April 2016 Archives

I'd like to think that phrasing was consciously humorous, I really would, but in my heart of hearts I know it's just incompetent.

the case against public breastfeeding

I don't care if new mothers unleash their breasts in public. Or old mothers. Or any women, really. I don't have a puppy in this fight. As someone who would let children starve before he would be seen even partially shirtless in public, I don't get it, but live and let live.

That said, we really need to ban public breastfeeding.

When I see an infant, I look at its face. Why? Because babies are super-cute. And sometimes, I realize several seconds into staring that the child is horking down on its pre-brunch snack. And then I'll lock eyes with the mother, who's glaring at me, doubtlessly thinking either:

  1. "Fuck off, perv" or
  2. "Say something. I dare you. I double-dog dare you, motherfucker, say something about this beautiful, natural, and healthy experience! I will bury you in studies straight from Leche Magazine!"
Either I need to stop noticing babies, or moms need to air 'em out after they leave the Toyota service department. I humbly submit the solution that requires nothing of me.

upon reflection

For years, I've heard that my dentist employs a beautiful hygienist, but I never saw her. Until last week. "Hi!" she chirped.

"Guh?" I replied.

While I admired her shiny, cascading brown hair and enormous Disney-character eyes (although that was probably her binocular eyeglasses playing tricks on me), she chatted up a storm. She asked me all sorts of questions about myself, where I'm from, where I live, what I do for a living, what I like to do for fun. There was no mistaking it: this chick was into me. She couldn't know me well enough, fast enough. As I grunted answers to her essay questions, I contemplated how to make my move.

Then she mentioned her kids, which stalled my momentum, especially when she referred to a "we" that was making parenting decisions. Perhaps I misread her interest?

She wanted to show me something in my mouth, so she handed me a hand mirror. "Ugh, you're gonna make me look at myself?" I groused. "What did I ever do to you?"

I peered into the mirror. Whatever it was she wanted me to see went unseen that day. Instead, my focus riveted on the most hideously lit rat's nest of nose hair ever encrusted by a half pint of dried snot.

Confirmed: I misread her interest.

During a work meeting, I took a teasing-bit-not-really shot at Trixie, the preposterously hot and even more preposterously employed 24 year old.

"Oh, I see how it is! she giggled. "John's a backstabber!"

My boss snorted. "No, John's a front-stabber."

charley's formula

I was a brand new writer, not yet even out of college, when my mentor lowered the boom. He looked at my timecard with confusion. It said something like:

Monday 7.75 hours
Tuesday 8.1 hours
Wednesday 8.25 hours
"John...? Charley said in his fabulous southern drawl. "Are you billing for the hours you actually worked?"

"Um. Yes?"

Charley stood up and shook his head sadly, chuckling at my naiveté. He put his hand on my shoulder. "Son, son, son. Nope. It's not how many hours you worked. It's how many hours it felt like."

That is the moment I became a professional writer.

This system made instant sense to me. And I have shared this story many times in the intervening decades, always with someone I employed. I distinctly remember squinting at Karen's first timecard. "Son, son, son..." I said.

• • •

My first gig at Microsoft was as an hourly contractor. For months, I averaged 85 hours a week. It was a brutal death march. We literally watched a corpse being carried out of our building, someone who had dropped dead at his desk. "Lucky bastard," someone snarled at the passing corpse. We all agreed.

My timecards were naturally enormous, so any embellishment was both unnecessary and implausible. Nevertheless, Charley's teachings tugged at me. Out of loyalty, on my last timecard I added 10 hours, for a total of 100 hours that week. My boss looked at it and sighed. "I'm so grateful to you for not dying," she said. "Or, you know, quitting." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Go ahead and add 10 hours."

"You mean in addition to the 10 hours I already added?" I said to absolutely no one. Thus was my legendary 110 hour timecard born.

• • •

I thought about her this week. Charley too. My current boss explained impending political shifts and closed with this directive: "John, bill the shit out of me this month."

"Will do. And if you don't mind my saying so, sir, you found the perfect man for the job."

were you the one

I have been single for a very long time. This is entirely by choice. Specifically, it's by their choice.

I'm a good boyfriend. I dote. I remember important dates. I at least attempt to feign shared interests. My brain is crammed with minutia about my girlfriend's tastes, peeves, stories, interests and favorite brands.

And then time marches on, and the woman marches off, and her tastes, peeves, stories, interests, and brands compost in my brain. The pile of relationship debris in my head is staggering and confusing.

"Were you the one who had a friend who made up a whole religion around you being a deity?" I asked Allie some 20 years after we dated.

"The fuck are you talking about?" she said, recoiling in disgust that I began yet another sentence with "Were you the one?"

Geri-bachelorhood: avoid it if you can.

honestly

I was discussing my boss of six years, who just came through for me again in a big way. A friend called the relationship remarkable, which it surely is.

"Still," I said, "we do get on one another's nerves. But that describes pretty much every good relationship I've had with a boss." I thought some more. "Honestly, if I'm not irritating my boss, he's just not paying attention."

Fredo was bit at the dog park, and the wound is nasty and infected. He wouldn't stop slurping its seepage. "Jesus Christ, can I get you a straw?" I yelled at him at one point. (I'm considering naming my next dog Jesus Christ. It would be efficient.) The vet put him in a head cone.

This dog. Is obsessively licking. The inside of the cone.

dog calculus

If a dog suddenly requires veterinary attention, the odds that it's occurring on a weekend are 2 in 7, or 100%

Dogs are why I suck at math.

Clearly, the solution is for everyone to carry two guns.

paying the asshole tax

When I bought the $50 tape gun from Mr. Lonely, it certainly wasn't because I want or need it. The act was the answer to a question I posed to myself: would I pay $50 to get rid of this asshole forever? Why, yes. Yes, I would. I'd have gone up to $775. Fifty bucks was a bargain.

I call this "the asshole tax," and it's the one tax I pay with relish.

I did it again yesterday, where the question was would I rather pay for the repair myself or talk to whatever Rhodes Scholar manages a Bremerton car wash?

• • •

To my horror, the day I moved into my Redmond condo was the day I discovered my next door neighbor. His sliding glass door was barricaded by books stacked floor-to-ceiling, and mounted on the glass was a sign clearly scrawled by a crazy person.

GOVERMENT! LEAF ME ALONE!!!!
The sign went on, but that's what was easily visible from the street.

Good god, I thought. What have I done? I'll never be able to resell this place.

His offenses were many and included human feces in the hallway. I did no DNA test, but I'm fairly certain it was his. He probably put it there to ward off collections agents. They hate the smell of human feces. Worse, though, he was sociable. I started parking my car a block away because if he heard me pull up, he would rush outside to share his latest insights on the world's workings. It doesn't matter what they were; all you need to know is that he mentioned the government and his guns a lot. He seemed to like me, in that way a spectacularly insane person likes anyone who's humoring him because they're afraid he'll poison their dog when they're at work.

One day, he caught me as I was sneaking in the side door. "My car has no antifreeze and [some bullshit] so I have no money and do you have $5 I can borrow?" I opened my wallet and found only a 20, which delighted him. He grabbed the $20, promised to pay me back, and jetted off to his dealer.

He then diligently avoided me for the next year. I never saw him again.

This, this is what money is for.

delousing

Hurricane Flo spent the night Wednesday, and as is her custom, she destroyed the place within seconds.

"It's immaculate!" she snarled with contempt while she hugged me. Then she unloaded her car. There were seven bags of groceries alone. That was food—just for her—for her 16 hour stay. Within minutes, I could see no surface in my house, including wide swaths of the floor.

So it begins, I thought as I hid my good skillet from her.

Flo could fill a dishwasher simply by making a bologna sandwich. And if she needs a bowl, she'll walk right past the bowls next to her, climb on the counter, reach into the recesses of the top shelf, find the antique bowl that must be hand-washed with soap made from the ashes of a virgin unicorn, and use that bowl for microwaving beets.

In the morning while she still slept, I went downstairs and started excavating the carnage that was my kitchen.

The fuck did she use ramekins for?

Among the casualties were my brand new eyeglasses and my antibiotics. They remain missing now.

"What, you think I stole your eyeglasses?!" she snapped when I asked her to keep an eye out for them.

No, but it had crossed my mind that she'd swallowed what she'd hoped were quaaludes.

I'd begun writing this post when I heard her awaken upstairs. Only seconds of peace remaining, I thought. As if in answer, a siren's call wafted down the stairs.

"Hey, where's your plunger?"

once more with feeling

Today is my airhead dog Fredo's fifth birthday. In celebration, I accidentally spanked him six times. This is a repeat of last year, where I also spanked him one too many times. "It seems like longer," I told him.

Our latest game is for me to place my rigid palm on top of his muzzle, right in front of his eyes, while he tries to bite it. Click-click-click go his teeth, munching on air while he whines in frustration. Why, he can see my hand right there!

Yep.

His sister must have sucked all the vitamins out of the placenta.

think good now

Whenever I go to a doctor, I experience one of exactly two outcomes:

  • The doctor thinks I'm overreacting to my symptoms and wasting his time, or
  • The doctor scolds me for waiting too long to come in.
Yesterday was #1.

I was pretty sure my sinuses thing had morphed into pneumonia, and I was determined to nip it in the bud this time. I reported my symptoms, and the doctor was unimpressed. "I think you'll live," he sneered. He listened to my lungs. They sounded fine, he said, shooting me his best "Were you just lonely, or what?" look. I insisted on an x-ray, and he relented.

CUT TO: 20 MINUTES LATER
THE DOCTOR enters the examining room, x-rays and antibiotics in hand.

DOCTOR
How did you know?

I stammered something about familiarity with the symptoms, which is true enough, but the details are embarrassing. Starved of oxygen, my brain functions slowed. Work became harder, much harder. I had to read things four or five times to understand them, and then I quickly forgot what I understood. Taking antibiotics wasn't required just for sound health; it was a professional imperative. I needed my smart pills. Or at least some less-stupid pills.

Most tellingly, I couldn't follow the plot on TV shows. That's when I knew my old, stupid-fying friend was back.

Me no understand cartoon. Brain...not...think...good. Need doctor.

unclicked link of the day

Nope and nope.

Capture.PNG

The solution, of course, is for state troopers to carry guns.

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