suicide is painless

Yesterday, I passed a gigantic Chevy pickup with almost-as-gigantic twin 'Murican flags flapping in its bed, right behind the NRA sticker. The driver, Cooter P. McNugget, cheerfully gave me the finger when we made eye contact. This edgy badass was adorned with an unkempt foot-long beard, undeniably diseased cowboy hat, and gas station knockoff aviators. As he drove toward the house I'd just left, I wondered if I'd remembered to set the alarm. Nevertheless, of the people I encountered yesterday, he was easily my favorite.

I was twice visited by my least favorite species, the Desperately Lonely Contractor.

As the painting estimator entered Hour 2 of his life story, I had long since stopped contributing words to the conversation, lest I again say something that would inspire a tangent. "Uh huh," I'd grunt.

"Yep. Say, do you know the etytomology of the expression uh huh? It's as uninteresting as the following anecdote is pointless and rambling."

My thoughts turned to those coyotes that chew their own legs off to free themselves from a trap. Lucky coyotes.

reader mail: the bat

Elephantine Stank troll Marta asks if I still sleep next to a baseball bat in my new home. Yep. The tape unraveled during the last move, but it's otherwise unbloodied. Now, one might ask, how could I swing it with only my left arm? Badly and inaccurately. I'd probably club my own head. Hopefully on my way down I'd fall on my assailant's foot or something.

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For the billionth time this year, give or take a googolplex, I was at a doctor's office. I've become a usability snob. For instance, don't leave your sign in front of the wrong building and then act like the problem is me. "We haven't been there for a year," sniffed the receptionist. Ah. Yes. Of course. I don't know how I ever messed that up.

That office's streak continued with one of the worst forms I've ever been made to fill out. I was already annoyed by having six inches to write "John" and then a quarter inch to write my address when they asked me to rate the pain on a scale from 0-10 and then gave me a scale from 1-5.

"Describe your chief complaint," they went on.

"Lately, it's people using their phones in movie theatres. And I don't just mean the texters. I see people actually taking calls. They're like, 'Not much. Watchin' a movie. What you doing?'"

"Emergency contact?"

"Allie."

"Type of relationship?"

"Grudging."

puny talk

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images.jpgIt happens several times a day. Maybe it's an Uber driver. Maybe it's a house contractor. Maybe it's yet another medical professional. Or maybe it's three, count 'em three people at my new dentist's office yesterday.

"What do you do for a living?"

"Why did you move here, for work?"

"What happened to your arm?"

"What do you do for a living?"

"Why did you move here, for work?"

"What happened to your arm?"

"What do you do for a living?"

"Why did you move here, for work?"

"What happened to your arm?"

It's these three questions, over and over, apparently until I die. None of the answers are interesting. I'd go so far as to say they're face-numbingly boring. And yet I find myself perpetually discussing these topics, struggling in vain to stifle suicidal impulses.

May we not just sit in silence? I hear it's wondrous.

Lately, checking out of any store goes exactly like this.

"Did you find everything you need, sir?"

"Sure. Let's say that."

"What's your phone number?"

"No."

"It's for our rewards program."

"Still no."

"Are you signed up for our rewards program?"

"No, and I don't want to."

"Do you want to sign up for our rewards program?"

At this point, I look at the poor people behind me in line, each silently praying that I don't make them run even later. 15 minutes ago, I was them.

"But if you signed up for our rewards program, you'd save $1.12 on today's purchase."

"No."

"I don't understand. Cheaper is always better."

"No."

"Okay," the clerk says, rolling her eyes at my stupidity. "Do you want to round up and contribute to orphaned monkey babies with cleft pallettes?"

"No, but you can round down and contribute yourselves." 

"I don't understand."

That's a fact.

When your arm is in a sling, strangers are suddenly incredibly thoughtful. "Can I help you carry that out to the car?" I hear every single day. People lunge to open doors for me. If there's no task to perform, they simply ask me how I am doing, with genuine concern.

"Now I know how it feels to be a hot chick," I remarked bitterly.

"You know," Inger began, "That stuff doesn't happen as much as you'd.... think... for.... ummmmm................. people.... that.... other people... might.... consider... attractive..."