May 2016 Archives

so what i'm hearing

When I was 12, I found gold under my mother's mattress. Not real gold, of course. This was even better. I'd found dirty books: Sexual Astrology and Woman's Orgasm. Mom being Mom, she couldn't even do porn right; these were all text. Nevertheless, I knew I had the Get Out of Jail Free card of my life. I would zealously conserve this resource. I would wait until I was in serious trouble, until she caught me doing something truly heinous, and then I would toss Sexual Astrology at her face and knock her off her high ground. I trembled with excitement. I saved this for years, and then she died. My golden bullet went unfired, and now it's feeble post-introduction material.

Lesson learned. Don't hoard ammunition. Ammunition wants to be fired.

• • •

At a meeting a few weeks ago, my boss of six years was frustrated with the insubordination of one of his managers. She argued that he didn't understand her job, which he invented for her, or its responsibilities, which were also his invention. He disagreed. After several months of seeing his directives ignored, he was disinclined to do a few more laps around Retard Park. He waited for her babbling explanation to wind down, and then he spoke calmly, even kindly.

"So what I'm hearing is that you don't want to be a manager anymore."

Those 14 words were magical. The arguing immediately ceased, and the problem was forever solved.

"That. Was. AWESOME!" my buddy chatted me privately.

Indeed it was, and I could not wait to spring it on people.

"So what I'm hearing is that you don't want to be my housecleaner anymore."

"So what I'm hearing is that you don't want to be my realtor anymore."

"So what I'm hearing is that you don't want to be my mechanic anymore."

Boom. Boom. Boom. Resistance doesn't merely fade away; it disappears from all space-time. It never existed. You can almost hear the record scratch.

"I cannot wait to spring this on a girlfriend," I told Allie. I practiced: "So what I'm hearing is that you don't want to be my girlfriend anymore."

She stared at me. "Yeeeeah. I don't think that's gonna go how you think it's gonna go. She'll be, like, Oh thank god. You already understand. That'll make this so much easier!"

unfortunate racket placement

I'm fairly certain my high school gym coach threatened to do this to me if I didn't shut up.


test of character



I spent the weekend with a couple of Microsoft friends. At one point, I was showing them some photos on their Windows laptop.

Seeing me use the mouse, my friend started to twitch. "It's a touch screen, you know."

I ignored her and continued to click the mouse button. Why lift an arm when I can merely lift a fingertip? Soon, she was visibly uncomfortable. She pointed to the screen.

"All you have to so is touch it with your finger here," she said, as I am clearly a moron. I again ignored her. Finally, she took matters into her own hands and tapped the screen with her finger. She missed, and the wrong window took focus.

"Dammit," she said under her breath.

This is a perfect metaphor for modern-day Microsoft. They don't build what customers want. They build what they want, then correct the customer for not wanting it, too.

race war!

cherries.jpgLast week, I was at a favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh. Black-owned, it's largely black-frequented. I am often the only polka dot present. I dress up, but not like the brothers. They're full-on bow-tied. The ladies often wear hats. Me and my untucked shirt are completely out of our league, but I'm not about to learn to tie a bow tie at this age. Maybe a clip on.

The bartender and I have our little ritual. He puts an additional cherry in each Manhattan I drink. As he slid me my fifth Manhattan, he winked at the fellow with whom I was chatting and said "This is the one that gets him."

Aye. That it did.

My new friend was Robert. We were there for R&B night when an outrage flared in my ears. They played Hall & Oates. A black band. In a black restaurant. On R&B night. Played Hall & Oates. I was already grousing to all assembled when they fired up Sara fucking Smile.

Probably arguing for argument's sake, Robert nonetheless passionately defended Hall & Oates' inclusion on the playlist. He deflected any criticism I mounted. He defended Sara Smile. He defended Private Eyes. And then he defended that all-time aural abomination Maneater. This put me into orbit.

"Report to the nearest counter and turn in your black card," I said, turning away from him. There was a delighted howl from the gallery, and I paid for absolutely nothing that night.

Thanks for the eminently flexible line, Dorkass! It's worked with gay cards, too, but that didn't get me free stuff.

c prompt

Continued from yesterday's post

I breezed into a Pittsburgh watering hole last week and was greeted by a favorite bartender. We caught up, and then her eyes flashed.

"Oh my god, your friend has been here every night for months. She's a total alcoholic now."


"No! Michelle!"

michelle.jpgIn my absence, she lost her job and now shoehorns her implausibly huge new bolt-ons (right) into skin-tight clothing every single night, hanging herself on a hook and boozing herself into oblivion. So many levels of yikes, there. I assured the bartender that this trainwreck is decidedly not my friend.

I returned a couple nights later, and Michelle and I immediately made eye contact. Without acknowledging her, I grabbed Risa and we went into the separate cigar bar. 20 minutes later, Michelle was standing in my sight-line, flirting with a gaggle of eager men. A half hour after that, she was standing in front of me.

"Are you not even going to say hi, John?"

I glared at her. "Hi."

It was then that I discovered that in the last 18 months, Michelle and Risa have met. Michelle sat on Risa's chair arm and whispered into her ear for three eternities. Then she went back to her flirting station.

"That girl really loves you!" Risa said.


"She said you're rude but so's she and you're like two peas in a pod, two sides of the same coin, and she really misses you."

"Risa, that's the woman whose ticket you used."

"That bitch was Michelle?!?"

"The very same."

Risa told me that Michelle was now in full-blown golddigger mode, often speculating about men's comparative worth. Ugh. At some point Risa left, and Michelle plopped next to me. Her hand grazed my knee. It's amazing how counterproductive that move is when I hate the hot woman doing it. Michelle told me how much she missed me or some such. Who can listen, really? I asked her to come closer to me, and she leaned in.

Trigger warning: if you hate complete clichés, read no farther

As she leaned in close to my face, I blew cigar smoke square into her eyes.

Hey, I warned you.

• • •

"No no no," said Dorkass when I told the story. "Here's what you should've done. She leans in close to your face, and you look at your phone and go, Oh, sorry. My Uber's here."



20 months ago, I walked into my bar in Pittsburgh and found that I shared the room with only a hot brunette. We chatted a bit, and then I left, but it turns out she was a regular too. We saw one another often, and soon we made plans to go to dinner and a football game together.

This is Michelle.

At one point, I was looking forward to dinner with her. That is so unimaginable to me now. I was there on time, sitting at the bar, slapping away the people who clamored for her seat. Time passed. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 70 fucking minutes. She walked in 72 minutes late.

"Hey," she apologized.

The older I get, the more I detest people who waste my time. I'd rather they steal my money than my time. Money, I can replace. By the time she walked in, I was detesting her a lot.

I bought her meal anyway, and we chatted, and she chatted up our neighbors. And then when I was in mid sentence, her phone buzzed.

"Oh, my Uber's here. Gotta go!" And she shot out the door.

"What just happened?" asked the server.

I talked to Dorkass on my walk home. As angers go, mine was orbital. I indulged in the saved-for-special-occasions c-word. She allowed it.

Michelle heard that I was livid, perhaps because I used the c-word in front of every bartender in town. After a few days, I was at the original bar when she plopped down next to me.

"Hi," she apologized.

We talked for a bit, and then my phone buzzed. "Oh, here's an irony for you," I said. "My Uber's here. But note that I'm taking a moment to say goodbye, lest I make the person I'm talking to feel like complete shit. This is how non-rude people behave." And then I left.

"I don't know what you said to Michelle," said the bartender later, "But when you left she was practically in tears."


Weeks passed, and I never heard from her. It started to dawn on me that I would never hear from her again. Rude people despise those who show them a mirror. Yet I had promised her a football ticket. "She won't cancel," I predicted. "She's going to make me ask if we're on." That's what rude people do. I explained the situation to my friend Risa, and she agreed to be my backup plan.

The day before the game, I texted Michelle. "Are we still on?"

"I'm sorry, my grandmother just died and I'm in New Orleans for the funeral," she replied. I then sent her a screenshot of her Instagram from her grandmother's funeral a month earlier. Yes, the only time she ever apologized was in fact a lie. That's perfect, somehow.

I would never see or speak to Michelle again. Until last week.

To be continued

i'm fine with this

I just got back from a week in Pittsburgh, a week that constituted the first time that Fredo didn't have either me or his sister around. The poor little sissy-boy has had a rough year. First Dex died, then he was viciously attacked at the dog park and had to spend weeks in a cone, and now I abandon him.

"It'll be okay. I'll be back before you know it," I said more to myself than to the dog who only recently learned his own name after five years. I thought about him often while I was gone, hoping he was all right and that he was enjoying the twice-daily cuddle time I bought him. "It'll be okay," I thought.

Yesterday, I sprang Fredo from jail. "Man," said the clerk at the desk. "He was our choir leader!"

I had no idea what he was talking about, so he explained. "Fredo was leading the entire kennel in howls, for hours and hours and days and days." He looked at my grimmace. "He's a howler, right?"

"Never once."


grrr, arg

Last week I stayed on the top floor of a hotel with the slowest and least sound-proofed elevator I've ever used. As I ascended past floors, I could eavesdrop on entire conversations between people waiting, I presume, for the elevator to come back down. Alas, I didn't hear any sex stuff or teary breakups, but it wasn't for lack of straining.

One day, I heard a small child throwing a hissy temper tantrum. I could hear him from four floors away, so shrill was this child. And so I did what any reasonable adult would do to this unseen child: I made monster noises. As loudly as I could, I growled and snarled, punctuating things with the lip-smacking sounds of my eating the entrails of some imaginary child. The temper tantrum stopped, and I heard parents trying to explain that, despite all evidence to the contrary, there was definitely not a monster in the elevator. As I passed their floor, I pounded on the door and snarled in a rage.

"AAUUUUUUGGGHH!" screamed the child's rapidly receding voice.

I've since speculated on three things:

  • What pathology did I just sow in little Timmy?
  • How do the parents explain this to themselves, let alone their kid?
  • What would I have done if that door had opened? I'd like to think I would have had the grace to chirp "You're welcome!'


My housecleaner and I can barely communicate, what with her retched English and my even worse Spanish. So I suppose it's best that I can't ask her why, when I just followed her up the stairs, she strained to walk sideways, with her butt against the wall, like I'm some sort of Labrador trying to cop a sniff.

we just assumed

I snapped this pic in Pittsburgh.


reader mail: presidential contest

Longtime Stank troll Marta asks for my presidential pick. I have none, but I do have this observation: is there any doubt that of the five remaining candidates, only Clinton and Kasich could pass a remedial civics test?

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