fulton County Prison where he remains to this day.

On the fifth anniversary of the massacre, ABC's Nightline aired a documentary entitled "Jickets: The Tragedy at Clokey High School," recounting the events of that day in 1977.

In a live interview from prison, Davey Hansen said, "I got tired of my whole life being a parable. Every good deed, every mistake, I couldn't do anything without my father tying it into some archaic Bible lesson. I thought that if I did something dramatic, Dad might finally see me for who I am, enter the real world for a change. Didn't work, though. After I blew away my classmates and teachers, he immediately went all Book-of-Job on my ass, like it was suddenly all about him. Screw it. The Jickets had purpose. We had a mission, and we accomplished it."

John Hansen moved on quickly after the incarceration of his son.

Well, Davey's going to burn in Hell now, that's for sure. He made his choices. Thank God for our daughter Sally. She's away at college, studying to be a Pastor. We're so proud of her."

Sally Hansen could not be reached for comment. A call to her dormitory at the University of Florida was answered by her roommate, who chose to remain anonymous. When the Nightline reporter asked to speak with Sally, her roommate replied, "Oh, Sally's not here right now. She's spending the weekend at the Alpha Gamma Mu house. She's always at one party or another. That girl's out of control. She's pretty popular with the frat boys, though."

Goliath declined to be interviewed. His attorney released a short statement from the mutt, which read as follows:

"Oh, Davey."


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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Embarrassing My Daughter

"What are we gonna do today, Dad?" asked my 15-year old daughter Lindsay.

"Dunno.  What do you have in mind?"

"Can you take me to Forever 21?  I need some new clothes."

I know what this means.  It means, "Can we go to the mall and spend a few hours looking at clothes, and when I can't decide which outfit I like the best, I'll give you the 'You're such a nice father and, admit it, I'm a pretty wonderful daughter too' look, and you'll sigh and make a brief and ultimately futile attempt to make me decide, but in the end we both know you're going to buy me two or possibly three outfits and probably a pair of shoes."

"Well, Linds, uh . . . "

"I have a gift card."

"Oh, okay, great!  The mall it is."

We arrived at Forever 21, and the browsing began.  As is the case with every female I've known in my entire life, Lindsay entered the store with only the vaguest idea of what exactly she wanted.  "A long skirt and top" is how she put it, and if we're going to be honest, this is actually more of a "plan" than most women have when they embark upon a shopping expedition.  Normally, it's "wander around aimlessly for a few hours and maybe we'll find something to spend money on.  Or maybe we won't.  But shopping is fun!"

Men do not see it this way.  Men do not "shop."  We know what we need to buy before we leave the house, we decide which store will carry this item, we drive there, we go into the store, we remove the item from its display rack/shelf, we take it to the cashier, and with the least amount of conversation possible we make the purchase and return home.  In fact, just this morning I went back to the same mall -- don't worry, we'll return to the Lindsay story in a minute -- because I needed a new pair of sneakers.  Drove to the mall, went directly to Famous Footwear, quickly decided between the Nikes and the New Balance (Nike won), took them to the counter and bada-bing, bada-boom, I was outta there.  The entire event took maybe forty minutes including drive time, and that's only because I stopped by Wetzel's Pretzels on my way out because one does not visit the mall without having a hot Wetzel's Pretzel.

So we browsed the racks at Forever 21.  Lindsay rummaged through blouse-and-sweater rack while I checked out the rack on the twenty-something cashier.

Ha!  I'm kidding, of course.  That would be inappropriate.

Actually, I didn't mind helping Lindsay find a suitable outfit.  She gave me a few parameters (long skirt, lots of colors, and a simple top to go with it), and the hunt was on.  As we shopped(!), I noticed that the piped-in music had an 80s theme to it.  I starting singing along quietly, because you just can't help singing along with Duran Duran, Dexy's Midnight Runners, or Quarterflash.

"Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand . . . "



"You're embarrassing me."

"Oh, I embarrass you?  You want to talk about being embarrassed?  Remember that time when you were three, and we went out for breakfast?"

"Uh, no Dad, I don't.  I was three."

"Well, trust me, when you threw a handful of scrambled eggs at the waitress, it was plenty embarrassing for everyone involved."

"I did that?"

"Why do you think we don't go to IHOP anymore?"

"I'm very sorry.  I'll never do it again.  If you want, I'll call IHOP tomorrow and apologize, just stop singing."

"You think my singing is embarrassing, how about this?  Have you ever seen me do The Knock?"

Heavy sigh.  "What's that?"

I demonstrated my classic dance move, where you pretend you're knocking on a door with one hand, then switch to the other, and so on.

As Lindsay looked on helplessly, another teenage girl walked by with her mom.  Mom checked out my style and said, "Very nice.  I remember when this album came out.  I loved Duran Duran."

"I was more of a Police guy myself, but you gotta love the eighties."  I looked at Lindsay.  She was rubbing her temples with a pained expression on her face.  "See, Linds, I'm not the only one who likes this stuff."

"Yeah, that's great."

Lindsay and the other girl then engaged in a complete conversation using the version of American Sign Language that requires only the use of facial expressions.

"Wow, you have one of those parents too?" asked the girl, by way of one raised eyebrow.

"You have no idea," eye-rolled Lindsay.

"You should probably get him out of here as soon as possible,"  head tilt.

"Sadly, we're not done shopping yet," smirk at the right corner of Lindsay's mouth accompanied by a slight shake of the head.

"Come on, Dad," said Lindsay, taking me by the arm and leading me to another area of the store.  Quickly.

I noticed no discernible difference between the section of the store we were now in and the one we'd just left.  More racks, more clothes, more shopping.

"Hey Dad, what do you think of this one?"

"Jenny, I got your number, I need to make you mine.  Jenny, I got your number, 867-5309 . . ."


"Huh?  What?" 

Lindsay held up a knitted pink top that required less yarn than a pot-holder I made in seventh grade Home Economics.

"Not a chance in hell are you wearing that."

"I know, I'm just messing with you."

"Speaking of which, anything new in the boyfriend area?"  How's that for a subtle segue?

"Not really.  There's this guy in band that I've kinda been hanging out with, though.  He plays the tuba."

As every father knows or will someday discover, having a teenage daughter is a terrifying experience.  This is because we've all been teenage boys.  Between the ages of thirteen and twenty, I was basically a giant hormone in Vans checkerboard slip-ons, so I knew only too well the perilous waters Lindsay would soon be navigating, if she wasn't already.  Still, I was happy to hear her say, "he plays the tuba."  Boys are boys, of course, but I've never once seen a headline that read: 


"Are you guys a thing, or just friends?" I asked.

"I don't know.  Just friends right now, I guess."

"You guess?  What does that mean?"

"It means we're just friends, okay?  Hey, look at that mannequin, there's the outfit I want!"

It was pretty nice.  A multi-colored skirt that looked like Jackson Pollock designed it (that's not a bad thing, I love his work), and a beige-and-green striped sweater.  Ankle-length skirt, high neckline on the sweater, two key selling points as far as fathers are concerned. 

She emerged from the dressing room.

"What do you think, Dad?"

" . . . and if I stared to long, I'd prob'ly break down and cry.  Oh, oh, sweet child o' mine."



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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stitch Update

Last week, I shared the story of Stitch, an adorable puppy that Theresa and I agreed to take care of while he recovered from injuries sustained in a UFC Animal Kingdom Edition bout with an angry coyote.  The coyote won the match by majority decision, even though he cheated by using an ACME bear trap.  We knew from the get-go we probably wouldn't be able to keep Stitch permanently, as adorable and friendly as he is.  We've got two high-maintenance mutts at our house already, and we just don't have the patience to train a new one.

That was our thinking, anyway.

After fostering Stitch for a couple weeks, though, and watching him heal up from his leg injuries (damn coyote), the decision became tougher.  Our brains knew that we'd have to give him up, but our hearts kept saying, "Aw, wookit da widdle puppy!"  He romped around the living room playing with his stuffed hedgehog, he pestered the hell out of our rat terrier Newton (and if you've kept up on my never-ending frustration with that particular disgrace to canine society, you'll know how much I enjoyed seeing Stitch chase him around the house), and generally assimilated himself into our family.  Sure, he piddled on the carpet from time to time (thank heaven for SpotBot -- if you're a pet owner or have small kids, invest now), and dropped the occasional doggy-deuce on the kitchen floor, but he's a puppy.  They do that.  And hell, Newton pisses on things whenever he wants, and he's the dog-age equivalent of Betty White.

After much deliberating, we decided that it would be best to let the city put Stitch up for adoption.  Theresa took him back yesterday with the strict instructions, "If he doesn't get adopted and they're thinking about giving him the needle, call us.  We'll take him at that point."  So don't fret about the possibility of Stitch having to visit the Youth in Asia.  Not gonna happen.

Because today he was adopted by a loving family.  We don't know who they are, but I'm going to assume they have a nice home, a couple kids, and a large back yard with a lush lawn and lots of trees to whiz on.  Naturally they're going to spoil Stitch with all kinds of dog toys -- a rubber bone, tennis balls, maybe a fuzzy stuffed duck -- and feed him nothing but Iams dog food and table scraps.  They're going to make him the happiest little pup on the planet.

They'd better.  Or else I'm gonna hunt them down and kill them.

That's my Stitch we're talking about.


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Monday, March 21, 2011

I'll Wreck Your Ferrari, and Your Little Dog Too!

One of the clearest signs that you're getting older is when you're watching a TV show or a movie and you realize that maybe the protagonist isn't such a good guy, or perhaps the villain isn't as bad as the film-makers wanted you to believe.  Your perspective has completely changed.  For example, even in the comic strips, I'm starting to find myself rooting for poor old Mr. Wilson to take a garden hoe upside Dennis the Menace's obnoxious blond head.  And don't even get me started on the little shits in The Family Circus.

Just the other night, I was flipping through the channels and came across the classic '80s film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  I was in college when this movie was originally released, and at the time I thought Ferris was, in the words of Principal Rooney's annoying secretary, "a righteous dude."  He blew off high school, out-witted the authorities, had a smoking hot girlfriend, and went joy-riding in a 1961 Ferrari GT California.  Ferris Bueller was a demi-god.

But watching the movie twenty-five years later, I couldn't help but notice that he's not a demi-god at all.  If anything, he's a demi-prick.

First of all, he ditches high school which in and of itself isn't a huge deal.  According to his records, he had been absent nine times.  While I'd never call this an exemplary attendance record, nine absences over an entire school year isn't horrible either.  It's certainly no reason for a principal to abandon the school grounds and commit a B and E on the kid's home, but that's an issue for another time.

Ferris's truancy is the least of the problems.  It's his treatment of his "friend" Cameron Frye that I find unacceptable.  First of all, on the Big Ditch Day, Cameron is sick in bed.  Instead of leaving the poor guy alone or, God forbid, taking him a thermos of chicken soup, Ferris nags the hell out Cameron until he agrees to pick Ferris up and do his bidding.  What's Ferris's motivation?

Cameron has a car, and Ferris doesn't.  He's using his sick friend as a personal chauffeur.


But we're just getting started.  According to Ferris, Cameron's "piece of shit" car isn't good enough to take to school to pick up Ferris's girlfriend Sloan, who he managed to get excused by forcing Cameron to call the school, pretend to be Sloan's father, and tell Principal Rooney that a family member had died.  So now Ferris decides that they need to secure a different form of transportation.  The logical solution?  Steal Cameron's father's Ferrari.

Cameron literally begs Ferris not to do this.  He suggests renting a limo, a nice stretch job with a TV and a bar.  But no, Ferris is hell-bent on joy-riding in the Ferrari.  Cameron tries to explain that his father will go absolutely bat-shit (and really, what father WOULDN'T?  I'd go ballistic if my kids pulled something like this and I drive a Chrysler, not a friggin' Ferrari).  Cameron goes on to say that the Ferrari is his father's "love, it is his passion."  Bueller's response?

"It is his fault he didn't lock the garage."

That's right, Ferris, if someone doesn't lock their garage, or maybe their front door, going in and stealing their property is perfectly okay.

Of course Bueller ends up trashing the Ferrari and leaves it to Cameron to take the heat.  I'm hoping to someday see Ferris Bueller II, the story of a lawsuit that costs Ferris hundreds of thousands of dollars and maybe a prison sentence.

Okay, so Ferris Bueller is an example of a movie "hero" who is, upon further examination, a bad guy.  Next, we're going to talk about one of the most notorious movie villains ever, and I think you're going to agree with me in saying that this person has gotten the bummiest of bum raps ever.

I'm speaking of course about the Wicked Witch of the West.

"I don't want any trouble, I'd just like my sister's shoes."
Granted, the image she presents doesn't do her any favors.  Her green complexion, evil-sounding cackle and band of horrifying flying monkeys make it easy to jump to the conclusion that the witch's intentions are less than pure, but let's take a look at her plight as presented in the classic film The Wizard of Oz.  She arrives in Munchkinland to discover that her dear sister has been crushed to death by a flying house.  Clearly, losing one's sibling to such a grisly event would be a traumatic experience for anyone, with the possible exception of Emilio Estevez.

I'm kidding of course.  No one wants Charlie dead.  Banished to the South Pole, maybe, but not dead.

Not only has the Wicked Witch of the West's sister been killed, the friggin' Munchkins are singing a damn song about it.  "Ding, dong, the witch is dead!"  That's just cold.  Okay, maybe the W.W. of the East had made life miserable for the Munchkins (though the movie presents no evidence of this), but couldn't we at least show a bit of compassion and tone down the celebrating? 

And then they present the murderer with all sorts of honors and treat her like a hero.  I realize of course that Dorothy Gale did not intend to land the house on the witch, and maybe the word "murderer" is a little strong.  But I certainly think the Witch family has a decent wrongful death case against Auntie Em and Uncle Henry for failing to secure the home with a reasonably reliable foundation.  We didn't see any other houses zipping through the air, did we?

Which brings us to the case of the ruby slippers.

The Wicked Witch of the West arrives at the scene of her sister's death, and all she wants to do is retrieve a pair of valuable ruby slippers that have been in the Witch family for decades.  Before she gets to them, however, the slippers are magically stolen by Glinda the "Good" Witch who in my opinion is the real villain of this whole story.  Glinda zaps the slippers onto the feet of Dorothy, who is now guilty of receiving stolen property.

If she were evil, she'd have cut Dorothy's feet off.
Frustrated, angry, and still in mourning, W.W. of the West asks Dorothy, very politely given the circumstances, to give her the ruby slippers.  Dorothy, in fact, agrees to turn them over but when the Witch reaches down to take them off Dorothy's feet, it turns out that Glinda has cast a spell on them (the slippers).  The Witch is, at this point, understandably pissed.

For the next couple hours, the Witch follows Dorothy and her friends, again, for no reason other than the retrieval of her family's property.  At one point, she makes another peaceful request in the form of a smoke message in the sky:


As in, "Surrender my family's ruby slippers, so we can all go on our merry way."

Does Dorothy listen?  No she does not.  So now W.W. of the West is left with no choice but to escalate the situation, enlisting the help of her aforementioned band of horrifying flying monkeys.  The Witch eventually loses the battle to a bucket of water (this has to be the most inconvenient weakness of any "villain" in movie history, by the way) and never does get the ruby slippers back.

So now two innocent Witches are dead and the nefarious Glinda and Dorothy live happily ever after, unpunished for their crimes of manslaughter, theft, receipt of stolen property, and homicide.

They probably took the next day off, and drove back to Kansas in a stolen 1961 Ferrari GT California.


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Friday, March 18, 2011

Allow Me to Vent

Pee on his leg, kid.  He deserves it.
I'm in a foul mood today.

It doesn't happen often. I like to think that I'm a pretty easy-going, happy-go-lucky kinda guy. Even when things go wrong, I can usually roll with it. Nineteen days out of twenty, I take on the day in the best of spirits, bright and chipper, ready to meet whatever challenges lie ahead with a positive attitude.

Today, however, is that twentieth day.

So instead of writing something relevant like, oh, going into the actual reason that today sucks, and perhaps using that process to come to a solution that might ease my spirits, well, screw it. I'm just going to bitch about random crap that pisses me off.

We'll kick this off with people who use the phrase "usually always" as in, "I don't know, Dave, my brother is usually always on time." Let me explain something here Mr. Hemingway, the words "usually" and "always" have two completely different meanings and one cannot modify the other. Maybe I'm not exactly William Strunk Jr. myself, but come on, either your brother is "usually" on time or he is "always" on time. He can't be both. "Sometimes my sister is never happy." "Most of the time he always never pays back his loans." See the confusion?

And while we're on the subject of language, I could enthusiastically disembowel those mindless twits who use the word "literally" when they mean the opposite. "I ate so much last night that I literally exploded." Is that right? You literally EXPLODED? Wow, I bet the rest of the folks at the Hometown Buffet were aghast, what, with being caught in the resulting barrage of bodily shrapnel and all. No, you FIGURATIVELY exploded. It's a metaphor, and you're a dumbass. Literally.

Same goes for anyone who says they "could care less." Again, that's the opposite of what they mean. I'm going to go slow on this one, so bear with me. Okay, suppose someone tells you that Pete from down the block thinks you're an asshole. Since Pete himself is a royal douchebag, his opinion doesn't mean anything. Coming from Pete, "Hey, you're an asshole" might even be considered a compliment. So if you don't care at all, you care nothing, zero, nada, zilch, then you COULDN'T care less. You could not care less than nothing, zero, etc., etc. If you "COULD care less," That would mean you would have to care, to at least some degree, that Pete thinks you're an asshole which we've already determined that you don't.

Got that?

Moving on, what about those mental midgets on Wheel of Fortune who continue to buy vowels after they've already figured out the answer to the puzzle. Um, dipshit, you don't have to fill in every single letter, and by the way those vowels cost money. But by all means, go ahead and dump another 250 bucks down the crapper for that superfluous A, E, I, O, or U.


Uh, Pat, I'd like to buy an I please."

Smack the shit out of him, Pat, I beg you.

The other day I was reminded of just how clueless some parents are. I've seen this before, but I was at a nearby theme park and a mom had her four year-old on a leash. Yeah, I know, they call it a "safety harness" but they're not fooling anyone.  It's a leash! Hello, Mrs. Cleaver? If your kid doesn't know enough to stay close to you, and for some reason holding her hand is out of the question, maybe you shouldn't take her to crowded parks to begin with. If my parents did that to me when I was a kid, I'd have pissed on a tree, dry-humped the neighbor's leg and bitten the mailman. You want a dog, Mommy, you got one! Of course, when daughter-on-a-leash grows into a teenager and Mom catches her tied to the bedposts by her sado-masochistic boyfriend Snake, Mom will go on endlessly about how "society" damages our nation's youth.

Excuse me, sir, but I can't see the sign.  'Cause I'm BLIND!
This next one doesn't really make me mad, but it's still friggin' stupid. I was at the drive thru ATM the other day and I noticed that the buttons were in Braille. I'll say that again in case you missed it. I was at the drive thru ATM and the buttons were in Braille. I'm all for the Americans with Disabilities Act, but what the hell? If a blind guy is driving his car, he's going to have bigger things to worry about than accessing his cash in an expedient manner. They also have a sign at McDonald's: BRAILLE MENUS AVAILABLE. Great, but who is the sign for, the dog? It's like making an announcement over the P.A. system at the airport, "Will all deaf passengers please report to Gate 34." Find another medium for that message, folks.

Damn, this is better than therapy and much more cost-effective. I'm feeling more upbeat already. Thanks for letting me vent, I appreciate your support. I don't know what came over me today.

I'm usually always in a better frame of mind.

But you could probably care less.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I was sitting in my office at work trying to make a key decision -- what did I want for lunch, Subway or KFC? -- when I received a picture/text message from Theresa:

Theresa works closely with our city's animal control department, and judging from the cone of shame on this mutt's head, I assumed that I was looking at a crippled puppy that Theresa mistakenly thought she was going bring into our home.

Let me remind you that Theresa and I already own two dogs, and I'm not a dog-lover in the first place.  I am, at best, a dog-putter-up-with.  We live with my cocker spaniel Munson (the good dog) and Theresa's rat terrier Newton (the total pain in the ass), and this dynamic duo is more than enough for any household.  Munson is actually not so bad, if you ignore his tendency to emit blasts of noxious butt fumes that may soon replace pepper spray as the LAPD's primary crowd-dispersal method.  He obeys commands like "go outside," "get off the bed," and "get in the car."  He does his business outside.  Theresa will tell you that Munson will, on occasion, barf on the carpet but I don't hold that against him.  It's tough to plan for vomit. 

Newton, on the other hand, is an embarrassment to the canine world and a complete annoyance to the human one.  He obeys commands when he feels like it, it takes an act of God (or a swift kick in the ass) to get him off my pillow, and his propensity to squirt wherever he pleases has forced us to put a diaper on him when he's in the house.

For a full description of my relationship with Newt, click here.

At this point, the last thing we need is another dog in the house.  So I responded to Theresa's text, making my point quite clearly:


She replied:


The hell it is, I thought.  Believing I could better make my point over the phone, I dialed her number.


"We're not getting another dog."

"Isn't he adorable?"

"We're not getting another dog."

"He needs a home."

"Okay, I'll make you a deal.  Get rid of Newton and we can keep the puppy."

"Aw, we can't get rid of Newton, he's family."


"Okay, okay, here's the thing," said Theresa.  "The puppy got attacked by a coyote or a pit bull or something and they need someone to watch him at night and on weekends until he heals.  Can we adopt him temporarily?"

I can be reasonable.  "Yeah, we can do that.  But -- let there be no mistake about this, T -- WE ARE NOT KEEPING HIM."

"I know, I know."

Theresa brought the puppy home that night.  He was in pretty bad shape.  All four legs had been, well, "eaten" isn't the right word but it's the first one that comes to mind.  He had tubes sticking out of the wounds for drainage, several stitches, and of course he was wearing the plastic cone to keep him from messing with his injuries.  He looked like a doggie-martini.

"Here," said Theresa as she handed the pup to me.  "I need you to hold him while I put ointment on his legs."

So I held him.


When Theresa touched his leg, the little guy whimpered in pain.  He started licking my hand, as if to say, "Please, my new friend, make my legs stop hurting."

After we put the ointment on his legs and gave him his pills, Theresa put him on a blanket by the fireplace.  At this point, Newton and Munson noticed there was a new kid in town.  Munson sniffed him carefully, and after determining there was no danger, went on about his business.  Newton, on the other hand, kept climbing on Theresa, trying to take her attention away from this threat to his status as "most spoiled dog on the planet."

We gave the puppy a bowl of food and he ate like a prisoner.  Poor guy had been through a lot.  He really was mangled, you could even see the bone in one of his hind legs.  What was that stupid coyote doing, picking on a tiny puppy?  I hope the little guy got a few good bites in, anyway.  Man, look at all those stitches.


"Hey, T," I said.  "I have the perfect name for this guy.  Let's call him Stitch."

"We can't name him."

I picked him up off his blanket and held him on my shoulder.  He licked my cheek.  "Sure we can.  Why not?"

"Because as soon as he's healthy, some family is going to adopt him," Theresa said.  "We're not keeping him."

"Darn right we're not keeping him," I said, suddenly less sure about it.

The next morning, Theresa took Stitch back to animal control.  I called a few times to see how he was doing.  Early in the afternoon, my phone rang.  It was Theresa.

"Hey," I said.  "How's Stitch?"

"That's why I called.  It's not looking so good.  All his stitches popped out and now he's back in surgery.  It's not looking good.  Just thought you should know."


For the next few days it was touch and go, but Stitch was able to pull through.  Theresa brought him home for the weekend, and we've had him the last couple nights as well.  He seems to be healing nicely.  If all goes according to plan, the animal control department will be able to find him a new home next week.

Because we don't need another dog at our house.

Do we?


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Saturday, March 12, 2011

"You're the Tour Promoter" Contest Winners

Last week, we hosted a contest here at Knucklehead asking readers to create a hypothetical rock tour featuring at least two bands, and then name the tour accordingly.  After much deliberation, the judging panel of me has chosen the following entries:

In third place, we have Suldog's entry of:

THE I'M NOT CLEANING THE CAGE TOUR: The Eagles, The Byrds, Budgie, and Hawkwind

In second place, we're going with the entry submitted by Ryan:

THE GENOCIDE TOUR: Anthrax, The Grateful Dead, Bullet For My Valentine, The Killers, and Slaughter, with a special appearance by Survivor

And the winner of an official Knucklehead! refrigerator magnet is Kage with a two part entry (Warning: Contains Mature Content):

THE THINGS TO PUT IN YOUR MOUTH TOUR: Cake, Green Jello, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Peaches, Korn, Nashville Pussy, Choclair, The Cranberries, Deep Dish, and Hot Chocolate

THE THINGS NOT TO PUT IN YOUR MOUTH TOUR: Garbage, Bush, Alley Cats, Revolting Cocks, Nine Inch Nails, Dirty Sanchez, Old Dirty Bastard, and Richard "Dick" Cheese

Great entries, everyone, and Kage, just shoot me an e-mail with your mailing address and I'll send your prize right out.


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lo Siento, Senor Poopie Pants

 The note on the teacher's desk read as follows: 

Dear Sub,

Welcome to my class of developmentally challenged kindergartners. You'll find today's lesson plan on the kidney table in the back of the room. Just follow the plan and you'll do fine.  Most of the kids don't speak English, but don't worry, my aide Mrs. Gomez will translate for you.  One of the kids in the class, Guadalupe, can help, as she is fairly fluent in English as well.  I'm at a workshop, so I may be back by the end of the school day to see how things went.

Mrs. Livingston

So began my first day as a substitute teacher.

One phrase in the letter immediately grabbed my attention.  "Developmentally challenged kindergartners," as I would find out soon enough, basically meant that the little bambinos could speak, poop, drool, cry, pee, fart, and put stuff in their bodies' various orifices.  I looked around for Mrs. Gomez the bilingual aide, but she was nowhere to be found.  I called the office.

"Uh, yeah, this is the sub in room 3. What time is the aide supposed to be here?"

"Oh, we forgot to tell you, Mrs. Gomez called out sick. You're kinda on your own today."

Beautiful, I thought. Just me and 32 Spanish-speaking five year olds.

I speak zero Spanish, so I was forced to develop a survival strategy.  Since I could pretty much tell from the kids' tone of voice if they were asking a question or making a statement, all questions would simply be answered with a "no."  What's the worst that could happen?  And if it was a statement beginning with the name of another kid, that was probably tattling.  In that case, I figured that I’d just confront the accused and make him stop whatever he was doing.

Shockingly, it worked like a charm.

"Senor, gobbletygooko taco emilio blabla gooba macha?" asked Felipe.  That's what it sounded like to me, anyway.


Felipe went back to his table, sat down, and continued coloring a panda.

Dr. Spock can stick it, I thought.  I’m a child-development genius.

Luisa, an adorable little girl with a mucus-glazed face, approached.  "Maria blabati googa frappa enchiladamama guba glinko."

“Maria, you say?” I asked.  “Well let’s see what she’s up to, shall we?”  I walked over to her table, and wouldn't you know it, Maria was munching away on a blue-violet crayola.  I calmly took the crayon away, fetched the Easy-wipes, and helped Maria depurple her face.

"Gracias, Luisa," I said. Luisa smiled, causing another snot-bubble to burst on her upper lip. 

I'm a natural at this!  I wouldn't be surprised if I'm voted Disney's American Teacher of the Year.  I'll write a book about my experiences in the classroom, Bruce Willis will star in the motion picture.

A short while later, I felt a tug on my pant leg.  It was Jose.  "Maestro, Felipe waca boogity gooba binka caca."

Jose was apparently ratting out Felipe, who was still coloring his panda in a stunning array of non-traditional panda colors.  It looked like that poor panda had barfed up three pounds of Skittles.  Brimming with new-found confidence, I strutted over to Felipe's table and was immediately bombarded by the unmistakable stench of kiddie-crap along with a “yes, but it’s too late now” understanding of the question Felipe had been asking just a few minutes earlier.

I sent him to the office with a note that read "Please have Felipe call home. He pooped himself."  Given the smell Felipe was cultivating, I'm sure the note was unnecessary.

The next hour or so passed without any problems.  The kids colored, pasted pictures to match their vocabulary words, and snacked on Teddy Grahams and milk.  While they were eating, I read them Green Eggs and Ham, or to be completely accurate, Huevos Verdes con Jamon ("Huevos verdes con jamon? No me gusta, Juan Ramon").  And just when I was actually starting to have a good time with the rugrats, Pablo started crying his eyeballs out.


Ya got me there, Pablo, I thought. This was neither a tattle nor a question.  Time to enlist the assistance of the allegedly bilingual Guadalupe.

"Guadalupe, come here please."

Guadalupe, the adorable butterball, toddled over. "Do you know what Pablo just said?"

"Chess," said Guadalupe.

"Well, will you please tell me?"

"He say, yo gooba bloca flabba jabba walla frapa." 

Thanks, Guadalupe, you've been helpful.  "No, Guadalupe, I mean, can you tell me what that means in English."

"Oh, chess, that means he have a crayon in his ear."

I looked in Pablo's ear and damned if Guadalupe hadn't nailed it.  There was a broken red crayon way down in there.  What was it with these kids and crayons, anyway?

Now, you need to understand that it had already been a long, frustrating, and exhausting day.  I wasn't exactly thinking clearly.  There was a problem, it needed to be solved, and I was the only one in the room capable of saving the day, or at least capable of retrieving the crayon from Pablo's ear.

And before we continue, I'm going to remind you that for the purposes of this story, you are on MY side.

Obviously, I needed a tool to reach far enough down into Pablo's ear.  Through some egregious teacher malpractice, Mrs. Livingston did not have a pair of tweezers anywhere in her desk.  What she did have were pipe-cleaners and scotch tape.  The metaphorical light bulb clicked on above my addled skull.

First, I deftly fashioned a long hook out of one of the pipe cleaners.  And just to make sure I could get the crayon secured, I stuck a tiny ball of scotch tape at the end of the hook.

I knelt down beside Pablo, who was sitting in his chair -- still crying.  The rest of the kids, enthralled by the proceedings, gathered round.  I rechecked the tape and straightened the pipe cleaner for maximum reach.  The kids held their collective breath.  As I raised the pipe cleaner to Pablo's ear, a little voice inside my head finally decided to speak up.

"Hey, dumbass, just what do you think you’re doing?"

Upon further review, I realized this was perhaps a bad idea.  But I couldn't just leave the crayon in the kid's ear, and I really didn't want to bug the office again, not after the "Felipe and the Pantalones of Doom" incident.  It was a puzzler.  A bamboozler.  A conundrum, even.

"Senor?" said Guadalupe.

"Yes, Guadalupe, what is it?"

"Maybe eef Pablo shake hees head, de crayon comes out."

Hot damn. That's so crazy it just might work. "Hey, Pablo, come here a minute."

Pablo shook his head back and forth as hard as he could.  He held it parallel(ish) to the ground and smacked the side of his head a few times.

And God-damn, the crayon popped out and fell to the floor.  The children cheered.  Pablo gave Guadalupe a high-five.  Kids jumped for joy.  Luisa gave me a big hug, smearing snot all over the front of my white Pierre Cardin shirt.  Fiesta time!

Amidst the whooping and hollering, Mrs. Livingston entered the room.  Her workshop had ended a bit early.

"Wow!" she said.  "Looks like you had a great day!"

That's right, Mrs. Livingston.  Never mind the absent aide, the lodged crayon, Luisa's cavalcade o' mucus and Senor Poopie Pants.  Our day was just fantastic.


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Monday, March 7, 2011

The Lionfish Won't Sleep Tonight

For most of my life, I've been blissfully unaware of environmental issues that seem to panic the rest of civilization.  I've never been concerned with the ozone layer, I find recycling to be a major pain in the ass, and I firmly believe that global warming is a figment of some tree-hugger's imagination.  Seriously, I live in Southern California and about a month ago it snowed.

Al Gore can bite me.

But after reading an article on Yahoo! News (slogan: Cyber-space's Answer to the National Enquirer) about a recent crisis in Florida, I feel compelled to speak up on behalf of the entire Animal Kingdom.  Because apparently, lionfish are taking over the world.

According to the article, the lionfish population has been exploding in Caribbean and Atlantic waters, causing major destruction such as preying on the local fish, shrimp, and crab populations in coral reefs.  Not only that, but particularly malicious lionfish have gone so far as to spray paint graffiti on the reefs and commit other random acts of oceanic vandalism.  Things have gotten so far out of hand some scientists are now listing the invasive lionfish species as among the top fifteen threats to global biodiversity.  I don't know what that means, but it sounds pretty bad.

You're probably asking yourself at this point how the lionfish were introduced into Florida waters in the first place.  According to U.S. government researchers, who seem to have an answer for everything, the red lionfish made their Floridian debut during Hurricane Andrew when -- this is true -- an aquarium broke and six fish spilled into Miami's Biscayne Bay.

That's right, six fish.  And we're at DEFCON 1 on the Lionfish Threat Scale.  Even assuming that the gender breakdown of the six initial lionfish was three male and three female, it seems like it would take an awful lot of undersea boinking to create a population large enough to mess with global biodiversity (again, whatever that is).

But not to worry.

A Key Largo-based conservation group Reef Environmental Education Foundation (motto: We Don't Care What Our Name is, As Long As the Acronym is "REEF"), has bravely solved the lionfish problem by releasing "The Lionfish Cookbook," a collection of forty-five recipes.  According to Lad Akins, director of special projects for REEF, "Lionfish are absolutely good eating -- a delicacy.  It's delicately flavored white meat, very buttery, especially if you put lots of butter on it."  The cookbook is but the first step in Akins's plan to make human beings the top predator of the invading lionfish.  After releasing the cookbook and extolling the culinary wonder of lionfish meat, Akins went on to say, "And not only are lionfish tasty, they've also been talking a lot of trash about humans as a species.  They said we're a bunch of lazy narcissists that think we own the planet.  And our mama is so fat she could carry a 15-pound Ebonite bowling ball in her belly button."

A word of caution, though.  Akins says the fish can be netted, speared or caught by rod and reel, but he recommends handling them with puncture-proof gloves to avoid a painful prick (fill in your own joke here) from the lionfish's -- and I'm quoting him directly -- "venomous spines."

Now I will be the first to admit that I'm no master chef, but once I come across the recipe instruction that reads, "first remove the venomous spines," lionfish is no longer on the evening's menu.  I'm going with a simpler and non-lethal alternative such as meatloaf.  Akins argues that lionfish meat is safe to eat and actually contains no venom because "the venom is only in the spines."  To me, it seems like the man doth protesteth too much.  His hatred for the lionfish seems so intense that I'm starting to question the guy's motives.  Did Akins's wife run off with a particularly attractive and debonair lionfish who tempted her with his "venomous spine of love?"  Did a school of lionfish discredit his doctoral dissertation by refusing to migrate to warmer waters during the winter equinox?  Surely he's not getting this worked up just because they're going after crabs and shrimp.

So my advice is to ignore the psychotic, vengeful ramblings of Lad Akins and leave the innocent lionfish alone.  Stick with the more palatable tuna, lobster, or butterfly shrimp.

If you want, I'll even send you my recipe for meatloaf.


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You're the Tour Promoter!

Kajagoogoo: Opening act on The Baby Talk Tour
Something a little different today here at Knucklehead Humor, we're going to have a little interactive fun (minds out of the gutter, people).  Let's play Rock Tour Promoter!

Your task is to put together a themed concert tour, featuring a minimum of TWO music acts.  You'll need to list the bands, and name the tour.  Of course, I'll give you some examples...

THE BABY TALK TOUR: Goo Goo Dolls, Kajagoogoo and Lady Gaga

THE TRANSPORTATION TOUR: Train, Jefferson Airplane, and The Cars


THE RAINBOW TOUR: Blue Oyster Cult, Green Day, Deep Purple, Yellowcard, and Simply Red

THE SAY AGAIN TOUR: Talk Talk, Go-Go's, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Duran Duran

THE DR. SEUSS TOUR: Oingo Boingo, Milli Vanilli, Haysi Fantayzee, and Lynyrd Skynyrd

THE ARACHNOPHOBIA TOUR: The Beatles, Scorpions, and Adam Ant

Okay, your turn!  The lucky winner will receive absolutely free an official Knucklehead! refrigerator magnet.

I know, be still your beating heart.


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Friday, March 4, 2011

The "Bigest" Loser

Have you ever been curled up in your most comfortable chair reading the latest Michael Connelly novel, steaming mug of Swiss Miss instant cocoa on the end table, and out of nowhere discovered that the book contained a misspelling or typographical error?

Didn't it just piss you off?

It baffles me no end how mistakes find their way into best-selling hardcover novels by A-list authors.  This isn't some shitty-ass local newspaper like the Montgomery Advertiser (slogan: Alabama's #1 Bird Cage Lining Since 1948) we're talking about here.  These are major publishing houses like Little, Brown and Company or Random House who undoubtedly employ teams of highly-paid copy editors to sit around reading manuscripts and see that no errors make it to the final print run.

So I guess it shouldn't surprise me when I'm driving past Rug Masters, an outdoor area rug distribution center (I'm being kind, it's really a trash-laden street corner), and notice a horrific misspelling on their signage:

That's right, Rug Masters is having their BIGEST SALE EVER!

I can only imagine two scenarios that would allow something like this to happen.

Scenario 1: The owner of Rug Masters (we'll call him Eddie) decides to order an eye-catching yellow and red vinyl banner to display on the chain-link fence, advertising their Biggest Sale Ever(!).  Eddie places an order with Big Dave's Quality Signs and Banners, and on the form where you're supposed to write what you want your sign (or banner) to say, he writes "BIGEST SALE EVER!"  Maybe he was in a hurry, maybe he's a third-grade dropout who was absent on "double-the-consonant-and-then-add-the-suffix" day, one way or another Eddie screwed up.  Clearly, this is all his fault.

But let's continue down this road a little farther.

Big Dave receives the order form from Rug Masters and is about to pass it along to his banner-production team when he notices the mistake.  I guess it's possible that he can't spell worth a damn either and doesn't catch it, but that's pretty unlikely.  In order for the spelling error to go to print, Big Dave must have thought, "Ah, screw it, it's his sign, we'll spell it however he wants."  While this is definitely not the proper attitude for someone in an upper management position, maybe Big Dave was having a rough day or just wanted to jerk around with a linguistically-challenged area rug salesman.  In his shoes, I may very well have done the same thing for no reason other than shits and giggles.  So ignoring the mistake, Big Dave passes the order form down the line to his sign production team.

But wait.  We're not done yet.

The gentleman in sign production, let's call him Phil, is now in charge of making Rug Masters's advertising vision a reality.  His job description probably includes "designing banners," "painting signs," and other such artistic phrases.  "Proof-reading" probably (indeed, hopefully) doesn't come up all that often.  Even so, we're not talking about running spell-check on a 300-page doctorate thesis, this is a three-word banner.  I'm going to assume that Phil also notices that the word "bigest" is shy one G.  So he gets on the horn and calls Big Dave in the front office.

"Uh, Dave  . . . Yeah, it's Phil over in the production department . . . We just got this order for a Rug Masters banner . . . right, that one . . . uh, well, seems like they spelled 'biggest' wrong . . . yeah, you want me to fix it or just let it go? . . . 'fuck 'im,' you say? . . . well, all right, you're the boss."

Against his better judgment, Phil goes ahead and makes the banner, misspelling and all.  It's shipped via UPS to Eddie at Rug Masters, who obliviously hangs it on his chain-link fence.

Which brings us to the other possibility.

Scenario 2: The owner of Rug Masters (we'll still call him Eddie, I wouldn't want to confuse anyone) decides to order an eye-catching yellow and red vinyl banner to display on the chain-link fence, advertising their Biggest Sale Ever(!).  Eddie places an order with Big Dave's Quality Signs and Banners, and on the form where you're supposed to write what you want your sign (or banner) to say, he writes "BIGGEST SALE EVER!" in his neatest printing, every word spelled correctly.

Big Dave receives the order form, double-checks it for accuracy as per company policy, and passes it along to his banner-production team headed by Phil, a notorious dullard and a bit of a slacker.

Phil creates the Rug Masters banner but for whatever reason -- maybe it was the three Harvey Wallbangers he had at lunch, maybe it was just his usual carelessness -- he unfortunately leaves a critical letter G out of the word "biggest."  He boxes up the banner and ships it to Rug Masters.

Don't you think that Eddie (he's the owner of Rug Masters, remember?) might at this point make a phone call to Big Dave, something to the effect of, "Hey, dipshit!  You sent me a sign with a spelling mistake!  I'm sending this back, and you're gonna ship out a new one pronto!"  He's certainly not going to say, "Ah, close enough," and hang the sign on his fence, just begging to be publicly ridiculed by some sarcastic humor writer.

So I batted those two scenarios around in my head for a few days and finally decided to get to the bottom of this.  On my way home from work a few days ago, I stopped by Rug Masters to see what was what.  As it turns out, the manager's name is not Eddie, but we'll keep calling him that, just to maintain continuity and protect his privacy.

Eddie is an older guy, probably in his mid-50's.  He's wiry without being scrawny and his graying flat-top hair cut screams out "ex-marine!"  He's wearing faded blue jeans and a well-worn Rug Masters sweatshirt.  Here's our conversation:

EDDIE: Help ya find sumpin'?

ME: No, I'm not really interested in buying a rug or anything, I just wanted to ask you about your sign.

EDDIE: My sign?

ME: Yeah, the yellow banner over there, advertising your Biggest Sale Ever.

EDDIE: What about it?

ME: There's a word spelled wrong.  Biggest.  It's supposed to have two Gs.

EDDIE: Yeah, we've had a few folks mention that.

ME: And yet you leave it up there?

EDDIE: Still makes sense, right?  Biggest Sale Ever.  Hell, you figgered it out.

ME: Well, sure, but . . . 

EDDIE: And it ain't like I'm a school teacher or a writer or sumpin'.  I sell rugs.  People want a rug, they come buy a rug without worryin' all about a messed up sign.  Can't see that it makes all that much a diff'rence.

ME: Don't you think it gives your place an air of, I don't know, carelessness?

EDDIE: Take a look at my rug selection there.  Tell me what ya think.

ME (looking over his selection of area rugs): Actually, they're pretty nice.  I like that round one over there.

EDDIE: Now, if I told you you could have that rug for forty bucks, what would you say?

ME: I'd say that's a pretty good deal.  I've seen 'em at Bed, Bath and Beyond for double that.

EDDIE: What the hell you go to Bed, Bath and Beyond for?

ME: I have a fiancee.

EDDIE: Got it.  Anyway, if I'm offerin' you a top quality area rug at a discount rate, you really gonna give much of a shit if my sign's spelt wrong?

ME: I suppose not.  Can I ask how it happened, though?  Who screwed up the sign?

EDDIE: Probably me when I ordered it.  I know how to spell, 'course, but my handwritin' leaves sumpin' to be desired.

ME: Fair enough.

EDDIE: So, you wanna buy that rug?

ME: What the hell.  Roll it up.

There you have it.  Eddie's handwriting was the culprit, but still, the sign company should've figured it out.  So we're going to lay the real blame on Big Dave and his drunken employee Phil.



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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Suicide Squeeze

Mike the Whip was the one kid in our neighborhood who would do anything on a dare. He was fearless, or maybe just good old-fashioned crazy. At any rate, on those days when us guys were just sitting around, bored out of our minds, all we had to say was, "Hey, Mike, I dare you to . . . " and it was showtime.

"Hey, Mike, I dare you to eat that salamander."

"Hey, Mike, I dare you to steal a six-pack of beer from Stop N Shop."

"Hey, Mike, I dare you to jump your bike over five trash cans."

Busted his leg on that last one. 

No matter. Mike may have only gotten the child's platter when it came to common sense, but he went back for seconds and thirds at the all-you-can-eat cajones buffet.

Of all the kids in our 10-12 year-old range, Mike was the one who seemed to have the most experience with girls. That is to say, it was pretty much all he talked about. He probably went through puberty when he was six. None of us really believed his ribald tales of smooch-enhanced gropery, but he did have a certain flair for the story-telling.

One Saturday morning, Mike, Robbie and I were sitting around on my front porch, killing time by throwing rocks at squirrels.

"You guys remember when I went to camp last summer?" Mike asked.

"No," said Robbie and I in unison.

"I guess that was when you guys were on vacation or somethin'. So anyway, I was at camp, and every night at dinner there was this hot twelve year-old named Michelle checkin' me out. So one time I go over to her . . . "

"Wait, Mike, since when do boys and girls go to the same camp?" I asked.

"They do at this one, shut up. So I go over to this girl Tracy and I . . . "

"I thought you said her name was Michelle."

"It was Tracy, I just remembered, shut up. Michelle was some other girl. Shit, you guys keep interrupting, where was I?"

"You were about to do the deed with either Michelle or Tracy at some camp you supposedly went to last summer that lets boys and girls hang out together." I was more than happy to get him back up to speed.

"Yeah, right, so I ask, uh, Tracy if she wants to sit with me at the campfire that night. She says yeah, so once the fire is goin' and the counselors are all wrapped up in some stupid ghost story, me and her started makin' out. I even got some boob."

"That is so much bullshit," said Robbie, as he nailed a squirrel in the head with a stone.

"Shut up, man, you're just mad because I've gotten to second base and you guys haven't even held a girl's hand yet."

We'd have been pissed at him, if he hadn't been right. When it came to the whole "first base, second base" thing, Robbie and I hadn't even made it out of the on-deck circle.

We continued shooting the shit and taking target practice on small rodents. After a while Robbie noticed Debbie Esposito walking down the street, headed our way. This could be interesting.

Debbie "Ta-tas" Esposito lived a couple blocks from us. By the age of sixteen, she was well-proportioned in the physical sense, rated a solid "seven" on the traditional scale from one-to-ten, and had a reputation for being rather friendly with the high school boys.

Okay, she was a slut.

Robbie decided that it was "put up or shut up" time for ol' Mike the Whip.

"Mike, if you're so experienced, how 'bout you take a shot at Debbie over there?"

"Yeah, Mike," I goaded. "She's just your type."

By "your type", of course, I meant "a breathing female". And that's giving Mike the benefit of the doubt on "breathing".

"C'mon, man, she's like sixteen. She's too old for me."

Robbie wouldn't settle for that one. "Come on, Mike, you're an old pro. I'll bet she's just dying for a macho guy like you."

"Nah, she's a sleazebag anyway."

"Like that's ever stopped you."

Eventually, I had to play the card . . .

"Hey, Mike, I dare you to go grab Debbie's boob."

A look of intensity gripped Mike the Whip's facial features. His eyes narrowed, his lip curled, and he took on the appearance of a pre-pubescent Gary Busey.


Debbie was dressed in her usual skankiform. Semi-permed hair, too much lip gloss, short-shorts, and a skimpy top to show off the goods. As she passed my house, Mike trotted up beside her.

"Hey, Deb, how you doin' today?" Smooth opening line, at least from where we were sitting.

"Oh, hi Mike. Don't you look cute today?" Debbie was not above the casual flirtation, even with us younger kids. Kinda sick, now that I think about it, but at the time we didn't mind one damn bit.

"Is that a new top? What's it made of?"

"Oh, this? It's just cotton."

"Yeah? Lemme feel it!"

And before anyone knew what was happening, Mike reached out and got a handful of left hooter, and gave it a quick squeeze.

"Oh shit," Robbie said, and we snuck into my house. We didn't want to be around for the aftermath.

Mike came inside a few minutes later, looking cool and collected.

“Man, Mike, I can’t believe you squeezed her boob,” said Robbie.

“What, you dared me. It’s not like I never touched a girl before.”

“Debbie didn’t smack you or anything?” I asked.

“Nah, I think she kinda liked it. Oh, she pretended to be mad for a minute, called me a dirty little pervert. But I turned on the charm and she started laughing. We're cool."

"What a slut," said Robbie.

That probably would have been the end of it, if not for one factor that the three of us had completely forgotten about.

Debbie had a brother.

Vinnie Esposito was a fourteen-year old Neanderthal with the disposition of a constipated alligator. Short, stocky, fairly muscular, Vinnie looked like a beer keg with a bad haircut. Had he grown up in today's world instead of the 1970’s, he'd have been a child psychologist's dream. Bi-polar, oppositional-defiant, attention-deficit, and perhaps even paranoid-schizophrenic, Vinnie was the Baskin-Robbins of behavior disorders.

Mental makeup aside, though, Vinnie did have a sense of responsibility when it came to his family. When your sister is a slut, you kinda expect guys to take advantage of her once in a while and when that happens, it’s the brother’s sworn duty to kick the living shit out of them. Vinnie took this duty seriously.

Case in point:

A few weeks prior to Mike the Whip’s courtship of Debbie’s hooter, a guy by the name of Glenn Pluchinsky made a move on her at the high school Homecoming Dance. Debbie responded to Pluchinsky’s advances in her typical manner, which is to say, she was enthusiastically consentual. Pluchinsky and Debbie took their business outside and set up shop under the baseball field bleachers. Though eyewitness accounts vary, the general consensus was that Pluchinsky cruised into third base with a stand-up triple and very likely stretched it into an inside-the-pants home run.

The following Monday, Vinnie waited for Pluchinsky after school and without preamble, pounded him into a quivering pile of organic wreckage.

Since Debbie was, as we’ve established, a slut, the Pluchinsky beating was far from an isolated incident. In fact, for Vinnie, it was somewhat routine. Therefore, when Robbie and I saw him knocking on Mike’s front door that Sunday morning, we knew that Mike's number had come up.

Fortunately, and ironically, Mike was at church with his mother and sister at the time, so Vinnie’s knocks went unanswered. Not wanting to make a return trip later, he took a seat on the front steps to wait.

Robbie and I were playing catch in my front yard, trying desperately not to make eye contact with the loitering lunkhead across the street. Since we had basically goaded Mike into grabbing Debbie’s fun bag, there was a very real possibility that Vinnie would include us in the carnage if he somehow found out.

“Maybe we should go over there and talk to him,” I suggested.

“What are you, nuts?” asked Robbie, as he threw the baseball back to me. “We just need to lay low and hope he goes away.”

“Yeah, but if Mike tells him we were involved, he’ll come after us, too.”

“You think Mike would rat us out like that?”

I tossed the ball back to Robbie. “Well, not at first probably, but if Vinnie was kicking his ass and he thought it would help. Yeah.”

“That bastard!”

“Right, so we gotta get to Vinnie before Mike can tell him the whole story.”

The next time Robbie threw me the ball, I let it sail past me so it rolled into Mike’s yard. This way, I could casually strike up a conversation with Vinnie and maybe get me and Robbie off the hook.

“Nice catch, douchebag,” said Vinnie.

“Yeah, heh heh, I know. Mike’s not home, ya know. He’s at church.”

“Ya know when he’s gonna be back?”

A fair question, but if I answered, I would be guilty of aiding and abetting a known thug in the pre-meditated pummeling of my best friend. But if I dodged the question, it could set Vinnie off and, well, who knows what could happen. I did the only sensible thing under the circumstances.

“About eleven-thirty. Why?”

“’Cause he messed with my sister yesterday. You know anything about that?”

“He, um, well . . . he said, uh . . . nope. We haven't seen Mike in a few days. He's been grounded, I think.”

He got up and started walking away. “Well, if ya see him, tell him he's dead meat. I'm comin' back later.”

“Okay, sure will. See ya, Vinnie.”

"Screw off, shit brain."

I picked up the baseball and went back across the street. Robbie was waiting for me. “Sooooo, how’d it go?”

“Well, I don't think Vinnie knows you and me are involved, but Mike’s a dead man.”

“We gotta warn him, right?”

“Yeah,” I said. “But Vinnie’ll find him sooner or later.”

It turned out to be sooner.

Mike got home from church around 11:45. He went inside, got changed, probably had lunch, and at about 12:30 he was knocking at my front door. Robbie and I were inside watching TV.

“You guys gonna come out?” he asked.

“Yeah, uh, Mike, we gotta talk to you,” I said.

He sprawled out on the couch. “What’s up?”

“Well, Mike,” said Robbie. “Vinnie Esposito was at your house earlier, said he’s gonna kick your ass for messing with Debbie.”

“How’d he find out?”

“Debbie prob’ly told him, I guess.”

“I ain’t afraid of that asshole. Let him try to mess with me.”

Now, we could’ve tried to reason with Mike, explained to him that Vinnie was about four years older than we were, and about twice the size. We could’ve reminded him what Vinnie had done to Glenn Pluchinsky (who, by the way, was two years OLDER than Vinnie), or maybe we could’ve helped Mike hide out for a while.

We also thought about getting Mike's mother involved, but we almost as scared of her as we were of Vinnie.  Also, Mrs. the Whip had a short fuse when it came to boys taking advantage of girls, so once she found out that Mike had groped Debbie, not only would she have condoned Vinnie's beating his ass, she probably would've helped.

But since Mike was displaying his typical bravado, and Robbie and I had cleared our consciences by warning him, we just let nature take its course.

It was a short course.

At about one-fifteen, Vinnie came back. Mike, Robbie and I were sitting on Mike’s front porch.

“Hey, Mike.  Get your ass over here,” barked Vinnie.

“What do you want, asshole?”

You gotta hand it to Mike the Whip. He was going to go out on his shield.

“I heard you felt up my sister yesterday.”

“Yep, sure did. She’s got quite the pair on her, don’t she?”

Robbie and I just looked at each other. This guy really WAS crazy.

“Come off your porch and say that.”

Mike got up, jumped down the steps, and met Vinnie out on the sidewalk.

“I said, your sister has quite a pair of –“

The word “tits” was muffled significantly by Vinnie’s right fist as it crunched into Mike’s mouth, loosening a couple teeth and popping his upper lip. Mike fought valiantly, but he was simply no match for the bigger, stronger and, as impossible as it seemed, crazier Vinnie Esposito.

After inflicting what he deemed sufficient punishment, Vinnie got off of Mike the Whipped, dusted himself off, and headed home without saying another word.

“You okay, Mike?”

“Umph humph.” He felt his face, assessing the damage. “Jutht a buthted lip and a couple looth teeth. Mebbe a black eye. Nuthin’ theriouth.”

“Sorry we dared you to grab her boob,” said Robbie. “We forgot about Vinnie.”

“No thweat,” replied Mike. “It wath worth it. You guyth believe that I got to thecond bathe now?”

Robbie and I just shook our heads and laughed. Not only had Mike gotten to second base, he’d scored on a suicide squeeze.


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