About This

About Me

Where the Hell Was I?

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Stuff By Me

Proud Moments

  Punchline Fever!

Standup Standup

  11/16/03: Comedy Studio
  12/03/03: Emerald Isle
  12/17/03: Emerald Isle
  01/07/04: Emerald Isle
  01/08/04: The Times
  01/18/04: All Asia Cafe
  01/22/04: The Times
  01/25/04: All Asia Cafe
  01/28/04: On the Hill
  01/31/04: Chops Lounge
  02/04/04: Emerald Isle
  02/08/04: The Vault
  02/15/04: All Asia Cafe
  02/18/04: Emerald Isle
  02/22/04: The Vault
  03/10/04: Emerald Isle
  03/24/04: Emerald Isle
  04/01/04: Comedy Studio
  05/17/04: Comedy Connection

'Me' Things

  101 Things About For Me

  101 Things Posts About Me

  #6: Six Stitches
  #7: What's in a Name?
  #11: The Speling Bea
  #19: A Capital Weekend
  #35: Road Trippin'
  #36: Geronimo! Ditto!
  #40: Three for the Ages
  #43: Mishaps on the River
  #47: Puzzled Over Puzzling
  #53: Justifying My Tuition
  #55: My Yearbook Quote
  #56: Whatever It Takes
  #65: Pissing in the Middle
  #78: Losing My Faith
  #85: Goodbye, Teeth
  #88: A Painful Separation
  #91: An Only Child
  #98: Nothing But Putrid
  #99: Bovine Dreaming
  #100: 'Dudden Hurt'

  My LinkFilter Posts
  My LinkFilter Journal

Quantum Terminology

  Current Term: pudsnugglers

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  06/15/2003 - 06/22/2003
  06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003
  06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003
  07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003
  07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003
  07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003
  07/27/2003 - 08/03/2003
  08/03/2003 - 08/10/2003
  08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003
  08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003
  08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003
  08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003
  09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003
  09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003
  09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003
  09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003
  10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003
  10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003
  10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003
  10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003
  11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003
  11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003
  11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003
  11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003
  11/30/2003 - 12/07/2003
  12/07/2003 - 12/14/2003
  12/14/2003 - 12/21/2003
  12/21/2003 - 12/28/2003
  12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004
  01/04/2004 - 01/11/2004
  01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004
  01/18/2004 - 01/25/2004
  01/25/2004 - 02/01/2004
  02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004
  02/08/2004 - 02/15/2004
  02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004
  02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004
  02/29/2004 - 03/07/2004


  < ? bostonites # >
  i am a link whore
  ? Obscure Logs ?
  < ? 100 Things # >
  < ? Verbosity # >

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World Star Gazette

Charlie/Male/31-35. Lives in United States/Massachusetts/Watertown, speaks English. Eye color is hazel.
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Where the Hell Was I? has moved!

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Saturday, November 15, 2003
How Can You Not Take It? Don't You Want Protection Against Swarms of Locusts? Are You Mad?!

So, I've mentioned a couple of (dozen) times recently that I'll be delivering my very most firstest official standup comedy set tomorrow night.

(I decided that my grad school oral exams, while apparently just frigging hilarious to my committee, don't count, so tomorrow night is my first. That's only fair, I guess -- the committee basically decided most of my answers didn't 'count', either. The bastards.)

Anyway, because of the crushing, unbearable pressure much-appreciated enthusiastic queries by Lara about the show, I made a decision today. I made a decision, and I made a purchase.

Yes, folks, I now own a digital camcorder. Hide the women and watermelons, people, I've got full image-capture capabilities. Video, still pictures, you name it. Who knows what you might see within these pages in the coming weeks -- the mystery meat in the back of the fridge, one of my tres artistic toothpaste sculptures, maybe even the dog in her Little Bo Peep outfit. (Though you probably won't see my wife in her Bo Peep getup -- I'm not allowed to tape that sort of thing. She gets so shy when it comes to the Mother Goose stuff.)

But the more perspicacious of you will deduce that I really bought the thing to tape my standup sets. I'm hoping to line up some more shows, so I have to know what works, and what doesn't.

(And more importantly, figure out which people in the audience are throwing rotten fruit and eggs. 'Cause if I catch them, and I know them, they are so getting their tires slashed, or their lawns pissed on. Or their tires pissed on, whatever's fastest. I can't afford to take too much time -- I have a feeling I'll have a lot of houses to get to.)

Anyway, if I can manage to figure out the camera, and the software, and the six hundred peripherals I'll need to get the show taped and converted to something web-accessible, I'll post it up for any interested parties to check out. If you like it, you've got Lara at 75 Degrees and Raining to thank, for getting my ass in gear to buy a new toy. And if you don't... well, it'll be my material, so you should probably blame me. (But just between us, you can still go take it out on Lara -- hey, if I hadn't bought a camera, you'd have never been able to watch the crap. Go get her!)

Speaking of the camcorder, I'm now convinced -- and maybe you guys are way ahead of me on this one -- that the employees at Best Buy get a big fat bunch of nothing unless they sell you an extended warranty on something. I've been in there three or four times in the past year or so, and it's always the same damned thing -- the little weiner or weinerette starts out all nice and friendly. Downright perky, even. Sure, they often don't actually know anything, but they try to stay upbeat while they shrug and stutter and shake their heads. They're like little bobblehead dolls, useless and wobbly and idiot-grinning.

Then, of course, if you decide to actually buy the doodad you're looking at, the kid goes nuts. Suddenly, this ignorant, clueless customer assistant reveals him- or herself to be an idiot savant, because they know absolutely everything about the extended warranty on the product. Terms, dates, benefits, cost per annum -- you name it. In a flash, this pimply-faced boob before you is transformed from drooling, mindless drone to Professor Warranty, spewing forth everything you could ever want to know -- and much, much, much more -- about the minutae of the various options.

Then, when you do the smart thing and don't take the warranty, they clam up like a jilted lover, and treat you like a fresh pile of steaming dog flop. Suddenly, you're beneath contempt, simply because you're willing to take the risk of a blown tube or a frazzled circuit into your own hands. I swear, I think these people must get paid as a percentage of the warranties they foist onto people. They act like you're taking food out of their damned mouths when you refuse the coverage, or you've just thrown their little brother down a well.

The transformations these people go through are immediate and complete -- from slack-jawed idiot to blabbering expert to cold, spiteful enemy. It usually goes something like this:

Customer: Hi, can you help me with picking out a computer monitor?
Employee: Sure! Hey, I'd love to! Woo hoo!
Customer: Great. Would you recommend a CRT monitor or an LCD?
Employee: Uh... well... um, probably the LCD.
Customer: Oh, okay. And why is that?
Employee: Er -- they're bigger?
Customer: Don't they both come in several sizes?
Employee: Oh. Uh, yeah. It's brighter?
Customer: Brighter than...?
Employee: Um, the first one you mentioned?
Customer: The CRT, you mean?
Employee: Yeah, the CRD.
Customer: T. CRT.
Employee: Right, I knew that.
Customer: O...kay. Look, how about this monitor here? I saw a good review on this one. What can you tell me about it?
Employee: Well... let's see -- it's a... 19 inch model. And it's made by... um, OptiPlex, and...
Customer: Hey, you're just reading that off the little card by the monitor!
Employee: No, I'm not.
Customer: Yes, you are. Here, look -- I'll cover it up. Now who makes this again?
Employee: Uh... OmniPox?
Customer: No.
Employee: ArchiePlex?
Customer: No.
Employee: ArcoPax? OxiClean? OctoPussy?
Customer: Look. Just forget it. I'll trust the review. I'll take this one. Just ring me up.
Employee: But wait! I've got to tell you about the extended warranty! We've got three levels -- the two-year, the three-year, and the five-year. The five-year is the best; it covers hardware, cabling, screen scratches, and includes an option to have each pixel individually insured for the life of the monitor. All of our warranties cover fire damage, lightning strikes, pit bull manglings, and coffee stains. They range from just twenty-two dollars per month for the two-year plan to only seventeen dollars per month for the five-year warranty. So which plan should I put you down for?
Customer: Actually -- none of them.
Employee: But... the protection... the insurance... the lightning. How could you not?
Customer: I just don't want it, thanks.
Employee: Fine. Gimme your card.
Customer: Okay. Do you know about --
Employee: No. Sorry. Here, sign this.
Customer: Um, okay, but --
Employee: I've got other customers. Here's your receipt. Good day.
Customer: I've just got one question about --
Employee: I said, 'Good day'. I'm leaving now. Don't try to follow me.

So, anyway, I got out of the store today just the way I wanted -- with the camera, and without the warranty. Now, we'll see whether I can figure the damned thing out in time for tomorrow's show. (And whether I can keep my dog away from the thing, since I don't have the benefit of the 'pit bull mangling' coverage -- would that just serve me right?) I'll let you know how it goes, and if we're all lucky -- or unlucky, depending on your point of view -- I'll even have something to show you soon. We'll just have to see.

I'd Raise an Eyebrow Over It... But That Would Just Make It Worse

Hmmm. I don't really know how I should feel about this. It's really never come up before.

Before I go into detail, I want to mention that I'm a very low-maintenance kind of guy. I shower every morning, and wash my hair. Then I comb, throw on some deodorant, toss in my contacts, brush my teeth, and swish a bit of mouthwash. Hygenically speaking, that's pretty much the normal routine.

(And always in that order, too. I learned the hard way that I'm rather easily confused early in the morning. It only takes a couple of days wearing toothpaste under your arms and combing your teeth to learn that you need a system. But at least you don't have to worry about tartar buildup in your armpits. So you've got that going for you.)

Anyway, I don't go in for a lot of the 'cosmetic' treatments that seem to be all the rage these days. My daily routine is closer to Survivor than Queer Eye. No 'hair product', no 'eau de cologne', no tweezing, no lotions, no muss, no fuss. Just the basics.

So. Back to my current problem. I got my hair cut on Thursday, just like I mentioned I was going to. Fine. My hair is nice and short, just the way I like it. That's not the problem.

The problem is my eyebrows. Rather, my left eyebrow. See, during the haircut, the barber did a bit of shaping up there. Apparently, my eyebrows were 'wild and unruly'. Like a pack of hungry wolves, or shrieking teenyboppers at a Clay Aiken concert. So he trimmed my eyebrows. Trimmed them! I'd never heard of such a thing from a reputable, no-nonsense barber. Trimming eyebrows, indeed. What's next, a bikini wax? (Um, no, actually. I asked. He said he could do it, but we'd have to go in the back room. I passed.)

Anyway, he hopped in there with the scissors, and even a shaver type of thing, and trimmed my eyebrows. It's at this point that I should probably mention that my barber is no spring chicken. Neither is he a summer duck, nor even an autumn turkey. I'm not sure exactly what sort of fowl he is, but I'll tell you that he's definitely in his 'winter years'. There's not a lot of tread left on the ol' tires, and I'm not sure how well he can see these days. And of course, therein lies the problem.

See, it's not so big a deal if he cuts a few hairs on my head a little too short.

(Assuming that he doesn't actually draw blood, of course. I have my limits as to what sort of mistake I can forgive, and the line falls somewhere short of any error that causes a hemorrhaging head wound. Call me a hard-ass, if you want. That's just the way I am.)

So, if he can't see exactly what he's doing during the haircut, that's fine. I'm not all that picky. But the eyebrows are trickier, more delicate. Trimming them requires a light and careful touch, not to mention keen eyesight. Apparently, anyway, because my barber has neither, and now I have an eyebrow-and-a-half of problems.

The right one is fine -- less 'wild and bushy', I think, but otherwise, it looks pretty much the same. The left, though... oh, the left. It's still there -- I'm not gonna have to pencil any shit in there -- but it's noticably thinner now. It takes up about the same amount of space, but it's sparser and barer now. It's been pruned more than trimmed. I can almost feel my head leaning to the right, as the weight of those extra hairs over there pull me over. I'm lopsided, uneven. And I can't stop rubbing my eyebrows, trying to decide how big a difference there is.

In other words, I'm now neurotic about my eyebrows. I have become the weepy, spritzing, over-chic fashion nut that I beheld and disdained. I'm just that close to going upstairs and finding little scissors, or tweezers, or even toenail clippers, and evening the damned things out. Ugh.

Let this be a lesson to you no-nonsense, just-the-facts sorts of guys (and girls) out there -- I was once like you. I never rubbed things on, or scrubbed things off, or knew what the hell a 'loofah' was. Hell, I didn't even dry my hair -- I just combed it and forgot about it. But now... now that I actually give a damn about my eyebrows, of all the ridiculous things... well, shit, I don't know. Can sculpting gel and exfoliating scrubs be far behind? Am I falling down that slippery slope into three-hour-long bathroom trips and constant mirror checks? Will my 'personal appearance checklist' soon include more than making sure that I'm booger-free and my fly is zipped? How much do I tip a manicurist, anyway? Bitches! Damn you, you uneven, hairy little monsters! Damn you -- you did this to me!!

Friday, November 14, 2003
Hey, I Finally Get It Now! Cool!

So, I've been thinking for quite a while that this really isn't a blog. (Or even a weblog, if you're one of those people who don't like to abbreviate unnecessarily. U know who u r.)

Sure, it's hosted at blogspot, and it's powered by blogger, but it's not really a blog, content-wise. Not in the traditional sense, as I understand it. The way it was told to me, back by my grandpappy lo these many years ago, was like this:

A weblog is a site (hence the 'web' part) where someone stashes links that they think are cool, or funny, or scary (hence 'log'), and makes comments about them, to help guide other people interested in checking them out.

Now, I'm probably paraphrasing a bit -- grandpa was drunk most of the time, after all -- but I think I've got the jist of it correct. In the 'old school' sense, a weblog is a place to be gushy or witty or snarky about other crap posted on the web, and to showcase those links, so that other folks can share in the fun. That's a 'weblog'. I understand.

Except... all of this around here isn't really like that. Sure, I've got a blogroll chock full of cool sites, and I occasionally link out (or back in) to something I think people should look at -- but that's not really the point here. I'm not really 'logging' anything -- I'm telling stories, mainly, and giving my views on the world at large.

(And it's a damned good thing that I'm making most of it up as I go along, too, or I'd be in grave danger of having written a 'journal', or even a 'diary'. Eek!

That's no good if you're a thirty-something self-respecting male, you see. You can't hang around the water cooler on Monday morning talking about football, and throw in:

'Well, if you want to know what I think about the Colts' offensive line, you should read my diary.'

Yeah, that's not gonna fly. And it's a good way to get yourself gang-wedgied. So this is not a 'journal', and it's certainly not a diary. I don't see any poems (well, okay, to be fair, there is one) or pigtails around here, do you?)

So, anyway, as far as I can tell, this isn't really a 'blog', per se. I don't know what the hell it is -- a column, maybe, or an essay collection... random, useless brain spew, I don't really know -- but it's pretty clear that I'm not 'blogging'. And honestly, I never really saw the draw of blogging in the 'classic' sense. It would flummox me as to why people would enjoy that so much.

Until now, that is.

Ladies and gents, I'd like to introduce you to my latest obsession.

(And no, it's not anatomically-correct inflatable hedgehog dolls. Pervert. Anyway, I said latest obsession. So, nyah.)

I'm hooked on LinkFilter. For those of you who don't know, LinkFilter is a site that allows just the sort of quintessential blogging described above. You post links, and you comment on them. People come by, and they follow your link, or they don't. The ones that do may vote on the link -- or your witty description -- to let you know whether you should keep posting links like that one, or whether you should instead go back to your cave and reinsert your head into your ass and leave everyone the hell alone. (Or just post different kinds of links. A bad vote does leave a bit of wiggle room for interpretation.)

Anyway, I tried it out a few days ago, thinking that it would be amusing as a way to get the word out about blogs that I like.

(Yes, including this one -- I'm not above a bit of shameless self-promotion, people. I'd tattoo the URL on my ass and streak across Boston Common if I thought it would get me a few more hits. Erm, web site hits, that is. I'm not talking about what the cops would do to me after they caught up to me. That's different.)

So, I submitted a few links, including a couple to stories in the archives here.

(Was that wrong of me? Don't we all just want to be loved? Or even noticed? Or, for heaven's sake, when times are tough and the world seems to be against us, licked, just a little? Who doesn't like a good licking now and again, eh?

Um, I may have shared too much again. Shit. Quick, back to the post!)

And then, a strange thing happened. I discovered that I wanted to post more links. Not just to other blogs, or to my own site, but to random. interesting pages all over the net! Plus, I wanted to vote, and to look at other people's links, and even comment on them... suddenly, I was hooked! Somehow, my need for self-aggrandizement had been superceded by another, more powerful force. (Most likely, the desire to waste even more time when I should be working. But hush up -- the details aren't important right now.)

And so, I posted more links, and I voted some votes, and I tiptoed through lots of other folks' links. And you know what? I want more. I want to read, and to vote, and to comment, but most especially, I want to add more links. (With snarky, catchy intros by moi, of course!) But you can only post so many links a day, based on 'points' that you accumulate. And I'm out of points for today, so I'm out of luck, too. Damn.

And so, finally, I get it. This is blogging, and it's pretty cool. (It's also pretty cool that roughly six million times more people cruise through LinkFilter than come here -- the gratification of a vote or a comment from nice people I've never met is just that much more instant.) Now I see what all the fuss is about. Cool.

Now, I don't know how long my obsession will last. I tend to get all misty-eyed and soggy-pantsed about the Next Big Thing™ all the time, only to find that it can't hold my interest in the long haul. And keeping this site going is my main concern, of course. But hey -- maybe some of you would be interested in something more akin to 'blogging' (as opposed to 'braindumping') once in a while, too. So I'll tell you what -- I'll add a link on the sidebar (and another one right here) to all of my LinkFilter posts. Assuming I stick with it for a while, the list should continue to grow, more or less daily, and hopefully you'll get a chuckle out of them. And while you're there, stick around and see what other people are posting, too -- I'm amazed at the weird shit that crawls out of the woodwork and plops itself down in that place. It's frightening. Strangely exciting, and sometimes cockle-warming, but frightening, all the same.

(Note: I make no guarantees about the warming of your cockles while reading material on LinkFilter. The above passage is merely an anecdotal account of my personal experience. Your cockles may vary.)

So I can finally really call myself a 'blogger'.

(Even though I've been doing so for months now. And even though I'll continue to call this site a 'blog', even though it's probably not. It's just easier that way.

Um, then what was my point again?)

Anyway, give LinkFilter a try. Maybe you'll get hooked, too. As for me, I'll be back here soon with more of the rambling drivel that you've come to expect from me. And I'll be back there soon, too, with links and comments and opinions that you probably never even knew I was capable of.

(Yes, I'm a true Renaissance man. Behold, the artiste of a thousand personas!

Just try to forget that all of the thousand have 'assbag' and 'porkjuice' in their vocabularies. Hey, I said there were a thousand -- I never said any of them were good.)

Thursday, November 13, 2003
Sometimes It's What's Not Said That's Important

Am I the only one who lets my 'internal monologue' get out of hand during Viagra commercials?

You know the spots that show a guy strolling through an office, or a party, coolly accepting compliments from his adoring fans? Well, I have a hard time just watching those commercials. My brain keeps wanting to get in the act. Sometimes, my mouth even helps. (And yeah, that's not a sentence I'm entirely comfortable saying. Just work with me here.)

Anyway, I'll be sitting there, with my wife, minding my own business, just watching TV, when one of those damned commercials comes on:

Commercial: 'Hey, Joe -- did you get a haircut?'
Commercial: 'Nope'

Me: ('Why no, you must be noticing that big stiffy I'm sporting right now.')
Me: Heh.
Wife: What?
Me: Um, nothing. Nothing.

Commercial: 'Wow, Joe, you're looking good. Is that a new suit?'
Commercial: 'New? No.'

Me: ('No, it's not the suit. It's the fact that now I can flop my willy into the jacket pocket without taking it off.')
Me: Hee hee.
Wife: What are you laughing at?
Me: Wha'? I'm not, um, laughing. That was a cough. *cough kaff* Ahem. Excuse me.
Wife: I'm watching you.

Commercial: 'Well, hi, there, Joe. Wow, you're positively glowing! Did you get a raise?
Commercial: Heh. Nope, no raise.

Me: ('No raise, I'm afraid -- just an enormous, throbbing penis! Ooh, look at the penis of doom! Scaaaaaa-ryyyyy!')
Me: Bwah hah ha!
Wife: What?!
Me: Um... nothing. I just thought of a... um, joke. That I saw online. Yesterday.
Wife: A joke?
Me: Um, yeah. A joke.
Wife: Well, what was it?
Me: I... uh, I forget. Never mind.
Wife: You're a real dildo, you know that?

Commercial: 'Well, hi, Joe. Are you wearing a new cologne?'
Commercial: 'Nope, same as usual.'

Me: 'I've had a woody for the past three days! It won't go down! Somebody save me from my juiced-up Johnson! Aaiiieeee!
Wife: 'Juiced-up Johnson'?
Me: Oh, shit. I didn't say that out loud, did I?
Wife: 'Fraid so, Captain Woody. Behind on our meds again, are we?
Me: Nice talk. Feh.

This is just one more reason I love TiVo -- as long as I don't watch a show live, I can fast-forward past any of those commercials that might get me into trouble. And there are many, let me tell you. My 'inner voice' is quite the chatterbox when it comes to the ads. And not just Viagra -- oh, no. All kinds of product spots will set it off -- Depends, Massengill, Butterball (ooh, especially Butterball, those cheeky bastards)... Really, I just shouldn't watch TV at all.

So if you're anything like me, look out for those commercials, folks. They'll trip you up sooner or later, and then you too will be caught sitting on your couch, yelling, 'Oh, I've got some balls you can butter and stuff with squash!'

You know, like I did last week during a break in West Wing. It's a miracle I'm still married. And it's a damned good thing we were out of squash -- I think she'd have called my bluff. Yikes!

Somebody Get This Vat of Molasses the Hell Out of My Nose!

Well, shit. I'm sick. I think I've got a cold.

And for those of you who've never had a cold... well, basically, fuck you.

(No, no... I don't mean that. Sorry, that's just the phlegm talking. Let me try that again.)

For those of you who've never had a cold, let me tell you this -- post-nasal drip is a pain in the ass.

(Not literally, of course. If your sinus problem ends up having anything to do with an ass, much less causing it pain, then you're into kinkier shit than I am. Naked influenza twister, maybe, or whooping cough Jell-o wrestling. It really doesn't matter; I don't want to know. Just stop it. Stop snotting on asses. We don't do that sort of thing.)

Anyway, I've got a cold, and it sucks. I can't breathe, my nose is running, and I sound like James Earl Jones doing a Fat Albert imitation. 'Hey, hey, hey', my snotless ass. I'm an hour and a dinner-I'm-not-really-hungry-for away from snorting a capful of NyQuil and calling it a night.

(That stuff is magical, by the way. Sure, it doesn't really do anything about the symptoms of a cold -- not so far as I can tell, anyhow. I go to bed, hacking and sniffling and coughing up blue Smurfy shit. I get up, and it's the same thing -- the hacks, the sniffles, the Smurf shit. From all the direct evidence I have, there's no change whatsoever.

Ah, but in the time between sucking down the syrup (not a euphemism... stop it) and opening my sleepy widdle eyes the next day -- well, all I do is sleep, and that's frigging priceless. For all I know, I'm snurfing and gagging and violently horking all night in my sleep. I might as well be taking knockout drops or liquefied sleeping pills, not cold medicine.

And you know what? I really don't give a damn. If you can get me those eight to ten hours of sweet uninterrupted slumber, I don't really give a flying heifer's heinie how you're doing it. Give me alcohol, or codeine... morphine -- I don't care. Knock me on the damned head if you want. Just get me to sleep and keep me there till morning. That's all I ask.)

So, that's my life right now. Uncontrollable sniffling and exhaustion and little globs of unidentifiable green goo. It's like a dinner party at Keith Richard's house.

Okay, that doesn't make any damned sense. Look, I need my meds, okay? I'm sick -- cut me some frickin' slack. It takes a lot of gumption to blog in my condition, dammit! You should be nice to me. If for no other reason than I've got a lot of phlegm to throw around right now. You don't want me to go there. Trust me.

(And I know your IP address, buster -- I can find out where you live. You'd best just watch your back until I get that NyQuil down. *snuuuuurrrrfff*)

Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Hair Today, Hair Again Tomorrow

I need a haircut. Badly. I know this because I've completed the entire 'Haircut Cycle'. Everybody -- everybody with hair at least -- has their own Haircut Cycle, and no two are alike. They're like fingerprints, or snowflakes. You could call them 'hairprints', maybe. (But not 'hairflakes'... there are shampoos for that sort of thing. Yuck.)

Anyway, everybody has their own set of milestones and signposts that tells them where they are in their Haircut Cycle. For the more anal-retentive among us, the signpost might be a calendar date -- it's the tenth of the month, so the hair gets cut. So it is written.

For others, it might be a matter of hair length, or convenience -- the snipping gets done because the salon is next to the grocery store, or the bank, or a favorite crack house. Whatever.

For many of us, though, the Haircut Cycle is more complex. Many factors, both subtle and obvious, are taken into account, until finally it's clear -- the rug needs a clippin'.

And that's where I'm at now. How do I know? Well, because all my milestones have been hit since the last haircut. And, just in case you're curious, here they are. Here's my complete set of Haircut Cycle checkpoints, an unruly ennead of follicular foolishness:

Code Violet: This is time zero -- the actual haircut itself. For my money, you can only get a good haircut in a barber shop. Not a 'salon', or a 'stylist's studio', or a 'unisex cuttery'. No. None of that shit.

I want a barber, dammit -- the older and Italianer, the better. Everything in the shop should be older than I am -- the chair, the combs, the scissors, the tiny little TV in the corner. There should be a few magazines lying around, but not too many. We're not here to read, after all. And they should be either Sports Illustrated and Playboy, or reasonable facsimilies thereof. Oh, and the issues should be at least a year old.

The in-haircut conversation should be limited to three topics -- sports, the weather, and my hair. That's it -- nothing else. The barber should ask a minimum of one question ('Over the ears?'), and a maximum of three or four. Any more than that, and I wonder whether they know how to do their job. I start looking for the certificates on the wall. And 'edgy and anxious' is no way to be when there's someone standing over you with a pair of sharpened scissors, saying, 'So -- is it hot enough for you?'

The whole process should take no more than twenty minutes, and cost less than twenty dollars. And guys, hear me now and believe me... well, now, preferably -- if you find a barber who does everything I've just described, triple-tip that magical man (or woman; women make fine barbers in my world, too -- as long as they're old and/or Italian, and don't cut women's hair). Tip, tip, and tip some more, and keep going back. The true 'barber', as I've laid it out, is a dying breed. Make sure your local specimen isn't going to go extinct any time soon. You don't want to end up at fricking SuperCuts, do you? I didn't think so.

Code Indigo: This is the first few hours after the haircut. The locks are short, the neck is descruffed, and the sideburns are neatly trimmed. If I've done my job correctly, I've badgered the barber into cutting my hair just a little bit too short, to prolong the first couple of phases as long as possible.

This is also when I walk around feeling the back of my neck, like I'm petting a chinchilla or something. Does anything this side of the Barbi twins feel as good as a freshly-shaved neck?

(And while we're at it, I'm not even sure the twins really compare favorably. Can somebody out there hook me up with their info? I'd really like to do a comparison test. Um, for the sake of science. Of course.)

Code Blue: For a week or so, the hair is too short. Add that to the fact that it was recently shaggy, long, and unkempt, and the old noggin gets a lot of attention during this phase. I think of this as the 'Gape and Point and Make a Big Damned Deal Over My Haircut' stage.

People always seem so surprised -- 'Oh, my -- did you get... a haircut?!?'

What do you say to that, anyway? I mean, isn't it fricking obvious that the hair is shorter? And that therefore, it must have been cut? I can't suck in a bunch of air and retract the shit into my head, now, can I? So what's the proper response?

'Uh, no -- I just had an unfortunate lawnmower accident over the weekend. Thanks for noticing.'

Or maybe, 'Yeah, I got a haircut. While I was there, I had my back shaved, my thighs waxed, and I had them sculpt my pubic hair into a litte heart shape. Any other personal grooming information I can share with you?'

Hmmm. Yeah, maybe it's just best to say, 'yep,' and get it the hell over with. I can see where anything else could get me into trouble. (And make me a liar -- my pubes are shaved into a smiley face pattern. It looks pretty cool, actually -- but the nose itches like hell. Weird.)

Code Green: This is when the hair actually looks like it's supposed to. By now, everyone's gotten over the amazing revelation that I had the mop clipped, and we can all get back to ignoring it most of the time. It's like an umpire at a baseball game -- when it's working right, it's almost like it's not there at all. That's the kind of hair I like. I have plenty of other body parts that are more than happy to take the spotlight; the hair shouldn't be one of them.

Of course, this is the ideal haircut stage. My hair parts where it's supposed to, lies flat, and generally stays the hell out of my way. Not coincidentally, this is also the shortest of the Haircut Cycle stages. The duration varies, but I usually get to enjoy 'Code Green' for... I dunno, six hours or so. I get up one day, and the hair's too short; by the time I hit the sack that night, it's all unruly and long. In between, it looks spectacular, but the time is fleeting. Sometimes, I miss it completely.

I've tried to prolong this part of the cycle, of course. Every time I hit Code Green, I do everything I can to stunt the hair's growth. I drink a lot, I stop eating vegetables -- I stick my head into any industrial X-ray machines I happen to pass by. But nothing seems to work. I get drunk, and sick, and sometimes I develop rickets... but the hair keeps growing. It's like the follicles have a mind of their own.

Code Yellow: This is when the haircut begins to go south. The hair begins to form indivdual curly locks, which cannot be straightened, tamed, or moved by normal means. (Blowtorches and rolling pins sometimes work, but the process is unpredictable -- and dangerous -- at best.)

Usually, no one but me will notice that the hair has migrated into Code Yellow territory. It's not yet unruly enough to catch the eye of onlookers, but I know. I can see where things are going, and it's not good. This lasts for a week or two.

Code Amber: This is when my wife notices that I need a haircut. I can tell, because she lets me know, in her own subtle, gentle way. She says, 'Wow. You need a haircut!' (Okay, so it's not so subtle, nor gentle, either. Sorry. Hey, she might be reading this stuff -- I've got to be nice.)

Anyway, by this point, the shape of the hair has changed and morphed considerably. Instead of a smooth, nicely combed do, I've got a lumpy, gangly mess. Not everywhere -- yet. Just in certain spots. It starts up on top, and just behind the ears. My hair gets curly -- sometimes together, sometimes in all directions. My hats don't fit any more. (Unless you call sitting three inches off my head on a mound of fuzzy crap 'fitting'. And I, for one, don't.)

Generally speaking, this is where most people would bite the bullet and actually get a damned haircut. But not me. I'm just warming up.

Code Orange: This is what I like to call the 'Fozzy Bear' stage. I get up in the morning, and my head looks like that damned Muppet bear's. I shower and wash my hair, then brush it down, and it looks okay. Not 'great' -- just 'okay'. Like something from my Code Yellow days, perhaps. Then my hair dries, and *foosh!*, back to Fozzy Bear. And this goes on for two, maybe three, weeks. Wokka fucking wokka fucking wokka.

At this point, little can be done to tame the hair. It's revolted, and now owns the top of my head. Little fingerlings of the stuff scout down behind my ears, forming Shirley Temple-esque curls that I have to deal with. And there's no good way to 'deal' with them, either. I can't stuff them back up in the nest of hair -- they fall right back down. I can't pull them straight, because... well, it frigging hurts! Duh.

And I can't tuck them behind my ears, because that's a chick thing. And while I might grow long, lustrous hair, full of verve and body, I am not going to do coy man-attracting things with it. I'm just not, okay? I have plenty enough wierdos in my life as it is without finding out where cross-hair-dressing will get me. Or whatever the hell you'd call that. Let's move on -- I'm a little creeped out.

Code Red: This is when the fur on the back of my neck really comes into its own. My hair is still curling and mutating and rearranging itself on my head, but now my neck develops these long, wispy, delicate little hairs. Sometimes, they're long enough to braid. (Hey, I didn't say I do it; I just said I could. Big difference, there, Tonto.)

But now, all hope of hiding the mess atop my head with a hat is pretty much gone. Anything I place up there -- ball cap, visor, handkerchief -- is immediately slurped into the mess, never to be seen again. (Well, not always never, I suppose -- during subsequent haircuts, I've been able to recover hat brims and elastic bands. But most of the fabric is just gone. And what's left is riddled with tiny little teeth marks. What does it all mean?)

Code Red typically lasts for another week or so. My sideburns join the fray, inching their way down toward my jugular. (Yeah, you know they want a piece of me. I shave those bastards back every day -- by this point, they've gotta be pissed.) By the end of this phase, I can actually feel the weight of the hair on my head. It gets harder and harder to keep from lolling to one side or the other. (Even during those brief moments when I'm sober. Scary, no?)

Code Vermillion: This is the 'Quasimodo' phase, when old people and small children point and stare at the maelstrom of hair atop my noggin. At this point, it's fully autonomous; I find it reaching out, grabbing books off of shelves, and poking into other peoples' ears. (And not in a sexual way, so it does me no good at all. Stupid non-sexual hair.)

I don't even try to comb the shit any more during Code Vermillion -- for one thing, it's pointless. Even if I manage to catch a lock of hair on the brush, it just springs back into place once I'm done with it. For another, the hair tries to grab the damned brush out of my hand and paddle my cheeks with it. So it's dangerous, too. Best to just leave the monster to its own devices.

My favorite part of Code Vermillion is the reaction I get from friends that I haven't seen in a while -- say, since Code Orange or so. The greetings usually go something like this:

Me: Oh, hey, dude! What's up? It's been a while.
Them: Yeah, how long has it -- Jesus Christ, man! Go get a freaking haircut!

Sometimes the conversation continues; sometimes they just shake their head in disbelief and shame. And sometimes, my hair grabs them by the lapels and smacks them around. In any case, I don't get to carry on many conversations during the week or so that Code Vermillion lasts. It's all about the hair at this point.

Code Neon Fricking Crimson: This is my current situation. My hair is alive -- it walks, it talks, it picks my nose and gives me wedgies. Medusa would be jealous of the writhing, hissing mass on top of my head. Women weep when they see me, and grown men cower in fear. My hair amuses itself by assuming different shapes throughout the day. In the morning, I'm Elvis with a pompadour. At lunch, Don King. By evening, Marge Simpson. The fight is over, and my hair has won.

The only way out of this mess, as Lorena Bobbitt once said to herself, is to lop the stuff off. And so, that's what I'll do -- tomorrow, maybe, or the next day.

But soon. I've been in Code Neon Fricking Crimson for a couple of days now, and I've never gone much longer than that. As it is, I wake up every morning with hair wrapped around my neck and crawling down my throat. It's not content to be brought into this world; it wants to take me out, too. One of us has to go, and I'm the one with the opposable thumbs. So I'm staying.

Hopefully, I'll get this cleared up soon with a trip to the old barberino, thus beginning the cycle anew. I swear, if my wife would let me just soak my head in Nair or something, I'd be done with the whole damned thing. But she's not into bald guys. (Lucky for me. Kojak, not so much.)

Anyway, that's the way these things go -- a week of looking like a Marine recruit, fourteen minutes of simply fabulous plumage, and then six weeks or more of being mistaken for an extra on the set of a Great White Lion Snake video shoot. Meh.

Screw it, I've had enough. Somebody give me a hatchet or something. This shit's coming off!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Look, Just Show Me Your Boobs and We'll Call It Even, Okay?

Well, folks, I've got to be honest -- I don't have much gas left in the ol' tank tonight. I stayed up late, got up early, and had a long, long day, finally getting home at around ten o'clock. Plus, I've got another hellish nine am meeting tomorrow staring me in the face, so I'm going to do the smart thing (unlike everything I described yesterday) and get the hell to bed at a reasonable hour. So I'll keep this brief, if such a thing is humanly possible.

(And hey, if whatever little snack I whip up for you tonight doesn't leave you with a full tummy, then go raid the archives. Search for something interesting in the search box up there -- chances are, if it's silly, obscene, or just plain grotesque, then I'm all over it like stink on UPN. Go on, give it a shot.)

Anyway, I think I can manage to stay awake long enough to relate a recent experience I've had. It happened a couple of days ago. It was mid-morning, maybe ten or ten-thirty. I was rolling into work, as is my custom. (But no longer my habit -- damn those nine am meetings!) And I stopped to hold the door for a woman walking into the building behind me.

(Yeah, I'm a helluva guy, I know. I'm a regular chivalrous throwback, I am. Knight in shining armor, and all that. Stop, I'm gonna blush.

Okay, so really I saw her back there, and she was kind of pretty, so I decided to see whether she smelled nice. Are you happy now? Look, it doesn't matter why I held the damned door -- I held it, okay? I held it, and she walked through it. Period.

Oh, but by the way, in case you're interested... yes. Yes, she did. Lavender, I think it was.)

So, I held the door, and she walked through. Now, most people would say, 'thank you' at this point. That would be nice. Other folks might say, 'thanks' or 'how nice' or 'well, aren't you sweet'. Or 'Hey, that deserves a peek at my boobs!' All of these things are perfectly acceptable, and much appreciated. (Especially the boob thing. And even more so if you're a woman! Bonus!)

Other, less civilized people, don't say anything at all when a door is held for them. Some might nod, or smile, which is okay. But many of them won't acknowledge the gesture at all, just walking past as if there were no door, or holder, or favor being done. Insensitive bastards, they are. The appropriate response to them is also silent, whether it's a sad shake of the head, or an exasperated eyeroll. Or, in a weaker moment, a hearty flip of the old bird at their back. Godless heathens.

But this woman did neither of these things -- she didn't say something nice, nor did she say nothing at all. What she said instead was this:

'Hey, great.'

Just like that. Completely flat voice -- almost no emotion whatsoever. Like she just found a nickel on the ground. Not a dollar, or a quarter, or even something marginally useful like a dime. Those might have gotten her all wet and juicy. But not a held door. All the door got from her was a terse, half-hearted:

'Hey, great.'

What the hell does that mean, anyway? Is it 'hey, great' like 'ooh, look, a peon to hold that pesky door open'? Or maybe it's more like a 'hey, great, I might have walked into that door if you hadn't been there' kind of thing. Or 'hey, this lavender crap I'm wearing is pretty cool'. Whatever it means, it doesn't sound terribly grateful or thankful, which is what it should be. Especially since I had the power -- and for a split second, the urge -- to face-plant the bitch with the door I was holding, and knock her ass back to the curb.

So remember that, folks, the next time someone holds a door for you. Give 'em at least a grin, or some kind of signal that you appreciate their effort. Better yet, thank them and wish them a nice day. (Or do the boob thing. Really, it's all good.) But whatever you do, don't confuse them with some mumbled irrelevant nonsense, or you might find yourself tasting a doorknob. We door-holders are generally nice people, but we're not gonna put up with crap, all right?

Monday, November 10, 2003
Yet Another Opportunity to Be Less Like Me

I don't know about you, but I spend an awfully large percentage of my life being late. Late for work, late to meetings, late getting home, late going to bed... I'm always somewhere I'm not still supposed to be, or rushing like hell to get to the next destination. It's been that way my whole life -- I was always late for class in college (when I bothered to go... damned eight o'clock classes), tardy in high school, and rolled in after the last bell in elementary school. Hell, I was even born late.

(And after thirty-odd hours of labor, which my mother will never let me forget. Hey, did she ever stop to think that maybe I was busy in there? Maybe I was doing something important, dammit. I can't be bothered every damned time some woman dilates, fer chrissakes... what about my needs?)

Anyway, after a while, you can get used to anything. So I've come to recognize my various modes and moods that crop up when I'm late, and I've learned how to deal with them. Which is not to say that I do deal with them -- I just know how to deal with them. So, in the off chance that my experience with nincompoopery can help some of you out there, I'll tell you what the various types of 'lateness' are, and what you should do when faced with each. And then... what I actually do most of the time. Because I'm a moron that way. Don't make the same mistakes I did, people. There can be only one.

So, on to the 'Six Stages of Tardiness':

Stage 1: 'Hmmm... I Bet I Could Do One More Thing Before I Go'

Description: This is the onramp to the road of lateness. At this point, you're not actually late yet. But you're about to be. You know you need to be somewhere, but you look at your watch, or your clock, and see that the time hasn't yet arrived. You've still got ten, maybe fifteen minutes. You're cool.

Of course, what you fail to take into account is that you're still in bed, and your meeting is ten miles away, on the other side of a shower, shave, and a hair-raising commute. Or you're heading to bed, but your 'one more thing' involves a two-hundred page book, or watching Roots on TV, or... I don't know, twins.

Any way you slice it, that 'one more thing' is gonna cost you too much time and a nice big slice of sanity. It's best to just say 'no'.

What Should Happen: Um, you'd just say 'no'. (Well, duh. What'd I just say?) You'd get off your ass and get whereever the hell you're going. That 'one more thing' would wait, and you'd actually have a steam-heated snowball's chance of getting somewhere on time. For once.

What Actually Happens: The lure of the 'one more thing' grabs you by the scalp and sucks the smarts out of your brain. You fiddle, and piddle, and fart around for the ten or fifteen minutes you had, then ten or fifteen more. You're now officially late, and you're no closer to your goal. Congratulations -- you're officially a lazy-assed chowderhead. Proceed in an orderly fashion to:

Stage 2: 'Sure, I'm Late... But I'm Not Late Late':

Description: This is where you realize that you're not going to be 'on time, per se, but you find a way to convince yourself that you can still be reasonably on time. Close to on time. Approximately on time. Not 'on time', but something vaguely similar. You are now dabbling in the black art of 'airline logic', where 'twenty minutes late, with no peanuts and a damned kid screaming in your ear the whole trip' somehow counts as 'on time'. It's the Twilight Zone, and you're on Bizarro World time. You can come up with any kind of outlandish shit, and it makes perfect sense to you.

Your optimism is unmatched -- 'Well, I can shower in thirty seconds, as long as I don't actually use any soap...'
Your grasp of physics down the tubes -- 'Lessee, thirteen seconds to dress, two to comb my hair, and eight seconds to brush my teeth...'
Your mathematical skills on hyperdrive -- 'Six minutes to downtown, two to the parking lot, another two to get in the building, up the elevator -- I'll only be five minutes late!'

Never mind that you always take time during your shower to actually bathe (and to sing the Rubber Ducky Song, which is -- at best -- disturbing), that you can't even get the damned cap off the tube of toothpaste in eight seconds, or that you've never managed to negotiate the gridlock between your house and your office in less than thirty minutes, much less ten. Because this is stage two -- anything is possible, just so long as you don't actually think about it too hard, or use any of your past experience as a guide. You're Superman, without the cape accoutrement. You're invincible.

What Should Happen: Panic should be setting in at this point. You should be wrapping up whatever the hell distracted you for this long, and getting your ass in gear. If you're late for something where other people are involved, you should be looking up their phone numbers, trying to reach them to say that you'll be just the teensiest bit late. Covering your ass, managing expectations, saving your damned job -- whatever you want to call it, now is the time to pull your shit together.

What Actually Happens: The seductive power of your pseudo-chrono-logic washes over you, giving you a false sense of confidence and security. You pooh-pooh those sensible little voices in your head telling you to get on with it -- 'Hey, I've been late before,' you say to yourself. 'And didn't I just say that I was only gonna be five minutes late? That's nothing. Hell, I should almost wait a couple of minutes longer. If I'm gonna be late, I might as well do it right.'

At this point, the still-functioning brain cells are cowering in fear in the back of your brain. They're planning a revolt to snap you back into some semblance of reality, but they don't yet have the numbers to fight through the web of lies and fairy tales that you've constructed for yourself. Finally, though, your lump of working neurons reach critical mass and revolt, tailspinning you into:

Stage 3: 'Oh Shit, My Wife/Husband/Parents/Brain/Boss/Legal Guardian/Pimp/Dominatrix Is Gonna Kill Me':

Description: Like a shot through the eye, it finally hits you -- you're late. And you're not just late; you're really fucking late. Whereever it is you're supposed to be, the time has come and gone. Maybe the meeting's already started without you, or the plane's about to leave the ground, or your date is actively huffing and stomping around and cursing you and all who share your gender. Or maybe it's just way past your bedtime. Whatever it is, you're cooked. And you're about to get served up on a platter with a side of fries, and be chewed the hell up and spit the hell out. (Or chewed out and spit up, depending on who's got the knife and fork in their hands. Pimps can be so unforgiving.)

What Should Happen: A steady stream of profuse, sincere, creative apologizing, preferably in person, but at least on the phone, if you haven't actually made it to the site of your flogging yet. You must tell anyone who will listen that you are sorry, that you're a nimrod, and that this will never, ever, EVER happen again.

You should be begging for your life, or your marraige, or your job. Or, if it's your brain you're pissing off by being late to bed, you should be begging it not to make you fall down the stairs in the morning, or let you walk out of the house with your fly unzipped. Whatever the case, you should be in full-on, knees-to-the-floor grovel mode. Wide-eyed, repentant, and above all, sorry. And make it convincing.

(No matter how many times you've given the speech. And believe me -- it gets harder to make it fly every time you go through the spiel. You can only cry wolf so many times before your grandma gets eaten. Or... um, something. You know what I mean, dammit!)

What Actually Happens: In your panicked state, you finally stop horsing around and start moving toward your goal. In your rush, though, you cause more problems than you solve. You fumble your car keys across the floor, or you turn the wrong way down a one-way street. You accidentally tie knots in your shoelaces, or forget your briefcase and have to retrieve it. Essentially, at this point you're a little sound and a lot of fury, but you're not actually accomplishing anything. It's wasting time, without all that lazy-day, devil-may-care enjoyment. You're running full-speed on a treadmill, or going around and around in a revolving door. Wowsy wowsy. Woo woo.

And if you're not being part of the problem, then the rest of the damned world is picking up the slack. Your computer shuts off, with just one more paragraph to finish. Or the traffic lights line up in a chorus of red, red, and more frigging red. Grandmas drive in front of you. Your office buidling elevators are under repair. Funeral processions block your path. (Lousy damned dead people, anyway -- who do they think they are?)

Finally, you realize that you're not going to get out of this with the truth alone. If it gets out that you're late because you just had to finish the chapter of the book you're reading, or you simply couldn't leave the house until you finished that mission in Rainbow Six, you're gonna get creamed. And so, like swallows returning to Capistrano, you find yourself in the familiar clutches of:

Stage 4: 'I Had Better Invent a Damned Good Excuse By the Time I Get There':

Description: This is it -- you're on the spot, and you need an explanation. And after the dubious math and questionable planning you've been doing so far, there's little hope that you'll be able to save your ass convincingly. What you need is a plausible lie -- one that could be true, that isn't easy to verify (or in this case, refute), and one that doesn't need a lot of detail, lest you get your wires crossed and blow it. This is where you need a cool head, a cunning mind, and nerves of steel. (Or, in my case, lots and lots and lots of practice. Bleh.)

What Should Happen: You should take a few deep breaths, calm yourself down, and think of several scenarios that you could use to cover your ass. You should examine each of these potential alibis, and rate each one on plausibility, complexity, verifiability, and whether or not you've used that excuse in the past three days or so. (At least in front of the person or people you're about to lay it on.) In the end, you should have a lie that even a child could tell and get away with -- simple, elegant, and utterly believable. It should almost tell itself, stepping up like a big brother, or a good lawyer (oxymoronic though that may be), to defend your good name, on your behalf.

What Actually Happens: As the walls of your self-imposed prison close in on you, you start to hyperventilate. Realizing the trouble you're in, and unable to quiet your pounding heart, you reach for the first batch of ludicrous bullshit your fevered brain can sling, and cling onto it for dear life. Other wild and outlandish crap may come zinging across your field of consciousness -- some of it clearly better than that first bit of nonsense -- but you hold fast to that first intuitive stab at an excuse. You have to take the contestant's first answer, no matter how preposterously asinine it may be.

And so, you arm yourself with 'Well, there was this big kangaroo escape at the zoo...', or 'I'm sorry, I had to perform an emergency appendectomy at... um, my poker club...', or even 'No, really, I was abducted again. Seriously! Them little green men just can't stop with the anal probes -- I dunno whut I ever done ta them!'

If you're lucky, you'll still have one little glimmer -- just the merest hint -- of sanity left. And it will tell you, in no uncertain terms: 'That shit won't fly, man! If that's the best you've got, you are screwed! Kiss your ass goodbye right now.' And you'll realize that you simply aren't equipped to make your appointment at all at this point. Welcome to:

Stage 5: 'Another Ten Minutes and I Could Just Not Go at All':

Description: You begin to weigh the benefits of just bagging your appointment, or date, or meeting altogether. Sometimes, it's better to miss the whole thing, rather than stepping in an hour late. Weddings are often like this, as are most first dates, and many school exams. If you're late getting to bed, this is the time you realize that you might be better off just staying up all night. Well, 'realize' is a bit strong, I suppose. 'Imagine', maybe. 'Pretend'. 'Dream'. But not 'realize'; yeah, that's not really it at all.

What Should Happen: You should again keep a cool head, and soberly determine whether being conspicuously absent is going to hurt you more than being painfully obviously late. Weigh the pros -- which really boils down to 'more time to think of a good excuse' -- against the possible cons -- unemployment, divorce, dementia, failing out of school, being burned in effigy.. whatever.. Decide how likely, and how severe, the punishment might be, and just how silver-tongued you'd have to be to get out of ditching the whole thing altogether. It's rare, but every so often -- once in a blue moon -- this really is the way to go. Rarely. It's a risky move, only to be undertaken after long, careful consideration.

What Actually Happens: As soon as the merest hint of the thought of even considering the idea of not showing up at all enters your mind, the decision is made. You're not going. You never were going. You can go back to whatever the hell you were doing, and it's going to be fine. You'll find an excuse, and you'll make it up some other time. You can say you were sick, or called out of town, or you had a 'family emergency'.

Ah, yes, that ever-so-personal, rarely-questioned, never-detailed gem of an excuse -- the 'family emergency'. That's all you ever need to tell people -- just look solemn, and bow your head just a bit, and mumble, 'I'm sorry. I had a... a... family emergency.' It's like a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card. Nobody will ask you about it, and you're not obligated to tell. It's a private matter, a family emergency. Unless you're actually trying to pull a fast one on a parent, or your spouse, you're in the clear. Just don't use it every damned time, of course. This isn't a frigging soap opera, now -- no family this side of the Ewings has a damned emergency every week. Be cool, and you might get away with it now and then.

But, assuming you don't get away with it -- maybe it is your wife you have to fool, or the event is just too important to even be late for, much less miss -- then you're down to your last choice. The end of the road, with nowhere else to turn. You've gone and done it now; you're reached:

Stage 6: 'Well, That's It Then -- I Can Never Show My Face Here Ever Again':

Description: There's really no choice to be made here. This happens when you miss your own wedding, or your child being born, or the plane to Vegas for that trip you've been planning with your buddies for the past six years. There's simply nothing you can do, other than pick your life up and plop it down somewhere else. It's over -- you're screwed, and there's no magic potion or salve on the planet that can unscrew you now. This is where you cut your losses and walk away.

What Should Happen: You should pack all your things, hop into your car, and drive in whichever direction points toward the biggest stretch of dry land to drive on. When you get tired -- but a minimum of five hundred miles later -- you can stop, and try to find a new niche to fit into. Change things up, if you want -- become a beekeeper, or a belly dancer, or a professional skywriter. Do something fun, or interesting, or just different. But do something, because you ain't never going back, child. This is your new life now. Get the hell used to it, dickhead.

What Actually Happens: Honestly, I don't quite know. I made it to the church on time, I am so not having kids, and that Vegas trip hasn't come together yet. So I haven't sunk quite this low yet -- though I admit I've been close more than once. I got very good at answering just enough test questions in the last twelve minutes of a class to pass the damned thing. Which is good, because I showed up more than once with just twelve minutes left, unshaven and still in my jammies, desperate to stay in school. (Where the beer was. What the hell did you think I meant?)

And hopefully, I'll never have to go down this road. I may be hanging on by a thread, flirting almost daily with Stage 4 and Stage 5, but I've not bitten the big fat one quite yet. Still, I keep a bag packed, just in case. Given my sad and chronic condition, it's only a matter of time, and I don't know how long I'll have before people come looking for me, torches and pitchforks in hand. So I made sure to be prepared. I'll take all the lead time I can get.

So, I hope this little lesson has helped you. Maybe you can avoid the shame and embarrassment my wretched disease has cost me in the past. And, frankly, still costs me. Hell, just look at me now. The clock's turned over to Tuesday, and here I am, wrapping up this post ('Ooh, just one more thing before bed!') at -- what the hell is it now, two? Two thirty?

Two thirty-nine, actually. And I've got a nine o'clock meeting in the morning. Which I'll be late to, of course. As usual. Hell, I'm almost late already! I'm in Stage 4 of 'late for bed', and almost in Stage 1 of 'late for the meeting'. Woo -- look at me multitask!

Feh. Screw this; I'm going to bed. I'm sure I'll read this later and better appreciate the delicious irony of being made very, very late for bed by blogging about always being late. But for now, I'm just pooped. And I'm out of lame-ass excuses to stay awake any longer, so I'm hitting the sack. I just hope I'm not too late for that meeting in the morning. I'd hate to hit Stage 6 so soon -- I was just starting to like my new job. G'night!

Sunday, November 09, 2003
Turning Over a New Leaf... and Ten Thousand of Its Closest Friends

Ah, the joys of owning a home. Or in this case, a yard.

I don't remember buying a house in the middle of a fricking forest, but that must be what happened. How else could we end up with dead leaves a foot deep in the back yard? I went back there yesterday to rake them up, and could barely wade through the damned things. We lost the dog for a while -- we had to strap a snorkel to her ass, so we could see the breathing tube sticking up out of the leaf piles.

(Which worked out okay until she started farting. Not only did it tootle out the top like a train whistle, but it seems to have permanently fogged up the mask.

Yeah, I think I'm done with scuba for a while. Ick.)

Anyway, I raked myself a path out to the middle of the yard, and went to work. And work, and work, and more work. Honestly, I think the bastards around us must have raked their yards, and dumped all their shit into ours. While we were sleeping, maybe, or... um, at work. It could happen. And then they... uh, smoothed them all out, to make an even layer, so no one would suspect. Yes, I'm sure that's what they did. Now all I've got to do is prove it, or at least keep them from coming back. Bear traps and land mines ought to do the trick.

(Hey, it worked so well for the gopher problem we used to have, that's how I solve all our yard-related problems now. Bear traps and land mines have gotten rid of skunks, and ants, and most of the weeds in the yard. Well, okay, to be fair, they took out a lot of the flowers, too... not to mention the left side of the porch. Still, I think it's been worth the effort.

Of course, we do go through an awful lot of mailmen. I guess we should probably put up warning signs or something. Or at least stop leaving traps in the mailbox. But you never know where those pesky ants are going to crawl. You can never be too careful.)

But all of that didn't help me with the leaves I already had. And believe me, I tried. I set up a chain of firecrackers, hoping to burn the leaves away. In hindsight, I suppose I should have realized that was a bad idea. All I got was a bunch of 'leafetti' raining down on my head. Oh, and I managed to catch the grill on fire. And while fire in a grill is good, bright yellow flames burning the hell out of the outside of the grill are generally not what you want.

So, I put the fire out. But our grill is now a nice golden brown. In a pinch, I might throw it on a roll and try to eat it. Bitches.

Anyway, I finally bit the bullet and got to work on the leaves. Now, don't get the wrong idea, either. I didn't use any of those newfangled, fancy-shmancy modern lawn tools. I'm a traditionalist, folks. I'm a throwback. 'Old-school', I think the kids call it.

In other words, I'm poor. You see, actually owning some green space within twenty miles of Boston doesn't leave you with much 'green space' in the old wallet to put towards lawn maintenance. So we make do with the tools our parents, and grandparents, and Neanderthal ancestors, used. We've got a rake, and a shovel, and a pack of leaf bags. That's pretty much it.

(Well, to be honest, we did save up our money and buy a lawnmower this summer, too. Which was a relief -- clipping the lawn with a pair of scissors was getting pretty damned old. I was considering just dumping peanut butter all over the yard and letting the dog do the work for us. That's when my wife suggested the lawnmower. She always has such good ideas.)

So I went at it with the rake, and after a couple of hours, I had two chest-high piles of leaves. But that wasn't the truly onerous part. Oh, no -- not by a longshot. The bagging is ten times harder than the raking. (Bagging's always the hardest part of anything. Ask a hunter, or maybe a coroner. Or even a horny teenager; they know. They wish they did, anyway.)

Luckily, though, I had some help. My wife came out for a little bagging party. (Yeah, I'm gonna leave that one alone. Think what you want.) And soon enough, we had several big-ass bags full of leaves and stored under the porch. That's when I took a good look around the yard, and recoiled in horror at what I saw.

It wasn't the ground that concerned me -- oh, there were still a few leaves here and there, littered on the lawn like drunken frat boys after a kegger. (Sorry, we're in New England. That's keggah. A wicked pissah keggah!) And the grill was still smoldering. But I was over that already. No, what really got my knickers in a twist was what I saw on the trees -- all the damned trees lining the properties around us still had loads of leaves! Thousands of the little bastards, just waiting to die and drop onto my property. How fucking rude!

(Look, you don't see me dying and dragging myself into their tree trunks, or draping myself on their branches, now, do you? No. It's just common courtesy. You'd think these damned leaves would get with the program already.)

That's when I realized that the circle of back-breaking yard work is never-ending. As soon as you're done with one batch of Nature's little tree turds, another round starts plopping down onto your shit. And then you've got to rake those. And over, and over, until the snow falls, and then you've got to shovel that shit up. In the spring, there's apparently something called 'planting', or 'seeding'. Sounds hard. And then you mow the grass all summer, until before you know it, you're back to the damned leaves! Shit! Who's idea was this 'yard' thing, anyway? Can I just pave over the thing and be done with it? It's not like I'm gonna grow frigging wheat out there -- so why the hell do I have to bother with it?

Eh, this sucks. But maybe I'll get lucky this year. Hell, it's already mid-November, and this is New England -- the blizzards should be starting any day now. Maybe those leaves that are left will get caught by surprise, and get flash-frozen right on their nasty little stalks. They can sit there freezing on the trees for all I give a damn. Just so long as I don't have to deal with them.

But what if they do fall? What then? Well, I'm not bagging the little fuckers, I'll tell you that. Once a year is enough. I'll rake 'em if I have to, but that's it. I'll just leave the pile there for the winter, like some sort of leafery burial ground. That'll teach the bastards to keel over on my lawn. I have a policy on my property -- if you die there, then you'd damned well better be sure to drag your carcass away before I find it. Or have it dragged for you, 'cause I'm not likely to do it. And we've got the remains of our gopher friends out there to prove it.

(The mailmen, we cleaned up -- all those letters and catalogs were clogging up the drainpipes.)

Anyway, I've got my fingers crossed that I'm done with leaves this year, but it doesn't look good. Another couple of weeks without snow, and I'll be up to my ass again in dead tree parts. The neighbors better hope that doesn't happen. 'Cause next time, my leaves are getting dumped in their yards. Yeah, baby -- payback is a bitch. I'm onto you people, do you hear me? I'm onto you!

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