October 2009 Archives

male bonding

Two more Pittsburgh stories.

First of all, the gas pump woman never sent me a bill. Whoever she is, depending on her age, I want to marry/adopt her and/or have her read me a bedtime story.

• • •

I was waiting in the lobby of my Pittsburgh motel when a line developed behind me. The guy two places back was wearing a brand new, vintage Mike Webster jersey. My having recently failed to locate just such a jersey, this caught my eye. As before, I wondered what the deal is with black Steelers fans and white players' numbers. I wondered if he put as much silly thought into making a statement as I did. Surely not.

Outside the window, the motel manager was awkwardly strapping on some 6' stilts, which consisted primarily of his teetering like a drunken baby deer on ice while hanging for dear life off the second story deck. This wasn't merely for our entertainment. He was also painting the exterior of the building. As he lurched toward oblivion, I found myself rooting for gravity. That's when Mr. Mike Webster Jersey called me on it.

"What does it say about us that we're rooting for him to fall?" he said guiltily. "We're not exactly rushing outside to help him get upright."

We laughed, and I'm pretty sure one of us even felt bad. I invited him and his buddy to join our tailgate later that day.

When they showed up, I handed them beers and brats and introduced them to my brother-in-law. I saw no outward signs of discomfort from him, but as they shook hands, I felt an electric pulse of childhood memories flooding back, memories of him telling racist jokes. Particularly vile jokes, from what I recall. But maybe he's changed. People mellow, learn. I hoped so. And then he shot me a glare that said, at least in my imagination, You didn't tell me they were black.

I failed you, sir. A thousand pardons. I'm afraid I'm not as well-versed in retard as my sister.

But the evening progressed smoothly enough, with my sister's husband contributing from time to time as the rest of us swapped stories. Eventually I asked the question I'd wondered about earlier.

"Mike Webster? You don't see a lot of black fans wearing white players' numbers around the NFL. What is it with Steelers fans?"

He looked genuinely confused. "Huh?"

Stammering, I explained how I deliberately didn't choose a white player's number because I can't stand how 75% of white fans wear those 5% of the players' numbers.

"That's really...interesting," he said, visibly taxed by the thought that anyone gave this crap any thought whatsoever. "What's the difference?"

He looked at my brother-in-law pityingly.

best served cold

My friends' kids, initially useless to me, have over time become indispensable conduits for annoying my friends. From Henry's drum set to Annalie's Steelers cap, the kids have become willing co-conspirators in my efforts to punish my friends for having had kids.

And thus did I take Silly String to Terrell's house last Saturday. It sprayed in all directions, into every orifice and crevice, and her girls could not have loved me more. "John, why would you DO something so horrib-"

Terrell stopped there, having apparently come up with the answer for herself. "Here, let mommy see it for a second," she said to the younger, more gullible child. And then I watched Terrell entomb my nearby iPhone in Silly String, like Cheez Whiz on a cracker, if you were trying to mummify the cracker by making sure no air could ever get to it again. Or cheese, for that matter.

The one and only button doesn't work right anymore, either.

the viruses have breached my firewall

When I traded in the Jeep, I stripped it bare, and I've been selling it off part-by-part ever since. By the time I'm done, I expect to exceed $8000 in part sales and government handouts. For a '94 with 300,000 miles on it. That cost $14,000 new, 15 years ago. God Bless America.

I'd like to thank the ditzy left...but I suspect they'll still come out ahead somehow, someway. And yes, I think about selling the Prius at an enormous profit pretty much every five minutes. I could put the money toward a Humvee.

I jest. Kinda. I only thought of the Humvee now.

Parting out the Jeep has meant some time on Craigslist for me, and as with all things Internet, I've come to resent Craigslist for putting me in direct contact with the moist recesses of humanity that my hermetic lifestyle ordinarily allows me to avoid.

"You're awful far away. Can you meet me in Port Blatherboro?" says one man, proposing that I embark on a three-hour round-trip in order to sell him a $40 item. That I'm listed only in my region's little corner of craigslist doesn't dissuade this type from complaining that my region is too far away.

"Can you bring it to Seattle?" says another of the Jeep's hardtop roof, which is lying in my front yard. Delivering the hardtop in a Prius would be like transporting a folding lawnchair in a Nyquil measuring cap.

"How much for the doors?" ask countless people about the ad that says "SORRY, THE DOORS ARE NOT FOR SALE."

"Will you take $5?" says someone of the $160, brand-new stereo. "I really need it!!!" Yeah, why wouldn't I? It takes up so much space; I'm dying to get rid of it. Plus you're obviously entitled.

Of all the responses, though, the most annoying is this staggeringly common one: "is your hardtop still for sale call me 253-555-1234." Given that we're meeting online, one would presume a certain comfort level with online interactions, but fully half of the respondents' top priority is to get me to call them long-distance. Which ain't happening. I'm perfectly comfortable with grass never growing there again. Before I call one of these people, I'll flip the goddamned hardtop over and make a planter out of it.

"Does this happen a lot?"

claim to fame

Stank is very proud to be the first search result on the string Keith Bardwell is a pussy.

"What the Fucking Fuck?" awards 

  keith bardwell

(AP) NEW ORLEANS A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."

If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

"I try to treat everyone equally," he said.


An ex was telling me how annoyed she is by how all of her right-wing acquaintances are regurgitating the same AM radio joke. The joke: now that Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize, he'll next win the Heisman Trophy. We rolled our eyes at how people parrot these things. Then I wondered something.

"Do you even know what the Heisman Trophy is?" I asked.

She did. "And that's another thing. The last guy asked me the same condescending question. I was like...I hate you!"

Yikes. "And, by extension then, me. For asking you the same question."

She shook her head and waved her hand at me. "Nah, I don't hate you for that," she said, not remotely trying to be funny.


"YOU FUCKING SUCK!" yelled the 20 year old, at me, in the parking lot. I was wearing a Steelers jersey, he a lovely Bengals frock. He was trying to impress the friends with whom he'd come, I suppose, and he continued to berate me, my team, and my manhood as they followed me into the restaurant.


That's when he saw 250 Steelers fans. End scene.

she's got such a way with word

Leave it to Flo to crystallize the stupidity of my day perfectly:

"So in other words, you're getting up at 6am to go to the Hooters in Tacoma where fucking Sanjaya's sister used to work?"

orientation day

Once again, Allie was trying to talk me into doing something I didn't want to do. "If it was fun, you should just bite the bullet and go." And thus concluded the only moment in human history where a guy's girlfriend, past or present, tried to talk him into going to Hooters.

• • •

Last Sunday, I decided to try a different Steelers bar. This is the area's largest, and sure enough, 250 Steelers fans crowded the Tacoma Hooters. Did I mention it's Hooters? I hate Hooters.

"Yeah it's stupid, but they've got great wings" you'll hear some guy say in the exact same cadence as "I get Playboy for the articles." Well, no. No, they don't have great wings. Their wings rather suck. They're frozen breaded, consequently mushy, and even the "hot" have no flavor, let alone heat. So let's dispense with the pretense of great wings.

hooters-protest.jpgI'm not sure exactly what I hate most about Hooters. I'd venture it's that the girls are so, so young, except that the place has always bothered me. There's definitely an element of creepiness to commercialized objectification. I certainly don't want to be seen there. I don't want to identify with the cretins who comparison-shop the waitresses. And I can't help but think that secretly, the 19 year old caressing my arm and sticking her cleavage in my sight-line while I'm watching the game thinks I'm contemptible for simply being there. How can she not? I hate myself for being there.

"I know I'm getting old," I said to the guy on my right, who was probably about 65. "When I look at our waitress, I wonder So what do your parents think you do for a living?"

"I must not be old, then, 'cause that's not what I'M thinking when I look at her!" he chortled, actually elbowing me in the ribs. I didn't know people really did that.

As revolting as the wings and elbows were, the part that bothered me most was the kids. Steelers fans brought their little kids to Hooters. To. Hooters. The 10 year old boys ogled the waitresses and deliberately dropped things so that they'd have to bend over. What caught my attention most, though, was an 8 year old girl near them, in her little Steelers cheerleader outfit, studiously taking it all in. Of all the women in the room, she was the one I'll always remember.


That's how long I lasted before this gymnast made me feel claw-my-skin-off uncomfortable.

early bloomer

"This is so cute," Flo said to me over the phone. "My daughter is asking if we can visit you. She says she misses you."

At five years old, Mimi hasn't yet hit that wall where women are dying to get away from me. That happens at around eight.

"C'mon out!" I said.

"Mimi wants to know if we can spend the night."

"Of course. I'll make pizza."

"She says she wants king crab."

Jesus H. Okay.


They have just arrived, and I'm sitting on the deck while Mimi and Flo gather seashells. Flo wants to go inside, but Mimi wants her to continue beachcombing. "I want company," Mimi whines.

"Well, maybe John will help you."

Mimi stared at her mother. "But he's not good company."

calling a man about a horse

We'll do this story in B-C-A fashion.

I called Terrell's cell phone to discuss dinner plans. We hung up. Then she heard her husband's cell ringing and saw that it was me. She answered it.

"What, are you playing us?" she spat.

"Uh, no. I just forgot to tell you a funny story to pass on to Don, and I figured why call you back when I could just call him? Of course, I underestimated just how suspicious and controlling you are..."

She grumbled something and handed the phone to Don. She watched his laugh build and build until it concluded with a delighted "SERIOUSLY?!? What did the horse do?"

• • •

Now, nothing could actually be as funny as what she mentally filled in, there, but here's what had happened. The day before, Dex had annoyed Don (as she does everyone) by constantly sitting on his foot. His bare foot. "STOP IT!" he'd yelled, laughing, gently kicking her off. Then I went to Spokane, where Dex played with my friends' horses. They played nicely. At one point, Dex turned around to look at me and sat on the horse's hoof.

Cute, yes, but Terrell's imagination was way funnier.

merrill markoe

Chances are decent that you're a fan of Ms. Markoe's and don't know it. She was David Letterman's writer/producer/girlfriend during his heyday. She was instrumental in creating his original show and coming up with classic bits like Stupid Pet Tricks. She's a great humor writer. Go get What the Dogs Have Taught Me right now.

They broke up long ago, in the 80s, but when the Letterman scandal broke last week, I wondered what, if anything, his ex would have to say. And thus I found her blog.

Okay. Here it is. My big comment on Mr. Letterman.

It is this: As you can imagine this is a very emotional moment for me because Dave promised me many times that I was the only woman he would ever cheat on.
Ouch. I thought that was pretty funny until I saw her response to readers' comments:
I would like to thank all four of you guys. Really. And take this opportunity to say that I am now so fond of you all that I would like to propose a toast: "May none of you ever wake up one morning to find your name and photo included in a montage full of interns and personal assistants." Okay. Let's all clink glasses.

A friend I've made recently is a high-energy, ultra-positive physical trainer. Not that that's how we met. God forbid. No, we work on the same small-town committee. She's both exhilarating and exhausting, but I like her anyway, and we've developed a comfortable star/slug rapport. Plus she's hot. Hot chicks flock together. You can never have too many hot chick friends.

Finally, after many months, she emailed me an invitation to do something outside of the committee's work. "Excellent," I thought. "Bring on the friendship." And then I read the email. It's an invitation to join the "Biggest Loser" weight-loss competition at her gym.

she loathes to fly and it shows

Of all the perfectly fine reasons to hate al Qaeda, I think what's become of air travel must be in the top five. This week, we have a guy who stuffed a bomb into his underwear, possibly even into his anus. My fingers trembling, I now remind you: when the shoe bomber appeared, we all had to start taking off our shoes.

stewardess-745298.jpgBut I'd gladly drop trou for every Barney, Wally and Ned manning the security station if I could just yell at a few deserving flight attendants. We can't do that anymore. They might turn the flight around and have us detained for questioning. So we walk on eggshells around these Napoleanic bitches, not defending ourselves.

"Sir! I need you to show me that your seat is up!" she yelled at me before takeoff. It was. She glared at me for not being wrong.

"Sir! Is your phone off?!?" she yelled as I was holding down the power button in response to the pilot's request that we turn off devices. She said it with such fearful urgency that I thought she was yelling at someone who was lighting a cigarette.

"WHOSE BAG IS THIS?" she yelled, outraged. It was mine. I was in the first row of first class, and I had no under-seat storage for bag, so I placed it in the large vertical luggage bin by the door.

"Mine," I said, thinking she thought my Ohio State backpack must surely belong to someone in coach, if not steerage.

"You can't put that here," she dripped disdain. "This is only for large bags. You have a spot under your seat."

Well actually, douchepacker, no I don't. The guy behind me is using it. How long have you been working this job, exactly? After I walked halfway down the plane and found a rathole in which to cram my bag, I returned to my seat and watched as she shut the still-two-thirds-empty luggage bin. After she placed her own backpack in there, of course.

The flight went on. Being in the first row apparently made me the very embodiment of all she hates about her life. Or maybe I look like the ex-husband who emotionally abused her. I can only hope so. For whatever reason, the seat for which I paid with 50,000 miles went without beverage service that day. Not a coke. Not a water. The whole 4.5 hours to Chicago.

I had to use the lavatory twice. The first time was, um, the more the more time-consuming of my two options. After about five minutes, I was washing my hands when there was a ungodly pounding on the door. Christ, the plane is going down. I opened the door. There was the stewardess. She pointed to a sheepish-looking Latina. "THIS WOMAN HAS AN INFANT WHO NEEDS TO BE CHANGED, AND SHE'S BEEN WAITING A REALLY LONG TIME."

"No. She hasn't."

"YES SHE HAS!" she actually shuddered with rage. How dare I question her supremacy? Her eyes flashed.

At this point, I was tired of her masturbating on me, but I was also wary of pissing off someone who would gladly perjure herself to an Air Marshall. I stewed in silence.

Shortly before we landed, I used the bathroom one last time. I left it exactly as I found it, but she still managed to 1) inspect it and 2) find flaw. "Who fucking does this?" I asked myself. She slammed the door and glared at me again. I was getting used to this. "Did I give her a fake phone number 10 years ago, maybe?" I thought.

"I need you to put the toilet lid down," she said as I was buckling my seat-belt.

I laughed. I pretended to read my newspaper. So she said it louder.

"I need you to put the toilet seat down right now."

"And I need a Diet Coke. How does it feel to need?"

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